The Problem with Knowledge: Local


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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So, looking over the SRD's section about Knowledge Checks, I came across the following:

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/knowledge wrote:


Local (legends, personalities, inhabitants, laws, customs, traditions, humanoids)

Bolded for the reader's benefit. So, for those classes that are based on following the law and/or bringing people to justice (Paladins and Inquisitors), why are these classes missing the knowledge governing law?

On the other hand, I may have just found the reason Paladins fall all the time. No knowledge of the law they are breaking. >.>;

Liberty's Edge

By that logic, why don't all lawful characters have knowledge local as a class skill? After all, their alignment says they would have a vested interest in following the law...

Paladins do not strike me as a class that MUST be knowledge local know-it-alls. If you want your paladin to be better at knowledge local, take some ranks in knowledge local. If you want him to be an expert, take a trait that gives knowledge local as a class skill...simple as that.


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All characters know what the laws in a given region are, it's common knowledge. Local laws specific to a small town, on the other hand, would require special knowledge.


I also like using Knowledge (Local) for knowing the fine details of the law, like the exact wording or some notable exception. Something that a lawyer might need. Or the party face, after a particularly rough night at the local inn...


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People use Knowledge Local for things other than identifying Humanoids?


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As a GM, if I'm running a monster with K: Local - and quite a few have it! - I'll sometimes have it roll to see what it might know about the PCs.

It works both ways, yes?


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Lawful does not automatically mean "follows the law".


Anyone can make any DC 10 Knowledge skill check untrained. If you have average INT you can take 10, so any common laws would be easily known by most people and for very common stuff the DC is probably 5 which is something even 1 INT people would know.


BiggDawg wrote:
Anyone can make any DC 10 Knowledge skill check untrained. If you have average INT you can take 10, so any common laws would be easily known by most people and for very common stuff the DC is probably 5 which is something even 1 INT people would know.

Actually no. Knowledge skills can't be rolled untrained, which makes sense. If you were never taught the law of the land, you won't know it, no matter how smart you are.

However, it should be noted that in Pathfinder, a paladin can easily be an expert at Knowledge (Local) if he wants to be. All a class skill does is give you a +3. The pally can still take ranks in it and if he didn't use int as a dump stat, be reasonably good at it.

My magus is an acrobat. Maybe not as acrobatic as the rogue, but with a high dex and max ranks, pretty darn acrobatic all the same. :)


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You can't make untrained knowledge checks if the DC is above 10. I'd certainly hope that the more obvious and commonplace laws have low DCs, otherwise society would fall apart since practically no one would know what the laws are.

Liberty's Edge

I highly doubt that LAPD has a great deal of knowledge about laws in New Zealand.


knowledge Local is probably my least favorite skill. It really covers too many catagories... laws AND random humanoids? Regardless of where your from?

Serpent Skull was a good example, we ran into a lot of things that were Knowledge Local needed... but our characters travled LEAGUES away from where they started! 1) WHY would my character know anything about 'jungle land'... and 2) Why would the ranks I took back in Absalom apply to the humanoids I'm running across in Jungle land?

Local should be just that. Local. I've seen some games (not DD/PF) that had a 'city familiarity' type skill/proficency. You specifically STATED knowledge: New York, or KNowledge Gotham...

I think that would make the skill a lot harder to use, and I'm not really for that... but I'd love to see some OTHER answer... combine it with some Skill or mechanic or SOMETHING.

I just hate how it is right now...


There is a note at the end of the Knowledge skill description implying that you may make untrained Knowledge skill rolls for DCs of 10 an under. I'd imagine that many of the laws of a land would be a DC 5 or 10, while some of the more obscure ones could be 15, 20, etc...

For example, knowing that stealing is illegal is probably fairly obvious, but knowing that if you spit out a piece of gum on the sidewalk will land you a public flogging...not so much.

I admit that I have a similar issue with Know: Local (and History, to a lesser degree), and typically grant a -2 penalty on checks for information outside of your region of origin, and a +2 bonus on those for places you're from. It would make more sense that you know more about your local customs than about those of a place that you didn't grow up/live in.


In my home game group, we house rule that K:Local applies to your home region (ie. laws and culture there, humanoid types found there, and so on.) If you want to know about other places, you need K: Local there (ie. K: Local (Varisia), K: Local (Worldwound) an so on).

To balance, it's always a class skill (I mean, why wouldn't it be?)


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The problem with making Know(Local) region specific is that it - though it makes perfect sense - severely nerfs what is already one of the weaker knowledge skills to begin with (unless playing a very localized campaign).

