Proficiency and Level Bonuses


General Discussion


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I'm sure this might have been discussed or suggested at some point, but I wanted to bring up the ramifications of changing proficiency to be a function of level instead of a direct modifier.

This addresses a lot of concerns surrounding the perceived value of being Trained vs Untrained and the value of being Expert vs Master/Legendary

I.E. something like the below:

Untrained = 1/2 level
Trained = 3/4 level
Expert = level
Master = 1 1/4 level
Legendary = 1 1/2 level

Now I realize the math doesn't work out as pretty as a simple +/- but I feel that it puts a lot more gravity on the proficiency system tiers.

What would the ramifications and outcomes for an above system be?

At it's widest point a change in proficiency only causes a +5 swing in bonus (at 20th)

Comments/Questions/Concerns welcomed!

PS: I don't hate what currently is there, but I do feel that heightening my proficiency does not feel impactful at all and it does seem a bit weird that level 5 NPCs are effectively better than ANY level 1 PC at anything (even their specialties).


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The biggest problem with your math is that the bonuses spread out as you gain levels, just because everyone gained levels. That is something that the Paizo folks specifically wanted to avoid this time around.


The ramifications? A lot of needless math that you need to recalculate when making characters or when gaining levels.

A lot of characters increase their proficiency in one thing or another over the levels. Having to recalculate a bunch of bonuses when you level, with fractions and what not, is a pain for the casual gamer. With discrete bonuses, it's a lot easier to manage and lets you spend time doing more important things (like slaying dragons).

Next, it messes up the balance that currently exists in the system (a +5 swing in bonus is huge) and results in huge discrepancies in bonus.

A Fighter at level 20 under the proposed system gets +30 to attack from proficiency alone. Add the +12 for his STR and Item bonuses, and suddenly he's hitting 35% more than a previous Fighter, and 25% more than his Paladin buddy (who, being a master, only gets his attack bonus up to +37). Compared to the system we have now, the difference between the two classes have been multiplied by 5!

What about a Rogue or Barbarian? They only get Expert proficiency to their weapon attacks, meaning they hit 50% less than the Fighter. There's no sweet spot for enemy AC where the Rogue and Barbarian feel like they're contributing just as much as the Fighter.

While the bonus might not feel impactful, the math works out that each +1 you get increases your damage and contribution by a significant amount.


David knott 242 wrote:

The biggest problem with your math is that the bonuses spread out as you gain levels, just because everyone gained levels. That is something that the Paizo folks specifically wanted to avoid this time around.

When you say spread out are you saying that they specifically said they don't want people to be better than others at certain aspects?

I remember them discussing that they wanted to define what it means to be truly good at something, and currently I do not feel the proficiency system does that.

As of right now Skill Feats are the only thing making significance from the proficiency system, as even in the new system where a +1/2/3 can make a larger difference, level still trumps all of that but to the extent where those that should have weak/no ability in something are better than lower level individuals with all of their investment.

Quote:
The ramifications? A lot of needless math that you need to recalculate when making characters or when gaining levels.

This would be easily handled by a table for proficiency bonus, quite similar to how BAB used to be shown, I would argue it's even simpler to reference a chart.

I wouldn't call it "needless" either. The purpose it serves is to solve the problems people have with Level 5 Untrained being better than anything a level 1 Expert can do and making a new tier of Proficiency feel more meaningful (perhaps I am alone there, but I've seen others express similar sentiments).

Quote:
A Fighter at level 20 under the proposed system gets +30 to attack from proficiency alone. Add the +12 for his STR and Item bonuses, and suddenly he's hitting 35% more than a previous Fighter, and 25% more than his Paladin buddy (who, being a master, only gets his attack bonus up to +37). Compared to the system we have now, the difference between the two classes have been multiplied by 5!

Well technically enemies can gain these Proficiency to AC as well and the numbers could be adjusted to compensate, but in this same instance Weapon Proficiency could be adjusted.

This is mostly to address the issues this causes with AC, Skills, and Perception. Weapon bonuses do currently work well within this system.


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Why not change the proficiency modifier to -2 untrained, +0 trained, +2 expert, +4 master and +6 legendary?

That way the difference between untrained and legendary will be a lot more noticable.

This also leads to better skills/ saves/ attacks/ Spell DCs in line with the new monster stats and gives player classes an edge over them at high levels.


Repentia wrote:

Why not change the proficiency modifier to -2 untrained, +0 trained, +2 expert, +4 master and +6 legendary?

That way the difference between untrained and legendary will be a lot more noticable.

This also leads to better skills/ saves/ attacks/ Spell DCs in line with the new monster stats and gives player classes an edge over them at high levels.

