Skill Gating - Common Misconceptions about Skill Proficiency.


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One of the most common things that I've been seeing lately on the skill forums is that people are having issues with the modifiers that various skill proficiencies provide. The biggest complaint is that there is barely any difference between someone who is a higher level that is only trained at a skill compared to someone who is much lower level but happens to have their skill at Expert or Master rank.

I was hoping that this can help bring some life to proficiencies beyond the crunchy bits of '+X to Roll and qualify for Skill Feat'. One of the best ways I've seen to do this is through the use of Skill Gating that's detailed in the Game Mastering section of the Rulebook. Below are some examples of this in practice.

Untrained

When a skill is untrained you take a -4 Penalty to your total skill roll. In addition to this you are only able to make skill checks for the most common skill uses. In some cases you are unable to use the skill at all.

This level of proficiency should allow someone to accomplish basic tasks such as climbing a rope, keeping their balance on the deck of a ship, or making common knowledge rolls that everyone has a chance to know.

With your proficiency at a rank of Untrained you should not expect to be able to participate in most skill challenges related to that skill.

Trained

When a skill is trained you do not get any bonuses or penalties to your total skill roll.

This level of proficiency should allow someone to accomplish standard uses of a skill and participate in minor skill challenges. This includes being able to roll to provide food or shelter for yourself in the wilderness, keeping your balance on a narrow passage, climbing the side of a building, disarming more complex traps, treating poison or disease, identifying magical items.. Pretty much the meat of most checks will start here.

With your proficiency at the rank of Trained you should expect to start participating in group skill challenges or low level personal skill challenges.

Expert

When a skill is at the rank of expert you get a +1 bonus to your total skill roll. In addition to this you are able to start attempting higher ranked skill challenges.

This level of proficiency should allow someone to accomplish more nuanced uses of their skill. Some examples of this would be disarming more complex traps or dealing with haunts, climbing the side of a cliff with adverse conditions, crafting more valuable items, surviving in more adverse environments, participating in more delicate social scenarios such as politics or spying.

The GM will normally limit rolls that they want only characters who are focused a skill to be able to attempt. Expert ranked skills will typically allow you to be able to succeed at these checks.

Master

When a skill is at the rank of master you get a +2 bonus to your total skill roll. In addition to this you are able to start attempting extremely difficult skill challenges and gaining possible workarounds on lower ranked skill challenges.

This level of proficiency should allow someone to accomplish extremely specialized uses of a skill. This can include knowing lore that only a handful of loremasters in the world are aware of, being able to craft works of art, knowing tricks to circumvent standard traps that allows you to disable it with less required successes at a lower DC, or having contacts in high ranks of an organization that can provide you with information or favors.

The GM will normally limit skill tests by this rank of Proficiency if they want only a true specialist in their field to attempt them.

Legendary

When a skill is at the rank of legendary you get a +3 bonus to your total skill roll. In addition to this you are considered legendary in this particular skill. This means you are able to attempt any use of this skill, and possibly be able to accomplish other skills through the use of this skill.

Some examples could include the use of Crafting to disarm a trap, Society to gather information from contacts, Survival to allow you to thrive in an extremely difficult environment that may normally require magic such as a hostile plane, or Medicine to recall knowledge on monster weaknesses.


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TL;DR

The slight bonus that proficiencies give you to your skill roll isn't as important as what it should open up for you as a player. Raising the proficiency in a skill should be more about the options that you have than about a skill bonus.


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I have had to continue to remind my players of this, and how there is a bigger then it appears difference between trained and Expert.

However my question is, does this defeat some of the point?

Reason skills are so narrowly separated: To allow everyone in the party to participate in someway to a skill related task. This seems good the rouge might not sweat it as they cross a narrow ledge checking for surprise dangers, afterwords the fighter and wizard brace themselves and with proper precautions make it across.

Reason given Rules were done this way: Skill modifiers could get insanely different in PF1e, to the point that some challenges got divided in to who can even reasonably attempt a skill check.

However... with UTEML, they hard coded a tier system which inherently defines who can and can't attempt a skill check, so while the modifiers are similar, we still possibly end up with the same "can and can't" gap, possibly a larger one (since so few skills will go passed trained)

Is this good or bad? I don't know, it possibly achieves the goal by giving more control over when a character "can or can't" do a thing while still requiring everyone to roll for tasks meant for the whole party. But it strikes me with an odd feel that the High skilled character in there focused area of expertise who can accomplish so much more than other characters still is forced into having a noticeable chance of failure on a task everyone else is rolling on.


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From what it seems like, if you're attempting some basic function of an adventurer then you only need to be trained in a skill. You can make most basic skill tests with an untrained check, though you're going to be at a pretty severe penalty.

For the example that you provided, if I required an Athletics check of Trained to cross a narrow ledge then I would allow other players to attempt it while assisted by someone who has already made it across using a rope or something similar.

