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Lysander
2010-03-26, 12:56 PM
Two fighters are standing side by side. One is level 1. The other is level 20. They're both wearing identical robes that cover up their armor (cheap armor vs. enchanted mithril). Can a PC on casual glance tell which one is the weaker?

If not, this is a pretty devious way to make an encounter a lot more difficult without technically changing the CR much. Adding a few low level minions that look more or less the same as the CR appropriate ones serve as valuable decoys and can make PCs waste a lot of turns going after unimportant targets. The same holds the other way with followers and minions the PCs have.

It doesn't necessarily even need to be a trick. An army might dress all their soldiers in the same gear, whether they're level 2 or level 10. It could keep players on their toes if they never know exactly how tough the enemies they encounter are until combat begins.

subject42
2010-03-26, 12:56 PM
Doesn't a high level knowledge check result tell you how many hit die the creature has?

Foryn Gilnith
2010-03-26, 12:57 PM
Sense Motive. See CW for the rules, IIRC. Tells you roughly how challenging something would be.

Caphi
2010-03-26, 12:58 PM
On sight? Maybe. One probably looks larger or stronger or more weatherbeaten or more regal or something. Of course, you can disguise that, too, if you want.

On the other hand, there's always detect magic.

Lysander
2010-03-26, 12:59 PM
Doesn't a high level knowledge check result tell you how many hit die the creature has?

I should add, it would work a little differently between monsters who usually have the same stats and sentient npcs with varying class levels. You see a crowd of zombies, you know how powerful they are. You see a crowd of people with varying class levels, maybe you can't tell.

Douglas
2010-03-26, 01:01 PM
Sense Motive. See CW for the rules, IIRC. Tells you roughly how challenging something would be.
Complete Adventurer, actually. Goes by CR relative to your level, and divides it into four categories (something like "oh ****", "tough", "easy", and "cakewalk", roughly). The person you're assessing can, if he wants, make a bluff check to try messing up your assessment.

Lysander
2010-03-26, 01:02 PM
Complete Adventurer, actually. Goes by CR relative to your level, and divides it into four categories (something like "oh ****", "tough", "easy", and "cakewalk", roughly). The person you're assessing can, if he wants, make a bluff check to try messing up your assessment.

What if they're unaware of your presence, or isn't thinking about combat? Is that an auto-success or an auto-fail?

Also, what if a level 1 soldier misreads you and thinks he can take you on? Or alternatively, if a much more powerful person is a coward and is afraid to fight you? Do you use sense motive to read his subjective estimation of the situation, or to actually get an objective analysis?

HunterOfJello
2010-03-26, 01:06 PM
Player Characters usually have some standard of measuring the relative strength of an enemy in front of them barring magical influence and depending on their class. (i.e. A high level fighter will probably stand out in a crowd, but a high level beguiler never will unless he wants to)

Kylarra
2010-03-26, 01:10 PM
What if they're unaware of your presence, or don't consider you a threat? Is that an auto-success or an auto-fail?

I mean, what if a level 1 soldier misreads you and thinks he can take you on? Or alternatively, if a much more powerful person is a coward and is afraid to fight you? Do you use sense motive to read his subjective estimation of the situation, or to actually get an objective analysis?It's still an opposed check.

The latter part is irrelevant since it's a straight level/hd comparison, slightly adjusted by particular weaknesses or resistances to your normal attack routine.

Lysander
2010-03-26, 01:19 PM
It's still an opposed check.

The latter part is irrelevant since it's a straight level/hd comparison, slightly adjusted by particular weaknesses or resistances to your normal attack routine.

It'd be pretty funny to send a team of low level characters with great ranks in bluff and some magical bonuses to confront the party just to see how the players react when told "You sense they could mop the floor with you without breaking a sweat"

Douglas
2010-03-26, 01:23 PM
I'm not sure whether the bluff check can actually give a misleading result or is restricted to just forcing a "no reading" answer.

Darkfire
2010-03-26, 01:49 PM
Doesn't a high level knowledge check result tell you how many hit die the creature has?
Nope, although it is used to set the DC:

... you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monsterís HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.



I'm not sure whether the bluff check can actually give a misleading result or is restricted to just forcing a "no reading" answer.
Apparently, it gives a misleading result if you lose by 5 or more...

Lysander
2010-03-26, 02:29 PM
I suppose you could use also use knowledge checks to glean information about people. For example nobility could be used to learn about knights and royal soldiers, geography could reveal information about warriors and magicians from different lands, religion would provide insight into rank within churches.

Knowledge might provide things like "You notice the handle of his sword is decorated with a gold rose. The knight clearly is the member of the Order of the Rose, a elite band of knights renowned for their prowess in combat. Fighting one of them would not be easy." Unless someone is making an effort to hide identifying items like that maybe a knowledge check is always appropriate.

jiriku
2010-03-26, 03:55 PM
Barring the special uses for the sense motive skill outlined about, you can't tell a creature's level by looking at it.

