Pros and Cons of Table 10-2: Skill DCs


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I see some people making a blanket statement that Table 10-2 should be abolished. Banished. Disintegrated. Power Word Killed.

As for me, I happen to have found it useful.

This week in Mirrored Moon my PCs asked me several times to use some skill in some situation that wasn't immediately apparent in the rulebook or in the Doomsday Dawn book.

So I'd say "That sounds Easy/Moderate/Hard so the DC is 16/23/26. Roll".

Easy peasy.

For a brief time, we joked about everything being a 23. Seemed kinda boring for it to always be the same DC.

But by the end of the session, the players were fine with it, saying things like "I want to use skill X and I just rolled higher than 23, so what happens?".

In other words, it makes the rules really easy to understand and apply. It's the exceptions that will bog the game down a little when I need to apply some rule that causes the DC to NOT come from that table, such as stealthing past a guard's perception DC - now I need to look that value up. Unless it's not a specific NPC, in which case, I can say "He's pretty alert so this is hard. DC 26 please."

What do you guys think?


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Ye gods that's the absoloute worst possible way for table 10-2 to be used in my eyes. I'd be mortified at using it that way. I understand it's different for other tables, but for me:

Doing it like that implies everything the PCs try and do is an on-level challenge, rather than part of a world that has a variety of levels. If you're judging the level of a challenge, then looking it up, neat! It's a usable table. But assuming the PC's level is the right row of the table is how you make it feel like characters don't progress in skills at all as they level up. The devs doing that with Doomsday Dawn and making many DCs of relatively mundane tasks pointlessly high beause the PCs were higher level has been the biggest complaint at my table.


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I think similarly, this table is needed. It made playing the game easier for me.


DM_Blake wrote:

I see some people making a blanket statement that Table 10-2 should be abolished. Banished. Disintegrated. Power Word Killed.

As for me, I happen to have found it useful.

This week in Mirrored Moon my PCs asked me several times to use some skill in some situation that wasn't immediately apparent in the rulebook or in the Doomsday Dawn book.

So I'd say "That sounds Easy/Moderate/Hard so the DC is 16/23/26. Roll".

Easy peasy.

For a brief time, we joked about everything being a 23. Seemed kinda boring for it to always be the same DC.

But by the end of the session, the players were fine with it, saying things like "I want to use skill X and I just rolled higher than 23, so what happens?".

In other words, it makes the rules really easy to understand and apply. It's the exceptions that will bog the game down a little when I need to apply some rule that causes the DC to NOT come from that table, such as stealthing past a guard's perception DC - now I need to look that value up. Unless it's not a specific NPC, in which case, I can say "He's pretty alert so this is hard. DC 26 please."

What do you guys think?

It doesn't help maintain a consistent world and it be better with a dice pool system.


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Lyee wrote:

Ye gods that's the absoloute worst possible way for table 10-2 to be used in my eyes. I'd be mortified at using it that way. I understand it's different for other tables, but for me:

Doing it like that implies everything the PCs try and do is an on-level challenge, rather than part of a world that has a variety of levels. If you're judging the level of a challenge, then looking it up, neat! It's a usable table. But assuming the PC's level is the right row of the table is how you make it feel like characters don't progress in skills at all as they level up. The devs doing that with Doomsday Dawn and making many DCs of relatively mundane tasks pointlessly high beause the PCs were higher level has been the biggest complaint at my table.

Mine too.

Well, one of the biggest.

However, that's what they did. The devs already decided that this game system works by everything being an "on-level challenge". So with this table, it's an easy on-level challenge, or a hard on-level challenge, etc., then look up the DC.

Presto! Easy peasy.

Now, sure, the entire game mechanic could be changed so that nothing is assumed to be "on-level" which requires more effort on the GM's part to determine the level AND the difficulty of everything the PCs do. Maybe the devs will do that before this game hits the stores, but it doesn't seem to be what they're talking about.

So I think "on-level challenge" is going to remain the default assumption for most skill uses.


Speaking of "on-level challenges", I'd like to see two new categories added: Trivial and Impossible. They don't need to be columns on the table because Trivial will always succeed and Impossible will always fail. No dice rolled.

Then some advice should be given to GMs, right there in black and white in the rulebook.

The advice will be something like: Sometimes PCs will accept a task that is Trivial (extremely easy relative to their level such as when a high-level PC tries to sneak past an dozing goblin) or Impossible (extremely difficult relative to their level such as when a low-level PC tries to sneak past a vigilant dragon). In these cases, the GM is advised to treat extremely easy tasks as if they always succeed automatically and extremely difficult tasks as if they always fail automatically. Each GM should evaluate such situations and either designate them as Easy/Medium/Hard/Incredible/Ultimate or, when it seems applicable, Trivial or Impossible.

This way, some things can be handled without forcing them into one of the rows/columns of the table.


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I don't think there is an assumption that everything will be on-level, though?

I mean, certainly most challenges will be level-appropriate, just like encounters are typically level-appropriate.

But there's no reason PCs shouldn't encounter challenges below or above their level, just like they occasionally encounter monsters below or above their level. If the PCs are always encountering only on-level challenges, that's poor encounter design (and completely ignoring the instructions that accompany table 10-2, which say three times that challenges should not be strictly based on the level of the party), not a problem with the table itself, IMO.

