PFS & Knowledge (unsolicited suggestion for Organized Play)


Organized Play General Discussion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I'm writing this with PFS(2) in mind because the knowledge system has become more codified within the PF2 rules and subsequently scenarios/adventures than with PFS(1) or SFS, but the same concept would work for those campaigns, too. However, I wouldn't hold my breath for PFS(1). When I talk about the PF2 mechanic Recall Knowledge, it applies just as well to the knowledge checks in the other campaigns.

I swiftly became frustrated with the Organized Play convention that my character was a blank slate who knew nothing of the things that he had done before, be it in scenarios played or associated things to my background. I understood and still understand the rationale for requiring new Recall Knowledge on the same creature when encountered during a different scenario. The GM doesn't need to waste time adjudicating whether your character should legitimately know what a gibbering mouther can do or whether you're cribbing from the Bestiary. And, honestly, if that was all it meant, I probably wouldn't even bother to draft this suggestion. However, if applies to all efforts to Recall Knowledge: locations within cities, cultural habits of common human ethnicities, laws within a town, areas of concern for deities, identifying religious iconography, and on and on.

So... what?

So I hate it when my character looks like a wooden plank with two googly eyes glued on and a bunch of stats written on it. My Sarkorian druid who, as the child of Sarkorian refuges who traveled to Nantambu, and studied at the Magambya with the hopes of going to old Sarkoris and helping to reclaim the land for his people (he was one AP too late) knows nothing of the people of the Mwangi expanse, the city of Nantambu, or the Magambya, or Sarkoris or Kellid people without a successful Recall Knowledge check within the scenario. Even though he's got an Intelligence of 14 and took features to give him extra skills. Is his background campy? Sure, maybe, but he's my campy character, and it drives me crazy that he can't even answer a question about what is the Sarkoris Scar in a scenario briefing.

Honestly, we're at advantages when we're dealing with things not called out in scenarios with Recall Knowledge DCs because as GMs, we generally let our players run with their characters background. I could talk all about the practices of the Cascade Bearers during a scenario set in Varisia and how that branch's philosophy applies to a particular situation and nobody blinks an eye. I play a scenario where that information matters and I've got to succeed a roll to know it, even as a character who literally is a Cascade Bearer via feats and AcP expenditures.

<<Within these brackets is an aside that I feels underscores the PF2 system's problem. It is not my point. Please don't zero in on what's between these brackets and make the discussion about this. PF2 codifies this amnesia with feats like Student of the Canon where I need to take a feat as a Cleric to actually know about the tenets of my own deity. Does this mean Clerics can be ignorant of their own tenets and be forgiven? I'm a priest of Pharasma, but I rolled a 1 on my Recall Knowledge check to know what my own anathemas are, so it's OK that I rob this tomb? Or elves, hundreds of years old elves, need to spend a precious ancestry feat on Know Your Own in order to not ever critically fail a Recall Knowledge check about elves or elven society. You don't even get the benefit like Student of Canon where a failure turns into success, you just don't ever actively (edit: mis-) remember what ilduliel is.>>

Transitioning on to monsters, combat, and tactical information, which bothers me the least, I am still bothered that a given fellow player or GM might accuse you of metagaming for merely making an empirical choice without having spent an action to Recall Knowledge. The creature is made of fire, so I'm not going to use my go-to offensive cantrip, produce flame. The creature is made entirely of bones, so I'm going to try this club against him instead of my usual spear that's probably not going to hit. Or that's a skinny broom trying to attack me, so I'll use an axe instead of a spear.

Then the least issue of not remembering from scenario 1 where I used a sword against a skeletal opponent and it had resistance, so I can't simply opt to use a different weapon when I encounter a skeletal opponent in scenario 2.

Yes. I could be wrong with my empiric choices or even extrapolating things that my character experienced. If I want to ensure I'm right, I would make a Recall Knowledge check. Yes. There are lots of situations where what I knew before is not correct, and I agree with those situations, but I shouldn't forget what I knew and not be able to try what worked before or make empiric guesses.

But the GM can't waste time adjudicating all that stuff every time, we want to play the scenario! Yes. I agree. But I think we can do better.

SUGGESTION (in no particular order)

1. Use the chronicle space that used to be for boons and list the creatures encountered. The GM crosses off any creatures not encountered. You don't need to make Recall Knowledge checks to know some set of information about the creatures, e.g. weakness, resistance, and immunity (and maybe energy type of any primary special attacks or damage riders like fire for a fire mephit, but I think the list should be relatively short).

2. Organized Play writes a Pathfinder Training list of things known about a fixed list of common monsters. E.g., bludgeons work best against skeletons, goblins can see in the dark, demons are weak to cold iron (I mean, you still need to actually fork over the money for a cold iron weapon). But I'm not picky, just something to represent having trained at an adventurer's guild for crying out loud.

3. Set auto-pass thresholds in scenarios for knowledge related to ancestries, backgrounds, cleric and champion's deities, and home regions. Anything like that. E.g., Society DC 16 reveals "some colorful detail that's not particularly secret" about Thuvia, if character's Home Region is the Golden Road, they automatically succeed.

4. Organized Play writes things commonly known things about regions of the world. This would be a big ask, and I wouldn't expect it, but it would be nice to have a reference as to what my character is "allowed" to know about their own home region, home town, culture, etc.

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

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Blake's Tiger wrote:
3. Set auto-pass thresholds in scenarios for knowledge related to ancestries, backgrounds, cleric and champion's deities, and home regions. Anything like that. E.g., Society DC 16 reveals "some colorful detail that's not particularly secret" about Thuvia, if character's Home Region is the Golden Road, they automatically succeed.

FWIW, there's a Season 2 Scenario where you encounter the symbols and artifacts of a handful of different deities, and the Recall Knowledge section indeed includes a clause about followers auto-succeeding.

Whether that's from the author, or the Org Play team, I don't know, but it's a step in the right direction either way.

