GM or player responsible for clarifying save?


Rules Questions

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Because I always run my games with my laptop, I have the character sheets running in HeroLab in front of me, so I can add any bonuses myself if I'm keeping the cause secret (such as the aforementioned poison attack).

My players will usually ask "Do I get a bonus for x?". If I don't mind them knowing, I just let them do it. Otherwise, I say "No" and add the bonus myself after a glance at their electronic sheet.


I still don't understand how its taking you 30 minutes even with 6 players to write down some quick modifiers. are you like a real slow writer or talker? hey whats your saves +4 base +2 vrs poison +1 versus disease. Boom took like 20 seconds for me to type it. add in the 45 seconds for them to look over character sheet and done. I've done it before my cheat sheet was done shortly after the last person pulled out their character sheet.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

N N 959 said it way better than me. What trouble me is that you didn't think of adapting during the game, instead deferring to do that after the game ended.

I appreciate that you asked for and listened to other people opinions, so I applause that.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Immediately changing your way of doing things, without stopping to consider the consequences, just because a player complains in the middle of a high-level battle, is a lot to ask of a GM...

Player: "Stop rolling dice behind a screen!"
GM: "OK."
Player: "You should tell me the Armor Class of any monster I attack. That makes things run more smoothly."
GM: "OK."
Etc.


Diego Rossi wrote:

N N 959 said it way better than me. What trouble me is that you didn't think of adapting during the game, instead deferring to do that after the game ended.

I appreciate that you asked for and listened to other people opinions, so I applause that.

If the player failed even with the bonus, and it was determined immediately, i don't see the in-game difference it makes. I don't like this kind of gm-ing either, but specific example seems very clear. because of players reaction it's possible there were other issues like noz adding bonus on previous saves. Or the player could just be hot-headed.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
I still don't understand how its taking you 30 minutes even with 6 players to write down some quick modifiers. are you like a real slow writer or talker? hey whats your saves +4 base +2 vrs poison +1 versus disease. Boom took like 20 seconds for me to type it. add in the 45 seconds for them to look over character sheet and done. I've done it before my cheat sheet was done shortly after the last person pulled out their character sheet.

One of my players who uses a custom spreadsheet takes two minutes to figure out his first attack roll of a battle, let alone a more obscure data point such as a Will save. The skald will have some modifiers listed with her saves and other modifiers listed with her Inspired Rage song. Same for the bloodrager. And don't forget the effect of the wizard or cleric's buff spells. The big slowdown will be checking that they found every conditional modifier.

Nevertheless, the method blahpers described allows the GM do do that in parallel for all the players, rather than serial, one player at a time. That will speed up the data collection.

blahpers wrote:
The one time I had a PFS GM ask for scores before session start, they handed out short forms to fill out with saving throws and relevant skills like Perception. The forms had blanks for conditional modifiers. It took all of sixty seconds from start to finish, and the game flowed as smoothly as Willy Wonka's chocolate river--nobody had any doubt that the GM factored, e.g., the rogue's trapfinding bonus in when needed.

The bigger question is does the GM want an air of mystery, where the poison of a linnorm's bite is unknown until someone fails their save, or does the GM want a descriptive encounter, where the PC feels the poison burning in his veins even as he fights it off? Both are legitimate styles of roleplaying. I myself prefer the latter.

N N 959 wrote:
In your situation, consider that if you force players to make blind Saving Throws, then they'll devalue actions that improve specific Saving Throws. If I never know when I'm saving against Poison, then I'll never know if I got any benefit from improving it. But by knowing what I am saving against, I get a sense for the types of dangers that exist in the world and I can make an informed decision on how I want to face them. This applies to many aspects of the game.

In my two most recent campaigns, Jade Regent and Iron Gods, the setting has a powerful organization opposed to the PCs' goals. My players took countermeasures to avoid the attention of these enemies. Alas, I could not immediately tell them how well their countermeasures worked. All they knew was that those powerful organizations had not yet attacked them. Afterwards, I like telling them out of character how they had their opponents running in circles, trying to figure out what was going on. If I didn't tell them, they might not engage in such amusing roleplaying in future encounters.

Scarab Sages

The answer is... it depends. With a poisonous bite, the character is going to feel a burning sensation on top of the bite itself so you're not spoiling anything.

If it's a save against a spell see if anyone in the party identifies it before you ask for the save.

For something that might not be obvious, like a disease, ask for the save and check your copy of the character sheet to see if they have a specific bonus or immunity. You... do have a copy of their sheet, right? :D


As a player if I ask if a modifier applies and do not get a definitive answer then I assume it applies.


RealAlchemy wrote:
I like the solution used by some of our local PFS GMs : initiative tracking cards which also include AC, saving throws, save modifiers, perception, sense motive, and other useful things. Then the GM can take a quick glance at your card.....

