Atan's page

Organized Play Member. 16 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 Organized Play characters.


Sovereign Court

One thing I think people need to bear in mind with stealth mechanics is that there is a tradeoff between complexity, class balance, and plausibility. You can certainly invent situations where the new rules produce ridiculous outcomes, but to me that isn't a serious problem. The real criteria should be how well the rules work in most circumstances, and whether the rules help balance the rogue class. Generally I think the cover or concealment the rogue is using to hide will be pretty large and substantial, especially since everything in pathfinder tends to be at least 5 feet wide (e.g. a large wall section, a large door, very dim light, thick underbrush). The environment will usually provide ample ways to role-play the results of the stealth check in a convincing manner. As for balance, the new rules certainly make it easier to play rogues the way they were intended (the core rulebook talks about rogues sneaking and avoiding head to head combat, doesn't even mention flanking). Stealth is fun and it takes skill to use well. I would much rather rely on these stealth mechanics than the Ninja's "vanishing trick" or invisibility potions.

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Pinky's Brain wrote:
Atan wrote:
The rogue is not using his stealth skills to cast invisibility. He is using his years of experience to outsmart your guards. He sees their patterns and finds the perfect moment to slip past all of them at once.
He has a couple seconds to pick from at best (since he can get full round of movement in there isn't much time to wait around).

He doesn't necessarily succeed. If the player rolls well on their stealth check, then he picked the right moment to move, or moved in just such a way as to not attract notice. If they roll poorly, then it was the wrong moment, or maybe he tripped, who knows, something went wrong.

You could make the same argument about perception. The guard only has a couple seconds to notice the rogue, how does he do it? Well if he rolled well on his perception check he just happened to be looking at the right place when the player decided to move. Remember the guard has zero knowledge of the rogue's presence, he has no idea where to look.

Dice abstract away from the details of how the sneaker actually sneaks, just like they abstract away from how the spotter actually spots. To make for good gameplay the dice rules just need to resolve situations in plausible ways, they don't need to simulate every detail. The old rules certainly made stealth unrealistically difficult by assuming that everyone becomes instantly aware of you the minute you step out of cover. As I explained in my first post, perception just doesn't work that way. While our vision can seem perfect in day to day life, in the stress of combat there are a million factors that can impair its performance. The new rules are much better imo.

There is nothing wrong with stealth being stronger than the other skills. It is a core mechanic of the Rogue class, and pretty important to the Ranger as well. Without workable stealth, Rogues lose a lot of utility. And why would skills all be equally powerful anyway? Swim vs. Perception?

I think you might also be overestimating the chance of success in this scenario. If there are 6 guards around to make opposed perception checks, then even if they only succeed on a 20, he still has a 26% chance of being spotted (1-.95**6). If they need a 19 his chances drop to 50%. So it would be a fairly risky proposition, especially considering that the rogue probably doesn't know the guard's perception bonuses.

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Pinky's Brain wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
If you're THAT good that's the sort of thing you're SUPPOSED to be able to pull off because its a game of heroic fantasy, not a heist simulator.

I agree up to a point, but skills generally shy away from being Ex abilities pre-epic ... temporary invisibility for exceeding perception by one ore more breaks the mold.

If all skills were a little more potent pre-epic it would be more palatable.

This is the attitude that results in overpowered casters. Oh no 20 ranks in a skill is almost as strong as a weak spell! Well, don't you think non-casters need abilities like this for balance? Not to mention the fact that despite all the effort of using stealth, a rogue sneak attack usually averages less damage than a fighter who just walks up and power attacks with a greatsword.

Anyway, to be more comfortable with the plausibility of stealthing across open areas what you should do is stop equating the stealth skill to the invisibility spell.

The rogue is not using his stealth skills to cast invisibility. He is using his years of experience to outsmart your guards. He sees their patterns and finds the perfect moment to slip past all of them at once. If the perception bonus on your guards is a lot lower than his stealth bonus, it indicates that they are simply not highly trained and alert enough to notice him. If not, one of them should spot him.

We tend to have an inflated sense of our own visual abilities. This might change your opinion on the limitations of human perception: 50% of subjects do not notice the gorilla in this clip when told to focus on the basketballs

It is really not that hard to sneak past people, especially in the midst of combat. I do it in paintball all the time, and I'm a statistician not a highly skilled rogue with superhuman ability stats. The lack of vision cones and in-combat tunnel vision ( in pathfinder is highly unrealistic. In reality when a person is engaged in combat almost all their attention MUST remain on the opponents in front of them and they would be lucky to notice an elephant walk behind them. Whipping your head around to check 360 degrees would just result in dying to the enemy right in front of you, as they will strike the instant you turn your attention. That is why it is so critical to protect one's flanks in combat. At least pathfinder does have the flanking mechanics to simulate this to some degree.

