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Yossarian wrote:

Sure. But let's be honest: almost every GM has at least a couple of house rules, or leans towards certain interpretations of RAW.

Oh, certainly. But most of those houserules and interpretations are minor -- designed to remove an OP build, or clarify a complicated rules question. I wouldn't say they provide much GM flavor, and I also wouldn't say they should.

Yossarian wrote:

It's just a rather absurd thing to say imho that a GM is 'transparent' and should leave no imprint on the game. TTRPGs are hugely flexible, subjective and complex beasts that have the GM's fingerprints all over every session. In a literal sense the point of the game is for it to reflect and extend the personalities of the GM and players. Otherwise you may as well play a video game.

I'll agree with that when it comes to setting and story. But rules-wise? I see no reason why the GM and the players shouldn't try to be as transparent with the rules as possible.

Sure, the GM is going to leave his interpretation and views on everything he touches. And so should the players.

Transparent rule management leaves more room for the players to place their own fingerprints on the game. It means both 'sides' are working from the same baseline, so neither can bend or change the story independently from the context of the rules, and thereby overrun the others' contribution.

And that's really where TTRPGs are advantageous, compared to playing a video game, or cooperative novel writing, or whathaveyou -- the ability to provide a level playing field where all members can leave their mark without stomping over each other.

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Yossarian wrote:

Wow, I must say I find that an incomprehensibly bizzare answer! I expect every GM to strongly flavour the game - that's what role playing is all about - self expression. Expecting the GM to be some kind of unflavoured neutral non-entity is... both impossible and not what rpg's are about for me.

For example: Matt Mercer is considered the best GM by popular opinion (yes 5e). Would you say he is not imprinting his style on the game? No of course not, his style is strongly shaping the game.

So odd! :)

I don't think N N 959 is saying that as a GM he has no input on the setting and style of the game. I think he's saying he has little to no impact on the game *rules*.

Mercer is kind of a strange example on that, as he definitely fudges rules in order to get the kind of story that he *wants*. Personally, I see that as kind of a negative; while there are situations where the story of a game can benefit from GM shepherding, that can also take some of the power to influence the game away from the players, and remove some of the amazing potential that the randomness of the dice can provide.

But aside from that, what GMs (including Mercer) can flavor the game with, without affecting the rules themselves, is story, setting, and non-player characters (specifically their behavior and personality, not their stats). And that's more typically what you'll see Mercer expressing himself with.

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I'm very much with N N 959 on this.

I run transparent GMing where possible. It means I can't fudge when things start going wrong, but even in PF1, the players have plenty of options for salvaging a failing situation.

My experience has been that GMs (even experienced ones) are more likely to fudge in favor of keeping a high-potential NPC around or making a fight more 'interesting'. And quite frankly that's a trap. It cheapens both the hard work the players put into their characters / the fight, and the feelings of victory the players have that encounter (or every encounter, if they feel like their GM is doing this a lot). Worse, it ruins GM - Player trust, and can make the players feel like they're not actually participating in the story, but instead just being dragged along for the ride.

And as with what Quintessentially Me says, having RAW sources can help protect against that. They also give the GM a starting basis, so if the GM has to make a call on something in a hurry (especially something that could mess with overall mechanics), they have a basis to work from. As a GM, there's nothing worse than making a judgement call at the start of the game that ends up breaking the game later.

Rule 0 is a very powerful tool, and can be very dangerous as a result. The more there is codified, the less risk of making a bad call, and the easier it is for the players to ensure their voices are heard and their decisions have impact.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
This is less true. The actual terminology is that they use no actions 'except to defend themselves, or escape obvious harm'. They also wander off and do whatever if left unattended for a minute or so.

Ah. Well that's generally fair. Still vulnerable to GM fiat, and means there's not really a way (yet) to train an animal companion to drag its master's body away if they happen to get knocked out, but that's better than it could be.

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Do they still have the problem where a wild version of X animal will outrun X animal companion 100% of the time, without including equipment?

And the problem where an animal companion that is not currently being ordered is effectively "off", and can by RAW take no actions?

Malk_Content wrote:

This still exists, its just rather than have "one step away" each deity has unique sets of appropriate alignments. I personally think this allows for more flavour as you could for example create a LG diety of Justice and Law who allows LG, LN and LE followers. This gives you a much greater flavour than the same god who allows LG, NG, and LN due to the step system.

I agree with that, and I'm pretty okay with these changes, though I'd argue that the one step away system still fit pretty well with the idea that "people interpret the gods the way they want to interpret the gods". I could definitely see a LN or NG interpretations of Iomedae, for example. Expanding it out to specific alignments to account for specific faiths makes sense, but I'd probably still be okay with, say, an LN Iomedaen cleric whose interpretation of the law is a bit more "entrenched" than her fellows.

I'm going to make an unpopular argument here -- I think deities providing cleric power to worshipers that don't necessarily exactly follow their alignment is a fun aspect of the setting, and I'd rather keep it where possible.

I find that 'shades of grey' in deity choice like this adds more room for interesting roleplaying opportunities, and more depth to the deities themselves. Compare to the Kingmaker CRPG's treatment of Lamashtu and Shelyn. Sure, evil and creepy monster kids are what the majority of Lamashtu's worshipers are into, but not every worshiper is the same or generally agrees on what she stands for, what she did, what rites are important, etc, etc. Just like with religions on Earth, not everyone even within the same sect agrees on the past events their religion considers important, or the deeper meaning behind anything they teach or do. And just because one band of followers believes their deity orders criminals to be put on stakes, doesn't mean that there aren't other followers out there shaking their heads and muttering about overzealous jerks.

Golarion's deities are distant deities; they generally don't interact much with their followers beyond throwing down some spells and occasionally providing summons. This is how you can get situations where Iomedean paladins can raid a Hellknights of the Godclaw sanctuary and steal an important Iomedaen artifact, despite both sides being devout Iomedaens to at least some extent. The Godclaw itself is a good example of this -- a binding of several different deities into one sect, despite those deities ostensibly having little to do with each other, and most of those deities' followers outright disagreeing with the whole concept.

Edge93 wrote:

I will preface this by saying that I would be all for the extra level of proficiency, to allow players essentially a choice between the +level and not +level versions of untrained.

