It must be that time of the month again: artifically inflated DCs & +level to checks.


Playing the Game


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Guys... guys... I don't know if you noticed, but we have a big problem here.

Okay, we have many problems. Sure. Unless you perfectly like the way PF is right now and don't want it to change ever again, although considering it's still in flux you might have a problem too.

No, it's something else that I wanted to draw your attention on:

We have a skill DCs table of 120 items.

Seriously... 120. Because, of course, at every level the goalpost moves.

This, coincidentally, means you can never pull a DC out your ass. Never. Because you'll never remember them all (again, except for the few of us blessed with an eidetic memory, natch!).

I'll name that-which-must-not-be-named to expand upon my argument. Yes, I need to. I know the heavens-wolf will swallow the sun and evil spirits will roam the skies, but it's for the betterment of all humanity. Wear your amulets and ask your shamans to chant their blessings.

IN D&D 5E

... still alive, everyone? Are you alright? Drink a healing potion, it's on me.

As I was saying, in... that other game, I had to remember 3 DCs.

Easy is 10. Challenging is 15. Hard is 20.

Done. Never needed to consult a huge table and make a cheat sheet out of it only to decide not to check it because it would have slowed down play. I always knew what the target number was to try anything my players wanted to try. Because if easy is 10, then very easy is 5. And if hard is 20, then very hard is 25 and almost impossible is 30. If you unfortunately possess a vile copy of... the other game, go check it out. Then burn it, burn it with fire! But check it out first.

Why am I bringing this up, though?

Well as I was saying a table of 120 completely unrelated DCs is impossible to remember for me. There's no method to the madness. Level 1 medium DC is 13, but level 5 is not 17 (level+12), it's 18. So you can't just get to the right number via simple math, there's no formula. You can't win. You need to have a look at the table. And my cheat sheets are already full of conditions, skill uses, combat actions... not that adding 1 table will make it too much of course, but instead of adding unnecessary complexity, why not trimming the fat?

Anyways.

So this doesn't help a fast task resolution, first. It also gives some... "interesting" situations.

Don't read this if you're a player in Doomsday Dawn!

Spoiler:
Doomsday Dawn, Red Flags, p. 82: N13, Dangerous Second Steps. Here... we have some flat-topped pillars you need to jump onto, but they're covered with both crustaceans and seaweed (and are constantly splashed by the waves from beneath).

Read with me: "The various rocks can be leaped upon, but because the surfaces feature a mixture of rough and slick textures, a PC must succeed at a DC 31 ACROBATICS CHECK TO LAND UPON ONE OR GRAB AN EDGE".

DC 28 if you haven't erratad it yet. And then every other round you need an Athletics DC 29 (it was 22 before) to avoid being knocked off by the waves.

So... this is a task... no normal person can pass. Furthermore, a lot of "low level" adventurers will fail as well. 31 is a medium DC at 14th level. Due to how skill bonuses are inflated with level, that means it's almost impossible for a 9th level adventurer.

Take a moment to picture it.

A 7th level rogue with Legendary Acrobatics & Dexterity 19... +14... needs a 17 or better to avoid falling or grabbing an edge.

LEGENDARY ACROBATICS.

Oh, and yeah, all this because the pillar tops present A MIXTURE OF ROUGH AND SLICK TEXTURES.

So... that's an example of how things get completely illogical with artificially pumped DCs. I can understand walls of mithril and magic traps, but when something so relatively banal is all at once a challenge for 14th level characters... heh. I dunno, guys.

And all of this stems from a root problem: the fact that level is added to your skills. This one fact inflates them to unreasonable, unrealistic heights that make no sense, regardless of actual proficiency (Trained-Expert-Master...). Actual proficiency, actually, contributes VERY LITTLE to the final bonus. Expert is +1. Master is +2. Legendary is +3. Sure, that counts for crits too and also gates some cool and important feats... but the key here isn't, "I've become Legendary at X", it's "I've reached 15th level"!

Which means always new and weird obstacles need to be put in your way or the game won't be enough of a challenge, just because you're so superheroically better than the average commoner at doing something.

And I love superheroes, and I imagine a high-level adventurer is similar in many ways, but if you artificially inflate their skills with no reason, even if your intentions are good, it will always end up with "DC30 rivers" and "DC40 mountains". That, or the real world will lag behind the adventurers so damn much that almost everything and everyone will stop being any kind of challenge to them, slowly but surely. Not even an easy one.

I know some of you want an army of orcs to be powerless before the might of a 10th level party. More power to you! I'd suggest, though, that the objective is reached as naturally and realistically as possible.

With a DC scale of

5 - very easy
10 - easy
15 - average
20 - hard
25 - very hard
30 - really damn hard

- which you can remember by heart, btw - you needn't worry about DC30 rivers.

What I think would be a better solution is if the degrees of proficiency had a greater impact on your skill and attack bonus (I'm still getting used to the mental gymnastics required to thinking of wearing armor as a skill, so I won't elaborate further upon that, here).

Let's say untrained doesn't give you any bonus. If you only have an average ability in the related skill, you'll need a 10+ for a very easy task, and a 15+ for an average one. If you have a +4 it's all 20% easier.

Let's further stipulate trained gives you a +3. In this case, if you're playing against type and have no bonus, you'll still need a 12+ for an average task, but if you have a +3 ability mod you'll only need a 9, and with a +4 an 8. That said, the hard check will be a 13 if you have a +4. Possible, just slightly unlikely.

