The (dancing) Elephant in the Room: Performance.


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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Pathfinder 2 seems to follow a very established theme of having bards invest in a Perform skill which determines the effectiveness of their abilities, based on the idea that bards that perform better have better performing-related skills.

However.

While a cleric could know Arcane magic and identify items belonging to that tradition without being a wizard,
While an alchemist could become a master of mechanics and learn Thievery without being a rogue,
While a Druid could sneak around without being a ranger,
While a Paladin could learn to survive in hostile lands at the edge of the Worldwound without being a barbarian,

nobody else has a reason to take Performance.

This was absolutely the case in 3.0, definitely the case in 3.5, totally true in P1, and the only saving grace P2 gives it is the Fascinating Performance skill feat - a feat that allows you to fascinate one or more creatures with a successful Performance check, regardless of your class. I can dig that. I can see a rogue doing knife juggling.
Other than for that, however, it's just a separate, weaker Lore skill.

Its Untrained use has four degree of success, all of which basically say "The result is up to the GM".
Its Trained use redirects you to the Lore skill.
It does not let you Recall Knowledge and it's not always a Signature.
Its relative skill feats are an ex-bard-feature, a numerical bonus, a Lore copypaste and a partial Diplomacy redirect.

So honestly... Why is Performance still a skill?

One thing 2E was supposed to do was break the mold and get rid of the parts of the ruleset that were there exclusively because of tradition. If there is one thing that embodies that definition, it's Performance as a skill.

In its previous iterations, Performance was a skill tax for Bards, to the point that I saw several variants to remove it and integrate it into Bard class features instead (with fairly good results in some cases, too. See spoiler).

Spoiler:
(best iteration I remember at the moment had Versatile Performance at lv1/5/9/13/17, Countersong/Distraction at lv2, and changed Performance to a free level check plus Charisma, with a feat to grant +2/+4 to it. It created the effect of freeing up skill points and having Bards take up a lot of skills for free at mediocre levels, giving a real jack of all trades feel. Nobody else was affected, if you wanted a rogue to play the flute you could do that for free because there's no reason to have you pay for flavour)

In its current iteration, it's still a skill tax for Bards, but with some feats written for it that read like either must have for bards (the +2 is definitely a must, and Fascinating Performance is literally a bard feature in a skill feat slot), borrowed bits (read Legendary Performance, then Legendary Professional) and partial refunds (Impressive Performance, which is exactly 1/3 of a lv1 Bard feat). Each skill needed feats, I suppose.

I would like to say that I don't see a use for Performance, but it's not accurate.
There is no use for Performance. Whatever you roll, the result will always be up to the GM. That's not a skill, it's a part of how you roleplay your character, and you shouldn't have to invest resources in it if you're never going to have a tangible benefit for it. We already have conditional bonuses for how you roleplay your character.
If its whole purpose is to gate a feat and hold back a class, we're back to it being a skill tax like in P1/3.x, if marginally better because of Fascinating Performance... But why should a whole skill boil down to a feat for which it's required?


Quote:
There is no use for Performance. Whatever you roll, the result will always be up to the GM. That's not a skill, it's a part of how you roleplay your character, and you shouldn't have to invest resources in it if you're never going to have a tangible benefit for it.

There are tangible benefits; they're just not specified by the book. The GM decides what they are, based on the situation.


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So a separate but related issue I have is that if I see my character as being a fantastic chef, or lawyer, or sailor I can achieve legendary proficiency in the appropriate lore very inexpensively- simply take the "additional lore" feat with one of your skill feats and you will get those skill ranks for free, and this does not take away from skill ranks I might prefer to put in athletics or arcana or thievery etc.

But if I want my character to be a really good comedian, or violinist, or actor I would need to invest skill ranks in performance, which makes me good at all those things at once and does take away skill ranks I might want to spend on acrobatics, medicine, or stealth.

So could we perhaps just make Performance the "Lore for Cha-based activities" and just give bards proficiency in all forms of performances as a class feature? One thing I was kind of surprised by in the book is that classes don't ever just give skill ranks in specific skills, like "all clerics advance in religion at these levels".


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Quote:
There is no use for Performance. Whatever you roll, the result will always be up to the GM. That's not a skill, it's a part of how you roleplay your character, and you shouldn't have to invest resources in it if you're never going to have a tangible benefit for it.
There are tangible benefits; they're just not specified by the book. The GM decides what they are, based on the situation.

