Buff durations


Pathfinder Society

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4/5

Let's say, you have a 5th level cleric in say the scenario Mists of Mwangi.

How many combats should you give for the min/level spell, Bless - which lasts 5 min, assuming the party decides not to search any rooms they come across?

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

Probably two, unless they were moving from room to room without stopping to look around.

The Exchange 3/5

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Can't you just count the rounds the combat lasted? Any fight over 1 min is rare..

4/5

3 rounds generally for PFS. The issue is whether the buffs should be carried over to the next fight and if you could conceivably do a dungeon run on a min/level spell saying that since each fight doesn't take more then 3 rounds, and you move at 20/30 ft per round... well, you get my drift :P

Then go Yay we did the dungeon in... 3 minutes!

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

If that's what they do, then that's what they do.

When I ran Emerald Spire it was rare for the wand charge of Mage Armor to actually need refreshing.

But most dungeon crawls are not most scenarios, and that mentality doesn't work the majority of the time.

4/5

I agree fully on mage armor, or 10 min/level stuff. But it's the min/level stuff I'm having issues with.

Grand Lodge 2/5

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How long did combat last and how long did they spend in the room after? A perception check to search takes 6 seconds unless the scenario specifies otherwise and all PCs can do it simultaneously.

Did they find a note? Probably didn't take more than a minute or 2 max to read it if its a long note; probably 30 seconds or so if its short.

Did they stand around discussing tactics for moving on after combat? Measure that in real time as long as it's not a fully OOC discussion.

Overall it's gonna take a little guesswork but there's no hard rule on "a number of combats" before it expires. Just think about it logically and use rules for time when there are some like for skill checks. And if they just want to run through every room while their buffs are up, well good for them.

The Exchange 4/5 5/5

It completely depends on what the party decides to do. Heal after combat? Search a body? Stop to identify all the magic items?

My general rule of thumb is 30 seconds per body search, 30 seconds total to distribute non-magical gear, and 30 seconds per magic item identification and distribution. (If the players really want to try to assembly-line it they can, but it usually works out about the same.) Healing is simultaneous with this. Out-of-combat conversation is real-time.

Sure, if the players really try they can zoom from room to room. Channel and move on, we'll search later. One of the most notorious Bonekeep groups of all time only spent enough time after each combat for the (chained) barbarian to recover from fatigue before rushing into the next encounter. At times they had round per level buffs that lasted into a second fight. (They also spent way more gold than they made trying to keep everyone alive.)

1/5 Venture-Agent, Utah—Provo

yes, if the players move quickly from room to room your buffs are still up. My team going through emerald spire averages like 2.5 minutes for floors, at lv8+ we cast haste as we enter and just have haste up the entire time with like 3 castings of it, Use like 2 long arm spells from a wand.

but when you look at action movies that do raids like swat or something they take over a building really quickly in real life.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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It would really depend on how the party does things, I suppose.

One party may prefer the "due diligence" approach: looting every enemy, checking every door for traps, making sure they don't miss anything important. Quite a few scenarios have places that you can't go back to later, because stuff collapses or oversized demons appear.

Another party prefers to blitz the enemy, efficiently using buffs across multiple fights and giving the enemy no time to buff up and get organized. Many scenarios give bad guys a series of buffs to cast and you might interrupt that before they've gone completely voltron.

The choice of style should really be up to players, and to let them make an informed decision you could lay down how much time any given thing takes, so that they can decide what they actually do. Some of these rules are already established:


  • Search a 10x10 space for traps and other things: 1 move action for Active Perception. (Trap FAQ)
  • Take 20 on a 10x10 area search: 1 minute.
  • Identify a magic item: 3 rounds with Spellcraft and Detect Magic.
  • Open or close door: 1 move action.
  • Attempt to open a lock with Disable Device: 1 full-round action.
  • Attempt to disable a trap: 2d4 rounds.
  • Follow tracks: tracker moves at half speed.

Other things are a bit harder, but you could put a typical time for it;


  • Loot an enemy, thoroughly enough that you can make any Perception/Skill checks written into the scenario. Needed before you can start identifying magic items.
  • Search a room/cabinet for evidence. Could be a case of dividing the size of the room by the number of 10x10 spaces in its surface.

On the whole, you really do have a tradeoff between "take enough time to collect trues and find traps" and "conserve buffs".

