We are forced to use a feat if it lack the text "you can choose to"?


Rules Questions

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dragonhunterq wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


For example, Paul McCartney is a self-taught bassist, and plays left-handed. After years of practice, he couldn't play right-handed even if he wanted to. Speaking for myself, I learned to type on a QWERTY keyboard and can only get myself into trouble with a Dvorak one. Given the grueling course of study the Academae is supposed to have, I could easily argue that it's as limiting as Paul McCartney's Left-Handed Bass Academy.

Yeah, not really. That is extrapolating beyond the information we have and really unnecessarily so. KIS. two categories only. Those that can realistically only be a fundamental change and those that aren't.

Except I just gave two examples from the real world of learned "fundamental changes," so whatever else you say, they're not "unrealistic." It's an extrapolation, yes..... but it's no less unrealistic to say "this is the way you learned to do it, so that's the way you do it" than it is to say "this is one way you learned to do it, among others."

If you're serious about KISS, then there are indeed two categories. Those that are explicitly stated to be optional, and those that are not.

Shadow Lodge

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Extend Spell

CRB wrote:

Benefit: An extended spell lasts twice as long as normal.

A spell with a duration of concentration, instantaneous, or permanent is not affected by this feat. An extended spell uses up a spell slot one level higher than the spell’s actual level.

I'm personally of the opinion that Feats, being options meant to add a level of customization outside of the norm for your race or class, can be "turned off" if desired. Otherwise it looks like the Devs intended for Extend Spell above to automatically apply to all spells prepped or cast as long as you have the open higher level slots and the spell is an applicable choice, (there is no "you can" or "you may" clause, you just do it). There is a "can" in the brief description, but that's obviously saying you are able to do something that others can not without this Feat, not that you have a choice.

Even some things like a Feat that grants a +1 to Natural Armor I can see, not being turned off, but rather purposefully not used by the possessor under some circumstances. They might have tougher hide (or scales or whatever), but I'm not sure that applies to every single portion of their anatomy at every single point in time, so they might want to get a piercing or tattoo in one of the lesser protected areas, and I don't think that was meant to imply that their eyeballs are also scaled (eye lids perhaps, but not their eyes or other sensitive areas).

So, in my opinion, and I don't believe that the rules really favor yes or no in a more universal sense than the other, unless the Feat specifies that it can not be "turned off" or general logic would prevent it, you can in fact choose not to utilize a given Feat, (getting neither the benefit or the drawback). It is case by case, so something like the Elongated Skull 3-in-1 Feat from Occult Adventures is something you probably can not "turn off" as it literally changes you permanently. I'd say anything that you get from "special training" should allow you to choose not to do that thing in the normal method, at least generally speaking, neither getting the pro or the con for taking the feat.


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DM Beckett wrote:

Extend Spell

CRB wrote:

Benefit: An extended spell lasts twice as long as normal.

A spell with a duration of concentration, instantaneous, or permanent is not affected by this feat. An extended spell uses up a spell slot one level higher than the spell’s actual level.
I'm personally of the opinion that Feats, being options meant to add a level of customization outside of the norm for your race or class, can be "turned off" if desired. Otherwise it looks like the Devs intended for Extend Spell above to automatically apply to all spells prepped or cast as long as you have the open higher level slots and the spell is an applicable choice, (there is no "you can" or "you may" clause, you just do it).

The "can" is in the overarching rules for metamagic itself.

Metamagic wrote:


As a spellcaster's knowledge of magic grows, he can learn to cast spells in ways slightly different from the norm. [...]

Wizards and Divine Spellcasters: Wizards and divine spellcasters must prepare their spells in advance. During preparation, the character chooses which spells to prepare with metamagic feats (and thus which ones take up higher-level spell slots than normal). [...]

Sorcerers and Bards: Sorcerers and bards choose spells as they cast them. They can choose when they cast their spells whether to apply their metamagic feats to improve them.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:
Most feats shoud be clear whether they change you so fundamentally that you can't or shouldn't be able to turn them off (Improved natural armour, toughness, necromantic affinity) and those that are an alternative way of doing things (power attack, deadly aim) and I include Acadamae Graduate in the latter camp.

It depends upon the course of study at the Academae, I suppose. Just because you've been trained to do something a certain way doesn't mean that you can easily do it any other way, even if that other way is more common.

For example, Paul McCartney is a self-taught bassist, and plays left-handed. After years of practice, he couldn't play right-handed even if he wanted to. Speaking for myself, I learned to type on a QWERTY keyboard and can only get myself into trouble with a Dvorak one. Given the grueling course of study the Academae is supposed to have, I could easily argue that it's as limiting as Paul McCartney's Left-Handed Bass Academy.

I'm reminded of when Destin of Smarter Every Day accidentally forced himself to forget how to ride a bike.


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Gulthor wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:
Most feats shoud be clear whether they change you so fundamentally that you can't or shouldn't be able to turn them off (Improved natural armour, toughness, necromantic affinity) and those that are an alternative way of doing things (power attack, deadly aim) and I include Acadamae Graduate in the latter camp.

It depends upon the course of study at the Academae, I suppose. Just because you've been trained to do something a certain way doesn't mean that you can easily do it any other way, even if that other way is more common.

For example, Paul McCartney is a self-taught bassist, and plays left-handed. After years of practice, he couldn't play right-handed even if he wanted to. Speaking for myself, I learned to type on a QWERTY keyboard and can only get myself into trouble with a Dvorak one. Given the grueling course of study the Academae is supposed to have, I could easily argue that it's as limiting as Paul McCartney's Left-Handed Bass Academy.

