Fixing/Improving Recall Knowledge

Rhianni32

Explorer
CapnZapp made a post about the issues with Recall Knowledge in the GM experience thread and suggested there be a separate discussion.

While he can speak for himself, I agree with his points that the Recall Knowledge action and use is pretty light on the rules where as most other parts of the rule set are pretty specific.

Recall Knowledge. (Core Rulebook page 239)
For 1 action, the GM makes the roll in secret and you get...
Critical Success You recall the knowledge accurately and gain additional information or context.
Success You recall the knowledge accurately or gain a useful clue about your current situation.
Critical Failure You recall incorrect information or gain an erroneous or misleading clue.

Core Rulebook page 505 has more info on using it to identify a monster
Success: Learn a troll has regeneration and its stopped by acid or fire. Or a manticore's tail spikes (lets be honest probably will fire off in the first round and the PC will figure it out anyways).
Critical Success: Demon's Weakness or the trigger for a creature's ability.

Which skill to use is additional complexity.
Page 505 has an example of identifying a Hag. The Hag type creature is an Occult skill, but they are humanoid so Society would work, but at a harder DC. If you use a Lore skill its easy or very easy. Great example but it would be better to just give us the rules!

Is the 1 action cost in encounter mode good or bad?

Lastly there was discussion of the 50% success rate being too low for players to be using an action.
Presuming you are trained in a skill with a 16 in your skill's ability at 1st level you'll have +6. to beat a DC 15. 60% chance of failure so 50% is about right if its more of a boss monster a couple levels higher which you'd consider using an action on vs scrub minion monsters.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
CapnZapp made a post about the issues with Recall Knowledge in the GM experience thread and suggested there be a separate discussion.

While he can speak for himself, I agree with his points that the Recall Knowledge action and use is pretty light on the rules where as most other parts of the rule set are pretty specific.

Recall Knowledge. (Core Rulebook page 239)
For 1 action, the GM makes the roll in secret and you get...
Critical Success You recall the knowledge accurately and gain additional information or context.
Success You recall the knowledge accurately or gain a useful clue about your current situation.
Critical Failure You recall incorrect information or gain an erroneous or misleading clue.

Core Rulebook page 505 has more info on using it to identify a monster
Success: Learn a troll has regeneration and its stopped by acid or fire. Or a manticore's tail spikes (lets be honest probably will fire off in the first round and the PC will figure it out anyways).
Critical Success: Demon's Weakness or the trigger for a creature's ability.

Which skill to use is additional complexity.
Page 505 has an example of identifying a Hag. The Hag type creature is an Occult skill, but they are humanoid so Society would work, but at a harder DC. If you use a Lore skill its easy or very easy. Great example but it would be better to just give us the rules!

Is the 1 action cost in encounter mode good or bad?

Lastly there was discussion of the 50% success rate being too low for players to be using an action.
Presuming you are trained in a skill with a 16 in your skill's ability at 1st level you'll have +6. to beat a DC 15. 60% chance of failure so 50% is about right if its more of a boss monster a couple levels higher which you'd consider using an action on vs scrub minion monsters.
Quick question - what happens on failure? Is failure just "no recall"?

I ask because I find it extremely helpful to use (in other systems) "some progress with setback" on knowledge failures to provide a mix of info - some accurate, some inaccurate incomplete with leads to how to get more (some leads may be false.) Is this kind of "some progress with setback" part of the core "these are the rules for PF2", part of the ideas suggested in sorts of "DM makes up rules" or what?

Also, wouldn't it seem like partial and/or bad info would be on the scale between "no info" and "you know it"? It seems odd to put bad info as the extreme result - worse than failure. I mean, if something is lower DC - more widespread knowledge, are you are more likely by rules to find knowledge and no knowledge but not false knowledge than if it's more obscure, higher DC, etc? It seems outside GM fiat, the more info is available/recallable (lower DC) the less chance you have for misinfo compared to very obscure.
 

Rhianni32

Explorer
Quick question - what happens on failure? Is failure just "no recall"?

I ask because I find it extremely helpful to use (in other systems) "some progress with setback" on knowledge failures to provide a mix of info
Well RAW and keeping with how PF2 seems to work overall its all or nothing. Failure you don't do "it". Success you to do it. Critical is you do it really well. Other systems do have a the higher total you get the better you do and its a bit more granular type mechanic. If we add it here it would be a mix of the two styles. Not that that is bad or even a big deal but it might open the door to, if you do it for here why not there.

