Running the Game

Friday, July 20, 2018

As the Pathfinder Playtest begins, Game Masters will need to quickly get up to speed with the new rules. The Game Mastering chapter of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook is here to help you out! It covers the responsibilities of a GM, gives advice on running sessions, and teaches you how to adjudicate the rules of the game. Because this is a playtest, there aren't details about creating your own campaign or adventures, but rest assured, this information will appear in the Pathfinder Second Edition rulebook!

Running Modes of Play

A large section of the Game Mastering chapter runs through the special concerns of running the three modes of play: encounters, exploration, and downtime. The specific rules governing those modes appear in the Playing the Game chapter, so this chapter instead talks about how to set the pace of the game as you GM. Exploration and downtime get the most focus here, since most the rules for running encounters are addressed in Playing the Game. The section on exploration goes over exploration tactics characters might adopt, and gives advice on what to do when players want to choose tactics that aren't included in the default options. It also addresses how to begin and end encounters, including some advice on how to use the new initiative rules of the playtest. The section on downtime shows you how to play out a single downtime day at the table, and how to cover long periods of downtime quickly and keep them interesting. It also talks about buying and selling items and retraining abilities.

Difficulty Classes

Setting DCs is one of your major tasks as GM, and the rulebook covers how to create two different types of DCs: those that are appropriate for a certain level and those that are static challenges in the world. This first category is great when you need the DC of an obstacle created by an enemy of a certain level but don't have all their statistics, when you set the DC to Craft an item of a particular level, and so on. Levels and categories of difficulty are given in a table so you can pick a DC quickly. The level is based on your opposition's level, and the category depends on the particular situation. Here's a portion of that table.

LevelTrivialLowHighSevereExtreme
0 910121417
11012141518
21113151619

Static challenges are everything from climbing a tree to identifying a minor noble. These tasks don't really get more difficult if the PCs are higher level, but can still be expressed in terms of level and difficulty category. The guidelines explain how to select a level and category of difficulty. For instance, climbing a rope that's hanging in mid-air is a level 1 task, so it's normally a high DC (14), but it might have a low DC (12) if you can brace yourself against a wall while climbing through a narrow area, and maybe even a trivial DC (10) if you can brace against two walls. Because static DCs don't increase as the PCs advance in levels, eventually low-level static tasks will become nearly automatic for them. We give guidelines here for GMs crafting their own adventures, but it's ultimately up to them what level and DC tasks are. (In published adventures, this information is still provided.)

As you can see, the rules for DCs intentionally put far more choice in your hands as the GM. Rather than having a long list of DCs and modifiers pre-defined, we wanted to let the GM assess the particulars of any given situation and then use some simple tools to set the DC, rather than needing to calculate a DC based on rules that aren't always exactly suitable to the challenge facing the players.

This section also speaks to some particular categories of skill DCs for crafting, gathering Information, performing for an audience, practicing a trade with Lore, recalling knowledge with skills like Arcana or Lore, or training an animal.

Rewards

This section contains some rules not directly related to Doomsday Dawn, but that we want people to take a look at and use if they create their own campaigns during the playtest. One thing that shows up is rules on awarding Experience Points. This includes XP awards for accomplishments, so that you'll have guidance for when the group pulls off important tasks that aren't encounters or hazards. As noted previously, it normally takes 1,000 XP to level up, but there are also options for varying the players' advancement speed by having a new level every 800 XP or 1,200 XP. If you're playtesting your own campaign, you might want to have characters level up every 800 XP so you get a chance to playtest more levels of the game!

Environment and Hazards

The last section of the Game Mastering chapter briefly summarizes environments and the rules for hazards (such as traps, environmental dangers, and haunts). These are covered in more detail in the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary. They'll be in the final version of Pathfinder Second Edition's core rulebook, but the Playtest Rulebook didn't have quite enough space for the whole thing!

Are you looking forward to GMing playtest games? What changes are you hoping to see? Are you going to run Doomsday Dawn, or try some of your own adventures too? Sound off in the comments!

Logan Bonner
Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
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I like that other game elements can reference the chart for DCs rather than include a formula in every ability or option.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Maveric28 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I like GM-set DCs. Players beware

Having bought the collector edition of the playtest book, I am highly disappointed that it will be missing a significant part of the rules

Which is exactly why I DIDN'T purchase the "collectors edition." As a playtest, the book will be completely obsolete within a year. After all, how many of you are still using the Pathfinder Beta that came out back in 2008? So I just didn't/don't see any point to a "collector's edition" other than money-grubbing to finance other future projects.

I do not mind giving Paizo more money. However I dislike getting an incomplete product

I will still vehemently enjoy getting it but with a slight heartache that did not need to be there


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Igwilly wrote:

Not very exciting, but good articles nonetheless.

I just want to know the playtest's final boss, but I guess I'll have to wait :P
The downtime rules are going to get my attention. I've never thought much about using these kinds of rules in my games. I'll check that out.

Quadratic W wrote:

So it's the scaling DCs of 4e...but with a static DC table too. One based on a "how difficult is this?" back of the envelope question rather than a "let's add up all these modifiers and see what comes out" approach.

Honestly, that's so elegant I wonder why 4e never thought to use it.

WotC's 4e was worse than 4e :P

But enough talk about editions! Now we fight like men! And ladies, ladies who dress like men! For Gilgamesh, it's morphing time!

(I hope anyone gets it).

P.S.: Why this avatar image popped up here, it's a mystery.