As to the note about picking up things by watching like in these various examples, I really would argue that it doesn't quite constitute training, at least in PF2 terms. In PF2 Training is a sufficient level of dedication to where it draws from your ability to improve in something else. It is a palpable draw on your learning potential. I'd argue that picking up the basic pointers to not suck on something like stealth or climbing in the ways mentioned previously does not constitute that same dedication of your potential. I also don't believe it quite conveys the level of competency that would be expected of Trained, or the know-how/skill to perform what PF2 would call trained-only actions. Rather it's just enough to have a decent/good shot at the most basic applications of the skill.

Much like the Playtest version of untrained.

Of course this is all plenty subjective (Obviously, otherwise we wouldn't be here debating) and in the end you can only equate a fantasy RPG to reality so much, as you really don't learn skills in PF the exact same way you do IRL. Not by a long shot. It is a FANTASY RPG. XD

But hey, RL examples can be good for pointing out counterpoints to when someone considers something unrealistic, which is largely where all these little examples came from. XD

But yeah. Don't think it will happen but I would love an extra proficiency step that acts like PPT Untrained but doesn't require sacrificing your ability to specialize.

Maybe even something like trading one trained skill for two to four (new step) skills or something like that might be acceptable. I don't think it should hinder your ability to go Expert and higher in anything but spreading your training out into multiple semi-training might be fair.

That's kind of why I'm arguing for a "practiced" level. Trained denotes that you've had some actual training in, say, sneaking, while practiced just suggests you've had to sneak around a few times, but are mostly learning by muscle memory, or by subconsciously copying your friends (which is a pretty common way to learn things actually).

My preference is that it would be a "default gain" -- something you get automatically every few levels. Maybe with the addon that "you have to have someone else in your party trained in that skill, or have used the skill untrained several times, in order to get it", just so it feels more like something your character learned by exposure rather than an automatic power (this is probably unnecessary, but could be a fun flavor thing).

Trading a trained skill for a few practiced skills would also work. I tend to drop a skill point or two into skills I'm not going to push high just for flavor reasons, or to give them access to Knowledge DCs greater than 10 (like putting a rank in Ride or Knowledge(Nobility) on a character from a noble background). Practiced skills would also kind of cover that, but in a way that says "I'm not officially trained in this skill, but I can do some basics with it because I've been on a horse a few times / hung around with the squires at Stabbing Practice".

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Raylyeh wrote:

Sure BD, I’ll take the bait! I am ONE of those persons as are a number of people I know. Observational learning is real and for many tasks it takes only a couple minutes to see large improvements. As it is one of the things that you HAD to use caps to ask. I hunted a fair bit with family in my early teens. Hunting requires you to be quiet among other things (stealth). Now my stepdad and grandfather never thought to tell me about how to quietly move through a forest in the middle of autumn. I tromped on in and almost immediately realized I was being too loud. So with no prompting I watched how my elders moved and within a minute I was walking as quietly as they were. Is that enough PROOF for you BD?

Now go crawl back under your bridge.

I'd argue that's really more a case of training. Your stepdad and grandfather were helping you learn how to move stealthily through the forest by providing physical, living examples for you to compare to and compete with. I'd argue you probably earned Trained levels of proficiency from this, whereas if you had a smarmy cousin who didn't want to hunt tagging along, and he/she refused to try to learn from your stepdad or grandfather, he/she would probably still count as untrained.

And maybe that terminology is part of the argument here.

I'm not a big fan of +lvl for untrained... but I've noticed that most of the arguments in its favor suggest that it makes sense for a character who has spent so much time hanging around sneaky rogues would have learned how to be stealthier, or lie better, or swim better or whathaveyou from all of their adventuring time. But isn't that training?

Likewise, the arguments against it are that it doesn't make sense for a wizard *without training* to dance around orcs without getting hit. And that makes sense -- if you've learned how to dance around orcs without getting hit, you're *trained*.

This isn't a TES game, and PF2's XP system doesn't have or support a "learn by doing" system, but the argument has so far come down to the two sides of "it doesn't make sense for someone to be so skilled without training" vs "it doesn't make sense for someone to not be trained". So why not qualify that accurately.

If you want +lvl for all skills, don't make the base level "untrained", make it "practiced". You can then provide an "untrained" disadvantage.

If you don't want +lvl for all skills base (which I generally prefer), then untrained means literally untrained. Maybe throw in a feat that allows you to get to "practiced" level with a few skills, or add a free "practiced"-level training to each character every 5 levels, where the actual skill to be upgraded has to be assigned by the GM, who's told to pick from the skills other PCs are trained in and have been using a lot in game.

I apologize if this is a pedantic solution, but it kind of seemed like that's where most of these arguments are stemming from.

It sounds like a lot of the problem with Wizard AC comes from phrasing and style, rather than from mechanical issues. And a lot of that phrasing and style might have originated from the "math-oriented" nature of the Playtest -- i.e. the designers wanted to provide the numbers for testing, and they'll figure out the wrapper later.

Personally, I kinda prefer the idea that everyone *doesn't* just get Unarmored AC trained automatically. That sounds like something unarmored martials should be using (i.e. its a physical skill rather than a side effect of staring at textbooks all day). However, not everyone sets up their casters that way, and I'm certain there are plenty of people who prefer Unarmored training.

So why not just add a wrapper of "wizards get the option of binding deflection wards onto a focus, as an automatic feat, with upgrades to that feat coming up every X levels; deflection wards don't work in low-magic areas", and then provide Unarmored training as an alternate?

The wrapper mentioned above is a pretty weak example, but the goal here isn't necessarily that all wizards need Unarmored training -- merely that all wizards need an option to keep up with AC changes somewhat, without providing a new spell that could be stacked too easily. This wrapper could easily be replaced with "new X ability that acts like this but has different flavors based on your school". The point being to provide the benefit without requiring the explanation be "wizard is dodgy" (as fun as the "dodgy wizard" trope can be).

Gorbacz wrote:
In my distinction, OSR style games, 3.5/PF, 5e, Traveller, Pendragon Shadowrun, GURPS, Call of Cthulhu are all conservative games. They have little to no meta-mechanics allowing players to alter the story (if you want to alter the story, you need to use in-character abilities, you don't get to have 3 story tokens per game which allow you to insert a NPC of your creation or to tell the GM that there's an exploding barrel right there where you need it), degrees of success are usually binary, character sheets are walls of numbers and text, there's a heavy fell of the game being a tactical wargame ruleset adopted to run a storytelling game, etc. etc.

Okay, I see where you're going with conservative. Not sure I'm a fan of the terminology, as it kind of implies that storytelling-style games are "modern", despite there being plenty of games that are older than Pathfinder but still fit well into the category (Vampire the Masquerade, for example).

