Can NPCs use Recall Knowledge? Should they?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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The Raven Black wrote:

Problem I have with overly targeting the familiar is that some opponents should likewise try to break a PC's weapon.

But PF2 made that pretty impossible. Because it would feel bad for the players.

Very similar here IMO.

But the game DOES have a way to attack the weapon and make it unusable for a while: disarm. In both cases, the player isn't forever without the item but can get it back later.

Secondly, it rarely makes sense for a foe to destroy a weapon/spellbook, ect unless they don't care for monetary rewards. It's why sundering felt so bad to use in PF1: now if automatic bonuses is in play, then it becomes more of an issue.

Liberty's Edge

Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they

(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?

My guess is RK because players know familiars and Witches are a thing.


The Raven Black wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they

(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?
My guess is RK because players know familiars and Witches are a thing.

Even as a player I don't RK every enemy just to be sure I am optimizing my tactics.

If an enemy sees a cat that is coming up to it in combat, I could absolutely see that enemy swatting at the cat if they have a spare action. Just to be on the safe side.

Liberty's Edge

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Finoan wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they

(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?
My guess is RK because players know familiars and Witches are a thing.

Even as a player I don't RK every enemy just to be sure I am optimizing my tactics.

If an enemy sees a cat that is coming up to it in combat, I could absolutely see that enemy swatting at the cat if they have a spare action. Just to be on the safe side.

Then I expect the enemy to do the same when my 1st level Summoned Animal comes up to them in combat, even at high levels. Great way to make them waste an action.


The Raven Black wrote:
Finoan wrote:

Even as a player I don't RK every enemy just to be sure I am optimizing my tactics.

If an enemy sees a cat that is coming up to it in combat, I could absolutely see that enemy swatting at the cat if they have a spare action. Just to be on the safe side.

Then I expect the enemy to do the same when my 1st level Summoned Animal comes up to them in combat, even at high levels. Great way to make them waste an action.

Yeah, that sounds fair to me.


Ravingdork wrote:

In my posts and examples at least, it's not about "inconveniencing the player." (Which I would have called a disingenuous strawman argument had you been responding only to my posts.) It's about whether the NPCs would even recognize the familiar as a threat.

In my example it is not a spell, so there are no flashing magical lights or outward signs. It is specifically described as hostile hissing, and nothing else. So what reasoning does the GM's NPC have to "swat the cat" so long as there are other more dangerous threats about? Insofar as I can tell, there aren't any. Not unless the GM declares the adversary has lots of experience combating witches, or makes a Recall Knowledge check to better understand what is really going on.

Sure an ignorant enemy might attempt it out of an abundance of caution (the whole "why isn’t the animal running away?" bit), but that should probably be the exception when fighting a clever opponent, not the norm for everyone you ever face.

If the GM wants to make the ability more than its text describes (adding observable magical effects or having the target sense a hostile ping, or what have you) to make the ability more balanced for their table, then that's well within the scope of their authority. I do hope it's discussed in advance though and not used as some sort of "gotcha!" surprise.

I did not quote you, and was explicitly talking about a common sentiment in the abstract. It's honestly absurd that I might need even more qualifiers to not somehow bruise an ego.

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Familiars tend to be obviously magical.

If my opposites in a fight to the death have what appears to be even a normal animal participating, then they think it's a good idea to have the animal there. I don't want to die, and it looks fragile, so swatting it is an easy way to disrupt their plan.

---------------------

It would be nice if you were being accurate / honest.

Quote:
In my example it is not a spell, so there are no flashing magical lights or outward signs. It is specifically described as hostile hissing, and nothing else.

This is flat out untrue. I do not understand how you can be so hostilely defensive, yet present such an easily disprovable untruth.

The flavor text above the ability describes them as hostile and hissing.

The ice/ rime familiar's version is "Your familiar is cold to the touch, its breath always visible." It's flavor to describe that kind of familiar's behavior and quirks.

-

Quote:

Familiar of Ongoing Misery

Your familiar seems hostile to all creatures other than you, hissing at them if they get too near. When you Cast or Sustain a hex, your familiar can curse a creature within 15 feet of it, prolonging the duration of any negative conditions affecting it by 1 round. This is a curse effect. This prolongs only conditions with a timed duration (such as “1 round" or “until the end of your next turn") and doesn't prevent conditions from being removed by other means.

It's explicitly casting a curse with that ability.

As many others have also said, by default, such magical actions are outwardly visible and obvious.

---------------------

And yet again, I don't know why you are attacking me on a point I never made (but can easily defend).

I never so much as mentioned the Witch class, let alone one specific patron ability.

I did mention specific defensive familiar abilities, as that provides insight into what the devs expect players to use in order to protect their familiars.

If you want them to avoid combat, absorb them into the caster. If you want them on the field but not to die, be ready to use a reaction to eat their lethal damage.

That's the game's expectation.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they

(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?

In this reversed scenario (good idea by the way!) I would probably expect my players to attack it last, as an opportunity (such as with a third action attack if the familiar came into melee), or to Recall Knowledge.

