Failed Aid Another on Diplomacy Checks


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I am the GM in a campaign and I recently made a controversial ruling in my campaign and I wanted to run it by the board. While I realize the GM can make any rules that he wants, my campaign is strictly RAW, including errata, FAQs with postings by Paizo game designers before going into interpretations and house rules for things not covered in the rules.

The ruling was for an Aid Another Diplomacy check and uses the following rules.

1) Aid Another. "You can help someone achieve success on a skill check by making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort. If you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you’re helping gets a +2 bonus on his or her check. (You can’t take 10 on a skill check to aid another.)" The Aiding character had to make a Diplomacy check vs DC 10. This part was non-controversial.

2) Diplomacy Check Influence Attitude. "If you fail the check by 4 or less, the character’s attitude toward you is unchanged. If you fail by 5 or more, the character’s attitude toward you is decreased by one step." The Aiding Character rolled a Diplomacy check of 3, which failed the DC 10 check by 5 or more, therefore the Indifferent NPC became Unfriendly (towards both characters since they were making the skill check cooperatively). The principal character was still allowed to Influence Attitude towards the NPC based upon the new Unfriendly attitude.

I believe my ruling accurately represents the rules as written however my players threw a tantrum and one even quit the game over this ruling. Just wondering what the forum thought.


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I would not go with this ruling and don't think it's RAW. He's rolling to aid, not to do the work himself, but I don't completely disagree with it.

I feel there needs to be some symmetry between risk and gain. On the normal check that's improving vs lowering the attitude. On the aid anither check, that would be a -2 for every 5 the check failed by imo.


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The rule you cited (about penelty for rolling low) applies only to Diplomacy checks made to influence attitude, not any other Diplomacy checks. The aiding character was making a Diplomacy Check to Aid Another, that is to give a +2 bonus to the primary character. Although it uses the same kind of roll, it's a different action, and there should be no penalty for a low result, at least by RAW.

Silver Crusade

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

That's how I would run it too. Just having a bunch of people jump in on a conversation doesn't make you more persuasive and can hurt your chances.

As for the players, wow, that's just silly. This ruling only affects them if they don't invest in Diplomancy, which is kinda what it's for, stopping large groups of characters from brute forcing certain skill checks.


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I would be unhappy with this ruling, I do not believe it accurately reflects RAW.
That said, I understand a GM taking that view and whilst I might raise an eyebrow and add a "really?" I think walking away is possibly a bit of an over-reaction.


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To be clear, none of us quit specifically because of the ruling, two of us did because we this was basically just the last straw, i.e. there were other rulings we disagree with and other things happening in the campaign that we felt were rather unfair. Just thought I would pop in and state that real quick as someone mentioned walking away because of it would be an over-reaction, and I felt that would be unfair for my friend who can't defend himself.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Adjoint wrote:
The rule you cited (about penelty for rolling low) applies only to Diplomacy checks made to influence attitude, not any other Diplomacy checks. The aiding character was making a Diplomacy Check to Aid Another, that is to give a +2 bonus to the primary character. Although it uses the same kind of roll, it's a different action, and there should be no penalty for a low result, at least by RAW.

Adjoint has it correct.

Just as doing a Diplomacy check to Gather Information doesn't have a risk of causing bad reactions, this should not.

If you are so concerned about the people who have Charisma of 7 doing this, consider the successes as them actually behaving rather than creeping the people out by their very presence.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think that your ruling makes sense, but I'm not sure that it's RAW. For RAW, I agree with Adjoint.

I think the most important question was if your player knew this rule before attempting the Aid Another. There are many games in which an Aid Another is a no-lose situation: best-case, you provide the +2, worst-case, you don't hurt your diplomat's chances. Players should be clear in advance if they can actually make things worse by Aiding Another.

On that thought, ought failed Aid Anothers to provide penalties to other checks? Can a failed Aid Another in combat make a PC's armor class or attack bonus lower? Can a failed Knowledge check to Aid Another have the effect that the less knowledgeable character persuades the more of 'fake news' about the subject? Can someone attempting to Aid Another to Swim actually end up drowning them?

I think, overall, discouraging people from getting involved in parts of the game (i.e., a barbarian in negotiations) isn't ideal from a player perspective: "Okay, I've got a 7 Cha so rather than risk alienating every villager in this town, I'll go watch TV until you guys are done talking to the Council."


And sidenote, I was the only getting pissy about the ruling, the others were very calm about everything. Kinda feel like that is a character assassination towards specifically the friend of mine that immediately walked away.

The Exchange

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I actually think this ruling is very bad. But I play mostly in PFS, so perhaps in a home game it would be fine - here let me try to explain my position.