I certainly like that better. Perhaps some additional downside to Untrained that resolves the "level 5 > any Level 1 at anything" issue like Untrained skills only add half level rounded down would probably suffice.


Repentia wrote:

Why not change the proficiency modifier to -2 untrained, +0 trained, +2 expert, +4 master and +6 legendary?

That way the difference between untrained and legendary will be a lot more noticable.

You would have to adjust elsewhere, because there would be a lot more crits (the legendary guy has an extra +3).


Midnightoker wrote:
Repentia wrote:

Why not change the proficiency modifier to -2 untrained, +0 trained, +2 expert, +4 master and +6 legendary?

That way the difference between untrained and legendary will be a lot more noticable.

This also leads to better skills/ saves/ attacks/ Spell DCs in line with the new monster stats and gives player classes an edge over them at high levels.

I certainly like that better. Perhaps some additional downside to Untrained that resolves the "level 5 > any Level 1 at anything" issue like Untrained skills only add half level rounded down would probably suffice.

As has been said in many, many threads, that's what trained-only uses of skills and skill feats are for. Some uses of skills are flat-out unavailable to untrained characters, and feats either add even more uses or make the existing uses better (faster etc)


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CommanderCoyler wrote:


As has been said in many, many threads, that's what trained-only uses of skills and skill feats are for. Some uses of skills are flat-out unavailable to untrained characters, and feats either add even more uses or make the existing uses better (faster etc)

To be honest most of the Trained Only options are contentious (reading texts of a certain kind) and there aren't many with regards to the standard choices (Stealth has no such restrictions).


Honestly, i think the -2 untrained modifier is already close to a "dump skill".
As an example, a level 10 fighter with 18 DEX will have an untrained stealth of +12.
He already needs to roll a 16+ to sneak past a slaver demon or tyrannosaurus (both creatures of level 10).
An untrained diplomacy roll with CHA 10 against an equal challenge would even be more disastrous.


Repentia wrote:

Honestly, i think the -2 untrained modifier is already close to a "dump skill".

As an example, a level 10 fighter with 18 DEX will have an untrained stealth of +12.
He already needs to roll a 16+ to sneak past a slaver demon or tyrannosaurus (both creatures of level 10).
An untrained diplomacy roll with CHA 10 against an equal challenge would even be more disastrous.

I don't feel like that helps the case of the current state of things though, since of the design goals the devs mentioned was that it would allow higher-level teams to be able to stealth together

So not only does the level 10 Fighter out-stealth the level 5 Rogue who's an expert at it, he also fails to stealth with his party.

It fails on both fronts to me, which sort of defeats the purpose of doing something like that in the first place.

Especially since logistically it makes little to no sense for people to all be good at something simply due to level (it also creates less diversity in terms of abilities).

The goal was to make "trivial" tasks not a problem for high level PCs too, which the above proposals would certainly accomplish (even with a -2 and only half level to athletics, climbing a rope is no problem).


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
You would have to adjust elsewhere, because there would be a lot more crits (the legendary guy has an extra +3).

I think more crits for players is not necessarily a bad thing.

Even more so when you take the new monster stats into account.


For Untrained and Trained levels, I wish they just used the Poor and Good saves progression from PF1E; +0 to +6 and +2 to +12.

But since they are trying to preserve the +23ish bonus by 20th level for a trained skill, they could simply make:

Untrained = 1/2 level
Trained = Level
Expert = Level +2 (or +1)
Master = Level +4 (or +2 more for a total of +3)
Legendary = Level +6


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Right now the playtest rules are new and I doubt many, if any of us have played in high level games yet.

In order to propose changes like this to the system, you'd either have to show concretely what effect it would have on the game and why it'd be beneficial or demonstrate that there is a need for such a change in the first place. A proposed change based on feeling alone while dismissing the system at hand is not helpful.

While -2/0/+1/+2/+3 may not feel impactful to some, there hasn't been fact-based evidence or actual gameplay feedback that supports that feeling yet.

Therefore, I'd like for players who want this kind of systemic change to actually playtest the game or present evidence on why such a change is needed before coming up with a potential solution.


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The change isn't "needed" in the sense that not fixing it will break the game. The DCs are based on the bonuses, so it all works mechanically.

The issue that I have (can't speak for others) is that this blurs the line between exceptional characters and average ones, leaving us with this middle of the road situation that leaves me feeling meh since everyone can do everything. A Legend in an ability is only +5 better than someone who has no training at all.

Han Solo would be high level in a SW game, but he always blows those Bluff checks. He's just not very good at it. Being high level didn't improve his ability to lie to people.

