Lore skills


General Discussion


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Lore skills seem fairly useless in many cases. Take my dwarf cleric of Torag. He has Religion, because he's a priest and it's his business to know this stuff. He also has Torag Lore, but when will something ever come up that is Torag Lore but not Religion? So having Torag Lore gets him exactly the same roll Religion would already give him. When he gets to raise a skill and wants more knowledge, he will raise Religion, because it's around 20x more useful, and after that he'll never use Torag Lore again as it will be worse.

Of course the GM could say that the target number for Torag Lore is easier than for Religion, but the GM probably won't. This would be better handled with a bonus, so that the GM doesn't have to remember to do this.

The situation is better for Lore skills that overlap multiple knowledge skills, or that hit knowledge skills the character doesn't have; but the latter is weird, because usually the Lore you're given is squarely in your area of interest so you would naturally know the more general skill. Circus Lore, which is the best one I've seen so far, might be a counterexample; but of course it was still of no use to the PC who had it throughout the entire three adventures we played.

The circumstances that will let you use your Lore skill will generally be rare, so they should be (a) quite beneficial when they do come up, and (b) mechanically easy.

(Idea 1) Lore gives an automatic one proficiency level increase in any skill check involving that specific topic. So if you have Torag Lore and are Trained in Religion, and get to make a Religion check on a matter pertaining to Torag, you make it at Expert. If you are Expert, you make it at Master. This scales, avoiding the issue of having to use rare skill raises to raise something as overly circumstantial as Lore. It does nothing for a character who is Legendary in Religion, but I can live with that. The main problem, which is a general system problem, is that +1 is very small. But if gating is used the proficiency bump would be useful.

(Idea 2) Lore gives a flat +2 to the check. This is very simple, works for all levels of characters, and at least has a prayer of making a difference in play. It does go against the system's hatred of giving bonuses--but how afraid do we really need to be of someone critting his Torag Lore roll?

My group concluded that Lores are generally not even worth writing down, let alone raising. This proposal at least gives them a chance to do something on the (generally rare) occasion that they come into play.


I like your first idea. However there should be a limit to how many Lore skills can stack with a primary knowledge such as Religion (probably one).

Lore skills in general need a re-working. Your idea would be helpful, but perhaps a deeper re-working would be better.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've written about this exact issue previously, and I'm personally of the opinion that if the types of lore we're seeing the backgrounds is typical of the system going forward, that lore should be completely eliminated. As it stands about 90% of lore skills in backgrounds could be subsumed into existing skills at no loss to the system. It's not just Torag Lore being a subset of Religion, you have Hunting Lore being a subset of Survival, Mercantile Lore being a subset of Society, or Entertainment Lore being a subset of Performance. I feel the backgrounds would actually become slightly more flavorful if they gave an appropriate skill rather than a lore. Is the "Acrobat" background better off giving Circus Lore or the Acrobatics skill? Is "Criminal" better off with Underworld Lore or Thievery? I honestly don't think the system gains anything meaningful from lore. Especially with the fact that Intelligence is the go-to dump stat for 10/12 of the classes currently, almost no one is good with lore anyways.

At present the sailor and warrior (sailing and warfare lore respectively) are the only backgrounds that offer a form of lore that isn't mostly subsumed by an existing skill. If that were more typical of what we're seeing then I'd be much more open to lore. As it stands, though, these are the exceptions in a sea full of useless lore skills.


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I feel like Lore is either for:

-A module writer wants a type of specific knowledge to be relevant to the campaign and will signpost this in backgrounds and write those checks into the module.

- A player wants their character to be a skilled woodworker or baker or sommelier or whatever thing is appropriate to their backstory and so takes the appropriate lore skill and subsequently *invents* uses for the skill.

Since lore skills are cheaper than other skills (Additional Lore gets you to legendary) I think this is fine.


Mary Yamato wrote:

Of course the GM could say that the target number for Torag Lore is easier than for Religion, but the GM probably won't.

Yes, the system doesn't work especially well when GMs ignore the system, you're right. Lower DCs is the main benefit of being trained in a very specific Lore. (Although given you can make Lore checks untrained, how big that gap can be is somewhat limited. But a +4 swing is quite significant with this math, before you even touch substituting ability scores.)

