The Play's the Thing

Monday, July 8, 2019

Last week, we built a character together, so now let's talk about how the game plays!

Digital artwork: Lush forest, night time. Aged vines and moss wrap around thick tree branches. In the foreground, Harsk, a gruff gnome ranger with long hair and an almost equally long beard, is peering out from behind large, leafy plants. Behind him, Lini - an excited-looking gnome druid, uses her right hand to brush back overgrown greenery from a stone column twice her height and half as wide. She holds a torch in her left hand, which lights the image in dark red. She has partially revealed square-shaped carvings in the side of the column. Behind her - to the right - her snow leopard companion Droogami, looks  to see what she's discovered.

Illustration by Will O'Brien

Exploring

Most of the time when you're adventuring, you're exploring. Whether you're examining a dusty tomb, blazing trails through a dense jungle, or disguising your way into an enemy fortress, exploration is all about discovery. It takes place on a fluid time scale, ranging from roughly 10 minutes to hours, or even days for a long overland expedition. It's dangerous to go alone, especially when you don't know if you'll have an important skill you need to brave the perils of a dungeon, but fortunately you'll be part of a team. If you're an expert or better in a skill, you'll be able to help your allies with that skill while exploring, by coaching your less athletic teammates up the cliffside and spotting the worst of the climb, using hand gestures to sneak your louder allies past the guards at the best moment, and more!

In addition to a handful of exploration actions characters can take while in this game mode, the book also presents a number of skills that can be used while exploring.

Text inset: SKILL EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES. Chapter 4: Skills include numerous additional exploration activities, which are summarized here.  
Borrow an Arcane Spell: You use Arcana to prepare a spell from someone else's spellbook (page 241).
Coerce: You use Intimidation to threaten a creature so it does what you want (page 247).
Cover Tracks: You use Survival to obscure your passing (page 252).
Decipher Writing: You use a suitable skill to understand archaic, esoteric, or obscure texts (page 234).
Gather Information: You use Diplomacy to canvass the area to learn about a specific individual or topic (page 246).
Identify Alchemy: You use Craft and alchemist's tools to identify an alchemical item (page 245).
Identify Magic: Using a variety of skills, you can learn about a magic item, location, or ongoing effect (page 238). 
Impersonate: You use Deception and usually a disguise kit to create a disguise (page 245).
Learn a Spell: You use the skill corresponding to the spell’s tradition to gan access to a new spell (page 238).
Make an Impression: You use Diplomacy to make a good impression on someone (page 246). 
Repair: With a repair kit and the Crafting skill, you fix a damaged item (page 243).
Sense Direction: You use Survival to get a sense of where you are or determine the cardinal directions (page 252).
Squeeze: Using Acrobatics, you squeeze through very tight spaces (page 241).
Track: You use Survival to find and follow creatures’ tracks (page 252).
Treat Wounds: You use Medicine to treat a living creature’s wounds (page 249).

Encounter

When every action matters, your characters enter an encounter, proceeding turn by turn, action by action. These crop up in the middle of exploration, putting your travels on hold so you can deal with an immediate danger or opportunity. Combat encounters are the most typical encounters, taking place on a scale of mere seconds between life and death, but all encounters share a common structure: you roll initiative to determine turn order, then you take turns, performing your actions and determining what happens. In a combat encounter, each turn you get one reaction and three actions you can spend however you want. For instance, on her turn in combat, a sorcerer might spend all three actions to unleash a deadly barrage of magic missiles while a fighter might raise his shield and then use a Sudden Charge to rush an enemy and attack.

It's during encounters that most player characters will bestow conditions upon their foes, or gain a condition as the result of the conflict. To make the wide range of conditions that can come into play easier for new players to learn, we provide a full-page list of them without any of the associated rules. This allows someone to quickly reference what it means to be stunned or stupefied, and tell the difference between being undetected, invisible, or concealed.

