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


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Planar doesn't give you the in world approach. Only the outcome.

"You find food. Even where there was none." Or alternatively, "you make toxic something's nontoxic."

It doesn't say HOW. It doesn't say what you DID. You didn't have food. Poof. Now you do.

Fireball says HOW. It states the approach. It doesn't state the result. "You cause a magical explosion of fire."

It states what happens in the world. Not the outcome. If the outcome is "bad guys die." And you ash how? The answer was in the spell. You fried them with fire.

Planar doesn't. You got food. There's the outcome. You ask how? Well you have no idea. You have to make it up. What if there was no food? What if toxic means toxic? What it what if what if. The mechanics are dissociated from the world. Is it magical? perfect. Say so. Now we know it doesn't work in magic dead planes. Are you nonmagically purifying materials? Great. Do I need equipment for that? Seems like I should. Every other class does.

And for the millionth time. Planar Survival is NOT legendary!!! That's my entire f'ing argument!

If it's going to create an inexplicable dissociated result. Make it legendary!

That seems to be the entire definition. Gonzo + unexplained = legendary. And I'm perfectly perfectly fine with that convention.


Lucid Blue wrote:

Planar doesn't give you the in world approach. Only the outcome.

"You find food. Even where there was none." Or alternatively, "you make toxic something's nontoxic."

It doesn't say HOW. It doesn't say what you DID. You didn't have food. Poof. Now you do.

Fireball says HOW. It states the approach. It doesn't state the result. "You cause a magical explosion of fire."

It states what happens in the world. Not the outcome. If the outcome is "bad guys die." And you ash how? The answer was in the spell. You fried them with fire.

Planar doesn't. You got food. There's the outcome. You ask how? Well you have no idea. You have to make it up. What if there was no food? What if toxic means toxic? What it what if what if. The mechanics are dissociated from the world. Is it magical? perfect. Say so. Now we know it doesn't work in magic dead planes. Are you nonmagically purifying materials? Great. Do I need equipment for that? Seems like I should. Every other class does.

And for the millionth time. Planar Survival is NOT legendary!!! That's my entire f'ing argument!

If it's going to create an inexplicable dissociated result. Make it legendary!

That seems to be the entire definition. Gonzo + unexplained = legendary. And I'm perfectly perfectly fine with that convention.

Ok you seem to be confused about one thing which I now finally realize. The rules about how survival skill works won't be found each feat about survival. It will be found in the general rules, presumably in the how to play section. That's where the how is.


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Senkon wrote:
Ok you seem to be confused about one thing which I now finally realize. The rules about how survival skill works won't be found each feat about survival. It will be found in the general rules, presumably in the how to play section. That's where the how is.

OMG finally. THAT actually makes sense. You are absolutely right. "The HOW is there. Just not THERE." And the how IS there.

And you don't get to make crap up to auto-succeed. And you can't forage where there's nothing to forage. And you can't just *poof* make something alien and purely toxic, suddenly nontoxic. And it doesn't require legendary handwaiving. And it isn't magical.

You are absolutely right on Planar Survival. The HOW is there. It just isn't THERE.


Lucid Blue wrote:
Senkon wrote:
Ok you seem to be confused about one thing which I now finally realize. The rules about how survival skill works won't be found each feat about survival. It will be found in the general rules, presumably in the how to play section. That's where the how is.

OMG finally. THAT actually makes sense. You are absolutely right. "The HOW is there. Just not THERE." And the how IS there.

And you don't get to make crap up to auto-succeed. And you can't forage where there's nothing to forage. And you can't just *poof* make something alien and purely toxic, suddenly nontoxic. And it doesn't require legendary handwaiving. And it isn't magical.

You are absolutely right on Planar Survival. The HOW is there. It just isn't THERE.

Yeah I just realized we've been talking over each others head all this time lol. Like we thought we were on the same page with parlance but we weren't. Glad that got cleared up :D

Edit: changed the wording.


Senkon wrote:
Yeah I just realized we've been talking over each others head all this time lol. Like we thought we were on the same page with parlance but we weren't. Glad that got cleared up :D

Yes!! So building upon that success, that's all I'm saying about the other ones too. Include the approach. And make sure the approach makes sense in fiction. And if the approach doesn't make sense, make it legendary. (Or make it magic, which is just the fixall "because". But that's okay because "magic" has already been balanced into the system.)

Low level medics, healing people without magic, without tools(!), without limit, in two seconds flat(!!), doesn't make sense.

So require tools. Make it take a believable length of time. Make it get faster as you get better, I don't care. Let legendary bandage your wounds in two seconds. Let the first level guy take a minute. As-is, it feels like a math block to fix a balance problem. (We need nonmagical low level healing.) Fine. Come up with an in fiction explanation that works.