I have worked long and hard to get some players out of their phones and to at least pay attention to the game during the "talky parts" - part of the way I do this is to let them maybe influence the out-come by rolling an "aid another" (or at least to let them think they made the difference), If they would like to Aid the Diplomacy roll during a "Gather Information" check - "You Aided? Hay Diplomancer, the Barbarian asked if you checked with the Bar-tender of the dockside bar... And when you checked there he told you..." -

If I get one of the players from a judge who gives penalties for failing to AID? Now I get to try to convince the next batch of players that I'm not going to impose a penility to their results - just because they were trying to play the game too. After all, "that's what the last judge did".

After all - "I'm only here for the fights" is a common enough attitude even when I'm granting a measly +2 bonus on a skill check that the Diplomancer often beats by 10 or 12 anyway... And you know what? it's totally worth it when I get to see the gleam in the eyes of the 12 year old girl running a barbarian when she get's to brag to her big brother that he "couldn't have done it without my telling you to check with the Bartender!" Heck, before the game, she might not have every said anything during "the talky parts"!

[sarcasm] Hay, as long as we are penalizing Diplomacy for failed "aid another" checks - how about penalizing Combat rolls too? When the Diplomancer fails to boost the Attack roll with an "aid another" check in combat, shouldn't he give his ally a "-1" to hit or something? You know - getting in the way of the attack roll?[/sarcasm]

So - I can sort of see not bothering to play at a table where the judge does this. I like to PLAY - to enteract with the other players. And this ruling will actively discourage social interaction between the PLAYERS at the table...IMHO

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Joana wrote:
I think, overall, discouraging people from getting involved in parts of the game (i.e., a barbarian in negotiations) isn't ideal from a player perspective: "Okay, I've got a 7 Cha so rather than risk alienating every villager in this town, I'll go watch TV until you guys are done talking to the Council."

That would be on the player of the barbarian then for dumping their CHA down to 7. So yeah only really rare circumstances should cause them to try to help out in negotiations, unless they make up for it by investing in Diplomancy.

To put it another way, person A and B are talking. Person B's friend jumps in and shouts F#*% you!" at person A. That's not going to endear person A to any of person B'a group.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Joana wrote:
I think, overall, discouraging people from getting involved in parts of the game (i.e., a barbarian in negotiations) isn't ideal from a player perspective: "Okay, I've got a 7 Cha so rather than risk alienating every villager in this town, I'll go watch TV until you guys are done talking to the Council."

That would be on the player of the barbarian then for dumping their CHA down to 7. So yeah only really rare circumstances should cause them to try to help out in negotiations, unless they make up for it by investing in Diplomancy.

To put it another way, person A and B are talking. Person B's friend jumps in and shouts F!#! you!" at person A. That's not going to endear person A to any of person B'a group.

Sounds like B's friend just attempted an intimidate check, not a diplomacy check.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
BretI wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Joana wrote:
I think, overall, discouraging people from getting involved in parts of the game (i.e., a barbarian in negotiations) isn't ideal from a player perspective: "Okay, I've got a 7 Cha so rather than risk alienating every villager in this town, I'll go watch TV until you guys are done talking to the Council."

That would be on the player of the barbarian then for dumping their CHA down to 7. So yeah only really rare circumstances should cause them to try to help out in negotiations, unless they make up for it by investing in Diplomancy.

To put it another way, person A and B are talking. Person B's friend jumps in and shouts F!#! you!" at person A. That's not going to endear person A to any of person B'a group.

Sounds like B's friend just attempted an intimidate check, not a diplomacy check.

Or rolled a 1 on top of their 7 CHA :3

The Exchange

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Rysky wrote:
Joana wrote:
I think, overall, discouraging people from getting involved in parts of the game (i.e., a barbarian in negotiations) isn't ideal from a player perspective: "Okay, I've got a 7 Cha so rather than risk alienating every villager in this town, I'll go watch TV until you guys are done talking to the Council."

That would be on the player of the barbarian then for dumping their CHA down to 7. So yeah only really rare circumstances should cause them to try to help out in negotiations, unless they make up for it by investing in Diplomancy.

To put it another way, person A and B are talking. Person B's friend jumps in and shouts F#@! you!" at person A. That's not going to endear person A to any of person B'a group.

A failure to Aid does NOT mean the Barbarian did anything. In fact, it likely means the Social Wallflower was unable to overcome his shyness and even speak. It means the Target didn't even notice that the Barbarian was trying to Aid...

If the Barbarian rolls a 20, and (unknown to the players) has a bonus of 2 for being Male, another for speaking with a Talden accent, and a third for having a STR over 16 (the Target has a weakness for strong Talden men the players don't know about) and ends up getting a 23 on his roll - does this mean he succeeds at the DIPLOMACY roll? No - it means he adds 2 to the check. Because he isn't doing the Diplomacy - he is only trying to Aid it. And the result of a failed Aid roll is no bonus.

