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

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Quandary wrote:
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.

I think I parse this now, there's some subtext unsaid: I think you are essentially saying "It would be cool if there was a battle setup where the skill check was really easy for the level 5 PCs but the level 1 monsters they were fighting have some issues with the obstacle?" In that case, why not create an obstacle with a level 1 skill DC? The two-dimensional nature of the chart means you don't need to handle every possible situation by moving left and right along the columns; sometimes the best bet is to move up and down through the rows instead.

And if so, I agree, it is super valuable to include lower level challenges in there sometimes. A GM who just arbitrarily ups the challenge of everything in the world as the PCs level up and only uses a single row that matches the PCs' level is just creating a sort of moving goalpost, and that's not what this chart is for.


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Mark Seifter wrote:

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.

Doesn't feel like it handles "all five rolls must succeed" situations well, like when all five in a party must climb the same rope for the entire party to make it up the wall, or a climb is long enough that you need to roll five times. Then a 75% success rate rapidly feels quite challenging...

As for one character being behind not meaning others are not engaged - my experience is that team members do engage in this, increasing their DC to lower the DC of the character in question through various more or less clever solutions. Especially if you don't want to leave someone behind when climbing that rope...

Paizo Employee Designer

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Mats Öhrman wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

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.

Doesn't feel like it handles "all five rolls must succeed" situations well, like when all five in a party must climb the same rope for the entire party to make it up the wall, or a climb is long enough that you need to roll five times. Then a 75% success rate rapidly feels quite challenging...

As for one character being behind not meaning others are not engaged - my experience is that team members do engage in this, increasing their DC to lower the DC of the character in question through various more or less clever solutions. Especially if you don't want to leave someone behind when climbing that rope...

A climb is a little bit different of a check than it seems. You've actually found the final one of the main powerful uses of a trivial DC. Climbing just to get to the other side is a "Succeed before you critically fail" check, not a success/fail. That means the schlub character with a 50/50 success chance actually has a greater than 90% chance to succeed before critically failing (it's 10/11, succeed on an 11 or higher, crit fail on a 1, ignore 2 through 10 and roll again). If the DC goes up even a little beyond that, the chances of the schlub character to succeed before a critical fail drastically decrease.


Mats Öhrman wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

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.

Doesn't feel like it handles "all five rolls must succeed" situations well, like when all five in a party must climb the same rope for the entire party to make it up the wall, or a climb is long enough that you need to roll five times. Then a 75% success rate rapidly feels quite challenging...

As for one character being behind not meaning others are not engaged - my experience is that team members do engage in this, increasing their DC to lower the DC of the character in question through various more or less clever solutions. Especially if you don't want to leave someone behind when climbing that rope...

That sounds like a job for a skill challenge or teamwork subsystem. Something like everyone rolls and if there are more successes than failure the whole party advances. Critical successes/failure count double.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Charlaquin 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.

[sarcasm]Yeah, how dare Paizo finance other futute projects! Who wants other futute projects? Ugh. Core books only for me, please![/sarcasm]

In all seriousness though, yeah, I just couldn’t justify paying for the playtest rules when they’re going to be free in PDF form, and outdated once the finalized rules release.

We are making all these print products because people were vastly more interested in them than expected the first time around for Pathfinder. I understand the first time they printed a few softcovers because we can get those printed and sell them for cheaper than people could usually print their own at Kinko's, but it was assumed most people would just use the free pdf, and--surprise!--many more people wanted the print version than expected. Lesson learned for this time around.

To be clear, I don’t take any issue with you all selling softcover, hardcover, or premium versions of the playtest rules. They’re great collector’s items, and I wish I had the spare cash to have gotten one myself.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Mats Öhrman wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

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.

Doesn't feel like it handles "all five rolls must succeed" situations well, like when all five in a party must climb the same rope for the entire party to make it up the wall, or a climb is long enough that you need to roll five times. Then a 75% success rate rapidly feels quite challenging...

As for one character being behind not meaning others are not engaged - my experience is that team members do engage in this, increasing their DC to lower the DC of the character in question through various more or less clever solutions. Especially if you don't want to leave someone behind when climbing that rope...