I'm reminded of when Destin of Smarter Every Day accidentally forced himself to forget how to ride a bike.

Another example is the standard trick of saying something like "hello" or "thank you" to someone in a language they don't understand. It's very hard to overcome the ingrained social habit to respond. I believe there was an example filmed in The Great Escape.

It can be something as simple as calling a person's name and seeing if they turn around. No one is born knowing their names, but after a lifetime of responding to a name, it's very hard not to respond. Even if you're operating under an alias.


I asked this basic question regarding the Priest class from Kobold Press regarding the Priest's ability to use action types other than the standard to use channel energy. Link: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2twhv?Kobold-Press-New-Paths-9-The-Priest

He noted that James Jacobs had this to say about the way Bardic Performance scales:

Quote:


Here's what James Jacobs had to say on the question "Can a bard still use the 'lesser' action type if he wants? I.e., can a 13th level bard still start a bardic performance as a standard or move action instead of as a swift, or *must* he use the swift action?"

--------------
Yes. Nothing in the description of the bard class says anything about losing previous powers and options. You don't lose the ability to cast 3rd level spells just because you gain the ability to cast 4th level spells, for example.

Furthermore, it's illogical that gaining levels should reduce your options.

A 13th level bard can start a bardic performance as a standard, move, or swift action. (He can't start multiple performances in a round though.)

If James says it, it's good enough for me! So, much like the bard, a 14th level priest gains the ability to channel energy as a swift action, but he can still opt to do so as a move or standard instead if he wishes.

For the same reason: "nothing in the description of a feat states that you lose previous powers and options", basically means that the use of all feats -- even ones worded like Acadamae Graduate -- is only an additional option on top of the class norm, not a replacement, like an archetype.


Although there are certain cases when it's clear that you shouldn't be able to "turn off" your feat, such as with Fae Foundling and Toughness. With Fae Foundling, if you could turn it off, you could probably turn it on every time you want to heal yourself, then turn it off at the end of the turn, if you're fighting people with cold iron daggers. With Toughness, if somebody tags you with a successful Harm, and you decide to temporarily turn off Toughness, you get whittled down to 1 HP, then reactivate Toughness so you have 4 or more HP. Granted, these are fairly small cases, but it can happen.

At the risk of giving an answer you probably already know: Ask your GM. I doubt the PDT will come out with an official ruling for a case like this, since it really varies case-to-case. And since "common sense" varies from table to table, the best person to ask is the person in charge of the table. If you have a convincing, rational explanation why to or why not to have the feat switchable, the GM will probably accept it.


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This sort of reminds me of the Ninja class in AD&D published in the Dragon mag and Best of the Dragon mag vol 1 (IIRC). It had a statement that went something like " One way to try and detect a Ninja is by making his training betray himself because of his training in evasion and avoiding attacks."
So when your server in a bar fight suddenly moves out of the way of a thrown mug you might suspect something or that old man jumps out of the way of a run away cart that suddenly appears behind him, etc.

The AD&D Ninja's was a case of training that they said could not be turned off or suppressed.

MDC


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Snowlilly wrote:


Then the game is most likely not going to work for you.

As the developers have stayed repeatedly, common sense is required ; they cannot write thousand page books in legalease that cover all possible scenarios and interactions.

Why are the only two options "thousand page books in legalese" or "stupid rules and mechanics that barely even work properly and are going to behave differently at every table not because of house rules but because people can't even agree what the developer intended it to be"?

Feels like there's room for a middleground there.


There's nothing in the language of Acadamae Graduate to suggest it's toggle-able when viewed in isolation, and there's nothing in the general rules that suggest feats do anything but what they say they do, so I think by a strictly RAW reading, you can't turn it off.

But nobody actually plays the game by strict RAW, so ask your GM I guess.

It's possible they don't teach wizards how to cast long casting time spells normally at the Acadamae, so the character literally can't cast those spells any other way. They simply don't know how. That may have been the intent of the author, or a rules editor may have changed it, or a print editor may have cut the clauses that would render it optional to save space. Or maybe the rules author assumed there was a blanket rule, written or otherwise, that allowed you to toggle feats at will. Or maybe an editor did, and removed the "redundant clauses." Or maybe the author never considered that anyone would ever WANT to turn his awesome feat off, and thus didn't consider adding optional clauses. Short of the author actually chiming in, there's no real way to know. So yeah, ask your GM.


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bitter lily wrote:

My question is about who wrote "Acadamae Graduate (Local)" to begin with? It's apparently from a "content" book, Curse of the Crimson Throne Player’s Guide. I've seen at least one post (but don't, of course, helpfully remember where!!!) from a dev who basically said he doesn't comment on stuff that isn't from rules books because he's not involved in writing it. Which I took to mean that if it doesn't show up on the PRD, it's not as reliable as the stuff that does. And yes, if anyone can actually link to such a statement, I'll be deeply appreciative.

The point is, it now seems a lot more reasonable to re-write a "you may choose to" into "Acadamae Graduate (Local)" than into "Shield Slam," which does show up on the PRD. Although even there, why spoil the player's day with a ruling that they're too vicious to control the force of their shield bash?

So...

You may be thinking of something James Jacobs has said, which amounts to "don't ask me for official rules answers because that's not my department". The world-neutral team that works on the Core Rulebook, Ultimate [whatever], and [whatever] Adventures books is a separate team from the Golarion-specific group that works on Adventure Paths, Player Companions, and Campaign Setting books.

In the past, people asked James Jacobs for his opinion on various rules bits, and his answer was sometimes different depending on when you asked him.... or different from the "official" answer that may have come later or in another thread.