Liberty's Edge

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Rysky wrote:
BretI wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Joana wrote:
I think, overall, discouraging people from getting involved in parts of the game (i.e., a barbarian in negotiations) isn't ideal from a player perspective: "Okay, I've got a 7 Cha so rather than risk alienating every villager in this town, I'll go watch TV until you guys are done talking to the Council."

That would be on the player of the barbarian then for dumping their CHA down to 7. So yeah only really rare circumstances should cause them to try to help out in negotiations, unless they make up for it by investing in Diplomancy.

To put it another way, person A and B are talking. Person B's friend jumps in and shouts F!#! you!" at person A. That's not going to endear person A to any of person B'a group.

Sounds like B's friend just attempted an intimidate check, not a diplomacy check.
Or rolled a 1 on top of their 7 CHA :3

The last line bugs me. Rolling a natural 1 on anything other than an attack or save is NOT an automatic failure. Too many GMs with insufficient rules acumen make this same mistake when they claim to be running, "a totally RAW game." No, you're not. If you tell everyone who rolls 1 on a skill check they auto fail, you're doing it wrong.

Secondly, as most other posters have mentioned, applying a penalty to the Diplomancer's check or decreasing the target's attitude because someone failed an Aid Another roll on the check isn't RAW at all. Failing a Diplomacy check to change someone's attitude that fails by 5 or more results in target's attitude decreasing. Aid Another is NOT a roll to change an attitude, so the decrease was absolutely contrary to RAW.

This ruling falls squarely into the houserule category, and while I'm not necessarily opposed to it from a realism perspective, if you want to play a 'strictly RAW game', you can't make this call.

The Exchange

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Rysky wrote:
Joana wrote:
I think, overall, discouraging people from getting involved in parts of the game (i.e., a barbarian in negotiations) isn't ideal from a player perspective: "Okay, I've got a 7 Cha so rather than risk alienating every villager in this town, I'll go watch TV until you guys are done talking to the Council."

That would be on the player of the barbarian then for dumping their CHA down to 7. So yeah only really rare circumstances should cause them to try to help out in negotiations, unless they make up for it by investing in Diplomancy.

To put it another way, person A and B are talking. Person B's friend jumps in and shouts F++~ you!" at person A. That's not going to endear person A to any of person B'a group.

That would be an example of a second PC (the "friend") trying a Diplomacy check - not trying an Aid. Kind of like when person A is picking a lock, and person B says "here, let me to that" as he shoves player A over to get at the lock vs. pointing out that the sign says "Pull" when person A keeps pushing on the door to see if the lock is open.

The Exchange

Based upon the discussion so far the disagreement comes down to my interpretation of "making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort" = a Diplomacy Influence Attitude check whereas the counter position is that "making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort" = a Diplomacy check to Aid Another (even though Aid Another is not listed as a"kind" of Diplomacy check).

Assuming the counter position is correct for argument's sake and Aid Another is a distinct type of check then for all those characters that have traits that give bonuses to Influence Attitude checks but not other types of Diplomacy checks would those trait bonuses apply to an Aid Another check to Influence Attitude?

My interpretation is that the Influence Attitude trait bonuses would apply since it is that kind of skill check however the interpretation popular thus far on this thread would indicate that it should not apply since it is a different type of check.


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Vista wrote:
Assuming the counter position is correct for argument's sake and Aid Another is a distinct type of check then for all those characters that have traits that give bonuses to Influence Attitude checks but not other types of Diplomacy checks would those trait bonuses apply to an Aid Another check to Influence Attitude?

I'd say no; if a bonus applies specificaly to rolls for Influence Attitude, then it doesn't apply to rolls for Aid Another checks to Influence Attitude, at least within this interpretation. This counter position, as you called it, claims Aid Another to be a different check. It is a Diplomacy check, and therefore benefits from all bonuses that apply to all Diplomacy checks, but not from bonuses (or modifiers) that apply only to Influence Attitude action.

Within your initial interpretation, that is assuming that Aiding Another is the same action as the orignal, just the DC of the check is different, the answer would be yes.

The Exchange

Skill check is defined in the rules as "A skill check is a d20 roll + your skill modifier from the related skill (if any)" so if the rules meant to just make a generic skill check then it should say "by making the same skill check in a cooperative effort" instead of "by making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort."