A climb is a little bit different of a check than it seems. You've actually found the final one of the main powerful uses of a trivial DC. Climbing just to get to the other side is a "Succeed before you critically fail" check, not a success/fail. That means the schlub character with a 50/50 success chance actually has a greater than 90% chance to succeed before critically failing (it's 10/11, succeed on an 11 or higher, crit fail on a 1, ignore 2 through 10 and roll again). If the DC goes up even a little beyond that, the chances of the schlub character to succeed before a critical fail drastically decrease.

Neat! However, that seems kind of long and drawn-out so I probably won't require a roll unless that particular climb is dramatically relevant (rising floodwaters, a pack of ravenous wolves hot on their tail, breaking into someplace where falling means making sound and being detected, etc.). It's really no fun when you are climbing a tree to pick some apples with no real pressure and the GM makes you roll anyways.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Quandary wrote:
[very easy Level 1 checks]
I think I parse this now, there's some subtext unsaid: I think you are essentially saying "It would be cool if there was a battle setup where the skill check was really easy for the level 5 PCs but the level 1 monsters they were fighting have some issues with the obstacle?" In that case, why not create an obstacle with a level 1 skill DC?

Because with paradigm so far, that means giving the mooks a DC10 check, ~50%. So certainly, what I am discussing is a Level 1 environmental check in encounter (whether for Level 1 PCs, or for higher level PCs VS many low level mook enemies), but my point is IMHO there is value in checks where the mooks (+ summons, companions?) have higher chance of success, since ~50% is very tough for something which may involve basic navigation/functioning in environment, right? I edited previous post to say this, but IMHO Crit Success also makes this hypothetical "very easy" category even more relevant including to PCs. EDIT: Specifically, more quickly allowing COMMON "Critical Success" for low level easy stuff is way to make players feel noticeably empowered vs stuff that was at least nominal challenge, even after mere success is all but assured. Also, eventually CritSuccess being all but assured is further stage of relevance for this class of DC.

Tangentially, on opposite side of things, I think "single BBEG encounter in high level environment" is interesting angle which encounter system could accommodate for... Skill DCs to avoid "suck factor" making environment itself a meta-mook for the encounter (while unlikely to hinder BBEG, although technically they may still need to roll). Probably ideally with weak "suck factor" for normal Fails, but Crit Fails would bring the pain. Combining enemy with complex trap also seems interesting possibility (and way to extend relevance of given trap).


I am very much looking forward to running Playtest. I'll run the Doomsday as well as make my own campaign, so I can get as many players as I know into the feedback, it's all relevant.

First thing I'm doing is reading the Jabberwock. There is no better creature.

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Mats Öhrman wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

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.

Doesn't feel like it handles "all five rolls must succeed" situations well, like when all five in a party must climb the same rope for the entire party to make it up the wall, or a climb is long enough that you need to roll five times. Then a 75% success rate rapidly feels quite challenging...

As for one character being behind not meaning others are not engaged - my experience is that team members do engage in this, increasing their DC to lower the DC of the character in question through various more or less clever solutions. Especially if you don't want to leave someone behind when climbing that rope...

A climb is a little bit different of a check than it seems. You've actually found the final one of the main powerful uses of a trivial DC. Climbing just to get to the other side is a "Succeed before you critically fail" check, not a success/fail. That means the schlub character with a 50/50 success chance actually has a greater than 90% chance to succeed before critically failing (it's 10/11, succeed on an 11 or higher, crit fail on a 1, ignore 2 through 10 and roll again). If the DC goes up even a little beyond that, the chances of the schlub character to succeed before a critical fail drastically decrease.

Would this be similar to a group of PCs trying to sneak up near an enemy campsite at night? Succeed before critically fail?

Going into the enemy I would adjudicate as succeed before fail, but just getting close is maybe different.

I always have players that WANT to stealth together, but it has never panned out, because the fighters and barbarians just can't.


Charlaquin wrote:


We are making all these print products because people were vastly more interested in them than expected the first time around for Pathfinder. I understand the first time they printed a few softcovers because we can get those printed and sell them for cheaper than people could usually print their own at Kinko's, but it was assumed most people would just use the free pdf, and--surprise!--many more people wanted the print version than expected. Lesson learned for this time around.

To be clear, I don’t take any issue with you all selling softcover, hardcover, or premium versions of the playtest rules. They’re great collector’s items, and I wish I had the spare cash to have gotten one myself.

Also, agree totally. Having the physical book makes it much more engaging and real, and a true piece of Pathfinder history that I now hold a piece of.