Now, an expert with a +5 from their ability bonus and another +1 from expert tools. With a 9+ they can already clear a DC15, and they need a 14+ for a DC20 (hard). Let's give them a +5 proficiency bonus and they'll pass a DC15 with a roll of just a 4+, and a DC20 with a 10+. The very hard task, at DC 25, will still be unlikely, necessitating a 15+, but can be done.

A master should fail only on a fumble at the very easy, easy and average tasks: let's say +5 from ability, +2 from master tools, +7 from proficiency. Only a nat 1 will see them fail a DC15, and a DC20 will only need a 6+, while a DC 25 (very hard), an 11+ (exactly 50%).

Now... legendary. Let's say +6 from ability. Maybe a +10 from proficiency. So, +16 - on a 14+ they can clear the nearly impossible DC30, without any kind of buff. With the right tools for the job and a little magic, and/or the right feat...

Now the proficiency bonuses have more substance, while your level will only dictate when you can bring a skill to master and then trained. No artificial inflation. A clear set of universal DCs from which to derive ACs for monsters, difficulty of individual traps and obstacles, and so on, easily memorized. No changing all the numbers on your character sheet at every level.

And it's not like now I'm attached to these numbers I came up with. I don't give a rat's arse, honestly - I'm just saying, let's drop the level component from the skill equations and let's not have absurd numbers for DCs (and most of all NOT 120 DCs). It can be done, we don't need a full BAB to all skills. It's unwieldy, silly, and creates problems like mundane obstacles with DCs no normal person or low-level adventurer could clear without a natural 20.

I don't see this as an asset.

Thank you and good night.


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I agree with this, for the most part. Doing a mundane activity/action shouldn't become harder just because you leveled up. That basically makes the Assurance Skill feat pointless.

Why would it matter if you could auto succeed on a 15, 20 or 30 if every DC that you'll be facing will be over that amount, and if it's not, anyone of that level will succeed unless they roll a 1 or something.

On the other hand, how do you represent continued progress while leveling, but still making the skill system easy enough that you're not getting 5-12 'skill points' to put somewhere.

It would require an entire re-write of the proficiency system, which might not be a bad thing.

I mean as it is now, an level 20 dwarf with 10 Dex and Untrained Athletics can still Long Jump with a bonus of what +16? (level -4 for untrained) allowing a Min 12 foot and Max 31 foot

Where a 2nd level Elf with 18 Dex and Expert Athletics can long Jump with a bonus of +8 (Level +2 for Expert) allowing a Min of 4 foot and a max 23 foot.

And a 7th level Elf with 18 Dex and Master Athletics can long jump with a bonus of +14 (Level + 3 for Master) allowing a Min of 10 foot & Max of
29 foot.

I see a problem with this. I feel Expert and at very least a Master of a skill should out perform any one who is untrained at that skill, no matter what level they are. I can see where Paizo would want to keep some sort of challenge at all levels no matter the skills you've chosen, but I think if you're an Expert or Master, it should allow you to do things without rolling.

To fix this they would need to take level out of skill proficiency, and instead have the type of proficiency (Trained, Expert, etc) have a larger bonus applied to them, in which case they could lower the DC's for EVERYTHING and skill keep balance and challenge even for those trained or untrained in certain skills at all levels.


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I wouldn't mind something like 13th Age's 3 sets of DCs.

"Adventurer Tier" 15, 20, 25
"Champion Tier" 20, 25, 30
"Epic Tier." 25, 30, 35

But, ya, current PF2 DCs, like many aspects of the game, have severe ease of use issues.


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I have said this before but I don't think the devs have commented on it so I'll say it again; We need static DC examples in the skills section just like they had in PF1.


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Yes to Roswynn's comments, yes to everyone else.

There are two huge underlying problems to this game that, if something doesn't change, will preclude me from playing it. Which sucks, because I really want to love this game.

1) +1/level to everything with NO IN-GAME-WORLD EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING i.e. Why is the 15th lvl guy harder to wound? Why is the 18th lvl wizard so boss with a sword? How does Ostog the Untenured know so much about Everything?

How am I supposed to describe this stuff as a GM with no idea of what exactly is happening?

Note: I'm not in any way opposed to the big numbers. I'm not asking for flat math. If something like the same numbers were solely derived from levels of proficiency, I'd be fine with this--because I'd understand what those numbers mean IN-GAME-WORLD.

2) "The GM sets the DC". These words should be banned from the final rulebook. Like Roswynn, I do not want to have to decide all of this on the fly, or consult that damned table every time a character decides to do something unexpected (which is always, by the way), or, worse yet, have to remember all of my judgment calls for the next time this circumstance arises.

If I wanted to have to pull everything out of my @#$ all game long, I'd be playing 5e.

I love Pathfinder-1 because when PCs try strange stuff I can just look up the DC in the Skills section and there it is--because that's how the world is.

The world of PF1 is stable and solid.

The world of PF2 is a moving sidewalk.


Here's how you pull a DC out of your backside:

Ask the player for their raw d20 result.

Step 1: Start with 10
Step 2: Add 1 for every 2 points their stat is below 18 (subtract if they're above)
Step 3: Add 1 for every point of proficiency they don't have below legendary (add an additional 3 if they're untrained)
Step 4: Subtract 6, then add 1 for every 5 levels and another 1 for every 7.

Did they roll this number or better? If so, they succeeded!


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Yolande d'Bar wrote:

Why is the 18th lvl wizard so boss with a sword? How does Ostog the Untenured know so much about Everything?

How am I supposed to describe this stuff as a GM with no idea of what exactly is happening?

This is exactly why I don't think a proficiency system should include full level at all. Raise the bonuses for actually training in that skill.

