Unluckiest Ducks Playtest Observations


Alpha Release 3 General Discussion


While I realize the relevance of this post is questionable, as the Beta is already at the printer, I figure since my group is using the alpha, I might as well write it up.

I just got back from our second session; we are playing Hollow's last Hope at level one.

Some general observations:

• CoDzilla is in full effect. Chrissie, the cleric of Nethys, uses her hand of the acolyte to dominate melees from afar. While spiritual weapon was already powerful (for using the cleric's Wisdom bonus to hit and damage instead of strength, and for allowing her to effectively make ranged attacks that ignore both cover and other melee opponents), the ability to use it at willmakes it just nasty at first level.

In fact, Chrissie's damage output is so high that the group has adopted a new and very effective effective (while slow and boring) process for clearing the dungeon: Calum, the fighter (who used to actually use his two-handed sword), stands just outside a doorway where he can bottleneck whatever attackers are after him, and uses total defense. Chrissie then squishes the enemies over the course of the next several rounds with her hand of the acolyte. Thees players are not normally power-gamers, so it's surprising to see them adopt such tactics--especially ones that leave the sorcerer and rogue mostly useless (beyond firing range attacks through Calum at -8 to hit whatever he is presently tanking).

Interestingly, I don't see Chrissie using a lot of her spells at all. She's been channeling energy to heal a fair bit, and using her hand for damage . . . but not a lot else.

• Stella, our sorceress, very much enjoys her unlimited cantrips. Actually, the only issue with this is that they have made her extremely unwilling to use her first-level spells unless absolutely necessary, and goes entire days using only acid splashes and such. This isn't a bad thing--it's probably more a matter of getting a feel for the new game's rhythm--but considering she's been doing a lot of shooting from behind Calum, some magic missles may have been more effective.

While Stella's dragon claws seemed effective at first, her low strength means she rarely hits with them, and her relatively low hp makes that a dangerous venture anyway. I llok forward to seeing her get cooler dragon abilities as she advances.

• Calum is an effective two-handed swordsman, but he gets a bit upstaged by Chrissie. This is something that has the potential to work itself out over time--as his BAB breaks away--but at first level, its pretty clear that Chrissie is a more effective and consistent damage dealer, and he's sort of been reduced to a damage sponge.

• CMB seems to work well for things like tripping . . . it certainly reduces rolls, and has prevented random combat maneuver lookups. Calum's Defensive Combat Expertise feat was very effective against some wolves. :).

• I'm not sold on the new skill system's approach to "dabbling" as choosing skills at first level (where background-related dabbling is most prevalent) still choice seems like an all-or-nothing deal. I realize this will get better at second level (where class-centric skills get easier to pick up) but there have been some annoyed comments about it.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

This seems like very useful feedback! I wish I could provide the same quality from my game.

username_unavailable wrote:
I'm not sold on the new skill system's approach to "dabbling" as choosing skills at first level (where background-related dabbling is most prevalent) still choice seems like an all-or-nothing deal. I realize this will get better at second level (where class-centric skills get easier to pick up) but there have been some annoyed comments about it.

I ran into the same issue. I don't think there's an easy way around it, though. Those players who used to not max out everything at first level and take a cross-class rank or two in character skills are sort of out of luck at level 1. It sort of evens out over time, but that doesn't account for character backgrounds that show up at level 3 or 4. I guess the way to do it is to take those cross class skills at level 1 and be a slightly less effective member of your class, and then at second take all the class skills to get the +3 bonus as if they were taken in 3.5 at first level.


yoda8myhead wrote:
I ran into the same issue. I don't think there's an easy way around it, though. Those players who used to not max out everything at first level and take a cross-class rank or two in character skills are sort of out of luck at level 1. It sort of evens out over time, but that doesn't account for character backgrounds that show up at level 3 or 4. I guess the way to do it is to take those cross class skills at level 1 and be a slightly less effective member of your class, and then at second take all the class skills to get the +3 bonus as if they were taken in 3.5 at first level.

I was thinking of a house rule that says:

"Pick two skills of your choice; you can make checks in those skills as if you were trained (even if you are not)."

