Uses for a familiar? How intelligent is it?


Rules Discussion

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Saros Palanthios wrote:

FWIW I was was talking about Gaterie, not you.

There's constructive criticism and then there's mere trolling-- I think the mods are perfectly capable of telling the difference.

Yeah but quite a few people take that stuff to heart and would implemented it against everyone (humans are jerks). Might as well decry it that type of sentiment now and try to minimize the damage to the thread; then to wait until people show up and start using it for their arguments.

Anyways, I say we stop this partial derail we talked about it enough.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Sliska Zafir wrote:
Can anyone who's watched Jason Buhlman's twitch stream of the campaign he's broadcasting enlighten us about how he treats familiars outside of encounter mode?

Insofar as I recall, we never saw the familiar IN encounter mode. It was always during exploration mode or downtime.

They basically roleplayed it all out, naturally and seamlessly. They didn't obsess over the rules minutiae a lot like I'm seeing here in this thread.

The player would simply describe his owl's actions, and the owl simply did them. Several times, it was the GM who described the owl's actions (when the player was unable or unwilling to do so, such as when his character wasn't in the owl's presence).

I'm not sure there was even a single mention of Actions being used or spent to control the owl. It was all very free-form, as roleplaying outside of encounter mode should be.


Sliska Zafir wrote:
Can anyone who's watched Jason Buhlman's twitch stream of the campaign he's broadcasting enlighten us about how he treats familiars outside of encounter mode?

As far as I have been able to follow the story of the Everflame (currently at 5 of 7 episodes) for starters his players did't even try to use or abuse their familiars, neither in encounter, nor in exploration mode. However it should be noted that this particular group has so far not been dungeoneering much and Jason was handling his combats without a battle mat or similar.

Most of the time a familiar was involved in actual gameplay it was handled as a "shared" NPC in between GM & player, making for a great storytelling tool for both player and GM instead of a mere game mechanics tool for player use only.

For example there was this one instance when an enemy army were approching a city in order to attack and probably sack it, however the party wizard did not send his owl familiar on a scouting mission, which considering nightime was approching fast would have been totally reasonable (owl + woods + night = perfect), but the party cleric just put an alarm spell on the road to the city to warn them from the incomming danger.

Instead the owl was extensively used to create a great narrative later on.


Saros Palanthios wrote:
Temperans wrote:

You are right, I shouldn't put words in people's mouth, I dont like it when it's done to me I should not had done it to them. However, the comment I was talking about was actively saying the people who have negative (potentially just different) opinions of the rules are hijacking threads and that mods should step in more often to stop them.

And any way I can slice it, it's just reads like censorship, gatekeeping, and bias.

FWIW I was was talking about Gaterie, not you.

There's constructive criticism and then there's mere trolling-- I think the mods are perfectly capable of telling the difference.

Can you explain where I am trolling? I explain the rules and you do't like it, but in the other hand you can't explain where I'm wrong, so instead of thinking about it you immediately assume I'm trolling?

You're right, the mods should ban toxic people like you; your mindset of "I don't like what you say but I'm too dumb to answer, so I'll just accuse you of trolling".

btw, where was the pf2 troll squad when people explained a familiar should allow to break the action economy in exploration mode?

Ravingdork wrote:
However, a GM who says scouts always grant the party +1 and nothing else ever is, well...just wrong. And damned lazy.

Yeah, following the rules is wrong and blah and blah. Have you anything useful to write or can we just ignore you?

Quote:
Not even the game developers play it that way.

Then why did they write the rules as-is?

If the intent is to split the party when a character is scouting, then why did they write the scouting activity in a way that prevents any party splitting?


Gaterie wrote:
If the intent is to split the party when a character is scouting, then why did they write the scouting activity in a way that prevents any party splitting?

Because they didn't and the "Scout" exploration ability is badly named (if I were to chose I would rename it Guard instead)?

CRB Page 496 wrote:
While players usually hew close to these default activities, there’s no need for them to memorize the exploration activities and use them exactly. Instead, allow each player to describe what their character is doing. Then, as the GM, you can determine which activity applies. This also means you determine how an activity works if the character’s actions differ from those on the list.

So if the party rogue is telling me that he is "scouting" ahead and the party fighter is telling me that he will be on high alert for the rest of the party members that stay behind, I will put the rogue on the Avoid Notice exploration activity and the fighter on the Scout exploration activity.


