Knowledgeable Hireling Pricing for PFS GMs


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Grand Lodge

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In recent scenarios, there have been a fair few missions where the expectation is that a number of the Pathfinders recruited have numerous knowledge skills that they can use to solve riddles, understand obscure texts and recognise noble sigils on sight.

However, as we all know, not every Pathfinder is as skilled as someone like, say, Varian Jeggare. There are a number of classes that grant only 2 skill points per level. Even worse is playing these classes with the view to enter a prestige class that requires 5 skill ranks spent in an esoteric skill. Often you will end up with a PC with barely any expendable skills. When everyone is done spending points in perception and diplomacy, it is quite common to find teams of Pathfinders with barely any knowledge skills whatsoever.

Luckily the core rulebook allows us to recruit a hireling that can provide some assistance. Today, while playing Library of the Lion, the team of Pathfinders became quite concerned when we realised nobody in the team had 'Knowledge: History'. It seemed like we were going to walk into a nightmare scenario of spending a lot of effort to reach a secret library where we would have no understanding of what we were reading. At all.

So we decided to contract a Taldan historian to join us and keep his confidentiality about the mission. There was also an express agreement that the hireling would avoid combat at all times. We pulled out the core rulebook section on hirelings:

Core Rulebook wrote:
Hireling, Trained: The amount given (3sp a day) is the typical daily wage for mercenary warriors, masons, craftsmen, cooks, scribes, teamsters, and other trained hirelings. This value represents a minimum wage; many such hirelings require significantly higher pay.

Obviously, 3 silver a day is not adequate for a historian capable of discerning historical secrets. Our excellent GM pulled out the NPC codex and found a scholar named Seffeh who had both Knowledge Nobility and History at +8 each. "Awesome!" our team declared "Name your price!"

This is where things fall down for PFS organised play.

We do not seem to have a concrete table for hireling pricing for PFS play. Obviously, in an organized setting, we want GM variation to be reined in a bit. Is it possible to get some pricing quotes from John Compton to give us a reasonable idea of the pricing?

Could we get some charts to get some options going?

+5 to one knowledge skills = price in GP?
+10 to one knowledge skills =
+5 to two knowledge skills =
+10 to two knowledge skills =
and so on?

Obviously we do not want to create another 'battle cattle' situation whereby a PC uses their gold to let an NPC beat a scenario, but I've seen so many tables where there just aren't enough skill points to go around that hiring historians, noble socialites and dungeoneers are actually a necessary strategy. Obviously, in a perfect world, all Pathfinders would be very intelligent and not need to burn their gold doing this, but sadly, 2sp classes with no need for INT will always be a staple of the game.

Cheers.

Shadow Lodge

Sounds like that was a pretty brilliant idea with whoever came up with that plan.

A chart and/or some hireling rules would be great.

Or, with the NPC codex, maybe something like: the hireling's CR x 100gp + 100gp.

Not sure if that formula works at higher levels, but it's reasonable at lower to mid levels.

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

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As a note, I don't think it's generally appropriate for hirelings like this to join PCs in potentially dangerous situations.

If you want to hire them to research stuff in a safe location sure, but joining you... doesn't seem reasoanble to me.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

Hmm.... It sounds like the sort of thing that prestiege based followers are for.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

I have no problem with getting a hireling in town but there's really no mechanism for roaming charges or "i want to spend more time with my remaining limbs" charges.

Grand Lodge

It would be nice if we didn't have to do this at all, but lately in play I've been seeing my Pathfinder characters spectacularly fail their missions simply because they are 2sp per level characters.

Words of the Ancients:
In this scenario my Cleric was loudly denigrated by Sheila Heidmarch when he returned to base clutching a bag of counterfeit tokens. Nobody in the party could appraise.

Secret Stones Keep:
In this scenario my Stonemother Paladin sat wounded, bruised and dumbfounded as the ancient stele rattled off a huge quiz list of hints pertaining to a undisclosed location. This resulted in knowledge checks, none of which members of the party could succeed on.

Devil We Know part 1:
I was GMing. The captured Pathfinder rattled off a stressed description of Derro that were conducting slave trades. The battered party simply smiled and nodded, nobody succeeding the knowledge Local or knowledge Dungeoneering check.

Library of the Lion:
By the end of the second paragraph of the opening mission briefing, it was clear that someone needed to have Knowledge: History, or we were boned before we even got started.

As it stands, there's no real option to grant extra knowledge skills to Pathfinders without burning a feat like Extra Traits. That's an extreme option for feat starved classes. There aren't really any prestige vanities that give Knowledge training, most of them are for the staples like Diplomacy.

