# Creature Knowledge DC and Arithmetic Notation

### General Discussion

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Squeakmaan wrote:
Calth wrote:
Squeakmaan wrote:
rknop wrote:
...and, no, nothing's going to convince me that writing a subtraction where you don't want to subtract is correct.
Except that's quite clearly not what they did, you briefly misread something, happens to all of us now and again. It's an incredibly common form of writing 1.5. It's taught in schools, it's taught in technical programs, it's used very often in construction, engineering, and a host of other trades. We get that you were unfamiliar with its usage, that does not make it wrong.
Wasn't taught in any engineering course I took, as that's mixed notation and would have been marked incorrect. Ive never seen it used in the context of equations outside of Pathfinder (I have seen 1-1/2 as a measurement notation but that's not an equation). "1 1/2" (while bad its not as bad), "1.5", "3/2" are all better than "1-1/2". And I find it hard to believe anyone that actually works meaningfully with equations would approve of the notation.
I see it every day at my job, when the engineers write paperwork, they always use fractions because that's what the mechanics are trained to read. They don't say use the 1.75 in. wrench they say use the 1-3/4 in. wrench.

That's... not engineering. That's specifying a part size. They aren't using that terminology for equations.

This is probably the last thing the devs thought people would complain about...

They're not mathematicians so they're not held to the same standards. It isn't a book of formulae, it is a roleplaying game. It's not wrong its just different.

Kind've like how for precise calculations I will use metric since that's easier, but I estimate in imperial since that's easier (for me) to visualize. Context matters.

MageHunter wrote:

This is probably the last thing the devs thought people would complain about...

They're not mathematicians so they're not held to the same standards. It isn't a book of formulae, it is a roleplaying game. It's not wrong its just different.

Kind've like how for precise calculations I will use metric since that's easier, but I estimate in imperial since that's easier (for me) to visualize. Context matters.

Except there are formulas in the book, which is generally the source of the complaint. Its completely counterintuitive to utilize that notation in a formula for no real reason besides carry over form previous products. Most people familiar with math notation are not going to see "1-1/2 x 2" and get 3 on the first go. The only reason I know is that Pathfinder basically never writes subtraction into its formulas, but that's not something someone new to RPGs is going to know. If its a source confusion that serves no legitimate purpose, it was a mistake. Not a major mistake, but one nonetheless.

Has anyone here looked at that and thought it was subtraction? Not for a split second, but thought it was subtraction until having it pointed out.

It's true that Paizo style prefers "1-1/2", but in the vast majority of uses I can dig up in the 40-odd books that I'm willing to spin my wheels checking for it, it almost always appears in the context of prose where its meaning is obvious ("You do not apply 1-1/2 times your Dexterity bonus", read aloud as "You do not apply one-and-one-half times your Dexterity bonus").

It's also clear that it's not referring to a subtraction operation when operations in a calculation are spelled out ("a number of points of damage equal to 2d6 plus 1-1/2 times the chimera's Strength bonus"), hopefully for no reason other than it would be bog stupid to write "one minus one-half" instead of "one-half" if 0.5 is what's intended.

I do agree that it's unclear to use "1-1/2" in prose-free equations that use mathematical symbols instead of prose, like the abbreviated DC calculation format ("DC = 20 + 1-1/2 × your level"). It's not often used in this manner in Pathfinder, but in the zero Starfinder books that are in stores right now, it seems to appear much more frequently.

The rules have been officially released for -36 ("negative thirty-six") hours at this point, so I apologize if my understanding isn't very sophisticated, but I suspect part of the relative problem is Starfinder's increased reliance on abilities or checks that modify results or DCs with fractions, which Pathfinder didn't do as often.

I hope that someone in editorial team reads the original post (and only the original post) and takes it as legitimate feedback about rules readability going forward.

That said, and while I thought I'd stopped being surprised a long time ago at the sort of stuff folks will get into a mad froth about on these forums, I still foolishly didn't expect something like this would spawn a multi-page thread four days before the book's properly released, while most of the staff is at or in transit to Gen Con.

