Please separate names for Circumstance and Conditional


Playing the Game


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Pathfinder Card Game, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Circumstance and Conditional are too close textually and mentally. Would it be possible to change them to something like:

Situation and Effect
Circumstance and Effect
Situation and Conditional

Something that isn't two C-words of approximate length?


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'll have to agree that the it took me quite a while to realize I was confusing the two. I think I have

I have to add however, that of the suggestions, please don't use Situation and Conditional, that would for me actually seem just as confusing to be, but perhaps because of the original use of Circumstance.

Would Environmental and Conditional make sense?


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I have to agree. I'm pretty facile with rules and I GM PF1, but this one is getting to me. The two words starting with C is my problem.


Personally I think "conditional" should just be "condition". It makes it much more obvious that it's a bonus/penalty that you have due to a condition. Since that's all it is.

Circumstance on the other hand, is a little trickier. Looking up every occurrence of "circumstance" in the book, it's used primarily for feats, then for skill based boni, then for other random stuff that only lasts a short time. I thought "temporary", but that's not very fun, plus conditional boni/penalties are also temporary.

If I look up synonyms for "circumstance" some candidates could be "incidental bonus", "happenstance bonus" or "advantage bonus" (though advantage might be a dirty word in this part of town).

Anyway, I think you are right that one can get a little tripped up with the similarity in those terms. There must be a better option somewhere out there.

Liberty's Edge

Circumstantial Bonus & Effect Bonus sounds like a good compromise, and I'm pretty sure simply swapping out "Conditional" for another word shouldn't be too hard with modern text search functions.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Agreed, please change one of the words to something that starts with a different letter to make it easy to differentiate between them at a glance.


I think replacing conditional is cutting off the nose to spite the face. Conditional bonuses or penalties are ONLY associated with conditions. That one has a much more concrete, rules-based reason to exist than circumstance. I would change circumstance to effect if anything.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Conditional isn't just conditions though. This is from the Monk's dragon stance:

"While in Dragon Stance, you gain a +1 conditional bonus to saving throws against paralysis and sleep, and you can ignore difficult terrain while Striding."

It seems Condition bonuses are longer-term bonuses that aren't related specifically to items.

While Circumstance bonuses are things that aren't Condition or Item bonuses.

E.g. from Cooperative Nature:

"You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to your check when you use the Aid reaction or Assist action (see page 307)."


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Same here, I still get them confused. I'd actually suggest 3 types of bonuses:
* situational: For flanking/advantageous situations.
* competence: For core competence, such as a barbarian's bonus for rage, or point blank shot for fighter.
* magic: From spells.

Why 3? Right now a raging barbarian doesn't benefit from an enlarge spell or bard's spell, because they're both "conditional" bonuses. It makes sense you don't want rage to overlap with other circumstantial bonuses, but these should be fundamentally different types.


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tivadar27 wrote:

Same here, I still get them confused. I'd actually suggest 3 types of bonuses:

* situational: For flanking/advantageous situations.
* competence: For core competence, such as a barbarian's bonus for rage, or point blank shot for fighter.
* magic: From spells.

I feel "core competence" bonuses should be unnamed. Having it otherwise creates anti-synergies, where some classes (barbarian and bard, for example) just don't play well together, ever.


Starfox wrote:
tivadar27 wrote:

Same here, I still get them confused. I'd actually suggest 3 types of bonuses:

* situational: For flanking/advantageous situations.
* competence: For core competence, such as a barbarian's bonus for rage, or point blank shot for fighter.
* magic: From spells.
I feel "core competence" bonuses should be unnamed. Having it otherwise creates anti-synergies, where some classes (barbarian and bard, for example) just don't play well together, ever.

I wouldn't mind if this was the case.... but it seems to fly in the face of their whole bounded accuracy thing. Not that I *agree* with bounded accuracy as presented in PF2, but untyped bonuses (which don't exist in the game as-is) essentially create a run-away train when it comes to that.


As an aside, I *believe* there are currently 5 types of flat modifiers in the game:
* item
* conditional
* circumstance
* precision (only for backstabber weapons)
* untyped (only for penalties)

I'm pretty sure the precision thing is in error, given precision is normally a die bonus rather than a flat bonus, but it creates confusion either way. Note that any item or precision bonuses that apply to damage don't get applied to criticals RAW (page 308). Most don't realize this, and it's been the cause of lots of confusion and still hasn't been clarified. For reference (page 308 explanation on criticals):
• Roll double the usual number of damage dice for your weapon or unarmed attack.
• Add double your ability modifier to damage, if one applies.
• Add double any circumstance and conditional bonuses and penalties to damage.