I tend to mostly interpret knowledge (local) as the ability to quickly pick up knowledge about whatever place you're travelling to/in - overhearing rumours, following the local news, observing and picking up clues passively while moving through the land. That way it can make sense even when applied to exotic regions your character never visited before.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Knowledge (Local) = Gather Information.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Early on in the 3e days, I think the intent behind this skill was slightly different. I remember getting the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting and at least one statted NPC had this skill listed as Knowledge (Dalelands) or somesuch. I'll have to dig that book back out and check. It seemed that, at least originally, characters were expected to put ranks into Knowledge for a specific region. Since then, "Local" has come to mean "anywhere you happen to be at the moment."

-Skeld

The Exchange

Personally I hate labeling it (Local) and have them specify the region.


TheLoneCleric wrote:
Personally I hate labeling it (Local) and have them specify the region.

In our games we use Knowledge (local) applying to any locality, but then offer custom trait that offers a bonus to Knowledge (local) for the specific region the PCs hail from. This prevents the skill from being nerfed, yet allows for some local PCs to know their locale better than the same check for areas they are not from. It uses a trait slot, but seems a better solution for an otherwise oddball skill.

Though it might be better just to offer a GM fiat bonus (without requiring a trait) to Knowledge (local) checks in areas the PCs are familiar. This is probably the easiest way to handle it.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TheLoneCleric wrote:
Personally I hate labeling it (Local) and have them specify the region.

I like the idea of it, but it can unintentionally punish players through no fault of their own.

For example, PC starts out in Sandpoint and puts ranks into Knowledge (Sandpoint). These ranks are basically worthless if he relocated to Magnimar. He didn't really choose to relocate; that just happens to be where the action took him. In the next campaign, he might avoid putting ranks into Knowledge (some Town) because he knows they will be wasted skill points if the campaign action relocates to Some Other Town.

It becomes a potential trap and players generally don't want to put skill points into something they can't benefit from.

-Skeld


I think there are still too many knowledges, and they even read as having too much overlap.

Geography is supposed to cover: lands, terrain, climate, and people.

Which suggests to me that it would be far more logical for identifying humanoid races that exist over the world.

Then they could lump history, nobility, local (minus the humanoids) together into a generic lore knowledge. You'd get your famous/important personalities and families both current and historic, general history and legends. The GM can alter the DC for a lore check if you've lived in the area for which is relevant...

Using the gather information portion of diplomacy is definitely the slow, but useful back up for a failed knowledge check ;)


In my home games we use K: Local as intended but like Gamer-Printer we give a bonus if you are from a given region. I've actually offered players the opportunity to roll K: Local checks ONLY when they were from a region (I've done the same with history, nobility, etc).

Example:
Most of my players are from a very Greek city-state/English area but they are currently on an oriental landmass far to the south. The cultures occasionally mix, but not often. One of the PCs is from the oriental area. I offered him the opportunity to make a K: Local check to figure out the local laws. I would not afford that to my players from the other continent because it wouldn't apply. However, when that oriental player tried to make a k: local check on the laws of another country I didn't allow him.

I think Knowledge (Region/Culture Name) is probably a smarter idea.


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Larry Lichman wrote:
Knowledge (Local) = Gather Information.

No, DIPLOMACY is what is now gather information.

Sczarni

Larry Lichman wrote:
Knowledge (Local) = Gather Information.

I'd disagree. Knowledge Local is knowing who to ask whereas you need Diplomacy to know how to ask.

Also in a general sense, Knowledge Local is the knowledge of a town's local laws, customs and traditions. It's knowing that in Villageton, there's always been an enforced curfew, knowing that theft is punishable by death in this region or that people wear silver ear-rings because long ago there was a Werewolf problem.

Why would a lawful character know all of these things? Because their god / own village has laws in place as well? I wouldn't think so. They know their own edicts but not others.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
phantom1592 wrote:

knowledge Local is probably my least favorite skill. It really covers too many catagories... laws AND random humanoids? Regardless of where your from?

Serpent Skull was a good example, we ran into a lot of things that were Knowledge Local needed... but our characters travled LEAGUES away from where they started! 1) WHY would my character know anything about 'jungle land'... and 2) Why would the ranks I took back in Absalom apply to the humanoids I'm running across in Jungle land?

Local should be just that. Local. I've seen some games (not DD/PF) that had a 'city familiarity' type skill/proficency. You specifically STATED knowledge: New York, or KNowledge Gotham...

I think that would make the skill a lot harder to use, and I'm not really for that... but I'd love to see some OTHER answer... combine it with some Skill or mechanic or SOMETHING.

I just hate how it is right now...

So k arcana can't ID monsters either? It's not like its a fundamentally skill. The ranks taken in Absolom were studying all people not just your home town, you know using books and teachers.


It's not Knowledge: Local, really, it's Knowledge: Society. There are too many knowledge skills and it seems every AP has DCs that are too high.

