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Rate Pathfinder 2E

  • Excellent *****

    Votes: 47 34.1%
  • Good ****

    Votes: 30 21.7%
  • Average ***

    Votes: 32 23.2%
  • Poor **

    Votes: 23 16.7%
  • Terrible *

    Votes: 6 4.3%

  • Total voters
    138

CapnZapp

Legend
Yes, in combat, they eat an action, so players are not choosing that option very often. Yes, in many cases players can use Recall Knowledge outside of combat, so the one-action cost is irrelevant. If the PCs can scout whatever strange critters they're about to face from a nearby hilltop, they could certainly call for Recall Knowledge checks without any meaningful action-based cost.
These are problems I have identified, not solutions.

What you're saying is essentially "Our group not engaging with the rules" which basically means you might consider refraining from calling them great, or dismissing the concerns of people who do try to engage with rules as they're written.

In short, why have an action cost if you never pay that cost? Please say you see the problem here.

If we're restricting the discussion to using Recall Knowledge on critters in combat, I still fail to see the problem.
If you had read my other thread, you wouldn't say "I still fail to see the problem". You would have understood what I'm struggling with and why I need a different framework.

Sure, the DM has to make up interesting tidbits to feed players' successful rolls, and misleading tibits for critical failures, on the fly. That's not hard to manage.
I find it hard to manage.

But that's maybe because I tried to use the rules as written, action cost and all. I basically found there was no information transfer - that I never got to tell my players about the cool stuff monsters are made of.

They simply concluded the Recall Knowledge action was worthless/too expensive, shrugged, and proceeded to brute force down monsters.

Basically, they're right. The core objection to the rule is that just by attacking normally you get to know nearly everything you need to know.

To boil it down to a crude example:

For instance, you attack a werewolf. You deal 5 less damage. Now you know you need a special material, and you guess silver based on prior D&D gaming. You still did some damage, which is better than spending your action on Recall Knowledge.

---

Unlike with Crafting or Hero Points I haven't been able to come up with a satisfying solution.

All I've managed is to raise a flag cautioning players against taking abilities related to Recall Knowledge since those likely won't do what you might expect from just reading their text.

That, and starting off each combat with a free "monster knowledge check", much like how I have run things ever since 4E.

Recall Knowledge is basically an over-engineed solution, and a half-baked one at that.
 

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Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
Capn, since I quoted from the middle of the other thread, and cited several of your examples, it seemed to me you would understand that I had indeed read it.

You ask, "why have an action cost if you never pay that cost?" That and your further examples show why Recall Knowledge used in combat is often not an optimal solution. Much better for players to try to use it outside of combat. But if they do suddenly think there's some important detail they missed, and it's in the thick of combat, the one-action cost shows that provisions have been made for them to try to do that. There is no problem here, it's working as intended.

And they can always try to Recall Knowledge after a fight is over, in preparation for the real possibility of facing more of these critters just down the next hallway.

Your "free monster check" is still possible if the PCs have a moment after seeing the critters and before initiative is rolled. If they don't have that moment, then one action in their first turn spent trying to lake a "monster check" isn't horribly crippling. It may be non-optimal, but it isn't crippling.

Note that Recall Knowledge checks are also at the heart of the Investigate activity of Exploration mode. Maybe they should just have called them "knowlege" checks, and chucked out the "recall" part, I dunno. But as I often run investigation-oriented adventures, I'm glad there is a system in place, even if it isn't as robust as I might have wished. "Half-baked"? It's a glass half full or half empty quandary.
 



Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
FWIW, after watching Perram's podcast about the Pathbuilder app, I DLed the emulator he suggested, as well as the Pathbuilder app, and it works great on my PC. In 10-15 minutes, you can create a character and export its statblock, and with only a very small amount of post-editing you can create an NPC statblock with very little effort required.

