Knowledges to identify creatures


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So I know that different creatures need different knowledge checks to figure out what it is, and that the base DC is 10+CR, and that for every 5 you beat it by reveals more and more, but what exactly is revealed? Can't seem to find that answer...


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Start with this:

SRD, Skills, Knowledge wrote:

Many of the Knowledge skills have specific uses as noted on Table: Knowledge Skill DC's.

Below are listed typical fields of study.

Arcana (ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols, constructs, dragons, magical beasts); Although robots are constructs, Knowledge (arcana) cannot be used to identify robots or their abilities and weaknesses.

Dungeoneering (aberrations, caverns, oozes, spelunking)

Engineering (buildings, aqueducts, bridges, fortifications); This is the most important skill with regard to technological subjects. Knowledge (engineering) can be used to identify a robot's abilities and weaknesses.

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

Nature (animals, fey, monstrous humanoids, plants, seasons and cycles, weather, vermin)

Planes (the Inner Planes, the Outer Planes, the Astral Plane, the Ethereal Plane, outsiders, planar magic)

Religion (gods and goddesses, mythic history, ecclesiastic tradition, holy symbols, undead)

That quote is edited to remove a few Knowledge subskills that are not used to identify monsters, such as Geography and History, and some excess wording was removed as well, just to make it more readable.

And then consider reading this link and especially reading the two links from that post. It's all relevant. Don't just read the three posts I typed, read those entire threads for the whole story, it's all informative.


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Also, Knowledge (little blue creatures) will identify smurfs.

Sczarni

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Other than that, everyone has a different way of running Knowledge checks.

I'll give experienced players a number of questions to ask, such as "Special Defenses", "Special Attacks", "Special Abilities", etc.

With newer players, who might not know what to ask, I may give them whatever I deem useful for that particular combat.

It's open-ended.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:

Start with this:

SRD, Skills, Knowledge wrote:

Many of the Knowledge skills have specific uses as noted on Table: Knowledge Skill DC's.

Below are listed typical fields of study.

Arcana (ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols, constructs, dragons, magical beasts); Although robots are constructs, Knowledge (arcana) cannot be used to identify robots or their abilities and weaknesses.

Dungeoneering (aberrations, caverns, oozes, spelunking)

Engineering (buildings, aqueducts, bridges, fortifications); This is the most important skill with regard to technological subjects. Knowledge (engineering) can be used to identify a robot's abilities and weaknesses.

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

Nature (animals, fey, monstrous humanoids, plants, seasons and cycles, weather, vermin)

Planes (the Inner Planes, the Outer Planes, the Astral Plane, the Ethereal Plane, outsiders, planar magic)

Religion (gods and goddesses, mythic history, ecclesiastic tradition, holy symbols, undead)

That quote is edited to remove a few Knowledge subskills that are not used to identify monsters, such as Geography and History, and some excess wording was removed as well, just to make it more readable.

While somewhat helpful, this was already what I was able to find. I'm trying to find the rest of the information. What I was asking about was what is revealed? Special Attacks? Resistances? Immunities? What level of DC beating is required for those?

Example-a Charda. They are immune to cold and poison. They have three different Special Abilities. They are small, monstrous aquatic Humanoids. CR7.

So you encounter one, having never seen one before, so you, a fighter who took a rank in it for flavor, roll a Knowledge (local) and pull off a 17. The rogue, on her turn, rolls a 23. the bard gets a 28. What does the Fighter know, what does the Rogue know, and what does the Bard know?


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Nefreet wrote:

Other than that, everyone has a different way of running Knowledge checks.

I'll give experienced players a number of questions to ask, such as "Special Defenses", "Special Attacks", "Special Abilities", etc.

With newer players, who might not know what to ask, I may give them whatever I deem useful for that particular combat.

It's open-ended.

This is true too. Every GM is different, so decide what you like. I suggest that the whatever you decide, the player who invested skill ranks into his character's knowledge skills should feel like he's learning USEFUL things.

In other words, when he uses Knowledge to determine that he's looking at an orc, don't say "Well, you made the DC by 15 so you learn three things: it has 2 legs, it has 2 arms, and it's 6' tall. There you go!"

That would be a rip off. They should SEE that. The knowledge skill should tell them important facts about the creature, things they can use to defeat it (its weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as its defensive strengths so they can try other tactics that avoid those strengths), as well as its offensive capabilities so they can make sure to defend properly against what it can do.

I mention this because I've seen GMs deliberately hide important things they didn't want the player to know. One case was not mentioning a ghoul's paralysis. Had the players known, and they should have because they rolled high enough, they might have spent more spell resources killing the ghouls at range rather than closing into melee and nearly suffering a TPK when their front line guys went down to the paralysis.

So remember, this is KNOWLEDGE, it's what you KNOW, not what you can merely see, and you probably know the most memorable stuff the most (the stuff that everyone is afraid of, like Medusa's gaze). Make the players glad they invest in these skills.


2ndGenerationCleric wrote:
While somewhat helpful, this was already what I was able to find. I'm trying to find the rest of the information. What I was asking about was what is revealed? Special Attacks? Resistances? Immunities? What level of DC beating is required for those?

I edited my post to include a link (or three) to other threads discussing this. Hopefully you'll find that useful.


2ndGenerationCleric wrote:
Example-a Charda. They are immune to cold and poison. They have three different Special Abilities. They are small, monstrous aquatic Humanoids. CR7.

As I mentioned in this post, "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."

To do that with a Charda, I would do the following:

Start with 10+CR since this is a fairly uncommon monster but maybe not so rare as the Tarrasque so probably not worthy of a base 15 DC.

So the base DC is 17 and for that you learn its name. Nothing more.

So here's the feature list including the DC to figure it out:
17 Charda
22 Bile Attack (COLD breath weapon)
27 Overwhelming charge
32 Ferocity (hard to kill)
37 Immune to cold, poison (could be two separate ones but I'd lump them together)
42 Cold Vigor (I put this at the end since they're pretty much only seen in cold environments and therefore active, not everyone would know about this)

And that's about how I'd do it.