It's morphing is why (smorph is close enough to smurf and we used to find ways to get around the smurf effect.)


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Mark Seifter wrote:

There are rules for building encounters, and we highly recommend it for groups who are interested in trying out some homebrewed adventures.

But there's a huge difference in how usable the data is from a game where the GM built encounters using the monsters we built for the playtest and a game where the GM built the monsters. We are not only stress-testing the PCs, we also need to stress-test the monsters themselves for the first Bestiary, and custom monsters that wind up with an unusual power level not only dilute the monster feedback on the Bestiary monsters, they can potentially ramify into the feedback about the PCs as well, since what the PCs can do is in many respects colored by the foes they face.

Okay, this is at least something I can get a bit more behind. The opening of this was definitely misleading, because it sounds like there *are* details on creating your own adventures (of which encounter design is an integral part, and awarding loot). I understand not wanting custom monsters, but at the same time, hope that some thought has been put into this, and if it's going to be in the Core Book, wish it could also be playtested.

That being said, I don't know how much playtesting you're planning to do for future books, but coming out with a "Monster Builder's Manual" or more complete GM guide (Ultimate Campaign) as a separate book with a separate playtest might not be the worst thing in the world. I understand how that may be perceived as a "money grab", but separate books for players and game runners (of which there are many) and campaign/adventure designers (of which there are fewer), mgiht actually make sense.


Ikos wrote:
Quadratic W wrote:

So it's the scaling DCs of 4e...but with a static DC table too. One based on a "how difficult is this?" back of the envelope question rather than a "let's add up all these modifiers and see what comes out" approach.

Honestly, that's so elegant I wonder why 4e never thought to use it.

I’m completely in agreement with spirit of your assertions, and am saying this joking, but, if I have to hear the word “elegant” or worse “inelegant” used to describe this or any other game system again, I’m going to have to let some additional air into my head. Let’s go out on a limb and try out similiar adjectives like sublime, graceful, efficient, tidy, streamlined, effective, or refined - just to see how it feels for a bit. :D

What an elegant suggestion :D

Paizo Employee Designer

9 people marked this as a favorite.
The Raven Black wrote:
Maveric28 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I like GM-set DCs. Players beware

Having bought the collector edition of the playtest book, I am highly disappointed that it will be missing a significant part of the rules

Which is exactly why I DIDN'T purchase the "collectors edition." As a playtest, the book will be completely obsolete within a year. After all, how many of you are still using the Pathfinder Beta that came out back in 2008? So I just didn't/don't see any point to a "collector's edition" other than money-grubbing to finance other future projects.

I do not mind giving Paizo more money. However I dislike getting an incomplete product

I will still vehemently enjoy getting it but with a slight heartache that did not need to be there

It's still a complete expression of the game; to be honest, while it's not the way we usually have done it, there's nothing particularly weird about the hazard statblocks being in the book with the monster statblocks, since both are things the GM needs to reference when the PCs encounter them. When it came down to it, when we laid it out, even though the estimates we made were pretty close overall, it's a long book and differences add up, meaning the book would have physically had too many pages. We could have cut around 10 pages of options from classes, spells, magic items and had less variety in the playtest, but it made more sense to keep more options and instead have the hazards live with the monsters in the book the GM uses to populate adversaries.


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Aratrok wrote:


For example: I can't tell what Paizo thinks a task being "trivial" means, and it doesn't jive at all with my own personal definition. A 1st level trivial task in this setup is failed by a trained specialist of the same level (+4) 25% of the time, and an average attempt from an untrained character (-2) fails 55% of the time. This is almost certainly going to translate to comedy of errors gameplay at the table, with party members regularly failing the easiest possible tasks the system defines.

Afraid of this too, especially with linked rolls (”I sneak up to the wall, climb up to the window, and then listen in on what they say inside”). No fun if your heist style game turns into Keystone Kops.

Paizo Employee Designer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
tivadar27 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

There are rules for building encounters, and we highly recommend it for groups who are interested in trying out some homebrewed adventures.

But there's a huge difference in how usable the data is from a game where the GM built encounters using the monsters we built for the playtest and a game where the GM built the monsters. We are not only stress-testing the PCs, we also need to stress-test the monsters themselves for the first Bestiary, and custom monsters that wind up with an unusual power level not only dilute the monster feedback on the Bestiary monsters, they can potentially ramify into the feedback about the PCs as well, since what the PCs can do is in many respects colored by the foes they face.

Okay, this is at least something I can get a bit more behind. The opening of this was definitely misleading, because it sounds like there *are* details on creating your own adventures (of which encounter design is an integral part, and awarding loot). I understand not wanting custom monsters, but at the same time, hope that some thought has been put into this, and if it's going to be in the Core Book, wish it could also be playtested.

That being said, I don't know how much playtesting you're planning to do for future books, but coming out with a "Monster Builder's Manual" or more complete GM guide (Ultimate Campaign) as a separate book with a separate playtest might not be the worst thing in the world. I understand how that may be perceived as a "money grab", but separate books for players and game runners (of which there are many) and campaign/adventure designers (of which there are fewer), mgiht actually make sense.