Currently Level is the most import part of proficiency, training and ability modifier are almost negligible. I mean the basic difference between trained and Legendary is +3, so having a 16 in the relevant stat basically makes you Legendary (since most of the time the 'Legendary' actions don't come up)

I see 2 fairly acceptable ways to represent this. 1 would be to include a fraction of your level based on your 'trained' proficiency. And another would be Flat, but Large bonuses based on 'Trained' proficiency.

1) As your character levels, it allows him/her to utilize their training more effectively. [instead of level dictating] Below is a very rough and non-balanced for level option that perhaps could include flat bonuses or not. But a maxed out Legendary proficiency would be = 10. [And would feel like those who have training are 'better' instead of just level.........

Untrained = -2
Trained = ~1/5th of your level
Expert = ~1/4th of your level
Master = ~1/3rd of your level
Legendary = ~1/2 of your level

2) Your proficiency determines bonus. [Because you can't achieve certain levels of proficiency until certain levels anyway, it show how dedicating to one thing pays off] The way I describe this is that if you're Trained then you should be perhaps on par with someone who's naturally good at something. If you're Expert then you should be a little better, but on par with someone who's has a natural talent. If you're Master then you should be better than someone who has a natural talent. And if you're Legendary it is something that is impossible for someone with a natural talent to perform. [And using 'naturally good' and 'Natural talent' as say, oh I don't know, ability Modifiers. then it's fairly easy to calculate, but if we want Legendary to be Truly Legendary, then we can use Powers of 2.

Untrained = -2
Trained = 2
Expert = 4
Master = 8
Legendary = 16


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Draco18s wrote:

Here's how you pull a DC out of your backside:

Ask the player for their raw d20 result.

Step 1: Start with 10
Step 2: Add 1 for every 2 points their stat is below 18 (subtract if they're above)
Step 3: Add 1 for every point of proficiency they don't have below legendary (add an additional 3 if they're untrained)
Step 4: Subtract 6, then add 1 for every 5 levels and another 1 for every 7.

Did they roll this number or better? If so, they succeeded!

Draco18, out of curiosity, if you follow your process do you get one of the DCs from the table in the rulebook? It seems to me you've given a lot of thought to this and it might work, actually. On the other hand, if I need to follow a 4-step plan to find out the DC I need... You know, that table is looking less terrible right now.

I need the game to flow smoothly. And it does! I'm playtesting this thing and fights are fast and furious, with meaningful tactics and interesting monsters. Then the combat ends and someone wants to try an action not foreseen by the adventure. Hence me mentally scrambling to remember the right-ish DC for that level and difficulty while the player rolls, and in the end I just look at the d20 critically and wing it.

Thanks a friggin' lot, scaling DCs.

If the range of skill results applied across all the 20 levels of play, I would know what a reasonable DC could be. With 5 DCs for each level it becomes frankly ridiculous.

Again, yes, I can put the table on a cheat sheet and consult it when necessary, but why instead not having a unified list of DCs independent of level, easily memorized and applied to everything?

BTW, I did play 4e a bit back in the day. It's very similar. +1 per level or +1/2 per level, it's still inflating scores and bonuses artificially. Why go back to the very game that started the PF diaspora away from D&D? Players wanted more 3.5 (which didn't have scaling values!) and we're bringing them back in? That seems very backwards to me.


So far I've had no issue 'pulling a DC out of my ass', dispite you saying it's impossible.

Say I know a house is secured by a lock made by a 13th level security expert.

10+13 gives you a start, 23, guess his ability modifier - probably +4 - and since we're at a fairly high level, probably a master/tools/some other aid, so +2 for that. DC 29 sounds good. It takes longer to type/say, in my head that takes around 10 seconds to get a DC, at worst.

I 110% support +level to everything. I want super-heroic fantasy where characters ascend in power to the point most mundane challenges are utterly trivial. That's a strength of the system, and one of the few things keeping the magic-nerfed system of 2E high fantasy for me. I'd sooner see +2xLevel to everything than have it removed.

As Bardarok said, we need more static DCs, and Paizo needs to set good prescedent by not scaling every DC to party level, and correctly using 10-2 to set it by the level of the obstacle/opponent. But in the homebrew modules I've been writing, I've never had to reference 10-2 and its 120 entries, it's a non-issue.

More inherent to TEML categories ia also something I've heard repeatedly requested and almost nothing against. People want legendary athletics to mean a lot. But I'm still happy for level to be the bigger number. It's great for that ascendent ideal.


Kaelizar: exactly that - remove the level from the skill value and make the proficiency rank count for more. Since you can raise a proficiency every x levels to the next rank, and your class tells you when you become better with weapons or armors, you get better even without adding your level.

Or, as you tried in your second post, you can also have a rank give a different value according to your level - the counter would be, though, that you're still adding level, in a way. My expert 4th level character has only a +1 to checks, your expert 12th level has a +3. Why? Because "experience". But wait, aren't there proficiency ranks exactly to model experience?

I don't know, honestly.

DataLore, I haven't read 13th Age. The range of DCs seems more reasonable. Still towards the arbitrary side, but at least they're only 9, with some repeating... it could totally work. It's still the problem that the DC20 river at adventurer tier needs to suddenly be a DC30 river at epic tier, if I remember a little 4e - you'll always try and play catch-up with the ever increasing bonuses the PCs have, and sometimes you'll have to pull off something stupid like incredibly difficult yet totally mundane obstacles with silly excuses, but again, not having read the game I wouldn't really know.

