Do 1.5 / 1.6 Flat Checks represent a signficant shift in design philosphy? If so, what do you think about that?


General Discussion


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Up until now, I felt that percentile die (and their playtest successor flat checks) have largely been limited to random elements that were beyond a player's control. Some examples are miss chance due to concealment, casting a spell with wild magic, or determining what a creature is reincarnated as.

Given that - it seems like a significant shift in design philosophy for flat checks to apply to areas where character options have traditionally had clout. The two examples from 1.5/1.6 are a Flat Check for Death & Dying instead of a Fortitude Save and a Flat Check to determine the duration of Barbarian Rage.

Do think this represents a shift in design philosophy? If so, what do you think of it?


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I dislike both of them.

The Flat Check for Death because it doesn't take into account a characters Constitution in any way, but I feel that it should. I expect Thongor the Con 20 Barbarian to be able to escape the clutches of death by axe to face easier than Ellorn the Con 08 Elven Wizard. But as it is, once they're down, it's up to Ranald to decide who lives and who dies.

As for Rage, I dislike it for two reasons:

- I don't think your primary Class Feature should be random, at all. Sure, the chance of getting less than 3 rounds is "only" 20%, but that means that, on average, 1 out of 5 times you rage it'll end early. And that doesn't feel good at all. Plus it doesn't work well with some Totems powers, like flight from Dragon.
- It's completely divorced from a character's Abilities, which the previous version also was. But honestly, Constitution should factor into duration somehow. This is mostly a personal thing though, because I envision Rage as the Barbarian pushing themselves to the limit when they Rage and thus someone with more Con should be able to stay in that stage longer.

As for a change in design philosophy, I'm not sure. Given that I dislike both, I certainly hope it isn't, however.


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I don't know if it's a shift in philosophy, but I don't like it. It's introducing more rolls, randomness, and things to remember where they aren't necessary.

In a game already as complicated as this one is, I dislike needless complexity. Rage's duration is a great example of doing it wrong. If they really want it to last between 2-5 turns, just roll initially d4+1 and be done with it. A roll every turn with ever changing requirements is over complicated and wasting time, especially since the DCs on it don't apply to anything else. So it's an exception you have to remember or look up.

Or even better, don't have core class abilities based on random durations with no ability score influence.

Stylistically... I'd also prefer this stuff use percentile dice. It doesn't matter a ton, but if I have a 25% chance, I'd rather roll the percentile at 25% than roll a d20 for >= 16.


I feel like the basic aesthetic premise for a game like this is "rolling dice, when you care about the outcome, is fun."

So I'm fine with randomness in things like rage, I'm not sure about dying checks since it seems like CON or something should have some effect.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm in the middle - for both of them, I'm fine with the randomness, but I wish CON had some effect.


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I like the Rage mechanic. The static three rounds on, one off was too predictable and mechanically same-y. The "Oh s#@@"s and "Hell yeah!"s of the dice rolls keep the barbarian interesting.


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GM OfAnything wrote:
I like the Rage mechanic. The static three rounds on, one off was too predictable and mechanically same-y. The "Oh s%*@"s and "Hell yeah!"s of the dice rolls keep the barbarian interesting.

While I disliked the original Rage mechanic, I do have a question: why is it the fact that it was predictable bad? Is the Fighter bad because his Feats always work in the same way, predictably? Is the Rogue's sneak attack bad because he knows when and how he can use it?

Every single class feature is "predictable". And that's good. I don't really see much fun in have some poor dice rolling and making me get out of Rage early twice in a row.

And I sure do hope everyone taking Dragon Totem invests in Catfall and Acrobatics. Because boy oh boy is it gonna hurt bad when your Wings/Dragon Form cuts off randomly after two rounds when you're in mid-air.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
TheFinish wrote:
GM OfAnything wrote:
I like the Rage mechanic. The static three rounds on, one off was too predictable and mechanically same-y. The "Oh s%*@"s and "Hell yeah!"s of the dice rolls keep the barbarian interesting.

While I disliked the original Rage mechanic, I do have a question: why is it the fact that it was predictable bad? Is the Fighter bad because his Feats always work in the same way, predictably? Is the Rogue's sneak attack bad because he knows when and how he can use it?

Every single class feature is "predictable". And that's good. I don't really see much fun in have some poor dice rolling and making me get out of Rage early twice in a row.

And I sure do hope everyone taking Dragon Totem invests in Catfall and Acrobatics. Because boy oh boy is it gonna hurt bad when your Wings/Dragon Form cuts off randomly after two rounds when you're in mid-air.

dragon wings wrote:
When it ends, you float to the ground, with the effect of feather fall.

