I don't undertand exploration mode


Running the Game


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm a GM with some experience in PFI and I will be running the playtest this saturday so I'm doing my preparations. I'm very excited about the exprience and my intention is to aply the rules more raw than ever because that's the point of a playtest, right?

My main concern is with the exploration tactics. I can see how they are usefull when travelling across huge fields or nigh forests, but it seems a bit akward in a dungeon. I understand that is kind of lame when everybody rolls knowledge history because, you know, the more people throwing dice the more 20's... and exploration tactics are a solution to that abuse, but I'm really used to every room is different, you react to what you see.

If you are travelling across the wildlands your sight is very the same for hours, so exploration tactics fits perfectly... but in a dungeon every room should have something special. They are aplying different exploration tactics every room? Exploration tactics are then meant to represent those 10 minutes you expend searching for clues or trying to remember which god was represented with an hourglass?

I apreciatte a lot your work and keep on :)


You stay in exploration mode while moving through the dungeon, looking for hazards or enemies or interesting features. Up till (typically) a fight breaks out and you call for initiative. When the encounter is resolved, (typically the opponents are defeated) you return to exploration mode.
In exploration mode the PCs might be moving cautiously down a corridor, or looking around for hazards or signs of enemies, or working out how to open a door, or searching through a chest, or keeping a look out, ...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm not really sure that Exploration Mode should really change between what was normally done in PF1 and PF2 except for determining what initiative bonuses you apply for when Encounter Mode begins.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Doing it in a structured manner is a good idea.

It doesn't tip the GMs hand that combat or something important is about to happen if they ask everyone what they are doing. Players will magically be in tactically useful positions with their weapons drawn if the GM asks everyone where they are, but they'll all be trying to roll dice to open treasure chests or find important clues when the GM isn't asking everyone where they are.

Having a system where players are routinely polled for the ONE thing they are focused on doing per block of exploration time would avoid tipping the GM's hand, and stop schrodinger's adventurer where they were on guard or deciphering ancient runes depending on what the GM says happens.


It also encourages role play. New players or players that aren’t interested in the role playing aspect are now asked, “what is your character doing as he moves from room a to b?” Maybe he will always say “I move cautiously with my shield up scanning for traps or enemies.” But that is a valid choice and does help build a character narrative.


I got a question about this exploration mode...

So I ask my players what they are doing and automatically ask for they to roll dice and use this result for all the exploration or I ask they to roll dice only when they get to something that could trigger their exploration mode?

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I've interpreted exploration mode thusly:


  • GM Describes environment and what's happening. Obvious interactables, anything noticeable vs PC Perception DC.
  • Players describe what they are doing in response to this new stimulus.
  • GM assigns exploration tactics based on choices players make in fiction. Asks for rolls related to these tactics or makes secret rolls where necessary.
  • GM Narrates results of checks.
  • Players describe what they do in response to results, trigger encounter or move on.
  • Rinse, repeat.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

At first glance, the tactics as written do seem unreasonably restrictive and exclusive. Like, if I'm sneaking can't I Search? If I'm shopping can't I Look Out?

But they're not actually that bad. You can, AFAICT, do other things (notably looking and rolling Perception), but you're moving at half speed. I'd also impose a Perception penalty for tactics like Concentrate on a Spell or Detect Magic.

The reason it reads misleadingly is the badly written "Wander" tactic, which implies that the PC just wanders aimlessly about with his hands in his pockets, whistling or chewing gum and listening to Led Zeppelin on his iPhone. When in fact it's the default tactic for carefully exploring a dungeon full of traps and horrible monsters.


N-Sphere wrote:

Doing it in a structured manner is a good idea.

It doesn't tip the GMs hand that combat or something important is about to happen if they ask everyone what they are doing. Players will magically be in tactically useful positions with their weapons drawn if the GM asks everyone where they are, but they'll all be trying to roll dice to open treasure chests or find important clues when the GM isn't asking everyone where they are.

