Knowledge checks on templates

Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

My GM is saying we can't figure out the abilities of summoned entropic dire tigers because they just look like normal dire tigers. Is this a thing? I thought knowledge checks just worked.

Also he says we can't tell they're using smite law, we just know we're taking horrible amounts of damage.

We're level 10 tier 4 with huge knowledge bonuses to everything. I feel like we wouldn't be that dumb.

Are there any rules anywhere one way or the other on this?

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When you get right down to it, in this game, a monster is just a pile of mechanical features. For the game's purpose, each thing that requires an entry in the monster's stat block is probably a feature, but actual numbers are not likely a feature. For example, a tiger has the Pounce ability listed as a special quality so Pounce is a feature. Likewise with Rake. But the fact that it has a 23 STR and a 14 AC are not features, they're just statistics.

Knowledge checks have a DC based on the rarity of the monster and on it's CR. Hitting that exact DC tells you what the monster is. This should incorporate a few obvious basics. For example, the fact that it's a tiger also means it has claws and teeth and eats meat - this kind of stuff is baseline knowledge inclusive in knowing it's a tiger.

If you exceed the DC on your check, you learn one extra feature per 5 points you beat it by. If you beat the DC by 20, then you learn 4 features.

Which features?

There is no specific rule for this, but here is what makes sense to me:

First of all, I believe EVERY template has telltale signs. There must be something that sets it apart. Some GMs may disagree, of course, but I think that if there is a template that alters a creatures core statistics then it should have some indicator in the creature's appearance. For me, Dire is easy - it's bigger and more muscled and usually has bony horns and ridges sticking out of its skin all over the place. Entropic might be harder - I think an entopic tiger would have weirdly chaotic strips, all different, with no patterns. Maybe even some polka dots and checker patterns too.

A GM should list all the non-baseline features in top down order, starting with what would probably be the most common knowledge and ending with the least common knowledge.

For Tiger, I would list scent, pounce, and rake. After that I would consider the Dire template, but this has no features - dire creatures are just bigger, faster, and deadlier. But I would consider the fact that it has this template to be a feature, so put it next on the list. Lastly I would consider the Entropic template. This basically adds DR, energy resistance, spell resistance, and smite law, so I would add these to the list.

I would say that tigers are common, dire tigers are uncommon, entropic dire tigers are rare. It's CR is now 7. So 15+7 = DC 22 to identify it. Based on it being entropic, I might require Knowledge(planes) instead of Knowledge(nature).

So here's the feature list including the DC to figure it out:
22 Tiger
27 Scent
32 Pounce
37 Rake
42 Dire
47 Entropic - DR
52 Spell Resistance
57 Energy Resistance
62 Smite Law

Now let the player roll his check and see what he can figure out.

(that's a lot of work. I usually just spitball this off-the-cuff at the moment the player rolls his check and hand-pick the most obvious features to reveal)

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