Incongruities of single-target specialties: the emergence of playtest martial outlying issues during high level bossfight conditions


Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest General Discussion


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Playtest has been out for a little while and, as you all know, it was just a matter of time before I wrote a wizard thesis.
I have led a playtest session in a converted version of Tomb of the Iron Medusa (lv14 module), and players being players, they walked right into the final boss. Can’t make this stuff up.

I won’t focus much on the small pre-boss encounter because half the party got blinded by shining children. I won’t focus on Witch because he did great. I won’t focus on Oracle because that needs its own thread. I will, however, point out one specific issue that is common to both Investigator and Swashbuckler.

The two APG martials are single-target focus specialists. They pick a target, use their skills to get an advantage, and gain strong single-target benefits (damage burst or the like). The problem that the test highlighted?
They suck against single targets.

Let me backtrack for a moment and show what I mean.

These classes use a system based on skills (perception, acrobatics, athletics, deception or intimidate) and attempt to beat a save DC (Fortitude, Reflexes, or Will) to gain an advantage.
When the encounter features multiple creatures, this flows smoothly, they gain access to their perks and engage in entertaining, positive mechanics that define them and make them unique.
When the encounter features a single enemy of higher level, however, those checks feature a very high chance of failure. Especially in the test exam (fencer swashbuckler), the target saves were Will and Reflex, both tendentially high for villain characters (spellcasters or skirmishers are common end-game villains - it’s rarer to face a big soldier). This led to my testers finding their core class abilties very hard to access (<20%) and unlikely to function at their best, in the very situation they would have benefitted from them the most - an epic duel, or a single powerful enemy whose weak point they needed to exploit.

Yes, they won, but in the words of three separate players, “I feel like I can’t do anything”, “I am completely shut down” and “can’t believe we won without breaking a sweat”. If that makes you feel like something’s off, you’re not alone - the witch and oracle almost took her down on their own.
Having class core mechanic be dependant on a skill check related to enemy does create this kind of edge situation - most enemies are under-level, but when someone is superior to you, he becomes extremely superior.

I feel like this also plays somewhat against flavour. Investigator should be aiming at proving his cunning against a clever opponent… who usually has high Will. Swashbuckler should be most intrigued by fighting an equally nimble opponent to prove his worth… but he’ll likely have high Reflexes. The target that should make them shine the most are also the least favourite to fight. Sure, there’s value in a strong challenge, but there’s a difference between challenging and unfitting.

We had a talk about this, and came up with a couple ideas on how to handle the problem. One idea was to give Swashbuckler a way to interact more with the environment, using a capped DC (hard for level, or the like) to perform acrobatics or boasts and gain Panache when confronted with superior opponents. It may have merits, but it’s a fallback rather than a solution. Another was to switch the target number for Investigator - rather than a Perception vs Will (why will?), to have a Recall Knowledge check, and substitute the Study benefits to the normal check result, thus using the Recall Knowledge skill check and DC. This part even feels better for theme, and decreases the DCs enough to keep it useful against higher level opponents. Another, because the abilities are so central to the classes, was to remove the check - but while that could work for Investigator, I don’t feel Swashbuckler would benefit from an always-on panache at all.

Regardless of what’s done, classes that focus on a particular opponent should perform well in single opponent conditions.

-Archvillain Ediwir


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Especially for classes built around a specific skill based mechanic, including the scoundrel rogue and even the wit ranger, Is it game breaking to try to utilize the 4 degrees of success more? And give a benefit to these class based skill checks that triggers on a failure but not a critical failure? Obvious the goal should not be to boost the power of the ability over all too much (so no shifting success down and making a new even more gonzo crit success), but give them something that will allow them something else to do with the turn that is useful.

For example, maybe the investigator can get a bonus to AC when they fail, but only if they do not make an attack this round, as they realize that they can get no insight into the target's weakness and pull back to buy more time?


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There are a couple factors here that diminish the proposition:
* Converted PF1 module
* Single encounter
* Assumptions of success vs. higher level opponent (<20% given as example)

PF2 encourages a variety of strategies against different opponents. The +level based system creates power disparities. Low level foes become easier to hinder and unleash greater damage on. Higher level foes resist being taken down with the same tactics.

