"Correct" Math vs Fun Math


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Silver Crusade

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Something I've started to pick up on on here reading the rules and updates and watching the forums and elsewhere, is the apparent current goal of getting the math "correct", or correct as can be. Unfortunately this also seems to be coming at the expense of the math enabling fun, which is kinda the whole point of it.

A lot of times I see posts that amount to "this isn't good/fun" and other posters and the designers will chime in with "At that level +x bonus works out to xx% which is where it should be", which... actually sidesteps the prompting statement, or at least the priority of it.

Recently Untrained was remixed to give a -4, since a lot of people had the perception (little p) that something being "Untrained" should be a negative rather than so-so, which it previously had the appearance of. But on the other hand even before that, an equal number of people were calling for the higher Proficiency bonuses to be raised, so that you had the appearance of improving as you leveled even if the obstacles' stats increased along with it so they kept in tune, psychological satisfaction basically even if the math worked out the same.

Which is the crux of my concern, it doesn't matter how "correct" or flawless you get the math if it isn't fun. The math is the framework, not the endgame, it enables the game. So, is this more and more "Corrected" math fun to actually use?

What's everyone's feelings on it?

(and yes I know a bunch of monster Skills and Skills DCs are off, that's not what I'm referring to when I say the goal of "Correct" math, I'm talking about the tightening and lowering the floor.)


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I hear ya, I do not find the mathematical aesthetics of PF2 all that pleasing, so far (I have some houserules, outside the Playtest, to address some things), but a lot can change (numbers shifting etc).

It's overall lacking a bit of pizazz, a tad flat, sterile, I would like more Wow-factor.

Silver Crusade

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A lot of things look "fun" on paper but aren't that "fun" in practice.

Take the classic 3.5/PF situation, where I have +15 to a skill with my Slayer, which makes me feel that the math is fun because double digits and I hit high numbers and I got rewarded for being specialised. And I'm better than the Cleric, because with her crap skill point count and ACP and whatanot she's at +5 to that skill.

BUT

it also means that the GM has a very hard time making a challenge for a group when one person is at +15 and the other are at +5. Such challenge is either impossible for them or trivial for me. If it's trivial, well, where's the challenge, if it's impossible - woe be to the party if I don't turn up for the game, or if my PC gets kidnapped by the bad guys, or if for any other reason my super-specialised ability is unavilable. Bummer.

With PF2 math, most common challenges (eg. sneaking among sleepy orcs, climbing a cliff, swimming upstream) can be attempted by the entire party, not just by one or two super-specialised PCs. Does that take away some fun out of hyperspecialisation? Sure it does. But on the other hand, it allows more challenges where the entire party can succeed, leaving them less dependant on hyper-specialist, discourages gamey character advancement ("OK we need everybody to max Perception and now we need to split Knowledges, Sense Motive, Stealth, Diplomacy etc. among us so that we have everything maxed out) and leads to fewer situations where the party is split because only the specialist stands a chance, while others are a dead weight or worse, a liability.

And woe be to a PF1 party that has turbo-optimizers mixed with people who don't powergame at all. The discrepancies in math between those quickly reach the levels where frustration arises as the former feel dragged down by the latter while the latter feel pressurised to keep up with the former.

Lowering the floor does take some empowerment out of the game, but it does that for the sake of being more a collective experience and less an evening of vignettes on how one specialist handles the situation while everybody else gets to sit and watch.

Yeah, I know, big numbers are fun. For you. They aren't necessarily that fun while you look at the Big Picture.


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Fun, unfortunately, is 100% subjective.

What you, I and someone else find fun can be completely different, not only that, but also what we find fun might be frustating to others.

While these forums show many dissatisfied with PF2, me included, we cannot deny that there are those that like the changes.

Will we play together? Hell no.

Clearly we dont see eye to eye on what is fun, but alas, to some this need for balance at all cost is a must in order to have said fun.

Pathfinder is a game about numbers, what you can or cant do is often directly related to what numbers you have written on your sheet. Changing said numbers in itself is one thing that might change widely the game feel and which side is having fun.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Yeah, I know, big numbers are fun. For you. They aren't necessarily that fun while you look at the Big Picture..

True, big numbers do not make a game fun, for me, but for those that do have fun with big numbers, PF2 should be right up their alley.


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I find my players have the most fun when the game is balanced. 1e is far from balanced. Some fun character concepts just fall flat in battle and it ends up becoming a chore to play. So far I have found the game to be extremely balanced because of the math. Characters still have the thing they are good at but I haven't had a game so far where it felt like one player was actually useless. Meanwhile in 1e at least once a session one player feels like they didn't contribute at all to the combat. That's not fun for them. So yeah, correct math does usually = fun for everyone at the table, unless you're the kinda player that just likes to end encounters by themselves without your team helping at all. But I haven't played with those types of players yet.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
I find my players have the most fun when the game is balanced. 1e is far from balanced. Some fun character concepts just fall flat in battle and it ends up becoming a chore to play. So far I have found the game to be extremely balanced because of the math. Characters still have the thing they are good at but I haven't had a game so far where it felt like one player was actually useless. Meanwhile in 1e at least once a session one player feels like they didn't contribute at all to the combat. That's not fun for them. So yeah, correct math does usually = fun for everyone at the table, unless you're the kinda player that just likes to end encounters by themselves without your team helping at all. But I haven't played with those types of players yet.

I agree, not a fan of PCs feeling useless, and/or one PC that can "take care of it" for everyone.

Whenever I see 1e, at first I think of 1st Ed AD&D, not PF2.

