Let's talk about Exploration Mode: What do you want from it? How it can be improved?


Playing the Game


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All in all, I'm happy with the direction the playtest is taking with Combat mode and Downtime mode. There are some areas that still need some work but, at least from my perspective, it's only getting better with each update.

However...Exploration Mode just doesn't quite feel right to me. It's been hard to run for players and feels very rigid...when this should be the most open ended mode? The Rules Survey asked a few questions about Exploration Mode but I wanted to get into a more in-depth discussion about it.

For reference: http://pf2playtest.opengamingnetwork.com/playing-the-game/exploration-mode/

What do I want from Exploration mode?
Whew. Everything? I want it all? I want a system that's structured enough to give players a framework to launch off of but fluid enough that they can initiate any plan that they can imagine. I also don't want it to be too open ended because then the most outgoing players end up dominating (i.e. most freeform or rules lite games I've been in). As a GM, I accomplished this in Pathfinder First Edition primarily through improvisation and quick judgement calls - but I feel like the rigidly outlined tactics hinder that approach (e.g. Were you Carousing or Stealing? No, you can't be Looking Out at the same time.) I love the four stages of success in combat...but I miss gradient success in Exploration mode.

I want players to be able to make unexpected use of their abilities and to surprise me with their RP (e.g. let's take the cult leader's head to the mage guild and get them to ID the markings). I don't want everything strictly defined and laid out. Now, I can just empower players to do this as GM but I'd rather try to improve the system at the playtest phase rather than spending the next decade ignoring large portions of it (especially since I love skill feats and want to reward players for using them).

How could Exploration mode be improved?
Open Ended Path to Success: Fate Core has a great system for Social Conflict. It's open ended enough that lots of approaches and synergies work, but it has a clear goal and objective. I know this is a departure from past d20 systems but I'd like to see the playtest incorporate something like this into Exploration mode (and not specifically for Social Conflict). I think Rose Street Revenge would have benefited from a more nuanced system like this.

Variety of Skill Fumbles: I'd like Skills to be more interesting than Succeed/Fail or even a series of Successes (ugh - the lockpick thing isn't fun). I houseruled Fumbles for Skills in Pathfinder First Edition and it was a blast! Most of the time my players liked rolling Natural 1s because they knew something interesting (and usually hilarious) would happen. But the four degrees of success bake it into Exploration Mode in a way that I really don't like. More open ended results like "roll on this table" or "GM determines outcome" would help. Even better, incorporate a more dynamic Open Ended Path to Success as noted above, that encourages fluidity and teaches new GMs how to improvise results.

Gradient Success: Bring back scaling success for certain Actions. Knowledge, for instance, had this in Pathfinder First Edition and I usually ran most skills this way. Limiting everything to one of four degrees of success quickly becomes stale and doesn't reward player investment.

Higher Skill Success Rate: I really don't mind a 50% miss change in combat because missing an attack doesn't necessarily result in overall failure but it's a real dead end in Exploration mode. Failing a skill check often means overall failure for whatever you were doing. Oh well, that's it, you failed. I'd let characters be better at Skills (i.e. higher success rate) or make room for safe failures (i.e. Skill Fumbles).

Reevaluate Tactics: The new action economy opened up a whole world of tactical options in Combat mode. Alternatively, I have a sense that Exploration Tactics may be doing the opposite...locking things down into rigidly defined activities. I'm not sure what the answer is - need to experiment more - but I think Exploration Tactics would benefit from a closer look. A lot of attention has been given to Combat but Exploration is a core part of the experience and shouldn't be neglected.

There's a starting point for discussion. Now, please share what you want from Exploration mode and what you think could improve it?


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I just flat out hate it. While the idea of differing initiative seems cool at first, the rigidity of this system makes it feel like everything is overly structured. it is a no-fun approach to roleplaying that treats all situations as a puzzle, rather than a way to enjoy the game and relax with friends. i could only run a game like this with the most asocial people i know.


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Telefax wrote:
the rigidity of this system makes it feel like everything is overly structured.

Just like with tight math in combat, I feel that the four degrees of success are responsible for Exploration mode feeling so locked down. Though that doesn't really explain why Tactics are so limiting - perhaps that's due to the initiative rule? Why else prevent a character from Stealing and Looking Out at the same time?

Telefax wrote:
it is a no-fun approach to roleplaying that treats all situations as a puzzle, rather than a way to enjoy the game and relax with friends.

If you could completely gut this part of the playtest, what would you replace it with?


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Personally I think my favourite bit about exploration mode is the clear guidelines on how often a PC can spam something outside of combat. Fatigue itself could use a few more elaborating rules though, I think. And a way that links into food and sleep.