Hirelings have a strong history in adventure fiction. For instance, C3P0 gave a great bonus on Linguistics, while R2D2 had a pretty impressive Disable Device score. But we do need more concrete rules on payment for their skill services in PFS.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Being a pure beat stick SHOULD be a detriment to the non murder hoboing aspects of being a pathfinder, which I'm glad to see at least exist...

The lorewarden prestige class was made to be a smarter fighter, and its no wonder that they're in one of the PFS focused books.

pathfinder chronicles from the inner sea world guide are masterwork knowledge items. At 50 bucks a pop an entire library will be expensive at low levels, but well worth it. Even if you don't have a knowledge skill, buy them for someone that does.

A mossy disk ioun stone for 2,500 will give you a +5 bonus to any one knowledge skill you want. The cracked version for 200 is a nice easy +1

3/5

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This is the kind of thing which along with the periodic kerfluffle about character backgrounds and motivations really gets down to the important question of how much does a player have to compromise the character they want to play to conform to the fact that the meta-conceit of this particular organized play campaign involves the Pathfinders.

My answer is not very much, since this is an organized campaign and flexibility is it's great and essentially only strength to make up for many weaknesses. Therefore I am completely fine with non-combat hirelings to help with wacky but necessary skill checks. Then again I have always on record stating that organized play necessitates a certain loss of in-game logic and verisimilitude.

The other viewpoint that a PFS character has to conform to the lore and background of the in-universe pathfinders also has a point, and they are the ones who's knee-jerk reaction to this thread will be "don't play a murderhobo". This point of view admittedly misses the point that for wide swaths of characters, generally martial (surprise, surprise) the type of compromises that would have to be made to keep a character on theme as a pathfinder can be really detrimental to a build.

Grand Lodge

If you have an average intelligence of 10 (non dumped) and you are going a 2 sp class, with a mind to enter a prestige class at level 6, you will often find yourself with 5 skill points that you get to choose to spend where you like by level 5. Sometimes less. It's not about being a beat-stick or murder hobo, it's actually all just set the moment you choose what class you're playing.

With 35 separate skills, and many of those skills requiring multiple ranks spent before they actually function, it's not so much that you can't butter the bread, it's more that the bread takes up the size of a football pitch and 200 grams of butter just ain't going to do the job.

Many of the bard archetypes remove knowledge bonuses, intelligence does nothing for many bards. The tireless work of General Discussion has seemed to have decimated the rogue population in my region and many ninjas I see pour all of their skill points into Use Magic Device. Many other classes now pour their ranks into Intimidate, which has a number of feat activation abilities. A lot of players I know don't see much point entering wizard, where the real exciting stuff comes in high level play. Investigator is not locked down yet. Charisma based magic is the new intelligence based magic.

Ordinarily in a home game players can discuss their class choices and a skill monkey can be sourced, but with the sit-down-and-play features of PFS, this is a luxury we don't have.

I am not saying that it should be easy to play a table of skillpoint deficient characters, but there should be options for the skillpoint deficient to plan ahead and burn some gold so the GM doesn't have to tell a table: "You can't make this roll, so you lose." Either that, or we continually remind scenario authors that it is unrealistic to expect a table to be able to make 5 DC 25 Knowledge checks in a row.

That mossy disc item is a good find. Thanks for that.
Does the Pathfinder chronicle item allow you to make a skill check in a knowledge that you do not have a rank in?

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Andrei Buters wrote:
Does the Pathfinder chronicle item allow you to make a skill check in a knowledge that you do not have a rank in?

No unfortunately. It may not be a bad idea to spread a few points into every knowledge though. Knowledge skills have a pretty harsh diminishing returns after that first point.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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If your players keep failing missions because they don't invest in skills, then hopefully the problem will be self-correcting when they roll up their next character. The last table I ran failed to get their second Prestige Point because no one in the party was trained in Spellcraft of Knowledge (history). Maybe that will make the new players sit up and think "Hey, I should put ranks into some of these skills so that doesn't happen again."

5/5

Andrei Buters wrote:
If you have an average intelligence of 10 (non dumped) and you are going a 2 sp class, with a mind to enter a prestige class at level 6, you will often find yourself with 5 skill points that you get to choose to spend where you like by level 5.

In this situation, particularly if you are a non-human as it seems, I highly recommend favored class bonus to skill points. It's painful when I think about the survivability of Grace, my new paladin, but she absolutely would not have enough skill points if I took hit points as her favored class bonus.

5/5

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I see two issues here.