I don't think your last argument is consistent, given the rising popularity of 5e (and the general popularity of 1e). Storytelling games have been around a long time, and while plenty of 'conservative' games decide to try storytelling mechanics (like the meta-mechanics you mention) when their popularity wanes, sales of old-school RPGs including D&D and Pathfinder have *increased*, not decreased. The difference is more that "conservative" RPGs have a smaller % of the population than conservative and storytelling RPGs combined.

And I think you'll find the popularity of complicated boardgames has increased the popularity of D&D, not decreased. I rather doubt the audience that enjoys games like Gloomhaven is suddenly going "D&D and Pathfinder are too complicated, I'll just play Fate forever".

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Gorbacz wrote:
Pathfinder is, by design of its authors, an offshot of D&D, a highly conservative and restrained game which, for better and worse, feels like if it was 1980s all over again. And this is what Pathfinder audience, largely consisting of a conservative (in terms of preference for game design, not political views) is after. They play D&D and its offshots because they like conservative games.

I disagree. What I find appeals to me about Pathfinder is its complicated and "crunchy" rules that provide a lot of different potential tactics, decisions, and results, leading to complex and divergent combat encounters.

"Conservative" as you're describing it fits much more with OSR-style games -- either games like Traveler, Pendragon, or the various near-AD&D games that have come out in the last five years, that focus heavily on tables, and in most cases expect you to burn through characters regularly.

I like Pathfinder for some of the same reasons I like Shadowrun -- or in a non-tabletop example, XCOM. The large amount of options and ideas on both sides of the table provides combat (the meat of most D&D-like tabletop RPGs) with a very wide variety of things that can happen. I don't really feel like I see that in a lot of modern RPGs.

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Vidmaster 1st edition wrote:
You do realize that a gaming system comes out its out forever. My old DM still plays 1st edition D&D. It only drys up when you let it.

Sure, but no one makes APs for 1st edition D&D, or splatbooks/setting books. The desire to play in a supported system is legitimate.

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Tridus wrote:
If 10% market value for selling was a thing, I would respond in game by hiring some NPCs to run my own store and selling everything I find there. Then the DM can try to justify why the store down the street can sell the exact same item at 10x the price my store can. That should be super fun for our group of roleplayers to try and justify.

Brand names and discount days.

That's how most retail stores (especially high-end luxury-oriented stores) operate. Industrial equipment suppliers are similar, but tend to balance that with contracts, guarantees, and support.

That said... I'm totally digging the potential for "advertised adventurers" here, showing of the latest products in armor plastered with slogans and glamered illusory mascots.

More seriously, I think the 10% thing starts to make sense if you factor in how long most items sit in the shop before being sold, the costs of advertising and maintaining the shop, and any taxes the local government is throwing at you. I bet you could probably balance a system where the PCs *can* operate a magic item shop and come out with 15-20% value per item sold, in return for extra bookkeeping (and of course the plot and story elements).

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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Ah, so, nothing is truly unique, at some point a PC can grab it?

If they build around it, there are other examples of it in play, and the GM allows it, sure.

You seem to be trying to imply that I'm saying "PCs have to be able to do everything, nothing can be unique, etc" (if that wasn't your intent I apologize), but you already said what I meant in an earlier post:

Vic Ferrari wrote:
So, common representatives of a race must match up to PCs, but NPCs (which are all unique), have free reign to have whatever unique abilities?

Your statement "NPCs (which are all unique)" is inaccurate, because most NPCs aren't unique; town guard warrior #5 is probably going to be statted the same way town guard warrior #1-4 are, because there's only so many pages in the Bestiary and DMs only have so much time. My argument is that town guard #5 should only have abilities the PCs can have, so that:

A. A PC's backstory can be that she is (or was training to be) town guard #6
B. PCs aren't left wondering why this NPC town guard they rescued/recruited last week has abilities much stronger than what they've got
C. If town guard #5 is copied from the most readily available source of town guard stats DMs have, and thus most town guards are copied from that, they probably should have abilities that anyone of that species could have (such as if they spent the feats for it)

Unique NPCs have free reign to do what they want, but they're more interesting if they stick to a theme, and more balanced if whatever they're getting is about equal to what a PC could have and/or has a cost associated with it. Unique groups of NPCs are likely to have abilities (or style) the PCs like, and thus its very likely the PCs will want to play one at some point, so they should probably be built with that in mind (sacrifice X feats, get Y ability).

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Shisumo wrote:
wizzardman, I don't mean to call you out directly, but you do seem to be taking a lot of assumptions about how the game might turn out and treating them more like facts. The arrival of Goblin Scuttle as a heritage feat in 1.5 demonstrates that Paizo is indeed aware of the issue you're concerned with. Moreover, none of those concerns are at all inherent to the idea of NPCs being built differently than PCs. Is it fair to ask you to take a more wait-and-see approach, now that you've put your concerns out there?

Wait and see approaches aren't what Paizo is asking for -- they want feedback, and I'm doing my best to give it.

I don't mean to come off as hating on the whole playtest here, and if I do, I apologize. There's a lot I like, and a lot to like.

But I see a lot of potential problems stemming from separating PC and NPC rules, and I know the devs glance at these forums from all the posts I've seen from them. So I'll make my arguments while there's still time.

That said, this discussion has covered most of my concerns. I still count myself in the 25%, but I'm optimistic that the end result will at least provide something I can work with.

Vic Ferrari wrote:
So, only if the DM dictates that a particular member of a species is unique, can it get away with unique features that are not available to PCs?

Yep, pretty much.

I'd say "or a member of a unique group", but there are Hellknight prestige classes for a reason; if you provide a group with a unique ability or abilities, you can bet players will want to play it at some point.

The rarity system serves as a good example for this. If an ability is rare or unique, I can easily justify why this guy has it but the players do not... with the caveat that eventually they'll want to play in a game where they *can* have it.

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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Right, so, what's the problem?

Well, like I said in the posts above, if there are traits that every member of species X in the Bestiary has, and those are the versions most likely to be encountered in any DM's game (which they are, because this is the base Bestiary), and PCs can't get access to that trait, then the game is either providing common representatives of that species that have abilities the PCs can't have, or uncommon representatives of that species that aren't marked as uncommon and will be the most common versions used.

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Vic Ferrari wrote:

So, common representatives of a race must match up to PCs, but NPCs (which are all unique), have free reign to have whatever unique abilities?