I will give a strong agreement that table is awesome for coming up with DCs for challenges off the top of your head, though. I really hope Paizo makes a GM screen for PF2e and includes that table on it.


DM_Blake wrote:

Speaking of "on-level challenges", I'd like to see two new categories added: Trivial and Impossible. They don't need to be columns on the table because Trivial will always succeed and Impossible will always fail. No dice rolled.

Then some advice should be given to GMs, right there in black and white in the rulebook.

The advice will be something like: Sometimes PCs will accept a task that is Trivial (extremely easy relative to their level such as when a high-level PC tries to sneak past an dozing goblin) or Impossible (extremely difficult relative to their level such as when a low-level PC tries to sneak past a vigilant dragon). In these cases, the GM is advised to treat extremely easy tasks as if they always succeed automatically and extremely difficult tasks as if they always fail automatically. Each GM should evaluate such situations and either designate them as Easy/Medium/Hard/Incredible/Ultimate or, when it seems applicable, Trivial or Impossible.

This way, some things can be handled without forcing them into one of the rows/columns of the table.

I'm not opposed to the concept but by the gods will there be table arguments about what is or is not Impossible and why. Both for DM choices and Paizo choices.


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I like the table, personally, for similar reasons. Although I wouldn't treat everything as an on level challenge. But if they're somewhere and trying to bluff some random NPC that I had to make up on the fly because they have gone off and done something unexpected, I can very quickly use this table to find a rational DC for that bluff.

"Oh, this NPC is a highly skilled and experienced magical weaponsmith, so he's around level 9. However he's distracted and not good with people, making this an easy level 9 bluff. That's DC X." For level 3 PCs, that will not be very easy at all.

This table is excellent as a DM tool and should stay. What it does need is more guidance around how to use it, because I've seen a lot of misconceptions both here and on Facebook.

One thing I expect a lot more of in the final book than the playtest book has is examples.


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Indeed, the first question I ask myself when setting DCs is "what is the level of the opposition" and use that to generate a DC using the table.

It may be that the PCs objective is a complex one with multiple paths towards completion, and depending on the approach the PCs take they may be facing an on-level challenge, a challenge well-below their level, or a higher level challenge they should probably not attempt.

Like if the PCs are trying to get inside of an estate while a party is going on "trying to sneak in the front door" is going to be a higher level challenge than "posing as caterers and going in through the servant's entrance" or "climbing up to the open window in the attic" or some other tactic. But "the PCs are trying to bluff the guy at the front door that they misplaced their invitations" I can just answer "what level is this guy" and "how likely is this approach to work in the first place" and have a DC.

Different approaches having different levels in addition to different severities, I feel, is a good way to reward characters for creative solutions to problems.


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As I've said before, I'd prefer two things here:

First, that it be an easily calculated formula. Whether that formula is simply X + Level, or it's X + 1.25x Level, or whatever. That way, I can instantly get numbers in my head without actually NEEDING the table.

Second, that easy or hard actually be level modifiers rather than separate columns. So say an Easy check for a level 10 party is actually a level 7 check, while a Hard check is actually a level 13 check. So the table is condensed to one column in its pure form.

Now, they could still build out a full table even with this taken into account, to make it easy for people who do look at the table. But it would be consistent and someone looking at the Easy check DC on line 10 could grok, "Hey, this is actually the Medium check DC for level 7! Okay, I get it now."


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MaxAstro wrote:

I don't think there is an assumption that everything will be on-level, though?

I mean, certainly most challenges will be level-appropriate, just like encounters are typically level-appropriate.

But there's no reason PCs shouldn't encounter challenges below or above their level, just like they occasionally encounter monsters below or above their level. If the PCs are always encountering only on-level challenges, that's poor encounter design (and completely ignoring the instructions that accompany table 10-2, which say three times that challenges should not be strictly based on the level of the party), not a problem with the table itself, IMO.

Jason actually posted in the Facebook playtest group about this very subject. Not everything is on level. That is categorically false. If you try to sneak past a child in a village, that doesn't become a level 14 challenge because you're level 14.

Trying to cross a calm stream isn't a level 12 challenge because you're level 12. Climbing a sheer cliff with no handholds isn't a level 3 challenge because you're level 3.

These things all have a level based on the challenge, with the assumption that it gets easier for the PCs as the PCs gain levels. While a level 1 party might have problems with that stream, a level 10 party would likely not even bother rolling because it's completely trivial for them.

Quote:
I will give a strong agreement that table is awesome for coming up with DCs for challenges off the top of your head, though. I really hope Paizo makes a GM screen for PF2e and includes that table on it.

Ditto that.

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MaxAstro wrote:

I don't think there is an assumption that everything will be on-level, though?

I mean, certainly most challenges will be level-appropriate, just like encounters are typically level-appropriate.

But there's no reason PCs shouldn't encounter challenges below or above their level, just like they occasionally encounter monsters below or above their level. If the PCs are always encountering only on-level challenges, that's poor encounter design (and completely ignoring the instructions that accompany table 10-2, which say three times that challenges should not be strictly based on the level of the party), not a problem with the table itself, IMO.