2/5

Thomas Hutchins wrote:

yes, if the players move quickly from room to room your buffs are still up. My team going through emerald spire averages like 2.5 minutes for floors, at lv8+ we cast haste as we enter and just have haste up the entire time with like 3 castings of it, Use like 2 long arm spells from a wand.

but when you look at action movies that do raids like swat or something they take over a building really quickly in real life.

I'm fine with this pace in PF because it is a FANTASY game. However, I don't think what our characters do is any way comparable to special operations forces/SWAT teams. We don't intensively train together, nor do we ever rehearse assault operations. Indeed, we couldn't because the Society is rarely (if ever) able to provide us with the needed tactical intelligence.

In addition, Pathfinder combat doesn't account for the Clausewitzian notion of friction.

As an example of a special operations assault, the SAS recovery of the Iranian embassy in London in 1980 took between 11 and 17 minutes to complete (depending on which easy to find internet source you chose to believe (I'm now curious and may see if a more detailed timeline is available)).

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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pjrogers wrote:
In addition, Pathfinder combat doesn't account for the Clausewitzian notion of friction.

Isn't the tactical incompleteness of mission briefings exactly an example of friction? And there are many kinds of friction that can occur to a party trying to do a "model buff duration performance". For example, if there's a trap early in the adventure, suddenly people start checking every door for traps and the game pace slows to a crawl.

Another variant is tired players at Cons doing stupid things. Or players who didn't understand the mission briefing or forget there was another objective than "kill everything" and end up with a dead person they were supposed to capture/liberate.

I don't think friction is really something for which we need explicit rules. It already happens.

2/5

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I don't think friction is really something for which we need explicit rules. It already happens.

Point taken - you're correct, PF does yield some wonderfully vivid/hilarious examples of friction. I should amend my statement to read "Pathfinder combat doesn't fully account for the Clausewitzian notion of friction." And I should very quickly add, I don't think we need any additional rules for this sort of thing.

What I was thinking about (and this could be its own thread) is the amount of over-the-table discussion that can go on during combats. In my experience, the time pressure of six seconds per round is rarely appreciated nor are the communications difficulties of combat. I sometimes try to enforce it if I think a player or player(s) are taking too long by reminding them that "the clock is ticking."

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Trap FAQ

I had to look this up myself. I wonder how many people are unaware of the change in the CRB Perception/Search that came about by new language and rules that were released in Ultimate Intrigue?

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

...probably too many.

Have to point out, there IS a downside for a *team of EXPLORERS* zipping from room to room and encounter to encounter... in that haste to get to the 'finish line' before the buffs 'time out' a lot of stuff gets missed.

Our table did it to ourselves in

Spoiler:
Traitor's Lodge. Only time I can recall getting the *secondary* Prestige and NOT the primary.
and we freely admitted afterwards that yeah, we kind of ran ourselves into that.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Trap FAQ
I had to look this up myself. I wonder how many people are unaware of the change in the CRB Perception/Search that came about by new language and rules that were released in Ultimate Intrigue?

Enough people were upset about it that I thought it was widely know. I just appreciate the clarity on the issue.

But an FAQ RSS feed would be a thing.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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I think you can mitigate durations by being pragmatic. A lot of the most common buffs are just as effective from an expendable resource as it is from the party casters. Example, potions of enlarge person are (arguably) better than casting it. A wand of bless is extremely inexpensive given the 2PP cost. Nearly all my PCs, even the ones who cannot use it “buys” one. Even potions of invisibility and atribute buffs are often better in liquid form.

Personally, I’m not a fan of “hurry, hurry” because an ongoing buff is going to lapse unless it is absolutely essential to the mission. Generally speaking, an extra plus or two is nice and certainly appreciated, but not essential for success. The randomness of the dice is still usually a bigger factor than a minor bonus. The risk of missing important information or some hidden loot is usually more important. Also, push too fast and I’ve seen players forget to heal after an encounter and provoke another one in an injured state. That can be dangerous.

Generally speaking, there is no hard and fast rule on the duration of non-tactical time. You don’t have to be 100% consistent. Time like this is an abstract. If it “feels” like their recent actions would take more than a few minutes, call it ended. If not, let it continue. Don’t be vindictive about it, but don’t let players unreasonably extend the duration either. Most players will accept your ruling if you seem to be fair and consider the circumstances. If not, then you have a different problem to deal with.