That's exactly the point, isn't it? Performance is entirely reliant on how the GM feels that day, the roll doesn't matter. So why is there a modifier?


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

So a separate but related issue I have is that if I see my character as being a fantastic chef, or lawyer, or sailor I can achieve legendary proficiency in the appropriate lore very inexpensively- simply take the "additional lore" feat with one of your skill feats and you will get those skill ranks for free, and this does not take away from skill ranks I might prefer to put in athletics or arcana or thievery etc.

But if I want my character to be a really good comedian, or violinist, or actor I would need to invest skill ranks in performance, which makes me good at all those things at once and does take away skill ranks I might want to spend on acrobatics, medicine, or stealth.

So could we perhaps just make Performance the "Lore for Cha-based activities" and just give bards proficiency in all forms of performances as a class feature? One thing I was kind of surprised by in the book is that classes don't ever just give skill ranks in specific skills, like "all clerics advance in religion at these levels".

I would second Performance just becoming a Lore, unless they're going to seriously augment it. But there is one very good way to augment it:

Personally I would ditch bard as a legacy class and instead turn it into an archetype, replace it with the witch as the Occult caster, and move most of the non-loremaster bardic abilities to Performance skill feats.

Now anyone can be a bard, reflecting different aspects of bardness by their base class (skalds are Barbarians with the Bard archetype for instance) and the particular bard powers (Performance skill feats) they choose.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
There are tangible benefits; they're just not specified by the book. The GM decides what they are, based on the situation.

There are tangible benefits. The player just doesn't know what they are, when they should consider them, and how realistic they are to attain.

Mother-May-I, The Game.

There's a lot to like with PF2. This isn't some of it.

A DM applying ad-hoc circumstance bonus/penalty modifiers to an established DC is understandable. "There's a loud crowd, so being heard is harder than usual." This isn't that.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

So a separate but related issue I have is that if I see my character as being a fantastic chef, or lawyer, or sailor I can achieve legendary proficiency in the appropriate lore very inexpensively- simply take the "additional lore" feat with one of your skill feats and you will get those skill ranks for free, and this does not take away from skill ranks I might prefer to put in athletics or arcana or thievery etc.

But if I want my character to be a really good comedian, or violinist, or actor I would need to invest skill ranks in performance, which makes me good at all those things at once and does take away skill ranks I might want to spend on acrobatics, medicine, or stealth.

So could we perhaps just make Performance the "Lore for Cha-based activities" and just give bards proficiency in all forms of performances as a class feature? One thing I was kind of surprised by in the book is that classes don't ever just give skill ranks in specific skills, like "all clerics advance in religion at these levels".

I would second Performance just becoming a Lore, unless they're going to seriously augment it. But there is one very good way to augment it:

Personally I would ditch bard as a legacy class and instead turn it into an archetype, replace it with the witch as the Occult caster, and move most of the non-loremaster bardic abilities to Performance skill feats.

Now anyone can be a bard, reflecting different aspects of bardness by their base class (skalds are Barbarians with the Bard archetype for instance) and the particular bard powers (Performance skill feats) they choose.

You could then move the Loremaster bard abilities to the Lore skill, beefing that up at the same time.

I... really like this.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:

I would second Performance just becoming a Lore, unless they're going to seriously augment it. But there is one very good way to augment it:

Personally I would ditch bard as a legacy class and instead turn it into an archetype, replace it with the witch as the Occult caster, and move most of the non-loremaster bardic abilities to Performance skill feats.

Now anyone can be a bard, reflecting different aspects of bardness by their base class (skalds are Barbarians with the Bard archetype for instance) and the particular bard powers (Performance skill feats) they choose.

Man, its so sad that this will never happen, because I loved this idea!


Gotta say that does sound great. However I would settle for having each skill usable by all characters, without having to say "this skill is for this class only so don't bother tracking it".

Dark Archive

PossibleCabbage wrote:

So a separate but related issue I have is that if I see my character as being a fantastic chef, or lawyer, or sailor I can achieve legendary proficiency in the appropriate lore very inexpensively- simply take the "additional lore" feat with one of your skill feats and you will get those skill ranks for free, and this does not take away from skill ranks I might prefer to put in athletics or arcana or thievery etc.