2ndGenerationCleric wrote:
So you encounter one, having never seen one before, so you, a fighter who took a rank in it for flavor, roll a Knowledge (local) and pull off a 17. The rogue, on her turn, rolls a 23. the bard gets a 28. What does the Fighter know, what does the Rogue know, and what does the Bard know?

The fighter says "Oh, I think I've head of these shelly four-armed bilious things. They're call Charda. Sorry guys, that's about all I can remember though." (yes, I said "shelly" instead of "chitinous" because he's a fighter...)

The rogue says "Yeah, I've heard of Charda too, watch out for their cold breath weapon!"

And the bard says "Oh yes, that, and their overwhelming charge, too!"

None of them knew enough about Charda, based on those rolls, to know about the ferocity, communities, or cold vigor. I bet they can guess the cold immunity since it has a cold breath weapon.

It took me several minutes to type that up, but it's really super easy. You're going to read the monster's stat block anyway so just think about what are the most obvious things that everyone probably knows or talks about and make a quick mental list. If you're not sure, then ask yourself, "What will THIS charda do in THIS battle against my PCs?" I mean, you have to figure that out anyway, just in order to run the encounter. Simply assume that those are the standard charda tactics and anyone who has fought them before saw the same tactics and came home and talked about them, and word spread. Now people know about charda tactics, especially the really cool ones, not so much the less obvious and less cool ones like resistances and cold vigor.

It only takes a few seconds once you're used to thinking about monsters like this.


My favorite identification moment was in a game of Changeling. Our combat guy went into combat with something big and nasty. I tried to ID it. Botch. GM: "It's a cockatrice." Me, yelling to combat guy: "It's a cockatrice!! Don't look directly at it!!" Another player tried to ID it, and also botched. He added, "It's a cockatrice!!! Don't look directly at it!!!" The combat guy's player kind of looked at us, shook his head, and said, "OK, I don't look directly at it. What kind of penalties do I take?"


pennywit wrote:
My favorite identification moment was in a game of Changeling. Our combat guy went into combat with something big and nasty. I tried to ID it. Botch. GM: "It's a cockatrice." Me, yelling to combat guy: "It's a cockatrice!! Don't look directly at it!!" Another player tried to ID it, and also botched. He added, "It's a cockatrice!!! Don't look directly at it!!!" The combat guy's player kind of looked at us, shook his head, and said, "OK, I don't look directly at it. What kind of penalties do I take?"

Heh.

I love this kind of role playing. May not be everyone's cup of tea, but I find this kind of thing hilarious.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
2ndGenerationCleric wrote:
Example-a Charda. They are immune to cold and poison. They have three different Special Abilities. They are small, monstrous aquatic Humanoids. CR7.

As I mentioned in this post, "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."

To do that with a Charda, I would do the following:

Start with 10+CR since this is a fairly uncommon monster but maybe not so rare as the Tarrasque so probably not worthy of a base 15 DC.

So the base DC is 17 and for that you learn its name. Nothing more.

So here's the feature list including the DC to figure it out:
17 Charda
22 Bile Attack (COLD breath weapon)
27 Overwhelming charge
32 Ferocity (hard to kill)
37 Immune to cold, poison (could be two separate ones but I'd lump them together)
42 Cold Vigor (I put this at the end since they're pretty much only seen in cold environments and therefore active, not everyone would know about this)

And that's about how I'd do it.

2ndGenerationCleric wrote:
So you encounter one, having never seen one before, so you, a fighter who took a rank in it for flavor, roll a Knowledge (local) and pull off a 17. The rogue, on her turn, rolls a 23. the bard gets a 28. What does the Fighter know, what does the Rogue know, and what does the Bard know?

The fighter says "Oh, I think I've head of these shelly four-armed bilious things. They're call Charda. Sorry guys, that's about all I can remember though." (yes, I said "shelly" instead of "chitinous" because he's a fighter...)

The rogue says "Yeah, I've heard of Charda too, watch out for their cold breath weapon!"

And the bard says "Oh yes, that, and their overwhelming charge, too!"

None of them knew enough about Charda, based on those rolls, to know about the ferocity, communities, or cold vigor. I bet they can guess...

Excellent, that's what I was looking for. My only question would be arent those numbers a little high? 42 sounds pretty high, especially given that you would need a +22 to figure that out with a natural 20.

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DM_Blake wrote:
So the base DC is 17 and for that you learn its name. Nothing more.
Core Rulebook, Skills chapter, Knowledge wrote:
A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

I'm afraid I'm not seeing what's useful about knowing just the name.


I think the trouble with this comes from the fact that some creatures have so few abilities compared to others, their very nature changes their stats. Animals are easy, even the rarest often only have 1-2 offensive tricks, and maybe 1 defensive aspect. A fey creature may have a dozen aspects to rank. The animal may be far less common (still not worthy of the 15), same CR, but you get less information for the same rolls.

I prefer to split my creatures into defensive, and offensive categories, rolling base gets you name+ most obvious aspects (fire beetle glows).
Each additional 5 gets you another 20% of abilities, I let players choose if this is all offensive, all defensive, or a mix of both.

It is still very tricky, especially given the ease of metagaming, fire elemental, the Barbarian is probably not going to use fire attacks, even with a 5 INT.

I would like to see a consistent, official metric though.


DM_Blake wrote:
So the base DC is 17 and for that you learn its name. Nothing more.

As Jiggy suggests, this is contradicted by the actual game rules. I'll quote in pertinent part:

Corerulebook wrote:
A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster. For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.

Hitting the DC means I get to learn something that's "useful" to my character in defeating the creature. The fact that the term "useful" is used is very very important because it means you don't tell a Barbarian who makes the ID check about Spell Resistance if there is no one in the party that can cast spells that are affected by SR.