Common representatives of a species (or class) must have abilities that PCs can also have, while uncommon or unique representatives of a species or class can have abilities befitting whatever makes them special compared to most others (but probably shouldn't have abilities that don't have thematic justification, or it gets weird).

All Drow can have Darkvision, but Drizzt can have "% murderchance", though I'd prefer if he had a source of it, or was particularly known for having the "% murderchance" ability and had to pay for it at some in-system or in-universe cost.

Essentially, PCs should have access to anything about their species that's not particularly special, but NPCs can have special things if they have a special reason for having them, and are themselves special.

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Deadmanwalking wrote:

I feel like this is a pretty likely outcome, actually. Or something very much like it anyway.

If that remains consistent, I'll be fairly satisfied. I'd still rather have them running on the same rules system, but as long as the two can generally "match", I can wallpaper over most of the other differences (in my own games or in Society play).

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Here I disagree. I think the balance point on most 'monster' abilities that are on PC-appropriate species is pretty reasonable. Orc Ferocity would definitely be too powerful...but frankly Orc Ferocity is too powerful for a monster ability, too (it makes them invulnerable as long as they don't get hit twice in a round...that's a bit much, y'know?). And the Hobgoblin's Formation ability, while quite good for certain groups, seems perfectly reasonable as an Ancestry Feat to me.

...Yeah, honestly, Ferocity was exactly the one I was thinking of when I said some of these will probably not be PC-appropriate, and if that's nerfed to being once-per-day as well (or maybe half-nerfed to 3/day, and then the PC ability is buffed to match or turns into a 'spend a resonance mk2 point' or something), then I think that's a fair compromise.

And I'd really like to see Formation as a racial feat (or Pack Attack from Gnolls). I don't think most of these abilities are unfairly balanced. I just... don't really expect to get them, and won't until I actually see them on paper. I've seen too many examples from all the other systems out there that don't keep PCs and NPCs sync'd, where NPCs just get whatever is convenient, even if it means PCs feel like chopped-up, half-boiled versions of NPC concepts.

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Vic Ferrari wrote:
3rd Ed/PF is the only edition to design monsters as PCs, so, it is an outlier. Monsters and NPCs (often monsters) also sometimes have unique features in AD&D (like Drizzt and his % chance to instantly kill).

Not all Drow are Drizzt. A lot of my concerns are focused around situations where the default, generic, straight from the Bestiary NPC versions of PC-capable species all have abilities that PCs of the same species can't mach.

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Meraki wrote:
I'm not wizzardman

You're better off, trust me. That jerk has to work on occasion.

Shisumo wrote:
This does not appear to be the case in the current mode of the game.

Goblin Scuttle (the reaction ability that allows a goblin to step when an ally ends a move action adjacent to them) is listed on all goblins listed in the Bestiary, but is not available to PC goblins as a feat or racial ability. While this does not necessarily declare that Goblin Scuttle is a racial ability, but when every non-custom (and probably the majority of custom) goblins feature this ability, its hard to say that "all Goblins can Goblin Scuttle" is not strongly implied.

And honestly, this is going to become more of an issue later, as more "PC" races make it into the Bestiary, and more "NPC" races with strong unique abilities (such as Hobgoblin's Formation or the Orc's 100%-superior-to-halforcs-because-we-can-do-this-all-day Ferocity) get playable "versions" of themselves.

And yes, sure, PCs are unique and special, yadda yadda. But players typically don't like being told that they're special because they're actively worse than most members of their species, even if its only in one way.

Shisumo wrote:
Looking over the NPCs in the Bestiary, none of them seem to have any skill ratings more than a point or two higher than a PC of the same level could have, at worst - since the players don't know exactly what level their opponents are, I'm not sure how they would know that's off. (Also, the NPCs numbers are going to be adjusted in the final game anyway...)

We'll see what the numbers look like after the Playtest. If they're fair, then I won't worry about it. But my previous experiences with NPC-segregated statting systems have shown that designers tend to... stop paying as much attention to the numbers after a while. Monsters get special upgrades so they can do X; NPCs get extra skills so they always win this skill check, no matter how hard the PCs try to catch up. It can leave players feeling rather cheated.

Shisumo wrote:
Abilities from an NPC's educational or experience background that cannot be replicated by any PC build

See above, re: Goblin Scuttle. See the Bugbear Fighter with Bushwhacking Flail, or the Drow Fighter with Skewer. I'm not trying to harp on these too much, but with this and the adventures we've gotten so far, its not too hard to find NPC rules that PCs simply don't get access to

Shisumo wrote:
Every listed "classed" NPC caster in the Bestiary has exactly the right number of spells for their equivalent level.

I'll grant you that one as of right now. I don't necessarily trust that this will stay consistent.

And honestly that's one of the biggest reasons I'm arguing for NPC and PC creation rules to be the same. *Especially* for non-monsters. I'm not trying to argue that "the designers will cheat and do weird things", but mistakes happen, exceptions slip by, rules get approved that shouldn't have, etc. I don't trust separated systems to remain balanced against each other. I don't really trust a continuous system to remain balanced either, but flaws are much more obvious in a continuous system than in separated systems. I won't have to run the numbers twice to know if something is broken.

Edit: As Rysky pointed out, Skitter is actually now available to PCs (it wasn't available as of Playtest version 1, which is what I was referencing as I worked on this post).

If the plan is to provide all NPC abilities that every member of that species gets as feats available to the PCs, then I can accept the current situation. Hell, if that applies to abilities provided to "Species X Fighter" as well (or "Species X Class" in general), then I'm extra-okay with it. But I don't expect that'll be viable; rather, I suspect many of those abilities aren't balanced for PCs, and won't be available outside of houserules.

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Shisumo wrote:
In what ways do you consider the difference to be "reasonably obvious" from the player-at-the-table perspective?

I'm not Snowblind, obviously, but I think a lot of other people in this thread have provided some examples of "reasonably obvious", such as martial attackers with multiple damage dice (as if they were using a magical weapon) inherently, without actually having a magical weapon (or sneak attack, etc).

Other examples probably include:

All NPCs of Species X being able to do something inherently that a PC of Species X is not able to

NPCs at around the same power level as the PCs (or less) having unusually high skill bonuses

Abilities from an NPC's educational or experience background that cannot be replicated by any PC build

NPC spellcasters with a bunch of high level spells, but no mid or low level spells that could have saved their butts, despite PCs of an equivalent level having the slots available

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Chief Cook and Bottlewasher wrote:
Aenigma wrote:
75%? I'm so surprised at seeing so many people like the new way of building monsters. I have always thought monsters should have statistics more like PCs as they used to. But to my surprise people don't seem to prefer this nice old way.