There is definitely a difference between basic use and the ability to really mod your game with custom content, custom rules modifications, and so on, and I've said before I'm excited about the possibilities for a book about those topics to come early in the edition cycle, sort of like a deep design guide on various elements rather than only having the rough estimate formulas in the magic item creation chart in the CRB and the like.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
The playtest rules thoroughly define each category. Trivial basically means if this is the DC and the whole party can try it and only one person needs to succeed, it would be incredibly unlikely that no one succeeds. For instance, even an untrained 1st-level character with 10 in the stat, likely the worst you have, is 50/50 at the level 1 trivial (a trivial task of a level is actually roughly defined as "Something a totally uninvested character of that level would be at about a coin flip to do"). Even if an entire party of four was built that way with no one invested at all, it's still only a 1 in 16 chance they don't have someone make it. Trivial DCs are relevant enough to be on the chart because someone probably will fail it if everybody has to roll it and all who fail experience some interesting result of failure.

That doesn't address the issue or my specific complaints even a little bit. All it does is add more questions. Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures? This still results in a world where the most basic tasks in a category (climbing a braced rope, asking for directions, preparing a simple meal, noticing tracks in deep mud) are comically difficult for normal people.

This still doesn't help anyone actually figure out what a level 3 rope or level 6 tracks or a level 8 meal are.

Dark Archive

@Logan Bonner
You mention the "Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary" - when is that coming out and why wasn't it mentioned somewhere before?

I am under the impression that Doomsday Dawn has it's own monster stats, as do the Pathfinder Society adventures 01-04 and wasn't expecting a seperate Bestiary book for the playtest...

Thank you for your time.


Mark Seifter wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Maveric28 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I like GM-set DCs. Players beware

Having bought the collector edition of the playtest book, I am highly disappointed that it will be missing a significant part of the rules

Which is exactly why I DIDN'T purchase the "collectors edition." As a playtest, the book will be completely obsolete within a year. After all, how many of you are still using the Pathfinder Beta that came out back in 2008? So I just didn't/don't see any point to a "collector's edition" other than money-grubbing to finance other future projects.

I do not mind giving Paizo more money. However I dislike getting an incomplete product

I will still vehemently enjoy getting it but with a slight heartache that did not need to be there

It's still a complete expression of the game; to be honest, while it's not the way we usually have done it, there's nothing particularly weird about the hazard statblocks being in the book with the monster statblocks, since both are things the GM needs to reference when the PCs encounter them. When it came down to it, when we laid it out, even though the estimates we made were pretty close overall, it's a long book and differences add up, meaning the book would have physically had too many pages. We could have cut around 10 pages of options from classes, spells, magic items and had less variety in the playtest, but it made more sense to keep more options and instead have the hazards live with the monsters in the book the GM uses to populate adversaries.

A big book of dangers sounds better to me at least than the PHB/MM/DMG combo in 5e where I found myself flicking through all three books to work out how an encounter would even work. I'd personally be interested in having a cleanly laid out book that managed to contain most of the GM information.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Igwilly wrote:

Not very exciting, but good articles nonetheless.

I just want to know the playtest's final boss, but I guess I'll have to wait :P
The downtime rules are going to get my attention. I've never thought much about using these kinds of rules in my games. I'll check that out.

Quadratic W wrote:

So it's the scaling DCs of 4e...but with a static DC table too. One based on a "how difficult is this?" back of the envelope question rather than a "let's add up all these modifiers and see what comes out" approach.

Honestly, that's so elegant I wonder why 4e never thought to use it.

WotC's 4e was worse than 4e :P

But enough talk about editions! Now we fight like men! And ladies, ladies who dress like men! For Gilgamesh, it's morphing time!

(I hope anyone gets it).

P.S.: Why this avatar image popped up here, it's a mystery.

The forum detects variations on the word "smurf" and replaces your normal avatar with a smurf avatar when you use it. It probably detected "s morph" from "it's morphing time" as a variant of smurf.


Good to know. Looking forward to running this thing.
Not looking forward to playing. Sadly, no one else at my table wants to GM next month.
;-;


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Lesson learned for this time around.

Yet I cannot buy a softcover Playtest Bestiary because? Take my money *bleep* it!


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Marco Massoudi wrote:

@Logan Bonner

You mention the "Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary" - when is that coming out and why wasn't it mentioned somewhere before?

I am under the impression that Doomsday Dawn has it's own monster stats, as do the Pathfinder Society adventures 01-04 and wasn't expecting a seperate Bestiary book for the playtest...

Thank you for your time.

Per the seminars at Paizocon (which I'm re-listening to on Know Direction, check their PaizoCon2018 030 - How to Playtest), the monster stats should be in Doomsday Dawn, and there will be a separate free PDF with all the monsters in Doomsday Dawn, as well as a whole host of other monsters with which to tell your own story.


Marco Massoudi wrote:

You mention the "Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary" - when is that coming out and why wasn't it mentioned somewhere before?

I am under the impression that Doomsday Dawn has it's own monster stats, as do the Pathfinder Society adventures 01-04 and wasn't expecting a seperate Bestiary book for the playtest...

We'll also have a free PDF-only playtest bestiary and other free game aids, such as character sheets and rules reference cards.


Marco Massoudi wrote:

@Logan Bonner

You mention the "Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary" - when is that coming out and why wasn't it mentioned somewhere before?

I am under the impression that Doomsday Dawn has it's own monster stats, as do the Pathfinder Society adventures 01-04 and wasn't expecting a seperate Bestiary book for the playtest...

Thank you for your time.

It was actually mentioned back in March.

It was also mentioned on several other sites and interviews, including one of the Know Direction interviews, but I cannot at this moment remember which one.