DM_Blake wrote:

So here's the feature list including the DC to figure it out:

17 Charda
22 Bile Attack (COLD breath weapon)

Another important aspect of the rules using the term "useful" information, is that it implicitly precludes the use of a list of predetermined information. The game wants the GM to explicitly provide information that is helpful to the party. The rules clearly indicate that there should be an unequivocal benefit to making an ID check. GMs should not dismiss or circumvent this intention.

To the OP,

Knowledge checks are really messed up in this game and would seriously benefit from a revisit by the Paizo team. In lieu of that, as others have posted, you're going to get a wide gambit of results from a knowledge check depending on your GM. Some GMs will screw you on ID checks and some will make the skill very helpful. I'm in the latter category. "Identifying" the creature, in my book, means you actually know all the mundane stats within reason i.e. its hit dice, its AC, its stats, etc. While your character would not know the number, your character's knowledge is translated to numbers for the player. For example, if you ID a rhinocerous, your character would know how its armor compares to platemail or chainmail. In game, I might say its armor is as durable as chainmail. Or it moves twice as fast as a dwarf. Or just barely stronger than your barbarian under rage, etc.

After all, a successful ID should tell you whether a kobold is tougher or weaker than a dragon, shouldn't it? IMO, GMs should err on the side of over-rewarding classes/characters that invest in Knowledge skills. But I've noticed there is a mindset among many GMs that part of their as GMs fun is making PCs fight the unknown. K-checks disrupt that so they nerf the benefit.

As to your question about what the Bard vs Fighter vs Rogue know, I'll repeat what the rules suggest, something "useful" for their characters in defeating the creature. In some cases, like if you encounter a Kobold, their may be a lot of overlap. But as I said, prepare for a lot of table variation and lack of uniformity with regard to K skills if you swap GMs.


pennywit wrote:
My favorite identification moment was in a game of Changeling. Our combat guy went into combat with something big and nasty. I tried to ID it. Botch. GM: "It's a cockatrice." Me, yelling to combat guy: "It's a cockatrice!! Don't look directly at it!!" Another player tried to ID it, and also botched. He added, "It's a cockatrice!!! Don't look directly at it!!!" The combat guy's player kind of looked at us, shook his head, and said, "OK, I don't look directly at it. What kind of penalties do I take?"

It would be kind of cool if botched ID checks could lead to misidentifications. The rules don't really support that. If I miss the DC, the GM is not suppose to feed you disinformation. Kind of like how there aren't rules for using Sense Motive to confirm if someone is telling the truth, only to know if they are lying.


Guardianlord wrote:
I would like to see a consistent, official metric though.

For a long time, I agreed with this. I thought that there should be a list of things that are provided so the results are consistent from GM to GM. But in actually thinking about the term "useful," I recognize that if the information were standardized, it would be hard to be certain the information was "useful" in the context it was given. As long as GMs make certain that they provide information that is useful in the given context, then we might be better off leaving it alone.

The only thing I do think should be official is that a successful ID provides knowledge of the mundane stats.


N N 959 wrote:
pennywit wrote:
My favorite identification moment was in a game of Changeling. Our combat guy went into combat with something big and nasty. I tried to ID it. Botch. GM: "It's a cockatrice." Me, yelling to combat guy: "It's a cockatrice!! Don't look directly at it!!" Another player tried to ID it, and also botched. He added, "It's a cockatrice!!! Don't look directly at it!!!" The combat guy's player kind of looked at us, shook his head, and said, "OK, I don't look directly at it. What kind of penalties do I take?"
It would be kind of cool if botched ID checks could lead to misidentifications. The rules don't really support that. If I miss the DC, the GM is not suppose to feed you disinformation. Kind of like how there aren't rules for using Sense Motive to confirm if someone is telling the truth, only to know if they are lying.

The GM can do whatever he wants. If the players think it's fun, that's all that matters.


Saldiven wrote:
The GM can do whatever he wants. If the players think it's fun, that's all that matters.

Not in PFS and that's where I'm coming from with the majority of my perspective. And FYI, outside of PFS, this is a given and doesn't need to be said.

And while where on the subject, players thinking its "fun" is not all that matters. There's a reason why on-line video games don't routinely offer a God mode. Because while it might be fun in the short term, in the long term it results in the players losing interest more quickly. Every game designer would dial down the fun factor if they could increase the long term commitment. Getting players invested is for more important than simply making sure it's "fun."


2ndGenerationCleric wrote:
My only question would be arent those numbers a little high? 42 sounds pretty high, especially given that you would need a +22 to figure that out with a natural 20.

Yep, that's pretty high, but I didn't make the system. The rule says one bit of info per 5 points on the roll. You could give them the crappy stuff first (like the Cold Vigor) or you could give them the best stuff first (the breath weapon), or order it any way you want. I prefer the latter since that front-loads the most useful stuff in the range that they can make the rolls.

It's not a crime, nor is the system failing, if some of the least obvious features of the monster cannot be known by simply remembering hearing some guy talk about it in a bar, or reading about it in a book. So if a 42 is too high, oh well, maybe none of the PCs currently present actually ever heard about Cold Vigor. But if they go to town and ask some high level brilliant sage with a good library (circumstance bonus to the roll), he might be able to nail the 42 on a simple Take-10.


Jiggy wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
So the base DC is 17 and for that you learn its name. Nothing more.
Core Rulebook, Skills chapter, Knowledge wrote:
A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.
I'm afraid I'm not seeing what's useful about knowing just the name.

Maybe, but often the name IS useful.

Making a check to know that a creature is, for example, a Barbed Devil tells you all kinds of things about it, assuming you know anything about devils in general. That's just one example.

The rule actually says:

SRD, Skills, Knowledge wrote:

Monster Lore

You can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities.