I do think that this is something that is better .. especially since there are certain skills that are pretty core to an adventurer lifestyle. If you do not have most of those skills trained then you better be bringing something very special to the team in order to convince them to carry you through some of the more difficult tests.

Silver Crusade

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The problem with gating is that it’s needlessly punitive if an adventure assumes a time least one player has hit top tier in a certain skill in order to even attempt a check to advance.

The second playtest adventure has a trap that a player can only attempt to disable if a character has Expert or higher in Thievery. If nobody does you’re not even allowed to make a roll.

Our party was an alchemist, paladin, cleric and sorcerer. None of us picked Thievery as our first skill increase. Our perception rolled high enough to spot the trap, but there was nothing we were allowed to do about it. Except I guess set it off, get hurt and move on, we were literally punished for picking skills incorrectly. My alchemist was trained in Thievery, but was not even allowed to roll against a difficult DC to try and set off the trap.

This is just the most obvious example. What happens when an adventure assumes a certain proficiency tier in one of the knowledge skills in order to gain a vital clue? Or a certain tier in athletics in order to move a big rock to get through a door?

Skill gating behind certain tiers sounds like a good idea for differentiation at first, but all it does is force players to play: “Guess how the adventure designer or GM thinks”. Feels bad.


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Id prefer if rather than this gating (other than between untrained and trained) they did something like give a free skill feat at expert, master/legendary or had skill feats scaling with proficiency as the rule rather than the exception.


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Expert in Thievery is fairly easy to hit right out of the gate for a Rogue and there are several other classes that can hit it fairly easily if the party doesn't have someone dedicated to traps.

Outside of that, there are ways to deal with traps that don't involve skills.

I will say that I definitely prefer skill proficiency gates over simply competing with a much higher bonus.


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To expand on my previous comment as well to address your other concerns..

  • What happens when an adventure assumes a certain proficiency tier in one of the knowledge skills in order to gain a vital clue?

    Head to a Library to assist you with your knowledge checks, or if you don't have anyone who is scholastically inclined maybe start checking with sages and other NPCs that are?

  • Or a certain tier in athletics in order to move a big rock to get through a door?

    Bring some tools with you to gain some leverage to make the check easier? Or.. maybe have someone who can do those sorts of things in your party when you realize it's a failing?

  • Silver Crusade

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    Gloom wrote:

    Expert in Thievery is fairly easy to hit right out of the gate for a Rogue and there are several other classes that can hit it fairly easily if the party doesn't have someone dedicated to traps.

    Outside of that, there are ways to deal with traps that don't involve skills.

    I will say that I definitely prefer skill proficiency gates over simply competing with a much higher bonus.

    At level 4 a character has One (1) proficiency at Expert.

    As stated none of our party was rogues, so none of us prioritized Thievery for our first Expert skill choice.

    Alchemist - Craft
    Cleric - Heal
    Paladin - Religion
    Sorcerer - Athletics (What she was a gladiator)

    So should we have chosen skills that make sense for the character, and their narrative or should we choose skills in order to Win the Adventure?

    "It's easy to get Expert in Thievery, or Athletics etc." It might be easy, but if the game assumes it's a requirement then it should be free.


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    Which trap are you talking about exactly at level 4?


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    At the risk of repeating myself (since these issues are being debated in a couple of different threads... :P), let me flag that if the game is going to appeal to gatekeeping to distinguish between different proficiency levels, then it's really important for the developers to provide detailed guidelines, for each skill, regarding what kinds of skill challenges require what kinds of proficiency. The table provided by Gloom above is a nice first start. But to for this to really work in a satisfying way, I think we'd need a chart like this for each individual skill.

    As things are, we don't have these details, which creates a number of problems:

  • It makes increasing skill proficiency unsatisfying for players, since they don't have any tangible feeling for what this advancement means.
  • It makes it hard for players to know what kinds of things they should be able to expect to do with a given proficiency level.
  • It makes it hard for DMs to know when to apply a proficiency requirement to various challenges.
  • It makes it hard for DMs to assign proficiency requirements to challenges in a way that's consistent from session to session.

  • Silver Crusade

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    Gloom wrote:
    Which trap are you talking about exactly at level 4?

    Spoiler:

    The door of the dungeon you have to enter to complete in Pale Mountains Shadow. Has a shock trap which we spotted, but could not in any way disable, avoid or bypass.


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    DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
    Gloom wrote:
    Which trap are you talking about exactly at level 4?
    ** spoiler omitted **

    Spoiler:
    You know you can use Dispel Magic on that trap as well, right?
    Silver Crusade

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    Gloom wrote:
    DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
    Gloom wrote:
    Which trap are you talking about exactly at level 4?
    ** spoiler omitted **
    ** spoiler omitted **

    Dispel magic is a 3rd level spell. Not available until you have a 5th level caster.

    Not sure how we'd be expected to have Dispel Magic ready during an explicitly 4th level adventure.

