In Pathfinder, you can't see the Sun


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Sovereign Court

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Per RAW:
The Sun is a colossal object (+8 perception to see it)
-1 perception for every 10 feet away it is (-49 billion perception to see it)
"Circumstance bonus" is used in printed adventures, but there is no actual rule for it in the Core Rulebook

Constructive point: The rules aren't perfect, and that's okay.

Pathfinder is a game. The objective of the game is to have fun. The rules exist to create better communication and common expectations. The rules attempt to create balance so everyone has a fair chance to shine.

Like most of you, I have a very high I.Q. I have learned, however, that fixating on rules that I don't agree with (I'm looking at you, adamantine shuriken!) makes the game less fun, not more.

The next time someone asks me how fast a scorching ray is, my answer will be "whatever speed makes a more interesting and enjoyable story." Maybe it will be super fast like a laser beam. Maybe everything will seem to slow down in a dramatic moment that may mean the death of a beloved NPC. Time will tell (smirk).


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What is this "sun" you speak of?

Sounds like crazy talk.

-j


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There are many, many, many threads discussing this sort of thing. The sun is not a fine detail of your environment and so does not require a Perception check to be seen.


Is there an actual "Rules Question" here?

Perhaps this should be in a different forum such as the Pathfinder RPG General Discussion forum?

As per that forum's description: "This forum is for general comments about the Pathfinder RPG and discussing the system with other gamers."

This seems more in line with a discussion about the system as opposed to a Rules Question.


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Gisher wrote:
There are many, many, many threads discussing this sort of thing. The sun is not a fine detail of your environment and so does not require a Perception check to be seen.

Yet you only read some of them. The sun is as much of a fine detail (and as relevant to her main point) as the sound of a battle, the stench of sewage, a man standing in the middle of the road ten feet away from you, or, say, a baseball or soccer player on a field, or the respective game balls they play with.

Reductio Ad Absurdem this may well be, but if you're going to fixate on rules-words, include all of them, or acknowledge that they don't work well in simulating certain facets of reality. Limiting "fine detail" to "whatever I want it to mean" is not the wrong way to go about it, but it's not the rules' way of going about it. And that's fine, and even important, but a necessary recognition.

(Incidentally, this comes from someone who, as a general rule, emphasizes the homogonous nature of the rules as having reality-modeling abilities as a strong selling point for 3.X over other editions' rules systems. Frankly, I love these rules, but acknowledging their limits is important; failure to do so can lead to problems for both the player/GM and the system itself. I love my son far, far more than these rules, and am immensely proud of him, but similarly, failure to acknowledge his limits will lead to problems for both of us.)

EDIT: Ah, spelling. I'd call it my old nemesis, but really my nemesis is Dyslexia. Also typing on a phone, but, you know. Linkage for clarification added as well.


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

Holy f@+$ing s#$*! Where's the sun!! We're doomed! We're all f~$&ing doomed! Game over man! Game f@@+ing over!!

...what's that... It's night... really!... so, it's NOT out all the time...an orbit you say!... fascinating!...

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

If you can't spot the sun, how are you going to see the stars in the nightsky?

^-^

[edit]: Even clouds could pose a problem, if you aren't already up high in the mountains.

What thunderstorm? ^u^


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This gets posted once every month or so, and does not cease to be a laugh.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Franz Lunzer wrote:

If you can't spot the sun, how are you going to see the stars in the nightsky?

^-^

Curse you rules, you f+%@ed me over again!


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For that matter, how do you see the clouds that are in theory obscuring the sun? Or the mountains until you're right in front of them? Even trees in a forest are a problem! I think everyone really needs their eyes examined personally.


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Exactly. It's the reductio ad absurdem example of a real problem. The specific example is easily hand-waved away as "not a fine detail" or whatever, but the real problems don't actually go away so easily.

At what range can you spot the colossal flying dragon? Is it not a fine detail and thus always instantly noticed in line of sight? Possibly many miles away.
Or is it a fine detail and thus the guy with a 30 Perception can only see it with roll of 20 at 580 feet?
There's no rules justification for anything in between.


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The absurdly bright light emitted by the Sun gives it a huge pnalty to its stealth check


If it ever came up I would have to rule the Sun is not a fine detail and neither are the mountains forests or oceans so don't require perception checks to find.

Seeing a man in the middle of the road 10 away from you does not require a perception check.

Finding a barstool in the middle of a crowed bar, at night, in dim light, does not require a perception check.