Having a system where players are routinely polled for the ONE thing they are focused on doing per block of exploration time would avoid tipping the GM's hand, and stop schrodinger's adventurer where they were on guard or deciphering ancient runes depending on what the GM says happens.

I don't see how "What are you doing" tips the hand that something is going to happen.

Other than the GM is waiting for you to do something so something, anything, can happen.

Really this seems like just a "This is how you GM" foolproofing. Good for new Gms, tool to be used as needed for others.

This gets dropped for me after playtest. Though friend of mine has been looking to do a "Darkest Dungeon" game using Pathfinder. Might show him this to give him an idea or two.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Everyone who GMs has been using downtime, exploration and encounter modes all along. PF2 just gives it a bit more formality/definition.


What concerns me about the Exploration mode stuff (won't have a chance to test it out until later this week) is that certain actions cause Fatigue which can only be recovered with the nightly 8hr sleep. Seems like making the wrong choice in Exploration mode will leave characters out of luck when Encounter mode hits.


I would really love some clarification regarding the combination of tactics. As written, the are uselessly restrictive. If I can combine them at will, they have no effect on the game, as every sane player will simply stack all of the tactics. Plus inventing an excuse to use his highest skill for initiative.
To quote the rulebook, p.331 "You can allow individual players to make a case that they should use a different skill than perception." This is followed by the example of Merisiel climbing up a chandelier mid conversation with Kobolds in order to use acrobatics for initiative.

The fatiguing tactics put a new useless layer of bookkeeping on the DM. Am I really going to measure the distance travelled in the dungeon in order to know when the 10 minutes of concentrating are up? This just enforces more 15 minutes adventuring days.

Plus, there needs to be a different tactic than hustling. Forced marches are a thing, and needed for countdown/race scenarios. As is, a forced marches means 10 minutes of running, followed by 8 hours wandering along blind and defenseless. That is stupid.

Lantern Lodge

Chief Cook and Bottlewasher wrote:

You stay in exploration mode while moving through the dungeon, looking for hazards or enemies or interesting features. Up till (typically) a fight breaks out and you call for initiative. When the encounter is resolved, (typically the opponents are defeated) you return to exploration mode.

In exploration mode the PCs might be moving cautiously down a corridor, or looking around for hazards or signs of enemies, or working out how to open a door, or searching through a chest, or keeping a look out, ...

I agree - I don't understand Exploration Mode. I have now run Rose Street Revenge and played the first part of Doomsday Dawn. In neither did Exploration mode make any sense to myself or the other players. The whole party proceeded through the dungeon parts cautiously so moving at half speed. So why couldn't all the PCs be both Defending (i.e. have their weapons out and expect to be attacked), and Searching (looking for hidden doors) and Investigating (thinking about the environment) and Sneaking (trying to be silent) all at the same time? When Sneaking I would expect people to be thinking of the environment and looking out for obstacles that might trip them up; When Searching I would be doing the same; and when Investigating I would be doing the same. I can see a difference between Covering Tracks and Detecting Magic, but I can't Detect Magic and Investigate at the same time and still look out for hazards???


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Based on posts here and elsewhere I think some people are reading way too much into exploration mode. It just codifies what should have been happening in the game already. Are there really groups out there with players that didn't tell their GMs what their characters are doing outside of combat? Searching the area, sneaking ahead to scout for danger, following tracks, etc.? If players do neglect to state their intentions, there is the wandering tactic as default.

It seems very intuitive to me.


The difference is that it now has very strict impact on how you start encounter mode. It shaves off actions and changes what roll to use for initiative. By doing this, it encourages strange behaviour (I will danglenif every protrusion on the ceiling to use acrobatics for initiative) and unintuitive discussions (as you were looking for traps on the door, you were unable to recognise the Osirioni glyph for Death written on it - that would have been recall knowledge)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't have a problem with exploration shaving off actions to start combat (assuming the concern is drawing weapons when a fight starts) as it can generally be assumed characters are not walking around with weapons drawn all the time unless they tell me they are doing so. If a character is searching while moving I assume they're using their hands as part of the search, rapping on walls to find hidden doors or compartments, etc. The important thing to remember is that such actions are likely shaved off for the opponents, too. Unless the enemy is expecting an immediate fight they shouldn't be in a room with weapons drawn staring at the door waiting for adventurers.