Level-appropriate is really a matter of context. A hard level 11 check is a medium level 13 check, for example. Thinking about most tasks in terms of whether they should be easy, medium, hard, or harder for the party seems like a good way to figure things out on the fly (and if it's easier than Easy, don't bother rolling).

I've found the table to also be pretty useful at things that have a gradient level of success. If the PCs are at a bar listening for rumors, for example, I can assign different rumors a different level of difficulty, with the Easy ones being wild speculation or red herrings and the more accurate/obscure ones requiring a Hard or Incredible DC.

I do wish there was a more straightforward formula to remember, though. If a Medium check was DC 12 + level and a Hard check was DC 15 + level, for example, I'd like that.

I also hope that published adventures take into account that some failed skill checks carry heavy consequences. If you miss an attack roll, you can always take another shot. But if you botch a Deception check to convince the guards you belong in the royal palace because the DC was set at Incredible, you have the potential to derail the whole adventure.

I'm crossing my fingers that there will be more checks using the Medium column in the future instead of keeping the Hard column as the default.


Yeah, pretty well agreed with this. I love having it available as a guideline to use pretty much the way you said, deciding the level and difficulty of a task and using the corresponding DC. There were so many times in PF1 I had players do things that weren't really rules-covered and I had to completely BS a DC that was honestly just usually too low for whatever ridiculous thing they were doing or way too high occasionally. This table would help me get better accuracy on those.

On the Trivial/Impossible thing, Trivial is kind of already a thing. Like somewhere around the same area of the book as 10-2 I''m pretty sure there's something about how challenges a certain number of levels below you are trivial and should not require a roll.


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Tridus wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:

I don't think there is an assumption that everything will be on-level, though?

I mean, certainly most challenges will be level-appropriate, just like encounters are typically level-appropriate.

But there's no reason PCs shouldn't encounter challenges below or above their level, just like they occasionally encounter monsters below or above their level. If the PCs are always encountering only on-level challenges, that's poor encounter design (and completely ignoring the instructions that accompany table 10-2, which say three times that challenges should not be strictly based on the level of the party), not a problem with the table itself, IMO.

Jason actually posted in the Facebook playtest group about this very subject. Not everything is on level. That is categorically false. If you try to sneak past a child in a village, that doesn't become a level 14 challenge because you're level 14.

Trying to cross a calm stream isn't a level 12 challenge because you're level 12. Climbing a sheer cliff with no handholds isn't a level 3 challenge because you're level 3.

These things all have a level based on the challenge, with the assumption that it gets easier for the PCs as the PCs gain levels. While a level 1 party might have problems with that stream, a level 10 party would likely not even bother rolling because it's completely trivial for them.

Quote:
I will give a strong agreement that table is awesome for coming up with DCs for challenges off the top of your head, though. I really hope Paizo makes a GM screen for PF2e and includes that table on it.
Ditto that.

They do say this, but actions are stronger than words, and the Doomsday Dawn and PFS adventures ABSOLUTLY do this. Like, I think a level 9 challenge in the lv9 adventure to not wake up some bunnies, and survival checks always being level appropiate regardless of source. Gather Informaiton checks have this issue too... Everything in the modules pretty much!

What matters is what gets printed.

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ChibiNyan wrote:
They do say this, but actions are stronger than words, and the Doomsday Dawn and PFS adventures ABSOLUTLY do this. Like, I think a level 9 challenge in the lv9 adventure to not wake up some bunnies, and survival checks always being level appropiate regardless of source. Gather Informaiton checks have this issue too... Everything in the modules pretty much!

To be fair, this might be a result of those modules being designed primarily for playtesting.

Regardless, if people have a problem with the way DCs are set in the adventures released so far, the feedback surveys are a great place to make that issue known.


It reminds me of page 42 from 4th Ed, but less useful, and even more immersion breaking, treadmill enforcing.


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I feel like the playtest adventures are specifically hardmode in order to stress test the mathematical assumptions of the system and so deliberately avoid things like "easy skill challenges" or "lower level antagonists" just because the results here wouldn't tell Paizo anything useful since "people usually pass these rolls" is something we can just tell from the math.

If you're setting up an adventure based on "what makes sense to be here" you're going to end up with a lot of "lower level challenges" in a lot of contexts. It's just that Doomsday Dawn wasn't set up this way.

Like developer comments have included nuggets like "characters weren't dying often enough" which is not something you would ever say about a normal "we want people to buy this" kind of AP or module.


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ChibiNyan wrote:

They do say this, but actions are stronger than words, and the Doomsday Dawn and PFS adventures ABSOLUTLY do this. Like, I think a level 9 challenge in the lv9 adventure to not wake up some bunnies, and survival checks always being level appropiate regardless of source. Gather Informaiton checks have this issue too... Everything in the modules pretty much!

What matters is what gets printed.

Jason also said they didn't succeed at being clear on this and it's on their list of things to fix. Here's the exact quote (in a reply to Tavo Montoya):

Quote:
Actually, the DC for common tasks is mostly set by the word and do not scale by level, but it is clear that we did not make that at all clear for folks playing and in a few places did the opposite. Its on our list to fix.

So I think you can have some confidence that it will get cleared up and made more consistent in the release version.


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Biggest con- There's no immediate pattern like 3/4*Lv for average BAB to generate the table. The only way to get DCs is looking them up.

