Recall Knowledge checks encourage metagaming!


Rules Discussion

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Repeatedly searching one particular location for no reason is pretty unreasonable, just as killing one particular NPC for no reason is unreasonable.


Ruzza wrote:
If everyone intuitively knows the rule system (which I don't agree with), why is Recall Knowledge not considered under this blanket, free from "metagame" scrutiny?

Very valid point. But I still think the way Recall Knowledge checks work trumps verisimilitude.

If I Recall Knowledge about something, it means my character believes it (it's the concept of Recall Knowledge, these are knowledges). If my character comes up with crazy things too often, he will consider that his Recall Knowledge checks are not giving him information. It's weird to think that my character believes that this creature is fire resistant but doesn't act on it because he thinks all his memory is full of errors...

In fact, when you think about it, Recall Knowledge checks have always at least 50% chance of success. Even the Fighter who doesn't know about Arcana has 50% chance to get information about a Meteor Shower.
The only difference between the +0 check of the Fighter and the +40 of the 20th level Wizard is the amount of true and false information they come up with. And that is highly illogical. If I try to recall knowledge about string theory, I won't come up with crazy theories. I will, mostly, recall nothing.
So, Recall Knowledge looks more like guessing than actually recalling knowledge. It's not "What do I know about that?" but "Let's come up with anything about that!".
The example of my Rogue who's trained in Nature at level 1 is blatant. A quarter of my Recall Knowledge checks give me wrong information. If someone comes up with wrong information once every 4 pieces of information, I don't consider that he is Trained in Nature, I consider he has read too many comic books.
And the fact that the amount of crazy information you come up with depends on the DC is the part I'm focusing on. Recall Knowledge critical failure should only happen on a natural 1. Otherwise, if, as a DM, I want the players to face something that is extremely rare and powerful, I can't allow them Recall Knowledge checks, or I'll have to play with a party who believes crazy nonsense as all the information I'll give them are just wrong.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Ruzza wrote:
If everyone intuitively knows the rule system (which I don't agree with), why is Recall Knowledge not considered under this blanket, free from "metagame" scrutiny?

There's a difference in knowing

- "There are monsters that resist to certain types of elemental damage"
Knowing the rules of the system in general, like knowing of gravity in general
and
- "River drakes are very resistant to acid damage"
Knowing very specific details like monster stats, or the gravity on the moon

Sovereign Court

BellyBeard wrote:
Wait a sec, how is searching over and over in the same place because you the player know something is there from previous playthroughs cheating? That's an action my character could possibly take, just like searching once or not searching at all, and I don't need to justify it because it's what I want my character to do. You're just punishing me for having played the AP before and forcing me to pretend I don't know there is a hidden treasure there (and we all know choosing a different action pretending I don't know something is impossible, this isn't play pretend dagnabit this is D&D!). In fact you're the one metagaming for not allowing my character to search multiple times at this particular spot when I could have done it anywhere there wasn't treasure.

As I understood the original example to which you're replying: there's a big dungeon (say, 20 rooms), and your party has been walking through it and doing a single search in each room. Sometimes you find something, sometimes you don't. Then you come to a particular room that doesn't look all that different from all the others, and you do your Search, and don't find anything. But you've player this adventure before, and last time there was a secret door here, so you insist that this time you're going to search over and over until you find it.

That's a case of metagaming. You're doing something that's out of character, compared to what you've been doing in the rest of the dungeon, based on your outside knowledge.

EDIT: so I'm not saying that searching twice is always metagaming, just that under these circumstances it would be. Suppose you had been told there was a particular treasure in the dungeon, and after exploring the entire dungeon you hadn't found it, but had found a few secret doors. Then it would be quite reasonable to go over the whole dungeon again to look for more secret doors, because you have reason to believe you missed one. But if you only go to this particular room to search over and over, that's not cool.

You're not being punished for having played the adventure before. Although I do think, adventures where a lot of the excitement is in discovering stuff you didn't know, aren't very good for replaying.


beowulf99 wrote:
The point I'm trying to get across is that Meta Gaming is simply something that is bound to happen at any table.

I can't say you're wrong. But there is an acceptable level of metagaming, and a less acceptable one. Like knowing your fighter saw something around the corner even if the fighter player didn't explicitly roleplayed it. The example of the bard is another one that is considered acceptable, otherwise the game would not happen at all. Reading the module or knowing the monsters from the monster manual is considered not acceptable.

Recall Knowledge checks ask you to know the DC of the check before deciding if you attempt it, I consider that an unacceptable level of metagaming, but it's true others can consider that an acceptable level of metagaming.


Franz Lunzer wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
If everyone intuitively knows the rule system (which I don't agree with), why is Recall Knowledge not considered under this blanket, free from "metagame" scrutiny?

There's a difference in knowing

- "There are monsters that resist to certain types of elemental damage"
Knowing the rules of the system in general, like knowing of gravity in general
and
- "River drakes are very resistant to acid damage"
Knowing very specific details like monster stats, or the gravity on the moon

I'm not saying people would instinctively know these things. That's why there's Recall Knowledge checks. They represent things that you have learned or heard about over the course of your life and education.

I don't want to out myself here, but I get stuff wrong all the time. Turns out that I'm really bad at Recall Knowledge checks. Enough that I can start sentences with, "I might be wrong here, but..."


SuperBidi wrote:


The only difference between the +0 check of the Fighter and the +40 of the 20th level Wizard is the amount of true and false information they come up with. And that is highly illogical. If I try to recall knowledge about string theory, I won't come up with crazy theories. I will, mostly, recall nothing.

So, Recall Knowledge looks more like guessing than actually recalling knowledge. It's not "What do I know about that?" but "Let's come up with anything about that!".

You got a point, but I think this applies to very specific tasks.