If the original version of Academae Graduate was from the Curse of the Crimson Throne Player Guide, then it has two potential issues: 1) it was written for 3.5 and not Pathfinder, and 2) the campaign traits at some points were intended to be stronger than "normal" traits because the players were "strongly encouraged" to take such a trait as one of their 2 when playing in those campaigns (and, by implication, they may not be appropriate for general play campaign when NOT playing the matching Adventure Path... YMMV on that).


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dragonhunterq wrote:
Case by case seems the way to go. I do not believe there should be a general rule requiring a 'may' or 'can' to make feats optional.

That would be treated in the same manner as the general rule that "many traits grant a trait bonus."

The general consensus becomes, any bonus granted by a trait that is not explicitly defined as a "trait bonus" is treated as untyped. In the case of your proposed rule, any trait not explicitly worded as "must use" will be treated as optional, even when it otherwise makes not sense, e.g. Fey Foundling being turned off when an opponent with a cold iron weapon is encountered.

Contributor

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I stand that the answer is no. Here is the breakdown of a feat's description from the feats section.

Feat Descriptions wrote:
Benefit: What the feat enables the character ("you" in the feat description) to do.

A feat enables a character to do something, not forces a character to do something. I would say this is a catch all "can" wording for feats.


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Boomerang Nebula wrote:
Can you turn off the toughness feat? If so, could dominate monster be used to force someone to turn off toughness?

That's very clearly "obviously self destructive" so Dominate would be right out.


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Squiggit wrote:
Snowlilly wrote:


Then the game is most likely not going to work for you.

As the developers have stayed repeatedly, common sense is required ; they cannot write thousand page books in legalease that cover all possible scenarios and interactions.

Why are the only two options "thousand page books in legalese" or "stupid rules and mechanics that barely even work properly and are going to behave differently at every table not because of house rules but because people can't even agree what the developer intended it to be"?

Feels like there's room for a middleground there.

There is. Rules written so that if you use common sense, don't try to dissect the meaning, and don't try to read it with the express purpose of gaining a mechanical advantage from the weaker reading you'll get the idea.

Which is 99% something of the rules.


My common sense is tingling!

-A certain completely insane murderhobo


BigNorseWolf wrote:


There is. Rules written so that if you use common sense, don't try to dissect the meaning, and don't try to read it with the express purpose of gaining a mechanical advantage from the weaker reading you'll get the idea.

Which is 99% something of the rules.

I agree, but the scenario I posed was not hypothetical. It was last week.

Shadow Lodge

Orfamay Quest wrote:
The "can" is in the overarching rules for metamagic itself.

Good catch.


Urath DM wrote:
bitter lily wrote:
My question is about who wrote "Acadamae Graduate (Local)" to begin with? It's apparently from a "content" book, Curse of the Crimson Throne Player’s Guide. I've seen at least one post (but don't, of course, helpfully remember where!!!) from a dev who basically said he doesn't comment on stuff that isn't from rules books because he's not involved in writing it. Which I took to mean that if it doesn't show up on the PRD, it's not as reliable as the stuff that does. And yes, if anyone can actually link to such a statement, I'll be deeply appreciative.
You may be thinking of something James Jacobs has said, which amounts to "don't ask me for official rules answers because that's not my department". The world-neutral team that works on the Core Rulebook, Ultimate [whatever], and [whatever] Adventures books is a separate team from the Golarion-specific group that works on Adventure Paths, Player Companions, and Campaign Setting books.

No, I'm definitely thinking of something a rules dev said. We've unfortunately got a big haystack here, so I don't know how to go looking for the needle... Whoever it was refused to discuss a specific issue when appealed to, on the grounds that it wasn't from a rules (ie PRD) book but rather from a book in James Jacobs's department. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some of the latter gentleman's great comments on rules issues, and I have a strong respect for the feats & whatnot that he & his writers produce. I still have the sense that it's not "rules" in the strictest sense if it's not on the PRD. (Or bound for it, as in the case of Ultimate Intrigue.) I'm still more open to "adjusting" such a feat if I feel it's warranted.

Urath DM wrote:
If the original version of Academae Graduate was from the Curse of the Crimson Throne Player Guide, then it has two potential issues: 1) it was written for 3.5 and not Pathfinder, and 2) the campaign traits at some points were intended to be stronger than "normal" traits because the players were "strongly encouraged" to take such a trait as one of their 2 when playing in those campaigns (and, by implication, they may not be appropriate appropriate for general play campaign when NOT playing the matching Adventure Path... YMMV on that)

According to the d20pfsrd, it's a feat, not a trait, so that eases one concern. But yes, it arguably applies only to wizards who graduated from the "notorious Acadamae of Korvosa" (as I found it described). So I'd add to the prereqs for more wide-spread use outside of one specific AP...

Prerequisites as written wrote:
Specialist wizard level 1st, cannot have conjuration as a forbidden school.

I'd say... Prerequisites: Specialist wizard of 1st or 2nd level only, cannot have conjuration as a forbidden school, has spent 10 years in Korvosa studying at its Acadamae & graduated.

Once you put it this way, the arguments in favor of "you never learned how to do it differently" have a lot of weight. At the same time, maybe a PC w/ this feat can learn a less exhausting, more careful method of summoning later on, or have been a bit of a scandal as a youth, for that matter. That's not going to take a whole feat, however. What about a trait? Something like Careful Conjuring (magic) might give a graduate the option of normal (slow but not fatiguing) conjuring.

I think I'd simply let the PC roleplay feeling absurdly careful when summoning normally and leave it at that, or ban the feat outright as flawed. 1-1/2 feats seems too expensive!

