Is it practical to have one person look ahead / take point in exploration mode?


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A quite common situation in groups I've played and reffed. How does it work (or not) in PF2?

Imagine one character - let's call him Pete the Pointman who is good at stealth and perception type skills.

Pete loves to creep ahead of the party, look around for any obvious enemies or hazards and then creep back to report what he's found. He just loves it when he finds a bunch of monsters ahead and let the party choose between trying traveling another way to evade them or having plenty of warning to cast their buff spells before charging in.

Pete's party are pretty patient with him, because he's good at his job - they are happy to wait for a few minutes while he does his thing, or let him travel a distance ahead of them when traveling through the wilderness.

Now for 2nd Ed, I have some questions

1) How does Pete describe what he is trying to do in exploration mode?

2) How is that affected if the rest of the party genuinely are willing to wait while Pete does his thing

3) If we are looking at say 5th level - what's the best build for Pete to take? He doesn't mind building a rogue or a ranger or something else, so long as he can do his thing.

4) Based on 1,2 & 3 what are the odds him successfully reconnoitering CR5 encounters without being spotted? I must stress Pete's objective is just to make the party aware of the monsters before the monsters become aware of the party - he's not trying to get into perfect ambush position or go past them.

PS It took about 5 goes to pick a title for this thread because so many relevant words have been tied up to have specific in game meanings...

Grand Lodge

1) Pete would probably describe things to reflect how much time he's willing to invest in sneaking and scouting. Personally I would only allow such options outside of dungeons. how he describes things will also reflect on how you describe his surroundings, he's not going to rely on the foliage cover in a desert or mountain pass for example. but make sure he highlights key factors in his actions like where he will look for cover, how he disguises his movement, etc. and reward or penalize his rolls accordingly.

Regarding task, Sneaking is probably the most common form of task you should use. once an encounter is reached make the check for his initiative and notice. if he succeeds he can freely report back to the group, if he fails, he's probably in a lot of trouble.

2) give the rest of the party exploration actions, again explain their surroundings and give them a chance to do something. without this players will feel like their characters exploration doesn't matter and most will likely just choose wandering. my advise for a GM with this sort of character is plan accordingly. create interesting and unusual random exploration encounters that the other players can interact with. one of the things I find with scouting characters is they just don't like missing out on things yet while they are away the world should still go by with their absence. don't focus the game on them.

Heres some examples;
wizard in the party decides to do some investigating of his surroundings to learn about the creatures that might inhabit the area. while doing so you have him encounter a particularly intelligent creature that enters into conversation with the wizard. Providing him with magical secrets that lead to the learning of a new spell.

A peddler passes the party on the road and offers them a discount on his wares for news of the road ahead.

A guard patrol approaches the group and warns them of the creatures attacking travellers on the road, while describing such creatures, they hear screams in the direction the Pete recently went...

3) anything that can sneak quickly and has the ability to evade others.

4) this really depends on what he encounters and where. encountering a sleepy goblin camp at night probably wont get him noticed, spotting a group of wolves out on the prowl while downwind of them in think foliage will be hard to stay un-noticed.

Bottom line is, make the time fun for all players, don't feel forced to focus on Pete at the expense of others enjoyment.


Also note that scouting ahead is /incredibly/ dangerous in PF2, since even low level monsters have effectively legendary Perception and high level ones can easily trump an utterly min maxed rogue with the best possible Stealth in the game. Scouting means you die.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Also note that scouting ahead is /incredibly/ dangerous in PF2, since even low level monsters have effectively legendary Perception and high level ones can easily trump an utterly min maxed rogue with the best possible Stealth in the game. Scouting means you die.

This was kind of why I asked... that unless I’ve misinterpreted things, even an utterly min maxed (for stealth) rogue is not going to be able to do this in practice, even vs relatively weak monsters for his level.

Plus there’s no longer much difference between between a supposedly big dumb ogre or a very well trained sentry - the ogre is still pretty likely to spot Pete if they are similar level.

Means a pretty classic fantasy role (and one I love) isn’t a playable concept in 2E.

Grand Lodge

JulianW wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Also note that scouting ahead is /incredibly/ dangerous in PF2, since even low level monsters have effectively legendary Perception and high level ones can easily trump an utterly min maxed rogue with the best possible Stealth in the game. Scouting means you die.

This was kind of why I asked... that unless I’ve misinterpreted things, even an utterly min maxed (for stealth) rogue is not going to be able to do this in practice, even vs relatively weak monsters for his level.

Plus there’s no longer much difference between between a supposedly big dumb ogre or a very well trained sentry - the ogre is still pretty likely to spot Pete if they are similar level.

Means a pretty classic fantasy role (and one I love) isn’t a playable concept in 2E.

I wouldn't say its totally unplayable. I just think its a little more open to GM adjudication.

For example if someone scouting ahead was to come across a clearing with a fortress guarded by eagle eyed guards, as long as the scout said I want to remain hidden, a GM could easily rule that the guards are focused on the gate rather than trying to spot people hidden in the bushes and not require a perception check for the guards.

A less forgiving GM might force you to make additional checks as you come across the clearing and roll perceptions for the guards anyhow.

Now if you wanted to try and sneak inside, that a different matter entirely. At that point your interacting with the encounter alone and deserve the wrath it brings.

How I would rule scouting ahead is that your intent is not to actually encounter the next obstacle, but gain some insight as to when, where and what it is. just like how another character might study maps or history books to gain knowledge of the obstacles ahead. At the very most I would only benefit the players with a bonus on their initiatives for an encounter that has been scouted. that and the knowledge of what to expect should be enough to keep the scouting character happy without affecting the encounter to much.


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Quijenoth wrote:


How I would rule scouting ahead is that your intent is not to actually encounter the next obstacle, but gain some insight as to when, where and what it is. just like how another character might study maps or history books to gain knowledge of the obstacles ahead. At the very most I would only benefit the players with a bonus on their initiatives for an encounter that has been scouted. that and the knowledge of what to expect should be enough to keep the scouting character...

Pretty much this - the usual objective is to allow the party to decide if they want to retreat, to talk to it, fight it or try to travel a different way before they are right next to it and / or have a plan before they get into initiative.

That's usually plenty of advantage without any mechanical pluses.


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Found the answer - Pete needs to take terrain mastery skill feat a lot.

That lets him do this kind of 'sneak up to an unaware enemy' stuff very reliably in the right terrain.

By 4th level he can have all four of the listed terrains (underbrush, reeds, rubble and snow)

Much happier now.

However I can see arguments with some GMs that involve the line 'but I have ALL the published terrain types, what do you mean scrub doesn't count as underbrush, you're just making up new ones to negate my feats!'

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