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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Short blog post is short. I think I could've typed that up within an hour's worth of work if I really wanted. Anywho...

Running Modes of Play:
I was honestly waiting for some examples here that would properly convey some context as to what we can expect in this chapter of the playtest booklet, and never got any. This is honestly a giant paragraph detailing what a Table of Contents could do for me instead, which doesn't help demonstrate the point of this section much.

Difficulty Classes:
The table is neat, and gives a somewhat decent example of how tough some things are supposed to be in relation to what your character can do (such as if your character can easily pull off "the extreme"). The only fear I have is that when players get familiar with these terms, and GMs throw out clues like "This is a severely difficult task for you to do, are you sure you wish to do that?" telling me approximately what number on the D20 I can expect to need. I don't personally have problems with this at my table (people will talk numbers to themselves most of the time anyway to help decide what to do), but I'm sure some people wouldn't appreciate that sort of meta-game table talk if they want to keep an appropriate pace and atmosphere going.

While the table is helpful, I certainly hope it functions more as a "guideline" on what characters can expect around that level, and not so much of an "on-the-spot" occurrence for APs and such (unless the GM wants to, but still, having more flexible DCs would make things interesting for a player to come across).

Rewards:
Much like the first section, this leaves a lot to be desired, since it already covers information we've already been told, and does nothing to demonstrate as to how, for example, random loot is accomplished in this new edition. At best, it gives people a heads up as to how they can run the Playtest (at the fast progression to provide a larger spread of data), which may not really be appropriate to gauge the other tiers of progression if one is given favoritism over the other. At worst, it's just a rehash of rules we've already been told, which is lame most of the time (with this not being an exception).

Environments and Hazards:
I think this section's only literal purpose was to tell us that this part of the playtest book is still largely incomplete and will be updated to add new traps. Interesting factoid to consider, but I'm certain we already had a blog post specifically covering this topic, so it's just pointlessly redundant here.

Disappointing blog post was disappointing. A blog post on Rituals (to coincide the Occult Bard spellcasting), other ancestries, or even Multiclassing (to coincide with the Bard being a "jack of all trades") would have been a better blog post off the top of my head, but this is just mostly rehashed information with a table that can serve as either a rough guideline or a thing that players can effectively meta-game from if they pay enough attention to a GM's loose mouth.

Maybe I'm expecting too much from a Friday blog, but I do remember some Friday blogs having nice juicy content to absorb (even if it's content I don't agree with too much).


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Mark Seifter wrote:
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!

They'll probably shout out something about how you should "stop taffing about." And then after not finding anything exclaim that it must have been rats.


Assurance seems more like a low-entry cost, scaling version of Skill Mastery than 'taking 10 as a feat tax'.
The impression I have is that in all those situations where taking 10 would have benefited the narrative, you still won't be making a roll. Conversely in the situations where your ability to take 10 might have hurt the narrative, you'll be required to roll instead.


Also, while I'm here, may as well...

Smurf.
Smurfy smurf smurf smurf.


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*Casts Polymorph Self (Smurf)*

Dark Archive

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Cantriped wrote:
*Casts Polymorph Self (Smurf)*

Don't you mean "polysmurf"?

I'll see myself out.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Voss wrote:
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.

The way it is explained in the blog is exactly how it is presented in 4e. The two are not different. 4e undeniably has guidelines, a table, and reference points for things that don’t magically scale. 4e has static tables under every ability and skill description that grounds the DCs and provides a frame of reference alongside the raw numbers (which is a reference table for what a trivial, easy, medium, etc. challenge is at every level point). I can either provide page numbers or full text if necessary.


Cantriped wrote:

Assurance seems more like a low-entry cost, scaling version of Skill Mastery than 'taking 10 as a feat tax'.

The impression I have is that in all those situations where taking 10 would have benefited the narrative, you still won't be making a roll. Conversely in the situations where your ability to take 10 might have hurt the narrative, you'll be required to roll instead.

If that is the balance metric being aimed for in terms of rolling/not rolling for skills, that's fine. I'm apprehensive about the change but I'll still give it a try before outright condemning it.

On a side note, all the talk about 4E and result charts is making me remember Bear Lore.


Bastille wrote:


On a side note, all the talk about 4E and result charts is making me remember Bear Lore.