One could do a scale with monster knowledge. DC = know the monster, DC+5 on your total skill check gives attacks, DC+10 is attacks and vulnerabilities etc.
 

Celebrim

Legend
One of the things you have to keep in mind is that if you put a library or even just a bookshelf in the dungeon, then the books in that library contain vastly more information than the dungeon itself. Indeed, they probably contain more information than your entire campaign. So there is a huge disparity between the granularity which you can treat the dungeon, and the granularity you can apply to a book or a bookshelf. If preparing the dungeon to a particular granularity requires 32 pages, the bookshelf may require 6000+ pages. It's just not practical to prepare the books. And for the library, even a two line summary of the book titles and contents might require 6000 pages. So you have to make compromises.

The lesson is that in a game simulating a world, things that are information dense are hard.

The same basic problem applies to something like "Recall Knowledge". You are dealing with something that is information dense. If you tried to have some sort of highly granular rules for "Recall Knowledge" you'd quickly run into the problem that those rules would be larger than all the rest of your rules combined. Since any limited set of rules would be insufficient to cover even a default campaign setting set in a specific location in that world, much of any "Recall Knowledge" resolution process has to be left to fiat both in its DC and the information that results.

This can depending on the GM result in a situation where divination and "Recall Knowledge" vary in utility from useless to the most powerful abilities that a character can have, depending on the GM's comfort level with giving information to players through character resources, the GM's generosity, and how quickly the GM can think on his feet. I don't think there is much a system can do about that, and the best a rules set can hope for is to have examples of play that encourage the sort of structure the designer expects - something that I think is best seen in various attempts at Call of Cthulhu rule sets whether classic BRP based or GUMSHOE based.

The difficulty you are encountering in other words is rooted in inherent math. You can't avoid it.

In my own game I try to assign a difficult to a bit of information based on how well know I think it would be. That DC can vary from like 5 to 40 depending on whether it's something I think every peasant farmer would know like that the weaknesses of vampires (known to every school kid even in a world they don't exist) to lost, hidden, or specific information not likely to be in a book and which only the gods might know. Then for every point that the PC beats the DC, I try to give them one fact that they recall (using the best result by any party member). For large parties and low DC's, it's probably not even worth it to roll. Just give enough exposition to cover the situation. I like for the players to have character lore that they can draw on. I also don't at all mind if they have player knowledge to draw on. I'm decidedly not the sort of DM that minds if fire is used against trolls, as I don't feel any sort of need to play "Gotcha". Players are going to be lost enough as it is without trying to hide information from them or trying to force them to play stupidly for the sake of imagined "realism".
 

Rhianni32

Explorer
to answer my own OP....

1: I don't think 1 action is all that bad. Its the smallest cost of an action that isn't free and what is more useless, rolling that 3rd strike at -10 or doing a recall knowledge? Your front line meleers need every action for shield use and maneuvering for flank but surely there is a caster who cast their 2 action spell and aren't in danger or the ranged physical attacker that is positioned and already made 2 strikes.

2: I'm also good with the chance of success. The 50%-60% success rate is someone who is trained with their general use skill (Arcana, Nature etc) that will be used for a lot of things. When we add in expert and mastered the chance goes up. Additionally we have lores that drop the difficulty to easy or very easy. Now we are talking about +4 to +9 point swing in the PCs favor.

To me, these two things help with RPing. Most other games a recall knowledge type skill is just a free action and everyone rolls because there is no reason not to. The skill bonus range is smaller vs the d20s range. There is a decent chance your character whose family was killed by undead and you swore revenge will roll bad and that city rogue just happens to roll high and they reveal the monster info to the party.

But in PF2 with an action point cost and a 50% success for the rogue vs 80%+ for the character whose backstory is built against this monster, they get to appropriately be the one to share knowledge with the group.
 

Rhianni32

Explorer
That DC can vary from like 5 to 40 depending on whether it's something I think every peasant farmer would know like that the weaknesses of vampires (known to every school kid even in a world they don't exist)
Ok I am really curious on this one. You have every peasant farmer child know enough about vampire lore that they know their strengths and weaknesses? Wouldn't that reduce the vampire to more of an annoyance that farmers have to shoo out of their vegetable patches?
 

