Can We Stop Saying "Treadmill" Like It's a Bad Thing?


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Gaterie wrote:
This is how you make a player feels legendary while keeping him on the same RNG as the other players: by having him roll to see how awesome he is instead of just checking if he fails miserably. And then you can balance the game around that; eg, a failure in Stealth could just trigger a warning for team monster (they heard something, but they're not sure it's a PC) while a crit success could allow to remove a warning. Legendary Rogue Boy could never fail, and still be on the same RNG as anyone.

My wife insisted on a system like this, where experts can prevent critical failures, for her expert climber barbarian described in Expert Climber Aiding Trained Climbers. Her main argument was that climbers apply these techniques in the real world.

I am thinking of generalizing it to a SAVE OTHER reaction, restricted to experts, based on the AID reaction on page 306.

[[R]] AID
Trigger An ally is about to use an action, activity, free action, or
reaction that requires a skill check.
Requirements The ally is willing to accept your aid, and you have
prepared to help (see below).
You try to aid your ally’s check in some way. To use this reaction,
you must first prepare to help, usually by using an action during
your turn. You must explain to the GM exactly how you’re trying
to help, and she determines whether you can Aid your ally.
When you use your Aid reaction, attempt a skill check of a
type decided by the GM. The typical DC for Aid is 15, but at the
GM’s discretion this might change to DC 20 for particularly hard
tasks or DC 10 for particularly easy tasks. The GM can add any
relevant traits to your Aid reaction or to your preparatory action
depending on the situation.
Success You grant your ally a +2 circumstance bonus to the
triggering skill check.
Critical Success You grant your ally a +4 circumstance bonus
to the triggering skill check.
Critical Failure Your ally takes a –2 circumstance penalty to
the triggering skill check.

[[R]] SAVE OTHER
Trigger An ally has critically failed a skill check or saving throw and the consequences have not yet occurred.
Requirements The ally is willing to accept your aid, and you have prepared to help (see below). You must also have expert or better proficiency in the skill or save, or trained proficiency and a Lore that directly relates to the skill check or saving throw.
You intervene in an ally's activity to prevent the consequences of a major failure. To use this reaction, you must first prepare to intervene, usually by using an action during your turn. You must explain to the GM exactly how you could intervene, and she determines whether you can prevent the consequences.
When you use your Save Other reaction, attempt a skill check or saving throw of the same type and DC as the ally's failed check. During the preparation, the GM may have chosen a different skill check for the intervention check, if intervening with the other skill is more feasible, such as an Acrobatics skill check to intervene on a Reflex save.
Success You convert your ally's critical failure into a failure.
Critical Success You grant your ally a chance to reroll the skill check or saving throw. A critical failure on the reroll becomes a failure.
Critical Failure You suffer the same consequences as the ally.

I have several motives in inventing Save Other:
1) Some of these actions, such as belaying a fellow climber, exist in the real world.
2) I like teamwork, and Save Other provides a stronger method of preventing catastrophic failures in group activities than Aid.
3) We need a set of actions that expert proficiency opens up, and Save Other is fairly universal. For example, it could be used with Recall Knowledge: "That big, red flying reptile that breathes fire is a fruit bat." "Idiot, bats aren't reptiles." "Oh, right. I don't know what it is."


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Mathmuse wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
This is how you make a player feels legendary while keeping him on the same RNG as the other players: by having him roll to see how awesome he is instead of just checking if he fails miserably. And then you can balance the game around that; eg, a failure in Stealth could just trigger a warning for team monster (they heard something, but they're not sure it's a PC) while a crit success could allow to remove a warning. Legendary Rogue Boy could never fail, and still be on the same RNG as anyone.

My wife insisted on a system like this, where experts can prevent critical failures, for her expert climber barbarian described in Expert Climber Aiding Trained Climbers. Her main argument was that climbers apply these techniques in the real world.

I am thinking of generalizing it to a SAVE OTHER reaction, restricted to experts, based on the AID reaction on page 306.