It will be interesting, I have to admit, to see what Paizo does with the feat in their revision...


bitter lily wrote:

I'd say... Prerequisites: Specialist wizard of 1st or 2nd level only, cannot have conjuration as a forbidden school, has spent 10 years in Korvosa studying at its Acadamae & graduated.

Once you put it this way, the arguments in favor of "you never learned how to do it differently" have a lot of weight. At the same time, maybe a PC w/ this feat can learn a less exhausting, more careful method of summoning later on, or have been a bit of a scandal as a youth, for that matter. That's not going to take a whole feat, however. What about a trait? Something like Careful Conjuring (magic) might give a graduate the option of normal (slow but not fatiguing) conjuring.

I think I'd simply let the PC roleplay feeling absurdly careful when summoning normally and leave it at that, or ban the feat outright as flawed. 1-1/2 feats seems too expensive!

Ok, never mind what one GM (me) would do. It's irrelevant.

The point is, we've seen lots of examples of feats that refrain from "you may" for obviously good reason. This may well be one of them, and it has to be a GM's call whether to extend mercy or not. For GMs that do not, I propose a player be able to ask for a custom Magic trait, Careful Conjuring, that would permit using the normal rules for conjuring at will. I realize that's not necessarily a good answer for PCs already in play, especially if they already have a Magic trait or if their GM doesn't allow traits. (Or the feat that lets you get two traits later!) Such PCs would be stuck -- although surely such a GM would permit subbing out the feat???

I also propose that GMs look carefully at a proposed PC using this feat to see if they actually have the expected background!


Bloodrealm wrote:
I'm pretty sure we have our answer in the "can." As in, does the text use "can" or "may?" If not, then it's mandatory.

Can you point to the paragraph or line In Pathfinder that says this?

And here's the thing. Let us say the writers did choose the wrong words there. It's not like the CRB, where the wrong words will be corrected in the next printing or by a FAQ.


Snowlilly wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:


There is. Rules written so that if you use common sense, don't try to dissect the meaning, and don't try to read it with the express purpose of gaining a mechanical advantage from the weaker reading you'll get the idea.

Which is 99% something of the rules.

I agree, but the scenario I posed was not hypothetical. It was last week.

You are the 1%?


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bitter lily wrote:


The point is, we've seen lots of examples of feats that refrain from "you may" for obviously good reason. This may well be one of them, and it has to be a GM's call whether to extend mercy or not. For GMs that do not, I propose a player be able to ask for a custom Magic trait, Careful Conjuring, that would permit using the normal rules for conjuring at will. I realize that's not necessarily a good answer for PCs already in play, especially if they already have a Magic trait or if their GM doesn't allow traits. (Or the feat that lets you get two traits later!) Such PCs would be stuck -- although surely such a GM would permit subbing out the feat???

The PC would not necessarily be stuck. If they find that they don't like the consequences of one of their feat choices, well, that's what the Retraining rules in Ultimate Campaign are for! The GM should not simply allow the PC to sub out the feat; rather, they retrain to another feat, costing time and money.

Only if they want to have it both ways should they be required to take a trait as well. That seems to me to be an appropriate price to pay.


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Snowlilly wrote:


As the developers have stayed repeatedly, common sense is required ; they cannot write thousand page books in legalease that cover all possible scenarios and interactions.
DrDeth wrote:


No, because no one would want a PHB edited by a team of lawyers, being 6" think and costing $500. The Devs are human, they left some stuff out when it was just plain common sense.

Why do advocates for clear rules always come up against this asinine argument? It is entirely possible to write both more clearly AND more concisely. Is it easy? No. Can you sit down and pound out 3000 words in an hour that way? No. It requires skill, finesse, and some talent. I, for one, happen to believe the dev team is up to it.

But for the sake of this discussion "adding clarity" and "adding length" ARE NOT the same things. Please stop with this ridiculous argument.


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Based on the how some of these rules readings come across you would need to add length to a lot of things. A lot of small changes over a big book is still a lot of page count possibly increased.


You can "turn off" Toughness, but not in the manner people are thinking. Toughness allows you to gain +3 extra HP to start, as well as +1 extra per level at 4th level and up (effectively +1 HP per level). Turning off toughness won't take away those HP any more than turning off the light after you're done in the kitchen meant you were retroactively preparing your sandwich in the dark. Turning off Toughness would mean that, when you level up, you retain the ability to not take the bonus HP if you choose not to (it's a poor decision, but it's yours to make). But after you've taken the bonus HP, it's there to stay. So no, dominating a creature won't allow you to reduce their HP by turning off their Toughness feat, but I can perfectly well see how you should be able to retain the ability to not use a particular feat in a given situation. In order for a feat to be "locked on", it would require an explicit statement to that effect, likely by explicitly stating "You must <whatever the feat does>."


Kazaan wrote:
You can "turn off" Toughness, but not in the manner people are thinking. Toughness allows you to gain +3 extra HP to start, as well as +1 extra per level at 4th level and up (effectively +1 HP per level). Turning off toughness won't take away those HP any more than turning off the light after you're done in the kitchen meant you were retroactively preparing your sandwich in the dark. Turning off Toughness would mean that, when you level up, you retain the ability to not take the bonus HP if you choose not to (it's a poor decision, but it's yours to make). But after you've taken the bonus HP, it's there to stay. So no, dominating a creature won't allow you to reduce their HP by turning off their Toughness feat, but I can perfectly well see how you should be able to retain the ability to not use a particular feat in a given situation. In order for a feat to be "locked on", it would require an explicit statement to that effect, likely by explicitly stating "You must <whatever the feat does>."