Text Inset: CONDITIONS. These conditions appear often in the game and are defined in detail in the Conditions Appendix on pages 618-623. Here’s a brief summary of each.
Blinded: You’re unable to see.
Broken: This item can’t be used for its normal function until repaired.
Clumsy: You can’t move as easily or gracefully as usual.
Concealed: Fog or similar obscuration makes you difficult to see and target. 
Confused: You attack indiscriminately.
Controlled: Another creature determines your actions.
Dazzled: Everything is concealed to you.
Deafened: You’re unable to hear.
Doomed: With your soul in peril, you are now closer to death.
Drained: Blood loss or something similar has leached your vitality.
Dying: You’re slipping closer to death.
Encumbered: You’re carrying more weight than you can manage.
Enfeebled: Your strength has been sapped away.
Fascinated: You are compelled to focus your attention on something.
Fatigued: Your defenses are lower and you can’t focus while exploring.
Flat-Footed: You’re unable to defend yourself to your full capability.
Fleeing: You must run away.
Friendly: An NPC with this condition has a good attitude toward you.
Frightened: Fear makes you less capable of attacking and defending.
Grabbed:  A creature, object, or magic holds you in place.
Helpful: An NPC with this condition wants to assistantships you.
Hidden: A creature you’re hiding from knows your location but can’t see you.
Hostile: An NPC with this condition wants to harm you.
Immobilized: You can’t move.
Indifferent: An NPC with this condition doesn’t have a strong opinion about you.
Invisible: Creatures can’t see you.
Observed: You’re in plain view.
Paralyzed: Your body is frozen in place.
Persistent Damage: You keep taking damage every round.
Petrified: You’ve been turned to stone.
Prone: You’re lying on the ground and easier to attack.
Quickened: You get an extra action each turn.
Restrained: You’re tied up and can’t move, or a grappling creature has you pinned.
Sickened: You’re sick to your stomach.
Slowed: You lose actions each turn.
Stunned: You can’t use actions.
Stupefied: You can’t access your full mental faculties, and you have trouble casting spells.
Unconscious: You’re asleep or knocked out.
Undetected: A creature you are undetected by doesn’t know where you are.
Unfriendly: An NPC with this condition doesn’t like you.
Unnoticed: A creature is entirely unaware you’re present.
Wounded: You’ve been brought back from the brink of death but haven’t fully recovered.

Downtime

Even heroes sometimes need a break from the incredible stress of an adventuring life! During downtime, you can earn money, craft items, swap out old character choices for different options, or just take a rest and carouse with the locals. You take your downtime when you return to the safety of a town or home base, usually after completing an adventure. While downtime in general flows quickly through days or weeks at a time, depending on the choices you make, new options might open themselves up to you as the GM sprinkles special downtime events into your chosen downtime activity, zooming in temporarily to highlight interesting or unusual occurrences when you're not out on an adventure.

Downtime gets the least amount of space of the three game modes, but it's an incredibly rich design space built into the core of the game that may lead to new innovations over the lifespan of Second Edition (some of which we're already working on). As in Exploration Mode, players can utilize some of their skills for downtime activities.

Text inset: SKILL DOWNTIME ACTIVITIES.
Chapter 4: Skills includes several downtime activities, which are summarized here.
Craft: Using the Crafting skill, you can create items from raw materials (page 244).
Create Forgery: You forge a document (page 251).
Earn Income: You earn money, typically using Crafting, Lore, or Performance (page 236).
Subsist: You find food and shelter in the wilderness or within a settlement (page 240).
Treat Disease: You spend time caring for a diseased creature in the hope of curing that creature (page 248).

Treasure

While many adventurers risk their lives due to heroism or a sense of duty, treasure is a major motivator for others. And let's be honest, even when playing an altruistic PC, it's still a lot of fun to find a cool magic item for your character. In Pathfinder, your characters will find a fairly steady stream of magic items, ranging from simple healing potions to the mighty skyhammer. Some of the more inexpensive items are consumable, meaning they can be used once, like alchemical elixirs you drink, scrolls you read, and special talismans you can attach to your other items. Others, like magic weapons or enchanted clothing and tools, serve you again and again as you adventure. You could wield a storm flash rapier arcing with electricity and wear a dread blindfold to strike fear into your foes! You can also find magic runes you can etch onto weapons and armor to build all kinds of powerful combinations!

Text inset: Storm Flash. Item 14+. Electricity. Evocation. Magical. 
Usage: held in 1 hand; bulk 1.
Description: This +2 greater striking shock rapier has a golden blade, and miniature electric arcs flash across its guard while it’s wielded. When out of its sheath under an open sky, the blade causes storm clouds to gather slowly above.
Activate  command, envision;
Frequency: once per day;
Effect: You cast a 60th level lightning bolt (DC 33).
Activate reaction command; Frequency: once per 10 minutes; Trigger: An electricity effect targets you or a creature within 10 feet of you, or has you or a creature within 10 feet of you in its area; Effect: You try to divert the electricity off course, to be absorbed by storm flash. Choose one eligible creature to protect and roll a melee attack roll against the DC of the electricity effect. If you succeed, the chosen creature takes no electricity damage from the triggering effect.
Type: storm flash; Level 14; Price 4000 gp.
Type: greater storm flash; Level 18. Price: 21,000gp.
This is a +3 greater striking shock rapier. When activating the sword to cast lightning bolt, the spell is 8th level. Text inset: Dread Blindfold. Item 17.
Emotion. Enchantment. Fear. Invested. Magical. Mental.
Price: 15,000 gp.
Usage: worn eyepiece.
Bulk: none.
When tied over your eyes, this ragged strip of black linen gives you a +3 item bonus to Intimidation checks and darkvision. You can see through the blindfold, but only using darkvision. 
The first time a particular creatures sees you in a day, it must succeed at a DC 37 Will save or be frightened 1. This is an emotion, fear, and mental effect, and your allies become immune to it after about a week.

