4E, Dissociated Mechanics, and a Please Reconsider...


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Lucid Blue wrote:
Balance and options are all good. But a lot of 4E mechanics were simply bits of math that got applied to the world, without ever explaining HOW or WHAT was going on. It was just a catalog of powers that applied math to a situation.. Which made it feel very video-gamey because it lacked any explanation or way to mitigate the effects. (But what kind of damage is it? How did I take it? What if I was protected situationally? Doesn't matter. Math is math. World be damned. Mark it on your sheet.)

You sure didn’t play the same 4e I did.

Lucid Blue wrote:
For the most part, it seems that Pathfinder has taken pains to avoid doing that. (eg. A DC10 tree is a DC10 tree. It doesn't get harder to climb as the PC's gain levels. Making the tree adjust it's DC for the climber feels video-gamey because there's no in-world explanation for why it should change.)

DCs didn’t change as characters leveled up in 4e either. That was a common misinterpretation of the rules (probably an intentional bad-faith misinterpretation in some cases), but how it was actually supposed to work was the same way it does in PF2 - The DC chart is based on the level of the challenge, not the level of the character attempting it. The DC to climb a tree is the DC to climb a tree, regardless of your character’s level, but the GM should be aware that climbing a tree is a Trivial difficultly task for a level 0 character. A more appropriate climbing challenge for your 15th level party might be a wall of ice in a rainstorm.

Lucid Blue wrote:

But then we get to things like Planar Survival... Where "you can forage for food [on another plane of existence] EVEN IF THE PLANE LACKS FOOD THAT COULD NORMALLY SUSTAIN YOU."

I can't think of a worse example of Dissociated Mechanics.. And it's exactly the DC10 tree issue. The plane DOESN'T EVEN HAVE FOOD. But you can forage for it anyway. The plane suddenly has food BECAUSE THE PLAYER LOOKED FOR IT. "Elemental plane of fire? No problem. I have Planar Survival! Let me scrounge up some berries. Negative Energy void? Pfff. There's small game around here somewhere."

I think “normally” is an important word you’re kind of brushing over. The plane of fire doesn’t have a lot of berries to forrage or small game to hunt, but it isn’t completely devoid of anything edible. Maybe the local flora and fauna couldn’t normally sustain you, but your mastery of survival is such that you know how to prepare these exotic ingredients in a way that makes them safe to eat.

Lucid Blue wrote:
Combat Medic is another. I can literally wipe away severe sword wounds in two seconds...

Either you’re ok with abstract HP, or you’re not. This isn’t something most people are ever going to be convinced to change their stance on. To me, battle medic is perfectly reasonable because being at less than full HP doesn’t necessarily mean “severe sword wound”, restoring HP doesn’t necessarily mean the injuries recover completely, and being at full HP doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in perfect health. If you view HP in a more concrete sense, then non-magical healing is always going to seem off to you.


I feel like if we take "HP is not an abstraction" literally we end up with situations like "a 17th level fighter is pierced with a dozen spears, and then sits down for a leisurely cup of tea on a lava flow and is fine". It's best not to lampshade all the damage people can recover from in this game.


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Lucid Blue wrote:


A handful of naked first level medics can heal more damage than a cleric with magical healing. Period.

Correct.

A handful of naked men can move, by taking enough time, more rubble than a single low-level wizard can with daily spells.

A handful of cooks can cook, by taking enough time, more food than a single lv1 druid can provide with his daily spells.

A handful of medics can heal, by taking enough time, more HPs than a single lv1 cleric can heal with his daily spells.

** This is not wrong **
This is how the in-game world is supposed to work

The Exchange

Lucid Blue wrote:
Hunterofthedusk wrote:
If you think about any of the generalized and abstracted part of the game you'll come up with a scenario that will make it not make sense. If a person with 10 health gets hit for 9 damage, they are mutilated and barely alive. If a person with 100 health gets hit for 9 damage, they barely notice. Was that not the same attack?

The problem isn't the relative vaguery. The problem is the absolute difference with the rest of the game world.

A handful of naked first level medics can heal more damage than a cleric with magical healing. Period.

You can hand wave and talk about abstraction all you want. The absolute end result is the same.

The naked medics healed all damage. The magical cleric couldn't.

and in 99.999999% of situations, the cleric is going to heal way more damage in regular play. Battle Medic works fine for a quick patch up in normal play, and adding additional restrictions would unnecessarily complicate the ability for no meaningful gain to the game


Okay, so since HP are "abstract" and therefore exempt from in-fiction realism... Let's go to the Craft skill. Aka "Craft(Everything)"

Lore requires you to pick a subject to be knowledgeable in. You don't get to take one skill to have knowledge of everything in the universe. Why? Because it's unrealistic that one skill point should make you knowledgeable in every subject ever.

