Unaware of Favored Enemy?


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Grand Lodge

If you/your pc are unaware that the monster you are fighting is of a type in which you have favored enemy, do you get your favored enemy bonus?

I could really see both sides of this, but Id like some other people's opinion, or even an official answer, if one exists.

Thanks for the help!


Nope.

There is nothing in the rules which indicate that you need to know your target is your favored enemy to get the bonuses.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

The problem is that the favoured enemy bonus is rather nebulous. The class ability doesn't explain why a Ranger gets these bonuses - only that they do. This leaves a player wide open in deciding for their own character. I, personally, have seen the following explanations for various PCs in my games:

Specific training in knowledge and tactics against the FE
Innate and somewhat mystical understanding of the FE
Pure animosity towards the FE

...and there are plenty more.

If your start to examine it though, it falls apart. If your Ranger hates undead but doesn't know Lord soandso is a vampire, then you shouldn't get your bonus to damage but it makes sense that you would get your bonus to Sense Motive since your adept at picking out the tell-tale signs of an undead trying to pose as alive.

On the other hand. If your Ranger has studied the anatomy of Orcs - you should get your damage bonus against the Half-Orc you face even if it was raised, and lives its life, like a human. You might not get your skill bonuses though as it doesn't act according to 'traditional' orc custom.

Ultimately, I think that is why it is not explicitly defined; it would make the ability way too complicated to adjudicate and the ability is already DM dependant as it is.

Patryn is fully correct rules-wise though. The only issue I see is a player trying to cheat the system by using FE as a method of enemy detection. i.e. 'I attack! do I get my bonus damage? I do? I now know Lord Soandso is an undead!"

Incidently: this same problem applies to racial enmity traits like the Dwarven Hatred trait.


If a ranger is unaware that the foe they're fighting is a favored enemy ( which I think is a rare case), as the GM, I'd just adjust their rolls "behind the screen" for them. That way no one can cheese it as a creature identifier. I routinely add or subtract bonuses behind the screen when the players aren't aware of a particular situation.


The Eel wrote:
If a ranger is unaware that the foe they're fighting is a favored enemy ( which I think is a rare case), as the GM, I'd just adjust their rolls "behind the screen" for them. That way no one can cheese it as a creature identifier. I routinely add or subtract bonuses behind the screen when the players aren't aware of a particular situation.

What The Eel said.


I'm curious as to why this is a cheesy means of identification. What cheesy combo are you specifically preventing?


Irontruth wrote:
I'm curious as to why this is a cheesy means of identification. What cheesy combo are you specifically preventing?

Mistah J posted above: "The only issue I see is a player trying to cheat the system by using FE as a method of enemy detection. i.e. 'I attack! do I get my bonus damage? I do? I now know Lord Soandso is an undead!"

That's what I was referring to.

Dark Archive

Irontruth wrote:
I'm curious as to why this is a cheesy means of identification. What cheesy combo are you specifically preventing?

More of Storyline cheese rather then mechanics cheese.


The Eel wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
I'm curious as to why this is a cheesy means of identification. What cheesy combo are you specifically preventing?

Mistah J posted above: "The only issue I see is a player trying to cheat the system by using FE as a method of enemy detection. i.e. 'I attack! do I get my bonus damage? I do? I now know Lord Soandso is an undead!"

That's what I was referring to.

I read that part... I'm asking, what about that specifically is cheesy. Clearly the players aren't all going to make rangers, spread out their FE and attack every single being they encounter. So lets make a couple of assumptions:

1. this is happening already within combat
2. the player and GM collaborated on the rangers FE, so the players already know that those creature types will occur during the campaign

Within those bounds... how does this create "cheese".

I guess for me, knowing he's undead doesn't really answer that many questions. Is he a lich? vampire? something else? While they share common undead traits, all this does is inform the party they shouldn't use things like Hold Person, or Reduce Person. They don't know any specific vulnerabilities or strengths from this.

Lets change Lord Soandso to a shapeshifted dragon. What advantage does the party gain from this knowledge?

Unless the GM has determined that Lord Soandso is going to be guaranteed an escape at the end of the encounter, the party was probably going to find out the truth after he dies anyways.