First: hiring smart people is a great idea. In fact, if someone thinks of it, I let them find someone at the Lodge for free to ask questions of if no one has the appropriate Knowledge skills, or at least let them roll untrained by using the Lodge's library. But there is no way they will go into harms's way, whether they're a Pathfinder or a sage or whatever. "More Lore" is my guiding principle when I GM, and so I'm pretty free with starting info.

Second: if someone makes their character a one-trick pony, and then can't do more than one trick... well, then they built a character for the wrong campaign. Making a Pathfinder with no knowledge skills is like making a wizard in a no-magic game; technically legal, but a bad idea unless adversity is what you're going for.

So that leaves the skill-deprived classes. For these, it's a matter of priority. A fighter could choose to get a +4 on Climb with a skill point, or put that point into Knowledge (Local) to identify humanoids and find out information about nearly EVERY mission, and then just buy a rope and grappling hook. How often do you have to climb, in a situation where rope wouldn't make the climb DC 5 or less? Compare that to how many times the GM asks, "Does anyone have Knowledge (local)?"

Unless you are lucky enough to always have the same group of Pathfinders, and can ensure that you've got a scholar in your ranks, you are taking a huge risk by not being able to handle things yourself. Everyone carries their own wand of cure light wounds; everyone should also have enough Knowledge to at least make a roll.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Andrei Buters wrote:


"You can't make this roll, so you lose." Either that, or we continually remind scenario authors that it is unrealistic to expect a table to be able to make 5 DC 25 Knowledge checks in a row.

The funny part about this is that there are certain combat qualities that are required. Or at least expected by your table mates.

Some things require combat monkeys and some things require someone who can read. My complaint is there should be more things that require skill checks. Maybe then we would see less Min/Max combat characters.

If you expect the bard to carry a ranged weapon and hit something in combat, you should also expect the fighter to have at least one knowledge skill.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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What do I do?

I try to pick at least one knowledge skill with my pcs.. even my tower shield specialist has five minimal knowledge skills (+4 to +7) for them with a handy haversack full of Pathfinder Chronicles of the relevant skills (+2 competence with a 1d4 rounds delay).

Not useful for immediate checks like critters and such.. but very very helpful if you're working under less than an immediate time frame. Allows me to hand the 'expert' a book, roll a dice and typically on a 6 or better get in an aid another check.

I'm REALLy tempted to get the divination strike arcana (Magical Marketplaces) when I get up a few more knowledge on her.

Shadow Lodge

The point is, everyone at the table can create a fully balanced character - not a power combat hobo - and the table can still be completely short-changed for a required skill just out of bad luck.

So if the creative solution of subcontracting a hireling is brought up, it shouldn't be negated to punish the player.

Keep in mind also that skill check DCs are usually considering that PCs have specialised in skills, and you can't specialise for every situation. I'm not talking DC 30 or 40, but even 15 or 20 can require either quite a bit of investment, or quite a bit of luck. For these low-skill classes, they're in trouble.

It makes sense.

5/5

Avatar-1 wrote:

The point is, everyone at the table can create a fully balanced character - not a power combat hobo - and the table can still be completely short-changed for a required skill just out of bad luck.

So if the creative solution of subcontracting a hireling is brought up, it shouldn't be negated to punish the player.

Keep in mind also that skill check DCs are usually considering that PCs have specialised in skills, and you can't specialise for every situation. I'm not talking DC 30 or 40, but even 15 or 20 can require either quite a bit of investment, or quite a bit of luck. For these low-skill classes, they're in trouble.

It makes sense.

On the other hand, in at least one scenario, your skill checks strongly determine your gold award at the end. If the PCs hire Joe the Scholar with high Knowledges, Diplomacy, and Perception for 5 silver pieces, have no battles (very possible in that one) and receive 1500 gp each for what Joe finds with Joe's skill checks, why didn't the Society pay it all to Joe instead, the only person who actually did anything? Or better yet, pay Joe 5 silver pieces and save the thousands of gold.

Grand Lodge

I always make sure my characters have at least two academic skills, even my 2sp classes.
Cleric - Knowledge Religion and Knowledge Planes.
Stonemother - Heal and Knowledge History.
Sorceress - Tengu Linguistics and Knowledge Arcana.

My experience with PFS recently has been that this investment is simply not enough. You will, at 1 rank invested, get a total modifer of around +4 to +6. A very Pathfindery academic skill check DC will come up. If you roll average or less than average you fail, with no retries, as you either know it or you don't. Your best strategy is to be lucky enough to have a wizard or unarchetyped bard in the group. Alchemists are a rare INT-based caster, but they only receive two knowledge skills, one of which most classes have overlap for anyway (arcana).