But you CAN take one Craft skill to be able to BUILD everything in the universe. One skill point, and I am skilled in building everything ever.

There are no woodworkers. No bookbinders. No stonemasons. No weaponsmiths. No architects. No glass blowers. No one learns a trade. No one takes time to get better at one thing than another... One skill point. Done. You can make everything.

A couple rank increases. And now you can build everything BETTER than everyone.

Why limit Lore to subjects you need to learn. But let Craft apply to everything?


Charlaquin wrote:

DCs didn’t change as characters leveled up in 4e either. That was a common misinterpretation of the rules (probably an intentional bad-faith misinterpretation in some cases), but how it was actually supposed to work was the same way it does in PF2 - The DC chart is based on the level of the challenge, not the level of the character attempting it. The DC to climb a tree is the DC to climb a tree, regardless of your character’s level, but the GM should be aware that climbing a tree is a Trivial difficultly task for a level 0 character. A more appropriate climbing challenge for your 15th level party might be a wall of ice in a rainstorm.

Yeah, the last part can be part of the problem, it can seem like the world levels with you, suddenly at a certain level, many doors are suddenly made out of adamantine and that sort for of thing. And the page 42 improvised DC/damage table. Of course higher level characters take on higher level challenges, but it can seem contrived, maybe it's the way 4th Ed presents it. Removing the +1/2 level treadmill did wonders for my 4th Ed campaign at the time.


Lucid Blue wrote:

Okay, so since HP are "abstract" and therefore exempt from in-fiction realism... Let's go to the Craft skill. Aka "Craft(Everything)"

Lore requires you to pick a subject to be knowledgeable in. You don't get to take one skill to have knowledge of everything in the universe. Why? Because it's unrealistic that one skill point should make you knowledgeable in every subject ever.

But you CAN take one Craft skill to be able to BUILD everything in the universe. One skill point, and I am skilled in building everything ever.

There are no woodworkers. No bookbinders. No stonemasons. No weaponsmiths. No architects. No glass blowers. No one learns a trade. No one takes time to get better at one thing than another... One skill point. Done. You can make everything.

A couple rank increases. And now you can build everything BETTER than everyone.

Why limit Lore to subjects you need to learn. But let Craft apply to everything?

Because Lore doesn't require you to have a formula for every thing you are making. I have to have plans to craft anything I know and can do anything under my lore.

The Exchange

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Lucid Blue wrote:

Okay, so since HP are "abstract" and therefore exempt from in-fiction realism... Let's go to the Craft skill. Aka "Craft(Everything)"

Lore requires you to pick a subject to be knowledgeable in. You don't get to take one skill to have knowledge of everything in the universe. Why? Because it's unrealistic that one skill point should make you knowledgeable in every subject ever.

But you CAN take one Craft skill to be able to BUILD everything in the universe. One skill point, and I am skilled in building everything ever.

There are no woodworkers. No bookbinders. No stonemasons. No weaponsmiths. No architects. No glass blowers. No one learns a trade. No one takes time to get better at one thing than another... One skill point. Done. You can make everything.

A couple rank increases. And now you can build everything BETTER than everyone.

Why limit Lore to subjects you need to learn. But let Craft apply to everything?

now crafting uses formula, so you need to gain specific knowledge of the item you wish to craft, and specializing is done via a skill feat to get better at crafting categories of things


Talonhawke wrote:
Because Lore doesn't require you to have a formula for every thing you are making. I have to have plans to craft anything I know and can do anything under my lore.

So, if I bring the formula for a katana to my local master basketweaver... She should be able to forge that katana better than any expert level swordsmith?


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So one thing I'm not sure if it's a generational thing or a subcultural thing or w/e, but in almost 30 years in this hobby I have come across enough things which the mechanics suggested were possible even if it didn't immediately make sense, that my reflexive reaction is "well, let's make sense of it". Frankly, I have a lot of fun doing this too.

One of the things inherent in this approach is we approach the rules in good faith. Like "I'm going to take ranks in Craft because I want to make armor" and so that character ends up in a situation where they need to make some shelves and a dining room set for some reason, sure they can apply what they have learned about "making things" but they aren't setting up to become an armorer/fletcher/cooper/cabinetmaker/boatbuilder/glassblower/potter/cutler/ farrier/etc.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Personally, I love what you call "dissociated mechanics" since I always ask players to "tell a story about how they did that" when something is suggested as possible by the mechanics without any clear idea how it works, and I get some of the best improv moments from this.

This kind of thing comes up all the time in games and I love it and I 100% agree with you.

