A natural one on a skill check.


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Ok, so I always assumed that, with most skills, rolling a natural 1 is an automatic failure. For example, if you were trying to stealth through a cave and you roll a natural 1, you end up kicking a rock that echoes throughout the cavern. What is the general opinion on that?

Grand Lodge

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There's no such rule for skill checks. A natural 1 can succeed if the character's bonus is high enough and/or the DC low enough.


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You only automatically fail when you roll a natural 1 on attack rolls and saves. If someone with +20 Stealth rolls a 1 on a Stealth check, they still have a 21, and should be treated no different than someone with a +11 that rolled a 10, or someone with +1 that rolled a natural 20.

Sczarni

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Likewise, a natural 20 on a skill check does not mean automatic success.


Apparently we houserule this, but a natural 1 regardless of check type is a botch/blunder etc. It's generally not that severe like a 1 on a stealth would be tripping or a 1 on a climb check to climb a fence would mean you fall down.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Natural 1 and 20 success/failure applies to Saves and Attack rolls only.

Nothing else.

The Natural 1 and 20 success/failure houserule for skills is very bad idea.

People will have a 5% chance of fail to jump over a foot wide gap, and a 5% chance of jumping to the Moon.

Liberty's Edge

+1 to what Blackbloodtroll said.


Back in 3.5 I made a rule where a nat 1 meant -10, and a nat 20 meant +10 (so a total of 30 added to your skill). There is no auto-succeed/fail, but there is always a chance of doing really well, or really poorly.

EDIT: That being said, I only use the rule if the group agrees. Some players are really opposed to it, but I have met very few of them.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

To the Moon!


As the people before me stated, on skill checks, ability checks and the like, a result of 1 or 20 is just a numerical 1 or 20.

If you wish to add some randomness without getting an universal 5% chance of being able to jump the moon, you might, as a houserule, consider these rolls open-ended rolls. For example:

On rolling a 20, add 1d6-1 to the result.
If the d6 comes up a 6, add another 1d6-1.
If the d6 comes up a 6, add another 1d6-1.
If the d6 comes up a 6, add another 1d6-1.
etc.

The same mechanics can be applied to a natural 1.

However, keep in mind, that these are house rule ideas only. By official ruling, die results of 1 or 20 on skill checks are just numerical 1 or 20, nothing more.


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PF PRD wrote:
No jump can allow you to exceed your maximum movement for the round.

Despite the term auto-success, some things are still impossible. Auto-success is still limited by other rules. I find auto-success on skills less of an issue than a level 1 archer, firing at max range (longbow 1000' -18 to attack), at an Ancient Red Dragon (AC 38), having a 5% chance of succeeding.


My house rule for skill checks:

- On a natural 1 roll a d20 again and substract the result from your skill bonus ( 1 - d20 + skill bonus = result of the skill check)
- On a natural 20 roll a d20 again and add the result too your skill bonus ( 20 + d20 + skill bonus = result of the skill check)

Works pretty good and makes simple skill checks (most DCs are really low and are an auto success at lvl 3+) more exciting.


Some things you just can't botch on your worse day, and some things you can't succeed in, on your best day. I think that is why there is no auto fail or auto success for skills.


Exactly. Or else, a commoner lvl 1 with 10 INT and 1 single rank in knowledge arcana know 5% of the greatest secrets of Magic and its mysteries.

That's why there is no autosuccess/autofailure with skill checks, ability checks and every other rolls (all rolls excepts Save and Attack).


Aardvark Barbarian wrote:
PF PRD wrote:
No jump can allow you to exceed your maximum movement for the round.
Despite the term auto-success, some things are still impossible. Auto-success is still limited by other rules. I find auto-success on skills less of an issue than a level 1 archer, firing at max range (longbow 1000' -18 to attack), at an Ancient Red Dragon (AC 38), having a 5% chance of succeeding.

So what? He still won't do even a point of damage to him, due to DR.


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Yea, never been a fan of the 5% chance to fail no matter how good you are, and the 5% chance for an extraordinary success. Which is no better or worse statistically than rolling a 10.

Look at it this way, you're a professional, you work weekdays and you are extremely good at your job. If you use the D20 system to determine your monthly work results, then EVERY MONTH you will have a dramatic and terrible result to the work you do in the job you are an expert at.