Silver Crusade

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Gorbacz wrote:
Yeah, I know, big numbers are fun. For you. They aren't necessarily that fun while you look at the Big Picture..

It’s not even necessarily about big numbers, but bigger numbers. Say +0 to +6 instead of -4 to +3 as a common example I see, technically the latter has more growth (going negative to positive) and range (7 points difference) whereas the former is higher and thus the appearance of more growth.

(I’m not particularly leaning towards one over the other atm)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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I don't care about the absolute magnitude of the numbers involved, I want my character to succeed at stuff he's supposed to be good at. I don't want him to look like a fool by failing at his supposed specialties half the time. Conversely, I also want to be able to be really bad at some things because that's fun too.


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I like diving into math. Mathematics was my job before I retired. Nowadays I attend math lectures and watch math videos for fun. (I recommend Extra History: History of Non-Euclidean Geometry.) And I am analyzing the Pathfinder playtest rules mathematically because I like analyzing probabiliites. I would do this even if everyone liked the math inside the playtest rules.

Rysky wrote:
A lot of times I see posts that amount to "this isn't good/fun" and other posters and the designers will chime in with "At that level +x bonus works out to xx% which is where it should be", which... actually sidesteps the prompting statement, or at least the priority of it.

Paizo has used some fascinating mathematical tricks to balance the game. Finding them is like finding an Easter egg. Nevertheless, I learned back on the job that clever mathematics is not necessarily the mathematics we need. Sometimes, the clever math gets in the way.

Gorbacz wrote:
it also means that the GM has a very hard time making a challenge for a group when one person is at +15 and the other are at +5. Such challenge is either impossible for them or trivial for me. If it's trivial, well, where's the challenge, if it's impossible - woe be to the party if I don't turn up for the game, or if my PC gets kidnapped by the bad guys, or if for any other reason my super-specialised ability is unavilable. Bummer.

That happens. By coincidence, I wrote down an example in another conversation with Gorbacz back on September 5th:

Mathmuse wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Or roleplay the weaknesses. I can't see a reason why a character can't act like, say, an autistic person while not necessarily having lower Cha or Wis.

In my Iron Gods campaign the party finally acquired a great wealth of technological loot, which was illegal to sell under the rules of Technic League. I set up a trip to The Tarnished Halls, Numeria's biggest black market, as a side quest. First stop was the city of Hajoth Hakados, to find some underworld figure who could direct them to the Tarnished Halls.

And then the player of very social skald Kirii missed the game session due to illness. The party could safely operate without every party member on this non-combat quest, so we continued the game. And the result was humiliating.

The three remaining party members--nerd Boffin, brooding loner Elric Jones, and narcissistic glory-seeker Kheld--were not appropriate characters to deal with shadowy criminals. So I sent them to the local Pathfinder Society lodge. The feud between the Technic League and the Pathfinder Society had given the society good contact with The Tarnished Halls.

My wife as a player had the skills to gain the necessary information even with Boffin's low social skills. But she did not want to break character on Boffin. Furthermore, she was the main problem-solver in the party, but felt this time was the other two players' turn to solve this problem. Elric and Kheld found good conversations and common interests with colorful members of Pathfinder Society, yet never asked about the Tarnished Halls. My wife and I bit our tongues to see if they could handle the mission on their own. Nope.

They went to a disreputable tavern to find a blatantly obvious guide to the black market. Giacomo was obvious because he was incompetent. That caused more trouble, until Boffin returned to nerdy problem-solving mode in the appropriate setting, The Tarnished Halls themselves.

The question is, should have my wife broken character on Boffin to move the quest along smoothly?

...

My players do have fun on non-combat quests. The players of Elric and Kheld forgot their mission during the visit to the Pathfinder Society in Hajoth Hakados, because they were having too much fun swapping stories and dissing the Technic League with the Pathfinder Society adventurers.

Finding the Tarnished Halls was not supposed to be the challenge. Dealing with the Tarnished Halls and the ruffians who trade there was my planned encounter. But the easy way to find the Tarnished Halls was closed off due to a missing player.

My job as the GM was to provide alternatives that did not depend on the missing character. By the time that one character gains a +15 to some skill, another character ought to have gained a +10 to another skill. If the fellow with the incredible Deception bonus to bluff the party past the gate guard is missing, then the player character with a strong bonus to Thievery can instead open a locked door. All that is necessary is for the GM to say, "As you scout around the castle, you spot where a stream flows through a grate. That grate has a locked gate. The stream is in plain sight of the guards that patrol the walls." Or the player character with a bonus to Athletics can climb the wall and lower down a rope or the player character with a bonus to Diplomacy can receive a legitimate invitation or the player character with a bonus to Religion could return to the original deception plan by dressing everybody up as religious pilgrims.

Success due to a plan that uses the party's hard-earned skills is one of the most satisfying ways to overcome a challenge. The only disappointment is when the success is the same character's skills again and again, because only the rogue invested in skills or no-one invested but the wizard has the spells to fake it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Setting up challenges that reward specialisation (eg. being a Master/Legend in a skill) and provide the party with optional yet relevant rewards is one thing, ensuring that a relatively simple task (sneaking past a bunch of hobgoblin guards, swimming across a ford) doesn't become a festival of hilarious failure by supposedly heroic characters is another.

They're not mutually exclusive, but under 3.5/PF1, you could do the former, but the latter was virtually impossible. Sure, you could magic the problem away, but that only reinforced the status of caster as godlike beings and martials as meatsack beatsticks.