Seems to me that "identify monsters" is the first thing on the list, special powers or vulnerabilities comes next.

Sure, as I said before, it's up to each GM. If the player rolls a 17 and you say "It's a charda and it has a cold breath weapon" you can certainly do that. And it would be more useful than just saying "It's a charda."

The rules seem to work either way, though that's more obvious with monsters that have descriptive names (e.g. winter wolf) than with monsters that have nondescript names (like the charda).


Here's how I've ended up handling knowledge checks:

If you can attempt the check (have ranks), you automatically get the creature's name, type, and subtypes, including any information associated with type or subtype. At 10+CR and every 5 above that, you get some useless fluff from the bestiary entry - great for flavor.

At every 5 above, you also get one yes/no question (max 3 questions). It can be any yes/no question about the creature. "AC over 25?" "No". "SR?" "Yes". "has Combat Reflexes?" "No".

Alignment gets handled slightly different. If you ask about alignment, you get an answer for the generic creature. Ask "is it evil?" about a NG goblin, and the answer is "yes, goblins tend to be evil".

I've found it keeps the monster knowledge aspect very relevant without giving the PCs too much info. It also means I don't have to get into the business of picking what info to reveal based on the party composition. Reveal too little that's relevant and the PCs deem monster knowledge to be a wasted effort. Reveal too much and the monsters become push overs.

I've been using it for years and it works pretty good.

Sovereign Court

I agree with Jiggy that just giving the name isn't really useful enough.

Most of the time I think it's fine telling players "you can ask X questions".

As a player, good questions are of course DR (if you care about melee), elemental resistances (if you're an alchemist), SR/strong saves (if you want to cast spells) and so forth.

But another type of question that can be very useful is "what is this creature's most powerful/notorious property", or "what is The Special Thing about this monster", or "what is the best way to kill it"?


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I had never thought to let the players ask questions. An excellent idea, thank you.


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pennywit wrote:
My favorite identification moment was in a game of Changeling. Our combat guy went into combat with something big and nasty. I tried to ID it. Botch. GM: "It's a cockatrice." Me, yelling to combat guy: "It's a cockatrice!! Don't look directly at it!!" Another player tried to ID it, and also botched. He added, "It's a cockatrice!!! Don't look directly at it!!!" The combat guy's player kind of looked at us, shook his head, and said, "OK, I don't look directly at it. What kind of penalties do I take?"

I have a similar story:

The Barbarian with no knowledge skills wonders off during a dungeon (for reasons) and runs into a Chimera. Manages to escape and get back to the party and as a pure roleplaying gaff claims he has seem a Hydra in the dungeon (it had multiple heads after all, and he had low int and wis). Party then prepares for the Hydra, enters the room and slays the Chimera reasonably quickly. Party wizard with uber knowledge checks (played by myself), looks at the creature and begins speaking "Silly barbarian that's not a Hydra its a.." Rolls dice, natural 1 "...Hydra". Party Rogue looks at the corpse "Are you on crack wizard that is clearly..." rolls a natural 1 "...a Hydra". GM shakes his head, NPC lord which is present "Are you all mad that is most certainly..." (players demand the GM roll) natural 1 "...a hydra!". Party travels back to town and triumphantly tells the story of how they slew a Hydra! LMAO

Edit: It is worth noting for any new players, that we had a house rule that a natural 1 on any d20 roll was a critical failure for comedic effect. Technically in PF a 1 is no different than any other number when it comes to skill checks.


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To contribute to the discussion:

one method i have seen is a breakdown into 4 levels of success.

level 1 - roll is equal to DC
You know the general gist of the monster, which is achieved by reading the monster description to the players (editing if necessary, if say the descriptions mentions the monster's SLA by name for example)

level 2 - roll = DC+5
You get level 1 plus, you get an overview of the monster's typical offensive and defense, any special resistances/weaknesses etc. but not their actual values

level 3 - roll = DC+10
You get level 2 plus, you get the full overview of all the monsters stats and special abilities

level 4 - roll = DC+15
You may have the bestiary open to the monster's page and read it's stats during combat


DM_Blake wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
So the base DC is 17 and for that you learn its name. Nothing more.
Core Rulebook, Skills chapter, Knowledge wrote:
A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.
I'm afraid I'm not seeing what's useful about knowing just the name.

Maybe, but often the name IS useful.

Making a check to know that a creature is, for example, a Barbed Devil tells you all kinds of things about it, assuming you know anything about devils in general. That's just one example.

That's metagaming, I think, and not always all that useful. Sure, it works if it has its creature type in its name, so in your example a Bearded Devil is obviously a Devil with Devil traits, or a Water Elemental is obviously an Elemental, but if you encounter a Peryton, for instance, the name itself won't reveal anything to the players. Merely mentioning its name won't give players a clue about how to defeat it.

Also, as said, it leads to metagaming. Say your players encounter a Lemure (CR1) and identify it as a devil. Next they encounter a Bearded Devil and you mention it's a devil as well, they'd automatically have to assume it's got the same DR and immunities, but some creatures vary wildly in abilities between species. For instance, the Bearded Devil has SR, the Lemure doesn't. Now the players will have to think if SR is a standard feature of Devils as soon as you mention the subtype they belong to.

In short, I think merely saying its name isn't a useful piece of information, unless you allow knowledge to "carry over" within the same subtype.


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GreyFox776 wrote:

To contribute to the discussion:

one method i have seen is a breakdown into 4 levels of success.

level 1 - roll is equal to DC
You know the general gist of the monster, which is achieved by reading the monster description to the players (editing if necessary, if say the descriptions mentions the monster's SLA by name for example)

level 2 - roll = DC+5
You get level 1 plus, you get an overview of the monster's typical offensive and defense, any special resistances/weaknesses etc. but not their actual values

level 3 - roll = DC+10
You get level 2 plus, you get the full overview of all the monsters stats and special abilities

level 4 - roll = DC+15
You may have the bestiary open to the monster's page and read it's stats during combat

This is the kind of thing I prefer.