The phrase "kind of skill check" is not officially defined anywhere however the most reasonable interpretation is that the kinds of a skill check are the ones listed under the skill so in the case of Diplomacy the kinds of Diplomacy skill checks are:

Gather Information
Influence Attitude
Make Request
Suggest Course of Action

Dark Archive

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First off, this is clearly not RAW. The rules are silent on penalties for failed Aid Another checks. On the other hand I think failing an Aid Another check should come with a penalty - otherwise everybody would roll it for every skill because there's no penalty for failure. Of course, I think the OP's ruling of decreasing attitude by a step was too harsh, and as an on-the-spot ruling I would allow the character to reconsider their roll since they didn't know the rule at the time.

Silver Crusade

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

First off, I know that rolling a 1 on a skill check isn't an auto-failure (which is why I added on the "and CHA of 7"), I was pointing out what situation would cause someone to say "f~+~ you" on a Diplomancy check but it seems to have gone over people's heads, I thought the :3 at the end helped there.

"A failure to Aid does NOT mean the Barbarian did anything."

I'm gonna to disagree with this, if you were rolling, you were doing something. If you failed at it it means just that, you failed at what you were trying to do, not that you didn't bother attempting it all. And in this case, you failed a Diplomancy check to help your buddy influence someone.

Saying there's no drawback because you're not influencing a person, you're helping someone using the exact same roll to influence someone seems like splitting hairs to me.


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About what I understand by "a kind of check".

Core Rulebook, p.11 wrote:
Check: A check is a d20 roll which may or may not be modified by another value. The most common types are attack rolls, skill checks, ability checks, and saving throws.

Those types are further subdivided into rolls for specific modes of attack (melee/ranged), particular skills etc. These are my "kinds".

So when one player wants to make a NPC friendly, he makes:

  • Type of action: Influence Attitude
  • Kind of Check: Diplomacy Roll
  • Modifiers: modifiers that apply to all Diplomacy rolls and modifiers that apply to the Influence Attitude action specificaly
  • DC: as in the description of Influence Attitude action
  • Effect: possible shift in the attitude of the NPC; with the roll low enough the shift may be negative

When another wants to help him:

  • Type of action: Aid Another
  • Kind of Check: Diplomacy Roll
  • Modifiers: modifiers that apply to all Diplomacy rolls and modifiers that apply to the Aid Another action specificaly
  • DC: 10
  • Effect: success grants +2 bonus to the corresponding check of the first character

The Exchange

My position is clearly RAW as I am quoting the rules as written, although my position may not be RAI and my interpretation may not be the common interpretation.

It all comes down to the phrase "kind of skill check" written in the rules which I interpret to mean the kinds of skill checks listed under the Common Uses of a skill and the common interpretation is that it is a superfluous phrase.

The Exchange

Adjoint you are misquoting the rule. It does not say "kind of check". It says "kind of SKILL check". Skill check is also explicitly defined as per this link http://www.d20pfsrd.com/basics-ability-scores/glossary/#TOC-Skill-Check

The Exchange

The simplified argument logic comes down to:

Adjoint:

"kind of skill check" = "skill check" = superfluous phrase

Vista:

"kind of skill check" = kinds of Common Uses listed under skill

Summary
It is a matter of interpretation and my interpretation seems to be in the minority thus far however my interpretation is still consistent with the rules as written although it may not be consistent with the rules as intended.


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If a character fails, say, a climb check to aid another climber by 5 or more, that character falls. I don't think there's any room for interpretation on this, the character made a climb check and failed it by 5 or more.
The same should hold true for any other kind of skill check with bad stuff on a failure. Arguing about "kinds of checks" is pedantry at it's worst.

That said, if a group check like the OPs is overall successful, a check can't both succeed and fail at once; either the NPC's attitude is improved or is worsened.


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^^^ yup. Failing an Aid Another is not the same as failing the skill check itself. Rolling a one doesn't automatically mean that you 'butt in' and make things worse. It could mean that you try and make yourself look respectable to add presence to the speaker and his 'party', but instead you end up completely forgettable.

making a roll == 'actively doing something' just isn't correct.


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The "Acquiring Skill" section on Page 86 CRB defines "Aid Another" with respect to skill checks as follows:

Aid Another
You can help someone achieve success on a skill check by making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort. If you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you’re helping gets a +2 bonus on his or her check. (You can’t take 10 on a skill check to aid another.) In many cases, a character’s help won’t be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once.
In cases where the skill restricts who can achieve certain results, such as trying to open a lock using Disable Device, you can’t aid another to grant a bonus to a task that your character couldn’t achieve alone. The GM might impose further restrictions to aiding another on a case-by-case basis as well.

Nothing in the rules say that failing to Aid Another on a skill check imposes a penalty. The rules say "In many cases, a character’s help won’t be beneficial ...", which is not the same as saying that the character's help would be detrimental if the Aid Another roll was failed.

