Trying to understand removing +level from untrained proficiency


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heretic wrote:

Though this is a bit of a tangent I have read some of the points of views up thread before , so just a quick history lesson if I may.

AC for a character didn’t usually change according to level because in traditional D&D the relationship between HPs and AC addresses how a more experienced adventurer is harder to land a telling blow on.

That is: cleanly cutting the throat of a 20th level mage (or anybody in fact) is every bit as deadly as doing it to a first level. However the high level mage is much harder to get that telling blow on (ie more HPs). So you get closer to the killing blow by whittling away HPs. AC being an additional bulwark meaning that it is harder to whittle and is based on other variables than level. Naturally it was the preserve of martials with the casters sacrificing that extra durability for magical oomph.

It fits in with the trope of the scurrilous bad guy “cheating” by using poison to barely scratch our hero yet get a telling blow in.

It is a design that worked for many years as an enjoyable abstraction. 4e moved away from this if I recall. PF2 is too and it may well work brilliantly.
It is not though, fixing something that has ever bothered my simulationist brain one bit!

W

It's fixing a conceptual issue that I always had. At low levels, AC is presented as "the mechanism that tells how well you avoid getting hit", with the distinction between "a successful non-damaging hit" and "a hit that also does damage" falling to the wayside. At higher levels, the paradigm becomes "any hit that deals damage but doesn't knock you out is you successfully (though strenuously) dodging and avoiding 'meat damage'".

Except, this is never explained nor intuitive. Even at high levels, I'm expecting AC to be my means of avoiding harm and hp damage to be my failure at accomplishing that goal. AC isn't supposed to let the first attacks through and only affect the iterative attacks, it's supposed to cover them all. Hp damage is still based on Con, not Dex, so it's far more "how much physical harm I can withstand" than "how long I can avoid a telling blow before my luck runs out".

Before the P2E playtest came out, I was hoping for AC to, at all levels, be 1) "can I avoid you hitting me" and 2) improving as level increases, with armor being a damage reduction mechanism (though calibrated to work in the game from the beginning as opposed to begining unsatisfactorily tacked on the way UC did). At least we got one out of two.


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BryonD wrote:

First "trained" is a mechanical term here. I'm not onboard with it as a good narrative description of wizards. If the game "works" (still a big if right now) then those kind of meta issues are insignificant.

I've been playing various versions of TTRPGs since the 80s and it should be no surprise that I also enjoy related media. You are not describing wizards I recognize.

Someone already mentioned Gandalf, right? Arguably the most famous Wizard in the English speaking world, doesn't tend to get hit a lot?

Quote:
Wizards use a lot of magic items and spells to defend themselves. And even then they AVOID getting into hand to hand combat. The is literally no narrative basis *at all* for the wizard getting better at dodging blows.

You mean other than the Wizard going "getting stabbed hurt! Maybe I'll ask the Monk for some tips and a sparring session during downtime so it doesn't happen the next time I try to cast a spell?"

The idea that there is no narrative basis for a Wizard training defense at all is frankly absurd. Unless the Wizard is literally going to stand still and allow himself to be hit every combat, he's going to be trying to dodge. If he's trying to dodge, he's going to inevitably get better at it because people improve with practice.

And that's excluding that your narrative is not the only one. Plenty of sources have hybrid Wizards who also have some martial skill to fall back on (aside from Gandalf), and they will certainly not want to get stabbed.

Quote:
I think if you were to go out to the public at large and describe this, you would get odd looks. It "makes sense" only to gamers who want to rationalize free boosts to their characters.

Classy.

If you asked the public at large to describe this, they wouldn't know what you are talking about, because this is too mechanically indepth for someone not familiar with gaming. Asking those who are, you're going to get lots of answers.

Besides, even in the playtest, a Wizard without magical defenses is easier to hit than a Paladin is (and bumping proficiency bonuses to +2/tier will widen that gap as the Paladin moves up to better armor prof). The gap has simply narrowed up, and it's now presumed that a level 10 Wizard has had more practice avoiding death than a level 1 Wizard, which is entirely reasonable.


BryonD wrote:
First "trained" is a mechanical term here. I'm not onboard with it as a good narrative description of wizards. If the game "works" (still a big if right now) then those kind of meta issues are insignificant.

To me it's one of those mechanical terms that happen to make sense in the character's story.

BryonD wrote:
I've been playing various versions of TTRPGs since the 80s and it should be no surprise that I also enjoy related media. You are not describing wizards I recognize.

Others have quoted Gandalf and Harry Potter. I would add Saruman, and virtually every wizard in the Potter series. That's a lot of wizards. You can look at it more generically: In any movie / book / other media containing fantasy adventure, if you have a wizard hero, he will be in fights, and he just will have to dodge blows. Otherwise, it would not be a fantasy adventure (whether that characteristic is a flaw of such movies and books, is a discussion for another day).

BryonD wrote:
Wizards use a lot of magic items and spells to defend themselves. And even then they AVOID getting into hand to hand combat.

True. And, you know what, the basic example I gave above matches this description perfectly. I played a wizard in the playtest at level 9, and you can bet I used protective spells a lot, AND did my best to stay out of melee.

BryonD wrote:
The is literally no narrative basis *at all* for the wizard getting better at dodging blows.

I find this assertion strange, since I gave you a totally vanilla description of exactly such a narrative in my comment above.

Maybe I should slightly alter the wording of my position: I think there is perfectly good narrative for the *adventuring* wizard to improve AC over levels.

BryonD wrote:
I think if you were to go out to the public at large and describe this, you would get odd looks. It "makes sense" only to gamers who want to rationalize free boosts to their characters.

Well, this whole discussion is only intelligible to gamers, and in fact a subset of gamers, far from the majority: Those gamers that are interested in the development of game mechanics. The public at large isn't going to get involved.

BryonD wrote:
Well,certainly. As I have said a few times now, just saying that untrained doesn't gain +level is a nice indication. But the game *as-is* with that change is just a new train wreck. And I assume that Paizo has no intention whatsoever of making that change in a vacuum. A lot of additional changes will be need to account for this.

On this one, I'm with you.


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So I think the core of the issue is how the D20 system tries to represent skill in, well, skills. 3.5 and PF generally represented your skill in something by your odds of success. You roll 1d20 and add your skill modifier, which is your attribute mod and your ranks in that skill. If you needed to beat a DC 16, a +0 would give you only a 25% chance of success, while a +5 would give you a 50% chance of success.

It conveys something of an improvement of skill, but the nature of failure and success in both instances is the same. The person who is so much better at this skill that they're twice as likely to succeed still has a fairly signficant chance of not only doing worse than the person who took no training at all, but there's always a 5% chance of failing spectacularly.

It also has the problem of f~%$ing with the basic assumptions of tabletop games. If the only lever you have for measuring talent in a skill is % chance of success, then at some point being really good just means you automatically succeed and any further talent is wasted. And the whole reason we use dice in tabletop games is because uncertainty is desirable, it makes the game fun. So the goals of making playing fun and being an effective badass are now mutually exclusive.