I look at it this way. Would a Ranger really not know he was fighting one of his favored enemies? The answer is of course not, he would absolutely know. I understand the rules about knowledge checks to determine creature type and things like that but sometimes common sense has to prevail. I'll go one further, I would house rule that the Ranger is always aware of a favored enemy, no check necessary imo.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

What if the FE has improved invis or they are fighting in total darkness, etc?

I too believe that there should be telltale signs that identify an FE, a fighting style, smell, sound, etc. but it makes sense that an invisible enemy is hard to identify.


I agree with Mistah J and The Eel. It isn't spelled out in the rules, so you could go with really strict RAW and say it always applies, but it makes much more sense to me to leave it up to the DM.

The FE bonus applies to Knowledge roll, so the Ranger has a better chance of identifying an FE, but if he doesn't recognize a monster as an aberration, I'm not sure why he would fight it as an aberration. At least not once he has mutiple Favored Enemies cos he wouldn't know which technique to use.

The one way it would make more sense for the FE bonus to always apply was if it were magical, but it is not. It is an extraordinary ability.
EDIT: And nothing about FE says that you automatically recognize Favored Enemies.

Anyway, this is why it seems pretty clear to me that the FE may not always apply, but I think this is something that can vary from DM to DM.

Also, one way to avoid this ambiguity is to always let the player know when a Favored Enemy is coming up. So, perhaps they are hired to take back an item stolen by a goblin tribe that rides wolves, and this way, the info of what creature types they will face is obvious.

Dark Archive

I would Make them ID the monster. prior to getting a Bonus.

Favored Enemy (Ex): At 1st level, a ranger selects a creature type from the ranger favored enemies table. He gains a +2 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks against creatures of his selected type. Likewise, he gets a +2 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against them. A ranger may make Knowledge skill checks untrained when attempting to identify these creatures

Make him ID it w/o the Bonus (If it is a FE add the bonus in yourself)

then allow them to get the bonus to hit/dmg


One way to think about it being applied automatically could be if the ranger's development of tactics to use vs. a particular type of enemy has become so ingrained that he does so unconsciously. He may not realize that he is using tactics that he'd normally employ to combat, say, an elf, though he may be doing so in response to subtle differences in the enemy's fighting style or movement or whatever. He may not make the Perception to notice that the elf has cut the tips of his ears off, or the Sense Motive to notice that the elf is trying to cover up obvious signs of not being a human (accent, dress, vocabulary, etc...), but maybe the elf can't help but fall back upon some of his ingrained instincts, how an elf moves, styles for attacking, etc... while the ranger's own maneuvers adjust themselves to match the elfy stuff.

The cheese factor would be in hitting someone disguised and using a game mechanic to see through the disguise.

Personally, I feel that the favored enemy mechanic is weak enough without requiring Perception, Sense Motive and Knowledge checks to enable it to function in the first place.


I can only see this being an issue if it's a John Doe ranger.
He may have amnesia, and still get a bonus against, say, undead.
If they have something such as the Ring of Gax, it may be giving him a bunus against humans.


The main story cheese I see is rangers with favored enemy: human always 'detecting concealed nonhuman' via their FE bonus. "Hey, this guy isn't what he seems." A large variety of plots revolve around shapechangers or other people masquerading as a person.

Shadow Lodge

In general, you get the bonus regardless of whether you know it's your FE or not. I can see adding the bonus 'behind the screen' but then it gets weird when Bob needs to hit AC 14 and Billy needs to hit AC 18 because the one is getting the FE bonus behind the scenes.


0gre wrote:
In general, you get the bonus regardless of whether you know it's your FE or not. I can see adding the bonus 'behind the screen' but then it gets weird when Bob needs to hit AC 14 and Billy needs to hit AC 18 because the one is getting the FE bonus behind the scenes.

Maybe allow a Sense Motive check when the players notice that the ranger is having an easier time/is being more effective against the foe than others are in order for the ranger to realize that he's been fighting as though he were battling a <insert favored enemy>?

