The Problem with Knowledge: Local


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Foghammer wrote:
EDIT: I open notepad to do it and immediately stricken with dumb-ness. Gave me another idea though, somewhat related. I'm going to take all of the skills and give ways to use them as pseudo-knowledges. Maybe done before?

http://at-will.omnivangelist.net/series/serious-skills/

Sovereign Court

The problem with Local isn't that it isn't useful, because it is.

The problem is that it's a confusing game mechanic. Are there multiple Local regions or not? Common sense suggests there are, but no game rules for it. How big would regions be? Are there overlapping regions?

If Local isn't actually tied to a specific region but gives local knowledge about all areas, why is it separate from Geography?


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Ascalaphus wrote:


If Local isn't actually tied to a specific region but gives local knowledge about all areas, why is it separate from Geography?

Geography gives you information about the land. You know where the mountains are, the rivers, where this and that city lies and relation to another, which roads connect them. You know that the weather in that part of the country is usually cold and it rains a lot, so better pack warm clothes. You know that the Shaonti tribes live all over Varisia. But who are those Shaonti?

Local is about the people living there. You can now answer questions about the Shaonti customs for example. You know that the people of City A are said to be all shrewd merchants, while you have to watch your purse in City B because it's full of pickpockets. You know that in City C you get your hand cut off for stealing and in City D you get hung upside down from the townhall for three days for the same crime. You know that the famous Gundar the Dragon Slayer killed his biggest dragon there. But you have no idea where City A and B are on a map or in relation to another.

History is about events. You know about famous battles, big proclamations, the slave uprising that finally ended that practice in the region and all that. But you don't really know how the people there today are or not even necessarily where that famous place is. (Example, you might have heard of the Battle of Hastings and know it was in 1066 and what it was about, but where the heck is this Hastings?) You know when Magnimar was founded and by whom, and when the Stolen Lands got stolen.

Nobility now is about who rules what country. How is this queen related to the King in the neighboring country. Which of her five children and 27 grandchildren is most likely to succeed her when she dies. You recognize their banners and sigils at first glance and you can recount the ancestors of a certain noble back to the beginning of time.

I hope that clears it up a little bit


mcv wrote:

The best explanation I've heard is that Knowledge Local is the ability to quickly pick up general info about new towns. It's basically an implied Gather Information about general topics, while you need Diplomacy to gather information about specific details that aren't common knowledge.

That would make sense with the current RAW... Except that it isn't using CHA like an implied usage of Diplomacy would (why not just roll Diplomacy then?), and by RAW you can use Knowledge:Local just as well when an evil mage has Plane Shifted you to somewhere on the opposite side of the multiverse where you have been, and have never heard of, and nobody speaks any languages that you know. But you can still roll Knowledge Local to know that the purple substance you can't pronounce is illegal, even though you don't know what it is/does.


Maybe they should just call it Knowledge: Misc... Get that word 'Local' right out of there... That's really my biggest hangup.

History, Magic, geography, nobility, misc...

Sovereign Court

Quatar wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:


If Local isn't actually tied to a specific region but gives local knowledge about all areas, why is it separate from Geography?

Geography gives you information about the land. You know where the mountains are, the rivers, where this and that city lies and relation to another, which roads connect them. You know that the weather in that part of the country is usually cold and it rains a lot, so better pack warm clothes. You know that the Shaonti tribes live all over Varisia. But who are those Shaonti?

Local is about the people living there. You can now answer questions about the Shaonti customs for example. You know that the people of City A are said to be all shrewd merchants, while you have to watch your purse in City B because it's full of pickpockets. You know that in City C you get your hand cut off for stealing and in City D you get hung upside down from the townhall for three days for the same crime. You know that the famous Gundar the Dragon Slayer killed his biggest dragon there. But you have no idea where City A and B are on a map or in relation to another.

Maybe it's because in the Netherlands when you get geography in high school, it's actually more of a social studies thing with only about a third about the actual topography/physical geography. A significant chunk of it is what you describe as Local.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Alitan wrote:

I've adopted a modification to Knw/Local: each rank grants applicable awareness for a particular locale. It does work better in a campaign with a lot of travel, rather than one that is centered around one area (though in a case like that, the out-of-the-box Knw/Local would work fine, anyway).

So, by 5th level (assuming you're maxing ranks) you could know
*the port town in which the campaign started
*the nearby Dwarven fortress
*the free port (read "smugglers' haven) on a nearby island
*the capitol city of the duchy (or whatever)
*the mage-school-run university

... and if you have Knw/Local, but are in a strange place, you do better on DCs than somebody with no Knw/Local (highly subjective, yeah, but it's been working OK).

