How would PCs determine how injured an enemy is during combat?


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I dont mean like exact HP left, but something like "they are bleeding profusely and look close to death" sort of thing. My DM says "sense motive" but I just don't understand the logic of that at all. I'm no expert, and can't find a thing in the book, so any help would be great.

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I don't believe there's a universal mechanic that explicitly mentions that function, so assigning it to a skill seems appropriate.

However, Sense Motive? I have no idea why your GM thinks Sense Motive is a more appropriate skill than Heal for making a medical assessment of an injured creature. Or are we talking about if someone's trying to pretend to be more/less injured than they really are, making it Bluff versus Sense Motive?


Profession Soldier? The Deathwatch Spell. The appropriate Knowledge Check you use to identify the monster in the first place?


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Heal skill could work. A lot of time, the GM just lets the players have a general idea. If you want to require a skill check to determine even this, I would let the players know ahead of time.


Grindstone wrote:
I dont mean like exact HP left, but something like "they are bleeding profusely and look close to death" sort of thing. My DM says "sense motive" but I just don't understand the logic of that at all. I'm no expert, and can't find a thing in the book, so any help would be great.

There aren't any rules that discuss hit point assessment in combat, so it's entirely a call for the table.

I agree that Sense Motive is not a particularly obvious or relevant skill; if I had to make it a skill, I'd use Heal instead.

However, I don't really think that this should be a skill-based check. If someone's gushing blood out of the mouth and can't stand up, I don't need an M.D. to be able to figure out that he's hurt.

What is your DM trying to accomplish by hiding this information behind a skill wall?


Do people think asking/getting info for an enemies hit die is valid info for a knowledge check? Because if so you can use that, your knowledge of the creature type to know which kind of hit die, and estimate a con mod. And then keep track of damage dealt to it.


If the damage is obvious, we usually just give a fluff that amounts to fine, fatigued, injured, or f+$+ed up. If it isn't obvious, usually a heal, knowledge, or perception check based on the circumstances. The fluff from any decent hit also tends to give us plenty of context about HP.


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Slayers can actually take a talent for it.

I think I'd use either heal or perception to estimate a critter's injuries if I tied it to a skill.

Though honestly, it works in my group more like --

Player: How's the [monster] look?

GM: "Barely scratched" or "it's doing fine" or "bloodied" [yes, as per 4E] or "badly hurt" or "a stiff breeze would knock it over." Or variations on that.

Particularly savage or unflinching foes may just result in "it's still going" or "it ain't finished yet" rather than the normal less-inaccurate estimates.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Heal check (and SM if intelligent creature).


I completely agree, sense motive made zero sense to me. He said it's to find the CR (even when I specified "not how overall strong he is, but how much he is bleeding") and that enemies are basically always trying to conceal how injured they are, even when they're not trying to conceal how injured they are. Including animals (which is what this started with).
Now he's saying that it's carried over from 3.5, which i have never played. I thought he was refeerring to a specific rule and was trying to get him to show it to me, but he kept talking around it. Eventually I got him to admit it (sense motive for damage) was from 3.5 and does not exist in any offical pathfinder source. That it's basically DM fiat. Now, since it's not stated as a specific rule, it's not happening at all.
:/


This sounds like a situation where the group needs to have a discussion. Hopefully, a diplomatic solution can be found. However, it may be case where you need to either find a new group, or figure out who else might be able to run. Whatever happens, good luck.


Ask your DM out of game. There really isn't much rules clarification.

Typically however you are supposed to know if you have successfully injured a monster or not, IE if damage reduction makes the attack less effective there is supposed to be some in game indication of this.


Generally if I'm running a game and a player asks me how hurt a monster is I will just tell them in somewhat vague terms like "he has taken a few scratches and is starting to appear tired but is not too injured" or "he has taken significant wounds and is bleeding profusely". I also start to describe them taking more significant injuries when at or below half hitpoints and they may start to limp or display obvious signs of pain while taking actions. If a player wanted to know more specifics about the type of wounds someone had taken then depending on how easy it is to tell I would either give that information out for free "he has been stabbed" or ask for a heal check for specific info such as identifying the type of weapon they were attacked with.