Fighter: You're really zinging that guy! I didn't know you had any special training/hatred for humans.
Ranger: I don't... <rolls>
Ranger: Hmm...I've been ducking here and parrying there, just as I would be if I were fighting an undead creature...that's weird...
Fighter: You don't suppose this guy isn't human, do you?
Together: Hey cleric! Do you have Detect Undead?!


Ernest Mueller wrote:
The main story cheese I see is rangers with favored enemy: human always 'detecting concealed nonhuman' via their FE bonus. "Hey, this guy isn't what he seems." A large variety of plots revolve around shapechangers or other people masquerading as a person.

But how often are you the "mystery" stage when you're already in combat with the person? And if you are, how often are you still in "mystery" after combat is over?

I see your point that this is POSSIBLE, but I have never encountered an Actual Play scenario where it would have or could have happened. Remember, we're talking about combat scenarios. At that point you're going to find out if the guy bleeds, see some of his special abilities, etc. Unless the enemy is purposely acting like a level 0 commoner, the GM is probably going to describe something that tells you something strange is going on.

I guess I'm also generally opposed to everything going on behind the GM screen. Like when I'm asked to make a save, just tell me what I'm saving against cause characters often have a 1/2 dozen modifiers against various effects, but some GM's want to keep the mystery and so the roll takes that much longer to figure out success or failure.

Dark Archive

Irontruth wrote:
Ernest Mueller wrote:
The main story cheese I see is rangers with favored enemy: human always 'detecting concealed nonhuman' via their FE bonus. "Hey, this guy isn't what he seems." A large variety of plots revolve around shapechangers or other people masquerading as a person.

But how often are you the "mystery" stage when you're already in combat with the person? And if you are, how often are you still in "mystery" after combat is over?

I see your point that this is POSSIBLE, but I have never encountered an Actual Play scenario where it would have or could have happened. Remember, we're talking about combat scenarios. At that point you're going to find out if the guy bleeds, see some of his special abilities, etc. Unless the enemy is purposely acting like a level 0 commoner, the GM is probably going to describe something that tells you something strange is going on.

I guess I'm also generally opposed to everything going on behind the GM screen. Like when I'm asked to make a save, just tell me what I'm saving against cause characters often have a 1/2 dozen modifiers against various effects, but some GM's want to keep the mystery and so the roll takes that much longer to figure out success or failure.

Does not have to be in combat. From FE:

Quote:
He gains a +2 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks against creatures of his selected type.

So, they can get the bonus on a lot of interaction with it, not just combat. Think that Lord Soanso is lying to you? You are going to use sense motive to try to find out. Hoping to pull a fast one so that you can investigate something under his nose, have a bluff check.. etc..

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

At my table:

Rangers have an immediate chance to recognize that a disguised opponent is their favored enemy, with a Perception check that I roll for them without a lot of hullabaloo. If they notice the creature is a favored enemy, all bonuses apply.

If it's not obvious, then the ranger's player needs to voice her suspicions.

If an enemy is disguised as the ranger's favored enemy, or (as with the case of the necrophidius) has deceiving looks, she gets a Perception check to discern that something's funny. If she doesn't make that check, I'll quietly remove her favored enemy bonus during the skill checks and fighting.


the eel wrote:

If a ranger is unaware that the foe they're fighting is a favored enemy ( which I think is a rare case), as the GM, I'd just adjust their rolls "behind the screen" for them. That way no one can cheese it as a creature identifier. I routinely add or subtract bonuses behind the screen when the players aren't aware of a particular situation.[\quote]

yeti1069 wrote:
Maybe allow a Sense Motive check when the players notice that the ranger is having an easier time/is being more effective against the foe than others are in order for the ranger to realize that he's been fighting as though he were battling a <insert favored enemy>?

Both. GM add in the bonuses "behind the screens" and after a few rounds of the bonus, let the PC discover them on his/her own.


Happler wrote:


Does not have to be in combat. From FE:

Quote:
He gains a +2 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks against creatures of his selected type.

So, they can get the bonus on a lot of interaction with it, not just combat. Think that Lord Soanso is lying to you? You are going to use sense motive to try to find out. Hoping to pull a fast one so that you can investigate something under his nose, have a bluff check.. etc..