But if I want my character to be a really good comedian, or violinist, or actor I would need to invest skill ranks in performance, which makes me good at all those things at once and does take away skill ranks I might want to spend on acrobatics, medicine, or stealth.

So could we perhaps just make Performance the "Lore for Cha-based activities" and just give bards proficiency in all forms of performances as a class feature? One thing I was kind of surprised by in the book is that classes don't ever just give skill ranks in specific skills, like "all clerics advance in religion at these levels".

To add to this, only bards, clerics, and rogues and pull this off in a satisfying fashion, due to the fact that Performance isn't a signature skill for most. Do you want to be a master violinist? Wizards need not apply. Making Performance a Lore would solve this problem as well.


I agree with this mostly, I feel that perform is entirely redundant. Its uses can be easliy shifted to other skills e.g. diplomacy to play a song to calm people down, deception to dance to distract people.

If paizo do stick with bard as a core, base class (and they will, because remember the furore over bard 'not being core' when 4e pushed it back to PHB2?) they should make their powers go off the spellcasting roll as that's exactly the kind of thing it's there for.

Making perform a lore though, in my opinion, exacerbates the problem of their being too many, too undefined and too redundant lore types. Again, uses of lore can be shifted to their relevant other skills.


I don't see "too many lore types as a problem" since there's a lore for literally anything you can name, and that is precisely the point of the lore skill.

It's not a skill the GM is going to ask you to roll, but if a player can explain how their expertise on cheesemaking or their expertise as a sommelier is relevant somehow to something that has come up, I'm going to let a player roll it. It's not something you invest in to expect to be able to use it, except to earn money during downtime.

So it's not really different than "I can play the violin really well" which isn't going to come up a lot unless a player makes it come up.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I don't see "too many lore types as a problem" since there's a lore for literally anything you can name, and that is precisely the point of the lore skill.

It's not a skill the GM is going to ask you to roll, but if a player can explain how their expertise on cheesemaking or their expertise as a sommelier is relevant somehow to something that has come up, I'm going to let a player roll it. It's not something you invest in to expect to be able to use it, except to earn money during downtime.

So it's not really different than "I can play the violin really well" which isn't going to come up a lot unless a player makes it come up.

If you're not going to roll it, and it only happens in downtime; why is it even noted in your stats when it should just be written into your backstory and roleplayed as such? This applies to Perform, Lore and (kinda) Crafting. Crafting has edge cases of battlefield repair, but, as with uses of lore, these could be rolled into other skills and feats.

Before the argument of 'Then you could write into your backstory how your character has had experiences with literaly everything that may come up' arises: As with the possiblities for lore types currently, the GM can arbitrate it, as they should be doing for backstories anyway.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:

Personally I would ditch bard as a legacy class and instead turn it into an archetype, replace it with the witch as the Occult caster, and move most of the non-loremaster bardic abilities to Performance skill feats.

Now anyone can be a bard, reflecting different aspects of bardness by their base class (skalds are Barbarians with the Bard archetype for instance) and the particular bard powers (Performance skill feats) they choose.

This is quite possibly my favorite idea I've seen on these boards.

It will never happen because Bards are too "legacy" and "classic", but in all honesty, Bards have never felt like they fit in as a core class. The Bards are so specific in how they do things. They are meant to be the difinitive occultist spellcaster. The occult list being comprised of spells that deal with Shadow and light bending, mind manipulation, dreams, and Eldritch power. Why is the full Occult spellcaster then a Bard? The class defined by being the musician, the preformer, the charmer?

Isn't that the kind of thing that any class should be able to incorporate into their character? Telling stories to convince and guile and inspire? Why is that even a magic thing? That's a character and a roleplaying thing.

The Witch, Warlock, Psychic, just the Occultist, or any other various classes feel so much more at home as the primary Occult spellcaster. And the Bard as an archetype feels perfect.


CommanderCoyler wrote:

If you're not going to roll it, and it only happens in downtime; why is it even noted in your stats when it should just be written into your backstory and roleplayed as such? This applies to Perform, Lore and (kinda) Crafting. Crafting has edge cases of battlefield repair, but, as with uses of lore, these could be rolled into other skills and feats.

