Why Bardic Knowledge doesn't let you bypass the DC10 Untrained


Rules Questions

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If someone thinks that it's more likely that the author didn't understand the rules rather than the text actually serving a purpose, they need to reexamine their position....


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Please put me in the "all Knowledge checks" actually means what it says. Since a DC 26 Knowledge (engineering) check is a Knowledge check, a bard can attempt it untrained, even if a wizard couldn't.

This specifically; because that one esoteric bit of knowledge about Engineering, the Bard may have simply gleened from quickly perusing a manual or blueprint for a catapult once. He is by no means an expert on catapults or Engineering, but he really remembers that one picture really, really well.

This is the concept that Bardic Knowledge emulates. It's random facts, knowledge and trivia, gathered from a lifetime of travels. Bards would kick ass at Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit, but they don't have to have actually STUDIED those particular subjects they're answering. (Honestly, don't we all have that one friend or family member like this?)


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Just as a little note to all the amateur rules-lawyers in this thread: there are actually a set of formal principles that are pretty much common to all Common Law jurisdictions about how to interpret laws.

One of those rules --- which applies from Australia to (New) Zealand, including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, among others.... --- is the so-called "presumption against surplusage" which states that if a particular interpretation would render something in the law redundant, useless, or ineffectual, the other interpretation is binding. (If you want the Latin, it's verba cum effectu sunt accipienda, "words are to be taken as having an effect.")

This particular dispute is a classic example of the situation the rule was designed to address. One interpretation grants bards only an ability that they already have (along with every other character class including commoner). This ability is therefore redundant.

This observation alone is sufficient to say "well, that interpretation is wrong. Not merely wrong, but obviously so."


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Some people like to argue for the sake of arguing. Some of the comments in the thread are proof of that.


You're an Int 7 fighter without any knowledge training, but sure, go ahead and wrack your brains trying to remember an obscure piece of arcane lore that you could never have conceivably learned


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Renata Maclean wrote:
You're an Int 7 fighter without any knowledge training, but sure, go ahead and wrack your brains trying to remember an obscure piece of arcane lore that you could never have conceivably learned

And this is relevant to Bards and Bardic Knowledge how?


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Byakko wrote:


In the central bureaucracy, that is the best kind of correct.

In real life fantasy when you are presented with two legitimate readings one of which does something that the flavor text says it does and one of which does absolutely nothing, pick the first one.

Oh, I agree. Guess you didn't read the last sentence of my previous post.

I did, but the futurama reference called to me and...

Quote:

Still, it is a misworded rule, so there's nothing wrong with Letric pointing it out.

Its not mis worded. It actually does say you can make the check. It also does say you can't, depending on how you look at it. The idea that words can only mean one thing is how you get bizzaro arguments like this in the first place.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:

Just as a little note to all the amateur rules-lawyers in this thread: there are actually a set of formal principles that are pretty much common to all Common Law jurisdictions about how to interpret laws.

One of those rules --- which applies from Australia to (New) Zealand, including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, among others.... --- is the so-called "presumption against surplusage" which states that if a particular interpretation would render something in the law redundant, useless, or ineffectual, the other interpretation is binding. (If you want the Latin, it's verba cum effectu sunt accipienda, "words are to be taken as having an effect.")

This particular dispute is a classic example of the situation the rule was designed to address. One interpretation grants bards only an ability that they already have (along with every other character class including commoner). This ability is therefore redundant.

This observation alone is sufficient to say "well, that interpretation is wrong. Not merely wrong, but obviously so."

Came into this late, but would say pretty much the same thing. Saying Bardic Knowledge lets you make a Knowledge check in any Knowledge Skill, even untrained, but you're still limited to the DC10 untrained cap makes absolutely no contextual sense.

Everybody can already do exactly that, anyway. I fail to see how you can make a credible argument for that interpretation.

Besides, Specific Trumps General. The Bard rule is unquestionably more specific than the general "No untrained >DC10 Knowledge Checks" rule. So frankly, I don't care if you can't make an untrained >10 Knowledge Check normally; Bards have a rule saying they can, even though it still counts as untrained.