Liberty's Edge

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My biggest problem on with the DC table right now is that it works well for some types of checks not for others due to stat synergy and the (un)availability of item bonuses.

For instance, an alchemist using Craft has good stat alignment and access to a variety of item bonuses. The kinds of bonuses an alchemist will have are going to be much higher than most characters making Perception checks (which has poor stat alignments for most characters, very limited advancement available, and few ways to gain item bonuses). Thus, a "hard" DC for a craft check is actually going to be relatively easier than a "hard" DC for a perception check.

This also seems to crop up kind of a lot with Athletics. Characters with high base athletics checks tend to have it stomped down by ACP. Characters that aren't wearing heavier armor usually don't have high strength. That pushes the common Athletics numbers several points lower than you'll see for, say, Society checks. (honestly, if ACP were removed entirely, I would like that change)


Assuming that the statement about challenges being based on the world and not the PC's level is clarified in the final rules, I still don't like having this table. For one thing, it should be a formula (OK, we can have a table for those who don't like having to calculate a formula). Preferably, a formula like DC = challenge's level plus X where X is a fixed number that depends on difficulty.

Also, I would like the DC for each difficulty level being a range, not a fixed number, so that it is a general indication for the GM instead of a hard rule.


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I feel like a table is going to be more helpful to people than a formula if you have to give one, but you could always give both a table and the formula which generates it.

Also I thought "Difficulty classes are based on the world, not the party" was clear in the playtest book.

Exo-Guardians

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I feel like a table is going to be more helpful to people than a formula if you have to give one, but you could always give both a table and the formula which generates it.

Also I thought "Difficulty classes are based on the world, not the party" was clear in the playtest book.

It was pretty clear to me and my party, but I guess we're just strange.


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What I'd like to see, possibly in addition to this table and maybe in the skills section instead of here is more examples of DCs for tasks, particularly the ridiculously hard ones. There are some tables of ordinary tasks, but they don't go up that far.

What does a 20th level High difficulty Swim DC represent? If I roll a 45 on my tracking can I track a falcon on a cloudy day?


thejeff wrote:
What does a 20th level High difficulty Swim DC represent?

Swimming through the Braid to the Sightless Sea in the Vaults of Orv, IMO.

Problem is "explaining what this even means" is beyond the scope of the CRB.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Also I thought "Difficulty classes are based on the world, not the party" was clear in the playtest book.

It is stated no less than three times in the playtest book and should be immediately clear to anyone who read the text.

However, when the playtest first started there was a wave of "this is just like 4e all skill checks are based on party level" panic that I assume was started by people innocently misunderstanding the table and not carefully reading the text, and then that being picked up by other people who simply assumed it to be true and didn't read the text either.

Despite several people's best efforts (I've been pointing out the text every time it comes up) this incorrect perception has persisted through the whole playtest - I assume because of the general rule about it being easier to believe an inaccuracy than to research a fact.

Admittedly this has also been not helped by the fact that Doomsday Door, due to being a playtest and not a true adventure, hews more closely to party level for challenge levels than the text indicates should be expected.


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I think DCs need to, in general, be listed as static entries in the skill section.

I think the best use of table 10-2 would be for threats and NPCs in which case I think it works better presented as bonus instead of a DC

So instead of Easy Moderate Hard Level 9 DCs of = 16/23/26 it would say that for a lvl 9 NPC they would have unfocused, moderately focused, highly focused bonuses of +6/+13/+16.

That makes it clear when it should be used such as this trap was built by a lvl 9 Master trapmaker so they probably had a +16 bonus so the DC will be 26. Or this poison was put together by an untrained lvl 9 thug so they only had a bonus of +6 so the DC will be 16. What it doesn't do is say my PCs are level 9 and this is a tree and trees are easy so DC 16. Instead for a tree you would go to climb and look up what the DC to climb a tree would be and find it should be like 5. That way most DCs are static and consistent in the world but you still have a table to generate new DCs based on NPCs/Monsters.

Switching it from a DC to a bonus makes it clear that it is based on the threat instead of the PCs level.


MaxAstro wrote:

Despite several people's best efforts (I've been pointing out the text every time it comes up) this incorrect perception has persisted through the whole playtest - I assume because of the general rule about it being easier to believe an inaccuracy than to research a fact.

Best not to assume, people get fired that way.


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I'm really not a fan of basing skill checks on static entries listed somewhere, since then it turns out a player taking an unexpected action becomes "okay let me look up the DC for that" and having a single DC for "tree" or even several limits my vision for "things that fit in these boxes."

Like it's easier for me to come up with a mental image of the tree and think "who would this challenge" and spit out a DC than to have to look anything up.

I mean, it's not worth Paizo's time to devote column inches to "how hard is it to climb a fantasy honey locust tree, but I might want to put some in there.


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Bardarok wrote:

I think DCs need to, in general, be listed as static entries in the skill section.

I think the best use of table 10-2 would be for threats and NPCs in which case I think it works better presented as bonus instead of a DC

So instead of Easy Moderate Hard Level 9 DCs of = 16/23/26 it would say that for a lvl 9 NPC they would have unfocused, moderately focused, highly focused bonuses of +6/+13/+16.

