Retraining


Advice


Hi everyone,

I'm very often meeting issues with retraining because of a lot of links between feats. The result being that to retrain a single feat I end up retraining a bunch of them with undesirable effects during the retraining time.

I'll give you a simple example to visualize the issues:
Let's say I take First World Magic at level 1 and Empathetic Plea through Ancestral Paragon at level 3. At some point, I want to retrain out of First World Magic and end with Empathetic Plea and Toughness. Technically, I want to exchange First World Magic for Toughness, which is a single feat exchange. But from a strict application of the rules, I will have to retrain Ancestral Paragon for Toughness and then First World Magic for Empathetic Plea.
My main issue isn't the fact that it costs twice more downtime (even if it's annoying) but the fact that I'll end up at some point with an undesirable build (First World Magic and Empathetic Plea).

This illustration is simple, but when you add Dedications, it becomes sometimes a conundrum. For example, let's say I take Archer Dedication at level 2 but I don't want to spend more feats in it (I just want to use a bow). Then at level 8, I want to retrain to end up with my level 2, 4 and 6 feats in a Dedication and my level 8 feat being Archer Dedication. To do that, I need to retrain 3 feats. During this retraining, I'm unable to use a bow, despite the fact that I'll end up with Archer Dedication in the end. And if I haven't timed my retraining properly, I may either hit level 8 quite late, and end up with a significant portion of my level 7 being unable to use a bow, or too soon and ending having to retrain 4 feats instead of 3. If using a bow is a central part of my character (like a bow Toxicologist) I'm quite screwed.

How would you, as a GM, handle such type of situations? Would you allow a character to retrain a bunch of feats simultaneously to avoid the undesirable build issue? Would you allow a character to retrain the actual differences between both builds and ignore the way the feats have been acquired during levelling process? Or any other idea?
And in an environment like PFS where the players are supposed to follow RAW, would you prevent the bow Toxicologist to use a bow for an adventure or two, or would you be quite merciful and allow them to use the original build and not the undesirable combination while retraining?


SuperBidi wrote:
My main issue isn't the fact that it costs twice more downtime (even if it's annoying) but the fact that I'll end up at some point with an undesirable build (First World Magic and Empathetic Plea).

On the contrary I'd say this is the core of the issue, because if you could simply retrain one or more class/skill/feats at the blink of an eye many or all of the raised issues would be void.

However in order to avoid any of the described continuity issues I as a GM would probably bundle up total downtime / retraining time and only apply all changes when this time is finally up. So if you go for a major character revamp all required/requested changes only take effect after the total amount of retraining time has passed after which all changes will take effect immediately and simulaneously.

The minor downsides of this approach are that you will keep your old spec for the complete retraining period and that you will potentially also have to choose filler feats until total retraining is complete.

tl;dr skip sequential retraining in favor of en bloc retraining in case of major character revamp (i.e. anything more than an exchange on a one to one basis)


I haven't encountered this in games that I have run, but I have thought about it a bit for my own test characters.

For my games, I would only require downtime for feats or skill proficiencies that are actually removed or added. Feats that simply move the slot that they take up can be done without cost.

So your example of swapping First World Magic for Toughness would still only take one feat retraining unit of time and cost. Moving Empathetic Plea from the 3rd level bonus slot gained from Ancestral Paragon into the 1st level chassis slot wouldn't add to that.


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And in no case would I require a player to have their character in an undesirable state due to retraining. If they are doing a large retraining that they don't have time to finish, I would let them count that time towards their retraining but they could play the next adventure with their old build.


Ubertron_X wrote:


However in order to avoid any of the described continuity issues I as a GM would probably bundle up total downtime / retraining time and only apply all changes when this time is finally up. So if you go for a major character revamp all required/requested changes only take effect after the total amount of retraining time has passed after which all changes will take effect immediately and simulaneously.

Same here.

If anything occurs during retraining, we think up about something to deal with ( if you don't need an instructor for your, or part of your, retrain, you can also make a good use of dreaming potential. Or use dreaming potential while using an earn income during the day, depends if you are short on time or golds ).

Sovereign Court

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One of my all-time favorite campaigns had as a given that during wintertime you'd just find a friendly town and stay there for a few months, and that if you had enough money you could buy training in a skill. It added a sort of yearly rhythm to the campaign, to get money to make sure the whole party (people came and went) had enough to get something out of the winter.

Point being, as a GM, I wouldn't nickel and dime the stretches of downtime. Let a few months happen in between adventures. Enough time for a complicated retraining transaction.