Before the argument of 'Then you could write into your backstory how your character has had experiences with literaly everything that may come up' arises: As with the possiblities for lore types currently, the GM can arbitrate it, as they should be doing for backstories anyway.

I think though that this is a new issue, and nobody seemed that perplexed by how you could put ranks in Craft (Cabinetry) or Profession (Cheesemaker) or Perform (Bagpipes) and not get a lot out of it (heck, you could do the same with Knowledge Nobility, Engineering, and History a lot of the time.)

People put ranks in these things because they like to have their character sheet mechanically represent their internal vision of their character. Particularly with the Background Skills system from Unchained, you didn't need to be worse at stuff to be an ace cheesemaker (which we sort of reproduce with the "additional lore" skill feat).


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

I'd like to see Performance, as well as Deception, Diplomacy, Intimidation, as attack modes in a social combat system. Defenses would be opposed checks of Discipline (opposes Performance), Intuition (opposes Deception),
Judgement (opposes Diplomacy) and Spirit (opposes Intimidation).

Discipline, Intuition, Judgement and Spirit would be Wisdom skills.
Examine, Notice, Search and Survival would be Perception skills.


I think the main problem with Performance, from a mechanical side, is other skills do it better. You can use it as a way to make money during downtime, but 1) Lore skills do the same, but as other said, there less costly to get to legendary, and you always get a Trained Lore skill for free do to Backgrounds, and 2) Crafting also earns you the same money, but you have the additional use of being able to make things.

Now, you can also use it as a way to as a way to help a Diplomacy check. But, has other pointed out, its largely up to your DM how much this affects it, if at all. This is compounded, as the use of skill outside making money, is dependant on an entirely different skill to have any benefit.


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And for the masters of Performance, they are chained down be this, not empowered. The Bard feat 'Versatile Performance', which is suppose to power up the skill, can actually entrap you in it. For brief summary it allows you to use your Performance to 'Make an Impression' 'Demoralize' and 'Impersonate'. This isn't a bad group of rounded out activities { 1st for Social, 2nd for Combat, 3rd for Fun) {These activates were taken from Diplomacy, Intimidation, and Deception respectfully.), and having them all in one place can be an advantage {simpler to gain +'s to the check from items, and such)

But in order for you use any of the other Trained activates from Diplomacy, Intimidation or Deception, you would still need to invest in them, so it doesn't save you from that. The greater problem is, you can't use your Performance skill level as a perquisites for Skill Feats in those activities. You may have a slightly easier time gaining better bonuses, but you can only still do the basics {no 'Battle Cry' or 'Legendary Negator" ect.), because you've tied those skills to Performance.


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Siro wrote:
I think the main problem with Performance, from a mechanical side, is other skills do it better. You can use it as a way to make money during downtime, but 1) Lore skills do the same, but as other said, there less costly to get to legendary, and you always get a Trained Lore skill for free do to Backgrounds...

I had to bring up this up I just noticed it. The Performance Legendary Skill Feat, Legendary Performer reads as follows "Your fame as a performer of the type you chose with Virtuosic Performer has spread throughout the lands. An NPC who succeeds at a DC 10 Society check to Recall Knowledge has heard of you, and whenever you Stage a Performance, you can typically attract higher-level audiences to your performance, as determined by the GM."

And for the Lore side of things. Legendary Profesional "Your fame in your chosen lore has spread throughout the lands (for instance, if you have Warfare Lore, you might be a legendary general or tactician). An NPC who succeeds at a DC 10 Society check to Recall Knowledge has heard of you, and when you Practice a Trade with that Lore skill, you can typically find higher-level tasks, as determined by the GM."

They are the excate same Feat.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

As someone who actually enjoys playing a bard and was hurt a little when they cut it from 4e initially, I would be sad to see it reduced to an archetype here, even though I would understand if it's popularity simply wasn't sufficient to justify such prime placement.

That said, I think the problem with Perform is that they really haven't fleshed out the skill feats for it, nor given it any design space that isn't duplicated by other skills. Other systems have done it far better. Some basic mechanic ideas (in need of balancing):

  • Distracting Performance: (Reaction) Counteracts actions with the Concentrate trait at a distance;
  • Mocking Performance: Target takes a penalty for Attack actions not made against you
  • Cacophony: Area around the Performer is effectively silenced as you can't hear anything else;
  • Groupie/Biggest Fan: Summon your biggest fan for a day whose alignment towards you is helpful, and who will perform basic tasks for you;
  • Star Power: You can use your Perform skill to attract the attention of people around you without them realizing they're being distracted.