In any event, I seriously doubt it would be made a priority target, even if they knew they were fighting a witch.

That being said, if they knew it was a familiar, they might try to capture it to use as a hostage and force an end to the hostilities that way. "Cease your witchery or your beloved bunny gets bounced!"

That would be less about stopping the familiar as a threat and more about creating a fun and memorable roleplaying situation though.


The Raven Black wrote:

Problem I have with overly targeting the familiar is that some opponents should likewise try to break a PC's weapon.

But PF2 made that pretty impossible. Because it would feel bad for the players.

Very similar here IMO.

But it's not the same, because a broken weapon means the martial character is worthless for the rest of combat (if not the rest of the adventure). Losing a familiar is really more like getting doomed or drained - a non-crippling debuff that lasts until your next rest.

I don't think GMs should constantly doom or drain their PCs. But I also don't think those conditions should be removed from the game because they make PCs a little weaker for an adventuring workday.


The Raven Black wrote:
Finoan wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they

(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?
My guess is RK because players know familiars and Witches are a thing.

Even as a player I don't RK every enemy just to be sure I am optimizing my tactics.

If an enemy sees a cat that is coming up to it in combat, I could absolutely see that enemy swatting at the cat if they have a spare action. Just to be on the safe side.

Then I expect the enemy to do the same when my 1st level Summoned Animal comes up to them in combat, even at high levels. Great way to make them waste an action.

Honestly that seems pretty darn fair yes. And to do otherwise (at least before the familiar starts slow-locking you) is kinda blatantly GM metagaming.


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Holding the familiar hostage is more interesting, RD. Unfortunately it leads to the idea of simply snatching it away. Much more severe than killing it, as it would not get replaced tomorrow, effectively neutralizing the Witch. Gulp! (And speaking of "Gulp!", I can imagine a hungry creature w/ Swallow Whole-small attacking the Tiny familiar if only because the party had all Medium targets. And then fleeing.)

That falls in the "stealing Iron Man's armor/Green Lantern's ring" territory, something the writers seldom do because that takes away what makes them special. Not that Iron Man wasn't badass when the Skrulls underestimated him w/o armor, but one of Iron Man's writers said a hard aspect was visibly damaging Tony w/o lessening his powers...a.k.a. his armor which keeps him from being damaged.
On the flip side, maybe it's more like Captain America's shield, which he's always losing, with it breaking quite often for something indestructible! He keeps tossing it away, so what does he expect?
Hmm.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If you start kidnapping familiars final sacrifice will just become a staple spell.


Regarding RK'ing a creature (strange animal(?)) on opponent's side: I'd find that quite plausible.

Regarding Final Sacrifing kidnapped familiars: Depends on two important points:

1) When and how they will return, and what happens, if they are not .. erhm ... "freed". Witch familiar has higher cost of kidnapped familiar, while having mechanically less cost of a familiar dying. Since this thread was significantly affected by the "Are Ongoing Misery Familiar's Imba"-discussion, I presume this is about Witch familiars at this point.

2) Relation to the familiar. In case of a close emotional tie, one might not want to violently explode that being... From an emotional perspective it seems rather cruel to me.

One might of course argue that getting into captivity could yield even greater agony. The latter might well be conceivable if the captors were some fiendish beings about to take that tiny creature into an abyssal realm or the like. On the other hand: I wouldn't personally like such "euthanasia" arguments to become commonplace. Plus, a story revolving around freeing the familiar could be an interesting story, too, IMO.

[More Off-Topic]
Final Sacrifice is still expecting remastering. Must actually get some change because of the "evil to sacrifice non-mindless minion"-aspect. I'm curious to see, how that will be solved. Personally, I wouldn't object, if bursting your own familiar was outruled (unless it was willing to be killed that way, by own decision w/o caster pressure).


Captain Morgan wrote:
If you start kidnapping familiars final sacrifice will just become a staple spell.

I do recall multiple campaigns I've played in and run where the PCs became immortal. Tactics got extremely weird, since death was no longer the worst thing that could happen. Instead, it was all kidnapping, baleful polymorphs, and petrification.

This led to amusing scenes where PCs losing a fight tripped all over themselves to kill each other rather than get thrown in jail.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
If you start kidnapping familiars final sacrifice will just become a staple spell.

Hey, now. Recall Familiar is also available. And I don't see anything that says that the familiar has to be present when the Witch is choosing familiar abilities during daily preparations. Only for preparing spells or refocusing.


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Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they

(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?

It's a bad example by the way. You forgot to mention that PCs know that this hissing is harmful to them. And players very probably even know what exactly it's doing. GMs don't hide such things and shouldn't do so. Most they can hide are afflictions and curses/cursed items at onset/inactive stage.


Errenor wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they

(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?
It's a bad example by the way. You forgot to mention that PCs know that this hissing is harmful to them. And players very probably even know what exactly it's doing. GMs don't hide such things and shouldn't do so. Most they can hide are afflictions and curses/cursed items at onset/inactive stage.

Quite. A GM should probably give visual cues about that, like glowing eyes or ominous shadows.