    I understand that the adventures are designed as a stress test of the system, but even so, gating feels bad because it literally stops players from interacting with the world unless they played guessing games correctly with the GM and adventure designers.

    It's the old Favored Enemy problem x100.


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    In this same scenario while playing PF1 you would have been able to deal with the trap at level 4 as well. When you don't have the resources in your team to deal with a specific problem then you either move around the problem or deal with the consequences.

    Alternatively, you could come back when you're better prepared. Such as retraining, gaining additional levels, or coming back with additional assistance.


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    I think the point is it's much easier to have someone with max skill ranks in any given skill in PF1 than it is here. If the average PF1 character has 5 skill ranks, a party can have 20 maxed skills at 4th level. In PFPT, assuming you don't have a rogue, a party can have 4 maxed skills at the same level. With a rogue it goes up to 7. Much less likely to have an expert in a given skill.

    Granted, with the reduced skill list having a rogue does bring it close to a PF1 party, but a PF1 party doesn't need a rogue to have that many skills, and with a rogue would likely have closer to 23-24.

    The gating issue could probably be resolved by giving out a skill rank at every level to all characters. It would also reduce the pointyheadedness in terms of skill proficiency that we currently have.


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    I disagree with that. Rogues are not the only skill based characters, nor are they the only ones that can easily deal with traps. You can just as easily run with a Bard, Ranger, or Alchemist and accomplish the same results.

    Just make sure that if you're going with a choice other than Rogue that someone in the party has Thievery ranked up or that you have alternative plans for dealing with traps and locks. Rogues aren't required they just make it easier to do.

    If you're really that tight on skills and you feel like you can't afford it then you can easily pick up additional skill training into Thievery pretty quick.

    The example party that was mentioned previously in this thread seems to have went out of their way NOT to have someone with a high proficiency in Thievery.


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    Gloom wrote:
    I disagree with that. Rogues are not the only skill based characters, nor are they the only ones that can easily deal with traps. You can just as easily run with a Bard, Ranger, or Alchemist and accomplish the same results.

    No.

    Bards have more trained skills than other classes. They have as many expert+ skills as anyone (...they have less, actually, since Performance is useless). If something is gated behind an expert proficiency, bards are as likely to have it as fighters (...less likely, again, thanks to Performance being useless and gating nothing).

    Rogues are indeed the only skill based characters.


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    Gloom wrote:
    I disagree with that. Rogues are not the only skill based characters, nor are they the only ones that can easily deal with traps. You can just as easily run with a Bard, Ranger, or Alchemist and accomplish the same results.

    Not in PF2. Rogues are the only skill class in PF2.

    Rogues get ten trained skills at level 1 (one of which is EITHER Thievery or Stealth: you aren't required to have both, but you probably will).

    No other class gets this many skills.

    Rogues also get a skill increase every level instead of every two levels.

    Quote:
    Just make sure that if you're going with a choice other than Rogue that someone in the party has Thievery ranked up or that you have alternative plans for dealing with traps and locks. Rogues aren't required they just make it easier to do.

    This only works as long as Thievery is the only skill with gated challenges. As soon as every skill has gated difficulty like Thievery a party will require a rogue: no other party will be able to cover the entire gamut of skills. Plus it precludes people from advancing the skills they want to for their character so that the party has a wide swath of skills covered at Expert and Master rank.

    There are EIGHTEEN skills. With no rogue in the party the most skills a party of 4 can have at Expert rank at 4th level is 8: less than half.

    Quote:
    If you're really that tight on skills and you feel like you can't afford it then you can easily pick up additional skill training into Thievery pretty quick.

    Trained does not solve the problem.

    Hence the problem.

    Quote:
    The example party that was mentioned previously in this thread seems to have went out of their way NOT to have someone with a high proficiency in Thievery.

    My group didn't have expert thievery either. Again, because we didn't have a rogue and didn't know that expert thievery would be a hard requirement. The fact that this happened to this many different groups emphasizes how big a problem it is.

    No one went for Expert thievery when it was "off-class" because they didn't see the value in having an extra +1 to that skill when they could pick up this other skill and its skill feat.

    Heck even with a rogue the rogue only has 3 skills he could have at Expert and might not have chosen Thievery (he's got ten friggin skills).


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    It is an inherently punitive system, so from a player point of view it feels bad. I think they understand how that ruins the game for many people since they ackowledged it about resonance.

    I would rather see a systems more like this.

    Proficiency provides:

  • Bonus or check to penalty
  • Access to actions/reactions
  • Built in assurance based on proficiency level
  • Scaling factor to actions/reactions

    Skill feats would then be folded into the skills themselves:

  • Skills would have expert, master, and legendary uses to match untrained and trained uses.
  • Skill uses would become better with training, e.g. climb/defensive climber/one-handed climber/quick climb/legendary climber
  • If you keep skill feats at all, then let them be more like skill focus "climb" where you get to improve critical failure into just a failure for all uses of climb.