They're too restrictive. All fey have d6 hit dice, good R and W saves and 6+ skill ranks per level. All of them. All animals have the same base - mammals, reptiles, fish. All aberrations. You should not be able to look at an aberration of all things, decide it's got roughly so many hit points, d8, so x number of levels and then know it's BAB, saves and number of skill ranks.

They don't offer any diversity for statistics within the creature types

And this was the perfect opportunity to fix that by building a more flexible version of those same rules, rather than declaring "NPCs and PCs are no longer made from the same components".

And I understand why they went with the latter, as its easier to write in a balanced format, but I still dislike it. Especially for NPCs.

Even if the previous version wasn't perfect, it still implied that any generic opposing wizard NPC was still an actual wizard, and not just a styrofoam prop with some automated spell capabilities once per day.

One of the problems I have with it is the weird interaction between character movement, mounted horse movement, and the movement of other mounts.

By base, your generic human protagonist can move 25'/50'/75' in a round (elves can pull 30'60'90', a few others are a little slower, etc). On a horse you can get 100' (that same horse can run 140' by itself), but most mounts only really get 80'.

This honestly makes mounts really slow by comparison (though I guess there's an argument that most animals are only really faster than humans over long distances, rather than immediately). And I kind of wonder if the reason they reduced character speed to 25' is so they wouldn't have to increase mountable animals to 50' per action to make them faster than a running character.

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The change to Barbarian actually sounds really cool. I'll have to see how that plays out.

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Leafar Cathal wrote:
Some will prefer 1e the same way people prefer and play 3.5. And that's fine. Both versions can co-exist.

Except they don't and never have. Whenever a version change happens, one version continues to get support via new materials, new content, new adventures, and errata, while the other is left to die. This is true inside and outside of tabletop games -- whether we're talking miniatures, movies, or software development, the old version is inevitably deprived of resources and interest until the new version is the only one available and visible to the culture at large.

People are going to get freaked out by this, the same way they have with every edition change. And its pretty much inevitable, because there are always people whom the change leaves behind. They'll form their own tiny communities for a while, but in the end its always a choice between embracing changes you don't like, or 'dying out' with the rest of the abandoned fandoms out there.

I'm not saying "oh woah, doom and gloom, abandon all hope" just yet. But no one should be surprised that some people are getting a little vitriolic about the differences between the way 1E and playtest-2E play. If this change doesn't work, its not a choice between "play old" or "play new"; its a choice between "play new" or "try to find another system that gives you what the old one did, but is still supported". And brother, I've played APs from both PF1 and 5E, and 5E just can't keep up.

pjrogers wrote:

Just a quick observation from someone who has a high-ish level conjuration wizard that specializes in summoning. The problem in PF1e isn't so much bad summoning rules as it is unprepared summoner players.

It does sound like this is a major source of the problem.

And inexperienced / inattentive / just slightly distracted at that moment players happen. I'm not going to say that what we need is more streamlined rules on summoned creatures, because we've been getting plenty of that, and it kind of limits what you can do with them (though 'zoomed out' and 'zoomed in' versions of summonables, thus giving those who care more control over their summons, would be bloody amazing). What I will say is that there are a lot of ways for a player to purposefully or otherwise take up too much time during a turn, and I don't think reducing summons -- or really reducing the actions available to summoned monsters -- really solves the issue.

'Troops as a monster' solves other issues (I'm looking at you, incredibly disposable skeletons).

ultrace wrote:
You may not have encountered this exact scenario, but no doubt as an experienced GM you have come across the scenarios where a PC was killed or completely incapacitated and had to sit out combat; or where an encounter favored the skills and setup of one character to the detriment of others

Yeah, but that's not necessarily a problem with summons (who honestly should be face-tanking in most situations anyway -- half the point of summons is that replacing them is way cheaper than replacing a PC, even if you can't do it until next time you leave the dungeon). That's *always* a problem in any situation where one character is doing (or the player thinks is doing) worse than another, or gets into a situation where he gets KO'd.

And that's an area that I feel like PF2 is trying to cover, though I really think more generalized cheap healing is a better solution. Hell, I'd like to see a few more "if I'm dropped I heal to X instead" disposable items out there to help nullify the risks frontliners have with no longer being able to act.

Alternatively, in PF1, if you build the right summoner and trade out a feat on your frontliners, you can always put In Harms Way on a bunch of summons and literally use them as chaff to keep your frontliners in the fight. I'm in a game where the Inquisitor one player has is using that constantly, and honestly its a pretty great use of his cheap summons.

ultrace wrote:
And summons and undead creations aren't just pets or companions that disappear forever once killed. If you somehow manage to remove or nullify them via creative means, they'll just be back the next day or sooner.

Sure, but they're out for that moment, and likely that combat. And undead creations are especially vulnerable to this, because unlike summons, you have to have a body. If your dragon skeleton is eaten by a bone-eating ooze, you're down a frontliner until you can get a new one. If you spent other feats to make them permanent, then you typically get them back well after the combat ends.

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Claxon wrote:

Necromancy was completely broken in PF1. It gave one player way too much power and versatility.

...Maybe this is just my experience, but I've never seen a Pf1 Necromancer actually have any more power than a normal PF1 cleric, and no more versatility than any minion-summoning divine caster would have. Even if we add in incorporeal undead, or specific strong minions, etc, etc, in my experience they are in no way more dangerous than a good Summoner build or a Monster Tactician Inquisitor.

Undead are kind of fragile; they're an extra mook or two you have running around (plus a pile of skeletons, probably bloody ones, that are better off as butlers than anything else) that you rely on the GM's story and a few feats to support, with the knowledge that said mooks are obvious, vulnerable to positive energy and a lot of spells, smite-able, and probably unrecoverable once destroyed.

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I think you're borrowing a bit from the Kingmaker CRPG for this... and I really like it. Just some nice downtime activities that would make the resting segment more of an event (and less of a thing that's skipped over). Giving it actual substance will discourage people from abusing it for resource return, and potentially provide some roleplaying opportunities as well.

As for the complaints about tracking individual numbers... most of these bonuses are only for 30 minutes, but you can also borrow a bit more from the CRPG, and offer a few options that are more about defending the campsite than about temporary bonuses. Hunting and camouflaging the camp being a couple of obvious ones, but setting up lookout positions for guards or divining the likely best spot would also work.

You're running straight into the Adventurer Workday problem.