So, your position is that the Fey Foundling feat can be turned off whenever the possessor is attacked with a cold iron weapon?

Each feat must be evaluated by the DM to see if it is something the DM feels is appropriate to be used/not used at the characters discretion.


Yeah, this is the sort of question that can't be definitively answered, and you'll need to consult your GM each time.


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This is the problem with feats is that they are not just things you can do anymore they are things that affect your heritage or background which really can't turned off.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Kazaan wrote:
You can "turn off" Toughness, but not in the manner people are thinking. Toughness allows you to gain +3 extra HP to start, as well as +1 extra per level at 4th level and up (effectively +1 HP per level). Turning off toughness won't take away those HP any more than turning off the light after you're done in the kitchen meant you were retroactively preparing your sandwich in the dark. Turning off Toughness would mean that, when you level up, you retain the ability to not take the bonus HP if you choose not to (it's a poor decision, but it's yours to make). But after you've taken the bonus HP, it's there to stay. So no, dominating a creature won't allow you to reduce their HP by turning off their Toughness feat, but I can perfectly well see how you should be able to retain the ability to not use a particular feat in a given situation. In order for a feat to be "locked on", it would require an explicit statement to that effect, likely by explicitly stating "You must <whatever the feat does>."

But that's the exact opposite of what it seems the intent was. Power attack clear states "You can choose to take a –1 penalty on all melee attack rolls" vs Toughness which states "You gain +3 hit points. For every Hit Die you possess beyond 3, you gain an additional +1 hit point." It doesn't say you may gain, or you can gain. Just you gain. To me, if a feat is a choice, then the description needs to provide that information. Otherwise it's always on per RAW. But like others, the bottom line is that you can rule either way and as such it's just up to GM discretion.


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The general rule is that you do what it says. If it says can you have a choice, if it just says something happens, then that things happens.

That being said, understanding intent and the particular providence of a particular feat can be informative. Acadamae Graduate is almost certainly intended to be a choice, "casting a spell in this way" while not definitive is suggestive that the particular character has more than one way to do it. If this had been a feat published in a core product I would expect it to have been given errata and fixed.

That last is why understanding where a feat comes from is important. This particular feat was, as far as I know, only published once in a players guide for an adventure path that predates the Pathfinder rules itself. As such it was unlikely to be fixed.

I don't know if it is in the new hardcover, but if it is, I expect it to have different phrasing.


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Kazaan wrote:
You can "turn off" Toughness, but not in the manner people are thinking. Toughness allows you to gain +3 extra HP to start, as well as +1 extra per level at 4th level and up (effectively +1 HP per level). Turning off toughness won't take away those HP any more than turning off the light after you're done in the kitchen meant you were retroactively preparing your sandwich in the dark. Turning off Toughness would mean that, when you level up, you retain the ability to not take the bonus HP if you choose not to (it's a poor decision, but it's yours to make). But after you've taken the bonus HP, it's there to stay. So no, dominating a creature won't allow you to reduce their HP by turning off their Toughness feat, but I can perfectly well see how you should be able to retain the ability to not use a particular feat in a given situation. In order for a feat to be "locked on", it would require an explicit statement to that effect, likely by explicitly stating "You must <whatever the feat does>."

You can't control to not gain hit points any more than you can choose to not take a feat or not to add skill ranks. The character creation section tells you what does happen, not what can happen. When you level you get hit points. They are tied to your class level.

CRB/PRD wrote:
Step 6—Finishing Details: Finally, you need to determine all of a character's details, including his starting hit points (hp), Armor Class (AC), saving throws, initiative modifier, and attack values.

Before the "It only says starting hits points" argument comes up.<--Kazaan I don't think you would have tried to make that claim, but someone else may have.

Quote:
Characters advance in level according to Table: Character Advancement and Level-Dependent Bonuses.
Quote:
The process of advancing a character works in much the same way as generating a character, except that your ability scores, race, and previous choices concerning class, skills, and feats cannot be changed.


BigDTBone wrote:
Snowlilly wrote:


As the developers have stayed repeatedly, common sense is required ; they cannot write thousand page books in legalease that cover all possible scenarios and interactions.
DrDeth wrote:


No, because no one would want a PHB edited by a team of lawyers, being 6" think and costing $500. The Devs are human, they left some stuff out when it was just plain common sense.

Why do advocates for clear rules always come up against this asinine argument? It is entirely possible to write both more clearly AND more concisely. Is it easy? No. Can you sit down and pound out 3000 words in an hour that way? No. It requires skill, finesse, and some talent. I, for one, happen to believe the dev team is up to it.

But for the sake of this discussion "adding clarity" and "adding length" ARE NOT the same things. Please stop with this ridiculous argument.

How many books do you have to your credit?

The argument is in no way ridiculous.


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DrDeth wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Snowlilly wrote:


As the developers have stayed repeatedly, common sense is required ; they cannot write thousand page books in legalease that cover all possible scenarios and interactions.
DrDeth wrote:


No, because no one would want a PHB edited by a team of lawyers, being 6" think and costing $500. The Devs are human, they left some stuff out when it was just plain common sense.

Why do advocates for clear rules always come up against this asinine argument? It is entirely possible to write both more clearly AND more concisely. Is it easy? No. Can you sit down and pound out 3000 words in an hour that way? No. It requires skill, finesse, and some talent. I, for one, happen to believe the dev team is up to it.

But for the sake of this discussion "adding clarity" and "adding length" ARE NOT the same things. Please stop with this ridiculous argument.

How many books do you have to your credit?

The argument is in no way ridiculous.

Yes, it really is.