Scarab Sages 1/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Virginia—Richmond

I justify in-combat Recall Knowledge rolls being difficult because your attempting to positively identify a creature and remember/deduce pertinent information in a very high-stress situation.

Quote:
Transitioning on to monsters, combat, and tactical information, which bothers me the least, I am still bothered that a given fellow player or GM might accuse you of metagaming for merely making an empirical choice without having spent an action to Recall Knowledge. The creature is made of fire, so I'm not going to use my go-to offensive cantrip, produce flame. The creature is made entirely of bones, so I'm going to try this club against him instead of my usual spear that's probably not going to hit. Or that's a skinny broom trying to attack me, so I'll use an axe instead of a spear.

Has this actually happened to you? I wouldn't hold it against a player if they didn't try to burn a creature made of fire and used cold instead, or if they assumed that a giant has bad Reflex saves. A PC is allowed to make observations and draw basic assumptions. Ideally, a good GM/scenario writer can turn those assumptions against the player (as at least one has in PFS.)

Quote:

1. Use the chronicle space that used to be for boons and list the creatures encountered. The GM crosses off any creatures not encountered. You don't need to make Recall Knowledge checks to know some set of information about the creatures, e.g. weakness, resistance, and immunity (and maybe energy type of any primary special attacks or damage riders like fire for a fire mephit, but I think the list should be relatively short).

2. Organized Play writes a Pathfinder Training list of things known about a fixed list of common monsters. E.g., bludgeons work best against skeletons, goblins can see in the dark, demons are weak to cold iron (I mean, you still need to actually fork over the money for a cold iron weapon). But I'm not picky, just something to represent having trained at an adventurer's guild for crying out loud.

4. Organized Play writes things commonly known things about regions of the world. This would be a big ask, and I wouldn't expect it, but it would be nice to have a reference as to what my character is "allowed" to know about their own home region, home town, culture, etc.

PFS1 had a boon where you could write down information that your learend from a Knowledge check. It was clunky and never really came up, so I don't miss it. IMHO these suggestions are more trouble than it's worth.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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I don’t want org play leadership to mandate how I utilize character knowledge and checks in my game. There are a multitude of reasons but at the very least, I try to use the character’s experience to aid in my storytelling. It’s why I ask my players to provide a complete and thorough character sheet days in advance of the session. If you have back ground, experience, etc. that is relatable to the adventure, I can use it. OTOH, if you cannot be bothered to invest some time into your character even minimally, then I’m not going to invest much of my effort beyond the scope of the adventure itself. Course that is just me and I cannot say I’ve encountered many GMs who do the same. It’s the one of the difference between a good GM (4star?) and an excellent one (5 star?).

That being said, I think the community could benefit from some more “official” guidance on how to use character knowledge to enhance your game and more examples included in the scenario text where it might apply.

Dark Archive 4/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Turku

I think there's an issue in how you/me/different GMs perceive recalling knowledge. For scenario issues such as recalling some facts about the Sarkoris Scar, your character failing their recall knowledge check doesn't necessarily mean that they don't know -anything- about the Sarkoris Scar - more likely it means that what you remember isn't really important regarding this particular issue. Maybe you recall when the wound opened up, when the first crusade was made, when the last crusade was made, and when the farhavens started to move back in - But among all those important things it slips from your mind that certain inhabitants in the region are vulnerable to certain types of weapons or damage. Because you were focused on the historical aspects and impacts when you were thinking about it.

It's not that your character -does not know-, it's that while the PC knows it -your character does not recall- that fact at that particular moment.

Likewise, if you were asked to explain about the Cascade Bearers, maybe you got so caught up with various rituals and customs and habits that you completely forgot to mention that they hate the color red and everybody should wear blue or yellow to impress them. I mean, that's an important fact, sure, but who can focus on wardrobe questions when you vividly remember your initiation rites and how important it is to always accept offered food and drink with your right hand while keeping your left hand in a fist?

(Or something similar, not actual examples from cascade bearers customs)

Identifying creatures in combat is a question, yes, but how often do you really encounter the same enemies again and again? My pathfinder agent with thorough reports doesn't have any duplicates so far (having nearly completed the year 2 metaplot).

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

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Tommi Ketonen wrote:
your character failing their recall knowledge check doesn't necessarily mean that they don't know -anything- about the Sarkoris Scar

Unfortunately, in quite a few PFS scenarios the result of a success is some pretty darn basic stuff, often pure flavour. So, for at least those knowledge checks, failing the recall knowledge check IS extremely close to knowing nothing about the subject in question.

Scarab Sages 4/5

This came up a couple of times in PFS1, and the answer from leadership at the time was that they wanted knowledge skills to be important. An example was a scenario that required a roll for a gnome to know about The Bleaching (though it did grant a circumstance bonus for a gnome to do so).

What I’ve always had a minor issue with is less that you don’t get to automatically know about creatures you’ve encountered before and more that you don’t get to know basic things about general types of creatures in the world. When someone sells you that cold iron dagger, are you just buying it because it looks cool? Or shouldn’t you know that it’s supposed to work better against fae? We in the real world know that from a few sessions of playing a game. These are characters who live in a world where fae might kill them and who underwent three years of training. Shouldn’t they be able to know things like cold iron against fae or demons, bludgeoning against skeletons, and silver against devils?

A lot of GMs do let you get away with that level of knowledge, and you might be wrong about what the creature is, but I’ve also had mission briefings where we’re told to expect a creature type, but then have to roll to know something like what type of weapon they are generally vulnerable or at least not resistant to. I don’t know if it was the GM or the scenario requiring that.

Or in short, I really wish that the Lost Omens society book had included a section on basic knowledge gained from pathfinder training, so at least something codifies some of what characters should know without having to make a roll.

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
pauljathome wrote:
Tommi Ketonen wrote:
your character failing their recall knowledge check doesn't necessarily mean that they don't know -anything- about the Sarkoris Scar
Unfortunately, in quite a few PFS scenarios the result of a success is some pretty darn basic stuff, often pure flavour. So, for at least those knowledge checks, failing the recall knowledge check IS extremely close to knowing nothing about the subject in question.