Ubertron_X wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
If the intent is to split the party when a character is scouting, then why did they write the scouting activity in a way that prevents any party splitting?
Because they didn't and the "Scout" exploration ability is badly named (if I were to chose I would rename it Guard instead)?

Did you read the description of the activity ? "You scout ahead and behind the group to watch danger". This describe scouting, not guarding.

Quote:
CRB Page 496 wrote:
While players usually hew close to these default activities, there’s no need for them to memorize the exploration activities and use them exactly. Instead, allow each player to describe what their character is doing. Then, as the GM, you can determine which activity applies. This also means you determine how an activity works if the character’s actions differ from those on the list.
So if the party rogue is telling me that he is "scouting" ahead and the party fighter is telling me that he will be on high alert for the rest of the party members that stay behind, I will put the rogue on the Avoid Notice exploration activity and the fighter on the Scout exploration activity.

Did you read the description of the scout activity ? "You scout ahead and behind the group to watch danger". This is exactly what scouting is about.

The name of the activity is "scout" and the description of the activity describe scouting. What do you need more to accept this is the rules for scouting? Do you need a personal message from JB explaining "scout" means "scout" and not "guard" nor "basketweawing" ?

Spoiler:
and how can the "avoid notice" activity be a better fit when the rogue says he's scouting? Scouting is about gathering informations, the "avoid notice" activity prevent him from getting any non-obvious information. At least, a +1 to init give the sensation you got some information useful to the group. "Roll init, you can use Stealth" does not - it just feels you're playing solo.

At that point, i feel your player doesn't even have the choice:
"I scout!
- Nope. You're a rogue so you're avoiding notice instead."
But hey, i'm the one accused of trolling and not using the rules.


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Gaterie wrote:
Did you read the description of the activity ? "You scout ahead and behind the group to watch danger". This describe scouting, not guarding.
Gaterie wrote:
Did you read the description of the scout activity ? "You scout ahead and behind the group to watch danger". This is exactly what scouting is about.
Gaterie wrote:
The name of the activity is "scout" and the description of the activity describe scouting. What do you need more to accept this is the rules for scouting? Do you need a personal message from JB explaining "scout" means "scout" and not "guard" nor "basketweawing" ?

Yes, I have read the respective paragraph and found that the rules effect is not matching the fluff text in the rules description execptionally well.

As such we reserve our right to interpret the rules as we players and GM see fit.

For example if the party decides to stay together we agreed that the fighter will take the lead, using the "Scout" action to "clear" any new and nearby area in order to avoid other characters being jumped by enemies or other obvious dangers. This means that he will the one to enter any new room / location first and take a look around before any other party member is doing their respective "Seek", "Detect Magic" and "Investigate" actions. And if combat really breaks lose while sweeping the area the fighter will provide the +1 to initiative for all. As a side effect this procedure also eliminates any discussions about who is in the front or back lines once combat really erupts (usually by hidden/undetected/unnoticed enemies).

However if the party decides to spilt and any party member (usually rogue or ranger) decides to conduct a long range reconnaissance mission we will use the "Avoid Notice" exploration activity instead, being fully aware of the dangers of sneaking around in enemy territory on your own.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber
Gaterie wrote:


You're right, the mods should ban toxic people like you; your mindset of "I don't like what you say but I'm too dumb to answer, so I'll just accuse you of trolling".

btw, where was the pf2 troll squad when people explained a familiar should allow to break the action economy in exploration mode?

First of all, read what you wrote and see the irony laid bare. You say that people call people trolls when they are too dumb to answer then call us trolls once again. Let that sink in for a moment.

As for your question I absolutely did object when people were trying to use a familiar to get an additional mechanical +1 scouting bonus during exploration mode. I argued it at length.

I have no objection to people using their familiar to scout ahead on its own though such as flying ahead separate from the party. It might take a risk of getting killed or eaten or something but I don’t see why it couldn’t do so. If it got involved in an encounter that would happen entirely off screen. It would mostly be a matter of non-mechanical role play.

I think it would be reasonable for a GM to interpret that:

- familiars can’t go too far ahead on their own for too long but 30 seconds out and 30 seconds back to report seems reasonable enough even in the tightest interpretation of the rules.

- families may be limited in their understanding and interpretation of the world. Not talking mindless drone but they may see the world through the eyes of a cat, even if it is a smart cat.