I don't know about Open Book combat, considering how often I might run something different from the bestiary, or made up from whole cloth. But the rest is good.

I dislike the "know one little special thing" about RAW, there should be people who know everything about creatures. Especially if they have an in-world bestiary.

I'd probably break it down like this (all info is cumulative):

Meet DC: Know the name, creature type, and role (combat, skill, spell, or special/no role).
Creature type is a big one, as it plays on many abilities (favored enemy, smite evil, know if it's immune to cold, etc), and gives you baseline info on what to expect.
Role helps in knowing sort of what to expect (gonna go in for combat, or possibly cast magic, etc)

DC +5: Know it's common attack routine, including a special ability that it should be known for. Know it's typical language and environment, typical alignment.
Let's not forget the non-combat info as well. Also, if this thing is "out of it's normal environment", that could tell you something might be up, which may or may not help with warning how combat might proceed.

DC +10: Know additional special abilities (attacks and defenses, movement speed is fast or slow, etc), immunities (over and above creature type) or any deviation from creature type. Know it's perception ability, and any particular skills it's good at. Know it's full language set (typical to the creature), and it's organization.
Knowing it's organization let's you know if you should expect more coming around the corner. Knowing it's languages lets you know if you can affect it by language dependent abilities, or if it can understand your group's secret combat language.

DC +15: Know which stats it will have a particularly high score in (ability scores, attack, AC, saves, skills: incl. perception, etc). Know if there's anything particularly unique about this individual compared to the normal species (if it's larger, templated, acting differently from typical behaviours, etc).

.

Some creatures that are reknown in myth should likely have a "Fame/Infamy" score that lowers their DC for a specific set of info:

Reknown DC: Know the creature's name, and something specific about the creature that would be known in stories and myths.
For example: That snake haired female is a medusa, avert your eyes, because she can turn you to stone.
Now they might not know specifics (gaze attack), they may think "She's cursed by the gods to be so ugly a man can turn to stone from shock." Stuff like that. It may not be exactly right, but it protects you just the same.

Fame/Infamy scores could be campaign dependent at that point. And could rely on a person being from the area that has the myths (yay, Knowledge History or Common!).


For all the "I know every detail of this open-book monster because I rolled +15 over the DC" group, do you all realize how easily people can roll this? It's essentially just CR + 25 to know everything.

A wizard with INT 20 and a rank in the right knowledge skill will be +9 to identify creatures. He only needs to roll a 16. Throw in Breadth of Experience (feat) and Noble Scion (trait) and now he just needs to roll a 13 or higher. Meaning without those add-ons, he knows everything about 25% of all the monsters he sees. With them, that bumps up to 40%.

That's at level 1. Chances are, if he cares about knowledge at all, and certainly if he's an INT-based class, his percentage will only get better over time.

If that character is an investigator, he'll be adding about 15-20% to his chances on those rolls, putting him up to knowing every detail about approximately 55-60% of all monsters in the game - and he'll only get better with higher levels.

That's not so very hard to achieve.

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DM_Blake wrote:
The rule actually says:

The rule "actually says" the thing I quoted too. I didn't make that up or summarize it or interpret it. It was a direct quotation. Making the DC means you get a piece of "useful information". If you haven't given something useful, you haven't followed the rules.

Sczarni

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

This is what I bring to my PFS games.


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I don't know if it's official PFS policy, but the 'what would you like to know' thing happens at the PFS games I play too. It seems a reasonable shorthand way of asking, 'What traits of this creature would your character have paid the most attention to when studying or listening to others talk about it, and thus be most likely to recall?'

I think if a player makes the base DC, they should learn its name and what type of creature it is. I.e. "It's a ghoul, a type of undead." If the player looks new to Pathfinder, the GM may want to ask, "Are you familiar with what undead are like in pathfinder?" and if the answer is no, then briefly let them know what's commonly known about undead, like being immune to mind-affecting spells.


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Nefreet wrote:
This is what I bring to my PFS games.

Always go Wendigo lore, that way you wont end up like those schmuks in Until Dawn.


DM_Blake wrote:
Throw in Breadth of Experience (feat) and Noble Scion (trait) and now he just needs to roll a 13 or higher.

When I see a Wizard with either one of those feats, it'll be the firs time. What you're overlooking is all the stuff the wizard has to give up to get those bonus. And even with those bonuses, there's no guarantee you'll meet a creature for which that's beneficial. So, I, as a GM, am not going to nerf K. checks for someone that invests in them. Why shouldn't the wizard who can tell you how to defeat said creature be just as important as the sorcerer who can cast hightened empowred maximized firebal on occasion?

DM_Blake wrote:
If that character is an investigator, he'll be adding about 15-20% to his chances on those rolls, putting him up to knowing every detail about approximately 55-60% of all monsters in the game - and he'll only get better with higher levels. Not too hard to achieve?

The Knowledge master must be actively nerfed, but the trip master or grapple master is fine? Investigators don't just get max skills in every K skill. Investing in those skills comes at a cost. One of the very reasons to play the class is to be able to dole out that info. Why not reward people who want to do something other than carry a big sword or spam save or suck spells?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
2ndGenerationCleric wrote:
Example-a Charda. They are immune to cold and poison. They have three different Special Abilities. They are small, monstrous aquatic Humanoids. CR7.

As I mentioned in this post, "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."

To do that with a Charda, I would do the following:

Start with 10+CR since this is a fairly uncommon monster but maybe not so rare as the Tarrasque so probably not worthy of a base 15 DC.

So the base DC is 17 and for that you learn its name. Nothing more.

So here's the feature list including the DC to figure it out:
17 Charda
22 Bile Attack (COLD breath weapon)
27 Overwhelming charge
32 Ferocity (hard to kill)
37 Immune to cold, poison (could be two separate ones but I'd lump them together)
42 Cold Vigor (I put this at the end since they're pretty much only seen in cold environments and therefore active, not everyone would know about this)

And that's about how I'd do it.