[[R]] AID
Trigger An ally is about to use an action, activity, free action, or
reaction that requires a skill check.
Requirements The ally is willing to accept your aid, and you have
prepared to help (see below).
You try to aid your ally’s check in some way. To use this reaction,
you must first prepare to help, usually by using an action during
your turn. You must explain to the GM exactly how you’re trying
to help, and she determines whether you can Aid your ally.
When you use your Aid reaction, attempt a skill check of a
type decided by the GM. The typical DC for Aid is 15, but at the
GM’s discretion this might change to DC 20 for particularly hard
tasks or DC 10 for particularly easy tasks. The GM can add any
relevant traits to your Aid reaction or to your preparatory action
depending on the situation.
Success You grant your ally a +2 circumstance bonus to the
triggering skill check.
Critical Success You grant your ally a +4 circumstance bonus
to the triggering skill check....

I regret that I only have 1 favorite to give this post.

These sorts of interactions with the proficiency system are the sorts of things that I was hoping/expecting more of based on the previews we were getting before the actual rules dropped.

Sovereign Court

I like the idea of Save Other, apart from the "have prepared to assist" requirement which I think is a bit fiddly and requires a lot of boilerplate people saying they're doing that before other people roll dice during the game.

Somewhat cleaner would be "reaction: something goes wrong, you intervene, and are slowed on your next round". That requires a little less constant paranoia to use.


Ascalaphus wrote:

I like the idea of Save Other, apart from the "have prepared to assist" requirement which I think is a bit fiddly and requires a lot of boilerplate people saying they're doing that before other people roll dice during the game.

Somewhat cleaner would be "reaction: something goes wrong, you intervene, and are slowed on your next round". That requires a little less constant paranoia to use.

I was thinking of dropping the "prepared to assist" requirement for master proficiency.


Honestly, I do like that idea. Whilst I'm... ambient on the Skill checks and the DCs against them, as there seems to be a lot of player perception and biased involved in them so its impossible to get a good idea about what it actually means... I do think that there needs to be greater and more concise differences between the different tiers.


Ranishe wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:
I've seen a lot of people state "lingering composition" is a good example of how the treadmill is bad. But I disagree entirely. Lingering Composition is something that shouldn't be a static level, because then it becomes unbalanced

Why?

Why would lingering becomes unbalanced? Other metamagic feats don't require a roll: there's no roll involved with widen spell, there's no roll involved with quickened casting. Are those feat unbalanced?

No, they take extra actions, which are a percentage of your effectiveness.

Wait; what?

Did you actually read my post? At what moment does quickened casting costs an action?


Gaterie wrote:
Ranishe wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:
I've seen a lot of people state "lingering composition" is a good example of how the treadmill is bad. But I disagree entirely. Lingering Composition is something that shouldn't be a static level, because then it becomes unbalanced

Why?

Why would lingering becomes unbalanced? Other metamagic feats don't require a roll: there's no roll involved with widen spell, there's no roll involved with quickened casting. Are those feat unbalanced?

No, they take extra actions, which are a percentage of your effectiveness.

Wait; what?

Did you actually read my post? At what moment does quickened casting costs an action?

I feel like Ranishe and Gaterie are arguing past each other. Let me present the points as I see them.

[[F]] WIDEN SPELL Feat 1
Metamagic, Sorcerer (also comes in a Wizard version)
Trigger You start to cast a spell that has an area of a burst, cone, or line,
and that does not have a duration. The spell must have a maximum of two
spellcasting actions.
You add a Somatic Casting action to the casting of the triggering spell and increase the
area of that spell. You add 5 feet to the radius of a burst that normally has a radius of at
least 10 feet. You add 5 feet to the length of a cone or line that is normally 15 feet long
or smaller, and add 10 feet to the length of a larger cone or line.

Widen Spell is a standard metamagic feat. Like many other class feats, such as Power Attack, it is balanced by costing an extra action slot. (I coined the phrase "action slot" to mean how much an action costs. Casting a Spell is one action, even if it costs one, two, or three action slots and has Verbal Casting, Somatic Casting, and Material Casting actions as part of it.)

[[F]] QUICKENED CASTING Feat 8
Sorcerer (also comes in Wizard version, and Paizo forgot the Metamagic trait)
Frequency once per day
Trigger You are casting a sorcerer cantrip or a sorcerer spell
that is at least 2 levels lower than the highest sorcerer spell
you can cast. The spell must require 2 or more spellcasting
actions to cast.
Choose one of the spell’s spellcasting actions. You don’t need to
use that action to finish casting the spell.

