Terminology clean up


Prerelease Discussion


This has come up a few different places, so I figured it's time to create a thread just for this kind of thing. A new edition is a chance to clean up some of the weird and confusing word choices. Although some of what I'd prefer to change likely won't because they're so ingrained in the tradition of the game.

Spell levels are a big one that could use some changing. Having a 12th level character who's a 8th level wizard, with a caster level of 10, casting 5th level spells, on the 3rd level of the dungeon can get a bit silly. This of course has been mentioned a lot already.

The big one I'm currently thinking about that I'm not seeing mention of is Critical Failure. I think this is a problematic term that should be changed. First it gets a bit wordy and awkward to discuss critical successes and critical failures. Critical success tends to just get shortened to crit. But with critical failures in the mix we've got to clarify that to crit fail or crit success which kind of defeats the point of shortening things.

Secondly is the implication that it's a disastrous result. You didn't just fail, you failed critically! This instantly brings to mind all those absurd and arbitrary fumbles from tons of games over the past few decades. The rules clearly are not indicating that, but implicit meaning from the word can and does color how they're treated. For many situations a critical fail is identical to a normal fail with the exception that perhaps an opponent getting an opening for an ability.

My proposed replacement: Complication. You can shorten it to comp. Crit and comp. Two distinct monosyllabic words. It also sheds the implication of it being extra bad, but instead might just be trickier. Instead of "You critically fail!" which sounds really horrible you've got "You've got a complication." which isn't necessarily so earth-shattering and can be more of a narrative thing.

There might be better terms, but this is just to get the ball rolling.
*looks at post* Speaking of being overly wordy...


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

CritFail

DunEffedUp


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I actually really like Complication. It suits better, since for example, we already know an attack roll that critically fails doesn't actually fumble - it's only a miss, that happens to provoke relevant reactions. Which isn't really a critical failure. So count me in on that or a similar term.

From the Alchemy blog, the currently pending "Operate Activation" is terrible. Especially in the context of needing "3 Operate Activations" to apply poison to a weapon. Let's have a term that doesn't give people headaches, please. Why can't it just be "Operate Action"? Or even "Manipulation" since that isn't being used as a skill name to replace Bluff? Poison requiring "3 Manipulations" or "3 Manipulate Actions" or "3 Operate Actions" to get out and smear on a weapon sounds way better to me than "3 Operate Activations."


Personally one of the big issues i had with Pathfinder 1E was the lack of consistency in their keywording. It kinda felt they had to "reinvent" a class feature or ability every time they added something similar to an archtype or creature.

I dont mind the Terminology sounding complicated, but the more complicated it is the more important it is to have consistency.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think changing it to "complication" would cause more confusion than it would resolve. As an abbreviation "comp" is most commonly used to mean "complimentary", and more colloquially "computer". So you're replacing a word that's potentially confusing with a word that is at least equally capable of confusion. In contrast "Fail" is unmistakably a negative result from whatever attack or skill check that was rolled for.

Although, I will grant you that your proposed word could lead to this exchange:

Player: So? Did I hit or miss?
GM: It's... complicated.


LuZeke wrote:

I think changing it to "complication" would cause more confusion than it would resolve. As an abbreviation "comp" is most commonly used to mean "complimentary", and more colloquially "computer". So you're replacing a word that's potentially confusing with a word that is at least equally capable of confusion. In contrast "Fail" is unmistakably a negative result from whatever attack or skill check that was rolled for.

Although, I will grant you that your proposed word could lead to this exchange:

Player: So? Did I hit or miss?
GM: It's... complicated.

Fair point. I'm sure there could be better terms, this was off the top fo my head. Complex failure maybe? So it still has failure in there to clarify that it's not something outside of success and fail.


Dracoknight wrote:

Personally one of the big issues i had with Pathfinder 1E was the lack of consistency in their keywording. It kinda felt they had to "reinvent" a class feature or ability every time they added something similar to an archtype or creature.

I dont mind the Terminology sounding complicated, but the more complicated it is the more important it is to have consistency.

Good point. They do seem to be working a lot on consistency with the new system and having a specific name for each kind of action and such. And the reinvented class features is a reason why unlike some, all the different types of feats don't bug me. You still have a term to define the type of feat, so class feats, skill feats, ancestry feats etc, seems fine to me. They work the same and don't need a new term for each type.


LuZeke wrote:
I think changing it to "complication" would cause more confusion than it would resolve. As an abbreviation "comp" is most commonly used to mean "complimentary", and more colloquially "computer". So you're replacing a word that's potentially confusing with a word that is at least equally capable of confusion.

In French, we use "comp" for "compétence" (meaning "skill"). And "complication" would likely stay the same, so it's guaranteed to create confusion.