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Bob Jonquet wrote:
The risk of missing important information or some hidden loot is usually more important.

Can't you just go back and search after the buffs have worn off?

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My personal perspective is that if the players ask about it and it's a questionable thing, give benefit of doubt. Especially if the characters have the horrid experience of 'cold dice'.

However, much as noted by several others above, if they are trying to 'milk' the duration that's a whole other issue and deserves appropriate consideration.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Matthew Downie wrote:
Can't you just go back and search after the buffs have worn off?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. IMO, the best solution is to do what you know and not guess. Search when you can and when it’s applicable. More often than not, it’s better to take your time and lose the short term buff to search, than try to rush and find out later you cannot go back. IME, calm and methodical is usually more effective than an excited blind-rush forward

5/5 ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht

I basically factor in a roughly one-minute time lapse after each fight: coming down from the adrenaline rush (it is a scary situation, after all), cleaning weapons/armour, and using wands to restore HP (maybe more on high level, but then durations go up as well).

If they're not looting the room/enemies, I'd give them two fights, maybe three if the fights are very close after each other. Remember, in the fiction they also have to travel and discuss tactics, that also takes more time than you'd think. And in-game, there's still things like room descriptions and stuff that take time to process.

Looting a room would also be one or two minutes, depending on how much they find and how many magical items they need to identify. If they find a logbook with a specific handout, the adventure presumes they magically find that one interesting page, but in the fiction it might take anywhere between ten and thirty minutes, depending on how much information they need to sift through. Maybe even more.


Bob Jonquet wrote:
More often than not, it’s better to take your time and lose the short term buff to search, than try to rush and find out later you cannot go back.

Why wouldn't you be able to go back?

5/5 5/55/55/5

Dms to tend to overestimate how much time it takes to look around

4/5

Matthew Downie wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
More often than not, it’s better to take your time and lose the short term buff to search, than try to rush and find out later you cannot go back.
Why wouldn't you be able to go back?

I have two examples, with scenario name removed due to spoilers.

One : Enormous demon way outside the party's ability to handle is on its way in and chasing you out of the area.

Two : Volcanic eruption is triggered, flooding the whole map with magma. Leave or die.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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A staggeringly large number of places tend to blow up the second pathfinders get there.


More likely they blow up as soon as the pathfinders attack the final boss. If they started to blow up the second you entered, then stopping to search every room would be suicidal.

5/5 5/55/55/5

"it was like that when we got here..."

4/5

I know a place that blew up because pathfinders were there...what can you say when a pryomanical dragon disciple dragon senses something in the engine room and decides to throw a fireball at it?

5/5 5/55/55/5

pjrogers wrote:


I'm fine with this pace in PF because it is a FANTASY game. However, I don't think what our characters do is any way comparable to special operations forces/SWAT teams. We don't intensively train together, nor do we ever rehearse assault operations. Indeed, we couldn't because the Society is rarely (if ever) able to provide us with the needed tactical intelligence.

Pathfinders originally took 3 years of intensive training with the field agent being allegedly rare. The background kind of moved away from that, but adventurers really should be expected to train a bit on working together including swat tactics, adventuring basics, and what spells you can expect on you and how they work.

(remind me to have my brown furred transmuter write a pamphlet for "So I'm a Gargoyle now? The changes your body is going through..." )

The society does provide a fair bit of intelligence. One of the often overlooked things they provide because it looks metagamey is a reasonable encounter level. Presumaby, the society has information on an area, and has done a few divinations and not gotten the results to be TOO terrible. Which is why your level 1s don't get sent to deal with a rampaging red dragon on accident.

2/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
The society does provide a fair bit of intelligence.

The last PFS scenario I played

Spoiler:
Encounter at the Drowning Stones
, we weren't told the CONTINENT we were going to until minutes before our departure.
5/5 5/55/55/5

I didnt say they provided it to the field teams...

Scarab Sages 5/5

As you get higher in level, those minutes per caster level start to become 10+ minutes. Many scenarios indicate time between encounters, and when they don't it can be fairly easy to determine time between encounters. Especially if you are in a dungeon.