PF2 seemed designed with the intent to fix this. +1/level for skills wasn't about making everyone necessarily "more skilled" over time, it's just a way to keep the math good and to generally represent a party succeeding more often at simple tasks. Instead, it tried to shift the measure of skill to what happens when you succeed, the actual capabilities of the character with the skill. This is where skill feats were supposed to come in. Jumping off a mountain and not taking damage, intimidating someone to death, those are way more interesting. I didn't even have to describe what skill I was talking about earlier, so dry and boring and generic it is.

But I think what went wrong is that skill feats were treated as flavor options instead of utility options, and I think that happened because they were included in backgrounds. Backgrounds, in order to not be the horrible regretful things that are PF1 traits, need to be incredibly flexible in anything that does touch actual mechanics and otherwise need to offer purely flavor options. Otherwise you risk shoehorning players into the backgrounds that give the best stuff for their builds. But since backgrounds give skill feats, and since you can't flex those skill feats out, the skill feats had to be useless flavor options that had no impact.

But if skill feats are impractical flavor options that have no impact beyond beyond being mildly interesting the one time they come up, then that means that being expert or master or legendary in a skill is largely just a flavor option with no impact. The only thing with a mechanical benefit that would impact actual play is the +1 then, and that +1 is hard to even see.

What's more, most characters only ever get 10 skill feats plus the one they get from their background, and that's if they reach level 20. A level 6 character knows 4 extremely useless and/or extremely situational things that are probably haven't even come up yet during play.

What I think should have happened is that skill feats should have been treated as proper utility options from the start, something on par with spells of a similar level in their impact in exchange for their inflexibility, and a lot more of them (or much broader uses for each skill feat), maybe even making expertise itself basically grant those feats as "expert uses" of the skill. If you become Legendary in Acrobatics, you don't even need to spend a feat, you just no longer take fall damage.

Nothing else is required, the moment you became legendary in that skill is the moment you got something cool in return. You don't ignore dice rolls, but you don't want to ignore dice rolls, rolling dice is fun. You just want to do extremely cool and possibly supernatural things when you get better, maybe not need to roll dice when doing certain things core to what you built your character to do. If you took Forager, you should be feeding your whole party every day right from the start, and as your expertise increases become capable of feeding your party in increasingly improbable circumstances. Finding water in the desert, finding warmth in Antarctica, finding an edible combination of inorganic matter that will give calories to survive on planes where organic matter does not exist.

I suppose a good comparison would be critical hits. Critical hits are fun - doing more damage more inconsistently is more exciting than doing lower damage more consistently, even if they both are about the same on average. And even if the % chance to hit never increases, the damage certainly still will because the results of success improve. I wanted skills to be like that, I wanted your training in a skill to make you really pop off when you succeed and not fall flat on your face when you fail. A critical failure for a legendary Athlete shouldn't look anything like that for someone that's merely trained.

So yeah, kind of bummed they threw the baby out with the bathwater, I think the reception would have been way better had they given us actually good skill feats to play with.

The Exchange

Tectorman wrote:
heretic wrote:

Though this is a bit of a tangent I have read some of the points of views up thread before , so just a quick history lesson if I may.

AC for a character didn’t usually change according to level because in traditional D&D the relationship between HPs and AC addresses how a more experienced adventurer is harder to land a telling blow on.

That is: cleanly cutting the throat of a 20th level mage (or anybody in fact) is every bit as deadly as doing it to a first level. However the high level mage is much harder to get that telling blow on (ie more HPs). So you get closer to the killing blow by whittling away HPs. AC being an additional bulwark meaning that it is harder to whittle and is based on other variables than level. Naturally it was the preserve of martials with the casters sacrificing that extra durability for magical oomph.

It fits in with the trope of the scurrilous bad guy “cheating” by using poison to barely scratch our hero yet get a telling blow in.

It is a design that worked for many years as an enjoyable abstraction. 4e moved away from this if I recall. PF2 is too and it may well work brilliantly.
It is not though, fixing something that has ever bothered my simulationist brain one bit!

W

It's fixing a conceptual issue that I always had. At low levels, AC is presented as "the mechanism that tells how well you avoid getting hit", with the distinction between "a successful non-damaging hit" and "a hit that also does damage" falling to the wayside. At higher levels, the paradigm becomes "any hit that deals damage but doesn't knock you out is you successfully (though strenuously) dodging and avoiding 'meat damage'".

Except, this is never explained nor intuitive. Even at high levels, I'm expecting AC to be my means of avoiding harm and hp damage to be my failure at accomplishing that goal. AC isn't supposed to let the first attacks through and only affect the iterative attacks, it's supposed to cover them all. Hp damage is still based...

I don't know about that. The traditional HP/AC paradigm works across all levels . Lvl 1 the Mage has few HPs compared to a warrior and worse AC. The disparity get worse as the characters get more submerged in their career paths.

HPs have never for me been just about how many hammer blows Rocky can absorb before going down for the count but the totality of the assault he is subjected to. AC is also not just about how hard it is to make contact with your enemy - plate mail actually makes it easier to hit someone but must less likely to hurt them i.e. land a telling blow.

Not sure that it matters that this theorical basis is not all spelled out as it is imho pretty clear in practice.

W


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heretic wrote:
HPs have never for me been just about how many hammer blows Rocky can absorb before going down for the count but the totality of the assault he is subjected to. AC is also not just about how hard it is to make contact with your enemy - plate mail actually makes it easier to hit someone but must less likely to hurt them i.e. land a telling blow.

Which is arguably the problem with it. It's essentially two separate mechanics doing the same thing.

Both AC and HP reflect both how hard it is to connect with an opponent and how much that blow effects them. Which is weird and counter-intuitive.

Lantern Lodge

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“Helmic” wrote:


but there's always a 5% chance of failing spectacularly.

PF1 and 3rd edition did not have a 5% chance of failing spectacularly. There was no such thing as a crit miss or crit hit on a skill for good reason. However some particularly dangerous activities, such as climbing or disarming a trap, have if you fail by 5 or more x happens. So that would still be to the skill user with +5 benefit.

Dark Archive

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Tridus wrote:
BryonD wrote:

First "trained" is a mechanical term here. I'm not onboard with it as a good narrative description of wizards. If the game "works" (still a big if right now) then those kind of meta issues are insignificant.

I've been playing various versions of TTRPGs since the 80s and it should be no surprise that I also enjoy related media. You are not describing wizards I recognize.

Someone already mentioned Gandalf, right? Arguably the most famous Wizard in the English speaking world, doesn't tend to get hit a lot?

Quote:
Wizards use a lot of magic items and spells to defend themselves. And even then they AVOID getting into hand to hand combat. The is literally no narrative basis *at all* for the wizard getting better at dodging blows.

You mean other than the Wizard going "getting stabbed hurt! Maybe I'll ask the Monk for some tips and a sparring session during downtime so it doesn't happen the next time I try to cast a spell?"

The idea that there is no narrative basis for a Wizard training defense at all is frankly absurd. Unless the Wizard is literally going to stand still and allow himself to be hit every combat, he's going to be trying to dodge. If he's trying to dodge, he's going to inevitably get better at it because people improve with practice.

And that's excluding that your narrative is not the only one. Plenty of sources have hybrid Wizards who also have some martial skill to fall back on (aside from Gandalf), and they will certainly not want to get stabbed.