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Gorbacz wrote:

A lot of things look "fun" on paper but aren't that "fun" in practice.

Take the classic 3.5/PF situation, where I have +15 to a skill with my Slayer, which makes me feel that the math is fun because double digits and I hit high numbers and I got rewarded for being specialised. And I'm better than the Cleric, because with her crap skill point count and ACP and whatanot she's at +5 to that skill.

BUT

it also means that the GM has a very hard time making a challenge for a group when one person is at +15 and the other are at +5. Such challenge is either impossible for them or trivial for me. If it's trivial, well, where's the challenge, if it's impossible - woe be to the party if I don't turn up for the game, or if my PC gets kidnapped by the bad guys, or if for any other reason my super-specialised ability is unavilable. Bummer.

With PF2 math, most common challenges (eg. sneaking among sleepy orcs, climbing a cliff, swimming upstream) can be attempted by the entire party, not just by one or two super-specialised PCs. Does that take away some fun out of hyperspecialisation? Sure it does. But on the other hand, it allows more challenges where the entire party can succeed, leaving them less dependant on hyper-specialist, discourages gamey character advancement ("OK we need everybody to max Perception and now we need to split Knowledges, Sense Motive, Stealth, Diplomacy etc. among us so that we have everything maxed out) and leads to fewer situations where the party is split because only the specialist stands a chance, while others are a dead weight or worse, a liability.

And woe be to a PF1 party that has turbo-optimizers mixed with people who don't powergame at all. The discrepancies in math between those quickly reach the levels where frustration arises as the former feel dragged down by the latter while the latter feel pressurised to keep up with the former.

Lowering the floor does take some empowerment out of the game, but it does that for the sake of being more a collective experience and less...

For some people the issue with the math isn't even the size of the numbers... well, not the size of the PC's numbers, but rather the size of the DCs. And this might well be in part because of the "everyone can contribute" mindset reacting with the new crit system, such that they don't want stuff the low-end one can succeed at to be an auto-crit for the high-end, or for the low-end to auto crit-fail at stuff the high-end is attempting. Which basically means at all levels everything is aiming for around that 50/50 odds, at which point... where's the growth? The only thing that grows is the feeling of uselessness for those that don't give it their all, as they see their chance of success gradually get lower and lower, while their optimizing party member is running full speed to stay in place.

Silver Crusade

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Well, a 50/50 success chance (against level-appropriate challenges) is at least consistent and doesn't discriminate, unlike the "will always succeed/will never succeed" of PF1. Melee-oriented PF1 characters (except Rogues and Monks) would ALWAYS hit due to +atk scaling up faster than AC, but they would *never* grapple (unless hyperspecialised after a massive dumpster dive through sourcebooks) against anything bigger than Large. Repeat for several other dichotomies, add the binary pass/fail nature of things and you end up with an optimizers heaven and a casual players' nightmare. Wheee, so much fun, as long as you have way too much free time in your life to twink your character. And as long as everybody at the table does the same. And people wonder why 5E has pretty much beaten Pathfinder to the ground.

But PF1 is not going anywhere away, you can still have your +37 Diplomancer or archerdin.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Well, a 50/50 success chance (against level-appropriate challenges)...

The problem is the mindset of challenges being level appropriate. It makes sense that in an 12th level adventure, the walls of the infernal city of Dis are hard to climb. I have no quarrel with that.

But when rolls like Lingering Composition and Medicine automatically increase in DC as you increase in level, it just feels WRONG. You are automatically getting worse every level, your level increase, ability increases, skill feats, and items have to be spent just to fight this all-consuming entropy.

Groetus is right, the end approaches, and the higher you level up, the closer it gets!


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Gorbacz wrote:

Well, a 50/50 success chance (against level-appropriate challenges) is at least consistent and doesn't discriminate, unlike the "will always succeed/will never succeed" of PF1. Melee-oriented PF1 characters (except Rogues and Monks) would ALWAYS hit due to +atk scaling up faster than AC, but they would *never* grapple (unless hyperspecialised after a massive dumpster dive through sourcebooks) against anything bigger than Large. Repeat for several other dichotomies, add the binary pass/fail nature of things and you end up with an optimizers heaven and a casual players' nightmare. Wheee, so much fun, as long as you have way too much free time in your life to twink your character. And as long as everybody at the table does the same. And people wonder why 5E has pretty much beaten Pathfinder to the ground.

But PF1 is not going anywhere away, you can still have your +37 Diplomancer or archerdin.

The fact that a level 7 rogue can reliably disarm any published trap in the game is/was a problem.

The skill system needed a rework - I don't actually mind the system as it stands - I think when a skill check is needed could use a vast overhaul - the system we had was a relic of 3.x and the 'rule everything so there is a consistent way to do things' - personally I think that was fine to a point - but was overused in adventure design.

If the party is supposed to be able to cross a river, disguise themselves for a ball, or put on a fake puppet show for Napoleon, then why does it need to be a check at all?

Quote:
ensuring that a relatively simple task (sneaking past a bunch of hobgoblin guards, swimming across a ford) doesn't become a festival of hilarious failure by supposedly heroic characters is another.

So why check at all? What does it add to the game/narrative? In the situation you specifically call out what if:

The party can sneak past the guards - the GM is encouraged to pick the player with the best bluff or diplomacy and have the guard notice him, he can then use his skill that he specialized in to be cool.

Or:

The party swims across a ford - the person with the lowest athletics score needs to make a check - on a failure they slip and loose something from their backpack - the player with the highest athletics can make a check to save the item before it floats away.