Using perception to search a 10' square area, per the new FAQ rules. takes a move action. If you want to take 20, it takes a full minute to take 20 on that 10' square area. So searching an entire 40 x 50 room takes 20 minutes. And that isn't considering separate perception checks to look through densely cluttered areas, the drawers of a desk, a filing cabinet, etc.

Movement itself takes time as well. So that 5th level character casting a 1 minute per round spell would have 5 minutes. That could easily be taken up by searching a room before moving on to the next.

Usually I just try to generically figure out time like that as players ask the questions and if I'm unsure I'll usually try to err on the players side (unless they are owning the scenario) and give them a few rounds for the next encounter.

The Exchange 3/5

Really it depends on what the players are actually doing. The same 40x50 room with someone standing in the middle taking move actions to perception 10' squares takes 1 minute to do so. If a party of 5 does so they can check all the squares in 2 rounds.

In general a dungeon can be cleared extremely quickly. I've played a scenario where once we broke inside the fort we never left initiative and completed the mission in about 2 minutes.

I would be generous in favor of the PCs if I'm going to say doing something takes a set amount of time especially if they don't say (and receive the bonus from!) taking 20 to search a room.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Ragoz wrote:

Really it depends on what the players are actually doing. The same 40x50 room with someone standing in the middle taking move actions to perception 10' squares takes 1 minute to do so. If a party of 5 does so they can check all the squares in 2 rounds.

In general a dungeon can be cleared extremely quickly. I've played a scenario where once we broke inside the fort we never left initiative and completed the mission in about 2 minutes.

I would be generous in favor of the PCs if I'm going to say doing something takes a set amount of time especially if they don't say (and receive the bonus from!) taking 20 to search a room.

agreed

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

I think some of this is lost on the abstract of RPGs. The game is a simulation that takes some liberties with how things work in real life and guesses how magic would work if it existed. Generally speaking, its not always prudent to try and apply tactical rules to non tactical situations. The game rules were written assuming the GM has a lot more freedom than we do in OP which makes things like this problematic. A player could point out the specifics of the FAQ about searching, but there are a ton of circumstances that could invalidate those hard and fast action economies. The key is to find that middle ground between powering through everything, ignoring the very real danger that you would be experiencing if it was YOU not your PC experiencing the game, and ignoring time limits entirely and making it like encounter powers from 4E.

Dark Archive 4/5

Honestly, I usually just say, "you folks have spent, what, about 3 minutes in that room? So you'll have bless for the next one." If there's discussion, I'll entertain a little of it then make a call.

I don't get that granular. It breaks immersion too much.

The Exchange 3/5

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To me it breaks my immersion in the game more when I have to pretend my character must have just stood around in a room for several minutes when I'm told how long something took. I can understand the other side though.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Ragoz wrote:
To me it breaks my immersion in the game more when I have to pretend my character must have just stood around in a room for several minutes when I'm told how long something took. I can understand the other side though.

You could certainly pretend your character did nothing while everyone else was doing something. Or you could pretend your character was fecklessly helping (hindering). Or you could actually roll dice and have your character "help".

Your character doesn't need to "stood around in a room for several minutes" if you don't want them to.

1/5 Venture-Agent, Utah—Provo

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Tallow wrote:
Ragoz wrote:
To me it breaks my immersion in the game more when I have to pretend my character must have just stood around in a room for several minutes when I'm told how long something took. I can understand the other side though.

You could certainly pretend your character did nothing while everyone else was doing something. Or you could pretend your character was fecklessly helping (hindering). Or you could actually roll dice and have your character "help".

Your character doesn't need to "stood around in a room for several minutes" if you don't want them to.

I believe their point's context is this situation.

Player "Okay we finished the fight. I use 2 wand charges as we leave down the 40ft hallway. We open the next door and see more enemies."
GM "Roll for initiative. Okay it's been 5 minutes since the last fight so buffs are down"
Player "Okay, I guess we just stood around for 4.5 of those 5 minutes since it'd have only taken a few seconds to heal and get over to this door from our last fight."

So not that they did nothing while others are doing something aka standing around while others searched or something, but more of no one did anything yet much time has passed, so yes, he didn't have a choice to do something instead of stand around because the GM just gave some exagerated time that their actions took.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Chess Pwn wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Ragoz wrote:
To me it breaks my immersion in the game more when I have to pretend my character must have just stood around in a room for several minutes when I'm told how long something took. I can understand the other side though.