Bardarok - definitely. There are a couple examples, actually, over about 5 levels even, in one case (tracking), but honestly you can't reason your way to, say, a likely level 12 difficult DC from there. It seems everything you might wanna do tops out at 5th level DCs, varied according to external factors.

This reminds me of the performance example. The DCs become higher level because the audience becomes higher level. Higher level apparently entails more discerning audiences (they go so far as to explicitly say so). Thinking about it again it almost makes me laugh.

Like, I have nothing against a gamist approach, but please, a little simulationism too? It's gotta make sense, folks. Otherwise most people just won't grok it.

At least, that's what I think. I sure won't.

Yolande - you hit the nail on the head. Arbitrary skill inflation is the worst. I can dig hit points, okay (otherwise I wouldn't even try d20 games) but your examples are gold.

Oh and yeah, "the GM sets the DC". Last time I saw it, it was in a bardic power - Lingering Composition. What the hell? I would say Lingering Composition's Performance check needs to be hard-ish at 1st level, easier at the middle levels, even trivials at high levels. It shouldn't scale with the level of your opponents. And it should be fixed. Or have a formula. Even better, it could not require a check, for simplicity's sake.

Personally I'm fine with pulling DCs out of my arse for various stuff - as long as I know what those DCs entail. How can I know what a level 8 medium means, or a 12 trivial, or a 16 incredible? It's all random numbers to me.


Yolande d'Bar wrote:

+1/level to everything with NO IN-GAME-WORLD EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING i.e. Why is the 15th lvl guy harder to wound? Why is the 18th lvl wizard so boss with a sword? How does Ostog the Untenured know so much about Everything?

How am I supposed to describe this stuff as a GM with no idea of what exactly is happening?

Why is a level 20 barbarian (or even a wizard) able to survive a dozen solid hits with an axe? Going by what you say we should remove the HP increase too; at this point let's play a game without levels at all.

It can be done, it has its merit and a very gritty taste that someone will love, but it's not D&D/Pathfinder.


Lyee wrote:

So far I've had no issue 'pulling a DC out of my ass', dispite you saying it's impossible.

Say I know a house is secured by a lock made by a 13th level security expert.

10+13 gives you a start, 23, guess his ability modifier - probably +4 - and since we're at a fairly high level, probably a master/tools/some other aid, so +2 for that. DC 29 sounds good. It takes longer to type/say, in my head that takes around 10 seconds to get a DC, at worst.

I 110% support +level to everything. I want super-heroic fantasy where characters ascend in power to the point most mundane challenges are utterly trivial. That's a strength of the system, and one of the few things keeping the magic-nerfed system of 2E high fantasy for me. I'd sooner see +2xLevel to everything than have it removed.

As Bardarok said, we need more static DCs, and Paizo needs to set good prescedent by not scaling every DC to party level, and correctly using 10-2 to set it by the level of the obstacle/opponent. But in the homebrew modules I've been writing, I've never had to reference 10-2 and its 120 entries, it's a non-issue.

More inherent to TEML categories ia also something I've heard repeatedly requested and almost nothing against. People want legendary athletics to mean a lot. But I'm still happy for level to be the bigger number. It's great for that ascendent ideal.

I like your lock example.

Say I wanna cross a river. Nobody made it. I can't reference someone's level, profiency rank, ability modifier, tools quality. What number do I use? Scaling a mountain? Surviving in a jungle?

I understand that you like getting to a point where mundane challenges become trivial. Problem is, the pillar tops I mentioned in my post. They'll always come back to haunt us. Writers can't be expected to constantly come up with new and exciting obstacles for superheroes, they need to default to common, normal ones sometimes. But they still wanna make it a challenge, so they give them absurd DCs.

I'm glad for the homebrew module you're writing, and that it's a non-issue for you. It's not a non-issue for me. And these other people here.

Look, I really love supers, don't get me wrong. I want a rogue to become Batman, a barbarian to be Colossus or the Hulk, a fighter Captain America or Gamora or Wonder Woman... but arbitrarily pumping modifiers is really not the way to go. Seriously. You have every right to your opinion, but I respectfully disagree.


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But then how will level 10 swordsmen slice through vast armies of level 1 orcs nigh instantaneously?


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Megistone wrote:
Yolande d'Bar wrote:

+1/level to everything with NO IN-GAME-WORLD EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING i.e. Why is the 15th lvl guy harder to wound? Why is the 18th lvl wizard so boss with a sword? How does Ostog the Untenured know so much about Everything?

How am I supposed to describe this stuff as a GM with no idea of what exactly is happening?

Why is a level 20 barbarian (or even a wizard) able to survive a dozen solid hits with an axe? Going by what you say we should remove the HP increase too; at this point let's play a game without levels at all.

It can be done, it has its merit and a very gritty taste that someone will love, but it's not D&D/Pathfinder.

Drive and determination. HPs are not only endurance and build, but also drive and determination.

We can play a different game than PF, sure. We just don't want to. We want classes and levels and all the good stuff. We just don't want 120 random DCs that mean nothing. You're shifting the problem to something else no one here is finding problematic at all.


Roswynn wrote:
Megistone wrote:
Yolande d'Bar wrote:

+1/level to everything with NO IN-GAME-WORLD EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING i.e. Why is the 15th lvl guy harder to wound? Why is the 18th lvl wizard so boss with a sword? How does Ostog the Untenured know so much about Everything?

How am I supposed to describe this stuff as a GM with no idea of what exactly is happening?

Why is a level 20 barbarian (or even a wizard) able to survive a dozen solid hits with an axe? Going by what you say we should remove the HP increase too; at this point let's play a game without levels at all.

