Monster Skills: A Serious Problem


Monsters and Hazards

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Liberty's Edge

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I went into this a little in my general reaction thread, but the more I thought about it the more it seemed to deserve its own thread. So here we go.

Monsters, almost universally, are way better at skills than PCs of equivalent level. This is actually a huge problem since they're presumably intended to be appropriate challenges for their level outside of combat as well, and because several skills have in-combat uses (most notably Athletics).

Just to give a series of random examples:

At 1st level, a PC can be expected to have an absolute maximum of +5 on a skill, and likely has a -1 on several things due to being Untrained in many Skills. The Level 1 Boggard Scout has +6 Athletics, and a minimum of +0 on all Skill Checks (+1 on all that aren't Int-based).

At 7th level, the maximum any PC can have in any skill is right about +15, and that only with an Item. Most of their good skills are probably more like +10 or +11, and their minimum skills are +5 or +6. The Greater Barghest, at the same level, has one skill at +15, another at +14, and two more at +13. I'm pretty sure that isn't even possible for a PC of that level, and the Barghest's untrained skills range from +9 to +12. It literally has a +9 on its lowest Skill Check.

At 13th level, a PC can easily have a +23 or so in their high skill using an item (13 level +5 Stat +2 Proficiency +3 Item), but Master Skills sans Item and maybe in a non-maxed stat will be between +18 and +20. Untrained Skills may be as low as +11, but are much more likely to be in the vicinity of +12 or +13. At this level, the Ice Devil has a +28 in one skill, +26s in three more, and +23 to +24 in most of the rest of the skills in the game. The lowest skill they possess is a +20, with everything else higher.

And so on and so forth. If one of these were a weird outlier, I'd think 'Okay, that's a particularly skilled individual creature' and move on, but that's not what's going on. I almost literally picked each of those monsters out of a hat for their level. Monsters almost universally have skill bonuses that PCs cannot reasonably compete with. And that's a huge problem.

You may ask 'What about Skill Feats?' and you have something of a point...if any Skill Feat allowed one to compete with a bonus that's just flatly higher, but they frankly don't do that very well.


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So, looking at the rules for building an encounter, monsters that are on level with the PCs range from standard to low level bosses. If that is the case then it makes sense that the monsters would have better scores.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmm, yeah, challenge table notes that monster with one level lower than APL is supposed to be standard challenge.

Table being

Creature’s Level Suggested Role
Party’s level – 4 Low-threat minion
Party’s level – 3 Low- or high-threat minion
Party’s level – 2 Any minion or standard
Party’s level – 1 Any standard
Party level Any standard or low-threat boss
Party’s level + 1 Low- or high-threat boss
Party’s level + 2 High- or severe-threat boss
Party’s level + 3 Severe- or extreme-threat boss
Party’s level + 4 Extreme-threat solo boss

In otherwords, single monster equal to Party Level is supposed to be Standard enemy to easy difficulty boss. Which makes sense considering assumption is that level 20 monster is fighting four level 20 characters in that case


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Doesn't this scaling make it so that a rogue with maxed stealth has a 50% chance of getting caught by a monster a lv lower then him with good perception?
I'm used to seeing monsters with bonuses you're not supposed to beat (big grabbing beasts). But unless a monster is exceptionally powered up, a well optimized character could still bluff or stealth them with a better then 50% chance of success. I really wonder how this will go over while playtesting.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, to explain further, this is how bestiary explains difficulty levels:

Trivial encounters are so easy that the characters have
essentially no chance of losing; they shouldn’t even need
to spend significant resources unless they are particularly
wasteful. These encounters work best as warm-ups, palate
cleansers, or reminders of how awesome the characters are.
Low-threat encounters present a veneer of difficulty and
typically use some of the party’s resources; in a low-threat
encounter with characters who are particularly frugal, a
character might even be reduced to 0 Hit Points, but it
would be a fluke or the result of very poor tactics for the
entire party to be seriously threatened.
High-threat encounters are a true threat to the
characters, though unlikely to overpower them
completely. Characters usually need to use sound tactics
and manage their resources wisely to come out of a highthreat
encounter ready to continue on to face a harder
challenge without resting.
Severe-threat encounters are the hardest encounters
most groups of characters can consistently defeat, and
as such they are most appropriate for major encounters,
such as with a final boss. Bad luck, tactics, or a lack of
resources due to prior encounters can easily turn a severethreat
encounter against the characters, and a wise group
keeps the option to disengage open.
Extreme-threat encounters are so dangerous that they are
likely to be an even match for the characters, particularly if
the characters are low on resources due to prior encounters.
This makes them too challenging for most uses. An
extreme-threat encounter might be appropriate for a fully
rested group of characters that can go all out, for an endof-
campaign encounter, or for a group of veteran players
with powerful character teamwork.