Now, I don't know about you but If I seriously and dramatically fouled up my job every month I wouldn't have that job for very long, and I would start thinking about a career I was better at. All the while understanding that I am talking about an expert in the field, a world leader in that expertise, but once a month he botches the whole thing up. Right...

Bell curve is where it's at. The vast majority of the time you turn in average work consistent with your skill, once in a very long time do you have an epiphany or completely botch your attempt.


The one skill check to keep an eye on for natural 1's is Use Magic Device. If you ever roll a natural 1 when using UMD and fail the check you can't retry for 24 hours. Note that if you roll a natural 1 and succeed there is no penalty.


Autosuccesses don't really make sense anytime you have opposed rolls. If you roll a natural 20 on Stealth and I roll a natural 20 on Perception, do I see you because my perception is perfect, or do you hide successfully because your stealth is perfect? The same goes for autofails.


Obviously,jumping to the moon would be impossible. All of it withing reason. However, even a skilled climber can fail climbing a simple cliff.


Roberta Yang wrote:
Autosuccesses don't really make sense anytime you have opposed rolls. If you roll a natural 20 on Stealth and I roll a natural 20 on Perception, do I see you because my perception is perfect, or do you hide successfully because your stealth is perfect? The same goes for autofails.

If the numbers were tied on opposed rolls, and both are 20, then you would default to the higher number as the success.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

The rules are not designed with auto fail/success skill checks in mind.


I just think that SOME skills should have that chance. Like stealth,climb, sleight of hand, etc.

Grand Lodge

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Well, those Houserules only make me glad the Take 10 rules exist.

Having every single mundane task be some sort of maddening test of the God's favor is just bad DMing.

PC: "I begin teaching my trusted horse some new tricks. I rolled a 1 on my Handle Animal check, for a total of 10."

DM: "HAHA! You critical fail, and the Horse you raised from birth suddenly attacks you for no reason, then breaks it's own leg, dealing damage to you, and dexterity damage to itself!"

PC: "What!?!?"


Yup, gotta love falling down the stairs 5% of the time. I'm sure that happens, right?

- Gauss

Grand Lodge

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5% of all sandwiches I make are the most awesome thing I have ever tasted, whilst 5% taste like dirt-wrapped fecal matter.


I want to start by saying, I do not, nor have ever used an auto-success/fail system for skills. Nonetheless....

I'm not sure where some of these examples are coming from. It feels like some people have a history of antagonistic GM's.

An auto-fail on handle animal means..... you don't succeed. Since there are not any tricks with a DC of 10 (in the CRB at least), then a 10 is the same result as a -5, or an auto-fail. It means, not a success. Not over-dramatized, completely opposite exaggerations, just not a success.

As for 5% chance to fall down stairs, where is there a skill roll required to walk down stairs?

Instead of using over-the-top examples, can the discussion be based around actual rules from the book, that are or are not achieveable whether an auto-success/fail system is used?

Grand Lodge

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The end of it is this:

It is not RAW.

It makes a terrible houserule.

Don't do it.


So, in your opinion, it makes a terrible houserule. That opinion may or may not be shared by others. Other than it not being in RAW, could you provide examples of how it upsets the game as a whole by existing? Maybe you could convince others that there may be a valid reason to not use it.

Just because it is in RAW isn't enough for some people. The designers, no matter how much success they may have, are not infallible. That means there is always a chance something may or may not be a reasonable inclusion or exclusion from the game.

Grand Lodge

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5% chance the 20 level Wizard with full ranks in Knowledge Local doesn't recognize the Dwarf, as a Dwarf.


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Ok, real example from book: You are standing next to a battle, the DC to hear the battle is -10. However, you rolled a 1 and thus, despite standing next to the battle, you cannot hear the sounds of the battle.

- Gauss

Grand Lodge

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5% chance the 20 level Mounted Paladin with full ranks in Ride can't guide his mount with his knees.


Lets turn this around for a moment, why the heck are 1s and 20s automatic failures and successes anyhow? Why should some mook have a chance to hit the ubertank with an AC 20points higher than they can possibly hit? And yet, those are the rules. If anything, that is what should be removed. Not expanded upon.