I agree that this could be nice. I've gotten the names mixed up a lot already while playing.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Great idea that will probably be very easy to make for the final product. I'm guessing this one will get taken care of.


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Put me down for another vote in favor of differentiating these. It took ages for me to realize that the AC debuffs from flat-footed and frightened actually stack, for instance.

Silver Crusade

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I think we already have a thread covering this (with posts from people with Dyslexia) but it really is worth repeating.

Any change to one or both of those words (ideally causing distinct abbreviations as well) would be more than welcome, for PF1 veterans and newcomers.


I have no issue with them, but I realise others do. Also, as a GM, I know if anyone in my party had this issue it'd end up weighing on me, so...
Yeah, a change would be appreciated.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Themetricsystem wrote:
Circumstantial Bonus & Effect Bonus sounds like a good compromise, and I'm pretty sure simply swapping out "Conditional" for another word shouldn't be too hard with modern text search functions.

I really like the sound of that. Also makes more sense than "conditional" to me, since "conditions" are an established game term, but not the sole source of conditional bonuses.


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"Conditional" modifiers should be solely from conditions.

"Situational" modifiers can be stuff like cover, high ground, being flanked (which should not be the same thing as nor cause the flat-footed condition), and other situations.

"Effect" modifiers can be temporary bonuses or penalties from things like spells and elixirs. But a spell might cause a Situational modifier if it is adjusting the environment and circumstances, rather than adjusting you directly.

"Inherent" modifiers can be more persistent bonuses or penalties from feats, diseases and the like. I would recommend bonuses from Rage and the like be Inherent if they have to be named, so that they stack with the Effect bonuses granted by a Bard.

"Item" modifiers are easy to grok and should be reserved for more persistent modifiers, like from a skill item; the temporary modifier granted by an alchemical item or the like should be an Effect modifier.


Gonna bump this with my +1. I found myself frequently mixing these two up, and eventually I'd start mentally ignoring them. "Conditional" I think is OK-ish, but I think "condition" is maybe not the best term to use for conditions anyways. In game-speak terms, they're buffs. They're not an item bonus from your equipment, they're temporary buffs or debuffs.

What we now call circumstantial bonuses are tied into the tactic or situation itself, like flanking. The intent is that you can't stack many tactics together, like flanking an enemy that's standing on an incline on sand while there's smoke rolling through the battlefield obscuring vision, something that would cause a mess of +1's and -1's in PF1.

Both names need to accurately reflect what they actually are, at a glance, with no explanation or an explanation that you could find by looking up the word in an actual dictionary.

"Item" bonuses and penalties are about perfect. Their name makes it obvious what applies, whether you've ever played Pathfinder or not. Requires no familiarity with any other Pathfinder terms, just maybe a vague idea of what games are.


Pathfinder Adventure, Card Game, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Adding my plea to this as well. I probably can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said, but it has been one of my pet peeves during the playtest. If you’re going to dramatically reduce the number of possible modifier types (something I support) then why are two of them both medium-length c-words that are nearly synonymous in everyday speech? I was constantly mixing these up, or completely forgetting the right name on the spot. “It’s that bonus, you know, that word, not conditional, what’s the other one...?” It makes me feel a little foolish as a GM, so Paizo, help me out here.


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I've been theorycrafting about revising the bonus system and part of that was thinking exactly what each bonus type means and checking a thesaurus for clear words that fit that meaning.

Circumstance bonus means a bonus created by the circumstances. You have your shield raised, so you gain a +2 advantage from that circumstance. You are distracted by being flanked, so you have a -2 disadvantage from that circumstance. Circumstance is a very general term and even includes being distracted by something the game calls a condition, such as flanked.

Conditional bonus means a bonus created by having a condition. This is ambiguous to start with, since "conditional" also means "subject to one or more conditions or requirements being met." And having a spell cast on you must count as a condition because most spells give conditional bonuses.

The best replacement for "circumstance" is "opportune." A character gains a circumstance bonus because the circumstances created an opportunity and he took advantage of it. Or the character is busy with a difficult action, which cuts back on being able to take opportunities, so he can't take advantage of it.