I mean, given a specific request it should be the DM the one saying "those with expert arcana can roll a recall knowledge check" or "those with expert Religion or trained undead lore can roll a check".

Simply to Mark the requirements.

If I recall correctly, some traps requires you to have a specific rank in Perception and Thievery.

Same should be with a very deep and specific check of recall knowledge (but since it would be a rare case, it would be mostly up to the DM than a written rule, if you get what I mean ).


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Metagaming is only bad when it makes you take actions and choices that are unreasonable from the perspective of your character.

Searching one room repeatedly even though your character has no real reason to believe something is in there is unreasonable - unless your character is very compulsive and you are often searching rooms repeatedly.

Killing a random NPC you just met is unreasonable unless your character is a crazed serial killer (which comes with its own issues depending on the table, obviously)

Not stopping to think about a monster when you’re not an expert really isn’t unreasonable. It’s just not your area of expertise - why would you waste time trying to identify it if you know a party member is more knowledgeable?


SuperBidi wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
If everyone intuitively knows the rule system (which I don't agree with), why is Recall Knowledge not considered under this blanket, free from "metagame" scrutiny?

Very valid point. But I still think the way Recall Knowledge checks work trumps verisimilitude.

If I Recall Knowledge about something, it means my character believes it (it's the concept of Recall Knowledge, these are knowledges). If my character comes up with crazy things too often, he will consider that his Recall Knowledge checks are not giving him information. It's weird to think that my character believes that this creature is fire resistant but doesn't act on it because he thinks all his memory is full of errors...

In fact, when you think about it, Recall Knowledge checks have always at least 50% chance of success. Even the Fighter who doesn't know about Arcana has 50% chance to get information about a Meteor Shower.
The only difference between the +0 check of the Fighter and the +40 of the 20th level Wizard is the amount of true and false information they come up with. And that is highly illogical. If I try to recall knowledge about string theory, I won't come up with crazy theories. I will, mostly, recall nothing.
So, Recall Knowledge looks more like guessing than actually recalling knowledge. It's not "What do I know about that?" but "Let's come up with anything about that!".
The example of my Rogue who's trained in Nature at level 1 is blatant. A quarter of my Recall Knowledge checks give me wrong information. If someone comes up with wrong information once every 4 pieces of information, I don't consider that he is Trained in Nature, I consider he has read too many comic books.
And the fact that the amount of crazy information you come up with depends on the DC is the part I'm focusing on. Recall Knowledge critical failure should only happen on a natural 1. Otherwise, if, as a DM, I want the players to face something that is extremely rare and powerful, I can't allow them Recall Knowledge checks, or I'll...

But the PCs aren't average people in the world with nothing to back up their knowledge. They're heroes who have been taking part in a crazy amount of things, meeting strange people, and traveling to exotic lands. They aren't just guessing wildly when they Recall Knowledge, they're filtering through these various experiences and putting together what they know. The breadth of creatures in the world of Golarion is so vast that it wouldn't be at all unusual for someone to misremember or misinterpret something about a creature. ("Trolls? Aren't they unharmed by electrical magic?") I'm not seeing at all how this is metagaming.

"Oh, it's a tough monster so I shouldn't attempt a Recall Knowledge because I have a chance of being wrong." Is wildly different from "Oh, it's a tough monster, so I should just nova my abilities and we can rest afterwards."

The easiest solution for you, as a GM, is to just remove the critical failure effect. If you honestly feel like it's creating a metagame problem at your table, that's a simple fix. But many people have already pointed out the interesting choices and fun it provides to the game.


HumbleGamer wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:


The only difference between the +0 check of the Fighter and the +40 of the 20th level Wizard is the amount of true and false information they come up with. And that is highly illogical. If I try to recall knowledge about string theory, I won't come up with crazy theories. I will, mostly, recall nothing.

So, Recall Knowledge looks more like guessing than actually recalling knowledge. It's not "What do I know about that?" but "Let's come up with anything about that!".

You got a point, but I think this applies to very specific tasks.

The issue is: Unfortunately, not. It applies to a lot of Recall Knowledge checks as all DCs are now calculated so characters have roughly 50% chance to make them. So, if the DC is hard, or if your character is not fully optimized, then you get the guessing nonsense instead of a Recall Knowledge.

For example, a character who has a +3 to Nature at level 1 (so, a Trained character) is not supposed to guess against level 1 monsters. Right now, against a level 1 monster, 1/6th of the knowledge you'll recall will be errors. It's a lot for a task that is supposed to be of average difficulty and exactly of your level. And if the monster is just level 3, it's now nearly half of it...


A trained character studied a wide stuff and known different things, so it is understandable that he could think to remember stuff he actually hasn't ever heard before.

Currently a lvl 1 task should be 14/15 DC, so you will be able to recall easily about it ( a critical failure would be rare ).

During an encounter, since your skills are below the average, you could instead have harder time because you will be choosing between using actions to recall knowledge or to fight.

While not in a fight, you could Sit and expend as may actions you want to recall anything about the subject.

Being extremely proficient makes the skill even better during an encounter, because of the higher grade, higher stat score, circumstantial bonuses, item bonuses.

Ex:

A spider drops down the ceiling and rushes towards you.

You have a few seconds and can deduce how to use them (as a player. The character will simply react ).

If you want to recall in an instant about the spider, roll a nature check and see the outcome. The more the skill, the higher the chance you recall ( cause your studies, your mind above the average, the help from the glasses of the librarian, etc... ).

Eventually you could get it wrong.

"Oh god, it must be the rare corpse eater! Those legs are too thick! "

It is simply a fast recall.
It won't be a surprise to get it wrong if not so proficient ( given the couple of second you expend other than your proficiency ).


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A level 1 character that is Trained in Nature, but gets a +0 ability score bonus isn't exactly the person I'd be counting on to make these calls. Let's go with someone we could see making Recall Knowledge, someone with a 16 Wis for a +6.