Yup, now I'd like to hear of an Actual Play story, where in combat a FE bonus ruined a DM's surprise.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Irontruth wrote:
Yup, now I'd like to hear of an Actual Play story, where in combat a FE bonus ruined a DM's surprise.

Not personal experience. But I seem to recall a story where the ranger had Goblins as his FE, and he figured out the barghest wasn't a goblin because of the lack of FE bonuses.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
godsDMit wrote:

If you/your pc are unaware that the monster you are fighting is of a type in which you have favored enemy, do you get your favored enemy bonus?

I could really see both sides of this, but Id like some other people's opinion, or even an official answer, if one exists.

Thanks for the help!

No, you don't get your bonus. Because those bonuses are based on learned practised skills, and if you don't recognise that enemy the skills don't come into play. Mind you however that it takes a pretty extreme situation to deny that bonus. If you're tacking goblins and they are the favored enemy the DM is incumbent to secretly add that bonus and if the player makes the roll to reveal the presence of that favored enemy.


with skills, we've alwaysed just called out the various numbers according to type.

So like a Sense Motive Check

normal roll 16, 18 vs. undead, 20 vs dragons

DM applies results accordingly.

Dark Archive Contributor

I think I'd rule seperately under two different circumstances:

A favoured enemy disguised as a non-favoured enemy- make the appropriate rolls to see through the disguise, on a success they get the bonus, on a failure they don't.

A "new" or unknown monster that is a FE- they likely would get their bonus. So a ranger with FE: Undead gets his bonus even he is fighting a kind of undead he's never seen before that doesn't look undead.

Just my take.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A little bit off-topic, I know, but for Perception against a disguised creature, I'd probably give the ranger the favored enemy bonus based on the creature's actual type or the assumed type, whichever is better. It stands to reason that the ranger knows their tricks and so would also recognize their absence.

Of course, now I'm running an argument in my head that he should get the bonus to Disguise checks to imitate a favored enemy (where vaguely plausible)...

Grand Lodge

Boxhead wrote:

I think I'd rule seperately under two different circumstances:

A favoured enemy disguised as a non-favoured enemy- make the appropriate rolls to see through the disguise, on a success they get the bonus, on a failure they don't.

A "new" or unknown monster that is a FE- they likely would get their bonus. So a ranger with FE: Undead gets his bonus even he is fighting a kind of undead he's never seen before that doesn't look undead.

Just my take.

Do you mind if I ask why the difference in the situations? It would be one thing for the ranger to get their bonus against something theyve heard of or seen before, but why are they automatically getting the bonus against something theyve never fought before that doesnt appear to be one of their FEs, without needing to make an appropriate knowledge check first?


Soo, I have to have them put all favored enemy and weapon banes on the initiative card. Then add those when they call out the number on all attempts.
The players may never catch on that the ranger hits on a lower number.


godsDMit wrote:
Boxhead wrote:

I think I'd rule seperately under two different circumstances:

A favoured enemy disguised as a non-favoured enemy- make the appropriate rolls to see through the disguise, on a success they get the bonus, on a failure they don't.

A "new" or unknown monster that is a FE- they likely would get their bonus. So a ranger with FE: Undead gets his bonus even he is fighting a kind of undead he's never seen before that doesn't look undead.

Just my take.

Do you mind if I ask why the difference in the situations? It would be one thing for the ranger to get their bonus against something theyve heard of or seen before, but why are they automatically getting the bonus against something theyve never fought before that doesnt appear to be one of their FEs, without needing to make an appropriate knowledge check first?

My interpretation would be that the latter isn't attempting to hide its nature. Going by the idea of FE representing well practiced research into combating these certain types of creatures I would assume similarities between the breadth that the ranger knows and exploits. A dragon polymorphed or an intelligent creature hiding it's nature and emulating another would be presenting a different type and so would, until exposed, not suffer from the FE bonus as the ranger hasn't adapted to what they actually are.


