Do you have to justify your Trick Attack skill in-game?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So, say my Operative is making a trick attack. Do I have to come up with some in-universe way to justify my use of whatever skill I'm using for the check?

There's nothing in the base definition of the ability that says so, it just says to "attempt a Bluff, Intimidate, or Stealth check (or a check associated with your specialization; see page 94) with a DC equal to 20 + your target’s CR". If I'm using Stealth, do I have to justify that by explaining what I'm hiding behind, or can I just hand wave it? Do Bluff or Intimidate require me to be able to communicate with my enemy?

One other relevant piece of data is the Hacker specialization, which specifically says in regard to using the Computers skill to create a distraction that "you can’t use this option if stripped of all computerized gear in an area with no computers".


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I try to never lock use of a gameplay mechanic behind role play. Unless there's a specific, quantified limitation (such as the Hacker specialization mentioned), you should be able to use a trick attack in any situation. You can justify anything with enough creativity, but whether anyone is interested in that justification is entirely group-dependent.

Paizo Employee Designer

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It's nice if you justify it in a cool way, but it's only necessary if you want it to be. Otherwise you can just say something generic like "I try to distract her with my computer again" "I try to duck out of her line of sight" "I read her movements" "I fake her out" or just "I use Trick Attack." It depends on group preference.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
It's nice if you justify it in a cool way, but it's only necessary if you want it to be. Otherwise you can just say something generic like "I try to distract her with my computer again" "I try to duck out of her line of sight" "I read her movements" "I fake her out" or just "I use Trick Attack." It depends on group preference.

Excellent, that's what I was hoping for.


If there is a slight of hand specialization, it's going to be throwing pocket sand stardust in an enemy's face.


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I guess Detective Operatives fight by constantly Sherlock scanning their enemies.


They are trained to hit the weak points - that is enough you need to know to make bonus damage with trick attacks I would guess


The other day I wanted to use Computers to get my trick attack. There were power generators in the room and I decided I would remotely set off an alarm on it that my enemy was next to, hoping to distract it. In the context of what we were doing, I though it was clever. However, the 2nd and 3rd rounds in a row that I tried this strategy, it started feeling more and more cheesy. How many times in a row should an enemy fall for the same trick? I asked thre GM and he said it was fine, because the class feature places no limitations on it.

If I have four different skills I can use to get trick attack, am I obligated to mix it up? From a mechanical point of view I have no reason to ever use anything but the skill that I have the highest bonus in. Is that the intention? If so, why have more than one skill to use? Of course I can "fix" this problem by changing up the skill used as I notice new opportunities (you know, excercise my brains bit), but I wonder what the designer's intention on this ability was.

Scarab Sages

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On my Daredevil I'm absolutely going to describe sick flips and parkour every time he does a trick attack. That's half the fun!


I was going to ask something like this but I am glad the OP beat me too it.

I wish they could have given some more examples of how to trick as after going back and reading it it just seems like ability X= to activate roll target number H succeed do M, N, O and P fail do Z.

BTW, I have a few sayings for my trick attacks ie "That is a flash Ysoki hair piece you are wearing, where did you get it?" Round 2 "Do they also sell side burns and matching goatee?", Round 3 "How about matching hair for other areas?" Round 4 "make up something as I hope the combat is over by then or I have moved on to another target, which means a new set of comments.

MDC


Mechanically you should always use your highest modifier which will probably be your specialization trick attack skill. You don't need to ever use any of the other skills but can if you are suffering ability drain or just want to role play it.

I'd definitely support creative ways of describing what you're doing but at the end of the day you want to have the highest chance of trick attacking for the damage and debilitations.


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My daredevil operative reality star does unnecessary acrobatics to justify his trick attacks. He then fixes the video of the battle in post production to make them look even sweeter. He also adds sounds to laser blasts, sound tracks, and product placement. His agents are halfling mobsters.


Every attack deserves description. That said, a GM should never deny you your class abilities because your description wasn't good enough.