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Aratrok wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
The playtest rules thoroughly define each category. Trivial basically means if this is the DC and the whole party can try it and only one person needs to succeed, it would be incredibly unlikely that no one succeeds. For instance, even an untrained 1st-level character with 10 in the stat, likely the worst you have, is 50/50 at the level 1 trivial (a trivial task of a level is actually roughly defined as "Something a totally uninvested character of that level would be at about a coin flip to do"). Even if an entire party of four was built that way with no one invested at all, it's still only a 1 in 16 chance they don't have someone make it. Trivial DCs are relevant enough to be on the chart because someone probably will fail it if everybody has to roll it and all who fail experience some interesting result of failure.

That doesn't address the issue or my specific complaints even a little bit. All it does is add more questions. Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures? This still results in a world where the most basic tasks in a category (climbing a braced rope, asking for directions, preparing a simple meal, noticing tracks in deep mud) are comically difficult for normal people.

This still doesn't help anyone actually figure out what a level 3 rope or level 6 tracks or a level 8 meal are.

Maybe read the very first line Mark wrote in the post you're replying to? And then wait the couple of weeks before the book comes out so you can read the actual chapter and see whether it actually addresses what you're looking for?

Paizo Employee Designer

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Aratrok wrote:
Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures?

The easiest possible task of a level is roughly a coin flip for the worst characters of that level around at that skill because if it was much easier than that, it's not really an appropriate task of that level after all. This is interestingly the opposite of the posts I've seen worrying that 10 stat untrained characters are going to be too effective at skills, though they were from different posters.

Asking for directions or preparing a simple meal wouldn't be a skill check. Noticing tracks in deep mud, not following but just seeing some tracks there (let's say DC 9 Trivial level 0 Perception), let's say we built the worst possible Perception character possible, a goblin 8 Wis character trained in Perception for a +0. This character has a 2/3 chance to notice the tracks immediately, the first time he even glanced around the area. If he spent even a single round just looking around, his chance of noticing the tracks is 96.3%.


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I genuinely do appreciate how PF2 has made a deliberate attempt to make things easier to GM "by the book."

Since there was never any chance I was going to crack a book to see how hard it is to climb a specific rope in a specific circumstance. Stuff like "this would be moderately difficult for a level 2 character" is easier (for me at least) to parse when a player asks "how hard to climb on top of that?"


Charlaquin wrote:
Childeric, The Shatterer wrote:

man, by the time you guys get to revealing the Human (the only non-revealed aspect that I wanna see), I'll already have the playtest book and won't need the preview.

I’m pretty sure they would have previewed the human by now if they were planning to preview it at all. All the other ancestries came out in quick succession, apart from humans, half-elves, and half-orcs. Clearly they’re doing something different with the Human (and part-Human) Ancestry that they don’t want to spoil.

Hmmmm, I disagree they still have 2 Monday’s and a Friday. We know for sure next Monday is the Druid since that’s the only class left to preview, and they haven’t done multiclassing yet so that’s probably next Friday.

I agree that they are probably doing something extremely fundamentally different for the human and half races so they might preview it on Monday August 1 as a HUGE “hey guys here is what’s really gonna get you hyped for the playtest release tomorrow.”

You know as like a save the best for last thing.


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Cantriped wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Lesson learned for this time around.
Yet I cannot buy a softcover Playtest Bestiary because? Take my money *bleep* it!

Most likely time constraints. Their first priority was getting the Playtest rules done and then they've been working on the Bestiary afterwards (or rather, finishing it), thus there was not time to get it printed before the same deadline as the Playtest book.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I genuinely do appreciate how PF2 has made a deliberate attempt to make things easier to GM "by the book."

Since there was never any chance I was going to crack a book to see how hard it is to climb a specific rope in a specific circumstance. Stuff like "this would be moderately difficult for a level 2 character" is easier (for me at least) to parse when a player asks "how hard to climb on top of that?"

Yeah, I'll often say "That's a hard wall to climb" to my players, and then they ask, "so what DC does that mean?". Now they know the DC, and I know it's an appropriate challenge for what I want.


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SMORPH!

Wooo-HOO! YES!

Paizo Employee Designer

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Cantriped wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Lesson learned for this time around.
Yet I cannot buy a softcover Playtest Bestiary because? Take my money *bleep* it!

Pure timing prevented this: to give the maximum time to get out the best product, not only did we switch to Canadian printing to allow more design, development, editing, and layout, but we knew we had to plan to have the Playtestiary edited and laid out after the drop dead date for printing a book that comes out at GenCon or we would have broken the editing and art teams.

EDIT: Ninjaed by GentleGiant!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

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"This first category is great when you need the DC of an obstacle created by an enemy of a certain level but don't have all their statistics"

This is why I prefer to have all the statistics for monsters - scaling DCs shouldn't ever be needed. I guess it's inevitable with adding your level to every check though.


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I was curious about static DCs, it focuses on them being "hard" at low level (DC14... doesn't seem so hard, but YMMV) but doesn't discuss higher difficulty static DCs which may be extremely hard at low level (DC20+) and still pretty tough at higher levels except for those especially built for them (stat/etc). Do these exist, but blog just didn't focus on them?

Aratrok wrote:
Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures? This still results in a world where the most basic tasks in a category... are comically difficult for normal people.

I think this is good point. And objectively, this is same chances as attacking somebody without armor. But I don't think that is necessarily the best target for the easiest class of skill DCs. I think there is value in substantially expressing "very easy" category that is lower than DC10... Which would also be relevant above Level 1 when facing groups of Level 1 enemies (with environmental checks to move etc). EDIT: I think there may also be room for "very easy high level check" which is distinguished by failure effect being powerfully harsh, yet over-all chance of failure is low.