Matthew Morris wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Yup, now I'd like to hear of an Actual Play story, where in combat a FE bonus ruined a DM's surprise.
Not personal experience. But I seem to recall a story where the ranger had Goblins as his FE, and he figured out the barghest wasn't a goblin because of the lack of FE bonuses.

I'd think the jig would be up anyways from one of the following:

  • DR 5/magic
  • Spell-like abilities
  • It dies and eventually reverts to it's natural shape

    In this scenario, the ranger learned it wasn't a goblin, but that didn't tell him what it was. The mystery still actually exists, except now the players know that there may be an additional plot point, or a slight alteration to an existing plot point.

    I think skill checks are relatively simple enough, that it's easy to do those value modifications behind the GM screen, or have the player rattle off his various results. With combat, it gets complicated and just telling the player he gets his bonus speeds up combat, simplifies the GM's job and doesn't really reveal that much information.


  • Caius wrote:
    A dragon polymorphed or an intelligent creature hiding it's nature and emulating another would be presenting a different type and so would, until exposed, not suffer from the FE bonus as the ranger hasn't adapted to what they actually are.

    I might be missing it, but I can't find the language that says "your type changes to [X]". I see a lot of "you assume the form of", but not "your creature type changes". I think this important language to look for because the word "type" has a lot of meaning. This rule would also make the FE ability less powerful, because a smart enemy who knew the ranger was coming would use a polymorph-like spell or ability.


    Irontruth wrote:
    Caius wrote:
    A dragon polymorphed or an intelligent creature hiding it's nature and emulating another would be presenting a different type and so would, until exposed, not suffer from the FE bonus as the ranger hasn't adapted to what they actually are.
    I might be missing it, but I can't find the language that says "your type changes to [X]". I see a lot of "you assume the form of", but not "your creature type changes"

    Forgot this was the rules forum. RAW you don't change and there's really nothing to stop the FE bonus, but I would not find it out of hand that for creatures purposely keeping their true forms unknown for the bonus to be negated without the ranger making a check to identify them. Sorry for the confusion.

    Shadow Lodge

    Irontruth wrote:
    Yup, now I'd like to hear of an Actual Play story, where in combat a FE bonus ruined a DM's surprise.

    It's definitely a corner case but I see a few possibilities. Doppelgangers and similar disguising creatures are probably the biggest culprit.

    Shadow Lodge

    LazarX wrote:
    No, you don't get your bonus. Because those bonuses are based on learned practised skills, and if you don't recognise that enemy the skills don't come into play. Mind you however that it takes a pretty extreme situation to deny that bonus. If you're tacking goblins and they are the favored enemy the DM is incumbent to secretly add that bonus and if the player makes the roll to reveal the presence of that favored enemy.

    #1 it's not the way the rules are written but I'm ok with bending the rules but...

    #2 It's overly punitive
    Particularly with certain creature types and for newer players. Some creatures disguise themselves by nature and some creatures it's just not entirely clear what it is at first glance. You see a large creature with two heads, (player's not sure) "Are those monstrous humanoids or giants?" (Rolls Knowledge check and fails) "Sorry, you don't know what it is, you can't apply your favored enemy bonus to it".

    That's not even starting to get into the weird abberations and undead, things like Necrophidous which looks like an undead but is a construct, bone golems, flesh golems, undead aberations, etc, etc.

    Suddenly rangers have to start pumping lots of ranks into K skills to get their bonus?

    #3 It's hard to adjudicate.
    As a GM how do you determine when the character would reasonably know when he's fighting a creature of XXX type? It becomes somewhat arbitrary and varies significantly from one table to the next for the player which is bad. If you require a sense motive check or a knowledge check you are effectively tying the ranger's ability to two skills that aren't commonly used in the class, and aren't even necessarily class skills.

    #4 It becomes too easy to foil
    Suddenly disguises become perfect proof against a ranger's key class ability. If you want blanket protection from the ranger's favored enemy ability plop a hat of disguise on and you are set!

    ---
    I look at it like this, creatures of a certain type react in a certain way, by studying them and focusing on them you learn to predict how they will respond and react without thinking in the most appropriate way. Even without identifying it's a doppleganger before you instinctively know how they fight and what their weaknesses are (FE - Monstrous humanoid). If an elf plops a hat of disguise on it's still going to respond as an elf does, etc etc...