Same with crafting. Same with a few other odd spots. It's just a few odd spots that need grounding. And they're easy to ground. So let's just ground them in the playtest! (It's these very things that end up errata'd anyway!)


Lucid Blue wrote:
Senkon wrote:
Yeah I just realized we've been talking over each others head all this time lol. Like we thought we were on the same page with parlance but we weren't. Glad that got cleared up :D

Yes!! So building upon that success, that's all I'm saying about the other ones too. Include the approach. And make sure the approach makes sense in fiction. And if the approach doesn't make sense (without the fixall "because magic", make it legendary.

Low level medics, healing people without magic, without tools(!), without limit, in two seconds flat(!!), doesn't make sense.

So require tools. Make it take a believable length of time. Make it get faster as you get better, I don't care. Let legendary bandage your wounds in two seconds. Let the first level guy take a minute. As-is, it feels like a math block to fix a balance problem. (We need nonmagical low level healing. Fine. Come up with an in fiction explanation that works.)

Same with crafting. Same with a few other odd spots. It's just a few odd spots that need grounding. And they're easy to ground. So let's just ground them in the playtest! (It's these very things that end up errata'd anyway!)

Yeah I agree. Don't even really want too much healing in the game but maybe it's fine. I'll have to how it gets tested by my group next week.


After reading all the related forage entries in the rule book, I can clearly say that Planar Survival makes no sense as its allowing something you were already allowed to do.

Survival wrote:

You can perform the following uses of Survival even if you are untrained in the skill.

Survive in the Wild: ... The GM determines the DC based on the nature of the wilderness you are trying to survive in. More exotic locales may require you to have a minimum proficiency rank to use this downtime-activity....
Planar Survivor wrote:
You can attempt to Survive in the Wild on different planes, even those without the resources or natural phenomena you normally need.

At the same time it sounds like the upgrade for the Forager feat without the auto success.

Forager wrote:
While Surviving in the Wilderness during downtime, you can always fnd enough food and water to provide yourself a subsistence living (provided you aren’t in an area that’s completely lacking in appropriate resources)...

To me this means that the general skill use is lacking flavor as it fails to mention that it only works in the material plane. While the feat fails to note that attempting the skill =/= you will find food as the GM can just say nope the chances of finding food in X plane are almost 0 so its DC [insert max reachable DC here].

Regarding Battle Medic, the problem may be context. With first aid its given the context of using a medic kit to stabilize, how its done is up to the player/GM but generally people will thing bandages and stiches. Battle Cleric is given the context of quick healing, but they used patch up which has the connotation of being a super rush job done with whatever is available; however it heals more (relatively) then using first aid (which uses a med kit). In other words I think they need to fix the terminology used even if they don't change the rest of the text.


Lucid Blue wrote:

No. I'm too busy reading the actual posts in this thread.

For the 12th time, planar survival is NOT lengendary.

And for the 20th time: just because you can fix the books omition by inventing your own explanation doesn't mean the omition didn't happen.

"I can solve the problem myself, therefore the problem doesn't exist" is not a valid solution to anyone but you.

A brand new gm doesn't have that luxury.

None of those things matter, at all. If a feat says you get to do X, then you get to do X. End of story. Saying it doesn't let you do X because of some arbitrary GM feelings is houseruling, which is basically what you're doing when you say the feat doesn't let you do X "because it betrays all sensible logic". Empty Quiver Style letting players use Rapid Shot, Deadly Aim, Manyshot, and numerous other ranged feats when using their bow as a melee weapon is a prime example of this being the case. It makes no logical sense for a character to be able to use these feats with melee attacks, but Empty Quiver Style explicitly lets me do that; we going to say it doesn't now just because it "makes no sense"?

Similarly, a lot of things are omitted on purpose, so that the players (GM included) can decide how to solve their issues at their table. Not to mention that inputting examples would give reason for GMs like you to disallow something that the feat probably shouldn't give grounds for GMs to dismiss, such as what you're doing now. It's happened with numerous feats in PF1, and quite frankly it's lead to some of the worst rulings in PF1's history; omittance isn't always a bad thing, and in a lot of cases it's for the better. I don't see it being a bad thing here.

If a GM can't think up of a solution to suit his players' needs, then I'm sure those players are going to be in search of a different GM whom they can better enjoy their gaming experience with. I'm of the opinion that a GM can and should be able to come up with stuff for the good of the table and all of those involved, even if it's not something I or someone else would come up with. It doesn't matter what he does come up with, what matters is that he does come up with something that the players like.

And seriously, you're going to call my post illegitimate just because I disagree with your premise?