It can be done, it has its merit and a very gritty taste that someone will love, but it's not D&D/Pathfinder.
Drive and determination.HPs are not only endurance and build, but also drive and determination.

NO! GROGNAK HEAD NOT CHOPPED OFF! GET OUT OF GROGNAK NECK PUNY AXE!!! *axe pries itself out of GROGNAK's neck quickly as the lethal wound it inflicted heals for no reason.*

Edit: or would that be *axe pries itself out of GROGNAK's neck as his sheer willpower forces electrochemical signals through the open air between his severed head and his body, allowing him to continue moving?*


Roswynn wrote:


I like your lock example.

Say I wanna cross a river. Nobody made it. I can't reference someone's level, profiency rank, ability modifier, tools quality. What number do I use? Scaling a mountain? Surviving in a jungle?

I understand that you like getting to a point where mundane challenges become trivial. Problem is, the pillar tops I mentioned in my post. They'll always come back to haunt us. Writers can't be expected to constantly come up with new and exciting obstacles for superheroes, they need to default to common, normal ones sometimes. But they still wanna make it a challenge, so they give them absurd DCs.

I'm glad for the...

Sure, let's look at Rivers.

There's a River I can see from my window right now. It's fairly calm. I could swim it. Something an average-ish fitness person could swim easily is definitely level 0. I would put the DC to swim it at 5. If I, a trained swimmer with no more than +1 strength mod, can make progress on 85% of my movements, that's about right.

I know that, upriver, there's some nasty rapids where the river is much more narrow. There's rocks and waterfalls. I would not be confident swimming it. I would probably be safe, but there's a decent chance I'm getting thrown into something, I should crit fail fairly often, say 30% of rolls, so the DC should be my mod, plus 16. DC 18.

What about more fantastic and dangerous rivers? In my setting, the Boldisha is a natural wonder of the world, its largest river, and absoloutely lethal, swarming with water elementals and monsters, almost sentient in its rage. I can't imagine characters swimming it before being near legendary tier without it thrashing them to death. Sounds like a level 14ish encounter. It's more forceful than tricky, so I'll slap on a +5 to immitate ability, and a +3 conditional for being a huge, famous, dangerous thing. DC 32.

Let's go to those pillars.

That is a terrible encounter. Rough and slippy pillars should not be the challenge of choice for characters who can teleport and beat up dragons. Cool terrain? Sure! Maybe there are even still crit fails... on a nat 1, for the untrained in Athletics Wizard. It should not be a major threat or aspect. This feels like a writing error, and the adventure not respecting the level the PCs are at. I'd say this area should be super lethal to an average climber, failing almost always, frequently crit failing, which puts it at DC 22ish. Level 14 characters would only crit fail on worse than a 1 if they're untrained and also low on Str with no item or other bonus. That feels right.

I love +level. But I really hope Paizo writers give high level characters high level challengers, rather than low level challenges with high DCs.


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@Lyee, I'm all for obstacles that are basically level locked. In your river example Why does the level 18 elf wizard better at crossing that river just because he's 4 levels higher than the encounter.

It makes specialization almost pointless, even less for those skills that happen to be higher because it's based on an Attribute that you use for your class. I want the fact that my Fighter has Trained in Athletics to mean that he's on point in the river crossings and must help the other get through using the party's wits instead of everyone being able to cross just because they're level 4.

I don't want the whole party to have a roughly 40+% chance to succeed in most challenges, I want some character who have an 80+% helping those with the 10% or less chance get by. Otherwise specialization and Attribute increases are pointless and EVERYTHING is either challenging or trivial for EVERYONE instead of SOME THINGS being trivial/challenging per character.

I can understand the reasoning behind it. You don't anyone who didn't specialize to be locked out of doing anything, but that's inclusive and arbitrary. A highly skilled level 7 MASTER climber should out climb ANY untrained climber. PERIOD. an Ultimate DC for level 7 is 27, but DC 27 is between easy and medium for anyone over level 13. And thinking further. a rough climb for level 13 "Incredible" is 35, which is basically impossible for the level 7 Master, but why, he's a master. and those level 13's aren't even trained... but they have a better chance? Explain this.

I can completely get behind this, but an explanation would be nice. [Just trying to play the devils advocate here, not trying to say anyone's opinion is wrong.]


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Kaelizar wrote:
@Lyee, I'm all for obstacles that are basically level locked. In your river example Why does the level 18 elf wizard better at crossing that river just because he's 4 levels higher than the encounter.

Because he's no longer just the most famous wizard in the country, but one of the most famous in the world. He's experienced 4 levels of high power, high fantasy adventuring danger that have honed every part of him. He's nearing the point of divinities like the Heralds of Power, able to throw down a Swarm of Meteors. Ask anyone in Cargil, and they'd expect him to cross the Boldisha successfully, although maybe with a couple hiccups due to it not being his specialty. Still, he's crazy powerful.

Kaelizar wrote:


It makes specialization almost pointless, even less for those skills that happen to be higher because it's based on an Attribute that you use for your class. I want the fact that my Fighter has Trained in Athletics to mean that he's on point in the river crossings and must help the other get through using the party's wits instead of everyone being able to cross just because they're level 4.

Yep. When you're low level enough that mundane river crossings are still a concern, you should have +7-+9 over the untrained members of your party, due to Trained and Attribute. You're almost always succeeding where they fail, treading water where they crit fail. A fairly challenging swim for them is no actual danger for you, and you can move around that river freely using your Aid actions, stringing a rope across, shoving them forwards, whatever makes sense in the situation. That's already the case & supported.