Quote:
I think if you were to go out to the public at large and describe this, you would get odd looks. It "makes sense" only to gamers who want to rationalize free boosts to their characters.

Classy.

If you asked the public at large to describe this, they wouldn't know what you are talking about, because this is too mechanically indepth for someone not familiar with gaming. Asking those who are, you're going to get lots of answers.

Besides, even in the playtest, a Wizard...

The catch with Gandalf is that if we're true to the source material in the triology, he's not so much a standard run-of-the-mill wizard as Gygax imagined, but rather an immortal demi-god masquerading as a human dabbler, not too disimiliar to the Weis' handling of a certain wandering mage in Kryn. They are exceptions not generalities.


It is easy to say AC and HP would make more sense if you made them more defined and took away away the abstractions. But the problem has never been that you COULDN'T do so, the problem has always been that the act of doing so is so bloody herculean.

d20 is pretty deviant dice, has a big spread of values. Heavy abstractions, but d20 just kinda works. All checks are binary, you rarely have to consult tables, it just works right? It can be shallow, but then again, nobody can drown in shallow waters. Any attempt to fix it by taking away the abstraction elements and adding more rules is asking for trouble, because eventually the interconnected elements of the ruleset pile on and you have exponentially growing list of interacting elements and boom, you become unsure of the quality of the final product.

Armor as DR for example has been tried so many times. Armor as damage reduction is much more intuitive idea than armor as extra abstractions of evading damage which is not real damage, rather just "reduction of overall representation of avoiding fatal woulds". But calculating the correct DR numbers, weapon penetrations, etc. is just so much work that AC stays.


Ikos said wrote:
The catch with Gandalf is that if we're true to the source material in the triology, he's not so much a standard run-of-the-mill wizard as Gygax imagined, but rather an immortal demi-god masquerading as a human dabbler, not too disimiliar to the Weis' handling of a certain wandering mage in Kryn. They are exceptions not generalities.

But which is the right "wizard" to compare it to then? Is it Raistlin Majere? Elminster? Merlin? If the wizard has to be as fragile as Raistlin then it also requires magic to be that much more powerful than martial combat is it would seem. Neither PF1 or PF2 seems to be the right system for a Raistlin character (but PF2 is moving further away in the sake of other fantasies and balance it would seem).

I think you can always make mechanical rules make one situation or another seem unrealistic, so it would seem that what the mechanical rules should strive for is the most balanced system, while making the most sense and being the most fun. Having Wizards being untrained in their AC, thus getting constantly critted every time they are attacked doesn't seem either balanced or fun to me. Currently they are likely to be behind in AC to most other characters unless they have 22 dex and even then they would still fall behind monks, fighters and paladins. They are also the class with the least amount of HP. So in terms of "realism" they are still the most fragile in the party unless they are using magical resources.


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In regards to hp, personally I like to steal a bit from RWBY and say that hp above your Con score is 'aura', which is basically a self-projected field of positive energy that wards off serious blows and heals minor wounds taken, but can be depleted under a heavy assault.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That's actually a surprisingly good way of framing it, and gels well with how I already imagine HP...

Although it will cause people to say "why not just Stamina though?", and Paizo has already said they aren't going to do Stamina.


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MaxAstro wrote:
..and Paizo has already said they aren't going to do Stamina.

I still think that's a bit of a shame.


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kaisc006 wrote:
“Helmic” wrote:


but there's always a 5% chance of failing spectacularly.
PF1 and 3rd edition did not have a 5% chance of failing spectacularly. There was no such thing as a crit miss or crit hit on a skill for good reason. However some particularly dangerous activities, such as climbing or disarming a trap, have if you fail by 5 or more x happens. So that would still be to the skill user with +5 benefit.

kaisc006 is correct, but to be more exact: PF1 and 3e don't have a 5% chance of failing *at all*. It's perfectly possible to succeed on a natural 1 if your bonus is high enough.


Steve Geddes wrote:
gwynfrid wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

Really? Where does it say that?

(To be clear, I mean specifically not getting better at a specific skill. I don’t mean stuff like “scared of heights”).

"Voluntary flaws", p19. This is about ability flaws, though, not skills.
Ah, cheers. Yeah that’s not what I meant.

While the section in the book is specifically talking about ability scores, it's pretty easy to infer that if you can voluntarily give yourself a penalty on an ability score so you can roleplay a flaw then you could do the same with skill checks.


MaxAstro wrote:

That's actually a surprisingly good way of framing it, and gels well with how I already imagine HP...

Although it will cause people to say "why not just Stamina though?", and Paizo has already said they aren't going to do Stamina.

It's still all hp, just an explanation why the high level character can have so much extra positive energy pumped into them. The excess over the 'meat points' gets stored in the 'aura'.


Envall wrote:

It is easy to say AC and HP would make more sense if you made them more defined and took away away the abstractions. But the problem has never been that you COULDN'T do so, the problem has always been that the act of doing so is so bloody herculean.

d20 is pretty deviant dice, has a big spread of values. Heavy abstractions, but d20 just kinda works. All checks are binary, you rarely have to consult tables, it just works right? It can be shallow, but then again, nobody can drown in shallow waters. Any attempt to fix it by taking away the abstraction elements and adding more rules is asking for trouble, because eventually the interconnected elements of the ruleset pile on and you have exponentially growing list of interacting elements and boom, you become unsure of the quality of the final product.

Armor as DR for example has been tried so many times. Armor as damage reduction is much more intuitive idea than armor as extra abstractions of evading damage which is not real damage, rather just "reduction of overall representation of avoiding fatal woulds". But calculating the correct DR numbers, weapon penetrations, etc. is just so much work that AC stays.

Agreed on that last point while we're talking about DR/"some specific number". However, if we're talking about DR being proportional, say where heavy armor might be 50% and so reduces 4 dmg to 2 and 60 dmg to 30, then it's not quite so much work, right?

Though, granted, you would either have to keep the DR proportions simple (light armor reduces by a quarter, medium reduces by half, heavy reduces by three-quarters), or re-jigger the damage and hp values across the board so as to be evenly divisible by more varied amounts (which is how Anima Beyond Fantasy does it), but that's extra work done ahead of time that only has to be done once, as opposed to the continual mental reshuffling that P1E's method was.

I mean, I get where it's coming from. Didn't older editions use rounds to represent time intervals much larger than six seconds? Meaning that an attack roll was actually the mechanical resolution of multiple individual weapon strikes? Under that paradigm, the more top-down perspective that AC-as-defense bonus operates under fits. Less so when one attack roll is really one in-universe attack attempt.


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I see, from everyone’s comments that there is clearly an issue where “what is a proficiency?” And “what does it mean to get trained in one?” Are questions without universal answers. They are different to different people and that is creating a schism in what people think a character with different levels of character experience and different levels of training in those proficiencies can do. Can a character spontainiously become trained in a skill over night? Does it take formal training? Is diplomacy a learned proficiency in the same way fortitude is? Are athletics and Arcana both “ skills” in the sense of how they should work and what can be attempted at different levels of proficiency?

A lot of players probably skipped reading these sections of the playtest, but if PF2 is going to portray itself as having a universal proficiency system, it needs to help players understand what it means for large categorical skills, like “performance” and “athletics” to be proficiencies, why things like saving throws are also proficiencies, and what leveling up means and impacts those proficiencies, and how that is fundamentally different from training, especially if both appear to be predominantly defined by being a numerical bonus.