    Now the system isn't about a tax to enable your character to attempt checks, but a reward for specialization.

    You can still have adventures require specific skill uses that also require a certain level of proficiency to unlock, but that will be obvious in the skill use description.

  • Silver Crusade

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    Gloom wrote:

    In this same scenario while playing PF1 you would have been able to deal with the trap at level 4 as well. When you don't have the resources in your team to deal with a specific problem then you either move around the problem or deal with the consequences.

    Alternatively, you could come back when you're better prepared. Such as retraining, gaining additional levels, or coming back with additional assistance.

    In PF1 if my alchemist took even one rank in Disable Device (i.e Trained, which my playtest alchemist was) he could have attempted to disable the trap, allowing the dice to decide whether we disable it or accidentally set it off.

    Even if he’d have had a better chance with 4 ranks or 4 ranks + Trap Sense.

    My issue with gating is that You Aren’t Allowed to Interact With Skill Gated Stuff At All that is the issue I’m talking about here. That is a bad change from PF1E.

    Silver Crusade

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    Gloom wrote:

    I disagree with that. Rogues are not the only skill based characters, nor are they the only ones that can easily deal with traps. You can just as easily run with a Bard, Ranger, or Alchemist and accomplish the same results.

    Just make sure that if you're going with a choice other than Rogue that someone in the party has Thievery ranked up or that you have alternative plans for dealing with traps and locks. Rogues aren't required they just make it easier to do.

    If you're really that tight on skills and you feel like you can't afford it then you can easily pick up additional skill training into Thievery pretty quick.

    The example party that was mentioned previously in this thread seems to have went out of their way NOT to have someone with a high proficiency in Thievery.

    Once again:

    Alchemist (Expert: Crafting)
    Paladin (Expert: Religion)
    Cleric (Expert: Medicine)
    Sorcerer (Expert: Athletics)

    At level 4 each character can take only One (1) skill to Expert. The players each chose basically the key skill for their class or the key skill for their backstory.

    Nobody went “out of their way” to not choose Thievery. The adventure doesn’t tell us that Expert level in Thievery is mandatory for this adventure. The adventure was designed explicitly with a hp tax for trying to walk through the front door of the dungeon if you didn’t have anyone at Expert level in thievery.

    I haven’t seen a single reasonable argument here that makes skill gating more valuable than letting player characters interact with the world in any way they can think of.


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    DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
    Gloom wrote:

    In this same scenario while playing PF1 you would have been able to deal with the trap at level 4 as well. When you don't have the resources in your team to deal with a specific problem then you either move around the problem or deal with the consequences.

    Alternatively, you could come back when you're better prepared. Such as retraining, gaining additional levels, or coming back with additional assistance.

    In PF1 if my alchemist took even one rank in Disable Device (i.e Trained, which my playtest alchemist was) he could have attempted to disable the trap, allowing the dice to decide whether we disable it or accidentally set it off.

    Even if he’d have had a better chance with 4 ranks or 4 ranks + Trap Sense.

    My issue with gating is that You Aren’t Allowed to Interact With Skill Gated Stuff At All that is the issue I’m talking about here. That is a bad change from PF1E.

    In PF1 your Alchemist would not have been able to attempt it at all, as they would not have Trapfinding thus could not disable a magical trap. They would need to use Dispel Magic in order to do it.


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    Gloom wrote:
    In PF1 your Alchemist would not have been able to attempt it at all, as they would not have Trapfinding thus could not disable a magical trap. They would need to use Dispel Magic in order to do it.

    What do you tell the 4th level PF2 rogue who put their expert skill increases into Acrobatics and Stealth?

    "I'm sorry, it sure sucks that you managed to miss out on your first level PF1 class feature"?


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    I would tell them that 'Trap Finder' sounds like a great Rogue Class Feat for level 1, 2, or 4. And if they didn't take it at any of those levels and still only had a 'Trained' Proficiency rank in Thievery I would let them attempt to disarm the trap.

    And they would fail it because their proficiency is too low.

    I would not feel bad for them in this scenario because they are clearly attempting something they do not have the proficiency for.

    It's the same thing I would tell a 4th level Rogue attempting an advanced exorcism ritual without having any real proficiency in Religion.


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    Additionally, any one of your players could have also picked up Rogue Dedication / Trap Finder as two of their early class feats. If they wanted to be the designated trap mechanic.

    If none of your players WANT to focus on dealing with traps then you should possibly think about sending an NPC adventurer or hireling with them to help out.

    Or just have them deal with the consequences of traps they are unable to disable. Possibly focus on some additional curatives?

    Grand Lodge

    Gloom wrote:

    One of the most common things that I've been seeing lately on the skill forums is that people are having issues with the modifiers that various skill proficiencies provide. The biggest complaint is that there is barely any difference between someone who is a higher level that is only trained at a skill compared to someone who is much lower level but happens to have their skill at Expert or Master rank.