    0gre wrote:
    Irontruth wrote:
    Yup, now I'd like to hear of an Actual Play story, where in combat a FE bonus ruined a DM's surprise.
    It's definitely a corner case but I see a few possibilities. Doppelgangers and similar disguising creatures are probably the biggest culprit.

    Look at the actual scenario though. The ranger attacks him and finds out he's a monstrous humanoid. That's all he learns. If it was a minotaur using an Alter Self spell, that's the exact same information you'd learn. You know he's not exactly who he's saying he is, but you're already trying to kill each other, so you're already past the point of friendly diplomacy.

    So the doppelganger escapes, remember, everyone else still thinks he is who he says he is. The ranger's only proof is "he's easier to hit than he should be". The ranger is just as likely to cause problems with this information as he is to figure out the guys secret.


    68. Mask of humanity
    This mask provides alter self to human or humanoid. 20,000 sale value. The user (possibly a harpy or something) puts it on and thinks of an appearance. When they remove the mask they return to 'normal'.
    The Harpy in question, loses her fly speed and talons. I think she still has the captivaving song(GM call). Is she still a monsterous humanoid? Would a ranger be able to detect her in a bar? Maybe if he's looking for certain ways of walking or moving.

    Shadow Lodge

    Irontruth wrote:
    0gre wrote:
    Irontruth wrote:
    Yup, now I'd like to hear of an Actual Play story, where in combat a FE bonus ruined a DM's surprise.
    It's definitely a corner case but I see a few possibilities. Doppelgangers and similar disguising creatures are probably the biggest culprit.
    Look at the actual scenario though. The ranger attacks him and finds out he's a monstrous humanoid. That's all he learns. If it was a minotaur using an Alter Self spell, that's the exact same information you'd learn. You know he's not exactly who he's saying he is, but you're already trying to kill each other, so you're already past the point of friendly diplomacy.

    You wanted an actual play story and I gave you one. Knowing the creature is a monstrous humanoid is a pretty big indicator that it's not a human... thus you have instantly foiled the disguise.

    I'm not suggesting it's a huge issue, or anything beyond a corner case, only that it's conceivable and not quite as rare as you might think. Polymorth effects and magical disguises are reasonably common.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

    I'd apply the bonuses in secret on my end of things, and turn it into a "hook", a clue to drop at the PC's feet for more investigation. Give that PC a moment in the spotlight.


    Hidden information can be fun.

    In my present online campaign, we have a cleric who didn't know he was a cleric (the player did, but the character just thought he was a devout fisherman and has decided to play out "discovering" his abilites as he gets them...he only uses the powers he figures out that he has.)

    In the same campaign, the sorceress (who is fairly unfamiliar with Pathfinder) does not know her bloodline. She has a vauge list of her bloodline powers, but refuses to look up what they mean in teh rulebook, preferrng to discover her heritage through Roleplaying...The fact that I, as GM, have changed how they are described makes it even better

    Both of these were the Players' ideas and I think they're great, even if they do add a little more paperwork for the GM...

    So, hidden info can be fun.


    0gre wrote:
    Irontruth wrote:
    0gre wrote:
    Irontruth wrote:
    Yup, now I'd like to hear of an Actual Play story, where in combat a FE bonus ruined a DM's surprise.
    It's definitely a corner case but I see a few possibilities. Doppelgangers and similar disguising creatures are probably the biggest culprit.
    Look at the actual scenario though. The ranger attacks him and finds out he's a monstrous humanoid. That's all he learns. If it was a minotaur using an Alter Self spell, that's the exact same information you'd learn. You know he's not exactly who he's saying he is, but you're already trying to kill each other, so you're already past the point of friendly diplomacy.

    You wanted an actual play story and I gave you one. Knowing the creature is a monstrous humanoid is a pretty big indicator that it's not a human... thus you have instantly foiled the disguise.