Martial-Skill Tacticians being able to "pick a target, use their skills to get an advantage, and gain strong single-target benefits (damage burst or the like)" is what higher level foes are supposed to be better at resisting for a more statistically challenging fight. Players should have to work more closely together to combine penalty conditions on the foe and bonus conditions for themselves in order to land a strongly advantageous condition in order to inflict more damage. A 20% success rate seems great to me against a boss (as opposed to an "only succeeds on a 20 or 1" 5% like in PF1). To that end, some characters will and should be better against some types of monsters in certain situations than others.

I'd like to hear more situations, scenarios, and details before I consider significant changes. In my group's sessions, we have not come to the same conclusions. We haven't done L14 adventures yet.

Edit: I liked reading the proposed changes. Good discussion. I'm just not bought into the premise of this example.


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The DM of wrote:
A 20% success rate seems great to me against a boss (as opposed to an "only succeeds on a 20 or 1" 5% like in PF1).

A 20% chance to cripple a boss would be great. A 20% chance to do +1d6 damage to a boss (if you can hit its AC) isn't worth an action.


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Using The Swashbuckler, at the example level (14) you can get either 5 damage (for having panache) or 5d6 damage (For using a Finisher, ending their panache.) In my mind, neither is worth blowing an action on a 25% or less chance roll.

First edition can occasionally have similar problems where you swing at a boss and roll say, 16, but still miss- but because of how 1e combat tends to go, you just turn off piranha strike, or deadly aim, or whatever you were using, accepting a lower damage total for a more accurate attack. Skill checks don't have any way to do this, so if you can't succeed on your class's main mechanic on less than a 17, you might as well be playing a fighter, and be more consistent.

There's something to be said for conditional highs vs consistency, but I don't believe either of the martial playtest classes have a big enough high to justify the unlikeliness of their primary mechanic in an encounter with a single big foe.

To put it in perspective, Barbarians don't have to succeed on a roll to begin raging, and get a significantly better conditional high for doing so than an investigator does for identifying a weakpoint.

Liberty's Edge

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The Swashbuckler seems like they might just be making a strategic error. Normally they try and get Panache every round...but getting it once may well be enough to be pretty solid vs. a boss (the bonus damage just on normal attacks from having Panache is actually on par with Rage damage at low levels, and no small amount even later), and can potentially have it for free at the beginning of the fight if they manage to roll the right Skill for initiative. But even if they don't get that, taking an action to try for Panache instead of a -10 attack seems like a reasonable plan every round, and will likely succeed at some point.

They won't be stellar and shine (and something to make them do so might be nice), but that sounds solidly workable.

The Investigator, with their need to succeed at the check every round to be useful, is just screwed. Switching to Recall Knowledge would probably make them more so, just because it's very hard to max out all of them so the odds of success likely go down.


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The DM of wrote:
A 20% success rate seems great to me against a boss

One thing to note is that it isn't a 20% chance to deal damage or inflict a crippling condition. It's a 20% chance to just enable the main combat feature of your class.

Bosses are supposed to be hard, yeah, but Study and Panache are the main features of the two classes when it comes to battling and it seems like the solution against particularly powerful foes is to just not bother.

I have to emphasize that the check alone doesn't do all that much. Especially for the investigator. So even if you hit that 20% mark you still have to land an attack afterwards to get anything out of it.

This isn't true for the core classes. A barbarian might have a similar chance to succeed, but if they do they get their rage damage no questions asked. A fighter doesn't have to make a check to see if they get their enhanced weapon proficiency or not. Rogues can rely on checks, but as long as the enemy is flanked you're getting your SA no matter how overleveled the enemy is.

I don't have the numbers for whatever the OP is working with, but just to look at a level 14 Investigator against a boss (+4) like, uh, an ancient blue dragon.

Even with maximum investment in Wisdom and Dexterity, the Investigator succeeds on their Perception check on a 17 or higher.

If you succeed on that check, you then get to make an attack that succeeds on a 15 or higher.

So while the OP says 20% chance to succeed, it's actually more like a 6% chance, since the first success only enables buffs and you need to succeed a second time for that to matter.