EDIT:

Mark Seifter wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures?
The easiest possible task of a level is roughly a coin flip for the worst characters of that level around at that skill because if it was much easier than that, it's not really an appropriate task of that level after all.

Not sure if I agree with this, considering stuff like environmental DCs to move have tactical effect even with e.g. 75% pass rate, and that extends to higher levels considering groups of lower level enemies. De-buffs etc also extend level-range of relevance. Essentially, even if success is highly likely, a small chance of wasting actions is very tactically relevant, and give value both to people who are good at these skills at low levels and who have abilities to bypass need for check. Of course these lower DC checks will even more quickly shift to realm of "autopass", aside from Nat1Failure.

--------------

That it also states "This section also speaks to some particular categories of skill DCs for crafting, gathering Information, performing..." makes me wonder, given it is talking about the Gamemastering chapter... Is there no longer a listing of skill-specific DCs/modifiers under Skills chapter itself? That seems like implication to me. I guess in a way, that is appropriate change, since in 3.x/P1E having that information in Skills chapter often meant splitting up relevant rules between Skills and more GM focused chapter e.g. Environment... and the alternative would be duplicating the rules in both places. But is this actually the case?

Blog wrote:
The last section of the Game Mastering chapter briefly summarizes environments and the rules for hazards (such as traps, environmental dangers, and haunts). These are covered in more detail in the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary. They'll be in the final version of Pathfinder Second Edition's core rulebook, but the Playtest Rulebook didn't have quite enough space for the whole thing!

Man, reading the first part of that made me think putting Traps/Haunts/etc in Bestiary was intentional new direction. Obviously this is just space issue with Playtest print version (which I suppose had other stuff added in which "kicked out" this content temporarily), but I was convinced it was a good idea to permanently implement. Especially since it holds promise of future Bestiaries printing MORE Traps/Haunts/Environmental Hazards, which IMHO would be good thing for getting more variety there (esp. with promise of new complex traps/environmental hazards). And the fact a Trapper PC might want to reference them doesn't seem much more problematic than a Summoner PC needing Animal/Monster stats from Bestiary (which is much more common to begin with). Fundamentally this cateogory is just 90% GM-bait, and seems more likely to be welcomed in Bestiary line than it is shoving it into APG et al PC-focused line. If it gets a few non-GM Trapper players to buy the Bestiary too, then win for Paizo AFAIK. Sometimes accidents are good ideas too!

Scarab Sages

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This is the first decision that really upset me. It’s taking the worst part of 5th edition and basically asking the GM to pick the DC to everything. Like what level is a rope, why is everything arbitrary. If five GMs can all have wildly different opinions on the DC of the same task, then the system is not working. If I wanted to make up all the DCs, I would use a different system. One of Pathfinder’s strengths is fairly well-defined rules. And trivial failing half the time is ridiculous. It’s trivial, you shouldn’t fail the most basic possible task 50%. And what even is a level 3 challenge. Is making a dish level 0 or 1, what level is climbing a rope, etc. I was really in support of 2e and I’m disappointed that this section is such a let down.


Mark Seifter wrote:

There are rules for building encounters, and we highly recommend it for groups who are interested in trying out some homebrewed adventures.

But there's a huge difference in how usable the data is from a game where the GM built encounters using the monsters we built for the playtest and a game where the GM built the monsters. We are not only stress-testing the PCs, we also need to stress-test the monsters themselves for the first Bestiary, and custom monsters that wind up with an unusual power level not only dilute the monster feedback on the Bestiary monsters, they can potentially ramify into the feedback about the PCs as well, since what the PCs can do is in many respects colored by the foes they face.

What about doing the playtest in two parts? One from custom PCs with pre-generated monsters and encounter like the one we are already going to have, and a second one with pre-generated characters were GM use custom monsters and other options that checks creation rules for monsters, NPC, etc. Would that have been helpful?


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Aratrok wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
The playtest rules thoroughly define each category. Trivial basically means if this is the DC and the whole party can try it and only one person needs to succeed, it would be incredibly unlikely that no one succeeds. For instance, even an untrained 1st-level character with 10 in the stat, likely the worst you have, is 50/50 at the level 1 trivial (a trivial task of a level is actually roughly defined as "Something a totally uninvested character of that level would be at about a coin flip to do"). Even if an entire party of four was built that way with no one invested at all, it's still only a 1 in 16 chance they don't have someone make it. Trivial DCs are relevant enough to be on the chart because someone probably will fail it if everybody has to roll it and all who fail experience some interesting result of failure.
Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures? This still results in a world where the most basic tasks in a category (climbing a braced rope, asking for directions, preparing a simple meal, noticing tracks in deep mud) are comically difficult for normal people.

Ooh, ooh, pick me!

It's because anything easier than what's listed should just be automatically given to the players as a success. If there's pretty much no chance of failure, you don't even bother rolling.

That said, I would prefer that the name "trivial" be reserved for things you would gloss over in such a way, and start the actual DCs with "moderate."

Paizo Employee Designer

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JoelF847 wrote:

"This first category is great when you need the DC of an obstacle created by an enemy of a certain level but don't have all their statistics"

This is why I prefer to have all the statistics for monsters - scaling DCs shouldn't ever be needed. I guess it's inevitable with adding your level to every check though.