That makes it clear when it should be used such as this trap was built by a lvl 9 Master trapmaker so they probably had a +16 bonus so the DC will be 26. Or this poison was put together by an untrained lvl 9 thug so they only had a bonus of +6 so the DC will be 16. What it doesn't do is say my PCs are level 9 and this is a tree and trees are easy so DC 16. Instead for a tree you would go to climb and look up what the DC to climb a tree would be and find it should be like 5. That way most DCs are static and consistent in the world but you still have a table to generate new DCs based on NPCs/Monsters.

Switching it from a DC to a bonus makes it clear that it is based on the threat instead of the PCs level.

I assume the point of Table 10-2 is to show DCs that provide an appropriate challenge to PCs of a particular level.

Once you've got an idea of how hard you want to make it to overcome, then you figure out what that magnitude challenge looks like in the world.
Like how traps were handled in PF1 - you didn't have to figure out what level the trap crafter was and back calculate from that what the DCs and effects would be - only to find your PCs would autospot it anyway (or couldn't spot it and would just die). You picked a trap CR and knew roughly what range of stats the trap should have.

If it's just a random thing they come across and try to do, then the static DCs make sense. If a PC randomly decides to climb a tree, look up the DC for a tree. It's nice and static and will probably be trivial to anyone with a couple levels and no penalties. Which is fine, because it wasn't meant to be a challenge.

If you're building a wall that PCs might climb during an encounter, then you probably want it to not be either trivial or impossible. Use this to know where to put the DC, then describe it appropriately.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm really not a fan of basing skill checks on static entries listed somewhere, since then it turns out a player taking an unexpected action becomes "okay let me look up the DC for that" and having a single DC for "tree" or even several.

Like it's easier for me to come up with a mental image of the tree and think "who would this challenge" and spit out a DC than to have to look anything up.

I mean, it's not worth Paizo's time to devote column inches to "how hard is it to climb a fantasy honey locust tree, but I might want to put some in there.

The static skill DCs with examples in PF1 were never a problem for me though that might just be what I am used to. I agree that that is how Table 10-2 should be used in its current form but clearly it hasn't been used in that way by a good portion of some of the most experienced gamers who are doing the playtest. I fear it will be rampantly misused if it is in the final version unchanged.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm really not a fan of basing skill checks on static entries listed somewhere, since then it turns out a player taking an unexpected action becomes "okay let me look up the DC for that" and having a single DC for "tree" or even several.

Like it's easier for me to come up with a mental image of the tree and think "who would this challenge" and spit out a DC than to have to look anything up.

I mean, it's not worth Paizo's time to devote column inches to "how hard is it to climb a fantasy honey locust tree, but I might want to put some in there.

OTOH, it's nice to have a common baseline, so the players aren't assuming it's impossible while you're thinking it's trivial.

If everyone knows the baseline for "tree" is 10, then you can describe the honey locust and make it clear it's harder, but at least you have a starting point.


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thejeff wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
~Make table 10-2 swho NPC bonuses by level instead of DCs

I assume the point of Table 10-2 is to show DCs that provide an appropriate challenge to PCs of a particular level.

Once you've got an idea of how hard you want to make it to overcome, then you figure out what that magnitude challenge looks like in the world.
Like how traps were handled in PF1 - you didn't have to figure out what level the trap crafter was and back calculate from that what the DCs and effects would be - only to find your PCs would autospot it anyway (or couldn't spot it and would just die). You picked a trap CR and knew roughly what range of stats the trap should have.

If it's just a random thing they come across and try to do, then the static DCs make sense. If a PC randomly decides to climb a tree, look up the DC for a tree. It's nice and static and will probably be trivial to anyone with a couple levels and no penalties. Which is fine, because it...

I agree that that's how Table 10-2 should be used. But that isn't how a significant portion of people are using it. It's being misinterpreted by a significant portion of playtesters which I assume are more experience than average gaming groups who might play PF2. I think it needs to be changed or it will be misused.


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The playtest rules say not to set the DC based on PC level, then talk at length about setting DCs based on PC level. It chases its own tail around in a circle.

Table 10-3 sets the DC for ordinary/trivial tasks with set levels and then some difficulty adjustments. Fine. It evens ays these are examples and other ordinary tasks can have similar levels. Fine again.

That's for ordinary tasks.

My OP and followup discussion is not about those things.

The implication is that most OTHER things, e.g., challenges for PCs, are set to a level that matches the PCs. 10th level PCs fight 10th level monsters, usually. Likewise, 10th level PCs climb 10th level cliffs, swim 10th level rivers, and recall 10th level knowledge.

The frequency that 10th level PCs climb a level 1 cliff is just about the same frequency that 10th level PCs fight a level 1 monster. Not very often, probably only for comic relief or as a sideline to the real story. And since climbing that level 1 cliff isn't very funny nor really useful to any likely story, it should just be a footnote in the narrative rather than a slew of dice rolled to overcome a trivial challenge.


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Bardarok wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
~Make table 10-2 swho NPC bonuses by level instead of DCs

I assume the point of Table 10-2 is to show DCs that provide an appropriate challenge to PCs of a particular level.

Once you've got an idea of how hard you want to make it to overcome, then you figure out what that magnitude challenge looks like in the world.
Like how traps were handled in PF1 - you didn't have to figure out what level the trap crafter was and back calculate from that what the DCs and effects would be - only to find your PCs would autospot it anyway (or couldn't spot it and would just die). You picked a trap CR and knew roughly what range of stats the trap should have.