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The DM of wrote:

There are a couple factors here that diminish the proposition:

* Converted PF1 module
* Single encounter
* Assumptions of success vs. higher level opponent (<20% given as example)

Clearly, and I have tried to be clear about it (There were other minor fights before that, just not relevant to the issue described). Higher-level bosses aren’t unheard of and work fine within expected ranges, I have an ongoing mid-level campaign that features a handful of them (lv11 on lv8s, lv11 on lv9s, lv12 on lv9s, lv13 on lv11s and so on - they happen, and they’re uphill, but they work), just as much as lower-level mooks can still be threatening in good numbers.

What concerned me isn’t the accuracy of the conversion or module. It’s what got highlighted by it, and you can pick official bestiary entries to confirm it if you like.

Under higher-level bosses, these classes struggle a lot more than they should because using their feats and features is conditional on a skill check. That needs attention.


This sounds like about what you'd expect from requiring two successes to access your basic class abilities. Is there a scenario where this is somehow significantly better than just making another attack?


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for the swashbuckler, the rules already have a provision very similar to your own proposition:

"At the GM’s discretion, after succeeding at a
check to perform a particularly daring action, such as
swinging on a chandelier, or sliding down the drapery,
you also gain panache if your result is high enough
(typically if it’s at least as high as the very hard DC for
your level, but the GM can choose a different threshold)."

So, a very Hard level based DC should be giving them panache without them interacting with the boss.

And in a boss situation is where i would expect a swashbuckler to pull off all stops and start swinging from chandeliers.

The issue is that it is GM dependent, but I do not think that an ability that interacts with the enviroment cannot be GM dependent.

In the end, swashbuckler is a class that should love narrative effects and actions, after all, narration is hte only way to give "flair" to an otherwise dull diceroll, and swash's should be all about flair.

----

Investigator now... i don't mind them bringing the least amount of damage of martials, that sounds normal to me, BUT i also don't like failing a main mechanic round after round after round.

Maybe a feat that gives you a scaling bonus for each Study attempt, failed or succesful, (i mean, you are Studing him, so you should glean more information round after round) could work.

Sovereign Court

I would change it to "succeed once at the start of combat on the skill check and then the benefits continue for 1 minute, or until you change targets." This way, you might need to roll each round against a lot of enemy targets, but if that's the case, it's probably not a boss fight. For a boss fight, it's not a new target that needs to be studied each round, it's the same one you just attacked last round!


ErichAD wrote:
This sounds like about what you'd expect from requiring two successes to access your basic class abilities. Is there a scenario where this is somehow significantly better than just making another attack?

The swashbuckler has some benefit to sitting on Panache, so it might be worth the risk for them.

For Investigators you need to reroll the check every round and it only applies to one attack (unless you crit), so probably not.


Was this the party with the investigator that went out for a smoke break in character during a boss fight?


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Yeah, that was them.

And darn, we all missed that part of the rules. Good to see it was already there, I guess we just confirmed why it’s important :D

Still, I don’t see any similar provision for investigator, so half the thread still works. The big half, as it must be done each round...


Ediwir wrote:
Another was to switch the target number for Investigator - rather than a Perception vs Will (why will?), to have a Recall Knowledge check, and substitute the Study benefits to the normal check result, thus using the Recall Knowledge skill check and DC. This part even feels better for theme, and decreases the DCs enough to keep it useful against higher level opponents.

I do kind of like this idea, but it runs into one big problem. It basically requires the player to invest all their skill increases into arcana, nature, occultism, religion and society as to assure they can always use their ability.

This idea would have te be combined with some sort of mechanic that allows the investigator to use recall knowledge checks with good proficiency bonuses without having to invest that heavy in the skills. Or otherwise just give the investigator some skill increases for free that he can only use on those five skills.


Not necessarily. Skill DC for level tends to be in line with low saves... along with moving to key stat and a usually lower DC, they’re basically set so that Trained users still have a decent chance, and each campaign usually has one or two tops that tend to be used the most. Also, synergies with regular recall knowledge become possible, leading to a ton of design space becoming available.

Could be good, could be not. I’m not sure. It’s the weekend, so I can’t math too much, but I at least like the flavour.