Farealmer3

Explorer
Ok I am really curious on this one. You have every peasant farmer child know enough about vampire lore that they know their strengths and weaknesses? Wouldn't that reduce the vampire to more of an annoyance that farmers have to shoo out of their vegetable patches?
Knowing vampire weaknesses and being able to do anything about them if attacked or even knowing the person at your door is a vampire are very different things. Unless you're a dedicated hunter you probably won't assume every person you meet at night is a vampire.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Ok I am really curious on this one. You have every peasant farmer child know enough about vampire lore that they know their strengths and weaknesses? Wouldn't that reduce the vampire to more of an annoyance that farmers have to shoo out of their vegetable patches?
So you are assuming that a commoner with an average stat block array, simply armed with the knowledge of a vampires weaknesses is advantaged in a conflict with a supernaturally strong, supernaturally agile, supernaturally fast, magical, regenerating creature that is largely immune to weapons and can kill the average person with a single bite or blow?

That would not seem to follow. The player's are well aware that vampires are discomforted by garlic, fear holy symbols, don't cast a reflection, must rest in a coffin in the day, must be staked and beheaded, can't enter a private home without permission, can't cross running water, and so forth, and yet I've never noticed that PCs - who have vastly more capabilities than peasant farmers - are so unchallenged by vampires that they can simply shoo them out of their vegetable patches.

Vegetable patches that obviously contain lots of garlic, because well, vampires.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
(Just a quick note: while I appreciate any light you can shed on the rules and how they're supposed to work, I am not yet ready to houserule Pathfinder 2 personally. Why? Basically, I try to master the rules before ignoring them, and in this case I am sure there's plenty rules I haven't even read yet! :))
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Various points:

As I understand it, the intention is to create a "mini game" where you can spend actions in combat to gain bonuses in the form of "puzzle pieces" - Pathfinder 2 combat is often described as being a "puzzle" where the solution is to find out what tactics (individual attacks and actions, as well as sequences of them) work best and what tactics to avoid.

Do you find that fun? Do you use it?

If you allow characters to find out pieces of the puzzle (i.e. monster info) out of combat (such as by visiting a library in the dungeon) there is no real cost (since the cost is measured chiefly only in actions, and it is only in combat you have limited actions).

Next issue is value/worth. Since the Recall Knowledge isn't automatic and only provides a single puzzle piece ("one of its best-known attributes") you could potentially waste several rounds before finally learning that piece of the puzzle you wanted.

How does this interact with abilities that let you make additional (OOC) Recalls? The Bard feat True Hypercognition lets you make five Recalls with a single action. How am I ever going to come up with five useful puzzle pieces, let alone often enough to justify taking the feat? A feat like Dubious Knowledge basically tells me "go and prepare a list of wrong facts so you can dish them out at a moments notice". Don't you find that... completely unplayable? Automatic Knowledge gives you one free Recall a day. Again, giving off the notion the GM has this large stack of index cards prepared ready to give out snippets...

Then there's the details. Things like "For example, Arcana might tell you about the magical defenses of a golem, whereas Crafting could tell you about its sturdy resistance to physical attacks" (page 239) or
"Paralyzed Condition: You have the flat-footed condition and can’t act except to Recall Knowledge [...]" suggest (at least to me) a highly balanced finely calibrated subsystem of handing out puzzle pieces in a measured manner.

Except the GM gets zero help with this. Are you supposed to prepare each monster beforehand or come up with things like "well, while Recall Knowledge for a Golem is generally Arcana, its physical resistance is Crafting" on the fly? For each monster? And how many puzzle pieces are there? And what are the puzzle pieces for a given monster anyway?

To answer the question upthread: failure means nothing in particular, but critical failure means you learn something wrong. Does this mean I need lists containing stuff like "A Troll is vulnerable against cold"?

Then there's the elephant in the room: the... artificiality... of it. What do you think of the notion that you can basically only find out monster facts while fighting them? (Again, if you can just read this in a book, that's much MUCH cheaper action-wise) Doesn't this mean the whole system falls apart for you?

When can you attempt a Recall Knowledge action, exactly? Sure, if you see the monster fighting your friends. But what about when you spot it from a distance? Or after the fight, when you poke it to make sure it's really dead, or when you loot its belongings?

Questions questions... (And we haven't even begun discussing houserules!)
 