Sure, you'll have all the statistics for monsters, Logan didn't say you wouldn't. But you don't always have all the statistics for an NPC; imagine in PF1 you're running your homebrew or using a Golarion product where you've noted (or the book mentions) that the master stonemason who built the castle is level 10 with a microstatblock (LN Human Female Expert 10). Now you don't need to expand that microstatblock out to calculate a good DC for what sorts of architectural tricks that stonemason might have included.

Paizo Employee Designer

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SilverliteSword wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
The playtest rules thoroughly define each category. Trivial basically means if this is the DC and the whole party can try it and only one person needs to succeed, it would be incredibly unlikely that no one succeeds. For instance, even an untrained 1st-level character with 10 in the stat, likely the worst you have, is 50/50 at the level 1 trivial (a trivial task of a level is actually roughly defined as "Something a totally uninvested character of that level would be at about a coin flip to do"). Even if an entire party of four was built that way with no one invested at all, it's still only a 1 in 16 chance they don't have someone make it. Trivial DCs are relevant enough to be on the chart because someone probably will fail it if everybody has to roll it and all who fail experience some interesting result of failure.
Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures? This still results in a world where the most basic tasks in a category (climbing a braced rope, asking for directions, preparing a simple meal, noticing tracks in deep mud) are comically difficult for normal people.

Ooh, ooh, pick me!

It's because anything easier than what's listed should just be automatically given to the players as a success. If there's pretty much no chance of failure, you don't even bother rolling.

That said, I would prefer that the name "trivial" be reserved for things you would gloss over in such a way, and start the actual DCs with "moderate."

As you have cleverly guessed, there is a class of things you don't even bother rolling, and that actually can scale with the PCs' level. It's explained in the Playtest CRB.


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The minimum DC bothers me a little too, having the table appear to bottom out at DC 9 is problematic. Does the table include negative/fractional 'levels' so that I can posit even easier tasks? For example:
Climb Wet Stairs (Athletics DC 2)*
*You only fail if you're weak and intoxicated.

Otherwise there must be some set if conditions that obviate the need for rolls in conditions where it would damage the narrative.


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Aramar wrote:


If I'm reading things correctly, this also means that Trained Assurance only applies to 3 possible tasks; level 0 trivial and low, and level 1 trivial.

Characters are less likely to have Assurance in skills they are only trained in. Expert, Master and Legendary benefits tells more.

If the chart is extended following the same pattern:


  • Experts with Assurance will never fail Trivial tasks below level 7.
  • Masters with Assurance will auto-crit level 1 Trivial tasks and never fail a Trivial task before level 12.
  • Legends with Assurance will auto-crit level 11 Trivial tasks and never fail a trivial task under level 22


Michael Sayre wrote:
Igwilly wrote:

Not very exciting, but good articles nonetheless.

I just want to know the playtest's final boss, but I guess I'll have to wait :P
The downtime rules are going to get my attention. I've never thought much about using these kinds of rules in my games. I'll check that out.

Quadratic W wrote:

So it's the scaling DCs of 4e...but with a static DC table too. One based on a "how difficult is this?" back of the envelope question rather than a "let's add up all these modifiers and see what comes out" approach.

Honestly, that's so elegant I wonder why 4e never thought to use it.

WotC's 4e was worse than 4e :P

But enough talk about editions! Now we fight like men! And ladies, ladies who dress like men! For Gilgamesh, it's morphing time!

(I hope anyone gets it).

P.S.: Why this avatar image popped up here, it's a mystery.

The forum detects variations on the word "smurf" and replaces your normal avatar with a smurf avatar when you use it. It probably detected "s morph" from "it's morphing time" as a variant of smurf.

TIL. I like smurfs, this is the best thing ever. : )


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Mark Seifter wrote:
SilverliteSword wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
The playtest rules thoroughly define each category. Trivial basically means if this is the DC and the whole party can try it and only one person needs to succeed, it would be incredibly unlikely that no one succeeds. For instance, even an untrained 1st-level character with 10 in the stat, likely the worst you have, is 50/50 at the level 1 trivial (a trivial task of a level is actually roughly defined as "Something a totally uninvested character of that level would be at about a coin flip to do"). Even if an entire party of four was built that way with no one invested at all, it's still only a 1 in 16 chance they don't have someone make it. Trivial DCs are relevant enough to be on the chart because someone probably will fail it if everybody has to roll it and all who fail experience some interesting result of failure.
Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures? This still results in a world where the most basic tasks in a category (climbing a braced rope, asking for directions, preparing a simple meal, noticing tracks in deep mud) are comically difficult for normal people.

Ooh, ooh, pick me!

It's because anything easier than what's listed should just be automatically given to the players as a success. If there's pretty much no chance of failure, you don't even bother rolling.

That said, I would prefer that the name "trivial" be reserved for things you would gloss over in such a way, and start the actual DCs with "moderate."

As you have cleverly guessed, there is a class of things you don't even bother rolling, and that actually can scale with the PCs' level. It's explained in the Playtest CRB.

Welp, Mark replied to my post and called me clever. I'd best quit while I'm ahead.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
Why is the easiest possible level appropriate task a coin flip for average untrained creatures?

The easiest possible task of a level is roughly a coin flip for the worst characters of that level around at that skill because if it was much easier than that, it's not really an appropriate task of that level after all. This is interestingly the opposite of the posts I've seen worrying that 10 stat untrained characters are going to be too effective at skills, though they were from different posters.

