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So what is the consensus on PF2e?

Siberys

Registered User
Validated User
#71
I mean, they embraced scaling skill difficulty, which is for my money the single worst idea of the last decade in RPG design. Whoever thought they could skip the last step of design, where you pick what each difficulty means, by handing the design chart straight to the DM has done lasting harm, and that decision looks like it's going to echo through design for the foreseeable future.
When you say scaling skill difficulty, what do you actually mean? I just read the DC setting section of the playtest document, and it explicitly notes that the level in the table is the level of the challenge, not the player; skill difficulty doesn't scale with player level, as far as I can tell. Plus I have a hard time imagining a situation where not giving a GM guidance on what constitutes a reasonable challenge for a given level is helpful. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't understand your objection to the way PF2e sets DCs. My read of the system is admittedly superficial, so it's entirely possible I'm missing something. Could you elaborate?
 

Pedantic

Idealist
Validated User
#72
When you say scaling skill difficulty, what do you actually mean? I just read the DC setting section of the playtest document, and it explicitly notes that the level in the table is the level of the challenge, not the player; skill difficulty doesn't scale with level, as far as I can tell. Plus I have a hard time imaging a situation where not giving a GM guidance on what constitutes a reasonable challenge for a given level is helpful. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't understand your objection to the way PF2e sets DCs. My read of the system is admittedly superficial, so it's entirely possible I'm missing something. Could you elaborate?
I'm suggesting that a DC by level table is a design tool, not a DM tool. The next step is to actually specify what challenges are represented by those given DCs. What is a level 4 climb challenge? What is a level 11? What is a level 15? It's all good and well to say it's the "challenge" that sets the level, but without actual reference points, the incentive in play is clearly for any given DM to look at the table, pick the difficulty adjective they most like and call it a day. When you specify the application of each skill ahead of time, the players can treat skills as abilities to leverage against the world, and can take the information about the world at large (that is a stone castle) and make informed decisions about which abilities to use to solve whatever problem they run into.

Admittedly, it's much harder to do things that way, because once you say a player can climb a sheer surface, a player can climb a sheer surface and your high level challenges have to be designed with that in mind, but I rather think that's the point of character growth.

Basically, I just don't buy "the level of the challenge doesn't scale" unless and until the system actually specifies the challenges themselves. Beyond that, it's utterly unreasonable to use any system that references a scaling table directly, because there is no actual player capability growth (or in PF2's case, weird start and stop growth for a level or two, before reverse to the mean or slightly worse than before). You'd be better off just using a flat roll if you're going to resolve anything that way.
 

Siberys

Registered User
Validated User
#73
Pedantic - I think defining it that way is unrealistic in a game; at some point, the GM is going to have to make a DC judgement call regardless of how many defined examples the designers explicitly put in the text, so having the table is an unmitigated positive. Each GM at each table is going to have different ideas about some of these things, and the best a designer can do is give a few examples, explain the math behind the system, and advise GMs to be consistent.

I mean, I'm not saying PF2e is perfect; I certainly am not particularly excited about it, at least. But that's not because of the DC-setting rules; given that PF2e is using d20+mod vs DC resolution, that at least is exactly what I'd want to see. Different strokes I guess.
 
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Pedantic

Idealist
Validated User
#75
Pedantic - I think defining it that way is unrealistic in a game; at some point, the GM is going to have to make a DC judgement call regardless of how many defined examples the designers explicitly put in the text, so having the table is an unmitigated positive. Each GM at each table is going to have different ideas about some of these things, and the best a designer can do is give a few examples, explain the math behind the system, and advise GMs to be consistent.
I simply don't agree. I don't think judgement calls around skill usage are inevitable or laudable, and more to the point should be the last place a design goes, not the first.

I should clarify that I think DM advice on appropriate challenges is a good thing, but it should be qualitative, not quantitative.
 

Siberys

Registered User
Validated User
#76
Making judgement calls is the GM's entire job. Yes, in the context of a system, so not just arbitrarily. They should be based on context and the game's resolution system. But that's why a GM should know the guts of a game system, or at least be able to find them - exactly what PF2e and its DC-setting section does.

Game designers cannot possibly plan for every use case, and even if they could the end result would be nigh-unusable. Even expecting them to plan for most use cases would mean that sometimes GMs would need to make some kind of call about how to resolve a situation, and I still think even that's an unrealistic expectation to put in the game designer's lap. At best, a designer can provide guidance. Maybe that guidance is in the form of a lot of examples. But providing that without explaining to the GM how the examples were arrived at just makes it harder for newer GMs to learn what is and what isn't appropriate. That's what's laudable about providing the DC-setting section; not that it means we're letting designers be lazy, but rather that it explicitly lays out the game's mathematical assumptions.