In order for the Sun to hide from you it would definitely need total concealment like heavy cloud cover, thick overhead canopy, or some amount or total cover like a tavern roof or cavern ceiling.


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Akkurscid wrote:

If it ever came up I would have to rule the Sun is not a fine detail and neither are the mountains forests or oceans so don't require perception checks to find.

Seeing a man in the middle of the road 10 away from you does not require a perception check.

But how far away does the man in the middle of the road require a Perception check?

Or a giant or a dragon, for that matter.

That's the problem. Regardless of the thing you're looking at and regardless of the skill of the observer, there's only a 200' distance between impossible to miss and impossible to see.


Ooh, its been a month so it is time for this thread again ...

The rules are meant to cover relative/important/not-obvious situations, in most cases specifically ecounter-focused. If there was a rule for everything, then no one would play the game.


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thejeff wrote:
Akkurscid wrote:

If it ever came up I would have to rule the Sun is not a fine detail and neither are the mountains forests or oceans so don't require perception checks to find.

Seeing a man in the middle of the road 10 away from you does not require a perception check.

But how far away does the man in the middle of the road require a Perception check?

Or a giant or a dragon, for that matter.

That's the problem. Regardless of the thing you're looking at and regardless of the skill of the observer, there's only a 200' distance between impossible to miss and impossible to see.

I mentioned this towards the end of the last thread, but I certainly won't blame you if you had nonsense fatigue at that point. The rules for maximum encounter distance are listed by terrain type in the wilderness rules, not the perception skill description. I'm not arguing that those maximum distances are any more realistic than the perception modifiers, but rolling perception with a +528 to the DC to spot something a mile away isn't an issue. It's just that if an object can be seen from a mile away, the GM shouldn't ask for a perception check.

I mean, I think colossal dragons have a stupid-high stealth bonus, but realizing that the little tiny silhouette up in the sky is a red dragon and not an eagle strikes me as a Knowledge (Nature) check.

EDIT: I've done some reposting and deletion to respond to a more concise point. I don't think a guy standing in the middle of the road ever requires a perception check. That's like using a perception check to see if a PC knows where his chair is or falls on his butt, you know?


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Tacticslion wrote:
Gisher wrote:
There are many, many, many threads discussing this sort of thing. The sun is not a fine detail of your environment and so does not require a Perception check to be seen.

Yet you only read some of them. The sun is as much of a fine detail (and as relevant to her main point) as the sound of a battle, the stench of sewage, a man standing in the middle of the road ten feet away from you, or, say, a baseball or soccer player on a field, or the respective game balls they play with.

Reductio Ad Absurdem this may well be, but if you're going to fixate on rules-words, include all of them, or acknowledge that they don't work well in simulating certain facets of reality. Limiting "fine detail" to "whatever I want it to mean" is not the wrong way to go about it, but it's not the rules' way of going about it. And that's fine, and even important, but a necessary recognition.

(Incidentally, this comes from someone who, as a general rule, emphasizes the homogonous nature of the rules as having reality-modeling abilities as a strong selling point for 3.X over other editions' rules systems. Frankly, I love these rules, but acknowledging their limits is important; failure to do so can lead to problems for both the player/GM and the system itself. I love my son far, far more than these rules, and am immensely proud of him, but similarly, failure to acknowledge his limits will lead to problems for both of us.)

EDIT: Ah, spelling. I'd call it my old nemesis, but really my nemesis is Dyslexia. Also typing on a phone, but, you know. Linkage for clarification added as well.

Well, 'fixate' seems a bit harsh. I just mentioned the 'fine details' phrase because I think it is the simplest way to view about how this situation fits into the rules. It is true that I have not read every thread on this topic, but I have read through several of them, and I don't imagine that the others were significantly different in their arguments. Perhaps I have overlooked some rules element that does require perception checks for the Sun, but since you yourself consider your argument Reductio Ad Absurdum, I think that is unlikely.

This sort of number play can be fun and humorous, but I don't take it seriously as a rules discussion since I don't believe it has ever actually been an issue in a single game. Ever. By the rules, you don't have to make perception checks for everything that is perceivable, just for 'fine details.' Of course the GM decides what that term means, so one could conceivably require such a check. But I've never run into one that thought the giant ball of burning gas which was illuminating half the planet was a "fine detail." And if that's the case, then none of the computations based on the tables have any relevance.