If it was just a pdf I bloody hate reading off a screen (items intended to be read, not the internet/social media itself) and this also makes it so I can show mates the book mid session without needing to hand over my laptop.


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So we know skills and ability checks are going to scale with level now, and skill DCs are also going to scale with level.

It seems like the easiest thing to do is is just tell players to roll a d20 and then say "a ten or higher for a trivial task, a fifteen or higher for a difficult task."

These DCs seem to be doing the same thing, but there's an extra step that's obscuring the results.


Beginning and ending encounters, yes! I definitely want advice on that. I'm glad to see there is material on that in the playtest books. I'm always trying to decide at what distance and formation to start initiative, what is fair to the players, what is fun. (e.g.: Should the mummy start the fight standing? Or does it stand up in the surprise round? They are in charge range, the aura might take half the group out of the fight if it goes first. Does something blocking the charge lane favor the PCs or the mummy? They are mingling with the guests, do I randomly place them or start them in some kind of 'oh s~@~' formation?)

It's nice to have level appropriate table of DCs. I took the DC table from a PFS special and added it to my GM screen for guidance when the PCs went off the rails. But why is this in the blog? No need to go sharing how the sausage is made.


The chart has a level 0, does that mean we will be able to make 0 level characters?


blope wrote:
The chart has a level 0, does that mean we will be able to make 0 level characters?

I don't think so i think that is just to reference a townsfolk level of task like collecting fire wood in a forest is probably survival lvl 0 tedious task cause wood and sticks are just so abundant.


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I'd rather have a clear formula for each column, not an inconsistent table you have to keep open / make a copy of and constantly refer to. Some of the lesser difficulties increase by 2 at some levels yet the higher difficulties increase by 1 per level? I thought the base DC was going to be number + level, not a weird exception based table where it goes 12 14 15.

While a universal formula or, ugh, table is useful to have defined, I hope each skill description still has a list of example difficulties / levels / DCs. Especially because it is really weird to think of a river, tree or the like in terms of having a level, and that won't necessarily come naturally and definitely not without a lot of examples for comparison. If the GM has to always guess what level a moderately fast river is or what level an oak tree is before setting the DC, that will lead to inconsistencies even within one game let alone from table to table. This becomes especially relevant if some things can't even be attempted unless you're Expert+, as opposed to merely trained, and the divisions will need to be extremely well defined for each possible category of check.

This was a really really short blog. I was hoping to see more on either exploration or social encounters, but it looks like we aren't getting those at all...


High level gaming interests me the most. I will run Doomsday Dawn with the special goal of testing out the upper end of the level scale. Most of my Pathfinder campaigns have taken characters from 1st to 20th level, and in my games the first edition Core Rulebook works fine. I hope the new edition proves to be as great a product as the original, and I will help make it so if I can.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Ectar wrote:
I always have players that WANT to stealth together, but it has never panned out, because the fighters and barbarians just can't.

That is far and away one of my favorite things about the way skills work in the new edition. Instead of group stealth being functionally impossible, even the non-stealth characters get some basic practice at sneaking (as represented by the proficiency+level+modifier model), so there's usually still some point in them trying to be stealthy and it's not just dooming them to failure or forcing the group to split the party every time they want to move without announcing their presence. It's still going to be harder to sneak with the fullplate-wearing fighter in tow, but there's not going to be a 40 point difference between his Stealth score and the rogue's.


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Nitro~Nina wrote:

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).

As someone just reaching the end of their first proper campaign (going for 1-2 years now) with a bunch of former newbies, have fun and good luck!

Paizo Employee Designer

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Quandary wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Quandary wrote:
[very easy Level 1 checks]
I think I parse this now, there's some subtext unsaid: I think you are essentially saying "It would be cool if there was a battle setup where the skill check was really easy for the level 5 PCs but the level 1 monsters they were fighting have some issues with the obstacle?" In that case, why not create an obstacle with a level 1 skill DC?

Because with paradigm so far, that means giving the mooks a DC10 check, ~50%. So certainly, what I am discussing is a Level 1 environmental check in encounter (whether for Level 1 PCs, or for higher level PCs VS many low level mook enemies), but my point is IMHO there is value in checks where the mooks (+ summons, companions?) have higher chance of success, since ~50% is very tough for something which may involve basic navigation/functioning in environment, right? I edited previous post to say this, but IMHO Crit Success also makes this hypothetical "very easy" category even more relevant including to PCs. EDIT: Specifically, more quickly allowing COMMON "Critical Success" for low level easy stuff is way to make players feel noticeably empowered vs stuff that was at least nominal challenge, even after mere success is all but assured. Also, eventually CritSuccess being all but assured is further stage of relevance for this class of DC.