Activate command; Frequency: once per minute; 
Trigger: You damage a creature with a Strike; Effect: Your target is gripped by intense fear. This has the effect of a DC 37 phantasmal killer spell, but it is an enchantment instead of an illusion. The creature is then temporarily immune for 24 hours.

Experience Points and Levels

In Pathfinder, you learn from your adventures, both your triumphs and your failures, growing more powerful and gaining fantastic new abilities. We measure that progress with Experience Points (XP), and typically the more impressive and insurmountable the challenge for your character, the more XP you gain for overcoming it. Once you earn a total of 1,000 XP, you reach a new level, opening up new options for your character. Next week we'll go into detail about leveling up!

Three characters sitting on the grass in the shade under an old, very leafy tree. The weather is partially cloudy. Kneeling on the left is Kyra, a cleric, is holding up a glowing idol in both hands and looking at it intently. She is wearing long flowing blue and white garments with gold dotted circular designs.  She is facing away from the group, to the left of the picture. In the center and further back, Lem, a halfling bard, is sitting barefoot, wrapped in a short-sleeved cloak or jacket. He is playing the flute with his eyes closed. On the far right, Ezren the wizard, a human male with long white hair, is studying from two open books floating in front of him. He has one hand on the pages of each book, and his hands are glowing. The book on the left has a glowing circle of glyphs surrounding his hands

Illustration by Matteo Spirito

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
If I need my car on Tuesday, I want to know if it will be ready on that exact day.
If you need your car at 9:18am on Tuesday, you need to know EXACTLY when your car is ready. Clearly all durations should be exact down to the minute.

What, no seconds, Mr. Data?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How come nobody did bring up the issue of what happens when you're on a planet/plane where a week is something entirely different than on the mostly-Earth-like Golarion? Is the duration absolute and set to Golarion weeks or is it relative depending on location? What happens if, say, Cheliax conquers the world and declares that in honour of Asmodeus, the weeks are now 6 days long (with 6 weeks in a month and 6 months in a year)? Does the duration change? DID ANYBODY REALLY THINK THIS ITEM THROUGH? ;-)


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
The magic item is a proxy fight for arguing that all rules should be absolutely precise and that no GM adjudication should ever be necessary
graystone wrote:
I have NO issue with DM rulings
graystone wrote:
I'll advocate to get every ambiguity possible removed. DM fiat/table variation might not be an issue for you as you play a home game but it's an issue for those of us that play with strangers.

I'm not going willing to get into an argument over the difference between DM fiat and DM rulings. DM fiat is a problem for you. There's nothing wrong with that.


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graystone wrote:
I'll advocate to get every ambiguity possible removed. DM fiat/table variation might not be an issue for you as you play a home game but it's an issue for those of us that play with strangers

I like Matt Colville's take on it: there are no Dungeons or Dragons. The entire game is what comes out of the DM's mouth and mind. Its all DM fiat. Tracy Hickman in his excellent XDM made much the same point when he boiled down the entire game to target numbers that the DM feels is appropriate for whatever situations he presents.

If you have some kind of adversarial relationship with your DM and you feel the way to fix the gameplay issues that arise is to make super complex and detailed rules to tamp down on "DM fiat", then, frankly, you arent really addressing the core issues you have at your table.

For the record, I DM for strangers in online games as much as I do home games. I run long campaigns. Everyone has fun. Plenty of DM fiat. I make crap up constantly. *shrug*


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
graystone wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I'd be interested to hear from someone who actually does object to "in about a week"

Sure. *wave*

Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm not sure if it's the loose language itself that is objectionable or the proposed resolution.
Loose language 100%. I don't care if it's “in 5+1d3 days” or "in 6 to 8 days", both would give me a quantitative way to understand the game world and plan accordingly. "about a week" relies on an unknown quantity "about" which I have no way to quantify as "about" is going to vary from person to person so I have no way to plan for it: This means it's a different thing each new game I join.