Perhaps I'm wrong and there are GM's who require checks for seeing the Sun, noticing the tree you are sitting in, or hearing the sounds of a battle that is taking place in the same room as you, and if so, then I pity those who play with them. Maybe it's because I'm an old grognard, but I don't really think that sort of playing sounds like any fun.

Anyway, I didn't mean to offend you. I will now remove myself from the discussion.


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Hitdice wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Exactly. It's the reductio ad absurdem example of a real problem. The specific example is easily hand-waved away as "not a fine detail" or whatever, but the real problems don't actually go away so easily.

At what range can you spot the colossal flying dragon? Is it not a fine detail and thus always instantly noticed in line of sight? Possibly many miles away.
Or is it a fine detail and thus the guy with a 30 Perception can only see it with roll of 20 at 580 feet?
There's no rules justification for anything in between.

I mentioned this towards the end of the last thread, but I certainly won't blame you if you had nonsense fatigue at that point. The rules for maximum encounter distance are listed by terrain type in the wilderness rules, not the perception skill description. I'm not arguing that those maximum distances are any more realistic than the perception modifiers, but rolling perception with a +528 to the DC to spot something a mile away isn't an issue. It's just that if an object can be seen from a mile away, the GM shouldn't ask for a perception check.

I mean, I think colossal dragons have a stupid-high stealth bonus, but realizing that the little tiny silhouette up in the sky is a red dragon and not an eagle strikes me as a Knowledge (Nature) check.

Forgive the leading question, but under what circumstances would anyone even require a perception check to spot the sun?

None. Which is why it's the reductio ad absurdem example, but the basic problem of linear perception is real.

The encounter distances do help, though I'd say they're equally unrealistic - as you suggest. The longest I saw was plains - max of 1440' (6d6*40). At which point you're never going to be able to see it anyway.
I guess you just roll the encounter distance and say you spot it 6d6 ⇒ (5, 2, 4, 4, 2, 3) = 20*40 = 800 feet away whether it's a colossal titan or a tiny pixie.
Unless it's using stealth, in which case you start from there applying the usual Perception rules.


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Gisher wrote:
Perhaps I'm wrong and there are GM's who require checks for seeing the Sun, noticing the tree you are sitting in, or hearing the sounds of a battle that is taking place in the same room as you, and if so, then I pity those who play with them. Maybe it's because I'm an old grognard, but I don't really think that sort of playing sounds like any fun.

A battle in the same room? No. Unless it's a really big room.

But a battle some distance away is a question. There is a perception DC given for hearing the "sound of battle = -10".

Which strongly suggests most people won't be able to hear the sound of battle more than a few hundred feet away.


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Akkurscid wrote:
Seeing a man in the middle of the road 10 away from you does not require a perception check.

That is a very good ruling, but isn't what the rules say.

I chose that example very carefully.

Perception

The Rules wrote:


Detail: DC
Notice a visible creature: 0
<snip>
Perception Modifiers: DC Modifiers
Distance to the source, object, or creature: +1/10 feet
<snip>

What that means is that, by the rules, the DC is 1 - certainly an automatics given for most creatures (in fact, 5 WIS 0 ranks have a Perception of -3, so even a take 10 result of 7 is a gimme, for most conceivable creatures, even dazzled, fascinsted creatures with their take 10 of 2), but nonetheless requiring a check.

I mean, if I'm dazzled and fascinsted, I doubt I'd notice a guy ten feet away from me.

Either way, you can't do it when you're dazed at all. Which is weird, as I've been as close to "dazed" in real life as I can imagine, but I still noticed people around me.

(In those cases, it's a conflict of terms: the game uses the terms dazzled, fascinsted, and dazed to mean one thing; while I use them to mean a different, if similar thing.)

EDIT:

Gisher wrote:
There are many, many, many threads discussing this sort of thing. The sun is not a fine detail of your environment and so does not require a Perception check to be seen.
Tacticslion wrote:

Yet you only read some of them. The sun is as much of a fine detail (and as relevant to her main point) as the sound of a battle, the stench of sewage, a man standing in the middle of the road ten feet away from you, or, say, a baseball or soccer player on a field, or the respective game balls they play with.

Reductio Ad Absurdem this may well be, but if you're going to fixate on rules-words, include all of them, or acknowledge that they don't work well in simulating certain facets of reality. Limiting "fine detail" to "whatever I want it to mean" is not the wrong way to go about it, but it's not the rules' way of going about it. And that's fine, and even important, but a necessary recognition.