If it's just a random thing they come across and try to do, then the static DCs make sense. If a PC randomly decides to climb a tree, look up the DC for a tree. It's nice and static and will probably be trivial to anyone with a couple levels and no penalties. Which is fine, because it...

I agree that that's how Table 10-2 should be used. But that isn't how a significant portion of people are using it. It's being misinterpreted by a significant portion of playtesters which I assume are more experience than average gaming groups who might play PF2. I think it needs to be changed or it will be misused.

Exactly what happens in 4th Ed.


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DM_Blake wrote:

The playtest rules say not to set the DC based on PC level, then talk at length about setting DCs based on PC level. It chases its own tail around in a circle.

Table 10-3 sets the DC for ordinary/trivial tasks with set levels and then some difficulty adjustments. Fine. It evens ays these are examples and other ordinary tasks can have similar levels. Fine again.

That's for ordinary tasks.

My OP and followup discussion is not about those things.

The implication is that most OTHER things, e.g., challenges for PCs, are set to a level that matches the PCs. 10th level PCs fight 10th level monsters, usually. Likewise, 10th level PCs climb 10th level cliffs, swim 10th level rivers, and recall 10th level knowledge.

The frequency that 10th level PCs climb a level 1 cliff is just about the same frequency that 10th level PCs fight a level 1 monster. Not very often, probably only for comic relief or as a sideline to the real story. And since climbing that level 1 cliff isn't very funny nor really useful to any likely story, it should just be a footnote in the narrative rather than a slew of dice rolled to overcome a trivial challenge.

Agreed on the cliff, and that's why the rulebook already has text about activities of x level becoming trivial at y level and that the GM shouldn't call for rolls at that point.


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
~Make table 10-2 swho NPC bonuses by level instead of DCs
I assume the point of Table 10-2 is to show DCs that provide an appropriate challenge to PCs of a particular level...
I agree that that's how Table 10-2 should be used. But that isn't how a significant portion of people are using it. It's being misinterpreted by a significant portion of playtesters which I assume are more experience than average gaming groups who might play PF2. I think it needs to be changed or it will be misused.
Exactly what happens in 4th Ed.

Yup. I want PF2 to succeed and despite having some good stuff in there 4e gets a ton of hate. It would be a shame for that to happen to PF2 as well.

DM_Blake wrote:


The implication is that most OTHER things, e.g., challenges for PCs, are set to a level that matches the PCs. 10th level PCs fight 10th level monsters, usually. Likewise, 10th level PCs climb 10th level cliffs, swim 10th level rivers, and recall 10th level knowledge.

The frequency that 10th level PCs climb a level 1 cliff is just about the same frequency that 10th level PCs fight a level 1 monster. Not very often, probably only for comic relief or as a sideline to the real story. And since climbing that level 1 cliff isn't very funny nor really useful to any likely story, it should just be a footnote in the narrative rather than a slew of dice rolled to overcome a trivial challenge.

I think there is a lot of space between being below level and being trivial. I always make sure to include lower level things for the PCs to perform well at in adventure design to show character growth otherwise what is the point of leveling up at all? However based on Doomsday Dawn it seems like the Paizo AP writers agree with you.


Bardarok wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
~Make table 10-2 swho NPC bonuses by level instead of DCs
I assume the point of Table 10-2 is to show DCs that provide an appropriate challenge to PCs of a particular level...
I agree that that's how Table 10-2 should be used. But that isn't how a significant portion of people are using it. It's being misinterpreted by a significant portion of playtesters which I assume are more experience than average gaming groups who might play PF2. I think it needs to be changed or it will be misused.
Exactly what happens in 4th Ed.
Yup. I want PF2 to succeed and despite having some good stuff in there 4e gets a ton of hate.

Total, there are some real gems in 4th Ed, but amongst other issues; presentation, AEDU for all classes, and antagonistic/mocking marketing, helped lead to its demise.


gwynfrid wrote:

Assuming that the statement about challenges being based on the world and not the PC's level is clarified in the final rules, I still don't like having this table. For one thing, it should be a formula (OK, we can have a table for those who don't like having to calculate a formula). Preferably, a formula like DC = challenge's level plus X where X is a fixed number that depends on difficulty.

Also, I would like the DC for each difficulty level being a range, not a fixed number, so that it is a general indication for the GM instead of a hard rule.

Personally I like the idea of a formula generating the table. One thing to consider about that is that doing so will make gaining additional bonuses actually effective. Getting an item that gives a +2 bonus will make the on-level tasks 10% easier throughout the entire level structure. Same with increasing training proficiency. Those +1 bonuses each level will actually make things 5% more likely to be successful.

Which could end up unbalancing high level play - making it so that high level characters succeed at what they attempt too easily. In extreme cases this could cause a game failure case of 'whoever wins initiative wins.' But with the lack of stacking bonuses, I don't see that as being likely to actually happen.

As for being a range, with how close the numbers are from one cell of the table to another, any meaningful range would overlap.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I feel like a table is going to be more helpful to people than a formula if you have to give one, but you could always give both a table and the formula which generates it.