PossibleCabbage has the right idea. Lore is either a free flavor thing you get handed, or something specific to an adventure you also get handed for free. Alternatively, it is something you can invest in quite cheaply if you discover a lore that seems relevant to a campaign. For example, taking Additional Lore: Thassilion could pay off in Rise of the Runelords.

Actually, I expect you could take a look at the campaign traits from most APs and get a pretty good idea how background and lore will wind up working.


Thinking about this a while back, I was reminded of the skill synergy system from 3.5.

I'd rather see lore as a completely separate thing from skills.
(Not for nothing, but knowledge isn't a skill, it's information.)

But, otherwise...
Maybe have each lore give a small bonus to specific skills uses relevant to that lore?
Circus Lore can give a small bonus to Balance and Tumble Through.
Underworld Lore to Subsist on the Streets and Steal an Object.
And so on.

And if stacking bonuses are a problem (not likely with so few bonus types), then make them fractional bonuses.

Liberty's Edge

In situations like this I still feel it's better to keep both from a gamist as well as a player perspective because you cannot easily Silo ALL Religious knowledge under the one general Lore. It's absurd to think a Cleric of Irori would have even the FAINTEST CLUE what a ritual drinking contest for Calienites looks like, let alone the rules or social graces.

The same goes for LG Paladins who invested in Religion Lore who for no good reason would have insight into how a Soul Contract with a Devil works.

In case like this I would simply take a page from the Starfinder book instead, as I propose a REDUCTION in DC for Checks involving their Background Lore versus placing them at Trained. This would also allow for "deeper" specialization through a mechanism MANY players outright ignore after level 1.

Instead of locking the PC into the same Background which would improve over time like in Starfinder, I'd instead like to see the option to either Advance that background, or to pick up a secondary, and tertiary Background in place of simply advancing down the same path. For example a Farmer could keep EVERYTHING as is, but at level 8 he could get Expert for free in Farming Lore in addition to the -5 DC to these Checks as well as a cool new Ability, for example here, +2 to Checks to fight off Fatigue or Exhaustion, and at 16 the ability to Ignore these Conditions once per day for 1 round/Character Level.

Backgrounds are RIPE for exploration here, and I the Purple Golem could probably sit down with the SF team to figure out how make them feel more interesting & rewarding versus "I start with X because I want Assurance for free in Y" which it pretty much IS now.


One use for it is for high Int characters since lores are int based. Example, you might take Lore-undead instead of religion if your wisdom isn't so good.

But lores do feel like the professions of PF 2 at this point.


Thankfully, with the right muse, Bards don't have to worry about it.


Themetricsystem wrote:
Backgrounds are RIPE for exploration here, and I the Purple Golem could probably sit down with the SF team to figure out how make them feel more interesting & rewarding versus "I start with X because I want Assurance for free in Y" which it pretty much IS now.

I agree that backgrounds have potential. I lack experience with Starfinder, so I don't know how backgrounds work there. But my wife has been emphasizing the backgrounds on her characters and it worked very well for roleplaying. And I wonder whether a workable background system will be the key to making Lore an interesting skill.

For The Lost Star she created a goblin mind-quake-survivor paladin (I am amused by the three-part summaries of the PF2 character builds). The background gave him Dubious Knowledge, which played well with his lack of formal education as a goblin. Dominion of the Black Lore was meaningless in the sewers of Magnimar. For In Pale Mountain's Shadow she created a human nomad barbarian. The Mountain Lore from her background became the skill that represented her nomadic culture, including her Superstition totem. For Affair at Sombrefell Hall she created an elf noble bard. She used Nobility Lore, along with Courtly Graces, to establish her place in high society when she introduced herself to Sombrefell Hall.

The ability score boosts and the bonus skill feat from a background are mere perks. The Lore is linked directly to the background. It ought to be the skill that can represent where the character comes from, as much as ancestry heritages define the characters ethnic.

The only non-feat actions based on Lore are Recall Knowledge and Practice a Trade. Only Intimidation matches it in scarcity of actions. The Lore feat Additional Lore only ungrades Lore proficiency, it does not relate to the using Lore. The Lore feat Experienced Professional improves Practice a Trade. The Lore feat Unmistakable Lore improves Recall Knowledge. The Lore feat Legendary Professional makes a character well regarded in his or her trade.