In otherwords, standard level mook is something that should actually have potential to defeat players if players play poorly. So 50% chance on whether stealth succeeds is actually quite valid. If GM designs sneaking mission, presumably most of mooks should be "low threat" level minions rather than standard foes while standard foes are like captains or something else


That is radically different from the current balance.
In PF, if I make an optimized stealth character I am going to usually outstrip most things except the most perceptive monsters. In PF 2e, low lv minions are just as competent as CR +1 monsters in PF.

PF 1
Human lv 5 rogue vs CR 4 tiger/CR 6 cave lion. +13 stealth vs +8/+11 perception
PF 2e
Human lv 5 rogue vs CR 4 +10 stealth vs 9 perception.

This isn't even an optimized build of PF, just a rogue who has high dex, a magic belt and maxed his ranks.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yep. In 2e if you want mook who is enough weaker than individual pc, you should have that level 5 rogue go against at max level 3 monster.

Let's see.. According to encounter budget table 40 or less is "trivial" encounter. So for level 5 party, that would be two level 3 creatures at max(as party's level -2 is 20 xp) 60 xp is considered low and 80 xp is high.


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Feels like scouting is going to be hardly worthwhile if monster perception skills stay this way.


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Silas Hawkwinter wrote:
Feels like scouting is going to be hardly worthwhile if monster perception skills stay this way.

Make a scout character for the playtest. Prove it.


So basically we should consider a single lv 5 monster to just as difficult for a lv 5 rogue to sneak past in PF 2 as a CR 7 creature in PF?

Does having the party fight more of these lower lv creatures make sneaking even harder? Suddenly you have 2d20+8 rolls vs 1d20+8.

Since NPCs follow similar templates and no longer get class lvs, is that supposed to make you feel more powerful because a enemy NPC of your lv now have skills as though they were 2 lvs higher then you? Thereby giving the impression that you are always better then NPC that are as experienced as you.


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Is it just monsters? Or are NPCs going to have unreasonable skill modifiers as well? THat is one of my big concerns as it will make PCs feel inferior all the time, especially since boosting skills past expert is nearly impossible.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

No more Diplomancy.

Liberty's Edge

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Zioalca wrote:
So, looking at the rules for building an encounter, monsters that are on level with the PCs range from standard to low level bosses. If that is the case then it makes sense that the monsters would have better scores.

The issue with this is that we've been told that a PC Class character is a valid enemy/encounter for their level. IE: A level 6 character should be an equivalent threat to a level 6 monster.

An equal level monster is also listed as a 'low threat boss', not a 'high threat boss'. They're low threat because they're personally on par with the PCs, but outnumbered.

Unicore wrote:
Is it just monsters? Or are NPCs going to have unreasonable skill modifiers as well? THat is one of my big concerns as it will make PCs feel inferior all the time, especially since boosting skills past expert is nearly impossible.

It's NPCs as well. Those made with the monster rules, anyway.


Deadmanwalking wrote:


The issue with this is that we've been told that a PC Class character is a valid enemy/encounter for their level. IE: A level 6 character should be an equivalent threat to a level 6 monster.

I don't even think that was the rule of thumb in PF. I know enemy NPCs had a CR of class lv-1 because they were usually lacking in gear. And that an evenly matched NPC should be, well...evenly matched so pretty hefty 50-40% failure rate challenge.

But aren't they basically changing their rule of thumb in the new edition?

Liberty's Edge

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Thaboe wrote:
I don't even think that was the rule of thumb in PF. I know enemy NPCs had a CR of class lv-1 because they were usually lacking in gear. And that an evenly matched NPC should be, well...evenly matched so pretty hefty 50-40% failure rate challenge.

NPCs with PC level gear had a CR equal to their level, this made 4 of them of the same level as a PC party a CR of APL+4, the amount needed for the fight to be 50/50.

Thaboe wrote:
But aren't they basically changing their rule of thumb in the new edition?

Not this one. It's been repeatedly stated that this particular thing (NPCs made with PC Classes and appropriate gear being the same challenge as monsters of the same level) will in fact remain the same.