So you'd actually be fine. I'm also not a huge fan of completely random duration to rage, it feels like it should take your constitution into account somehow. Maybe something like adding your Con to the flat check?


TheFinish wrote:

I dislike both of them.

The Flat Check for Death because it doesn't take into account a characters Constitution in any way, but I feel that it should. I expect Thongor the Con 20 Barbarian to be able to escape the clutches of death by axe to face easier than Ellorn the Con 08 Elven Wizard. But as it is, once they're down, it's up to Ranald to decide who lives and who dies.

As for Rage, I dislike it for two reasons:

- I don't think your primary Class Feature should be random, at all. Sure, the chance of getting less than 3 rounds is "only" 20%, but that means that, on average, 1 out of 5 times you rage it'll end early. And that doesn't feel good at all. Plus it doesn't work well with some Totems powers, like flight from Dragon.
- It's completely divorced from a character's Abilities, which the previous version also was. But honestly, Constitution should factor into duration somehow. This is mostly a personal thing though, because I envision Rage as the Barbarian pushing themselves to the limit when they Rage and thus someone with more Con should be able to stay in that stage longer.

As for a change in design philosophy, I'm not sure. Given that I dislike both, I certainly hope it isn't, however.

I agree that these changes are lame. Granted, the former is more favorable than PF1 Dying rules, the latter is just poor design and favors randomness over calculated design. I would have much rather had Rage duration be equal to 3 + Constitution rounds, with half the duration being raged (minimum 1, rounded up) being spent fatigued, with the option to cancel early after one round has passed.

A character should be able to gauge how long they want to rage, just like how long an Athletic runner decides to sprint followed up by a cooldown jog whose duration is linked to how long the sprint was.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

The duration of a rage should be roughly 75% of the length of an average encounter. Otherwise it doesn't matter and you should just always assume rage stats. 3+ Con rounds is way too long in most fights. The fixed 3 felt fairly reasonable in terms of how it fit into battles.


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NielsenE wrote:
The duration of a rage should be roughly 75% of the length of an average encounter. Otherwise it doesn't matter and you should just always assume rage stats. 3+ Con rounds is way too long in most fights. The fixed 3 felt fairly reasonable in terms of how it fit into battles.

The problem is that most battles I've come across in the playtest have taken anywhere from 6 to 12 rounds between outliers and the difficulty ramp, so having it be "3 rounds" is unrealistic by my experience, and if the bad guys have healing, flying, or Mirror Image shenanigans, it's even longer. Final fight in Part 4 took 20+ rounds due to stupid Mirror Image and heal shenanigans, would have been even longer and more difficult if the final fight wasn't nerfed due to scenario conditions.


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thewastedwalrus wrote:
TheFinish wrote:
GM OfAnything wrote:
I like the Rage mechanic. The static three rounds on, one off was too predictable and mechanically same-y. The "Oh s%*@"s and "Hell yeah!"s of the dice rolls keep the barbarian interesting.

While I disliked the original Rage mechanic, I do have a question: why is it the fact that it was predictable bad? Is the Fighter bad because his Feats always work in the same way, predictably? Is the Rogue's sneak attack bad because he knows when and how he can use it?

Every single class feature is "predictable". And that's good. I don't really see much fun in have some poor dice rolling and making me get out of Rage early twice in a row.

And I sure do hope everyone taking Dragon Totem invests in Catfall and Acrobatics. Because boy oh boy is it gonna hurt bad when your Wings/Dragon Form cuts off randomly after two rounds when you're in mid-air.

dragon wings wrote:
When it ends, you float to the ground, with the effect of feather fall.
So you'd actually be fine. I'm also not a huge fan of completely random duration to rage, it feels like it should take your constitution into account somehow. Maybe something like adding your Con to the flat check?

I can't find that quote anywhere. [edit: nevermind. I just didn't do the multiple cross reference steps.]

No. Wait. That's the dragon wings sorcerer power. No relation to barbarian totems at all.

Regardless, you're still stuck falling for at least a round, likely unable to contribute in any way.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
NielsenE wrote:
The duration of a rage should be roughly 75% of the length of an average encounter. Otherwise it doesn't matter and you should just always assume rage stats. 3+ Con rounds is way too long in most fights. The fixed 3 felt fairly reasonable in terms of how it fit into battles.
The problem is that most battles I've come across in the playtest have taken anywhere from 6 to 12 rounds between outliers and the difficulty ramp, so having it be "3 rounds" is unrealistic by my experience, and if the bad guys have healing, flying, or Mirror Image shenanigans, it's even longer. Final fight in Part 4 took 20+ rounds due to stupid Mirror Image and heal shenanigans, would have been even longer and more difficult if the final fight wasn't nerfed due to scenario conditions.