Same reason witch PCs probably give visual cues.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Farien wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
If you start kidnapping familiars final sacrifice will just become a staple spell.
Hey, now. Recall Familiar is also available. And I don't see anything that says that the familiar has to be present when the Witch is choosing familiar abilities during daily preparations. Only for preparing spells or refocusing.

It has a one mile range though, so I wouldn't count on still being able to use the next day. Keeping one spell slot open for final sacrifice is cheaper than keeping the ability slot open.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Farien wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
If you start kidnapping familiars final sacrifice will just become a staple spell.
Hey, now. Recall Familiar is also available. And I don't see anything that says that the familiar has to be present when the Witch is choosing familiar abilities during daily preparations. Only for preparing spells or refocusing.
It has a one mile range though, so I wouldn't count on still being able to use the next day. Keeping one spell slot open for final sacrifice is cheaper than keeping the ability slot open.

That depends on the character level.

Also, Final Sacrifice has a 120 foot range limit and several enemies have fast movement speeds.

So there are benefits and drawbacks to both contingency plans.


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Errenor wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they

(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?
It's a bad example by the way. You forgot to mention that PCs know that this hissing is harmful to them. And players very probably even know what exactly it's doing. GMs don't hide such things and shouldn't do so. Most they can hide are afflictions and curses/cursed items at onset/inactive stage.

I see no reason either the players nor, more importantly, the characters would know the hissing is harmful. Whether GMs report such things varies by table---as does whether players are expected to avoid metagaming with it. Apparently at your table it's "Yes" and "No"; at others, including mine, it's the reverse.

If you want to claim your table's way is actually the one and only way, supply rules citations.


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Many of my players would attack a hissing cat simply to remove the annoyance/insult, that is as long as doing so didn't undermine their overall combat plan. Some would do so out of paranoia, perhaps with somewhat sound reasoning that the cat should've run away. I doubt any would spend an action on RK too, unless they had abilities linked to it.

I remember when losing in a 007 finale trying to make sure to catch the BBEG's dog in the machine guy spray because dang it, I may not be able to win, but I'm gonna take something precious from that guy as I go down. (And it sprayed the more salient targets too.) GM nixed that, offended by my "heroic" agent's actions. But in PF2 where many of the opponents embody evil or spite, and perhaps also can tell they're going to lose anyway, I could see them trying to kill the unusually brave kitty that somebody in the party must love.
Of course, that tactic's organic; it would vary by each circumstance. And yeah, grabbing the cat seems more and more a legitimate tactic if you know it might get you safely away from murder-hobos.


Castilliano wrote:
Many of my players would attack a hissing cat simply to remove the annoyance/insult, that is as long as doing so didn't undermine their overall combat plan. Some would do so out of paranoia, perhaps with somewhat sound reasoning that the cat should've run away. I doubt any would spend an action on RK too, unless they had abilities linked to it.

An ambush predator interested in a meal - like a Jungle Drake - might grab the familiar and run off with it as their primary battle tactic.


Add me to the list of "yes, NPCs can use RK". If the GM has a question as to whether the NPC in question knows some potentially-useful fact, how else should they determine it.

If it was not otherwise obvious that the cat was the source of the effect (and I am not familiar enough with PF2 witches to have any opinion on that question) then that is exactly the kind of circumstance where it can be used.


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Eoran wrote:
Also, Final Sacrifice has a 120 foot range limit and several enemies have fast movement speeds.

The problem isn't even that. The problem is Final Sacrifice requires Line of Sight and Line of Effect (because it doesn't say it doesn't need it). So if someone took familiar around the corner you can't even blow it up. Or swallowed it.

Recall Familiar doesn't require either.
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

I see no reason either the players nor, more importantly, the characters would know the hissing is harmful. Whether GMs report such things varies by table---as does whether players are expected to avoid metagaming with it. Apparently at your table it's "Yes" and "No"; at others, including mine, it's the reverse.

If you want to claim your table's way is actually the one and only way, supply rules citations.

Oh, I won't say it's the only way. Bad ways are ways. Here goes another discussion on blindsiding players which I'm not remotely interested in. Do as you like.


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Errenor wrote:
Eoran wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

I see no reason either the players nor, more importantly, the characters would know the hissing is harmful. Whether GMs report such things varies by table---as does whether players are expected to avoid metagaming with it. Apparently at your table it's "Yes" and "No"; at others, including mine, it's the reverse.

If you want to claim your table's way is actually the one and only way, supply rules citations.

Oh, I won't say it's the only way. Bad ways are ways. Here goes another discussion on blindsiding players which I'm not remotely interested in. Do as you like.

OH NOES WE'VE BEEN HAVING BADWRONGFUN THIS WHOLE TIME!!!