Bear lore silliness asides, I smurfing loved running into all those lore check entries when I skimmed through 4e.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Thanks to Mark for all the additional context, examples and answers in the comment gallery down here. I think as long as the write-up in the CRB provides plenty of guidance for how exactly to utilize the table, with well explained examples to guide newbie GMs, this system will do just fine.

A couple of big take aways for me:

Mark Seifter wrote:
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).

Some situations where failure has a particularly awful consequence now require you to critically fail.

Mark Seifter wrote:
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.

Stealthing is now against a static DC! Adventuring parties everywhere rejoice, because who hasn't tried this in PF1E to disastrous results? I'm really happy to play with this one along with the "skill bonus crunch" in PF2E.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Just to give one example, page 137 of the 4e Rules Compendium (under Athletics):

Climb: Make an Athletics check to climb up or down a surface. A creature that has a climb speed (page 203) doesn’t have to make Athletics checks to climb.

Action: The check is usually part of a move action, but it can be part of any of the creature’s actions that involve moving.

DC: See the Climb table. If a creature can brace itself between two surfaces, it gains a +5 bonus to the check.

Ladder - 0
Rope - 10
Uneven Surface (cave wall) - 15
Rough Surface (brick wall) - 20
Slippery surface - +5
Unusually smooth surface - +5

Success: The creature can climb on the surface for the rest of the action using squares of movement from the action. The creature must spend 1 extra square of movement for each square it enters on the surface. While climbing, a creature grants combat advantage and might fall if it takes damage (see below). When a climber moves from from a vertical surface to a horozontal surface, such as when climbing out of a pit, the climber chooses to arrive either standing or prone.

Failure by 4 or Less: If a creature was already climbing, it doesn’t fall. If the creature was trying to start climbing, it fails to do so. Either way, the creature can’t move any farther as part of the current action.

Failure by 5 or More: If the creature was already climbing, it falls (see “Falling,” page 209) but can try to Catch Hold (see below). If the creature was trying to start climbing, it fails to do so. Either way, the creature can’t move any further as part of the current action.


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Cellion wrote:
Stealthing is now against a static DC! Adventuring parties everywhere rejoice, because who hasn't tried this in PF1E to disastrous results? I'm really happy to play with this one along with the "skill bonus crunch" in PF2E.

Funny. I don't remember passive perception being embraced when it was published in the 4e books. Having Pathfinder on the cover must make all these intolerable mechanics suddenly tolerable.


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Mark Seifter,
We couldn't pretty please get the Jabberwock as a sneak peek could we?
Just because you're nice and wanna wow people in the forums?
Yours sincerely,
Hopeful.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
Cellion wrote:
Stealthing is now against a static DC! Adventuring parties everywhere rejoice, because who hasn't tried this in PF1E to disastrous results? I'm really happy to play with this one along with the "skill bonus crunch" in PF2E.
Funny. I don't remember passive perception being embraced when it was published in the 4e books. Having Pathfinder on the cover must make all these intolerable mechanics suddenly tolerable. Paizo's Reality Disruption Field has really gone up a level or 10 (I wasn't even aware it existed before. Maybe they just took the feat that grant it?).

I mean, it's not like I recall passive perception being detested in 5e either. But then again, it has been ten years by this point. Perhaps the idea of passive perception is considered normal in many groups by this point?

Either way, it should speed up play as compared to rolling for every perception check. Provided that appropriate situations give detriments or bonuses to the DC or stealth check I think it sounds fine.

Of course, full disclaimer: I wouldn't really care if PF2 were effectively D&D 4e 2. I'm only commenting on the forums because I like what I've seen of the system, despite being dubious at first. I liked PF1 but I wasn't exactly a player of it.


Elleth wrote:
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.

Nope.

Take 10 isn't a thing in PF2


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

And when the conditions are favorable and you have all the time you want to work on it.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
Voss wrote:
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.

Actually, I strongly disagree. Not every GM is a great GM. Some range from mediocre to bad. This table will encourage those GMs (and new GMs) to refer to the "appropriate DC" table and use that without any significant thought as to what challenge is facing the party. Forcing GMs to jump through a couple more hoops would force them to think about what's happening in their world.

Also the "not 4e way"? Pretty sure 4e did have text surrounding the DC table explaining what those DCs should mean. Didn't stop everyone (including you) for criticising WotC and 4e for the table's existence and for misunderstanding what the table represented.

