Spell Success / Failure Formatting


Prerelease Discussion

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Reading through the spell descriptions in the recent blog post got me wondering about the best way to display success/failure of spell effects for ease of use. How set in stone is the format:

current format wrote:

Success

Critical Success
Failure
Critical Failure

Just thinking of looking up spell effects, the most common circumstances will be success/failure, and having failure after critical success makes it take longer to identify the relevant information. Would either of the following be an improvement?

normal then critical wrote:

Success

Failure
Critical Success
Critical Failure
best to worst wrote:

Critical Success

Success
Failure
Critical Failure

What do people think?


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I expect that while it might be set in type for the playtest already this is surely something the developers would welcome feedback on.

I like:

Critical Success
Success
Failure
Critical Failure

It just feels logical to me.


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Bardarok wrote:


I like:

Critical Success
Success
Failure
Critical Failure

I agree with this. It's what I'm used to seeing in World of Darkness and the like.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
current format wrote:

Success

Critical Success
Failure
Critical Failure

I believe there's a very good reason for this format!

If there is nothing listed for Critical Success, you use the entry above. If there's nothing listed for Critical Failure, you use the entry above.

The best-to-worst method isn't as intuitive for the missing entries. So, while aesthetically less pleasing, I think it's more practical.


I think it would be easier to just not include an entry if there is no critical success/failure mechanic


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Yeah, make it Best to Worst (Critical S, S, F, Crit F), and just ommit whichever doesn't apply.

Much better.

Paizo Employee Designer

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QuidEst wrote:
current format wrote:

Success

Critical Success
Failure
Critical Failure

I believe there's a very good reason for this format!

If there is nothing listed for Critical Success, you use the entry above. If there's nothing listed for Critical Failure, you use the entry above.

The best-to-worst method isn't as intuitive for the missing entries. So, while aesthetically less pleasing, I think it's more practical.

There are 24 different ways you can order these entries (though some of those 24 are patently absurd, like Critical Success, Failure, Critical Failure, Success in that order). We've actually tried 5 or 6 different orders over the years of alpha testing, weirdly enough. This current one stuck from a combination of the reason you state (that you will often omit a critical entry), the fact that critical results are less likely to happen than non-critical results in most cases, and the fact that critical results often liked to refer to the non-critical version, a la :

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.


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Mark Seifter wrote:

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.

Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.

I hope this is one of the newly added spells!


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I was hoping Mage's Magnificent Birthday would make its way into this edition!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

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Mark Seifter wrote:

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.

Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.

Thanks for the response, Mark. That's a compelling argument for the current format.

Liberty's Edge

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I dunno about everyone else, but I'd be a lot happier with the critical results indented as a sub-entry. for example (but omitting the line before the critical effect):
.
.
.
Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
___Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Failure No party for you
___Critical Failure EVIL CLOWNS!!!


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Im coming around after Mark's reasoning.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
current format wrote:

Success

Critical Success
Failure
Critical Failure

I believe there's a very good reason for this format!

If there is nothing listed for Critical Success, you use the entry above. If there's nothing listed for Critical Failure, you use the entry above.

The best-to-worst method isn't as intuitive for the missing entries. So, while aesthetically less pleasing, I think it's more practical.

There are 24 different ways you can order these entries (though some of those 24 are patently absurd, like Critical Success, Failure, Critical Failure, Success in that order). We've actually tried 5 or 6 different orders over the years of alpha testing, weirdly enough. This current one stuck from a combination of the reason you state (that you will often omit a critical entry), the fact that critical results are less likely to happen than non-critical results in most cases, and the fact that critical results often liked to refer to the non-critical version, a la :

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.

I'd go for

Critical Success
Success
Failure
Critical Failure

OR

Critical Failure
Failure
Success
Critical Success

I know that maybe the way you did is more intuitional since you'll have more Successes than Critical Successes, but the Failure line will lost the intuitional need the same way...

Shadow Lodge

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I'd rather have the failures before the successes. That's what the person casting the spell is most interested in, after all!

Deadmanwalking wrote:

I dunno about everyone else, but I'd be a lot happier with the critical results indented as a sub-entry. for example (but omitting the line before the critical effect):

.
.
.
Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
___Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Failure No party for you
___Critical Failure EVIL CLOWNS!!!

This type of formatting is a good idea as well.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Serum wrote:

I'd rather have the failures before the successes. That's what the person casting the spell is most interested in, after all!