Now I don't know how you're calculating DCs, but I don't think I'm too crazy with my method, which is using DCs by level (on page 503) and adjusting for common, uncommon, and rare enemies. I'm cruel, obviously, and increase the DC accordingly (+2 uncommon, +5 rare) for jumping up in rarity.

A level 1 common creature (DC 15) means that someone who is actually good at Nature checks is only going to crit fail on a 1. A level 3 common creature (DC 18) means that... they will critically fail on a 1 or a 2. Really? Like, I get that you feel like this is metagaming, but you don't have to give examples with people BAD at the skills.


Ruzza wrote:

A level 1 character that is Trained in Nature, but gets a +0 ability score bonus isn't exactly the person I'd be counting on to make these calls. Let's go with someone we could see making Recall Knowledge, someone with a 16 Wis for a +6.

Now I don't know how you're calculating DCs, but I don't think I'm too crazy with my method, which is using DCs by level (on page 503) and adjusting for common, uncommon, and rare enemies. I'm cruel, obviously, and increase the DC accordingly (+2 uncommon, +5 rare) for jumping up in rarity.

A level 1 common creature (DC 15) means that someone who is actually good at Nature checks is only going to crit fail on a 1. A level 3 common creature (DC 18) means that... they will critically fail on a 1 or a 2. Really? Like, I get that you feel like this is metagaming, but you don't have to give examples with people BAD at the skills.

It doesn't change the fact that if the monster is Rare, it gets to DC23, and suddenly your +6 character is coming with more nonsense than good thing (35% chance to get wrong information, 20% chance to get valid one).

What I say is that the action is valid only if the DC is not too high compared to your character ability. Having high ability is just reducing the number of cases where you shouldn't Recall Knowledge, but it's not changing the problem. You must not attempt a Recall Knowledge check if the DC is too high as it becomes a detrimental action (at least if you consider your character believes in the result of his Recall Knowledge).

Compare that with what will happen if a critical failure at an attack roll would damage yourself. Suddently, characters will stop attacking in a lot of cases, making the game not fun at all.


@ruzza: seems that all DC related to lvl 1 monsters are 15 DC. I just browsed over 7 monsters.

The DC progression you mentioned is thr one I tend to use mostly ( when it is not specified anywhere else ).


DC 23?

Here some lvl 3

Centaur
Recall Knowledge - Beast (Arcana, Nature): DC 18

Changeling
Recall Knowledge - Humanoid (Society): DC 18

Gelatine cube
Recall Knowledge - Ooze (Occultism): DC 18

Here some lvl 4 ( though you won't deal with them at lvl 1 during a fight )

Gargoyle
Recall Knowledge - Beast (Arcana, Nature): DC 19

Giant stag beetle
Recall Knowledge - Animal (Nature): DC 19

Griffon
Recall Knowledge - Animal (Nature): DC 19

...

Even with a +3 you will have a 25% chance to get good info about a mob 3 lvl higher than you.


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If the monster is rare? What are these shifting goalposts? Yes, Rare monsters should be more difficult to know what you're talking about. Thankfully, those creatures are... rare! As a matter of fact, here's the rare creatures that we have currently:

Adamantine Golem, Adult Magma Dragon, Ancient Magma Dragon, Crimson Worm, Demilich, Guthallath, Immortal Ichor, Lesser Death, Lich, Mummy Pharaoh, Phoenix, Remnant of Barzillai, Shoggoth, Shuln, Simurgh, Spiritbound Aluum, Terotricus, Veiled Master, Xotanispawn, Young Magma Dragon

Definitely not something your average level 1 PC is going to encounter. The weakest on the list is the Remnant of Barzillai

Spoiler:
from Age of Ashes
and that's level 10, giving it a whopping DC 32 to Recall Knowledge. Let's make this encounter... party level+3, a very challenging fight! Good news, we get master proficiency in our skills at level 7!

So let's use someone who is level 7 and is master in Religion with, more than likely, an 18 Wisdom. They have a +17 to rolls. They will critically fail against a rare creature 3 levels higher than them on any roll between 1 and 5. A 20% chance! Those are actually really good odds with the deck stacked against them.

You're arguing for something that isn't going to be actually relevant.

Edit: The lowest level is the young magma dragon/mummy pharaoh, but I stand by the math here. Rare monsters should present a challenge since you don't see them that often!


HumbleGamer wrote:
Even with a +3 you will have a 25% chance to get good info about a mob 3 lvl higher than you.

And 25% chance to get wrong info. So it's purely random from the player perspective. It's not a Recall Knowledge check in this case, but a guessing check.


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SuperBidi wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:
Even with a +3 you will have a 25% chance to get good info about a mob 3 lvl higher than you.
And 25% chance to get wrong info. So it's purely random from the player perspective. It's not a Recall Knowledge check in this case, but a guessing check.

But again, that's if you're not actually good at knowing things. Of course you don't listen to the guy that's always wrong because they don't actually know anything. That's not meta-gaming, that's going, "Hey... uh, Frank. We think that degree you got might actually just be a placemat from Denny's," and then not listening to his really bad advice.


SuperBidi wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:
Even with a +3 you will have a 25% chance to get good info about a mob 3 lvl higher than you.
And 25% chance to get wrong info. So it's purely random from the player perspective. It's not a Recall Knowledge check in this case, but a guessing check.

You are assuming that the character doesn't really know about the subject ( and have never heard of it ).

The fact you add your lvl in adjunct to your proficiency and ability score is meant to offer a progression.

You will see some creatures only at some points during your adventure.

About a lvl 4 monster, the fact you can get a success even without scoring a natural 20 means to me that you know about that creature, but because the fact you are not a scolar, or not too skilled, you will have harder time to recover the informations you studied time ago.