I'm kind of cool with exploration tactics, though maybe softening the edges a little could be good for players, or just a way to better approximate rough actions taken by PCs while narrating exploration (i.e. rapid fire tactic flipping, in a way that feels natural)


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Elleth wrote:
I'm kind of cool with exploration tactics

Here's part of my problem with the Exploration Tactics (perhaps I'm taking them too concretely) but which tactic would a Fighter with Performance be using to dance very well in a crowded hall in order to gain an NPC's notice? I know that the rules state, "If you come up with your own idea, the GM will adjudicate your idea using these as a baseline" but even then...shouldn't I just ignore this system and improvise what happens? Telling players "no you can't do that because you said you were doing this" has been something I've done for years but, then again, I've also been more flexible than the Exploration Tactics (I know I'm playing my guitar but I'm also scanning the crowd with perception).

Elleth wrote:
...just a way to better approximate rough actions taken by PCs while narrating exploration (i.e. rapid fire tactic flipping, in a way that feels natural)

Perhaps more Skill Feats (like Legendary Sneak) that enable a PC to use two or more tactics at once? The Bard is Carousing but is always on the Look Out for trouble. The Rogue who Converses with a mark while Stealing from them and others. But, then again, I'd rather just base this on their skill totals (e.g. "you rolled a high perception while dancing so you noticed x" or "you were so focused on your dance that you barely kept track of the crowd around you.")


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Seems like some tactics are just “walking and chewing gum” combos, so why not allow you to do just that and use the higher skill bonus to make the one roll. E.g Carousing and Looking Out would make one check using whichever is higher, diplomacy or perception, and the failure result in fumbling the off skill, like oops you knockever a drink as something caught you eye, but you see nothing out of place, maybe try again after you deal with the mess in front of you.


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I don't think exploration mode is necessary, doesn't answer the questions it should, and doesn't allow typical roles to function.

In PF1 I have people roll their traveling perception check, set marching order, and state what they're doing during travel. It sounds very similar, but without the weirdness of requiring people to only do one thing while traveling. I then check the perception DC required for things to determine the distance at which they would detect something, and that sets the distance to the thing at which their party starts.

unneccessary stuff like stealing making you tired, or making conversation and keeping a lookout mutually exclusive, seem like additions for the sake of bulking up the entry more than anything else.


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ErichAD wrote:
I don't think exploration mode is necessary,

I definitely want a more defined Exploration mode but every time a playtest session enters this mode it feels hampered and restricted.

ErichAD wrote:
doesn't answer the questions it should

Absolutely. On the social front, for instance, the system is still built around Helpful/Friendly/Indifferent/Unfriendly/Hostile. I'd love something more dynamic that involves multiple skills, checks, and motives. Again - I love Social Conflict in Fate Core.

ErichAD wrote:
and doesn't allow typical roles to function.

I'd agree. Rogues, in particular, feel artificially limited. They've already invested in Skills and Skill Feats...but they still can't act in a way that fits their archetype in Exploration mode.

ErichAD wrote:
unneccessary stuff like stealing making you tired, or making conversation and keeping a lookout mutually exclusive, seem like additions for the sake of bulking up the entry more than anything else.

Indeed. As for bulking up the section out, I'd much rather see an in-depth system for Skill based encounters than a set of rules telling me that the PCs can't Investigate and Search at the same time.


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Exploration mode is suppose to be like the non-combat skill challenges of 4th ed. Unfortunately none of the lessons learned during that fiasco seem to have stuck.


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To be frankly, almost all this sub-systems Paizo put out over the years in the AP (ship combat on S&S, Rebelion rules on Hell's Rebels, Caravans on Jade Regent) doesn't work and make the game less fun.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Here's part of my problem with the Exploration Tactics (perhaps I'm taking them too concretely) but which tactic would a Fighter with Performance be using to dance very well in a crowded hall in order to gain an NPC's notice?

The tactics section assumes that you're mingling with whomever is present, and not actively seeking someone out who would be otherwise inaccessible if you didn't try. The section is somewhat general, in that it can be used for a marketplace as well as a ball. I suppose a situation where a Fighter would need to dance well to get someone's attention would be a situation-specific need.

Quote:
I know that the rules state, "If you come up with your own idea, the GM will adjudicate your idea using these as a baseline" but even then...shouldn't I just ignore this system and improvise what happens? Telling players "no you can't do that because you said you were doing this" has been something I've done for years but, then again, I've also been more flexible than the Exploration Tactics (I know I'm playing my guitar but I'm also scanning the crowd with perception).

And that's what I think most people don't like about it. When they say "artificial", they mean "I can't do everything I want at the same time." I've played games where one could do all of those things, but I like the idea that you need to focus at doing one thing well, and that certain builds can allow you to do more than one thing well at the same time. Just choosing to do everything, if the system and GM allows, is what you should always be doing. There's nothing interesting about that, no difficult choices about what to focus on. Most important to me, letting one PC do all of the social work means that the other PCs don't have to participate.

My favourite part of the Exploration rules is that it encourages everyone to do *SOMETHING* as a party. Maybe rolling a Lore check instead of doing nothing, or Looking Out during an interaction they thought was neutral ground. As a GM, I encourage players to be proactive in ways that can help them notice important things and move action forward.


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thorin001 wrote:
Exploration mode is suppose to be like the non-combat skill challenges of 4th ed.