Rhianni32

Explorer
So you are assuming that a commoner with an average stat block array, simply armed with the knowledge of a vampires weaknesses is advantaged in a conflict with a supernaturally strong, supernaturally agile, supernaturally fast, magical, regenerating creature that is largely immune to weapons and can kill the average person with a single bite or blow?

That would not seem to follow. The player's are well aware that vampires are discomforted by garlic, fear holy symbols, don't cast a reflection, must rest in a coffin in the day, must be staked and beheaded, can't enter a private home without permission, can't cross running water, and so forth, and yet I've never noticed that PCs - who have vastly more capabilities than peasant farmers - are so unchallenged by vampires that they can simply shoo them out of their vegetable patches.

Vegetable patches that obviously contain lots of garlic, because well, vampires.
yes I was obviously spinning hyperbole about lvl 1 stat block commoners defeating lvl 8 immune to non magic weapon or whatever PF2 stat block vampires offer. I didn't think it was necessary to state that but apparently the conversation went in that direction vs the question I asked. I apologize if my post came off combative. That was not my intent. Nevermind.
 

Rhianni32

Explorer
Good stuff!

As I understand it, the intention is to create a "mini game" where you can spend actions in combat to gain bonuses in the form of "puzzle pieces" - Pathfinder 2 combat is often described as being a "puzzle" where the solution is to find out what tactics (individual attacks and actions, as well as sequences of them) work best and what tactics to avoid.

Do you find that fun? Do you use it?
Most d20 based games are combat simulators with non combat skills and activities as an afterthough.
I think one of the intents of PF2 is to make skills more important by putting more activities to them vs 1 roll and have the GM tell you stuff. Obviously as we are discussing here they didn't fully succeed with Recall knowledge.

I do find those things fun but up to an extent. If the game includes "Guess the monster type matching knowledge skill or you automatically fail your recall knowledge activity" I'll pass.

If you allow characters to find out pieces of the puzzle (i.e. monster info) out of combat (such as by visiting a library in the dungeon) there is no real cost (since the cost is measured chiefly only in actions, and it is only in combat you have limited actions).

Next issue is value/worth. Since the Recall Knowledge isn't automatic and only provides a single puzzle piece ("one of its best-known attributes") you could potentially waste several rounds before finally learning that piece of the puzzle you wanted.
The single puzzle piece aspect is a problem. It also needs to be a meaningful puzzle piece that will drive a decision point. In your example below where your crafting tells you the golem is resistant to attacks... yeah great, the fighter found that out when he struck it with his strike and did at least a little damage. In one of the examples they gave it lists two facts (trolls have regen AND it is stopped with fire)

On the other hand the type of knowledge is not consistent. Why is troll weakness only a success but demon weakness a crit success!?


To answer the question upthread: failure means nothing in particular, but critical failure means you learn something wrong. Does this mean I need lists containing stuff like "A Troll is vulnerable against cold"?
I worry about this too because it also has to be a believable bit of false info. If its too outlandish than the players will know you rolled a "1" and you defeat the purpose of having a surprise roll in the first place.

Then there's the elephant in the room: the... artificiality... of it. What do you think of the notion that you can basically only find out monster facts while fighting them? (Again, if you can just read this in a book, that's much MUCH cheaper action-wise) Doesn't this mean the whole system falls apart for you?
This is where I will disagree with you that the system breaks down. If they go and read a book about Trolls and then later are in combat they could still realistically fail their recall knowledge for several reasons. If they know they are going to fight trolls ahead of time, and take the time to research it, and successfully find the info out then they can spend the cost with other currencies other than action points. Time and or gold to get into the library in the first place. Or maybe they owe a favor or other RP reasons.

There is room for its own mini game here. I cannot remember where but I thought there was a rule that said some lore rolls had to have a certain training level. Like if you wanted to research Tiamat you can't just roll an untrained Arcana roll (or whatever dragons are). It has to be a master trained Dragon Lore to even roll. To me, this seems like a system for library could be worked that you find a book that grants access to "master Dragon" knowledge.

For the majority of player recall knowledge rolls though I would think they are going to get into fights with an unknown monster they didn't know about ahead of time when they were back in town in downtime mode.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I do find those things fun but up to an extent. If the game includes "Guess the monster type matching knowledge skill or you automatically fail your recall knowledge activity" I'll pass.
That possibility is way too meta for me.