Tangentially, on opposite side of things, I think "single BBEG encounter in high level environment" is interesting angle which encounter system could accommodate for... Skill DCs to avoid "suck factor" making environment itself a meta-mook for the encounter (while unlikely to hinder BBEG, although technically they may still need to roll). Probably ideally with weak "suck factor" for normal Fails, but Crit Fails would bring the pain. Combining enemy with complex trap also seems interesting possibility (and way to extend relevance of given trap).

OK, I think I fully follow now. What you are saying is that while this might work well at higher levels, at very low level PCs and opponents, it might be useful to have a row on the chart even below the row that is currently marked as 0, instead of saying just not to roll those sorts of checks below DC 9, specifically so that you can get a 75% chance on the level 0 mooks or the like? That's an interesting idea, and I see your point!

Paizo Employee Designer

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Michael Sayre wrote:
Ectar wrote:
I always have players that WANT to stealth together, but it has never panned out, because the fighters and barbarians just can't.
That is far and away one of my favorite things about the way skills work in the new edition. Instead of group stealth being functionally impossible, even the non-stealth characters get some basic practice at sneaking (as represented by the proficiency+level+modifier model), so there's usually still some point in them trying to be stealthy and it's not just dooming them to failure or forcing the group to split the party every time they want to move without announcing their presence. It's still going to be harder to sneak with the fullplate-wearing fighter in tow, but there's not going to be a 40 point difference between his Stealth score and the rogue's.

That and if you go past the orc camp of 20 orcs all with +1 Perception and nobody is actively Seeking in the area you are Sneaking, your group just needs everybody to make DC 11, not opposed rolls for every orc and then one of them rolls a nat 20 and you get noticed every time. When the worst guy has +2, you still have an OK chance of making 11, but you'd have to shoot the moon for him to beat every orc in an opposed roll.

Paizo Employee Designer

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SilverliteSword wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Mats Öhrman wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

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.

Doesn't feel like it handles "all five rolls must succeed" situations well, like when all five in a party must climb the same rope for the entire party to make it up the wall, or a climb is long enough that you need to roll five times. Then a 75% success rate rapidly feels quite challenging...

As for one character being behind not meaning others are not engaged - my experience is that team members do engage in this, increasing their DC to lower the DC of the character in question through various more or less clever solutions. Especially if you don't want to leave someone behind when climbing that rope...

A climb is a little bit different of a check than it seems. You've actually found the final one of the main powerful uses of a trivial DC. Climbing just to get to the other side is a "Succeed before you critically fail" check, not a success/fail. That means the schlub character with a 50/50 success chance actually has a greater than 90% chance to succeed before critically failing (it's 10/11, succeed on an 11 or higher, crit fail on a 1, ignore 2 through 10 and roll again). If the DC goes up even a little beyond that, the chances of the schlub character to succeed before a critical
...

We're with you, Silverlite. We have a suggested metric for when you just don't need to bother that can serve as a baseline for GMs in the system, but ultimately you make that call.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Ectar wrote:


Would this be similar to a group of PCs trying to sneak up near an enemy campsite at night? Succeed before critically fail?

Going into the enemy I would adjudicate as succeed before fail, but just getting close is maybe different.
I always have players that WANT to stealth together, but it has never panned out, because the fighters and barbarians just can't.

That's very possible Ectar, or at least something like that. I'd say if you fail, the humans in that enemy camp hear something, but they might not be sure what they heard. Maybe they send somebody out to do a single Seek to make sure before assuming it was just a raccoon or something. If you critically fail, then yup, they probably know it's you!


Mbertorch wrote:
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...

Oh whoops haha, *mental note: check calendar before making post* meant July 30th


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So Mark, I wasn't sure when or where to post this question but this blog seems close enough. Is it possible for you guys to make a fillable pdf character sheet, I know eventually someone else may do it or I'll figure it out myself. It would be nice to get one directly from you guys for players like one of mine who cant really write well but can type fine.