(Incidentally, this comes from someone who, as a general rule, emphasizes the homogonous nature of the rules as having reality-modeling abilities as a strong selling point for 3.X over other editions' rules systems. Frankly, I love these rules, but acknowledging their limits is important; failure to do so can lead to problems for both the player/GM and the system itself. I love my son far, far more than these rules, and am immensely proud of him, but similarly, failure to acknowledge his limits will lead to problems for both of us.)

EDIT: Ah, spelling. I'd call it my old nemesis, but really my nemesis is Dyslexia. Also typing on a phone, but, you know. Linkage for clarification added as well.

EDIT 2: Ninjas, and slow on phone.

Gisher wrote:

Well, 'fixate' seems a bit harsh. I just mentioned the 'fine details' phrase because I think it is the simplest way to view about how this situation fits into the rules. It is true that I have not read every thread on this topic, but I have read through several of them, and I don't imagine that the others were significantly different in their arguments. Perhaps I have overlooked some rules element that does require perception checks for the Sun, but since you yourself consider your argument Reductio Ad Absurdum, I think that is unlikely.

This sort of number play can be fun and humorous, but I don't take it seriously as a rules discussion since I don't believe it has ever actually been an issue in a single game. Ever. By the rules, you don't have to make perception checks for everything that is perceivable, just for 'fine details.' Of course the GM decides what that term means, so one could conceivably require such a check. But I've never run into one that thought the giant ball of burning gas which was illuminating half the planet was a "fine detail." And if that's the case, then none of the computations based on the tables have any relevance.

Perhaps I'm wrong and there are GM's who require checks for seeing the Sun, noticing the tree you are sitting in, or hearing the sounds of a battle that is taking place in the same room as you, and if so, then I pity those who play with them. Maybe it's because I'm an old grognard, but I don't really think that sort of playing sounds like any fun.

Anyway, I didn't mean to offend you. I will now remove myself from the discussion.

Tone, Internet, Obscuring. Whoops!

I was not offended! Upon re-reading, my post is much harsher than intended, as well. Apologies!

My point was only that the rules do provide a rather seductive internal consistency that allows them to be utilized to run the game world as-is - this was one of the main reasons I liked the switch to first 3rd, and then 3.5 was that increase in internal consistency, and the casual realism that the rules provide.

But the idea that there is no merit in the thought is not something I agree with - while the example of the sun itself is oft trotted out, there's nothing actually wrong with the example. Effectively, it's used so often, because it's a big neon (well, Helium) sign that goes, "Hey, guys, look at me!" (and, in the case of the game, also demands comparison to the rules at large).

With the Sun itself, there are several issues that people run into, not all of which are noticeable at any one time. Heck, I don't know if I know all the issues - merely that following the rules in that case creates a logical distortion (the logical distortion that the OP used the Sun as an example to point at in the first place, before finishing with, "It's just a game; enjoy it.")

A few issues:
- the limit of size categories and their effects
- the lack of clarification of aspects related to extreme objects or differences
- the comparison and contrast of similar or non-similar things (in this case, obvious + obvious) in similar or non-similar situations (i.e. "Hey, the sun can have total concealment to avoid visual detection just like anything else, except it doesn't function like anything else, except when it does." effect)
- the linearity scale versus other scales

As noted above, there is a real conversation that can be had via game rules and looking at making a better game from noting the limits and lengths of the rules. Know where they go to and know where they stop, and you can apply them better.

This allows any GM (or player) to work together in spoken and unspoken communication and manage expectations to what the rules can and cannot do to have a better over-all experience. No, RAW doesn't let you see the sun, but it's self-evident that you can see the sun, hence there's an issue with RAW. "Fine detail" is a word-selection that is used to dismiss "the sun" as evidence, but it doesn't hold up when compared with the action "Detail" that has Perception DCs listed in the rules that we're all discussing.

What is a "fine detail"?

Well, a "detail" that actually has an associated DC for Perception includes:

- the sound of a pitched battle

- the stench of rotting garbage

- notice a visible creature

- the details of a conversation (hope you're not doing anything else!)

... and so on. This works for certain aspects of the game and for modelling the world to an extent. It breaks down when you apply some of the hard numbers. I'd link a dictionary definition, but, unfortunately, I'm in the middle of doing other things, and my look at dictionary definitions has proven... confused instead of useful.

(Generally, I think "fine" is accepted to mean "small" while "detail" is accepted as "feature" but "fine" can also be "pleasing" or "good" and I could see the argument being made about that being the original intent, though I doubt it was, myself.)