Yes.

I've gotten the result and my briefing Society check and thought, "What? My character is a hermit and knows so little about the world he might not have even known that?"

There seem to be, at least in the scenarios that I've run, a good number of scripted skill checks that give you colorful background information but that doesn't affect your ability to succeed or fail a mission. I, personally, would find it more enjoyable to have all that flavor text moved from skill checks to a half page or less handout in the front or back of the scenario (or on the storefront) for the players of what is commonly known about the places you'll be going and/or the people you'll be interacting with. You get to save space and creative energy on those critical failure results. Just give us the flavor and save secret details or circumstance bonuses to scenario events to skill checks.

Some time when I have time, I'll try to go through some of my scenarios and break them down.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

I think part of the problem is the difference between general knowledge and situationally specific knowledge. It shouldn't be too difficult for a trained Pathfinder agent to know some of the items suggested above. Hit a skeleton with a bludgeon, use cold iron vs demons, but silver vs devils, etc. However, how do you know that [THIS] specific monster actually is one of those? That's where the in the moment check takes precedence.

Some of the problem arises from meta-knowledge. The GM places a mini on the table (virtually or otherwise) and the players know that's a [THING] and immediately know what to do about it. Sometimes, you can mislead them. Say placing a bone devil when in reality it is only a skeleton or a dragon when its really a linnorm. IMO, this is a good way to counter meta, but its not universally effective because a lot of the creatures in the universe have a very distinctive appearance. You almost need to have the PCs make their checks before you place the mini. If they get the knowledge check correct, then place what it is, but if not, place something similar to represent their erroneous identification. Short of this, which some might consider shady or even dishonest GM actions, I don't know how to protect against meta. There are also some who prefer to completely ignore metaknowledge issues and just let it happen.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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TwilightKnight wrote:
However, how do you know that [THIS] specific monster actually is one of those?

You guess, dealing with the consequences if you are wrong.

Scarab Sages 4/5

TOZ wrote:
TwilightKnight wrote:
However, how do you know that [THIS] specific monster actually is one of those?
You guess, dealing with the consequences if you are wrong.

Exactly. Which is why my issue is with things more like the briefing telling you to watch out for demons, but then being told you have no reason to buy a cold iron weapon to fight the demons unless someone makes a Recall Knowledge check. Which has happened.

Or seeing something that's token looks obviously skeletal, but being told by the GM that you don't have a reason to take out your bludgeoning weapon. Which has happened. Or even identifying something as a skeleton, but getting use bludgeoning back as your useful piece of information.

You might make an assumption about a creature and be wrong, and that's fine. But, like, bludgeoning for skeletons shouldn't be information that a Pathfinder can't have unless they invested in Religion and spend an action to Recall Knowledge.

Those may seem like pedantic rulings, and they were, but they were also encouraged by the mentality that if players are allowed to use what they know about the game world, then knowledge skills (or lore skills/Recall Knowledge for 2E) are being devalued.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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I have also seen those types of situations, but I would rather it be an opportunity to improve the craft of GMing than create a set of oppressive rules that cannot be nuanced enough to fit the overall campaign or for the developers to use up a lot of valuable word count by trying to speculate what circumstances the GM might encounter when running and what that might mean for exceptions to the simply defined knowledge check.

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

It's refreshing when I'm GMing for new players who don't know the meta. I have legit placed skeletons for newbies to fight, and none of them knew to use bludgeoning weapons from the outset. Learning that crucial piece of information excited them, and I am glad to have experienced it.

Or insert [cold iron vs demons], [axes vs arboreals], etc.

But then there's the times when one person at the table knows this meta, assumes everyone else knows it, and ruins the surprise for everyone else.

So, like the point everyone was missing over in the other thread, it doesn't matter how YOU perceive the level of knowledge that YOU should have, leave it to everyone else to discover on their own terms.

I'm not saying don't choose your mace over your shortsword when the bones start getting up off the floor. I'm saying, don't tell everyone else that they should do the same.

Scarab Sages 4/5

But that's exactly why I think some codified version of what a Pathfinder should know would be helpful. The new player who has to spend actions to know something that the experienced player already knows is being penalized in-game for lack of out of game knowledge. If there's some indication of what Pathfinders are allowed to know without a roll, then the experienced player can have an idea of what's ok to share, and the inexperienced player doesn't have to spend extra actions in-game.

Of course that can swing the other direction and is part of the justification for always having to roll, so that the experienced player isn't getting an advantage over the inexperienced one. But an ambiguous middle ground where some characters get to react with out of game knowledge and others don't doesn't seem fair or desirable.

2/5 5/5 *

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Nefreet wrote:
It's refreshing when I'm GMing for new players who don't know the meta. I have legit placed skeletons for newbies to fight, and none of them knew to use bludgeoning weapons from the outset. Learning that crucial piece of information excited them, and I am glad to have experienced it.

Yes. And how excited were they when they played the next scenario with skeletons, and you told them they were metagaming for taking out their bludgeoning weapons--that they'd need to make a roll again for their characters to know to do that?

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
TwilightKnight wrote:
I have also seen those types of situations, but I would rather it be an opportunity to improve the craft of GMing than create a set of oppressive rules that cannot be nuanced enough to fit the overall campaign or for the developers to use up a lot of valuable word count by trying to speculate what circumstances the GM might encounter when running and what that might mean for exceptions to the simply defined knowledge check.

That would be nice, but we have a vast, vast class of GMs that gets new members every day, so using those situations to improve the craft of GMing is going to become tedious (or hostile when the GM isn't interested in improving their craft).

I think there could be a simple set of knowledge available that's nuanced enough.

I think a simple writing/developing culture change to use Recall Knowledge to gain obscure, secret, or special insight into the tasks of the adventure rather than throwing in background information would help. Then when our characters mention or think of mundane background information about a place or culture, it's not a big deal.