Dark Archive

Mark Seifter wrote:
Michael Sayre wrote:
Ectar wrote:
I always have players that WANT to stealth together, but it has never panned out, because the fighters and barbarians just can't.
That is far and away one of my favorite things about the way skills work in the new edition. Instead of group stealth being functionally impossible, even the non-stealth characters get some basic practice at sneaking (as represented by the proficiency+level+modifier model), so there's usually still some point in them trying to be stealthy and it's not just dooming them to failure or forcing the group to split the party every time they want to move without announcing their presence. It's still going to be harder to sneak with the fullplate-wearing fighter in tow, but there's not going to be a 40 point difference between his Stealth score and the rogue's.
That and if you go past the orc camp of 20 orcs all with +1 Perception and nobody is actively Seeking in the area you are Sneaking, your group just needs everybody to make DC 11, not opposed rolls for every orc and then one of them rolls a nat 20 and you get noticed every time. When the worst guy has +2, you still have an OK chance of making 11, but you'd have to shoot the moon for him to beat every orc in an opposed roll.

Do skills auto-succeed on a nat 20, or was that just to say that they rolled really high?


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Fuzzypaws wrote:

I'd rather have a clear formula for each column, not an inconsistent table you have to keep open / make a copy of and constantly refer to. Some of the lesser difficulties increase by 2 at some levels yet the higher difficulties increase by 1 per level? I thought the base DC was going to be number + level, not a weird exception based table where it goes 12 14 15.

While a universal formula or, ugh, table is useful to have defined, I hope each skill description still has a list of example difficulties / levels / DCs. Especially because it is really weird to think of a river, tree or the like in terms of having a level, and that won't necessarily come naturally and definitely not without a lot of examples for comparison. If the GM has to always guess what level a moderately fast river is or what level an oak tree is before setting the DC, that will lead to inconsistencies even within one game let alone from table to table. This becomes especially relevant if some things can't even be attempted unless you're Expert+, as opposed to merely trained, and the divisions will need to be extremely well defined for each possible category of check.

This was a really really short blog. I was hoping to see more on either exploration or social encounters, but it looks like we aren't getting those at all...

I agree on every point Fuzzypaws. ;)

As to tasks lower than trivial, I see a point to them with the tiered success system. A dc 5 vs that 'lowest' skill user means they make it 75% of the time but also crit succeed 25% of the time. As this is used with saves, that also means more crit saves. So, IMO, it seems that there would be value in DC's lower than the current trivial.


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redpandamage wrote:
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.

I'm amazed at how long of a post some folks can make without reading the entire blog.


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Something that looks awfully similar to "treadmill DCs", which means more power to the GM... This, is quite worrying (I am extremely cautious against anything that seems too authoritarian)... And I'm not even counting non-rigid, amorphous physics in the game's universe...

In a nutshell, I prefer those crazy tables in PF1 that defined every nook and cranny for each skills' DCs, however cumbersome they may have been. This, though, looks like it's in some uncomfortable space between 3.Xe and 5e...


Mark Seifter wrote:
OK, I think I fully follow now. What you are saying is that while this might work well at higher levels, at very low level PCs and opponents, it might be useful to have a row on the chart even below the row that is currently marked as 0, instead of saying just not to roll those sorts of checks below DC 9, specifically so that you can get a 75% chance on the level 0 mooks or the like? That's an interesting idea, and I see your point!

I would very much like the chart to go to at least -4th level (for a DC 5 Trivial Task if I understand the excerpt).

I do like the idea of 'generally not rolling for super-trivial tasks', but I also like having guidelines for exceptional circumstances too; Like an APL-3 (super-easy) encounter or challange for a 1st level solo adventurer (APL -1).


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Mark Seifter wrote:
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.

Yeah, I think the name "Trivial" is not quite the right one for what you're using it for. In my mind that means very hard to fail, not coin-flip. So that could cause some confusion with expectations based on the word and the actual rules.


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Blog Post wrote:
Are you looking forward to GMing playtest games?
Not especially. Rather than write up a lengthy post I'll instead simply quote one I made a while ago.
John Lynch 106 wrote:

So with the automatic +level scaling of skills, it would be really tempting, helpful and intuitive to provide the GM with a list of DCs that would be appropriate for each character based on their level.

DON'T DO THIS!!!!!

This was one of the most misunderstood rules elements of D&D 4th ed. It made GMs create arbitrary DCs that had no foundation in the in-game reality. It was simply "you have to be at this level for this DC so you're getting this DC divorced from whatever it is you are actually doing."