    I was hoping that this can help bring some life to proficiencies beyond the crunchy bits of '+X to Roll and qualify for Skill Feat'. One of the best ways I've seen to do this is through the use of Skill Gating that's detailed in the Game Mastering section of the Rulebook. Below are some examples of this in practice.

    Skill Gating, in my opinion, is a horrible way of differentiating levels of training.

    As currently written, an optimised character has around a 70% chance of success, a trained but not optimised character has around a 50% chance of success, and an untrained character has around a 30% chance of success. While these differences do become apparent when aggregated over rolling many times, the times when this is happens is typically Combat and Perception - both of which actually have narrower spreads.

    Conversely, skill checks are simply not rolled as often. Rather than rolling two, maybe four a minute as would happen in combat, you might roll a skill check four or five times a session if you're lucky.

    This causes the problem where 15% of the time, the expert does not succeed and those less invested do.

    Gating does seem like an obvious solution - it prevents the situation where the non-expert succeeds. Unfortunately, it replaces these 15% situations with a 30% situation where the party flat out fails for no reason other than a single poor roll.

    The best solution I can see is de-unifying the proficiency maths and allowing character to excel at what they're doing.


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    in◆⃟ wrote:
    The best solution I can see is de-unifying the proficiency maths and allowing character to excel at what they're doing.

    One of the big issues with this assumption is that most people that make this argument seem to aim for a 90%+ success rate for a 'Specialized' character to succeed against an even level challenge, and have no chance of failure on anything below that.

    Skill Proficiency Gating is a method that can be used to differentiate varying levels of skill without having a huge discrepancy on DC's as doing that would muddy the math used.


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    Gloom wrote:
    Skill Proficiency Gating is a method that can be used to differentiate varying levels of skill without having a huge discrepancy on DC's as doing that would muddy the math used.

    One of the big issues with this assumption is that most people that make this argument seem to aim for a 50%- success rate for a 'Specialized' character to succeed against an even level challenge, and 0% chance of success for a non-specialized character.


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    Proficiency gating causes the exact problem they wanted to remove from PF1, which is "Only 1 person can even hope to try a skill check". At least before the non-optimized could roll a 20, with gating there's literally nothing that can be done. Characters in PF2 have far far less "good" skills than before. Everyone can max out about 2~ of them.


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    From the numbers that people have been running, specializing in a skill and having items or magic to support it should be able to get you close to a 70-80% success rate against a 'Difficult' rated encounter. That number does fluctuate depending on how much support you have at varying different levels but it seems reasonable to me.

    If anything the only real argument that I'd advocate for is to provide alternative paths of advancement in modules and adventure paths so that you have multiple options to get through it. If you want to play in a party without a dedicated trapper then you should have options for getting around it using other skills or magic.

    It may take you additional time to use these workarounds but it would give you an option.

    Trying to advocate that someone who only partially invests in a particular skill or action should be able to accomplish the same things someone who is a Master is able to accomplish is kind of out there to me.


    Gloom wrote:
    From the numbers that people have been running, specializing in a skill and having items or magic to support it should be able to get you close to a 70-80% success rate against a 'Difficult' rated encounter. That number does fluctuate depending on how much support you have at varying different levels but it seems reasonable to me.

    This is slightly misleading as there are not magical/item solutions for all skills.

    Quote:
    Trying to advocate that someone who only partially invests in a particular skill or action should be able to accomplish the same things someone who is a Master is able to accomplish is kind of out there to me.

    The problem is not that partial investment is the same as being a Master, its the fact that:

    1) Its not always possible to be a Master (or whatever threshold) at some levels making the obstacle impassable. This is a "hard stop, go home" type situation. Such as the trapped door in Chapter 2.

    2) The numerical difference when a threshold isn't present are virtually identical, so expecting different results is nonsense.


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    When you look at the recommendations for Skill Proficiency Gating on page 336 of the Rulebook it does specifically call out that you should not set a gate to be higher than what is possible to obtain by a specific level unless you want the test to be impossible to achieve.

    Specifically that you should not set a test to require 'Master' until at least level 7 or 'Legendary' until at least level 15. It is possible to be 'Trained' or 'Expert' out of character creation and this is where most of the low level checks are going to be.

    From what it looks like when examining traps in the Bestiary Simple Traps and Complex Mechanical Traps are typically one step lower than Magical Traps in difficulty.

    This pretty much addresses the first concern you had.

    The second concern that you had doesn't really have much to do with this conversation, since the DC is set more by the 'Difficulty' of the check based on the encounter chart rather than the proficiency it requires. Proficiency is more a second layer of gating that DM's have available to them to restrict skill checks to people who have the right training.


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    One thing I'm hoping for (and will likely implement in my PF2 games if it doesn't make it to the final rules) will be a slightly different skill gating, where at a certain level or above instead of a certain skill level only ALLOWING you to even attempt it, instead having a skill level be the point where you automatically succeed at a task.