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The Investigator ability in this discussion has been misrepresented starting with the 14th level premise scenario against a boss. How it can actually play out is like this:

Take the Case - Open Case
You spend 1 minute to make a foe the focus of your investigation. This is typically a boss, and you don't have to know it specifically just know that it's there. That easily applies to the dungeon delve scenario under examination and could have been done before the dungeon was entered.

Study the Suspect
Perception check against foe's Will DC - this is the part complained about as 20% success or less for 1 action and 1d6 extra damage. This is incomplete and inaccurate. This becomes a free action against foes who are the focus of an Open Case, and you get a +1 circumstance to next attack or all attacks this turn (crit).

Studied Strike
Damage is not 1d6. At L13, it's 4d6, and it's on every strike on that investigator's turn. That's a possible 12d6 extra damage in a (non-hasted) round for a free skill check against the boss.

Frankly, this seems generous for a class whose focus is not martial.


shroudb wrote:

for the swashbuckler, the rules already have a provision very similar to your own proposition:

"At the GM’s discretion, after succeeding at a
check to perform a particularly daring action, such as
swinging on a chandelier, or sliding down the drapery,
you also gain panache if your result is high enough
(typically if it’s at least as high as the very hard DC for
your level, but the GM can choose a different threshold)."

So, a very Hard level based DC should be giving them panache without them interacting with the boss.

And in a boss situation is where i would expect a swashbuckler to pull off all stops and start swinging from chandeliers.

The issue is that it is GM dependent, but I do not think that an ability that interacts with the enviroment cannot be GM dependent.

In the end, swashbuckler is a class that should love narrative effects and actions, after all, narration is hte only way to give "flair" to an otherwise dull diceroll, and swash's should be all about flair.

----

Investigator now... i don't mind them bringing the least amount of damage of martials, that sounds normal to me, BUT i also don't like failing a main mechanic round after round after round.

Maybe a feat that gives you a scaling bonus for each Study attempt, failed or succesful, (i mean, you are Studing him, so you should glean more information round after round) could work.

What sort of D.C. is a very hard check? Can someone remind me or point me in the right direction if there is a table ? I am wondering what the average percentage of that compared to a boss defence save is...

Liberty's Edge

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Ediwir wrote:

Not necessarily. Skill DC for level tends to be in line with low saves... along with moving to key stat and a usually lower DC, they’re basically set so that Trained users still have a decent chance, and each campaign usually has one or two tops that tend to be used the most. Also, synergies with regular recall knowledge become possible, leading to a ton of design space becoming available.

Could be good, could be not. I’m not sure. It’s the weekend, so I can’t math too much, but I at least like the flavour.

The math on this remains really bad. Assuming Trained they've got about a +21 on the roll at 14th level. The 14th level DC is 32 so that's a standard of 50% odds of success. My previous math indicates that vs. average Will Save on-level opponents the current average is more like 75% assuming maxed Wisdom.

So yeah, that's either forcing them to monofocus their Skills on Recall Knowledge with only a slight increase in odds of success, or a drastic reduction in odds of success.

The DM of wrote:

The Investigator ability in this discussion has been misrepresented starting with the 14th level premise scenario against a boss. How it can actually play out is like this:

Take the Case - Open Case
You spend 1 minute to make a foe the focus of your investigation. This is typically a boss, and you don't have to know it specifically just know that it's there. That easily applies to the dungeon delve scenario under examination and could have been done before the dungeon was entered.

In theory, sure, but it won't always be available by any means.

The DM of wrote:

Study the Suspect

Perception check against foe's Will DC - this is the part complained about as 20% success or less for 1 action and 1d6 extra damage. This is incomplete and inaccurate. This becomes a free action against foes who are the focus of an Open Case, and you get a +1 circumstance to next attack or all attacks this turn (crit).

Most foes will not be the target of Open The Case. Indeed, that's a pretty rare occurrence. Nor are crits gonna be that common at all (5% of the time in this instance).

The DM of wrote:

Studied Strike

Damage is not 1d6. At L13, it's 4d6, and it's on every strike on that investigator's turn. That's a possible 12d6 extra damage in a (non-hasted) round for a free skill check against the boss.

Frankly, this seems generous for a class whose focus is not martial.

An extra 12d6 a whole 5% of the time. An extra 4d6 another 15%. A Rogue (whose focus on skills is almost as great) gets 9d6 without meaningful effort every round (by flanking).