I would only ever call for a sense motive check if the enemy was attempting to disguise the fact that they are injured or the extent of it which is very unlikely in combat as they are busy fighting for their lives and it often would not even occur to someone to do that.

In this case I recommend talking to them about it and explaining your point of view, get the group together and discuss it. It may be that you are simply not compatible with the group or that specific GM but hopefully one of you can compromise one way or the other and you guys can have fun.

Good luck.

Adrastus


Adrastus: And that's really all I was looking for in response to my inquiry during the fight. Which is why I have a hard time linking "sense motive" to "check if this greatsword is making him bleed". I mean, greavous wounds are not really something people (or freaking animals) bluff.


We had a DM who would say someone was "green", "yellow" or "red" depending on their health status. After we started playing 4e, we started using the word "bloodied" in other games too.

On occasion, a DM will say someone is "on their last legs".

Dark Archive

My gaming group only uses "bloodied" a creature is below 50%. Anything more descriptive would require a move-action DC 15 Heal check.


Quote:
Eventually I got him to admit it (sense motive for damage) was from 3.5 and does not exist in any offical pathfinder source.

Can he source this? I can't find this in any of my 3.5 books.


The game has no mechanic at base for this. HP are a severe abstraction of damage, so nothing really should be apparent unless its a big hit.

I usually will let people know when an enemy is at 1/2 HP (Bloodied from 4e), and close to death (has less than 80% or so). Anything else isn't important.

Good role playing from a GM can make it so its a moot point however.

"As you slash across his chest he staggers back and gasps as he clears blood from his eyes, "can't... die... yet..." he struggles to say.

Of course I run a very pulpy game, where a hit is a hit, even if it makes people seem absurd.


I don't remember this from 3.5 either, though it's possible that we just never played that rule.

I may be wrong, but it sounds more like he was put on the spot, came up with a (somewhat arbitrary) ruling and tried justifying it afterwards. If you push him about it, he may simply dig his heels in and declare it a standing rule by GM Fiat, however if you present a reasonable alternative, he may listen (heal skill sounds like a good choice to me).


Heal check all the way. It's used to determine the injuries of poison and disease, and used to treat wounds. Can't treat wounds without diagnosing. So heal check.

You can alter the check at your table based on commonality of the Monster, increase DC by Con bonus and CR... not hard at all. But yeah, Heal check. Dont make it perception that's already used so much. What are you going to see? He's hurt? No s%@~. You hit him with a flail. It's about how hurt. That's knowledge. That's Heal check.


I think the OP's GM is treating Sense Motive as a skill at assessing more than just the intentions of the an observed creature. And I don't think he's the only one doing so - d20pfsrd's Sense Motive page includes Analyze Prowess as a suggested use from a 3rd party publisher. So I'd have to say it's not a terrible suggestion to use it, just a bit unusual.

I'd probably have a PC use either Perception or Healing and give the healing check a lower DC for being a bit more on point.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Sense motive comes in if the creature is trying to bluff being more injured than it actually is (setting up a trap) or pretending to not be badly injured (hiding their wounds).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Pathfinder Unchained introduced a system for calling out how much damage any particular creature had taken:

Healthy +75%
Grazed 75-50%
Wounded 50-25%
Critical 25-1%
Disabled/Dead

As a GM, I've taken to using those markers which I can easily track via Herolab on my laptop.


Sense motive makes sense to determine if the enemy is faking an injury. Heal check otherwise.


As a GM, I don't like to make a formal rule for it. I give general fluff descriptions, with no specific system of percentages or anything, and will elaborate on them a little if asked. If a player wants to make a skill check for a more accurate and more detailed result, I'd allow pretty much whatever they can justify as something their character would use as an indicator. "Sense Motive to get an idea of if he looks any more scared than before" or "Knowledge: Dungeoneering to recognize signs of injury in oozes" or "Heal to know how bad his wounds are" all sound valid enough, imo. If a player asks "what skill check do I make for this", I'll recommend Heal, and I do think it's the most fitting.


Kimera757 wrote:

We had a DM who would say someone was "green", "yellow" or "red" depending on their health status. After we started playing 4e, we started using the word "bloodied" in other games too.

On occasion, a DM will say someone is "on their last legs".