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DrDeth wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Snowlilly wrote:


As the developers have stayed repeatedly, common sense is required ; they cannot write thousand page books in legalease that cover all possible scenarios and interactions.
DrDeth wrote:


No, because no one would want a PHB edited by a team of lawyers, being 6" think and costing $500. The Devs are human, they left some stuff out when it was just plain common sense.

Why do advocates for clear rules always come up against this asinine argument? It is entirely possible to write both more clearly AND more concisely. Is it easy? No. Can you sit down and pound out 3000 words in an hour that way? No. It requires skill, finesse, and some talent. I, for one, happen to believe the dev team is up to it.

But for the sake of this discussion "adding clarity" and "adding length" ARE NOT the same things. Please stop with this ridiculous argument.

How many books do you have to your credit?

The argument is in no way ridiculous.

It is, since there are just as many cases where things are unclear because of being overly wordy as there are ones being unclear because there's not enough detail.


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DrDeth wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Snowlilly wrote:


As the developers have stayed repeatedly, common sense is required ; they cannot write thousand page books in legalease that cover all possible scenarios and interactions.
DrDeth wrote:


No, because no one would want a PHB edited by a team of lawyers, being 6" think and costing $500. The Devs are human, they left some stuff out when it was just plain common sense.

Why do advocates for clear rules always come up against this asinine argument? It is entirely possible to write both more clearly AND more concisely. Is it easy? No. Can you sit down and pound out 3000 words in an hour that way? No. It requires skill, finesse, and some talent. I, for one, happen to believe the dev team is up to it.

But for the sake of this discussion "adding clarity" and "adding length" ARE NOT the same things. Please stop with this ridiculous argument.

How many books do you have to your credit?

The argument is in no way ridiculous.

RPG Books? 0

Scientific Papers? 3

I assure you that brevity and clarity are not opposed.

Sovereign Court

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BigDTBone wrote:

RPG Books? 0

Scientific Papers? 3

I assure you that brevity and clarity are not opposed.

Good (without significant bugs), on time, on budget. Pick two.

Writing game rules is more like writing software (that runs on peoples' minds) than it is like scientific papers. And you have the following things making your life difficult:


  • Unlike most programming languages, English is full of grammatical ambiguity.
  • Much of the audience does not appreciate reading super-strict language. Even though it'd be clearer.
  • Just like many software projects, in the long run it develops in directions never expected (campaign, occult, intrigue, horror - none of these were anticipated in the CRB).
  • Legacy code (3.5) and people who don't notice when something's changed.
  • Patching bugs is extremely painful. You can't change text to the degree that page numbers change. Every power level change has people complaining.

    More simply though, changing a rule means re-educating the "hardware" (people) the code runs on. Imagine that performing windows updates actually required everyone to read the update descriptions and understand them.

  • There is no automated testing system for rules in English. Unlike software, all testing is done by people. They cannot possibly hope to consider every weird combination.
  • Even though English is an imprecise and ambiguous language, people are good at resolving ambiguities and figuring out what the text means. Most people, when confronted with an iffy rule, manage to use it as intended anyways. And then they just forget about what it actually says and remember what it's supposed to.

    This makes it a lot harder actually to spot bad language before it ships, because writers tend to read what they meant, not what they actually wrote.

I don't mean to excuse Paizo for some of the big mistakes they've made. I do understand them, and I realize that without massive expansion of the editorial budget it'd be hard to fix.

Comparing an RPG product to a scientific paper is interesting. Leaving aside any lab work, just looking at the writing. In a scientific paper the quality of the writing is obviously of enormous importance. I suspect you receive more resources (time allocated, attention from editors/supervisors) per "item" in the paper than RPG publishers typically allocate towards items in their books.

I'm not saying RPGs don't want quality - they do, it keeps customers coming back - but they have other pressures too (time, budget) which they also have to balance. They could hire better and more editors, but what would increase the cost of production, which has to come from somewhere. If you increase the price of the book too much, sales will drop. If you don't increase the price, your bottom line suffers, and Paizo does want to stay in business (I have no idea of their profit margin). Any business has to weigh the benefits of investing in quality (and increasing long-term customer satisfaction) against the costs of doing so.

I believe the audience for scientific papers places a higher value on quality than the audience for RPGs. RPG customers want affordable product. Science audience (journals, readers) want the best quality and generally, some other institution (university, government, business sponsor) picks up the tab. Science competes more heavily on quality than sales price, compared to RPGs.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
Comparing an RPG product to a scientific paper is interesting. Leaving aside any lab work, just looking at the writing. In a scientific paper the quality of the writing is obviously of enormous importance. I suspect you receive more resources (time allocated, attention from editors/supervisors) per "item" in the paper than RPG publishers typically allocate towards items in their books.

In my experience (three books, 100+ papers, eight Grammy-winning songs, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree) brevity produces more errors than wordiness. Just as a simple example, I remember an editor of mine once tried to convert "we found no evidence to disprove" into "we proved," and the jury's eventual verdict was "justifiable homicide."

As you point out, this is even more true in a commercial publisher, where adding an extra page can be the difference between a viable product and not. This is doubly so for non-technical writing, where the style can be as much or more important than the content. Would anyone read a police procedural novel if it were written like an actual police report?


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Ascalaphus wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:

RPG Books? 0

Scientific Papers? 3

I assure you that brevity and clarity are not opposed.

Good (without significant bugs), on time, on budget. Pick two.

Writing game rules is more like writing software (that runs on peoples' minds) than it is like scientific papers.

[snip]

I don't mean to excuse Paizo for some of the big mistakes they've made. I do understand them, and I realize that without massive expansion of the editorial budget it'd be hard to fix.