I remember being excited when I read that Skill Challenges were a thing and then being very disappointed by the actual implementation. I think that concept of adding more depth to skill usage is a good one but that the devil is in the details.

thorin001 wrote:
Unfortunately none of the lessons learned during that fiasco seem to have stuck.

What lessons do you think should have stuck?

Fallyrion Dunegrién wrote:
To be frankly, almost all this sub-systems Paizo put out over the years in the AP (ship combat on S&S, Rebelion rules on Hell's Rebels, Caravans on Jade Regent) doesn't work and make the game less fun.

I'm pretty much a 100% homebrew GM so I haven't run any of the Adventure Paths except for Doomsday Dawn. Can you offer any examples (from 3PP, other systems, or even homebrew) that do work and make the game more fun?

EberronHoward wrote:
And that's what I think most people don't like about it. When they say "artificial", they mean "I can't do everything I want at the same time."

Per the rest of the quoted post, I don't let players do everything they want simultaneously but base it on how much investment they've put into skills. This could be problematic in Pathfinder First Edition as there was a bad tenacity to assign one player the role of "skill monkey" and have them to everything. But I think the playtest has mitigated that problem by revamping skill progression and introducing skill feats. The Rogue and Bard may still clearly be "skill monkeys" but there's plenty of room for other characters to interact meaningfully with Skills.

EberronHoward wrote:
I've played games where one could do all of those things, but I like the idea that you need to focus at doing one thing well, and that certain builds can allow you to do more than one thing well at the same time. Just choosing to do everything, if the system and GM allows, is what you should always be doing.

I hear you. I'd prefer something more fluid that emphasizes synergy rather than something that emphasizes restrictions. The action economy, in my opinion, makes combat much more synergistic and I'd love to see something like that in Exploration Mode.

EberronHoward wrote:
There's nothing interesting about that, no difficult choices about what to focus on.

I think the players made their difficult choices on what to focus on when they trained their skills. If someone has invested heavily in Performance and Thievery, why not let them Steal and Dance at the same time? Alternatively, if they're just improvising without their skills backing them up...they'll fail the checks.

EberronHoward wrote:
Most important to me, letting one PC do all of the social work means that the other PCs don't have to participate.

I absolutely agree on this. I've had many groups check off "party face" as a role and then had everyone else dump CHA/ignore social skills. This has always been to the group's detriment in my campaigns. As I noted in the OP, I love Fate Core's Social Conflict system which sets up fun interplay between the party during social interactions. I don't think that Social Tactics restricting actions does this - it promotes teamwork by restriction rather than promoting teamwork by synergy. Baking something into the social system that allows more fluid interplay - even as simple as good cop/bad cop - is my preference.

EberronHoward wrote:
My favourite part of the Exploration rules is that it encourages everyone to do *SOMETHING* as a party. Maybe rolling a Lore check instead of doing nothing, or Looking Out during an interaction they thought was neutral ground.

This is a good goal.

Dark Archive

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Fallyrion Dunegrién wrote:
To be frankly, almost all this sub-systems Paizo put out over the years in the AP (ship combat on S&S, Rebelion rules on Hell's Rebels, Caravans on Jade Regent) doesn't work and make the game less fun.

Yes, many of them were notably unpleasant or flawed. The caravan and mass battle rules were particularly devoid of fun for our group. We did, however, enjoy the rebellion mechanic. If the GM takes the time to weave it tightly into the narrative, it plays quite well.

Dark Archive

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thorin001 wrote:
Exploration mode is suppose to be like the non-combat skill challenges of 4th ed. Unfortunately none of the lessons learned during that fiasco seem to have stuck.

Having used both, they are not alike. 4e relied on specific events followed by a series of required successes before failures. Exploration mode is a generalized approach to grinding through terrain, without the same cinematic focus on singular events and no need for tracking multiple successes before failure. Without reaching, one could say they share superfluousness. Yet, in specific design, they only share the similarity of requiring die rolls in response to the environment outside of combat. For the record, I’m not a big fan of either.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:


If you could completely gut this part of the playtest, what would you replace it with?

GM and player agency. We do not need rules for every minute of the game.


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Interesting topic.
My ideas are a bit confused on the matter, so I'm happy to see some discussion about it.

What I think right now is that exploration mode rules are good as guidelines, but I wouldn't apply them RAW.


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The big thing I'm missing on it is clarity.

We know that you can have your weapon out while wandering around, but apparently it's unclear to some people. In Pale Mountain's Shadow suggests you can use mounts to speed up your overland travel, but following combat rules for them (2 actions) and applying that to exploration means we'd only be riding half the time, actually slowing us down. I'd like Investigating and Searching combined, or clarified more to show how they're distinct (and when you'd be using Investigating).

They just don't feel clear enough to me, so what I've done each time is as the party proceeds, I mentally categorize them into the appropriate tactic for what they're doing, by my estimation. I think this is actually somewhat RAW, as a note. And even then, there are problems - my party's standard tactic is a careful move forward, looking for clues and hidden secrets in every room. That's trickier in the Playtest to adjudicate than I'd like (though realistically, they could probably do both Investigating and Searching at the same time, since they rarely go 10 minutes straight doing that before running into something else).