Um, actually. The Barghest has a base skill modifier of +4. That gets added to stat modifiers only for untrained skill. So a untrained Dex based skill is +6 on the roll. His actual trained skills are Acrobatics and Deception at +11 total (you don't add the plus 4 again, see page 22 of the Bestiary) and a +9 total for Stealth. I don't think the results are quite as dire as made out to be.

Liberty's Edge

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TheRusty1 wrote:
Um, actually. The Barghest has a base skill modifier of +4. That gets added to stat modifiers only for untrained skill. So a untrained Dex based skill is +6 on the roll. His actual trained skills are Acrobatics and Deception at +11 total (you don't add the plus 4 again, see page 22 of the Bestiary) and a +9 total for Stealth. I don't think the results are quite as dire as made out to be.

Uh...I was talking about the Greater Barghest, the level 7 version listed immediately after the level 4 normal version. I said as much and my math is correct.

But let's talk about the normal Barghest. A 4th level PC can have a maximum of +10 in a skill assuming a +1 item bonus, while their other good skills without items are between +6 and +9. Their untrained Skills are +2 plus Ability Mod, meaning that they will inevitably have some that are +2 or +3. The Barghest's lowest is +5 (including Ability Mods).

I'd say the Barghest only confirms this problem (though it also confirms the problem getting much worse as level goes up).

Liberty's Edge

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I'm a bit surprised more people aren't objecting to this. Or not doing so in this thread. I saw big objections in this vein almost immeditaely after Starfinder came out and Starfinder's NPC Skill math is a lot less unfriendly to the PCs (if only because the PCs get big skill bonuses).


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'm a bit surprised more people aren't objecting to this. Or not doing so in this thread. I saw big objections in this vein almost immeditaely after Starfinder came out and Starfinder's NPC Skill math is a lot less unfriendly to the PCs (if only because the PCs get big skill bonuses).

People are too busy posting their reports of being murdered in combat by the high combat statistics to worry that the skills are too high.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I noticed it, and I intend to say something about it, but I don't feel like commenting for the most part. As much as I've seen people jump down other people's throats for daring to have a positive (or negative) opinion, I've decided that not posting much is for the best.

Experience from the last go-round of playtesting 1e, alas.

Liberty's Edge

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Xenocrat wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'm a bit surprised more people aren't objecting to this. Or not doing so in this thread. I saw big objections in this vein almost immeditaely after Starfinder came out and Starfinder's NPC Skill math is a lot less unfriendly to the PCs (if only because the PCs get big skill bonuses).
People are too busy posting their reports of being murdered in combat by the high combat statistics to worry that the skills are too high.

Ah! That explains it. My group have mostly made characters, but we aren't gonna start actually playing until Saturday.

Cydeth wrote:

I noticed it, and I intend to say something about it, but I don't feel like commenting for the most part. As much as I've seen people jump down other people's throats for daring to have a positive (or negative) opinion, I've decided that not posting much is for the best.

Experience from the last go-round of playtesting 1e, alas.

Fair enough. I fully intend to comment anyway, but I admit I haven't been following every single series of posts, partially to avoid all the inevitable hostility.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Yep, this bothered me in Starfinder and it bothers me here. If anything, monsters should have far WORSE skill mods in all but their important skills, as its the PCs that are the well-rounded adventurers this time around.

Something like 75% of the bestiary creatures have a perception that only a PC absolutely optimizing to the hilt could come close to matching. It makes stealthing in this edition feel like a loser's game. Out of curiosity, I scanned through the bestiary from A through E and found that only 12 out of 112 creatures have a perception modifier that is lower than an absolutely MAXED out player character of the same level. The only ones that were significantly lower were the animated objects, the dretch, the lemure, and the marilith (appropriate choices, to be fair).

Liberty's Edge

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Cellion wrote:
Yep, this bothered me in Starfinder and it bothers me here. If anything, monsters should have far WORSE skill mods in all but their important skills, as its the PCs that are the well-rounded adventurers this time around.

Yeah, their top skills being vaguely on-par (though not notably better) makes sense, but their unskilled numbers should certainly not often +5 higher than PCs of the same level have in their unskilled stuff.

The level 13 Banshee, who is not a highly skilled creature (she has one skill trained) nevertheless has a +16 on unskilled checks, as compared to the +11 a PC would have at the same level. She is not alone.