The Exchange

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I ran my first session of this game last night. We had an operative doing his thing using computers to freak the enemy out. He basically described it as sending squealing noises, flickering the lights like a strobe near the guy and acoustic shenanigans to disorient the enemy.

It worked really well and made his d4 pistol into a 2d4 pistol, so we were happy with it.

The one thing that gets me is there seems to be no range limit to it at all. (That I've found). Technically he can trick an enemy at 800 feet with and shoot them with his pistol at maximum range. Seems weird to me, but not very likely to come up...so, meh.


Wrath wrote:
I ran my first session of this game last night. We had an operative doing his thing using computers to freak the enemy out. He basically described it as sending squealing noises, flickering the lights like a strobe near the guy and acoustic shenanigans to disorient the enemy.

So this was his power.


Ancient Chuckles wrote:
My daredevil operative reality star does unnecessary acrobatics to justify his trick attacks. He then fixes the video of the battle in post production to make them look even sweeter. He also adds sounds to laser blasts, sound tracks, and product placement. His agents are halfling mobsters.

I suppose the only question left is if lens flares are added even when they wouldn't make sense?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
The other day I wanted to use Computers to get my trick attack. There were power generators in the room and I decided I would remotely set off an alarm on it that my enemy was next to, hoping to distract it. In the context of what we were doing, I though it was clever. However, the 2nd and 3rd rounds in a row that I tried this strategy, it started feeling more and more cheesy. How many times in a row should an enemy fall for the same trick? I asked thre GM and he said it was fine, because the class feature places no limitations on it.

The same alarm going off repeatedly? You're right, you might see diminishing returns on that in real life, although by RAW and RAI you're fine.

Hacking the power system so that it's alarm is no longer just an alarm but instead an alarm AND the sound of four drunk Ysoki singing "Kukabara" and "Walktzing Matilda," in four different and incoherent keys, will not lose its ability to distract. It would also probably explain why the target is flat-footed when you're done.


Wrath wrote:


The one thing that gets me is there seems to be no range limit to it at all. (That I've found). Technically he can trick an enemy at 800 feet with and shoot them with his pistol at maximum range. Seems weird to me, but not very likely to come up...so, meh.

This is also an issue that I saw, in fact the target does not even have to notice you or be looking at you.

I brought this up after the first game and the group was talking about play experience and other things in the book.
The players who loved the game had no problem with it, I am on the other side in my opinion. They tend to like games where you just get things or things happen just because or as I tend to say "Dam the fluff, full power to the mechanics!" they just tend to see what they get and either like it or do not.

MDC


If they don't see you, just fluff that Trick Attack more like Sneak Attack. You take the time and line up a better shot.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Note that Stealth is one of the default options. If you get a weird edge case, you can just say "yeah, it was really done via stealth".


Repeated use of sleight of hand as a trick attack seems odd to me, but RAW it works no matter how many times you palm your blaster so your target doesn't know you had it out and ready.


RealAlchemy wrote:
Repeated use of sleight of hand as a trick attack seems odd to me, but RAW it works no matter how many times you palm your blaster so your target doesn't know you had it out and ready.

The trick is to make them think that there's a second blaster.


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Sleight of Hand Trick Attacks could be Revolver Ocelot style gun twirling.

I don't plan on making any players justify their Trick Attack choices beyond what the rules demand, like the Hacker's requirement to have some sort of computer nearby. If they pass the skill check, their character succeeded at whatever their Trick was. I'd hope they have some fluffy description, but I don't feel the need to penalise them if it is just 'I hide my gun again.'


Ciaran Barnes wrote:

The other day I wanted to use Computers to get my trick attack. There were power generators in the room and I decided I would remotely set off an alarm on it that my enemy was next to, hoping to distract it. In the context of what we were doing, I though it was clever. However, the 2nd and 3rd rounds in a row that I tried this strategy, it started feeling more and more cheesy. How many times in a row should an enemy fall for the same trick? I asked thre GM and he said it was fine, because the class feature places no limitations on it.