    I'm not suggesting it's a huge issue, or anything beyond a corner case, only that it's conceivable and not quite as rare as you might think. Polymorth effects and magical disguises are reasonably common.

    No, your scenario sounds like a Hypothetical Play scenario. Did a player fill out a character sheet and then use FE bonus to ruin the story of your doppelganger? If so, how did it ruin it? Did you and/or the players not enjoy that session? That would be an Actual Play scenario.

    The information gained is vague enough that I don't see it ruining a "mystery". Lets say the "doppelganger" gets away, the players don't actually know what it was, they just know it was a Monstrous Humanoid. In the Bestiary, there are 2 of them that already have the ability to disguise themselves and all of them are capable of using magic items (Hat of Disguise). You'd hunt a Doppelganger, Green Hag or Centaur (with Hat) in very different ways. Plus, since it got away, it could disguise it self as someone completely different next time.

    Shadow Lodge

    Sorry, didn't want to ruin your arguments by introducing a fairly common trope.


    Irontruth wrote:


    I'm not suggesting it's a huge issue, or anything beyond a corner case, only that it's conceivable and not quite as rare as you might think. Polymorth effects and magical disguises are reasonably common.

    No, your scenario sounds like a Hypothetical Play scenario. Did a player fill out a character sheet and then use FE bonus to ruin the story of your doppelganger? If so, how did it ruin it? Did you and/or the players not enjoy that session? That would be an Actual Play scenario.

    The information gained is vague enough that I don't see it ruining a "mystery". Lets say the "doppelganger" gets away, the players don't actually know what it was, they just know it was a Monstrous Humanoid. In the Bestiary, there are 2 of them that already have the ability to disguise themselves and all of them are capable of using magic items (Hat of Disguise). You'd hunt a Doppelganger, Green Hag or Centaur (with Hat) in very different ways. Plus, since it got away, it could disguise it self as someone completely different next time.

    How about this, then? I've run a game where one of the PCs left the main group to have a meeting with some officials. Instead, he ended up getting snatched by some greater doppelgangers and went back to rejoin the group. The shapeshifter, finding his enemies suitably fooled and off their guard, decided to try to do some damage, being willing to sacrifice his life if it meant his masters would gain an advantage, so he attacked the party. In this case, the copied character was pretty damn powerful and posed a real threat to the other 3 PCs who, confused about what was going on, didn't want to kill their friend and ally, even though he was clearly trying to kill them. Was he being dominated somehow? What was going on? They had a real heck of a time trying to deal with him without risking killing him.

    If we had had a ranger in the party with FE: monstrous humanoid, and they were given their bonuses against a half-orc, the ruse would have been up rather quickly. Yes, they were already in combat, but there is a big difference between fighting a friend who has turned on you for no apparent reason and trying to subdue him without killing him, and realizing that this can't possibly be your friend and pulling out all the stops.

    Similarly, I had a dragon in one game who was transformed into a human, and took great care in concealing her identity while insinuating herself into some local politics. There were some very vague hints at her true nature, along with red herrings, and the players spent a great deal of time wondering whether she was just eccentric, or a nefarious elf, or perhaps some creature polymorphed into an elf, or a dragon, or... If the ranger gets his skill bonuses to things like Sense Motive (it was being used a lot), all of that suspense and anxiety goes away, because the ranger just says, "Yeah, she is definitely NOT an elf, and is very likely <insert FEs with equal bonuses>.

    Mind you, I don't think the FE bonuses should be contingent upon successful Perception or Sense Motive checks, as that ends up severely weakening what I already consider to be a fairly weak ability, but in those situations the DM should definitely be applying the bonuses behind the screen.


    I'd actually ran into this problem with the party first conversing with an evil outsider disguised as a hunter of the undead, first to get possible information and later when trying to trick and engage in combat with them.

    There was a 12th or 13th level ranger in the party, also the party had a powerful artifact that the outsider in queston was very afraid of, so it would fight in human form to prevent them from using it against him.

    Basically I'd just apply the bonus for the ranger and when his bonus makes the difference on a hit or he deals damage I might give subtle hints in my description opening the way for the ranger to make a knowledge check to try ID the creature, something about the way it moves or acts might be familiar but not necessarily give away it's nature. Especially if the ranger has more than one FE.

