Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Even MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting

As has been noted by countless gamers on both sides of a DM screen Pathfinder has a lot of rules. I mean a lot of rules. Rarely does a session go by without at least one serious discussion over rules that sends a player to the library to better understand that little-known text on page 117. Even with all of these available rules though there are some that may be more important to your game than others. The series currently consists of over 25 rules, and the full list of updates includes:

Playing By The Book: Some Pathfinder Rules That Players Keep Forgetting
MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
Even MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
Still More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
5 More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting

Some of these rules will be truly obscure. Some of them will be things you already know, because you read the book. But presented here are more rules players are likely to either not know, or have forgotten about (sometimes in a suspiciously convenient way).

#1: You Can't Put on Full Plate Alone


Full plate is the ultimate in medieval body armor. It turns any fighter into an unstoppable colossus, able to wade through the sword strokes of lesser men to arise victorious at the end of a battle. But there's a reason that knights have squires; you can't get the full armor bonus if you put the suit on by yourself.

Isn't it great having squires? Verily.
When donning either half plate or full plate according to the rules on page 153 of the Core Rulebook you need at least one other person to help you. Otherwise the armor is considered to have been donned hastily, which reduces its effectiveness by -1.

I told you some of these were obscure, didn't I?

#2: You Can't Win Arguments With PCs Via Diplomacy


The diplomacy skill, detailed on page 93 of the Core Rulebook is the bread and butter of certain builds. Sly rogues use this skill to open doors, and charismatic bards use it to make friends in every tavern and court they play. It's useful for the urban ranger gathering information, the paladin adjudicating a case, and dozens of other characters besides. It's even a key part of my Tyrion Lannister character build. But there's something you can't do with diplomacy, and that's convince the rest of the party to like you.

No matter how many NPCs adore you.
For everyone who's still angry that the DM let a diplomacy check affect your character's opinion toward the party bard, well you're rightly pissed. Diplomacy is specifically allowed only on NPCs. If you can't actually roleplay your way into your party-mates hearts then there's nothing you can do about it no matter how high your charisma is or how amazingly charming your dice say you are. It is a PC's prerogative to hate you if he or she feels like it.

#3: Almost Everything Takes Precision Damage


In Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 one of the biggest frustrations that came with playing a rogue was that so many enemies simply didn't take precision damage. No sneak attack, no critical hits, no nothing. Pathfinder changed that up significantly, but a lot of the old rules get mixed up with the new rules in players' heads when it comes to just how useful a rogue is in combat.

Everybody chill out; I got this.
Under the old rules everything from constructs and undead to plants and outsiders got to give rogues the finger. In Pathfinder though everything takes precision damage unless it says otherwise. That means undead, constructs, plants, devils, demons, barkeeps, and everything else you can sneak up behind.

There are still some things that are immune to precision damage. Oozes are one of the best examples, but anything that's incorporeal is also immune to your kidney-stabbing. There are other creatures immune to precision damage, but before you decide to preemptively not roll those extra 5d6 of sneak attack you've got you should ask the DM whether or not this thing is immune to your sneak attack.

#4: Perception Can Be Used To Identify Potions


Perception is one of those skills that you should always invest in. It's great for detecting ambushes, finding secret doors, locating traps, hearing invisible assassins, not getting your pocket picked, and the list goes on and on. Characters with extremely high perceptions can be a pain (which is why DMs should remember there's a -1 penalty for every 10 feet away from the source a character is, and that there are all sorts of negative modifiers that can be applied to this skill check), but they also have a nearly magic power.

They can identify a potion's powers by its taste.

Pick your poison! No, I'm serious, they're all poison. Don't drink them.
According to the chart on page 102 of the Core Rulebook a player can make a perception check of 15 + the potion's caster level to identify what its powers are by taste. It doesn't say the whole thing has to be drunk to make the check, but there might be some negatives for even tasting a given potion. On the one hand this encourages players other than spellcasters to get in on the action, and it can make for some interesting roleplay. It's also a good chance to throw a curve ball at players who test the safety of everything with their mouths.

#5: Being Flat-Footed Is A Thing


Also on the list of rogue problems is being caught flat-footed. Detailed on page 178 of the Core Rulebook the flat-footed condition is what you're suffering from in that first round of combat when you haven't gotten to act yet. You can't take attacks of opportunity, and you can't apply your dexterity modifier to your armor class. You also lose dodge bonuses, and a slew of class abilities and feats are adversely affected by this condition.

Most people know what being caught flat-footed is. At the same time it's the most commonly overlooked or conveniently forgotten rule in Pathfinder combat.

Ah hell... was that initiative?
Being flat-footed is something that's a minor inconvenience to a lot of PCs. To some though, such as the dancing rogue or the whirling dervish, it can mean being utterly vulnerable for a round. When it's the players going first though knowing that your enemy hasn't had time to fully react to combat can make a big difference in your strategy.

#6: Yes You Can Critical With Spells


If you confirm a critical hit with a spell that has an attack roll and does damage then it will do two times as much damage. If a spell does ability drain or damage then the drain or damage is doubled according to page 184 in the Core Rulebook. Lots of players forget this rule, but it's one reason that a critical hit with a spell like chill touch can leave enemies with more than a few d6 of extra pain.


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