The rules further place some restrictions on Aiding Another by including a vague statement about how many people can help at once, and also including the statement "you can’t aid another to grant a bonus to a task that your character couldn’t achieve alone", which is also open to interpretation.

The final sentence in the rule might give the GM leeway to impose a penalty on a failed Aid Another roll, but now we are in Rule 0 land.


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Failing on a skill check to aid another is simply failing to aid another. You're taking a term used in multiple contexts and trying to interpret it like a statute. Sometimes PF rules are perfectly clear, here the is no RAW. There are just various interpretations of these rules to cover a concept that simply weren't written out. If you want to give a circumstance penalty, sure fine that makes sense. But a failure to aid other doesn't automatically impact a different player's skill check. That's simply one interpretation of the rules. Not one I think makes sense.


Vista wrote:

The simplified argument logic comes down to:

Adjoint:

"kind of skill check" = "skill check" = superfluous phrase

Vista:

"kind of skill check" = kinds of Common Uses listed under skill

Summary
It is a matter of interpretation and my interpretation seems to be in the minority thus far however my interpretation is still consistent with the rules as written although it may not be consistent with the rules as intended.

I don't get how Adjoint's logic is superfluous here.

A Skill Check is a Skill Check is a Skill Check, it doesn't matter if it's a specific kind of Skill Check or not. If I'm making a check to influence an Attitude, that requires a Skill Check, most specifically, Diplomacy. If I'm making a check to jump across a gap or move around an enemy, that also requires a Skill Check, most specifically, Acrobatics.

Using a Skill in a specific manner doesn't mean you're making a unique sort of Skill check. At best, you can argue that certain bonuses to Skill checks apply only when you're using said Skills in a specific manner (most commonly, Bluff to deliver/receive secret messages), but even then, that doesn't mean you're no longer making a Bluff check. It's just if you aren't making a Bluff check for that specific purpose, then those relevant bonuses wouldn't apply to that specific Bluff check.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
_Ozy_ wrote:
making a roll == 'actively doing something' just isn't correct.

Putting aside whether you have negative consequences if you fail an aid another check or not (since we're not going to agree on that) how do you come to this conclusion that if you fail a check it's because you didn't do anything? If you're attempting something you're doing something. If you fail you failed, you didn't choose not to do it, otherwise you wouldn't have attempted the check at all.

This logic gets even weirder when applied to attack rolls.

Player: "I full Attack with my Greatsword and get a15, a 17, and a 6."

GM: "You swing and miss at the last moment with your first attack but your follow up manages to land, your last attack goes wide."

Player: "No, I just didn't attack."

GM: "Wait, so you're not attacking at all?"

Player: "No, I'm attacking with my second attack, the first and last missed so I didn't attack with those."

GM: "... you didn't hit, you're still attacking."

Or more concisely,

Player: "I charge out at the noble from the alley, oh, I got a 3 on the die, so 8 altogether."

GM: "You miss, and-"

Player: "Okay, I just walk away then."

GM: "What?"

Player: "Since I didn't attack I just walk away."

GM: "Um, no you definitely attacked him, you just didn't hit him. He's screaming and calling for the guards."

Player: "But I didn't attack him."


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Vista wrote:
"kind of skill check" = "skill check" = superfluous phrase

I thought that my example would clear up any misunderstanding, but it looks it doesn't.

Diplomacy check is a kind of skill check. Acrobatics check is another kind of skill check. And so on.


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Rysky wrote:
_Ozy_ wrote:
making a roll == 'actively doing something' just isn't correct.

Putting aside whether you have negative consequences if you fail an aid another check or not (since we're not going to agree on that) how do you come to this conclusion that if you fail a check it's because you didn't do anything? If you're attempting something you're doing something. If you fail you failed, you didn't choose not to do it, otherwise you wouldn't have attempted the check at all.

This logic gets even weirder when applied to attack rolls.

Player: "I full Attack with my Greatsword and get a15, a 17, and a 6."

GM: "You swing and miss at the last moment with your first attack but your follow up manages to land, your last attack goes wide."

Player: "No, I just didn't attack."

GM: "Wait, so you're not attacking at all?"

Player: "No, I'm attacking with my second attack, the first and last missed so I didn't attack with those."

GM: "... you didn't hit, you're still attacking."

Or more concisely,

Player: "I charge out at the noble from the alley, oh, I got a 3 on the die, so 8 altogether."

GM: "You miss, and-"

Player: "Okay, I just walk away then."

GM: "What?"

Player: "Since I didn't attack I just walk away."

GM: "Um, no you definitely attacked him, you just didn't hit him. He's screaming and calling for the guards."

Player: "But I didn't attack him."

Roll a perception check.