I do something similar, the area covered by a single rank is generally larger than what you use (city state or small nation in width) and every rank you get you can add a similar area. It work similarly to linguistic.

When in an unknown area you can check against Knowledge(local) to get a feeling about who is the right person with which to speak, who seem to be in charge and similar things. Generally there is a modifier based on how different is the new area from the territory you already know (a Cheliax expatriate in Korvosa would have a small modifier; the same Cheliax expatriate in Mivon would have a big modifier).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
John Kerpan wrote:
Slurp your noodles in Italy,

You have failed you check :-D


Ascalaphus wrote:
Quatar wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:


If Local isn't actually tied to a specific region but gives local knowledge about all areas, why is it separate from Geography?

Geography gives you information about the land. You know where the mountains are, the rivers, where this and that city lies and relation to another, which roads connect them. You know that the weather in that part of the country is usually cold and it rains a lot, so better pack warm clothes. You know that the Shaonti tribes live all over Varisia. But who are those Shaonti?

Local is about the people living there. You can now answer questions about the Shaonti customs for example. You know that the people of City A are said to be all shrewd merchants, while you have to watch your purse in City B because it's full of pickpockets. You know that in City C you get your hand cut off for stealing and in City D you get hung upside down from the townhall for three days for the same crime. You know that the famous Gundar the Dragon Slayer killed his biggest dragon there. But you have no idea where City A and B are on a map or in relation to another.

Maybe it's because in the Netherlands when you get geography in high school, it's actually more of a social studies thing with only about a third about the actual topography/physical geography. A significant chunk of it is what you describe as Local.

Yes well, then your geography class in high school teaches you Know:Local and Know:Geography. It doesn't mean that Know:Geography is both, just because your class by that name did it so.

I admit all 4 of them are intertwined some. You might want to let people roll one or two of the others at a higher DC to figure things out, when it makes sense.
Nobility might give you a hint about the laws in place. Geography might tell you a bit about more about the customs or the history about the place etc.
However using the actual Local or History knowledge respectively for those questions, would make the DC quite a bit easier.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Quatar wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:


If Local isn't actually tied to a specific region but gives local knowledge about all areas, why is it separate from Geography?

Geography gives you information about the land. You know where the mountains are, the rivers, where this and that city lies and relation to another, which roads connect them. You know that the weather in that part of the country is usually cold and it rains a lot, so better pack warm clothes. You know that the Shaonti tribes live all over Varisia. But who are those Shaonti?

Local is about the people living there. You can now answer questions about the Shaonti customs for example. You know that the people of City A are said to be all shrewd merchants, while you have to watch your purse in City B because it's full of pickpockets. You know that in City C you get your hand cut off for stealing and in City D you get hung upside down from the townhall for three days for the same crime. You know that the famous Gundar the Dragon Slayer killed his biggest dragon there. But you have no idea where City A and B are on a map or in relation to another.

Maybe it's because in the Netherlands when you get geography in high school, it's actually more of a social studies thing with only about a third about the actual topography/physical geography. A significant chunk of it is what you describe as Local.

Really? Back when I was in school( long, long ago), it was still about weather patterns, sediments in rivers and that sort of stuff. Although maybe there was some aspect of anthropology too, but I've forgotten pretty much all of that. But I wouldn't know what other class should deal with basic anthropology.

History was certainly more about modern politics than about the middle ages.


I really like the idea of having Know:Local work more like languages, with each Rank granting a known locale, except 'tougher' in that you need to know the local in order to roll (while Linguistics lets you roll when you don't know the language). Feats granting bonuses to Know:Local could grant bonus locales. Maybe one would also get 'bonus' locales based on INT or CHA score?

But being limited in scope would itself bring up the distinction vs. other skills, e.g. if you have Know:Local:Westcrown but NOT Egorian, what skill covers stuff applicable to Cheliax as a whole (i.e. including Egorian)? Geography? I would say so, but that contradicts what some have written here, as well as the rules (e.g. Local = laws, Geography not mentioning laws even though laws may be non-local within a country or region). I do think Geography can and does cover alot of 'people' information, but it is information as seen from the 'outside' rather than the 'inside' (of a community) which is what Know:Local is about.

Really, there should be something like Rangered Favored Terrains, so that most characters would have 'tiers' of locales which they are more or less familiar with... Maybe something for Pathfinder 2.0...? That could also be the basis for modifiers for locales, depending on how remote they are to your 'home' areas, e.g. Planar Cities you've never heard of before/Tian Xia cities vs. Inner Sea Cities.


I'd let people use Knw/Local with circumstance mods based on how far out of their "known locations" they are, for areas which they haven't explicitly covered by "tagging" a place with a rank. Plus, I'm pretty flexible about city/village/duchy/dungeon/"generic region" allocations.