Ruzza wrote:
But again, that's if you're not actually good at knowing things. Of course you don't listen to the guy that's always wrong because they don't actually know anything.

+3 is able at knowing things. Look at your character sheets, you have tons of +3s in there, and I'm pretty sure you consider your character is able in these tasks. Not specifically good, but able. If I was speaking of a +0, I would agree with you. But +3 is Trained, so it's not exactly that bad. If being Trained means that you're bad at knowing things, then what's the point in being Trained?


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If a fighter complained about constantly missing and then explained that he or she only had a +3 to hit, we would say that character is bad at hitting things.


Ruzza wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:
Even with a +3 you will have a 25% chance to get good info about a mob 3 lvl higher than you.
And 25% chance to get wrong info. So it's purely random from the player perspective. It's not a Recall Knowledge check in this case, but a guessing check.
But again, that's if you're not actually good at knowing things. Of course you don't listen to the guy that's always wrong because they don't actually know anything. That's not meta-gaming, that's going, "Hey... uh, Frank. We think that degree you got might actually just be a placemat from Denny's," and then not listening to his really bad advice.

@ruzza: it could be simply a "it is a grawgorl. They are vulnerabile to piercing weapons!" Said the barbarian, shifting his greataxe into a lance.

If you don’t know about the monster either, you should have reasons both to believe or not. If the barbarian managed to get it right the last 5 times, and you decide not to believe him this time, that would be meta UNLESS a good explanation occours.

It is not that a critical failure will give the player stuff like "the enemy is vulnerabile to horses" said the barbarian, dropping his axe a grabbing the horse by the legs, trying to use it to swing the mimic.

Critical failure stuff will be something 100% credibile, unless for example other players instead succeed a check and have different results.


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HumbleGamer wrote:

@ruzza: it could be simply a "it is a grawgorl. They are vulnerabile to piercing weapons!" Said the barbarian, shifting his greataxe into a lance.

If you don’t know about the monster either, you should have reasons both to believe or not. If the barbarian managed to get it right the last 5 times, and you decide not to believe him this time, that would be meta UNLESS a good explanation occours.

It is not that a critical failure will give the player stuff like "the enemy is vulnerabile to horses" said the barbarian, dropping his axe a grabbing the horse by the legs, trying to use it to swing the mimic.

Critical failure stuff will be something 100% credibile, unless for example other players instead succeed a check and have different results.

And that's all great! I've been saying that. I don't think that using Recall Knowledge is at all metagaming. Nor do I think not trusting the guy who is consistently wrong metagaming either. Why would I trust him? He's always wrong!

You're repeating what I've been saying throughout the thread. Bidi is making the supposition that because DCs are high (which we just proved they weren't) you will have a high rate of failure (which you won't UNLESS the creature in question is rare, and even then... only a slim chance) and that a PC couldn't know this information without guessing wildly. Thus, Recall Knowledge checks shouldn't be trusted.

But if this only hinges on someone who doesn't know anything (like having a +3 to your Recall Knowledge check), then obviously you don't trust that source of information. That isn't metagaming, that's pattern recognition.

Sovereign Court

SuperBidi wrote:
The issue is: Unfortunately, not. It applies to a lot of Recall Knowledge checks as all DCs are now calculated so characters have roughly 50% chance to make them. So, if the DC is hard, or if your character is not fully optimized, then you get the guessing nonsense instead of a Recall Knowledge.

I don't really agree with the 50% figure; as the book says right next to the CR/DC table: "Note that PCs who invest in a skill become more likely to succeed at a DC of their level as they increase in level, and the listed DCs eventually become very easy for them."

Even at level 1, to recognize a level 1 creature, you could have a +7 against a DC 15. It's actually level 3 creatures (which are at the high end of the scale for what you should be facing) that you're at only 50% at.

At higher levels, you go up on the TEML ladder, get ability score increases and some item bonuses, and you should get ahead of the curve.


Ruzza wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

@ruzza: it could be simply a "it is a grawgorl. They are vulnerabile to piercing weapons!" Said the barbarian, shifting his greataxe into a lance.

If you don’t know about the monster either, you should have reasons both to believe or not. If the barbarian managed to get it right the last 5 times, and you decide not to believe him this time, that would be meta UNLESS a good explanation occours.

It is not that a critical failure will give the player stuff like "the enemy is vulnerabile to horses" said the barbarian, dropping his axe a grabbing the horse by the legs, trying to use it to swing the mimic.

Critical failure stuff will be something 100% credibile, unless for example other players instead succeed a check and have different results.

And that's all great! I've been saying that. I don't think that using Recall Knowledge is at all metagaming. Nor do I think not trusting the guy who is consistently wrong metagaming either. Why would I trust him? He's always wrong!

You're repeating what I've been saying throughout the thread. Bidi is making the supposition that because DCs are high (which we just proved they weren't) you will have a high rate of failure (which you won't UNLESS the creature in question is rare, and even then... only a slim chance) and that a PC couldn't know this information without guessing wildly. Thus, Recall Knowledge checks shouldn't be trusted.

But if this only hinges on someone who doesn't know anything (like having a +3 to your Recall Knowledge check), then obviously you don't trust that source of information. That isn't metagaming, that's pattern recognition.

Yeah sorry i did stick just with the last reply.

I do entirely agree.

Also, at least for me, I wouldn't rely on a skill I am not so performants into.

Especially during a combat.

To make an example, our wizard is proficient in every knowledge, and also has 14 or 16 Wis too ( don't remember ).

14 wis is indeed not a 18, but it is a perfect example of a player who wants a character which rely on recall knowledge balances his character.

Sovereign Court

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I think more generally, I think we need to consider what information from a Recall Knowledge check represents in the game.