Thanks everyone for your answers. I think there's a general consensus on not forcing a player to play with an inconsistent build, and it's the most important thing to me.

Ubertron_X wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
My main issue isn't the fact that it costs twice more downtime (even if it's annoying) but the fact that I'll end up at some point with an undesirable build (First World Magic and Empathetic Plea).
On the contrary I'd say this is the core of the issue, because if you could simply retrain one or more class/skill/feats at the blink of an eye many or all of the raised issues would be void.

If retraining was "free" or near free, I think we would have a bigger issue. Retraining being expensive prevents some shenanigans I'd prefer not to see around a table. It's true that retraining could cost gold, but I think time is more logical (also, it allows the GM to be in control of retraining without having to affect the gold purse of the party).

Horizon Hunters

Is this really something people do regularly? Planning on retraining entire feat lines so you can be better at certain levels seems strange to me.

I understand retraining things like armor/weapon proficiencies.

Also if a player picks a feat that ends up weak that is understandable but retraining at certain levels just to be maximum efficieny at every level from 1-20 seems a but off to me.


SuperBidi wrote:

Thanks everyone for your answers. I think there's a general consensus on not forcing a player to play with an inconsistent build, and it's the most important thing to me.

Ubertron_X wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
My main issue isn't the fact that it costs twice more downtime (even if it's annoying) but the fact that I'll end up at some point with an undesirable build (First World Magic and Empathetic Plea).
On the contrary I'd say this is the core of the issue, because if you could simply retrain one or more class/skill/feats at the blink of an eye many or all of the raised issues would be void.
If retraining was "free" or near free, I think we would have a bigger issue. Retraining being expensive prevents some shenanigans I'd prefer not to see around a table. It's true that retraining could cost gold, but I think time is more logical (also, it allows the GM to be in control of retraining without having to affect the gold purse of the party).

There's not enough data to declare a consensus, and there's a bit of self-selection on who offers up an opinion when the OP leans heavily one direction. Plus I'd think Retraining is what introduces an "inconsistent build" being as a build w/o it remains the same.

But I might be arguing against what might only be a matter of phrasing! You address how Retraining should have a cost and not be automatic so that some shenanigans can be avoided. Discerning how much cost and where to limit shenanigans seems the true crux of the matter. Some of the approved examples seem like shenanigans to me, yet if a player had accidentally fallen into that situation or was thoroughly displeased then we'd need to alleviate that together. But if a player wanted to rewrite their backstory simply for mechanical ease, i.e. suddenly they weren't raised by Dwarves (especially if switching after finishing a Dwarf-themed arc!), then that'd be a red flag for other issues.

To whatever degree one chooses, clear communication of expectations remains the most important IMO. I have an Elf-campaign idea w/ decades of Downtime, so there will be tons of Retraining and an absolute cap on Earn Income/Crafting to keep wealth/power balanced. Meanwhile my Half-Life themed campaign will have zero downtime (if it can even be called a campaign). Since my area likes APs, that would be "normal PF2" for whatever those authors had planned.

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Cylar Nann, I think it depends on the gaming style of the table. In an intense game w/ rigorous challenges and competitive spirit among players (and likely their PCs) then Retraining becomes only another tool to master. I doubt casual games would Retrain much as players have less need to squeeze out every advantage. My area's tables (using many of the same players) have varied a lot in this regard depending on campaign.

Liberty's Edge

Some builds basically require retraining because they use corner cases in the rules.

Two examples :

Shillelagh martial (casts from scrolls, using skill feats rather than class feats). Trick magic item and Assurance (Nature) gets you that from level 3.
If you want to start it at level 2 though, you need to take a dedication. And you will retrain it the level after to free your class feat.

Identify-them-all character who invests in as many Lores as possible till level 10 when they get a feat that allows them to identify all creatures using only 1 or 2 skills.
At this time, all the feats and increases invested in Lores become redundant.


Cylar Nann wrote:
Is this really something people do regularly? Planning on retraining entire feat lines so you can be better at certain levels seems strange to me.

Maybe some people, but that's not my case.