I thank the gods for supplying Errenor the Wise to make it all better.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Im wondering if its practical for a GM to roll rk checks for npcs.
The GM is basically the one who determines what the npc recalls. The dice are just middleman for the result which really should be determined by what result makes a compelling and fun experience.
Going after a players familiar for non story reasons is not compelling or fun. The GM is the story teller and doesnt get to hide behind a dice roll for outcomes. All outcomes that dont derive from the players rolls are the GMs responsibility. This to the point that even the bonuses of the npc and the dc that the gm is rking for are determined by the gm which is going to sway the outcome one way or the other. Even after a roll the GM then adjucates what is reasonable for the npc to know from the roll.
Story telling doesnt stop in combat or even when a roll is made. I think the GM should skip the role and use the npc to do what they were put them there to do.
If the GM is having enemies attack the familiar to suggest to the player there are costs to using certain tactics with familiar placement. Its better to foreshadow such aggression so you as the player can take steps to protect your familiar or keep it out of harms way. Having an enemy yell at the cat the round before attacking it to signal he noticed it and wants to harm it might be all the foreshadowing needed. If the enemy is trained in occult maybe they recognize right away what the cat is. If they have high int they can piece it together after a few rounds. If they are not smart and not familiar with witches or occult maybe they think its just a cat. But if the motivation fits the enemy hurting a cat might fit its profile. Ignoring it might fit its profile. Just has to fit into the story telling. Does the GM want to tell a story where a which is always having to keep Baddies away from the familiar? I suspect that could get tiresome anyone playing a witch.


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Bluemagetim wrote:

Im wondering if its practical for a GM to roll rk checks for npcs.

The GM is basically the one who determines what the npc recalls. The dice are just middleman for the result which really should be determined by what result makes a compelling and fun experience.

It is a good point. I think a lot of this discussion is fueled by trauma from previous GMs that would blatantly metagame against the PCs and do things to specifically target and shut down their best abilities. Probably due to the PF1 arms race of the players building characters with ever increasing superpowers and the GM having to find some way of still providing a challenge in order to make the game engaging.

So now we have people concerned that their familiar is going to be targeted in combat constantly and purely for metagame reason to shut down the nice ability that they have - and with no actions spent or rolls needed by the enemies to do it.


Finoan wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
Many of my players would attack a hissing cat simply to remove the annoyance/insult, that is as long as doing so didn't undermine their overall combat plan. Some would do so out of paranoia, perhaps with somewhat sound reasoning that the cat should've run away. I doubt any would spend an action on RK too, unless they had abilities linked to it.
An ambush predator interested in a meal - like a Jungle Drake - might grab the familiar and run off with it as their primary battle tactic.

Ambush predators and assassins in general have a really bad habit of "kill a PC/pet, then leave".

The combat system is set up to have two relatively equal sides engaged in an arena duel. Not "kill them before they can blink, leave".

Or to put it another way, there's a reason teleport no longer takes a standard action to cast.

Quote:
It is a good point. I think a lot of this discussion is fueled by trauma from previous GMs that would blatantly metagame against the PCs and do things to specifically target and shut down their best abilities. Probably due to the PF1 arms race of the players building characters with ever increasing superpowers and the GM having to find some way of still providing a challenge in order to make the game engaging.

Yeeeah. It's the same mentality that produced the Tomb of Horrors and other monuments to, ah, what we shall call "adversarial GMing." Do not go to war with your GM or with your PCs. It's mutually assured destruction at best.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Bluemagetim wrote:

Im wondering if its practical for a GM to roll rk checks for npcs.

The GM is basically the one who determines what the npc recalls. The dice are just middleman for the result which really should be determined by what result makes a compelling and fun experience.
Going after a players familiar for non story reasons is not compelling or fun. The GM is the story teller and doesnt get to hide behind a dice roll for outcomes. All outcomes that dont derive from the players rolls are the GMs responsibility. This to the point that even the bonuses of the npc and the dc that the gm is rking for are determined by the gm which is going to sway the outcome one way or the other. Even after a roll the GM then adjucates what is reasonable for the npc to know from the roll.
Story telling doesnt stop in combat or even when a roll is made. I think the GM should skip the role and use the npc to do what they were put them there to do.
If the GM is having enemies attack the familiar to suggest to the player there are costs to using certain tactics with familiar placement. Its better to foreshadow such aggression so you as the player can take steps to protect your familiar or keep it out of harms way. Having an enemy yell at the cat the round before attacking it to signal he noticed it and wants to harm it might be all the foreshadowing needed. If the enemy is trained in occult maybe they recognize right away what the cat is. If they have high int they can piece it together after a few rounds. If they are not smart and not familiar with witches or occult maybe they think its just a cat. But if the motivation fits the enemy hurting a cat might fit its profile. Ignoring it might fit its profile. Just has to fit into the story telling. Does the GM want to tell a story where a which is always having to keep Baddies away from the familiar? I suspect that could get tiresome anyone playing a witch.