But you will turn out to be very wrong for the case at hand. And here is why. When common frequently repeated mechanics are dissociated EVERY TIME, the "best improv" moments turn into a farce of absurdity. It is when you have the narrative expectations setting a clear baseline that the really cool exceptions spring to life and give everyone at the table the jump up and high-5 moments.

It has happened before with other systems where things that seem cool out of the box become routine and boring.

It is not possible to succeed unless it is possible to fail.
It is not possible to be extraordinary unless it is possible to be routine.


BryonD wrote:

This kind of thing comes up all the time in games and I love it and I 100% agree with you.

But you will turn out to be very wrong for the case at hand. And here is why. When common frequently repeated mechanics are dissociated EVERY TIME, the "best improv" moments turn into a farce of absurdity. It is when you have the narrative expectations setting a clear baseline that the really cool exceptions spring to life and give everyone at the table the jump up and high-5 moments.

It has happened before with other systems where things that seem cool out of the box become routine and boring.

It is not possible to succeed unless it is possible to fail.
It is not possible to be extraordinary unless it is possible to be routine.

Exactly this.

The Exchange

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Lucid Blue wrote:
Talonhawke wrote:
Because Lore doesn't require you to have a formula for every thing you are making. I have to have plans to craft anything I know and can do anything under my lore.
So, if I bring the formula for a katana to my local master basketweaver... She should be able to forge that katana better than any expert level swordsmith?

I think that is one of the problems with Craft, but but crafting in general is pretty bad. This seems to me to be a very intentional generalization to try to make crafting more useful to players


Hunterofthedusk wrote:
This seems to me to be a very intentional generalization to try to make crafting more useful to players

Agreed. My point, in all of this, is that dissociating the mechanics is NOT the way to make things "more useful." It becomes math for math's sake. And balance for balance sake.

All I'm saying is, for the 1% of situations where they made 2E "more useful" with math and math alone... Is "find a better way to make that 1% useful."


BryonD wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Personally, I love what you call "dissociated mechanics" since I always ask players to "tell a story about how they did that" when something is suggested as possible by the mechanics without any clear idea how it works, and I get some of the best improv moments from this.

This kind of thing comes up all the time in games and I love it and I 100% agree with you.

But you will turn out to be very wrong for the case at hand. And here is why. When common frequently repeated mechanics are dissociated EVERY TIME, the "best improv" moments turn into a farce of absurdity.

Yes, the post-justifications/contrivances/rationalisations can get pretty obnoxious (same with many excuses for absurd multi-classing).


A couple of questions: If hit points are meant to be abstract, why are they defined in the playtest as "Hit points represent the amount of punishment a creature can take before it falls unconscious and begins dying"? And why does it say that "damage decreases Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis and healing restores Hit Points at the same rate"?

The definition is more vague in 3.5 and PF1 (both include the same line of turning blows into less serious ones), but it is pretty clear that hit points are meant to represent health in all three systems, not some abstract concept.

Dark Archive

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Tell me more about these naked medics.


Ouranou wrote:
Tell me more about these naked medics.

Oh, they're the BEST! They make clerics obsolete. And make armies immortal. They can stand in a line and hold-action, and when you're dying and unconscious, your buddy can pick you up and run down the line, and the naked medics all smack you on the butt in turn and yell, "we believe in you!"

And by the end of the line, you're fully healed, and you LEAP back into the fray at full health!


I mean, Kinetic Healers in PF1 were already capable of being the best battlefield medics possible in PF1- at sufficiently high levels they can regrow limbs at no personal cost (the injured person just sleeps off the burn and is 100% tomorrow). So it's not like "weird edge cases when extended far beyond the size of an adventuring party" are unprecedented.


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The Rot Grub wrote:

When I saw the title of this thread, I thought it would be a more general indictment of PF2's mechanics, something akin to Justin Alexander's excellent breakdown of the phenomenon in D&D 4E. But if legendary skills is what the critique is aimed at then I'm honestly not that concerned about it. Legendary is legendary.

EDIT: The same author was not satisfied with his original article and presented a more balanced critique of dissociated mechanics in a later essay, which he explains are not necessarily "bad" but must be used judiciously and with care in an RPG.

I think the issues with the "dissociated mechanics" rethoric immediately shown when the author begins discussing how pretending the character got lucky/made a special effort to achieve something dissociates the act from fiction and having "magnetic gloves" or "invocations to the god of football" would be an improvement. Literally.

I still think the entire crux of the matter isn't the dissociation of the mechanics but the problem with player agency, ie the player shouldn't be able to influence any event that doesn't depend on his character's choices (and even then in a very limited way).