Unless you're talking about some DC 5 river like my first example... where even local heroes ought to cross it in a half-sentence of narrative with no dice rolls, IMO. They've ascended such a basic challenge.

Kaelizar wrote:


I don't want the whole party to have a roughly 40+% chance to succeed in most challenges, I want some character who have an 80+% helping those with the 10% or less chance get by. Otherwise specialization and Attribute increases are pointless and EVERYTHING is either challenging or trivial for EVERYONE instead of SOME THINGS being trivial/challenging per character.

This depends on what success, failure, etc, look like for the challenge. If the river requires 4 successes, a failure is having a wave pull you under and eat an action, and every turn is a hail of arrows that threaten your life, 40% success suddenly feels terrible. That's around 4 turns to cross. 5-6 with bad luck. Only the 85% success fighter can confidently get past in 1-2 turns and do the thing on the other side.

What about the situation where the Fighter has a 40% chance of success crossing the Boldisha? He'll make progress, and the untrained members can't even succeed outside of a 20. They're all drowning. There's now a wider band of 'possible for low investment, easy for high investment', but can we please not pretend every encounter is equally difficult for all members when you can easily have +10 different in their rolls? (untrained->expert, +0->+5 attribute)? Heck, it can go to +20 different at high levels (untrained->legendary,-1->+7 attribute,+0->+5 item) if you stretch, meaning something the wizard fails on a 19, the fighter succceeds on a 2. This is before considering feats & features that can move results an entire category.

Kaelizar wrote:


I can understand the reasoning behind it. You don't anyone who didn't specialize to be locked out of doing anything, but that's inclusive and arbitrary. A highly skilled level 7 MASTER climber should out climb ANY untrained climber. PERIOD. an Ultimate DC for level 7 is 27, but DC 27 is between easy and medium for anyone over level 13. And thinking further. a rough climb for level 13 "Incredible" is 35, which is basically impossible for the level 7 Master, but why, he's a master. and those level 13's aren't even trained... but they have a better chance? Explain this.

I can completely get behind this, but an explanation would be nice. [Just trying to play the devils advocate here, not trying to say anyone's opinion is wrong.]

But with the current system, you still can make something impossible for the non-specialist, and fairly easy for the specialist. Say, level 7. Specialist has +13. Non-specialist has +3. DC is 24. Specialist almost never crit fails, succeeds pretty often. Non-specialist cannot ever crit succeed, needs a 20 for a normal success. Alternatively, at DC 13, the Specialist is crit succeeding all over the place and almost can't fail, while the non-specialist is still mucking up 50% of the time. You simply aren't describing the reality of the game. I think your concept of a level 13 character is very different to mine, though. Level 13 is about the level you could fight various heralds of the Golarion gods and win. Level 13, you're jumping between planes if you want. Teleporting half way across the world. You meet dragons and angels almost casually, and a lich is a high priority to-do list item that you'll want to prepare carefully for, no longer an impossible death-god to you. Level 7 is a world away from 13.

I'd like TEML categories to mean more than they do right now, but I don't want level to mean less. I want level 13 to feel like that. I want the level 7 climb up Stardock to be something you can assault no issue, because you have some really sharp words for that invisible king up there.


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Lyee wrote:
Heck, it can go to +20 different at high levels (untrained->legendary,-1->+7 attribute,+0->+5 item) if you stretch, meaning something the wizard fails on a 19, the fighter succceeds on a 2. This is before considering feats & features that can move results an entire category.

It's true that specialization matter for individuals of the same level, that's how the system works, but make level a variable to any of that and I feel the system breaks down to an extent.

I'm fine with having a portion of level modify how much your training give you in terms of modifiers, but I dont want level to be the main source of improvement.

LVL 1, 18 CHA, trained Diplomacy: +5 (trained(level)- +1; CHA mod- +4)
LVL 10, 8 CHA, untrained Diplomacy: +5 (untrained(level-4)- +6; CHA mod- -1)

I don't like this. To me the level 10, 8 cha, untrained, should not have the same bonus as anyone trained. This means that EVERY SINGLE level 10 character is better than every level 1 character at EVERYTHING. PERIOD.

Basically the biggest boost you can give to yourself as you level is to spend all your skill increases on going from untrained to trained to get the +4 and screw going Expert/Master/Legendary, unless you really need the boost from the Master/Legendary skill feats.

I want to see more benefits to skill increases and being trained and less benefits from just leveling [and to balance this with attribute modifiers I don't think any sort of level based bonus should go above +10.

Check out this post: https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42byg?It-must-be-that-time-of-the-month-again# 7


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Different desires for the system, then. I do want level to be a primary source of advancement. I want level 10 to be an entirely different universe to level 1, and level 10 characters to dance over any challenge a level 1 character could consider. Level 10 characters are regional heroes, super-famous knights and wizards, compared to level 1 nobodies. I want every level 10 character to be better at everything than every level 1 character. That trained, 18 Cha level 1 is the head of the high school debate club, sure. He's got potential at diplomacy and a winning smile, but Grognor the guy who slew an entire orcish camp on his own can hold his own socializing at the galla due to the stories he has. A lot happened in 10 levels!


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A thread

Beyond the artificially inflated DCs, they're also inconsistently inflated. Having a massive table of 120 values wouldn't be quite so bad if it were easily reproduceable. But as it stands, the only formula that exists for most of the progressions is "Look it up on the table". It wouldn't be as bad if you could calculate things like "Incredible difficulty means the DC is 13+1.5*Lv, round down"


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Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Roswynn wrote:
Megistone wrote:
Yolande d'Bar wrote:

+1/level to everything with NO IN-GAME-WORLD EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING i.e. Why is the 15th lvl guy harder to wound? Why is the 18th lvl wizard so boss with a sword? How does Ostog the Untenured know so much about Everything?