The end result is that most people only use the (6 is it?) knowledges that identify monsters and ignore the others--not to mention ignoring the other uses for the knowledges.


Really, I don't even need Knowledge (local), the PCs speak in character to NPCs, if they ask the right questions, they get answers. Is it even necessary to roll a dice?


In my games knowledge local is knowledge (region) and is a catch all for a town or area.

however knowledge local is not a traditional skill. It can be used as a secondary skill when ever in that region... so a person may have no knowledge planes but if they run accross the sandpoint devil they may use knowlage local (sandpoint) or some reasonable equivalent as a back up to remember local beliefs and traditions about the creature.

I also dont require players to put skills into knowlage local. when they are in a town i will give them one skill point followed by bonus points to knowledge local based on RP.

so if they walk into a town and spend the first few days talking to people, gathering information and making friends I may give them 1 free skill and 2 bonus points in knowledge local (that town and surrounding area)


gamer-printer wrote:
Really, I don't even need Knowledge (local), the PCs speak in character to NPCs, if they ask the right questions, they get answers. Is it even necessary to roll a dice?

So your characters know absolutely nothing about the local area except what they learn by talking to people in character? Even if they are from the area?

Nor, of course, anything about humanoids.

Odd.


I do the Knowledge: Local (Region) model. But I also give lots of bonus ranks of soft skills like Knowledges, professions, craft, and Performance so it all works out.

In addition it's always a class skill for every class.


thejeff wrote:
gamer-printer wrote:
Really, I don't even need Knowledge (local), the PCs speak in character to NPCs, if they ask the right questions, they get answers. Is it even necessary to roll a dice?

So your characters know absolutely nothing about the local area except what they learn by talking to people in character? Even if they are from the area?

Nor, of course, anything about humanoids.

Odd.

No, if you'd have bothered to read my previous post, I stated exactly how our group does it.

gamer-printer wrote:

In our games we use Knowledge (local) applying to any locality, but then offer custom trait that offers a bonus to Knowledge (local) for the specific region the PCs hail from. This prevents the skill from being nerfed, yet allows for some local PCs to know their locale better than the same check for areas they are not from. It uses a trait slot, but seems a better solution for an otherwise oddball skill.

Though it might be better just to offer a GM fiat bonus (without requiring a trait) to Knowledge (local) checks in areas the PCs are familiar. This is probably the easiest way to handle it.

My point above asks "Is the game an RPG without the RP, requiring a dice to do what PCs can do without?" This doesn't for every case, but surely there are plenty of opportunities to handle knowledge checks with actual conversation between PCs and NPCs without complete dependency on a d20.


gamer-printer wrote:
thejeff wrote:
gamer-printer wrote:
Really, I don't even need Knowledge (local), the PCs speak in character to NPCs, if they ask the right questions, they get answers. Is it even necessary to roll a dice?

So your characters know absolutely nothing about the local area except what they learn by talking to people in character? Even if they are from the area?

Nor, of course, anything about humanoids.

Odd.

No, if you'd have bothered to read my previous post, I stated exactly how our group does it.

gamer-printer wrote:

In our games we use Knowledge (local) applying to any locality, but then offer custom trait that offers a bonus to Knowledge (local) for the specific region the PCs hail from. This prevents the skill from being nerfed, yet allows for some local PCs to know their locale better than the same check for areas they are not from. It uses a trait slot, but seems a better solution for an otherwise oddball skill.

Though it might be better just to offer a GM fiat bonus (without requiring a trait) to Knowledge (local) checks in areas the PCs are familiar. This is probably the easiest way to handle it.

My point above asks "Is the game an RPG without the RP, requiring a dice to do what PCs can do without?" This doesn't for every case, but surely there are plenty of opportunities to handle knowledge checks with actual conversation between PCs and NPCs without complete dependency on a d20.

Well, I had read it, but I didn't go back and associate it with you.

That said, the post I replied to sounds like a better substitute for the "Gather Information" part of Diplomacy than for Know(Local).

Playing everything out in detail can be fun, it can also be boring. Especially for those not doing it.


I didn't suggest it was universal, just an option, and one that sticks closer to the premise of 'role playing'.


I have considered rolling K geography and local into one skill. Call it 'k geography and cultures' or 'K I stayed awake in social studies class'. You would use it for knowing the basic lay of the land, common customs and laws, common inhabitants, etc. This solves a lot of the 'there are too many skills' problem by combining the two, and also helps fight the (imo) absurdity of the country bumkin character picking up a rank of k local and being able to use his knowledge of his home farm to get insights into the intricacies of random cities across the globe.


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 like Alianas idea of combining local and geography.

The other responsibilities of geography, can be moved into nature.