The best replacement for "conditional" is to scrap the notion entirely because it is too circular: you have a condition that gives you penalties so you have conditional penalties. There is little content there. The suggestion of "effect" is good, because it implies causality: the effect of the condition is these penalties, and the effect of the spell is these bonuses.


Mathmuse wrote:

I've been theorycrafting about revising the bonus system and part of that was thinking exactly what each bonus type means and checking a thesaurus for clear words that fit that meaning.

Circumstance bonus means a bonus created by the circumstances. You have your shield raised, so you gain a +2 advantage from that circumstance. You are distracted by being flanked, so you have a -2 disadvantage from that circumstance. Circumstance is a very general term and even includes being distracted by something the game calls a condition, such as flanked.

Conditional bonus means a bonus created by having a condition. This is ambiguous to start with, since "conditional" also means "subject to one or more conditions or requirements being met." And having a spell cast on you must count as a condition because most spells give conditional bonuses.

The best replacement for "circumstance" is "opportune." A character gains a circumstance bonus because the circumstances created an opportunity and he took advantage of it. Or the character is busy with a difficult action, which cuts back on being able to take opportunities, so he can't take advantage of it.

The best replacement for "conditional" is to scrap the notion entirely because it is too circular: you have a condition that gives you penalties so you have conditional penalties. There is little content there. The suggestion of "effect" is good, because it implies causality: the effect of the condition is these penalties, and the effect of the spell is these bonuses.

I love these. "Opportunity" bonus is exactly what it says on the tin, and "effect" is pretty close to what it is too. I hope Paizo uses these or come up with something better.

Only issue is that "Attack of Opportunity" is a legacy term that is going to confuse people and can't really be changed, and "effect" is a word used throughout the game to mean something other than what we currently call conditional bonuses and penalties. I hope Paizo is at least looking at adjusting their wording to make things more intuitive.


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tivadar27 wrote:

Same here, I still get them confused. I'd actually suggest 3 types of bonuses:

* situational: For flanking/advantageous situations.
* competence: For core competence, such as a barbarian's bonus for rage, or point blank shot for fighter.
* magic: From spells.

Why 3? Right now a raging barbarian doesn't benefit from an enlarge spell or bard's spell, because they're both "conditional" bonuses. It makes sense you don't want rage to overlap with other circumstantial bonuses, but these should be fundamentally different types.

Agreed. PF1 had too many bonus types and led to hunting for one of each type. But the playtest has too few. Three total isn't enough, a lot of basic abilities conflict; like the example of rage and bard performance. Another example is the way alchemical items and magic items both use item bonuses. Why bother with alchemical items if you already have magic items? It makes the class kind of redundant. Having maybe five or six types isn't nearly as bad as PF1's 20 or so, and a lot less restrictive than three total.

Liberty's Edge

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Conditional Bonus is just too vague for me. It leads an unaccostomed reader to think this kind of Bonus should only apply under certain conditions, which is kinda backwards, the Bonus in this case IS the Condition.

Simply changing it to Condition Bonus / Circumstance Bonus / Item Bonus would probably do the trick, but honestly I too miss having more categories, and feel that the limitation REALLY screws up things at the table, Rage and Inspire should stack, as should a half-dozen other Core Class Abilities and Buffs.

I'd be all on board with:

Condition
Circumstance
Supernatural
Morale
Item

Limit it to these 5 FOREVER, barring Mythic Rules and I think things can be limited within reason while also allowing a party to actually coordinate buffs and advantages without wasted effort.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

Condition

Circumstance
Supernatural
Morale
Item

I'm largely ok with that list, except for the C[mediumish] and C[mediumish] words.

"Status" and "Situational" come to mind as alternates (e.g. Status/Cirumstance or Condition/Situation)


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Draco18s wrote:
Themetricsystem wrote:

Condition

Circumstance
Supernatural
Morale
Item

I'm largely ok with that list, except for the C[mediumish] and C[mediumish] words.

"Status" and "Situational" come to mind as alternates (e.g. Status/Cirumstance or Condition/Situation)

Of course taking both of those would have a similar problem with S words. But just using one and keeping the current name for the other would solve that.

Relatedly, I'd like to see the names of Property and/or Potency Runes get changed for similar reasons. Two middle length words starting and ending with the same latter and having the same vowels for the two types of runes, makes it easy to confuse at a glance. I'm drawing a blank on good alternatives at the moment, but I'm sure there are some.