The way I'm running that part (the "asking for a skill check" step when a PC spends a RK action) I match the monster type to the skill, a skeleton is undead, and ask for a Religion check.

The players don't have to guess which skill to use, that's not even a step.

At least, I never thought of it as one.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Seems to me there needs to be a sub-system to support the various concepts of the design in pactice.

"Secret rolls" are (to dome) "good" because they prevent players from having to pretend they dont know they rolled a 2. ( I go differrntvroute but that's neither here nor there.)

Combat is supposed to be puzzle figuring out the monster flaw.

But, unless your players never read bestiary or play in other games eith other characters, then, unless the GM makes up rules then you tun headlong into "but the player knows..." issues before any roll.

So, a sub-system to support this would be (remembering Supernatural) either a monster specific or widely available (tier) system for assigning a flaw on the fly (weakness I guess they call it) to any given broad type of monster.

So maybe we roll, consult the type (monstrosity, elemental, infernal, etc) and tier/CR range and get one of a variety of weaknesses. So, for many this could be by-products of the creation. Others could be maybe a by- product of envitonmdnt.

Maybe trolls mutate whrn they recently fed on different beasts. Maybe undead vary by moon phases. Etc.

There would be a great deal of lore-friendly way to support this. It could also yield into investigation and research or even planning.

"So, if we feed the troll a load of fish, we can get it vulnerable to..." or " if we drive off the macguffin the trolls will not be as sttong... "

But does anything like this exist as a standard part ' not just "create your own monsters" GM advice fluff over " make stuff up"?
 

CapnZapp

Hero
My observation at this stage is simply this:

If you expect players starting to take Recall Knowledge actions during combat that ain't happening.

The value of making that choice needs to be comparable to the value of a "third action": repositioning yourself, raising your shield, commanding a familiar, or even a second attack (assuming you just made a two-action sweep or something).

And even if the value was there (because you like me hand out much more info than merely a single snippet on a successful roll) it will still be bloody hard to produce a steady stream of such actions without help from the system.

Maybe if somebody writes a computer program that reads and parses the online Bestiary and spits out semi-random snippets of the "it has a relatively high AC" or "its Will save is poor" or "its known to cast necromancy spells" or "it has a weakness to cold iron" kind, but also including less hard-numbery things "hags form covens that break when their number drops below three" or "it's physically hurt by rejection" that sometimes are just as essential for survival...

(The Bestiary definitely needed a dev to go through the entire list marking at least three snippets as fundamental for each critter, giving the poor GM some guidance as to what to provide on successful Recall checks)

Even then, the elephant in the room remains: why can't the players engineer opportunities to watch and study these monsters from afar and gain the crucial information "for free"? (And once they've beaten their first skeleton or hobgoblin or chuul or whatever, why can't they spend some time making Recall Knowledge actions until they feel satisfied they know everything there is to know in anticipation of meeting another such monster in the future?)

Not saying there can't be an answer to this question. Saying the rulebook gives me the impression its devs think there is such an answer without clearly communicating it to us.
 
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kenada

Explorer
There’s nothing that says Recall Knowledge is the only way to learn information about a topic. It wouldn’t make sense if it were, since one needs to know the information first before recalling it. Recall Knowledge is an abstraction, so the players and the GM don’t need enumerate everything they know before they start playing.

If the PCs want to observe a creature and draw their own conclusions without using Recall Knowledge, that’s fine. Of course, they could check their conclusions by attempting to Recall Knowledge. They could also Gather Information and find someone who knows. Interestingly, there isn’t a Research activity. That definitely seems like a gap.

I think the intent with creature identification is you should say something about its core aspect, the one that was identified during concepting in creature creation. Of course, most creatures GMs will be using are published creatures, and that’s not called out, so they are left guessing as a result. That’s not great, since it may be obvious for some creatures and less obvious for others.

My approach will be to encourage PCs to pick specific topics on a creature instead of just “what is this”, since “what is this” may not necessarily yield useful information. For example, “How can I hurt this?” is better than “What are this creature’s defenses?”. If they happen to learn something empirically, that stabbing skeletons doesn’t work well or whatever, then that’s also fine.
 

Celebrim

Legend
My observation at this stage is simply this...
All of that seems highly sound to me. The whole system is flawed because it is not based on what is going to happen in play, and especially not what is going to happen in play over and extended period with players that have experience and ultimately mastery of the system.