I also think it would be reasonable to interpret things differently.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

And Gaterie I think we do all agree that the Scouting action is written in a misleading way from how it seems to be used. I think that is at the root of a lot of the trouble here.

It seems to be more of a Lookout action, where you are paying extra attention for ambushes etc. and I agree the flavour text says otherwise.

Otherwise the party “marching order” would be irrelevant as the scout could literally be anywhere, not to mention they could end up triggering every trap before someone who is searching has a chance to spot them.


I started skimming after the sniping and bickering picked up, so I may have missed it; but is the end result that we have no rules based guideline for familiar intelligence or carrying capacity?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ErichAD wrote:
I started skimming after the sniping and bickering picked up, so I may have missed it; but is the end result that we have no rules based guideline for familiar intelligence or carrying capacity?

The discussion mostly centered around the definition of actions outside encounter mode (combat), with one side saying the rules were clear as day (and that familiars were on a 2-action leash) and the other side saying that such actions were undefined in the CRB and needed clarification.

Concerning intelligence, the only thing we have in the CRB is that familiars are "something more" than animals. No numbers are involved. Although they can (potentially) speak with and understand their master, or creatures of their type.

Same thing with carrying capacity. The CRB is silent on this and many points. If you want your familiar to carry a message, or bomb the enemy with caltrops (or whatever) then it is only through the good graces of your DM that you can hope for it to perform such a task. Nothing in the CRB gives numbers allowing any carrying capacity at all.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Card Game, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
ErichAD wrote:
I started skimming after the sniping and bickering picked up, so I may have missed it; but is the end result that we have no rules based guideline for familiar intelligence or carrying capacity?

If you look at my posts, I've tried to extrapolate what may be possible regarding familiars with speech, from 6 or seven areas in the CRB (minions, familiars, speech, and so on) for exploration mode.

Essentially, I held the argument (for argument's sake) that a player could reasonably send a familiar for reconnaissance (using Avoid Notice) (not the "Scout" activity) and if it had speech, it could make a recall knowledge check to relay what it believed it saw.

The anti-thesis, erring on the side of strictest interpretation, was graystone's arguments.

Not that others didn't make cogent points, but the gist of the arguments can be read in our two back-and-forth posts.


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The ShadowShackleton wrote:
Ubertron_X wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
Ubertron_X wrote:
Well if faced with arbitrary GM decisions like this
To follow the rules isn't arbitrary. It's, you know, to follow the rules.
My reply was not in relation to the familars rules, but in relation to the "not-allowed-to-split-the-party-in-exploration-mode" post. I am perfectly fine with the familiar rules as written, even if they do not make sense apart from game mechanics.
As was mine. The rules are fine as they are. Some clarification would be helpful so people don't interpret them to this extreme.

Anyone interpreting them this extremely is almost certainly doing so on purpose. If a GM is doing it, it is like,y they do not want their players to enjoy PF2e. I don’t think clarification is really needed and it can be a good litmus rest on whether they should play with a particular GM.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Card Game, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
ErichAD wrote:
I started skimming after the sniping and bickering picked up, so I may have missed it; but is the end result that we have no rules based guideline for familiar intelligence or carrying capacity?

As for familiar intelligence, I came to the conclusion that it is largely irrelevant, unless you give it speech. It then has the capacity to make Recall Knowledge checks to communicate through speech what it thinks it sees, with the master's level as its bonus. How you interpret its intelligence is up to you at that point.


I suppose you're right, specific intelligence isn't what we're looking for as much as executive function. Speaking is pretty high order for executive function as is the lab assistant thing, but I don't know if extrapolating from those abilities is appropriate.

I think I'll recommend using the sustain rules for familiar activities. Ten minutes and costing an action seems like it should be plenty.

Bulk is still unguided. Knowing whether or not they could carry a key, potion, or backpack would be nice.


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ErichAD wrote:
Bulk is still unguided. Knowing whether or not they could carry a key, potion, or backpack would be nice.

Unless the rules say somewhere that bulk is determined differently for NPCs, the rules on pg 272 state that "You can carry an amount of Bulk equal to 5 plus your Strength modifier without penalty ... You can’t hold or carry more Bulk than 10 plus your Strength modifier"

So a creature with Str 1 is encumbered by 1 or more bulk but can carry 5 bulk. Tiny halves this. So via the RAW that seem very popular in this thread, your mouse familiar can carry a suit of studded leather with a 10 ft reduction in its speed, and a cat can probably manage breastplate. So I wouldn't worry too much about the things you list above.

