Exploration and Searching (Hazards)


Rules Discussion


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So reading over the book a few times I'm a little confused about searching and finding hazards and secret doors and the likes.

It says every character gets a free secret check to find hazards that do not require a certain proficiency.

If the characters are using exploration tactics other than search can they still get free check?

I really like these rules because they make traps RAW actually work nicely for the first time in history just want to make sure I am getting it right.

My thinking is that players using exploration tactics other than search do not qualify for the free check because they are busy with other stuff.


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My understanding is that if it does not include a proficiency requirement then you get a free Perception Check to find it and do not need to be using Search or Seek.

The reasoning (I think) is that the hazards that do not require any proficiency rank are large and obvious. A tornado isn't trying to hide from you, so everyone gets a free chance to detect it. But all the traps I can think of off my head require at least trained, which means you have to be either Searching or Seeking (and trained in proficiency) in order to spot it.

Sovereign Court

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Hmm I had not noticed that mention in the rules but most definitely it seems that characters do not get a perception check to find traps and treasures unless they are Searching or have Trapfinding.

Interesting point that this may not be the case for traps that can be spotted untrained.

Personally I think this is one of my favourite changes in PF2. By eliminated the “everyone gets a roll, always” default assumption it is much more likely for things like traps, haunts, secret doors, stealth, hidden treasures to function as intended.

Sovereign Court

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So many fun encounters where someone who stealths ahead of the party now becomes the unintentional “trapfinder” by stumbling into them before the searchers can see them.

Note that this helps reserves a special place for the trapfinder rogue who can both search for traps and sneak around effectively.


Well the question is, if we skip all RPG fluff, is there any reason for any character to chose any exploration ability apart from "search"?

What is +1 initiative, a raised shield or stealth for initiative worth if you miss hidden treasure / secret doors or hazards?

Apart from having a low perception guy spamming detect magic the benefits of having as many people as possible searching are simply to good to ignore.

And yes the other activities will provide a minor bonus once you transition into encounter mode, however if you find or miss a secret door or hidden treasure or avoid a trap is a much bigger bonus, at least as far as I am concerned.

Sovereign Court

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I think the idea is for a group of players to strategically divide up the duties to provide them with maximum benefit.

Having an extra person search is a complete waste of one of your companions would have found the thing anyway. Not to mention you can’t even find traps that are higher than your level of training.

But yeah it is one that smart groups will always have a couple of skilled people dedicated to.

Sovereign Court

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Which I should add is not a radical departure from any of other edition of the game. Even in AD+D the party set up a marching order and said what they were doing. Searching was always the most common choice..

Sovereign Court

Yeah so far searching has been by far the most important exploration activity. The other exploration activities are somewhat niche, while having multiple people making checks really improves odds of success.

But that you get a free check to spot (most) hazards is something I didn't know.

Sovereign Court

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Ascalaphus wrote:

Yeah so far searching has been by far the most important exploration activity. The other exploration activities are somewhat niche, while having multiple people making checks really improves odds of success.

But that you get a free check to spot (most) hazards is something I didn't know.

It certainly isn't "most" hazards though. I can only find a simple pit as the sole example on the list in the CRB of one that doesn't require you to be trained.

Sovereign Court

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The rules in question (p. 520):

"During exploration, determine whether the party detects a hazard when the PCs first enter the general area in which it appears. If the hazard doesn’t list a minimum proficiency rank, roll a secret Perception check against the hazard’s Stealth DC for each PC. For hazards with a minimum proficiency rank, roll only if someone is actively searching (using the Search activity while exploring or the Seek action in an encounter), and only if they have the listed proficiency rank or higher. Anyone who succeeds becomes aware of the hazard, and you can describe what they notice."


Looking over the various exploration options, why would you choose anything but Search ? Is there any reason all four PCs can't choose the Search option and get 4 chances to roll for traps?


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orphias wrote:
Looking over the various exploration options, why would you choose anything but Search ? Is there any reason all four PCs can't choose the Search option and get 4 chances to roll for traps?