That makes sense. Would you object to something crystal clear but wide-ranging: "a duration left to the DM's discretion"? Something which is clearly specifying that it's a matter of DM whim?

you later wrote:
I'm just asking for the same exacting time frames be used across the board. It doesn't seem like asking too much to keep things the same does it? What benefit is there it vague durations right next to exact durations? What's bad with consistency?

For me it conveys the flavor. It's a little like the way I also prefer spell ranges in feet over squares. It doesn't make a jot of difference in that case - but I much prefer my rules to feel like they're being framed "in world".

Shadowrun was one of my all time favorite rules systems for example, not least of all because they interspersed comments from deckers throughout their rulebooks. I suspect it was both ambiguous and internally inconsistent in parts, but for me I value the feel of the text more than the consistency (even if that means I'm going to suddenly be thrown a curveball by the DM when their interpretation is radically different from what I expect). That confusion-stemming-from-ambiguity doesn't bug me, but RPGs that read like textbooks really fail to grab my attention.

I appreciate the clarity on what the issue is for you. Cheers.

Shadow Lodge

John Lynch 106 wrote:
My old groups favourite bad description was to describe something as being the size of a dog.

What kind of dog?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
My old groups favourite bad description was to describe something as being the size of a dog.
What kind of dog?

The four-legged kind that barks, obviously :D


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TOZ wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
My old groups favourite bad description was to describe something as being the size of a dog.
What kind of dog?

That's the joke. Other then setting an absolute maximum size, saying something is "the size of a dog" is fairly meaningless.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Chetna Wavari wrote:
You're not going to complain that you don't know what "about a week" means depending on which service mechanic they assign to work on your car.

So certain are you?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Immune for about a day

And usable about once every minute

How are those worse than "about a week" ?


Zaister wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
If I need my car on Tuesday, I want to know if it will be ready on that exact day.
If you need your car at 9:18am on Tuesday, you need to know EXACTLY when your car is ready. Clearly all durations should be exact down to the minute.
What, no seconds, Mr. Data?

He finds humans are often irked by such precision.

(Yes, I know that's a Vulcan line and not Data, but I had to. ;P)


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The Raven Black wrote:

Immune for about a day

And usable about once every minute

How are those worse than "about a week" ?

Because as the core item mechanic, you're not interacting with it on a week to week basis in the same way you're interacting with it in a round to round basis.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
I'm not going willing to get into an argument over the difference between DM fiat and DM rulings. DM fiat is a problem for you. There's nothing wrong with that.

When I write DM fiat, I'm talking about an undefined, or ill-defined, rule that's left up to individual DM to adjudicate with no clear right or wrong answer in the rules. The greater number of these in a game the longer it takes to get on the same page with everyone how things work in a game. In essence, I'd like the framework of the game to be the same no matter the individual group I go to.

DM rulings are more IMO things like house/optional rules and such. Normally the DM already has a list of those things and it's fairly easy to digest and figure out. I don't mind rule 0, I just want to know about it before hand. In essence, I don't mind if the DM customizes the framework as long as I know about it.

Dataphiles

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The Raven Black wrote:

Immune for about a day

And usable about once every minute

How are those worse than "about a week" ?

Actually, according to the game designers that's how magic in Pathfinder works. You can't set your watch by it. It's not infinitely precise. Wizards and scholars of magic know the approximate amount of time a spell or effect will last and give the average in their documentation of such things.

So, yes, "about a day" and "about once every minute" are correct from the point of view of the world in which the game exists.


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@Graystone, this is an earnest question, but do you actually ask every DM you have about every single ambiguity and adjucation in the book, or just ones pertaining to your character? Because you make it sound like the former but that just seems like a giant waste of everyone's time.

To use the example of the blindfold, would you seriously ask every new DM what they think "about a week" is, or only ask if you plan on wearing one? Or don't ask at all because that particular ambiguity doesn't actually matter in a way that warrants it being laid out beforehand (especially since the whole point of that particular ambiguity is to encourage GMs to vary it based on the situation AT THE TIME, not just decide ahead of time what about a week means once and for all).

I guess the point I'm trying to come about is, you act like every single instance of ambiguity is another thing you have to clear up with each new DM, when a lot of ambiguities either don't matter enough to warrant asking about ahead of time or only matter if you are playing a specific kind of character. That cuts down on the things you have to ask about big time.

And I still understand that it can be an inconvenience for players who float around but please understand it's also a great boon for encouraging GMs to take a bit of wiggle room to make things seem more alive where we might not otherwise think to.

Like, if the blindfold had immunity in exactly a week, I wouldn't think to vary the time by the bravery or familiarity of characters, and a bit of potential roleplay value and detail would be lost.