How am I supposed to describe this stuff as a GM with no idea of what exactly is happening?

Why is a level 20 barbarian (or even a wizard) able to survive a dozen solid hits with an axe? Going by what you say we should remove the HP increase too; at this point let's play a game without levels at all.

It can be done, it has its merit and a very gritty taste that someone will love, but it's not D&D/Pathfinder.
Drive and determination.HPs are not only endurance and build, but also drive and determination.

NO! GROGNAK HEAD NOT CHOPPED OFF! GET OUT OF GROGNAK NECK PUNY AXE!!! *axe pries itself out of GROGNAK's neck quickly as the lethal wound it inflicted heals for no reason.*

Edit: or would that be *axe pries itself out of GROGNAK's neck as his sheer willpower forces electrochemical signals through the open air between his severed head and his body, allowing him to continue moving?*

Corwin, I agree that hit points aren't the most realistic wound system ever devised in an rpg, but please stop derailing the thread.


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Lyee wrote:
Different desires for the system, then. I do want level to be a primary source of advancement. I want level 10 to be an entirely different universe to level 1, and level 10 characters to dance over any challenge a level 1 character could consider. Level 10 characters are regional heroes, super-famous knights and wizards, compared to level 1 nobodies. I want every level 10 character to be better at everything than every level 1 character. That trained, 18 Cha level 1 is the head of the high school debate club, sure. He's got potential at diplomacy and a winning smile, but Grognor the guy who slew an entire orcish camp on his own can hold his own socializing at the galla due to the stories he has. A lot happened in 10 levels!

I agree, it's a different desire for the system. You did sway me here a bit, to the thought that 1 vs 10 are definitely on a different playing field, but I feel with level added the numbers just get silly where they could be much smaller and fulfill the same purpose, and to RazarKuk's point, making it some simple calculation for difficult to DC would be nice to have.

As it stands now, with Level being primary advancement. Then a Bard trying to balance all attributes, not going for any maxes, and becoming trained in all skills would have the best chance to defeat any encounter. They would most likely have an upwards of 65-75% chance to succeed at most checks (and attacks) dealing acceptable damage and have the ability to cast spells and use Inspiration.

I dont want to see Pathfinder 2nd Ed become a game where there is 1 or even 2 superior ways to play. Sure, full Attribute, full training will be better, but by how much? +5? is that +5 to 1 thing better than being +5 better at literally everything else?

I might be drawing some bad conclusions,but it just doesn't feel right.


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RazarTuk wrote:

A thread

Beyond the artificially inflated DCs, they're also inconsistently inflated. Having a massive table of 120 values wouldn't be quite so bad if it were easily reproduceable. But as it stands, the only formula that exists for most of the progressions is "Look it up on the table". It wouldn't be as bad if you could calculate things like "Incredible difficulty means the DC is 13+1.5*Lv, round down"

Absolutely agree.

Disagree with Lyee, we just want different things from the game. They want level to be the real measure of a character's capabilities, I want that to be proficiency rank (+ ability mod, but less so).

I'd like by the way for proficiency rank to be gated through level. It already partly is: you can't raise a skill to master or legendary before level 7 iirc. Put some more restrictions in there and only, say, 14th level characters will be able to be legendary. That would make them, indeed, legendary, without needing to add level to everything arbitrarily. Which sounds silly to me.

And of course I agree with Kaelizar, we need a bigger difference between the various proficiency rungs. That Expert is +1 and Legendary is +3 is a bit comical, no matter how much everyone keeps repeating that because crits now are also 10+ over the DC it's actually worth double or something. It's still a 2-points difference, guys.

But yeah, the biggest problem is what RazarTuk points out (I explained the same problem in my first post): we don't have a formula to find DCs. There's no such thing. You need to find an appropriate DC, consult the table. I appreciate that Lyee can already ballpark more or less correct values, and I envy them that skill. Maybe with time I'll be able too. Still, right now a lot of people need to consult the damn table to know what DC they should apply in spur-of-the-moment checks, which slows down the game. If at least those DCs followed a mathematical formula we could just count in our head and get on with the game.

Btw, I'm thinking an optional rule could be added, something along the lines of letting you subtract level from all values, leaving you only with abilities, proficiency, magic and so on. I honestly don't know if it'd work, but perhaps me & my groups might give it a try to see how bad it is.


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Lyee wrote:
Different desires for the system, then. I do want level to be a primary source of advancement. I want level 10 to be an entirely different universe to level 1, and level 10 characters to dance over any challenge a level 1 character could consider. Level 10 characters are regional heroes, super-famous knights and wizards, compared to level 1 nobodies. I want every level 10 character to be better at everything than every level 1 character. That trained, 18 Cha level 1 is the head of the high school debate club, sure. He's got potential at diplomacy and a winning smile, but Grognor the guy who slew an entire orcish camp on his own can hold his own socializing at the galla due to the stories he has. A lot happened in 10 levels!

You can still have that with a lower level of scaling. I think +1/2 level is a good compromise, more scaling than 5e which I think has too little but less scaling than PF2 playtest which I think is too much when you take into account the crit factor.

with half lvl scaling level is still a third of your total bonus (-4 to +3 for training, -1 to +7 for ability score, +0 to +5 for item bonus = 20 points of spread from non-level factors)

With half scaling a lvl 10 character will still have +5 over a lvl 1 character so 25% more likely to hit and a crit rate around 30% on top of HP an dabilities I think that puts them on a whole other level.