Mark Seifter wrote:
That's not the case; the Gamemastering section takes effort to tell GMs not to do it that way.
It wont' be enough for many GMs. As I outlined quite a while ago there is an alternative way to give GMs the same information which would force them to actually decide what is happening in the universe before getting the DC.

Y'all have convinced me that PF2 and 4e are handling skill DCs in a relatively similar way, but I'm having trouble understanding why it's bad.

You're saying that new/bad GMs ran the game in direct contradiction to them and that the rules were further distorted in the memories of people who had an intensely negative emotional reaction to 4e. Is that correct?

If the rules say "don't do X, for these three reasons..." why would any GM who was making an effort to run the game well, do the exact thing that the rules were telling them not to do? How could any rule system protect against GMs who aren't even willing to read it?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:

[Actually, I strongly disagree. Not every GM is a great GM. Some range from mediocre to bad. This table will encourage those GMs (and new GMs) to refer to the "appropriate DC" table and use that without any significant thought as to what challenge is facing the party. Forcing GMs to jump through a couple more hoops would force them to think about what's happening in their world.

<snip>
an alternative way to give GMs the same information which would force them to actually decide what is happening in the universe before getting the DC.

Or they could just quit trying to figure it out. "Forcing" people to GM a certain way doesn't always make them behave the way you expect.

I'm strongly against withholding information from GMs so they will play the way someone else thinks they should.


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IconicCatparent wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Voss wrote:
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.

Actually, I strongly disagree. Not every GM is a great GM. Some range from mediocre to bad. This table will encourage those GMs (and new GMs) to refer to the "appropriate DC" table and use that without any significant thought as to what challenge is facing the party. Forcing GMs to jump through a couple more hoops would force them to think about what's happening in their world.

Also the "not 4e way"? Pretty sure 4e did have text surrounding the DC table explaining what those DCs should mean. Didn't stop everyone (including you) for criticising WotC and 4e for the table's existence and for misunderstanding what the table represented.

Mark Seifter wrote:
That's not the case; the Gamemastering section takes effort to tell GMs not to do it that way.
It wont' be enough for many GMs. As I outlined quite a while ago there is an alternative way to give GMs the same information which would force them to actually decide what is happening in the universe before getting the DC.

Y'all have convinced me that PF2 and 4e are handling skill DCs in a relatively similar way, but I'm having trouble understanding why it's bad.

You're saying that new/bad GMs ran the game in direct contradiction to them and that the rules were further distorted in the memories of people who had an intensely negative emotional reaction to 4e. Is that correct?

If the rules say "don't do X, for these three reasons..." why would any GM who was making an effort to run the game well, do the exact thing that the rules were telling them not to do? How could any rule system protect against GMs who aren't even willing to read it?

Very true and besides with or without a chart a DM like that will likely just make up their own DC's anyway just because the feel like it.


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IconicCatparent wrote:

Y'all have convinced me that PF2 and 4e are handling skill DCs in a relatively similar way, but I'm having trouble understanding why it's bad.

You're saying that new/bad GMs ran the game in direct contradiction to them and that the rules were further distorted in the memories of people who had an intensely negative emotional reaction to 4e. Is that correct?

If the rules say "don't do X, for these three reasons..." why would any GM who was making an effort to run the game well, do the exact thing that the rules were telling them not to do? How could any rule system protect against GMs who aren't even willing to read it?

Dunno. Why don't you ask all the 4e detractors who fled 4e and turned to Paizo and Pathfinder? There were plenty of them.

The rules won't protect against terrible GMs. But it can help force mediocre and poor GMs to go that extra step and increase a step in their GMing proficiency to put it in PF2e terms.

CrystalSeas wrote:
Or they could just quit trying to figure it out. "Forcing" people to GM a certain way doesn't always make them behave the way you expect.

No. But the tools you give them will help determine how they GM. The DC by level table has a history of demonstrating that GMs misuse it to results that impact the enjoyment of the game for those who play with them. After all, this was one of the issues that was cited by many who ran away from 4e and embraced PF. Getting them to make one extra step will help make many of them slightly better GMs.

Lady Wrath wrote:
Very true and besides with or without a chart a DM like that will likely just make up their own DC's anyway just because the feel like it

While still GMs will do this, it is demonstrated that not all GMs will. And this table is of no use for GMs who will just make up numbers so it has no value to those GMs.