Similar matter with the slightly malleable duration of spells (1 minute spells being one fight unless another is immediately after, 10 minute spells lasting through at least a couple fights unless you rest or go a ways between). Having that mentioned in the rules makes me realize I can tell my one really technical player he can stop trying to track how many rounds his buffs have been active (it kinda gives a robotic feeling to the fights and magic in general) and takes some pressure off of me in trying to figure exactly how long it is between two fights.


Steve Geddes wrote:
That makes sense. Would you object to something crystal clear but wide-ranging: "a duration left to the DM's discretion"? Something which is clearly specifying that it's a matter of DM whim?

My preference would be an exact time with a disclaimer. Like 'allies become immune in a week, though this can vary at the DM's discretion.' Barring that, I'd rather have a guideline like 'about a week' over total DM whim.

Steve Geddes wrote:
For me it conveys the flavor. It's a little like the way I also prefer spell ranges in feet over squares. It doesn't make a jot of difference in that case - but I much prefer my rules to feel like they're being framed "in world".

For me it seems jarring as everything else is precise. If, for example, every 24 hour duration was 'around 24 hours' it would feel more organic.

Ruzza wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Immune for about a day

And usable about once every minute

How are those worse than "about a week" ?

Because as the core item mechanic, you're not interacting with it on a week to week basis in the same way you're interacting with it in a round to round basis.

What about the very exact 24 hours for immunity? That seems like you're interacting with it more like a week than you are a round... No 'around 24 hours'. IMO it's 'around' a week as it's a debuff targeting the party: if it was vs an enemy it most likely would have an exact time.


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Worry not, PFS players who hate their GM. In that mode of play, this item will pretty much ALWAYS affect your allies every single time so the week thing is meaningless. Reserve it for a full campaign GM who probably won't let the item TPK you when the party gets ambushed by Balors while they camp.

I do like this item and the imprecision! Also it reminds me of the guidelines for playing Mummy PCs in like 3.5 who have this ability built-in and always paralyze the party once a day when they woke up.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

You got inexact language problems, I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but caring about precisely how long "about a week" is ain't one


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I wonder how this about a week discussion would be in the Starfinder board, would players ask about the week of an specific planet?


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Edge93 wrote:
@Graystone, this is an earnest question, but do you actually ask every DM you have about every single ambiguity and adjucation in the book, or just ones pertaining to your character?

Every one that might pertain to my character and that can sometimes be a long list.

Edge93 wrote:
especially since the whole point of that particular ambiguity is to encourage GMs to vary it based on the situation AT THE TIME, not just decide ahead of time what about a week means once and for all).

If it's an encouragement, I'd prefer it said as much: It didn't read as that to me that the duration as variable to the conditions at the time at all. More it seemed like a random duration of 'about' cuz...

Edge93 wrote:
I guess the point I'm trying to come about is, you act like every single instance of ambiguity is another thing you have to clear up with each new DM

Every new instance of ambiguity is another chance that I might have to bring it up with any new character. It might not be the next, or the one after that but it most likely will come up eventually. It gets even more complicated when a character runs into multiple instances of ambiguity. The less there are in total, the easier it is for me and the happier I am.

Edge93 wrote:
also a great boon for encouraging GMs to take a bit of wiggle room to make things seem more alive where we might not otherwise think to.

That's all fine and good but that doesn't have to come from imprecise rules. That can come from a sidebar in the rule book, a section in the gamemastery guide and such.

Edge93 wrote:
Like, if the blindfold had immunity in exactly a week, I wouldn't think to vary the time by the bravery or familiarity of characters, and a bit of potential roleplay value and detail would be lost.

Cool, but I got NONE of that from 'around a week'. I'm being honest, that sounds great and flavorful but again, that, IMO, isn't brought out in the text. It, IMO, sounds like something a DM should do with all magic items not something attached to the word 'around'.

Edge93 wrote:
Like, if the blindfold had immunity in exactly a week, I wouldn't think to vary the time by the bravery or familiarity of characters, and a bit of potential roleplay value and detail would be lost.

I'm not able to read that much into 'about'. I wouldn't have thought about any of that if Mark hadn't made his post.


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A sidebar in the book or a one liner in the GMG isn’t going to have the same effect as baking that encouragement into the rules with regular uses of ambiguity where carefully applied.

That is 100% at odds with what you seek in an RPG and there is no reconciling those competing interests.

It is what it is.


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I am not worried about this instance either, but having sometimes concrete measures and sometimes vague ones does not make reading this more organic to me, either.