Cellion wrote:
Something like 75% of the bestiary creatures have a perception that only a PC absolutely optimizing to the hilt could come close to matching. It makes stealthing in this edition feel like a loser's game. Out of curiosity, I scanned through the bestiary from A through E and found that only 12 out of 112 creatures have a perception modifier that is lower than an absolutely MAXED out player character of the same level. The only ones that were significantly lower were the animated objects, the dretch, the lemure, and the marilith (appropriate choices, to be fair).

I hadn't been focused on Perception, but you're totally right. This problem also obviously applies to Deception for precisely the same reason. Or any other opposed Skill check. It's really bad and makes PCs feel really incompetent, IME (not in this game specifically, since I'm starting the actual playtest on Saturday, but I've played games similarly unbalanced in the NPCs favor).


I've not commented yet because there is not much to say. You pretty much got this covered DMW :) This kind of thing was my biggest problem with starfinder though.

Liberty's Edge

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I have to agree that this is a major issue, incredibly frustrating design, especially given we've been told that making an NPC using PC generation rules should give at the worst similar numbers to making one via monster rules.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

This seems like an especially big problem considering one of the arguments I keep hearing for "everyone gets better at all skills" is that higher level PCs should be able to, e.g., sneak even if they've never tried it before.

But it seems like with this math that the "freebie" skill points don't actually let you succeed at things, so now we're sacrificing verisimilitude in order to gain basically nothing.

Liberty's Edge

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ryric wrote:

This seems like an especially big problem considering one of the arguments I keep hearing for "everyone gets better at all skills" is that higher level PCs should be able to, e.g., sneak even if they've never tried it before.

But it seems like with this math that the "freebie" skill points don't actually let you succeed at things, so now we're sacrificing verisimilitude in order to gain basically nothing.

Well, let's examine that. Assuming, say, level 13, bonuses in Perception range from +19 to +25 (clustering at the +22 or better level). An untrained person with Dex 16 (for medium armor) and a -1 armor check penalty (due to high quality armor) has a total of +15 to sneak. That means they need a 17+ to sneak vs. most foes of their level (and a 14+ even vs. the least perceptive). Ouch.

Raising them to 15th level, and they still need a 15+ to sneak vs. foes two levels lower than them (an 18+ on the toughest such foe).

That's...sort of a chance, I suppose.

A PC Ranger can barely manage to keep up with that range of Perception scores (I think the highest possible is +22 at that level without vastly overleveled gear)...but few other Classes will manage even that particularly well.


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Stealth in particular seems like a skill that is not going to get a lot of milage for PCs unless they are keeping in at max levels of training and reinforcing it with skill feats and probably ancestry feats. I am not sure how I feel about that, but it doesn't seem like an accident. Sneaking is going to be difficult in PF2 and not do much even when you succeed. To do it reliably is probably going to require focused dedication and a lot of spell and magic item support for parties that are trying to do more than sneak past sentries that are 4 levels lower than them.

I haven't had an opportunity to look at the skills related to social encounters yet so I am concerned about whether players will ever be able to pull of deceptions, but Perception is really looking like even more of a top tier proficiency than it was in PF1, only it is much harder for PCs to get bonuses to.


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Unicore wrote:

Stealth in particular seems like a skill that is not going to get a lot of milage for PCs unless they are keeping in at max levels of training and reinforcing it with skill feats and probably ancestry feats. I am not sure how I feel about that, but it doesn't seem like an accident. Sneaking is going to be difficult in PF2 and not do much even when you succeed. To do it reliably is probably going to require focused dedication and a lot of spell and magic item support for parties that are trying to do more than sneak past sentries that are 4 levels lower than them.

I haven't had an opportunity to look at the skills related to social encounters yet so I am concerned about whether players will ever be able to pull of deceptions, but Perception is really looking like even more of a top tier proficiency than it was in PF1, only it is much harder for PCs to get bonuses to.

The whole "enemies stop being flat-footed right before you hit them thing" is weird too.

On a somewhat related note, it took me a while to figure out how the "surprise round" works. I think you ready a single action to use as a reaction before combat begins, and then it goes off on your designated trigger. Which doesn't feel like a bad system, but it could be better spelled out IMO.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'm a bit surprised more people aren't objecting to this. Or not doing so in this thread. I saw big objections in this vein almost immeditaely after Starfinder came out and Starfinder's NPC Skill math is a lot less unfriendly to the PCs (if only because the PCs get big skill bonuses).
People are too busy posting their reports of being murdered in combat by the high combat statistics to worry that the skills are too high.

Ah! That explains it. My group have mostly made characters, but we aren't gonna start actually playing until Saturday.