Since Quickened Casting has the point of reducing the number of action slots required to cast the spell, it cannot cost an extra action slot. It is free. That is very powerful, so Paizo limited it to once per day.

LINGERING COMPOSITION Feat 1
Bard
By adding a flourish, you can make your compositions last longer. You
learn the lingering composition composition power (see page 235), which you can
cast at a cost of 1 Spell Point. Increase your Spell Point pool by 2.

LINGERING COMPOSITION Power 1
Enchantment, Power
Casting [[F]] Verbal Casting; Trigger You finish casting
a cantrip composition with a duration of 1 round.
You attempt to add a flourish to your composition to extend
its benefits. Attempt a Performance check. The DC is usually a
high-difficulty DC of a level equal to the highest-level target of
your composition, but the GM can assign a different DC based on
the circumstances. The effect depends on the result of your check.
Success The composition lasts 2 rounds.
Critical Success The composition lasts 3 rounds.
Failure The composition lasts 1 round.

Like Quickened Casting, Lingering Composition has the point of reducing the number of action slots required to use bardic compositions. Therefore, also like Quickened Casting, it cannot cost an extra action slot. By making it cost Spell Points, of which a typical 1st-level bard with Lingering Composition would have 6, Paizo limits it to 6 times per day. That is 6 times as generous as Quickened Casting, so they weakened the feat's power by also requiring a Performance check. A 1st-level bard with trained Performance would have a +5 bonus to the check. Lingering the Inspire Courage composition would have DC 11, for a 25% chance of failure.

But the bard might instead want to use his spell points for Counter Performance, Loremaster's Recall, Harmonize, Inspire Heroics, Soothing Ballad, or Fatal Aria. The feats that grant these abilities increase the number of spell points available by 1 or 2, but also create competition for the spell points. Overall, the value of a spell point increases with each feat. Thus, Lingering Composition could grow relatively more expensive at higher levels.

If Lingering Composition for Inspire Courage had a fixed DC 11, then the +1/level on Performance skill would reduce the chance of failure on Lingering Performance to 20% at 2nd level, 15% at 3rd, and so on down to 5% at 5th level. It would stay at 5% for the next 10 levels, due to the effect of rolling a natural 1, before reaching 0%. The effect of improving Performance proficiency to expert would be more critical successes and the 0% failure rate arriving one level sooner. Likewise, a bard could spend 250 sp for an expert-quality musical intrument for a +1 item bonus to performance.

With the scaling DC for Lingering Composition for Inspire Courage, the only way to improve the odds is expensive solutions: higher proficiency, extreme Charisma boosting, and high-quality instruments. And since those solutions won't ever reach the levels to cancel out a natural 1, a +4 is the natural stopping point, such as +1 from expert proficiency and +3 from a 9500-sp maestro's instrument.

The non-DC-scaling Lingering Composition replaces a 25% failure rate with a 5% failure rate, and no failure at 15th level. I don't see that as unbalancing. The DC-scaling Lingering Compostion has its own minor Christmas Tree effect. The Paizo designers have stated they want to eliminate the Christmas Tree effect.


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I don't see the definition of "treadmill" as facing increasingly stiff challenges as the game progresses, I see it as the challenge scaling in such a way that you never really make forward progress, i.e. you stay in place as you would upon a treadmill.

Final Fantasy 8 was a case of monsters scaling so as to be roughly the same degree of challenge throughout the entire game.

But in most such games and definitely in 1E, there are usually ways to get ahead in some way -- a combination of feats, a certain item, a tactic with another PC, and various challenges could be rendered easier or even trivial. You could frontload so much advantage on to the character (such as by making a goblin PC specializing in stealth) that even the increased challenge at higher levels would never put them at a significant disadvantage.

2E doesn't have that. In 2E, the best you can ever accomplish is generally "you succeed a little more often than calling heads on a coin toss." It's possible to be worse but not really possible to be better. If you don't do your best to keep up, you will be worse. If the GM is stingy with treasure, you will be worse. If you ever try to do something unique, you will be worse. If you prioritize roleplaying over optimization, you will be worse.

You can never get any further forward, but you can definitely fall off. That's a treadmill.