I know that Paizo gave us rules for creating monsters and NPCs without going through the character creation process, but for major NPCs, I really prefer using the character creation system to make NPCs using the same rules that are used for PCs. This app is a godsend for content creators, and I really like the results.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I know that Paizo gave us rules for creating monsters and NPCs without going through the character creation process, but for major NPCs, I really prefer using the character creation system to make NPCs using the same rules that are used for PCs. This app is a godsend for content creators, and I really like the results.
Their "rules" are more like broad guidelines. Very broad guidelines. Stuff like "This here monster should have an AC between 21-29". There are few restrictions and no hard choices to make (of the "if I opt for a great offense, the system forces me to have a poor defense" kind.)

For content creators, I would note Paizo's own NPCs follow monster rules. NPCs are monsters. And monsters are significantly tougher than PCs of the same level. Just a heads-up so "content creators" don't end up with NPCs that feel significantly "off" compared to comparable 1PP offerings.

Anyway, a player-made NPC will be weaker in combat and have lots of abilities that doesn't make sense within the "live for 6 rounds" context. All those feats and spells are just clutter. I don't recommend making "PC NPCs".

But anyway.

In short the monster creation rules aren't rules at all. They tell you little beyond the obvious, which basically amounts to "when you're done with your level N monster, check with a level N monster of the Bestiary to see you're still the right ballpark". You didn't need all those tables for that.

Paizo is still holding all the cards close to their chest as to their internal playbook on what sorts of monsters and NPCs get what sorts of stats, the specific considerations and trade-offs I'm sure they use within their team to justify strong and weak stats in the various areas.

The monster rules don't reveal that to us at all.

PS. Of course, none of this should take away the fact Pathbuilder is an excellent chargen tool and it's excellent you got it to work outside Android! :)
 
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GrahamWills

Adventurer
Basically, they're right. The core objection to the rule is that just by attacking normally you get to know nearly everything you need to know.

Does PF2 require the GM to tell the player how much of their damage gets through? We haven't been playing it that way, so if you could point me to that reference, please do.

Also vulnerabilities, special attacks, and REALLY IMPORTANT reactive abilities are highly helpful. We typically use recall knowledge most combats as we find it important.
 

Retreater

Legend
My group has been using Pathbuilder for our whole campaign so far. They complain they have been having trouble with a few of the features (like it doesn't clearly tell them when to take what kind of feats). I haven't noticed any issues though.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Does PF2 require the GM to tell the player how much of their damage gets through? We haven't been playing it that way, so if you could point me to that reference, please do.
I don't think any edition of D&D ever has had that kind of detailed meta instructions.

And for a good reason.

So, yes, absolutely, you as the GM can make Recall Knowledge almost mandatory through your GMing style.

Myself, I chose another GMing style where I don't try to salvage a half-baked mechanism by being hard on my players.

Cheers
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
I don't think any edition of D&D ever has had that kind of detailed meta instructions.

And for a good reason.

So, yes, absolutely, you as the GM can make Recall Knowledge almost mandatory through your GMing style.

You said that since the players will know that the monster has DR of 5, there is no need for recall knowledge. My response was that that you choice of telling players all the information they would get from Recall Knowledge is a GM choice, and that it's a bad one. Your response is then to make me try to believe that it's a normal choice.

I straight up don't believe you and honestly think you are just trying to shore up your week argument. I've played thousands of games of D&D -- many at conventions, so with many different GMs; at least hundreds. I cannot recall any that told me, when I swung my weapon, that it did 5 less damage because of DR.

Some GMs might give no information; most would say "not as much seems to go through as you think". None that I can recall would say "it does 5 less because the monster has DR 5 against silver"

Be honest here -- do you actually do that? Because if you don't, then Recall Knowledge is important.

Also, I'm assuming you haven't played the full first part of the Ashes campaign; or were very lucky in a certain fight against undead two of whom had very different resistances that it makes a big difference to know about. We almost lost a character because we matched the wrong attackers against the wrong monsters. Also -- knowing that a certain monster had a reaction of an attack that could swallow a character in another fight made a big difference.