Dark Archive

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Vista wrote:

My position is clearly RAW as I am quoting the rules as written, although my position may not be RAI and my interpretation may not be the common interpretation.

It all comes down to the phrase "kind of skill check" written in the rules which I interpret to mean the kinds of skill checks listed under the Common Uses of a skill and the common interpretation is that it is a superfluous phrase.

Quoting the rules does not make one's position RAW. Holding a position that accurately reflects the rules quoted makes one's position RAW. In your case, you have interpreted the rules in a way that penalizes failure on Aid Another checks based on a rule in the Diplomacy section for influencing attitudes. There is no rule in the Aid Another section or the Diplomacy skill which explicitly or implicitly imposes a penalty for a failed Aid Another check. The rule does not exist, nor is there any implication that such a rule does exist, so positions which come to a different conclusion are, by definition, not "Rules As Written."

Does that mean you made a bad ruling? Not necessarily - such houserules are relatively common. If you look further back in the thread you'll find that I agree that there should be a penalty on failed Aid Another checks, although if you ask me it should just be a minor penalty like a -2. When rulings like this occur I think it's very important to be lenient, especially when making rulings like this one where the players were likely not aware of the potential consequences before making the check. If the players think it's fair then I'd let it slide the first time (since it's a new ruling) and start enforcing it thereafter, but if the players are overwhelmingly against it like Nekrotisch stated earlier I'd recommend not using it at all. After all, the primary goal is to have fun, and if a rule is actively detrimental to the players' fun you may be better off not using it.


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LuniasM wrote:
First off, this is clearly not RAW. The rules are silent on penalties for failed Aid Another checks. On the other hand I think failing an Aid Another check should come with a penalty - otherwise everybody would roll it for every skill because there's no penalty for failure. Of course, I think the OP's ruling of decreasing attitude by a step was too harsh, and as an on-the-spot ruling I would allow the character to reconsider their roll since they didn't know the rule at the time.

Agree, there are no explicite penalty for a failed Aid Another check other than not getting the bonus (either to skill or to the attack roll/AC check).

And I agree that decreasing the attitude by 1 step is not RAW for Aid Another and fell it's pretty harsh, especially if it wasn't know by the PC aiding. Personally, if I had felt that the aiding PC intervention was so bad (eg a colossal failure) that a penalty was justified, I would have imposed a -2 penalty instead to the check. Which is less likely to cause the other party to be unfriendly, and more likely to have its position unchanged.


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LuniasM wrote:
Vista wrote:

My position is clearly RAW as I am quoting the rules as written, although my position may not be RAI and my interpretation may not be the common interpretation.

It all comes down to the phrase "kind of skill check" written in the rules which I interpret to mean the kinds of skill checks listed under the Common Uses of a skill and the common interpretation is that it is a superfluous phrase.

Quoting the rules does not make one's position RAW. Holding a position that accurately reflects the rules quoted makes one's position RAW. In your case, you have interpreted the rules in a way that penalizes failure on Aid Another checks based on a rule in the Diplomacy section for influencing attitudes. There is no rule in the Aid Another section or the Diplomacy skill which explicitly or implicitly imposes a penalty for a failed Aid Another check. The rule does not exist, nor is there any implication that such a rule does exist, so positions which come to a different conclusion are, by definition, not "Rules As Written."

Does that mean you made a bad ruling? Not necessarily - such houserules are relatively common. If you look further back in the thread you'll find that I agree that there should be a penalty on failed Aid Another checks, although if you ask me it should just be a minor penalty like a -2. When rulings like this occur I think it's very important to be lenient, especially when making rulings like this one where the players were likely not aware of the potential consequences before making the check. If the players think it's fair then I'd let it slide the first time (since it's a new ruling) and start enforcing it thereafter, but if the players are overwhelmingly against it like Nekrotisch stated earlier I'd recommend not using it at all. After all, the primary goal is to have fun, and if a rule is actively detrimental to the players' fun you may be better off not using it.

I do think that failing an Aid Another shouldn't be completely fine to do with no impact, but you actually bring up a huge point: We didn't know this ruling before the decision to make the roll, this ruling was nowhere to be found, and after we were told the ruling (after making the roll) we wanted to know if we could go back, now knowing that it could hurt us so badly, only to find out that we could not. This kind of houseruling and interpretations of the rules that he has made in the past is largely why Kharn and I have quit, believe me this kind of stuff has happened before.

Besides that, I agree with Adjoint's thoughts on it not being the same use of the skill check. This is actually one of the points that I myself brought up when discussing it with the group, along with the confusion as to whom the target is. As a GM myself, I would rule that the "target" of the Aid Another check is actually the person you are aiding (makes sense that you would focus on the person you are acting towards). Further, I agree with LuniasM on that a ruling that does not have a base on the current rules is not an interpretation, but rather a new rule entirely. In simpler terms, creating a penalty is always a houserule, expanding upon an existing rule that affects the situation at hand CAN be an interpretation (not always though).


