Can we not have trap options, please?


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I definitely don't want them to nerfratta every slightly optimal thing into oblivion. Unless something is broken and warping the game and meta, leave things alone. Pathfinder went fecking crazy with stupid, petty errata for every little thing.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Lucas Yew wrote:

There are many Spells for each of the 8 Schools, but for each Spell Level the different Spells from each of the 8 Schools are usually assumed to be roughly of the same value. As such, it's very easy to see that,

Quote:
Making all options balanced makes it all samey.
...is flat out wrong; you can have wildly different working abilities gauged on an arbitrary power scale be done, just like Spells.

I'm very unconvinced that all spells of the same spell level are equivalent in value and there are no "trap" option spells.

Haste and flame arrow are both 3rd level, both transmutation, and both on the sorcerer/wizard spell list. If most players had to pick between the two to have available, in most circumstances haste would be the far greater choice. The two options aren't perfectly balanced.

I can conceive of situations where flame arrow would be better, so I'd hesitate to call it a "trap;" but I know which spell the 6th level sorcerer sitting next to me at a PFS game I'd rather she knew.


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TarkXT wrote:

Trap options are unfortunately inevitable. What is optimal one day may be relatively suboptimal another as books, strategies, and groups evolve.

So I tend to hope more that they avoid writing objectively horrible options that are literally dead space regardless of how your GM runs. There are relatively few of those even in the entire run of Pathfinder.

More than anything I just want the editing to tighten up a bit to keep things like that, and to keep the real need for errata to a minimum.

Trap and suboptimal aren't necesarelly the same thing.

A trap is more something that is advertised as making you good at a task, but in fact does not help you that much, once math is studied. For example, - 2 to hit to make your 1s in sneak attack become 2, "sounds" like it gives you more sneak damage. The fact is often this is not true.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ryric wrote:
Lucas Yew wrote:

There are many Spells for each of the 8 Schools, but for each Spell Level the different Spells from each of the 8 Schools are usually assumed to be roughly of the same value. As such, it's very easy to see that,

Quote:
Making all options balanced makes it all samey.
...is flat out wrong; you can have wildly different working abilities gauged on an arbitrary power scale be done, just like Spells.

I'm very unconvinced that all spells of the same spell level are equivalent in value and there are no "trap" option spells.

Haste and flame arrow are both 3rd level, both transmutation, and both on the sorcerer/wizard spell list. If most players had to pick between the two to have available, in most circumstances haste would be the far greater choice. The two options aren't perfectly balanced.

I can conceive of situations where flame arrow would be better, so I'd hesitate to call it a "trap;" but I know which spell the 6th level sorcerer sitting next to me at a PFS game I'd rather she knew.

Haste is generally too good to pass up if you have martial characters to benefit from it.

Flame Arrow or Fireball would be a better comparison because they are both are designed to do the same thing — apply hurt directly on an enemy. Flame Arrow would be a bad choice for a Sorcerer in any case. The Wizard would take it if they had an archer or two in the group and they were hunting trolls or some other creature where you want fire damage. It lasts long enough that you may be able to cast it before combat.

There are definitely some weak options. In some of them, I would rather the character could just reach a point where they could do it. As an example, Kip Up should just require you reach a certain proficiency in Acrobatics.


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Hell a large portion of PF1 Rogue Talents should just be a function of proficiency rank


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Haste in particular should only affect one target, with higher level versions affecting the group. As written it is way too good to be a 3rd circle spell.

(And yes I'm going to keep pushing Circle or some other more flavorful term instead of "spell level." Not only does it feel and sound better, it reduces confusion over the word Level. Just the other night I had to tell a player to redo his spells from leveling up and remind him that reaching 2nd level in his caster didn't give him 2nd level spells.)


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
I definitely don't want them to nerfratta every slightly optimal thing into oblivion. Unless something is broken and warping the game and meta, leave things alone. Pathfinder went fecking crazy with stupid, petty errata for every little thing.

This.


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I think the idea that you can't balance a game as complex as pathfinder is easily disproved by looking at existing multi-player games.

Consider League of Legends. At non-professional levels of play the range of champion win-rates is from 44 to 54 percent. And League has 140 champions, each with ~5 different abilities. The champions that get picked in a given game could have further synergies with one another; increasing complexity.