Personally, I despise the idea of Encounter Powers. I'm perfectly happy with short-rest based systems, but the idea of Encounter Powers (short rest between or not) is that they're supposed to be powers that you get at the start of each fight; in doing so, they effectively remove much of the resource management aspect of the game.

And the biggest problem with short rests that take less than an hour returning powers is that it effectively provides the group incentive to take a 'break' between each fight. No group wants to enter a fight with lower resources than is readily available; that's a great way to risk death for no benefit. And if most of your powers are reliant on something that you can get back after a five minute break, there is no incentive *not* to toss your most powerful options out at the start of the fight, with the expectation that you'll get them back as soon as the fight ends. So there's no resource management.

I'm okay with skipping resource management on healing, because health is the only resource that running out of can kill a character (or possibly the whole party, if a character dies at the wrong time in the wrong fight). But I'm far less okay with it when it comes to spells. Resource management is part of the game; if you toss all your spells at the start, you should pick up some scrolls and backup options, or accept that you've used all capabilities to win this one fight, and try going further again later.

As a result of ongoing discussions on Handle Animal, and a quick analysis of the hazard system, I propose a new hazard to be added to the game. I call it the 'puppy pile'.

The design is quite simple -- a hard-shelled Bag of Tricks, set to drop puppies only (or kittens if you're feeling mischievous), sitting at the top of a slightly ajar door.

The target takes an action to Open the Door, which causes the hazard to react with a Reaction hereafter referred to as "drop on target", impacting the target's head and forcing a Reflex save to avoid falling prone. If the target is prone, the hazard then uses the "pour puppies" action, causing 6d6 puppies to spill out over the target. As each puppy is Bulk 1 due to its desire to not be moved, the number of puppies summoned should exceed the target's encumbrance.

Since these puppies are summoned, they are actually unable to take actions unless someone is concentrating on the spell that cast them; as the target is unable to concentrate on that spell, he is therefore trapped under the puppies until they despawn (the RAW version of the 'Summoned' trait).

A more pragmatic ruling would be that the target could 'command' the puppies off of them using Handle Animal, taking 2 actions per puppy. With an average product of 24 puppies, this will take 48 actions, or 36 rounds of continuous puppy removal -- which is slightly longer than the trap's despawn time of 1 minute 30s.

Attempting to Break Grapple or Escape Grapple from each puppy is much more viable. At one action per puppy, this should only take 8 rounds -- just long enough for the cunning lich / pet store owner who set this up to polymorph the rest of the party into tomorrow's sale on hamsters.

I plan on throwing this at my players at some point, so any feedback is appreciated!

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Some would argue that Exploration and Encounter mode shouldn't require two different forms of logic in order to work, but that's not really the topic of this thread so I'll stop there.

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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:

I think there's a more fundamental difference of approach under here somewhere, then.

I don't put monsters or NPCs in campaigns primarily as challenges to the PCs. The fictional universe doesn't know they are PCs. I put monsters and NPCs in as entities with their own agendas defined by the world they live in. How that interacts with the PCs is up to them, and me RPing the NPC. in the moment.

(Odysseus was totally making that bit up to impress Nausicaa.)

I think that hits on a big part of this argument, for both sides.

Some DMs prefer to view their campaigns as stories, set in a world, about the PCs. Others view their campaigns as stories, about their PCs, set in a fictional world. The difference is in emphasis -- i.e. are you more comfortable with changing the world in the name of the story, or changing the story in the name of the world?

For story purposes (and also expediency) having completely different, separated rules for monsters and PCs makes it much easier to adjust a monster to do a certain thing the story needs. Maybe you need swamp ape stats in a hurry, because you've decided they live here but they need different stats than most apes. Maybe you want them to hit the PCs with Swamp Gas, but don't want to stat one out as a high-level sorc just so you can give them Stinking Cloud.

But for worldbuilding purposes, separated rules leads to a lot of uncomfortable questions (particularly if your group is the type that wants to know the mechanics of the world around them -- i.e. nitpicking nerds). Why does this one swamp ape get Stinking Cloud? Is that some kind of natural hunting mechanism? Do they all get that, or is he a separate species? Why can't I learn swamp ape martial arts, when they're clearly super cool? This is an especially large problem with humanoids, because its easy to view both random goblins and the PCs as people, and therefore potential party members (even in a purely theoretical sense).

From my point of view, the former option frequently comes at the expense of the latter. My group is the type that is likely to ask "why does this goblin get Burning Hands for free", because they want to know if that's an inherent trait of goblins, or magic he learned via a correspondence course, or what. They want to know how "goblins with free Burning Hands" affects the world. And if it doesn't, they're likely to get drawn right back out of story.

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dragonhunterq wrote:

GMs can already just alter monsters to suit their whim or to provide a more suitable challenge to their players (or attack their weaknesses) without explanation. There is no rule stopping them.

And that works great when you know the GM and the players and can trust them to adjust NPCs to make the story / game / experience better, but is *not* that great in situations were you don't know the GM and/or the other players. This is why we have 'That GM' stories all over the internet.

And sure, cheaters are always going to cheat, but:
A. Most cheaters prefer to cheat within the rules as much as possible
B. By providing a solid rule structure, it is easier for the players to identify *when* the GM is cheating, and whether or not that behavior is actually making the game more or less fun

I know we're talking about a system where cheating *is* in the purview of the DM, ostensibly in the name of keeping the game fair and fun, but we're *also* talking about a rule system Paizo is providing for Society play. You can't rely on the GM to be working for maximum fun in Society play; you have to rely on a combination of the rules, previous players, and organizer oversight, and only one of those is visible to the prospective players beforehand.

Finally, I'll admit, there's a bit of a personal preference thing here. I view "monsters and PCs use the same general rules" as a positive adaptation that came from the move to 3rd, and I don't like throwing it out just because it simplifies on-the-fly monster production. In my opinion, on-the-fly monster production doesn't need the help, and focusing on a simple, easier to fudge system can and will hurt internal consistency. It also, as you mention, makes you jump through hoops to create monster PCs and PC monsters, where a symmetrical system does not.

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I have to agree with james014Aura in regards to separate monster/PC rules provoking ethics violations on the part of the DM, and I think the argument is less about "the rules need to make sure that the bonuses the PC and the monster gets are similar" (though that's important) and more about "the rules need to be very clear as to *why* a monster has the numbers it has, *where* its getting them from, and *how* it matches up to opposing PCs".