If I have four different skills I can use to get trick attack, am I obligated to mix it up? From a mechanical point of view I have no reason to ever use anything but the skill that I have the highest bonus in. Is that the intention? If so, why have more than one skill to use? Of course I can "fix" this problem by changing up the skill used as I notice new opportunities (you know, excercise my brains bit), but I wonder what the designer's intention on this ability was.

You could hack the computer to make an ear piercing screech, or have porn pop up, or maybe make if shoot sparks like in star trek. Or kitten videos. Just enough to make the enemy look over for just a second.


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The target gets a text message from his Mom ...

A nearby PC makes loud fart sound (from their comm) ...

In SFS, I'm totally going to murder people with

Commencement spoiler:
Star Sugar Heartlove!!!


My "Doc Holiday in space" character took the "thief" so I will use sleight of hand to try to obfuscate exactly where the shot is coming from when he makes a trick attack.


using Bluff on a Trick Attack against an opponent with no Int score shouldn't work, ever. Intimidate requires sensory abilities on the target's part, and so on, so I think I would have to rule that certain types of Trick Attacks can only work if the necessary conditions are met by the target or the terrain (in the case of Acrobatics-based TA).

Am I missing the point?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I agree with the spirit of your ruling, but I think you're just opening yourself up to a headache as "justify this trick attack to me" is a little different than "tell how that works for this," even if they both ask for the same information. One is a rules argument, the latter is an invitation to RP.

For instance, as a real-life counter example to your point about bluff, you can "bluff" a Venus fly-trap into "thinking" that a bug has landed on it in order to get it to close it's leaves. As long as a creature has instincts that serve in the place of intellect, I don't see why you can't bluff the instincts. Intimidate, otoh, I can't really argue with, although I'm not sure that no one can. (Personally, I'd be stealthing if against a creature that can't actually sense me, but who am I to get in the way of fun).

Liberty's Edge

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Intimidate is sorta a moot point at the moment since nobody can Trick Attack with it.

Personally, I'd be inclined to say Stealth works on anything, as does Bluff, and so do most of the other possibilities. Computers (for the Hacker) is explicitly noted as requiring computers around to work. If the others needed specific requirements to work, they'd similarly say so. And, IMO, all the rest are pretty easy to justify as working on just about anything.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Intimidate is sorta a moot point at the moment since nobody can Trick Attack with it.

Personally, I'd be inclined to say Stealth works on anything, as does Bluff, and so do most of the other possibilities. Computers (for the Hacker) is explicitly noted as requiring computers around to work. If the others needed specific requirements to work, they'd similarly say so. And, IMO, all the rest are pretty easy to justify as working on just about anything.

Bluff, Intimidate, and Stealth are the three default Trick Attack Skills. Operative specializations can add additional skills that can be Trick Attacked with, or modify those three skills instead.

Liberty's Edge

Ventnor wrote:
Bluff, Intimidate, and Stealth are the three default Trick Attack Skills. Operative specializations can add additional skills that can be Trick Attacked with, or modify those three skills instead.

Huh. You're totally right and I entirely spaced that.

I can see disallowing Intimidate under specific conditions (though not in a pure RAW setting like SFS), though if you're gonna do that you should warn players ahead of time so they can focus on something else if they like.


Oh I dunno. The thought behind it is to make it think you're a threat and react accordingly, giving you an opening to attack.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

As a GM, I find trick attack annoying because it means the operative is rolling an extra skill check before every single attack roll. Just for the smoothness of gameplay I wish it were either automatic (which it will almost be for characters who specialize), had a set number of times per day it could be used, or only activated if the attack were successful.


At level 7 it pretty much becomes automatic, at least with the Specialization skill and any others they put Skill Focus in, because at that level you gain the ability to always take 10 and that should be more than enough to handle CR-appropriate enemies.

Liberty's Edge

Jhaeman wrote:
As a GM, I find trick attack annoying because it means the operative is rolling an extra skill check before every single attack roll. Just for the smoothness of gameplay I wish it were either automatic (which it will almost be for characters who specialize), had a set number of times per day it could be used, or only activated if the attack were successful.