So to continue the trend, lex specialis derogat legi generali (i.e., where two laws govern the same factual situation, a law governing a specific subject matter overrides a law which only governs general matters). How this is still being debated is beyond me. Honestly, how this was debated beyond like 10 posts is beyond me.


Prince Yyrkoon wrote:
Renata Maclean wrote:
You're an Int 7 fighter without any knowledge training, but sure, go ahead and wrack your brains trying to remember an obscure piece of arcane lore that you could never have conceivably learned
And this is relevant to Bards and Bardic Knowledge how?

It's relevant to what graystone and Byakko were saying. Probably should have quoted one of them


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How has this conversation even gone on this long?

Bardic Knowledge wrote:
A bard adds half his class level (minimum 1) to all Knowledge skill checks and may make all Knowledge skill checks untrained.

End of conversation. Crystal clear. Not ambiguous in the slightest.

Cevah I'm disappointed in you. I thought you were better than this kind of ridiculous rule twisting.


Wow.. Its greater fient the second comming. Though that debate all meant all but not all. Only all melee all.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Huzzah for context clues!


Byakko wrote:
Quote:
When your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10.
While combat is the typical example, there are certainly other situations which may warrant being labeled as dangerous or distracting.

While technically true, the vast majority of situations where you'd 1) try to make a know check NOW and 2) where in a immediate dangerous or distracting situation are going to be combat. While you COULD come up with a situation where it isn't combat, it's unlikely they'd have to know check during said situation.

Byakko wrote:
As to why rolls are even needed for excessively easy things and why some tasks require training... that's more of a design question. Might be an interesting discussion to have, but ultimately these are just a set of rules with which we use to play a game.

Yes, when to require a roll and when not to is an interesting topic. It'd make a good topic for another thread.


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Quote:
...may make all Knowledge skill checks untrained.

Just for fun, you could misread this to mean that a bard can turn any trained Knowledge skill check into an untrained one.

Or on another tangent, if you may make all Knowledge skill checks untrained, then you should be able to succeed on the check even if you don't have enough bonuses. So, I guess you could interpret this to mean that natural 20 must always be a success.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I know I'm coming to this late, but I'll still summarize since there are a lot of people who just came in to pile on rather than make an actual argument based on the rules.

Letric wrote:

...

Untrained: You cannot make an untrained Knowledge
check with a DC higher than 10.

As long as we are Untrained on a Knowledge skill, our ceiling will be DC10.
Untrained is defined, as we said before, by not having any single ranks in the skill.

After seeing all this, let's check what Bardic Knowledge says:

Bardic Knowledge (Ex): A bard adds half his class
level (minimum 1) to all Knowledge skill checks and
may make all Knowledge skill checks untrained.

Your paraphrasing is changing the meaning of things. To emphasize the point, if the untrained section on knowledge said "You cannot achieve a result higher than 10 with an untrained knowledge check" then bardic knowledge would be written incorrectly to deal with it. As it stands, a DC 25 knowledge check is a knowledge check you normally cannot attempt untrained. Because bardic knowledge is more specific than the general knowledge rule, that specific trumps general and you MAY make that knowledge check with bardic knowledge.

As it happens, this revealed an incorrect assumption I had. I had been thinking the rule essentially boiled down to your result can't be meaningfully better than 10. That's incorrect. If you're attempting a check with a DC lower than 10 and there are advantages for beating that DC, you may have them. So if there's a common low CR creature (e.g. ogre) with a base monster lore DC less than 10, you can gain additional pieces of information for beating that DC by increments of 5. At least by RAW.

Community Manager

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Removed some unhelpful posts and responses. Please be civil folks, and FAQ it and move on.


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Liz Courts wrote:
FAQ it and move on.

If this is the case, you may just want to close this whole thread as the only two people that have posted they think it needs one have already FAQ'd it. Everyone else has been quite vocal in this not needing one. If anything, this question makes me with there was a non-FAQ/no FAQ needed button, as I'd hate to see THIS question take time away from any of the staff's day.


Given that there were at least three people not two, it should be left open.

Given that this issue has existed since at least 2011, it should get some attention.