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Lucid Blue wrote:
Talonhawke wrote:
Because Lore doesn't require you to have a formula for every thing you are making. I have to have plans to craft anything I know and can do anything under my lore.
So, if I bring the formula for a katana to my local master basketweaver... She should be able to forge that katana better than any expert level swordsmith?

Since the expert level swordsmith likely has the Specialty crafting feat for smithing, no, they'll still be better. If she also has the specialty crafting feat for smithing, then yes, because while she works as a weaver, she is also a master level blacksmith. Why on earth she would choose to do that is up to you, but that's firmly a character RP choice, not as dissociated as you seem to think.

Without that skill feat, at best she could match an expert blacksmith with the skill feat once she was a legendary crafter, at which point some hand waving is allowed. I'm certainly not going to tell her she can't make a piddly little pigsticker at least as well as her ex, who never progressed past Expert.


Fabius Maximus wrote:

A couple of questions: If hit points are meant to be abstract, why are they defined in the playtest as "Hit points represent the amount of punishment a creature can take before it falls unconscious and begins dying"? And why does it say that "damage decreases Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis and healing restores Hit Points at the same rate"?

The definition is more vague in 3.5 and PF1 (both include the same line of turning blows into less serious ones), but it is pretty clear that hit points are meant to represent health in all three systems, not some abstract concept.

Thus we are meant to believe that as mr wizard becomes more proficient with spells and formulas his skin also thickens, his organs rearrange, he develops a new anathomy and becomes capable to survive being pierced by weapons over and over?

When a giant hits your fighter for 31 damages and the fighter had 23 hit points left, you visualize the giant hitting the guy with a 1500 lb sword and the fighter getting slashed and proceeding not to care about it?


AnimatedPaper wrote:
Since the expert level swordsmith likely has the Specialty crafting feat for smithing, no, they'll still be better.

Only at a basic level. The expert swordsmith CANNOT forge a master level katana. But the master basketweaver CAN.

"Step aside Hattori Hanzo. Dorothy here is going to show you how to make a REAL samurai weapon!"


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Nothing is worse than RPG rules that don't Simulate Reality™ with absolute accuracy. Except the ones *I* like, of course. Those are (objectively) just fine.

Only a complete moron could ever disagree. Discuss.


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Visanideth wrote:
I still think the entire crux of the matter isn't the dissociation of the mechanics but the problem with player agency, ie the player shouldn't be able to influence any event that doesn't depend on his character's choices (and even then in a very limited way).

I personally disagree with this, as when I GM I rely on my players extensively to fill in gaps with the setting by offering observations like "isn't there a fishing village near here" or "so a town of this size would absolutely have a [whatever], so I'm going to look for it."

Just "yes, and"-ing player observations save me a ton of work once your players are aware they are enabled to do stuff like this. It is, after all a cooperative storytelling game- I am interested in everyone's ideas of what the world is like.


Lucid Blue wrote:


Huh. Different philosophies I guess. So would you be opposed to just letting players erase any damage after each combat? Or assuming that they always have enough food and water, even in locales that don't have food and water?

If not, is the objection purely math/balance related rather than in-world-fiction related?

Maybe I'm the odd duck here...

It's always immediately obvious who hasn't played Dungeon World, or Blades in the Dark, or any other narrative RPG.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Visanideth wrote:
I still think the entire crux of the matter isn't the dissociation of the mechanics but the problem with player agency, ie the player shouldn't be able to influence any event that doesn't depend on his character's choices (and even then in a very limited way).

I personally disagree with this, as when I GM I rely on my players extensively to fill in gaps with the setting by offering observations like "isn't there a fishing village near here" or "so a town of this size would absolutely have a [whatever], so I'm going to look for it."

Just "yes, and"-ing player observations save me a ton of work once your players are aware they are enabled to do stuff like this. It is, after all a cooperative storytelling game- I am interested in everyone's ideas of what the world is like.

So I'm floating in the negative energy void. And the party is starving. But my ranger KNOWS... that the secret recipe of KFC chicken isn't REALLY a secret. It was stolen by the nightshade many years ago. So before the party starves to death, I float over to the secret KFC vault, and pilfer enough crispy chicken to sustain us for another day.

Is this an acceptable explanation? If not, why not? Does the explanation of a math block REALLY need to match the fiction of the world? Who's to say that I CAN'T find the secret KFC stash in the void?

If the in world explanation DOES matter... Shouldn't we just avoid the dissociated mechanics in the first place?


Renchard wrote:
It's always immediately obvious who hasn't played Dungeon World, or Blades in the Dark, or any other narrative RPG.