I think official "how to build a monster" tables, as James referred to, generally satisfies these requirements (the monster has X stat because it is Y CR and thus has Z stat options), but can feel rather arbitrary to a lot of players and GMs -- particularly if there is any dissonance between what that monster has and what a similarly designed PC has (hence the complaints about goblin puppets earlier).

Here's some anecdotal evidence supporting my position: some years past, I played in a Pathfinder Societies mission at a local convention, along with a few members of my regular play group (because we had fun showing up at convention tables and pretending to have never met each other before, and thus surprising the hell out of the GM with sudden coordination). During one of these events the GM of that particular cornfield-oriented encounter deliberately used an NPC encounter scaled up well above what our piddly level-one butts could handle. Now, the GM was also doing other things wrong (cough cough hide in plain sight), and we *did* actually survive to run away (for the most part), but it was very important in general that we were able to track down *why* the monster in question was performing as effectively as it did. Monster rules are part of the contract between the GM and the players that helps make sure that all parties in question are trying to make the game fun for everyone, rather than any one party maximizing their fun at the expense of others.

This is especially important in public games like Pathfinder Societies, where the GM and the players may not have played together before. This allows players to know which GMs are, effectively, cheating.

Arbitrary rulesets for monster designs make this both easier and harder. It *can* be easier to track down why a monster has a certain stat if there is a table provided that should show exactly what that stat is (rather than relying on a calculation). However, it can also mean that effectively the GM can stick a monster's stat wherever he wants, without explanation, to wherever happens to hurt the party most (or hurt the party the most within that round), or even use the highest available bonus for every stat without the players really being able to prove otherwise.

Are there other ways to handle ethics violations like this? Yes; you can just leave the table. But leaving the table and/or refusing to continue with a specific GM is much more acceptable and much easier to explain if you can cite specific rules issues that cause you to no longer trust that person, and in my opinion, arbitrary rule sets make that harder.

Knight Magenta wrote:

My goal was to prevent the "wack-a-mole" problem where the fighter drops and is healed back into combat 5 or 6 times. With wounds you would at least be threatened while doing that while allowing a few heroic resserections.

My experience in the playtest had been fighter-types going down in about 2 rounds in any non-trivial fight. If that's the balance point paizo is going for, then 2 wounds per 4 round fight feels right to me.

With a target of crippled on 5 wounds? That limits us to about 3 combats per rest cycle (assuming most frontliners have 14 con), ignoring wound-removing healing spells. That's... workable, but playing it kind of close; there's good odds that the party will end up having to "adventurer workday" after those 3 combats (especially at low levels, where its likely the players don't have the spell slots to remove some or all of those wounds). Change "crippled" status to 5 + con mod, and that'll put us back to the 4-per-rest ratio that spellcasters nominally operate on.

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I'm not really a fan of this -- if only because I don't think wounds are much of a "threat" in combat, compared to the extent threats we already have of "running out of resources" or "losing". I also don't think wounds will come up that often; in my experience, most combats are either of the type where all or almost all of the party remains standing the whole fight, or where multiple party members drop and are picked back up, but that's the last fight of the day.

That said, it's not a terrible concept, and I'd be okay with it if it was implemented.

Spoilered for conversational irrelevance:

My personal preference is still for "use purchaseable magical resources to recover HP between fights, up to player's preference for how much money is spent on healing vs how much is spent on equipment". That leaves the entire equation to the players, doesn't really require an outside mechanic, and helps to limit the occurrence of "adventurer workday syndrome".

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vestris wrote:

I would argue that a horse does not automatically stop moving. So you need to handle animal every round but you do not need to make it move every round (e.g. you tell the horse to stride for 4 miles or until you say otherwise). Sometimes you need to make a roll to change direction or to deal with an obstacle.

That would come out at roughly 11-12 actions per minute which is fine and not fatiguing.

This ruling makes untrained riders very bad in combat but lets them travel overland on horseback, especially when using roads.

However the wording on command animal is at least problematic which originates from the specific action terms (as stride for a horse is 40 ft and then stop). But there are of course two different possible outcomes maybe being unable to ride is intended, if its not there should be a different wording for the exploration mode or at least a clarification.

Galloping however would always be fatiguing after 10 minutes, for horse and rider.

I agree with this -- and honestly, I'd kind of argue that we need a rule to handle "keep doing this action" orders.

By base, the wording of command animal implies that the animal in question only gets actions *because* you spent a Command action to give it two actions. This might be okay for summons, but it kind of ridiculous for... well, horses you bought at the stables the other day.

I'd just like a rule that says "if you order an animal to do something that it cannot accomplish in one round, it continues to take that action for one minute without prompting." This neatly covers a lot of situations, ranging from ordering your horse to continue hauling your cart in that general direction while you take a few actions to stuff your face with food, to ordering your pet dog to stay for a minute while you visit the outhouse, to ordering your bear animal companion to keep attacking that jerk with the bow until he stops existing.

I really don't think this makes 'minions' too powerful.

Xenocrat wrote:

page 298.

Whoop, yep, that confirms its radius. Thanks.

FireclawDrake wrote:

Erm.. did I miss something where it is not longer radius by default? Otherwise 20' has been that way at least since 3.0

Yeah, that's where I'm confused. I saw 20' burst and assumed circumference.

I think I might have just been wrong, and the default is radius, but I wasn't sure when I posted.

Xenocrat wrote:
wizzardman wrote:
A twenty-foot burst? I must have missed that on my first readthrough. That's... a super tiny AoE, given that fireball is a pretty iconic spell. Depending on spread, you're really only going to hit two guys at most (or maybe a couple more if they're really bunched up). Any chance we could at least throw in a material component to make that 40' burst?
It's exactly the same AoE that fireball has in PF1.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting the wording here, but PF1 Fireball is a 20' *radius* burst (effectively a circle with a 40' circumference). I read "20 foot burst" as a burst with a 20' circumference, which would be about 4 squares.

If I'm wrong, cool, that's my misinterpretation. The wording might need to be clarified a bit... but I might just be dumb.

If I'm right, however, that's kinda tiny.

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A twenty-foot burst? I must have missed that on my first readthrough. That's... a super tiny AoE, given that fireball is a pretty iconic spell. Depending on spread, you're really only going to hit two guys at most (or maybe a couple more if they're really bunched up). Any chance we could at least throw in a material component to make that 40' burst?

Regardless, the second format works. I agree that "basic" is confusing. Maybe add a line about "the standard save table" if that's what you're going for?

Matthew Downie is right.