So Joe Fighter can pick Profession (Sailor) and Knowledge (Geography) and be basically as effective as if he put a couple of ranks in each of them.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

hogarth wrote:


I was thinking of a house rule that says:

"Pick two skills of your choice; you can make checks in those skills as if you were trained (even if you are not)."

So Joe Fighter can pick Profession (Sailor) and Knowledge (Geography) and be basically as effective as if he put a couple of ranks in each of them.

Do you give him a bonus to them above his ability bonus, or just allow him to use them untrained?


yoda8myhead wrote:
hogarth wrote:


I was thinking of a house rule that says:

"Pick two skills of your choice; you can make checks in those skills as if you were trained (even if you are not)."

So Joe Fighter can pick Profession (Sailor) and Knowledge (Geography) and be basically as effective as if he put a couple of ranks in each of them.

Do you give him a bonus to them above his ability bonus, or just allow him to use them untrained?

If it's a class skill, he would get the +3 bonus for being trained. If it's not, he wouldn't.


yoda8myhead wrote:
hogarth wrote:


I was thinking of a house rule that says:

"Pick two skills of your choice; you can make checks in those skills as if you were trained (even if you are not)."

So Joe Fighter can pick Profession (Sailor) and Knowledge (Geography) and be basically as effective as if he put a couple of ranks in each of them.

Do you give him a bonus to them above his ability bonus, or just allow him to use them untrained?

This is an interesting idea, and I like it. Only with two minor tweaks.

The abilities don't actually get a rank or become class skills, just can be used untrained. (which may have been your intent) *I guess you already answered this*

And that the character Must come to the DM and have the background history of their character as to why these specific skills.

As a DM I tend to let some things slide if they are Background/Role Play/Character decisions that the player actually sticks too. But I always prefer constant communication outside of "table time" between DM and Player.


I've considered something like this, though my solution might be as simple as just giving everyone a free skill rank or two at first level to allocate to a background-appropriate craft, profession or knowledge skill.

When the sorcerer who was raised by a shepherd gets two skill ranks at level one, it's just kinda hard for her to justify (from a game mechanics standpoint) putting one into profession: shepherd instead of spellcraft ;).


username_unavailable wrote:
When the sorcerer who was raised by a shepherd gets two skill ranks at level one, it's just kinda hard for her to justify (from a game mechanics standpoint) putting one into profession: shepherd instead of spellcraft ;).

Sure, but I don't think there's anything wrong with saying "I'm a shepherd, but not a very good one" and not putting any ranks in. That's assuming that you don't put a lot of shepherding contests into your game where one rank might make the difference between life and death. ;-)


hogarth wrote:
That's assuming that you don't put a lot of shepherding contests into your game where one rank might make the difference between life and death. ;-)

Assuming this, what's the problem with giving the player a bonus RP skill point for profession_shepherd to put on their character sheet? It's not like it's gonna unbalance the game. Or as the you suggest, let them use the background specific skill untrained. Otherwise that poor sorcerer that was raised by a shepherd can't perform the most rudimentary of shepherding skills. Seeing as Professions can not be used untrained. Kinda silly...


Again with the addendum that it's used for character background. Don't want clerics using it to buff their Concentration and K_religion, or Rogues Buffing their Hide and Move silently. Those backgrounds are why they are that class and figured into their starting skill points. But the Innkeepers son who's family was burned out who becomes a fighter to avenge them or a rogue to survive on thievery could get Profession_innkeep or Cook. If that makes any sense...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Possible solution to this problem: the Open Minded feat from CompAdv. 5 extra skill points, usable immediately. Given the potency of a single skill rank in an otherwise untrained skill, the feat has a great deal of potential, and could easily fix these kinds of concerns.


There's a game called Savage Worlds that has an elegant way of handling "backstory" skills. They have a skill called Common Knowledge that covers anything your character would reasonably know how to do, based on his background, or anything your character would reasonably know about but isn't deep enough to require a Knowledge Local type roll (things like "who is the King").