Scarab Sages 4/5

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Blake's Tiger wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
It's refreshing when I'm GMing for new players who don't know the meta. I have legit placed skeletons for newbies to fight, and none of them knew to use bludgeoning weapons from the outset. Learning that crucial piece of information excited them, and I am glad to have experienced it.
Yes. And how excited were they when they played the next scenario with skeletons, and you told them they were metagaming for taking out their bludgeoning weapons--that they'd need to make a roll again for their characters to know to do that?

Or how excited was the player that spent multiple rounds trying to stab the skeleton and doing very little damage, because they didn't understand that all of the damage not going through meant they should try a different weapon? I've seen many more players frustrated by being ineffective than I have be excited to learn something as basic as bludgeoning damage works best against skeletons. That's the kind of thing you should be allowed to share with another player when they are making their character, let alone during a fight when you pull out your mace, but for some reason aren't allowed to tell them why.

5/5 5/55/55/5

"The rapier isn't working because you're not stabbing his liver

"Well then what AM i stabbing?"

"...Nothing. Look. Literally. Nothing..." waves hand inside rib cage.

That should be kind of obvious.

I do think this breaks down a bit with monsters that are harder to identify than a skeleton though. Perhaps the solution would be for the monster to have an obvious vulnerability ?

Dark Archive 4/5

Personally the out of combat issues are more problematic to me. My -1 was a bard well invested in knowledge and diplomacy skills. Well my first high tier scenario was a season 6 metaplot scenario, and I try to jump in and help with the negotiations. Unfortunately I was very efficient at getting to higher tier play and had some module credit on that character. So when the GM hangs me out to dry on wanting details in the role play before I can make a diplomacy check, I was a little perturbed because I had no idea at that point what any of the season 6 metaplot was. Any amount of background geopolitical knowledge would have let me spin a quick tale together.

1/5 *

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Davor Firetusk wrote:
Personally the out of combat issues are more problematic to me. My -1 was a bard well invested in knowledge and diplomacy skills. Well my first high tier scenario was a season 6 metaplot scenario, and I try to jump in and help with the negotiations. Unfortunately I was very efficient at getting to higher tier play and had some module credit on that character. So when the GM hangs me out to dry on wanting details in the role play before I can make a diplomacy check, I was a little perturbed because I had no idea at that point what any of the season 6 metaplot was. Any amount of background geopolitical knowledge would have let me spin a quick tale together.

I truly hate when the GM tries this. Sometimes I can generate an entire speech, sometimes just bullet points, sometimes I just want to roll the dice. Sometimes the introvert(Me) wants to play the diplomancer, and I feel like expecting my high charisma character be restrained by my out of character performance. In my opinion, that’s like giving me a penalty on my athletics check if I can’t do enough pushups.

Knowledge checks are not too different. Recall knowledge, in my opinion, is a measure of your “fast thinking” skills, and that is contrasted with the “slow thinking” at the game table. However, I think certain things such as bludgeons for skeletons just make and if I am reaching for a secondary weapon, I’m likely losing some advantage in the process. Iron for demons and silver for devils, well, I may get those two mixed up on occasion(if I fail the recall check). Not hitting a fire elemental with fire, I mean C’mon…

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

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I think the best solution is Org Play training for GMs to be more open to players using common sense and logic to problem-solve, and trust them when they use narrative tools and character history in a way that makes narrative sense. (Aligned with #2 and #4 on the list.) And also when to push back a little or ask a player about their thought process.

In general, I am of the opinion that the best GMs aren't so persnickety about metagaming. It's not a dirty word — in fact, many argue metagaming is necessary in order to understand and succeed at the game.

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

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Blake's Tiger wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
It's refreshing when I'm GMing for new players who don't know the meta. I have legit placed skeletons for newbies to fight, and none of them knew to use bludgeoning weapons from the outset. Learning that crucial piece of information excited them, and I am glad to have experienced it.
Yes. And how excited were they when they played the next scenario with skeletons, and you told them they were metagaming for taking out their bludgeoning weapons--that they'd need to make a roll again for their characters to know to do that?

Has never happened once.

Scarab Sages 4/5

Nefreet wrote:
Blake's Tiger wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
It's refreshing when I'm GMing for new players who don't know the meta. I have legit placed skeletons for newbies to fight, and none of them knew to use bludgeoning weapons from the outset. Learning that crucial piece of information excited them, and I am glad to have experienced it.
Yes. And how excited were they when they played the next scenario with skeletons, and you told them they were metagaming for taking out their bludgeoning weapons--that they'd need to make a roll again for their characters to know to do that?
Has never happened once.

You may have never done that, but I’ve definitely been at tables where the GM has. And they’ve done so because they are of the belief that is what they are supposed to do.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

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SOME level of player knowledge and metagaming IS absolutely essential.

For example, we ALL assume that the player and character both know what a longsword is, what plate armor is, what a cure light wounds spell is. If the player happens to not know what something is then they are informed.

If you go too far in the "metagaming bad, everything should be done by knowledge rolls" then sometimes a character will literally not know what end of the sword to use, not even know "the pointy end goes into the other guy". And while some people find complete incompetence on simple things on a low roll to be amusing I think it completely breaks the game (unless the game is INTENDED to be a comedy, that is)

I love "The Gazebo" story as much as anybody but I'd hate to play at a table where it actually happened on a regular basis.

The characters know the basics of the world they live in. They know how much a meal from a street vendor costs, they know how to recognize the holy symbols of all major religions in their home town, etc etc etc. Given that 1 is pretty much an auto fail they do NOT have to make a roll (not even a very easy roll) for some stuff.

The issue is, of course, how much they know by default. There are clearly lots of grey areas in that. But I agree with the OP that SOME guidelines would be useful. I"m also firmly of the opinion that "Bony means bludgeoning, fleshy means slashing" weapons is the kind of knowledge that probably EVERYBODY (including the 10 year old farmers child) knows and that it is CERTAINLY known by any adventurer. It is also, of course, sometimes just flat out wrong.