There: both scenarios re-written with auto-success (no stopped adventure here!) yet allow skills to play up the drama and reward players instead of what we have now.

I think the use of skill checks for mundane things like 'jump a pit' actually dumb down the 'adventure' part of the game - and frankly could use a rework from a *design* standpoint - not just a numbers one.


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In 10-11 years, another set of game developers will claim to have figured out the "perfect RPG" and build it based on the same absolute balance of 4E and PF2e.

50% odds, unified system and equal game experience from lv1 to 20 is not the only requirement for a good game. Some of those are probably not required at all.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here’s my experience with dc’s from the first two sections: The players rolled in the 20s with their modifiers and nothing has any effect on them. For some reason my table never seems to roll less than a 14. I watch them roll and nothing ever effects them. They roll 3s and 4s to hit, but every time it’s a save dc they succeed. Just relating my experience and I realize that the they should fail approximately 50% of the time, but For me they succeed over 90% of the time. It really sucks the fun out of it. I’d love to see failure occasionally. I’m cursed LOL.

I could have a dc of 22 and with the way my players rolled last game and nothing would have effected them at level 4. I think it’s the curse of the table I’m at. If we play online and they use an an online roll they suck and would fail, but their dice seem to roll high, but only on saves, when playing in real life. The survival checks in the first part of the second scenario were always 22 or more. :(


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Gorbacz wrote:

A lot of things look "fun" on paper but aren't that "fun" in practice.

Take the classic 3.5/PF situation, where I have +15 to a skill with my Slayer, which makes me feel that the math is fun because double digits and I hit high numbers and I got rewarded for being specialised. And I'm better than the Cleric, because with her crap skill point count and ACP and whatanot she's at +5 to that skill.

BUT

it also means that the GM has a very hard time making a challenge for a group when one person is at +15 and the other are at +5. Such challenge is either impossible for them or trivial for me. If it's trivial, well, where's the challenge, if it's impossible - woe be to the party if I don't turn up for the game, or if my PC gets kidnapped by the bad guys, or if for any other reason my super-specialised ability is unavilable.

I don't have a problem with having autosuccess/autofail challenges for that kind of situation. If you've invested in that thing, you are rewarded. If you haven't, you have to cope.

It's just a question of designing adventures so either situation is a fun time.

If you can read the ancient language, you learn how to open the door without fighting the guardian. If you can't, you fight the guardian.

If you can climb the difficult tree, you can see into the enemy camp and know what you're going to be facing. If you can't climb the tree, you have to go into the enemy camp with no prior knowledge.

If you can make the diplomacy check, the guy will tell you what you need to know. If you can't, you have to bribe him or beat the information out of him.

If you can disarm the trap, you are rewarded by taking no damage. If you can't, you have to try to work out how to disarm it with minimal loss of resources.

If you pass the perception check, you spot the hidden treasure. If you can't, you never even realise there was a treasure.

If you can cast a healing spell, you are able to save the dying peasant and find out who attacked him. If not, you can use medicine skill. If you can't do that, he dies and you have to deal with that.

These situations don't have need a 50-50 chance of success (or 85-15 chance of success, or whatever) to be interesting. They can just be there to allow characters to feel good about being good at the things they are good at. "Wow, lucky thing we brought an expert chef along."


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I can't upvote Matthew Downie's comment enough.

The 50/50 balance point just killed the fun in our group. And I get it (finally had that math epiphany) - they can't really change it to let folks have those bigger bonuses and feel like they are better at stuff without having critical successes all over the place because of the +10/-10 rule and the 4 levels of success.

As others have noted elsewhere, the 4 levels of success and +10/-10 structure works really well with non-d20, multi-dice options (2d10, 3d6) that produce a curve of potential results. But that flat linear percentile ties design into a very narrow range for balance. It goes both ways, too - as unbalancing and monotonous as it would be to have the party critically succeeding all the time on stuff, it would be equally game-breaking to have an enemy rolfstomping the party with crit after crit after crit.

But it's not fun to heavily invest in something and... just barely keep pace with the challenges. That's not a satisfying payoff.


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Requielle wrote:

I can't upvote Matthew Downie's comment enough.

The 50/50 balance point just killed the fun in our group. And I get it (finally had that math epiphany) - they can't really change it to let folks have those bigger bonuses and feel like they are better at stuff without having critical successes all over the place because of the +10/-10 rule and the 4 levels of success.

As others have noted elsewhere, the 4 levels of success and +10/-10 structure works really well with non-d20, multi-dice options (2d10, 3d6) that produce a curve of potential results. But that flat linear percentile ties design into a very narrow range for balance. It goes both ways, too - as unbalancing and monotonous as it would be to have the party critically succeeding all the time on stuff, it would be equally game-breaking to have an enemy rolfstomping the party with crit after crit after crit.

But it's not fun to heavily invest in something and... just barely keep pace with the challenges. That's not a satisfying payoff.

And not needing to roll at all just kills the fun in my group... +40 perception is boring.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Requielle wrote:

I can't upvote Matthew Downie's comment enough.

The 50/50 balance point just killed the fun in our group. And I get it (finally had that math epiphany) - they can't really change it to let folks have those bigger bonuses and feel like they are better at stuff without having critical successes all over the place because of the +10/-10 rule and the 4 levels of success.

As others have noted elsewhere, the 4 levels of success and +10/-10 structure works really well with non-d20, multi-dice options (2d10, 3d6) that produce a curve of potential results. But that flat linear percentile ties design into a very narrow range for balance. It goes both ways, too - as unbalancing and monotonous as it would be to have the party critically succeeding all the time on stuff, it would be equally game-breaking to have an enemy rolfstomping the party with crit after crit after crit.