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If getting better means that you have an higher chance of success against same-level foes or obstacles, then those challenges become trivial and lose their reason to exist. Adventures will need higher-than-your-level ones to challenge you; which, in turn, become impossible to pass for the non-specialized characters in the same group.
That's PF1 approach, where some groups routinely have to face APL+4 monsters in order to make the combat interesting, and you are on a razor's edge because the risk of a TPK becomes much higher with such a rocket-tag; with skills it's the same, you have one character who auto-succeeds and the others who only have a chance on a natural 20.
I understand that there are people who like this kind of game, and after all that's the game I have been playing for years, too; but now I see that an alternative to that approach exists.

The feeling of non getting better is bad, I agree, but it's only apparent: when you go hunting dragons instead of trolls, aren't you better than before? Try facing lower-level opponents or skill challenges, and you will see how much stronger you have become. Try climbing the same mountain a few levels later, or facing another band of ogres like the one you fought a while back, and the treadmill will become much less evident.
I think that the dreaded feeling of being on treadmill only appears if you assume that every enemy, and expecially every problem to solve with the use of a skill, will be exactly level-appropriate. Now I don't know how published adventures will be made, but all in all there's nothing wrong if a level 10 group is routinely facing level 8 or 9 enemies or hazards, and level-appropriate challenges become a bit less common and feel more like 'bosses'.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
kaisc006 wrote:
We started seeing the treadmill thought of scaling skill DCs in Star Wars saga edition where characters got half their level added to everything with trained skills getting a +5 bump... and that received a lot of flak just like the treadmill in pf2e.
Bingo, and SWSE was a "snapshot" into 4th Ed design at the time; the +Heroic level deal makes a mess of, what is otherwise, one of the best d20 games. At high levels it completely breaks down (Defences, Skills), but, again, very easy to omit.

If you go back and look at the previews (need the Wayback Machine. WotC nuked all their Star Wars stuff) they mention the design reason for everyone getting better at skills that weren't trained only was so on group challenges all heroes could contribute to a group challenge. A character focused on a skill (say Pilot) has a +10 difference (in addition to the raw ability mod) right off the bat (+5 trained, +5 skill focus) and kept that the entire career without investment and the gap never changed beyond attribute mod increases, which is (effectively +.5 every 4 levels). Instead it kept non-pilot focused characters from being dead weight in an encounter focused on it. Abilities untrained characters shouldn't be able to try at were solved with Trained Only. Without this you run into a problem where only one character isn't covered in lights and alarms when trying to sneak, only one guy. Instead the experts got abilities that made them more flexible or consistent.

The gap is big enough that even comparing a level 20 character (Note the heroes of Return of the Jedi are only level ~11 by official status.) to a non-heroic that does something as his job the two are only roughly equal at worst. The scaling is much faster in PF2E and lots of things are level gated for no good reason so the non-heroic character is always outclassed at his job.


Gorbacz wrote:
It's pretty much one person posting about the "treadmill" in every PF2e thread. Which is amusingly treadmill-ey in itself, I must admit.

One could say he's doing a lot of walking but not going anywhere.


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My biggest issue with the treadmill in PF 2nd Ed is not that it is visible...it is that it is really not adjustable. As a GM and a player in PF 1st ed I can make it slower...or faster...etc. and still make the game challenging and fun.

Now I get why they would want to design it this way...it makes the game alot easier to design for.

Also it allows poor GMs who don't have the experience, time, skill, or intelligence run a passable game and run module straight...as you don't need to adjust things to fit the group they are running for.

I often find such systems to be painfully boring after a few levels...and to be very gaming in nature.


Selene Spires wrote:
My biggest issue with the treadmill in PF 2nd Ed is not that it is visible...it is that it is really not adjustable. As a GM and a player in PF 1st ed I can make it slower...or faster...etc. and still make the game challenging and fun.

Is there anything in pf2e's rules that takes this away from you as a gm?


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Ranishe wrote:
Selene Spires wrote:
My biggest issue with the treadmill in PF 2nd Ed is not that it is visible...it is that it is really not adjustable. As a GM and a player in PF 1st ed I can make it slower...or faster...etc. and still make the game challenging and fun.
Is there anything in pf2e's rules that takes this away from you as a gm?