And lets face it, Pathfinder is as far away from "Magic is imprecise and chaotic" as it can be, whatever is written in the fluff description. You actually CAN set your watch to Magic Duration, because it is precise to the second. Suddenly saying it gets imprecise out of Encounter Mode is, well, not very consequent.


DataLoreRPG wrote:
graystone wrote:
I'll advocate to get every ambiguity possible removed. DM fiat/table variation might not be an issue for you as you play a home game but it's an issue for those of us that play with strangers

I like Matt Colville's take on it: there are no Dungeons or Dragons. The entire game is what comes out of the DM's mouth and mind. Its all DM fiat. Tracy Hickman in his excellent XDM made much the same point when he boiled down the entire game to target numbers that the DM feels is appropriate for whatever situations he presents.

If you have some kind of adversarial relationship with your DM and you feel the way to fix the gameplay issues that arise is to make super complex and detailed rules to tamp down on "DM fiat", then, frankly, you arent really addressing the core issues you have at your table.

For the record, I DM for strangers in online games as much as I do home games. I run long campaigns. Everyone has fun. Plenty of DM fiat. I make crap up constantly. *shrug*

Disclaimer: It has been quite a while since I read through XDM.

From what I remember, XDM advocates for a very hostile relationship between players and GM.

You claim that wanting to ask clarifying questions about the game is adversarial because it means you don't trust the GM. Hard disagree. It is entirely reasonable to want to understand the scope of the game you are playing and the GM should be on the same page as their players because they themselves are also a player in the game.

Now, I don't personally have any issues with the "about a week" language because that level of granularity is basically meaningless in terms of a typical PF game. That said, I don't blame Graystone for not being down with that. Their use case for gaming is very different from mine. I'm also fine accepting that not every game is for every person and "vague terms" is as valid a design choice as "explicit tables".


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DerNils wrote:

I am not worried about this instance either, but having sometimes concrete measures and sometimes vague ones does not make reading this more organic to me, either.

And lets face it, Pathfinder is as far away from "Magic is imprecise and chaotic" as it can be, whatever is written in the fluff description. You actually CAN set your watch to Magic Duration, because it is precise to the second. Suddenly saying it gets imprecise out of Encounter Mode is, well, not very consequent.

...Except one of the designers just said that's not the case at all?


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DerNils wrote:
You actually CAN set your watch to Magic Duration, because it is precise to the second.

Is it though? Down to a six-second timeframe, sure, but that's not precise at all.

Liberty's Edge

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Rounds are 6 seconds long. Nothing in the rules *anywhere* tells you how to subdivide a round into less time than that. The quantum limit for magic's timing precision is +/- 3 seconds at best; below that, uncertainty reigns.


Saedar wrote:
From what I remember, XDM advocates for a very hostile relationship between players and GM.

Two things:

(1) That was not my take from the book. But it might make an interesting side discussion where you can point to where exactly it says this. Ultimately, it does state that the XDM does get rid of rules or even players that impede the good time had by most at the table. I wouldn't call that adversarial. That's just good advice.

(2) I used XDM to illustrate how Hickman boiled the game down to target numbers (not in reference to the DM/player relationship). You may have been mixing issues a bit there.


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DataLoreRPG wrote:
Saedar wrote:
From what I remember, XDM advocates for a very hostile relationship between players and GM.

Two things:

(1) That was not my take from the book. But it might make an interesting side discussion where you can point to where exactly it says this. Ultimately, it does state that the XDM does get rid of rules or even players that impede the good time had by most at the table. I wouldn't call that adversarial. That's just good advice.

(2) I used XDM to illustrate how Hickman boiled the game down to target numbers (not in reference to the DM/player relationship). You may have been mixing issues a bit there.

My Point Is This: A game is only its rules. If the mechanics of the game don't do something, the game itself doesn't do that thing. I'm not playing tabletop games to play in a GM's mental/narrative/Fantasy Heartbreaker™/solo-sandbox. Are there people who enjoy that? Sure, but I would say that the game is an excuse for tabletop improv rather than a game to play directly.

For some people, like Graystone, all they have when deciding whether a game is for them is the rules in the book. PF2 may not fill that individual's need, which is sad they were looking forward to the thing, but isn't bad on a design level.

Dataphiles

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Games are meant to be fun. Rule 0. It's your game, play it like you want.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Way to make a mountain out of a molehill.

I don't even like that blindfold and wouldn't even use it (it's only interesting to me because it gives basically a 1/encounter spell and I'd like to see what other items they've got in that design space).