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When you are looking at your game disintegrating, it doesn't really matter how accurate to RAW your ruling was, you really have to look closely at whether your ruling was the right one for this group, and whether sticking to your guns and justifying your ruling is worth it.

It may be that it is worth walking away from this, but I'd certainly be taking a long hard look at how I run my game.


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Claiming to play the RAW cannot be unequivocally true. By definition you are playing by your interpretation of what the RAW means. Somebody else may have a different interpretation of what the RAW means.

Put simply, would you be satisfied with your decision if you were a player?

So to make a fair ruling you have to look at the rules and make assumptions about what the rules are trying to simulate, i.e. play the rules as you believe they are intended. If something is unclear, explain your ruling to the players before acting upon it. If something you think of as clear causes a revolt, then you are probably best letting it drop on this occasion and explain your ruling for future occasions.

In this scenario, explain that a poor Aid Another attempt can antagonise the person being influenced - they don't like being crowded or find the character rude etc and that will cause the attitude to drop. The players are then aware ahead of time. You could further explain that you find all the characters adding their +2's without risk is a little cheesy, hence the risk factor - failure has consequences [personally I would use the +/-2 suggestion so that risk=reward].


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From a "By the rules" standpoint there is not a penalty for failing an aid another action. You are not making a normal use of the ability. You are just seeing if you can do roll enough to help the other person.

If the GM is going to allow your roll to take precedent if you were to roll higher than the primary roller then I would say it is fair, but that would also be beyond the rules.


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As an example if I am helping someone on a swim check, and I roll below a 10 it doesn't mean that I will start to drown or I give them a penalty.

People can say how they feel, but the intent of the rules is not impacted by feelings.

If you think the PDT intended for the aid another to apply a penalty on a failure the simply say so, and an FAQ can quickly be created.


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Vista wrote:
I am the GM in a campaign
Nekrotisch wrote:
you actually bring up a huge point: We didn't know this ruling before the decision to make the roll, this ruling was nowhere to be found, and after we were told the ruling (after making the roll) we wanted to know if we could go back, now knowing that it could hurt us so badly, only to find out that we could not.

If the GM thinks it's more important to be right than for the players to have fun, the game is going to disintegrate. Especially if it's also true that this has happened more than once.

No wonder players are deciding that it isn't fun to spend their gaming time in your games.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
_Ozy_ wrote:
making a roll == 'actively doing something' just isn't correct.

Putting aside whether you have negative consequences if you fail an aid another check or not (since we're not going to agree on that) how do you come to this conclusion that if you fail a check it's because you didn't do anything? If you're attempting something you're doing something. If you fail you failed, you didn't choose not to do it, otherwise you wouldn't have attempted the check at all.

This logic gets even weirder when applied to attack rolls.

Player: "I full Attack with my Greatsword and get a15, a 17, and a 6."

GM: "You swing and miss at the last moment with your first attack but your follow up manages to land, your last attack goes wide."

Player: "No, I just didn't attack."

"...because there was no opening in their defense I could take advantage of."

Note that the NPC would still have reason to call the guards since they were threatened by the weapon. Holding someone at sword point is generally reason for them to call the guards.

Dark Archive

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BretI wrote:
Rysky wrote:
_Ozy_ wrote:
making a roll == 'actively doing something' just isn't correct.

Putting aside whether you have negative consequences if you fail an aid another check or not (since we're not going to agree on that) how do you come to this conclusion that if you fail a check it's because you didn't do anything? If you're attempting something you're doing something. If you fail you failed, you didn't choose not to do it, otherwise you wouldn't have attempted the check at all.

This logic gets even weirder when applied to attack rolls.

Player: "I full Attack with my Greatsword and get a15, a 17, and a 6."

GM: "You swing and miss at the last moment with your first attack but your follow up manages to land, your last attack goes wide."

Player: "No, I just didn't attack."

"...because there was no opening in their defense I could take advantage of.

"Yeah, my diplomacy roll failed by 5 or more, but I shouldn't be penalized because I didn't actually say anything, I just got too shy." "Well, GM, that ability only activates on a missed attack - I didn't actually attack him, his defense had no openings." "I failed my check to cast defensively and since I determined I wouldn't be able to use my spell safely I don't lose the slot."

If you roll, you're trying to do something. If you fail, you tried to do something and failed at it. You did not just decide not to do it because you rolled poorly, that's metagaming (ie "well I rolled bad so I take back what I said I was doing").