The chandelier example in the book is indeed silly and I would certainly look askance at any player that suggested they'd do that in the middle of a conversation. However, were the player to set up an ambush by being up on a chandelier to drop on unsuspecting foes as they enter the room I'd certainly be cool with that as it would be a fun and creative way to start a fight.

If one of my players was searching for traps and came across a glyph, I would tell them (unless it was hidden and their roll was too low). At that point, the player would very likely ask if they could recognize it, and I would ask them to make a skill check. If a player states they're searching it doesn't mean they search and only search until the next time combat starts.

Exploration mode is supposed to be fluid, and it would be a mistake for a GM to treat it otherwise.


Quote:
By doing this, it encourages strange behaviour (I will danglenif every protrusion on the ceiling to use acrobatics for initiative)

Not sure what this hyperbole is about. You're the GM....you can call BS on something like that pretty easily. (e.g. you're concentrating on your gymnastics routine such that you have a negative modifier to the initative roll, you're going to be fatigued after three rooms of that, etc etc...)


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Have you read the game mastering advise in the CRB? of 330, investigating. A cahracter might note that the walls of the dungeon are covered in Abyssal writing.
Only if someone has chosen to investigate the walls of the dungeon will he realise that there is writing. That used to be something mentioned in the generic description of a place.

Searching. The player gets a search roll, beats the DC office the trap but that just means he gets a hint of the trap. E.g., he or his allies need to roll again to actually find and identify the trap.

This is all way worse and restrictive than it was before.

Why am I annoyed by this? Because as written, it doesn't provide any benefit but rather leads to awkward discussion about what is meant by a characters description.

What do you do if a player says: I advance silently through the dungeon, weapon and shield at the ready, on the lookout for anything strange.
This sentence has 4 out of the 11 tactics covered, and basically all the relevant ones if you are not a casters or following tracks.

What added value do you get from differentiating between those tactics? Are you keen on letting people run into traps because they did not specify what they were looking for? Or to withhold clues? And if not, why choose any tactics at all?

As said, I want to like this system and want to test it, but I am not even sure of the design goal. If the tactics are not meant to be exclusive, why do they all have specific restrictions on movement.and why is there a legendary skill feat that makes one of them non-exclusive? Pg 168, legendary sneak. You have to be level 15 to search while sneaking.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

I'm having the same issues as DerNils and I also am trying really hard to like the idea of Exploration Mode but it just feels forced and mechanical in a dungeon setting.


Fumarole wrote:

Based on posts here and elsewhere I think some people are reading way too much into exploration mode. It just codifies what should have been happening in the game already. Are there really groups out there with players that didn't tell their GMs what their characters are doing outside of combat? Searching the area, sneaking ahead to scout for danger, following tracks, etc.? If players do neglect to state their intentions, there is the wandering tactic as default.

It seems very intuitive to me.

Which is why to me this seems like a "Foolproofing" for GMing.

Useful to new Gms to show them the actual step by step, how to do this. To Gms that have been doing this for quite some time, Um, okay. You can use it if you want. Seems a bit too strict to me.

I will however, say that I play online. Which allows players to control and move their tokens far faster than on a map on a table. So maybe this is a move to stop people from shifting their figures all the time.


MerlinCross wrote:
Fumarole wrote:

Based on posts here and elsewhere I think some people are reading way too much into exploration mode. It just codifies what should have been happening in the game already. Are there really groups out there with players that didn't tell their GMs what their characters are doing outside of combat? Searching the area, sneaking ahead to scout for danger, following tracks, etc.? If players do neglect to state their intentions, there is the wandering tactic as default.

It seems very intuitive to me.