Now, in practice, both those numbers are lower due to odds of hitting being low, but they go down about the same amount. The Investigator is not twice as good with Skills as the Rogue is, the rogue should thus not be twice as good at combat. Not even close. And yet, that looks like they are. Which is terrible.

Liberty's Edge

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Lanathar wrote:
What sort of D.C. is a very hard check? Can someone remind me or point me in the right direction if there is a table ? I am wondering what the average percentage of that compared to a boss defence save is...

Hard is +2 to the standard DC for that level, Very Hard is +5.

For example, at 10th level this would be DC 29-32. Meanwhile, the Save DCs of a 13th level monster are about DC 30-36 for the most part. A 14th level one, that goes up to DC 32-38 for the most part. An optimal Swashbuckler is probably trying to hit those with a +22 or +23 or thereabouts at that level.

So yeah, it's generally a notable DC reduction comparatively, though we're talking less than 5 points most of the time. Still, that's definitely a meaningful reduction.


The DM of wrote:

The Investigator ability in this discussion has been misrepresented starting with the 14th level premise scenario against a boss. How it can actually play out is like this:

Take the Case - Open Case
You spend 1 minute to make a foe the focus of your investigation. This is typically a boss, and you don't have to know it specifically just know that it's there. That easily applies to the dungeon delve scenario under examination and could have been done before the dungeon was entered.

Study the Suspect
Perception check against foe's Will DC - this is the part complained about as 20% success or less for 1 action and 1d6 extra damage. This is incomplete and inaccurate. This becomes a free action against foes who are the focus of an Open Case, and you get a +1 circumstance to next attack or all attacks this turn (crit).

Studied Strike
Damage is not 1d6. At L13, it's 4d6, and it's on every strike on that investigator's turn. That's a possible 12d6 extra damage in a (non-hasted) round for a free skill check against the boss.

Frankly, this seems generous for a class whose focus is not martial.

This does hinge on the boss being something you can Take the Case against. Sometimes it's not an evil mastermind with clues scattered in the plot but just a tough enemy with no lead-up.

But even if we do Take the Case against the boss, it doesn't seem likely that you get to Take the Case against many enemies in a given dungeon. So most of the time you have to do without those bonuses.

---

Saying "extra 12d6" in your best case analysis is a big assumption. That assumes a crit skill check against a boss's save, followed by three successful attacks' worth of damage with MAP. To get an extra 12d6 against your boss possibly requires at least two natural 20's in four rolls (first on the skill check, then at least one in three attacks to get 3 attacks worth of damage). The chances of a crit skill roll and then three attacks worth of damage is probably less than 1 in 1000 odds against a tough enemy (kind of difficult math, just approximating).

Most of the arguments made before you are not assuming best case, but average case. Most fights you will not have Take the Case up (maybe later levels this changes), most enemies you do have it up against you won't have good chances of Studying or hitting even with a small bonus. And the fact that in an average fight you need to succeed at both every round is where the investigator appears to fall flat.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
The DM of wrote:

The Investigator ability in this discussion has been misrepresented starting with the 14th level premise scenario against a boss. How it can actually play out is like this:

Take the Case - Open Case
You spend 1 minute to make a foe the focus of your investigation. This is typically a boss, and you don't have to know it specifically just know that it's there. That easily applies to the dungeon delve scenario under examination and could have been done before the dungeon was entered.

In theory, sure, but it won't always be available by any means.

The premise under which the Investigator is said to be failing is against big boss battles. I would put forth they should have a case open on 99% of those, or they're not really playing an investigator character. You don't even need to know what the boss is, just have a clue that there is one. There's no excuse.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

An extra 12d6 a whole 5% of the time. An extra 4d6 another 15%. A Rogue (whose focus on skills is almost as great) gets 9d6 without meaningful effort every round (by flanking).

I'm snipping a bit here, but I think you missed the rules explanation. That's partly my fault for paraphrasing.