Yeah, combat is tough enough that the skills deficit will take longer to show up. I just noticed that an optimized caster (DC 40, no feats to boost DCs or reduce conditional save bonuses) is facing a grim set of save bonuses from the Level 20 Pit Fiend and Balor, who have +30 through +33 (+1 conditional against magic). They succeed 55% of the time on their weak save, 70% on their strong. You can shift that by 5% if you're a Wizard or Imperial Sorcerer, but you have to engage in some serious debuffing if you want your big spells to land reliably or have any elevated chance of a crit fail.

The level 20 Star Spawn is much worse, saves of +29 to +34, but also a +3 conditional to all magic, +4 to mental. 35% chance of failure on their weak save (Reflex, who cares), 15% chance of failure on his strongest save.

Liberty's Edge

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Xenocrat wrote:

Yeah, combat is tough enough that the skills deficit will take longer to show up. I just noticed that an optimized caster (DC 40, no feats to boost DCs or reduce conditional save bonuses) is facing a grim set of save bonuses from the Level 20 Pit Fiend and Balor, who have +30 through +33 (+1 conditional against magic). They succeed 55% of the time on their weak save, 70% on their strong. You can shift that by 5% if you're a Wizard or Imperial Sorcerer, but you have to engage in some serious debuffing if you want your big spells to land reliably or have any elevated chance of a crit fail.

The level 20 Star Spawn is much worse, saves of +29 to +34, but also a +3 conditional to all magic, +4 to mental. 35% chance of failure on their weak save (Reflex, who cares), 15% chance of failure on his strongest save.

A level 20 PC will likely have Saves between +28 and +35 (usually hitting at least +30 for relatively optimized characters), and can have higher with certain character choices (particularly as a Reaction or vs. spells specifically), so those are actually spot-on (or within a point or so, anyway) for 'PC/Monster Equivalency'.

If the Saves are too high, they're too high for everyone, not just monsters. The Skills are a problem specific to monsters as opposed to PCs, and as an asymmetry strikes me as especially problematic and unfortunate.

Liberty's Edge

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I'm basically just bumping this in the hopes of people (especially the folks at Paizo) noticing this severe problem.

Honestly, I think it's the single biggest issue in the Playtest as a whole (there are certainly others, but none that would flatly prevent me from playing the final game to the degree this one would) and I'm worried by how few others seem to notice or care.

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I've searched through all of these, and it looks like one of our design guides had a few out of date components with respect specifically to skills (it was using an earlier level for higher proficiency ranks than should be possible in all cases by 2 levels, and it had too low a level for when the monsters could pick up their equivalent of some +skill items based on earlier item estimates). Since Perception goes up against skills, it might have something similar going on, but other numbers are where we are expecting them to be (this includes the unusually high attack bonus for some of the lowest level monsters in the game being intentional; they get this and reduced in other things to help make them not a waste of time). This effect was particularly intense at level 13, one of the levels you looked at, since it was off by two different items and legendary rank. So that would probably leave the ice devil with +25 (still extremely good at its best thing), +23 for its three listed, etc. Yikes!

Dark Archive

Ooh, is that why Additional Lore reads like it should give Legendary proficiency with your chosen lore at 13?


They must limit monster proficiency to match those of non-monsters, really.
No "Super Legendary (Level + 4)" proficiency and/or such horrors...

Liberty's Edge

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Mark Seifter wrote:
I've searched through all of these, and it looks like one of our design guides had a few out of date components with respect specifically to skills (it was using an earlier level for higher proficiency ranks than should be possible in all cases by 2 levels, and it had too low a level for when the monsters could pick up their equivalent of some +skill items based on earlier item estimates). Since Perception goes up against skills, it might have something similar going on, but other numbers are where we are expecting them to be (this includes the unusually high attack bonus for some of the lowest level monsters in the game being intentional; they get this and reduced in other things to help make them not a waste of time).

That's very good information to have, especially since it means this issue is (at least in large part) unintentional and thus almost certain to be fixed in the final version. Thank you so much for the response.

And yeah, the rest of the numbers looked pretty much okay to me (as I mentioned above in regards to Saves). It's just Skills and Perception that seemed really seriously out of whack.

Mark Seifter wrote:
This effect was particularly intense at level 13, one of the levels you looked at, since it was off by two different items and legendary rank. So that would probably leave the ice devil with +25 (still extremely good at its best thing), +23 for its three listed, etc. Yikes!