If you want to be helpful, give the GM a list of challenges that would be appropriate by level. So instead of:
Level 1 = DC 10
Level 2 = DC 12
Level 3 = DC 13
Level 4 = DC 15
etc, etc.

Have something like:
Level 1 = Jump across a 5 foot gap, recall basic information on monsters, know a plane's name.
Level 2 = Jump across a 6 foot gap
Level 3 = Jump aross a 7 foot gap
Level 4 = Jump across a 9 foot gap
Level 5 = Jump across a 10 foot gap, recall habitat for common monsters, know a location in a plane
etc, etc, etc.

You then define what the DC's for the above checks are in another place.

This will stop people from decrying that the DC's are arbitrary, it will help GMs consider whether the challenge they are giving their party is likely to be overcome.

It might seem stupid and annoying to force a GM to do those extra steps. But without it you're going to get cries of "DCs don't meet the ingame reality and are just arbitrary because that's what the math of the game demands!" and it will actually cause GM's to be worse rather than better (I've seen all this in another game. Yes, this is what actually happened).

And just for completeness sake here's Mark's response to that post
Mark Seifter wrote:
We basically have a similar idea to what you suggest here, where we give examples of what tasks might be by level and elsewhere some suggested DCs for tasks of those levels (with several gradations within each level, to help GMs decide), but we go a step farther and have a significant discussion about the fact that you shouldn't scale things by level arbitrarily; a simple oak tree is a simple oak tree.

I feel like Paizo has learned NOTHING from 4e and I am very disappointed that you have decided to go this route. This will get a gut reaction that is strongly negative. People will not see how the game is actually trying to work and are the DC's not only going to be reviled as arbitrary, but you are going to do a poor job of teaching new GMs how to create DC's as they will simply do the lazy option and go to this table.

TLDR :(

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

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Mark Seifter wrote:
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.

I'd rather have rules that say how to calculate the flat DC for the castle, or just the climb DC of it's walls (if we're talking about the archtectural tricks about how hard it is to climb because of the builder.

If we're talking about actually interacting with the stonemason, then sure, PCs will always interact with random NPCs and you'll need DCs for them, but that tends to be a rarity rather than the core mechanic of the game, and the way the blog presented the table, it's the piece de resistance of how to GM and set DCs, and only the most basic tasks get flat DCs. If that's not the case, then I"ll chalk it up to a tone presentation assumption on my part.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Doktor Weasel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
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.
Yeah, I think the name "Trivial" is not quite the right one for what you're using it for. In my mind that means very hard to fail, not coin-flip. So that could cause some confusion with expectations based on the word and the actual rules.

It's much less likely for a more skilled character to fail, around a coin flip for the hypothetical worst possible character, and it's listed as trivial in the perspective of the party as a whole achieving it. That being said, there still might be another word below easy that isn't trivial that works better here. Hmm, maybe thesaurus hunt time!


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
I feel like Paizo has learned NOTHING from 4e and I am very disappointed that you have decided to go this route. This will get a gut reaction that is strongly negative. People will not see how the game is actually trying to work and are the DC's not only going to be reviled as arbitrary, but you are going to do a poor job of teaching new GMs how to create DC's as they will simply do the lazy option and go to this table.

I'm honestly not following you. They did it the right way (and not the 4e way) by having static DCs that don't advance. Yes, there is a table for reference... that isn't a bad thing.

Your 1' increments for jumping aren't appropriate for levels in any way at all, just better jump checks (and training).

Absolutely nothing will stop folks from being lazy, but providing guidelines, a table, and reference points for things that don't magically scale (and therefor make leveling pointless) is absolutely the right way to approach this. It lets them ground the DCs and provide a frame of reference alongside the raw numbers (which are also useful to have).

I actually feel a lot better about PF2 for seeing this approach in print.


Two more weeks. This is torture.

Paizo Employee Designer

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JoelF847 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
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.

I'd rather have rules that say how to calculate the flat DC for the castle, or just the climb DC of it's walls (if we're talking about the archtectural tricks about how hard it is to climb because of the builder.

If we're talking about actually interacting with the stonemason, then sure, PCs will always interact with random NPCs and you'll need DCs for them, but that tends to be a rarity rather than the core mechanic of the game, and the way the blog presented the table, it's the piece de resistance of how to GM and set DCs, and only the most basic tasks get flat DCs. If that's not the case, then I"ll chalk it up to a tone presentation assumption on my part.