Currently a lvl 10 has a +9 so 45% more likely to hit and a crit rate around 50% that seems excessive since it makes the power ratio of a lvl 10 character vs a lvl 1 character more extreme than it was in PF1 which already had pretty intense scaling.

EDIT: Bad addition


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Roswynn wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
stuff
Draco18, out of curiosity, if you follow your process do you get one of the DCs from the table in the rulebook? It seems to me you've given a lot of thought to this and it might work, actually. On the other hand, if I need to follow a 4-step plan to find out the DC I need... You know, that table is looking less terrible right now.

Eh, its not that close.

I started that step-by-step for a thread over in another area (think I can find it now? Here it is) as a joke.

This version is simpler and less accurate, as it doesn't take into account magic items (so those 4 steps will generate "DCs" that are probably too low).

Oh and I didn't recalc for the errata'd table.


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Here's the tried and true method to see if a roll succeeds without actually knowing the DC.

Let PC roll the dice, pause a bit, then say the task succeeds if the result was higher than 10, fail otherwise. Crits on 1 and 20.


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Draco18s wrote:
Roswynn wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
stuff
Draco18, out of curiosity, if you follow your process do you get one of the DCs from the table in the rulebook? It seems to me you've given a lot of thought to this and it might work, actually. On the other hand, if I need to follow a 4-step plan to find out the DC I need... You know, that table is looking less terrible right now.

Eh, its not that close.

I started that step-by-step for a thread over in another area (think I can find it now? Here it is) as a joke.

This version is simpler and less accurate, as it doesn't take into account magic items (so those 4 steps will generate "DCs" that are probably too low).

Oh and I didn't recalc for the errata'd table.

Hah hah! Joke! A joke! Hah. Nice, Draco (wipes the sweat off her brow).

ChibiNyan, yeah, I'm familiar with that method too! Thanks to the DC table in the rulebook I'm using it a lot, actually. I dunno, leaves something to be... desired?

Although I must say jotting down the DCs on a sheet of paper and having it by your side while playing isn't all that bad, after all. You can also write some more things you don't remember on the backside, like, say, conditions. Cheat sheets aren't so bad. Slows down play, but I figure if it can't be avoided...

What's really absurd is the mundane obstacles with huge DCs. I could live with level scaling perhaps (although the proficiency rungs are still too close to one another!) but please, give mundane obstacles level 0-1 DCs as a rule. Doesn't make sense otherwise. I know this is primarily a gamist rpg but... to share a narrative it must make sense, otherwise it becomes a board game.

And more examples of tasks with different levels and different DCs!

(Of course if DCs were detached from level, as it was in PF1, well, that would be... friggin' awesome. Since I love PF I hope that's the solution the devs choose... but I mean, whatever).


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I think "Characters with legendary in something aren't legendary because of proficiency but because they are level 15" nails it.

If a character gains level 15 and chooses a legendary skill they can't yet choose a legendary skill feat. All they have is a +1. If they meet a level 16 masterful character they have exactly the same numerical proficiency and skill feat categories.


masda_gib wrote:


If a character gains level 15 and chooses a legendary skill they can't yet choose a legendary skill feat. All they have is a +1. If they meet a level 16 masterful character they have exactly the same numerical proficiency and skill feat categories.

All the more reason for the proficiency tiers to innately offer something in addition to the small bonus.

This already exists somewhat in the few scaling skills feats (e.g. assurance, quick disguise, intimidating prowess). More feats probably could and should offer scaling, but there are still many others that don't involve numbers (in the sense of time, distance, or bonuses), wherein scaling would either be difficult or impractical to implement.
As such, I'd also like to see some kind of innate ability or perk tied to the proficiency rank itself, so specialization/dedication is intrinsically rewarded.

I don't think the +lvl is to blame for the numberwall of Table 10-2, at not any more than any arrangement that allows, though whatever method, an X-lvl character to have an X bonus to their skill check (see ealier editions with lvl+3 max bonus). Rather, the wide variety of figures in the table itself comes from the intense mathing on success/failure rates for optimized/non-optimized characters. The higher levels of difficult increase a "base" DC by more and more as the levels rise not because of the +lvl but because the characters are assumed to be playing with higher numbers from pumped ability scores, magic items, and various magical buffs, while still expected to be somewhere in a small range of success percent values.

I'm not nearly as good as Lyee at estimating and setting DCs based on desired failure/success rates, which both means that not only do I try to use the table when I need to, but it's still confusing to use since the minimum of static reference points means I don't always know where to start looking.


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masda_gib wrote:

I think "Characters with legendary in something aren't legendary because of proficiency but because they are level 15" nails it.

If a character gains level 15 and chooses a legendary skill they can't yet choose a legendary skill feat. All they have is a +1. If they meet a level 16 masterful character they have exactly the same numerical proficiency and skill feat categories.

I see this as the major problem.


One solution I've been considered is that when you reach Master or Legendary in a skill, you immediately get a feat for it. It's an extra 10 feats or so over a character's life, but it means a legendary character can immediately have a legendary feat, which is more interesting than just letting it give a bigger number, and easier to implement than making individual TEML unlocks for every skill.


Lyee wrote:
One solution I've been considered is that when you reach Master or Legendary in a skill, you immediately get a feat for it. It's an extra 10 feats or so over a character's life, but it means a legendary character can immediately have a legendary feat, which is more interesting than just letting it give a bigger number, and easier to implement than making individual TEML unlocks for every skill.

Given how worthless most skill feats are this is not really game breaking.

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