Does it represent "this is what I know and I'm convinced it's true", or "this is what I remember and I'm generally good at this topic"? Or "this is what I remember, but I'm not as good Arcana as Joe the wizard, so if he gets something contradictory, maybe we should try his theory first"?


Ascalaphus wrote:

I think more generally, I think we need to consider what information from a Recall Knowledge check represents in the game.

Does it represent "this is what I know and I'm convinced it's true", or "this is what I remember and I'm generally good at this topic"? Or "this is what I remember, but I'm not as good Arcana as Joe the wizard, so if he gets something contradictory, maybe we should try his theory first"?

If so, what would be the point of thinking about stuff you don't know instead of take a better position, stride or raise a shield?

I think you don't have the time to consider in a 2 sec scenario.

You recall asap and deal with it.

You have a Beast running to you and you know it will be close to you in a couple of seconds.

If you recall knowledge, you accept it unless facts ( damaging the creature, proof of the creature attacks, another party member tries to persuade you and you trust his judgement more than yours, etc... ) and then act. Remember that it is more probable that you don't remember anything rather than fail a check.

Critical Failure are not so common. They are rare rather than uncommon.

So at least you will be one saying "i can hardly remember something... So I will stick with a Steady stance and try to deal with it the best i can. Hope i will receive some help from the wizard ).


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Ruzza wrote:
If a fighter complained about constantly missing and then explained that he or she only had a +3 to hit, we would say that character is bad at hitting things.

But does it mean that he MUST not attack? That's the difference here. If you're not fully optimized, then you MUST not use the skill, as you'll just get trash information that you'll be supposed to trust (in my opinion, if you get information from a Recall Knowledge, your character is supposed to trust this piece of information).

If the Wizard decides to attack with a greatsword, it'll be ok, it won't be detrimental to him, just not the most optimized move.


If a fighter makes a bad Recall Knowledge check with his +3 and shouts, "Guys, trust me on this one, it breathes fire in a line!" the group spreads out, not knowing it's a cone. They are left with bad tactics because of his roll.

If a wizard decides to attack with a greatsword, he gets mulched the next turn.

But I see what you're saying, right: "Attacking doesn't have a critical failure element in the same way that Recall Knowledge does." The issue being, you can choose to not make a Recall Knowledge check, yet you really can't choose to not attack.

You're saying that the most optimal solution is to not make Recall Knowledge checks if you aren't good at them. Sure. Okay. How is this metagaming? Saying, "Heck, man, this isn't my area of expertise," is valid just as much in real life as it is Pathfinder. Sure, you could throw out something you THINK is helpful, but you know that you aren't as worldly as Tim, the wizard who graduated magna cum laude.

So, in VERY basic terms, what your saying is: Recall Knowledge is a bad action to take if you aren't optimized? Okay, sure. That's not metagaming. That's knowing yourself. That's your party recognizing who you are.


Ruzza wrote:
So, in VERY basic terms, what your saying is: Recall Knowledge is a bad action to take if you aren't optimized? Okay, sure.

No. What I say is: Recall Knowledge is a bad action to take if the DC is too high for you. If you face a level 0 monster, having +3 in Recall Knowledge is far enough to get 50% chance to succeed. Actually, having +6 will just increase the chances of success to 65%, so it's not changing much things.

It's a bit like saying to the Warpriest that a monster has too high AC for him so he has to make something else than attacking. The guy gonna be sad. Forcing only purely optimized characters to roll dice is hard.


Ruzza wrote:


So, in VERY basic terms, what your saying is: Recall Knowledge is a bad action to take if you aren't optimized? Okay, sure. That's not metagaming. That's knowing yourself. That's your party recognizing who you are.

Uh...That's Savage...

You know what, apart from creatures ( cause you are not able to understand their DC ) you could use this approach with difficult tasks.

Like, repair a shield.

You are used to craft but you are not so skilled with it. But even so you recognize that specific shield could be hard to repair given your skills.

You could, but it is not something you are used to deal with usually.

On the other hand, you can't do that with a recall knowledge in combat.

So ok, being rational is ok given some circumstances, but not always ( and if you decide so, you will be mostly give up instead of roll for the check and then consider to refuse what you get )


You don't have to roll a Recall Knowledge check. It's nothing like telling a Warpriest that a monster's AC is too high. And your numbers are making less sense now.

Facing a level 0 monster with my (not good) +3 Knowledge check still means that only have a 5% chance of getting a critical failure. Who cares about the success rate when you're talking about metagaming critical failures? I don't understand what point you're trying to make.

We've shown you that the DC isn't too high EVEN if you're facing creatures that are 2 to 3 levels higher than you. You're still looking at around a 5 - 10% chance of getting a critical failure. Your new statement, and correct me if I'm wrong, seems to be...

"Recall Knowledge is a waste of an action if the DC is too high. Ergo, this is metagaming because I won't use my action against something that I think is too difficult." Right? But you've been arguing that critical failures create this nebulous zone of "metagame knowledge" because mathematically you could be giving out erroneous information that you "have to act on."

But again, the numbers are not in your favor here. Unless you're woefully inadequate at a skill AND tackling something of a higher level than you AND rare, then... yeah, don't make a Recall Knowledge check. These are all things that a PC will know. Not the player, the PC. This isn't metagaming. This is literally playing the game.


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SuperBidi wrote:

Hello everyone,

Yeah, I like super titles like that, I just haven't found a place to put trap feat in it ;)

So, I have, as a player, an issue with Recall Knowledge checks. I'll give you an illustrative example of this problem:
My level 1 character has +3 to Religion. And I can face CR-1 monsters to CR3 Uncommon monsters.
If I try to recall knowledge about the former, I'll have 50% chance to have a valid information for 5% chance to have an erroneous one. If I recall knowledge on the latter, I'll have 20% chance to get valid information and 35% chance to have incorrect one. So, at first, it's not good at all, as I'll have a whole lot of misleading information in the middle of the proper ones. When you consider that it costs an action, I feel quite screwed.
And that is without taking into account the reflex of many DMs when you make a critical failure to give you a very misleading information like speaking about fire resistance or cold weakness on a white dragon. Basing the party tactics on a misleading information is a good recipe for disaster.