...and who among those have somehow failed to notice the innumerable narrative elements in their "realistic" rule set. :P


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Lucid Blue wrote:
Hunterofthedusk wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:
I mean really... Why would anyone field an army without a team of a couple dozen first level medics who could all but make their army immortal?
Because they would only have, what, +5 or +6 and need to hit a DC 20? So most of them would fail and then not be able to try again on that person? And feeding that many useless morons would be prohibitive? And it while 5 medics swarmed around a wounded soldier and mostly failed their rolls, the enemy could just attack a couple more times and now that soldier is dead?

How are they useless morons? Fielding 10,000 men is okay. But the 20 who stand in the back and make them all immortal aren't worth the extra food?

Put them in the back. Form a soup line. Each wounded soldier walks down the line. Even with +5 or +6, by the end of the soup line, statistically each soldier is now in perfect health and back to the front. Meanwhile the poor clerics mope around and tell the soldiers "sorry, I'm out of heal spells for the day. Head back to the soup line. They'll fix you up."

It's okay if you are on board with the dissociated math blocks. But the whole point is that they're dissociated. There's no in-fiction explanation for why it would or wouldn't work.

I would like to point out one bit about the feat that you're forgetting, the critical failure (these occur when you get DC - 10 (10 in this case), not just if you roll a nat 1 and would still fail). With a +5 to +6 you have a 25% - 20% chance to damage the person for 1d10 (instead of healing 1d10 + Wis mod) This means that while some may be at full health, others will effectively be untouched, and others dead from attempts to heal them.

That said, I am in the boat that Hit Points aren't literal wounds, but more of a figurative concept. If you see them as literal wounds always, then I can see why you may find this an issue.


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Lucid Blue wrote:


So I'm floating in the negative energy void. And the party is starving. But my ranger KNOWS... that the secret recipe of KFC chicken isn't REALLY a secret. It was stolen by the nightshade many years ago. So before the party starves to death, I float over to the secret KFC vault, and pilfer enough crispy chicken to sustain us for another day.

Is this an acceptable explanation? If not, why not? Does the explanation of a math block REALLY need to match the fiction of the world? Who's to say that I CAN'T find the secret KFC stash in the void?

If the in world explanation DOES matter... Shouldn't we just avoid the dissociated mechanics in the first place?

Your example doesn't work because in the "floating in the energy void" case the character wouldn't be allowed the check to look for food, since he's floating in the void.

Supposing instead he's in the negative energy plane, and nothing there is alive or edible, what happens is he notice that there's a nearby shadow giant fortress, and he knows shadow giants make prisoners in their travels, and while disgusting, goblin meat is edible.

And the last piece of fluff should come from the DM, who's meant to be the keeper of the consistency between fiction and mechanics.
That's what DMs do. My players used Come and Get It dozens of times in our 4E games and I always managed to make it make sense within the fiction. It's what I'm there for, not for rolling dice for monsters.


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Lucid Blue wrote:

So I'm floating in the negative energy void. And the party is starving. But my ranger KNOWS... that the secret recipe of KFC chicken isn't REALLY a secret. It was stolen by the nightshade many years ago. So before the party starves to death, I float over to the secret KFC vault, and pilfer enough crispy chicken to sustain us for another day.

Is this an acceptable explanation? If not, why not? Does the explanation of a math block REALLY need to match the fiction of the world? Who's to say that I CAN'T find the secret KFC stash in the void?

If the in world explanation DOES matter... Shouldn't we just avoid the dissociated mechanics in the first place?

KFC would violate genre constraints, but other than that, sure, why not?

Granted, a Survival check on the Negative Material Plane should probably be Very Hard, like in the DC50 range, and I wouldn't allow it all unless you had Legendary Survival proficiency. But that's about challenge setting, not "dissociated" mechanics.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Lucid Blue wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Since the expert level swordsmith likely has the Specialty crafting feat for smithing, no, they'll still be better.

Only at a basic level. The expert swordsmith CANNOT forge a master level katana. But the master basketweaver CAN.

"Step aside Hattori Hanzo. Dorothy here is going to show you how to make a REAL samurai weapon!"

Oh, we're talking about master level swords now? We weren't before.

But yes. Dorothy, one of the best crafters in the region with years of experience under her belt, and who also happens to know how to make master level katanas, can make one. Hanzo, who while no longer a journeyman has probably not been in the game long, but has been crafting swords this whole time, just doesn't have the experience to make a master level sword yet. He might not ever. The swords he can make, he can make better than Dorothy could (his experience and training aren't useless), but there are tasks he can't do yet.


Visanideth wrote:
Your example doesn't work because in the "floating in the energy void" case the character wouldn't be allowed the check to look for food, since he's floating in the void.