That's actually similar to what I do. Right after a creature is struck, I say it is "healthy" if it's in its upper third of HP, "wounded" if it's in its middle third, and "weak" if it's in its bottom third. Quick and easy, gives them an idea of how tough the creature is, and doesn't give too much away.


I think Nezzmith's info above is fairly common for quite a few game systems but in the past I have used the 33%/33%/33% variant, 40%/40%/20% as well as 20%/40%/40%.
The biggest problem's comes from the questions below.
1) What is the players intention for asking?
2) Can this be faked by intelligent creatures? (magic, acting, simple experience, etc)
3) How does this take into account things such as fast healing, regeneration and other such abilities?
4) What skills do you use in what situations?
5) May or may to apply to your game but I seem to remember an option rule that provides penalties for various would levels (probably from the same source as Nezzmith provided above) that provide penalties according to would levels and can this be differentiead vs other feats that provide to hit penalties vs other bonuses.

I wont go into each of them but tackle #4 as I think that is the thrust of this question.
I would handle it in one of two ways, combat and out of combat. In combat I would use the lower of perception and the relevant skill (healing, knowledge (creature) or other skill GM deems appropriate) as well as a penalty to the skill roll based of the relative chaoticness of the combat situation (# of combatants, distance, environmental effects, penalties associated with observing wounds on target, etc). For a base penalty I would have it be either -1 or -2 (it would depend on the chart of related penalties that I created and some game testing) and just to repeat again it would use the lower of the two skills as its base number. Out of combat or maybe a full round action, I would have it defer to the appropriate skill with mods based on the skill used (maybe some penalties if you did not have the right skill but one that was close to the one you needed (note I would not allow this option to be used in combat as IMHO it should take a bit more thinking to try and force a skill that does not have full relevance to be useful as one that does) and some mods maybe (how tough is it to spot damage on creature/target, acting buy target, range, general chaoticness of comabt, etc).

MDC

Sovereign Court

I think 4E got something right with the concept of Bloodied. It's plausible enough that you can see at least that much, simple enough to use in game, and has a good name.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I just describe how bad the creature/person looks as they go along. But if it were a roll, heal check makes the most sense to me.


I tend to use "bloodied" as well for below 50% of HP. I also note when it's on it's last legs, when I think a single attack would case it to keel over. Things like deep cuts, breathing heavily, missing limbs (especially if it's a spider or multi-legged creature) all indicate it doesn't have long to live anymore. I think I prefer this over hiding it. There's something "hardcore" about it, sure, but I think it's just fair for the players to know how well they're doing.


Chalk us up as another group that uses the 4E Bloodied status condition.

If you wanted to tie this to a skill check, it gets a little trickier (but I like it.)

I'd say Heal for living creatures, but what about for aberrations, undead, or constructs? Sense Motive doesn't really work on those cases either. Disable Device for constructs? Spellcraft for undead?


My group use blooded from 4e. About the only thing we did take from 4e.
We are looking at taking the stuff from Unchained. We will try it in a one short first.


Gulthor wrote:

Chalk us up as another group that uses the 4E Bloodied status condition.

If you wanted to tie this to a skill check, it gets a little trickier (but I like it.)

I'd say Heal for living creatures, but what about for aberrations, undead, or constructs? Sense Motive doesn't really work on those cases either. Disable Device for constructs? Spellcraft for undead?

Knowledge: Engineering for constructs sounds more appropriate for a visual assessment of intact-ness, compared to Disable Device.


Kaladin_Stormblessed wrote:
Gulthor wrote:

Chalk us up as another group that uses the 4E Bloodied status condition.

If you wanted to tie this to a skill check, it gets a little trickier (but I like it.)

I'd say Heal for living creatures, but what about for aberrations, undead, or constructs? Sense Motive doesn't really work on those cases either. Disable Device for constructs? Spellcraft for undead?

Knowledge: Engineering for constructs sounds more appropriate for a visual assessment of intact-ness, compared to Disable Device.

It's a sound idea, but I don't think it fits with all constructs. After all, that includes homunculi and golems which have little to do with engineering. I think it'd be best to go with the rules on Knowledge skills. Knowledge (Arcana) for magical constructs, Knowledge (Engineering) for technological ones.