This is the case with the Attributes too. All the extreme highs and lows have been filtered out so you're left with a lot of 16's and 18's. Meh.

MHO, anyway.


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Elbedor wrote:

The change isn't "needed" in the sense that not fixing it will break the game. The DCs are based on the bonuses, so it all works mechanically.

The issue that I have (can't speak for others) is that this blurs the line between exceptional characters and average ones, leaving us with this middle of the road situation that leaves me feeling meh since everyone can do everything. A Legend in an ability is only +5 better than someone who has no training at all.

Han Solo would be high level in a SW game, but he always blows those Bluff checks. He's just not very good at it. Being high level didn't improve his ability to lie to people.

This is the case with the Attributes too. All the extreme highs and lows have been filtered out so you're left with a lot of 16's and 18's. Meh.

MHO, anyway.

The +5 difference in d20 rolls is not the only difference between a character who is Legendary in a skill and a character who is untrained in that skill.

Skill feats play a role in the PCs' utility, and only characters who are Legendary at a skill can perform awesome feats using that skill. An untrained peasant may be able to climb a ladder, but he is flat-footed while doing so, and he will never be able to climb walls, for he lacks a climb speed.

If you just look at Combat, then the +5 difference sometimes means you're twice as likely to hit a target, since there it's a 25% accuracy increase. (not to mention ability mod differences)

E.g. Fighter McFighterson is Legendary with Axes. He has a 50% chance to hit the Tarrasque with each swing.

Wizard McWizardson is just as high level as the Fighter, he's got experience with combat, but he is untrained with the Axe the Fighter is using. If he picks it up, he only has a 25% chance to hit the Tarrasque, assuming he has the same Str as the Fighter. But he doesn't have the same Str. Even if he were to invest heavily in Str, he would lose another 10% chance to hit. (20 max Str vs. 24 max Str)

Wizard McWizardson swings the Axe, but he only has a 15% chance to hit, or he's less than 1/3 as likely to hit the Tarrasque compared to the Fighter

The Fighter is more than 3 times as effective as the Wizard when it comes to fighting with a weapon he's Legendary in. Does that feel appropriate to you yet?


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Pramxnim wrote:


In order to propose changes like this to the system, you'd either have to show concretely what effect it would have on the game and why it'd be beneficial or demonstrate that there is a need for such a change in the first place. A proposed change based on feeling alone while dismissing the system at hand is not helpful.

I disagree. It's Paizo's responsibility to make a game that is fun and intuitive to enough of their potential customers to sell a game.

Balance is only one aspect of the game that needs to be considered. If the rules don't make sense, or lead to illogical outcomes (the Untrained guy rolls better than the Legendary guy 27.5% of the time on trivial uses of the skill) then there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Furthermore, having everyone capable of contributing is NOT "realistic" and shouldn't be a design goal (in my opinion). If you don't want to invest in Stealth, then you are essentially giving up on being stealthy. You shouldn't get the +level participation trophy.


Pramxnim wrote:
The Fighter is more than 3 times as effective as the Wizard when it comes to fighting with a weapon he's Legendary in. Does that feel appropriate to you yet?

Firstly, that only works in your very specific circumstance. If the target's AC is lower, the fighter has a smaller advantage over the wizard.

Secondly, when I think of "Legendary" vs "Untrained" I think of a curb stomp in favor if the Legendary guy. That doesn't happen in PF2.

For example: A wizard with a DEX of 18 and a Fighter with a DEX of 18 with Legendary training in bows decide to have an archery contest. They use the same bow and the higher roll indicates a closer shot to the bullseye. 27.5% of the time, the wizard shoots closer to the bullseye than the fighter on a given shot.

Yes, certain Skill uses are only available to the Legendary guy, but in a basic test of skill, he loses more than 1/4th of the time.


We'll have to agree to disagree. I feel like the restriction of tasks based on skills is enough to differentiate between Legendary and Untrained.

I much prefer the game to be balanced so that everyone at the table can enjoy themselves and feel like they're cooperating toward a unified purpose rather than have people twiddle their thumbs because they didn't invest as heavily into an aspect of their character and their more optimized buddy is stealing the show with his +60 to Diplomacy (a hyperbole, I hope).

I don't mind my Fighter having a +35 to attack and my Wizard buddy having a +28 to attack using the same weapon, which he is untrained in. He still won't be using that option over his other choices, and the fact that he could perhaps hit with it when I couldn't doesn't matter to me.


I think in terms of strictly attack rolls proficiency as is works really well, just to clarify.

So to me the win win in this case is finding a way to keep weapons/attack rolls intact while providing a more satisfactory approach to skills.

