Studying monster corpses


Rules Discussion


Hi everyone,

I play a Chirurgeon Alchemist for PFS2. And everytime the party kills a monster and we have 10 minutes to spare she gets her alchemy lab out and starts studying the corpse. Mostly trying to see if the monster is vulnerable/resistant to any kind of energy, but who knows what kind of information a good dissection can give.
I find that super thematic :)

In general, when I do that, the DM is a bit lost because nothing in the rules covers such experiments.
I wanted to know how you, as a DM, would you handle such a situation? Would you forbid it? Would you give information with or without a check? And what kind of information?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

For regular PF2 play, I'd very much encourage that and would probably give out one bit of information based on how the combat went and on what's "left" of the enemy afterwards and set a DC accordingly (It's much more difficult to determine resistance to piercing if the monster has been reduced to a pile of ashes by that last fireball). I could see such a player slowly assembling an almanach of monster abilities.

For PFS2, you could essentially do the same thing. Most of the knowledge gained is for practical purposes merely giving the character in-game knowledge that the player might already have out-of-game. How much a character does or doesn't act on player knowledge (that isn't character knowledge yet) is basically impossible to govern. As a player I wouldn't expect any tangible benefit rules-wise for knowledge obtained that way, but certainly a more enjoyable flavorful role-playing experience.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'd allow you to make an Alchemy check to Recall Knowledge to learn about the creature, with a lower DC than normal since you have access to its corpse.


I personally wouldn't allow it to work exactly the way they expect, but not through a rule.

It is perfectly understandable that players would like to study a monster, but it somehow ruins how the game work, in terms of knowledge checks.

On the other hand, if any of us irl is able to remember the whole monster catalogue, so could any of the adventurers...

The only way I have found to try do deal with it is to describe enemies in a detailed way, and by creating new enemies or heritages, which not necessarily shares all with the base monster.

All of this combined to dynamic initiative and in real time combat.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
K1 wrote:
It is perfectly understandable that players would like to study a monster, but it somehow ruins how the game work, in terms of knowledge checks.

I don't think it really ruins anything. It makes sense for the characters to learn the enemy weaknesses over time and exploit them. Whether it's done in combat or out, the character is still contributing with their knowledge skills.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It seems to me it would be a recall knowledge check but you would only get information pertaining to alchemical reactions...things like resistances, weakness or immunity to alchemical compounds. Basically information in context of the skill used.


BellyBeard wrote:
K1 wrote:
It is perfectly understandable that players would like to study a monster, but it somehow ruins how the game work, in terms of knowledge checks.
I don't think it really ruins anything. It makes sense for the characters to learn the enemy weaknesses over time and exploit them. Whether it's done in combat or out, the character is still contributing with their knowledge skills.

Indeed, but Somehow it is like to say

I spend time in a librari reading the monster book. So I will know everything related to any mob we will encounter.

This because, if players are allowed to make experiments to know better a specie, the it is obvious somebody before them would have gathered info about many creatures.

So, if i would allow study i could also permit them to learn about Monsters through books and other characters.

Adventurers, scientists, researchers, and even common folks who had contacts with creatures


Thanks a lot for your answers. I would also rule it like that if I was GMing: A Crafting(Alchemy) check to "Recall Knowledge".
I keep it in my mind if a GM ever asks me how he could proceed.

K1 wrote:

Indeed, but Somehow it is like to say

I spend time in a librari reading the monster book. So I will know everything related to any mob we will encounter.

This because, if players are allowed to make experiments to know better a specie, the it is obvious somebody before them would have gathered info about many creatures.

So, if i would allow study i could also permit them to learn about Monsters through books and other characters.

Adventurers, scientists, researchers, and even common folks who had contacts with creatures

Actually, I'm making those research not to have a complete database of all monsters, but because I have great chances over the course of an adventure to meet the same monsters or very similar monsters. It's applied science :)

But I see your point. As a DM, I would allow it if a player makes research about a specific monster he thinks he'll meet. But making research on "all monsters" is equivalent to leveling Arcana, Religion, Occultism and Nature. That only happens through leveling.


K1 wrote:


Indeed, but Somehow it is like to say

I spend time in a librari reading the monster book. So I will know everything related to any mob we will encounter.

This because, if players are allowed to make experiments to know better a specie, the it is obvious somebody before them would have gathered info about many creatures.

So, if i would allow study i could also permit them to learn about Monsters through books and other characters.

Adventurers, scientists, researchers, and even common folks who had contacts with creatures

Yeah, those all sound good to me.

Studying in the library to learn about monsters you know you will fight is a super common trope (like the movie It, for a recent example). Of course you can't just say you're going to learn everything about every monster, but you can learn some stuff that way.

Learning about monsters from a mentor or townspeople is also a good thing. Just have them Gather Information to learn key info from townsfolk. Super good opportunity for role-playing there.

If there's something you've learned recently, or applied yourself, you don't need to Recall Knowledge. For example, if you killed troll with fire, you don't need to make a check when you come across another troll to remember that fire weakness, unless that was a long time ago and you have fought a lot of monsters since. If instead it's some tidbit of knowledge from a book or casual talk with a mentor, that's when the character rolls Recall Knowledge, where success means you remember reading it, or talking about it that one time. Failure on the check just means you can't quite remember whether the book said mariliths resist fire or cold when a marilith is charging your team with swords raised.

To recap, my opinion is that all of these methods of learning about enemies are valid and good role-playing opportunities, and the Recall Knowledge combat action exists for the PCs to gather knowledge in combat so they can fight the enemy effectively and everyone feels useful but it shouldn't be seen as the only way to do things.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Rules Discussion / Studying monster corpses All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.