An alternative to "Complication" with a long history in gaming is "Botch." It doesn't carry the full negative connotation of "critical failure" so should be less likely than "critical failure" to give people wild ideas about fumble tables. But it still conveys that idea of "worse than just failing."

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:
An alternative to "Complication" with a long history in gaming is "Botch." It doesn't carry the full negative connotation of "critical failure" so should be less likely than "critical failure" to give people wild ideas about fumble tables. But it still conveys that idea of "worse than just failing."

Actually Botch reminds me of Fumbles more than Critically Failures.


Tomato to.. Uh hmm I don't know how to type out the difference between pronunciations... But you get the idea. Anyways its seems like that to me.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Fuzzypaws wrote:
From the Alchemy blog, the currently pending "Operate Activation" is terrible. Especially in the context of needing "3 Operate Activations" to apply poison to a weapon. Let's have a term that doesn't give people headaches, please. Why can't it just be "Operate Action"? Or even "Manipulation" since that isn't being used as a skill name to replace Bluff? Poison requiring "3 Manipulations" or "3 Manipulate Actions" or "3 Operate Actions" to get out and smear on a weapon sounds way better to me than "3 Operate Activations."

I totally agree, that stuck out as such clumsy lingo, I hope they address it.

Activate: 3 actions
Operate: 3 actions
Activate (3)
Operate (3)

All work better for me.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Tomato to.. Uh hmm I don't know how to type out the difference between pronunciations... But you get the idea. Anyways its seems like that to me.

To-mah-to, to-may-to. :)


Arakhor wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Tomato to.. Uh hmm I don't know how to type out the difference between pronunciations... But you get the idea. Anyways its seems like that to me.
To-mah-to, to-may-to. :)

yeah you knew what I meant. to-mah-to po-tat-o


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

On the Activation: 3 Operate Activations clumsiness. Here's what I think they're trying to do.

On the descriptive side:
Activation: 1 Operate Activation
Activation: 3 Operate Activations
Activation: 1 Mental Activation, 2 Operate Activations
etc

Then in the list of Actions
Activation Action: Perform one [Mental, Operate, etc] Activation

Then in list of feats,class features, etc
Improved Activation: When you take an Activation Action: you can performance two Activations.

(And yes this does show why the existing terms aren't great, but I think it also shows why they need several different but similar terms.
1) The term for listing what it takes to use an item.
2) The terms for the number and types of things that category (1)one can use.
3) What type of action it is to do (2). This needs to be fine-grained enough that they can add feats/etc that reference (3) without effecting things they don't intend to change.

You can't use "Activation: 3 Operate Actions" since then you can potentially break the action economy in they make feats that let one operate action count as two (if there's other things you can spend operate actions on). I think the biggest problem to me is "Activate/Activation" is _too_ close to "Action". Some other word would still be verbose, but just less confusing/overlapping.

Silver Crusade

Doktor Wease wrote:
My proposed replacement: Complication.

Fubar :)


I like the suggestion of spell circles instead of spell levels. Fireball is a third circle spell, Disintegrate is a sixth circle spell, etc.


RumpinRufus wrote:
I like the suggestion of spell circles instead of spell levels. Fireball is a third circle spell, Disintegrate is a sixth circle spell, etc.

In 1st Ed D&D there is a passage that talks about why they went with universal "level", instead of mixing it up with circle, order, and rank, IIRC.


RumpinRufus wrote:
I like the suggestion of spell circles instead of spell levels. Fireball is a third circle spell, Disintegrate is a sixth circle spell, etc.

This would make sense in a "witch hunt" game, where spells are described as being sinful, the "circles" each representing the rings of Hell.

This isn't that game, though.


RumpinRufus wrote:
I like the suggestion of spell circles instead of spell levels. Fireball is a third circle spell, Disintegrate is a sixth circle spell, etc.

Yeah, I'm into that too.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
I like the suggestion of spell circles instead of spell levels. Fireball is a third circle spell, Disintegrate is a sixth circle spell, etc.

This would make sense in a "witch hunt" game, where spells are described as being sinful, the "circles" each representing the rings of Hell.

This isn't that game, though.

The term "circle" was also used in the druid level titles for AD&D, with 3rd level druids being called "initiate of the 1st circle" and going on up to "initiate of the 9th circle" at 11th level. So that usage was never limited to Dante's hell.


Add me to the list of people saying they would not miss spell levels if they went away. Orders or Circles work for me. Ranks or Tiers would also work, except that they would potentially just shift the confusion somewher else.

Having recently read through through Tales of Wyre, I am also quite partial to "valences", but that might not be generic enough for Pathfinder.

_
glass.

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Pathfinder Playtest Prerelease Discussion / Terminology clean up All Messageboards
Recent threads in Pathfinder Playtest Prerelease Discussion