Recall Knowledge can be colorful if not played straight with little pieces of information as the action description suggests. For her Mountain Lore barbarian, my wife wanted me to describe the information as if told around the campfire at a tribal gathering. For her Nobility Lore bard, it is high society she knows so that she can drop all the right names as she mingles. The Lore skill lets her freely roleplay as if she knew the right information what would be trivial for someone of the correct background. If an Entertainer with Circus Lore tells stories of trapeze artists to calm the nerves of villagers who must climb a rope to safety, no knowledge checks are required. Instead, I would give a circumstance bonus to the Diplomacy check to avoid panic.

Practice a Trade is even blander in its description, all about searching for a job, undefined since the type of Lore is undefined, and earning cash. Yet jobs can be about contacts and travel. Could someone with Sailor Lore get a job on a ship in order to travel to a distant port city? Could someone case a warehouse for a heist by working there? In my Iron Gods campaign, the players surprised me by getting a job with the villain (they were highly skilled technologists) to learn his secret plan. Could Practice a Trade allow that, or is it empty of anything except money?

I would like to see more Lore actions that help Lore color a background.

FIND COMMON GROUND
Auditory, Concentrate, Lingual, Mental
With at least 1 minute of conversation about jobs, sports, important news, and other interests, you seek to find common interests with another person to make them open to Diplomacy, despite hostility or indifference. At the end of the conversation, recite your list of types of Lore in which you trained. The GM decides whether the types match an interest of the target. The attempt fails if the target cannot understand you. You cannot try again unless the target develops new interests. For example, the mayor of a town may develop an interest in Warfare Lore if an enemy army approaches her town.
A character who is trained in a type of Lore, employed in the lore area, or worships the deity of a deity lore typically has a strong interest.
Strong Interest If a type of trained Lore matches a strong interest of the target, then the target’s attitude toward you improves by one step (from hostile to unfriendly, from unfriendly to indifferent, from indifferent to friendly, or from friendly to helpful) or up to indifferent, whichever is better. You may continue the conversation as a Make an Impression action, page 150.
Mild Interest If a type of trained Lore matches a mild intersest of the target and none matches a strong interest, then you learn what strong interests the target has. For each Lore of mild interest, you may also make a Recall Knowledge check with that Lore skill to learn information about the target or the local area.
No Interest The target does not change attitude nor offer information.

CONDUCT A CEREMONY
Auditory, Concentrate, Lingual, Manipulate
You may perform a ceremony related to a Lore you trained. The duration and the DC of the Lore check depend on the ceremony and its social significance to a community. This action often depends on an appropriate time and place for the ceremony, such as a school graduation ceremony occurring at the end of the teaching period to students of the school.
Some magic rituals (page 274) can be conducted as ceremonies, in which case the Lore roll also determines the success of the ritual.
Success You prove yourself a member of the community, and gain the rank appropriate to the ceremony.
Critical Success Your performance impresses the observers, and you gain informal status in addition to the rank.
Failure Observers doubt whether you are a worthy member of the community.

For example, a cleric of Torag with Torag Lore from her Acolyte background may find common ground to bond with other worshippers of Torag in an unfamiliar town. Worship is typically a strong interest. She conducts a worship ceremony of Torag for them and is welcomed in the town as a respected visiting priest. Another party member with proficient Religion skill lacks any diety lore and cannot bond with the townsfolk this way.

Scarab Sages

I don't think lore will play nicely in Organized Play at all. I already run into the situation where we miss a lot of the story because nobody at a table of 6 has Profession: Librarian or something else like that, and I see tables without basic stuff like Knowledge: History all the time too. Now there are infinite versions of that and we have fewer ways to increase it with more limited skill use... I don't see it working. The big draw was I could play any character at any table and that wasn't entirely true before but looks to be impossible now.


Angel Hunter D wrote:
I don't think lore will play nicely in Organized Play at all. I already run into the situation where we miss a lot of the story because nobody at a table of 6 has Profession: Librarian or something else like that, and I see tables without basic stuff like Knowledge: History all the time too. Now there are infinite versions of that and we have fewer ways to increase it with more limited skill use... I don't see it working. The big draw was I could play any character at any table and that wasn't entirely true before but looks to be impossible now.