    Outside of combat it is a bit more tricky, I'd still add the bonus and a particulary good check on the ranger part (sense motive vs it's bluff) might give grounds to make the ranger suspicious. Possibly when it beats the target by 10 or more. Otherwise I'd not allow it to ruin a plot, just do not tell the players the DC of a check before they roll and you will be fine or might at best get a hint of suspicion, which pretty much is PC's natural state of mind anyway.


    0gre wrote:
    Sorry, didn't want to ruin your arguments by introducing a fairly common trope.

    I'm sorry, we can run around in circles with hypotheticals all day. But if you talk about Actual Play scenarios, we know what the effects on an actual game were. We can see if it was actually the rules that broke a story, or it was the result of how a specific group plays.


    yeti1069 wrote:


    How about this, then? I've run a game where one of the PCs left the main group to have a meeting with some officials. Instead, he ended up getting snatched by some greater doppelgangers and went back to rejoin the group. The shapeshifter, finding his enemies suitably fooled and off their guard, decided to try to do some damage, being willing to sacrifice his life if it meant his masters would gain an advantage, so he attacked the party. In this case, the copied character was pretty damn powerful and posed a real threat to the other 3 PCs who, confused about what was going on, didn't want to kill their friend and ally, even though he was clearly trying to kill them. Was he being dominated somehow? What was going on? They had a real heck of a time trying to deal with him without risking killing him.

    If we had had a ranger in the party with FE: monstrous humanoid, and they were given their bonuses against a half-orc, the ruse would have been up rather...

    In the first scenario, the party is already going to know something is up after they win. Also, even though they know the doppelganger isn't their friend, he's clearly their best lead to finding their friend, so killing him probably isn't the best choice. When they make their "discovery", I would remind them of that if I were the GM, and now the difficulty doesn't really change. Assuming the PC's win though, the results are the exact same after combat is over.

    In the second scenario, I already mentioned that I agree, skill checks can be done a) behind the GM screen or b) the player lists their bonuses. Skill checks are usually done out of combat and don't take as long to resolve. A scene without combat but lots of skill checks can take less than 5 minutes, but combat usually more lengthy and complicated. That would be my primary reason for not "disguising" results during combat.

    Shadow Lodge

    Irontruth wrote:
    0gre wrote:
    Sorry, didn't want to ruin your arguments by introducing a fairly common trope.
    I'm sorry, we can run around in circles with hypotheticals all day. But if you talk about Actual Play scenarios, we know what the effects on an actual game were. We can see if it was actually the rules that broke a story, or it was the result of how a specific group plays.

    A doppleganger disguised as a human is hypothetical? That's what they do.


    0gre wrote:
    Irontruth wrote:
    0gre wrote:
    Sorry, didn't want to ruin your arguments by introducing a fairly common trope.
    I'm sorry, we can run around in circles with hypotheticals all day. But if you talk about Actual Play scenarios, we know what the effects on an actual game were. We can see if it was actually the rules that broke a story, or it was the result of how a specific group plays.
    A doppleganger disguised as a human is hypothetical? That's what they do.

    A hypothetical scenario can be a likely scenario, but that doesn't make it an event that has happened in the past. Have doppelgangers impersonated humans in games before? Sure, but unless we're referencing specific instances, all we're using are generalizations and hypothetical.

    It's like the Class vs. Class debates that go on so often on these boards. If you aren't using concrete examples of Actual Play, each side can continue to present more hypothetical situations or add extra potential facts to back up their points. You and I could go back and forth, adding/subtracting variables to a scenario where FE does/doesn't have an effect on the outcome of a scene. With an Actual Play scenario a lot of that is removed and we can see the effect the rule actually has on the outcome.


    there are many many many many times my DM has disguised goblins as undead and we end up healing the damn thing >.>

    Not to mention the fights aren't always to the death, if he gets away and comes back later we are still preparing to fight an undead.

    If we had a ranger with FE goblin or undead (both extremely common) we could avoid this all together. hmm I may have to roll up a ranger considering this....

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