- Gauss


Kill the bearded elf!

That being said RAW: as has been said. (technically, the mishap other than miss on a attack/save 1 is an optional rule)

that being said, i have been with both groups, and find either works.... though jumping to the moon would be silly, succeeding more than you expect within reason (also depending on action and roll) is not a bad houserule. a nothing 20 sucks.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, just because you hit the "ubertank", doesn't mean you hurt him.


@BBT, Have you had instances where you have either had to roll to recognize a common player race, or where a lvl 20 wizard with full ranks in Knowledge local hasn't ever seen a dwarf until that roll? It again seems a bit far-fetched.

@Gauss, that is a reasonable enough example. Now, that being the case. How often do people in the middle of a comabt need to roll to hear it? It would seem that they only need to hear it if they are unaware of it in the first place. Do you roll perception to see the enemy you are fighting each round, even if it hasn't done anything to hide? What about the premise used in films during battle where the character is shell-shocked, and everything tones out? It isn't always related to large explosions, sometimes it is shock due to the events.

EDIT: @ Gauss, I agree, and mentioned it above. I think it would be better to remove all auto success/fails, than to add another. But because it's in the rules, somehow it makes it okay in one instance but not another.


I think 5% autofail is just too much.
And I think 5% autosuccess is too strong without some cap. If you use this houserule you should set fixed limits on what you can succeed in. If you don't there will be a time when a player announces to try something, rolls a 20 and you tell him that he didn't manage it because it is impossible while recently you allowed something seemingly similar hard for another player.

For example you can rule that a natural 20 is enough for tasks with double the DC of what you can max manage to roll. Or 1.5 times.
Example: A pc wants to climb a sheer cliff. The gm sets the DC to 35 and the pc has a bonus of +5 so with a 20 he can get as high as 25. With the 1.5 times limit he could do DC 37 with rolling a 20 so he succeeds. Would the DC have been 40 he would have failed despite the 20 because too much is too much.
Else jumping to the moon might become a topic.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

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Was considering making a pertinent comment here, but seeing the flames are already burning high, will move along swiftly.


Aardvark, being shell shocked is not a perception check. It is being stunned. A completely different mechanic.

The point is, the rules are arbitrary. Somewhere along the way someone said that there should always be a chance to hit or always be a chance to miss. But somewhere along the way they also said why would a person have a chance to fail tying his shoes? They are two different situations and as such should not be equated with each other.

- Gauss

Grand Lodge

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Well, now it is all Houserule discussion.

Maybe someone should just start a new thread in the Houserules section?

The RAW is clear here.


I want to play a medieval fantasy game where I get to be a hero. I don't want to trip over fences, identify dwarves as halflings, forget the teachings of my own deity or fail to notice a raging combat that's happening right behind me. That kind of stuff is perhaps okay IF it's the result of a deliberate attack, like a special halfling jinx or a bestow curse. But I don't like the idea of random skill fumbles anymore than I like the idea of a GM telling me to roll a Will save or become Frightened every time I encounter a nonmagical spider, rat, deep water or cliff because I 'might conceivably be afraid of those things'. Both are realistic and both aren't fun, at least for me, and for many other people that are glad those aren't standard rules.

It's already bad enough that I've had to argue with every GM I've ever played under about how bad critical fumbles house-rules are. Each of them seems deeply satisfied in having people drop their weapons, throw them away, stab themselves or an ally with them. Did you know that a medieval fantasy 'superhero' 20th level two-weapon fighter has about a 31% chance each round of rolling at least one natural 1? He actually gets more embarrassing as he raises in level than when he began as a famboy with a torch and dagger. Meanwhile the spellcasters aren't impacted much at all at a stable one-touch-attack-per-round, and even that's only if they deviate from stopping time, summoning angels and calling meteors.


are fair points, and not saying that the results should be that extreme, however RAW = nat 1 or nat 20 is just a number added to your modifier, and the DM's modifiers vs DC


Raw yep you can succeed on a 1.

Our group, the what seems to be a common houserule, 1 fumble (no matter what you are rolling for). I also like the idea backlash for spells that go wrong but we dont use them so much in pathfinder (only for concentration rolls).