I don't really see why any of these arguments are different from a player needing to roll a Recall Knowledge. A GM could decide that players know that they are looking at a troll and they need fire or acid to kill it without calling for a dice roll. If the GM determines it makes sense for the story or is more fun, they can absolutely handwave rolls. But a GM should probably roll a monsters strikes rather than just saying they hit. Recall Knowledge feels pretty much the same. There are places where PC/NPC assymetry feels appropriate, but this is not one of them IMO. Much as NPCs need to roll strikes, saving throws, and follow the 3 action economy.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Makes sense to use dice to determine outcomes of things like an attack or a spell but really what RK is doing in the cat example is determining NPC behavior which I see as just another part of storytelling. i can look at the motivations I have for this NPC and what it would know and just skip the randomness, especially when I am really the one that decided that NPCs bonuses to the roll and the dc of the check( meaning its still fiat). Many NPCs might not even have an applicable skill for the RK check in their stat block and not because they don't have it for certain but because NPCs exist in a quasi developed state where they have abilities on their stat block they need for an encounter or just have a name and no stats block if they weren't meant for an encounter they are not always fully fleshed out until they need to be to tell the story. I think its best to just use the intent you have for the NPC with the motivations you gave that npc and the knowledge you understand it to have to execute the reason you put it there rather than roll to decide on behavior.

I take a lot of that back with this exception, you the GM want to randomize how NPCs behave cause thats the thing you are doing this campaign. But i think that could take some work at the front end to keep it from just feeling fiat anyway.

Liberty's Edge

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The fact is, if it is an animal and it is involved in any way in combat without simply fleeing that means that it is combat trained and either capable of some measure of offense or some other functional utility, shoot, the vast majority of horses in the setting aren't even combat trained and would end up fleeing at the first sign of real combat breaking out so if some robe wearing schmuck mumbling spells and creating obvious sparkling runes midair has a "seemingly harmless" animal with them that isn't actively hiding or running away (much less moving around tactically) that it would quite obviously and clearly more than a mere useless pet.

The rule of thumb here should be "Does the creature spend Actions and functionally take up a square/hex on the combat grid?" and if the answer is yes then it should always be obvious after it acts that they are, in the VERY least, more than meets the eye and can be targeted, furthermore, anyone with some previous experience dealing with Witches in the past should probably even just innately know that taking out the Familiar is a tactically sound course of action that in many cases might even be something they SHOULD prioritize.

They have AC, HP, and have been provided with a variety of offensive and defensive abilities as their role in combat has grown, they are very obviously intended to be targeted and killed.

I repeat, kill the cat.


Bluemagetim wrote:
Makes sense to use dice to determine outcomes of things like an attack or a spell but really what RK is doing in the cat example is determining NPC behavior which I see as just another part of storytelling. i can look at the motivations I have for this NPC and what it would know and just skip the randomness, especially when I am really the one that decided that NPCs bonuses to the roll and the dc of the check( meaning its still fiat).

This original example, yes?

Ravingdork wrote:

I was debating with a Redditor about whether or not it was proper for a GM to target a Resentment witch's familiar that was using Ongoing Misery to curse enemies.

I argued that most enemies would not go out of their way to attack a familiar that, to all outward appearances, was little more than a hissing cat over more dangerous and pressing threats, like the fighter they're in melee with.

He countered that Recall Knowledge is a single action that anyone could do to learn that the cat is a familiar actively engaged in the combat and is using supernatural abilities to curse people despite showing no obvious signs of hostility other than hissing.

It isn't so much about determining NPC behavior (kill all the combatants) as about determining what the NPC knows for certain (that cat is an active combatant).

And there is an action to use to determine what a character knows for certain. One that involves a dice roll.

It is a bit tricky of a decision though. Because Witches and their familiars are common in the setting. Knowing that such things exist is not something difficult. And, as you mentioned, NPCs are not fully created - they only have skills defined that are going to be relevant in combat. And usually knowledge skills aren't on that list. Yet if the GM is deciding that Recall Knowledge is an important combat thing for the NPCs to do, then they would need Recall Knowledge skills at a meaningful bonus.

So in general, I think that the action cost and need for rolling should be fair across both sides of the GM screen. If the NPCs don't need to roll or spend actions to know that a character with a hissing cat is a Witch and that the debuff is coming from the familiar, then PCs shouldn't need to spend actions or make rolls to know basic information about enemies such as that the animated bones over there is a skeleton instead of a bone golem. If the GM instead want's to be more mysterious about what their NPC combatants are capable of doing, then they should also play the characters without automatic knowledge of what the PCs are capable of.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I believe the NPCs know it is an active combatant without any rolls because it hasn't fled from combat, its as Themetricsystem said. The question for me is what kind of behavior does this NPC have toward a tiny creature that is weird enough to engage in combat with all these medium and small size people. If it knows about withces and thier familiars its not going to be due to randomness, it will be due to the NPC having the need of knowing that kind of information as part of story telling. You are right that this is an action advantage for the NPC over players, but it is not an uncommon advantage.


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I mean beyond that this isn't some random animal either happening to be around the fight either, it's a creature that has been strategically positioned (probably even commanded there by the witch) in the middle of the fight and is doing weird things that is having a detrimental effect on people around it. It's not just some random pigeon flying by.

That said, killing the witch's familiar is still kind of a dick GM move and should be done very sparingly. Their resurrection feature was added to help alleviate the problem of how easily they could accidentally die, not as a free pass to nerf witches by killing it every day.