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Tacticslion wrote:
Akkurscid wrote:
Seeing a man in the middle of the road 10 away from you does not require a perception check.

That is a very good ruling, but isn't what the rules say.

I chose that example very carefully.

Perception

The Rules wrote:


Detail: DC
Notice a visible creature: 0
<snip>
Perception Modifiers: DC Modifiers
Distance to the source, object, or creature: +1/10 feet
<snip>

What that means is that, by the rules, the DC is 1 - certainly an automatics given for most creatures (in fact, 5 WIS 0 ranks have a Perception of -3, so even a take 10 result of 7 is a gimme, for most conceivable creatures, even dazzled, fascinsted creatures with their take 10 of 2), but nonetheless requiring a check.

I mean, if I'm dazzled and fascinsted, I doubt I'd notice a guy ten feet away from me.

Either way, you can't do it when you're dazed at all. Which is weird, as I've been as close to "dazed" in real life as I can imagine, but I still noticed people around me.

(In those cases, it's a conflict of terms: the game uses the terms dazzled, fascinsted, and dazed to mean one thing; while I use them to mean a different, if similar thing.)

I think you'd still get reactive perception checks when dazed. You just couldn't take an action to make a check. That's explicitly stated for fascinated (-4 to reactive checks).


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thejeff wrote:

None. Which is why it's the reductio ad absurdem example, but the basic problem of linear perception is real.

The encounter distances do help, though I'd say they're equally unrealistic - as you suggest. The longest I saw was plains - max of 1440' (6d6*40). At which point you're never going to be able to see it anyway.
I guess you just roll the encounter distance and say you spot it 6d6*40 = 800 feet away whether it's a colossal titan or a tiny pixie.
Unless it's using stealth, in which case you start from there applying the usual Perception rules.

I think the mistake here is assuming that a Perception check is the only way to sense something in game. This point of view is no doubt influenced by my move to 5e, which is infinity times less granular in its skill rules.

Silver Crusade

The perception rules are completely broken outside of the dungeon (where they are only largely broken).

Lets take an actual real world example. You are on a ship at sea, trying to find another ship. Maybe you're a pirate looking for potential prey.

If you use the rules for objects and distance then piracy is pretty much impossible since you can't see more than a few hundred feet.

But if you use the automatically notice idea then you can see a ship in fog 40 miles away.

So, the GM just ignores the rules and makes up a random DC.

Scarab Sages

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The big thing people forget in these discussions is circumstance bonus. Yes the sun is so far away to have -4 trillion modifier on the perception check. But it's so bright it has a +infinity circumstance bonus on the perception modifier.

It's a corner case, and corner cases are adjudicated by the GM applying an appropriate circumstance modifier to the roll.


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Hitdice wrote:
thejeff wrote:

None. Which is why it's the reductio ad absurdem example, but the basic problem of linear perception is real.

The encounter distances do help, though I'd say they're equally unrealistic - as you suggest. The longest I saw was plains - max of 1440' (6d6*40). At which point you're never going to be able to see it anyway.
I guess you just roll the encounter distance and say you spot it 6d6*40 = 800 feet away whether it's a colossal titan or a tiny pixie.
Unless it's using stealth, in which case you start from there applying the usual Perception rules.
I think the mistake here is assuming that a Perception check is the only way to sense something in game. This point of view is no doubt influenced by my move to 5e, which is infinity times less granular in its skill rules.

I'm not sure of the mistake. I get that you can handwave it away (And honestly I'm fine with that a lot of the time.)

But if the argument is that the rules work just fine, then you have to make a rules argument.

I'll accept the encounter distance by terrain rules, but those seem to me to produce similarly absurd results, since they're apparently independent of the normal obvious modifiers - such as size.

Are there other ways to sense something in game that would apply? Under the actual rules.

Mind you, I've played plenty of other games, many of which have very different, if not always more complete or logical ways of sensing things. But we're discussing PF rules here.


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thejeff wrote:
I'll accept the encounter distance by terrain rules, but those seem to me to produce similarly absurd results, since they're apparently independent of the normal obvious modifiers - such as size.

See now, stuff like this is the reason I use the 3.0 rules for outdoor spotting DCs, despite some people ridiculing the idea that such rules should even be necessary.

I mean... if two parties (say, one party of adventurers and another party of monsters) are in the woods and happen to pass near each other, there should be a chance of one party noticing the other before the other is aware of the one. I mean... what if one party is numerous, loud, unperceptive, and making no attempt at stealth; while the second party is few in number, quiet, sharp-eyed, and careful to move relatively quietly and discreetly?