I rolled a perception check upon entering a room, what was I trying to do?

I rolled a knowledge check upon seeing a creature, what was I trying to do?

I rolled a will save, what was I trying to do?

While it is certainly true that many actions result in die rolls, it is simply not true that every single die roll represents an action.

Furthermore, failing an aid another simply does not have the mechanical implications that you are assigning to failed checks.


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LuniasM wrote:
If you roll, you're trying to do something. If you fail, you tried to do something and failed at it. You did not just decide not to do it because you rolled poorly, that's metagaming (ie "well I rolled bad so I take back what I said I was doing").

Failed to hit doesn't have to mean you swung wildly when there was no opening. I was pointing out that it could make sense that an accomplished warrior would realize that there was no opening. That is a valid way to fluff the miss.

On the mechanics side, they did make an attempt so anything triggered off that failed attempt would still happen. Had you quoted my next line, I mentioned how you wouldn't get out of the social side of it.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
_Ozy_ wrote:
I rolled a perception check upon entering a room, what was I trying to do?
Looking around, listening, smelling, etc. you may not actively be moving but you were still doing something.
_Ozy_ wrote:
I rolled a knowledge check upon seeing a creature, what was I trying to do?
Trying to remember, purely mental action, but you were still doing something.
_Ozy_ wrote:
I rolled a will save, what was I trying to do?
Trying to resist something mentally/spiritually. If you chose not to try to save that's detailed in the Core Rulebook, willingly failing a saving throw.
_Ozy_ wrote:
While it is certainly true that many actions result in die rolls, it is simply not true that every single die roll represents an action.
Yes it does. If you roll the die, you are doing something, not matter how small or insignificant.
_Ozy_ wrote:
Furthermore, failing an aid another simply does not have the mechanical implications that you are assigning to failed checks.

We'll just have to disagree on that.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
BretI wrote:
LuniasM wrote:
If you roll, you're trying to do something. If you fail, you tried to do something and failed at it. You did not just decide not to do it because you rolled poorly, that's metagaming (ie "well I rolled bad so I take back what I said I was doing").
Failed to hit doesn't have to mean you swung wildly when there was no opening. I was pointing out that it could make sense that an accomplished warrior would realize that there was no opening. That is a valid way to fluff the miss.

Except it's not.

Swinging and missing/getting blocked =/= choosing not to take a swing.

BretI wrote:


On the mechanics side, they did make an attempt so anything triggered off that failed attempt would still happen. Had you quoted my next line, I mentioned how you wouldn't get out of the social side of it.

Threatening someone and attempted murder are two VERY different things.


I agree that with aid another a player would indeed need to declare he tries to support his friends diplomacy and that is what he does (trying to assist). But if he fails that check not coming up with anything useful in time is a very realistic outcome which descibes the reason he failed. Even better if the character finally comes up with something a couple of minutes after the opportunity has passed.

That being said the GM always has the final call about how an action is resolved, so he is free to declare what actually happened after the failed roll. But as the above example is both within the rules and great fun I wouldn't see the need to stop my players.

Silver Crusade

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

Standing around going "Um, uh, er..." is fine, that's still taking an action, but to say you character ended up choosing not to do anything really isn't.

"My character doesn't fail actions, they just choose not to do them." seems really arrogant and an abuse of being able to roleplay the flavor and effects of your roll.


LuniasM wrote:
BretI wrote:
Rysky wrote:
_Ozy_ wrote:
making a roll == 'actively doing something' just isn't correct.

Putting aside whether you have negative consequences if you fail an aid another check or not (since we're not going to agree on that) how do you come to this conclusion that if you fail a check it's because you didn't do anything? If you're attempting something you're doing something. If you fail you failed, you didn't choose not to do it, otherwise you wouldn't have attempted the check at all.

This logic gets even weirder when applied to attack rolls.

Player: "I full Attack with my Greatsword and get a15, a 17, and a 6."

GM: "You swing and miss at the last moment with your first attack but your follow up manages to land, your last attack goes wide."

Player: "No, I just didn't attack."

"...because there was no opening in their defense I could take advantage of.

"Yeah, my diplomacy roll failed by 5 or more, but I shouldn't be penalized because I didn't actually say anything, I just got too shy." "Well, GM, that ability only activates on a missed attack - I didn't actually attack him, his defense had no openings." "I failed my check to cast defensively and since I determined I wouldn't be able to use my spell safely I don't lose the slot."

If you roll, you're trying to do something. If you fail, you tried to do something and failed at it. You did not just decide not to do it because you rolled poorly, that's metagaming (ie "well I rolled bad so I take back what I said I was doing").

If you roll and miss on your first attack does it give you penalties on subsequent ones? No?

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