There are many non-power oriented reasons to retrain:
- A character concept that becomes suddenly easier to make thanks to new content. For example, before Beastmaster, my Alchemist was supposed to take Druid Dedication for the Animal Companion. I would have definitely retrained the entire feat line to switch. So it's less of a "being better" than "fitting better".
- A character concept that ended up non-functional. Sometimes, you just make mistakes, thinking that one option is good and funny and finally it doesn't suit you. The only 2 solutions are heavy retraining or switching character. If retraining is possible, I prefer retraining.
- A character that comes online late (or later). Sometimes, the defining ability for your character isn't available before a high level. And without this ability, your character is either completely plain (as in no feat character) or even just unplayable (as in "my class doesn't give me the tools to even fight"). An example (even if it's a low level one) is the Wild Shape Druid. Before level 3, you can't Wild Shape. And if your character is all about Strength and bashing, the Druid class doesn't give you anything to play your desired fighting style. So you either play a no feat spear wielder, or you grab a Greatsword and a few feats and play the closest thing to your final build in terms of gameplay. But you know that any weapon option you'll take before level 3 will be retrained at level 3.
- A character that needs a Dedication feat and that's all. The archer Toxicologist is a good example: You want to be proficient with the bow, and the easiest and best way to do it is Archer Dedication. But then, you are suddenly stuck into this Dedication and you may find the other feats unappealing. So you either pay 2 tax feats to get out (and it is neither funny nor interesting) or you retrain it regularly like the examples I've given.

And I'm pretty sure I can find a lot of other reasons.
Retraining is not necessarily about power, it is also very often used to play the character you want inside a system full of complex interactions.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Some builds basically require retraining because they use corner cases in the rules.

In a rules mechanics heavy game like PF2 you can easily run into (perceived?) continuity issues even if you are not looking at playstyle enabling feats, obscure feat min-maxing or major character revamps.

For example and right out of the CRB my human Warpriest took Canny Acumen early on, only to train out of it at level 11 and will very likely choose it again at level 17.

And while Canny Acumen provides a passive bonus only and probably will be retrained on a one-on-one basis I personally do consider this a (minor) character continuity issue, which unfortunately is inherent to how this feat works.


Another non-powergaming reason for retraining that I can imagine happening is that a feat sounds a lot better or more appropriate to a character than it actually ends up being. So once you have gotten the prerequisite feats or skill boosts and tried out the feat for a few gaming sessions, you find that you don't like it and want to retrain to build the character in a different direction.

Could also be done for thematic reasons rather than simple dissatisfaction with the feat. The character could have a change of heart regarding it.


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Castilliano wrote:
There's not enough data to declare a consensus, and there's a bit of self-selection on who offers up an opinion when the OP leans heavily one direction.

From my experience on these boards, people don't hesitate to confront you if they disagree.

And when I speak of a consensus, I'm obviously not making a statistical analysis. But it's still useful to have a few opinions on the matter, as chances are high that my GM(s) will have an opinion similar to one of the posters.

Castilliano wrote:
Some of the approved examples seem like shenanigans to me

I note.

I'm mostly meeting such issues because I've created my first PFS characters with the PHB only. And as PFS progression is slow I see new appealing options being released constantly, when it's not an errata that just eliminates my gameplay style (like my Alchemist who was supposed to use her Familiar to deliver Elixirs of Life).
I must admit, as a player, I really dislike to see my characters aging. Being barred from new options can lead to a loss of interest in playing a character. So it's really important for me to be able to adapt a character build to new content.

Liberty's Edge

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SuperBidi wrote:
- A character concept that becomes suddenly easier to make thanks to new content. For example, before Beastmaster, my Alchemist was supposed to take Druid Dedication for the Animal Companion. I would have definitely retrained the entire feat line to switch. So it's less of a "being better" than "fitting better".

I may come to this from a strange perspective because as a GM I have usually let my players rebuild pretty freely, and without cost, and I’ve not felt like it caused any issues, even if it does increase power. Your Animal Companion example is apt because in my Agents of Edgewatch campaign we had an Animal Companion Ranger that, around level 8 or 10, we rebuilt into a Fighter with Beastmaster Dedication and a bunch of feats from that archetype. Both the PC’s and the Animal Companion’s combat effectiveness improved, but not to a degree that it disrupted the campaign.

Early in the Edition, especially, I let players swap in new content that fit their builds, but wasn’t available until whatever new book came out. That comes up less often with the amount of material released at this point, but I’d still allow it if it happened.

Sovereign Court

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I think the essential concept of a character doesn't really rely too heavily on the exact mechanical implementation. If the player swapped out the class and most of the feats but the character kept their backstory, goals, quirks, general role in the party/combat etc. then all of this retraining, even retraining beyond what the CRB allows, doesn't really undermine the campaign's continuity.

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