You could always have them roll the skill check after a successful attack (as long as they announce beforehand that they're using Trick Attack.)


The problem with that is that if they make the skill check the attack actually becomes easier (by 2 points, so a possible 10% difference,) so which AC do you compare for if it's a successful attack?


LordRiffington wrote:
Jhaeman wrote:
As a GM, I find trick attack annoying because it means the operative is rolling an extra skill check before every single attack roll. Just for the smoothness of gameplay I wish it were either automatic (which it will almost be for characters who specialize), had a set number of times per day it could be used, or only activated if the attack were successful.
You could always have them roll the skill check after a successful attack (as long as they announce beforehand that they're using Trick Attack.)

But the skill check can sometimes turn what would be a missed attack into a hit due to the fact that the operative's skill check can make the enemy flat-footed.

Scarab Sages Starfinder Design Lead

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Jhaeman wrote:
As a GM, I find trick attack annoying because it means the operative is rolling an extra skill check before every single attack roll. Just for the smoothness of gameplay I wish it were either automatic (which it will almost be for characters who specialize), had a set number of times per day it could be used, or only activated if the attack were successful.

Many full round attack options require two rolls. for a full attack, that's literally two attack rolls. For trick attack, it's a skill check and an attack roll. Automatic can be many more rolls than that. Blast is a single attack roll, but you have to compare it to multiple potential AC values. Explode is a single attack, followed my multiple saving throws.

Everyone has options that can use multiple rolls--in many cases the rick attack is going to be faster than other combat choices.

But the player can still roll two notably different d20s at the same time, and give you the skill value and attack roll. You then tell them if they hit and if it was a trick attack.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

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Michael7123 wrote:
If there is a slight of hand specialization, it's going to be throwing pocket sand stardust in an enemy's face.

There is a slight of hand specialization (thief.). My Ysoki justifies it as gun twirling.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Quote:

Many full round attack options require two rolls. for a full attack, that's literally two attack rolls. For trick attack, it's a skill check and an attack roll. Automatic can be many more rolls than that. Blast is a single attack roll, but you have to compare it to multiple potential AC values. Explode is a single attack, followed my multiple saving throws.

Everyone has options that can use multiple rolls--in many cases the rick attack is going to be faster than other combat choices.

But the player can still roll two notably different d20s at the same time, and give you the skill value and attack roll. You then tell them if they hit and if it was a trick attack.

The difference that I've experienced is that full attack incurs penalties (-4 to each attack), so a player has consequences if they do it. Whereas for the Operative, there's rarely a reason not to make a trick attack on every single attack roll, and there's no penalty for making the attempt and failing. So they try it on every single attack. That's been my experience with a couple of operative players in SFS, but I also admit it's only been a few sessions.


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Cero "Duke" of Maro wrote:
There is a slight of hand specialization (thief.). My Ysoki justifies it as gun twirling.

Or gun kata, maybe?

https://youtu.be/U02E2sjwlLM?t=287

Liberty's Edge

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Jhaeman wrote:
The difference that I've experienced is that full attack incurs penalties (-4 to each attack), so a player has consequences if they do it. Whereas for the Operative, there's rarely a reason not to make a trick attack on every single attack roll, and there's no penalty for making the attempt and failing. So they try it on every single attack. That's been my experience with a couple of operative players in SFS, but I also admit it's only been a few sessions.

Mathematically, there's almost never a situation where you shouldn't full attack. Trick Attack as opposed to Full Attack is actually a much more difficult and situational choice.

And at 7th level, you can start taking 10 and almost never worry about rolling for Trick Attack again.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:


Mathematically, there's almost never a situation where you shouldn't full attack. Trick Attack as opposed to Full Attack is actually a much more difficult and situational choice.

And at 7th level, you can start taking 10 and almost never worry about rolling for Trick Attack again.