I also love how when I initially made the thread that commented on this exact issue no-one rose any meaningful disagreements (and unfortunately I misinterpreted a developer's post and thought they even agreed with me). And yet now that it's been revealed suddenly that this is how it will work in the playtest everyone is coming out of the woodwork to say how awesome it is. I know all of you simply wouldn't have read the initial thread or been bothered to reply to it because it was of no value or importance to you. I'm just getting an insight as to how this playtest is going to progress. Spoiler alert: not so great for me and my group if the current trends on this forum turn out to be true when it comes to the playtest at large.


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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!

Exactly...

Mooks/summons/companions AND de-buffs AND Crit Success/Failure can all intersect to make lower DCs relevant.
Even aside from those, the ~25% effectiveness low-grade challenges have legit role in game for Level 1 PCs directly.
All in all, it seems plausible for even 2 tiers below current Trivial to be advisable, which would also seem to better
allow for symmetry of ±1 and ±2 DC offsets on BOTH sides of 50% mark. (Extreme not being symmetrically mirrored)

On naming conventions, I think it's better for engaging player expectations if naming conventions use single character perspective. Even if game math is built around "one success in group" for many things (exceptions being mentioned), there is narrative logic in viewing the difficulty rating of given action in reference to given actor attempting that action, because they are doing the action individually...
(literally collective actions are entirely different beast, which really deserve their own distinct mechanic)
Instead "group dynamic" can be conveyed via over-all GM advice, i.e. "Very Challenging checks can expect one success out of 4 character group". This also better matches concept that categories are defined from perspective of "average non-specialist", i.e. a single character, not a group which likely has one specialist for given check.

I think Average/Normal/Standard is better term than Trivial for "baseline 50% challenge for individual non-specialist".
(these being low challenge Take-5 fodder for Specialists on-par for Level, but that isn't who the term is framed around)
Here is a mock-up of difficulty tiers for Level 0 challenges, with more "easy" tiers and updated naming conventions:

Extreme -> Extreme DC17
Severe -> Very Challenging DC14
High -> Challenging DC12
Low -> Above Average DC10
Trivial -> Average Difficulty DC9
.....0 -> Below Average DC8
.....0 _> Trivial DC6


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John Lynch 106 wrote:

No. But the tools you give them will help determine how they GM.

{snip}
Getting them to make one extra step will help make many of them slightly better GMs.

But forcing them through unnecessary hoops will help drive away many of them as well.

There's no benefit to Paizo in making it harder to GM their new edition.

In fact, the easier they make it, the more people will become GMs. So the idea that you should deliberately make it harder to GM makes no sense.

Your game isn't going to be objectively worse because someone, somewhere is using a table you don't approve of.


I guess instead of adding a modifier to the dc of a task you just level it up or increase the difficulty?


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
IconicCatparent wrote:

Y'all have convinced me that PF2 and 4e are handling skill DCs in a relatively similar way, but I'm having trouble understanding why it's bad.

You're saying that new/bad GMs ran the game in direct contradiction to them and that the rules were further distorted in the memories of people who had an intensely negative emotional reaction to 4e. Is that correct?

If the rules say "don't do X, for these three reasons..." why would any GM who was making an effort to run the game well, do the exact thing that the rules were telling them not to do? How could any rule system protect against GMs who aren't even willing to read it?

Dunno. Why don't you ask all the 4e detractors who fled 4e and turned to Paizo and Pathfinder? There were plenty of them.

The rules won't protect against terrible GMs. But it can help force mediocre and poor GMs to go that extra step and increase a step in their GMing proficiency to put it in PF2e terms.

CrystalSeas wrote:
Or they could just quit trying to figure it out. "Forcing" people to GM a certain way doesn't always make them behave the way you expect.

No. But the tools you give them will help determine how they GM. The DC by level table has a history of demonstrating that GMs misuse it to results that impact the enjoyment of the game for those who play with them. After all, this was one of the issues that was cited by many who ran away from 4e and embraced PF. Getting them to make one extra step will help make many of them slightly better GMs.

Lady Wrath wrote:
Very true and besides with or without a chart a DM like that will likely just make up their own DC's anyway just because the feel like it

While still GMs will do this, it is demonstrated that not all GMs will. And this table is of no use for GMs who will just make up numbers so it has no value to those GMs.

I also love how when I initially made the thread that commented on this exact issue no-one rose any meaningful disagreements (and unfortunately I...