The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Just like with tight math in combat, I feel that the four degrees of success are responsible for Exploration mode feeling so locked down. Though that doesn't really explain why Tactics are so limiting - perhaps that's due to the initiative rule? Why else prevent a character from Stealing and Looking Out at the same time?

If you're focused on who you're stealing from, you might not be so attentive to watching out for the assassin behind you.

Similarly, if you're focused on one person through Conversing, you're not going to get as many general rumours as you would through Carousing.


John Mechalas wrote:
The Once and Future Kai wrote:
If you could completely gut this part of the playtest, what would you replace it with?
GM and player agency. We do not need rules for every minute of the game.

Do you mean for all of Exploration mode? Or just certain parts of it (i.e. Social interactions)?


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I actually really like exploration mode. It's been a really clean way to divide up party duties (so people are working like a team rather than everyone trying to do everything) and answers lots of little questions like "what does being prepared for a fight cost?" and "how long can you do it?"

Page-for-page, it's probably my favorite section in the book. Helped by, you know, being all of a page.


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Cyouni wrote:
We know that you can have your weapon out while wandering around, but apparently it's unclear to some people.

It is.

Cyouni wrote:
In Pale Mountain's Shadow suggests you can use mounts to speed up your overland travel, but following combat rules for them (2 actions) and applying that to exploration means we'd only be riding half the time, actually slowing us down.

This definitely needs some fleshing out. Even if it's just a special quality of mounts that their movement is unrestricted outside of combat.

Cyouni wrote:
I'd like Investigating and Searching combined, or clarified more to show how they're distinct (and when you'd be using Investigating).

The only distinction seems to be that one is Knowledge based and one is Perception based... In which case why not just remove the additional layer of Exploration Tactics and instead say that during Exploration mode each character must select an active Skill?

Cyouni wrote:
They just don't feel clear enough to me, so what I've done each time is as the party proceeds, I mentally categorize them into the appropriate tactic for what they're doing, by my estimation. I think this is actually somewhat RAW, as a note.

Same here. I've been working to learn this new subsystem but, honestly, it feels like it limits one of my favorite parts of the game. Players have not responded well to it and by that I don't mean negatively - I mean with confusion and hesitation. This is the opposite of what I want as GM. I want players to be emboldened by the clear rules to interact with the world. I regularly have players with anxiety disorders, low self-esteem, or who are on the autism spectrum at my table; the rules help them feel confident/secure enough in their options to take action. The Exploration Tactics, alternatively, seem to be making them uncertain and overly cautious (granted - that could just be a side effect of learning a new system).

Cyouni wrote:
And even then, there are problems - my party's standard tactic is a careful move forward, looking for clues and hidden secrets in every room. That's trickier in the Playtest to adjudicate than I'd like (though realistically, they could probably do both Investigating and Searching at the same time, since they rarely go 10 minutes straight doing that before running into something else).

If Exploration Tactics are meant to be adjudicated by the GM I'd rather that this section focus on giving guidelines to GMs and teaching some simple improvisation techniques.

Cyouni wrote:
If you're focused on who you're stealing from, you might not be so attentive to watching out for the assassin behind you.

That's fair... But, again, why not just incorporate that into the existing Skill system and say that Thievery is the active skill? Why add an additional layer of complication if it's not adding substantively to the game?

Note - I want an additional subsystem for Exploration Mode. But something just feels off about Exploration Tactics as they are.

Cyouni wrote:
Similarly, if you're focused on one person through Conversing, you're not going to get as many general rumours as you would through Carousing.

That's a fair point.


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Landon Winkler wrote:
I actually really like exploration mode. It's been a really clean way to divide up party duties (so people are working like a team rather than everyone trying to do everything) and answers lots of little questions like "what does being prepared for a fight cost?" and "how long can you do it?"

In theory, I want to like Exploration Tactics...but in practice I've having trouble. I'm glad that you shared your perspective, it's helpful.

Landon Winkler wrote:
Page-for-page, it's probably my favorite section in the book. Helped by, you know, being all of a page.

Good point! It covers a lot despite it's brevity.


Megistone wrote:
My ideas are a bit confused on the matter, so I'm happy to see some discussion about it.

Same here. There's something about Exploration Mode that I'm struggling with...but I can't quite nail it down.

Megistone wrote:
What I think right now is that exploration mode rules are good as guidelines, but I wouldn't apply them RAW.

I've been trying to apply them RAW in the official playtest sessions and it's been rough. I could see most of them working better as guidelines.


Ikos wrote:
For the record, I’m not a big fan of either.

What would Exploration Mode look like if you could completely revise it?

What would the travel/exploration phase look like when it's operating well in a typical fantasy setting?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think the biggest problem with exploration mode is that it doesn't actually handle exploration and overland travel very well.

The fact that wandering while paying attention to your surroundings is fatiguing means you have to take breaks every 9 minutes. What security guard gets fatigued after 10 minutes of patrolling? Fatiguing tactics in general are overly-draconian. The worst is probably riding a horse; without a feat it takes 2 actions per round to do so and that's fatiguing on the rider, which makes no sense. And then you have the issue of alternating between hustling and wandering. In PF1 you could actually do this, but the accumulating hustling penalty only reset after 8 hours of rest so there was no point in alternating and you just declared how much hustling you were willing to do before you resorted to regular move speed.