And as the post I quoted implies, yes, size does matter.

So as a GM, I do outdoor Perception checks (typically secretly, and taking 10 all around) and yeah, the 10' increment is absurd to use outdoors. So I use the 3.0 rules. (Obviously, in PFRPG, I would replace "Spot" with "Perception.")

I now quote from the 3.0 SRD:

ENCOUNTERS

When an encounter between the PCs and an NPC or creature is imminent, follow these steps:

1. Determine vision conditions and terrain. Choose from the choices on Table: Spotting Distance.

2. If line of sight or illumination defines the distance at which the encounter occurs (as often happens indoors), start the encounter there. Otherwise, roll for spotting distance on Table: Spotting Distance.

3. All creatures involved make Spot checks. Success means that creature sees the other creature or group. See Table: Spotting Difficulty for modifiers on these checks.

4. If neither side succeeds, all creatures spot each other at one-half the rolled range.

The circumstances that can affect the DC of a Spot check are as follows:

Size: Add +4 to the base DC of 20 for each size category the creature being spotted is smaller than Medium-size or -4 for each size category larger. You can make exceptions for creatures with unusual shapes, such as a Large snake that's low to the ground and thus as hard to see as a Small creature.

Contrast: How starkly the creature's coloring stands out against the surroundings. It's easy to spot a brightly colored couatl in a dark jungle and hard to see winter wolves in the snow.

Stillness: It's harder to see creatures that are not moving.

Six or More Creatures: Groups of creatures are easier to spot, even if the creatures are smaller than Medium-size.

Moonlight: Nighttime, but with moonlight (or similar light).

Starlight: Nighttime with no moon but a clear, starry sky (or similar light).

Total Darkness: Overcast at night, or otherwise lightless.

Hiding and Spotting

If creatures are trying not to be seen, it's usually harder to spot them, but creatures that are keeping low to avoid being spotted also are less likely to notice other creatures.

If creatures are hiding, they can only move at half their normal overland speed. They also suffer a -2 penalty on their Spot checks to notice other creatures because they are staying low.

Instead of a base DC of 20 for others to spot them at the standard spotting distance, the DC is 25 + the hider's Hide skill modifier. The modifiers from Table 3-2: Spotting Difficulty still apply, except for the size modifier (which is already part of the character's skill modifier). A character whose Hide ranks, Dexterity modifier, and armor check penalty total -6 or lower is actually has a lower DC than if he or she weren't hiding. In such cases, simply calculate the Spot DC as if the character weren't hiding (according to Table: Spotting Difficulty). If a creature gets a special bonus to Hide because of camouflage, special coloring, and so on, use that bonus rather than the contrast bonus from Table: Spotting Difficulty.

Additionally, the other creatures do not automatically spot hiding creatures at one-half the encounter distance. Instead, that is the distance at which the other creatures can make Spot checks to notice the hiding creatures. These are normal Spot checks opposed by the hiders' Hide checks.

Table: Spotting Distance

Terrain Distance
------- --------
Smoke or heavy fog 2d4 x 5 ft. (avg. 25 ft.)
Jungle or dense forest 2d4 x 10 ft. (50 ft.)
Light forest 3d6 x 10 ft. (105 ft.)
Scrub, brush or bush 6d6 x 10 ft. (210 ft.)
Grassland, little cover 6d6 x 20 ft. (420 ft.)
Total darkness Limit of sight
Indoors (lit) Line of sight

Table: Spotting Difficulty

Circumstances DC
------------- --
Base 20*
Size +/-4 per size category
Contrast +/-5 or more
Stillness (not moving) +5
Six or more creatures -2
Moonlight** +5
Starlight† +10
Total darkness Impossible††

* 25 plus hide skill modifier if one side is hiding, and ignore size modifiers (see text).

** +5 bonus on Spot check if the spotter has low-light vision or if he or she has darkvision that extends far enough.

† +5 bonus on Spot check if the spotter has low-light vision or +10 if he or she has darkvision that extends far enough.

†† Unless the spotter has darkvision that extends far enough.


Slight correction the sun is not colossal, the sun is 1.3 million times larger than the planet colossal objects rest on (assuming Pathfinder's world and sun are about the size of ours). Therefore I suggest that the sun's modifier for size and light emitted negates the penalty for distance making it a DC 0 check to perceive the sun.