Finally, note that by RAW, Recall Knowledge MUST be useful. By definitions. Because it says it right there in the description of a success. So by RAW a player is quite in his rights to tell a GM "we already knew that werewolves have DR 5; that's not useful. What else do we find out?"

So, in summary:
  • I do not believe you are correct about it being normal to disclose DR on swings.
  • Either you haven't played enough PF2 to evaluate, or your group has dismissed some PF2 features early and is set in their ways
  • By RAW, Recall Knowledge is required to be useful. If you as a GM choose to ignore that, I don't think you can blame the system.
For people playing with normal GMs in the Ashes campaign, it's strongly advised to spend an action using Recall Knowledge. It's definitely better as a third action than a third swing at a foe, and for 2-action spell casters, it makes a ton of sense too. PF2 monsters seem (at least as far as I have seen) much more varied and surprising than their previous counterparts.[/QUOTE]
 
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dave2008

Legend
You might want to revise your post as you put your entire response within your quote of the Capn. I thought you had not responded at all until I guessed what you had done and clicked to expand the quote.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You might want to revise your post as you put your entire response within your quote of the Capn. I thought you had not responded at all until I guessed what you had done and clicked to expand the quote.
No need - he's effectively arguing Recall Knowledge is perfect with zero flaws and I'm a poor GM for circumventing the need to use that action. I remain confident in my appraisal of the submechanic as half baked and not worth investing in, and besides, I've long ago farmed out the task of keeping track of monster hp to a player, and I'm quite immune to arguments like "not keeping everything secret from the players mean you play the game badwrongfun".

But thank you for your effort.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
No need - he's effectively arguing Recall Knowledge is perfect with zero flaws and I'm a poor GM for circumventing the need to use that action. I remain confident in my appraisal of the submechanic as half baked and not worth investing in, and besides, I've long ago farmed out the task of keeping track of monster hp to a player, and I'm quite immune to arguments like "not keeping everything secret from the players mean you play the game badwrongfun".

But thank you for your effort.

Well, thank you for stating that you indeed let players know exactly how monsters work. It then makes total sense that for your style of play, learning how monsters work is a useless skill. I am not sure why in replying to my posts that your play style is unusual, you respond with a defense that your play style is not badwrongfun. I'd say you are shifting the goalposts, but I'm going to use a football comparison later on, so that might get confusing ...

And this is the heart of why your argument is weak. You are making global statements that something is not valuable, and then as evidence you use your own game style, which we are both agreeing is not the usual style. Thus you are trying to argue from the specific to the general, when you know that the specific is not representative of the general case.

If you had said "For instance, you attack a werewolf. In my style of play, players manage hit points for monsters, so you know you deal 5 less damage. Now you know you need a special material, and you guess silver based on prior D&D gaming" then we'd all have been OK. The (few) people who use your style of play would have been informed by your comments and it would have helped make the game better for them. The majority could say "that's not how I play" and so know that your conclusions don't apply to them.

Instead you sound like a (American) football coach arguing that there is no point in having a specialty field goal kicker on your squad. And it's only after a few minutes of conversation that we find out that unlike most coaches, you never kick field-goals, instead always going for it on 4th down. It's RAW and might be a good plan. Certainly given that style of play, it would be pointless to pay for a quality kicker. But most teams don't play that way, so your advice -- given as a general rule applicable to all -- is not generally applicable.

TLDR: Most GMs don't disclose details of monsters without a skill roll to check; so your advice is useless for most GMs as it is restricted to just that style of play.
 



zztong

Explorer
I straight up don't believe you and honestly think you are just trying to shore up your week argument. I've played thousands of games of D&D -- many at conventions, so with many different GMs; at least hundreds. I cannot recall any that told me, when I swung my weapon, that it did 5 less damage because of DR.