Deadmanwalking wrote:

I dunno about everyone else, but I'd be a lot happier with the critical results indented as a sub-entry. for example (but omitting the line before the critical effect):

.
.
.
Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
___Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Failure No party for you
___Critical Failure EVIL CLOWNS!!!
This type of formatting is a good idea as well.

You have actually determined the way that we did things second-to-most-recent of our 5-6 ways: based on the person likely to be looking up a rules element, we picked the non-critical version of the thing they wanted to see, then the critical. So spells started with failure but attacks and skills (which you want to succeed!) started with success. The editors rightly pointed out that it can be very confusing to someone just skimming it if sometimes the first thing is failure and sometimes success, so we changed to this way.

Shadow Lodge

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Serum wrote:

I'd rather have the failures before the successes. That's what the person casting the spell is most interested in, after all!

Deadmanwalking wrote:

I dunno about everyone else, but I'd be a lot happier with the critical results indented as a sub-entry. for example (but omitting the line before the critical effect):

.
.
.
Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
___Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Failure No party for you
___Critical Failure EVIL CLOWNS!!!
This type of formatting is a good idea as well.
You have actually determined the way that we did things second-to-most-recent of our 5-6 ways: based on the person likely to be looking up a rules element, we picked the non-critical version of the thing they wanted to see, then the critical. So spells started with failure but attacks and skills (which you want to succeed!) started with success. The editors rightly pointed out that it can be very confusing to someone just skimming it if sometimes the first thing is failure and sometimes success, so we changed to this way.

Fair enough! Editors generally know what they're doing.

What about Deadmanwalking's subheadings, assuming they're applied everywhere?


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Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
current format wrote:

Success

Critical Success
Failure
Critical Failure

I believe there's a very good reason for this format!

If there is nothing listed for Critical Success, you use the entry above. If there's nothing listed for Critical Failure, you use the entry above.

The best-to-worst method isn't as intuitive for the missing entries. So, while aesthetically less pleasing, I think it's more practical.

There are 24 different ways you can order these entries (though some of those 24 are patently absurd, like Critical Success, Failure, Critical Failure, Success in that order). We've actually tried 5 or 6 different orders over the years of alpha testing, weirdly enough. This current one stuck from a combination of the reason you state (that you will often omit a critical entry), the fact that critical results are less likely to happen than non-critical results in most cases, and the fact that critical results often liked to refer to the non-critical version, a la :

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.

Cool beans. That's enough to convince me.


I've changed my mind about the format and I would like to have a variation party spell with pie.


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I think the use of the horizontal dimension is good to "structure" the information.
This can be indenting the Critical entries like somebody did above.
...
..
.

That could be like this:

Success abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
_______ abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
______Critical Success abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
___________________ abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
__Failure abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
_______ abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
_______Critical Failure abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
___________________ abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#

Or it could be like this:

Success
abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
___Critical Success
___abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
___abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
Failure
abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
___Critical Failure
___abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#
___abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#abcxyz123!@#

Or it could be splitting the text into 2 columns, one for Success and one for Failure.
That way there is no problem with clunky linear sequencing of S/CS/F/CF, instead there is array:

Example...
... SUCCESS ....... FAILURE
. abcxyz123!@# ... abcxyz123!@#
. abcxyz123!@# ... abcxyz123!@#

. CRIT SUCCESS .... CRIT FAILURE
. abcxyz123!@# .... abcxyz123!@#
. abcxyz123!@# .... abcxyz123!@#


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I will admit that Mark's explanation for this formatting makes a lot of sense to me, and will probably make a lot of sense to people that come to expect it, I think the
Success
Critical Success
Failure
Critical Failure
formatting is going to feel off to a lot of people just picking up the book. I am worried about the effect this will have on new players and new potential players who are looking at the book in the store, comparing it to another system, and deciding that the information is not presented in an intuitive enough manner and pass the book over.

Like Quandary, I wonder if there is not an alternative visual format utilizing vertical and horizontal space that will illicit less immediate "this doesn't look right" vibes from people that don't get the benefit of Mark's immediate, and clearly well reasoned explanation.


Nobody is going to examine the books in a store, online however...


I honestly think that the party spell example should be in a sidebar in the very front of the magic chapter, but perhaps in a Cayden Cailean format instead of cupcakes and ice cream.