/cevah


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It's a non-issue. This really is a storm in a tea-cup you are brewing Cevah. Let it go.

Liberty's Edge

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graystone wrote:
If anything, this question makes me with there was a non-FAQ/no FAQ needed button, as I'd hate to see THIS question take time away from any of the staff's day.

Ditto.

My reaction to about half the FAQs is already, 'how was that ever in doubt?'. If they start answering the 'does all mean sometimes', 'can adamantine golems bypass adamantine DR', and 'do brilliant energy weapons ignore non-living matter' type 'questions' they will NEVER get to anything I'd actually like to see an answer to.


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Hopefully not. Hopefully devs can tell when people are being intentionally intellectually dishonest.

If three people out of a crowd say the sky is brown you generally dont take the time to tell those people they're wrong when it's clearly laid out in front of them.

Checking their eye sight might be in order however.

A Bard can make ALL knowledge checks untrained. Not just DC 10 ones.


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I can't believe this is even an issue. It's mind boggling. What gets me though and made me have to say something was the argument that kept popping up now and then of "it doesn't remove the cap". What are you talking about? The idea that other classes can't make untrained checks higher than 10 is a cap.

The cap on untrained knowledge checks is DC 10. If the DC is 11, you can't make the untrained knowledge check. You can attempt any check if you are trained, but your maximum untrained knowledge DC you can attempt is 10.

If you are a Bard, you can attempt ALL untrained knowledge checks. DC 10, 11, 12. The class ability removes the cap of making checks untrained. It's first grade Spongebob. >.>


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Yizzik Uhari wrote:

I can't believe this is even an issue. It's mind boggling. What gets me though and made me have to say something was the argument that kept popping up now and then of "it doesn't remove the cap". What are you talking about? The idea that other classes can't make untrained checks higher than 10 is a cap.

The cap on untrained knowledge checks is DC 10. If the DC is 11, you can't make the untrained knowledge check. You can attempt any check if you are trained, but your maximum untrained knowledge DC you can attempt is 10.

If you are a Bard, you can attempt ALL untrained knowledge checks. DC 10, 11, 12. The class ability removes the cap of making checks untrained. It's first grade Spongebob. >.>

The more I hear arguments to the contrary the more my mind flashes to "It depends on what your meaning of the word 'Is' is.'


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Cevah wrote:
Given that there were at least three people not two, it should be left open.

Three doesn't sound much more persuasive than two based on how many people have posted. Are you assuming three FAQ hits instead of two will make the difference in getting it answered?

Cevah wrote:
Given that this issue has existed since at least 2011, it should get some attention.

LOL YOU may have misread it since 2011 doesn't mean it's ever been an issue with anyone but you since then. In the time from 2011 till this thread, this is the first time I've ever hear about this claim of confusion on the ability.

It pretty much boils down to you saying "All" doesn't mean all. I'd have the reaction if someone was debating if when the rules say "one" it actually meant two if you squint your eyes and tilt your head just so...


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Cevah wrote:

Given that there were at least three people not two, it should be left open.

Given that this issue has existed since at least 2011, it should get some attention.

/cevah

You can stop shitposting dude, it's not funny.


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Sometimes I legitimately think Cevah's account has been hacked because he used to be such a high-quality poster.


Berinor wrote:
As it happens, this revealed an incorrect assumption I had. I had been thinking the rule essentially boiled down to your result can't be meaningfully better than 10. That's incorrect. If you're attempting a check with a DC lower than 10 and there are advantages for beating that DC, you may have them. So if there's a common low CR creature (e.g. ogre) with a base monster lore DC less than 10, you can gain additional pieces of information for beating that DC by increments of 5. At least by RAW.

This is actually the big takeaway here. He's right. If the DC is no more than 10, any character can attempt it. If that character is an INT 17 Wizard that never took Knowledge(Religion), he still has a chance of dropping a 23 and knowing *everything* about that common undead with lots of Special Abilities/Attacks/Defenses.

I've always interpreted this the same way Berinor talks about it. That untrained a non-Bard* can never roll higher than a 10, but that's not RAW. RAW is that if the DC is <= 10, whatever they roll is the result.