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Now, if a player approached you (the GM) beforehand, and explained that they were planning to make a witch that went to great lengths to deceive others into believing her to be nothing more than a harmless old crone, would that impact the ruling you make when the enemy being harried by the party martials sees a hissing cat?

If you'd like specifics, let's assume I'm talking about a character that uses things like Subtle Spell, spells without obvious observable stimuli (such as inevitable disaster), a clandestine cloak, disguise magic, illusory disguise , and mundane disguise kits and tools to make herself appear to be little more than a harmless servant (such as a cook, porter, or armor cleaner) to the rest of the heroes with all their glowing high level gear. What's more, she most often appears to cower and hide during combats while her cat appears to try and protect her with threatening hisses.

Would you then automagically go to "witch and familiar" still, thus invalidating any chance the player could ever have had to enjoy such a character? Or would you take all the variables into consideration, rule based on the current context, and maybe let the player have some fun from time to time?


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That situation is very specific and for it I take back most of what i said lol. I think for that kind of gameplay the NPCs need to have RK related skills defined because the player has made it a central part of gameplay to fool them. Since fooling NPCs is part of what makes the game fun for that player in that situation RK checks are actually important for NPCs do make. But with or without knowledge some NPCs may have motivations that simply don't care how weak the old crone seams or innocuous the cat looks.


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Bluemagetim wrote:

Makes sense to use dice to determine outcomes of things like an attack or a spell but really what RK is doing in the cat example is determining NPC behavior which I see as just another part of storytelling. i can look at the motivations I have for this NPC and what it would know and just skip the randomness, especially when I am really the one that decided that NPCs bonuses to the roll and the dc of the check( meaning its still fiat). Many NPCs might not even have an applicable skill for the RK check in their stat block and not because they don't have it for certain but because NPCs exist in a quasi developed state where they have abilities on their stat block they need for an encounter or just have a name and no stats block if they weren't meant for an encounter they are not always fully fleshed out until they need to be to tell the story. I think its best to just use the intent you have for the NPC with the motivations you gave that npc and the knowledge you understand it to have to execute the reason you put it there rather than roll to decide on behavior.

I take a lot of that back with this exception, you the GM want to randomize how NPCs behave cause thats the thing you are doing this campaign. But i think that could take some work at the front end to keep it from just feeling fiat anyway.

Dice already determine NPC behavior. That's how the whole emergent story telling thing works.

-If a PC crits an NPC and brings them down to single digit health, that NPC may decide to retreat.

-If a PC critically succeeds against an NPC's dominate, the NPC will likely assume the PC's save is too strong and target someone else with the next Dominate.

-If an NPC brings a PC down to single digit health, the NPC is more likely to follow up and knock them out of the fight.

All of those logic applies equally for PC and NPC behavior, and RK feels no different. If you'd let the PC skip the roll too, fine and dandy. Otherwise you get the side eye.

And I don't think it matters that an NPC lacks the skills to do so successfully. A monk might not have the arcana training to identify the weakness of a dragon. Why should that mean the monk gets to ignore RK? If you don't have the relevant skill, you probably don't spend the action, skip the roll, and have to live with uncertain information.


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Well. I disagree there. For example a golem might not have a sense of self preservation and wont flea when their health is low whereas a cowardly creature might flee at the first cut. In fact all of the examples provided are determined by the NPC design before it ever interacts with the players and are decisions made by the GM either before or on the fly when taking an otherwise unfleshed out NPC and making it matter because the players engaged with them.
The rolls don't decide those things, they can present circumstances the GM might use to justify NPC behavior but behavior is not determined by the rolls themselves. With RK unless rolling is providing fun for the players like in the last example I wouldnt use it for NPCs.


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Bluemagetim wrote:

Well. I disagree there. For example a golem might not have a sense of self preservation and wont flea when their health is low whereas a cowardly creature might flee at the first cut. In fact all of the examples provided are determined by the NPC design before it ever interacts with the players and are decisions made by the GM either before or on the fly when taking an otherwise unfleshed out NPC and making it matter because the players engaged with them.

The rolls don't decide those things, they can present circumstances the GM might use to justify NPC behavior but behavior is not determined by the rolls themselves. With RK unless rolling is providing fun for the players like in the last example I wouldnt use it for NPCs.

But by that logic, NPC design also factors into the RK example: their creator decides both whether they have the skills to identify a witch familiar and the disposition to spend actions to do it. And again, this is exactly how it works for PCs too.

Grand Lodge

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My NPCs roll RK when appropriate and target familiars when it makes sense.


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Your right that you could do that but the NPC unlike players does not have agency. Also NPC design doesn't use the same rule restrictions as PCs.
Almost every thing the players face in a given game wont care to RK anything about the players. They already have behaviors and a short list of attacks they are going to use and will do it almost no matter what party they face. Players however do have agency and do have a wide array of skills and abilities to choose from and RK can have a role in what they decide to do.
Unless an NPC is designed to RK it already knows what its going to do. Its main function will be to do what the GM needs it to for the story to progress and the players to have a good time. I just don't think RK for its own sake fits into that.