True, but it is unarguably true that the original way rage worked resulted in you raging more or less 75% of any given battle. :)

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Constitution doesn't have any skills associated with it already. Adding to Death Saves (I mean Recovery Checks) and Rage Rounds seems reasonable to me. Especially if the DCs of those things are going to be relatively static.

It makes sense to me that as a character invests in Constitution they increase their survivability and their body can sustain that heightened adrenaline.


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TheFinish wrote:
GM OfAnything wrote:
I like the Rage mechanic. The static three rounds on, one off was too predictable and mechanically same-y. The "Oh s%*@"s and "Hell yeah!"s of the dice rolls keep the barbarian interesting.

While I disliked the original Rage mechanic, I do have a question: why is it the fact that it was predictable bad? Is the Fighter bad because his Feats always work in the same way, predictably? Is the Rogue's sneak attack bad because he knows when and how he can use it?

Every single class feature is "predictable". And that's good. I don't really see much fun in have some poor dice rolling and making me get out of Rage early twice in a row.

A barbarian's tactics don't change based on the situation. Every fight is rage for three rounds, retreat to rest. It's not that the mechanics are predictable so much that the nature of the mechanics determine your character actions to a severe degree.

The effectiveness of the Fighter and Rogue abilities will vary from fight to fight. Their tactics must change to accommodate those situations.

Yeah, poor dice rolls can feel bad. The rogue and fighter can miss all their attacks in a round, too. It makes it all the sweeter when you land three attacks in a round.

The Barbarian totem Dragon Wings has:

Barbarian, pg 60 wrote:
“If you are flying when your rage ends, the transformation catches your fall at the last moment, causing you to take no falling damage and land standing up.”

All this about taking falling damage after dropping out of rage is nonsense.


Ah. The errata has that (on page 26 of 1.6), which is significantly different from a feather fall effect. [FF limits you to falling 60' each round, dragon totem wings... is undefined/infinite].

Though as far as I can tell, it's still an issue for Dragon Transformation.


Voss wrote:

Ah. The errata has that (on page 26 of 1.6), which is significantly different from a feather fall effect. [FF limits you to falling 60' each round, dragon totem wings... is undefined/infinite].

Though as far as I can tell, it's still an issue for Dragon Transformation.

Why would it be an issue? Dragon Form lasts for a minute or until dismissed. That's way easier to work with than the 3 round/ 1 round setup.


Because we...aren't talking about Dragon Form?

The ONLY things Dragon Transformation gets from Dragon Form are the 'benefits of the chosen dragon type' and the stats of the weapons/breath

Dragon Transformation _explicitly_ lasts until you stop raging, so is stuck with the 3 round and stop set up. Or the lol!random setup.

Additional fun post errata 1.6 is the barbarian drops back down to merely 'trained' for the dragon attacks.


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GM OfAnything wrote:
Voss wrote:

Ah. The errata has that (on page 26 of 1.6), which is significantly different from a feather fall effect. [FF limits you to falling 60' each round, dragon totem wings... is undefined/infinite].

Though as far as I can tell, it's still an issue for Dragon Transformation.

Why would it be an issue? Dragon Form lasts for a minute or until dismissed. That's way easier to work with than the 3 round/ 1 round setup.

Well, I'm afraid that means you don't know what you're talking about all that well.

Dragon Transformation (and Animal Rage) both have the "Rage" trait. Thus:

Playtest Rulebook, Pg. 57 wrote:

Many barbarian abilities use these terms.

Rage: You must be raging to use abilities with the rage trait, and they end automatically when you stop raging.

That should make the issue clear, no?


MaxAstro wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
NielsenE wrote:
The duration of a rage should be roughly 75% of the length of an average encounter. Otherwise it doesn't matter and you should just always assume rage stats. 3+ Con rounds is way too long in most fights. The fixed 3 felt fairly reasonable in terms of how it fit into battles.
The problem is that most battles I've come across in the playtest have taken anywhere from 6 to 12 rounds between outliers and the difficulty ramp, so having it be "3 rounds" is unrealistic by my experience, and if the bad guys have healing, flying, or Mirror Image shenanigans, it's even longer. Final fight in Part 4 took 20+ rounds due to stupid Mirror Image and heal shenanigans, would have been even longer and more difficult if the final fight wasn't nerfed due to scenario conditions.
True, but it is unarguably true that the original way rage worked resulted in you raging more or less 75% of any given battle. :)

Yes, but combat was much shorter then. We didn't have combats lasting 20 rounds back then except in extreme circumstances. Here, I've seen combat lasting 6 rounds in a minor fight and 12+ rounds in a more difficult fight, and boss fights being 20+ rounds, within 4 rounds of play tests. The combat duration only gets longer in the higher levels, and 6-10 round durations means that Barbarians need to know when the right time to Rage is. Because if they rage too soon, they're out to dry, and if they rage too late, they might have lost significantly more resources for it. The strategy has both been changed and is now more player reliant, which is really where it all falls on.