Yes it does. That's exactly what it does. I can search for food in any plane of existence. Even planes that don't contain food.


Lucid Blue wrote:


So, if I bring the formula for a katana to my local master basketweaver... She should be able to forge that katana better than any expert level swordsmith?

If you're making the argument that Craft should have more specificity than it currently does, much like Lore, I would accept that as a reasonable complaint.


AnimatedPaper wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Since the expert level swordsmith likely has the Specialty crafting feat for smithing, no, they'll still be better.

Only at a basic level. The expert swordsmith CANNOT forge a master level katana. But the master basketweaver CAN.

"Step aside Hattori Hanzo. Dorothy here is going to show you how to make a REAL samurai weapon!"

Oh, we're talking about master level swords now? We weren't before.

But yes. Dorothy, one of the best crafters in the region with years of experience under her belt, and who also happens to know how to make master level katanas, can make one. Hanzo, who while no longer a journeyman has probably not been in the game long, but has been crafting swords this whole time, just doesn't have the experience to make a master level sword yet. He might not ever. The swords he can make, he can make better than Dorothy could (his experience and training aren't useless), but there are tasks he can't do yet.

Except that Dorothy has never made a sword in her life. Dorothy has only ever made baskets. Hattori has made swords for 30 years. Doesn't matter. Dorothy can make the master level katana. First time out. Hattori can't even try.


Renchard wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:


Huh. Different philosophies I guess. So would you be opposed to just letting players erase any damage after each combat? Or assuming that they always have enough food and water, even in locales that don't have food and water?

If not, is the objection purely math/balance related rather than in-world-fiction related?

Maybe I'm the odd duck here...

It's always immediately obvious who hasn't played Dungeon World, or Blades in the Dark, or any other narrative RPG.

Or played them and found them not to their liking.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
Renchard wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:


Huh. Different philosophies I guess. So would you be opposed to just letting players erase any damage after each combat? Or assuming that they always have enough food and water, even in locales that don't have food and water?

If not, is the objection purely math/balance related rather than in-world-fiction related?

Maybe I'm the odd duck here...

It's always immediately obvious who hasn't played Dungeon World, or Blades in the Dark, or any other narrative RPG.
Or played them and found them not to their liking.

Or realized that the whole point of a "narrative" RPG is to make the mechanics of the game "fit the narrative." Thus reinforcing my entire point for this thread.


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Renchard wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:


Huh. Different philosophies I guess. So would you be opposed to just letting players erase any damage after each combat? Or assuming that they always have enough food and water, even in locales that don't have food and water?

If not, is the objection purely math/balance related rather than in-world-fiction related?

Maybe I'm the odd duck here...

It's always immediately obvious who hasn't played Dungeon World, or Blades in the Dark, or any other narrative RPG.
Or played them and found them not to their liking.

If that was the case, the OP would be about the recognition of the presence of narrative mechanics and an argument that it's not the aesthetic they think the game should strive towards.

Instead, we got "it's not realistic!" pearl clutching and references to hoary old diatribes like the Alexandrian's.


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Lucid Blue wrote:
Visanideth wrote:
Your example doesn't work because in the "floating in the energy void" case the character wouldn't be allowed the check to look for food, since he's floating in the void.
Yes it does. That's exactly what it does. I can search for food in any plane of existence. Even planes that don't contain food.

You still need to be able to perform the action of looking for food, which floating in the void precludes.

It's like wanting to hold a sword without having hands. The rules never exclude the use of common sense.


Visanideth wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:
Visanideth wrote:
Your example doesn't work because in the "floating in the energy void" case the character wouldn't be allowed the check to look for food, since he's floating in the void.
Yes it does. That's exactly what it does. I can search for food in any plane of existence. Even planes that don't contain food.

You still need to be able to perform the action of looking for food, which floating in the void precludes.

It's like wanting to hold a sword without having hands. The rules never exclude the use of common sense.

And I would agree with you. Except that's not what's in the book. The book is explicit. A master level Nature skill with Planar Survival "can forage for food even if the plane lacks food that could normally sustain you."

The food isn't there. By fiat. But I can MAKE it be there, simply by searching.


Visanideth wrote:

I think the issues with the "dissociated mechanics" rethoric immediately shown when the author begins discussing how pretending the character got lucky/made a special effort to achieve something dissociates the act from fiction and having "magnetic gloves" or "invocations to the god of football" would be an improvement. Literally.

I still think the entire crux of the matter isn't the dissociation of the mechanics but the problem with player agency, ie the player shouldn't be able to influence any event that doesn't depend on his character's choices (and even then in a very limited way).

The issue is far more extensive than this. You can't act like this topic addresses everything. For example, the issue of failing sometimes so that awesome feels awesome when it happens is part of the issue but not tied to player agency.