The idea that its impossible to get good balance out of 50 or 60 class options is really strange to me.

I don't need to have every feat be an all-star. But you should never look at a feat and think "why would I ever take this?" It's fine to have niche feats that need a specific build to work, but such feats should not be the norm. Also, you can't then nerf them into oblivion once someone works out a cool combo... That just discourages people from caring about niche options even more.


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While not every feat needs to be an all star, every feat should rank at least 4 out of 5 stars

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:
And yes I'm going to keep pushing Circle or some other more flavorful term instead of "spell level."

My group has been using "circle" for "spell level" for years for these exact reasons.

Plus, you get to say things in-world like, "He's a Wizard of the 3rd Ciricle."

-Skeld

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Knight Magenta wrote:

I think the idea that you can't balance a game as complex as pathfinder is easily disproved by looking at existing multi-player games.

Consider League of Legends. At non-professional levels of play the range of champion win-rates is from 44 to 54 percent. And League has 140 champions, each with ~5 different abilities. The champions that get picked in a given game could have further synergies with one another; increasing complexity.

The idea that its impossible to get good balance out of 50 or 60 class options is really strange to me.

I don't need to have every feat be an all-star. But you should never look at a feat and think "why would I ever take this?" It's fine to have niche feats that need a specific build to work, but such feats should not be the norm. Also, you can't then nerf them into oblivion once someone works out a cool combo... That just discourages people from caring about niche options even more.

There are, what, 2000 feats or so for PF1e? Plus a similar number of spells.

Also, while I don't play LoL, I'm guessing there is a fairly regular patch schedule and balance changes are made somewhat frequently, because that's how many online games go. If Paizo issued errata at the pace of an online game publisher, your print CRB would be basically worthless two months after publication. Imagine how useful a print WoW manual from 2004 would be to today's starting player. The very existence of these patches is because humans are bad at balancing things, and only the huge amount of data from a popular online game can help steer effective revisions. I bet if every single home PF1e game automatically logged itself in an easy-to-analyze fashion for designers at Paizo to go over, balance would be a lot easier to achieve.


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That's the problem Ryric.

Say there is 2000 feats, the ones worth using are maybe 200.

I would sure be happier to have 1000 good feats than 200 good and 1800 junk.


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ryric wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:
...

There are, what, 2000 feats or so for PF1e? Plus a similar number of spells.

Also, while I don't play LoL, I'm guessing there is a fairly regular patch schedule and balance changes are made somewhat frequently, because that's how many online games go. If Paizo issued errata at the pace of an online game publisher, your print CRB would be basically worthless two months after publication. Imagine how useful a print WoW manual from 2004 would be to today's starting player. The very existence of these patches is because humans are bad at balancing things, and only the huge amount of data from a popular online game can help steer effective revisions. I bet if every single home PF1e game automatically logged itself in an easy-to-analyze fashion for designers at Paizo to go over, balance would be a lot easier to achieve.

I think the CRB only had ~150 feats? Also, most online games don't make sweeping changes week-to-week. In league major reworks of the underlying rules are usually reserved for the preseason. So about once per year.

The difficulty is sort of besides the point. Many people say things like "PF is too complex to balance without making all the options the same, so we might as well stop trying." I think this viewpoint is wrong. League is just an example of an environment with rich diversity that is nonetheless reasonably balanced.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Knight Magenta wrote:


I think the CRB only had ~150 feats? Also, most online games don't make sweeping changes week-to-week. In league major reworks of the underlying rules are usually reserved for the preseason. So about once per year.

Those sweeping changes aren't really addressing things the level of trap feat. They are more like "Hi we have re-balanced 25% of each class and also changed the overal HP math to be higher." Feat changes are exactly the level of change most games see monthly "X ability was too weak in the early game so we have improved its baseline while reducing its scaling to keep it under control at high levels" is the same order of magnitude as errata'ing in some prereqs to a feat.


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kyrt-ryder wrote:
While not every feat needs to be an all star, every feat should rank at least 4 out of 5 stars

I disagree. A feat like "Aquadynamic Focus" (you don't take underwater penalties for weapons you have weapon focus with) is a perfectly valid feat. Many campaigns will have no use for it whatsoever, so it's not a 4/5 feat, but it should exist for those campaigns where it would be extremely useful.