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

Well in general, I've preferred aspects of the character to have an impact on the roll. Things, like you mentioned used to be percentile seemed reasonable enough things. Some of the things that are edging into becoming flat checks make me a little unsure. The roll to stop recurring damage seems fine to me. (but there is in effect a way to modify it by taking extra actions to stop it, giving you more chances that are better chances)

While I liked percentile dice personally, I admit the flat check, using a 20 sided die, once you are used to it, is simpler. [but forces you into things being in 5% increments]

So, it seems a little on the edge of what I like, but not enough to say no, don't do this. But I'm a little wary of the potential choices. Personally, I like the idea of someone's CON affecting their chance of recovery, even if their level doesn't, for instance.


If people are so keen on having CON matter with the new Dying Rules, which totally makes sense, I guess they could add something like "A character dies when they reach a dying value equal to 3(or 4)+CON, or something...

thewastedwalrus wrote:
TheFinish wrote:
GM OfAnything wrote:
I like the Rage mechanic. The static three rounds on, one off was too predictable and mechanically same-y. The "Oh s%*@"s and "Hell yeah!"s of the dice rolls keep the barbarian interesting.

While I disliked the original Rage mechanic, I do have a question: why is it the fact that it was predictable bad? Is the Fighter bad because his Feats always work in the same way, predictably? Is the Rogue's sneak attack bad because he knows when and how he can use it?

Every single class feature is "predictable". And that's good. I don't really see much fun in have some poor dice rolling and making me get out of Rage early twice in a row.

And I sure do hope everyone taking Dragon Totem invests in Catfall and Acrobatics. Because boy oh boy is it gonna hurt bad when your Wings/Dragon Form cuts off randomly after two rounds when you're in mid-air.

dragon wings wrote:
When it ends, you float to the ground, with the effect of feather fall.
So you'd actually be fine. I'm also not a huge fan of completely random duration to rage, it feels like it should take your constitution into account somehow. Maybe something like adding your Con to the flat check?

Would it be a flat check if you add modifiers to it, though? I mean, it seems okay like it is now. It has a small chance of lasting less than it used to, a decent chance of lasting as long as it used to, a small chance lasting a little longer than it used to and a very small chance of lasting almost double the amount of rounds as it used to.


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The Archive wrote:
GM OfAnything wrote:
Voss wrote:

Ah. The errata has that (on page 26 of 1.6), which is significantly different from a feather fall effect. [FF limits you to falling 60' each round, dragon totem wings... is undefined/infinite].

Though as far as I can tell, it's still an issue for Dragon Transformation.

Why would it be an issue? Dragon Form lasts for a minute or until dismissed. That's way easier to work with than the 3 round/ 1 round setup.

Well, I'm afraid that means you don't know what you're talking about all that well.

Dragon Transformation (and Animal Rage) both have the "Rage" trait. Thus:

Playtest Rulebook, Pg. 57 wrote:

Many barbarian abilities use these terms.

Rage: You must be raging to use abilities with the rage trait, and they end automatically when you stop raging.
That should make the issue clear, no?

They removed the explicit callout from Dragon Transformation, so I forgot about that aspect of the Rage trait. I wouldn't be surprised if they just copied the falling text from Dragon Totem Wings, though.


Why not make rage last for CON rounds (min 1) with 1 round of fatigue (maybe a CON check to skip the fatigue).


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
NielsenE wrote:
The duration of a rage should be roughly 75% of the length of an average encounter. Otherwise it doesn't matter and you should just always assume rage stats. 3+ Con rounds is way too long in most fights. The fixed 3 felt fairly reasonable in terms of how it fit into battles.
The problem is that most battles I've come across in the playtest have taken anywhere from 6 to 12 rounds between outliers and the difficulty ramp, so having it be "3 rounds" is unrealistic by my experience, and if the bad guys have healing, flying, or Mirror Image shenanigans, it's even longer. Final fight in Part 4 took 20+ rounds due to stupid Mirror Image and heal shenanigans, would have been even longer and more difficult if the final fight wasn't nerfed due to scenario conditions.
True, but it is unarguably true that the original way rage worked resulted in you raging more or less 75% of any given battle. :)
Yes, but combat was much shorter then. We didn't have combats lasting 20 rounds back then except in extreme circumstances. Here, I've seen combat lasting 6 rounds in a minor fight and 12+ rounds in a more difficult fight, and boss fights being 20+ rounds, within 4 rounds of play tests. The combat duration only gets longer in the higher levels, and 6-10 round durations means that Barbarians need to know when the right time to Rage is. Because if they rage too soon, they're out to dry, and if they rage too late, they might have lost significantly more resources for it. The strategy has both been changed and is now more player reliant, which is really where it all falls on.