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Why would anyone need to see the sun?
__________________________________________

Here's a cleaned-up version of what Aaron Bitman wrote:
http://www.dragon.ee/30srd/


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SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:

Here's a cleaned-up version of what Aaron Bitman wrote:

http://www.dragon.ee/30srd/

You're right. That does look better. Next time, I'll post a link like that one.

For those of you not familiar with that site, hit the "Encounters" link in the left pane.


Dannorn wrote:
Slight correction the sun is not colossal, the sun is 1.3 million times larger than the planet colossal objects rest on (assuming Pathfinder's world and sun are about the size of ours). Therefore I suggest that the sun's modifier for size and light emitted negates the penalty for distance making it a DC 0 check to perceive the sun.

Actually, unfortunately, this is incorrect, by rules (though certainly reasonable by design).

Colossal objects rest on bigger colossal objects which orbit even bigger colossal objects.

There is no actual size category larger than colossal, hence those are the only size elements that we can use with rules.

The point of the thing is, however, that reasonable house rules are reasonable.


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thejeff wrote:
Hitdice wrote:
thejeff wrote:

None. Which is why it's the reductio ad absurdem example, but the basic problem of linear perception is real.

The encounter distances do help, though I'd say they're equally unrealistic - as you suggest. The longest I saw was plains - max of 1440' (6d6*40). At which point you're never going to be able to see it anyway.
I guess you just roll the encounter distance and say you spot it 6d6*40 = 800 feet away whether it's a colossal titan or a tiny pixie.
Unless it's using stealth, in which case you start from there applying the usual Perception rules.
I think the mistake here is assuming that a Perception check is the only way to sense something in game. This point of view is no doubt influenced by my move to 5e, which is infinity times less granular in its skill rules.

I'm not sure of the mistake. I get that you can handwave it away (And honestly I'm fine with that a lot of the time.)

But if the argument is that the rules work just fine, then you have to make a rules argument.

I'll accept the encounter distance by terrain rules, but those seem to me to produce similarly absurd results, since they're apparently independent of the normal obvious modifiers - such as size.

Are there other ways to sense something in game that would apply? Under the actual rules.

Mind you, I've played plenty of other games, many of which have very different, if not always more complete or logical ways of sensing things. But we're discussing PF rules here.

Making a Survival check to follow tracks is the most obvious example I can think of using another skill than Perception to sense something, but when the GM describes a room (or anything, for that matter) the GM is telling the players what their characters perceive in game without Perception checks. Not to get pedantic, but the rules and skill check mechanics aren't the same thing.

Ooh, ooh, what if you know where the sun is from feeling its heat on the side of your body that isn't shaded? Still a Perception check, but no distance modifiers required! :P

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Xellrael wrote:

Per RAW:

The Sun is a colossal object

Citation needed.


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Tacticslion wrote:
Dannorn wrote:
Slight correction the sun is not colossal, the sun is 1.3 million times larger than the planet colossal objects rest on (assuming Pathfinder's world and sun are about the size of ours). Therefore I suggest that the sun's modifier for size and light emitted negates the penalty for distance making it a DC 0 check to perceive the sun.

Actually, unfortunately, this is incorrect, by rules (though certainly reasonable by design).

Colossal objects rest on bigger colossal objects which orbit even bigger colossal objects.

There is no actual size category larger than colossal, hence those are the only size elements that we can use with rules.

The point of the thing is, however, that reasonable house rules are reasonable.

Does this line of reasoning mean almost no one could see the ground from the height of the Empire State Building (~1200 ft = +120 to the Perception DC (let's say to the -50 DC originally))?


Sometimes you lot make my brain hurt with your ridiculousness.

You only need a perception check for something you have a chance to miss.
You can miss the sounds of battle from a few hundred feet away, but you can certainly see it at many times that distance on an open field.

And whether you need a perception check is entirely within the purview of the person that determines every single element of the environment - the GM.

Silver Crusade

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Tacticslion wrote:

[

The point of the thing is, however, that reasonable house rules are reasonable.

The only way to make reasonable house rules for out of doors perception checks is to completely lose the concept of a linear modifier for a linear distance.

You need to go to some model where an exponential increase in distance maps to a linear modifier.

Silver Crusade

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dragonhunterq wrote:

Sometimes you lot make my brain hurt with your ridiculousness.

You only need a perception check for something you have a chance to miss.
You can miss the sounds of battle from a few hundred feet away, but you can certainly see it at many times that distance on an open field.

