Is it intentional that the Bottomless Pit hazard (level 9) suggests a method of escape that actually kills the player? (paizo input appreciated)


Rules Discussion

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Alright... so... I'm having trouble seeing the line between

nonspecific character encounters trap, what are the possible outcomes?

and "feats, magic items, etc." that are or influence possible outcomes.

You appear to be effectively saying that it's only not a white room scenario if the hypothetical character(s) involved are explicitly the worst possible character(s) to be faced with this exact scenario.

That's the whitest of white rooms I've ever seen, especially because you only want to talk about what happens after all the important die rolls and decisions have already happened.

It's like if I were to ask how a character is meant to have any chance to defeat a golem and refused to allow any equipment or class options as evidence that, in a real campaign scenario, things could go just fine.


thenobledrake wrote:


It's like if I were to ask how a character is meant to have any chance to defeat a golem and refused to allow any equipment or class options as evidence that, in a real campaign scenario, things could go just fine.

No, definitely not.

We are discussing about a trap and his mechanics.

Not trying to avoid them by using something else.

By saying that you could escape using a potion of fly or the spell itself we are not facing the problem.


One of the mechanics of this trap is that flying can avoid it being lethal though.

You are arbitrarily ignoring variables that apply to the scenario of "a character encounters a bottomless pit" and are relevant to the answering of the question "what can happen as a result?"

If "it's a whole, so you can fly over/out of it" is "not facing the problem" of the bottomless pit, then "it's immune to nonlethal attacks so you should use a weapon, and it's a bonus if you can use an adamantine one" is "not facing the problem" of a golem.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
thenobledrake wrote:

Page 461

"Outside of encounters, your use of reactions is more flexible and up to the GM."

That makes it about as clear as any rule gets in the ol' PF2 book.

Okay, thank you. That's fairly reasonable.

It continues to be as strange as PF1, with not being able to use immediate actions out of combat, but adds "ask your doctor about..."


It's important that it says "more flexible" as part of that "ask your doctor about..." bit though, because that means however flexible it is inside an encounter (which is that you can use your reaction, even when it isn't your turn, so long as the trigger was met) it won't get less flexible because of being not in encounter mode.

So it's not at all like PF1 and immediate actions, because you can use reactions outside of encounters in PF2.


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Yeah I think the line about the GM deciding if you can or can't use a reaction is more because there may be situations where it wouldn't make sense. For example, if you're unnoticed and you sneak up and stab a guy with a shield, I might rule the guy can't use his shield block reaction even if the shield was raised, because he isn't aware you are there until the blade is already in his rib cage.

Also the Bottomless Pit has no initiative modifier. You aren't supposed to roll initiative when you encounter it.


thenobledrake wrote:

One of the mechanics of this trap is that flying can avoid it being lethal though.

You are arbitrarily ignoring variables that apply to the scenario of "a character encounters a bottomless pit" and are relevant to the answering of the question "what can happen as a result?"

If "it's a whole, so you can fly over/out of it" is "not facing the problem" of the bottomless pit, then "it's immune to nonlethal attacks so you should use a weapon, and it's a bonus if you can use an adamantine one" is "not facing the problem" of a golem.

I am starting to think that you are trolling.

The trap has an issue with the grab an Edge mechanic.

What could possibly add stating that you could avoid being killed by using wings or a potion of fly?


HumbleGamer wrote:
The trap has an issue with the grab an Edge mechanic.

That is incorrect.

Some people that have read the trap have an issue - but that's not actually the trap's fault in any way. In my opinion, it seems more that the problem is some people don't want the game to expect them to have read the rest of the rules to the game they are playing.

HumbleGamer wrote:
What could possibly add stating that you could avoid being killed by using wings or a potion of fly?

What could possibly be added by stating that you are definitely falling to your death in this pit despite all the ways and reasons that probably won't happen in an actual game play scenario?


thenobledrake wrote:

What could possibly be added by stating that you are definitely falling to your death in this pit despite all the ways and reasons that probably won't happen in an actual game play scenario?