We also no longer have any forced march rules; there is literally no penalty until you hit 15 hours of straight travel time (leaving enough time for 6 hours of rest and 1 hour of preparation). Taken together, this allows groups to vastly exceed expectations in travel time.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I suspect the goals of exploration mode would be to support the hex based exploration sections that make it into many modules and APs. I don't even mind that as a goal, it could lead to those sections being further fleshed out and using more skills.

However, the current page of rules and ideas lead to confusion. Taken one way the seem to be very limiting on what characters can do, like it uses an action to have your weapon out? Or two if you use a shield as well?

Are PCs supposed to break down their actions to avoid fatigue? Hmm, I can't use 20 actions or I'll be tired. So I guess I'll spend 10 actions moving, 6 actions investigating and 3 actions searching. And at 19 actions I won't be fatigued.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Do you mean for all of Exploration mode? Or just certain parts of it (i.e. Social interactions)?

I don't see a need for any of it. It's not clear what these rules do for the game other than impose more structure and constraints on an RPG that is already famous for replacing role play with dice rolls.


The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
We know that you can have your weapon out while wandering around, but apparently it's unclear to some people.
It is.

I think this can be cleared up pretty easily by removing the specific mention of "with your weapon out" from Defending.

The Once and Future Kai wrote:
The only distinction seems to be that one is Knowledge based and one is Perception based... In which case why not just remove the additional layer of Exploration Tactics and instead say that during Exploration mode each character must select an active Skill?

Hmm, a lot of the active Skills wouldn't make sense for it, though. Say for example Acrobatics would make sense if you're balancing on a beam, but doesn't make sense for standard moving around.

The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Same here. I've been working to learn this new subsystem but, honestly, it feels like it limits one of my favorite parts of the game. Players have not responded well to it and by that I don't mean negatively - I mean with confusion and hesitation. This is the opposite of what I want as GM. I want players to be emboldened by the clear rules to interact with the world. I regularly have players with anxiety disorders, low self-esteem, or who are on the autism spectrum at my table; the rules help them feel confident/secure enough in their options to take action. The Exploration Tactics, alternatively, seem to be making them uncertain and overly cautious (granted - that could just be a side effect of learning a new system).

I think what it needs are two things: clarity (as earlier noted) and improvisation (which honestly is just more clarity regarding exploration tactics). Okay, let's be honest: my biggest problem with the playtest rulebook is clarity and how clear certain things are.

The Once and Future Kai wrote:
If Exploration Tactics are meant to be adjudicated by the GM I'd rather that this section focus on giving guidelines to GMs and teaching some simple improvisation techniques.

I recall it said you can adjudicate it by the GM, or players can just list off what tactic they're attempting. Since my players, by and large, have not really read the Exploration Tactics with the exception of the other GM, I end up adjudicating it to make it easier.

The Once and Future Kai wrote:

That's fair... But, again, why not just incorporate that into the existing Skill system and say that Thievery is the active skill? Why add an additional layer of complication if it's not adding substantively to the game?

Note - I want an additional subsystem for Exploration Mode. But something just feels off about Exploration Tactics as they are.

That's a fair point.

Hmm...maybe if they had a list of active skills, but it does lose some of the flavour ideas that come off it.

Really not sure what's a good solution here.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Let's talk about Exploration Mode: What do you want from it? How it can be improved?

I want exploration mode to be able to handle my players creative solutions. Searching the in the wilderness they have a tiny flying familiar scouting ahead of them, or intermittently they fly up to scout or use prying eyes spell to scout a certain encampment. Perhaps they use survey wildlife, tracking and speak with animals to discover the lay of the land or the location of monsters. Complex interactions of spells and skill feats should interact seamlessly with exploration mode.

I want riding to not stumble on fatigue rules. And what if my paladin riding his war horse also carries the halfling rogue who is searching? The halfling isn't technically using any of his move speed, or doing any other activity other than searching for hazards, he's not Handling an Animal or Controlling the mount. Can the halfling search while the paladin rides at full riding speed? What if the halfling has trapfinder feat?

I want to know how choices in exploration mode influence the transition to encounter mode. Can the party influence encounter distance in any way? or is it always a pop-up fight? What if the party doesn't want to fight? How is it possible to transition to social mode from exploration mode?

I want an exploration mode that answers all these questions and solves all these problems.


@ Snickersnack: I think it handles most of those.

Familiar and animal companions generally do what their masters are doing, because they are dependent on them to tell them what to do. A hireling or NPC could do another job independently if they are of average intelligence.

The Halfling on a Paladin's mount shouldn't be a problem, as long as the Paladin isn't trying to do their own thing. Directing their horse to go where the Halfling tells them to go means they can't do a job that requires concentration. Or if the Paladin is constantly moving, the Halfling may suffer a penalty because they can't stop and examine everything. If the Paladin is trying to Cover Tracks and the Halfling is Seeking, they would naturally be at odds with each other, and I'd be happy to say that they'd both fail, as opposed to having both of them roll with penalties.