And whether you need a perception check is entirely within the purview of the person that determines every single element of the environment - the GM.

So you agree that the GM should just make up the rules since the existing rules are insanely bad?


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I don't think they're insanely bad, I just think they're frequently misapplied.

(He said, having previously attested that he'd switched to 5e.)


pauljathome wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:

Sometimes you lot make my brain hurt with your ridiculousness.

You only need a perception check for something you have a chance to miss.
You can miss the sounds of battle from a few hundred feet away, but you can certainly see it at many times that distance on an open field.

And whether you need a perception check is entirely within the purview of the person that determines every single element of the environment - the GM.

So you agree that the GM should just make up the rules since the existing rules are insanely bad?

Nope, rules are fine as is. There is a difference between making up rules and deciding when the rules actually apply.

The perception rules are not created or designed to determine every single thing you can see or hear. They function for what they are designed for just fine. If you and/or your GM routinely misapply the rules that is not a problem with the rules.

Shadow Lodge

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I'm going to start requiring players to roll Perception checks to hear their comrades speak.

Silver Crusade

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Grossly incandescent.


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dragonhunterq wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:

Sometimes you lot make my brain hurt with your ridiculousness.

You only need a perception check for something you have a chance to miss.
You can miss the sounds of battle from a few hundred feet away, but you can certainly see it at many times that distance on an open field.

And whether you need a perception check is entirely within the purview of the person that determines every single element of the environment - the GM.

So you agree that the GM should just make up the rules since the existing rules are insanely bad?

Nope, rules are fine as is. There is a difference between making up rules and deciding when the rules actually apply.

The perception rules are not created or designed to determine every single thing you can see or hear. They function for what they are designed for just fine. If you and/or your GM routinely misapply the rules that is not a problem with the rules.

But when do they apply?

For any thing you might perceive, there is going to be a distance at which it's automatic, you can't possibly miss it and a distance at which you can't perceive it at all. There's also going to be some distance in between at which you might or might not perceive it. That distance is where the skill check applies and according to the rules, regardless of what the target is or how far away it is, the gap between those two is 200 feet - You detect it even if you roll a 1, then 200' farther away you can't see it even with a 20.
Or you ignore the rules and spread the distance penalties out somehow.


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TOZ wrote:
I'm going to start requiring players to roll Perception checks to hear their comrades speak.

I wish I could favorite posts twice. :)


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TOZ wrote:
I'm going to start requiring players to roll Perception checks to hear their comrades speak.

How far away are they?

Scarab Sages

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thejeff wrote:
TOZ wrote:
I'm going to start requiring players to roll Perception checks to hear their comrades speak.

How far away are they?

Are they oracles with the deaf curse?


thejeff wrote:

But when do they apply?

For any thing you might perceive, there is going to be a distance at which it's automatic, you can't possibly miss it and a distance at which you can't perceive it at all. There's also going to be some distance in between at which you might or might not perceive it. That distance is where the skill check applies and according to the rules, regardless of what the target is or how far away it is, the gap between those two is 200 feet - You detect it even if you roll a 1, then 200' farther away you can't see it even with a 20.
Or you ignore the rules and spread the distance penalties out somehow.

theJeff, not to put you on the spot, but why is randomly generated encounter starting distance such an issue for you? Have you been continuously screwed by your GM deciding you weren't aware of the encounter before you were at negative hit points or something?


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Hitdice wrote:
thejeff wrote:

But when do they apply?

For any thing you might perceive, there is going to be a distance at which it's automatic, you can't possibly miss it and a distance at which you can't perceive it at all. There's also going to be some distance in between at which you might or might not perceive it. That distance is where the skill check applies and according to the rules, regardless of what the target is or how far away it is, the gap between those two is 200 feet - You detect it even if you roll a 1, then 200' farther away you can't see it even with a 20.
Or you ignore the rules and spread the distance penalties out somehow.

theJeff, not to put you on the spot, but why is randomly generated encounter starting distance such an issue for you? Have you been continuously screwed by your GM deciding you weren't aware of the encounter before you were at negative hit points or something?

Some people have these things called empathy and imagination that allow them to recognize problems that they haven't personally suffered.


Are people with empathy and imagination allowed to ask their discussion partners for specifics, or is that a sign of irredeemable sociopathy?


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Hitdice wrote:
Are people with empathy and imagination allowed to ask their discussion partners for specifics, or is that a sign of irredeemable sociopathy?

That your question implies the assumption that your discussion partner doesn't have them is certainly not a good sign.

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