Asking for directions or preparing a simple meal wouldn't be a skill check. Noticing tracks in deep mud, not following but just seeing some tracks there (let's say DC 9 Trivial level 0 Perception), let's say we built the worst possible Perception character possible, a goblin 8 Wis character trained in Perception for a +0. This character has a 2/3 chance to notice the tracks immediately, the first time he even glanced around the area. If he spent even a single round just looking around, his chance of noticing the tracks is 96.3%.

I'm breaking my self-imposed posting embargo to comment here specifically to voice what my concerns are to you.

In Starfinder, I pretty much stopped playing it because unless you were the right class (Most of the time Operative) then you should just shove off at trying skills.

Don't have a +4 in the stat? Don't have a static class bonus? Don't have it both as a class skill and possess max ranks? Well then don't even bother unless all you are attempting is an aid action.

So my chosen class felt useless 90% of the time.

Then over in Pathfinder I found somewhat similar issues with my Paladin numerous times. Level 11, with 11 ranks, Diplomacy as a class skill, and a +6 Charisma modifier? +20? That seems good... Psh, yeah right... Better pile on at least a +2 more through items just to be sure... Okay, now you're good, now... Wait... You have a Bard in the party? Oh well, because they are a Bard, they've got a +33. You might as well just aid them. (Especially in organized play.)

And it looks like PF2 has avoided both of these problems, and for that I am happy.


Alric Rahl wrote:
Charlaquin wrote:
Childeric, The Shatterer wrote:

man, by the time you guys get to revealing the Human (the only non-revealed aspect that I wanna see), I'll already have the playtest book and won't need the preview.

I’m pretty sure they would have previewed the human by now if they were planning to preview it at all. All the other ancestries came out in quick succession, apart from humans, half-elves, and half-orcs. Clearly they’re doing something different with the Human (and part-Human) Ancestry that they don’t want to spoil.

Hmmmm, I disagree they still have 2 Monday’s and a Friday. We know for sure next Monday is the Druid since that’s the only class left to preview, and they haven’t done multiclassing yet so that’s probably next Friday.

I agree that they are probably doing something extremely fundamentally different for the human and half races so they might preview it on Monday August 1 as a HUGE “hey guys here is what’s really gonna get you hyped for the playtest release tomorrow.”

You know as like a save the best for last thing.

Umm. Monday, August 1st? Not exactly...


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I think the most useful thing to me is if there's good discussion about what those difficulty tiers means.

Ie like Mark has said a "trivial" challenge is worth using if
a) you need/expect the party to succeed even if everyone is bad at it, but everyone is allowed to try
b) there's a useful penalty/bonus to award on failure/success to the characters for story/encounter reasons following

'Extreme' implies (just guessing):
a) if everyone tries, characters for whom this is a non-good skill have a a pretty high chance of critically failing -- you shouldn't require the whole party to roll unless you want that
b) one success is probably enough
c) good for blocking 'optional' content, or for forcing a sidequest/long route

etc


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SilverliteSword wrote:


It's because anything easier than what's listed should just be automatically given to the players as a success. If there's pretty much no chance of failure, you don't even bother rolling.

That said, I would prefer that the name "trivial" be reserved for things you would gloss over in such a way, and start the actual DCs with "moderate."

In PF1, it was quite easy to determine when a task was easy enough to skip rolling for it: When you succeeded on a natural one (remember, natural 1 on a skill roll was *not* a failure in PF1). :) :)

Question is: How do you determine this in PF2?


Quadratic W wrote:

So it's the scaling DCs of 4e...but with a static DC table too. One based on a "how difficult is this?" back of the envelope question rather than a "let's add up all these modifiers and see what comes out" approach.

Honestly, that's so elegant I wonder why 4e never thought to use it.

What do you mean, "never thought"? Isn't this the same thing as the 4E difficulty table? Different numbers obviously, as it's a 20-level-by-5-difficulty-categories table, rather than 30-level-by-3-categories, but exactly the same in principle?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Quadratic W wrote:

So it's the scaling DCs of 4e...but with a static DC table too. One based on a "how difficult is this?" back of the envelope question rather than a "let's add up all these modifiers and see what comes out" approach.

Honestly, that's so elegant I wonder why 4e never thought to use it.

4e has a scaling table and static tables as well. For example, all the static DCs for strength checks are on page 175 of the Essentials Rules Compendium, starting with Break Wooden Door at DC 13 and ending with Adamnitne Portcullis at DC 35. The static challenges do not scale with character level, just things like lore checks for high level challenges or general hazard DCs, exactly as explained i this blog.

Scarab Sages

Childeric, The Shatterer wrote:

man, by the time you guys get to revealing the Human (the only non-revealed aspect that I wanna see), I'll already have the playtest book and won't need the preview.

I'm going to guess with Gen Con being week after next, we aren't going to get any further previews.

Grand Lodge

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As someone who's about to GM for the first time ever with Doomsday Dawn, this is exciting stuff!

In fact, most of my group is new to tabletop roleplaying, and (except me) those that aren't are still rather unfamiliar with Pathfinder itself, so we should have some interesting data as to how the system works if you're not so familiar with it (one of the potential pitfalls that PF1 had).

Paizo Employee Designer

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Quandary wrote:
Not sure if I agree with this, considering stuff like environmental DCs to move have tactical effect even with e.g. 75% pass rate, and that extends to higher levels considering groups of lower level enemies. De-buffs etc also extend level-range of relevance. Essentially, even if success is highly likely, a small chance of wasting actions is very tactically relevant, and give value both to people who are good at these skills at low levels and who have abilities to bypass need for check.