As well as numerous skills requiring heavy investment before they work, and skills like acrobatics, escape artist, bluff and intimidate becoming critical in combat, we also have another problem. The Day Job feature creates an incentive for players to invest all their ranks in a craft or profession skill so that they can start making 50 to 75 extra gold after every mission. Apart from Profession: Sailor and Craft: Alchemy, I rarely, if ever, see a PFS skill check relate to a Profession or Craft skill. It would be great if Knowledge skills could be used as professions, so we don’t keep on creating these dead skill investments in our characters.

The way that Pathfinder works is that you cannot be a jack of all trades (that is the rightful property of the bard). There are so many competing interests for skill points that the idea that a Pathfinder is meant to be a combat trained archaeologist is inevitably going to get lost behind …
a. The skill that stops me from being ganked in the surprise round (perception)
b. The skill that stops the entire mission failure when we encounter nobles or town guards (diplomacy)
c. The skill that gives me brilliant advantages in manoeuvring in combat (acrobatics)
d. The skill I need to invest multiple ranks into in order to identify any magical item (spellcraft)
e. The skill that stops my low strength/bab character from being grappled to death by monsters (escape artist)
f. The skill that deals with bleed, poison, disease, stabilisation and getting an accurate picture of hitpoints (heal)
g. The skill that makes my mount get crane style (ride)
h. The skill that lets me actually fly (fly)

PFS Scenario writers need to be cognisant that their mission critical academic knowledge skill checks aren’t as realistic as the campaign lore suggests.

Whether or not we accept that all Pathfinder characters (even the 2sp classes) must take multiple ranks in knowledge skills, we still find ourselves in a situation where there is no guidance for the cost of hiring NPCs that actually have the luxury of investing in knowledge skills.

Grand Lodge

Mark Seifter wrote:
On the other hand, in at least one scenario, your skill checks strongly determine your gold award at the end. If the PCs hire Joe the Scholar with high Knowledges, Diplomacy, and Perception for 5 silver pieces, have no battles (very possible in that one) and receive 1500 gp each for what Joe finds with Joe's skill checks, why didn't the Society pay it all to Joe instead, the only person who actually did anything? Or better yet, pay Joe 5 silver pieces and save the thousands of gold.

You're saying that at the end of Star Wars, R2D2 should have received the medal, because he's the one who shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level? ;)

We shouldn't be paying Joe Scholar 5 silver pieces. However, we don't know how much we're meant to pay him.

5/5

Andrei Buters wrote:
Whether or not we accept that all Pathfinder characters (even the 2sp classes) must take multiple ranks in knowledge skills, we still find ourselves in a situation where there is no guidance for the cost of hiring NPCs that actually have the luxury of investing in knowledge skills.

If we do decide to give guidance, I think it should be pretty expensive, both from an in-game and out-of-game perspective. Like a percentage of the total loot expensive, not a flat cost.

Out of game, I think it's great when players give a high-five to a bard or lore oracle and get really excited about having one (when playing lots of early season scenarios, my little brother always sighed when I played my lore oracle, but Lazeril grew up to be instrumental in beating a Runelord anyway!). It deflates the coolness of being a bard or loracle and doing your thing if someone can just rent a sage for 5 silvers.

In game, if these crazy Pathfinders are trying to hire me to come along to some hideously dangerous location and then do their task for them, I'm going to want a share of the loot and some life insurance (since unlike the Pathfinders, I don't have the prestige to pay for a raise). Since doing fractions is hard, something like taking off 25% of the loot is a nice easy number, plus forcing the party to pool for a raise dead if they get the hireling killed (and the hireling will do his or her utmost to stay far away from danger if the PCs ask, but sometimes you wind up trapping everyone in a locked tomb full of horrible monsters or the like).

Shadow Lodge

Mark Seifter wrote:
On the other hand, in at least one scenario, your skill checks strongly determine your gold award at the end. If the PCs hire Joe the Scholar with high Knowledges, Diplomacy, and Perception for 5 silver pieces, have no battles (very possible in that one) and receive 1500 gp each for what Joe finds with Joe's skill checks, why didn't the Society pay it all to Joe instead, the only person who actually did anything? Or better yet, pay Joe 5 silver pieces and save the thousands of gold.
my post at the top of this thread wrote:


Or, with the NPC codex, maybe something like: the hireling's CR x 100gp + 100gp.

That (example) formula is a significant portion of the PC's pay, even when they all chip in. And unlike a wondrous item, the hireling has expired by the end of the scenario.

The point of this post is that we should have some proper rules rather than a straight-up 5sp that doesn't make sense for these situations.