It was constructive to point out this potential confusion. Some people agree, some people don't, and both views are fine. I'm probably still a fool for believing this, but I also think everyone here agrees that it's morally acceptable to think this is confusing, and not a thoughtcrime to believe that this isn't confusing.

So what's the value of continuing to discuss this for a third straight day during the one week in Starfinder's entire lifecycle where sleeping is a more valuable use of the editorial staff's time than looking at this thread? What do y'all want out of this discussion? Validation?

Garrett Guillotte wrote:
It's also clear that it's not referring to a subtraction operation when operations in a calculation are spelled out ("a number of points of damage equal to 2d6 plus 1-1/2 times the chimera's Strength bonus"), hopefully for no reason other than it would be bog stupid to write "one minus one-half" instead of "one-half" if 0.5 is what's intended.

My brain reads that as (2d6+1) minus (0.5*Str). I then have to work out what it actually means from the context.

It's a bad bit of terminology. Like Imperial measures, it could be replaced with something better. Like Imperial measures, it's not going anywhere any time soon.

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MageHunter wrote:
Has anyone here looked at that and thought it was subtraction? Not for a split second, but thought it was subtraction until having it pointed out.

Not even for the split second.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Calth wrote:
Squeakmaan wrote:
Calth wrote:
Squeakmaan wrote:
rknop wrote:
...and, no, nothing's going to convince me that writing a subtraction where you don't want to subtract is correct.
Except that's quite clearly not what they did, you briefly misread something, happens to all of us now and again. It's an incredibly common form of writing 1.5. It's taught in schools, it's taught in technical programs, it's used very often in construction, engineering, and a host of other trades. We get that you were unfamiliar with its usage, that does not make it wrong.
Wasn't taught in any engineering course I took, as that's mixed notation and would have been marked incorrect. Ive never seen it used in the context of equations outside of Pathfinder (I have seen 1-1/2 as a measurement notation but that's not an equation). "1 1/2" (while bad its not as bad), "1.5", "3/2" are all better than "1-1/2". And I find it hard to believe anyone that actually works meaningfully with equations would approve of the notation.
I see it every day at my job, when the engineers write paperwork, they always use fractions because that's what the mechanics are trained to read. They don't say use the 1.75 in. wrench they say use the 1-3/4 in. wrench.
That's... not engineering. That's specifying a part size. They aren't using that terminology for equations.

All of the paperwork is written that way, including their equations.

rknop wrote:
In a formula, - indicates subtraction if it's not clearly called out otherwise. I'm very dubious that this notation is a standard for use in a formula anywhere. If so, it's a terrible standard designed to create confusion and misunderstanding.

I pretty much agree with you. I've never seen it anywhere other than RPGs (id always assumed it was a throwback to dodgy self publishers in the 70s not being able to accomodate the usual way of writing one and a half). I also agree that it's a foolish standard (they could have gone with 1+1/2 which would've been clearly superior, in my view).

Nonetheless, I think the bewildering array of "flavours" of dashes means that technically there isn't a minus sign in this formula: there's a dash of a different length.

Peculiar standard to have been adopted (and not something I've ever seen) but I think it's technically not the same symbol for subtraction.

(I like to think wouldn't usually chime in with such pedantry, but in a thread about usage of one of the plethora of different dashes, I'm going to forgive myself). :)

Hey guys!

I just purchased Starfinder and googled my way into this thread looking for an answer to wth "1-1/2" means. Now I know it means 1.5 (or 1,5 as we write it down in here).

The reason I'm commenting is I actually figured out that it must be "one and a half" in my head, but had to look up to be sure about this. Since it certainly isn't the most logical way of expressing it. And for ppl who claim that it is or should be clear to everyone: it sure is the first time I ever laid my eyes on such expression. Must be 'cause I hail from Finland, Europe.

Anyways good RP sessions to everyone and thanks for clearing this out!

 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Several countries use decimal points as a thousands separator and a comma for decimal notation. Paizo avoids confusion on that and only has to maintain one copy for localisation by using the fractional notation.

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