Chasing tail


Advice


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

What can vanarans do with their tails?

Prehensile Tail
You can use your long, flexible tail to perform Interact actions requiring a free hand, even if both hands are otherwise occupied. Your tail can't perform actions that require fingers or significant manual dexterity, including any action that would require a check to accomplish, and you can't use it to hold items.

If you can't hold items, make checks, or do anything requiring fingers or significant manual dexterity, what exactly is left?

I ask not because I lack an answer, but because I hope for assistance in brainstorming up a list of things that vanaran players (and the players of similar tailed ancestries) might find useful during their games.

Off the top of my head...
- open or shut most doors and containers
- poke somebody playfully
- make use of the Point Out action
- make an unarmed "fist" strike
- push, pull, or sweep small objects (would this count as holding if you never pick them up?)
- smash unattended objects or take the Force Open action
- tie or strap items to your tail's extra surface area (such as a broom's straws for sweeping, balloons for kids, or harnesses for worn items)
- probe an opening too small or windy for larger, more rigid appendages
- smother a candle, torch, or an ally that is on fire
- unique dance moves
- keep an object steady (might count as holding)

That's all I've got for now. What ideas might you have?

EDIT: Crossed out a couple that would require checks. :(


Unfortunately, the majority of actions you can use with it are going to be up to your DM or ones that you could already to without a free hand. So, a list of what it can do is really a list of what you DM allows you to do.

For instance:
open or shut most doors and containers: A DM can just say that any latch or lid requires more "manual dexterity" than a tail can do.

poke somebody playfully or make use of the Point Out action: actions you can do without a hand. [Point Out even tells you you are "gesturing in a direction" and that's something you can do with anything in your hands already]

push, pull, or sweep small objects: might be something that requires an athletic and/or acrobatics check

tie or strap items to your tail: since 'worn' isn't detailed, you can wear pretty much anything anywhere.

probe an opening too small or windy for larger, more rigid appendages: sure but... you couldn't FIND anything out as that would require a Perception check. :P

smother a candle, torch, or an ally that is on fire: those are things a dm "might require a skill check" for. [see Persistent Damage Rules, Assisted Recovery]

unique dance moves: sure, go wild! ;)

keep an object steady (might count as holding): as fluff sure... As long as there isn't any mechanical benefit, it seems fine.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Slide a tankard of ale along the countertop?

Not really MUCH mechanically. But it did occur to me that Climbing Tail pretty much removes every single problem I have with climbing (except the slow climbing speed) so I realized that Vanara players can move in 3D space a lot sooner than most PCs so long as they have sufficient athletics.


One PC in my campaign has the tailed goblin heritage.
Tailed Goblin
Source Character Guide pg. 37 2.0
You have a powerful tail, likely because you descend from a community of monkey goblins. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to Athletics checks to Climb, you gain Combat Climber as a bonus feat, and you reduce the number of free hands required to Climb or Trip by one.

Thus, a vanara using their tail as a free hand to climb seems obvious, especially because New World monkeys use their prehensile tail precisely for that. Unfortunately, the Varana ancestry's Prehensile Tail ability says Interact actions, which excludes the Climb action. Instead, Paizo put the natural climbing in the Climbing Tail ancestry feat. That disappoints me.

For Interact actions, I would add:
- pick up an item and tuck that item into a belt pouch.
- pick up an item and toss it.
The line about "and you can't use it to hold items" can be interpreted as not holding the item for longer than one action, rather than as the tail cannot pick up an item. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines prehensile as "adapted for seizing or grasping especially by wrapping around." I can see the Pathfinder rules preventing the vanara from using Held items grasped by the tail as if they were held in hand, but to say that a prehensive tail cannot seize or grasp an item defies the literal meaning of prehensile.

The crossed out make an unarmed "fist" strike with the tail is still an option. That option is from the Unarmed Attacks rules rather than from the Prehensile Tail ability. Unarmed Attacks says, "You can Strike with your fist or another body part, calculating your attack and damage rolls in the same way you would with a weapon. ... Table 6–6: Unarmed Attacks lists the statistics for an unarmed attack with a fist, though you’ll usually use the same statistics for attacks made with any other parts of your body."


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Mathmuse wrote:
The crossed out make an unarmed "fist" strike with the tail is still an option. That option is from the Unarmed Attacks rules rather than from the Prehensile Tail ability. Unarmed Attacks says, "You can Strike with your fist or another body part, calculating your attack and damage rolls in the same way you would with a weapon. ... Table...

Would that not count as a check though?


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

A bizarre example of Specific trumps general? A vanara without prehensile tail can use their tail for an unarmed attack, but one with prehensile tail is disqualified.