But it's not fun to heavily invest in something and... just barely keep pace with the challenges. That's not a satisfying payoff.

And not needing to roll at all just kills the fun in my group... +40 perception is boring.

I dunno, sure seems like there might be a balance between "nothing you do affects anything" and "you can easily trivialize checks by stacking up bonuses to one thing."


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Greg.Everham wrote:
I dunno, sure seems like there might be a balance between "nothing you do affects anything" and "you can easily trivialize checks by stacking up bonuses to one thing."

In my opinion, there needs to be more skill checks in the game that work like the "Recognize Spell" feat (the 1.1 revision).

Recognize Spell, pg. 170 wrote:
If the spell is a common spell of level 2 or lower and you are trained in the appropriate skill for the spell’s tradition, you automatically identify it. The spell level you automatically identify increases to 4 if you’re an expert, 6 if you’re a master, or 10 if you’re legendary.

The auto-success via enormous numbers may be mitigated by having certain skill challenges that are auto-bypassed with the appropriate level of skills. For instance, consider a Diplomacy challenge of DC 37 to convince a powerful Noble not to order someone's assassination - but if you have Legendary Diplomacy, then you can automatically succeed. Those 15th level characters with Expert Diplomacy, a 20 charisma and a Circlet of Persuasion have a chance to succeed, and MAYBE they can pull it off - but the person who put their skill increases in dutifully has the level of personal magnetism and people skill to succeed automatically, and their optimization is rewarded, without either giving the system too many optional bonuses that can unintentionally stack, nor having situations where someone who has maxed out their skill or feature could still fail on a stupid die roll.

I would like to see more cases like what's in Recognize spell, but spread out within the other skills.


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math scale:
IMHO it can vary greatly based on the group, with some having no trouble with basic math, others very math phobic and the last group loving college level advanced math formulas.
In general too simple math turns me off to a game that promises true drama, ie a d2 just does not have the range to reflect life or RPG life in my opinion.

Mathmuse:
Your example of a player not showing up:
I know of quite a few groups that do not play if a player cannot make the game and I also know of GM's who will play the missing player's PC in very minor ways to advance the story or even have the missing player make rolls and then send them over the net so the GM can use so random method to use those rolls.

I saw EN Henery (I think that is the right poster) post something like you issue above and he was proposing something I saw as a "Replaceable Part" PC idea as is in PF2.
I (playing since 78, many games) have not seen a "Replaceable Part" idea work in a non-video game situation.
Yes I am curious if it will work but from the people I have talked to 100+ they do not like it.

MDC


Gorbacz wrote:
a festival of hilarious failure

Honestly- this sounds pretty "fun".

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A game doesn't have to have 50/50 math to have a fun chance of risk. Look at Savage Worlds, for example - on most tasks being barely trained gives you a 62.5% chance of success, and for most characters who are highly skilled it caps at 87.5%. It's possible for a super-experienced character to get to 97.5%, but that requires a super heavy investment and is rare IME. This is a fun range to play in because while it's not certain, it's at least consistent. Coin flip on every roll is not fun.

And there's a simple answer for those concerned about how the party moves on with the game if someone can't make a needed skill check. It's called "Failing Forward," and it means that if the PCs make the correct checks they get plot based rewards or an easier time, but if they fail, the adventure still goes on, just in a worse situation for them.


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After my third session, I started making changes, usually one or two per session.

The first change was doubling proficiency modifiers, and I would fully suggest it to anyone who's dissatisfied with characters that don't feel like they're really improving.

The next session I scrapped the ever increasing heights of 10-2 for a stable formula (regular task DC lv+14, difficult task DC lv+18, extreme task DC lv+20). This allowed characters who invested in skills to perform reliably with them rather than barely break even.

A further session saw adding general feats that improve proficiency one step with a weapon group, armor category, or shields. The otherwise inability to improve that is a serious design defect. This, coupled with the increased proficiency mods, gave players a real way to improve at combat. I also reduced multi attack penalty based on proficiency. The third attack was still a waste, but a second attack was far more likely to succeed for a skilled combatant.

By that time it was almost a game I could stay with... If I had been willing to fully rebuild the bestiary (or wait for them to).


Pathfinder Card Game, Cards Subscriber

What if d20 was only for combat rolls and saves, while 3d6 or 3d8 - 2 was used for proficiency checks?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

With the caveat that I may have read the play test rules wrongly, we are finding that the underlying maths is really fun in combat but is proving limiting outside of combat with players just avoiding skill rolls in situations where failure would have significant impact.

As an example:
The player playing the rogue finds using stealth in combat to remain hidden and sneak up on the opponent’s mage a lot of fun. The success rate feels about right and so far the dice rolls have added to the tension rather than proved frustrating.

The same player is not prepared to use stealth outside combat to scout ahead. The relatively high chance of failure (20-30%) and the consequence of being spotted (Having to face the encounter alone until they can get the other players there) discourages them from attempting it.

As I said, maybe we are reading the rules incorrectly if so ignore me but this is currently what is happening when we use the new rule system.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Requielle wrote:

I can't upvote Matthew Downie's comment enough.

The 50/50 balance point just killed the fun in our group. And I get it (finally had that math epiphany) - they can't really change it to let folks have those bigger bonuses and feel like they are better at stuff without having critical successes all over the place because of the +10/-10 rule and the 4 levels of success.