Again, theory-crafting aside, all I can speak to is my experience. In my experience, operatives always trick attack on every single attack. It's limited experience, and maybe it'll change. It's not the end of the world, regardless. I still have fun. But, I'm still allowed to be mildly annoyed :)


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Full attacking is not worth doing if you narrow your window of possibility to hit to too great of an extent. Improving your full attack penalties is a good thing, as such. I certainly would not say there is "almost never" a time when you would not full attack.

Taking 10 on an in combat check? If you have a *really* lenient GM who hates the mechanic... can't take 10 if you're under pressure. Combat is generally stressful. Trick Attack is meant to be rolled.


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I see the exploit you're referencing now. In any case, Trick Attack is one of those things that will rarely fail with an Operative who is paying attention to their setup. Even if you don't take the exploit you're not going to have too difficult a time making your checks.

Liberty's Edge

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Corwynn Maelstrom wrote:
Full attacking is not worth doing if you narrow your window of possibility to hit to too great of an extent. Improving your full attack penalties is a good thing, as such. I certainly would not say there is "almost never" a time when you would not full attack.

AC for NPCs and Monsters is almost never high enough to reach this point. It's not impossible, but it's very rare.

Corwynn Maelstrom wrote:
Taking 10 on an in combat check? If you have a *really* lenient GM who hates the mechanic... can't take 10 if you're under pressure. Combat is generally stressful. Trick Attack is meant to be rolled.

As of level 7, they get the ability to take 10 when under pressure with skills they have Skill Focus in. All Operatives have skill focus in a skill they can make Trick Attacks with.

Sczarni

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Stealth is the only skill that I generally have an issue with using, simply because the use of the skill requires concealment or cover from the target for it to work. The description most people use trying to justify the stealth check for the trick attack while standing in plain sight has to do with concealing the shot itself, which is pretty much the description they give as flavor text for using Sleight of Hand "You can use Sleight of Hand to make a trick attack by concealing your weapons and motions."

I mostly run for SFS right now, so the distinction of the Ghost specialization giving a +4 bonus to a dex based skill that can also have a free skill focus feat, and having the person sit in the middle of an open area using the skill "because the text says I can" is something I'm hoping gets errata'd or clarified soon. It bothers me that the more I look into the rules and the math of the system, I'm finding *less* flexibility with the rules and the things you might think work really well with the class that seems best for it, are actually outperformed by a different class.

Contributor

Does it help to look at it not as the character making a Stealth check but rather the character is using the Stealth skill to make a Trick Attack check? I see this as a specific use of the skill for operatives that doesn't need to follow the rules for other uses of the skill. I do expect that operatives will attempt trick attacks just about every round they can, and players will get really frustrated if some GMs start limiting that without the support of the text. (I am also an SFS GM.)

Scarab Sages

Lucy_Valentine wrote:
Cero "Duke" of Maro wrote:
There is a slight of hand specialization (thief.). My Ysoki justifies it as gun twirling.

Or gun kata, maybe?

https://youtu.be/U02E2sjwlLM?t=287

That feels more like Acrobatics to me.


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Kate Baker wrote:
Does it help to look at it not as the character making a Stealth check but rather the character is using the Stealth skill to make a Trick Attack check? I see this as a specific use of the skill for operatives that doesn't need to follow the rules for other uses of the skill. I do expect that operatives will attempt trick attacks just about every round they can, and players will get really frustrated if some GMs start limiting that without the support of the text. (I am also an SFS GM.)

Honest question here, doesn't the trick attack explicitly state that the player must make a skill check? Doesn't that mean the player must be able to do the skill check? If you are only supposed to use the bonus of the skill why wouldn't the rules state it that way?

Sorry if I am missing something. Running my first game on Friday and I just know this is going to come up!

"Just before making your attack, attempt a Bluff, Intimidate, or
Stealth check" Page 93 Trick Attack

"On occasion, it’s impossible for you to attempt a skill check.
Sometimes the situation prevents you from rolling a skill check,
and other times the skill in question requires special training in
order to attempt." Page 132 Skill checks

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