Not that it really matters but that seems like a legitimate and correct way to read the RAW.

Anyways...

I feel like the main benefit is being able to pick things up or open doors, both of which are pretty valuable for someone with a build that occupies both hands. Being able to open a door without regripping seems really nice.

I dislike that the feat has the vague "significant manual dexterity" clause instead of just spelling out what actions it allows though. I realize you can't cover every case, but having a few examples of what's considered appropriate would make it a lot easier to rule on how it works.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I would consider it generous if a GM allowed me to pick things up with it. I'll have to keep that prehensile definition in my back pocket for those who don't.

Sovereign Court

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I feel like these feats might make more sense with a list of what the tail CAN do. Right now I'm having trouble figuring out what's left after all the "but you can't do this and that and that.."


Ravingdork wrote:
I would consider it generous if a GM allowed me to pick things up with it. I'll have to keep that prehensile definition in my back pocket for those who don't.

For me, "Your tail can't perform actions that require fingers or significant manual dexterity" pretty much trumps any definition of prehensile: That and "you can't use it to hold items". This pretty much means you can do anything someone without fingers and only one hand could do, which would be limited to things with LARGE handles [like a bucket] AND even then, you can't do so for more than that action [or you'd be holding it]. It's hard to imagine many things that you could pick up an item and stow or toss it with that limitation.


Ascalaphus wrote:
I feel like these feats might make more sense with a list of what the tail CAN do. Right now I'm having trouble figuring out what's left after all the "but you can't do this and that and that.."

What's left? Pretty much push/pull/poke an item that isn't big/unwieldy enough that it requires a check. That's something like VERY simple doors/shutters without a lock or even a mildly complicated latch.

Sovereign Court

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I feel like they were so worried about making something that breaks the hand economy and was too good, that they hedged it in so hard that now there's nothing left.

That's why I think we might have been better off with a list of acceptable things that you CAN do rather than trying to parse what's left after all the exclusions. Then, when the author is submitting their feat to the editor, the editor can look at the list and think "well is that list of things really worth a level X feat?" and you can either play around with the cost or the benefits to get a happy result.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ascalaphus wrote:
I feel like they were so worried about making something that breaks the hand economy and was too good, that they hedged it in so hard that now there's nothing left.

And that's why happy threads like this exist.


graystone wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
I would consider it generous if a GM allowed me to pick things up with it. I'll have to keep that prehensile definition in my back pocket for those who don't.
For me, "Your tail can't perform actions that require fingers or significant manual dexterity" pretty much trumps any definition of prehensile: That and "you can't use it to hold items". This pretty much means you can do anything someone without fingers and only one hand could do, which would be limited to things with LARGE handles [like a bucket] AND even then, you can't do so for more than that action [or you'd be holding it]. It's hard to imagine many things that you could pick up an item and stow or toss it with that limitation.

The problem with the "Your tail can't perform actions that require fingers or significant manual dexterity" trumping the definition of prehensile is that the developers named it "Prehensile Tail" when it is not prehensile.

Impossible Lands, Vanara, pg. 53 wrote:
Vanaras are inquisitive and mischievous monkey-like humanoids with short, soft fur, expressive eyes, and long, prehensile tails. Their handlike feet and agile builds serve them well in the jungle realms where most vanaras live.

I could understand giving them long, graceful tails that are not prehensile. Vanara resemble monkeys in appearance but are not monkeys. From the pictures in the Archives of Nethys Vanara page the costumes of the vanara don't appear designed around use of tails for grasping objects. I don't own Impossible Lands yet (I had to delay some purchases due to medical budget problems), so I haven't seen other pictures of vanara. I could easily accept that like catfolk, they have tails that have no particular use.

But in the quoted paragraph and in the Prehensile Tail ability, the tails are called prehensile. So why aren't they prehensile by the dictionary definition?


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Ascalaphus wrote:
I feel like these feats might make more sense with a list of what the tail CAN do. Right now I'm having trouble figuring out what's left after all the "but you can't do this and that and that.."

I have so much respect for Ascalaphus's understanding of the rules that my jaw dropped upon reading Ascalaphus saying, "I'm having trouble figuring out ..."

Earlier I had pointed out the unarmed attack rule that would let any creature's tail attack. However, due to the varana's Prehensile Tail ability saying, "Your tail can't perform actions that require fingers or significant manual dexterity, including any action that would require a check to accomplish, ...." Ravingdork and Squiggit pointed out that I was wrong and even the unarmed attack was forbidden. I suspect that this wording is an error, that the word "actions" was meant to refer to the Interact actions mentioned in the previous sentence; nevertheless, as written it leaves a vanara's tail less capable than any other creature's tail. Thus, the effect of the ability contradicts the intent of giving the varana a prehensile tail.