The whole system of recall knowledge forces you to assess the DC before rolling the check as a high DC can result in your check being detrimental on average, and sometimes a lot. Like if you cast a fireball on the white dragon because its cave is freezing cold, it's acceptable before making the recall knowledge check, but not after if your DM told you it's fire immune. So, to solve this problem, there's not lots of solution: recalling knowledge about small enemies but not about bad ass bosses, maxing the skill so you should not see any DC against which it's not interesting to recall knowledge, in one word: metagaming.

I think the critical failures on recall knowledge checks are a bad idea. So, I encourage all DMs to give irrelevant pieces of information on a critical failure instead of very misleading ones. Stating that a white dragon is fire resistant will shut the recall knowledge checks of your player in the long run, stating that it's negative energy...

I first want to start off by saying that this isn't really meta-gaming. If anything, a character who performs actions based off of their knowledge checks is the direct opposite of meta-gaming; they're making character decisions based off of what the character knows and not what they, as a player, know for sure.

A meta-gamer in relation to knowledge checks would be performing actions that a character doesn't actually know, and more often than not would be doing so without a successful knowledge check telling them, the character, as such. I'm not saying that once a character fought a certain type of enemy that they don't know the basics of what that enemy can do until they do a knowledge check again, but traits specific to the enemy they are fighting might require a knowledge check to confirm their specifics (unless, again, they've fought that type before). In the case of your Dragons, if you've never fought dragons before, you'd have to make a check before you know what they are capable of. If you've fought a couple dragons already, you'd know their base effects, such as having a breath weapon, flight, numerous multiple attacks, a special multi-attack ability, have high resistance/immunity to one element but weakness to another (possibly), but anything specific to dragons you haven't already fought will be unknown to you, such as their type-specific reaction, shape of their breath weapon, or what element they are strong/weak against, and would require an appropriate check for the GM to tell you what those are.

In addition, knowledge checks are a secret roll. This is a roll the GM makes behind their screen and tells you what the resulting roll is. If the GM has a good poker face, you as a player will not know if they rolled good, bad, awesome, or horrible. Plus, there are feats that can help with the knowledge checks, such as Dubious Knowledge, which gives you both good and bad information on your failed checks, and it's up to you, the player, to decide from that information of which you should act on. For example, a failed check on a White Dragon, the GM might say "It's weak to either fire or electricity," implying that one of those is correct and the other is not.

Back to the task at hand, the biggest problem for you, in this case, stems from someone who isn't very efficient at the check making the check. A Cleric, Druid, or other Wisdom-pumped class would (and should) be making those checks, not the measly +3. If you don't have one of those characters in your party, that's a choice that you have to live with and accept. Either find ways to boost that check to make it relevant, or be forced to fight with enemies possessing unknown qualities, which can certainly lead to your death.

At best, that person with a +3 could prepare to Aid the more qualified person (which is only an action) so they have a better chance at a successful check. Even if it's a 15% chance to add a +1 to their roll, or a 5% chance to add +2, it can make the difference. This benefit only becomes more relevant in higher levels, when proficiency boosts can increase this bonus, and the static DC 20 aid DC stays the same. Not the best in the skill? Simply spending an action and reaction to aid someone with a stronger check to make it even more solid can be very helpful.

Sovereign Court

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SuperBidi wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
So, in VERY basic terms, what your saying is: Recall Knowledge is a bad action to take if you aren't optimized? Okay, sure.

No. What I say is: Recall Knowledge is a bad action to take if the DC is too high for you. If you face a level 0 monster, having +3 in Recall Knowledge is far enough to get 50% chance to succeed. Actually, having +6 will just increase the chances of success to 65%, so it's not changing much things.

It's a bit like saying to the Warpriest that a monster has too high AC for him so he has to make something else than attacking. The guy gonna be sad. Forcing only purely optimized characters to roll dice is hard.

How would you know if the DC is high? Monsters don't walk around with glowing numbers over their head telling you their CR.

It seems that it's sort of assumed you can tell which skill you'd use to identify a monster. So the GM says "well if you want to tell what the shambling corpse is, that would be Religion". To which you could say:

- Hey, I don't have Religion, but the cleric does. Instead of wasting my action on Recall Knowledge with low chance of success, let's do something else instead.
- Hey, I have Religion and I'm good at it (high Wisdom etc). Let's try this.
- Hey, I have Religion but I'm not really great at it I'll try it anyway cuz we really need information on this thing.

You get some information from the GM, but you know that there's always a chance it's wrong. Well, there's no adventuring without risk. "Guys I think these creatures are supposed to bevulnerable to fire".

You know that you don't know for sure: what you get on Recall Knowledge is just what you can remember.


Ascalaphus wrote:
How would you know if the DC is high? Monsters don't walk around with glowing numbers over their head telling you their CR.

Hence the title of my thread: You have, as a player, to assess the DC of the Recall Knowledge before using it. If it's too high, you must not as you'll get mostly trash information you'll have to play with. This is the metagaming I'm speaking about...

Ruzza wrote:
Right? But you've been arguing that critical failures create this nebulous zone of "metagame knowledge" because mathematically you could be giving out erroneous information that you "have to act on."

Not at all.

I'm not speaking about the critical failures content. I'm speaking of the chances of critical failures who forces you to metagame the DC to avoid having too much trash information.


SuperBidi wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
How would you know if the DC is high? Monsters don't walk around with glowing numbers over their head telling you their CR.