Back in PF1 there was the book for the Pathfinder Society. That had a reasonable attempt to point out the kinds of things Pathfinders would know from their basic training. That was useful.

Edit: I've also had complete newbies intuit what would be the best attacks just from the description. Is it really metagaming for somebody to decide that an axe just may be particularly useful against a walking tree? Whatever their particular definition of metagaming a GM often just does not know if a particular action by a player is metagaming, the player paying attention, or just random chance. Often, of course, they DO know (eg, the experienced player definitely knows about skeletongs)

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Nefreet wrote:
Blake's Tiger wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
It's refreshing when I'm GMing for new players who don't know the meta. I have legit placed skeletons for newbies to fight, and none of them knew to use bludgeoning weapons from the outset. Learning that crucial piece of information excited them, and I am glad to have experienced it.
Yes. And how excited were they when they played the next scenario with skeletons, and you told them they were metagaming for taking out their bludgeoning weapons--that they'd need to make a roll again for their characters to know to do that?
Has never happened once.

What has never happened once?

They never subsequently played a scenario with skeletons?
You never told them they were metagaming when they whipped out the bludgeoning weapons for skeletons in subsequent scenarios?
You, as the GM, never required them to roll a knowledge check before using bludgeoning weapons on the next set of skeletons they encountered?
You never GMed for them again?
They never played a(nother) PFS game?
You are unaware of what happened with them at other GM's tables?

How do you think they would have felt if after that exciting scenario they played again and encountered skeletons and were told they couldn't know that bludgeoning weapons are more effective without a skill check?

2/5 5/5 *

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I, too, find that the term metagaming is too villainized. Playing a game with rules requires meta-knowledge.

There's a difference between:

"I read the LO: Mwangi Expanse, and now know these things about Bekyar, and I will use this information to better play my Bekyar character."

vs.

"I read this adventure and know that while ogres are generally evil, and would normally be approached with weapons ready, but I know that this particular ogre is good and if approached peacefully with weapons sheathed, we'll get a special benefit in this adventure."

But too often the writing of scenarios and the GM culture leads a GM to penalizes or at least draw a negative inference toward the player from the first example just like the second example.

Here's one example of the scenario writing locking obvious and completely inconsequential--other than for the enjoyment of immersion--world knowledge behind skill checks, spending 75% of one page to present the information and present the made up critical failure text.

Nature (DC 14): Absalom used Immenwood for logging and bandits hide in forests. CS = Guards patrol the forest, but keep an eye out for ambushes (i.e., use the Search exploration activity that's basically default).

Religion (DC 14): Gozreh is the god of wind and waves. CS: You know what a Storm Kindler is.

Society (DC 14): Otari is located here on the map (that you're getting taken to anyhow). CS = Ex-Pathfinders retire to Otari sometimes and there's a tavern named the Thirsty Alpaca.

None of that has any functional impact on the game, but putting these details behind skill checks sends a message that such simple world details require some kind of check (and the possibility of a critical failure) for a character to know and use.

They could have instead made a printable sidebar containing the information as a handout called "Things characters might know about the world that enhance the story" that would have been at least 50% shorter than what was published as secret checks.

If Organized Play changed it to, "Hey, the adventurers know whatever they want about the world that's not obviously secret information," and used knowledge checks to provide clear and helpful clues, then I, at least, would be less stressed out about it.

Aside: There's also a Gather Information check that provides story flavor, no benefit, and is almost exclusively a repeat of the exposition the NPC just gave them. Why not just tell or show the players via some scene?

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

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Blake's Tiger wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Blake's Tiger wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
It's refreshing when I'm GMing for new players who don't know the meta. I have legit placed skeletons for newbies to fight, and none of them knew to use bludgeoning weapons from the outset. Learning that crucial piece of information excited them, and I am glad to have experienced it.
Yes. And how excited were they when they played the next scenario with skeletons, and you told them they were metagaming for taking out their bludgeoning weapons--that they'd need to make a roll again for their characters to know to do that?
Has never happened once.
What has never happened once?

The "and you told them they were metagaming for taking out their bludgeoning weapons--that they'd need to make a roll again for their characters to know to do that?" part.

I can't understand why you thought it was anything else.

Scarab Sages 4/5

While I will continue to contend that a GM is free to rule as they feel is appropriate (as Nefreet indicated he does), I want to provide a little background on why I would like something more concrete. I'll try to keep it short(ish)

Needing to roll to know information about creatures you've encountered before is something that, in PFS1, we've been told by campaign leadership is the way that knowledge skills are supposed to work.

John Compton wrote:
3) I value Knowledge skills and want to ensure they are relevant. Being able to pull out facts at the drop of a hat is reflected by skill investment, and as a few others have said, reading something once does not always translate to perfect recall—especially not under pressure. I am comfortable with a player's character recognizing the names of places and people, but knowing intricate details is better left to game mechanics. As a GM I don't mind granting a circumstance bonus to a Knowledge check if I know that a character has faced a certain threat before, but I aim to make it a feel-good exception instead of a regular occurrence.

I don't know if this is where the idea that rolling a knowledge skill is rolling to see if you can recall something under pressure started or not, but it's the first time I can remember campaign leadership saying as much. That idea, as seen earlier in this thread, has carried forward into 2E and PFS2 with regards to Recall Knowledge. It also found its way to many GMs, either through that post from John or mention elsewhere, resulting in situations like I've described, where GMs felt it was required by PFS that they have a player roll for basic knowledge, like use bludgeoning against skeletons. I ascribe no ill intent to those GMs. They were taking statements like above and implementing them as they felt was right. That idea was furthered by things like the Seen it Once boon, which possibly not coincidentally came out at GenCon not long after that thread.

Some side notes about that thread:
LINK to the post in question.
That particular thread was primarily about the Pathfinder Tales and what the associated chronicle represents, but it was a spillover from yet another metagaming thread. There was some discussion that expanded beyond just the Pathfinder Tales, and the quoted and bolded portion of John's post is talking in a more general sense about player knowledge vs character knowledge.