Does it make sense for 3 characters to have a +5 bonus to the same task, but each one has a different way of getting there, attribute, level, profiency? Do those characters all feel the same? Is there something else required (like a proficiency gate) to distinguish them? Do players and GMs feel confident telling the story to make each character’s bonus narratively fit and feel unique?


Tectorman wrote:


I mean, I get where it's coming from. Didn't older editions use rounds to represent time intervals much larger than six seconds? Meaning that an attack roll was actually the mechanical resolution of multiple individual weapon strikes? Under that paradigm, the more top-down perspective that AC-as-defense bonus operates under fits. Less so when one attack roll is really one in-universe attack attempt.

I think a whole minute was dedicated to one round, so each attack could be representation of a whole duel between two combatants. Higher level fighters could kill whole TWO orcs in one minute, compared to the measly one orc in low levels.


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Ninja in the Rye wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
gwynfrid wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

Really? Where does it say that?

(To be clear, I mean specifically not getting better at a specific skill. I don’t mean stuff like “scared of heights”).

"Voluntary flaws", p19. This is about ability flaws, though, not skills.
Ah, cheers. Yeah that’s not what I meant.
While the section in the book is specifically talking about ability scores, it's pretty easy to infer that if you can voluntarily give yourself a penalty on an ability score so you can roleplay a flaw then you could do the same with skill checks.

Yeah, it was easy enough to fix. That was essentially going to be my houserule.


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gwynfrid wrote:
Others have quoted Gandalf and Harry Potter. I would add Saruman, and virtually every wizard in the Potter series. That's a lot of wizards. You can look at it more generically: In any movie / book / other media containing fantasy adventure, if you have a wizard hero, he will be in fights, and he just will have to dodge blows. Otherwise, it would not be a fantasy adventure (whether that characteristic is a flaw of such movies and books, is a discussion for another day).

And I find these examples completely uncompelling. Again, in each of these cases all kinds of magic is in play throughout the encounters. And in 1E (and all other kinds of TTRPGS) wizards avoid attacks BECAUSE they have magical resources supporting them.

The suggestion that these events would play out the same without magic at play is absurd to the reader. And yet this mechanical idea say EXACTLY THAT.

Quote:
Well, this whole discussion is only intelligible to gamers, and in fact a subset of gamers, far from the majority: Those gamers that are interested in the development of game mechanics. The public at large isn't going to get involved.

But I think you have missed the point. I'm not saying it matters if the public cares. I'm saying the public is a good uncontaminated control.

It is certainly true that cliches of games past create expectations for games future and that is part of the marketplace. But being true to the core narrative ideas is also a key part of the marketplace. And, again, I think the market speaks very clearly that no amount of whining about wanting free numbers in online forums changes what makes large numbers of people continue to play (and fund) a game system for a long time.

I believe this is a major example of loud online majority misrepresenting what actually happens. And I think the market outcomes we see are overwhelming evidence of it. Enough people want to stories to feel right, and magic resources being key for non-marital characters is a critical bit in that. Just as it is for Gandalf and Harry Potter and so many others.


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BryonD wrote:
gwynfrid wrote:
Others have quoted Gandalf and Harry Potter. I would add Saruman, and virtually every wizard in the Potter series. That's a lot of wizards. You can look at it more generically: In any movie / book / other media containing fantasy adventure, if you have a wizard hero, he will be in fights, and he just will have to dodge blows. Otherwise, it would not be a fantasy adventure (whether that characteristic is a flaw of such movies and books, is a discussion for another day).

And I find these examples completely uncompelling. Again, in each of these cases all kinds of magic is in play throughout the encounters. And in 1E (and all other kinds of TTRPGS) wizards avoid attacks BECAUSE they have magical resources supporting them.

The suggestion that these events would play out the same without magic at play is absurd to the reader. And yet this mechanical idea say EXACTLY THAT.

I must have missed the part where +level to AC has a set flavor to it in the rulebook that prevents it from being ruled as passive magical defense that has gotten stronger as levels are gained or something similar befitting of a Wizard. Long-term passive wards are certainly a valid narrative.

If anything I like that flavor better than a Mage needing to rely on a bunch of external magic items.

Paizo Employee

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Edge93 wrote:


I must have missed the part where +level to AC has a set flavor to it in the rulebook that prevents it from being ruled as passive magical defense that has gotten stronger as levels are gained or something similar befitting of a Wizard. Long-term passive wards are certainly a valid narrative.

One of the things I personally kind of like about mechanics like +level scaling is that they serve as a neat skeleton for all kinds of narrative devices you can use to establish themes about your campaign. Maybe fighters get better and better at parrying blows while wizards continuously improve minor constant wards and transmutations. Maybe leveling up reflects a marked improvement in your physical and spiritual being that simply makes you better than someone who hasn't attained that power. Maybe you've just played dodge ball with orcish spears enough that now you're really good at it and remarkably more fit.

When you define a mechanic like that you take away a chance for creativity and roleplay, for the player to interpret something about their character through the lens of their own imagination. It's probably part of why hit points have stood the test of time so well despite making no sense at all: they're free for the player and GM to interpret in the way that's most fun for their table.


Ssalarn wrote:
Edge93 wrote:


I must have missed the part where +level to AC has a set flavor to it in the rulebook that prevents it from being ruled as passive magical defense that has gotten stronger as levels are gained or something similar befitting of a Wizard. Long-term passive wards are certainly a valid narrative.

One of the things I personally kind of like about mechanics like +level scaling is that they serve as a neat skeleton for all kinds of narrative devices you can use to establish themes about your campaign. Maybe fighters get better and better at parrying blows while wizards continuously improve minor constant wards and transmutations. Maybe leveling up reflects a marked improvement in your physical and spiritual being that simply makes you better than someone who hasn't attained that power. Maybe you've just played dodge ball with orcish spears enough that now you're really good at it and remarkably more fit.

When you define a mechanic like that you take away a chance for creativity and roleplay, for the player to interpret something about their character through the lens of their own imagination. It's part of why I was disappointed when they removed level scaling from untrained skills, since that narrowed the possibilities for me and my players to interpret the game. It's also probably part of why hit points have stood the test of time so well despite making no sense at all: they're free for the player and GM to interpret in the way that's most fun for their table.

Aye, very much agreed on all counts.

One of my favorite +level to untrained flavors is Cha-based skills with Joe Gruff the high level Barbarian, where I picture him being viewed with a favorable disposition by pretty much any average joe because of his superhuman presence despite his actual terrible manners, while any more discerning or skeptical folk would see past that and be qualified as Trained+ tasks for Diplomacy and the like. XD


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BryonD wrote:
gwynfrid wrote:
Others have quoted Gandalf and Harry Potter. I would add Saruman, and virtually every wizard in the Potter series. That's a lot of wizards. You can look at it more generically: In any movie / book / other media containing fantasy adventure, if you have a wizard hero, he will be in fights, and he just will have to dodge blows. Otherwise, it would not be a fantasy adventure (whether that characteristic is a flaw of such movies and books, is a discussion for another day).
And I find these examples completely uncompelling.