Likewise, casting a 2 action spell once every hour shouldn't interfere with your other duties, but constantly casting a cantrip or Concentrating on a spell should preclude you from doing other things

******************

I do think that the transition from Exploration to Combat could be better explained. As I've played it (which I feel is supported by the rules), Seeking allows you to sense a threat ahead of time, whereas a Perception-based Initiative roll is about acting before the enemy acts. A Recall Knowledge check while in exploration can help PCs identify areas of danger, to either avoid them or prepare themselves when they enter. As a general rule, how far ahead a group that succeeds at Seeking can notice something would be based on their vision and line-of-sight to the threat. Actively Detecting Magic should also warn groups of magical threats, allowing them to avoid stationary threats.


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I have kept quiet about Exploration mode until it came up in my playtests. On the 2nd day of The Lost Star, the party was in exploration mode for about 30 feet before they spotted their first opponent and rolled for initiative. Fortunately, On Pale Mountain's Shadow has a lot of traveling while the party is trying to be watchful or stealthy.

The main thing that bothers me about exploration mode as written is it tries to be one size fits all.

Playtest Rulebook, page 290 wrote:
In exploration mode, time is more flexible and the style of play more free-form. Here, minutes or even hours in the game world could pass quickly in the real world. This mode of play is frequently used when traveling, exploring a dungeon, or roleplaying in a town. Developments in exploration mode can lead to encounters, causing play to alternate between encounter mode and exploration mode as the story unfolds. The rules for exploration mode can be found starting on page 316.

1) I need a short non-encounter mode where the PCs are working together but turn order does not matter. For example, the rogue is using Thievery to pick a lock, the ranger trained in Thievery is aiding, and the other PCs are on lookout. That is not encounter mode, but it is less than a minute so we could have handled it in encounter mode if we wanted to roleplay turns where the players just say, "Still on lookout."

2) I need a mode for dungeon exploration. The room has been cleared, so everyone is looting and searching for secret doors. The healer might be tending wounds. Or they are at a crime scene searching for clues. Everyone makes frequent dice rolls about their efforts or discoveries. The enemy could show up any moment, so it would need to smoothly blend into encounter mode. This could take place in 10-minute periods.

3) I need a travel mode that takes place in one-hour or longer periods. The players could be on a well-marked road, simply keeping an eye open for ambushes or a good roadside inn. Or they could be wandering through pathless forest trying to not get turned aside by thick brambles. Crossing rivers or climbing cliffs could switch to short mode #1. And those ambushes will occasionally occur, but so infrequently that we can have a pause before encounter mode. I could say, "Okay, I am rolling for a random encounter. If you were about to be ambushed, what would you be doing right now? Oops, false alarm, the dice said nothing here. But the fighter, you said you had your shield raised and your longsword in hand. You are growing fatigued. Take a rest immediately, or you will be fatigued, heh heh."

4) I need a daily travel mode. I once ran The Hungry Storm where the party lead a caravan over the northern ice cap in a 3-month journey. Most days were uneventful. But I suppose that could be a downtime mode.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
There's a starting point for discussion. Now, please share what you want from Exploration mode and what you think could improve it?

Wait; what?

You see, that's one of the big problem in PF2: the designers themselves have no idea what they want and why they create a new subsystem. Hence player don't have any idea why the subsystem is there, and in the end, they create threads to ask what a subsystem should accomplish to players who didn't want the subsystem in the first place. And we get surrealist answers like "the game should be like FATE", because no one knows what the game is supposed to look like - not even the designers.

To answer your questions:

What do I want from exploration mode? Nothing. I shouldn't have to define the goal of a subsystem I didn't ask for.

What do I think could improve it? ctrl+a ctrl+x.


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I want exploration mode to allow for a playstyle that is not supported by the very same idea of exploration mode.
Complete deletion of the whole mode seems to be the best improvement I can think of.


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What I would want from an Exploration mode:
- Ways to make travels interesting. Long Travels are a recurring Trope/part of adventures, and I have yet to find an interesting System how to make the hardships of travels into a fun challenge
- rules for dungeon crawling. What does scouting, searching, etc. do, how is it different from one guy searching/leading vs the whole Party

The whole fatiguing mechanic is taking a very strange time increment (10 minutes) plus forcing you to do NOTHING once you are fatigued. That is not interesting. Fatigued People may get worse at their Task, but a fatigued guide does not automaticall fail all perception Tests.

The idea of alternating/combining tactics is so metagamey that even proposing this to Players is taking me out of the Roleplaying.

I also would love a working social Subsystem, with ways how to influence People/crowds/Groups, but that could be relegated to a later exansion. The current social tactics are doing nothing for me in engaging People in social Encounters.


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Mathmuse wrote:
1) I need a short non-encounter mode.

It could be a mode, it could be guidelines, but something to govern this would be helpful. I've taken to running these almost like combat but a framework with more synergy built would be helpful.