Hence the title of my thread: You have, as a player, to assess the DC of the Recall Knowledge before using it. If it's too high, you must not as you'll get mostly trash information you'll have to play with. This is the metagaming I'm speaking about...

Ruzza wrote:
Right? But you've been arguing that critical failures create this nebulous zone of "metagame knowledge" because mathematically you could be giving out erroneous information that you "have to act on."

Not at all.

I'm not speaking about the critical failures content. I'm speaking of the chances of critical failures who forces you to metagame the DC to avoid having too much trash information.

But we have again and again pointed out that this is only going to occur with characters that don't have any actual knowledge of the topic. Like was said several times, even creatures that would have high DCs aren't going to give you a high percentage of inaccurate information unless... And again, this is the kicker, you're actually not knowledgeable in that area.


Saying, "Well why should I make this check? I'm likely to fail," is entirely within character for someone who is woefully inadequate at the skill.

Someone who does have a high bonus (or honestly, at par for their level) isn't going to even think about DCs because they will be fine.


Ruzza wrote:
But we have again and again pointed out that this is only going to occur with characters that don't have any actual knowledge of the topic. Like was said several times, even creatures that would have high DCs aren't going to give you a high percentage of inaccurate information unless... And again, this is the kicker, you're actually not knowledgeable in that area.

We are running in circle, so we will agree to disagree :)


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Ruzza wrote:

Saying, "Well why should I make this check? I'm likely to fail," is entirely within character for someone who is woefully inadequate at the skill.

Someone who does have a high bonus (or honestly, at par for their level) isn't going to even think about DCs because they will be fine.

Eventually, he could use the help action as darksol suggested.

A circumstantial bonus to a skilled ally couls also be worth the try.


SuperBidi wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
But we have again and again pointed out that this is only going to occur with characters that don't have any actual knowledge of the topic. Like was said several times, even creatures that would have high DCs aren't going to give you a high percentage of inaccurate information unless... And again, this is the kicker, you're actually not knowledgeable in that area.
We are running in circle, so we will agree to disagree :)

You made the topic asking for people's opinions and even included a nice clickbait-y title. Are you saying that you haven't been engaging with this topic in good faith?


Ruzza wrote:
You made the topic asking for people's opinions and even included a nice clickbait-y title. Are you saying that you haven't been engaging with this topic in good faith?

I'm just saying we disagree. What is the problem with that?


SuperBidi wrote:
You have, as a player, to assess the DC of the Recall Knowledge before using it. If it's too high, you must not as you'll get mostly trash information you'll have to play with. This is the metagaming I'm speaking about...

If you, the player, don't know the DC of the check (because you don't know with any certainty the CR of the monster) then you don't actually have the out-of-game knowledge that would make it metagaming. You're guessing whether trying to use 'Recall Knowledge' is a worthwhile use of your action, just as your character would be doing.


Matthew Downie wrote:
If you, the player, don't know the DC of the check (because you don't know with any certainty the CR of the monster) then you don't actually have the out-of-game knowledge that would make it metagaming. You're guessing whether trying to use 'Recall Knowledge' is a worthwhile use of your action, just as your character would be doing.

If you really have no idea of the DC, you must not roll it. Which is different from not worthwhile, you have to avoid doing it as it's negative to you.

But you always have an idea of the DC. It can't be between 0 and 50 with equal probability. That's why the metagaming is always possible.


SuperBidi wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
If you, the player, don't know the DC of the check (because you don't know with any certainty the CR of the monster) then you don't actually have the out-of-game knowledge that would make it metagaming. You're guessing whether trying to use 'Recall Knowledge' is a worthwhile use of your action, just as your character would be doing.

If you really have no idea of the DC, you must not roll it. Which is different from not worthwhile, you have to avoid doing it as it's negative to you.

But you always have an idea of the DC. It can't be between 0 and 50 with equal probability. That's why the metagaming is always possible.

While it can be mostly true for athletics checks ( jump, climb, swim ), most of the DC you will face will be tied to your progression.

Will you ask for a Religion roll, to know about skeletons, to your lvl 10 party? Or you will forgo the roll and simply tell them what they want to know?

To me it is a waste of time and slows the pace. Eventually I could ask for a roll if the one who ask is not proficient.

But this stuff apart, the challenged you will be facing which will require a recall knowledge in a combat scenario will be only for stuff which is challenging for your level.


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think the critical failure penalties for Recall Knowledge checks really only make sense when they're rare. So it's "you have a good chance of knowing this, but you got really unlucky." Then it makes sense that you "recall" something false and feel confident in it. For a character who just doesn't know anything about the topic, or knows very little, it does feel strange.

But that problem suggests its own solution, and maybe relieves the metagame worry. If you have a low bonus, don't roll. Your character doesn't say, "Hmm, did I maybe read something about this somewhere?", because they know that they almost certainly didn't, and if something comes to mind, it's probably a false association. It's the wizard with the super high bonus who (oops) rolls a 1 who ends up with the critical failure.

As far as adjusting for level/likely DC, I think this is fine--it reflects a character's sense of which topics are especially difficult. Of course the way the game frames it is more abstract that in would be in "real life" but that's just the same as other features of the game world.


BellyBeard wrote:
Searching the same spot requires no specific knowledge. My character has heard of secret doors and knows they exist, so he's being overly cautious by searching multiple times, it just happens to be in this one location. I thought I didn't have to justify these things.

The problem here is that this isn't a metagaming problem at all and people have generally lumped this kind of thing into metagaming - which is understandable since that phrase otherwise has literally no purpose or usable meaning.

What the problem is here is a player that has probably lied straight to their GM's face about having played an adventure before, and is also cheating. It's like writing down loot you never found, boosting your stats because you don't think anyone will notice, or claiming different die results than you actually rolled more so than it is like any of the other stuff that people call "metagaming."

