Players knowing the DC in PFS 2e?


Organized Play General Discussion

Grand Lodge 4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver

I know that in PFS 1e, players were allowed to know what the DC of checks they were attempting before rolling.
Is this not the case anymore in PFS 2e?

Grand Archive 4/5 ****

This was widely variable in 1e as well as in 2e.

Players generally know the DC for common tasks (Activate a wand is DC 20), but usually not for things that enemies do or can have done to them. (AC, CMB, Saving Throws, etc.)

For anything in between, the GM might be as specific as "the wall is DC 25" or as vague as "It is pretty smooth stone, but there is no overhang."

It all comes down to GM style.

Grand Lodge 4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver

Ok. Cool.
What about for a chase or an area filled with various hazards?

Grand Archive 4/5 ****

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That will come down to GM.

I personally only give specific numbers on those if I am having a rough night and a hard to manage table (6 people with three animal companions, after a hard day of work, I sometimes just don't have the attention to keep track of who rolled what with what bonuses to get across the rickety bridge... Especially if it is a combat hazard that they are going to have to roll every turn on their turn...)

Other times I will generally give them a ballpark "this looks easy, this looks hard, this way seems easier than that way, this seems like it might be harder than usual due to the rain."

5/5 5/55/55/5

There was a fair bit of variation on knowing the DCs in PFS1 depending on DM and circumstance.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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I don't think the starting assumptions really changed between the editions.

* DCs for a lot of "against the world" checks like jumping a 10ft pit are in the Skills chapter of the CRB which is obviously open for the players to read. These DCs being pretty well-known is a good thing, because players can gauge whether their character is good at those things and whether jumping over hazards should be counted as a tool in their PC's toolbox. The goalposts for these things being pretty fixed also allows players to make a decision to make their PC good at some of these, to put it in their toolbox.

* DCs for "against the monster" checks usually start out presumed to be secret. You don't know the monster's AC until you've tried to hit it a few times. Of course you can see whether it's wearing heavy armor, moving really fast, has thick scales and so forth so you can take a guess. And after seeing that a 16 misses and a 17 hits you of course know the number.

* DCs for "plot skill challenge" things like chases have the least clear assumption on whether they're open or not. I don't think in general you need to give exact numbers. I do think it's good to let players know whether some skills have lower DCs than others, with a ballpark of by how much. When the aim of the scene is to have players make tactical choices of which skill to use, or which character to push to the front to tackle such a problem, then they need need to have at least enough info to be able to make a reasoned choice. Whether to reveal exact numbers or only ballpark numbers is a matter of taste. Sometimes it help speed up a scene that should move fast, like a chase, to give the numbers so players immediately know if they succeed. Sometimes, especially when the DCs are actually very low, I prefer not to give them because they'd take some of the tension out.

---

None of the above has really changed between first and second edition.

What has changed though is the timing of knowing whether you succeeded or not. In PF1, lots of reroll abilities had "decide after seeing the die roll but before knowing the outcome" conditions. PF2 of course has hero points for everyone, and changed this to "decide after knowing the outcome but before applying the outcome". So you know whether a roll is a success, fail, or critical fail, before deciding whether to spend a hero point.

Now, when you need to tell everyone whether they succeeded or failed so they know whether to spend a hero point, it does make it easier to just tell them the DC (after everyone picked something to roll, maybe).

Another factor in the current period is how much more online play is taking place, where if you want to take the most advantage of Roll20 (or similar) VTT automation, a lot of DC information does tend to leak out to the players.

Is that bad though? I haven't really found it to be really harmful. Sometimes it may enable a bit of metagaming, on the other hand, I've seen enough situations where knowing the DC enabled players to be more decisive and gutsy, or more anxious when trying a long shot, making the overall scene more exciting.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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PbP gets really bogged down if you don't give out DCs (although I don't give out combat DCs).

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

Nefreet wrote:
PbP gets really bogged down if you don't give out DCs (although I don't give out combat DCs).

But of course in PbP it's fairly common for players to roll to-hit and "damage in case I hit, disregard otherwise" together to still have that speedup.

In PF1 PbP as a GM I'd do all the knowledge rolls for all the PCs right at the start of the combat, and include the outcome in the "opening the combat" post.

I didn't go as far as rolling saves for players against stuff enemies did, that'd feel a bit like overreach. But it would be a way of keeping DCs clouded for a bit longer.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

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My personal preference is to not know the DCs. Let's face it, after just a few adventures we have a pretty good idea of what the DCs will be, give or take a little.

When I GM, I take the effort to remove DCs that may be listed in stat blocks that may be visible to the players (given the use of VTT right now).

Plus, with the addition of secret knowledge checks, I feel those have to be kept secret.

5/5 *****

Nefreet wrote:
PbP gets really bogged down if you don't give out DCs (although I don't give out combat DCs).