2/3-3/4 pass rate is indeed quite lovely for such effects; in fact, the fact that Trivial DCs provide those kinds of odds for a more middle ground character is another of their advantages and reasons to be included on the chart. Once it's 75% success for worst-character, though, that means nobody else is really engaging with it, which is possibly useful in some situations but sounds more to me like using a lower level challenge to spotlight the fact that worst-character might fail even though everyone else make it 95% of the time and can't critically fail. Hmm, it may be the case that a different column head than Trivial would help explain this concept better, particularly in absentia of the rules and just the chart excerpt.

As to lower level foes setting things up, the DCs only scale if the circumstances of the task warrant a higher level; if it's a task involving groups of lower level enemies, it might well be be a lower level task as well.


Ultimatecalibur wrote:
Aramar wrote:


If I'm reading things correctly, this also means that Trained Assurance only applies to 3 possible tasks; level 0 trivial and low, and level 1 trivial.

Characters are less likely to have Assurance in skills they are only trained in. Expert, Master and Legendary benefits tells more.

If the chart is extended following the same pattern:


  • Experts with Assurance will never fail Trivial tasks below level 7.
  • Masters with Assurance will auto-crit level 1 Trivial tasks and never fail a Trivial task before level 12.
  • Legends with Assurance will auto-crit level 11 Trivial tasks and never fail a trivial task under level 22

I agree completely that the higher levels Assurance are much more impressive.

I was only thinking that Trained Assurance itself seemed lackluster, and even more so if it happens to be a pre-req for any higher assurance levels.

Paizo Employee Designer

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NielsenE wrote:

I think the most useful thing to me is if there's good discussion about what those difficulty tiers means.

Ie like Mark has said a "trivial" challenge is worth using if
a) you need/expect the party to succeed even if everyone is bad at it, but everyone is allowed to try
b) there's a useful penalty/bonus to award on failure/success to the characters for story/encounter reasons following

'Extreme' implies (just guessing):
a) if everyone tries, characters for whom this is a non-good skill have a a pretty high chance of critically failing -- you shouldn't require the whole party to roll unless you want that
b) one success is probably enough
c) good for blocking 'optional' content, or for forcing a sidequest/long route

etc

Very good instincts on extreme. Extreme isn't super commonly used, but another good use might be the Stealth DC for a major hazard that can be detected by a low Perception rank, especially if it's untrained and everyone gets to roll even if they aren't searching. Extreme is a good option because lots of people are rolling it, the critical fail doesn't really do anything different for Seek, and in all, succeeding and bypassing the hazard is, like you say, a cool bonus/optional thing that makes the one who spotted it a hero, rather than an expectation that the PCs must do.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Aramar wrote:
Ultimatecalibur wrote:
Aramar wrote:


If I'm reading things correctly, this also means that Trained Assurance only applies to 3 possible tasks; level 0 trivial and low, and level 1 trivial.

Characters are less likely to have Assurance in skills they are only trained in. Expert, Master and Legendary benefits tells more.

If the chart is extended following the same pattern:


  • Experts with Assurance will never fail Trivial tasks below level 7.
  • Masters with Assurance will auto-crit level 1 Trivial tasks and never fail a Trivial task before level 12.
  • Legends with Assurance will auto-crit level 11 Trivial tasks and never fail a trivial task under level 22

I agree completely that the higher levels Assurance are much more impressive.

I was only thinking that Trained Assurance itself seemed lackluster, and even more so if it happens to be a pre-req for any higher assurance levels.

Buy it once, and it autoscales as you increase your skill rank!


Mark Seifter wrote:
Quandary wrote:
Not sure if I agree with this, considering stuff like environmental DCs to move have tactical effect even with e.g. 75% pass rate, and that extends to higher levels considering groups of lower level enemies. De-buffs etc also extend level-range of relevance.
2/3-3/4 pass rate is indeed quite lovely for such effects; in fact, the fact that Trivial DCs provide those kinds of odds for a more middle ground character is another of their advantages and reasons to be included on the chart. Once it's 75% success for worst-character, though, that means nobody else is really engaging with it...

I guess I still see it as highly relevant for Level 1 enemies, which AFAIK will be elements of group encounters for quite a few levels... And group encounters seem precisely the ideal show-case given more mooks = higher chance for low-probability failure to manifest. As well as de-buffs extending level-range relevance (for PCs and mooks), there is also Summons/Companions to consider. Over-all, clearly this is more applicable to lower end of spectrum of the game, but I think it is still valuable to give it expression. The fact that these checks may have "Critical Success" effects just reinforces my opinion.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Aramar wrote:
Ultimatecalibur wrote:
Aramar wrote:


If I'm reading things correctly, this also means that Trained Assurance only applies to 3 possible tasks; level 0 trivial and low, and level 1 trivial.

Characters are less likely to have Assurance in skills they are only trained in. Expert, Master and Legendary benefits tells more.

If the chart is extended following the same pattern:


  • Experts with Assurance will never fail Trivial tasks below level 7.
  • Masters with Assurance will auto-crit level 1 Trivial tasks and never fail a Trivial task before level 12.
  • Legends with Assurance will auto-crit level 11 Trivial tasks and never fail a trivial task under level 22

I agree completely that the higher levels Assurance are much more impressive.

I was only thinking that Trained Assurance itself seemed lackluster, and even more so if it happens to be a pre-req for any higher assurance levels.
Buy it once, and it autoscales as you increase your skill rank!

Oh thank goodness. I don't know if I missed that tidbit before, but thank you for saying it.

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