5/5

Avatar-1 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
On the other hand, in at least one scenario, your skill checks strongly determine your gold award at the end. If the PCs hire Joe the Scholar with high Knowledges, Diplomacy, and Perception for 5 silver pieces, have no battles (very possible in that one) and receive 1500 gp each for what Joe finds with Joe's skill checks, why didn't the Society pay it all to Joe instead, the only person who actually did anything? Or better yet, pay Joe 5 silver pieces and save the thousands of gold.
my post at the top of this thread wrote:


Or, with the NPC codex, maybe something like: the hireling's CR x 100gp + 100gp.

That (example) formula is a significant portion of the PC's pay, even when they all chip in. And unlike a wondrous item, the hireling has expired by the end of the scenario.

The point of this post is that we should have some proper rules rather than a straight-up 5sp that doesn't make sense for these situations.

CR 6 Wise Sage, who has 8 different skills at double digits, many of which are +14 or +17, would cost 700 gp, which is less than the cost of that oil of daylight or potion of fly consumable. It divides to a little over 100 per person at a 6 player table, which is around 2 CLW potions and is basically unnoticeable at any tier beyond 3-4.

Dark Archive

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For reference it does cover spellcasters in the PFS guide. I had assumed there was a similar limitation for all hirelings.

"Please note that PCs may never purchase the traveling service of a spellcaster — in other words, a wizard from the local town is not, for any price, going to accompany the PCs on their mission into the nearby haunted castle."

5/5

ZomB wrote:

For reference it does cover spellcasters in the PFS guide. I had assumed there was a similar limitation for all hirelings.

"Please note that PCs may never purchase the traveling service of a spellcaster — in other words, a wizard from the local town is not, for any price, going to accompany the PCs on their mission into the nearby haunted castle."

I think that's an excellent, nearly open and shut argument.

Now, if PCs want to pay a sage to make some skill check while not at the adventure location, I've always been OK with that, at much cheaper prices. I was leery about bringing NPCs along to the adventure location.

Grand Lodge

Gah, who wants an NPC wizard to skulk around at the back of the party!? You just know as soon as you make it to the final antechamber, that scheming geriatric is going to grab the Cursed Staff of Bloodfire and end up becoming the doom of the group. No thank you! I want an up-front, honest and respectable Expert. Experts are good people. Wizards, Adepts, Nobles... not so much.

Mark Seifter wrote:


CR 6 Wise Sage, who has 8 different skills at double digits, many of which are +14 or +17, would cost 700 gp, which is less than the cost of that oil of daylight or potion of fly consumable. It divides to a little over 100 per person at a 6 player table, which is around 2 CLW potions and is basically unnoticeable at any tier beyond 3-4.

This is a good point. We really don't want to make high knowledge characters redundant.

Perhaps a flat per cent share of the treasure? If you have a team of four with one hired sage, the sage NPC gets 20%?
If you have a team of six and one hired sage, the sage gets 14%?
That effectively slaps the low skill point tables while making players delighted to have a brainiac join the group. All while meaning that less tables hit knowledge skill check dead ends, which hurts fun.


Mike Clarke wrote:
Andrei Buters wrote:


"You can't make this roll, so you lose." Either that, or we continually remind scenario authors that it is unrealistic to expect a table to be able to make 5 DC 25 Knowledge checks in a row.

The funny part about this is that there are certain combat qualities that are required. Or at least expected by your table mates.

Some things require combat monkeys and some things require someone who can read. My complaint is there should be more things that require skill checks. Maybe then we would see less Min/Max combat characters.

If you expect the bard to carry a ranged weapon and hit something in combat, you should also expect the fighter to have at least one knowledge skill.

I see a pathfinder team as a football team.

You have people that specific niches and the team as a whole shuld fill every nitch.

If I min/max a guy to fill a roll of perception and sense motive so I can easuly make the DC25s on those. Why should I also be responcible for the 25 DC knowledge checks?

If you build a team of 13 stat characters with a rank in everything that would get destroyed but the difficult parts.

Grand Lodge

Also we're playing a version of football where all the players roll around in a massive lucky dip. Fate sticks it's hand in and only grabs 4 to 6 of the randomised footballers. These footballers then shake hands, take two minutes to acquaint themselves, then get teleported into almost certain death.


Andrei Buters wrote:
Also we're playing a version of football where all the players roll around in a massive lucky dip. Fate sticks it's hand in and only grabs 4 to 6 of the randomised footballers. These footballers then shake hands, take two minutes to acquaint themselves, then get teleported into almost certain death.

You can always play a pregen if your characters do not have the skills the party needs.

Grand Lodge

I thought if you have a character in tier, you must play that character rather than crank out the pregen?