-3 helps a lot with this problem on the high end of bonuses, but less on the low end (like the unskilled bonus). That still leaves most level 13 monsters with +13 or so on unskilled checks (plus stat) rather than the +11 PCs receive. Being at +25 when a PC seems to max at +23 or so (and that in likely only a single skill) also seems a tad high for most level 13 monsters to possess (I mean, an exceptional one, sure, but it seems like most of them have something in that range even with a -3).

Or do the lower skills wind up even more reduced at that level than the high ones with the revised design guide?

Paizo Employee Designer

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The gelugon's Warfare Lore is above and beyond what most creatures have in any of their skills (the level 13 Adult Blue Dragon, Iron Golem, Leng Spider, and the Ice Yai have no skills that high). It's the war tactics of Hell's greatest tacticians, so it's at a height reserved for doppelganger or treachery demon's Deception, a maxed out virtuoso bard's Performance in his main category, etc.

The untrained bonus as presented is the best consistent solution for a baseline you can add to any monster and get something that isn't too outlandish or problematic, but it does skew high if the monster is excellent at every ability score like the ice devil (as opposed to, say, the purple worm at the same level that has 3/6 stats at a penalty and one at +0). It is possible we will need to give monsters with all high stats a nerf to their baselines just to bring down their default skills, but we didn't do that for this iteration because we've tried to use a consistent building scheme for the monsters where possible since we know a lot of fans do enjoy feeling the monsters were not arbitrary and had a process involved in what made them the way they are (even if they weren't actually "built like PCs" in PF1, there was still a process).


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The main problem is that or youre maxed to even try out, or dont even waste points in it.

I really dislike this kind of design were to have at least 50% of succeeding i have to be maxed.

The perceptions values scales off to dulicrous values (there are more monsters in the bestiary with perception above 30 than with perception below 5)

Its a very unfunny arms races, seems like all monsters are trying to munchking the game as much as possible.

Liberty's Edge

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Mark Seifter wrote:
The gelugon's Warfare Lore is above and beyond what most creatures have in any of their skills (the level 13 Adult Blue Dragon, Iron Golem, Leng Spider, and the Ice Yai have no skills that high). It's the war tactics of Hell's greatest tacticians, so it's at a height reserved for doppelganger or treachery demon's Deception, a maxed out virtuoso bard's Performance in his main category, etc.

That's fair. The number of +23s still seems a bit excessive to me, but one skill beyond normal PC limits seems reasonable enough. Re-looking at it, I believe I was thinking those were a little more common than they appear to be (probably because I looked at the Gelugon and Glabrezu first...first impressions are hard to shake).

Mark Seifter wrote:
The untrained bonus as presented is the best consistent solution for a baseline you can add to any monster and get something that isn't too outlandish or problematic, but it does skew high if the monster is excellent at every ability score like the ice devil (as opposed to, say, the purple worm at the same level that has 3/6 stats at a penalty and one at +0). It is possible we will need to give monsters with all high stats a nerf to their baselines just to bring down their default skills, but we didn't do that for this iteration because we've tried to use a consistent building scheme for the monsters where possible since we know a lot of fans do enjoy feeling the monsters were not arbitrary and had a process involved in what made them the way they are (even if they weren't actually "built like PCs" in PF1, there was still a process).

I'm actually all for consistency. I think it should probably err on the side of monsters being less competent in their untrained skills rather than more competent. That lets PCs feel competent rather than incompetent when they engage monsters in things said monsters don't have as a listed skill.

I can definitely see the desire to keep things within a specific mathematical range from a design perspective, but I'm not sure it's quite as necessary for untrained monster skills (one of very few areas it seems less important to me in).


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The problematic skills are the maneuver ones and the perception ones.

If you have to overoptimize the hell out of stealth, as well as sinking a significant amount of wbl at it just to have a 50 or even 60% of success, that makes everyone only focusing on it (I. E. 16 dex, Increasing ranks but wearing a - 1 acp medium armor) not even having a chance.

A ranger as an example will auto fail most stealth checks and etc.

I think it's important that the general skills of a monster be balanced around an AVERAGE score in a skill, not around the absolute max a player may reach if he overoptimize for it.

As an example, a rogue at 10 can max around: 10+2+5+2(item)= +19 to stealth
A ranger with a 16 dex which should be on par/above average, with master stealth and a shadowed armor would only have 10+2+3+2-1= +16

At level 10, Most perceptions checks are at 18-20 range.

Even if we use the "2 higher than supposed" errata, that means on average they have 15 perception AFTER THE NERF.