As others have noted elsewhere, the 4 levels of success and +10/-10 structure works really well with non-d20, multi-dice options (2d10, 3d6) that produce a curve of potential results. But that flat linear percentile ties design into a very narrow range for balance. It goes both ways, too - as unbalancing and monotonous as it would be to have the party critically succeeding all the time on stuff, it would be equally game-breaking to have an enemy rolfstomping the party with crit after crit after crit.

But it's not fun to heavily invest in something and... just barely keep pace with the challenges. That's not a satisfying payoff.

And not needing to roll at all just kills the fun in my group... +40 perception is boring.

Not seeing where I advocated for not needing to roll. But hey, if that's the strawman you want to waltz with, you do you.

Silver Crusade

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I find myself checking the rules to see what skill checks have critical failure results, and avoiding using those skills.


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Scythia wrote:
I also reduced multi attack penalty based on proficiency. The third attack was still a waste, but a second attack was far more likely to succeed for a skilled combatant.

I really like this, might yoink it; have never been a fan of descending iterative attacks, to begin with.


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Gorbacz wrote:
With PF2 math, most common challenges (eg. sneaking among sleepy orcs, climbing a cliff, swimming upstream) can be attempted by the entire party, not just by one or two super-specialised PCs. Does that take away some fun out of hyperspecialisation? Sure it does.

I think a way to mitigate this divide between not feeling good about specialization would be to separate the outcomes from just being dependent on the numbers themselves.

If Proficiency is factored for lessening degrees of failure or increasing degrees of success (i.e. treating critical failures as failures, failures as successes, successes as critical successes, or just outright altering the downsides of certain tiers of success) you can achieve both while keeping the numbers plot the same.

That way everyone has a chance to succeed, but those with greater degrees of proficiency that have spent resources on being specialized can feel "good" about their decisions through the tiers of success.

You can modify the outcomes themselves instead of the math in a few ways:

Master in Stealth - Failure on Sneak only makes you sensed instead of seen. If you are already sensed, you become seen.

I know this is probably the intended goal of Skill Feats, but currently I find them rather lack luster and limited. Using proficiency only as a gating tool for what Skill Feats you can select diminishes the value of Proficiency in respect to the Skills they modify.

The other factor is that the above could be applied to a lot more than Skill Feats:

I.E.
Expert in Light Armor - Modify your check penalty to skills by your Proficiency bonus

Overall, I want to see Proficiency step up to the task of providing the feeling of specialization, so the math can be relegated to what it does best.


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ryric wrote:
I don't care about the absolute magnitude of the numbers involved, I want my character to succeed at stuff he's supposed to be good at. I don't want him to look like a fool by failing at his supposed specialties half the time. Conversely, I also want to be able to be really bad at some things because that's fun too.

To a point. But the math of the current system means hunting down every stray +1 you can find to have a... passable... chance of success in order to be sufficiently specialized. You can't just be skilled and 'talented' (ie, maxed out the appropriate stat). You need all the items and any applicable spells/songs/whatever as well. I dislike the idea that skill and talent isn't even enough to successfully do your job on a day-to-day basis. Really. In the workplace people failing is a big deal. It isn't something that happens 2 days out of every 5, per person.

On the other hand, the math is constructed in such a way if you aren't a super specialist with max attributes and the right gear and supporting magic, the best thing you can do for the party is never contribute. Just shut up and stand in the corner, or play X-box or something.

And that's terrible for a game.


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Scythia wrote:

The first change was doubling proficiency modifiers, and I would fully suggest it to anyone who's dissatisfied with characters that don't feel like they're really improving.

The next session I scrapped the ever increasing heights of 10-2 for a stable formula (regular task DC lv+14, difficult task DC lv+18, extreme task DC lv+20). This allowed characters who invested in skills to perform reliably with them rather than barely break even.

This is the general gist of how I'd imagine the game gets corrected. Scale back the DCs so that invested characters can excel at tasks at level. At the same time, allow for higher proficiency characters to be effective against monsters of higher level (with the +2 bumps being equitable to one level of difference).

On the flip side, I'd also like to see more out of the lower end of the spectrum. That is, I'd want weaknesses to be, you know, weak. Everyone is "trained" in saves, but that kinda sucks. It's okay, game wise, to not have a strong save and be rolling to see if you're super lucky and succeed, kinda lucky and only fail, or rolled low and have to crit fail. That's okay! You'll have to play smartly and avoid exposing that low save... or maybe invest feats, items, and stat increases in getting rid of that low save! To the same end, monsters having some type of weakness to take advantage of is important. As it is now, anything that is higher level than you simply cannot be messed with and that's both boring and frustrating.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps Subscriber

Someone up thread mentioned that their players didn't seem to be rolling below a 14 on the d20.
that's great, but, at the same time, I've had tables where the players (as a group) felt lucky to role above a 10. This means they will completely frustrated by 2nd ed.


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Dire Ursus wrote:

So yeah, correct math does usually = fun for everyone at the table, unless you're the kinda player that just likes to end encounters by themselves without your team helping at all.

...

And not needing to roll at all just kills the fun in my group... +40 perception is boring.

Gorbacz wrote:
But PF1 is not going anywhere away, you can still have your +37 Diplomancer or archerdin.

There's a lot of ground between +40 bonuses and PF2's mathematics. Wouldn't it be nice to have a system where you could get meaningful differences between players without the unbounded high end of PF1 and the artificial floor of PF2?

I don't understand the aversion to having meaningful differences between players, each with complimentary strengths that cover individuals' weaknesses. That's how real teams work.