And even if you do crank out a pregen, if that pregen dies, that also counts as your character receiving the chronicle sheet dying?

The Ezren Gambit is not one made lightly.


Andrei Buters wrote:

I thought if you have a character in tier, you must play that character rather than crank out the pregen?

And even if you do crank out a pregen, if that pregen dies, that also counts as your character receiving the chronicle sheet dying?

The Ezren Gambit is not one made lightly.

You can not assign the pregen credit to a character in teir. So you can apply yo a lower level character.

You can assign the credit afetr the scenario. SO i fyou die it goes to number 99999

By skills I also meant class abilities and such. If you come to a table where all 4 people want to play straight fighters, kyra might be helpfull.

Shadow Lodge

Mark Seifter wrote:


CR 6 Wise Sage, who has 8 different skills at double digits, many of which are +14 or +17, would cost 700 gp, which is less than the cost of that oil of daylight or potion of fly consumable. It divides to a little over 100 per person at a 6 player table, which is around 2 CLW potions and is basically unnoticeable at any tier beyond 3-4.

That formula was a quick example. I'm not surprised the maths doesn't work out at every level for every situation, especially where players are trying to optimise to the nth degree.

Avatar-1 wrote:


The point of this post is that we should have some proper rules rather than a straight-up 5sp that doesn't make sense for these situations.

5/5

Avatar-1 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:


CR 6 Wise Sage, who has 8 different skills at double digits, many of which are +14 or +17, would cost 700 gp, which is less than the cost of that oil of daylight or potion of fly consumable. It divides to a little over 100 per person at a 6 player table, which is around 2 CLW potions and is basically unnoticeable at any tier beyond 3-4.

That formula was a quick example. I'm not surprised the maths doesn't work out at every level for every situation, especially where players are trying to optimise to the nth degree.

Avatar-1 wrote:


The point of this post is that we should have some proper rules rather than a straight-up 5sp that doesn't make sense for these situations.

I didn't look very long--I just grabbed the NPC I thought was the exact same one mentioned by the OP, which is actually the only NPC Expert I could find with "Sage" or "Scholar" in the description from NPC Codex. Looking back, it looks like it isn't the same guy, since this one's Knowledge (History) is better.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Rhein-Main aka GreyYeti

If low-skill high-combat characters can hire guys to make the skill checks for them, does that mean low-combat high-skill characters can hire someone that does the fighting for them?

Grand Lodge

That already occurs with purchased combat trained animal shenanigans.
Whether or not PFS development will close the (zoo) gate on purchasing combat trained animals is another question.

Liberty's Edge

Luckily we have yet to have a single case of combat animals (ie not companions) locally.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

ZomB wrote:

For reference it does cover spellcasters in the PFS guide. I had assumed there was a similar limitation for all hirelings.

"Please note that PCs may never purchase the traveling service of a spellcaster — in other words, a wizard from the local town is not, for any price, going to accompany the PCs on their mission into the nearby haunted castle."

Yeah.. if the robed walking library that CAN toss fireballs isn't going into the dungeon with you I can't see why the robed walking library that can't toss fireballs is going to be willing to risk it.

He's seen the reports. He knows why he suddenly realizes he puts on a red shirt that morning. Bring him something to translate and we'll talk, but he's not leaving his easy chair.

Grand Lodge

What if I cast Sending?

“Kreighton! Randolf here. Giant golem asking us name of third son of third dynasty of Gulgakathol family. Wrong answer equals dead Pathfinders. Any ideas?”

Better yet, the wise sage can sit outside the dungeon and periodically get harassed by Animal Messengers and Bird Feather Tokens carrying tiny scraps of paper with messages asking for knowledge help. Or he can get woken up by repeated particulary noisy and demanding Scrying + Message spells.

Do we get a discount on the flat rate if Grampa Knowledge doesn't have to leave his easy chair?

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Hehehe.. now THATS a nice trick.

Dunno about asking Kreighton Shane anything you need a fast answer for. He's apt to ponder your question for a few weeks before OOO shiny....

I think the rate assumes Grandpa knowledge is in his easy chair. You just avoid the roaming charges. I know I've seen rate charges for sages somewhere, I don't know if its the 3.5 section of my brain or not though...

Also considering how often pathfinders get attacked on the way TO the dungeon I think its easy chair or bust. (as much as I love the idea of playing a scholar trying to negotiate higher prices because you brought him along as a history consultant and he doesn't speak squirrel...) I'd say it would work in an absolom adventure though.

Also animal messengers come with their own problems

Venture-Captain, Germany–Hannover aka Hayato Ken

Well one should not forget that there is the aid another action.
1 or 2 knowledge skills should be in for every character and if only to aid another. Some can do that untrained.

