Why do the developers insist on realism for martial characters only?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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https://paizo.com/threads/rzs2q8ei?OMG-I-cant-speak#13
https://paizo.com/threads/rzs2pvkj&page=4?False-Options-in-Pathfinder#1 64
https://i.warosu.org/data/tg/img/0333/12/1405032200107.png

I just spent an hour trying to cast magic missile in my apartment, couldn't do it. I guess we have to delete all spells from the game.

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I've had some trouble with magic missile lately too. Really makes me wonder if that's even a real spell.
Thankfully I did manage to cast burning hands the other day though in my apartment, so there's no need to delete every spell.

On a completely unrelated topic, does anyone know how long it takes for burned cat fur to grow back?

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If i play music real loud, people show up.

Bards are fine.


I mixed some stuff together in lab and it blew up, so I question the premise.


Actually, they nerfed martials compared to real life. A warrior who is only properly efficient with only one kind of weapon would not make it long in the field.

Similarly, most martial artists would dominate any non martial artists, yet that isn’t the case here. Hell, martial artist is limited to a Monk archetype, maybe representable by style feat chains.

Furthermore, mixed martial arts is barely doable, only really representable by two archetypes, one being a Monk, the other Fighter, where they can mix multiple style feat chains.


Argumentum ad Fireballum.

Realism and fantasy can coexist just fine. I've never had a player ask me why they couldn't walk on the ceiling or grow tentacles out of their eyes or play a race that's a manifestation of concentrated angst; physics works the same. Society works the same. A dragon may be a fantastical beast, but the logic behind how it can fly is still the same as how anything else flies.


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Pathfinder melee combat is far from realistic. If it were realistic, swords would be worthless against most armor, and shields, armor would have DR, polearms would grant AoOs only with great difficultly due to be so cumbersome, -- and most people would die after one of two hits no matter what "level" they were.

If you want more realism, play GURPS. (But you better love d6s, because those are the only dice you get.)


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A combination of guy at the gym fallacy, the greater amount of research actually necessary for physical feats that are humanly possible, near-humanly possible, and would need to be explicitly supernatural in our world, lack of clear guidelines or target areas for how much more should be possible in fantasy than reality without the supernatural, and a bunch of other things.

Different ideas about how supernatural non-spellcasters should be. A divide on whether the game should be medieval-ish fantasy superheroes, something gritty and more low fantasy and people often trying to accommodate both views of the game simultaneously resulting in incongruity.

Also whether and at what levels characters should be viewed as veritable demigods, which only gets further muddled by the addition of things like the old Epic rules from D&D 3.5, the mythic rules from PF 1st Ed, and the party line that gods *must* be ineffable, etc.


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allisonkaas wrote:
https://i.warosu.org/(snip).png

That "image" link is making NoScript glow something fierce. I guess talismans work at least.


Uploaded to different host.
http://imgur.com/gallery/ENHx4Gj


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...so like a secret Necro? Everything they cite is from 2013. All happened around the same time, I think.

Honestly, I would have said that with time the martial options have gotten a lot better. Tagged magical (SU, usually) but at least they're available. CRB only martials were just sad.

As for why developers put weird restrictions on martials, it's a dearth of inspiration and imagination. King Arthur... is a man with a magic sword. His own abilities are subsumed into being a "magic item holder". Ditto LotR. Hercules is descended from gods (in game, probably a new race or template). The developers are not unique in this regard, I've seen my fair share of DMs and players who restrict martials because "realism". There's a lot of sociology stuff but it all basically boils down to "high level martials don't exist in reality" and "things which aren't real are explained by magic or the divine (gods)". The only time this wasn't true that I know of was essentially the American expansion into the West. Wild West legends, basically. Pecos Bill lassoed a tornado with a rattlesnake and shot out all the stars in the sky except one. No magic powers or magic gun, he was just that good. And then it has gone back and forth. Early James Bond movies he's a man with a bunch of magic items (spy gadgets), more recently they've tried to make it less gadgets and more the man. Doctor Who is just a science wizard. Superman is basically Hercules (granted power by not being fully human), Batman has magic items (science gadgets). Batman's another one that's gone from focus on the items to focus on the man (and maybe back? I haven't read it in a while).

Basically most of our stories of high level Fighting Men involve magic items, blessings, halfhumans or nonhumans, or some other excuse for their power beyond themselves. So people absorb that and make it so your Fighter sucks unless they get a sweet magic sword, then they're allowed to be good.