Also I thought "Difficulty classes are based on the world, not the party" was clear in the playtest book.

I thought so too, but the number of people getting it wrong indicates that it's not. That's one nice thing about a broad playtest: if that many people misunderstand it, then something is wrong somewhere.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
The playtest rules say not to set the DC based on PC level, then talk at length about setting DCs based on PC level. It chases its own tail around in a circle.

Does it? I'm curious to know which text you are reading that way. To me, it says not to set the DC based on PC level and then talks at length about setting DCs based on the level of the obstacle.

Not meaning to jab here - I'd honestly like to know what you are reading differently than I am. If you and I are reading the same text to mean different things, that might explain why there is so much confusion about this subject, and help shed light on what wording Paizo could change to make it more clear.


Bardarok wrote:
The static skill DCs with examples in PF1 were never a problem for me though that might just be what I am used to. I agree that that is how Table 10-2 should be used in its current form but clearly it hasn't been used in that way by a good portion of some of the most experienced gamers who are doing the playtest. I fear it will be rampantly misused if it is in the final version unchanged.

Static skill DCs got very messy. Diplomacy is an infamous one. My current 1e Cleric has a typical diplomacy modifier of +39, and that isn't even as high as you can get it to go.

Thanks to those static DCs in Diplomacy, by RAW I cannot fail unless the DM just rules it doesn't work on this NPC because reasons, nor can I fail to do things like "request dangerous aid." It barely matters who I'm talking to. That's silly.

On stuff like that, the playtest does it far, far better. I think people tend to forget how wonky some of the 1e skill DCs can get.


As I recall the explanation of the table from the previews, the various difficulty columns in the 10-2 table were supposed to represent a given chance to succeed for a party of that level. I no longer recall the percentages given, but let us for argument's sake say that Hard means "party has a 60% chance to succeed" - so a Hard 6 means a 60% chance for a level 6 party to succeed, while a Hard 14 means a 60% chance for a level 14 party to succeed.

So, again for argument's sake, say that you want to give your party a level-appropriate Hard task. As Hard = 60%, that means that you want to give your party a 60% chance to succeed.

So, what do you do? You go to a table and look up up a number A, which combined with the party's B numbers will give them a 60% chance to succeed. A combined with B combined with die rolls gives you a 60% chance - a Hard chance.

But, since you already *did* decide on a 60% chance by deciding Hard, you might as well have rolled a d100 in a flat percentage roll. Looking up the A and the Bs and using them is unnecessary - it is just a roundabout way to arrive at the probability you already had decided.

(As I said, I used Hard = 60% just for arguments sake, but it works for any reasonably fixed percentage.)


MaxAstro wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
The playtest rules say not to set the DC based on PC level, then talk at length about setting DCs based on PC level. It chases its own tail around in a circle.

Does it? I'm curious to know which text you are reading that way. To me, it says not to set the DC based on PC level and then talks at length about setting DCs based on the level of the obstacle.

Not meaning to jab here - I'd honestly like to know what you are reading differently than I am. If you and I are reading the same text to mean different things, that might explain why there is so much confusion about this subject, and help shed light on what wording Paizo could change to make it more clear.

Re-reading the section with this in mind...

The first section under 'Creating Appropriate Challenges' is where it talks about not setting challenge levels and thus the DCs according to the player's character level.

The next section is indeed talking about how to do things when setting the challenge level equal to the character level.

It seems like people are misreading the first sentence

Quote:
When creating challenges at the PCs’ level, use the following guidelines to determine what degree of difficulty is a good fit.
to instead mean
Quote:
You should create challenges at the PCs' level, so use the following guidelines to determine what degree of difficulty is a good fit.

The difference is subtle, but it has a completely different meaning.


breithauptclan wrote:
gwynfrid wrote:

Assuming that the statement about challenges being based on the world and not the PC's level is clarified in the final rules, I still don't like having this table. For one thing, it should be a formula (OK, we can have a table for those who don't like having to calculate a formula). Preferably, a formula like DC = challenge's level plus X where X is a fixed number that depends on difficulty.

Also, I would like the DC for each difficulty level being a range, not a fixed number, so that it is a general indication for the GM instead of a hard rule.

Personally I like the idea of a formula generating the table. One thing to consider about that is that doing so will make gaining additional bonuses actually effective. Getting an item that gives a +2 bonus will make the on-level tasks 10% easier throughout the entire level structure. Same with increasing training proficiency. Those +1 bonuses each level will actually make things 5% more likely to be successful.

Which could end up unbalancing high level play - making it so that high level characters succeed at what they attempt too easily. In extreme cases this could cause a game failure case of 'whoever wins initiative wins.' But with the lack of stacking bonuses, I don't see that as being likely to actually happen.

As for being a range, with how close the numbers are from one cell of the table to another, any meaningful range would overlap.

A formula would not necessarily be linear. It's pretty clear that the existing table isn't linear. That's probably why it's a table, instead of being given as a formula.

Mind you, even using the table, getting an additional bonus is effective.
You can't actually have a simple formula like level + difficulty, since PC abilities will grow faster than that: (level + stat increase + proficiency modifier (UTEML) + anything else they can throw in). Using a linear formula would have 20th level hard tasks relatively easier than 1st level hard tasks.