*or character with some other, similar ability


*sigh*

Spesific rule overrule the generic.
The Bard ability overrides that of the generic rule of knowledge checks... I just wonder if this "issue" is just because of a DM being mad that his bard player can roll knowledge on every obscure thing place on the table.

Or from my experience: "Does the bard know anything about this?" have become a meme in my group.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder LO Special Edition, PF Special Edition Subscriber

So....

Currently everyone can make untrained Knowledge checks with a DC of 10 or less, the level 1 commoner can make an untrained Knowledge check (but will only succeed if the DC is 10 or less).

If you have a single point in the skill you can make trained knowledge checks and attempt to pass any DC.

"A bard adds half his class level (minimum 1) to all Knowledge skill checks and may make all Knowledge skill checks untrained."

but wait we can already make untrained knowledge (all) checks we just couldn't get above DC 10..

to go by the OP and Cevah way would mean that the bolded section has no additional meaning and they just wasted word space to reiterate what they could have already done anyway.

instead it means we can make "all Knowledge skill checks" (those above DC 10) cause that was the limit before. we do not need to be trained to know stuff above DC 10 if we have bardic knowledge.

Cevah and OP are being intellectually dishonest to start a nonsensical discussion about a non issue. this is not the spirit of the rules forms and they are purposefully starting arguments for the sake of arguing.

Grand Lodge

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Shadowlords wrote:
Cevah and OP are being intellectually dishonest to start a nonsensical discussion about a non issue.

This sums up this thread pretty accurately.

As I mentioned far earlier in this thread, Cevah has yet to respond to any one of the multitude of people pointing out that if their point of view is accurate, then Bardic Knowledge in effect does nothing and that the entire part talking about making all knowledge checks untrained is completely useless and arbitrary.

If you refuse to address part of your opponents argument and instead just reiterate your previous point again and again then its pretty clear that you're just arguing for the sake of argument, not an actual honest debate.

And with that I suggest we put an end to this ridiculous thread and let the few who still question it click the FAQ button if they so wish, seeing as how we've all already said our part.


We should take this thread....and push it somewhere else.


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Shadowlords wrote:

So....

Currently everyone can make untrained Knowledge checks with a DC of 10 or less, the level 1 commoner can make an untrained Knowledge check (but will only succeed if the DC is 10 or less).

If you have a single point in the skill you can make trained knowledge checks and attempt to pass any DC.

"A bard adds half his class level (minimum 1) to all Knowledge skill checks and may make all Knowledge skill checks untrained."

but wait we can already make untrained knowledge (all) checks we just couldn't get above DC 10..

to go by the OP and Cevah way would mean that the bolded section has no additional meaning and they just wasted word space to reiterate what they could have already done anyway.

instead it means we can make "all Knowledge skill checks" (those above DC 10) cause that was the limit before. we do not need to be trained to know stuff above DC 10 if we have bardic knowledge.

Looking at it from the other side:

If I have some kind of curse or effect (there probably is just such an effect somewhere in the game anyway) making a character, say, "take a -5 penalty on all skill checks" (or specifically, all Knowledge skill checks), to exactly which skill checks does this penalty apply? Only the DC 10 or less skill checks, or all of them?

Then why would "all" have a different meaning for the Bard?


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Jurassic Pratt wrote:
Shadowlords wrote:
Cevah and OP are being intellectually dishonest to start a nonsensical discussion about a non issue.

This sums up this thread pretty accurately.

As I mentioned far earlier in this thread, Cevah has yet to respond to any one of the multitude of people pointing out that if their point of view is accurate, then Bardic Knowledge in effect does nothing and that the entire part talking about making all knowledge checks untrained is completely useless and arbitrary.

If you refuse to address part of your opponents argument and instead just reiterate your previous point again and again then its pretty clear that you're just arguing for the sake of argument, not an actual honest debate.

And with that I suggest we put an end to this ridiculous thread and let the few who still question it click the FAQ button if they so wish, seeing as how we've all already said our part.