To me, skills feats do not accomplish that and even with the addition of trained only actions for skills (which conceptually right now are lackluster since some things are extremely exclusive when they shouldn't be or are so inclusive they're a non issue).

Even outside the above, it does not make sense for those with little to no training due to level alone to be so significantly better than lower level.

It's boring for all members of the party to be capable of rolling outstandingly supernaturally well simply because of their level even if they're untrained. It makes my Rogues ability to roll considerably high in stealth trivial if the wizard can roll nearly as high 75% of the time.

They discussed signature skills as being a way to grant "role protection" but in reality the biggest thing I see jeopardizing role protection currently is the fact that level makes everyone good at everything with relatively minor bonus differences. signature skills need to go but proficiency in a skill needs to feel like opening a gate, not a doggy door. Maybe skill feats alone can solve that but I think the rolls calculations could be tuned. Sometimes it's difficult to quantify how well a skill feat is going to perform, it's very dependent on how often your GM presents an opportunity to use that feat in a lot of cases.

I think there's a better answer here somewhere, but where it is kinda depends on how you view the game.


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Midnightoker wrote:

I think in terms of strictly attack rolls proficiency as is works really well, just to clarify.

So to me the win win in this case is finding a way to keep weapons/attack rolls intact while providing a more satisfactory approach to skills.

To me, skills feats do not accomplish that and even with the addition of trained only actions for skills (which conceptually right now are lackluster since some things are extremely exclusive when they shouldn't be or are so inclusive they're a non issue).

Even outside the above, it does not make sense for those with little to no training due to level alone to be so significantly better than lower level.

It's boring for all members of the party to be capable of rolling outstandingly supernaturally well simply because of their level even if they're untrained. It makes my Rogues ability to roll considerably high in stealth trivial if the wizard can roll nearly as high 75% of the time.

They discussed signature skills as being a way to grant "role protection" but in reality the biggest thing I see jeopardizing role protection currently is the fact that level makes everyone good at everything with relatively minor bonus differences. signature skills need to go but proficiency in a skill needs to feel like opening a gate, not a doggy door. Maybe skill feats alone can solve that but I think the rolls calculations could be tuned. Sometimes it's difficult to quantify how well a skill feat is going to perform, it's very dependent on how often your GM presents an opportunity to use that feat in a lot of cases.

I think there's a better answer here somewhere, but where it kinda depends on how you view the game.

The answer probably lies in not having level bonus at all.

High-level characters will already be better at most skills simply by virtue of having better equipment, higher stats from leveling, and more skill advances by which to have trained or higher skills.

Whilst skill feats are cool and allow you to do some wonderful stuff, MOST of the time you're still testing against trivial(ordinary) skill checks..


The way to fixing Prof is not the numbers its making it to the feats scale with proficiency. (I.E. Catfall) the only other thing I would do is for master level I would have it negate the auto fail of a 1.


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Midnightoker wrote:

I'm sure this might have been discussed or suggested at some point, but I wanted to bring up the ramifications of changing proficiency to be a function of level instead of a direct modifier.

This addresses a lot of concerns surrounding the perceived value of being Trained vs Untrained and the value of being Expert vs Master/Legendary

I.E. something like the below:

Untrained = 1/2 level
Trained = 3/4 level
Expert = level
Master = 1 1/4 level
Legendary = 1 1/2 level

I think a better solution is to give everyone 1/2 level base, add a 5th proficiency level, and have each level of proficiency give a +2.

Novice
Journeyman
Expert
Master
Legend

ie a 6th level expert would get +9, while a 6th level novice would get +5


Dairian wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:

I'm sure this might have been discussed or suggested at some point, but I wanted to bring up the ramifications of changing proficiency to be a function of level instead of a direct modifier.

This addresses a lot of concerns surrounding the perceived value of being Trained vs Untrained and the value of being Expert vs Master/Legendary

I.E. something like the below:

Untrained = 1/2 level
Trained = 3/4 level
Expert = level
Master = 1 1/4 level
Legendary = 1 1/2 level

I think a better solution is to give everyone 1/2 level base, add a 5th proficiency level, and have each level of proficiency give a +2.

Novice
Journeyman
Expert
Master
Legend

ie a 6th level expert would get +9, while a 6th level novice would get +5

This post is old and was before I had a lot of experience with the setting (also before the change of Untrained to -4).

I think a better answer to what I have above would be to instead of changing the math itself (which is pretty core to the system working atm) to change the outcomes based on proficiency to create the desired effect.

Like Vidmaster7 stated, removing "critical failure on 1" or failure in general on 1 is an example of this.

Varying the degrees of success based on the Proficiency is likely a better solution (and more modular) to the game than changing the math.

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