As a GM, this is the solution I've always used.

I keep a 'cheat sheet' of character info, including saves and often-used skill levels, and any conditional modifiers. This way, if it should be a 'secret roll' for character knowledge or story reasons, I can avoid the player getting info I'd rather they didn't have.

It's fairly common for me to ask a player for nothing more than a d20 roll, and I apply their relevant modifier; (Such as checking if they notice someone following them in town. Asking specifically for a perception roll, would kind of clue them in that something is around they could/should/want to notice.)

I believe GM's should also take such things into account during game prep. If I plan on having poison-using enemies or undead in an upcoming game, it's not all that hard to check the character sheets, so I know ahead of time what modifiers or special abilities might come into play.
For example, noting a player's rogue has 'trap spotter' when preparing for their assault on a location that will have traps in place.

It's extra work for the GM, but helps for atmosphere quite a bit.
The work load can be managed if you keep to only using it when it would make a worthwhile difference.

In the original example, I would probably go ahead and ask for a fortitude save vs. poison. I would expect there to be indicators of venom in the wound, or possibly someone failing and getting poisoned during the fight. So in that case, finding out about an enemies' poison attack wouldn't exactly be game-breaking


My DM prefers to keep players as in-the-dark as possible, which can cause some serious issues. In a Paizo adventure path, we had acquired some special items that had some rather unique defenses against certain spells, except the DM forgot said effects and we didn't know what they were because the DM assumed that since the spellcraft DC to identify the items wasn't listed, he made it 50. Over the next several chapters we were affected by multiple spells that we should have been immune to because the DM forgot to track the buffs that he wouldn't tell us that we had, so when we finally beat that DC 50 spellcraft it let to some awkard questions about why those spells hadn't been resisted.

Also, you can get consumable that grant temporary immunity to certain effects, like a stone of newt prevention, that the DM would have a very difficult time tracking for each character.
DM: make a Will save
Me: *rolls*
DM: you fail. you turn into a frog
Me: my very human faces becomes startled when the bead of newt prevention in my pocket turns into dust

Let's say that you have a dwarf alchemist with a plague mask. whew boy. +2 racial bonus vs poison, spells and spell-like abilities, not supernatural or extraordinary abilities. plague mask gives a +4 resistance bonus vs diseases, stacking with the racial, but only if it's a disease originating from a spell. If it's extraordinary or supernatural you only get the +4, otherwise it's +6. You also get +2 untyped bonus to saves vs poison from the class, stacking with the racial for +4 vs all poisons regardless of origin. If a dragon casts its racial spell-like ability Fear on you, you get +2, but no bonus vs its frightful presence, since that's Ex.

I call it information filtering, and I'm not sure if there's a way around it. High-level paladins get DR 5/evil, so since the paladin is tracking his/her own hitpoints, they will immediately know if any damage they take is from an unholy weapon or evil source, since they'll have to ask the DM how much damage to notate on their own character sheet. If the paladin also has Stoneskin cast on him (DR 10/adamantine), he/she can easily discern properties of the weapon the enemy has.


And let's not forget my personal favorite:

DM: two boulders come flying out of the darkness, what's your flat-footed AC?
player: 28
DM: you get hit twice, take X damage!
player:...does this boulder come from a giant?
DM: You don't know
player: I have giant defiant armor. AC +2 and DR 2/- against giants. How much damage do I take?
DM: you only get hit 1 by boulder, and take Y damage instead.
player: looks like we're fighting giants!


When I'm GMing I typically have too many other things that I'm trying to keep track of so I don't have a list of what bonuses the players all have versus different things.
And because I have so many things going on at the same time I sometimes (often?) forget to tell the players what they're saving against. My players are all aware of this so will often ask if it's a poison (or whatever they have bonuses against). That being said, they usually don't bother to ask unless they failed and had a decently high roll.

Eg:
Me: "Make a Fort save."
Them: "I have a 17."
Me: *checks the DC again because I already forgot what it was, it's an 18*
Me: "You fail." (This is also where I usually ask if they have any bonuses)
Them: "If it's poison I have 19?"
Me: *looks to see what the save was against because, again, I forgot that part too*
Me: "Oh good! You make it!"

(I'd prefer it if I said "Make a save against poison" but yeah, I usually forget to see what the save is against.)


Matthew Downie wrote:

Immediately changing your way of doing things, without stopping to consider the consequences, just because a player complains in the middle of a high-level battle, is a lot to ask of a GM...

Player: "Stop rolling dice behind a screen!"
GM: "OK."
Player: "You should tell me the Armor Class of any monster I attack. That makes things run more smoothly."
GM: "OK."
Etc.

**laughs**

I had a player honestly ask what the AC was of a monster that hadn't been attacked yet. Everyone else looked really confused by this so I looked at them and said "you don't know what. What did you roll?"
That being said, after 6 attacks or so against a monster the group usually knows what the AC is so I don't hide it for long.