It's not possible to print feats that are applicable to a narrow set of circumstances in which they are very useful and maintain some "objective" sense of quality.


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Why on Earth would you publish 'aquadynamic focus' when you can publish....

Aquatic Combatant: you don't take penalties for attacking underwater, nor is your swimming impeded by taking attacks (unless the attack inflicts status or brings your HP to 0)


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
While not every feat needs to be an all star, every feat should rank at least 4 out of 5 stars

I disagree. A feat like "Aquadynamic Focus" (you don't take underwater penalties for weapons you have weapon focus with) is a perfectly valid feat. Many campaigns will have no use for it whatsoever, so it's not a 4/5 feat, but it should exist for those campaigns where it would be extremely useful.

It's not possible to print feats that are applicable to a narrow set of circumstances in which they are very useful and maintain some "objective" sense of quality.

Should it have been that limited?

Couldn't they have made something that reduced the penalties in more than just underwater environments? Was it really necessary to require weapon focus?

The other problem was they mixed skill and combat feats together. Skill Focus is a reasonable feat, but it probably isn't going to save your character's life. In PF2 we know that there will be a separation between the two, so hopefully your character doesn't feel too weak because they used a limited resource to become good at a skill appropriate to that character.


kyrt-ryder wrote:

Why on Earth would you publish 'aquadynamic focus' when you can publish....

Aquatic Combatant: you don't take penalties for attacking underwater, nor is your swimming impeded by taking attacks (unless the attack inflicts status or brings your HP to 0)

But that's not a 4/5 feat either. No feat about "you are good at fighting underwater" is going to stand up to a pseudo-objective standard. It's either going to be not relevant at all to the campaign no matter how good it is, or pretty useful depending on how good it is.

Like "you take no penalties for fighting underwater and can hold your breath twice as long" is a fine feat. It's still very narrow.


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In an aquatic campaign that spends more time in the water than on land I would say that's closer to four stars than three, which is the only scenario it's PC appropriate.


But a feat only relevant to a specific type of campaign or context can still be taken by someone who is not in that campaign or is unlikely to find themselves in that context. For better or worse, this cannot be avoided.

Like maybe someone takes the "Good at underwater" feat after completing a mostly underwater dungeon, and then the party never gets wet again for the rest of the campaign unless it's raining.


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I would definitely appreciate some guidelines to help new GMs understand to help their players select relevant abilities.


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kyrt-ryder wrote:
I would definitely appreciate some guidelines to help new GMs understand to help their players select relevant abilities.

Honestly, the guideline should be, “in the CRB? GTG!” Feats like the aquatic combatant above are good (if not even great) feats for the Skulls and Shakles players guide. But they don’t belong within a 10 foot pole of the CRB. The CRB feats need to be all 4-5 stars for general conditions.


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BigDTBone wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
I would definitely appreciate some guidelines to help new GMs understand to help their players select relevant abilities.
Honestly, the guideline should be, “in the CRB? GTG!” Feats like the aquatic combatant above are good (if not even great) feats for the Skulls and Shakles players guide. But they don’t belong within a 10 foot pole of the CRB. The CRB feats need to be all 4-5 stars for general conditions.

Story time: I was building a PC for a campaign that used DSP's Path of War rules (book of nine swords port from 3.5). I was looking at a martial discipline that I thought was cool, and I realized something interesting. I could select the maneuvers at random and I would end up with characters that I would be interested in playing!

This is a consequence of each maneuvers being good at what they promise. I agree with BigDTBone. Paizo should use the CRB to flesh out the core combat styles with maybe a smattering of more situational feats. Then your Ultimate Sea Caves supplement can have underwater feats. Players will know that these feats are situational because of the book they come from.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Like maybe someone takes the "Good at underwater" feat after completing a mostly underwater dungeon, and then the party never gets wet again for the rest of the campaign unless it's raining.

Since we are talking about traps. If you take a "Good at Underwater" feat, you expect it to make you good at underwater situations. If you never get wet, you think "man, its lame that I'm not getting to use this." If you fall into a pool and got killed by a carp because the feat does not deliver, you are going to think "This feat is garbage!"

The moral is that each feat needs to be 4 or 5 stars in situations where it is good. Further, the narrower that situation, the better the feat should be when it does come up.


BigDTBone wrote:


The CRB feats need to be all 4-5 stars for general conditions.