Second clarification - I have been asked before by campaign leadership not to ascribe PFS1 rulings to PFS2, so I do not know whether or not we should still consider John's post as binding. Also, in the bolded line, it's a little unclear whether that was meant as a binding ruling or just an example of how he handles it.

Third - In reading back through that thread, eight-years-ago me was so much more excited about this game (and life in general) and so much less jaded and bitter (about life in general). I miss that guy.

pauljathome wrote:
Back in PF1 there was the book for the Pathfinder Society. That had a reasonable attempt to point out the kinds of things Pathfinders would know from their basic training. That was useful.

Yeah, something like was in the field guide would have been great to be included in the Lost Omens book. We never did get anything official saying we could know that stuff without a roll, though. And you know what information isn't in there? To use bludgeoning weapons against skeletons (or cold iron against fae/demons, or silver against devils). Although it does tell you positive energy works against undead, that they are immune to mind-affecting, and that nonmagical attacks won't hurt an incorporeal undead.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Ferious Thune wrote:
The new player who has to spend actions to know something that the experienced player already knows is being penalized in-game for lack of out of game knowledge.

There is a multitude of knowledge an experienced player has over the n00b that grants them an advantage. I don't find that a compelling argument for having a codified list of the curriculum from the Pathfinder Academy.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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In an episodic campaign like org play where you don't know the players (or their characters) week in and week out, it makes sense that the baseline would be, "roll a knowledge check," and then let the player provide their reason why they should get a bonus on the roll or auto-succeed. Then the GM can determine how much their experience and prior knowledge would apply to the specifics of that particular adventure/check.

IMO, the nature of making knowledge checks is way too nuanced to codify into a defined parameter of what you will/won't automatically know. Trust your GM to make the right decision and if you disagree, make your case. Either way, once they have decided, move on. If their decision is so distasteful that you just cannot stomach it, then walk away from the table or make a note not to play with that GM again. Its fairly simple really. This doesn't have to be different than any of the other GM adjudications that have to occur on a regular basis.

Scarab Sages 4/5

TwilightKnight wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
The new player who has to spend actions to know something that the experienced player already knows is being penalized in-game for lack of out of game knowledge.
There is a multitude of knowledge an experienced player has over the n00b that grants them an advantage. I don't find that a compelling argument for having a codified list of the curriculum from the Pathfinder Academy.

This was in the context of a suggestion that the experienced player be allowed to use their knowledge themselves, but should not pass it on to other players at the table. I didn’t quote Nefreet’s post since mine was immediately after. This is what I was responding to:

Nefreet wrote:
I'm not saying don't choose your mace over your shortsword when the bones start getting up off the floor. I'm saying, don't tell everyone else that they should do the same.

Where as I believe that bludgeoning being good against most skeletons is something you should be able to tell a player, and that it makes no sense to be allowed to take out your mace to attack the skeleton, but not be able to tell the other player why you are doing it, so they don’t waste their turn attacking with an ineffective weapon. I don’t feel like letting them discover it on their own is doing them a favor in that situation. EDIT: The site ate part of my message… it’s important to note that they are free to ignore you and use a different weapon. I’m not saying you should tell a player they are doing it wrong. Just that passing along the information should be allowed. My axe wielding Barbarian is probably going to swing his axe regardless of resistances or vulnerabilities.

As for the rest of it, having something akin to the section from the field guide that is written with the intent that it’s knowledge every pathfinder should have would just help avoid a lot of ambiguity. If you must have a roll, then give every trained pathfinder a Pathfinder Training Lore and let them roll that. The point being that not every pathfinder should need to be trained in Religion just to be able to know something as basic as skeleton=bludgeoning. They might not be able to identify the creature, but “hey, carry a club in case the bones start moving” should be something you’re allowed to suggest in or out of character.

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

That quote is out of context, though. I didn't even realize you were replying to me.

Not everyone is interested in hearing you tell them how to play the game. I'm saying that you should leave that decision up to them, and not default to making it for them. It's kind of a jerk move, and it backfires badly if you're wrong.

If the newbie looks around after his dagger didn't work and asks, "What should I do?", then they're interested in you sharing your information. If you rush forward and bash the thing, and they decide that's a worthwhile tactic to adopt, then again that's them making the decision for themselves.

Again, skeletons being used as an example; it's applicable advice for any encounter.

Scarab Sages 4/5

There are ways to give advice that are both not pushy and don’t require allowing the player to fail first.

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

I don't think we disagree about that.

I even gave an example of one in my most recent post.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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I think allowing DM discretion might be a thing here but I think there are too many variables to go beyond that.

How ubiquitous is the monster?

It makes more sense to know about the monster the more people run into them.

How uniform is the species in question?

IRL you don't just see one member of one species once and instantly ID them the rest of the time (my dendrology grades would be a lot better if that was the case) Skeletons.. yeah they look like skeletons. You couldn't tell them apart if you wanted to. Demons can vary wildly in appearance, rakashas look different even before they change shape etc. Seen one skeleton seen em all. Seen one devil seen em all... not so much.

How easy is the monster to identify? Is there another monster that looks like it?

Any five year old can point and say something is a skeleton, and common sense will tell you the rapier isn't going to work nearly as well. But that wolf monster could be a wolf, a dire wolf, a warg, a barghest, a werewolf on all fours, a grey kitsune on steroids, a winter wolf, or a shapeshifted druid. Or a shapeshifted werewolf grey kitsune druid on steroids.

How well known or sensible is the creatures weakness?

Again, skeleton= bludgeoning makes sense. Which rare alchemical metal you need for demons and which you need for devils is a little less obvious to remember. That need a blessed crossbow bolt for a rakhasha is definitely knowledge check time.

Scarab Sages 4/5

Nefreet wrote:

I don't think we disagree about that.

I even gave an example of one in my most recent post.