I have run a lot of PbP, including multi table specials and I dont reveal DCs. It is generally fine as long as you are proactive with posting. It helps that I generally roll reactive checks for PC's such as saves but give people time to use reroll and similar abilities.

Grand Lodge 4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver

Lau wrote:
DCs for "plot skill challenge" things like chases have the least clear assumption on whether they're open or not. I don't think in general you need to give exact numbers. I do think it's good to let players know whether some skills have lower DCs than others, with a ballpark of by how much. When the aim of the scene is to have players make tactical choices of which skill to use, or which character to push to the front to tackle such a problem, then they need need to have at least enough info to be able to make a reasoned choice. Whether to reveal exact numbers or only ballpark numbers is a matter of taste. Sometimes it help speed up a scene that should move fast, like a chase, to give the numbers so players immediately know if they succeed. Sometimes, especially when the DCs are actually very low, I prefer not to give them because they'd take some of the tension out.
Nefreet wrote:
PbP gets really bogged down if you don't give out DCs (although I don't give out combat DCs).

I actually am in a PbP game and was asking for this reason. We're making our way through a Skill Challenge encounter. I want to know when I write my post, if my character succeeded or not. If I got a 16 on my roll, that is pretty good for a sub-tier 1-2, but, I do not know if I succeeded or not and, therefore, cannot write my post accordingly.

We weren't even told what skills we can use, but it is kind of obvious with physical skill challenges.
When I asked the GM if we could know what the DCs are, I got a straight "No".

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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Christian Dragos wrote:
We weren't even told what skills we can use, but it is kind of obvious with physical skill challenges.

I think this is actually much more important - I do believe that in many skill challenges, you should know which skills you can use. Exceptions are skill challenges where there is a specific mechanic (like Discovery in Influence encounters) that is used for figuring out which skills can be used.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

The Influence subsystem outlined in the Gamemastery Guide and used in at least 1 scenario does not lend itself to players knowing the DC.

Sovereign Court ***

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Christian Dragos wrote:
We weren't even told what skills we can use, but it is kind of obvious with physical skill challenges.
I think this is actually much more important - I do believe that in many skill challenges, you should know which skills you can use. Exceptions are skill challenges where there is a specific mechanic (like Discovery in Influence encounters) that is used for figuring out which skills can be used.

Should you let the players know what skills to use in discovery? Or are you discovering additional skills that can be used for more discovery?

5/5 *****

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Benjamin Debrick wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Christian Dragos wrote:
We weren't even told what skills we can use, but it is kind of obvious with physical skill challenges.
I think this is actually much more important - I do believe that in many skill challenges, you should know which skills you can use. Exceptions are skill challenges where there is a specific mechanic (like Discovery in Influence encounters) that is used for figuring out which skills can be used.
Should you let the players know what skills to use in discovery? Or are you discovering additional skills that can be used for more discovery?

Telling players which skills can be used for discovery is pretty fundamental to running influence encountes however Discovery checks are supposed to be secret. Influence skills are not revealed. Plaers can guess at them and try influence checks if they havent discovered them but risk automatic failure if they are not using a valid influence skill.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

Benjamin Debrick wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Christian Dragos wrote:
We weren't even told what skills we can use, but it is kind of obvious with physical skill challenges.
I think this is actually much more important - I do believe that in many skill challenges, you should know which skills you can use. Exceptions are skill challenges where there is a specific mechanic (like Discovery in Influence encounters) that is used for figuring out which skills can be used.
Should you let the players know what skills to use in discovery? Or are you discovering additional skills that can be used for more discovery?

Like Andrew said, the purpose of Discovery is to find out which skills can be used for Influence, not for more Discovery.

I think this is a big deal. Most Influence encounters are set up in a limited number of rounds - usually about 4. In those rounds the party needs to figure out which skills can be used AND use them, and none of those dice rolls have guaranteed successes on them. Making people jump through extra hoops beyond what's already there is really messing with them.

2/5 5/5 **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Gary Bush wrote:
The Influence subsystem outlined in the Gamemastery Guide and used in at least 1 scenario does not lend itself to players knowing the DC.

Do you/should you at least rank them in "easiest" to "hardest" (when there is a difference in DCs)?

Grand Archive 4/5 ****

I believe discovery says the PCs get easiest first, so effectively, yes.

Dark Archive 4/5 *** Venture-Agent, Finland—Tampere

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I prefer knowing DCs, though any system that uses has secret rolls kinda incentives you to not give out exact DCs, just order of difficulty in them.

Like with influence system and "if you crit fail, you learn incorrect information about what character likes/dislikes" :p Though I also tend to find "If you fail bad you fail super hard" mechanics annoying because in society scenarios the influence scenes tend to be tight without room for error.

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