What are general conditions?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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It's kind of funny someone brought up Aquadynamic Focus, because to me that feat is a bit of a trap. Compare:

Aquadynamic Focus wrote:

Your skill with your chosen weapons is so great that you can use them underwater without impediment.

Prerequisites: Weapon Focus, base attack bonus +1.

Benefit: You don’t take additional penalties on attack and damage rolls for fighting underwater with bludgeoning and slashing melee weapons for which you have taken the Weapon Focus feat.

to Aquatic Combatant:

Aquatic Combatant wrote:

You have trained to fight in the water.

Prerequisites: Swim 1 rank.

Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on Swim checks and don’t take penalties on melee attack rolls made underwater. Your slashing melee attacks and unarmed bludgeoning attacks deal full damage underwater.

The second one is easier to qualify for, works with all slashing weapons, and is just better at doing what the feat sets out to do. Basically you only take the first feat if you want to use a specific bludgeoning weapon underwater. The reason this is kind of a trap is if you were looking for underwater melee feats, and you found the first one first, you'd likely assume that's what there is and end up missing the second one which is better in most situations.

Also Aquadynamic Focus is part of a ranger fighting style, which is bizarre when you think about it - so you can ignore the prereqs, Weapon Focus, but due to the feat wording if you don't have Weapon Focus it does nothing.

Things like this happen due to editing, and authors not knowing the entire previously released game line. So you end up with this near duplication where one is just better than the other.


Envall wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:


The CRB feats need to be all 4-5 stars for general conditions.
What are general conditions?

A ten foot by ten foot room containing a single orc.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
A feat like "Aquadynamic Focus" (you don't take underwater penalties for weapons you have weapon focus with) is a perfectly valid feat. Many campaigns will have no use for it whatsoever, so it's not a 4/5 feat, but it should exist for those campaigns where it would be extremely useful.

I wonder if there could be a category for feats like this: Campaign Feat, Situational Feat, Environmental Feat...

Then we could say something like, "Everyone gets one Situational Feat at 1st level, and a second one at 6th level."

Then these feats don't need to be balanced against regular feats. You'd be comparing "no penalties when fighting underwater" to "can move at full speed in swamps" and "+4 to stealth in cities".

Silver Crusade

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

It's kind of funny someone brought up Aquadynamic Focus, because to me that feat is a bit of a trap. Compare:

Aquadynamic Focus wrote:

Your skill with your chosen weapons is so great that you can use them underwater without impediment.

Prerequisites: Weapon Focus, base attack bonus +1.

Benefit: You don’t take additional penalties on attack and damage rolls for fighting underwater with bludgeoning and slashing melee weapons for which you have taken the Weapon Focus feat.

to Aquatic Combatant:

Aquatic Combatant wrote:

You have trained to fight in the water.

Prerequisites: Swim 1 rank.

Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on Swim checks and don’t take penalties on melee attack rolls made underwater. Your slashing melee attacks and unarmed bludgeoning attacks deal full damage underwater.

The second one is easier to qualify for, works with all slashing weapons, and is just better at doing what the feat sets out to do. Basically you only take the first feat if you want to use a specific bludgeoning weapon underwater. The reason this is kind of a trap is if you were looking for underwater melee feats, and you found the first one first, you'd likely assume that's what there is and end up missing the second one which is better in most situations.

Also Aquadynamic Focus is part of a ranger fighting style, which is bizarre when you think about it - so you can ignore the prereqs, Weapon Focus, but due to the feat wording if you don't have Weapon Focus it does nothing.

Things like this happen due to editing, and authors not knowing the entire previously released game line. So you end up with this near duplication where one is just better than the other.

Correct, the later published feat in the Core Line is better than the one published previously in the Campaign Setting. I wouldn’t really consider the first one a trap option just because something better comes along later though.

Dark Archive

Shadow Kosh wrote:
So i'm assuming that the first thing you do when building a character is to make sure to get Prone Shooter?

Unless I'm playing an Undine, when my first feat choice will always be Water Skinned.

A feat like Water Skinned, where it is abundantly clear what it does, and if you choose to take it then that's up to you, is not what I consider to be a trap option. It does make me wonder what the designers were thinking at the time, however. Presumably they were not looking to waste book space on a feat no one will take? (The internet being what it is, cue lots of responses as to how in other peoples' campaigns Water Skinned prevented a TPK on several occasions.)