If someone is allowed to use a piece of information, like knowing what gets past a skeleton’s resistance, then they should be allowed to use it. One way might be taking out a mace and attacking. Another might be saying, “Hey, that looks like a skeleton. Bludgeoning might work against it.” Whether you say that before or after another player attacks with a different weapon shouldn’t matter. If it’s a piece of information you’re allowed to know, then it’s a piece of information you know.

Your earlier message came across as if doing so was somehow spoiling the experience for a new player, where I view not offering helpful advice that can make someone’s experience better as being an issue.

No one is saying that you should insist a player do something or try to take their turn for them. Or that they even have to listen to or take your advice.

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

Ferious Thune wrote:
No one is saying that you should insist a player do something

That's actually exactly what was being said in the last thread. And really, this one, too.

TwilightKnight said he didn't want players doing it, and I've been echoing it ever since, but throughout this whole time everyone's instead been focusing on "what's reasonable to know", when that's not the only issue at hand.

I don't care about what's reasonable to know. That's obviously going to vary from person to person, and I don't enforce my view of what's reasonable upon others.

But I definitely don't want to be told what to do as a player. It happens at least once a month already, if not at least once per game, and it gets really aggravating.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Nefreet wrote:


But I definitely don't want to be told what to do as a player. It happens at least once a month already, if not at least once per game, and it gets really aggravating.

So if new guy is playing a druid with knowledge nature out the wazoo and goes to lick the brightly colored toad

1) you let him play his character (almost reverse metagaming) do nothing and get ready for a mission with Hunter gatherer S thompson.

2) you tell him not to do that

3) you tell him your character would know whats going to happen if you do that (strongly hinting not to do that)

4) you tell him you're not going to consider it metagamey if the druid knows what the player knows since they would know that (hinting not to do that)

5) You ask "are you SURE you want to do that? Your character knows...." strongly hinting not to do that.

Most of the more reasonable options seem to be a difference of how it comes across rather than an actual difference in policy.

Scarab Sages 4/5

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I share that concern about the other thread, but I took this one at face value as being about what it says it is about, which is how should Recall Knowledge work in the context of PFS, and is there information that Pathfinders should have without needing a roll. I’m not telling anyone what to do with that information once they have it. I’ve just been at too many tables where a GM stopped a player from doing something pretty basic, because “you have to roll to know that.” Which, again, was the stated desired situation. I just think there are better solutions.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Ferious Thune wrote:
There are ways to give advice that are both not pushy and don’t require allowing the player to fail first.

True. Perhaps the solution is for the player to address their comment directly to the GM and not the other players? Something akin to, "it looks skeletal and my Academy training taught me that bludgeoning weapons are generally most effective against creatures with no flesh or vital orders. So, I pull my mace and Strike" or "I think I just fought something like this last week. It was was skeletal just like this one and we learned bludgeoning was most effective."

First, it directs the commentary to the GM, not the other players, so no one is being instructed. Second, it demonstrates a logic leap and the source of the logic. Third, it does not specifically call the enemy a [thing] that can only be determined by an actual skill check, it only draws conclusions based on visual stimulus. If they want to confirm that the creature is in fact a skeleton, or subtype thereof, as opposed to say a bone devil, then they can use an action to recall.

IMO, this would fulfill all the requirements and eliminate all(?) of the objections. YMMV

Scarab Sages 4/5

TwilightKnight wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
There are ways to give advice that are both not pushy and don’t require allowing the player to fail first.

True. Perhaps the solution is for the player to address their comment directly to the GM and not the other players? Something akin to, "it looks skeletal and my Academy training taught me that bludgeoning weapons are generally most effective against creatures with no flesh or vital orders. So, I pull my mace and Strike" or "I think I just fought something like this last week. It was was skeletal just like this one and we learned bludgeoning was most effective."

First, it directs the commentary to the GM, not the other players, so no one is being instructed. Second, it demonstrates a logic leap and the source of the logic. Third, it does not specifically call the enemy a [thing] that can only be determined by an actual skill check, it only draws conclusions based on visual stimulus. If they want to confirm that the creature is in fact a skeleton, or subtype thereof, as opposed to say a bone devil, then they can use an action to recall.

IMO, this would fulfill all the requirements and eliminate all(?) of the objections. YMMV

That would be fine, yes. It's the idea that the GM's response should be to ask if I'm trained in Religion or tell me that I can't switch weapons unless I make a check. Versions of that have happened multiple times at tables I've been at in the last 8 years. Not because the GMs were jerks, but because they didn't want to go against what they perceive as a requirement of PFS (EDIT: And what may have actually been a requirement of PFS -- see the earlier quote from John Compton.)

2/5 5/5 *

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Nefreet wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
No one is saying that you should insist a player do something
That's actually exactly what was being said in the last thread. And really, this one, too.

That is not my intention with this thread.

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

Nefreet wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
No one is saying that you should insist a player do something
That's actually exactly what was being said in the last thread. And really, this one, too.

Huh. I thought this was discussed ad nauseam in the "other thread," and maybe doesn’t need to be rehashed over here. (I also thought you were a proponent of giving thread authors the benefit of the doubt because "these forums would be a better place if we assumed positive intent" — Guess not?)

Common denominator is that maybe we can train Society GMs to cope with players using knowledge, and that it’s not bad or against the rules... and nor is metagaming when it is not cheating. Maybe something should be included in the guide under "creative solutions" with a couple examples of players using in-game logic or common knowledge to figure out a creature’s weakness or something interesting about it. I am going to add a scenario for this in our local gm 101 exercises, in fact.

Another component not being discussed is sharing interesting, non-mechanical stuff about creatures. I personally like to throw that in with the useful info to help create a sense of the world — especially because so often we don’t get that in Society play. And some monsters are just cool/fun and it enhances the moment.

Everyone will have their own style, but perhaps there is information we can give GMs to help them explore and articulate their own thought process and reasoning. How else can VOs, as leaders, do that? Without telling or seeming to tell anyone how to play, of course.