I asked for precise language in rules going forward, because I've had players badger me incessantly before over any ambiguity on the rules (curiously, if the rules said no they didn't mind). I can just hear one of their voices going: "But I'm a brave dwarf", "In the last dungeon there were many fear effects, I shouldn't be fazed by this anymore"... after I'd decided it was 6 days. If it said 6-8 they would say nothing.

Also, for me it's only personal preference (I don't play with those people anymore), as I like my magic to have the mystery on the why, not on the how. If the designers feel it's better this way I'll shrug, keep buying books and move on.

Scarab Sages

Shisumo wrote:
Rounds are 6 seconds long. Nothing in the rules *anywhere* tells you how to subdivide a round into less time than that. The quantum limit for magic's timing precision is +/- 3 seconds at best; below that, uncertainty reigns.

This is a rather good point. Most of the time, when performing a task irl the shorter the task the less the variation but only proportionally.

Let's say magic has +/- 10% variability in time.

5 rounds(30secs) = +/- 0.5 rounds(3 secs)
5 days = +/-12 hours
1 month(30 days) = +/- 3 days

All the same % variable but barely noticeable on a short time frame.

The longer the duration, even a small variability can seem huge.


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Saedar wrote:
I'm not playing tabletop games to play in a GM's mental/narrative/Fantasy Heartbreaker™/solo-sandbox. Are there people who enjoy that? Sure, but I would say that the game is an excuse for tabletop improv rather than a game to play directly.

Elements of those things are part of any game run and adjudicated by a human. Unless you are playing a cooperative board game like Mansions of Madness that has an app adjudicating for you, you are playing a game that is run through the lens of another human's perception. I wouldn't use the "heartbreaker" pejorative here but you want to stamp your point, so whatever.

From my perspective, I put in far more work into a campaign as a DM than the players do. All they have to do is show up. If they aren't willing to work with how I decide the game works, they aren't welcome at my table. *shrug*


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DataLoreRPG wrote:
Saedar wrote:
I'm not playing tabletop games to play in a GM's mental/narrative/Fantasy Heartbreaker™/solo-sandbox. Are there people who enjoy that? Sure, but I would say that the game is an excuse for tabletop improv rather than a game to play directly.

Elements of those things are part of any game run and adjudicated by a human. Unless you are playing a cooperative board game like Mansions of Madness that has an app adjudicating for you, you are playing a game that is run through the lens of another human's perception. I wouldn't use the "heartbreaker" pejorative here but you want to stamp your point, so whatever.

From my perspective, I put in far more work into a campaign as a DM than the players do. All they have to do is show up. If they aren't willing to work with how I decide the game works, they aren't welcome at my table. *shrug*

Sure. Any game run by a human will have some drift, but that isn't the game. That is you and your group. The game might encourage it through intentional or unintentional design choices but it isn't the game. Also, the my-way-or-highway style of GMing is very consistent with the XDM tone and can be pretty hostile. If your group is down with that, fine, but it doesn't work for me.

To me, gaming is about collaboration and fun. When I run a game, I get pretty close to perfect information with my players. If the thing I'm running isn't fitting with what the other people are wanting, I run something else. NBD

All of this is just a long way of saying: either approach to gaming isn't good or bad in and of itself. Do what works for you and yours.


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I just dont see DM fiat as adversarial though. I find it far more adversarial to assume that the DM is somehow bound by some rules. The more detailed and intractible the rules, the more rules-lawyering. With super detailed rules, folks assume that the ultimate arbiter of what happens is some distant designer who put some stuff in a book. That leads to appeals to that authority instead of quick acceptance of a ruling. It also leads to folks gaming rules instead of playing games.

We each play our own way. But don't assume my table is adversarial. Its not. I very much adhere to the XDM notion of using the rules as a guideline and tossing them out when I see fit. I have not had a rules disagreement in years and the players keep coming back.

Edit:

Also, I'll leave this link here since Matt Colville said it best. The map is not the territory.


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Grumpus wrote:
Interesting that the one week timing is vague, and yet on the same item, the 24 hour immunity is precise.

This reminds me of a thing I'm considering house-ruling: 24-hour durations, particularly of the "temporary immunity" variety, will be replaced with "until one sunset and one sunrise has passed."

Because screw keeping track of when in the day the medic failed their Treat Wounds check, or however that works nowadays.

Silver Crusade

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I haven't seen a more boring and tangential discussion about a minor aspect of our game since the endless dross posted by fascists arguing for Paladins to be heartless cops.

Check this out:

I care a lot about our game and while I'm no cheerleader, I have been telling my friends and colleages on the down low that we play a good game. We play a game that is liberating for the mind. We play a game that brings friendship and imagination and a happy, inclusive environment.