I haven't gotten through all five pages of comment yet, but I for one want more things like planar survival--a unique, supernatural thing that characters can do that fits perfectly in a fantasy world or within myth or legend. a Nice Thing that you dont have to have 80 years in wizard school to pull off, because the whole g~+&+!n universe you occupy is magic and you are Just That F&*%*$* Good.


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.

Exactly. For me, the more "dissociated" the better. Leave the narrative reasoning up to the game master, and the players. I actually am more bothered by spells, abilities, etc, that have very strict narrative options, and tend to ignore them so that my characters can come up with their own unique versions of how their spells and abilities manifest. Give me all the dissociated mechanics you got, and I'm eager to turn them into a cool narrative.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lucid Blue wrote:
Senkon wrote:
Yeah I just realized we've been talking over each others head all this time lol. Like we thought we were on the same page with parlance but we weren't. Glad that got cleared up :D

Yes!! So building upon that success, that's all I'm saying about the other ones too. Include the approach. And make sure the approach makes sense in fiction. And if the approach doesn't make sense, make it legendary. (Or make it magic, which is just the fixall "because". But that's okay because "magic" has already been balanced into the system.)

Low level medics, healing people without magic, without tools(!), without limit, in two seconds flat(!!), doesn't make sense.

So require tools. Make it take a believable length of time. Make it get faster as you get better, I don't care. Let legendary bandage your wounds in two seconds. Let the first level guy take a minute. As-is, it feels like a math block to fix a balance problem. (We need nonmagical low level healing.) Fine. Come up with an in fiction explanation that works.

Same with crafting. Same with a few other odd spots. It's just a few odd spots that need grounding. And they're easy to ground. So let's just ground them in the playtest! (It's these very things that end up errata'd anyway!)

I am glad you noticed this. One word of caution, dont confuse dis associative with unrealistic. They are not the same thing. The action needs to make sense in the game world. Not in the real world. In the game world, until i get to 0HP I havent really taken anything that would in the real world be considered a wound. I have been worn down. The reason I say this is because regardless of toughness if hit point loss actually meant stab wounds, you would not be unaffected until the final blow. The only in universe actual wound is the one that brings you to 0. Its in that context where we should consider what combat medic actually means. That said, I would agree it should require access to healers tools.


I wonder if the "problem" with disassociated mechanics would be solved if it was simply explicitly stated in the rules that the world is inherently supernatural and that past an arbitrary level of skill, actions become supernatural in nature that allows some actions to accomplish inexplicable feats that couldn't be explained by any rationale we in the real world would be able to come up with.
Then follow up with an explanation that supernatural is not the same thing as magic to stop the dumb "but how do they do it in an anti-magic field?". It's because anti-magic field stops spellcasting, not supernatural activity in general that's why a giant doesn't instantly collapse while inside one.

Someone with the Planar Survival has an uncanny knack for finding food where otherwise there would be thought to have been none at all. They aren't rewriting reality, it's not magic. It's just an unnerving coincidence that keeps repeating itself. This even gives the DM freedom to explore why it's happening or introduce consequences.


Detros wrote:

I wonder if the "problem" with disassociated mechanics would be solved if it was simply explicitly stated in the rules that the world is inherently supernatural and that past an arbitrary level of skill, actions become supernatural in nature that allows some actions to accomplish inexplicable feats that couldn't be explained by any rationale we in the real world would be able to come up with.

Then follow up with an explanation that supernatural is not the same thing as magic to stop the dumb "but how do they do it in an anti-magic field?". It's because anti-magic field stops spellcasting, not supernatural activity in general that's why a giant doesn't instantly collapse while inside one.

Someone with the Planar Survival has an uncanny knack for finding food where otherwise there would be thought to have been none at all. They aren't rewriting reality, it's not magic. It's just an unnerving coincidence that keeps repeating itself. This even gives the DM freedom to explore why it's happening or introduce consequences.

I'd love something like that as well, to dissuade people from calling for nerfs to already bad/limited things because they're "unrealistic" by earth standards, rather than bog-standard for MAGICWORLD

clarification: i mean an actual notice along the lines of "after level 6 or so, everyone starts doing stuff ripped straight out of mythology as they pass the boundaries of base mortality"


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kpulv 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.
Exactly. For me, the more "dissociated" the better. Leave the narrative reasoning up to the game master, and the players. I actually am more bothered by spells, abilities, etc, that have very strict narrative options, and tend to ignore them so that my characters can come up with their own unique versions of how their spells and abilities manifest. Give me all the dissociated mechanics you got, and I'm eager to turn them into a cool narrative.

Dissociated doesn't mean "not strictly nailed down fluff wise".