But there is a very real issue with player agency.
My personal value for RPGs is strongly tied to *being* a character and rules that allow the player to ignore the constraints of what their character could personally do destroys the value of the experience.

I don't have the slightest dispute with people who want more player agency. I call that collective authorship. And it is cool.

I won't play a game built that way because it isn't fun for me.

I also do not know of any game that is built that way and moves the needle with regard to market share. So if you care in the least about market share as part of the conversation, then you should think carefully about how this point fits.


Lucid Blue wrote:
Visanideth wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:
Visanideth wrote:
Your example doesn't work because in the "floating in the energy void" case the character wouldn't be allowed the check to look for food, since he's floating in the void.
Yes it does. That's exactly what it does. I can search for food in any plane of existence. Even planes that don't contain food.

You still need to be able to perform the action of looking for food, which floating in the void precludes.

It's like wanting to hold a sword without having hands. The rules never exclude the use of common sense.

And I would agree with you. Except that's not what's in the book. The book is explicit. A master level Nature skill with Planar Survival "can forage for food even if the plane lacks food that could normally sustain you."

The food isn't there. By fiat. But I can MAKE it be there, simply by searching.

Well yes. But that's a different thing than your example.

The problem with your example isn't that there's no food, it's that it's impossible to look for food (so the check doesn't happen and the ability can't trigger).

In a less doctored situation you have plenty of solutions. The guy knows how to track shadow giants and steal some of their captured creatures to use as food. On Carceri, they know where to look for shallow prisons that may contain edible creatures.
On the elemental plane of Fire, they spot a trade route to the City of Brass and trade with Djinn for food or steal from their secret caches.


Visanideth wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:
Visanideth wrote:
Your example doesn't work because in the "floating in the energy void" case the character wouldn't be allowed the check to look for food, since he's floating in the void.
Yes it does. That's exactly what it does. I can search for food in any plane of existence. Even planes that don't contain food.

You still need to be able to perform the action of looking for food, which floating in the void precludes.

It's like wanting to hold a sword without having hands. The rules never exclude the use of common sense.

Apologies for the broken record here, I've been saying this for many years now.

PF1e doesn't come with training wheels. You can crash the system and it doesn't even try to stop you. If you WANT to not crash it, it will serve you well.

I've yet to see a game install training wheels which prevents the players from crashing it that doesn't deliver a lot less fun to those who simply choose not to crash it in the first place.


Visanideth wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:
The food isn't there. By fiat. But I can MAKE it be there, simply by searching.

Well yes. But that's a different thing than your example.

The problem with your example isn't that there's no food, it's that it's impossible to look for food (so the check doesn't happen and the ability can't trigger).

In a less doctored situation you have plenty of solutions. The guy knows how to track shadow giants and steal some of their captured creatures to use as food. On Carceri, they know where to look for shallow prisons that may contain edible creatures.
On the elemental plane of Fire, they spot a trade route to the City of Brass and trade with Djinn for food or steal from their secret caches.

It's exactly my example. The feat doesn't say "I can spot settlements and steal their food." It doesn't say "I know how to find local prisons that contain edible foods."

It says I can FORAGE. Not steal. Not barter. Not buy.

I can FORAGE for food, EVEN IN PLACES THAT HAVE NO FOOD.


Lucid Blue wrote:
Visanideth wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:
Visanideth wrote:
Your example doesn't work because in the "floating in the energy void" case the character wouldn't be allowed the check to look for food, since he's floating in the void.
Yes it does. That's exactly what it does. I can search for food in any plane of existence. Even planes that don't contain food.

You still need to be able to perform the action of looking for food, which floating in the void precludes.

It's like wanting to hold a sword without having hands. The rules never exclude the use of common sense.

And I would agree with you. Except that's not what's in the book. The book is explicit. A master level Nature skill with Planar Survival "can forage for food even if the plane lacks food that could normally sustain you."

The food isn't there. By fiat. But I can MAKE it be there, simply by searching.

I stated this earlier and apparently it was skimmed over. The line "plane lacks food that could NORMALLY sustain YOU" is very important. It's is NOT saying that if the plane lacks food you just find some but just that it normally lacks food that could sustain you in it's current form. Like something that would be poisonous or inedible because of it's consistency you can find a way to make it edible to you. Nowhere do I read "I can find food that isn't there"


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Lucid Blue wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Since the expert level swordsmith likely has the Specialty crafting feat for smithing, no, they'll still be better.

Only at a basic level. The expert swordsmith CANNOT forge a master level katana. But the master basketweaver CAN.