That's not the case; the Gamemastering section takes effort to tell GMs not to do it that way. Mostly the chart is a helpful way to figure out what a good DC is based on opposition of particular level. Anything that should just be a static situation should be static, even if it's static and pretty high level.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So is the DC table going to account for expected equipment, ability boosts, and other such things?

If so, that would explain why it has to be a table rather than just a formula. Still brings back memories of THAC0 and Saving Throw tables from 1st edition.


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Is taking 10 no longer a thing? I feel like so many concerns about low/trivial DCs are moot in the face of taking 10.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I'm leery of using a generic table to get DCs for tasks, primarily because different skill challenges deserve different DCs depending on more factors than "what is the APL" and "is this supposed to be a trivial/low/high/severe challenge". The impact of failing the skill check can drastically differ even with the same DC, and the difference between a single-person task and multi-person task can make challenges with high DCs easy and vice versa.

Here's an example of each of these situations:

Spoilered for length:
  • The PCs are trying to get through a complex quickly but stop to give a room a quick once-over for treasure. All four PCs devote 3 actions each to searching. If we assume the BANDIT BOSS (level 1 NPC) is extremely good at hiding things, the Perception DC is 18. Despite that, a party of PCs with +0 WIS and trained Perception (total bonus +1) has a >99% chance to find whatever is hidden.
  • The PCs are trying to cross the BANDIT BOSS's RICKETY BRIDGE, for which the GM needs to invent a hazard block. He knows the BANDIT BOSS is mediocre at maintaining his facility, but hasn't intentionally made the bridge dangerous, so he figures its probably a low difficulty task to cross the bridge without breaking it, Acrobatics DC12. The PCs are a mix of classes with different acrobatics bonuses, but lets say the average is +1 again. In this case, the chance for the bridge breaking for at least one PC is 94% (1-0.5^4).
  • The BANDIT BOSS's MAGICAL TIMEBOMB is ticking, and the PCs have one chance to defuse it! This is the climax of the adventure, so the GM naturally looks towards making it severe difficulty (DC15)! The level 1 PC best suited to disabling it has a +6 to their Thievery check, meaning that they'll fail 40% of the time and blow the party up.

    Note how the DCs were selected following the table's guidelines, but in example #1, the "extreme" task was actually trivial due to there being no consequence for failure and the ability for multiple people to participate. At the same time, the "trivial" task in example #2 was actually challenging, with on average half the party dropping to their (presumed) doom off the bridge. And in example #3, the one-off nature made the task an almost coin-flip with disastrous results despite having a PC specialized to tackle it.

    In reality, if I was designing a pre-written adventure, I'd set the DC in example 1 to DC22 (an expert searcher with +1 WIS taking 20 will find it, but a team taking a casual look around will miss it). I'd set the DC in example 2 to DC5 (on the whole most people will be able to get across the bridge without issues, but it might threaten people with high ACP and terrible DEX). And in example #3, I'd avoid resting the outcome of a scenario on a single skill check, or make that skill check easy enough for the trained character (ie. DC11, so that she can't fail by more than 5 and set the bomb off).

  • Paizo Employee Designer

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    Cellion wrote:


    Here's an example of each of these situations:
    ** spoiler omitted **...

    This is some really solid analysis on how to use the various values that parallels some of the advice in the Gamemastering section (though in the last one, it would only set off the bomb on a critical failure of natural 1 or by 10 or more, meaning the PC has 12 to 1 odds of disarming it and not blowing everybody up). Just because the DC is Extreme does not mean the total situation is too hard; context really matters.


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

    Cellion, I think in your first case, I'd want to see how the rules handle searching in encounter mode -- stuff like does that take a massive penalty, can you even spend more than one action on search (Seek?), does a crit-fail cut you off from further searching, etc.


    Fuzzypaws wrote:
    I'd rather have a clear formula for each column, not an inconsistent table you have to keep open / make a copy of and constantly refer to. Some of the lesser difficulties increase by 2 at some levels yet the higher difficulties increase by 1 per level? I thought the base DC was going to be number + level, not a weird exception based table where it goes 12 14 15.

    Tables whose formula is so simple you don't really need the table seems rather... niche?

    Anyhow, I think you're missing that all these numbers are derived from system math.
    Which includes things like stat-boosts going up by 2 until they reach 16, Proficiency boosts, etc.