I have heard the suggestion that states: "If there are two ways to read a rule, use the one most restrictive." This is so that you can plan on using a rule without being surprised by GM fiat. That could be applied here.

Is it dishonesty to show there IS a question? To some? No.

As to ignoring points, I thought I had already replied. So I double checked. I did. In the thread that spawned this one.

What I said:
You ever hear of Prone Shooter or Elephant Stomp? [I think I have the correct names.] These feats were written in such a way they did nothing or made you worse. At least Breadth of Knowledge gives a bonus to untrained checks, and Bardic Lore gives a +2.

As to taking a lot of rules lawyering, it takes more to remove a simply worded restriction like YOU MUST BE TRAINED TO MAKE A DC > 10.

This is not the first case of writers not knowing all the rules when making up things to let people play with. Nor will it be the last.

I have seen this argument come up before, at least twice. Just check the boards. Found one post from 2011.

EDIT: threads about these worthless feats:
Prone-Shooter-Fixed-Today
Elephant-Stomp


I apologize for misrembering which thread I posted in.

As also previously mentioned, I am by no means the first to question this. I found a thread that questioned this back in 2011.

/cevah


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Cevah: The suggestion to "If there are two ways to read a rule, use the one most restrictive" is fine with one caveat. Both reads should stand on their own and both should DO something.

Take your examples once: Prone-Shooter-Fixed and Elephant-Stomp. They are examples of the only reading clearly doing nothing. This isn't the same thing here. One reading DOES something here.

So along with "If there are two ways to read a rule, use the one most restrictive" add "Abilities are meant to DO something so if one reading would lead to an ability being worthless and a waste of ink, you should use the one that actually functions."

I'm not questioning that sometimes you get abilities like prone shooter, I question why you would choice to read it in such a way to make it another prone shooter...


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Have to agree with graystone. Being conservative on a vague rule is entirely different than insisting an ability does absolutely nothing when the alternative is having the ability do exactly what it says it does. Especially when you have to do some pretty impressive verbal gymnastics to make it do nothing on top of that.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder LO Special Edition, PF Special Edition Subscriber

The thread that questioned it back in 2011 ended pretty quickly with everyone agreeing that the ability works as we have said it does.
Bards can make all Knowledge (everything) skill checks untrained against any DC.

This is why bringing it up again is a non issue, as it has been discussed already and a conclusion has been made previously, and a conclusion has been made again in the multiple pages of this thread. you just fail to see it or dislike the conclusion or actively want to cause problems and start arguments.


No seriously, someone help me out. How are there multiple ways to read this ability? How? Where? I'm not saying that I think one way is correct and one way is wrong, I'm saying I literally cannot comprehend how to read that sentence in anyway other that "can make all checks". I am not being hyperbolic when I say that, to me, saying that the ability says "the DC 10 limit still applies" is not one iota more valid than saying the ability says "all bards are gelatinous cubes". It says neither of those things at all.

Are we just says "Yeah, sure, there's two ways to read it" to humor those who somehow read it that way? Or am I missing something?

Again, I'm not saying I see multiple ways to read it, and have made a decision as to which one is correct and the others are therefore incorrect. I'm saying I only see one possible way to read it period. Sincerely, help me identify my deficiency.


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They are seeing it like this,
As a reminder, everyone can attempt (all) knowledge checks untrained.

Which is shorthand for
As a reminder, everyone can attempt knowledge(x) and knowledge(Y) and knowledge(Z)... checks untrained.

We are seeing it as saying similar to
A bard can make any knowledge check.


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I think the main problem here is a basic misunderstanding of order of operations, and design philosophy of the CRB layout.

To address the CRB layout issue, it appears to be designed with an emphasis on character creation. It makes the book easier to pick up and go, but leads to issues like this.

If we emphasized rules understanding over character creation it would probably be designed in a pattern similar to this layout, we will call it The Rules First Core Rule Book (RFCRB):

Combat->Environment/Adventuring->Magic->Skills->Feats->Class es->Races

In this way the general rules are introduced FIRST then the specifics.

Now the order of operations on Knowledge checks is to set the DC then make the roll.