Mathmuse wrote:
2) I need a mode for dungeon exploration.

Absolutely. I think the Pathfinder First Edition system was built around dungeon crawling to the detriment of others. Separating it would would be helpful.

Mathmuse wrote:
3) I need a travel mode that takes place in one-hour or longer periods.

Mode or guidelines would be helpful. Especially that account for fantastical means of scouting and travel.

Mathmuse wrote:
4) I need a daily travel mode.

I'd probably take your suggestion of using autopilot travel (on a boat, part of a caravan, etc) as downtime.

DerNils wrote:
- Ways to make travels interesting. Long Travels are a recurring Trope/part of adventures, and I have yet to find an interesting System how to make the hardships of travels into a fun challenge

I didn't even think of that but that's a good point.

DerNils wrote:
- rules for dungeon crawling. What does scouting, searching, etc. do, how is it different from one guy searching/leading vs the whole Party

Yes. These rules in particular need to be strong (not necessarily lengthy, just well put together) otherwise an important portion of the game (dungeon crawling) is ambiguous.

DerNils wrote:
The whole fatiguing mechanic is taking a very strange time increment (10 minutes) plus forcing you to do NOTHING once you are fatigued. That is not interesting. Fatigued People may get worse at their Task, but a fatigued guide does not automaticall fail all perception Tests.

I find this bizarre and frustrating.

DerNils wrote:
I also would love a working social Subsystem, with ways how to influence People/crowds/Groups, but that could be relegated to a later exansion. The current social tactics are doing nothing for me in engaging People in social Encounters.

To some extent, an experienced GM can cover this with improvisation and quick judgement calls... But it would be nice to have a consistent framework that players can rely on. I'd like a social system that can, at the least, support a real social tactic like "good cop/bad cop". This could just be built into the Skills. Currently, I just add it as a circumstance bonus in Pathfinder First Edition. Also - Aid Other is boring.

Gaterie wrote:
You see, that's one of the big problem in PF2: the designers themselves have no idea what they want and why they create a new subsystem. Hence player don't have any idea why the subsystem is there, and in the end, they create threads to ask what a subsystem should accomplish to players who didn't want the subsystem in the first place. And we get surrealist answers like "the game should be like FATE", because no one knows what the game is supposed to look like - not even the designers.

I understand why the subsystem was implemented - it's an attempt to unify a dozen even smaller subsystems from Pathfinder First Edition - but the more sessions I run using it... Well, I just don't like it. Exploration Tactics have been awkward and stifle creativity. Critical Failures on Skills usually kill momentum and discourage bold action. Even the travel rules don't work well or account properly for things like mounts.

I agree with mathmuse that they tried to make Exploration mode 'one size fits all' and that's a big part of the problem. But I think the system would benefit from simple to follow rules (or even just guidelines) on travel time, investigation/searching, and non-combat encounters.

Since D&D Third Edition introduced skills I've been among many who have voiced a desire for a more dynamic/less bigger number wins all social system. Surreal or not, Fate has a great system for this that encourages teamwork and nuance. I don't think this necessarily warrants an entire a mode - I just want the Skills to be updated to allow for things like good cop/bad cop interrogation scene.

Gaterie wrote:
What do I want from exploration mode? Nothing. I shouldn't have to define the goal of a subsystem I didn't ask for.

Of course. But there's no should involved - participation in the thread is completely optional.

ErichAD wrote:
I don't think exploration mode is necessary, doesn't answer the questions it should, and doesn't allow typical roles to function.
John Mechalas wrote:
I don't see a need for any of it. It's not clear what these rules do for the game other than impose more structure and constraints on an RPG that is already famous for replacing role play with dice rolls.
Gaterie wrote:
What do I think could improve it? ctrl+a ctrl+x.
D@rK-SePHiRoTH- wrote:
Complete deletion of the whole mode seems to be the best improvement I can think of.

I think that's valuable feedback. At this point I'd be fine with that solution - at my current level of experience I can run that side of things just fine - but I don't want Paizo to leave it in and then have a dozen skill feats referencing it.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I find Gaterie's comment strange in that I don't see any evidence that the devs don't know what they want from the system. On the contrary, everything I've seen the devs say so far indicates that they know exactly what they want out of PF2e.

I like the parts of Exploration mode that incentivize players to focus on one thing at a time. I think the biggest change I would like to see is instead of "if you are using tactic X, then actions other than A, B, C are impossible" I'd much prefer "if you are using tactic X, then actions other than A, B, C take Y penalty".

That way you can Dance and Steal at the same time, but you need to decide which you are primarily focused on and take a penalty to the other. Are you mostly trying to impress the crowd with your moves like Jagger, and maybe just empty a couple pockets if the opportunity presents? Or are you mostly here the clean out everything not nailed down or on fire, and the dancing is just a way to keep people's attention?


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

I think Exploration mode needs to make its movement aspect explicit.

The main reason that taking two actions each turn in Exploration mode is fatiguing is that the party is also taking at least one movement action during the same turn. But what about occasions when time is passing at the Exploration mode rate but the party isn't actually moving or exploring? There should be a different standard for a fatiguing activity if the party isn't actually moving.