Diego Rossi wrote:
John Kerpan wrote:
Slurp your noodles in Italy,
You have failed you check :-D

Maybe I meant China? Next time I will use my Tome of Culture to add a +2 circumstantial modifier or something :)


I think equating it with global Anthropology makes sense though, where you are just taught a lot about different cultures as well as your own.

Liberty's Edge

Marcus has a high Knowledge (geography), but no ranks in Knowledge (local). Indy has quite a few ranks in Knowledge (local). Both of them have sky-high ranks in Knowledge (history).

My very minor house-rule for Knowledge (local) is that a PC gets +2 for his or her home region, and checks for his or her home region aren't limited to DC 10.

I think the 3.0 FR hardback required players to choose a region for Knowledge (local)? I don't remember for sure. In any event, although we were initially troubled by the vagueness of Knowledge (local), way back in 'Nam, it's not been an issue for years for us.


A kind-of-sort-of real life example of how non-specified Knowledge (local) - i.e. the "local where you are" - works in the real world (if, in fact, you could directly map the skill to actual real-world things, which, honestly, you can't), as opposed to Knowledge ([specified] local).

My father in law was a police Sergeant and negotiator for a SWAT team in Miami for years. He knew the place forwards and backwards: if there was a side-road, he knew it, an alternate path, he knew it, and local speed laws or strange or obscure ordinances for specific communities or roads, he knew them regardless of signage. He was super-proficient with it. He always gave the most thorough and entirely bewildering due-to-size directions. Eventually, he retired and has subsequently moved to a different city.

Now that he lives in another city entirely: he knows every single nook, cranny, and side road of the place. There is no where you can go that he doesn't know a more efficient route, unless you take the route he specifies. It's friggin' uncanny. The man knows everything - everything! - that you can do and where to go and how to get there, what to do, what not to do, which clubs are the best, and how to entertain yourselves in them, and which areas have obscure or specific laws. He might as well have lived there his entire life. He still retains his proficiency with Miami... as it was when he moved (which has changed even in the few years it's been since that).

I will caveat that it took him all of two months (!) to learn the place that well, though. But that's just a feature of the game moving at a much faster place than real life could ever hope to keep up with.

With that in mind, the knowledge (local) would be pretty much current, up-to-date information in a place that you've been for, like, a week (as a general guideline, not as RAW).

Knowledge ([specified] local) can be more mapped to a person who's done intense research into a specific-but-general area. I would definitely not limit it to just one city in size (although that might make some interesting role play applications, allowing uncovering of hidden secrets like nobodies business of the place). Instead, I'd suggest something more like knowledge (local [Varisia]) or something similar. It would include elements of history, architecture, nobility, heritage, wars, culture both ancient and current, external and internal influences, and the like. It would cover a much broader area than the specified's I've been seeing here, but it would be a much more liberal skill as well (similar, in some ways, to an augmented Bardic Knowledge for a region, but even better). This would be the purview of sages who study tomes even more than people who venture forth. I have a few friends who fall into this category. It could be tied to a specific city, but in that case, they'd have nearly limitless knowledge of the place with less ranks: the DCs should be lower, requiring less investment.

Anyway, that's my experience with it.

EDIT for being distracted while typing.


mcv wrote:


Really? Back when I was in school( long, long ago), it was still about weather patterns, sediments in rivers and that sort of stuff. Although maybe there was some aspect of anthropology too, but I've forgotten pretty much all of that. But I wouldn't know what other class should deal with basic anthropology.

History was certainly more about modern politics than about the middle ages.

I think you're thinking of geology, the study of the earth (rocks, minerals, weather patterns, convection currents), and not geography, the study of the locations on, and peoples of, the earth (anthropology would get into more depth about the various civilizations, and focus more on the social aspects of various people, while geography would focus more on the way their regional features have influenced them).

Geography -- The English live on a series of islands to the northwest of the European continent.
Geology -- At some point in the Earth's past, the land mass that is now the UK would have broken off from the larger European land mass.
Anthropology -- The modern day English citizenry is a mish-mash of bloodlines from the Picts, to the Romans, the Normans, and the Anglo-Saxons, among others.
Geographical anthropology -- Due to living on an island, the English relied heavily on sea trade, and built up a strong navy.

History can be just about what happened, but usually draws in some or all of the above.


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Tacticslion wrote:

A kind-of-sort-of real life example of how non-specified Knowledge (local) - i.e. the "local where you are" - works in the real world (if, in fact, you could directly map the skill to actual real-world things, which, honestly, you can't), as opposed to Knowledge ([specified] local).