Study the Suspect works as a free action and gives you a +1 to hit on next attack. If you critically succeed, it gives you a +1 to hit on all attacks this round. This is not related (except as a prereq) to the next ability that gives them 4d6 extra damage which is:

Studied Strike: If your foe is successfully Studied, every single hit you score does +4d6. This isn't just on crits, and the percentage from your three attacks is going to be way higher than 15% (which is incorrect even if you only hit on a 20 as it ignores 2 and 3 hit possibilities) considering an Investigator of this level has a generous Master level weapon proficiency, and we know it has a +1 circumstance bonus on at least the first attack.

This seems reasonable for being free on a non-martial.

Rogue comparisons are difficult in a boss situation. Many bosses can't be flat-footed when flanked by lower levels, which is the scenario here.


BellyBeard wrote:
The DM of wrote:

The Investigator ability in this discussion has been misrepresented starting with the 14th level premise scenario against a boss. How it can actually play out is like this:

Take the Case - Open Case
You spend 1 minute to make a foe the focus of your investigation. This is typically a boss, and you don't have to know it specifically just know that it's there. That easily applies to the dungeon delve scenario under examination and could have been done before the dungeon was entered.

Study the Suspect
Perception check against foe's Will DC - this is the part complained about as 20% success or less for 1 action and 1d6 extra damage. This is incomplete and inaccurate. This becomes a free action against foes who are the focus of an Open Case, and you get a +1 circumstance to next attack or all attacks this turn (crit).

Studied Strike
Damage is not 1d6. At L13, it's 4d6, and it's on every strike on that investigator's turn. That's a possible 12d6 extra damage in a (non-hasted) round for a free skill check against the boss.

Frankly, this seems generous for a class whose focus is not martial.

This does hinge on the boss being something you can Take the Case against. Sometimes it's not an evil mastermind with clues scattered in the plot but just a tough enemy with no lead-up.

But even if we do Take the Case against the boss, it doesn't seem likely that you get to Take the Case against many enemies in a given dungeon. So most of the time you have to do without those bonuses.

---

Saying "extra 12d6" in your best case analysis is a big assumption. That assumes a crit skill check against a boss's save, followed by three successful attacks' worth of damage with MAP. To get an extra 12d6 against your boss possibly requires at least two natural 20's in four rolls (first on the skill check, then at least one in three attacks to get 3 attacks worth of damage). The chances of a crit skill roll and then three attacks worth of damage is probably less than 1 in 1000 odds against...

This is why the the level 2 case framing feat is so handy. If the big bad is your main focus of your investigation you can use one action to automatically make that your current case you are studying as many times as you want while still being able to use your case stuff throughout the dungeon lead up to it for lesser stuff.

Liberty's Edge

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The DM of wrote:
The premise under which the Investigator is said to be failing is against big boss battles. I would put forth they should have a case open on 99% of those, or they're not really playing an investigator character. You don't even need to know what the boss is, just have a clue that there is one. There's no excuse.

You can only have one Case going at a time. If you don't take the 'Framing Case' Feat (or have already used it on something else...it's only once per day), then it's very easy indeed to not have the boss as your case during the actual boss fight.

Also, not all 'bosses' (which is to say higher level monsters than you, which are what this is a problem with) are foreshadowed in any way. In the playtest, to pick a random scenario example, you at one point fight two separate monsters each two levels higher than you...you're certainly not gonna get that bonus on both of them.

In the AoA AP the most dangerous single foe you fight is very much not the 'boss' of anyone, just a monster living in the area. The odds he's part of your Case when you fight him are quite low.

In short, this is not gonna be a rare situation.

The DM of wrote:

I'm snipping a bit here, but I think you missed the rules explanation. That's partly my fault for paraphrasing.

Study the Suspect works as a free action and gives you a +1 to hit on next attack. If you critically succeed, it gives you a +1 to hit on all attacks this round. This is not related (except as a prereq) to the next ability that gives them 4d6 extra damage which is:

Studied Strike: If your foe is successfully Studied, every single hit you score does +4d6. This isn't just on crits, and the percentage from your three attacks is going to be way higher than 15% (which is incorrect even if you only hit on a 20 as it ignores 2 and 3 hit possibilities) considering an Investigator of this level has a generous Master level weapon proficiency, and we know it has a +1 circumstance bonus on at least the first attack.