    Quote:
    While a universal formula or, ugh, table is useful to have defined, I hope each skill description still has a list of example difficulties / levels / DCs. Especially because it is really weird to think of a river, tree or the like in terms of having a level, and that won't necessarily come naturally and definitely not without a lot of examples for comparison.

    This is a concern of mine, but repeating what I said along with my comment on this, DCs being "listed in the skill description" as 3.x/P1E is formatted is a big problem when it comes to rules being split up in various places... think Perception. So while I am on board with the value of each skill having this specific info, the ideal place for it is not necessarily "how 3.x did it". IMHO etc.


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    Bastille wrote:
    Is taking 10 no longer a thing? I feel like so many concerns about low/trivial DCs are moot in the face of taking 10.

    Taking 10 is no longer a thing.

    You can take a feat called "assurance" that gives you a *final result* of 10 (not 10+ modifiers) but in general there will be no longer situations where you simply take 10 and laugh at every skill check. As you rank up (expert, master, etc) your assurance result gets higher.


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    HWalsh wrote:
    You can take a feat called "assurance" that gives you a *final result* of 10 (not 10+ modifiers) but in general there will be no longer situations where you simply take 10 and laugh at every skill check. As you rank up (expert, master, etc) your assurance result gets higher.

    Is anyone else getting tired of basic rule options being gated behind feats? I get why they're doing this. It's a way to make characters feel more powerful (look at all the extra feats you have!) while actually keeping the power at the same level or lower (but now you have to use those extra feats on basic rules options you use to have). But it's getting pretty tiring.


    Probably should have put the part about Static DCs before the part about the DC by level table in the blog. I think some people are hitting that table and then rage-posting without getting to the part that explains how PF2 does exactly the thing they want it to do.

    For those who skipped right past the end of the blog: The table is for checks that are in some way opposed. Like a trap set by a builder. The level is the level of the opposition, in this case the builder. (Though DCs are of course likely to be in an appropriate range for the party.)

    Static DCs are still a thing for when the situation is static, i.e. climbing a rope.


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    Cellion wrote:

    Here's an example of each of these situations:

    ** spoiler omitted **...

    Perception DCs are probably one of the hardest thing to handle, both numerically and for discouraging repeated attempts.

    When it comes to the DC, you'll often have one player who makes themselves the living embodiment of Perception. If you try to make it so the checks are still a threat to them, then them failing means no one else has a chance probably. If you don't take them into consideration, you may as well not make anything hidden to begin with.

    If time loss is the only major repercussion for searching til the cows come home, players will go to town on searching a location. They will often try until they reach some suitable result, moving on if it doesn't trigger anything.

    "Oh, I didn't find anything on a natural 18? Guess there's nothing here. Let's move on, guys."

    HWalsh wrote:
    Bastille wrote:
    Is taking 10 no longer a thing? I feel like so many concerns about low/trivial DCs are moot in the face of taking 10.

    Taking 10 is no longer a thing.

    You can take a feat called "assurance" that gives you a *final result* of 10 (not 10+ modifiers) but in general there will be no longer situations where you simply take 10 and laugh at every skill check. As you rank up (expert, master, etc) your assurance result gets higher.

    Ah, I see... I feel Assurance would be useful for covering the situations that taking 10 would have not applied to, at the very least. Removing taking 10 entirely feels like a design omission, given how many of the cases brought up in earlier comments could be fixed with "They take 10 when making breakfast so they avoid the situation where they burn their house down".

    My group will still give it the ol' college try during the playtest though and see how the new system plays out before harping on it too much. My initial gut reaction to hearing that however is "Oh boy, something that should've been available to everyone requires a feat to access!". Those carryovers from 3.5 into PF were often subject to house rules to try and fix them. Would've been nice for PF2 to remove them entirely.


    HWalsh wrote:
    You can take a feat called "assurance" that gives you a *final result* of 10 (not 10+ modifiers) but in general there will be no longer situations where you simply take 10 and laugh at every skill check. As you rank up (expert, master, etc) your assurance result gets higher.

    I mean, assurance is, IIRC, a bit different. It's specifically take X even under unfavourable and rushed conditions.


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    I was iffy when I first read the blog, but reading through the comments has helped clear things up. I'm looking forward to 13 days from now.

    [Tangent]ITT I learned smurf gives you a blue dude as an avatar for that post. That's awesome. [/smurf]

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