The length of combat doesn't really affect it based on the playtest release Rage, though. There is no limit to only raging once per combat, so your character should pretty much be raging 75% of the combat: three rounds raging, one round fatigued, repeat until combat is over.


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Every DC is scaled by the level of the PCs, this makes every roll a flat check. There are flat check with ability modifier (like treat wound, or any skill check) and flat check without ability modifier (the ones named "flat" in the rules).

This is not a shift in philosophy, this has been like this since the beginning of the playtest. If people weren't complaining about treat wound, I'm sure the rage check would be a Con check with a DC determined by your level.


Gaterie wrote:

Every DC is scaled by the level of the PCs, this makes every roll a flat check. There are flat check with ability modifier (like treat wound, or any skill check) and flat check without ability modifier (the ones named "flat" in the rules).

This is not a shift in philosophy, this has been like this since the beginning of the playtest. If people weren't complaining about treat wound, I'm sure the rage check would be a Con check with a DC determined by your level.

unnecessary complication. 3 rounds of duration is fine, flat check is ok too but you have to remember that the dc changes.


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I think it's less of a design change than an result of the current check vs. DC design.
Right now there is the choice between:

- check (skill/save/..) vs. DC. This includes character stats but is complicated due to +level and having to find an appropriate DC

- flat check. Easy but doesn't use character stats

A flat check with +CON against the flat death/rage DCs would be the PF1 way and would fit there nicely but those are not allowed to exist in PF2 anymore.

I dislike flat checks for death and rage because that's a place where CON should shine. So either flat ability check should return or those should be Fortitude Saves against flat DC + level.


if it does, the voices will rise, why the barbarian is getting harder and harder from level to level (higher dc) to keep the rage.


scoutmaster wrote:
if it does, the voices will rise, why the barbarian is getting harder and harder from level to level (higher dc) to keep the rage.

If that was an answer to my post:

It wouldn't get harder but easier. A Fort Save against flat DC + level also adds the level to the check. So wirh increased CON, proficiency and items it will get easier.


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Gaterie wrote:
If people weren't complaining about treat wound, I'm sure the rage check would be a Con check with a DC determined by your level.

Well, it would be completely in line with how Lingering Composition works... What is good for the goose, is good for the gander.


Not sure about the implementation, but it's nice to have consistent, static DCs, not the usual autoscaling/treadmill deal.


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As a GM I dislike the loss of player agency. Players should be able to influence those roles through their build. Pure RNG as game design isnt fun when it games to character death or primary class features.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Gaterie wrote:
Every DC is scaled by the level of the PCs, this makes every roll a flat check. There are flat check with ability modifier (like treat wound, or any skill check) and flat check without ability modifier (the ones named "flat" in the rules).

This is not remotely true.


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I'm not a fan of flat checks, particularly if the DC is quite low. Rather than rolling every turn to see how long something lasts, I'd much prefer to have the duration listed so we don't need to waste table time randomizing something nobody can meaningfully interact with.

Barbarian rage currently wastes 5 actions out of every 12 if you don't want to be standing in melee while fatigued, or 3 out of every 12 if you fatigue yourself with a retreat. It's currently just a big loss in ability, so making it even more random is very unsatisfying.


Personally, the point of the thread I suppose, was trying to understand why Flat checks were implemented instead of Fortitude checks or something similar. I'm not necessarily opposed to having a Barbarian roll to determine Rage duration (going to be testing it in play soon) but I don't understand why it would be purely random. Why the move away from player investment?


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Thinking about it, I can see why. It's really a balance between playability and customization.

Looking at the current flat checks for dying, for example, they're really easy to play at the expense of player interaction with it. You can't make it that much better by yourself (short of certain feats) but it moves incredibly quickly and is easy to play.

The old version was the opposite. It was a pain to figure out the DCs, but it allowed for more survivable players to gain an advantage.

You can't just do a DC vs roll+Con, because it's not terribly functional for PCs with +0 Con mod and PCs with +6 Con mod. It's a hard balance, and I'm honestly not sure which I prefer in this case, because I can see the advantages of both.

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