Uh, Bob, you do realize most of Batman’s physical feats are superhuman by real world standards, yet he isn’t superhuman in the DC multiverse? He is literally the example that counters all of that.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Wild West legends, basically. Pecos Bill lassoed a tornado with a rattlesnake and shot out all the stars in the sky except one. No magic powers or magic gun, he was just that good.

An interesting perspective and a legitimate point (though I'm fairly sure that Pecos Bill and many other "Wild West legends" were actually invented long after the fact by marketing agencies).

I think that, at some point, you have to assume that the limits of human (or humanoid) behavior are left behind and the realm of the supernatural comes into play.
Take the barbarian rage powers Spellsunder and Spelleater. I mean, someone just gets *mad enough*, and they can break through a spell in the same way they'd break down a door?
Admittedly, I don't play many high-level games, but once spellcasters are able to travel to other planes of existence or alter time, I start giving the martial characters some more options.
A ranger that has a Perception and Survival bonus so high that he effectively has precognition? A fighter so discipline and tough he can keep defending his comrades even after he's technically dead? Yes, please.

What does it mean when you can regularly get a 60 on a Stealth check? When you can survive falling down a 100ft cliff 3 times in a row? At that point, the mundane world as we know it is out of it's depth.


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Y'all are ruining a perfectly good troll thread by seriously beating this long-dead horse.

...Unless it's a metatroll thread now?


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blahpers wrote:

Y'all are ruining a perfectly good troll thread by seriously beating this long-dead horse.

...Unless it's a metatroll thread now?

Nah, I’m just autistic and didn’t realize it was a troll thread. Not sure about the others though.


There were actually 2 characters in my last campaign that had bonuses to their Stealth rolls that were over 60. The only reason the GM had them even roll for it at all was the chance of a Nat One. I kept thinking, what feats did they take?!


Look, I'm just saying that high level fighter ought to be able to FLEX hard enough to cause an explosion without people complaining about how it is unrealistic in a fantasy game.

Fight men deserve nice things too you know.

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Heather 540 wrote:
There were actually 2 characters in my last campaign that had bonuses to their Stealth rolls that were over 60. The only reason the GM had them even roll for it at all was the chance of a Nat One. I kept thinking, what feats did they take?!

but on a nat 1 nothing special happens. It's still a 61 to find them


I don't care if it's realistic; I prefer unrealism in my games, but this has no bearing on what's good for the base game. What I'm confused about is the inconsistency. Why did the devs ever think it was okay to use the capabilities of aging, out of shape game developers as the basis for experienced, skilled heroic fantasy warriors that don't exist in real life? Assuming that this makes sense, why did they not use that same basis for every class, given that all the classes represent characters which are equally imaginary?


allisonkaas wrote:
I don't care if it's realistic; I prefer unrealism in my games, but this has no bearing on what's good for the base game. What I'm confused about is the inconsistency. Why did the devs ever think it was okay to use the capabilities of aging, out of shape game developers as the basis for experienced, skilled heroic fantasy warriors that don't exist in real life? Assuming that this makes sense, why did they not use that same basis for every class, given that all the classes represent characters which are equally imaginary?

Aww, damn, OP untrolled the thread.

Short version: That's just the sort of sword-and-sorcery-plus scenario Pathfinder models--nonmagical types stretch and even somewhat break the bounds of realism, but crazy things require some sort of magic or high technology. There are plenty of other scenarios that do involve warriors cleaving mountains in two or knocking planets out of orbit, and they're no more or less valid as scenarios to model, but Paizo, like WotC and TSR before them, chose what they chose for this game. Fortunately, there are other developers who can provide superpowered martial experiences for those who want that sort of thing.

(Pretty sure even a 1st level fighter can do more than an "aging, out of shape game developer" though.)


allisonkaas wrote:
I don't care if it's realistic; I prefer unrealism in my games, but this has no bearing on what's good for the base game. What I'm confused about is the inconsistency. Why did the devs ever think it was okay to use the capabilities of aging, out of shape game developers as the basis for experienced, skilled heroic fantasy warriors that don't exist in real life? Assuming that this makes sense, why did they not use that same basis for every class, given that all the classes represent characters which are equally imaginary?

You mean besides the obvious answer?


allisonkaas wrote:
I don't care if it's realistic; I prefer unrealism in my games, but this has no bearing on what's good for the base game. What I'm confused about is the inconsistency. Why did the devs ever think it was okay to use the capabilities of aging, out of shape game developers as the basis for experienced, skilled heroic fantasy warriors that don't exist in real life? Assuming that this makes sense, why did they not use that same basis for every class, given that all the classes represent characters which are equally imaginary?