    For instance, the particular trap mentioned above would have been an excellent place to say something instead like, "If untrained, you cannot successfully disable this trap, if trained you can attempt at a hard DC; if Expert, you automatically succeed." This way, you reward those who have invested all the way in a given skill, while still allowing the merely "trained" adepts a chance to do it. It also punishes (rightly, in my mean-spirited way ;-) the party who didn't even bother to have one person trained in trap-busting. That doesn't mean there is no room for "minimum proficiency" skill gating, but it does satisfy a lot of people who want to ultra-specialize, and are quite disappointed when their reward is a chance to be able to try it and still have a 30% chance to fail the thing they spent sizeable resources on.


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    ENHenry wrote:

    One thing I'm hoping for (and will likely implement in my PF2 games if it doesn't make it to the final rules) will be a slightly different skill gating, where at a certain level or above instead of a certain skill level only ALLOWING you to even attempt it, instead having a skill level be the point where you automatically succeed at a task.

    For instance, the particular trap mentioned above would have been an excellent place to say something instead like, "If untrained, you cannot successfully disable this trap, if trained you can attempt at a hard DC; if Expert, you automatically succeed." This way, you reward those who have invested all the way in a given skill, while still allowing the merely "trained" adepts a chance to do it. It also punishes (rightly, in my mean-spirited way ;-) the party who didn't even bother to have one person trained in trap-busting. That doesn't mean there is no room for "minimum proficiency" skill gating, but it does satisfy a lot of people who want to ultra-specialize, and are quite disappointed when their reward is a chance to be able to try it and still have a 30% chance to fail the thing they spent sizeable resources on.

    This is something that they have shown as example traps. It's actually really neat! When you look at the Complex traps they typically have multiple options to disable them.

    Example:

    Spinning Blade Pillar [Level 4 Hazard]

    Stealth: +10 (Trained) or DC 24 (Expert) to notice the control panel.

  • This means that if you're playing a class that has Perception at least at Expert rank you simply need to make a DC 24 perception check to see the Control Panel. Otherwise, the Trap gets a Stealth Roll with a +10 modifier to hide from you.

    Disable: Thievery DC 18 (Trained) twice on the pillar, or Thievery DC 16 (Expert) once on the control panel deactivates the whole trap.

    Alternatively to this it does have a Hardness and number of dents that it can take, so if you can successfully make the saves you can bash it down provided you're capable of overcoming its hardness.

  • Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

    Also keep in mind that the skill level of the thing may not be tied to the level of the party. A lock that was level three at low levels will still be a level 3 lock when it is come back to. The person that owns the lock could replace it with a higher level lock, but that is something that costs that person money and may not be feasible for that NPC.

    I hope that not all skill checks will be at a 50 percent flip of the coin, this is something that should be avoided at all costs for this new edition.


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    I think, at least for skills, a solution to consider would be to add extra rolls for each proficiency rank. That way you can solve both those two goals:
    1. Everyone has a chance to succeed at the task
    2. The more expert you are the more probable you succeed, but you can still fail if you are very unlucky

    So it would work like this:

    • - Untrained: roll twice, get the worst roll
    • - Trained: roll once
    • - Expert: roll twice, get the best roll
    • - Master: roll thrice, get the best roll
    • - Legendary: roll four times, get the best roll

    That might not work well for some other kind of checks like attacks which are used more often (too many rolls), but we have been rolling those many dice on each round of combat for BAB attacks in PF1, and there we had to make additions to all dice.


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    Balacertar wrote:

    I think, at least for skills, a solution to consider would be to add extra rolls for each proficiency rank. That way you can solve both those two goals:

    1. Everyone has a chance to succeed at the task
    2. The more expert you are the more probable you succeed, but you can still fail if you are very unlucky

    So it would work like this:

    • - Untrained: roll twice, get the worst roll
    • - Trained: roll once
    • - Expert: roll twice, get the best roll
    • - Master: roll thrice, get the best roll
    • - Legendary: roll four times, get the best roll

    That might not work well for some other kind of checks like attacks which are used more often (too many rolls), but we have been rolling those many dice on each round of combat for BAB attacks in PF1, and there we had to make additions to all dice.

    Unfortunately, this isn't really a solution because you would have either one of two issues.

  • Skill DC's would have to be raised to a significant degree to specify what someone who is 'Specialized' in a skill can attempt.

    OR

  • You'll have characters at lower level attempting checks way outside of what should be within their capabilities making it possible to do something that someone who is legendary at a skill is capable of if they roll well.

    I find both of these things as major issues that should not be introduced into the game.

    Skill gating really isn't a problem here, it's a feature.. and it's a really good feature in my opinion.


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    I really wish people would make up their minds about skills. Seriously.