If Lore gets used, it will almost certainly be as one of multiple options to beat the same check, probably at a lower DC.

On top of that, most Recall Knowledge can be done untrained, so it seems much less likely you'll get hung up like you did in PF1.

Scarab Sages

Captain Morgan wrote:
Angel Hunter D wrote:
I don't think lore will play nicely in Organized Play at all. I already run into the situation where we miss a lot of the story because nobody at a table of 6 has Profession: Librarian or something else like that, and I see tables without basic stuff like Knowledge: History all the time too. Now there are infinite versions of that and we have fewer ways to increase it with more limited skill use... I don't see it working. The big draw was I could play any character at any table and that wasn't entirely true before but looks to be impossible now.

If Lore gets used, it will almost certainly be as one of multiple options to beat the same check, probably at a lower DC.

On top of that, most Recall Knowledge can be done untrained, so it seems much less likely you'll get hung up like you did in PF1.

I'd like to think so, but I have some serious doubts. And from what I've seen of past and playtest DCs being untrained won't really be useful at all past the first few levels.


Angel Hunter D wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Angel Hunter D wrote:
I don't think lore will play nicely in Organized Play at all. I already run into the situation where we miss a lot of the story because nobody at a table of 6 has Profession: Librarian or something else like that, and I see tables without basic stuff like Knowledge: History all the time too. Now there are infinite versions of that and we have fewer ways to increase it with more limited skill use... I don't see it working. The big draw was I could play any character at any table and that wasn't entirely true before but looks to be impossible now.

If Lore gets used, it will almost certainly be as one of multiple options to beat the same check, probably at a lower DC.

On top of that, most Recall Knowledge can be done untrained, so it seems much less likely you'll get hung up like you did in PF1.

I'd like to think so, but I have some serious doubts. And from what I've seen of past and playtest DCs being untrained won't really be useful at all past the first few levels.

Even if the DCs are hard to make untrained, when you have 3-7 people rolling for them, you have pretty decent odds of someone passing. That's already a step up from how Knowledge worked in PF1-- if only 1 player had the prerequisite skill and they rolled badly you were pretty much screwed.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:

If Lore gets used, it will almost certainly be as one of multiple options to beat the same check, probably at a lower DC.

On top of that, most Recall Knowledge can be done untrained, so it seems much less likely you'll get hung up like you did in PF1.

While true, I do feel that any discount that would actually make this appealing would be a bit over-the-top for untrained lore checks by Int-based characters. Untrained is only -4, which is already counteracted by having 18 intelligence, which means that an 18-int character essentially is like a 10-int character who is trained in every lore. This creates a problem: any DC discount that makes lore good for a 10-int character will make it rather obscene for the 18-int character that can abuse having essentially omni-lore.

One possible solution is to make it so lore is no longer a check; if you happen to have the right lore, you automatically succeed where others would need to make a skill check. So in the case of the OP example, anyone could make a Religion check to identify things about Torag's faith, but someone with Torag Lore just automatically knows those answers. That would make lore its own mechanic, though; something similar but not quite exactly like a skill.

Scarab Sages

Dasrak wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

If Lore gets used, it will almost certainly be as one of multiple options to beat the same check, probably at a lower DC.

On top of that, most Recall Knowledge can be done untrained, so it seems much less likely you'll get hung up like you did in PF1.

While true, I do feel that any discount that would actually make this appealing would be a bit over-the-top for untrained lore checks by Int-based characters. Untrained is only -4, which is already counteracted by having 18 intelligence, which means that an 18-int character essentially is like a 10-int character who is trained in every lore. This creates a problem: any DC discount that makes lore good for a 10-int character will make it rather obscene for the 18-int character that can abuse having essentially omni-lore.

One possible solution is to make it so lore is no longer a check; if you happen to have the right lore, you automatically succeed where others would need to make a skill check. So in the case of the OP example, anyone could make a Religion check to identify things about Torag's faith, but someone with Torag Lore just automatically knows those answers. That would make lore its own mechanic, though; something similar but not quite exactly like a skill.

That sounds perfect, I could get behind a system like that.

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