I was recently getting annoyed by Knowledge: Local, but only because my group doesn't have it. They have Knowledge: Planes, Dungeoneering, etc, so they can identify bizarre half-fiend aberrations, but they can't recognize orcs.
I think Knowledge: Local should be a class skill for everyone.


For those who split Local into different regions... Do you give out more skill points? How do you balance the DCs if all the ranks you put in, don't count for what they used to?

Seems like something would be off.


Just use situational modifiers for areas that the players wouldn't know about ahead of time and then lower them as they get exposure. Though I would only apply this to regions that the character could not have reasonably learned about ahead of time either through training or reading about it.


for me I let players get skill points by RP.

if a player RPs speaking to a lot of locals, listening at taverns, researching at a library. I will give them some bonus points in knowlage local which is a back up for most other knowlages when applied to a local setting.

This does not mean they have to do a minute by minute RP but when the players have a week and I ask what they do one guy may say he crafts an item while another may say he spends time getting to know the city and people.

I also allow RPing for some perform and profession skills. so that a person can work with the boat crew for a few days and gain 1 in profession sailor for example.

Sovereign Court

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I tend to avoid Local because of the vagueness. Do you buy a separate KLocal for every area? How big are those areas? How do I know which areas may be important to know about?

I like the idea of merging it with Geography. I'd already houseruled that Geography covers humanoids, while Local covers any creatures of any type that occur in that locality or that are significant to it. But just pushing it all into Geography seems even better, it cuts through the "how many regions" nonsense.


Knowledge (Local) does seem to be another one of those things where the name is just confusing for a lot of people, including GMs. The name makes a lot of people think there's supposed to be some kind of region/area mechanic, even though there's nothing in the rules that indicates that.


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I often consider Knowledge (Local) to be more like the Streetwise skill found in other games.


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In Local News: PF skill system still borked, Film At 11.


Knowledge (Local) is kinda a stupid skill yes, I think it would be better called "Knowledge (Humanoids)" or something.

However I'm usually not that strict with Knowledges.
If someone has Knowledge (Geography) then they might also learn something about the history of the region, without the K:History skill. The DC might be adjusted however.
If they have K:Nobility and know about the local lord, they might know about some of the laws in his area even without the K:Local, etc.

I could actually see two or three of the Knowledge-skills folded into others.
K:Nobility into Local
K:History into pretty much anything. If you know about Dragons, you know History surrounding them. If you know about Local stuff, you know History that went on there too. If you know about a certain area with Geography, that also includes Historic events.
K:Engineering into... well not sure where it fits, but it's probably the most useless of all of them


Knowledge local seems like it is first off something that you have studied and learned, otherwise everyone would have knowledge local, because surely anyone can answer questions about their own home town. Like all other knowledges, this one requires study. I enjoyed the K(I payed attention in social studies class) re-naming, because that is what it is. If you have been studying local cultures and customs, who cares if you have lived there or not.
Do not shake with your left hand in Africa, do not stick your chopsticks in the rice and leave them there in Japan. Slurp your noodles in Italy, but not in America. Rubbing noses is like kissing for Inuits. You learn these from study, and the actual relationship between you and the country is not necessarily relevant.
If there is a country that is really far away, has little known about it, or your characters would never have had the chance to study without being very specialized academians, raise the DC for the check. But making a skill point only useful in one small corner of the world is wasting the skill, and you cannot role-play peoples' past knowledge, which is what those knowledge skills represent. Anything they learn in the game is not covered by a knowledge role. If a chracter reads about book that explains the funny laws of a country, they would not have to role a knowledge check if the player remembers what they read. (Maybe if the player forgets, the GM cab ask the player to role?)


This is a local town for local people.


Ascalaphus wrote:

I tend to avoid Local because of the vagueness. Do you buy a separate KLocal for every area? How big are those areas? How do I know which areas may be important to know about?

I like the idea of merging it with Geography. I'd already houseruled that Geography covers humanoids, while Local covers any creatures of any type that occur in that locality or that are significant to it. But just pushing it all into Geography seems even better, it cuts through the "how many regions" nonsense.

At the very least, a fantasy country/state can be divided into the centre and periphery/urban and rural which can greatly differ to one another.

I don't like local much either.


It seems like the knowledge skill could even be broadened (instead of condensed as some of you are suggesting) and given its own sub-system apart from normal skills. I mean... to me knowledge isn't even a skill. Studying is a skill, applying what you know is a skill, but knowledge is different. Yes, I'm inclined to say that skills should be broken down and given a whole 'nother set of points or something to apply to them.

But on the other hand, the game could get much clunkier. Hard to tell; the implementation would have to be immaculate.

I am going to try this.

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?


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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.

Knowledge Local is hardly the most useless Knowledge skill. I'm playing in Korvosa (Cure of the Crimson Throne, I believe?), and Local seems to be the only knowledge skill that really matters. We use it a lot.

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