Enough people have had the same thought, but have been turned around by Mark's example.

Or maybe Hero's Feast is already like that, at least in ritual form?

Success- you create sufficient quality food to bring up health and morale providing [ INSERT SPELL EFFECT HERE ]
Critical Success- On this result, the quality of the meal also provides [ INSERT BONUS HERE ].
Failure- The disappointing fare nourishes, but does not bolster or heal.
Critical Failure- participants in the feast must make a Fortitude save or else be sickened for the duration of the spell.


Mark Seifter wrote:

...

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.

Why not:

Critical Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes and ice cream.
Success As above, but the party has no ice cream.

By the sounds of it if critical successes are rarer, we won't want to be parsing the more complex like-critical-but-statements all the time.


Critical Success
Success
Failure
Critical Failure

I get the argument of the Crit. Success referencing the Success entry, but I bet there's a fix for that. The horizontal separation is an interesting idea, and at least better than the current layout.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
DM Livgin wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

...

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.

Why not:

Critical Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes and ice cream.
Success As above, but the party has no ice cream.

By the sounds of it if critical successes are rarer, we won't want to be parsing the more complex like-critical-but-statements all the time.

Either the quote chain got messed up, or you answered your own question. Success and failure should be spelled out, and crit success and crit failure should reference them.


QuidEst wrote:
DM Livgin wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

...

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.

Why not:

Critical Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes and ice cream.
Success As above, but the party has no ice cream.

By the sounds of it if critical successes are rarer, we won't want to be parsing the more complex like-critical-but-statements all the time.

Either the quote chain got messed up, or you answered your own question. Success and failure should be spelled out, and crit success and crit failure should reference them.

I answered my own question (after typing that up on my phone I wasn't going to just delete it)... I see that it is frustrating to read right now when we are getting one or two spells at a time and get read them in detail. I'm waiting for the playtest to see how it handles skimming in bulk where I just want a quick answer to what this enemies spell does.


I honestly think that Critical Success and Critical Failure are sort of cumbersome on their own. I wish there was a better single word to be used for each term. Not necessarily backing these terms (tense is all wrong, and taking 'Critical' away from the success part is likely to cause riots), but as an example, formatting is much cleaner if they are each single word game terms.

Save Results:
Remarkable
Success
Failure
Catastrophe


I my untested intuition is that I want:

-Crit success
-Success
-Failure
-Crit failure

But really whatever order it goes in I hope it gets laid out using dot-points or something similar. Having the entries in the same line makes it harder to figure out which is which.


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I think that the order should be best-to-worst or worst-to-best. Either one is ok with me, just don't mix them up.

Their justification for doing it the way they are is "but we sometimes refer to the success condition to describe the crit success". Well, don't do that. I don't want to have to read multiple lines to determine the result of the save, I want to go directly to the line that tells me how to interpret what was just rolled.


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houser2112 wrote:

I think that the order should be best-to-worst or worst-to-best. Either one is ok with me, just don't mix them up.

Their justification for doing it the way they are is "but we sometimes refer to the success condition to describe the crit success". Well, don't do that. I don't want to have to read multiple lines to determine the result of the save, I want to go directly to the line that tells me how to interpret what was just rolled.

Yeah, but sadly clear game rules is sometimes trumped by word count limits of the print medium (or at least history has proven).


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Serum wrote:

I'd rather have the failures before the successes. That's what the person casting the spell is most interested in, after all!

Deadmanwalking wrote:

I dunno about everyone else, but I'd be a lot happier with the critical results indented as a sub-entry. for example (but omitting the line before the critical effect):

.
.
.
Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
___Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Failure No party for you
___Critical Failure EVIL CLOWNS!!!
This type of formatting is a good idea as well.
You have actually determined the way that we did things second-to-most-recent of our 5-6 ways: based on the person likely to be looking up a rules element, we picked the non-critical version of the thing they wanted to see, then the critical. So spells started with failure but attacks and skills (which you want to succeed!) started with success. The editors rightly pointed out that it can be very confusing to someone just skimming it if sometimes the first thing is failure and sometimes success, so we changed to this way.

TBH saves have always been confusing in that they are reversed from everything else in the game, it's an attack rolled by the defender and you want it to be low. Letting the caster, firebreather etc roll to hit against the target's Fortitude, Reflex and Will like 4E is better, even if if that is a sacred cow.