And beyond that, retrying a search is in direct opposition to knowledge the character possesses - you're character knows they searched the best they could and didn't find anything, and while another search effort might be a "I'll just double check" kind of thing, continuing to search after that is entirely out of line with what your character knows.

Not even kind of equivalent to a player getting out a particular weapon because of what they think the enemies they are facing are - knowing the rules elements of the game isn't cheating; reading an adventure before you play through it and not letting your GM know in advance is.


Ascalaphus wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
Wait a sec, how is searching over and over in the same place because you the player know something is there from previous playthroughs cheating? That's an action my character could possibly take, just like searching once or not searching at all, and I don't need to justify it because it's what I want my character to do. You're just punishing me for having played the AP before and forcing me to pretend I don't know there is a hidden treasure there (and we all know choosing a different action pretending I don't know something is impossible, this isn't play pretend dagnabit this is D&D!). In fact you're the one metagaming for not allowing my character to search multiple times at this particular spot when I could have done it anywhere there wasn't treasure.
As I understood the original example to which you're replying: there's a big dungeon (say, 20 rooms), and your party has been walking through it and doing a single search in each room. Sometimes you find something, sometimes you don't. Then you come to a particular room that doesn't look all that different from all the others, and you do your Search, and don't find anything. But you've player this adventure before, and last time there was a secret door here, so you insist that this time you're going to search over and over until you find it. ...

We seem to have many cases of Schrödinger's Metagame, where changing details that are not mentioned in a one-paragraph description changes the meaning of actions.

Thus, let me describe a real instance of metagaming from this October in my Ironfang Invasion campaign. It was claiming knowledge without a Perception check rather than a Recall Knowledge check.

We had planned on starting Ironfang Invasion on October 11, but my wife, due to needing to help her sick mother, was going to be out of town for a month. Thus, we started the game at the end of September before all other players were available. I created a little preliminary adventure, before the Ironfang Legion invaded the small town of Phaendar. Instead, the party had gotten word from some refugees that a hobgoblin army had invaded the small town of Ecru. Phaendar sent the party to scout in the direction of Ecru, to see whether a hobgoblin army was marching toward Phaendar.

In the next game session, another player joined in. We had decided that his character's house was on the Marideth River 25 miles out of Phaendar, and NPC ranger Aubrin the Green had planned the scouting expedition to pass right by that house. When the party reached Ishmael's house, they talked to him and asked him whether he had seen anything unusual.

Ishmael immediately said, "Yes, a week ago I saw smoke to the east."

Oops, the player had knowledge that Ecru had been invaded a week ago and applied it to Ishmael, with a reasonable explanation how Ishmael had learned something. Technically, the player should have asked me what he might have seen and I would have asked for a Perception roll.

Worse, the player had incorrect knowledge. Ecru was 25 miles to the northeast and a tall escarpment made line of sight on any smoke from the town impossible.

I started to explain why he could not have spotted smoke from Ecru, when my wife interrupted. "This works out," she said. "It gives us a reason to ask Ishmael to join the party. He can guide us to where he spotted the smoke. It doesn't have to be Ecru."

Thus, a metagaming error by one player was allowed because of useful metagame reasons presented by my wife. The party climbed the escarpment and found a hunter's camp that had smoked a lot of meat. They returned to Phaendar 3 days later than expected, due to that side trip, and the town was almost in a panic, with several townsfolk assuming the hobgoblin army had killed the scouting party.

The beginning of a campaign has a heavy metagame. I hold a session zero (in this case, some of it was by phone calls and email) to ensure that the players create characters that fit the campaign, so I explained that their characters would be residents of or visitors to Phaendar, that the Ironfang Legion would invade soon, that they should have a reason why their characters would not fight to the death, and that they would be protecting a group of refugees in the wilderness after escaping the invasion. That, by the way, is why Ishmael had set up his house far outside Phaendar--he wanted to be able to pick up gear from his own house later without carrying it into combat in Phaendar. He was metagaming for a small advantage, but I allowed it because he had justified it with a good backstory.


I dunno, a character with little knowledge not wanting to ponder weaknesses in combat is fine imo. It makes sense.

A good GM will spin a crit failure into something that can be roleplayed or something that will advance the story in interesting ways rather than just trying to screw the players imo. I am not saying that they should make it beneficial, but a wrench thrown right has lots of fun knock on effects.

Also, metagaming the enemy level is distasteful imo. Can be hard not to do sometimes, but I am not sure it should be taken as a given that the player characters will know the foes level and rarity.

That said, I haven't had any issue with it at my table so maybe I am more dismissive than I should be.


Generally I need to give some indication of the relative level of an enemy - “this guy is just an orc, you could take him easily even though you are alone”(Level -2), “you sense that the beast is incredibly dangerous, however it’s attention is currently focused elsewhere”(Level +4) That kind of thing.


thenobledrake wrote:


What the problem is here is a player that has probably lied straight to their GM's face about having played an adventure before, and is also cheating. It's like writing down loot you never found, boosting your stats because you don't think anyone will notice, or claiming different die results than you actually rolled more so than it is like any of the other stuff that people call "metagaming."

I'm specifically cheating by using my out of character knowledge to choose actions which narratively don't make sense for the character in this moment in order to gain some advantage. Whether that knowledge is where the secret doors are or what the enemy's weaknesses are, or the advantage is extra loot or bonus damage against an enemy, why are they different?

To make sure we're on the same page, I'm not talking about using alchemist fire or a Fireball spell here, those are fine to choose if you have the option (though if your character normally doesn't use stuff like that I might be a little put off, but I won't complain). I'm talking about using an oil attack or torch swing which is near useless in 90% of encounters, except this particular encounter its being used in very conveniently.

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