Your elephant in the room shows that even if they spent a lot of page count developing lists for each monster, the long term payoff of that isn't going to be that great. In a system designed just to inform player choice, players will just read the monster manual and make the choices without recourse to the in game action. Such a system will only have limited utility in situations where the GM creates a custom monster as a puzzle monster, and those sorts of encounters typically are "a little goes a long ways" since as with most puzzles inserted into game play they often don't have a fail forward situation if the players fail critical dice rolls.

Think of the principle here as "Your gameplay still needs to have compelling components even when the player has all the spoilers."

Not saying there can't be an answer to this question. Saying the rulebook gives me the impression its devs think there is such an answer without clearly communicating it to us.
You are making the assumption that the developers have thought through his and developed this system organically in play as one that contributed heavily to their enjoyment of play, and my guess is that neither is true. They've neither thought through this nor developed it as a result of lengthy play testing. They just needed a system that sounded good and went with it.

Let me suggest that you've planed the system and revealed it as empty, and the only fix is getting a new system that has math that works.

If it were me, I'd have "Recall Knowledge" be a martial buffing system, were the player called out facts in a way that aided other members of the party. The exact nature of that fact can be as granular or abstract as you like, but you still have the same concrete result - bonuses to hit, bonuses to AC, reduction of damage resistance, etc. You can still use "Recall Knowledge" to learn specific facts in the systems intended usage if you like, and you need to feed in game information known by the character to the player, but when that well is running dry the action still has usage.

Even then, the elephant in the room remains: why can't the players engineer opportunities to watch and study these monsters from afar and gain the crucial information "for free"? (And once they've beaten their first skeleton or hobgoblin or chuul or whatever, why can't they spend some time making Recall Knowledge actions until they feel satisfied they know everything there is to know in anticipation of meeting another such monster in the future?)
If it is a martial buffing system, all of these problems go away and become opportunities to say "Yes."

"Yes, if you study the monsters from afar for at least X time prior to combat, and have a chance to coordinate plans, with a successful check a party member can begin combat with the Recall Knowledge buff of your choice."

"Yes, if you have encountered and defeated a monster before, then you get a bonus on your recall knowledge check AND you can on the first round of combat get one additional free recall knowledge action."

This also addresses some of your other complaints. How valuable are those feats that enhance your Recall Knowledge action? They might need to be tweaked a little, but potentially, vary.

What happens on a critical failure? Maybe you debuff the intended target by way of distraction or miscommunication or false intelligence?

If you want granularity you could have a system which matched different knowledge types against different monster types for different debuff types. Under that system, comments like, "For example, Arcana might tell you about the magical defenses of a golem, whereas Crafting could tell you about its sturdy resistance to physical attacks" now make sense, as the different skill checks could pertain to different buffs - better spell penetration or better physical damage penetration, or better chances to hit, or more damage from an attack.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
All of that seems highly sound to me. The whole system is flawed because it is not based on what is going to happen in play, and especially not what is going to happen in play over and extended period with players that have experience and ultimately mastery of the system.

Your elephant in the room shows that even if they spent a lot of page count developing lists for each monster, the long term payoff of that isn't going to be that great. In a system designed just to inform player choice, players will just read the monster manual and make the choices without recourse to the in game action. Such a system will only have limited utility in situations where the GM creates a custom monster as a puzzle monster, and those sorts of encounters typically are "a little goes a long ways" since as with most puzzles inserted into game play they often don't have a fail forward situation if the players fail critical dice rolls.

Think of the principle here as "Your gameplay still needs to have compelling components even when the player has all the spoilers."



You are making the assumption that the developers have thought through his and developed this system organically in play as one that contributed heavily to their enjoyment of play, and my guess is that neither is true. They've neither thought through this nor developed it as a result of lengthy play testing. They just needed a system that sounded good and went with it.

Let me suggest that you've planed the system and revealed it as empty, and the only fix is getting a new system that has math that works.

If it were me, I'd have "Recall Knowledge" be a martial buffing system, were the player called out facts in a way that aided other members of the party. The exact nature of that fact can be as granular or abstract as you like, but you still have the same concrete result - bonuses to hit, bonuses to AC, reduction of damage resistance, etc. You can still use "Recall Knowledge" to learn specific facts in the systems intended usage if you like, and you need to feed in game information known by the character to the player, but when that well is running dry the action still has usage.