It's a house rule our group has used for ANY game system since 1st ed. It works for us so we use it, don't really care if its RAW or not..its fun. We try to make sure its not to detrimental or lethal though, nothing like the tables in MERP! Things like bowstrings snapping, falling, stumbling, making noises when stealthing.

To be honest it always seems a bit odd that you can succeed even if you roll a 1. I mean even in real life you can't succeed everytime and there is ALWAYS a chance you will stuff something up (you might be the best computer techniction in the company but there is always the chance you will press the wrong button that will bring the whole damn server down,or maybe you are a top chef, you leave the food in the oven for some reason and it comes out ruined nobodys perfect). A roll of 1 in my opinion should always be a fumble for this reason, a fail is just a fail but there should always be a way to adjudicate a catasrophic fail.


I think the autofail/autosucceed checks are only under strenuous circumstances. For example, try to sneak by a group of enemies.

Grand Lodge

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How do know it's a group of enemies?

Do you get bonuses for being ignorant of the danger?


ferrinwulf wrote:

Raw yep you can succeed on a 1.

Our group, the what seems to be a common houserule, 1 fumble (no matter what you are rolling for). I also like the idea backlash for spells that go wrong but we dont use them so much in pathfinder (only for concentration rolls).

It's a house rule our group has used for ANY game system since 1st ed. It works for us so we use it, don't really care if its RAW or not..its fun. We try to make sure its not to detrimental or lethal though, nothing like the tables in MERP! Things like bowstrings snapping, falling, stumbling, making noises when stealthing.

To be honest it always seems a bit odd that you can succeed even if you roll a 1. I mean even in real life you can't succeed everytime and there is ALWAYS a chance you will stuff something up (you might be the best computer techniction in the company but there is always the chance you will press the wrong button that will bring the whole damn server down,or maybe you are a top chef, you leave the food in the oven for some reason and it comes out ruined nobodys perfect). A roll of 1 in my opinion should always be a fumble for this reason, a fail is just a fail but there should always be a way to adjudicate a catasrophic fail.

Pretty much anything skill-related that a person can accomplish in real life can be represented with nothing higher than a fifth-level Commoner. Yes, in real life people make mistakes, but Pathfinder is designed for people who are not only inherently heroic, but who also have access to magical items that expand their abilities far above our peak human levels. Even a completely average commoner would become one of the greatest olympic jumpers with a mid-level boots of elvenkind, and that is neither the greatest skill-enhancing item, nor are you only ever allowed to use just one item to enhance your skills at a time.

I'll hand it to you that in real life, a baker might leave a cake in the oven. But a 20th level baker's worst cake would be the best cake you've ever eaten.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

How do know it's a group of enemies?

Do you get bonuses for being ignorant of the danger?

Actually, I think ignorance would be a detriment. A penalty.


Troubleshooter wrote:


Pretty much anything skill-related that a person can accomplish in real life can be represented with nothing higher than a fifth-level Commoner. Yes, in real life people make mistakes, but Pathfinder is designed for people who are not only inherently heroic, but who also have access to magical items that expand their abilities far above our peak human levels. Even a completely average commoner would become one of the greatest olympic jumpers with a mid-level boots of elvenkind, and that is neither the greatest skill-enhancing item, nor are you only ever allowed to use just one item to enhance your skills at a time.

I'll hand it to you that in real life, a baker might leave a cake in the oven. But a 20th level baker's worst cake would be the best cake you've ever...

No matter how "perfect" someone is, they can make mistakes. They aren't superhuman, just more talented, or even just more lucky.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

You know who fails and dies with these silly rules?

The PCs. The Heroes.

Not the enemy.

They do it whilst doing mundane crap.

You create a slew of unheroic failures and deaths.

If that tickles your fancy, then have fun.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

You know who fails and dies with these silly rules?

The PCs. The Heroes.

Not the enemy.

They do it whilst doing mundane crap.

You create a slew of unheroic failures and deaths.

If that tickles your fancy, then have fun.

The point isn't to kill the PCs, but it is to introduce a little challenge! And just failing a stealth roll won't kill you at all. But, being mortal will.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

That's what circumstance penalties/bonuses are for.

That's combat and failed saves.

Not cooking bread.

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