But if saves are still the order of the day, failures should come first. Just clarify them with an extra word, and it becomes much clearer: put the name of what is being rolled in front of the word Success or Failure. So using Deadman's formatting, it is:

(Fort/Ref/Will) Failure Woo!
___Critical Failure WOOHOO!
(Fort/Ref/Will) Success Darn.
___Critical Failure Bleh.

And then likewise with everything else.

(Skill/Attack) Success Woo!
___Critical Success WOOHOO!
(Skill/Attack) Failure Darn.
___Critical Failure Bleh.

And in addition to indenting the critical results, you can put a very thin horizontal line in between the success and failure sections to make them even more readable.

I really don't think people will be that confused if saves are listed reversed to everything else, because the result the person provoking the save wants - that which is effectively a success for them - is still listed at the top. And now it's clarified right there in the heading.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

“The order you want” doesn’t work well because martials will only be rolling saves, not looking it up for other people. The GM’s position is even more confusing.

Whatever the ordering, it needs to be consistent in where success and failure are located.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

When picking spells, it would be nice for Failure to be above Success, but at the table, you are more likely to be referencing the spell from the defender's perspective. In that case, it makes sense for Success to be above Failure.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
Letting the caster, firebreather etc roll to hit against the target's Fortitude, Reflex and Will like 4E is better, even if if that is a sacred cow.

It is more consistent, but I wouldn't say better, as making a save gives the player something to roll (be reactive) when a fireball hits them. Also, you can easily reverse Saving Throws to Defences, 3rd Ed did it (UA variant), then 4th Ed, and 5th Ed also offers it in an UA.

It seems at this point, the table can decide, as to Saving Throws being reactive, or Defences vs. attacks.

Liberty's Edge

Saves as Defenses even officially exists in PF2 (grapples and disarms target Reflex Defense, which is Reflex Save Bonus +10).

They just aren't used for resisting spells, which is probably a good call because getting to roll to avoid things like being mind controlled is much more fun than the GM rolling and saying "Well, you're mind controlled now."


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Saves as Defenses even officially exists in PF2 (grapples and disarms target Reflex Defense, which is Reflex Save Bonus +10).

They just aren't used for resisting spells, which is probably a good call because getting to roll to avoid things like being mind controlled is much more fun than the GM rolling and saying "Well, you're mind controlled now."

Yes, this reminds me of the DoaM arguments, now, a fireball is going to do fire damage to everything in its area (save class specific feature design), you get a reactive roll to see if you can mitigate some of that, whereas a longsword does not auto-damage a 5-foot square/area, and you can roll to reduce the damage.

One of the most dishonest arguments I have ever read: Proactive vs. Reactive.

Liberty's Edge

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Saves have advantages when dealing with conditions because they let the player feel in control of their own character's fate. They also have advantages vs. area attacks in that it's easier logistically to have everyone in the area roll a save than to have the attacker roll attacks on everyone separately (and rolling one attack and applying it to everyone gets a bit overly swingy).

Single target attacks that just do damage usually are just an attack roll, regardless of whether they're a spell or not.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Single target attacks that just do damage usually are just an attack roll, regardless of whether they're a spell or not.

Then keep it that way, for single targets.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Saves as Defenses even officially exists in PF2 (grapples and disarms target Reflex Defense, which is Reflex Save Bonus +10).

They just aren't used for resisting spells, which is probably a good call because getting to roll to avoid things like being mind controlled is much more fun than the GM rolling and saying "Well, you're mind controlled now."

If Reflex defense actually exists in PF2, that makes it even weirder that there is still a separate "Touch AC" and that various armor and monsters will have independently determined Touch AC values. They should just rename that to Supernatural AC or the like as I proposed elsewhere, that would be much easier to justify than keeping "touch" separate from Reflex defense.


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Mark Seifter wrote:

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.

Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.

Were critical results to be listed first, would it really be so terrible to reference the very next line in the spell description? It's not like you're having a person reference a different part of the book or something.

Critical Success: As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Success: You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.

That works fine for me, and listing them by degree of success (or failure) is much more aesthetically pleasing.


Fumarole wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.

Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.

Were critical results to be listed first, would it really be so terrible to reference the very next line in the spell description? It's not like you're having a person reference a different part of the book or something.