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Actually thinking about the example Ravingdork provided I might just have the player roll performance or deception rather then have NPCs roll RK. Attempting to seem harmless in a combat situation is an active thing the player is attempting and should fall on player rolls not the NPC rolling RK.


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Bluemagetim wrote:

Your right that you could do that but the NPC unlike players does not have agency. Also NPC design doesn't use the same rule restrictions as PCs.

Almost every thing the players face in a given game wont care to RK anything about the players. They already have behaviors and a short list of attacks they are going to use and will do it almost no matter what party they face. Players however do have agency and do have a wide array of skills and abilities to choose from and RK can have a role in what they decide to do.
Unless an NPC is designed to RK it already knows what its going to do. Its main function will be to do what the GM needs it to for the story to progress and the players to have a good time. I just don't think RK for its own sake fits into that.

We may be misunderstanding each other. I'm not suggesting RK for its own sake, or that every creature would ever bother. I think we'd both agree a mindless zombie or a purple worm would never attempt the action.

What I am saying is that an intelligent enemy might be willing to spare an action to RK to inform their tactics where something is unclear. (Such as how important killing that familiar is.) The intelligent NPC would follow the same rules as an intelligent PC to do this.

What I THOUGHT you were saying is you would almost never make an intelligent enemy roll such a check, instead deciding what knowledge they have in a way you would not do for a PC. If this is not your meaning, please clarify now.

If it is your meaning, I disagree... But let's start with whether that is your position before I waste time refuting it.


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Bluemagetim wrote:
Actually thinking about the example Ravingdork provided I might just have the player roll performance or deception rather then have NPCs roll RK. Attempting to seem harmless in a combat situation is an active thing the player is attempting and should fall on player rolls not the NPC rolling RK.

I agree that would be appropriate considering the given scenario (Deception more so than Performance since things like Versatile Performance exist).

That being said, you're going to have an old woman character roll a Deception check to Impersonate the character of an old woman? Do you even need to roll to disguise yourself as, well, yourself?

Now, rolling that same check to determine whether or not they realize she is more than she seems would make sense.

Though in that case, if I were GM, I would say that a Success tells them something is off about the old lady, and a Critical Success reveals that she is as dangerous as any of the other PCs.

Keep in mind though, penetrating illusions and disguise requires interaction and/or actions. At the very least that would mean a Seek check in my mind.


Ravingdork wrote:


That being said, you're going to have an old woman character roll a Deception check to Impersonate the character of an old woman? Do you even need to roll to disguise yourself as, well, yourself?

Okay, rolling a check for imposter syndrome is a little *too* real... But also something I want to make my character have to do from now on.


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I think my point is most clear with the following:

If there is something being adjudicate by a roll it will more often be either a player rolling to do something or a NPC rolling to resist something the player is doing.

There are exceptions to this such as perception checks for NPCs and RK can be the right thing to do sometimes but it often isn't the best way to figure out the behavior of an NPC since most of the time an npc is performing a function, you might as well have them do that function and skip an RK roll. If I can put it on a player roll instead like with having the player roll deception or performance to be believable as weak and not threatening while they are in a combat situation I would rather give the player agency and let them roll.
As an aside an unarmored older woman with no weapon in a group of otherwise armed to teeth PCs that isnt running and hiding may be spotted right away as a caster. Especially if the environment suggests helples individuals don't last long in this kind of place.
My other point is the result of an RK is almost entirely predetermined by what you set the difficulty to and provide a bonus for and everything else you decided about the NPC, such to the point that a RK roll is not actually needed behind the scenes unless you have created a situation where the result of an RK roll is part telling the story. It doesn't provide any sense of anything but fiat to players to have an NPC roll a check against a difficulty decided by the GM with a bonus decided by the GM for a result decided by the GM. You can skip the roll and just do what you decided happens. Its not the same as a roll going against AC or Saves or anything else derived by the players character sheet so its not a test of PC (a fixed aspect the rules dictate) against game boundaries, its actually the GM creating the illusion of it.


Ravingdork wrote:
Now, if a player approached you (the GM) beforehand, and explained that they were planning to make a witch that went to great lengths to deceive others into believing her to be nothing more than a harmless old crone, would that impact the ruling you make when the enemy being harried by the party martials sees a hissing cat?

No. A tiny animal in combat is likely a familiar. Then add to that that the 'crone' is having to spend actions/activities on preform [act] and Impersonate to be convincing in the role... How invested is the character in cha and cha skills?


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Assuming that the old woman without armor is probably a spell caster is probably an assumption I wouldn't require a check for an NPC to make, just like I wouldn't require it of a PC. Of course, without the check the old woman without armor might be a monk with the pet feat, and you might get Whirling Thrown off the nearby cliff for your assumption. That's just how the cookie crumbles.


Ravingdork wrote:
whether or not it was proper for a GM to target a Resentment witch's familiar

It depends. The GM should be roleplaying your enemies some will some won't depending on their personalities. I tend to think of it much like the advice in the GMs guide on targetting mounts. Which is don't overdo it or it gets annoying.