Because investigating the writings in this ancient tomb may yield valuable clues?

Because you keep getting shot at by sneaky archers before they run away, and want your shield raised?

Because investigating the writings in this ancient tomb may provide less valuable clues, but you're playing an impractical historian wizard?

Because you just really want to be sneaking if combat breaks out, so you can try to easily sneak attack at the start?

Because you think having one person detect magic as you go is worth only having 3 hazard spotters?

Because you're tracking something, and will never catch them if the only thing you're looking for is whether there's a snare in these woods?

Because you have a small army following you as you flee, and covering your tracks may be more important to your survival?

Because you're the one driving the wagon full of loot after you leave the dungeon, so you're busy and need to rely on someone else to watch out for traps on the way back?

Sovereign Court

HammerJack wrote:
orphias wrote:
Looking over the various exploration options, why would you choose anything but Search ? Is there any reason all four PCs can't choose the Search option and get 4 chances to roll for traps?

Because investigating the writings in this ancient tomb may yield valuable clues?

Because you keep getting shot at by sneaky archers before they run away, and want your shield raised?

Because investigating the writings in this ancient tomb may provide less valuable clues, but you're playing an impractical historian wizard?

Because you just really want to be sneaking if combat breaks out, so you can try to easily sneak attack at the start?

Because you think having one person detect magic as you go is worth only having 3 hazard spotters?

Because you're tracking something, and will never catch them if the only thing you're looking for is whether there's a snare in these woods?

Because you have a small army following you as you flee, and covering your tracks may be more important to your survival?

Because you're the one driving the wagon full of loot after you leave the dungeon, so you're busy and need to rely on someone else to watch out for traps on the way back?

I agree with you on most points. There are a variety of cases where you may want to do something else than Search. But I have to say, Search has become the default option unless you have a strong reason to do something else.

- Investigating sounds interesting but generally scenarios don't have all that many of these checks written into them. If there's only three interesting features in the entire tomb, wouldn't Search find the feature and then people pause and do a check to analyze it?

- Sure, you can play a suboptimal wizard. But after Investigate doesn't do much, and the party runs into a few scary hazards, there's going to be pressure to just do the sensible thing and Search.

- I haven't run into tracking situations yet in scenarios.

- Every scenario so far has had traps or hazards in it. Some of them really really bad ones.

- I haven't seen the magical aura checking be useful yet. Most magic items are encounter loot. I especially haven't had any "auras you might walk into" happen yet.

- Sneaking around makes sense for a rogue. Shame that with your Expert perception, you can only find Hazards with a proficiency requirement and hidden treasure if you're Searching, Trapfinder only finds traps.
---

I want exploration tactics to be fun and interesting, but so far Search is just so much better than all the others.


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The number of things that may come up in terms of details to learn through investigating, and the importance of tracking and/or covering tracks can vary dramatically between games.

How little they've been accounted for in Paizo scenarios gives no indication of how much or little they'll come up in a given group's game. Even if the group is running Paizo material, the prewritten adventure is only a starting point, and things do go off the rails.

If you're doing an overland hexcrawl type adventure, you may be weighing when you want to use any exploration tactic that would slow you down, at all, and when to travel at full speed.


A tornado would be a good example of a hazard you can spot without searching. Or out of the CRB, there's the Armageddon Orb.


I agree that Search seems to be the Default mode. Everything else is very situational. Search however is applicable always, especially if time is not really a factor. So what if your only moving at half speed. If your party has 4 times as many chances to spot a lethal trap, it's worth it. My players certainly think so. As soon as they enter a contested area / dungeon etc, they go straight to Search mode.

Scarab Sages

Having four players use "Search" seems like a waste, though.

If three of them used "Follow the Expert" they would get their search plus get at least a +2 on their checks.

If everyone is always searching, they're not likely to find any clues that would lead them to their goal or tell them where to go next, as that would require "Investigate"

Although for traps, I like "Coerce." That enemy you decided not to kill would make an excellent "trapfinder" by having him go down every hallway first.

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