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Rysky wrote:
What's everyone's feelings on it?

From the get go, the tight math paradigm has clearly dominated the game. Without question, I feel there is something missing. It reminds me of the Matrix Reloaded(?) where Neo meets with the Architect. The Architect talks about previous iterations of the Matrix. The architect says,

"The first Matrix I designed was quite naturally perfect. It was a work of art, flawless, sublime. A triumph equaled only by its monumental failure."

Paizo's presence on these forums is predominately manifested trough Mark, and he seems consumed with the math, or rather that seems to be the only thing that he is willing to engage anyone at length on. Based on his responses, Paizo is clearly focused on some sort of mathematical consistency/uniformity.

Gorbacz wrote:
it also means that the GM has a very hard time making a challenge for a group when one person is at +15 and the other are at +5.

Yes, it's obvious that the modifiers in PF1 needed some reigning in. But this doesn't feel like moderation, it feels more like eradication. There has to be some compromise between letting players easily succeed and crushing the game down to a uniform DC table.

Let me throw out a thought for Paizo: Did you ever consider that a non-linear/uniform DC table might make the game feel more immersive? There's something artificial about everything being perfectly uniform and balanced. The fact that some part of the painting has thicker paint than another part is not a necessarily a bad thing. It adds a human element to the painting and makes it more accessible. I want a game that feels like it was chiseled by hand, not spit out by a CNC machine.

I don't need the game to be perfect because it can't be. But the tight math in this game and the resultant design decisions feel like the heel of a boot. I can only guess that there might be a feeling that if Paizo doesn't keep control of it, it will spiral out of control.

I can't imagine that this an easy task that Paizo has undertaken.

My advice to Paizo is to step away from the math and focus more on the experience players will have at various stages of the game. Putting great feats at level 20 doesn't make sense if that represent less than 5% of the total time I'll spend playing the class, does it? Think about the sweet spot of the game. Think about leveling up being more like a roller coaster rather than climbing a perfect staircase.


ENHenry wrote:
Greg.Everham wrote:
I dunno, sure seems like there might be a balance between "nothing you do affects anything" and "you can easily trivialize checks by stacking up bonuses to one thing."

In my opinion, there needs to be more skill checks in the game that work like the "Recognize Spell" feat (the 1.1 revision).

Recognize Spell, pg. 170 wrote:
If the spell is a common spell of level 2 or lower and you are trained in the appropriate skill for the spell’s tradition, you automatically identify it. The spell level you automatically identify increases to 4 if you’re an expert, 6 if you’re a master, or 10 if you’re legendary.

The auto-success via enormous numbers may be mitigated by having certain skill challenges that are auto-bypassed with the appropriate level of skills. For instance, consider a Diplomacy challenge of DC 37 to convince a powerful Noble not to order someone's assassination - but if you have Legendary Diplomacy, then you can automatically succeed. Those 15th level characters with Expert Diplomacy, a 20 charisma and a Circlet of Persuasion have a chance to succeed, and MAYBE they can pull it off - but the person who put their skill increases in dutifully has the level of personal magnetism and people skill to succeed automatically, and their optimization is rewarded, without either giving the system too many optional bonuses that can unintentionally stack, nor having situations where someone who has maxed out their skill or feature could still fail on a stupid die roll.

I would like to see more cases like what's in Recognize spell, but spread out within the other skills.

I think this could be nice, cuts to the chase.


John Mechalas wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:

So yeah, correct math does usually = fun for everyone at the table, unless you're the kinda player that just likes to end encounters by themselves without your team helping at all.

...

And not needing to roll at all just kills the fun in my group... +40 perception is boring.

Gorbacz wrote:
But PF1 is not going anywhere away, you can still have your +37 Diplomancer or archerdin.

There's a lot of ground between +40 bonuses and PF2's mathematics. Wouldn't it be nice to have a system where you could get meaningful differences between players without the unbounded high end of PF1 and the artificial floor of PF2?

I don't understand the aversion to having meaningful differences between players, each with complimentary strengths that cover individuals' weaknesses. That's how real teams work.

Lowering the numerical gap between specialized and non-specialized character and between optimized and non-optimized characters, that solves the problem that Gorbacz was talking about. (designing challenges for parties where one character completely overshadows another), but makes creating a competently specialized-character more difficult.

And I think Paizo was aware of that becoming a problem, as the way class and skill feats are designed, they seem to be designed to allow a character to grow in capabilities without "doing exactly what another party member does, but more and better" unless you both take the same feats. I feel that, if the skill and class feats, especially the higher level skill feats had more oomph, that could address everyones problems.

Well, everyone's problems but the balance teams. I could see making class and skill feats a bigger portion of a characters power throwing the balance of things all ot of whack in a bad way.


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Yeah, overall I think the math is generally in the right place (with a bit of tweaking) for base things, but they need to invest more in feats opening up the breadth of what is possible.


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John Mechalas wrote:

I don't understand the aversion to having meaningful differences between players, each with complimentary strengths that cover individuals' weaknesses. That's how real teams work.

Many don't seem to want that anymore.


ENHenry wrote:
Greg.Everham wrote:
I dunno, sure seems like there might be a balance between "nothing you do affects anything" and "you can easily trivialize checks by stacking up bonuses to one thing."

In my opinion, there needs to be more skill checks in the game that work like the "Recognize Spell" feat (the 1.1 revision).