I would amend your list a bit:

Basic success - maybe the name (the creature name isn't necessarily a relevant information, some have alternate names) but always type and possibly subtype
So
17 "I remember hearing of those 4 armed subterranean creatures, they are some king of monstrous humanoid that live in or near water (aquatic)"
That way you get a set of general informations, like: it is an undead, so it (almost certainly) share the undead immunities, it is a monstrous humanoid so spell that affect animals don't work on it and so on.

Edit:
Kaisoku idea of giving the creature role is a good one.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
So the base DC is 17 and for that you learn its name. Nothing more.
Core Rulebook, Skills chapter, Knowledge wrote:
A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.
I'm afraid I'm not seeing what's useful about knowing just the name.

To a experienced player? Often too much ;-)

That why I think that giving the type and subtype is better.

Let's imagine you see a moving skeleton:
- failed Knowledge check (you don't say to the player what kind of check it is): "It is some kind of animated skeleton, you don't know what it is, you don't see telltale signs."
The player look his Knowledge (Religion) and guess that it is a fairly strong kind of undead.
- successful Knowledge (arcana): "it is a construct". That already give tons of informations.

My approach with a inquisitor player was to print the list of the types and subtypes and handing it to her. So when she recognize something as a Devil she know the basic abilities.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Mike J wrote:

Here's how I've ended up handling knowledge checks:

If you can attempt the check (have ranks), you automatically get the creature's name, type, and subtypes, including any information associated with type or subtype. At 10+CR and every 5 above that, you get some useless fluff from the bestiary entry - great for flavor.

Giving the type and subtype because you can attempt the check is too good.

Liberty's Edge

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

For all the "I know every detail of this open-book monster because I rolled +15 over the DC" group, do you all realize how easily people can roll this? It's essentially just CR + 25 to know everything.

A wizard with INT 20 and a rank in the right knowledge skill will be +9 to identify creatures. He only needs to roll a 16. Throw in Breadth of Experience (feat) and Noble Scion (trait) and now he just needs to roll a 13 or higher. Meaning without those add-ons, he knows everything about 25% of all the monsters he sees. With them, that bumps up to 40%.

That's at level 1. Chances are, if he cares about knowledge at all, and certainly if he's an INT-based class, his percentage will only get better over time.

If that character is an investigator, he'll be adding about 15-20% to his chances on those rolls, putting him up to knowing every detail about approximately 55-60% of all monsters in the game - and he'll only get better with higher levels.

That's not so very hard to achieve.

I had a druid that used Knowledge (nature) to find all the forms in which he could wildshape. With the listed DCs he was able to wildshape in animals from other worlds, unknown to everyone, by level 10. A bit immersion breaking to see it change to a Saguaroi when they were playing Kingmaker, so in an area that is roughly equivalent to Ukraine as climate.


N N 959 wrote:
pennywit wrote:
My favorite identification moment was in a game of Changeling. Our combat guy went into combat with something big and nasty. I tried to ID it. Botch. GM: "It's a cockatrice." Me, yelling to combat guy: "It's a cockatrice!! Don't look directly at it!!" Another player tried to ID it, and also botched. He added, "It's a cockatrice!!! Don't look directly at it!!!" The combat guy's player kind of looked at us, shook his head, and said, "OK, I don't look directly at it. What kind of penalties do I take?"
It would be kind of cool if botched ID checks could lead to misidentifications. The rules don't really support that. If I miss the DC, the GM is not suppose to feed you disinformation. Kind of like how there aren't rules for using Sense Motive to confirm if someone is telling the truth, only to know if they are lying.

Emphasis mine.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Mike J wrote:

Here's how I've ended up handling knowledge checks:

If you can attempt the check (have ranks), you automatically get the creature's name, type, and subtypes, including any information associated with type or subtype. At 10+CR and every 5 above that, you get some useless fluff from the bestiary entry - great for flavor.

Giving the type and subtype because you can attempt the check is too good.

Definitely. But at least type should be given for basic success. Most times subtype should be given as well. After all, it is pointless to identify something as an elf if you do not also get the subtype of elf.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
thorin001 wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
Mike J wrote:

Here's how I've ended up handling knowledge checks:

If you can attempt the check (have ranks), you automatically get the creature's name, type, and subtypes, including any information associated with type or subtype. At 10+CR and every 5 above that, you get some useless fluff from the bestiary entry - great for flavor.

Giving the type and subtype because you can attempt the check is too good.
Definitely. But at least type should be given for basic success. Most times subtype should be given as well. After all, it is pointless to identify something as an elf if you do not also get the subtype of elf.

For basic success? Sure. That is my position.

I disagree with "I have 1 rank in the appropriate skill so I know its type, regardless of the DC of the roll".


DM_Blake wrote:

For all the "I know every detail of this open-book monster because I rolled +15 over the DC" group, do you all realize how easily people can roll this? It's essentially just CR + 25 to know everything.

...

That's not so very hard to achieve.

First off, for someone invested in knowing things, I don't see the problem with that. Kind of the point.

Second, here's how I see the breakdown:

1. There's actually a range in difficulty on rarity (CR + 5 for common, + 10 for normal, and +15 for rare). So if we want to get into "full knowledge", we'd need CR + 20 to 30 depending on the rarity of the creature.

2. A character that's focused on Intelligence, ranks in 6 different knowledge skills, a feat and a trait, deserves something for such dedication.

3. +12 at 1st level (+5 from Int, +1 rank, +3 class skill, +2 feat, +1 trait) gives you a 60% chance of knowing everything of common CR1 creatures, 35% of a normal CR1 creature, and 10% of a rare CR1 creature.
DM or campaign setting would determine monster rarity.