Critical Success: As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Success: You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.

That works fine for me, and listing them by degree of success (or failure) is much more aesthetically pleasing.

I think this will get frustrating when you are GM or player pouring over 20 spells looking for a quick answer on what it does. Actual play will tell.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Saves as Defenses even officially exists in PF2 (grapples and disarms target Reflex Defense, which is Reflex Save Bonus +10).

They just aren't used for resisting spells, which is probably a good call because getting to roll to avoid things like being mind controlled is much more fun than the GM rolling and saying "Well, you're mind controlled now."

If Reflex defense actually exists in PF2, that makes it even weirder that there is still a separate "Touch AC" and that various armor and monsters will have independently determined Touch AC values. They should just rename that to Supernatural AC or the like as I proposed elsewhere, that would be much easier to justify than keeping "touch" separate from Reflex defense.

Yes, I am unhappy with the keeping of TAC, for many reasons.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Weather Report wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Saves as Defenses even officially exists in PF2 (grapples and disarms target Reflex Defense, which is Reflex Save Bonus +10).

They just aren't used for resisting spells, which is probably a good call because getting to roll to avoid things like being mind controlled is much more fun than the GM rolling and saying "Well, you're mind controlled now."

If Reflex defense actually exists in PF2, that makes it even weirder that there is still a separate "Touch AC" and that various armor and monsters will have independently determined Touch AC values. They should just rename that to Supernatural AC or the like as I proposed elsewhere, that would be much easier to justify than keeping "touch" separate from Reflex defense.
Yes, I am unhappy with the keeping of TAC, for many reasons.

I apologize for dredging this up from the muck, but Friday's post bugged me enough that I wanted to post something about it. (Which is something I rarely do.)

Either which way, you're going to be looking at two lines.

The way that it is, if it's a crit success, you're going to skip over success to look at crit success, then realize you're going to need the success line, and then look back up a line to read it.

If crit success line is listed first, then the first thing you see lets you know that you're also going to need to read the next line.

Also:
Crit Success
Success
Fail
Crit Fail

Is more aesthetically pleasing (to me, at least), and in a more intuitive order.

In a recent blog post, it was really glaring to read disrupting as:

Success: Enfeeble 2
Crit Success: Enfeeble 1
Failure: Enfeeble 3
Crit Fail: Target Destroyed

I was seriously confused for a minute or so, until I reread the entire thing a couple of times, and then translated in my head to:

Crit Success: Enfeeble 1
Success: Enfeeble 2
Failure: Enfeeble 3
Crit Fail: Target Destroyed


DM Livgin wrote:
Fumarole wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.

Critical Success As success, and the party also has ice cream.

Were critical results to be listed first, would it really be so terrible to reference the very next line in the spell description? It's not like you're having a person reference a different part of the book or something.

Critical Success: As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Success: You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.

That works fine for me, and listing them by degree of success (or failure) is much more aesthetically pleasing.

I think this will get frustrating when you are GM or player pouring over 20 spells looking for a quick answer on what it does. Actual play will tell.

Guess I'll have to see it in practice; as-is, it feels like it's going to slow me down trying to figure out where in the spectrum a result is. Then again, it's not going to slow me down nearly as much as trying my best to remember to check BY HOW MUCH something failed, when I've been used to just "success or failure" for almost 20 years now.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The spectrum layout is definitely easier to read while browsing, but I also understand that success and failure are the two results I'm most likely to need to find quickly.


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I'm strongly in favor of printing things in an order that reading them in order makes the most sense. So if something is going to be true for the following case (e.g. "the party has cupcakes") this should appear on the page above the special case ("the party has cupcakes and ice cream.")

It drove me nuts in Pathfinder 1 when, say a feat chain was printed in alphabetical order so the basic feat in the chain appeared last and the ultimate feat in the chain appeared first.


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In almost every spell in Pathfinder with a saving throw, the effect of what happens on a Failure is what really matters from the spellcaster's perspective. It makes a lot of sense for the Failure line to be first, as that should be the most common effect.

We should consider the formatting against the format used in Pathfinder. Let's look at some spells, relevant sections italicised.

Blindness/Deafness
Saving Throw Fortitude negates; Spell Resistance yes
You call upon the powers of unlife to render the subject blinded or deafened, as you choose.

So, what we have here is effectively:
Success:Nothing happens
Failure:You call upon the powers of unlife to render the subject blinded or deafened, as you choose.