Recognize Spell, pg. 170 wrote:
If the spell is a common spell of level 2 or lower and you are trained in the appropriate skill for the spell’s tradition, you automatically identify it. The spell level you automatically identify increases to 4 if you’re an expert, 6 if you’re a master, or 10 if you’re legendary.

The auto-success via enormous numbers may be mitigated by having certain skill challenges that are auto-bypassed with the appropriate level of skills. For instance, consider a Diplomacy challenge of DC 37 to convince a powerful Noble not to order someone's assassination - but if you have Legendary Diplomacy, then you can automatically succeed. Those 15th level characters with Expert Diplomacy, a 20 charisma and a Circlet of Persuasion have a chance to succeed, and MAYBE they can pull it off - but the person who put their skill increases in dutifully has the level of personal magnetism and people skill to succeed automatically, and their optimization is rewarded, without either giving the system too many optional bonuses that can unintentionally stack, nor having situations where someone who has maxed out their skill or feature could still fail on a stupid die roll.

I would like to see more cases like what's in Recognize spell, but spread out within the other skills.

Yes. Yes yes yes. This times a million. Baked into the skill proficiency tiers and skill descriptions rather than just occasional feats.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

As a non-rigorously defined proposal, after playing through 3.5 chapters of doomsday dawn and 2 PFS scenarios, I think I'd like to see a version that does the following:

Move the center-baseline down about 2 (ie increase by 10%), also center it one one-step less optimized than current. (So for an optimized character we're seeing ~15% improvement in odds at level 1.)

Smooth out a few of the jumps. Fighting a level+3 monsters if the monsters is above a 5/10/15 threshold (ie party is level 9, monster is 12, is significantly more deadly than party is 10 and monster is 13).

What else would have to change? I think possibly increasing HP of monsters to allow for the higher hit/success rate and/or the reduction in critical from double to maximized/150%/something.


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
John Mechalas wrote:

I don't understand the aversion to having meaningful differences between players, each with complimentary strengths that cover individuals' weaknesses. That's how real teams work.

Many don't seem to want that anymore.

It is a sad state of affairs indeed.

Well, all each can do is give their feedback to paizo and hope for the best. PF2 will become what PF2 will become.

If it continues to drive PF1 players away maybe at the end we lucky out and another company deem the market big enough to start making content to cover it.


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I dont like being on a treadmill in general. the stuff you are best at (skills), you should basically auto-succeed, as long as it does not interfere too much with combat math. if some people cant even roll, then the party needs a creative solution as to how to succeed. One of the high points in my roleplaying history was when we enetered a flying castle by intercepting it above a mountain top, the wizard animated all our ropes to get up to it, and the barbarian then climbed up and pulled everyone else up.
we were level 4


Nox Aeterna wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
John Mechalas wrote:

I don't understand the aversion to having meaningful differences between players, each with complimentary strengths that cover individuals' weaknesses. That's how real teams work.

Many don't seem to want that anymore.

It is a sad state of affairs indeed.

Well, all each can do is give their feedback to paizo and hope for the best. PF2 will become what PF2 will become.

If it continues to drive PF1 players away maybe at the end we lucky out and another company deem the market big enough to start making content to cover it.

As for the first two sentences, amen.

As for the third, and last; presently enough house-rules for PF1 and PF2, at this point, to whip those babies into shape.


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Moving the goal posts to between a 60% and 75% success rate for a level-appropriate challenge would work for me. The former can be for a competent build, and the latter for optimal. People who are highly specialized should be able to succeed at such a task 3/4 of the time.

If critical failures are going to be a thing in skill checks, then the low end needs to be lowered to DC-15. And a natural 1 needs to stop being an auto-failure. The idea that someone who is skilled at their job outright fails 5% of the time on easy tasks is absolutely ludicrous. There is no reality in which that makes any kind of sense.

That would be a start. It would at least address the major complaints my players had in Lost Star.


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A "level-appropriate challenge" says, to me, that, whatever it is, it is roughly my equal. Therefore, it should either be a stale-mate (roughly 0 to 5% success rate to either side) or closer to a 50/50.

However, it should be noted, that not every challenge should scale by level. If climbing a wall, at level 5, is a DC 15 challenge, then that same wall, with no modification, should not be a DC 25 just because I am now level 15. Similarly, not every challenge should be "level-appropriate". In fact, I would argue, that most challenges should not be because, again, "level-appropriate", means I have come across my equal and, as a fantasy hero (or villain) that should not happen often.


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iNickedYerKnickers wrote:
A "level-appropriate challenge" says, to me, that, whatever it is, it is roughly my equal. Therefore, it should either be a stale-mate (roughly 0 to 5% success rate to either side) or closer to a 50/50.

Not correct. Coming across your equal means you are both equally good at something, not in perfect balance where you cancel each other out.

If you are making an opposed check on the exact same skill, then yes, that means a 50/50 chance of success. But most of the rolls in the game are not like that. In combat, my attack roll is going against your AC. When sneaking around, my Stealth score is going against your Perception. And so on. If we have the same scores in all those areas, then we have the same odds of beating each other. That can be 50% success, or 75% success, or 20% success.


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John Mechalas wrote:
Moving the goal posts to between a 60% and 75% success rate for a level-appropriate challenge would work for me. The former can be for a competent build, and the latter for optimal. People who are highly specialized should be able to succeed at such a task 3/4 of the time.

I'd definitely be fine with slanting the bar 10% in the direction of success, so that we don't run into stalemate problems. Also to say implicitly: "hey, taking actions is better than not taking actions".

Give a bit of advantage to the active party, and avoid perfect equilibrium.

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