Even the range of ability of an optimized vs unoptimized PC (for that particular skill) will grow as you level up. There's only so much a low level PC can do to boost skills. A higher level one will be able to stack more bonuses - even in the more restrictive PF2e.


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Mats Öhrman wrote:


As I recall the explanation of the table from the previews, the various difficulty columns in the 10-2 table were supposed to represent a given chance to succeed for a party of that level. I no longer recall the percentages given, but let us for argument's sake say that Hard means "party has a 60% chance to succeed" - so a Hard 6 means a 60% chance for a level 6 party to succeed, while a Hard 14 means a 60% chance for a level 14 party to succeed.

So, again for argument's sake, say that you want to give your party a level-appropriate Hard task. As Hard = 60%, that means that you want to give your party a 60% chance to succeed.

So, what do you do? You go to a table and look up up a number A, which combined with the party's B numbers will give them a 60% chance to succeed. A combined with B combined with die rolls gives you a 60% chance - a Hard chance.

But, since you already *did* decide on a 60% chance by deciding Hard, you might as well have rolled a d100 in a flat percentage roll. Looking up the A and the Bs and using them is unnecessary - it is just a roundabout way to arrive at the probability you already had decided.

(As I said, I used Hard = 60% just for arguments sake, but it works for any reasonably fixed percentage.)

Except that you're setting it at 60% for the average party. If your group has optimized for that task, they'll have a better chance. If they haven't, they'll have a worse one. Or some PCs may have much better chances than others, depending on whether everyone needs to succeed or just one.


Tridus wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
The static skill DCs with examples in PF1 were never a problem for me though that might just be what I am used to. I agree that that is how Table 10-2 should be used in its current form but clearly it hasn't been used in that way by a good portion of some of the most experienced gamers who are doing the playtest. I fear it will be rampantly misused if it is in the final version unchanged.

Static skill DCs got very messy. Diplomacy is an infamous one. My current 1e Cleric has a typical diplomacy modifier of +39, and that isn't even as high as you can get it to go.

Thanks to those static DCs in Diplomacy, by RAW I cannot fail unless the DM just rules it doesn't work on this NPC because reasons, nor can I fail to do things like "request dangerous aid." It barely matters who I'm talking to. That's silly.

On stuff like that, the playtest does it far, far better. I think people tend to forget how wonky some of the 1e skill DCs can get.

That's a good point. Table 10-2 is great for determining the DC for social interactions. The NPCs level plus their degree of specialization. But environmental and knowledge DCs should be static.


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thejeff wrote:

A formula would not necessarily be linear. It's pretty clear that the existing table isn't linear. That's probably why it's a table, instead of being given as a formula.

The existing table is mostly linear. It certainly isn't quadratic growth or exponential growth.

The 'easy' column is completely linear. 7 + CR in the 1.3 updated table.

The rest are linear with jumps at various levels.

thejeff wrote:


Mind you, even using the table, getting an additional bonus is effective.
You can't actually have a simple formula like level + difficulty, since PC abilities will grow faster than that: (level + stat increase + proficiency modifier (UTEML) + anything else they can throw in).

Yes. I mentioned this. At least I hope that is how everyone reads what I wrote.

If we make the table linear with no jumps, then the ability score increases, the training level increases, and the item bonuses and such will make things easier at higher levels.

The tradeoff is the complaint that a lot of people have expressed that the system feels like a treadmill that you never make progress on. In fact at higher levels, only the things that you have optimized your character for do you still have the same percentage chance of success on for same-level checks. For any other skill checks you make, you have a lower chance of success at 20th level vs a CR 20 check than you do at 1st level vs a CR 1 check.

Perhaps some middle ground? Linear in general with only a couple of jumps?


Bardarok wrote:
Tridus wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
The static skill DCs with examples in PF1 were never a problem for me though that might just be what I am used to. I agree that that is how Table 10-2 should be used in its current form but clearly it hasn't been used in that way by a good portion of some of the most experienced gamers who are doing the playtest. I fear it will be rampantly misused if it is in the final version unchanged.

Static skill DCs got very messy. Diplomacy is an infamous one. My current 1e Cleric has a typical diplomacy modifier of +39, and that isn't even as high as you can get it to go.

Thanks to those static DCs in Diplomacy, by RAW I cannot fail unless the DM just rules it doesn't work on this NPC because reasons, nor can I fail to do things like "request dangerous aid." It barely matters who I'm talking to. That's silly.

On stuff like that, the playtest does it far, far better. I think people tend to forget how wonky some of the 1e skill DCs can get.

That's a good point. Table 10-2 is great for determining the DC for social interactions. The NPCs level plus their degree of specialization. But environmental and knowledge DCs should be static.

Well, "static".

They should depend on the environment and the thing you're trying to get information on.
Which will basically scale by level, so the chart is still useful.
If the 15th level characters want to know about goblins, it should still be the same DC as when they were 1st level, but mostly they'll want to know about arch devils or some such and the DCs will be appropriate.
Or the 1st level party will need to scale a rough rock wall. The high level one will face sheer, polished adamant. With the numbers from the table and some appropriate examples, you can figure out what kind of wall provides the challenge you want: Whether that's just a total barrier or something they can scale in the midst of a fight to reach an enemy or some such.

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