Try delaying access to a +1 weapon until level 6+ or so and see what happens. They weren't such a big deal before, even if still super optimal.


deuxhero wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
kaisc006 wrote:
We started seeing the treadmill thought of scaling skill DCs in Star Wars saga edition where characters got half their level added to everything with trained skills getting a +5 bump... and that received a lot of flak just like the treadmill in pf2e.
Bingo, and SWSE was a "snapshot" into 4th Ed design at the time; the +Heroic level deal makes a mess of, what is otherwise, one of the best d20 games. At high levels it completely breaks down (Defences, Skills), but, again, very easy to omit.

If you go back and look at the previews (need the Wayback Machine. WotC nuked all their Star Wars stuff) they mention the design reason for everyone getting better at skills that weren't trained only was so on group challenges all heroes could contribute to a group challenge. A character focused on a skill (say Pilot) has a +10 difference (in addition to the raw ability mod) right off the bat (+5 trained, +5 skill focus) and kept that the entire career without investment and the gap never changed beyond attribute mod increases, which is (effectively +.5 every 4 levels). Instead it kept non-pilot focused characters from being dead weight in an encounter focused on it. Abilities untrained characters shouldn't be able to try at were solved with Trained Only. Without this you run into a problem where only one character isn't covered in lights and alarms when trying to sneak, only one guy. Instead the experts got abilities that made them more flexible or consistent.

The biggest problem for me is Defences and BAB; where Skills go a bit off the rails is the extra +5 from Skill Focus, at higher levels it can trivialise too many checks. Also, can be a feat tax, especially for Use the Force checks.


Selene Spires wrote:
My biggest issue with the treadmill in PF 2nd Ed is not that it is visible...it is that it is really not adjustable.

Actually, one of the best parts is how easily omitted or adjusted it is (+0, +1/4, +1/2, or +2 x Level, etc), that is some elegant design.

In the end, the treadmill is fine, as it so easily tweaked or removed (same with SWSE and 4th Ed), so I am fine with making the simple adjustments, depending on the campaign (nice way to mix it up).


Vic Ferrari wrote:
The biggest problem for me is Defences and BAB; where Skills go a bit off the rails is the extra +5 from Skill Focus, at higher levels it can trivialise too many checks. Also, can be a feat tax, especially for Use the Force checks.

The main problem I saw with SWSE was where skill checks were used against Defenses, e.g. many Force powers. Defenses were 10 + level + statbonus + a small modifier for class (generally 0 to 2), whereas the skill check for someone with Skill Focus in Use the Force would be d20 + level/2 + 10 (training + focus) + statbonus. So, let's say you're 6th level and try to Force Push an equal-level opponent. They have a Fortitude defense of about 18-20, and you're rolling d20+16ish.

That's the game that taught me that even if things look similar, they're not necessarily built to the same scale.


Yeah the real trick to fixing SWSE was to just get scale back that +5 to skills and +5 for skill focus or at least that worked for me.


Staffan Johansson wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
The biggest problem for me is Defences and BAB; where Skills go a bit off the rails is the extra +5 from Skill Focus, at higher levels it can trivialise too many checks. Also, can be a feat tax, especially for Use the Force checks.

The main problem I saw with SWSE was where skill checks were used against Defenses, e.g. many Force powers. Defenses were 10 + level + statbonus + a small modifier for class (generally 0 to 2), whereas the skill check for someone with Skill Focus in Use the Force would be d20 + level/2 + 10 (training + focus) + statbonus. So, let's say you're 6th level and try to Force Push an equal-level opponent. They have a Fortitude defense of about 18-20, and you're rolling d20+16ish.

That's the game that taught me that even if things look similar, they're not necessarily built to the same scale.

Yep, and Defences can get out of control compared to attack/to hit numbers; does not play nicely with BAB.

Dark Archive

Gaterie wrote:
Ranishe wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:
I've seen a lot of people state "lingering composition" is a good example of how the treadmill is bad. But I disagree entirely. Lingering Composition is something that shouldn't be a static level, because then it becomes unbalanced

Why?

Why would lingering becomes unbalanced? Other metamagic feats don't require a roll: there's no roll involved with widen spell, there's no roll involved with quickened casting. Are those feat unbalanced?

No, they take extra actions, which are a percentage of your effectiveness.

Wait; what?

Did you actually read my post? At what moment does quickened casting costs an action?

I think they were referring to metamagic feats in general. Quickened Casting is weird though, since instead of costing an action it saves one and costs a Reaction.

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