This, and also Hydraulic Maneuver, seems like cool abilities that you could give for free to all Undines without unbalancing the game.

Occasionally I'd find in 3rd edition that there were feats that were either too weak, or were in effect two tenuously related half-feats joined together.

Pathfinder is more flexible in its design, with traits and alternative racial traits available, so there is no excuse for having feats that are terrible.


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Envall wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:


The CRB feats need to be all 4-5 stars for general conditions.
What are general conditions?

Anytime that you don't care about what terrain you are on, and times that you don't need magic to survive. Including death from falling, drowning, suffocating, freezing, or frying


If all feats are 80-100% optimal in conditions that are universal, why would anyone take feats that are narrow?

I would say 2/5-4/5 is the appropriate range for "this always helps" and "3/5-5/5" is the appropriate range for "this helps sometimes."


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

If all feats are 80-100% optimal in conditions that are universal, why would anyone take feats that are narrow?

I would say 2/5-4/5 is the appropriate range for "this always helps" and "3/5-5/5" is the appropriate range for "this helps sometimes."

80-100% congruent with the baseline. Ie, if a (typical, general, everyday) feat should give "10 awesomes" under practically all circumstances then I expect most feats to deliver somewhere between 7-11 awesomes most of the time.

Situational feats should deliver more awesomes during their useful times. So, if you have a "be awesome underwater" feat, I would expect it to give 12-14 awesomes when you are underwater.


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Knight Magenta wrote:

I think the idea that you can't balance a game as complex as pathfinder is easily disproved by looking at existing multi-player games.

Consider League of Legends. At non-professional levels of play the range of champion win-rates is from 44 to 54 percent. And League has 140 champions, each with ~5 different abilities. The champions that get picked in a given game could have further synergies with one another; increasing complexity.

The idea that its impossible to get good balance out of 50 or 60 class options is really strange to me.

I don't need to have every feat be an all-star. But you should never look at a feat and think "why would I ever take this?" It's fine to have niche feats that need a specific build to work, but such feats should not be the norm. Also, you can't then nerf them into oblivion once someone works out a cool combo... That just discourages people from caring about niche options even more.

There are some things that makes a game like League of Legends vastly easier to balance than a game like Pathfinder. Let me list some of them:

  • Everybody is playing the same game — Being an entirely digital game, it's easier to set the conditions of which the game is played and get the players to follow the rules of the game exactly. In comparison, people play Pathfinder very differently from one another, which means that balance issues in some playgroups may be different from balance issues in other playgroups.
  • Patching — Being an online game, it's possible to simply and completely change things as needed. If something needs a boost, they can just boost it. If something needs toning down, they can just do it. They want to totally remake something? Sure. Pathfinder can only do this in much more limited degrees, having rules written in, well, paper.
  • Data — Riot Games can get accurate and comprehensive data on everything the players do. If certain options are underperforming, they can see that in the raw data take from the players and may even be able to figure out why from looking at the data. Paizo relies more on simple playtesting and player-volunteered feedback, which is much less accurate or comprehensive(even though it's still very useful, I imagine).
  • Game length — Not really that familiar with League of Legends, but I imagine most games can be completed under an hour. Pathfinder is… much less so. This makes it easier to get data on the whole evolution of player progression and balance issues within it.

I imagine there's more things, but ease of balance is a different matter than simply the number of variables.

Edit: I also want to add that game balance in general is not a simple, easy thing and it requires a lot of time and talent to do well, no matter the game.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

Removed some posts and replies that veered into insulting people instead of critiquing content.

Liberty's Edge

Perfect balance is an illusion. There's no such thing as a true zero-sum game.

The closest is rock-paper-scissors. Three options, all with the same ability to win or lose or tie. There should always be a 33.333~% chance of winning.
However, skilled players can win more than that percentage. Significantly so.

When you add in the number of options PF has (4 people, 12 classes, 8 races, with each character taking a new choice every other level; for probably 10,000 combinations before you consider archetypes and multiclassing) the idea that some options and combinations won't be significantly better is laughable. Of course there will be good options and bad options.

That's before you consider changing rules. Some trap options emerge because a penalty is removed from the base game or something in monsters is rebalanced making that option better or worse. Or the impact of a rule is unknown.

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