I am asking you! It seems like your proposed solution and the actual 4e rules aren't too far apart, and I'm genuinely curious about what went so wrong in 4e's skill DC system.

The argument that absolutely everything in 4e was bad just isn't enough for me. I need to know what about it was bad.


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Quandary wrote:
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.

Yes actually, I'd rather there not be a table at all. Setting DCs is something that comes up so many times per session it should be dirt simple intuitive: take a base number for tier of challenge (trivial, etc), add level of challenge, done. Something fast and instantaneous. I don't want to have to constantly refer to a table that advances inconsistently from level to level, like the 12 14 15 in the blog.

John Lynch 106 wrote:
Cellion wrote:
Stealthing is now against a static DC! Adventuring parties everywhere rejoice, because who hasn't tried this in PF1E to disastrous results? I'm really happy to play with this one along with the "skill bonus crunch" in PF2E.
Funny. I don't remember passive perception being embraced when it was published in the 4e books. Having Pathfinder on the cover must make all these intolerable mechanics suddenly tolerable.

Passive Perception was one of the very best things to come out of 4E. And it drastically speeds up play when applicable and also goes a long way to helping a party (or NPC group) making an effort to actually be stealthy, without guaranteeing that a ton of extra rolls for every PC vs every NPC will result in the effort failing every time.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
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.

Marco, I believe the Bestiary was mentioned the first day the playtest was mentioned. See the playtest page.


Looks good. Its like a point of reference I can go to if for some reason I can't decide whats a reasonable DC on a task. I think I've had that situation come up in the past.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Voss wrote:
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.

@Voss, I don't often find myself agreeing with things you say on the forums, but I am finding myself agreeing with these points.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I appreciate the ranges for DC in a table reference. I can see this being quite useful. Will definitely need it on my GM screen!


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Yeah you can't expect the game mechanics to deal with every possible personality and social situation that may arise. You could write forever one possible reactions to a single stimuli and all the possible responses that are out there. At some point you have to use your brain.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Quandary wrote:
I think Average/Normal/Standard is better term than Trivial for "baseline 50% challenge for individual non-specialist".

I think I've been failing to communicate the statistics of this coin flip character. This isn't a character that's somewhere in the middle between a specialist and the worst possible character. This is a check that is roughly a coin flip (often 45%) for literally the worst character around. A character beyond which there cannot be a lower permanent modifier at that level. If even that character can make it around half the time, it's definitely not an average or normal check for that level. I do still think there might be a way to recast the name of the column that might work with people's expectations more than trivial, but it would still have to be some word that indicated it was extremely easy for that level.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I think Average/Normal/Standard is better term than Trivial for "baseline 50% challenge for individual non-specialist".
I think I've been failing to communicate the statistics of this coin flip character. This isn't a character that's somewhere in the middle between a specialist and the worst possible character. This is a check that is roughly a coin flip (often 45%) for literally the worst character around. A character beyond which there cannot be a lower permanent modifier at that level. If even that character can make it around half the time, it's definitely not an average or normal check for that level. I do still think there might be a way to recast the name of the column that might work with people's expectations more than trivial, but it would still have to be some word that indicated it was extremely easy for that level.

How about "Easy." And save the word "Trivial" for referring to tasks that are so easy they don't require a check.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I think Average/Normal/Standard is better term than Trivial for "baseline 50% challenge for individual non-specialist".
I think I've been failing to communicate the statistics of this coin flip character. This isn't a character that's somewhere in the middle between a specialist and the worst possible character. This is a check that is roughly a coin flip (often 45%) for literally the worst character around. A character beyond which there cannot be a lower permanent modifier at that level. If even that character can make it around half the time, it's definitely not an average or normal check for that level. I do still think there might be a way to recast the name of the column that might work with people's expectations more than trivial, but it would still have to be some word that indicated it was extremely easy for that level.
How about "Easy." And save the word "Trivial" for referring to tasks that are so easy they don't require a check.

Easy, Low Difficulty, High Difficulty, Severe Difficulty, Extreme Difficulty? Hmm, I admit, maybe the Gordian knot could work there.


Gordian knot is not so hard just give me a sword.
Lets see hmm

fish in a barrel
broad side of a barn
2 birds with one stone
needle in a haystack.

(I am actually ok with trivial but I'm not that concerned really so cool cool)


Vidmaster7 wrote:

Gordian knot is not so hard just give me a sword.