I nearly got kicked out of a family game by always listing out all of my bonuses to saves, so no, it is not the player’s responsibility to list their bonuses, it is the GM’s job to list what the save is against.


Reksew_Trebla wrote:
I nearly got kicked out of a family game by always listing out all of my bonuses to saves, so no, it is not the player’s responsibility to list their bonuses, it is the GM’s job to list what the save is against.

Hey, this thread's back, and so are all the arguments we already covered half a year ago. : D

Shadow Lodge

Yep.

TriOmegaZero wrote:
No one is responsible for it. It's up to the table to decide how they want to handle it.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Shared responsibility can be a bad idea. Is it the job of the attacker to add 4 to an attack against a prone enemy, or is it up to the defender to subtract 4 from AC? Either way is fine, but if you try to share responsibility, you might find both do it, or neither.

at my tables: if it affects the attack mod the attacker adds it, if it affects the ac the defender subtracts.


blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
I nearly got kicked out of a family game by always listing out all of my bonuses to saves, so no, it is not the player’s responsibility to list their bonuses, it is the GM’s job to list what the save is against.
Hey, this thread's back, and so are all the arguments we already covered half a year ago. : D

Why are you quoting me as if I brought it back? There were 4 posts before mine in recent times.


Reksew_Trebla wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
I nearly got kicked out of a family game by always listing out all of my bonuses to saves, so no, it is not the player’s responsibility to list their bonuses, it is the GM’s job to list what the save is against.
Hey, this thread's back, and so are all the arguments we already covered half a year ago. : D
Why are you quoting me as if I brought it back? There were 4 posts before mine in recent times.

You were the most recent post; that's all. My apologies if I came across as accusatory--I'm a sassy pig.


blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
I nearly got kicked out of a family game by always listing out all of my bonuses to saves, so no, it is not the player’s responsibility to list their bonuses, it is the GM’s job to list what the save is against.
Hey, this thread's back, and so are all the arguments we already covered half a year ago. : D
Why are you quoting me as if I brought it back? There were 4 posts before mine in recent times.
You were the most recent post; that's all. My apologies if I came across as accusatory--I'm a sassy pig.

Oh it’s all good. I apologize as well. I get defensive easily sometimes. I shouldn’t have assumed you were being accusatory.


this thread falls into GM gray area as there isn't a particular RAW rule for GM<->player information exchange. How much information is shared and in what manner depends on GM style and desire to limit metagaming.
If a GM or Player doesn't want to announce something then write a note and pass it to the concerned person. That implies a level of confidentiality and privacy as announcing it makes it public information.


As was said there's no rule I'm aware of regarding this.

However, I personally recommend GMs have a list of all the party characters' saving throw bonuses so that they can do saving throws in secret (even things like perception or sense motive as well since I think it's fair that they get passive checks in cases where they wouldn't explicitly be making checks)

If a character (or party) just drank a poisoned drink, even if they were just asked to make a fortitude save —let alone a fort vs poison save— it would become apparent what was happening, and many players would have difficulty not acting upon this OOC information, especially if they were already suspicious about the situation.

That said, if you were going to go for the lower GM burden, make sure you tell players to always mention bonuses vs specific effects regardless of whether they think it is such effect or not.

Both the GM and player failed in the OP's case because neither side took the proper initiative. Such is life though; learn and adapt.


I performed a bit of necro-threading, sorry if that annoyed anyone. I was doing some research to see if groups were having a similar problem to mine, that is, the DM not allowing the party to make saving throws or resist energy damage against supernatural/extraordinary abilities that monsters have. The DM doesn't want the players to point out that there is a saving throw against 2d4 STR drain to reduce the effect to 1d4 STR damage, or all energy damage that monsters inflict bypasses any/all energy resistances the players have, or not allowing the rogue to use evasion on Reflex saves vs Ex/Su abilities. In this case, it's how much metagame information do the players provide to the DM that we know he's fudging the CR?


Aksess, what you are implying goes beyond simple information exchange and sounds like the GM either does not understand the rules and/or is effectively raising the CR of some challenges.
The best thing to do is to talk to your GM and see what the real issue is and try to come to a reasonable agreement.
If the regular APL+3 "difficult" CR is not a challenge then try APL+4. Some challenges will be easier for a party with a given ability and skill set than others. The GM doesn't have to trounce the party with every combat or inflict grievous wounds. The object is drama and a switching of control and power back and forth at various times in the arc of a plot.
Anyway, have fun and if the game isn't fun find another game.


You are absolutely correct. The type of game the DM expects to run should have been laid out in session 0. The players are all a bit fed up, so our solution is actually to form a new group, new adventure path, new DM. Thanks for the input, and cheers.

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