My father in law was a police Sergeant and negotiator for a SWAT team in Miami for years. He knew the place forwards and backwards: if there was a side-road, he knew it, an alternate path, he knew it, and local speed laws or strange or obscure ordinances for specific communities or roads, he knew them regardless of signage. He was super-proficient with it. He always gave the most thorough and entirely bewildering due-to-size directions. Eventually, he retired and has subsequently moved to a different city.

Now that he lives in another city entirely: he knows every single nook, cranny, and side road of the place. There is no where you can go that he doesn't know a more efficient route, unless you take the route he specifies. It's friggin' uncanny. The man knows everything - everything! - that you can do and where to go and how to get there, what to do, what not to do, which clubs are the best, and how to entertain yourselves in them, and which areas have obscure or specific laws. He might as well have lived there his entire life. He still retains his proficiency with Miami... as it was when he moved (which has changed even in the few years it's been since that).

I will caveat that it took him all of two months (!) to learn the place that well, though. But that's just a feature of the game moving at a much faster place than real life could ever hope to keep up with.

With that in mind, the knowledge (local) would be pretty much current, up-to-date information in a place that you've been for, like, a week (as a general guideline, not as RAW).

Knowledge ([specified] local) can be more mapped to a person who's done intense research into a specific-but-general area. I would definitely not...

Maybe your dad leveled up and took a new rank (and Skill Focus) in the area he got to?

That's pretty cool. I think you should see how adaptive your dad is, and move him to a new city every two months!


I still see Local as 'inside knowledge' and Geography/other as 'outside knowledge'.
Local should cover information that you can't have except for being there and learning from locals.
Geography can cover all the 'encyclopedia knowledge' that one could learn from studies from afar.
General 'anthropological knowledge' shouldn't tell you that the pawnshop owner is the sister in law of the local council chief and that they are probably in with the local thieves guild. Yet per a strict reading of RAW, knowledge local does that, and isn't limited to specific locales - you know the local dirt equally in Absalom, Goka, and City of Brass... which is nuts.
Now, I think it's OK for the skills to overlap: Know(Local:Absalom) should allow knowledge of things that Know(Geography) would tell you about Absalom. Geography is useful for being broader, but it should be shallower as well.
Besides some system for having limited/specific locales which you actually know with Know:Local, some synergy between that and Know:Geography seems reasonable... Or just allowing Know:Local rolls for local Geography checks if your (relevant) Know: Local is higher than Geography.


Knowledge Local has always been a running joke with my playgroups. It doesn't make sense to me because your knowledge should change based on your location: not remain the same no matter where you are. If I arrive in an extraplanar city my Knowledge Local probably shouldn't still apply, right?


Personally, I'm not happy with any of the Knowledge skills. Either they're too broad, or misnamed, or mismatched. I'd prefer to tighten them up, add more Knowledge skills to emphasize tighter fields of knowledge, and hand out some free skill points to compensate for the loss of broadness of the original skills.

Knowledge: Local is a horrid, horrid skill. What it should be named, is Streetwise. As such, it should be Wisdom-linked, as it's more related to common sense and "reading between the lines".

Streetwise should be an untrained skill. Streetwise can be used for obtaining knowledge of a new city; it just takes a certain amount of time existing within that culture to obtain that information. You can't just call up information about the crime lords of Absalom when you're half a world away, if you've never been to Absalom.

Knowledge and study of specific locales is called Culture. You take Culture for any specific zone you want to study, from Absalom to ... well, I'm not all that familiar with the world. Culture costs one skill point per specific region, and is not a skill in itself -- instead it gives the ability to recall information for that region without having to immerse oneself in the society for a given amount of time, or be a native of that locale.

Gather Information is its own skill, Charisma-linked. It's an abstraction skill, and can be specialized per society level: simple (villages and small towns that don't have specific social levels), low, middle, high, nobility, arcane, primal (barbarian and druid society, which is outside usual social norms) and specific groups (Pathfinders, for example). Specialization gives a +4 in gathering information within that specific social level, but a -2 for all other levels. It is untrained (anyone can wander into a few bars and do some asking around).

Knowledge about the laws within that society are part of the Culture of that society. You can specialize a Culture skill as above, even going so far as to sub-specialize (Pathfinders of Absalom, as opposed to just Pathfinders). Just like Gather Information, specialization gives a +4 to skill checks about that specific group/area and a -2 to skill checks for information pertaining to the general area. So you might have a Culture skill for The Kingdom of Devermere, with a specialization for the town of Jumper's Bridge, and you'd be at a +4 for recalling information about Jumper's Bridge and a -2 for information about the rest of the kingdom. You still don't know anything about Devermere's neighbors.


Well dang. Looks like someone just fixed this whole mess of a skill. That's what I love about tabletops -- they're only limited by the playerbase's creativity :)

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