Lets see hmm

fish in a barrel
broad side of a barn
2 birds with one stone
needle in a haystack.

(I am actually ok with trivial but I'm not that concerned really so cool cool)

Don't forget needle in a needle stack!


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K-kun the Insane wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:

Gordian knot is not so hard just give me a sword.

Lets see hmm

fish in a barrel
broad side of a barn
2 birds with one stone
needle in a haystack.

(I am actually ok with trivial but I'm not that concerned really so cool cool)

Don't forget needle in a needle stack!

Their we go that is the new trivial.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Vidmaster7 wrote:
K-kun the Insane wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:

Gordian knot is not so hard just give me a sword.

Lets see hmm

fish in a barrel
broad side of a barn
2 birds with one stone
needle in a haystack.

(I am actually ok with trivial but I'm not that concerned really so cool cool)

Don't forget needle in a needle stack!
Their we go that is the new trivial.

Heh, I like those! Though I didn't mean to literally say Gordian knot as a category name. I meant that when I said "It would have to be a word meaning easy" and Fuzzypaws basically said "...well what about 'Easy' " that Fuzzypaws went for a Gordian knot solution.

Liberty's Edge

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I like these rules/guidelines fine, and think comparing them to 4E is more than a bit off. 4E's problem in this regard is that climbing a tree often (depending on DM) got higher DC as you went up in level. That's explicitly made not the case here (as may well have been the intent in 4E, but not so much the reality).

I don't really have much else to say.


so how i am getting this skill checks should mostly be used if criticals and failure outcomes apply. when you make the challenge you think of the lvl of the challenge (who made it ECT) then how hard it is to accomplish unmodified (if the party is just going bullrush it) if they can find ways to make it easier you can then lower the dificulty.

I like it


Vidmaster7 wrote:
K-kun the Insane wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:

Gordian knot is not so hard just give me a sword.

Lets see hmm

fish in a barrel
broad side of a barn
2 birds with one stone
needle in a haystack.

(I am actually ok with trivial but I'm not that concerned really so cool cool)

Don't forget needle in a needle stack!
Their we go that is the new trivial.

Finding any needle in a needle stack is trivial. I’m pretty sure K-kun meant finding a specific needle in a stack of other needles.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I think Average/Normal/Standard is better term than Trivial for "baseline 50% challenge for individual non-specialist".
I think I've been failing to communicate the statistics of this coin flip character. This isn't a character that's somewhere in the middle between a specialist and the worst possible character. This is a check that is roughly a coin flip (often 45%) for literally the worst character around. A character beyond which there cannot be a lower permanent modifier at that level. If even that character can make it around half the time, it's definitely not an average or normal check for that level. I do still think there might be a way to recast the name of the column that might work with people's expectations more than trivial, but it would still have to be some word that indicated it was extremely easy for that level.
How about "Easy." And save the word "Trivial" for referring to tasks that are so easy they don't require a check.
Easy, Low Difficulty, High Difficulty, Severe Difficulty, Extreme Difficulty? Hmm, I admit, maybe the Gordian knot could work there.

Very Low Difficulty would fit the pattern better than either easy or trivial. Alternatively, you could bump Low down a level and replace it with Moderate (e.g. Low Difficulty, Moderate Difficulty, High Difficulty, Severe Difficulty, Extreme Difficulty.)


Charlaquin wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
K-kun the Insane wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:

Gordian knot is not so hard just give me a sword.

Lets see hmm

fish in a barrel
broad side of a barn
2 birds with one stone
needle in a haystack.

(I am actually ok with trivial but I'm not that concerned really so cool cool)

Don't forget needle in a needle stack!
Their we go that is the new trivial.
Finding any needle in a needle stack is trivial. I’m pretty sure K-kun meant finding a specific needle in a stack of other needles.

Oh yeah that would be more into the category of impossible that way. funny how much of a difference that little clarification made.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I think Average/Normal/Standard is better term than Trivial for "baseline 50% challenge for individual non-specialist".
I think I've been failing to communicate the statistics of this coin flip character... This is a check that is roughly a coin flip (often 45%) for literally the worst character around... I do still think there might be a way to recast the name of the column that might work with people's expectations more than trivial, but it would still have to be some word that indicated it was extremely easy for that level.
How about "Easy"

I might invoke a term I casually used to describe the mechanic: "Baseline" which could be simplified to "Basic".