Which is why to me this seems like a "Foolproofing" for GMing.

Useful to new Gms to show them the actual step by step, how to do this. To Gms that have been doing this for quite some time, Um, okay. You can use it if you want. Seems a bit too strict to me.

I will however, say that I play online. Which allows players to control and move their tokens far faster than on a map on a table. So maybe this is a move to stop people from shifting their figures all the time.

Dunno, the exploraiton rules seem more appropiate for a different style of play than roll20. They are mostly for abstracting the navigation of the dungeon in the old-school sense. But now with players controlling their tokens on the dungoen itself and knowing the exact positions of everyone and what objects they are near/interacting with, these rules seem inadequate. Players really like moving their tokens around! Dungeon crawling is just fundamentally different in roll20.

It does help to know who has their weapons drawn or is stealthing or is looking for hidden enemies, for example. But when the players enter a room they're just going to see all the stuff in it anyways.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
ChibiNyan wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Fumarole wrote:

Based on posts here and elsewhere I think some people are reading way too much into exploration mode. It just codifies what should have been happening in the game already. Are there really groups out there with players that didn't tell their GMs what their characters are doing outside of combat? Searching the area, sneaking ahead to scout for danger, following tracks, etc.? If players do neglect to state their intentions, there is the wandering tactic as default.

It seems very intuitive to me.

Which is why to me this seems like a "Foolproofing" for GMing.

Useful to new Gms to show them the actual step by step, how to do this. To Gms that have been doing this for quite some time, Um, okay. You can use it if you want. Seems a bit too strict to me.

I will however, say that I play online. Which allows players to control and move their tokens far faster than on a map on a table. So maybe this is a move to stop people from shifting their figures all the time.

Dunno, the exploraiton rules seem more appropiate for a different style of play than roll20. They are mostly for abstracting the navigation of the dungeon in the old-school sense. But now with players controlling their tokens on the dungoen itself and knowing the exact positions of everyone and what objects they are near/interacting with, these rules seem inadequate. Players really like moving their tokens around! Dungeon crawling is just fundamentally different in roll20.

It does help to know who has their weapons drawn or is stealthing or is looking for hidden enemies, for example. But when the players enter a room they're just going to see all the stuff in it anyways.

Which is why I pointed that out. As someone who has had most his play on roll20 or some sort of tabletop app, this strikes me as odd.

But i look back to the times I played tabletop in person and still think..., Okay? This is something that needed to be codified?

Useful to new Gms. Expereinced GMs can use it as much or as little as they want. It just strikes me as odd to have this here.

It seems too strict and, dare I say, "Old School" to have players outright say "I am doing X action" along with not only saying what formation they are walking in but defining it too.

I dunno. Sounds weird, feels off. But at the same time I find it hard to put into words better so I don't come off as an old man ranting at clouds or something.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

To be honest, I find the chapter and examples more harmful for new players than for veterans. I will have no problem ignoring exploration mode if it makes it's way into the actual CRB in this form. But imagine you never played an RPG before.
The Playing the Game and the Gamemastering chapter state outright that this is the normal way of playing. These are not in any way optional rules.


Scythia wrote:
What concerns me about the Exploration mode stuff (won't have a chance to test it out until later this week) is that certain actions cause Fatigue which can only be recovered with the nightly 8hr sleep. Seems like making the wrong choice in Exploration mode will leave characters out of luck when Encounter mode hits.

Reading this in Exploration Tactics says take a significant break to recover. Which implies to me 10 or 15 minutes or so. The condition p. 322 says 8 hours, which, I agree seems unreasonable, and probably not adjusted for fatigue in the changed Tactics. I don't think it's intended.


Chief Cook and Bottlewasher wrote:
Scythia wrote:
What concerns me about the Exploration mode stuff (won't have a chance to test it out until later this week) is that certain actions cause Fatigue which can only be recovered with the nightly 8hr sleep. Seems like making the wrong choice in Exploration mode will leave characters out of luck when Encounter mode hits.
Reading this in Exploration Tactics says take a significant break to recover. Which implies to me 10 or 15 minutes or so. The condition p. 322 says 8 hours, which, I agree seems unreasonable, and probably not adjusted for fatigue in the changed Tactics. I don't think it's intended.