Sovereign Court

The problem with rogues is dead simple, they don't do enough damage. They should do MORE damage than a fighter or barbarian to compensate for their fragility. Is this not obvious?

Pathfinder mechanics strongly favor maximizing single strike damage. You only get 1 attack after moving. You only get 1 attack per AoO. The optimal thing to do is max your Strength, carry a huge 2-handed weapon and keep power attack on at all times. Thus TWF rogues start from a huge disadvantage, which sneak attack merely compensates for. It lets you do as much damage as a fighter, but not more. Once again, you need to do more damage, much more, to compensate for the positioning requirements and fragility.

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Talynonyx wrote:
Atan wrote:

Whoever wrote the bestiary entries for some of the common swarm types seem to have made no attempt at realism. Ant, centipede, spider, cockroach, and many other walking insect swarms all have a speed of 20-30 ft, and I can find no restrictions on double moves or "running". Even without running this means they can move 40-60 feet per round. That is 4.5-7 mph!

Hello, an ant moving 7 mph? Real ants and centipedes struggle to break 1 mph. Morever, there is no way a swarm of 1000s of creatures crawling all over each other can move at their individual maximum speeds. 5 ft would be a generous movement speed for these types of swarms. Swarms of this kind should be pretty much static in a location and only chase the party slowly if at all.

And become non-threats entirely. Sometimes realism must take a backseat to gameplay. And in some cases, it has to hang on to the rear bumper.

Swarms that you can't run away from and can't damage unless you brought enough bottles of swarm-counter (alchemist's fire) is not good gameplay. It would be much more interesting if the party was forced to deal with swarms in a realistic non-combat way such as avoiding them, baiting them away, using stealth, covering yourself in something to hide your smell, etc.

Also, the movement speeds for most creatures are realistic approximations.

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Whoever wrote the bestiary entries for some of the common swarm types seem to have made no attempt at realism. Ant, centipede, spider, cockroach, and many other walking insect swarms all have a speed of 20-30 ft, and I can find no restrictions on double moves or "running". Even without running this means they can move 40-60 feet per round. That is 4.5-7 mph!

Hello, an ant moving 7 mph? Real ants and centipedes struggle to break 1 mph. Morever, there is no way a swarm of 1000s of creatures crawling all over each other can move at their individual maximum speeds. 5 ft would be a generous movement speed for these types of swarms. Swarms of this kind should be pretty much static in a location and only chase the party slowly if at all.

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Actually, the Mythic rules seem all about giving mythic characters huge advantages over non-mythic, so why not give high tier rogues the ability to instantly kill non-mythic humanoids with a single strike? Don't even worry about damage multipliers, just expend mythic power to add a save-or-die effect to the first sneak attack from stealth.

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Barry Armstrong wrote:

If you're just going up to a door and tearing it open, without stealthing up to it, opening from the side, checking for traps, detecting magic, etc...then you deserve the arrows to the face that the kobolds had waiting for you.

You are just as capable of using a move action to open the door with a readied standard action of "shoot bad guys if they exist".

Our standard party actions:

Rogue - stealths to door, checks for traps, opens door
Sorcerer - waits behind the door to survive any ambushes
Fighter - stands in doorway with readied action to charge
Barbarian - stands behind Fighter with bow readied
Cleric - stands on other side of door ready to heal arrows to the face
Bard - holds action to fill in the blanks

Wow, yeah I wish my party played like this. Maybe I could convince them to try it.

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Foofer wrote:

You are forgetting the Armor Master mythic champion ability that plays a key role in furthering dexterity's mastery over strength. For, by mythic tier 3, long before any of the better mythic ability options unlock, you could be wearing full-plate with no maximum dexterity modifier.

As for the previous statement about skills, I would say that tumble checks, balance checks and stealth checks come in to play far more than climb or swim checks in the average D&D game, and are not so easily by-passed with things like a knotted rope, or first level spell to allow you to breath in water.

I have seen many of you make statements as to why the benefits of dexterity are not necessary, or valuable to a fighter (though I disagree with those statements); I have yet to see someone explain to me just how strength, which adds to your melee attack, melee damage and two skills, will be balanced with a dexterity that adds to your attack bonus, melee damage, armor class, reflex saves, initiative and 6 skills.
Show me how they are balanced, and don't simply say that dexterity requires the spendature of two regular and one mythic feat, because I doubt any strength based fighter would turn down the chance to add their strength to AC, Initiative, Reflex saves and ranged attack at the same feat cost.