No, I understand how it works. Study Suspect is a free action vs. Take The Case targets but it's a free action that requires a Perception roll with only a 20% chance to succeed (in this example...it's not ever an auto-success, in any case).

And you only get it's bonus on more than one attack on a crit success, meaning that only on a 20 on the Study Suspect check do you get the 12d6 damage (and even then only if all attacks hit). Another 15% of the time, you get only a 4d6 bonus damage on your next attack.

Take The Case saves you an action, but does not actually increase your odds of success (actually, it does, probably to 30% and still only 5% of that being the 12d6...that's not enough of a boost to make it good, though).

The DM of wrote:
This seems reasonable for being free on a non-martial.

Investigator is exactly as martial as a Rogue is. And needs to be close to as good at combat or Rogue will always be a flatly better character to play mechanically, because they're certainly at least almost as good at skills and other non-combat stuff, and also around as good at DPR as most other martials (when they can make the enemy flat-footed, anyway).

All current martials including the Rogue have pretty comparable DPR. If the Investigator doesn't either come close to equaling them or receive some other serious combat boost, it's a bad Class. Which sucks, because I love Investigator thematically, but I love Rogues thematically, too, and that didn't magically prevent them from being a bad Class in PF1.

The DM of wrote:
Rogue comparisons are difficult in a boss situation. Many bosses can't be flat-footed when flanked by lower levels, which is the scenario here.

Uh...this is flatly not true. The only thing I can find that stops flanking is All-Around Vision, which there are only 10 monsters (out of 400+) who have. I suppose some villains made as PCs might have this, too, but those are likewise very rare (there are currently zero in published Paizo products). I may have missed some other ability that does this, but it's sure not a common one.

Well over 95% of the time, Rogues can flank even vs. a boss.


The DM of wrote:
If your foe is successfully Studied, every single hit you score does +4d6. This isn't just on crits

The text for Studied Strike says:

Quote:
When you are benefitting from the bonus from Study Suspect and successfully hit the creature you Studied with a Strike

I'm not sure the argument that you're still "Benefitting from the bonus" on your second attack when Study only modifies the first really works.


There should be no check to Study Suspect. It's already an action, so the cost is high. Also, my experience with Starfinder Operative (which works roughly the same with a check to get sneak attack bonus) is that asking 2 checks for one attack is unnecessarily clumsy and not funny at all.


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DMW, the boss in that module has all-around vision.

I doubt Barbarians or Rogues will be singular bosses very often, but Deny Advantage is another way to avoid being flanked. Flying makes it harder and backing oneself into a corner could work too.

That said, one sample boss is just that: a sample set of one (and at +4 level, above PF2 boss norms).
And there are many other ways to impose flat-footed, including making them prone which is fairly easy to achieve at high levels if the party built for it.

I think Investigator's in a bind here, since I don't think anybody wants to shine vs. minions to the detriment of their contributions in boss battles.


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Castilliano wrote:
I don't think anybody wants to shine vs. minions to the detriment of their contributions in boss battles.

This, this, this. I cannot favorite this enough.

Liberty's Edge

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Castilliano wrote:
DMW, the boss in that module has all-around vision.

Okay, but he said 'many bosses' not that boss specifically. My point was that bosses (or indeed anybody) who ignore flanking are very rare.

Castilliano wrote:
I doubt Barbarians or Rogues will be singular bosses very often, but Deny Advantage is another way to avoid being flanked. Flying makes it harder and backing oneself into a corner could work too.

Yep, mentioned that one, too. And you can flank flying enemies pretty well by flying yourself, IME.

Castilliano wrote:

That said, one sample boss is just that: a sample set of one (and at +4 level, above PF2 boss norms).

And there are many other ways to impose flat-footed, including making them prone which is fairly easy to achieve at high levels if the party built for it.

+4 is standard for really scary foes. They're not common, but they are a thing PCs will face at least once in many campaigns. But yeah, flat-footed is pretty easy to inflict all things considered, and helps everybody rather than just the Rogue.

Castilliano wrote:
I think Investigator's in a bind here, since I don't think anybody wants to shine vs. minions to the detriment of their contributions in boss battles.

Here, I agree. Not necessarily in all cases, but certainly if your combat contribution is single-target.