Comparing an RPG product to a scientific paper is interesting. Leaving aside any lab work, just looking at the writing. In a scientific paper the quality of the writing is obviously of enormous importance. I suspect you receive more resources (time allocated, attention from editors/supervisors) per "item" in the paper than RPG publishers typically allocate towards items in their books.

I'm not saying RPGs don't want quality - they do, it keeps customers coming back - but they have other pressures too (time, budget) which they also have to balance. They could hire better and more editors, but what would increase the cost of production, which has to come from somewhere. If you increase the price of the book too much, sales will drop. If you don't increase the price, your bottom line suffers, and Paizo does want to stay in business (I have no idea of their profit margin). Any business has to weigh the benefits of investing in quality (and increasing long-term customer satisfaction) against the costs of doing so.

I believe the audience for scientific papers places a higher value on quality than the audience for RPGs. RPG customers want affordable product. Science audience (journals, readers) want the best quality and generally, some other institution (university, government, business sponsor) picks up the tab. Science competes more heavily on quality than sales price, compared to RPGs.

Scientific papers was an example I gave because DrDeth tossed out the ole "you haven't done so you can't know" fallacy. However, beyond my own personal experience in publishing I know that many forms of writing hold both brevity and clarity in high regard. Essays, most poetry (particularly the Haiku), journalism, vignettes, letters/email, lyrics, and speeches are a few examples. I would go so far as to say that MOST writing forms cherish precise and concise language. (The two obvious outliers being textbooks and law.)

At any rate I would agree with your assessment that of "good, timely, and cheap" only two can be had. Which is a fine argument, however is not the argument I was pushing back against. I was simply trying to point out that "the only way to add clarity is to add length" is patently false and a terrible argument.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
In my experience (three books, 100+ papers, eight Grammy-winning songs, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree) brevity produces more errors than wordiness.
BigDTBone wrote:
It requires skill, finesse, and some talent.


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BigDTBone wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
In my experience (three books, 100+ papers, eight Grammy-winning songs, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree) brevity produces more errors than wordiness.
BigDTBone wrote:
It requires skill, finesse, and some talent.

Yes, in the hands of a suitably genius writer, you may be able to combine brevity and clarity. If you think that you can get Bashō to write your RPG splatbook at -- what's the going rate, a nickel a word? -- especially given the handicap that he's, you know, dead, then I'm sure you can turn out an RPG book for the ages.

Similarly, I'm sure that the Cleveland Browns would love to have a quarterback with the speed of an Olympic sprinter, the agility of a karate master, the throwing speed of a Cy Young pitcher, the accuracy of a Marine Corps sniper, the resilience of Rasputin, the character of a Boy Scout, and the general physicality of an amorous rhinoceros. What they actually have is Robert Griffin III. If you know where to find an upgrade, I can give you a phone number to call.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
In my experience (three books, 100+ papers, eight Grammy-winning songs, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree) brevity produces more errors than wordiness.
BigDTBone wrote:
It requires skill, finesse, and some talent.

Yes, in the hands of a suitably genius writer, you may be able to combine brevity and clarity. If you think that you can get Bashō to write your RPG splatbook at -- what's the going rate, a nickel a word? -- especially given the handicap that he's, you know, dead, then I'm sure you can turn out an RPG book for the ages.

Similarly, I'm sure that the Cleveland Browns would love to have a quarterback with the speed of an Olympic sprinter, the agility of a karate master, the throwing speed of a Cy Young pitcher, the accuracy of a Marine Corps sniper, the resilience of Rasputin, the character of a Boy Scout, and the general physicality of an amorous rhinoceros. What they actually have is Robert Griffin III. If you know where to find an upgrade, I can give you a phone number to call.

All snark aside, it is my assertion that those can both be had with somewhat less consternation than you suggest.


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BigDTBone wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
In my experience (three books, 100+ papers, eight Grammy-winning songs, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree) brevity produces more errors than wordiness.
BigDTBone wrote:
It requires skill, finesse, and some talent.

Yes, in the hands of a suitably genius writer, you may be able to combine brevity and clarity. If you think that you can get Bashō to write your RPG splatbook at -- what's the going rate, a nickel a word? -- especially given the handicap that he's, you know, dead, then I'm sure you can turn out an RPG book for the ages.

Similarly, I'm sure that the Cleveland Browns would love to have a quarterback with the speed of an Olympic sprinter, the agility of a karate master, the throwing speed of a Cy Young pitcher, the accuracy of a Marine Corps sniper, the resilience of Rasputin, the character of a Boy Scout, and the general physicality of an amorous rhinoceros. What they actually have is Robert Griffin III. If you know where to find an upgrade, I can give you a phone number to call.

All snark aside, it is my assertion that those can both be had with somewhat less consternation than you suggest.

Yes. And the snark is an appropriate response to such a demonstrably counterfactual assertion.

You think that Paizo goes out of their way to hire substandard writers and editors? They're hiring the best in the business, as far as I can tell, and you can see what kind of writing they get from the best in the business. (And, yes, it's pretty damn good if you compare it to the sewage coming out of most third-party publishers.)

If you think there's better talent available to Paizo, I can give you a phone number for that as well.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Removing a confusing sentence that provides no useful information would be an example of a way to be both clearer and more concise. The associated FAQ would be along the lines of "Pretend we never wrote that." I am sure that the Pathfinder rules have at least one such errata, but I cannot recall where it is at the moment.


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RPG Writers In General:
I would like to come to the defense of RPG writers in that often they are underpaid and suffer from quick deadlines. It is also IMHO almost impossible for authors to see all of the various rule interactions past, present and future.
I also think that in general a lot of things have suffered from the changes that the software industry brought to retail in the late 90's of simply release it on the release date and we will patch it as problems arise.