As others have said, you have to compare this DEX fighter to the STR fighter who isn't wasting his Champion abilities on armor master x 3. armor master also doesn't help you with the weight of the armor. Mithral full plate is 25 pounds, which leaves you only 8 pounds to spare with STR 10 if you want to keep a light load. A heavy mithal shield is another 7 pounds or so.

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Foofer wrote:

I really can't understand where you people (those defending the feat) are coming from. It's not balanced, clearly. Not one of you have brought up any points to the contrary. You're just calling me a whiner. It's not like it effects me as a player, it just allows me to build that much more powerful a character, and it's not like it would adversely effect me as a DM, because I could just ban the feat. All I'm doing is pointing out that it's unbalance. Are there other things that are unbalanced? of course. That doesn't mean this isn't.

Now do me a solid, and if you're going to reply, do so in a constructive way. I'm willing to have my mind changed if you make some legitimate points on the subject matter.

You do realize that a finessable weapon like a shortsword does 3.5 less damage than a greatsword?

Comparing STR 10 DEX 18 weapon finesse fighter to that same fighter with weapon finesse and Mythic weapon finesse, all he gains is +4 damage right? That is barely enough to make up for using the weaker weapon to begin with. Even taking the exotic proficiency to use an Elven Curve Blade only increases your net benefit to 2.5 damage. Plus its not clear whether Mythic Weapon Finesse gives you a damage bonus equal to 1.5 times your Dex bonus when using a 2-hander.

Mythic Power Attack, mythic vital strike, etc. would give about the same benefit. Plus you still need strength to be wearing that heavy armor, or else you are losing that armor benefit as well.

Mythic Weapon Finesse is a huge boost only for dual-wielding fighters, but they are already behind two-handed fighters because they suffer a penalty to hit, cannot benefit from the extra power attack bonus or extra strength bonus, and derive relatively less benefit from iterative attacks.

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Why do none of the mythic abilities enhance sneak attack damage? Ninjas/Rogues should be able to one-shot kill certain types of enemies (wizard with his guard down) with a sneak attack from stealth once or twice per day. Bring back the x4, x5, x6 etc. full damage multipliers on the first hit from stealth or invisibility (not flanking). For example:

Mythic Sneak Attack
Expend one use of mythic power. If you have cover or concealment you may attempt a stealth check against a single target creature. If you are successful, your next attack during that turn against that creature gains your precision damage multiplied by 4. Roll your precision damage dice and multiply the result by 4. Note that this bonus applies to only a single attack, not attacks from multiple weapons or iterative attacks.

Please allow "Mythic" rogues to actually assassinate one creature on occasion.

Figuring that most enemies have about 8 hps per level, and rogues get about 1D3 (2) sneak attack damage per level, x4 = 100% damage.

Frankly I think larger multipliers are necessary to balance all the weaknesses of being a rogue, but x4 would be a start. Does Paizo not realize that with no positioning at all a fighter or paladin can easily get a straight damage bonus that is double or even triple the average value of rogue sneak attack? (*cough* Mythic Power Attack *cough*).

Mythic sneak attack abilities written like this one would also get around the current stealth RAW, which are vague and seem to make stealth pretty useless, and give us something closer to the stealth playtest rules (hidden until next attack in the current round).

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Atan, the reason for "all these rules" is because people felt that just winging it was creating too many opportunities to exploit things in the game, so players demanded more mechanics to deal with things like that.

As an example, way back in the early days in my very first campaign as a GM, one of my players got a "wish" and wished to be "ambidextrous". At that time there were no rules in place for fighting with two hands, and in his mind that meant that he simply could attack twice as much as before, effectively doubling his damage output. We had a long discussion about the importance of maintaining some sort of balance and I eventually worked out something sort of like today's TWF rules. But I'm sure he wasn't the only "ambidextrous" player, and so rules for TWF were created and added.

One of the areas of the current game where people debate the rules pretty vigorously is precisely where "non-combat" ends and "combat" begins. Exactly what is it that triggers initiative? At what point is it required to start tracking things in rounds and in initiative order?

Some GMs are very good at just figuring this sort of thing out as they go, and some really prefer having rules defined.

There's no reason your game can't deal with this the "old" way if they prefer. The ghost of Gary Gygax is not going to appear in your living room if you rule that peeking around a corner is a viable game mechanic. If that works, then great.

In my games the only time this would matter is if the enemies were readying an action in case something like this happened. In that case I would go into combat mode and we'd use the combat mechanics precisely to avoid arguments about what happened. If there was no readied action I'd let you peek and give the enemies a perception check to see you. Then your head would be safely back around the corner and we'd move on with the game with the next step depending on whether your head had been spotted or not.

But that's just me.