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Doktor Weasel wrote:
But just using one and keeping the current name for the other would solve that.

That's what I was suggesting.

Silver Crusade

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Having "circumstantial" and "conditional" as 2 of the 3 bonus types is one of my biggest annoyances with the playtest rules. I hadn't bothered to post about it before so I'm glad yall have raised it here. As folks have said, they're too close! With a complicated game like Pathfinder the goal should be to smooth out the core engine as much as possible—we definitely don't need anything like this user experience speed-bump build into the core rules. I hope this is addressed in the final.


Doktor Weasel wrote:


Another example is the way alchemical items and magic items both use item bonuses. Why bother with alchemical items if you already have magic items? It makes the class kind of redundant.

I'll point out that from what I've seen alchemical items tend to pack a slightly higher bonus (often exactly 1 higher) than an equivalent level magic item. So you do still get a buff over your current gear, it just tends to be an effective +1 instead of the listed +3 or whatever. Of course, if you don't have an item bonus (such as a bomber using a Quicksilver Mutagen) the bonus is much more significant.

I have to imagine this design is intentional, as it keeps you from blowing the modifiers outside of acceptable bounds while still being relevant and stacking with conditional bonuses. It seems like a pretty functional model, but I'm not sure it FEELS good. You could make it new bonus type and simply reduce the bonuses, but that would actually make the alchemist less good because they couldn't offer that huge bump to the character without an item.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:


Another example is the way alchemical items and magic items both use item bonuses. Why bother with alchemical items if you already have magic items? It makes the class kind of redundant.

I'll point out that from what I've seen alchemical items tend to pack a slightly higher bonus (often exactly 1 higher) than an equivalent level magic item. So you do still get a buff over your current gear, it just tends to be an effective +1 instead of the listed +3 or whatever. Of course, if you don't have an item bonus (such as a bomber using a Quicksilver Mutagen) the bonus is much more significant.

I have to imagine this design is intentional, as it keeps you from blowing the modifiers outside of acceptable bounds while still being relevant and stacking with conditional bonuses. It seems like a pretty functional model, but I'm not sure it FEELS good. You could make it new bonus type and simply reduce the bonuses, but that would actually make the alchemist less good because they couldn't offer that huge bump to the character without an item.

It certainly doesn't feel good at all. And my experience with an alchemist is that it's far from functional. But that's an issue beyond simply bonus stacking. But that is some of it. Before the 1.6 update it was worse in some regards. Like the Item Bonus to bomb attacks with Empower bombs, that didn't stack with either Quicksilver Mutagen or Alchemist's Goggles (basically the high level alchemist item). The later two still conflict though. And having one of the main alchemist items conflict with one of their main mutagens just doesn't sit well with me.


Doktor Weasel wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:


Another example is the way alchemical items and magic items both use item bonuses. Why bother with alchemical items if you already have magic items? It makes the class kind of redundant.

I'll point out that from what I've seen alchemical items tend to pack a slightly higher bonus (often exactly 1 higher) than an equivalent level magic item. So you do still get a buff over your current gear, it just tends to be an effective +1 instead of the listed +3 or whatever. Of course, if you don't have an item bonus (such as a bomber using a Quicksilver Mutagen) the bonus is much more significant.

I have to imagine this design is intentional, as it keeps you from blowing the modifiers outside of acceptable bounds while still being relevant and stacking with conditional bonuses. It seems like a pretty functional model, but I'm not sure it FEELS good. You could make it new bonus type and simply reduce the bonuses, but that would actually make the alchemist less good because they couldn't offer that huge bump to the character without an item.

It certainly doesn't feel good at all. And my experience with an alchemist is that it's far from functional. But that's an issue beyond simply bonus stacking. But that is some of it. Before the 1.6 update it was worse in some regards. Like the Item Bonus to bomb attacks with Empower bombs, that didn't stack with either Quicksilver Mutagen or Alchemist's Goggles (basically the high level alchemist item). The later two still conflict though. And having one of the main alchemist items conflict with one of their main mutagens just doesn't sit well with me.

Eh, as long as the item bonus from. The mutagen is higher than the goggles it still comes in handy. It just isn't as strong which means it isn't always worth the HP hit. The alternative is you give the mutagen a smaller bonus, but that makes a character without the goggles drastically weaker.

The functionality of the alchemist as a whole is beyond the scope of this thread, so I won't touch that.

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