Interesting points, especially depending on how you read Studied Strike. I'm left raising the question from another thread, "Why does the Investigator need to be its own class?" I'll leave that to its own thread.


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On the latest episode of Know Direction Lyz Liddel said they were looking at a way for a swashbuckler could gain panache without rolling - spending two actions was suggested

This doesn’t solve the investigator issue but I assume the same fix could be applied (and I believe was suggested in this thread). Just needs to be communicated I would guess ...


Maybe the single-target specialties could have two-tiers?

There's the basic level that always usable, then the one you can roll for to get better results (possibly w/ the chance of losing your basic level on a failure/crit failure?)

Basic level could be similar to most of the other martial abilities where you use an action and it remains active for a while (Stances, Hunt Prey, Rage). Maybe it becomes inactive if you took a risk and failed or if you spend it for a burst of luck/reroll/damage.
The advanced level could be the one action/round boost w/ some risk, or maybe not so much risk since it cost you an action (compare to Power Attack w/ Furious Focus).
How this interacts w/ resources over time is another issue.


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I would propose a "I meant to do that" one action/reaction to failing but not crit-failing a check that would give panache, which gives you panache.

You know, like cats.


Personally, I think it is alright for the investigator to be in trouble if they stumble upon a higher level enemy, without having time to take the case before hand, to be in a little bit of trouble and push for the whole party to retreat. I see the role of the investigator as the person who is supposed to be able to help the party know what they are about to walk into, and when they fail at that, it should be trouble for the investigator as well as the party.

My problem is that even with that foreknowledge, it isn't certain that the investigator is going to be able to contribute much to a higher level boss fight, because their accuracy will be low, and their ability to connect their studied target is low.

I think it would be a mistake to give investigators a simple 2 action way to get studied target to go off (it is too much work and goes away on its own anyway, unlike panache). I do think that allowing Investigators to treat failures as success on study target against their take the case would probably be a very strong balance for this class. And if they haven't taken the case yet, then they should be incentivized to flee and come back more prepared. That feels far more in flavor to the class.

Liberty's Edge

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Lanathar wrote:
This doesn’t solve the investigator issue but I assume the same fix could be applied (and I believe was suggested in this thread). Just needs to be communicated I would guess ...

The same fix is rather awful for the Investigator. The Swashbuckler can get by without using Panache every turn, and can theoretically gain it while moving on a subsequent turn or something, while the Investigator can in no way get away with not using Study Suspect and receives no other bonuses from doing so. It just interacts really badly.

In short, it's not a good solution for Investigator. It sounds more viable for Swashbuckler, though I'm a tad unsure even there.


Granting their bonus if they make use of an enemy's weakness could work alright. It would function enough like a rogue's benefiting from flanking make them comparable, and would make sense since, narratively, they are gaining their damage benefit for exploiting weaknesses of the enemy.

They still may need early access to the unified theory feat.

Liberty's Edge

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ErichAD wrote:

Granting their bonus if they make use of an enemy's weakness could work alright. It would function enough like a rogue's benefiting from flanking make them comparable, and would make sense since, narratively, they are gaining their damage benefit for exploiting weaknesses of the enemy.

They still may need early access to the unified theory feat.

This would only be true if every enemy had a Weakness, and one that they could access. I'm not even sure more than half have a weakness, and I know many of those are elemental and not readily available to an Investigator.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I would propose a "I meant to do that" one action/reaction to failing but not crit-failing a check that would give panache, which gives you panache.

You know, like cats.

This reaction with exactly the same name was suggested by one of the podcast hosts...


Lanathar wrote:
This reaction with exactly the same name was suggested by one of the podcast hosts...

Which podcast precisely?


Know Direction - latest episode. Interview with Lyz Liddel about the APG playtest

There are some interesting points in there - including areas they are specifically looking to playtest

e.g. Oralce mystery and curse combo and not the feats part

and

Witch interaction with hexes and whether they have it right


What about an enemy crit failing an attack against a Swashbuckler grants panache?

That kind of gives them a bit of gravitas if they get focused, works with a lot of their abilities (antagonize, feinting for -2 attack rolls, frightened for intimidation, etc) while also providing a bit of luck to it.

This doesn’t help them very much against the big boss, where they will have to get risky, but I feel like that fits.

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