Do note that here is where the common order of operations issue comes up. MOST GMs do not let players know the check DC or even if it is above 10. So often anyone can roll, but those without the 1 rank fail automatically. This is incorrect by the rules. If they do not have at least 1 rank they cannot even MAKE (meaning no roll or taking 10/20, also read as: sit there and shut up) the check. So a GM must know/ask the players if they are trained in the skill, somewhat tipping their hand and giving the players some idea of what the DC is. Out of character knowledge in many opinions, and thus they let all players roll.

So with the two issues above in mind we can extrapolate how this is supposed to work.

GM needs a DC for a KNOW(Local) check, sets it at 15
GM refers to Skills Chapter in RFCRB (again, now listed BEFORE the Class Chapter) and sees the only those with 1 rank in KNOW(Local) can ATTEMPT the check
GM calls for rolls for check but reminds players of DC limit
Wizard (who is trained in KNOW(Local)) and Bard (who is not, Bard fail btw) characters make the roll
GM asks why Bard rolled and Bard Player points to Bardic Knowledge (BK) ability
GM goes to RFCRB and goes to Class Chapter where the SPECIFIC rules for how classes interact with the GENERAL rules written in previous section are and sees that BK ability allows for a Bard to make ALL Knowledge skill checks untrained
GM allows the skill check by the Bard
Bard succeeds and is given the information

So we see a problem that is caused by an order of operations error due to how Knowledge checks work compared to other skills, and an error because the CRB layout is designed in a specific rules section being listed BEFORE the general rules section format.

Also, I know that how things operated in 3.5 does not really matter much with Pathfinder rules, but we all need to remember how Bardic Knowledge worked back then. The untrained limit existed back then (I think, it has been awhile) and Bardic Knowledge ability basically gave the bard a second DC pool to check against.

So a bard could be either untrained in a skill and not be able to attempt the Knowledge check at all, and use Bardic Knowledge to try at a separate DC, or could have been trained in the skill, failed, and could then roll a Bardic Knowledge check to gain a second attempt.

It was weird and clunky and kind of made little sense.

TL;DR: DC above 10, only trained characters can attempt at all; Bardic Knowledge specifically overrides that.

Grand Lodge

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wraithstrike wrote:
Some people like to argue for the sake of arguing. Some of the comments in the thread are proof of that.

And some people just hate the idea of competent characters.


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Read a rule more restrictively when ambiguous is not really a rule. If it is, it's only when all evidence to the contrary is completely ambiguous. This is almost never the case. Here, the phrase is a bit ambiguous, but it's clear what it means. The DC 10 cap is gone. But let's say you deny all of that. The rule that "rules should be construed to actually function" and "terms in rules are usually there for a reason" are more important maxims to follow. Both suggest that bardic knowledge is exactly what almost everyone thinks it is.


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Uli Gunnarson wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Some people like to argue for the sake of arguing. Some of the comments in the thread are proof of that.
And some people just hate the idea of competent characters.

"What do you mean that your character actually is smart enough to bypass my railroad?"

"Why dont you just align yourself to my novel?!"

"I used hours on that random mook, and you just killed him in a single hit!"


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Create Mr. Pitt wrote:
Read a rule more restrictively when ambiguous is not really a rule.

I think it's just a guideline for building a character in PFS. If your build is based on an ambiguous rule, then expect your DMs to go with the less favorable ruling, even if some or even many may agree with the more favorable ruling.


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Neither I nor anyone I have every played with or under have ever limited it to DC<10 with any permutation of bardic knowledge. Nor will we ever.

Feel free to argue RAW/RAI or whatever, we don't care. The intent (and IMO the writing) is obvious and you are being bullheaded in interpretation otherwise.


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I think this is a case where specific over writes general. The Knowledge check while untrained rules apply to everyone even bards.
However where the class specific ability Bardic Knowledge says he get to "make all Knowledge checks untrained." This ability targets the untrained knowledge check rule and redefines it.


CampinCarl9127 wrote:
Sometimes I legitimately think Cevah's account has been hacked because he used to be such a high-quality poster.

Sadly replaced by a low-quality poser?

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