The function of the trap would be a lot clearer to GMs if it said, "The falling character can attempt to Grab An Edge as they fall; if they have some means to survive the falling damage incurred as a result, they can then attempt to climb out."

(Or if it stated, "Due to the magical nature of the pit, grabbing an edge does not cause any falling damage.")

It's unreasonable to expect people to have memorised the rest of the rules to the game. Most GMs will only look up the 'grabbing an edge' rules when they need them, which will probably won't be until someone falls into the pit.


It is not unreasonable to expect that people will look up the relevant rules when they are relevant, but not get agitated that they didn't know the full details of the rule until they did look it up.

It is unreasonable, and inconsistent, to expect this particular reference of a rule to include not just the reference but also important details of that rule but be totally fine with all the other times that one rules element references another and doesn't mention all the details.

Whether it's Grab an Edge references not mentioning falling damage, damage dealing elements not mentioning the dying rules, or an attack not mentioning that it does double damage on a critical success, the game is consistent in it's treatment of expectation that the people playing know the rules.


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thenobledrake wrote:

It is not unreasonable to expect that people will look up the relevant rules when they are relevant, but not get agitated that they didn't know the full details of the rule until they did look it up.

It is unreasonable, and inconsistent, to expect this particular reference of a rule to include not just the reference but also important details of that rule but be totally fine with all the other times that one rules element references another and doesn't mention all the details.

Whether it's Grab an Edge references not mentioning falling damage, damage dealing elements not mentioning the dying rules, or an attack not mentioning that it does double damage on a critical success, the game is consistent in it's treatment of expectation that the people playing know the rules.

Pathfinder does often rely on rules interactions that aren't spelled out on the spot.

It is however, fairly rare, even in Pathfinder, that the rules text suggests probably lethal actions without mentioning it. When that happens, it suggests to some of us that the developers might not have had it in mind at the time.

Out of curiosity, if this did come up in play and a player told you as GM that their falling character was going to try to grab one of the handholds you described to stop themselves, would you remind them of the rules or just go ahead and apply the damage?


As a GM I would fill in any gap in a player's rule knowledge just as I would in any other situation... similar examples: reminding them if the action they're taking would provoke a reaction (yes, even if there aren't creatures present that have such a reaction - don't want to let a player get into a situation where they've done something a bunch of times without realizing there can be unwanted consequences and getting surprised when the consequences do apply), reminding them of details of the spell they are casting to make sure nothing is missed, reminding them if there character has a reaction they might want to use that just got triggered.

That's part of what it means to be a GM - to facilitate the rules for the table.

Edit to add: can you provide me some examples of other elements that mention the potential lethal nature of a referenced rule? I can't recall seeing any.


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thenobledrake wrote:

As a GM I would fill in any gap in a player's rule knowledge just as I would in any other situation... similar examples: reminding them if the action they're taking would provoke a reaction (yes, even if there aren't creatures present that have such a reaction - don't want to let a player get into a situation where they've done something a bunch of times without realizing there can be unwanted consequences and getting surprised when the consequences do apply), reminding them of details of the spell they are casting to make sure nothing is missed, reminding them if there character has a reaction they might want to use that just got triggered.

That's part of what it means to be a GM - to facilitate the rules for the table.

Edit to add: can you provide me some examples of other elements that mention the potential lethal nature of a referenced rule? I can't recall seeing any.

I can't think of any examples that suggest such lethal actions, whether they clarify it or not.

The point isn't just that referenced rule. It's the text implying that the probably lethal action is a way to deal with the hazard.

Note that by your logic, it's not necessary to even mention Grab an Edge - mention handholds in the description and leave it to the players/GM to know that the Grab an Edge rules allow you to kill yourself by trying to grab one.


I think there is a noteworthy amount of difference between mentioning handholds and mentioning that the handholds are frequent enough and sufficient enough to Grab an Edge, since one leaves the viability of the option up to GM interpretation rather than it being an explicit piece of the hazard's mechanics.

So by my logic, it's actually useful to mention Grab an Edge.