Some GMs might give no information; most would say "not as much seems to go through as you think". None that I can recall would say "it does 5 less because the monster has DR 5 against silver"

Be honest here -- do you actually do that?

I don't doubt your informal survey of hundreds of DMs, but there are DMs who spill the beans to the players under various circumstances. I certainly do. My friends do.

I don't know about the Capn, his motivations, or theories, but we do it mostly to speed up play in a skirmish with lots of combatants. You arm the players with the information to be able to resolve combat transactions independently so the DM can focus on tracking damage as it is reported. Multiple players can be active at the same time.

Exploring the underlying mathematical model of most monsters isn't usually very interesting. It doesn't really add to the story. I tend to save it for special cases when there needs to be some unknown and for a fight where there might be one larger/boss creature.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
Read the thread on fixing/improving Recall Knowledge and really let the arguments provided there soak. Skip my posts if you have to, if you instead read those made by others.

I read them through (all of them!), thanks for the pointer. I also apologize for overstating how much information you give your players. It wasn't clear from your posts and I wrongly assumed it was more than it is. I'm now thinking that for the werewolf example you'd give: creatures starting HP, DR level, but not necessarily what counters it, nothing about attacks or reactions. Please correct me if that's in error.


Since we both like Celebrim's approach, let me quote him here:

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.

Combine that information with the RAW that on a success the GM is required to provide a "useful clue".

These are very much aligned and very much my experience. RK is a deliberately loosely defined ability that requires the GM to choose the information that results. The only requirement is that it be useful (which, by definition means that RK cannot be a waste of an action, otherwise it would not be useful!).

My contention is that, in your style of gaming, since the players know (because they handle the hp for monsters) that the monster has DR 5, and they know (from previous experience) that silver works against werewolves, that the information that "this werewolf has DR 5 silver" is not useful, and the GM should tell you something that is.

Essentially, because the information is required to be useful, the play style where some monster info is already known by players takes that off the table as a possible RK success result. That puts a bit more burden on the GM, as they now have to move on to less obvious stuff, but from your comments, it seems like you are thinking they would still give the same info, even though it's not useful?

Of course, there is then a problem for the GM if there is no useful information to be gained. Suppose you RK on a generic bandit with no special abilities whatsoever. Your players just fought 20 of them and are pretty clear on their stats, so even giving exact defenses and so on isn't really useful. If I were the GM I might just refund the action as I, as a GM, am unable to comply with the usefulness requirement. I might, if I've run Fate recently, throw in a made-up detail "this bandit favors his right side, you can get a +4 bonus with this knowledge" or the like to make sure I satisfy the usefulness criterion.

The main point is: By RAW, the information must be useful. So if your play style has already disclosed some information, re-disclosing it is not useful, so it should not be considered as a possible RK success.

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

The reason I'm spending some time on this is not to be argumentative, but because our group has genuinely found Recall Knowledge to be not just a bit useful, but a highly valuable thing to do, and I'm trying to work out why this isn't your experience -- because I run at cons and I don't want to TPK parties because they think RK is useless and I expect it to be commonly used. It might be because the opponents we have fought have not been obvious and so RK has been significantly advantageous to us. I'll give some examples, but I'll change some details significantly to protect those who haven't played Ashes yet:

We fought a monster with a reaction that, if you missed them, attacked and on a hit pulled you into a tree and tied you to the tree, from which you would then have to escape. A warpriest went first, did the usual Move-Swing-Swing, missing and getting hit by the reaction oil the second swing and was then taken out of the fight. If they had waited for the magician to go first and do his usual thing (recall knowledge, 2-action spell) they may have changed tactics and used ranged spells, or even just used a single attack and then shielded.

Later we came across an invisible slime. The fighter/cleric had learned his lesson and waited until RK had been rolled. The rogue managed it (RK-bow-bow) and so we found out that the creature could paralyze on a hit. Everyone else immediately changed plans away from melee and we sent in the half-orc warpriest to tank as they had the best combined defense versus the attack on AC followed by fortitude. Full-disclosure: despite shielding he was still hit, failed his save even with a hero point and spent that fight paralyzed also. But his sacrifice helped.