    The same people who argue that Expert, Master, and Legendary proficiency don't add enough to a skill to make it seem like you're capable of doing things better than someone who is only trained are the same people that argue that skill proficiency gating being a thing is a huge issue for the game that locks people out of progressing.

    In reality neither of those things are true and Skill Proficiency gating is a way for DM's to have certain things that require more specialized training without making normal uses of a skill trivial or too difficult for the non-specialist to achieve.

    The only real example that was provided so far as an issue is a lower level party, without a character in it that is focused on dealing with traps... Running into a trap that was beyond their ability to disable using their Thievery skill. In this situation the obvious choice would be to just attempt to disable the trap, fail and eat the damage, then heal up and continue on.

    Characters are not supposed to know what is beyond their proficiency since most of these are secret checks rolled by the DM so if they think they can disarm it they would try.


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    Gloom wrote:


  • Skill DC's would have to be raised to a significant degree to specify what someone who is 'Specialized' in a skill can attempt.

    OR

  • You'll have characters at lower level attempting checks way outside of what should be within their capabilities making it possible to do something that someone who is legendary at a skill is capable of if they roll well.

    I find both of these things as major issues that should not be introduced into the game.

  • Skill DC's do not need to be generally modified, tasks will simply be easier for more trained characters. And you can still reserve gating for actions that only specialized characters should attempt/succeed on.

    Gloom wrote:


    Skill gating really isn't a problem here, it's a feature.. and it's a really good feature in my opinion.

    I do agree gating it is a great feature. It just requires to be used cautiously to avoid frustration and adventure locks. In that sense it is not very different to assuming a group should have access to certain spells at certain levels.


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    So far from what I've seen skill proficiency gating is applied very sparingly as is. I can see it for things like knowledge of specific rituals, ability to disable magical or more complex traps, allowing shortcuts or bypasses through certain areas... Which is pretty much how it's currently used.

    The example provided in this post by some of the other posters was a magical trap that has two methods to disarm it. You can either be an Expert in Thievery or you can use Dispel Magic. Either of the two are viable options. If you are unable to do either of those... then there's nothing wrong with taking some trap damage and just healing up afterward.

    Especially in a party with 3.. potentially 4 characters that can heal.


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    Draco18s wrote:
    Gloom wrote:
    In PF1 your Alchemist would not have been able to attempt it at all, as they would not have Trapfinding thus could not disable a magical trap. They would need to use Dispel Magic in order to do it.

    What do you tell the 4th level PF2 rogue who put their expert skill increases into Acrobatics and Stealth?

    "I'm sorry, it sure sucks that you managed to miss out on your first level PF1 class feature"?

    In PF1, if you did not have Trapfinder, you also would not have been able to disarm this same trap.

    Allowing every player party to beat every challenge the best way is not a requirement for adventure design. You want almost all player parties to be able to get through every (needed) challenge alive while being generally successful.

    Since we are all learning the game together, I understand why you discovered you were not able to disarm the trap before rolling, but it is not true you're not allowed to roll. You were just not allowed to succeed. After we learn the system, a trap's required proficiency level is certainly not information players should have. You find trap. You attempt to disarm trap, you fail to disarm trap and it goes off. Whether it was because you failed the DC or your proficiency is not high enough, it really amounts to the same thing. Now, rolling a 20, and the trap still going off, would likely make even me cringe a bit. Perhaps a Critical Success on Disable Device could also allow you to treat your proficiency as if it were one level higher.


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    The Critical Success effect for Disable Device is already pretty great with most traps requiring two or more successes already.

    Critical Success

    You achieve two successes toward disabling the device. If you complete the process of disabling the device with this check, you leave no trace of your tampering, and you can rearm the device later, if the type
    of device can be rearmed.

    Additionally the trap is only set off if you Critically Fail. So it would only go off when you roll poorly.


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    StratoNexus wrote:
    ... After we learn the system, a trap's required proficiency level is certainly not information players should have...

    I disagree. Knowing how to disarm traps includes (or ought to) the ability to study a trap and discern quality, complexity, etc. The response should certainly be narrative rather than listing a stat block -- "This is a superbly crafted trap with quite a complex mechanism" -- but some information should be accessible.


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    Gloom wrote:
    In reality neither of those things are true and Skill Proficiency gating is a way for DM's to have certain things that require more specialized training without making normal uses of a skill trivial or too difficult for the non-specialist to achieve.

    But is it Fun?

    I don't think it is.


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    Draco18s wrote:
    Gloom wrote:
    In reality neither of those things are true and Skill Proficiency gating is a way for DM's to have certain things that require more specialized training without making normal uses of a skill trivial or too difficult for the non-specialist to achieve.

    But is it Fun?

    I don't think it is.

    I think that it adds to an adventure and makes it feel more rewarding when you accomplish something.

    To me, that is fun.


    Gloom wrote:

    I think that it adds to an adventure and makes it feel more rewarding when you accomplish something.

    To me, that is fun.