There are certainly games that try to define as much as they can. Mundane crafting rules in 3.x are an example - but those rarely come up in play, are complicated (relative to the frequency they're invoked), and still don't cover anywhere near enough space to make judgement calls entirely unnecessary. And I don't think that's the most productive place for a designer to be putting their design energy in any case.
 

Morty

Registered User
Validated User
#77
Fundamentally, skill feats seemed less like a way to add cool stuff to skills, and more like ways to split off capability from skills themselves (because everyone was getting a per level bonus and thus feats were supposed to be more the distinguishing factor between good and not). Ie, pickpocket became a feat instead of just something that was part of sleight of hand, some of the survival stuff was split off IIRC, Spellcraft no longer ID'd spells at cast without feats (which burned your reaction without more feats), etc. The instances in which actual power was added to a skill seemed outnumbered by the ones that were basically hidden nerfs to the skill proper.

That is a pretty big change IMO.
Yeah, most skill feats seem to be ways to cut power out of basic skill usage. The concept is probably salvageable, but I think you'd want to start by making that a specific resource pool, instead of something mixed in with other feat types, and you'd really want to hash out exactly what each skill usage does ahead of time, so you can be sure you're adding new capabilities with each feat.
That's a good point and the reason I said it's an underutilized idea. It seems to be plagued by Paizo's reluctance to give non-magical abilities too much, despite their declarations, and their philosophy of making everything cost a feat. A better way might be to create more skill use categories, beyond "trained" and put some of them there, so that everyone with that proficiency level gets them. And the skill feats could be actually impressive.
 

Matthias W

golden shoveler
Validated User
#78
To chime in (I think) from the same sort of games-aesthetic-space as Pedantic: universal difficulty guidelines aren't necessarily bad, and obviously helpful because you can never exhaust explicit other scenarios, but I'd like them to be indexed against diegetic criteria rather than levels as such. So something like:

DC 10 - something an ordinary person easily could do if they're not scrambling (i.e., taking 10)
DC 20 - something obviously very difficult and impressive
DC 30 - something at the very boundaries of human achievement

This is indeed extremely loose, but then we're dealing with the residual cases that aren't covered by "scaling wet stone walls is DC 25," or whatever, and so as noted you need rulings rather than rules.

Actually I might go further than Pedant and say that CR was a mistake, monsters should have arbitrary collections of stats, experience should be awarded solely on the basis of objectives achieved rather than the (no longer quantified) obstacles you overcome to get there. But that's probably an extremist position.
 

Siberys

Registered User
Validated User
#79
Qualitative seems much harder to design for than quantitative; I mean there's the obvious bit that we're talking about a numerical resolution system, so of course there's a number component. But even more so different groups have different expectations about what is easy and what is not, so even if a designer devotes a lot of pagecount to examples there will be variance. And I don't think cutting out that between-table variance is likely do be successful; arguably that's a feature for some people, even. Some groups want a gritty down-to-earth feel and others want something more mythic in scope, and as long as a GM is consistent about how they set DCs I don't think a rule system telling one or the other they're wrong is particularly helpful. Better - in my opinion, of course - to tell them what numerically constitutes Easy or Hard or whatever and let the GM wrestle with their own expectations about what skill checks should be what DC.

There should definitely be qualitative examples, but I don't think it works to have those do the "heavy lifting". Even if CR were left off, to use your example Matthias, I as GM would want to know what bits of a monster's stats were more or less difficult for the character's level, and that would still necessitate something similar to the table in the DC section (albeit for monster stats instead of DCs).
 

glass

Registered User
Validated User
#80
Fundamentally, skill feats seemed less like a way to add cool stuff to skills, and more like ways to split off capability from skills themselves (because everyone was getting a per level bonus and thus feats were supposed to be more the distinguishing factor between good and not). Ie, pickpocket became a feat instead of just something that was part of sleight of hand, some of the survival stuff was split off IIRC, Spellcraft no longer ID'd spells at cast without feats (which burned your reaction without more feats), etc.
Well, Spellcraft does not identify anything by virtue of nolonger existing. But using Arcana/Occultism/Religion/Nature to identify a spell as it is being cast does require a feat and use up your reaction. Even more annoying, rolling to see if you can identify a monster is an Action, although at least that one does not require a feat.

Yeah, most skill feats seem to be ways to cut power out of basic skill usage. The concept is probably salvageable, but I think you'd want to start by making that a specific resource pool, instead of something mixed in with other feat types, and you'd really want to hash out exactly what each skill usage does ahead of time, so you can be sure you're adding new capabilities with each feat.
Skill feats are "a specific resource pool, instead of something mixed in with other feat types", mostly. Skill feats are also General feats, so you can take them in your general feat slots. But you also get Skill feat specific slots, and more of them.

_
glass.
 
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