"Step aside Hattori Hanzo. Dorothy here is going to show you how to make a REAL samurai weapon!"

Oh, we're talking about master level swords now? We weren't before.

But yes. Dorothy, one of the best crafters in the region with years of experience under her belt, and who also happens to know how to make master level katanas, can make one. Hanzo, who while no longer a journeyman has probably not been in the game long, but has been crafting swords this whole time, just doesn't have the experience to make a master level sword yet. He might not ever. The swords he can make, he can make better than Dorothy could (his experience and training aren't useless), but there are tasks he can't do yet.

Except that Dorothy has never made a sword in her life. Dorothy has only ever made baskets. Hattori has made swords for 30 years. Doesn't matter. Dorothy can make the master level katana. First time out. Hattori can't even try.

Because Dorothy knows how to make that sword. Hattori does not. She's just that good.

If, as Renchard points out, you'd prefer craft be a bit more specific in how you apply your bonus (i.e., the speciality crafting feat was built into the skill, rather than on top of it), fine. But in PF2, the craft skill doesn't work like that, and you are getting mad at a cat because it isn't a dog. Outside of a skill feat, you don't get better at crafting specific things, you get better at crafting ALL of the things you know how to craft.

Nothing about any game's skill system makes a lick of sense, except for stuff like Skyrim or WoW where you get better through direct practice (edit: weird that I've seen people complain this is "videogamey," but video games have the space to let you level skills independent of your class level). I really think you're kind of overthinking this one.


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Lucid Blue wrote:

So I'm floating in the negative energy void. And the party is starving. But my ranger KNOWS... that the secret recipe of KFC chicken isn't REALLY a secret. It was stolen by the nightshade many years ago. So before the party starves to death, I float over to the secret KFC vault, and pilfer enough crispy chicken to sustain us for another day.

Is this an acceptable explanation? If not, why not? Does the explanation of a math block REALLY need to match the fiction of the world? Who's to say that I CAN'T find the secret KFC stash in the void?

If the in world explanation DOES matter... Shouldn't we just avoid the dissociated mechanics in the first place?

So fundamentally it depends on the tone of the game, if you're running a sillier game finding a bucket of KFC in the void is fine, depending on how farcical you want to be.

But given that we've established an appropriate tone, the expectation is that players will understand this and want to contribute positively to it. Anything they offer that moves the game along and improves the experience is accepted, full stop. If you're deliberately countermanding the feel of the story that everybody else is working towards, then you're being a dick and should stop that.

A basic problem with "Floating in the void" scenarios is that they are uninteresting, since by definition there is nothing to interact with, so we can just fast forward to whatever it is that our heroes encounter after having floated in the void for a while, and perhaps we can find supplies there. I mean, if I'm sending my players to the Negative Energy Plane it's presumably to encounter something interesting there, not just to kill them. So perhaps there is food to be found in Xal Karanith or something.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, if I'm sending my players to the Negative Energy Plane it's presumably to encounter something interesting there, not just to kill them.

That one word caused me to laugh, because I mean, "since you're there anyways, roll to see if you explode."


Visanideth wrote:
Fabius Maximus wrote:

A couple of questions: If hit points are meant to be abstract, why are they defined in the playtest as "Hit points represent the amount of punishment a creature can take before it falls unconscious and begins dying"? And why does it say that "damage decreases Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis and healing restores Hit Points at the same rate"?

The definition is more vague in 3.5 and PF1 (both include the same line of turning blows into less serious ones), but it is pretty clear that hit points are meant to represent health in all three systems, not some abstract concept.

Thus we are meant to believe that as mr wizard becomes more proficient with spells and formulas his skin also thickens, his organs rearrange, he develops a new anathomy and becomes capable to survive being pierced by weapons over and over?

When a giant hits your fighter for 31 damages and the fighter had 23 hit points left, you visualize the giant hitting the guy with a 1500 lb sword and the fighter getting slashed and proceeding not to care about it?

Apparently, that's what we're meant to believe, yes. I would have kept the line from PF1 about turning blows into less serious ones, because it makes more sense in this context.

By definition, in these three systems, when characters gets hit, they get hit. No being exhausted by barely dodging or some such thing.

(Also, the fighter would be at negative hit points and close to death in your second example. I would imagine him bleeding out on the ground.)


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
So perhaps there is food to be found in Xal Karanith or something.

How can your players possibly enjoy the travel to Xal Karanith and the encounters they'll have within when the thought that the Ranger being able to forage food for them there is so dissociated from the fiction?

How are they supposed to be entertained by the tale of how he managed to boil and cook some disgusting, poisonous moss he took from the walls into something edible, when they know that fiction was born out of an impure, dissociated mechanic?

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