Edit: forgot to halve for tiny.

Exo-Guardians

vagabond_666 wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
Bulk is still unguided. Knowing whether or not they could carry a key, potion, or backpack would be nice.

Unless the rules say somewhere that bulk is determined differently for NPCs, the rules on pg 272 state that "You can carry an amount of Bulk equal to 5 plus your Strength modifier without penalty ... You can’t hold or carry more Bulk than 10 plus your Strength modifier"

So a creature with Str 1 is encumbered by 1 or more bulk but can carry 5 bulk. Tiny halves this. So via the RAW that seem very popular in this thread, your mouse familiar can carry a suit of studded leather with a 10 ft reduction in its speed, and a cat can probably manage breastplate. So I wouldn't worry too much about the things you list above.

Edit: forgot to halve for tiny.

Nope, since a familiar "doesn’t have or use its own ability modifiers" (pg 217). Without a STR modifier there's no way to calculate a familiar's carrying capacity per the RAW.


The familiar doesn't inherit the stat block of the animal it came from, it doesn't have a strength score at all.
"It doesn’t have or use its own ability modifiers and can never benefit from item bonuses."

We could start with bulk 5 added to nothing since they don't have a strength modifier and use that as the base and halve it for tiny. The problem with doing that is having no strength mod may be different than having a 0 strength mod. As far as I can tell, Pf2 has otherwise done away with creatures that lack stats, so there's no real guideline to follow.


Ubertron_X wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
Did you read the description of the activity ? "You scout ahead and behind the group to watch danger". This describe scouting, not guarding.
Gaterie wrote:
Did you read the description of the scout activity ? "You scout ahead and behind the group to watch danger". This is exactly what scouting is about.
Gaterie wrote:
The name of the activity is "scout" and the description of the activity describe scouting. What do you need more to accept this is the rules for scouting? Do you need a personal message from JB explaining "scout" means "scout" and not "guard" nor "basketweawing" ?

Yes, I have read the respective paragraph and found that the rules effect is not matching the fluff text in the rules description execptionally well.

As such we reserve our right to interpret the rules as we players and GM see fit.

For example if the party decides to stay together we agreed that the fighter will take the lead, using the "Scout" action to "clear" any new and nearby area in order to avoid other characters being jumped by enemies or other obvious dangers. This means that he will the one to enter any new room / location first and take a look around before any other party member is doing their respective "Seek", "Detect Magic" and "Investigate" actions. And if combat really breaks lose while sweeping the area the fighter will provide the +1 to initiative for all. As a side effect this procedure also eliminates any discussions about who is in the front or back lines once combat really erupts (usually by hidden/undetected/unnoticed enemies).

However if the party decides to spilt and any party member (usually rogue or ranger) decides to conduct a long range reconnaissance mission we will use the "Avoid Notice" exploration activity instead, being fully aware of the dangers of sneaking around in enemy territory on your own.

Axcept avoid notice isn't fitted for reconnaissance mission since, once more, [b]you can't look around while avoiding notice[/i]. This means, it's really easy to auto-detect any sneaking opponent: eg set several alarm traps, there is no way for a sneaking character to see (and avoid) such a trap. Or simply set some trap or snares, just make sure those aren't silent traps and snares. This means also, the "reconnaissance mission" can't see anything non-obvious like a an ambush on the path, a trap, a discrete passage... Worse "reconnaissance" mission ever : better at being caught than gathering any information.

In other words: the game isn't designed to handle solo infiltration mission. The infiltration team has a high risk of being auto-detected, and won't provide a lot of information anyway.

In the other hand, many people have noted it's really hard to create an inefficient character. Maybe it's the same for other part of the game? maybe the game doesn't provide inefficient exploration activities? in this case, obviously the game will try to prevent you from doing a "reconnaissance mission" - since it is an inefficient activity. And in this case, the scout activity makes sense: when someone scout ahead, instead of being auto-detected while seeing nothing useful, he gives a bonus to init.

...Now I admit, it's easier to break the action economy, create new super-special scout activities, and consider people who try to understand the rule are troll than trying to understand the internal consistency of said rules.

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