I'd like to point newbies to this blog, but alas no. We can't get hype and spreading the word, we get folk who get upset about the definition of a 'week' in game time.

And they call us nerds.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
graystone wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
That makes sense. Would you object to something crystal clear but wide-ranging: "a duration left to the DM's discretion"? Something which is clearly specifying that it's a matter of DM whim?

My preference would be an exact time with a disclaimer. Like 'allies become immune in a week, though this can vary at the DM's discretion.' Barring that, I'd rather have a guideline like 'about a week' over total DM whim.

Steve Geddes wrote:
For me it conveys the flavor. It's a little like the way I also prefer spell ranges in feet over squares. It doesn't make a jot of difference in that case - but I much prefer my rules to feel like they're being framed "in world".
For me it seems jarring as everything else is precise. If, for example, every 24 hour duration was 'around 24 hours' it would feel more organic.

Cheers. (I’d prefer “more consistent inconsistency” too, fwiw).

No further questions, Your Honor.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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I wonder: If we'd said the effect lasts "a month," would this thread be arguing over whether that's 28, 30, or 31 days?


Vic Wertz wrote:
I wonder: If we'd said the effect lasts "a month," would this thread be arguing over whether that's 28, 30, or 31 days?
I think that’s a bit uncharitable. I’ve rechecked and the thread and there seems to really only be 1 person arguing against this clause and they’ve made it clear the issue isn’t really about this magic item and everything to do with
graystone wrote:
I'll advocate to get every ambiguity possible removed.

To answer the question I expect a month is better than “about a week” because it can be resolved with one question (how long is a month) rather than having to query every item individually that has “about a <time length>” clause.

To be clear, the idea you have to clarify every ambiguity ahead of time is quite alien to me. But as I'm sure you know, there are those who hate any and all ambiguities (it’s why 4th ed was so heavily codified. It was to appeal to that sort of gamer).

Dark Archive

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Vic Wertz wrote:
I wonder: If we'd said the effect lasts "a month," would this thread be arguing over whether that's 28, 30, or 31 days?

Yes we would!


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brad2411 wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
I wonder: If we'd said the effect lasts "a month," would this thread be arguing over whether that's 28, 30, or 31 days?
Yes we would!

We can argue about anything!


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I mean given the length and intensity of the "DC to jump a 5-foot pit" thread, I'm sure we would have people arguing whether the interval in which the effect operates is [0,7] days or (0,7) days.


Vic Wertz wrote:
I wonder: If we'd said the effect lasts "a month," would this thread be arguing over whether that's 28, 30, or 31 days?

This seems to be about people seeing endless roleplaying possibilities in the word 'about' while I only see ambiguity. This all started with me saying "I'd like as little table variation as possible." Nothing about the item, "about a week" or anything. It's all been about people disagreeing with that simple statement that's caused this to spiral.

As to a month, I have no issues with it: It's perfectly accurate. From the Time on Golarion blog: "Sixty seconds form a minute, sixty minutes create an hour, and twenty-four hours make a day. The people of Golarion measure time much like we do as well, with seven days to a week and twelve months to a year."

Shadow Lodge

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How many weeks to a month?


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TOZ wrote:
How many weeks to a month?

About four-and-a-half. :P

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
graystone wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
I wonder: If we'd said the effect lasts "a month," would this thread be arguing over whether that's 28, 30, or 31 days?

This seems to be about people seeing endless roleplaying possibilities in the word 'about' while I only see ambiguity. This all started with me saying "I'd like as little table variation as possible." Nothing about the item, "about a week" or anything. It's all been about people disagreeing with that simple statement that's caused this to spiral.

As to a month, I have no issues with it: It's perfectly accurate. From the Time on Golarion blog: "Sixty seconds form a minute, sixty minutes create an hour, and twenty-four hours make a day. The people of Golarion measure time much like we do as well, with seven days to a week and twelve months to a year."

That quote says nothing about months. Much like the real world, Golarion months vary in day count, so "a month" is just the same type of ambiguity as "about a week"


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TOZ wrote:
How many weeks to a month?

As we're told it's the same as here, a generic month is "4 weeks".

Cori Marie wrote:
Much like the real world, Golarion months vary in day count, so "a month" is just the same type of ambiguity as "about a week"

Not really. A generic month is a month. If we're talking about a specific month like Calistril that's different and not something we're talking about. The question wasn't about an affect lasting the month of Erastus for instance.

Shadow Lodge

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But they aren’t. They’re “about” four weeks.

Silver Crusade

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

What’s a generic month?

Are they cheaper than name-brand ones?

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