That implies it is low on the totem pole, without "over-doing" it in denigrating it.
"Basic" seems apt for ~50% chance like +0 attack mod character attacking AC10 naked target...
No pretense they are good, but that is basic attack chances. AFAIK, Take 5 will only work here for real specialists.
I could see with "Basic" being used for current "Trivial" DC, for "Easy" and/or "Trivial" to be extra-easy Tiers below it.
At those levels, I think Take 5 becomes more realistic even for not completely maxed specialists. (?)


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Charlaquin wrote:
Alternatively, you could bump Low down a level and replace it with Moderate (e.g. Low Difficulty, Moderate Difficulty, High Difficulty, Severe Difficulty, Extreme Difficulty.)

This really seems to be the best to me. I thought it was odd that the chart went straight from Low to High. That skips the Medium or Moderate or whatever you want to call it, difficulty. This both fills that gap and gets rid of the poorly named Trivial.

I figure Trivial is something that even someone bad at it would be able to do easily.


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Doktor Weasel wrote:

I thought it was odd that the chart went straight from Low to High. That skips the Medium or Moderate or whatever you want to call it, difficulty.

I figure Trivial is something that even someone bad at it would be able to do easily.

I also didn't like the direct shift from Low->High, and lack of anything like Moderate/Average.

Likewise, Trivial meaning ~50% failure for "within normal range" character who isn't specially good at it seemed off.

I could see:
Trivial (new category) -> Easy (new category) -> Basic (old Trivial) -> Moderate -> Serious -> Severe -> Extreme
Basic sounds like that is base-line of "real" checks, the lower ones still having role as previously discussed.
Moderate doesn't sound too much above baseline, Serious indicates it is getting tougher, and Severe/Extreme establish high end norm.


Mark Seifter wrote:
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...

Will you really make your players roll for those? I never do. Besides, if you want a task that's easier than "a coin flip for an untrained character" just lower the DC a bit.


Let's see.

I believe the worst non-debuffed modifier you can have at a task is -2, by the maths of "Untrained (-2) + 8 Ability Score From Race (-1) + Level (1).

This is setting aside the Starfindery choice to voluntarily lower a score.

Based on that, the Level 1 "Trivial" DC is a 10, which you'll need to roll a 12 on the dice to hit. That's a 45% chance, lining up with Mark's words.

I have to admit, I'd like it if the Trivial DC, or whatever name is picked in the end, were just 1 point lower. I think "The worst character feasible has a 50/50 shot" is a succinct and intuitive baseline. It would work like that now except PCs are never level 0, so even renumbering the left column to start from 1 would likely achieve it. 0 could be inserted "above" that.

For other rows, a level 1 character with Trained + 10 Ability Score has a +1 (from level), which is 3 higher than Bumbles up there. They'd 50/50 on a Low task currently. A character who excelled at something with Expert + 18 Ability Score + Level has +6, and has a 45% chance at an Extreme task.

I guess I may be overlooking a tool-granted advantage a level 1 can have.

I definitely like the concept of the table. I think some of the values, at level 1 especially, could see minor shifts, but that's what testing's for.


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IconicCatparent wrote:


I am asking you! It seems like your proposed solution and the actual 4e rules aren't too far apart, and I'm genuinely curious about what went so wrong in 4e's skill DC system.

The argument that absolutely everything in 4e was bad just isn't enough for me. I need to know what about it was bad.

Skill Challenges.

Once your skill roll was part of a skill challenge, the DC always ended up being the ”level appropriate” one no matter what you tried to do narratically.

We never got the narration to fit the mechanic either. Either we got trapped in a Schrödinger’s Cat situation: ”Ok, I rolled 39 on my stealth. Do I manage to sneak up on him?” - ”I’ll tell you after we’ve all rolled 13 more rolls.” or out-of-sync between mechanic and narration: ”What to you mean ’we’ failed to cross the gorge? Two of us managed all our climb rolls, and you said we succeeded in our climbs. Do we have a split party now?” - ”Um....” (Examples intended as quick few-sentence illustrations only)

Finally the GM wrote his own skill challenge system to fix mechanical issues, but we never got rid of the threadmill level appropriate skill DCs or the Schrödinger’s Cat problem.

(Played a full campaign in 4E, level 1-26, using a conversion of Rise of the Runelords)

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