You could certainly pretend your character did nothing while everyone else was doing something. Or you could pretend your character was fecklessly helping (hindering). Or you could actually roll dice and have your character "help".

Your character doesn't need to "stood around in a room for several minutes" if you don't want them to.

I believe their point's context is this situation.

Player "Okay we finished the fight. I use 2 wand charges as we leave down the 40ft hallway. We open the next door and see more enemies."
GM "Roll for initiative. Okay it's been 5 minutes since the last fight so buffs are down"
Player "Okay, I guess we just stood around for 4.5 of those 5 minutes since it'd have only taken a few seconds to heal and get over to this door from our last fight."

So not that they did nothing while others are doing something aka standing around while others searched or something, but more of no one did anything yet much time has passed.

Well that's kinda a crappy thing to do as a GM.

1/5 Venture-Agent, Utah—Provo

Tallow wrote:
Well that's kinda a crappy thing to do as a GM.

Well that's what a lot of GM's do. Just make up some number of minutes their stuff takes (one guy above seems to uses 3 minutes as their default). And unless you're getting into take 20 for searching you'd likely be spending no more than a minute if that in a room. Like detecting magic on 5 items just takes 7 rounds, not even a full minute. So what 2 minutes for 4 people to loot 3 bodies?

So what Ragoz is saying is that he prefers tracking what actions people are doing and using that to decide how long something takes, but he understands the desire some GMs have to just throw out a number that sounded good to them.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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The one exception I'll make is when there's no in-character reason that the group should begin buffing.

If you're at the mouth of a dungeon, it makes sense to pour on Mage Armor, Longstrider, Barkskin, etc. You're probably going to be facing something, even if it's just a trap.

But if the group has been traveling overland for days and I happen to lay down a terrain flipmat as part of their journey, there's probably little reason to stop and buff all of the sudden.

That's about my only pet peeve, though.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

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I like to lay out flipmats for social scenes for just that reason.

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I try to avoid putting out flipmats with some of the local players. They go from 'roleplay/problem-solving mode' to '**** happens roll initiative time????'

...and having a 'buff timer' ticking in the background doesn't help that, either.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, France—Paris

If the players want to stay buffed during long travels, I need them to state how many resources they may use, or I'll tell them they have to use that much to cover themselves given the time they will have to spend. I saw players complaining of not having time to buff before a fight, said nothing but not thinking less, fights can happen at anytime.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

Matthew Downie wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
The risk of missing important information or some hidden loot is usually more important.
Can't you just go back and search after the buffs have worn off?

You can try to. But the following things have all happened to me that prevented it:


  • By entering the ancient tomb as the first people in milennia we triggered structural flaws and after a while it collapsed.
  • Fighting the boss triggered a volcanic eruption.
  • Fiddling with a thing summoned a really big demon.
  • Entering the dungeon sets of a timer that floods it with golden death after X hours.
  • After facing down an encounter the Authorities arrived and took us away to have a talk.

It's really better to loot each room as if you're never going to get a chance to go back there.

In addition, searching a room can turn up clues or loot that are important further on in the dungeon. The old "huh, funny we're finding this very specific DR-penetrating weapon here. I'm sure that's just a coincidence" thing.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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Nefreet wrote:
That's about my only pet peeve, though.

I stopped feeding that meta-monster long ago. I never place a tactical map on the table until after the initiative occurs. Not saying that players are bad, they just cannot help themselves. When a square grid appears beneath their feet the game-focus shifts significantly.


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Bob Jonquet wrote:
I never place a tactical map on the table until after the initiative occurs.

The alternative is to prank your players by putting them on a tactical map, say, "You are walking through the forest," wait for them to waste their buff spells, and then say, "Nothing happens for the next hour..."

But that's probably not appropriate for PFS.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Matthew Downie wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
I never place a tactical map on the table until after the initiative occurs.

The alternative is to prank your players by putting them on a tactical map, say, "You are walking through the forest," wait for them to waste their buff spells, and then say, "Nothing happens for the next hour..."

But that's probably not appropriate for PFS.

unless this is a one-off joke and it doesn't become a thing... I'd say this is also not appropriate in a home game. This sort of thing would be a reason I'd choose not to play in that game if it became SOP for that GM.

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