Well, that's fine, but it's not like you have mentioned any examples that would be more compelling. Unless you meant wizards from previous editions of the game: Unquestionably, their base AC was much lower. But you were referring to media, so I went that way.

BryonD wrote:

Again, in each of these cases all kinds of magic is in play throughout the encounters. And in 1E (and all other kinds of TTRPGS) wizards avoid attacks BECAUSE they have magical resources supporting them.

The suggestion that these events would play out the same without magic at play is absurd to the reader. And yet this mechanical idea say EXACTLY THAT.

Under present playtest rules, these events would absolutely not play out the same without magic. Allow me to repeat from my earlier post: The naked wizard gets whacked by 80% of level-appropriate attacks. If he manages to avoid them, it's because he's got magic items and spells on. The playtest backed this up, for me at least.

But I much appreciate your answer, because it allows me to distill the debate to its essentials. Namely, what resources are high-level characters supposed to have against physical attack? They can of of 3 kinds: equipment, spells, or the character's own power.

In PF1, these factors play like this:
- Wizard: Mostly spells, equipment to a lesser degree, and own power to a small degree (Dex bonus)
- Fighter: Mostly equipment, and a little bit of his own power. The fighter might take Dodge since he has lots of feats, and he could get some Dex, but the best armor will place a cap on it: Overall, not much.

In PF2 with +level, the character's own power becomes the biggest numerical factor in AC. However, crucially, it isn't anywhere near enough to protect anybody, except possibly the monk. So, while you may find this distasteful at an abstract level, I don't think it changes things from the narrative perspective. My fighter will still put armor on. My wizard will still cast mirror image and wear bracers of armor.

Now, is there an alternative? If we remove unarmored training from the wizard, he's back to spells and items only. We'd have to considerably increase the power and duration of defensive spells, resurrecting the near-invulnerable god wizard of PF1. Or we could just increase the numbers for mage armor. The problem is, now the wizard is vulnerable to attack from a house cat, so he needs to cast his maximally heightened mage armor every morning: This becomes effectively a tax on taking part in the adventure. I believe neither outcome is acceptable.

BryonD wrote:
Quote:
Well, this whole discussion is only intelligible to gamers, and in fact a subset of gamers, far from the majority: Those gamers that are interested in the development of game mechanics. The public at large isn't going to get involved.
But I think you have missed the point. I'm not saying it matters if the public cares. I'm saying the public is a good uncontaminated control.

I'm afraid you're correct, I missed your point, and in fact I still don't think I fully understand what you mean. Are you saying the general public would have an opinion on this debate we're having? Surely not. Are you saying the general public would reject the idea of a wizard who's dodging blows physically? Well, yes, if this was presented in a way that downplays his magic; or if he was doing this just as well as the rogue or the heavily armored fighter. But neither is the case here.


gwynfrid wrote:
Under present playtest rules, these events would absolutely not play out the same without magic. Allow me to repeat from my earlier post: The naked wizard gets whacked by 80% of level-appropriate attacks. If he manages to avoid them, it's because he's got magic items and spells on. The playtest backed this up, for me at least.

I said that 10th naked wizard dance around orcs with greatswords.

For a naked wizard with NO MAGIC a simple basic orc with a greatsword should be plenty of appropriate challenge. It should possibly be TOO MUCH challenge. But, no, the wizard dances past the orc because "math".

And that is what you are saying here and I know I have already addressed elsewhere. You point is "it works out right, who cares 'why'?" And my answer is "I care 'why'. I care a lot".

If the narrative was first then the math would work for telling that story right. And if that story involves some poor out of luck wizard fighting orcs while naked and without nay magic, then that wizard DIES.

But if the game puts the math in front of the story, then the wizard dances around. That is wrong and I know it is wrong. Now, when the wizard is in a "level appropriate challenge" and does have magic the results "work out". But they work out for the wrong reasons and the story is hollow. Nothing that led up to that point had the amount of influence it should have because the same story-absent math is "working" here despite it failing in the encounter with basic orcs. And so when the wizard wins (or loses) the heavy handed math played a significant role in that. I have absolutely no interest in the approach.

Quote:
Now, is there an alternative? If we remove unarmored training from the wizard, he's back to spells and items only. We'd have to considerably increase the power and duration of defensive spells, resurrecting the near-invulnerable god wizard of PF1. Or we could just increase the numbers for mage armor. The problem is, now the wizard is vulnerable to attack from a house cat, so he needs to cast his maximally heightened mage armor every morning: This becomes effectively a tax on taking part in the adventure. I believe neither outcome is acceptable.

I'm not advocating for something like like. I fully agree it is a significant problem that needs a major solution. It isn't just a rework on the foundation.


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BryonD wrote:
gwynfrid wrote:
Under present playtest rules, these events would absolutely not play out the same without magic. Allow me to repeat from my earlier post: The naked wizard gets whacked by 80% of level-appropriate attacks. If he manages to avoid them, it's because he's got magic items and spells on. The playtest backed this up, for me at least.

I said that 10th naked wizard dance around orcs with greatswords.

For a naked wizard with NO MAGIC a simple basic orc with a greatsword should be plenty of appropriate challenge. It should possibly be TOO MUCH challenge. But, no, the wizard dances past the orc because "math".

And that is what you are saying here and I know I have already addressed elsewhere. You point is "it works out right, who cares 'why'?" And my answer is "I care 'why'. I care a lot".

If the narrative was first then the math would work for telling that story right. And if that story involves some poor out of luck wizard fighting orcs while naked and without nay magic, then that wizard DIES.

But if the game puts the math in front of the story, then the wizard dances around. That is wrong and I know it is wrong. Now, when the wizard is in a "level appropriate challenge" and does have magic the results "work out". But they work out for the wrong reasons and the story is hollow. Nothing that led up to that point had the amount of influence it should have because the same story-absent math is "working" here despite it failing in the encounter with basic orcs. And so when the wizard wins (or loses) the heavy handed math played a significant role in that. I have absolutely no interest in the approach.

Quote:
Now, is there an alternative? If we remove unarmored training from the wizard, he's back to spells and items only. We'd have to considerably increase the power and duration of defensive spells, resurrecting the near-invulnerable god wizard of PF1. Or we could just increase the numbers for mage armor. The problem is, now the wizard is vulnerable to attack
...

As I said elsewhere, where do the rules establish a narrative that the naked 10th level Wizard fighting these greatsword-wielding orcs has no magic? Where the rules say the Wizard hasn't built up permanent passive wards over 10 levels of adventuring that protect him without a need to say he has cast any specific spells? Or that his exposure to 10 levels of magic hasn't caused him to be infused with mana over time, making his body more resilient? A 10th level character is largely beyond human capabilities, these are far from unreasonable possibilities, and importantly the rules do NOTHING to exclude the possibility of these narratives or others to explain how a level 10 Wizard could have inherently higher AC. And both of these examples are every bit as viable in a fantasy world as the rings and amulets of PF1 that you have said you are fine with.

For a game where imagination is so important, you are hilariously insistent in refusing to display ANY to see a narrative reason for a mechanic you dislike...