I feel like a 16 dex, master stealth, shadowed armor, ranger should have more than 50% Chance to actually sneak vs every single average CR appropriate threat.

Basically it makes every skill except the 2-3 you can maximise worthless. "Trained" skill use doesn't even enters the equation as usable.

Using the above calculations, it would take like a 4 point nerf rather than 2 to give poor ranger a passable 65% (1 in 3 to get caught)

Plus, this makes monsters almost always win initiative...


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Yeah, some of the monsters are still too good at stuff. Even just -1 or -2 in some things would go a long way. It seems they are balanced around fighting optimized Fighters only in combat while competing with optimized rogues at skills. So most monsters are like some gestalt gods that can compete with every party member at their specialty. I mena yeah, the lv1 18 STR Fighter can kinda hit that Goblin Commando but everyone else is really behind. The fighter maybe crits on 19-20 at best (everyone else just 20). I thought you guys said he actually had good odds of hitting with second attack? I guess if your d20 doesn't have the 1-10 numbers in it. This is supposed to be a "Trivial" encounter if 4v1 against a lv1 party, but chances are he's going to inflict heavy damage on someone and possibly kill a wizard with that insanity +8 deadly shortbow.

I know you want monsters to not be "irrelevant", but I think Level 0 ones should be, and they aren't. Not when the Herd animal Pig can hit better than most characters. I also wouldn't put 6 basic Goblin warriors against a party for a "hard" encounter (The next tier up from "low").

I'm already seeing a lot of builds start with 16 as highest stat, but that is really putting them behind. Please don't balance the game around everything being maxed as early as possible. I realize the CR system got out of whack in PF1 because 1 PC was stronger than level=CR monster most of the time.... But I think this was better than most chars having max 50% success rate at level equivalent stuff. The game doesn't offer ways to really increase your % much...

Summary: I like that you're making monsters feel more on par with characters, but Lv0 harmless creatures seme to have the hit chance of a 18STR Fighter for some reason.


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Level 0 monsters are in a particularly unfair position, as not only are their checks still comperable to a 1st level character, but for the purposes of encounter rules they use the 'commoner rule' as well. Meaning that they are treated as "Level -1" creatures for the purposes of encounter budgets.

Together this means level 0 creatures are both stronger and more plentiful than they should be for 'a creature one level weaker than the average party level'.

Their sole saving grace is having only one Hit Die worth of HP (compared to the two Hit Die player characters start with). So they should die quickly enough under focus fire conditions.


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RafaelBraga wrote:

The main problem is that or youre maxed to even try out, or dont even waste points in it.

I really dislike this kind of design were to have at least 50% of succeeding i have to be maxed.

The perceptions values scales off to dulicrous values (there are more monsters in the bestiary with perception above 30 than with perception below 5)

Its a very unfunny arms races, seems like all monsters are trying to munchking the game as much as possible.

This. Specializing felt rewarding before because you could succeed very reliably at what you chose to do, now you msut absolutely specialize to keep up having a 50% of success. What did they call this highly unpopular mechanic from the past? Oh yes, "Treadmill". And this isn't an oversight, but part of this edition's design philosophy.

I have a feleing they made a table with the max modifier a character could have in anything at a given level (Easy, since the unified system makes this mod the same for all rolls) and then designed the monsters based on it.
"Level 3 character can be expert and we assume he has a 18 so his mod will be 3 + 1 + 4= 7! So this monster gets +7 to all (way higher usually), but since his type is specially good at athletics, he'll get an extra +2 to it to reflect his natural inclinations. Maybe put some penalties on stuff he's supposed to suck at (none)" Wow yeah, it's super easy to make monsters this way! Just ruins the entire game for me (And possibly others).

I never thought I would be in the grongnard camp I complain about so much, but this one is the make-or-break for me. Unfortunately, it's not something that can be easily fixed since the entire Bestiary/CR system is designed around it. One of the goals of this edition was to reduce optimization and let all PCs be able to try things, but all I see is "don't even bother unless you're maxed with items, then you have 55%".

T_T Histrionics, I know... But this is really a big deal and not one that the surveys are designed to find.

If you reduced EVERY CHALLENGE AND ENEMY by -2 on everything (Kept CR and PCs untouched), it would help, but you might need to go further to make the PCs actually shine. Enemies should be allowed to suck at things, just like PCs at most of them.

Liberty's Edge

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Examining things (and skill items specifically), I really think that monsters need to have most their skills correspond to PC skills without items (as well as the aforementioned having level-2 on unskilled stuff), and that too many have more skills at 'item bonus' ratings than a PC could reasonably have. Certainly more than they could manage without having 5+ items for skills alone.