But, i have to agree with Andrei, because i saw that too at my tables here already. Skill point distribution in knowldege skills is gambling and since there are skills which are absolutely necessary and one get´s really punished if not putting in ranks there, it´s to the very disadvantage of some classes. Especially when aiming for prestige classes.

Not sure if this is a PFS problem though.
Well the hireling would be yes.
Chelish characters can already hire an imp servitor for one game.
Also there are scholars for 4PP with a +5 knowledge skill.


As a player, I've always hated the kind of "hmmm, well let's figure out how you can bypass this challenge you're incapable of dealing with" mode of GM handholding. Failure IS an option!

There are so many things a group can do natively:

1. Certainly, they CAN hire an expert, if they're in a place where it's reasonable one exists, though any kind of secrecy is immediately out the window at that point (well, unless they kill the expert). I tend to think most Pathfinder missions are "secret", so I'm inclined to think this is not a very good option, unless...

2. ... those experts are some kind of follower (as in: purchased with prestige). I believe there's a scholar option?

3. One can also spend prestige to get a bonus of a skill check (+4?) One could certainly combine this with a follower's check. Again, the use of prestige implies that this assistance is on the down-low: they aren't just waltzing into Rent-a-Sage for a hireling, they're going through channels.

4. One can always summon or bind an outsider with knowledge skills: plenty of demons and devils are terrific academics!

5. Pathfinder Chronicles: those dusty Pathfinder stacks are there for a reason.

You can combine things: bind a demon, hand it a Pathfinder Chronicle, call in a favor for a +4, and have a scholar hireling assist it. A planar bound glabrezu (I didn't say it was wise to do this) could be rolling a +26 Knowledge: History. Cast fox's cunning on it for +28. Summon a lilend bard to serenade it with inspire competence and we're north of +30!

And this from a lunk-headed sorcerer.

All just a matter of creativity ;)

4/5

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I have three characters who each have at least 1 rank in every Knowledge skill, with the lowest bonus among them being +8. Knowledge is a big part of what they bring to their parties. I'd certainly be a bit disappointed if that investment was replaceable with a particularly learned pack mule.

All that said, here are some more options:
Page-Bound Epiphany (bard 2, cleric 2, magus 2, sorcerer/wizard 2) +CL (max 10) circumstance bonus to a skill of your choice
Ancestral Communion (bard 2, cleric/oracle 2) +4 insight bonus one skill check; increases to +6 at caster level 7th and +8 at caster level 11th. Allows a reroll of a failed check.

Two really good options for SP-starved clerics.

You can even pick up a scroll of Ancestral Communion for 150gp and, if necessary, some Dust of Emulation for 800gp in case of emergency knowledge checks. Add a +4 Insight bonus and a +2 Circumstance bonus (if you carry a full set of Pathfinder Chronicles in your Haversack) to a single point in a class skill for a +10 all day.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

Don't forget that just having the chronicles in your bag does no good. You have to pull them and spend 1d4 rounds reading them.

Silver Crusade

Andrei Buters wrote:

In recent scenarios, there have been a fair few missions where the expectation is that a number of the Pathfinders recruited have numerous knowledge skills that they can use to solve riddles, understand obscure texts and recognise noble sigils on sight.

However, as we all know, not every Pathfinder is as skilled as someone like, say, Varian Jeggare. There are a number of classes that grant only 2 skill points per level. Even worse is playing these classes with the view to enter a prestige class that requires 5 skill ranks spent in an esoteric skill. Often you will end up with a PC with barely any expendable skills. When everyone is done spending points in perception and diplomacy, it is quite common to find teams of Pathfinders with barely any knowledge skills whatsoever.

There are many ways around this.

-You need only one skilled member in the party to acoount for most skills
-A trait can give you a bonus
-If your class is not MAD, you can drop a few points into int.
-Perception is covered at later levels by a cheap item (Eyes of the Eagle)
-There are races, templates, archetypes who give bonuses to skills.

Prestige classes often have a high cost for a low return. If you want a prestige class, you'll just have to wait a little longer to take it.
And if you make a party without any effort to have your bases covered, you have yourself to blame.

Silver Crusade 4/5

Breadth of Experience is by far my favorite feat, and although I may not take it every time, I certainly consider it for all elves and dwarves. I actually built my elven ranger starting with this feat, and am built more around knowledge than combat.

5/5

The campaign assumes that all characters are Pathfinders. Pathfinders have a general job description and lore (in fact, two whole books full of it!) that should help you design an appropriate character. I bet adventures for Pathfinder Society are going to be aimed at that broad job description more often than not.