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Edge93 wrote:
As I said elsewhere, where do the rules establish a narrative that the naked 10th level Wizard fighting these greatsword-wielding orcs has no magic? Where the rules say the Wizard hasn't built up permanent passive wards over 10 levels of adventuring that protect him without a need to say he has cast any specific spells?

Well, for starters, that is the kind of things the rules need to actively say, not actively deny.

Second, so now Pazio, according to you, is insisting that every PC wizard everywhere has these magic wards, though makes zero note of them.

Third, and probably most of all, please point to the place which makes it clear that the wizard loses his +level to AC when in an anti-magic zone.

And, of course, you have now painted yourself into a corner where every single character of every class must have some combination magic and non magic development which just happen to exactly match the progress of fighters.

There are other games out there that are great and don't choose to impose narrative shackles on the nature of the characters.

If you like it then great. But it is really reasonable to find what you have described as an active incentive to avoid the game.

Quote:
For a game where imagination is so important, you are hilariously insistent in refusing to display ANY to see a narrative reason for a mechanic you dislike...

And yet again we go to a rewind of history with exact quotes of 4E fans saying why everyone should abandon their taste and expecting a game to cater to me rather than me cater to the game is a failure of *my* imagination. There is a laundry list of aspects of +level that I loathe. And I can come up with 100 cool stories for any one of them in which *that case* is an exception and the mechanics work for *that* character.

A game that tells me I MUST come up with these exceptions for every single PC in the game is not going to appeal.

The failure of imagination is a total non-starter as an explanation.

Give me a game where I can choose to build a wizard who is also good at dancing around orcs while naked and I'm there. Try to make me play a game that forces that on me involuntarily and I'll go play a game with more options.


Edge93 wrote:
If anything I like that flavor better than a Mage needing to rely on a bunch of external magic items.

Since i never saw this reply before....

Just to be clear, this statement completely misses the point. In 1E it would be trivially easy to reach an agreement between DM and player (and, no, i won't accept a sidetrek about bad DMs or bad players, game design should assume good players trying to make a good game) in which a player's wizard simply gains the bonuses consistent with typical treasure in lieu of that character gaining that treasure.

In 2E it is NOT trivially easy to remove mechanic. The mechanic DEMANDS that some flavor be there. It is a mechanics telling the narrative what to do instead of the narrative telling the mechanics what to do.

In 1E you can inscribe a tattoo, you can drink a potion, you can put on a ring, you can reskin anything into anything. You can also do nothing at all. But no matter what you do the mechanics sit back and wait to hear what happened and THEN the number change as the narrative demands.

In 2E the mechanics tell you the numbers and then snap their fingers at you demanding you comply.

I think the flavor of wards vs gear is 6 of one half a dozen of the other. BUT, having played 1E for so long, I would very much enjoy a wards reskin over yet another rings and amulets. I have been very open about looking for an improvement in 2E.

But it has NOTHING to do with taste for one version over the other. I'm not at all advocating for keeping rings because I adore me some rings. Not even close.

Talking about taste between rings vs. wards is irrelevant. There is a major issue of taste between narrative dominating mechanics and mechanics dominating narrative.


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BryonD wrote:
Stuff

Your objection is reasonable enough. Stating that you don't like the style of something and won't go for it is reasonable enough.

Constantly going on and on saying something is terrible because you don't like it and derailing threads and harassing posters as you go on and on about your dislike of a mechanic while acting much of the time as if your opinion makes it concretely and objectively bad is not.

I'll take a game where both the math and narrative can be made to work fairly easily for me over a game where certain types of narrative work but the math is almost impossible to make work and makes certain types of narrative impossible to employ effectively without extensive change IN ADDITION to the math issues any day. But that is my opinion and doesn't make +level objectively good or bad any more than yours does.


Edge I’m sorry but quit feeding the beast. It is rather apparent that he just gets off on these kinds of arguments. I shouldn’t even say this but personally as far as the example wizard, the wards/magic infusion explanation for +level to AC is an interesting narrative choice that I can reasonably see a GM going with if that’s what they like. The one that others have pointed out and that is the most logical and simplest explanation is learning how to dodge stuff as you gain experience.


BryonD wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
As I said elsewhere, where do the rules establish a narrative that the naked 10th level Wizard fighting these greatsword-wielding orcs has no magic? Where the rules say the Wizard hasn't built up permanent passive wards over 10 levels of adventuring that protect him without a need to say he has cast any specific spells?

Well, for starters, that is the kind of things the rules need to actively say, not actively deny.

Can't necessarily agree here. A great many things in Pathfinder state mechanics and leave flavor light, as an established flavor means you have to overwrite existing flavor and reskin if you want a different flavor whereas being flavor-light moreso encourages essentially customizing the flavor of a mechanic yourself.

Obviously not everything is flavor-light but I like the idea of AC being one thing that is flavor-light as there are a great many ways to avoid harm and it kinda seems needlessly restrictive to lock in one particular way barring reskinning.

A generic +level bonus isn't a prohibition of narrative, it's a blank slate.

And if you don't want to be able to dodge Orc greatswords, then don't. The mechanics that come from the narrative you want for your magicless unarmored Wizard are functionally pretty much no different from being the mechanics of being a willing target. If you think the proper narrative here is to get hit unfailingly by swords, then roleplay it and get hit unfailingly by swords. You CAN choose to have the narrative you demand, and it doesn't require changing the base rules to make the math for other less corner-case situations break down.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

TBH, I liked the +lvl to every skill for Untrained because I saw it as a strong way to ensure that PF2 avoided the PF1 skills plague that made most characters inept at everything except a few chosen skills. Which made little sense for high-level characters who shook the world by their mere presence in all other ways

I completely understand that many people wished for a system that allowed their characters to actually be inept at a few chosen skills because it better fit their concept

I hope the removal of + lvl to Untrained is only part of changes that allow characters (especially high-level ones) to actually have a reasonable chance of succeeding at most casual adventuring tasks, even Untrained

Which actually will only help enhancing the importance of skills in the game IMO


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BryonD wrote:
gwynfrid wrote:
Under present playtest rules, these events would absolutely not play out the same without magic. Allow me to repeat from my earlier post: The naked wizard gets whacked by 80% of level-appropriate attacks. If he manages to avoid them, it's because he's got magic items and spells on. The playtest backed this up, for me at least.

I said that 10th naked wizard dance around orcs with greatswords.

For a naked wizard with NO MAGIC a simple basic orc with a greatsword should be plenty of appropriate challenge. It should possibly be TOO MUCH challenge. But, no, the wizard dances past the orc because "math".

And that is what you are saying here and I know I have already addressed elsewhere. You point is "it works out right, who cares 'why'?" And my answer is "I care 'why'. I care a lot".

If the narrative was first then the math would work for telling that story right. And if that story involves some poor out of luck wizard fighting orcs while naked and without nay magic, then that wizard DIES.

But if the game puts the math in front of the story, then the wizard dances around. That is wrong and I know it is wrong. Now, when the wizard is in a "level appropriate challenge" and does have magic the results "work out". But they work out for the wrong reasons and the story is hollow. Nothing that led up to that point had the amount of influence it should have because the same story-absent math is "working" here despite it failing in the encounter with basic orcs. And so when the wizard wins (or loses) the heavy handed math played a significant role in that. I have absolutely no interest in the approach.