That would be good, but the only kind of break that is given a defined length is the 8 hour rest, which is pretty significant.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

After reviewing the Exploration rules more in depth for "In Pale Mountain's Shadow," I'm pretty confused, too.

The PCs will have to cover a long distance in a short amount of time, so they might want to Hustle to get there faster. How does this work in relation to overland travel?

1. As Scythia pointed out, Hustling is Fatiguing, an exploration "round" is 10 minutes, and fatiguing actions give characters the Fatigued condition after 10 minutes. By the strictest reading of the rules, this would mean the party can Hustle for 10 minutes, then is Fatigued and can only Wander for the rest of the day until they stop for their 8 hour rest period. This wouldn't make much sense.

2. As Chief Cook and Bottlewasher pointed out, there's a section that mentions switching exploration tactics to rest/avoid fatigue. I'd interpret this as Hustling for 10 minutes, Wandering for 10 minutes, and then alternating between the two for the entire day. This would be a net 1.5x travel speed, and the party would probably be Fatigued for any encounter or other interruption in travel. The party would recover from the Fatigue after resting for the night. This makes some sense, but it isn't clearly supported by the rules.

3. In the GM's Exploration section, the rulebook says "You can speed up or slow down how quickly things are happening as needed. If it’s important to know exactly how much time is passing, you can usually estimate time spent in exploration mode to within 10 minutes." This makes me think it's possible for the GM to redefine the length of an exploration round to, for example, 1 day. If the GM defines an exploration round as 1 day, can the party Hustle for the entire duration, therefore moving at 2x speed? This also isn't clearly supported by the rules, but it's what I would do if the exploration rules were a bit less rigid.


I may be drifting the intent of the Exploration Mode rules, but my assumption is that a tactic defines what the character is doing by default. If they walk into a room, they start interacting with the environment directly, and their exploration tactic soon becomes irrelevant while they get more specific about their activities. However, once they leave and start moving through less interactive areas (especially if they backtrack), they are assumed to resume the previous tactic.

WRT Fatiguing tactics:

PF2e core p.329 wrote:
Sometimes the group might stop a fatiguing tactic before getting fatigued, then resume the fatiguing tactic. You can reset the 10-minute timer for fatigue’s onset if the group spent a reasonable amount of time on less strenuous activities. As a rule of thumb, the characters should spend about as much time on non-fatiguing tactics as they did on the fatiguing tactic for the timer to reset.

So, that means that a character could alternate anything less than 10 minutes (say 5 minutes) of a fatiguing tactic with an equal amount of time of of a non-fatiguing one and have a 50% chance of being using the fatiguing one at any given time. Whether this is behaviour the designers want to encourage, or is realistic, isn't clear to me.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
RobRendell wrote:

WRT Fatiguing tactics:

PF2e core p.329 wrote:
Sometimes the group might stop a fatiguing tactic before getting fatigued, then resume the fatiguing tactic. You can reset the 10-minute timer for fatigue’s onset if the group spent a reasonable amount of time on less strenuous activities. As a rule of thumb, the characters should spend about as much time on non-fatiguing tactics as they did on the fatiguing tactic for the timer to reset.

So, that means that a character could alternate anything less than 10 minutes (say 5 minutes) of a fatiguing tactic with an equal amount of time of of a non-fatiguing one and have a 50% chance of being using the fatiguing one at any given time. Whether this is behaviour the designers want to encourage, or is realistic, isn't clear to me.

This still doesn't quite make sense to me. In this case, a character could alternate Hustling with some non-fatiguing half-speed tactic, like Searching. By combining the tactics, they are moving at full speed, Searching, and are not Fatigued, which seems to break the rules somehow, or at least unbalance them.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

For a day's travel, table 9-2 (p 316) gives miles per day at a pace that's not exhausting. The paragraph says how to adjust for difficult terrain.