So it's a matter of choice: You can build a specialist, and then hope that you happen to be assigned to a mission with characters that offset all of your weaknesses. That works well in a home game, but as soon as you have a convention or public game day, you never know who is sitting down with you.

Or, you can be a generalist (at least to some degree) and cover more bases. I prefer the later, since frankly there are not many times when you really need +25 perception; +10 is enough for a lot of cases. Those extra skill points give me a chance to "aid another" in every knowledge check, or attempt my own roll. Versatility is more important that overkill success in a narrow field for a Pathfinder agent.

The nature of Organized Play is that you CAN'T count on your teammates to do everything you can't. You can either accept that and fail sometimes while spectacularly succeeding other times, or you can broanden your own skill base. It's a player choice. Please, though, don't ask us all to make the same choice as you do by demanding the adventures are re-written for your prefered play style.

Venture-Captain, Germany–Hannover aka Hayato Ken

Galrandaedir wrote:
Breadth of Experience is by far my favorite feat, and although I may not take it every time, I certainly consider it for all elves and dwarves. I actually built my elven ranger starting with this feat, and am built more around knowledge than combat.

Don´t forget gnomes can take that too!

5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northeast aka Shivok

I recently played in a scenario where social skills were the call of the day. We were made of a melee heavy group with very little in the way of these needed skills. I chalked it up to one of those times when you just can't succeed at everything. One of our players was very upset that his fighter was completely useless because he has no social skills. This stuff happens. We ended up getting 1 prestige point on the scenario. The player with the fighter decided to pick up a level of bard to make sure he could roll on knowledges and have a chance at success in the future.

Grand Lodge

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Redward: Great finds. Thanks for that.

June: That sounds like a terribly short sighted decision in terms of character viability. Organic, yes, I guess so, but jeez! If you build a character based on taking a level of what could have dealt with a situation in the previous scenario then you’re going to end up with a mess of low level abilities. The developers have written the game rules to favour single classing, so when you pick 2sp, you’re stuck with it.

Scott: I don’t know where you’re getting this idea that all my characters are min-maxed specialists for one purpose only and that I am trying to get campaign management to change future scenarios. Maybe you need to put more ranks in sense motive? I am trying to get some clarification on fees for hiring experts in PFS play.

‘Build an appropriate character’ you say. Does this mean you suggest every player who makes a fighter should ignore then other archetypes and make a INT 13 or higher lore warden?

The very nature of the D&D paradigm is that the team together can handle any situation, but individual characters cannot. In terms of game design, it’s pretty self-evident that baseline INT, 2 sp classes are not made to handle vigorous skill checks. Playing a ‘Pathfinder Society Hero’ does not suddenly make my INT become 15 or higher, gain additional skill points and become a versatile hero capable of dealing with any archaeological situation. You are telling your builders to build a railway system while they’ve only got the supplies to build an elevator. And guess what? My 2sp elevators don’t even reach +12 or higher on ANY skill checks, not even the characters who have reached 7-11 play.

If I go to the temple and pay for a disease to be removed, does the party cleric complain that I’m making him redundant? No? Then why should contracting a historian make the highly skilled adventurers call foul play?

4/5

Andrei Buters wrote:

If I go to the temple and pay for a disease to be removed, does the party cleric complain that I’m making him redundant? No? Then why should contracting a historian make the highly skilled adventurers call foul play?

I'd say going to the temple for a Remove Disease is the equivalent of paying a librarian to do some Knowledge checks for you before you leave Absalom. As a skill monkey player, that wouldn't offend me, just as I don't think most healers are offended by parties healing up with CLW wands rather than using spell slots.

Having a hired Knowledge repository in the dungeon with you is more like renting a pregen Kyra keep you healed up. Or my three characters hiring a pregen Valeros to stand in front of them.

And I guess the idea of that isn't all that offensive, as long as the pregen is getting an equal share of the loot (which in PFS would mean reducing everyone else's take by 14-20%. And as someone said above, there should probably be a further reduction should they die.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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I disagree that hiring a sage to actually go on the mission with you is a good idea.

If folks don't want to make pathfinders that's their own problem. All my characters will be able to make some sort of knowledge, social, or appraise/linguistics check by 3rd level. And yes, my 2 skill point guys do this too.

It isn't the fault of the campaign or the scenarios if players don't make characters conducive to the campaign being played. If playing Skulls and Shackles and you don't make a character that eventually adapt their build to a ship based and social based campaign, then its your own fault if you aren't very useful much of the time.

The issue lies with the players not being willing to adapt their builds to the campaign being played.

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