Quote:
Now, is there an alternative? If we remove unarmored training from the wizard, he's back to spells and items only. We'd have to considerably increase the power and duration of defensive spells, resurrecting the near-invulnerable god wizard of PF1. Or we could just increase the numbers for mage armor. The problem is, now the wizard is vulnerable to attack
...

So we're back to the level 1 orc, I thought I had answered that one but I was mistaken. Looking it up, indeed he'll need a roll of 20 to hit my AC 25 wizard. So, how bad a problem is this?

- To begin with, a PF1 orc won't beat a PF1 level 10 wizard either. The wizard will take a few hits, but he will take down the 6 hp orc with his 1d3 ray of frost in a few rounds (don't tell me he isn't allowed a prepared ray of frost; this is enough of a fringe case, as it is; besides, he'll win with a dagger as well). Still, I accept that in PF1 he's more vulnerable.
- This isn't "because math", this is because his power comes from himself, either by having been in a lot of fights, or being level 10 means he's a hero favored of the gods or some other mystic force, or Edge's idea of building protective wards during downtime. There is more than one perfectly plausible explanation. The character's power coming from himself as opposed to spells and gear is a preferable solution in this and other contexts. Refer to the discussions of magical weapon damage, and that's just one example. It's also the cleanest way for the design to avoid bloat.
- Anyway, I never really liked it that the wizard is a sitting duck without his magic, not even all the way back in the days of 2e. This was always a very lame way to compensate for the wizard's overpowered offensive capabilities, creating the glass cannon trope, which in turn drove everybody to a standardized combat method when playing wizards. Paizo killed that sacred cow, good for them and for us.

Now, I realize with the above I rephrased a lot of arguments I had made earlier, and so did you in your last post. This indicates we just have to agree to disagree, the debate having run its course. Thank you.


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Level being taken away from untrained actually improved untrained people for the first several levels.
Instead of level 1 minus 4 or 2, it's just zero plus stat bonus. So it won't see a major difference until level 5.


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I don't get why a wizard becoming better at attacking (even physically) is ok, but a wizard becoming better at defending is absolutely not.
The only explanation I can think of is: because it used to be so.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Pretty much, Megistone.

All comes down to different people have different levels of suspension of disbelief.


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Megistone wrote:

I don't get why a wizard becoming better at attacking (even physically) is ok, but a wizard becoming better at defending is absolutely not.

The only explanation I can think of is: because it used to be so.

Why does every character become more skilled with their weapons when their BAB increases, including the ones they aren't even proficient in? Why does the spellcaster who never casts a single necromancy spell turn out to be able to cast them perfectly when there's an 8th level one they like? Why does killing goblins make you better at opening locks because you level up and that's where you put your skill point(s)? It's all a great mystery.


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I mean, if anything it seems like "having been in a lot of fights and wanting to get in more" selects for people who are good at avoiding harm, rather than people who can dish out a lot of harm or can suffer a lot of harm before it's terminal.

It's just we're used to accuracy and HP going up naturally because we've been doing that for a while, even if that makes less sense than AC going up.


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Megistone wrote:

I don't get why a wizard becoming better at attacking (even physically) is ok, but a wizard becoming better at defending is absolutely not.

The only explanation I can think of is: because it used to be so.

Also the wizard gets tougher (more hp) and that's okay.

I think it might also be because in the old way he didn't get any of it as fast as the fighter - lower BAB, less hit points.

Now they stick closer together.


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thejeff wrote:
Megistone wrote:

I don't get why a wizard becoming better at attacking (even physically) is ok, but a wizard becoming better at defending is absolutely not.

The only explanation I can think of is: because it used to be so.

Also the wizard gets tougher (more hp) and that's okay.

I think it might also be because in the old way he didn't get any of it as fast as the fighter - lower BAB, less hit points.

Now they stick closer together.

Yes, I think this is what bothers some people. People can accept that you get better as you level but only in things you do all the time. It gets irksome when the AC of the guy in the front line that gets attacked all the time, and has to focus on defense, goes up at the same rate as someone in the back that almost never gets attacked.

As for attacking, there is a real incentive to mix and match attacking with weapons and casting spells: attacking with a ranged weapon then using a non-attack roll spell for instance. Even without that, plenty of spells do require an attack roll so attacks going up don't seem out of place.


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Bluenose wrote:
Megistone wrote:

I don't get why a wizard becoming better at attacking (even physically) is ok, but a wizard becoming better at defending is absolutely not.

The only explanation I can think of is: because it used to be so.
Why does every character become more skilled with their weapons when their BAB increases, including the ones they aren't even proficient in? Why does the spellcaster who never casts a single necromancy spell turn out to be able to cast them perfectly when there's an 8th level one they like? Why does killing goblins make you better at opening locks because you level up and that's where you put your skill point(s)? It's all a great mystery.

The assumption was that during downtime you were practicing whatever you put your skill points into/researching the spells you'd learn/practicing the new feat you got/etc, which handwaved all that away.

Which is fine, and can still do that. There just has never been a justification for "your ability to hit goes up but your ability to avoid being hit doesn't" except "because game mechanics." Which means game mechanics can absolutely change that so they do both improve.


It sounds like a lot of the problem with Wizard AC comes from phrasing and style, rather than from mechanical issues. And a lot of that phrasing and style might have originated from the "math-oriented" nature of the Playtest -- i.e. the designers wanted to provide the numbers for testing, and they'll figure out the wrapper later.

Personally, I kinda prefer the idea that everyone *doesn't* just get Unarmored AC trained automatically. That sounds like something unarmored martials should be using (i.e. its a physical skill rather than a side effect of staring at textbooks all day). However, not everyone sets up their casters that way, and I'm certain there are plenty of people who prefer Unarmored training.

So why not just add a wrapper of "wizards get the option of binding deflection wards onto a focus, as an automatic feat, with upgrades to that feat coming up every X levels; deflection wards don't work in low-magic areas", and then provide Unarmored training as an alternate?

The wrapper mentioned above is a pretty weak example, but the goal here isn't necessarily that all wizards need Unarmored training -- merely that all wizards need an option to keep up with AC changes somewhat, without providing a new spell that could be stacked too easily. This wrapper could easily be replaced with "new X ability that acts like this but has different flavors based on your school". The point being to provide the benefit without requiring the explanation be "wizard is dodgy" (as fun as the "dodgy wizard" trope can be).

Paizo Employee

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graystone wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Megistone wrote:

I don't get why a wizard becoming better at attacking (even physically) is ok, but a wizard becoming better at defending is absolutely not.

The only explanation I can think of is: because it used to be so.

Also the wizard gets tougher (more hp) and that's okay.

I think it might also be because in the old way he didn't get any of it as fast as the fighter - lower BAB, less hit points.

Now they stick closer together.

Yes, I think this is what bothers some people. People can accept that you get better as you level but only in things you do all the time. It gets irksome when the AC of the guy in the front line that gets attacked all the time, and has to focus on defense, goes up at the same rate as someone in the back that almost never gets attacked.