For aberrations, I would say Knowledge (Dungeoneering) is the ticket. From what I've seen, that's the skill used to learn any and all facts about aberrations.
And yeah, for Undead, Spellcraft, Knowledge (Arcana) or even Knowledge (Religion) (the go-to skill for Undead lore) sound reasonable.

Sense Motive is only reasonable if the opponent is trying to hide their wounds or appear more hurt than they really are. Which would be a nice use for the Bluff skill, but not something that technically exists in Pathfinder.


Grindstone wrote:
I dont mean like exact HP left, but something like "they are bleeding profusely and look close to death" sort of thing. My DM says "sense motive" but I just don't understand the logic of that at all. I'm no expert, and can't find a thing in the book, so any help would be great.

In the game I played a few days ago, someone rolled sense motive versus one half of the corpse of an enemy they bisected to determine if it was actually dead.


Goddity wrote:
Grindstone wrote:
I dont mean like exact HP left, but something like "they are bleeding profusely and look close to death" sort of thing. My DM says "sense motive" but I just don't understand the logic of that at all. I'm no expert, and can't find a thing in the book, so any help would be great.
In the game I played a few days ago, someone rolled sense motive versus one half of the corpse of an enemy they bisected to determine if it was actually dead.

In a world with elementals, plant monsters, various constructs, and any number of undead, this is still sometimes the rational thing to do.


How would PCs determine how injured an enemy is during combat?

A normal human would use the magic of "common sense"

So I guess the real question is, how do you know if you're human or just a machine that thinks it's human.


Yeah, this always seemed like something that shouldn't require a check to me. I usually am relatively vague about it, but they should know the general health of their enemies.

"He looks fine."

"He's bleeding a lot, but still standing."

"Staggering, but raring to go."

"You feel like he should be dead by now, but he just keeps being a pain in your ass." (Ferocity)

And such-like and so on.

Shadow Lodge

Grindstone wrote:
I completely agree, sense motive made zero sense to me. He said it's to find the CR (even when I specified "not how overall strong he is, but how much he is bleeding") and that enemies are basically always trying to conceal how injured they are, even when they're not trying to conceal how injured they are. Including animals (which is what this started with).

This is actually partially true. Some animals instinctively hide any weakness from potential predators. People who work with lab mice get special training to interpret signs of distress in the animals.

Sense Motive is also good for getting a general hunch about someone's mental state, even if they're not actively deceiving you, so it should be possible to get a sense of how much pain someone is in using that skill. However, I'd only use it for humanoids, or some non-humanoids at a penalty for unfamiliar body language. More generally I'd use Heal, or the appropriate Knowledge check for the creature type. Usually I give players a choice of skill in cases like this where several might be applicable.

Also, my groups' GMs tend to give you at least "bloodied" automatically, and will usually also be descriptive enough that you can tell when the enemy is almost unconscious.


Let's simplify. Could you use Heal to treat the wounds of something alive, regardless of type?

If so then it's the same for diagnosis. No Knowledge skill check needed. Just use Heal.


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Cavall wrote:

Let's simplify. Could you use Heal to treat the wounds of something alive, regardless of type?

If so then it's the same for diagnosis. No Knowledge skill check needed. Just use Heal.

That would depend on what you mean by "alive". I would certainly say that Undead and Constructs aren't technically alive. I'm not sure if you can treat the wounds of an Undead with Heal, but certainly not the wounds of a Construct. Thus, I would say that you can't diagnose them either.

And I also think that there being only one applicable skill would be a bit restrictive, given how important this knowledge is for absolutely everyone. So, giving people a variety of skills to use sounds fine to me, although someone who only has Knowledge (Nature), but not Heal would maybe not find out as much.


Same way you do in real life. You can tell the difference , to some degree, between someone that's fine, has a few superficial gashes, or is holding an organ on the outside that you haven't seen since thanksgiving dinner.


I just give a general description of the creature, depending on how wounded it is... This way players have an idea of how many (or how few) hp the enemy has.

The downside to this is that enemies can also vaguely discern how wounded the PCs are...

I'd allow a Perception and/or Heal check as move action (maybe swift, at a penalty) to try and obtain more information.


As DM I give a fluff description, if someone asks. If someone wants technical info about health, a heal check it is. I don't make it a secret, if a mob failed it's save vs poison or is one hit away from a better world anyway.