That's actually how they did rules for a lot of early stuff and I don't think they ever stopped. I swear a developer (I think 3.0) actually put down lines and did standing long jumps to figure out what an average person could jump.

Again though, it's not inconsistent. High level Fighting Men are unrealistic. Unrealistic things require magic (or SCIENCE!) or the divine. Therefore Fighting Men without one of those are limited to real world things. It's bad, sure, but the logic is consistent. There's a reason the fancier abilities tend to be tagged SU and all the monk powers work off of Ki (SU).


I wouldn't call a 20th-level fighter or barbarian within real-world limits, magic weapons or otherwise. They just don't have the diverse reality-altering powers that a magical class would have at that level.


You can use burning hands in real life (more or less) if you have a flamethrower.


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What realistic? The most basic of basic is totally unrealistic: hit points.

As long as you don't fall below zero you are fine. You require no treatment and you'll just get better on your own. Guess what? Nobody ignores minor injuries for lots of reasons. Even a paper cut should be treated and the pathfinder equivalent of a paper cut would be zero HP of damage.

So no, nothing in Pathfinder is realistic. It is a simulated fantasy, and an extremely flawed one at that.


blahpers wrote:
I wouldn't call a 20th-level fighter or barbarian within real-world limits, magic weapons or otherwise. They just don't have the diverse reality-altering powers that a magical class would have at that level.

A 12th level warrior (the npc class) can wrestle a rhinoceros into submission with no feat expenditure (though would probably want improved grapple at the very least).


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All the classes are 100% realistic. Just that magic isnt real. If it was, what it could do is realistic enough.

I mean seriously though, the ranger is shooting 7 arrows in 6 seconds. Then took feats to make AOO with them too.

The gunslinger is reloading a blackpowder musket in 6 seconds.

The ranger is somehow reacting in initiative faster in the desert or arctic than on a cobbled street.

The barbarian somehow gets the ability to take an arrow to the face and think "that should hurt but I'm really angry"

A rogue can stab you in the gut 5 times and do less damage than when he says "hey wizard stand behind this guy and look menacing" first.

"Realism". Over rated.


ShroudedInLight wrote:

Look, I'm just saying that high level fighter ought to be able to FLEX hard enough to cause an explosion without people complaining about how it is unrealistic in a fantasy game.

Fight men deserve nice things too you know.

Flex Mentallo agrees


Oh, I fully agree that high level characters aren't realistic. Specifically HP, BAB (and combat maneuvers), saves, and skills. Basically anything with auto-scaling. But I'm specifically talking about class design (and more specifically class abilities).

The 19th level Fighter ability is DR 5/- while wearing armor or using a shield. At the same level 9th level spells are getting slung around the Fighter gets "can use armor or a shield to take less damage". Literally identical to an optional subsystem they made that gives access to everyone at all levels. That's not a high level ability. In fact, all evidence is that even the developers think it's a 1st level ability.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:

Oh, I fully agree that high level characters aren't realistic. Specifically HP, BAB (and combat maneuvers), saves, and skills. Basically anything with auto-scaling. But I'm specifically talking about class design (and more specifically class abilities).

The 19th level Fighter ability is DR 5/- while wearing armor or using a shield. At the same level 9th level spells are getting slung around the Fighter gets "can use armor or a shield to take less damage". Literally identical to an optional subsystem they made that gives access to everyone at all levels. That's not a high level ability. In fact, all evidence is that even the developers think it's a 1st level ability.

1 feat and a suit of adamantite plate and that turns into dr 11/- now


Name Violation wrote:
Heather 540 wrote:
There were actually 2 characters in my last campaign that had bonuses to their Stealth rolls that were over 60. The only reason the GM had them even roll for it at all was the chance of a Nat One. I kept thinking, what feats did they take?!
but on a nat 1 nothing special happens. It's still a 61 to find them

House rule for the group. Like I said, it was the only way those two could possibly fail a Stealth check at all. Of course, even then it became mute once the one that was a Rogue took a talent that let him Take Ten on Stealth at any time. Or was it a feat? Either way, he just took ten and no one could ever find him.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:

Oh, I fully agree that high level characters aren't realistic. Specifically HP, BAB (and combat maneuvers), saves, and skills. Basically anything with auto-scaling. But I'm specifically talking about class design (and more specifically class abilities).