One of the game's stated goals is to reduce the 'Christmas Tree' effect, but at the moment, you need items in every single skill you're intending to actually use in order to equal monsters, and even ignoring the absurd Resonance costs of this (which may be reduced or removed in the final version) that's a lot of items. Or at least it is for any remotely skill based character.

Monsters having a couple of skills equal to a PC with item is reasonable, but even with the -3 mentioned above, of level 13 monsters, abut half of them have such bonuses in at least 5 skills, with a couple having bonuses that would necessitate items for a PC in as many as 7 skills. Some have a more reasonable two or so, but seven?!

Liberty's Edge

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Cantriped wrote:
Level 0 monsters are in a particularly unfair position, as not only are their checks still comperable to a 1st level character, but for the purposes of encounter rules they use the 'commoner rule' as well. Meaning that they are treated as "Level -1" creatures for the purposes of encounter budgets.

Level 0 monster skills are a problem, but no more than other low level monster stats (which are all about a point high). If they go down by one in the guide change Mark implies above I think they wind up okay, though.

In terms of combat stats, they and 1st level monsters skew high on attack bonus and low on AC, which seems a reasonable minor alteration to me.


I am less bothered by the statistics than I am by how the encounter budgets treat level 0 creatures as level |-1| (aka like CR 1/3rd monsters instead of CR 1/2).


Cantriped wrote:
I am less bothered by the statistics than I am by how the encounter budgets treat level 0 creatures as level |-1| (aka like CR 1/3rd monsters instead of CR 1/2).

Isn't a level 0 Creature considered Level -2 to a Lv1 char? Though I agree that's not a fair rating of them.

Liberty's Edge

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Cantriped wrote:
I am less bothered by the statistics than I am by how the encounter budgets treat level 0 creatures as level |-1| (aka like CR 1/3rd monsters instead of CR 1/2).

Honestly, having run a game, the 1st level PCs waltzed through Level 0 foes like they weren't even there. I'm thus not sure this calculus is wrong for most zero level foes. A few might be more impressive (zombies might be overtuned for their level, for example), but they seem appropriately easy to wade through, for the most part.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
I am less bothered by the statistics than I am by how the encounter budgets treat level 0 creatures as level |-1| (aka like CR 1/3rd monsters instead of CR 1/2).
Honestly, having run a game, the 1st level PCs waltzed through Level 0 foes like they weren't even there. I'm thus not sure this calculus is wrong for most zero level foes. A few might be more impressive (zombies might be overtuned for their level, for example), but they seem appropriately easy to wade through, for the most part.

Well i guess your players were lucky, or maybe they were a big party. My 4 players got rolfstomped all session, that first ooze, with its +6 and 40 hp nearly killed the paladin.

Every goblin could move and attack twice, with decent chance of hitting for each attack (+6/+1) vs PC with AC ranging from 14 to 18.
3 goblins won initiatives with their master training in stealth (or maybe was it another skill I don't remember) and nearly dropped the paladin (again after using most of his lay of hands) who entered the room first to zero without him even playing. Using decent melee tactics and taking advantage of the goblin special ability, they could easily get flanks by the second turn and then hit at (effectively) +8/+2/-3. Granted my players had bad lucks and struggled to hit goblins, and yes the barbarian did one shot them when he hit them, but a little of bad luck for the PCs changed this encounter into a bloodbath.
Now I know luck can really change a lot of things, but I don't think an encounter with 6 goblins should be tight to the point that bad luck makes it a near tpk.

I know the adventure says the pc can go back and rest as umch as they like during the 7 days, but come on, that would have literally been a 15 minute adventuring day...

(I don't even speak about darkus cause he's supposed to be a boss, but with his +10, I didn't register the crits he scored and the party still ended with 3 of them and the animal companion down.)


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Xenocrat wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'm a bit surprised more people aren't objecting to this. Or not doing so in this thread. I saw big objections in this vein almost immeditaely after Starfinder came out and Starfinder's NPC Skill math is a lot less unfriendly to the PCs (if only because the PCs get big skill bonuses).
People are too busy posting their reports of being murdered in combat by the high combat statistics to worry that the skills are too high.

This. Most combats are near or total TPK's for my games. Even 'easy/trivial' combats, like the slime, are life and death situations while high/severe are a question of how many people are going down not IF they are going to get KO'd.

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