Things that crop up occasionally like a fighter asking, if his blows deal full damage or are reduced by DR, are also getting the fluff treatment (...your blade seems to get deflected a little/somewhat/a lot from the demon's scales...).


Would Heal give an idea of how hurt he really is, and sense motive on how hurt he thinks he is. Might have some fun if these to evaluations didn't match up.


Nixitur wrote:
Cavall wrote:

Let's simplify. Could you use Heal to treat the wounds of something alive, regardless of type?

If so then it's the same for diagnosis. No Knowledge skill check needed. Just use Heal.

That would depend on what you mean by "alive". I would certainly say that Undead and Constructs aren't technically alive. I'm not sure if you can treat the wounds of an Undead with Heal, but certainly not the wounds of a Construct. Thus, I would say that you can't diagnose them either.

And I also think that there being only one applicable skill would be a bit restrictive, given how important this knowledge is for absolutely everyone. So, giving people a variety of skills to use sounds fine to me, although someone who only has Knowledge (Nature), but not Heal would maybe not find out as much.

Yes. I specifically said "alive" for that reason. Because the health of a zombie is a little hard to figure out. Basically of its moving it's trying to eat you. Likewise a golem is parts held by magic. So I thought carefully about how I would word it so that someone would not come in and say "what about undead and constructs."

Well, I had hoped anyways. I didn't want outlying cases to be the example instead of the exception. For what it's worth I doubt a sense motive on a skeleton is going to get you places either.


Golem:

Scratched
Chipped
Dented
Cracked
Missing a Leg
Rubble.


Grindstone wrote:
I dont mean like exact HP left, but something like "they are bleeding profusely and look close to death" sort of thing. My DM says "sense motive" but I just don't understand the logic of that at all. I'm no expert, and can't find a thing in the book, so any help would be great.

You've gotten a lot of great house-rule advice above but since this is the rules forum - there's no clear-cut rule for PCs being able to divine this in the general sense although there's a few special powers certain characters can do.


I can see why somebody would pick Sense Motive. I’ve watched a lot of boxing and MMA, and you don’t have to be trained in medicine to see when somebody is hurt or ready to go down. Some fighters seem to have an especially good sense for when their opponent is hurt or ready to be taken out, and I doubt it is because they have lots of first aid training.

Guys sometimes react to blows which hurt them by acting as if they didn’t. Other times they act hurt when they aren’t. Sense Motive seems like it would cover watching an opponent’s movements and expressions to make conclusions about his internal state, and I think that seems very appropriate for figuring out how your opponent is feeling. Even if somebody isn’t trying to mislead you regarding how hurt they are a skill like Perception might be more appropriate than Heal for noticing that a guy’s legs are wobbly or he’s blinking, wincing, beginning to turn away, etc. I guess there’s a little overlap between Perception and Sense Motive when it comes to observing other people or creatures in general.

Obviously there's a big difference between a boxing match and a sword fight, but I don't think you'd need a skill check at all to notice stuff like, "You just chopped his leg off". I suppose Heal might be more useful for evaluating potentially progressive injuries like, "His femoral artery is cut. Just back away and let him bleed out." -vs- "That head wound might look deadly, but scalp injuries are known to look bad even if they're superficial. You'd better keep attacking."


Cavall wrote:
Yes. I specifically said "alive" for that reason. Because the health of a zombie is a little hard to figure out. Basically of its moving it's trying to eat you. Likewise a golem is parts held by magic. So I thought carefully about how I would word it so that someone would not come in and say "what about undead and constructs."

That's all fine and good, but your suggestion simplified very little, given that we had previously talked about all kinds of creatures, not just animals and humanoids. I think it's pretty obvious that Heal should always work for those creatures, but I'd say that other skills (Knowledge, mostly) should give you at least some information, depending on the creature type.

For example, if you've never seen an Ooze before, your knowledge of first aid is not going to get you very far. Similarly with most Outsiders, Plants and some Aberrations. Most of these are definitely "alive", but I'm not sure I'd let players roll Heal to ascertain their health. Knowledge (Nature), Knowledge (Planes) and Knowledge (Dungeoneering) would be far more appropriate, given that those are the skills with which you find out any and all information about those creatures in the first place.

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