Ascalaphus wrote:

I feel like they were so worried about making something that breaks the hand economy and was too good, that they hedged it in so hard that now there's nothing left.

That's why I think we might have been better off with a list of acceptable things that you CAN do rather than trying to parse what's left after all the exclusions. Then, when the author is submitting their feat to the editor, the editor can look at the list and think "well is that list of things really worth a level X feat?" and you can either play around with the cost or the benefits to get a happy result.

Note that the wording of the Prehensile Tail ability is from the Vanara Disciple in Bestiary 3, page 286. Since it was written for a creature, and PF2 design limits the abilities of creatures for simplicity for the GM, it did not have to be an especially functional description. The full description of vanara in Bestiary 3 also says, "Many of them learn to use their tails to capably manipulate objects." Because that says "many" instead of "all," I can see why full manipulation is not a default vanara ancestry ability but would be granted by ancestry feats instead.

The PF1 vanara have, "Prehensile Tail (Ex) All vanaras have long, flexible tails that they can use to carry objects. They cannot wield weapons with their tails, but the tails do allow them to retrieve small stowed objects carried on their persons as a swift action." (from Varna creature and Vanara race). Translating that to PF2 jargon would give:

Prehensile Tail
You can use your long, flexible tail to perform Interact to retrieve Light objects and carry them. The tail lacks the manual dexterity to wield them as weapons or activate them as magic items.

I would also add:
The tail can also grasp handles to Interact to open doors and containers so long as no skill check is involved.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I don't think it's just because it's a bestiary entry. Several existing character options, like Tieflings, Ganzi, and Fetchlings, have nearly identical feats (Skillful Tail for the first two and Clever Shadow for Fetchlings).

They have the exact same "manual dexterity" limitation, although unlike the Vanara version the older ones specifically mention opening an unlocked door as something you can do.


Mathmuse wrote:
The problem with the "Your tail can't perform actions that require fingers or significant manual dexterity" trumping the definition of prehensile is that the developers named it "Prehensile Tail" when it is not prehensile.

The problem is that lots of names have flowery/evocative names: Are you going to argue that Flying Kick MUST be used with kick for instance? I find relying on ANYTHING in the name based on a dictionary definition quite dubious based on MANY, MANY, MANY things NOT following the pattern of not strictly following that. Powerful Fist isn't limited to fists, Deflect Arrow isn't limited to arrows, Stand Still doesn't actually make them still [not moving or making a sound], ect...

Even if you accepted that prehensile in the name means anything, it could be an overall description of their tail and not a specific part of any specific feature: for instance, they have feats for climbing [they can't do that normally because it's a check], disarming [normally a check] and hang from their tail.

Impossible Lands, Vanara, pg. 53 wrote:
Vanaras are inquisitive and mischievous monkey-like humanoids with short, soft fur, expressive eyes, and long, prehensile tails. Their handlike feet and agile builds serve them well in the jungle realms where most vanaras live.

Sure, but this is totally meaningless as it explains what the rules are for their prehensile tails that has specific rules for the tails.

Mathmuse wrote:
So why aren't they prehensile by the dictionary definition?

Because it's a common practice since there have been games? I'm going to REALLY shock you with this example; the PF1 feat Elephant Stomp doesn't actually have anything to do with an elephant and doesn't require you to stomp anything... A non-elephant is perfectly fine with a bite... :P

Add to that that we have a pattern of how the game handles prehensile extra limbs and it follows what I've been saying. Only Syu Tak-Nwa's Skillful Tresses allows you to pick up and hold items.

Mathmuse wrote:
From the pictures in the Archives of Nethys Vanara page the costumes of the vanara don't appear designed around use of tails for grasping objects.

To me, they seem like the ones that would allow them to hang off a a tree limb not one that's allow them to pick up a small item off the ground. Only the female image has a tail that tapers at the end that would allow for more flexibility but even that doesn't look like it'd be able to be used for anything needing more than a single finger [it wouldn't be able to bend enough to hold much of anything but might have an easier time moving something with more accuracy].


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Ascalaphus wrote:

I feel like they were so worried about making something that breaks the hand economy and was too good, that they hedged it in so hard that now there's nothing left.

Honestly this kind of mentality is what created a bunch of turds in Pf1 like the Oozemorph, Rage alchemist, Esoteric Knowledge Talent, etc, and what kinda ruins stuff like Fox form for me (Since its taking on Pest Form)

But the Vanara prehensile tail issues extend to Tiefling as well.

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