I understand the desire to prevent powergaming, but its a futile exercise in any game system as complex as Pathfinder. I already know of a half-dozen perfectly legal things that seem crazy OP to me, and I'm sure there are hundreds more. I think its more important to encourage creativity so encounters don't become boring and repetitive. Whats the point of balance if the result is a boring game? You illustrated the best solution, allow players to do what they want, but put reasonable limits on it or plan future encounters around it. If you have a powergamer who takes things too far and ruins it, cancel the game and start a new one without him.

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Atan, on the "lean my head around a door" thing...

Unfortunately Pathfinder does not have a mechanic for that. To actually see into the room following the strict Pathfinder rules, you have to move into a square that gives you line of sight. You can then move back, but that means you've done two move actions so you couldn't do anything else, like shoot a bow for example.

Most GMs will allow you to "peek around" a corner, but those that do will usually say it's a full round action (move action 1: poke your head in and look, then move action 2: pull your head back) then they will treat any attack as you having full cover.

Yeah what I don't get is:

1) When you are just moving and are not in initiative yet, do you still have to worry about move actions, full-round actions and such?

2) Isn't the advantage of tabletop over video games that you don't need a codified "mechanic" for everything? When I played DnD long ago (early 90s) we never had all these rules, in most cases you just said whatever you wanted to do, and the DM told you the result or what to roll. That was always hailed as the big reason to play tabletop over video game RPGs.

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Diego Rossi wrote:

You enemies know of your approach? Then it is pretty reasonable that they will wait in ambush.

Well run NPC don't have the extremely artificial aggro radius of computer games, you can't move just outside the area of reaction of your targets and then unleash all your attacks while they wait patiently even if you are fully visible.
In tabletop RPGs you must use stealth, not simply game the system limits to "surprise" the opponents.

Initiative reflect the speed at which you react to situations.
Perception the speed at which you can analyse them.

Your character peek around a corner.
- he roll perception to notice the 10 semi hidden ors hidden in the room
- they roll perception to notice you
* you fail because they are well hidden and you are lousy at noticing things and they notice you: they get a free shot on you.
* they fail because you are good at hiding and you notice them: you can chose what you want to do.
* you notice them, they notice you:
- roll initiative.
* you win initiative: you get to act before them, they are slow in aiming their weapon, reacting to your presence, whatever;
* you get a lower initiative result than some/all the orcs? you are slow in reacting and they get to act before you.

You boldly walk into a room where 10 orc are waiting in ambush, warned by your approach by the sound of your clanking armor, all with a ready action to shoot the first guy that move around the corner: ouch.
Next time bring along a orc prisoner and push him ahead of you. As they are primed to fire as soon as they see something there are good chances that several of them will fire on your orc prisoner.

Yeah I totally agree with your overall logic there. Aggro radii and the like are silly, although nearly all video games do have facing which pathfinder lacks. Your scenario would make sense were it not for a few details:

1) Peeking your head around a corner/door only exposes your forehead and eyes, very, very difficult target to hit (at least -5 penalty going by the called shot table for a headshot, probably should be -10 since its half a head). In a world where walls/doors stop most spells/shots, no one in their right mind would boldly throw open a door and charge into unknown danger. Peeking should be assumed.
2) At low levels no one really has much of an initiative bonus, so its pretty much a 50/50 shot as to who goes first. Also, weak monsters like Goblins (+6) are faster than most PCs at this level.
3) For simplicity, most DMS have all NPCs act at once, meaning if they win initiative they get a perfectly synchronized round of shots.

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Thanks for the replies guys. I tested it IRL and it takes me about 2 seconds to lean my head into a room to look around as I'm opening a door and then close it again.

I love the idea of carrying a mirror. Do you guys apply any penalty to perception when using it to peek?

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I am still realatively new to tabletop RPGs, I'm more of a video gamer. In my initial experiences with pathfinder and Paizo's published APs there seem to be a lot of what I would call "ambush" type encounters. These are where the PCs open a door, round a corner, or cross a certain spot and POOF, a bunch of enemies appear. Everyone rolls for initiative and if the NPCs win, one player could be eating a half-dozen crossbow bolts. Or they could have a ready action to cast something on whoever opens the door.

As someone who is used to video games, this seems highly artificial to me, a byproduct of the turn-based system and all NPCs going at once, as well as the somewhat cramped quarters of rooms in tabletop maps. In real-time, it takes a second or two to aim a crossbow or cast a spell, enough time that the players could simply close the door or go back around the corner or whatever. Enemies that rapidly flinch off shots should take a hefty penalty.

So I'm wondering does pathfinder offer some simple solution to this? Can't you "peek" around a corner or open a door, peek, and then close it if you see 10 crossbows pointed at your head? If not, it seems like a simple line of archers would defeat any level 1 party. I realize at higher levels you could summon a monster or use some spell to scout ahead, but what about at low level?