Chief Cook and Bottlewasher wrote:
For a day's travel, table 9-2 (p 316) gives miles per day at a pace that's not exhausting. The paragraph says how to adjust for difficult terrain.

I'm aware of the table. I'm talking about using the Hustle exploration tactic to exceed the given travel speeds.


Thebazilly wrote:
This still doesn't quite make sense to me. In this case, a character could alternate Hustling with some non-fatiguing half-speed tactic, like Searching. By combining the tactics, they are moving at full speed, Searching, and are not Fatigued, which seems to break the rules somehow, or at least unbalance them.

If you alternated hustling with searching, you'd do 5 minutes of hustling at double speed without searching, followed by 5 minutes of searching at half speed. So, you'd only search 20% of the distance you travelled, which I guess the GM could adjudicate by effectively giving the hidden stuff a "miss chance".

You could also alternate 5 minutes of hustling with 5 minutes of wandering and move at 150% of your normal overland movement speed indefinitely.

Like I said, I'm not sure if the behaviour is intended or desired by the designers, but it's clearly implied by the rule they have about resetting the fatigue clock by doing something non-fatiguing for an equal amount of time.

It would probably make more sense for the rule to say that you have to rest (do nothing at all) for an equal amount of time to reset the fatigue clock, rather than doing any non-fatiguing tactic. Then if you spent 5 minutes moving at double speed followed by 5 minutes of nothing, your net movement would be the same as just moving at normal speed. You wouldn't be able to alternate hustling and searching or similar either. But you could do a fatiguing tactic indefinitely, at the cost of spending a lot of time sitting around resting.


Nullpunkt wrote:
I'm having the same issues as DerNils and I also am trying really hard to like the idea of Exploration Mode but it just feels forced and mechanical in a dungeon setting.

I have never hear of or played an RPG using Roll20 or other online apps. But I am fairly certain that this exploration mode rules are not intended for use with them.

What I have done in previous gaming sessions is explored an entire fortress/hideout in 6 second tactical movement rounds. That is painful. It takes several hours, most of which is spent watching the GM transcribe your current view distance worth of the location map onto a new piece of graph paper.

Exploration mode is written to prevent new GMs from making that mistake. Experienced GMs are probably already doing something similar.

The approach that I use is to not use exploration mode and exploration tactics when the characters are directly interacting with things in the room. That is more of a non-combat encounter mode scenario.

Exploration mode is for when the characters have nothing specific that they are interacting with.

I also don't have them choose a tactic first. They have to describe what their character is actually doing and then we will find an appropriate tactic to match up with that.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A lot of the confusion about "fatiguing" in exploration mode is its poor choice of the wording. I don't think it's supposed to be related to actual Fatigue (the condition) at all (requires 8 hours rest). I remember reading that recovering from a "fatiguing" action in exploration mode takes roughly as long as the character spent doing that action, but is also up to the GM's interpretation.


Ear Phantom wrote:
A lot of the confusion about "fatiguing" in exploration mode is its poor choice of the wording. I don't think it's supposed to be related to actual Fatigue (the condition) at all (requires 8 hours rest). I remember reading that recovering from a "fatiguing" action in exploration mode takes roughly as long as the character spent doing that action, but is also up to the GM's interpretation.

Yeah, the don't capitalize it, so I don't think it's the condition, but it's a terrible choice of wording in that case.

Quote:
A fatiguing tactic, such as hustling, causes fatigue after 10 minutes. A fatiguing tactic is typically composed of actions at a quicker pace, such that the character takes roughly 20 actions per minute (for hustling, that’s 20 Stride actions). Any tactic involving spellcasting causes fatigue after 10 minutes even if it doesn’t take as many actions. Someone who’s Concentrating on a Spell but not moving still gets fatigued.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Playtest / Game Master Rules / Running the Game / I don't undertand exploration mode All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.