    Two things:

    1) Skinner Boxes and Games. Just because the game says "YOU WIN" doesn't mean its fun. See also Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic rewards

    2) Challenging vs. Punishing Games. You need to give your players enough tools to work with and the ability to make informed choices.


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    I think some gating is fine.

    Specifically Trained gating. I really like that an untrained person does not get access to all of the actions of a trained individual.

    The other kind of gating that is fine is Feats.... Needing expert in Diplomacy to get a diplomacy feat that makes you better in specific diplomacy situations or allows you to do something faster is fine.

    Gating that is not ok is gating actions behind Expert or higher. I am already not getting the full + and I am already not getting some of the better feats for this skill that I am trained in I do not need to be further punished for not dedicating all of my resources to this skill.

    Let me try what I am going to try and if I fail I fail. This is especially true with characters that are supposed to be "decent at skills" but not as good as the rogue. These characters start with more trained skills but no one gets any more bonuses to feats or skills than any other non- rogue character. Which means with current gating the number of trained skills you have does not matter only the number of maxed out skills, but by removing the gating from action from anything above trained all of a sudden starting number of trained skills matter and the "secondary" skills characters can at least attempt a larger amount of things without the benefits of as many + or as many skill feats as a person who dedicated it.

    This way the ranger can be good at dedicated skills but by starting with more skill they also have a wider breadth of abilities they can at least attempt to cover for or reasonably assist with.


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    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    One of the most important aspects of tabletop RPGs, that sets them aside from computer games, board games etc, is the degree of freedom. Players can come up with ideas that nobody, including the game's designer, ever thought of. Characters can do things that are staggeringly implausible, and at least have a chance of getting it to work. And the best thing a GM can say, when presented with such an unlikely action, is: "You can try."

    What you really don't want the GM to say if you can avoid it is: "No. That's not the right answer." Because in a TTRPG there is no single right answer. There are unlimited possibilities.

    Now, I'm not saying that gated skills are necessarily tied to this pitfall, but they certainly lean towards it. A door that can only be unlocked by people with the right flag, and which there's no possible way to bypass, is bad game design. And while it's true that a well-designed scenario will always have multiple ways of addressing any one problem, not all scenarios written for this system over the next decade will get this right. A game system that leans towards flat refusal is a problem.

    If you were designing a computer game, skill gating is absolutely how you'd do it, because there you need to limit player choices. That's not how Pathfinder should work though.


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    Gloom wrote:
    From the numbers that people have been running, specializing in a skill and having items or magic to support it should be able to get you close to a 70-80% success rate against a 'Difficult' rated encounter. That number does fluctuate depending on how much support you have at varying different levels but it seems reasonable to me.

    Wait; what?

    Let's look at Stealth at level 4: the max Stealth is +9 (5 prof. +4 Dex), and the hard DC is 18. How do you end up with 70-80% success rate? Is there any level 3 item giving +2-4 to Stealth? since the DC is the same for any skill, is there any level 3 item giving +2-4 to any skill?

    And actually Stealth is opposed to Perception; level 4 monsters have a Perception in the range 8-10. This makes the DC of any level appropriate Stealth check to be 18-20. DC 18 is actually the lowest DC you can have on a level 4 Stealth check; the DC for a level 4 creature with good Perception is 20. Where do you find the +4-6 extra bonus needed to achieve a 70%-80% success rate?

    Gloom wrote:

    This is something that they have shown as example traps. It's actually really neat! When you look at the Complex traps they typically have multiple options to disable them.

    Example:

    Spinning Blade Pillar [Level 4 Hazard]

    Stealth: +10 (Trained) or DC 24 (Expert) to notice the control panel.

  • This means that if you're playing a class that has Perception at least at Expert rank you simply need to make a DC 24 perception check to see the Control Panel. Otherwise, the Trap gets a Stealth Roll with a +10 modifier to hide from you.
  • So it's actually harder for an expert in perception to notice the panel.

    Quote:
    Disable: Thievery DC 18 (Trained) twice on the pillar, or Thievery DC 16 (Expert) once on the control panel deactivates the whole trap.

    OK...

    At that point, i don't even know why Expert gives a +1 bonus. There's no point in giving a bonus and then moving the DC from +4 to -2. That's literally the game moving the goalpost.

    That's just playing a "guess what I'm thinking" game with the author: if you guess right, you increase Thievery and it makes the DC goes down, but if you don't, you increase Perception and it makes the DC goes up. There's no player's agency here, just random decision with random result and no way to guess how your decision will affect the results.

    Edit: the specialist having 50% success rate while the non-specialist can't succeed it is exactly the same as the specialist having a +10 bonus over the non-specialist.

    Tightening the math to ensure the specialist and the non-specialist are only 2 points away, and then moving the goalpost to make sure the specialist has a 50% success rate while the non-specialist has less than 40% success rate makes no sense. It's just the game designers running full circle not knowing what they intend for the specialist and the non-specialist.

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