Now, as it is, if you ride anything but a horse you'll likely be traveling at about the same speed as you could walk (two actions at 40' vs 3 actions at 25'), but that's a different problem.

Colette Brunel wrote:
If traveling on a horse untrained is slower than just walking, then what is the point?

Its not, but only because horses have a 40' move and can use two actions to gallop at +10 speed every round, for a total of 100' (25% higher than the average human could make on a triple-move). It is possible to build an elf that walks faster than a horse can run, however.

Of course, this also means that horses gallop cross-country at 11mph (actual horse average is 30mph), while humans sprint at 8.5mph (actual average is closer to 15mph), so giving horses with riders 3 actions of running (assuming 140', that's just under 16mph) would put them closer to the actual ratio of horse-speed to human speed, while simultaneously also meaning that your standard domesticated horse is capable of running at the same speed as a 'monster' horse (because they'd have the same number of actions).

"Another limb" could work; I'd like to still allow legs where possible (though of course this leaves out headbutts).

In your situation... I might rule that he has to make a fort save on each attack or get nauseated, with the addition that critically failing that fort save three times leads to permanent nerve damage and impotence, but honestly this is a case where you should probably just tell him "no".

Fuzzypaws wrote:
What I would prefer is if the minion always gets two actions according to a "basic AI script" if not commanded (which should allow it to fight back and attack foes / defend its Master with uncomplicated move / interpose / basic attack if in combat), but the player can spend an action to give it a full 3 action turn under the player's control. I've never seen companions get out of hand at the table except with "pack Master" shenanigans, which are easily left out of this edition. Requiring an action to command still acts as a balancing factor, preventing the player from fighting at full capacity if they have multiple summons or a summon and companion.

I like that a lot, but I think I'd prefer a slight reversal -- always three actions if not commanded, two actions if commanded. Commanding them guarantees the player more control over what they're doing and how they're doing it (and hey, they could add in some buff spells or effects that only occur during the round the minion is commanded), so its worth the slight loss in activity. In return, this brings minions a little closer to animal standard (since NPCs in general get three actions per round), but still provides command with an associated cost.

I agree, the only 'unbalanced' animal-control builds I've seen have been pack master setups.

I'd also like to note that would-be necromancers are super screwed over by the current setup, as uncontrolled mindless undead just stand around all day, so your "skeleton horde" is three skeletons max, and one of them has to carry you around so you can keep commanding them. I know NPCs don't necessarily use PC rules, but its unfortunate that PC necromancers don't really work (even if they were kind of trivial in 1E).

N N 959's interpretation fits mine as well.

Its kind of a strange decision -- I never really found Druids to be overpowered in PF1E (unless we're talking strange builds with large apes and swords, and even then they weren't really gamebreaking), but given that we're now on a 3-action system, I guess I can see the concern that one player getting six actions (even though some of them are animal actions) might be a bit much.

Personally, I'd prefer a basic "AI table" for animal companions out of combat, so that the players can at least plan on them reacting in some way. The current system is a little weird, because it relies on either the GM allowing activity that isn't technically included in the rules (because by RAW animal companions that aren't commanded get *no* actions, and aren't just "under the control of the GM), or running on the expectation that a loose animal companion literally won't take any actions until commanded again (the 'robot' interpretation).

Even if that table literally just says "if (commanded to attack single target last turn){ for(all actions) {attack target}}" or something like that, it would give players and GMs something to work with, and Druids/Rangers who have animal companions (or players with familiars, etc) the option to cast 3-action spells without potentially leaving their animal companion vulnerable.

Riding horses have str +2 and are large (x2 bulk limit), so they become encumbered at bulk 14 (warhorses at 16, because their strength is one higher).

However, as large creatures, they count all bulk 1 items as L, so in theory you could stock a riding horse with 140 bastard swords and he'd still be good. Replace those with longbows and you squish the horse.

This also means that a warhorse can carry two medium people, but only if they are naked and do not have a saddle. A riding horse that encounters this is more likely to bite you in unfortunate places instead.

Edit: Whoops forgot bulk limit.

By RAW, the activity of riding a galloping horse consists of three actions each round -- a Handle Animal action with the concentrate tag, requiring a check, and two Command Animal actions, which you can then use to trigger the Gallop action on the horse (a two-action ability that moves your average horse 100'). You have to use all three actions on this in order for the horse to move its two actions (with exceptions for animal companions and etc, who get two actions per command rather than one for one).

If you fail a Handle Animal check at any point and you do not have the Ride feat, you are Bucked (a reaction).

However, in order to get a reaction, a horse has to have actions. Animal actions isn't really specified, but p284's statement for animal companions (specifically on the minion trait -- "so they gain 2 actions during your turn if you use the Command an Animal action to command them") implies that animals get their actions *from* the command an animal action.

Does this mean that animals don't have actions when not Commanded, or is this specifically referred to Actions used by the Player?

I know that's a bit pedantic, but really I'm trying to figure out if animals naturally only have two actions, or have 3 actions (one of which is always supposed to be used up by the Command action), or if they're really supposed to not have actions when not In Use.

The first two options can have an impact on how DM's handle Animal AI, which is necessary, because the rules for what a non-commanded animal does is very vague. "Defend itself" or "flee at first opportunity" doesn't really indicate whether a lion stays and fights the Town Guards it was ordered to attack earlier, fights until the guard it was ordered to attack is dead, fights only if attacked back, or immediately flees (which forces the character 'operating' the lion to move it back into position on the next round where he/she/it has actions). If its the last option (i.e. no actions), does the lion then remain in position when not "operated"?

On the same subject, as it requires three actions without the Ride Feat, does that mean that effectively, characters without the Ride feat cannot make attacks on horseback while using Gallop, and a character with Ride can only make a single attack?

And do commands given from Command occur as you provide them (i.e. a block of two actions that can be used on a two-action activity like Gallop), or individually (i.e. one after the other?).

A good solution to #3 might just be reducing the "untrained" proficiency value from -2 to 1/2 or 1/3 lvl... or maybe 1/2(lvl) - 2 or something like that.

I'm not a big fan of the general assumption that a hero's level should increase all their skill potentials (regardless of 'learning the skill over his career' or not -- if the aquaphobic barb never baths, why does he know how to swim?), but I also know that there are plenty of people (on this site and elsewhere) who don't want their character to be 'left out' of a skill they feel is mandatory in some situations just because they chose a roleplaying skill instead.

A good medium solution might be a larger penalty to untrained checks. Its not perfect, but combined with all of the "trained only" actions, it might suffice to cover both parties.

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