Ravingdork wrote:
Can NPCs use Recall Knowledge? Should they?

Absolutely. Pausing a moment to think is a fair call.

SuperBidi wrote:
The main difficulty to do so is that most NPCs are Untrained in Society (the god skill to RK about PCs) and in most RK oriented skills.

I find this a common problem with monster entries in the bestiary. They suffer from a lack of space and are missing simple abilities, and they don't respond to the meta game as determined by your table. I think it is better GMing to be more responsive to your players. I always tack on missing skills that are appropriate at a basic trained level. Sometimes basic equipment as well. For example the thought that a Vampire or a Planetar (outside a Good Omens setting) doesn't have any skill in Society would be just odd.


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I'd like to note that it is entirely within the rules to use a skill matching a character's casting traction to identify them, so society is not the only option. Most NPCs will only be good at identifying a small subset of PCs, but most PCs aren't legendary in every possible knowledge skill either.


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Bluemagetim wrote:

I think my point is most clear with the following:

If there is something being adjudicate by a roll it will more often be either a player rolling to do something or a NPC rolling to resist something the player is doing.

That isn't true in encounter mode. This isn't Dungeon World. NPCs get the same number of actions as PCs and generally roll just as many strikes. And PCs have to make rolls to resist things the NPCs do.

Quote:
There are exceptions to this such as perception checks for NPCs and RK can be the right thing to do sometimes but it often isn't the best way to figure out the behavior of an NPC since most of the time an npc is performing a function, you might as well have them do that function and skip an RK roll.

PCs are usually performing a function too. Literally any action they use has a function. Why not skip rolls for them?

Quote:
If I can put it on a player roll instead like with having the player roll deception or performance to be believable as weak and not threatening while they are in a combat situation I would rather give the player agency and let them roll.

Forcing the player to roll a Deception check that the rules do not require them to roll is the opposite of agency. (Although this has also drifted away from the question of the thread, as recognizing someone as disguised is a deception vs perception thing, not an RK thing.)

Quote:
As an aside an unarmored older woman with no weapon in a group of otherwise armed to teeth PCs that isnt running and hiding may be spotted right away as a caster. Especially if the environment suggests helples individuals don't last long in this kind of place.

Agreed. But that doesn't rely on knowledge of the PC or their class abilities, just having the NPC be a little bit aware of their environment and a little genre savvy, which is a reasonable baseline for both sides of the GM screen.

Quote:
My other point is the result of an RK is almost entirely predetermined by what you set the difficulty to and provide a bonus for and everything else you decided about the NPC

The result of a PC's RK predetermined by what you set the difficulty to (based on level/rarity/etc) and provide the investment in the skill the PC decided to make. And I'll note that RKing things about a PC would follow the same rules to determine the DC.

I'll mention that if you realize an NPC lacks a skill their concept calls for, likely as an oversight, it is OK to pick an appropriate skill value for their level and add it. They still need to spend actions and roll to use the skill, though.

Quote:
such to the point that a RK roll is not actually needed behind the scenes unless you have created a situation where the result of an RK roll is part telling the story.

It is Pathfinder. Everything is telling a story. Especially in combat where every action matters. If a werewolf pauses their mauling to attempt an RK, it says volumes about them as a character. It is also visible to the players in a way arbitrarily deciding the NPC doesn't have to follow rules is not.

Quote:
It doesn't provide any sense of anything but fiat to players to have an NPC roll a check against a difficulty decided by the GM with a bonus decided by the GM for a result decided by the GM.

If that were true we wouldn't have this thread. This all started with people arguing whether it was fair to target a witch's familiar without rolling any kind of check.

Aside from the aforementioned insight into the NPC's psychology, it also provides players a sense of fairness and consistency. If a GM just starts deciding people know how my powers work where I have to spend valuable actions and invest skill increases to do the same to NPCs... I am going to call that out. Your ruling gives NPCs free actions and automatic successes. PF2 combat is hard enough without the GM making decisions like this.

Yes, many NPCs lack the skills to successfully RK or diverse enough options to leverage the knowledge. They make up for that in raw power-- higher numbers, ignoring MAP on things like grab, and abilities that just work a la the fighter. PF2 uses asymmetrical design for building PCs and NPCs, but they follow the same rules in actual play, barring specific exemptions or a very compelling reason.

Quote:
You can skip the roll and just do what you decided happens.

You can do that that with any roll. Also, I'll note the roll itself is only half of why it matters: it is also the NPC having to spend the action.

Quote:
Its not the same as a roll going against AC or Saves or anything else derived by the players character sheet so its not a test of PC (a fixed aspect the rules dictate) against game boundaries, its actually the GM creating the illusion of it.

The DC to RK a PC ability would be set by the character's sheet: Using either the character level or the level of the ability in question. You'd roll Society for most humanoids. You could also use a magic skill of the corresponding tradition for casters, Arcana or Crafting for construct PCs, and Nature for the leshies and stuff. These are fixed aspects with rules dictating them.

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