Something simple. Noteworthy here is that from the caster's perspective, the only thing they care about is what happens on a failure.

Now for a more complicated spell effect:

Phantasmal Killer
Saving Throw Will disbelief, then Fortitude partial; see text; Spell Resistance yes
You create a phantasmal image of the most fearsome creature
imaginable to the subject simply by forming the fears of the
subject’s subconscious mind into something that its conscious
mind can visualize: this most horrible beast. Only the spell’s
subject can see the phantasmal killer. You see only a vague
shape. The target first gets a Will save to recognize the image as
unreal. If that save fails, the phantasm touches the subject, and
the subject must succeed on a Fortitude save or die from fear.
Even if the Fortitude save is successful, the subject takes 3d6
points of damage.
If the subject of a phantasmal killer attack succeeds in disbelieving
and possesses telepathy or is wearing a helm of telepathy, the beast
can be turned upon you. You must then disbelieve it or become
subject to its deadly fear attack.

Which is harder to format, but effectively:
Success: Nothing happens; if you possess telepathy, the caster must make a fortitude save:
     Success: caster takes 3d6 damage
     Failure: the caster dies.
Failure: Make a fortitude save:
     Success: Take 3d6 damage
     Failure: Die

Again, from the caster's perspective, what happens on a failure is the reason they are casting the spell in the first place.

What about a simple blasting spell, because no spell discussion would be complete without Fireball:

Fireball
Saving Throw Reflex half; Spell Resistance yes
A fireball spell generates a searing explosion of flame that
detonates with a low roar and deals 1d6 points of fire damage per
caster level (maximum 10d6) to every creature within the area.
Unattended objects also take this damage.
The explosion creates
almost no pressure.
[other conditions stripped]

This can be translated into:

Success: half of 1d6 fire damage per level
Failure: 1d6 fire damage per level
Critical Failure: 1d6 fire damage per level, then look to p217 of the Core Rulebook to reference table 9-2 to determine which of your items has taken damage from the fireball. Then try and determine the hardness and hitpoints of your shield or armour or headgear to try and work out whether it's Broken too.

Even in this case, from the caster's perspective, the Failure effect is what's most important.

On an unrelated note

formatting tips:
It looks like Paizo's forum is okay with properly indenting using
    Character: U+2004
    Name: THREE-PER-EM SPACE


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

I dunno about everyone else, but I'd be a lot happier with the critical results indented as a sub-entry. for example (but omitting the line before the critical effect):

.
.
.
Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
___Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Failure No party for you
___Critical Failure EVIL CLOWNS!!!

Whew! I knew I couldn't have been the only one to see this as a solution. Developers, please give this as much further consideration as possible. Indenting (whether success then crit success is first or failure then crit failure is first, it doesn't matter) allows the two usual outcomes (success and failure) to be visually listed together without being interrupted by crit success or crit failure (in either case, going unintuitively out of order), and still allows for crit success/failure to say, " As success/failure, but additional yay/boo".


Tectorman wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

I dunno about everyone else, but I'd be a lot happier with the critical results indented as a sub-entry. for example (but omitting the line before the critical effect):

.
.
.
Success You throw a big party for everyone with cupcakes.
___Critical Successes As success, and the party also has ice cream.
Failure No party for you
___Critical Failure EVIL CLOWNS!!!
Whew! I knew I couldn't have been the only one to see this as a solution. Developers, please give this as much further consideration as possible. Indenting (whether success then crit success is first or failure then crit failure is first, it doesn't matter) allows the two usual outcomes (success and failure) to be visually listed together without being interrupted by crit success or crit failure (in either case, going unintuitively out of order), and still allows for crit success/failure to say, " As success/failure, but additional yay/boo".

Yeah, count me in for digging the indented action. Funny how formatting and aesthetics can affect one's reaction to a game so greatly (at least for me).


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm strongly in favor of printing things in an order that reading them in order makes the most sense. So if something is going to be true for the following case (e.g. "the party has cupcakes") this should appear on the page above the special case ("the party has cupcakes and ice cream.")

It drove me nuts in Pathfinder 1 when, say a feat chain was printed in alphabetical order so the basic feat in the chain appeared last and the ultimate feat in the chain appeared first.

This happened a lot in Planar Adventures... Dumb Combat style feats!

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