The 19th level Fighter ability is DR 5/- while wearing armor or using a shield. At the same level 9th level spells are getting slung around the Fighter gets "can use armor or a shield to take less damage". Literally identical to an optional subsystem they made that gives access to everyone at all levels. That's not a high level ability. In fact, all evidence is that even the developers think it's a 1st level ability.

What makes them equivilant is the fighter uses that DR. So to him its needed.


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In all honesty the title of the thread should be “Why do developers insist on realism for fighters and rogues? “. Other marital classes have abilities that are not realistic. Many martial classes get abilities that stretch or completely break realism. A high level paladin can pick up an ordinary stick and use to demolish something with stronger defenses than a tank. He also has incredible defenses and cast spells. Sure his spells may not be as powerful as a 9th level caster, but he has other abilities as well. Barbarians, Bloodragers, Monks and Rangers also have supernatural abilities. The Ninja basically adds supernatural abilities to a rogue. Whether these abilities are equal to a 9th level spell is another discussion, but the fact is not all Martials are bound by realism.

Some people like to play characters that don’t use magic. If all classes automatically got reality breaking abilities that would not really leave anything for those players.

As to the magic missile maybe you simply don’t know this spell. My stinking could spell seems to work fine, or at least that is what my wife says.


I think the best option would be to drastically improve skills, such that they complete with spells. This is basically what Kirtfinder did (among other things), and it really helped make the martials cool and interesting without making them feel like spellcasters.


At what level should martials be allowed to be unrealistic? For instance, jumping (without a magic item) is limited to about 30 feet in real life. The best Olympic jumpers can hit that figure. A fighter in an anti-magic field can exceed that at high levels.

However noone can run as fast as Usain Bolt without magic. Even monks have an enhancement bonus to speed.

And a fighter can (after some levels) survive falls that would kill the toughest person. (Once in a blue moon, someone will survive a fall from an airplane, but that's luck.)


Kimera757 wrote:


And a fighter can (after some levels) survive falls that would kill the toughest person. (Once in a blue moon, someone will survive a fall from an airplane, but that's luck.)

How do you know that is luck? They could have that many hp. Have one of those 'lucky' survivors thrown out of a plane again. For science. Just to be fair, make sure the survivor has had at least 12+con mod days of home rest so you are 100% sure he has recovered all of his HP.


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Kimera757 wrote:

At what level should martials be allowed to be unrealistic? For instance, jumping (without a magic item) is limited to about 30 feet in real life. The best Olympic jumpers can hit that figure. A fighter in an anti-magic field can exceed that at high levels.

However noone can run as fast as Usain Bolt without magic. Even monks have an enhancement bonus to speed.

And a fighter can (after some levels) survive falls that would kill the toughest person. (Once in a blue moon, someone will survive a fall from an airplane, but that's luck.)

Id say FleetX4+ run feat and you run faster than usain bolt without magic


Meirril wrote:
Kimera757 wrote:


And a fighter can (after some levels) survive falls that would kill the toughest person. (Once in a blue moon, someone will survive a fall from an airplane, but that's luck.)
How do you know that is luck? They could have that many hp. Have one of those 'lucky' survivors thrown out of a plane again. For science. Just to be fair, make sure the survivor has had at least 12+con mod days of home rest so you are 100% sure he has recovered all of his HP.

The one I'm most familiar with was a non-adventuring flight attendant. I guess she had some levels, and kept bumping Con and taking the Toughness feat...


Kimera757 wrote:
Meirril wrote:
Kimera757 wrote:


And a fighter can (after some levels) survive falls that would kill the toughest person. (Once in a blue moon, someone will survive a fall from an airplane, but that's luck.)
How do you know that is luck? They could have that many hp. Have one of those 'lucky' survivors thrown out of a plane again. For science. Just to be fair, make sure the survivor has had at least 12+con mod days of home rest so you are 100% sure he has recovered all of his HP.
The one I'm most familiar with was a non-adventuring flight attendant. I guess she had some levels, and kept bumping Con and taking the Toughness feat...

Falling damage caps out a 20d6, so there's a chance the roll was (almost) all 1s.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Kimera757 wrote:

At what level should martials be allowed to be unrealistic? For instance, jumping (without a magic item) is limited to about 30 feet in real life. The best Olympic jumpers can hit that figure. A fighter in an anti-magic field can exceed that at high levels.

However noone can run as fast as Usain Bolt without magic. Even monks have an enhancement bonus to speed.

And a fighter can (after some levels) survive falls that would kill the toughest person. (Once in a blue moon, someone will survive a fall from an airplane, but that's luck.)