This might just be my personal experience, but I've never played that game (without 3pp materials). I've never been part of this game where everyone stops to solely focus all their attention on the fighter while ignoring the more tempting target in the back throwing fireballs, so that's probably why the argument against +level to AC doesn't make any sense to me. Very often, at least in my experience, the fighter is the slowest guy on the field and anything that can move faster than him loves to circle around and go for the finger-wigglers in the back, who usually take a hit or two before the fighter (or paladin, brawler, what-have-you) shows up and manages to trip, grapple, or stab the problem away and free the wizard up again. Most of the time if that doesn't happen it was because the wizard was able defend themselves or run away under their own recognizance.

It does seem, to me, that the biggest problem with +level is not providing some narrative justification, whatever that may be. Even just a short of list things like "combat expertise improving, magical wards being developed and constantly in place, magic strengthening your physical resilience through use and exposure, etc." could allow them to leave the numbers generic and easily refluffed for different settings while offering some narrative framing for the mechanics to give people who don't see it something to grab onto.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wizzardman wrote:
Personally, I kinda prefer the idea that everyone *doesn't* just get Unarmored AC trained automatically. That sounds like something unarmored martials should be using (i.e. its a physical skill rather than a side effect of staring at textbooks all day).

This is part of why I'm wondering if we even need different proficiencies for different armors.

If everyone gets better AC as they level that can be flavored however you want, what does that even have to do with the kind of armor you're wearing? Dextrous characters are going to prefer light armors while low dex characters are going to prefer heavy armor, and wizards can have cool magical options if they don't want either.

AC should be: Level + Dex + Armor Bonus + Shield Bonus + Miscellaneous boosts from class, ability, or feat

"Defense" proficiency can be universal for all armors and certain classes can grant UTEML at different levels.


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Ssalarn wrote:
I've never been part of this game where everyone stops to solely focus all their attention on the fighter while ignoring the more tempting target in the back throwing fireballs, so that's probably why the argument against +level to AC doesn't make any sense to me.

I've had several times when my group would be in a dungeon setting with narrow passages that didn't really give an opportunity for frontal foes to ignore the front line: while there were the occasional rear attacks or spell attacks that required saves the back row got attacks FAR, FAR less with attacks targeting AC. Maybe you play in the wilderness far more often than I but inside works a bit different.

Ssalarn wrote:
It does seem, to me, that the biggest problem with +level is not providing some narrative justification, whatever that may be. Even just a short of list things like "combat expertise improving, magical wards being developed and constantly in place, magic strengthening your physical resilience through use and exposure, etc." could allow them to leave the numbers generic and easily refluffed for different settings while offering some narrative framing for the mechanics to give people who don't see it something to grab onto.

For me it isn't the lack of "narrative justification", but the lack of one that explains why EVERYTHING advances at the exact same rate: attacking the same as defending. Mental strength the same as reflexes. Skills the same as all the above...

Paizo Employee

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graystone wrote:
For me it isn't the lack of "narrative justification", but the lack of one that explains why EVERYTHING advances at the exact same rate: attacking the same as defending. Mental strength the same as reflexes. Skills the same as all the above...

I'm kind of in the opposite boat I guess. To me, this idea that we only increase in these narrow areas that have no additional affect or influence on the other things we do is an incredibly "video game-y" perspective that doesn't reflect real life very well. Virtually any skill or activity you work on and participate in spreads into other areas. Playing video games can improve hand-eye coordination, reasoning ability, reading comprehension, manual dexterity, and even provide educational information on a variety of matters. Learning to play an instrument can improve rhythm, social skills, manual dexterity, confidence, even endurance. Even stealing cars generally covers everything from learning a wide array of facts and techniques related to electronics and mechanics to cardio (also life-skills that would probably be well-represented by Bluff, Disguise, Perception, Sense Motive, and Stealth.)

A world where you spend enough time climbing mountains, killing monsters, surviving traps, negotiating with politicians, and hunting criminals to see tangible improvements from it makes sense, but a world where the only improvements you see from those activities is that you suddenly became better at lying and now people have to punch you more before it seriously injures you doesn't. I think it's a lot more logical that any robust training regimen involving both physical and mental training would have holistic and wide-reaching results. Sure you wouldn't learn how to play the flute because you hiked a mountain and slew a dragon, but that's what Trained-only mechanics are for. Just add a note to Perform that you can't play an instrument unless you're trained.


graystone wrote:
For me it isn't the lack of "narrative justification", but the lack of one that explains why EVERYTHING advances at the exact same rate: attacking the same as defending. Mental strength the same as reflexes. Skills the same as all the above...

That's only true if proficiency never changes. When it does, the gap between things grows further.

But even then, there is also no narrative explanation for the inverse: when I'm dodging fireballs all day, why do my reflexes still advance at half the speed of the fortitude I'm never really being tested on?

There's no real narrative explanation that explains those rules either. The rule came first, and the narrative that "oh, Clerics are just bad at dodging fireballs and never really get better at it" followed.

This is not trying to change something at the narrative core of the game at all (as opposed to removing divine magic from the game entirely, which would be a huge narrative shift). Clerics are still worse than Rogues at dodging fireballs in the new setup, and Monks are still better at not getting hit than Wizards. The narrative hasn't changed all that much, and it wouldn't be hard to come up with a narrative explanation for how the new rules work after the fact, exactly like what was done with the old ones.


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Ssalarn wrote:
Sure you wouldn't learn how to play the flute because you hiked a mountain and slew a dragon, but that's what Trained-only mechanics are for. Just add a note to Perform that you can't play an instrument unless you're trained.

Though that doesn't really fix the problem from a mechanical POV either. Now you Train, so that you can play the flute and poof you can play any instrument you come across, which isn't really any more realistic.

And you still know how to swim if you know how to climb.

It's a broad, simplistic mechanic applied to a complex synergistic interwoven set of abilities. It can't (and shouldn't!) be too close to how we really learn things.

Heroes get better in general as they become bigger and better heroes. They distinguish themselves from their peers with how their proficiencies are allocated. Those are the things they focus on in particular.
Fighters are better at hitting things than wizards because they have a higher proficiency tier, not because they automatically get bigger numbers per level.

Paizo Employee

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thejeff wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
Sure you wouldn't learn how to play the flute because you hiked a mountain and slew a dragon, but that's what Trained-only mechanics are for. Just add a note to Perform that you can't play an instrument unless you're trained.
Though that doesn't really fix the problem from a mechanical POV either. Now you Train, so that you can play the flute and poof you can play any instrument you come across, which isn't really any more realistic.

So add a line after Perform like Lore skills have and make Perform (flute) a separate skill from Perform (drums)? These seem like really small and easily addressed issues.

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And you still know how to swim if you know how to climb.

This is a non-issue for me. Well-rounded physical fitness does bring benefits in other areas. If it's part of your backstory that you've never swam before I could see the GM applying a circumstance penalty to your checks, but I don't see this as much of an issue, and if it is one, it seems very easily addressed.

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It's a broad, simplistic mechanic applied to a complex synergistic interwoven set of abilities. It can't (and shouldn't!) be too close to how we really learn things.

Agreed!

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Heroes get better in general as they become bigger and better heroes. They distinguish themselves from their peers with how their proficiencies are allocated. Those are the things they focus on in particular.
Fighters are better at hitting things than wizards because they have a higher proficiency tier, not because they automatically get bigger numbers per level.

Also agreed.

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