And I really don't like using the word "probably" to describe something as statistically unlikely as needing to know whether or not a given character can survive this instance of Grab an Edge is - it feels like skewing perception of the situation.


thenobledrake wrote:

I think there is a noteworthy amount of difference between mentioning handholds and mentioning that the handholds are frequent enough and sufficient enough to Grab an Edge, since one leaves the viability of the option up to GM interpretation rather than it being an explicit piece of the hazard's mechanics.

So by my logic, it's actually useful to mention Grab an Edge.

And I really don't like using the word "probably" to describe something as statistically unlikely as needing to know whether or not a given character can survive this instance of Grab an Edge is - it feels like skewing perception of the situation.

If a character is in the situation where Grabbing an edge is even an option, it's no longer statistically unlikely that they need to know. It's basically essential.

Grab An Edge wrote:
Trigger: You fall from or past an edge or handhold.

Handhold is explicitly part of the mechanics of Grab an Edge. No interpretation. It's used as a keyword.


thejeff wrote:
If a character is in the situation where Grabbing an edge is even an option, it's no longer statistically unlikely that they need to know. It's basically essential.

My problem isn't with the fact that a player needs to know a relevant rule in a relevant situation - it's with the phrasing that implies that the specifics scenario are "...and it's likely that your character dies from the damage caused by choosing to Grab an Edge" rather than "...so it's entirely unlikely you'll need to know if you can survive the damage of this Grab an Edge case."

Yes, if you mess up a whole slew of rolls involving a lethal hazard/creature, you "probably die" - but that's normal, especially if you "probably won't mess up" that whole slew of rolls.

Grab An Edge wrote:
Trigger: You fall from or past an edge or handhold.
Handhold is explicitly part of the mechanics of Grab an Edge. No interpretation. It's used as a keyword.

So you are saying that expecting a player to know that Grab an Edge normally results in falling damage is not okay, but that expecting a player to know that the trigger of Grab an Edge implies it can be used on any handhold is okay?

That seems inconsistent to me.


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thenobledrake wrote:
thejeff wrote:
If a character is in the situation where Grabbing an edge is even an option, it's no longer statistically unlikely that they need to know. It's basically essential.

My problem isn't with the fact that a player needs to know a relevant rule in a relevant situation - it's with the phrasing that implies that the specifics scenario are "...and it's likely that your character dies from the damage caused by choosing to Grab an Edge" rather than "...so it's entirely unlikely you'll need to know if you can survive the damage of this Grab an Edge case."

Yes, if you mess up a whole slew of rolls involving a lethal hazard/creature, you "probably die" - but that's normal, especially if you "probably won't mess up" that whole slew of rolls.

thejeff wrote:
Grab An Edge wrote:
Trigger: You fall from or past an edge or handhold.
Handhold is explicitly part of the mechanics of Grab an Edge. No interpretation. It's used as a keyword.

So you are saying that expecting a player to know that Grab an Edge normally results in falling damage is not okay, but that expecting a player to know that the trigger of Grab an Edge implies it can be used on any handhold is okay?

That seems inconsistent to me.

I am saying that under the theory that rules interactions never need to be mentioned, there's no need to mention either. You claim that Grab an Edge needs to be mentioned, but that it will kill you doesn't. I think both should be mentioned - if either is. It's the combination of explicitly saying you can grab a handhold, but not mentioning it will kill you (assuming you're not immune to falling) that bothers me.

And for the first part: If it's so unlikely you'll need to know since no one will ever fall in, then there's no need to mention Grabbing an Edge. If you do need to know you can Grab an Edge, it's critical to know that it will almost certainly kill you.


"unlikely" and "no one will ever" are not the same thing, and it's exactly that deliberately exaggerated phrasing that I am arguing against - it harms your own point to make it via hyperbole and bent language.

And I never said rules interactions never need to be mentioned. What I said is that when the rules say "Grab an Edge (p. 472)" that is the rules telling you that you might take damage.

It's okay, and absolutely normal especially in such a word-count-heavy game, for the rules to expect the people playing to read them - that's what the page number is there for.

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