1/5 5/5

As a GM, if someone sees a construct (for example) and their first response is to whip out adamantine weaponry without a knowledge check I try to balance that with the idea that such a weapon (even moreso for PFS2) is pretty expensive.

As a result, someone *isn't* going to be buying a piece of equipment like that unless they have a reason TO be doing so in the first place.

So too with cold iron, silver, mithril, etc.

Recently had the experience of playing one game with constructs in it -- and my character was the only one that had any sort of weapon -- bought as a precaution based on previous experience -- for dealing with them effectively.

As a result, they bought *another* type of weapon 'just in case' the situation came up again.

If a player reasonably presented either a particular scenario or encounter that I'm familiar with either as a GM or as a player as their rationale for having item 'x', I'm going to understand that reasoning and be a lot more understanding than someone just quoting the book at me -- that scenario or encounter was 'lived through'.

Quoting the book -- not so much.

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

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I think we should be okay with educated guesses. For example:

- That creature doesn't have any skin on its bones. It might be a skeleton, or an animated object, or a bone golem, or something else. Odds are that bludgeoning works better than piercing. I'm getting out my mace.

- It looks fiendish, with bat wings and horns and sharp teeth. Also, we're in Cheliax. I'm going to try my silver weapon because that tends to work on devils.

- It's an effin' weird creature in a whimsical forest adventure. I'm trying cold iron because it might be a fey and almost all of those hate cold iron.

- It's clearly some kind of plant monster so I'm trying fire and axes.

They're guesses - you didn't read the scenario - and they're educated. And sometimes you're wrong. Sometimes you're told to skirt the edge of the Worldwound so you bring cold iron weapons on the off chance of demons, but as it turns out you should have been worried about devils instead. The "fey" creature may be a wacky undead that doesn't care about cold iron. This particular plant creature spreads dangerous spores if it takes fire damage. The skeleton is actually an attic whisperer with no particular resistance to your (better) piercing weapon, and you'll never find out because you went for the mace straightaway.

Pretty often, you can also see why something is or isn't working. If a plant monster takes extra damage from fire you see it light up. If your rapier doesn't work on a skeleton with spare room in its rib cage, that's easily visible. You can probably figure out the next step from there even without a knowledge check.

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
GM Wageslave wrote:


As a GM, if someone sees a construct (for example) and their first response is to whip out adamantine weaponry without a knowledge check I try to balance that with the idea that such a weapon (even moreso for PFS2) is pretty expensive.

I would probably go so far as to think this is a perfectly reasonable common sense thought process: adamantine cuts through anything; that thing looks like it's made of stone (or steel or solid wood); I don't use my steel longsword to split boulders or punch holes in a cast iron stove; I'm going to use adamantine*.

Whether someone has ever faced a stone golem or not.

Not using fire on it? That's a bit of niche knowledge. But at the same time, once you've seen what happens when you do, not trying that against on iron constructs out of caution would also make sense to me.

EDIT: * Knowing what adamantine is and does is arguably just as esoteric knowledge, so under the kind of metagaming labels we've slapped on more commonly known things, you'd basically need to roll an Arcana check vs. an Uncommon DC to even know what it does. EDIT EDIT: Which I find absurd.

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

Doug Hahn wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
No one is saying that you should insist a player do something
That's actually exactly what was being said in the last thread. And really, this one, too.
Huh. I thought this was discussed ad nauseam in the "other thread," and maybe doesn’t need to be rehashed over here. (I also thought you were a proponent of giving thread authors the benefit of the doubt because "these forums would be a better place if we assumed positive intent" — Guess not?)

Boy, people are really missing the mark today.

I, a), never said this (you're probably thinking of THIS post here), and, b), never said anything about the author of this thread.

I'm talking about the people commenting.

But, sure, let's continue picking on the person complaining about a problem.

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

An aside, but never said what? Because the linked post says this:

Nefreet wrote:
These Forums would indeed be a better place if we all assumed positive intent.

And the quote you appear to be saying that you never said is this:

Quote:
"these forums would be a better place if we assumed positive intent"

Honestly feel my head being twisted around reading your objection because unless you're being exquisitely literal, it's the same statement.

However, more pertinent to the thread, if the problem that you are complaining about is that the existence of Organized Play curated (or community curated and OP approved) common knowledge, which might include weaknesses or resistances of certain creatures, constitutes "telling other people how to play," then I hear you but respectfully disagree.

If the problem is other players giving a player advice on what weapon/spell to use in a fight constitutes "telling other people how to play," that is a whole can of worms outside the scope of the intent of this thread.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

Lau Bannenberg wrote:


Pretty often, you can also see why something is or isn't working. If a plant monster takes extra damage from fire you see it light up. If your rapier doesn't work on a skeleton with spare room in its rib cage, that's easily visible. You can probably figure out the next step from there even without a knowledge check.

Just a note that GMs differ greatly in how much information they give out "for free". Some GMs will tell you that your weapon does less (or more) damage than expected, some won't.

1/5 5/5

pauljathome wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:


Pretty often, you can also see why something is or isn't working. If a plant monster takes extra damage from fire you see it light up. If your rapier doesn't work on a skeleton with spare room in its rib cage, that's easily visible. You can probably figure out the next step from there even without a knowledge check.
Just a note that GMs differ greatly in how much information they give out "for free". Some GMs will tell you that your weapon does less (or more) damage than expected, some won't.

Playing the "Well, these seem really tough" and not giving any sort of hints sits poorly in my decades-honed fairness assessment to players.

I've only run into a handful of GMs over the years who don't impart some sort of indication of what a weapon is doing (or not) to a target.

They were also the sorts of GMs that loved marathon sessions of one or two encounters running long because it meant they didn't have to prep as much material for the session.

It is in the best interests of the GM to expedite combats in a seamless fashion based upon IC empirical evidence.

In Organized Play, there is a finite amount of time to get through an entire scenario. As a GM, part of the job responsibilities is to 'keep the train running on time'.

NOT telling players what sort of impact their actions are having doesn't help that.

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