Later again, and late in the evening, we came across some undead and with player knowledge were pretty sure they were boring undead. We expected the skeleton to have DR 5 unless bludgeoning, but were lazy and didn't both with RK. The two big fighters moved to engage some zombies at the far end of the room, leaving a skeleton for the others to handle.

It turned out the skeleton had low AC, DR 10 and regeneration, but very few hits. Our fighter and warpriest were each doing about 2d12+6 and were likely to one-shot the skeleton, but the less powerful hitters were only just beating the DR and never did anything serious to him. Meanwhile his close burst powers were killing them. At the other end, the zombies had a melee reaction to being hit that rolled a critical on the raging no-shield attacker and dropped the main fighter. We came close to a TPK. If we had rolled RK, we would have simply switched targets. The fighter and warpriest on the skeleton would have killed him in a round, probably not needing both their full turns, and the others would have range-attacked the zombie tuning the fight from a near TPK into a cake-walk.

In another session, we all sneaked up to sleeping monster, ready to launch initiative and murderize him. The first player made the RK check and we found it wasn't actually a monster but a trap with a burst attack. So we instead sneaked away, saving us from being fireballed.

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

It is genuinely hard for me to reconcile these examples with your experience. All I can think of is that you generally use pretty well-known monsters for which it's hard to provide useful information for. I might be biased because I tend to play systems where monster variety is high (PF2, D&D 4E, 13th Age) and not so much ones where it relatively low (AD&D, 5E).

But PF2 does seem, at least in published materials, to have a high degree of unusual monsters, so it strongly seem to me that when a GM is required to give some useful information as a result of a RK check, it seems common that there is something useful to give.My experience of the utility of Recall Knowledge is vastly different from yours, so if you have any thoughts on why we get very different value form it, it would help my GMing. Thanks!
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Thank you for your well-reasoned reply.

Remember to not take it for granted you have the info when you need it: you need to win Initiative, and you need to succeed on your RK check! And if your friends are slower than the monster, the info can still end up being useless (once you're in melee, it is very expensive to extract yourself, and often just best to slog it out) You can easily waste all three of your actions getting zero information, since the DC for any monster you really want info on, is per definition a dangerous higher-level one. (Obviously assuming at least Trained proficiency in the skill involved)

Consider that spending an action on roughly 50% to gain all useful information often isn't worth it, much less roughly 30-40% (which is the case against higher-level foes where information makes a difference) for one piece of information. With veteran players, spending the action, not on an attack (since we're often discussing the third action of the turn) but on a reposition, shield-up, mark foe, sustain spell etc or similar proves always more desirable.

It boils down to a combat either being really dangerous (where info makes a difference) or not very dangerous (where you win anyway). Problem is, players don't feel they can afford to "waste" actions on the slim chance they learn something truly game-changing when the combat is dangerous, and don't feel they need to do it when the combat isn't.

And that doesn't even begin discussing what to do with the specialized feats and spells that involve Recall Knowledge.

As I see it, the system assumes those "puzzle monsters" where you really need to know which attacks are effective and which aren't. But most monsters aren't that. But players don't know which monsters are puzzle monsters, at least not without successful RK checks!

In the end, I decided it was simply not worth the effort, especially since we're already running a system that is much easier and much more straight forward: at the start of each encounter everyone get a free "monster knowledge check". (One of the few things we've adopted from 4E by the way!) Success means they learn what they need to fight the monster effectively - not just one thing. If everybody fails (which happens more often than you'd think), they have to choose between fighting the monster "blind" or spending actions to get a second check.

I've clearly flagged that those spells and feats won't do all the things the rules tell the GM they do (without actually helping the GM to do it). They're fine with that now that they know it beforehand.
 

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