Paraphrasing and summarizing from the person who coined the term, dissociated mechanics are mechanics that exist within the game system, but do not plausibly reflect any aspect of the reality in which the player characters inhabit. This matters because when you as the player are utilizing dissociated mechanics, you are no longer playing an RPG*. You cannot be playing out the role of a fictional character while using things which in no no way whatsoever relate to that fictional character or the world in which they inhabit. Pretty much by definition. If you play RPGs primarily because you like playing RPGs over other things you could be doing with your spare time, dissociated mechanics literally stop you from doing the things you showed up to the game session to do, and instead play some other thing. Since RPGs tend to be played by people who (shock and horror) want to play RPGs and don't appreciate being forced to do things they didn't sign up for, dissociated mechanics are a bit of a problem.

Now, the big question is this - are Planar Survival and similar mechanics dissociated. The answer is...it depends. Whether or not a mechanic is dissociated depends on if it reflects something in universe. If the mechanic is a feat that grants a mundane (albeit impressive) ability to a mundane being, the mechanic is dissociated if the ability doesn't line up with what mundane beings can accomplish in the fictional universe. This of course begs the question...

What can a mundane being accomplish in Pathfinder without magic?

Amazing how everything in Pathfinder circles back to the C/M disparity, isn't it?

Lets make two different assumptions about the capabilities of a human or similar being, and see how this plays out.

First off, lets assume that humans are no more capable than humans in the real world, and everything is basically boring old reality + magic. Harry Potter in medieval Europe, essentially. In that case, being able to consistently find edible food lying around to sustain a group of people in a variety of wildly differing alien hellscapes that are utterly divorced from anything present in the setting's material realm on a fundamental level is pushing credulity pretty damn hard. Yeah, not happening most of the time. Thus, Planar Survival is dissociated.

Second, lets assume that magic isn't some distinct force of reality, and instead assume that what is normally called magic is simply an overt expression of something that is everywhere and part of everything all the time in the same way poison gas and explosive metals are a part of table salt, and effects of similar magnitude can be coaxed out of the environment by those with the skill and knowledge to do so in far more subtle ways than a ponce in a pointy hat waving their hands around. This is pretty standard for over the top high fantasy settings, but even settings like Lord of the Rings work like this - to the elves, that rope that the elves gave the hobbits/the hobbits took from the bottom of a boat** wasn't amazing mystical enchanted rope that responds to the will of the bearer. It was just some rope they have lying about for doing rope things with whenever the elves needed rope. But to the less knowledgeable hobbits, it was magic rope, because elves are damn good at making rope. Like, beyond their measly mortal comprehension good. In this case, I could totally see someone who practically breathes magic by the standards of a peasant putting some liquid death and essence of madness into a pan and frying up a pretty good sauteed literally-pure-evil burger or ten for the party. That is actually pretty reasonable as far as explanations go. Thus, Planar Survival is not dissociated.

Since, unless I missed something, exactly what constitutes the limits of the mundane is not explicitly established in the playtest rules or the Golarion setting, whether or not you consider Planar Survival dissociated depends on how magical you let your mundane be. Or in other terms, Planar Survival is dissociated if you hate Fighters***.

*The type of game you are playing instead may or may not also be one you enjoy. You may very well enjoy storyteller games or small squad tactics games with nonsensical restrictions put in for the sake of balance, but those are still not RPGs even if they are slotted piecemeal into an RPG system.

**book vs movie

***it's a joke don't hate me.


Lucid Blue wrote:


"eg. A DC10 tree is a DC10 tree. It doesn't get harder to climb as the PC's gain levels."

This is true of 4E D&D as well. Tree DCs did not change as PCs leveled. Just wanted to point that out. Carry on. :)


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mbeacom wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:


"eg. A DC10 tree is a DC10 tree. It doesn't get harder to climb as the PC's gain levels."

This is true of 4E D&D as well. Tree DCs did not change as PCs leveled. Just wanted to point that out. Carry on. :)

Just at high levels the tree would be made of adamantine, covered in razors, and on fire.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
mbeacom wrote:
Lucid Blue wrote:


"eg. A DC10 tree is a DC10 tree. It doesn't get harder to climb as the PC's gain levels."

This is true of 4E D&D as well. Tree DCs did not change as PCs leveled. Just wanted to point that out. Carry on. :)
Just at high levels the tree would be made of adamantine, covered in razors, and on fire.

HA! Nice. I mean, I guess? But, in actual play, higher level characters just wouldn't be climbing trees anymore. Perhaps they're scaling a stalagmite in a volcanic cavern covered in burning greaselichen?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I agree with you on some of the wording on Planar Survival.
But I think the game has needed better first aid rules for a while. If having a cleric is the only way to get by, then I don't see how any real-life adventures on planet Earth ever happened.
It's 1d10 plus wisdom. That doesn't even heal a fighter to full HP. And I'm sure it provokes AoO from creatures that get those.
It doesn't sound like it breaks the game, to me.

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