Id say FleetX4+ run feat and you run faster than usain bolt without magic

Exactly, and better. They can do it consistently until their Con gives out (Bolt only hit his top speed for about 20 meters), and they even keep their Dex bonus to AC.

A human barbarian can do the same while raging at 2nd level thanks to fast movement and the swift foot rage power taking the place of three of those Fleets. They can only hold it as long as their rage, but that's more in line with the real world version.

TL;DR: It doesn't take much to outshine a real world human in Pathfinder RPG.


blahpers wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Kimera757 wrote:

At what level should martials be allowed to be unrealistic? For instance, jumping (without a magic item) is limited to about 30 feet in real life. The best Olympic jumpers can hit that figure. A fighter in an anti-magic field can exceed that at high levels.

However noone can run as fast as Usain Bolt without magic. Even monks have an enhancement bonus to speed.

And a fighter can (after some levels) survive falls that would kill the toughest person. (Once in a blue moon, someone will survive a fall from an airplane, but that's luck.)

Id say FleetX4+ run feat and you run faster than usain bolt without magic

Exactly, and better. They can do it consistently until their Con gives out (Bolt only hit his top speed for about 20 meters), and they even keep their Dex bonus to AC.

A human barbarian can do the same while raging at 2nd level thanks to fast movement and the swift foot rage power taking the place of three of those Fleets. They can only hold it as long as their rage, but that's more in line with the real world version.

TL;DR: It doesn't take much to outshine a real world human in Pathfinder RPG.

I honestly believe no spell having martial classes getting free/better access to skill unlocks would do a lot for helping them feel better next to casters.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Currently, magic and psionics aren't known in the word and they don't seem to exist at all.
We play a game of sword and sorcery.
If we limit magic to realism we will play a game of sword and stage tricks.
A lot of monsters and almost any weapon would kill people with one hit, no undead, outsiders, constructs (unless they are a robot with a dumb AI), giant vermins, aberrations, oozes.
Not interested.


If you really want to make magic-users more realistic you could study real world occultism and turn it up to 11. Magic circles, candles, incense, sigils, trances, crystals, alchemy, spirit summoning, basically all the stuff you would find in a book from the New Age section of a bookstore, but with tangible results. Instead of hurling fireballs, casters would be scrying, communing with spirits, making magic talismans, enchanting weapons, and it would all require some kind of ritual. This would dramatically change the role of magic-users and much of the setting. At that point you might as well be playing a different game entirely.

Which is not to say there is anything wrong with realism or deciding to play other games you enjoy more because of it. Squabbling over combat realism vs magic realism is as pointless as arguing over which edition is "best". At the end of the day, if it works well enough for people to play the game, have fun, and feel like they're a mighty warrior or mystical wizard, why worry about it?


So, Occult Adventures, basically.


Nah, anything with actual PF spellcasting would be too much for that. Call of Cthulhu would be a better start.


Just having hit points makes you superhuman! If somebody hit me in the belly with an axe, I wouldn't be losing hit points! I'd be losing blood, viscera, and bile. I'd be losing consciousness.


Meirril wrote:

What realistic? The most basic of basic is totally unrealistic: hit points.

As long as you don't fall below zero you are fine. You require no treatment and you'll just get better on your own. Guess what? Nobody ignores minor injuries for lots of reasons. Even a paper cut should be treated and the pathfinder equivalent of a paper cut would be zero HP of damage.

So no, nothing in Pathfinder is realistic. It is a simulated fantasy, and an extremely flawed one at that.

For an alternative and equally silly example, turns and initiative. The world stops for everyone else for a few seconds while your character acts, then it's someone else who gets to act while you and everyone else is frozen. Right. Let's note that MMOs are a regular target of criticism for being "unrealistic" and tabletop RPGs shouldn't be like that.


Kimera757 wrote:

At what level should martials be allowed to be unrealistic? For instance, jumping (without a magic item) is limited to about 30 feet in real life. The best Olympic jumpers can hit that figure. A fighter in an anti-magic field can exceed that at high levels.

However noone can run as fast as Usain Bolt without magic. Even monks have an enhancement bonus to speed.

And a fighter can (after some levels) survive falls that would kill the toughest person. (Once in a blue moon, someone will survive a fall from an airplane, but that's luck.)

I think the game suggests that there's more to being fast than just land speed, as even cats and leopards have a speed of 30 while having high Dex scores. Imo Usain would just have the run feat and maybe something else.

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