But having said that I do agree that often better care in language use and descriptive text needs to be undertaken in a lot of cases.
Another problem is that often not everyone see's a problem with some text entries.
MDC


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
In my experience (three books, 100+ papers, eight Grammy-winning songs, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree) brevity produces more errors than wordiness.
BigDTBone wrote:
It requires skill, finesse, and some talent.

Yes, in the hands of a suitably genius writer, you may be able to combine brevity and clarity. If you think that you can get Bashō to write your RPG splatbook at -- what's the going rate, a nickel a word? -- especially given the handicap that he's, you know, dead, then I'm sure you can turn out an RPG book for the ages.

Similarly, I'm sure that the Cleveland Browns would love to have a quarterback with the speed of an Olympic sprinter, the agility of a karate master, the throwing speed of a Cy Young pitcher, the accuracy of a Marine Corps sniper, the resilience of Rasputin, the character of a Boy Scout, and the general physicality of an amorous rhinoceros. What they actually have is Robert Griffin III. If you know where to find an upgrade, I can give you a phone number to call.

All snark aside, it is my assertion that those can both be had with somewhat less consternation than you suggest.

Yes. And the snark is an appropriate response to such a demonstrably counterfactual assertion. How foolish.

You think that Paizo goes out of their way to hire substandard writers and editors? They're hiring the best in the business, as far as I can tell, and you can see what kind of writing they get from the best in the business. (And, yes, it's pretty damn good if you compare it to the sewage coming out of most third-party publishers.)

If you think there's better talent available to Paizo, I can give you a phone number for that as well.

Strawman is obvious. I am NOT claiming that "Paizo goes out of their way to hire substandard writers and editors." All I claimed is that brevity and clarity are not opposed.

In my first post on the topic I did add that I believe the PDT is up to the task. I think that the beginner box adaptation is a good example of that. (Yes, I know that many rules were removed for simplicity, I am not talking about that. I am talking about the rules that were rewritten to be more clear often were made more concise as well.)

Additionally, not to disparage the PDT, but there are certainly times when it is clear that editing is not one of their strengths. Yes, they are among the best RPG writers on the market, but that does not make them the best living writers, and it certainly doesn't make them the best editors.

To your last (wildly unnecessary statement) targeting technical writing students at liberal arts colleges would be a great start. Seriously, major players like Paizo and WotC should be recruiting writing talent from outside the industry. Self-aggrandizement and Ivory Tower succession plans lead to stale ideas.

EDIT: Also, did you seriously just say that "brevity and clarity are not opposed," is a demonstrably counter-factual assertion?


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For some reason, Orfamay has taken a hardline stance opposed to yours.

Nobody is saying that things are ALWAYS more clear (or at least as clear) the less wordy they are, but as you can tell from this very sentence, sometimes they can be ("brevity and clarity are not opposed" being both more concise, and just as clear in meaning to anyone who knows what all of those words mean).

Some things in this game could use a longer bit of clarification, that is true. An extra sentence or two makes all the difference with abilities like the one in the OP.

Others could do with some trimming. The Amnesiac's Spell Casting ability is one I had to mentally trim A LOT while I was making one last night. The Alchemist's Alchemy ability is another one notorious for burying really important stuff in the middle of a largely useless paragraph.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
In my experience (three books, 100+ papers, eight Grammy-winning songs, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree) brevity produces more errors than wordiness.
BigDTBone wrote:
It requires skill, finesse, and some talent.
Yes, in the hands of a suitably genius writer, you may be able to combine brevity and clarity. If you think that you can get Bashō to write your RPG splatbook at -- what's the going rate, a nickel a word? -- especially given the handicap that he's, you know, dead, then I'm sure you can turn out an RPG book for the ages.

Then walk over to him, call forth your word of power, and bring him back to write the book before he loses the energy and re-dies (My power word is Abcedarian).

It isn't that hard.


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I'm not really certain he has fully considered his stand on this. Basically, his view point precludes the possibility of superfluous text. He seems smarter than that, and I simply cannot believe that is his actual stance. He does get rather aggressive at times. I'm willing to accept that he just got carried away.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Just as a simple example, I remember an editor of mine once tried to convert "we found no evidence to disprove" into "we proved," and the jury's eventual verdict was "justifiable homicide."

That's a poor example because it changes the fundamental meaning of the text though. Beyond that, given that the context is clarity here, neither the original nor the edited phrasing are particularly unclear and a reader would not come away from either sentence confused. Which makes it a rather pointless example.

The whole idea of using an example here is kind of a bizarre one, because it's fairly trivial to invent a scenario where you can add to, subtract from or keep the word count the same and either improve or weaken the clarity of the sentence. So I'm not sure why you'd even bother.

Orfamay Quest wrote:
Yes. And the snark is an appropriate response to such a demonstrably counterfactual assertion.

I'm not sure you saying "nuh uh" makes it 'demonstrably counterfactual'.

The weird assertion that you need to be some sort of literary virtuoso to write simple, plain English rules for a game without mucking it up miserably doesn't really help either.

Quote:
If you think there's better talent available to Paizo, I can give you a phone number for that as well.

It's not really an issue of talent though. It's pretty obvious here that you have a very low opinion of PDT, but really all we're talking about here is working on editing and proofreading.

Even if you believe that a sentence can't be clear unless it has the largest possible number of words you can cram into it without distorting its meaning, it's still beneficial for Paizo given how often issues of copyfitting come up when discussing their books.

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