4. Ranks per level simply keep you up with the CRs you'll be facing, you will only get better at identifying *lower* CR creatures, you have those same percentages for same-CR creatures throughout your career.

Even a super high Int character (30s) bumps these percentages by ~25% by end game.
Classes like the Inquisitor or the Bard gain significant bonuses that basically shore up needing to spend feat/trait/Int bonus on all this to be good at it.

Perhaps we are agreeing on all this, and my only real retort is "I don't have a problem with that".


GreyFox776 wrote:


Edit: It is worth noting for any new players, that we had a house rule that a natural 1 on any d20 roll was a critical failure for comedic effect. Technically in PF a 1 is no different than any other number when it comes to skill checks.

We use this rule at my table.

Wizard: "What kind of ring is this?" (Spellcraft Natural 1)
GM: "It is a ring of three wishes."


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I'm not sure what's the 'best before' date for threads, so sorry if this one was already considered dead.

I like the exapmle of the rhinoceros.
Your party steps out of the forest on the wide plains and they find themself face to face with the animal. They all have eyes, are not blind and grew up in this world. Even if they never saw or heard anything of this animal, they immediately know:

- It is large
- It has really thick skin (propably high AC)
- It has a big horn (gore attack at least 1d8)
With some experience with large animals, they could assume a charge attack like trample (which would be wrong, but close to the powerful charge)

If they actually make a check DC 9 to 14 depending on the origin of the adventurers (9 if they live in the forest next to the plains, 14 if they are from Irrisen) Then they know it's a rhinoceros, and that theese heavy creatures are surprisingly fast and will charge on the slightest provocation.

And for that animal, that's all to know.

For something like a dragon there would be more things to know, but to decide what you tell should be based, in my opinion at least, on what someone who actually faced that and lived to tell would say.

Even if my Barbarian botches his check, if he lives to tell, he knows that Huge, black scaly thing,
- can talk
- Makes you crap your pants (frightful presence)
- Makes a huge unnatural shadow (darkness at will)
- Is faster than man on land, and doesn't slow down in water
- Coughs up a really long line of acid
- and if you come into reach, it rips you apart with all it's appendages. (bite, claws, wings, tail)

If this Barbarian gets in a swing or two he will notice that
- This scaly skin is almost unbreakable (really high AC)
- And even if it breaks, the damage is less than expected (DR 5)
- But that weakling pally with his flimsy longsword and his divine bond making the sword +1 doesn't have this problem (DR5/magic)
- The sorcerer becomes desperate, because all his spells fizzle (SR)
- The alchemist gave up throwing acid bombs (immune acid)
- And after all that painful learning the beast just clumsily flies away

And I make a point of telling my players, what they experience first hand so they can make their conclusions. The knowledge roll determines only what they know beforehand.

As a GM I would hand out the Info ordered by the order you experience them when confronted. It's easier to find someone to tell you about the frightful presence, the darkness and the acid breath, than to find someone, who actually made it through all of this to hit the dragon and later tell you. If you make the check, I would tell you all that a person fleeing on sight would have seen or experienced. Think of a surviving citizen of the sea town after Smaug burnt it down.

For +5 you'd get one info of that which would need an actual encounter, and then based on what you need to know.
It has some DR to fighters,
It has quite good SR to casters,
Acid has no effect on it, and so on.

For +10 I'd hand out another bit or more specifics like
Magic weapons overcome the DR
(For an Imp in Corvosa you'd get the DR/silver at +5 and the base DC would be 5 because there are a lot of them)

For +15 or +20 the wizard or bard eager to know, can have the dragons spell list if they want, but I would ask what they are interested in.

And all of that is for the first encounter. Next time a black scaly thing comes out of the swamp, my Barbarian will know all the abilities, the dragon used. And no matter what his skill ranks are (0) and no matter that he would not even be allowed the check because it is above 10, he now knows all that from experience and might know more about that beast, than his new wizard companion who knows only from books and has to roll for it.


Foxy Quickpaw wrote:
For +5 you'd get one info of that which would need an actual encounter, and then based on what you need to know.

Technically the rules are written to suggest that you get "one info" when you make the DC. +5 should give you a second bit of info.

PRD on Knowledge Skill wrote:
You can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster's CR.***For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.

The skill description clearly states the skill allows us to "identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities." Note that powers and vulnerabilities are plural, not singular. Then it tells us if we get +5 on the check, we get "another" piece of useful information. So that sheds some ambiguity on whether hitting the DC gives you something singular or whether powers and vulnerabilities are treated as a singular unit. Either way, the text clearly states you learn something "useful" if you hit the DC on the nose.

In my opinion, the fantasy trope supports the idea that many victories are won as a result of a character having special knowledge about the creatures that allows them to win, especially when the monsters are particularly powerful. A perfect example is in the Hobbit when Bilbo tricks the trolls into staying up all night until the sun rises and turns them to stone. Refusing to give out information or providing trivial information generally results in more slugfests. That gets old after awhile.


N N 959 wrote:
The skill description clearly states the skill allows us to "identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities." Note that powers and vulnerabilities are plural, not singular. Then it tells us if we get +5 on the check, we get "another" piece of useful information. So that sheds some ambiguity on whether hitting the DC gives you something singular or whether powers and vulnerabilities are treated as a singular unit. Either way, the text clearly states you learn something "useful" if you hit the DC on the nose.

You're not reading it thoroughly enough. Here's the text:

SRD, Skills, Knowledge wrote:
You can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s CR. For common monsters, such as goblins, the DC of this check equals 5 + the monster’s CR. For particularly rare monsters, such as the tarrasque, the DC of this check equals 15 + the monster’s CR or more. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster. For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.

Let's break that down.

First, we get a sentence that describes the general use of the skill regarding monsters:

SRD, Skills, Knowledge wrote:
You can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities.