The relevant ability is the one that makes the most sense, given the context. If you were a shepherd and you're trying to I dunno, herd some sheep, use Dex or Wis, depending on whether you're running around or tricking them into going the way you want. If you were a sailor and you need to tie a particular knot, use Dex. Etc.


cr0m wrote:

There's a game called Savage Worlds that has an elegant way of handling "backstory" skills. They have a skill called Common Knowledge that covers anything your character would reasonably know how to do, based on his background, or anything your character would reasonably know about but isn't deep enough to require a Knowledge Local type roll (things like "who is the King").

The relevant ability is the one that makes the most sense, given the context. If you were a shepherd and you're trying to I dunno, herd some sheep, use Dex or Wis, depending on whether you're running around or tricking them into going the way you want. If you were a sailor and you need to tie a particular knot, use Dex. Etc.

Brilliant!


cr0m wrote:
There's a game called Savage Worlds that has an elegant way of handling "backstory" skills. They have a skill called Common Knowledge that covers anything your character would reasonably know how to do, based on his background, or anything your character would reasonably know about but isn't deep enough to require a Knowledge Local type roll (things like "who is the King").

I like this idea as well.

I have always home-ruled at Knowledge/Local was a class skill for ALL classes. This might be a better way of implementing this.

CJ

Scarab Sages

cr0m wrote:
There's a game called Savage Worlds that has an elegant way of handling "backstory" skills. They have a skill called Common Knowledge that covers anything your character would reasonably know how to do, based on his background, or anything your character would reasonably know about but isn't deep enough to require a Knowledge Local type roll (things like "who is the King").

What's wrong with using the existing rule? From the SRD under Skills, Knowledge:

"Untrained
An untrained Knowledge check is simply an Intelligence check. Without actual training, you know only common knowledge (DC 10 or lower)."

"Who is the King?" would be perhaps a DC 8 Knowledge: Nobility check, so it falls under common knowledge, and every subject with an Int of 6 or higher will know it automatically by taking 10.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
hogarth wrote:

I was thinking of a house rule that says:

"Pick two skills of your choice; you can make checks in those skills as if you were trained (even if you are not)."

So Joe Fighter can pick Profession (Sailor) and Knowledge (Geography) and be basically as effective as if he put a couple of ranks in each of them.

Actualy ver. 3.0 allowed you to put 1/2 points in skills allowing you to use them if you were "trained".

I was thinking of offering that option to a player if he wanted to get more diversification at 1st level. If you 1/2 point you get it as if trained (with the +3 if it's a class skill). I wasn't sure if was going to ask that he eventually "fill-up" the 1/2 rank at higher level if he didn't want to invest mor.


Also an interesting idea . . . the issue for my game would be more for Profession, which cannot be used untrained.

I'm leery about giving the +3 bonus for half ranks because that could result in rogus with +3 on their entire class skill list at 1st level ;) . . . however, using half-ranks that at least allow a character to use a skill seems practical.


something I have thought about doing for my own games is letting everyone have one skill point in knowledge(local) and one skill point for one craft/performance/profession skill of their choice at first level. Because it is part of their background they would get the +3 bonus to these 2 skills, however if they want to take ranks in a second knowledge(local) or a second craft/perfomance/profession skill then they would not get the +3 trained bonus, unless they have that skill as a trained skill due to their class.

example: John Q. Fighter, starts off with 2+Int mod of skill ranks for first level. In addition to those ranks he gets one free Rank in Knowledge(local-wherever he's from) and one free rank in one Craft or Performance or Profession skill that reflects his character's personal background.

The free point is only at first level, so for levels 2+ he still only gets the 2+Int mod skill points.

Is this too generous? Who knows? I'll have to let you know once I start running my Pathfinder game later this year.


theporkchopxpress wrote:
something

"I don't get it"

"You were not put on this Earth to.. get it, Mr. Burton."

Anyways, that's prolly what I'll do as well. Or something along those lines.


Brian Kovich wrote:
theporkchopxpress wrote:
something

"I don't get it"

"You were not put on this Earth to.. get it, Mr. Burton."

Anyways, that's prolly what I'll do as well. Or something along those lines.

"INDEED!" :-D

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