    You could even add seduction-based powers if this weren't a PG game.


  • I think there are a few magic items that require a certainly rank or higher in performance to use.

    I remember back in 2nd edition bards there were magic items (horn of valhalla sticks out in my memory) that had an enhanced effect if a bard used them. I would like to see that for those with master and legendary performance.


    Fuzzypaws wrote:


    Personally I would ditch bard as a legacy class and instead turn it into an archetype, replace it with the witch as the Occult caster, and move most of the non-loremaster bardic abilities to Performance skill feats.

    Now anyone can be a bard, reflecting different aspects of bardness by their base class (skalds are Barbarians with the Bard archetype for instance) and the particular bard powers (Performance skill feats) they choose.

    I could get behind this, if you could pick archetypes at level 1 AND if high level bard feats were good enough (we're talking Splatoon level "song that changes the alignment and driving motivation of listeners" kind of masterpieces here).


    First, I think that Performance should absolutely be removed as a Skill. It's just not useful enough in this system. Second, I think that Bard could absolutely be made into an Archetype, or alternatively into a number of general Feats. I honestly think you could combine multiple feats into one, like this:

    Performer (Feat 1): You are a consummate performance artist. You are considered Trained in ability checks with any kind of artistic performance. At 3rd level, you become an Expert. At 5th level, you become a Master. At 13th level, you become Legendary. In addition, choose one type of performance, such as Acting, Dance, or Strings. You have a +2 circumstance bonus when performing in that way. Finally, you can substitute a performance for a Diplomacy check when you Make an Impression.

    Fascinating Performance is fine, but could be made into a Bard-Archetype Feat. Legendary Performer should honestly be removed, it doesn't do anything meaningful for a character.


    Disclaimer: I have never played a bard.

    I will toss in some love for the idea of bard as a core class. I'm not saying it can't be reskinned as an archetype of other classes. I don't believe it should.

    I disagree that a bard is a flavored spell-caster whose primary function is to spell-cast theatrically-flavored spells. My supernatural performer is a performer foremost. A magic one, sure but that's just how it seems to the rest of you. As a supernatural champion of charisma, the bard outshines even the charismatic heroes of other classes. The bard is a social dynamo, an influential magnet, a space/time-warping singularity on society. Bards can shape the impact of even other heroes' accomplishments on society. They influence cultural values that carry on through generations. They sear interpretations of history into the collective psyche. This is categorically different than "that person was an epic spell-caster in their day", "she was an unparalleled duelist". The bard might not be remembered but their influence can still have far-reaching and unpredictable impact.

    (Wait what? Where does it say that?)
    (I'm not saying it does. But that captures the point of a bard, in my opinion, more than, "occultist archetype".)

    The bard concept can easily encompass multiple archetypes of its own as has been demonstrated in P1.

    I can understand the debate over the Perform skill.
    I agree that every class should be able to acquire the skill and train it to whatever degree they want and benefit from it.

    I can defend that Perform can be a skill selection, rather than feats. It's a discipline different from just diplomacy or intimidation or even instrumental skill. It can be honed/improved. I feel that improvement can be represented by skill ranks while being customized by associated feats. I whole-heartedly agree that bards should have unique enhancements to what anyone else could achieve. I whole-heartedly agree that non-bards should be able to develop legendary quality performance ability if that's their schtick.

    Odd, when the alchemist was introduced as a class, my interpretation was that it filled the same multi-disciplinary role as the bard. Not the same niche of course but still kind of a jack-of-all-trades type. Some rogue, some naturalist, with a huge bent on supernatural pharmacology. I loved it. Craft - alchemy is still something every other class can do. Nevertheless, I support the alchemist as a stand-alone class, as opposed to an archetype of wizard. Same with the bard.

    I just read the P2 entry for Perfom. I have nothing against it. It does have real effects. The trained success/critical success consequences seem tangible enough for a social arena. I love that there is a skill that can be used outside the 5-foot square tactical combat map.

    My wordy 2 coppers. Go bards!

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