Then we get the details, starting with what you need to roll:

SRD, Skills, Knowledge wrote:
In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s CR. For common monsters, such as goblins, the DC of this check equals 5 + the monster’s CR. For particularly rare monsters, such as the tarrasque, the DC of this check equals 15 + the monster’s CR or more.

Next, we get the details of what happens on a successful roll. Notice that this part is singular "a bit of useful information":

SRD, Skills, Knowledge wrote:
A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

Finally, we get further details telling us that if we roll exceptionally well we get additional information:

SRD, Skills, Knowledge wrote:
For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.

Note the part above that I italicized and boldfaced: on a successful check you learn a bit of useful information. Learning all its special powers and vulnerabilities is not likely to qualify for any definition of "a bit".

The part that says "You can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities." is just the general description of this use of the skill. It's even separated into two clauses conjoined with an "and"/ What follows are the rules to tell you how to achieve the first part (identify monsters on a successful check) AND how to achieve the second part (their special powers or vulnerabilities by exceeding the roll by +5 or more to learn "a bit of useful information").

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Let's think what the players want normally (or at least those in the groups with which I play):

Inquisitor. what is his type and/or subtype so that I can use bane on it (and that is generally the first information the other masters and I give out, eve if getting it give you a lot of useful information)

Spellcasters: what is its weak save? (giving the type generally gove out that information too)

It is immune to some kind of attack?

It has some special attack?

after all the above:

It has some special form of movement?
It has SLA or SU abilities?
Whhat can overcome its DR and/or regeneration?

Generally no one would like to "waste" information in things like:
- it has a high AC?
- it can fly? It is faster than us? ("We have already noticed that it flies and is faster than us, thanks")
- it has a strong bite/claw attack/whatever?

So generally I give out the type (and often subtype) as the first result, than what I think are the most memorable abilities of the creature.


I ask myself, "Where did this knowledge come from?"

It's not about looking at the monster and figuring it out - that would be more like Perception.

No, it's knowledge. It means you already KNOW something about this creature. Maybe a lot about this creature.

So where did that knowledge come from?

Answer: books, legends, barroom tales, rumors, history, study, academia, whatever. You learned it because other people encountered these creatures and survived and then lived to tell the tale and record this information in books and songs and legends - and then you learned your knowledge from that.

So then I ask myself, "What did these survivors say about this monster? What was the scariest, most obvious, most important stuff they talked about?"

That's what you read and or heard in those books and tales and songs.


I present the information similarly to what DM_Blake seems to be saying, if I interpret him correctly.

I feel it pierces the veil too much and destroys verisimilitude for me to say "This is an XXX. It has DR 10/silver, Regeneration 5/acid, and its worst save is Reflex." To me, this is too much like just playing a combat simulator or MMO.

Instead, I would say something like, "This is an XXX. You have heard that these creatures have a tough hide that can seemingly only be pierced by silver weapons. They regrow their limbs, and heal even from the brink of death at alarming speed unless their wounds are sealed with acid. Lastly, while quite tough and intractable, they are not known to be nimble." (I will be more clear if requested, but I am NOT giving out numbers until it is no longer relevant to keep them private.)


DM_Blake wrote:

You're not reading it thoroughly enough. Here's the text:

I am reading it thoroughly enough, but you are obviously not reading my post as such:

NN959 wrote:
So that sheds some ambiguity on whether hitting the DC gives you something singular or whether powers and vulnerabilities are treated as a singular unit. Either way, the text clearly states you learn something "useful" if you hit the DC on the nose.
DM_Blakde wrote:
Learning all its special powers and vulnerabilities is not likely to qualify for any definition of "a bit".

Nowhere do I suggest or say you learn "all its special powers and vulnerabilities" by just hitting the DC.

Nothing you've posted contradicts what I'm saying here. Terms like a "a bit" and "another" are not precise. If you have a handful of blueberries and you give someone "a bit" of them, that can easily be construed to mean more than one. If a creature has a handful of abilities and powers, "a bit" of them can mean more than just naming one single ability, but it clearly does not mean naming all of them. The definition of a "bit' is a small portion or degree. It does not mean a singular unit. This is isn't data programming.


Saldiven wrote:

I feel it pierces the veil too much and destroys verisimilitude for me to say "This is an XXX. It has DR 10/silver, Regeneration 5/acid, and its worst save is Reflex." To me, this is too much like just playing a combat simulator or MMO.

Instead, I would say something like, "This is an XXX. You have heard that these creatures have a tough hide that can seemingly only be pierced by silver weapons. They regrow their limbs, and heal even from the brink of death at alarming speed unless their wounds are sealed with acid. Lastly, while quite tough and intractable, they are not known to be nimble." (I will be more clear if requested, but I am NOT giving out numbers until it is no longer relevant to keep them private.)

I think a lot of people feel this way, but I'll point out something. You're giving information to the players, not the characters. The point being that while the characters don't use terms like DR 10/- or an AC 21, those are terms we use as players to understand what is happening in the game. IMO, telling someone the creature has an AC of 25 is no different than asking the player to roll a die to see if they hit. You're drawing some arbitrary distinction as to when you're breaking verisimilitude. Players can know their AC value, but not that of creatures they fight?

Think of it like this: How you convey the information OOC is not how the characters know it IC, but it represents the same actionable information. Your PC doesn't know she has an AC of 21 when she adds a shield, but that is how it has to be translated for the player.

All that having been said, I get the idea of trying to create more immersion by using fewer meta terms. When describing misses by players, I try to give information that makes it clear whether armor, dexterity or magic is at work protecting a creature. I also think it's great to describe things in comparative terms. I've often told players that the creature's hide feels like plate mail when their sword bounces off. The idea is that the players still need to get actionable information rather than qualitative descriptions that provide no real information from which to make decisions e.g. the man has a strong handshake. What does that mean? Is strong a 12 STR or a 20 STR?

But sometimes there is no comparative way to share the information so I just share it. It's a game.

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