MaxAstro wrote:
I like the parts of Exploration mode that incentivize players to focus on one thing at a time. I think the biggest change I would like to see is instead of "if you are using tactic X, then actions other than A, B, C are impossible" I'd much prefer "if you are using tactic X, then actions other than A, B, C take Y penalty".

I'd prefer that model over the current iteration. I'd also prefer allies helping in ways that are more interesting and effective than a simple aid other.

David knott 242 wrote:
I think Exploration mode needs to make its movement aspect explicit.

Agreed. This would also help soldify the mounted rules.

Dark Archive

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I'm honestly really confused with whole 10 minutes fatigue thing and perception and lore tactics.

Like, if nobody in party is using the perception tactics, that mean when they enter room with perception dcs nobody can roll them? And vice versa if they used tactic to roll knowledge? So does that mean to be safe player with good knowledge and perception skill has to once in every room switch tactics so they are allowed to roll both?


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CorvusMask wrote:
Like, if nobody in party is using the perception tactics, that mean when they enter room with perception dcs nobody can roll them? And vice versa if they used tactic to roll knowledge? So does that mean to be safe player with good knowledge and perception skill has to once in every room switch tactics so they are allowed to roll both?

I believe so... I'd prefer something like the action economy. In 10 minutes a character can be doing three things (searching, looking out, etc) and you get a free reaction (reactive Perception, reactive Recall Knowledge, etc).

But I also want better teamwork options - aid other isn't very strong and, worse, it's boring. Love to see more interplay between allied skillsets setting up advantages. Deception's Distraction use is the best existing example of this that I can remember at the moment.


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

It seems pretty close to me - a good start, just not quite there.

Have some generic rules that can cope with literally anything - the "<=10 actions per character per X is fine, <=20 is fatiguing after Y, <=30 is fatiguing after Z".
Deal with
* need for sleep
* physical exertion & exhaustion
* movement speed
* skills where anyone succeeding succeeds (eg perception)
* skills where everyone succeeding succeeds (eg stealth).
* repeatable prep (e.g. spellcasting)

Then have another page of common examples that don't have to follow the rules
* Fastest possible overland travel for an hour
* Marching overland travel for a day
* Wandering while on casual alert
* Setting an ambush (Kudos to Serfuz)
* Digging out an area while someone stands guard
* One character disabling a trap while
* guarded rest (including guard rosters and necessary chores)

Also look at these common complications - though not all apply in any situation.
* darkness and light
* mounted
* minions and companions
* different speeds
* cartography.
* terrain
* maintaining formation
* Scavenging for food
* following tracks
* transitioning to downtime (e.g. players pick a tactic for travel, a tactic for rest and so long as nothing else happens they get three days of "you travel for three days when...")

Imagine Kingmaker. There's a cavalier on a barded warhorse. His speed is 20, the horse is 40. There's an elven monk with a speed of 40. There's a dwarven druid with a speed of 20, but the ability to ignore most terrains. There's a wizard riding in a cart drawn by two donkeys.
How fast do they go? If they go through terrain the cart can handle, the druid's ability is useless, and they move at 20, so the monk could be resting every second turn.

Now some of this can be dealt with when the complications are raised. For example...
The riding skill section could have a bit that says
Exploration: if you ride an animal you can move at base speed at a cost of 20 actions, or half speed at 10. The animal will almost certainly panic if startled (see page xx)

The ride feat can say
Exploration: you can move an animal at base speed at a cost of 10 actions. At expert your control is so good you may ride an animal for 5 actions. At master your control is so good you may ride an animal without using any actions. At legendary you may count time spend riding as 'rest' (though your mount may not)

Skill feats can have abilities that only apply in Exploration, or Exploration and Downtime mode.


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Actually - also have an example that kills the system and show a gracious way to fail.
A rogue disarming a trap on a jungle temple, while a wizard is trying to help by spamming detect magic and trying to remember details using Lore the cleric is performing healing on the fighter, while the fighter is keeping watch with a readied crossbow, while a ranger and the wizard's familiar are walking perimeter patrol. And then they are attacked.


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

Also: to add to the wall of text...
I'm okay if not all of this is in the base book - so long as the 'how to make your own' rules are. If it has a page with "detailed rules to follow", and the rules are not so far off, then I'm okay.
Ideally new books could publish new "exploration tactics" that are balanced, reasonable, and do not necessarily follow the detailed rules.

For goodness sake, though: please Paizo go through the book and add an exploration section to anything in there that affects exploration.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think my favourite part about exploration mode is that searching for traps/secrets is so much simpler and not as "meta gamey". I didn't really like the whole take 20 in every single square of a room whenever you think it might be trapped or have hidden doors that was encouraged in PF1. But there are definitely some aspects about exploration mode that don't seem to work as intended.

Stealthing for initiative is a bit weird. If you act first does that mean you are unseen to whoever rolled lower than you? If you don't act first but your stealth still beat their perception DC are you still unseen or does their perception check count as them sensing you?

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