If it is a martial buffing system, all of these problems go away and become opportunities to say "Yes."

"Yes, if you study the monsters from afar for at least X time prior to combat, and have a chance to coordinate plans, with a successful check a party member can begin combat with the Recall Knowledge buff of your choice."

"Yes, if you have encountered and defeated a monster before, then you get a bonus on your recall knowledge check AND you can on the first round of combat get one additional free recall knowledge action."

This also addresses some of your other complaints. How valuable are those feats that enhance your Recall Knowledge action? They might need to be tweaked a little, but potentially, vary.

What happens on a critical failure? Maybe you debuff the intended target by way of distraction or miscommunication or false intelligence?

If you want granularity you could have a system which matched different knowledge types against different monster types for different debuff types. Under that system, comments like, "For example, Arcana might tell you about the magical defenses of a golem, whereas Crafting could tell you about its sturdy resistance to physical attacks" now make sense, as the different skill checks could pertain to different buffs - better spell penetration or better physical damage penetration, or better chances to hit, or more damage from an attack.
This sounds like a good sfx for something very much like bardic inspiration type abilities. Whether its recalling knowledge about creatures in general or perhaps better spotting and deducing from clues weaknesses about this guy - you grant some doet of bonus or bonus die that can be used to "exploit" an observed flaw.

"It is favoring its left leg."
" it drops its head just before it claws."
"Its not blocking hits from the right side."
"Its armor is weaker from behind."

The check result could provide maybe a d6 you can spend against the target creature.

A GM could require different ability checks for different creatures- maybe allowing crafting checks for those with armor. DC could vary quite a bit, troops in rag-tag raider or brigands- gear not kept up, routine health problems, etc. Well trained and provided army regulars - different story.

But it's definitely, as stated, going to need to be balanced against the use of the third (or imo second) action for other things.
 

Rhianni32

Explorer
Even then, the elephant in the room remains: why can't the players engineer opportunities to watch and study these monsters from afar and gain the crucial information "for free"? (And once they've beaten their first skeleton or hobgoblin or chuul or whatever, why can't they spend some time making Recall Knowledge actions until they feel satisfied they know everything there is to know in anticipation of meeting another such monster in the future?)
Where are you getting these limitations from that players cannot do these things? Recall Knowledge is a Concentrate, Secret activity. There is no Visual trait so I would not expect a visual requirement. One scouting PC could describe a flaming skeleton they saw and report back to the party where skill rolls start happening. There is no maximum range requirement. If the party is on a hilltop a hundred feat away currently in encounter mode because they haven't rolled initiative yet, I don't see why a GM would stop them from rolling a recall knowledge check.

I read the rules as a list of requirements. If it is listed as a rule then you are bound by it (if going RAW). Otherwise you are free to do and act as you want. If we are to read the rules as only allowed to do specifically what it says then we are screwed because there is no way they can cover every scenario a player might think about, especially in 1 book. I go back to my PF2 is a collectable card game comment. On every Magic the Gathering card they just list the key words that you have to follow those rules. Otherwise you can get creative.

I have minimal PF1 experience but I know they have an ass ton of books. Perhaps I have the rules understanding backward.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
As I understand it, the intention is to create a "mini game" where you can spend actions in combat to gain bonuses in the form of "puzzle pieces" . . .

Except the GM gets zero help with this. Are you supposed to prepare each monster beforehand or come up with things like "well, while Recall Knowledge for a Golem is generally Arcana, its physical resistance is Crafting" on the fly? For each monster? And how many puzzle pieces are there? And what are the puzzle pieces for a given monster anyway?
I'm not sure that I've ever seen a cleric stop in the middle of fighting a demon, and a thought bubble pops up over her head saying, "wait, can I turn a demon? Does it have turn resistance?"

So yeah, probably a mini-game instead of a part of the action.

The answer to the Captain's question-flurry is, "what would be fun?" There aren't going to be other answers for these, because combat is, itself, a mini-game (primary game?) and the only concrete puzzle piece is: when hit points reach zero, combat ends.

The 1 action cost is unfortunate, if you ask me. I don't charge PCs for thinking during combat.

However, the failure rate is fine because if you're in encounter mode, somebody's life had better be on the line. And if that's the case, clear thinking isn't always easy.
 

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