One of my players recently sent me the link for a jolly interesting conversation on the Paizo message boards. The thread was so interesting—and the generally suggested “rules fix” was so awesome—I immediately implemented it in my Borderland of Adventure campaign as a house rule.
The thread in question discusses how GMs deal with Knowledge checks made by PCs to identify monsters. This is one of those areas in the core rules that many GMs handle differently.
While the basics of the rule are clearly spelled out: a PC learns one piece of interesting or useful knowledge about the monster for each 5 points by which he exceeds the DC required to identify the beast.
But what information?
Sometimes the information gained can be less than useful. I once, for example, played under a GM notorious for giving out pointless information about the monster. For example, who cares about its mating rituals or diet (or whatever) when it’s trying to rip your face off?
The solution suggested in the thread is both genius and simple: for every 5 points by which the PC exceeds the DC required to identify the creature he can ask one question. So for example, the player could ask:
- What overcomes the creature’s damage reduction?
- Does the creature have spell resistance?
- What is its most powerful special attack?
For myself, I’d like to keep these questions relatively specific. Here are some questions I am unlikely to answer:
- What are all its spell-like abilities?
- What is it particularly skilled at doing?
- What attacks or energy types is it particularly vulnerable or immune to?
I like this system because it rewards player skill and attention and gives the player a measure of control over what information he gains. For example, a wizard plotting his next spell may care more about the monster’s potential spell resistance than what weapons he needs to get through its damage reduction. A rogue or cleric will probably have different concerns.
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What Do You Think?
Do you like this system? Do you hate it or use something different? Let me know in the comments below!