To me, it's good DMing to give subtle signals to players based on how knowledgeable their character is (e.g. upon encountering an advanced chimera, I'll tell the druid, "With your knowledge of natural creatures, you know this is a chimera, but it's much larger and more ferocious than any chimera you've seen before."). However, when the player asks "which one looks higher-level?" I remind them that level and hit dice are abstract concepts, and that their characters don't understand such concepts or have a means of estimating them.

Telonius
2010-03-26, 03:59 PM
A Bard ought to get a Bardic Knowledge check to find out if the guy is Elminster or not.

For monsters? Basically anybody could figure out that "bigger dragon = scarier dragon." Appropriate Knowledge checks could tell you whether or not you should be fleeing in terror from a Dretch as opposed to a Pit Fiend.

Lysander
2010-03-26, 04:06 PM
One way of combating the sense motive roll is to randomly throw in one relatively high character into an enemy team of low level mooks 1/20 times, and one relatively low character into an enemy team of high level minions 1/20 times. That way they'll never be sure whether a reading that seems incorrect is a nat one on their roll or an actual strong/weak enemy.

Curmudgeon
2010-03-26, 04:18 PM
Doesn't a high level knowledge check result tell you how many hit die the creature has?
Only vaguely. You need to make (HD + 10) on the appropriate Knowledge check to get any information, so getting nothing/something tells you an upper/lower limit of the creature's HD.

magic9mushroom
2010-03-26, 08:29 PM
One way of combating the sense motive roll is to randomly throw in one relatively high character into an enemy team of low level mooks 1/20 times, and one relatively low character into an enemy team of high level minions 1/20 times. That way they'll never be sure whether a reading that seems incorrect is a nat one on their roll or an actual strong/weak enemy.

Nat 1s don't autofail skill checks.

Knaight
2010-03-26, 09:39 PM
Back to the original question, any particular group is unlikely to have a good method to check, so the two fighters would look about the same. This works out logically as well. However, once arrows start flying and weapons are in use, the difference should be fairly clear to the viewer.

Darth Stabber
2010-03-26, 10:16 PM
In one of the 3.0 books there is a druid spell called powersight, that gives you level/hd of the target. Think it gives you some other info too. We made DBZ style scouters with that spell.

Math_Mage
2010-03-26, 11:43 PM
I'm not sure whether the bluff check can actually give a misleading result or is restricted to just forcing a "no reading" answer.

Extrapolating from the ordinary rules for opposed Sense Motive checks, failing by 4 or less would return a result of 'no reading', while failing by 5 or more would return a potentially misleading result. Similarly, a Bluff check to hide or overstate your power, that fails by 4 or less, would give the result "he isn't affected by the bluff," while failing by 5 or more would give a potentially misleading assessment.

For example, if you try to detect Elminster's power and roll a 15 SM to his 28 B, the DM might tell you "he looks like you could take him easy." If you act on that, you'll probably end up dead.

Making this roll against someone who is unaware of your observation would probably still trigger an opposed roll based on the observee's natural tendency to disguise his prowess, but with appropriate circumstance modifiers.

JaxGaret
2010-03-27, 12:17 AM
One way of combating the sense motive roll is to randomly throw in one relatively high character into an enemy team of low level mooks 1/20 times, and one relatively low character into an enemy team of high level minions 1/20 times. That way they'll never be sure whether a reading that seems incorrect is a nat one on their roll or an actual strong/weak enemy.

Not to say that you're doing it wrong... but this is a very "DM vs. Players" mindset, as well as being one that throws verisimilitude out the window for the heck of it.

IMO your job as the DM isn't to "beat" the players, it's to facilitate an enjoyable play experience for everyone involved. YMMV.

taltamir
2010-03-27, 12:24 AM
if it is a monster, knowledge recognizes that monster. The DC is also directly dependent on its HD of all things. So the higher its HD, the higher the DC (if the DM tells you the DC, you can calculate the HD via simple subtraction).

if it is a PC or NPC humanoid, detect magic tells you exactly how many (and how powerful) magical items it has (and if your spellcraft is high enough, you automatically identify all of them as well; no retry on the identify though, DC is 25+0.5*CL of item,roll per item, automatically rolled without taking any in game time or requiring a specific action of you... that is, other then concentrating for 3 rounds on detect magic to read the auras), you also identify all currently active spells on them... You can tell a great deal about someone by identifying all their magic items... the guy with the holy avenger is a paldin, the one with the daggers of gravestrike is a rogue, etc...
the guy with the plus 1 sword of flaming burst+shocking burst+icy burst+corrosive burst with GMW +5 cast on it, a +6 belt of str, +6 gloves of dex, +6 amulet of con, and full fortification mithril full plate armor +5 is probably someone you don't want to mess with without preparation :P

Now, it COULD be a wizard 20 who is not wearing a single magical item and who does not have ANY defensive buffs on. but that would be pretty suicidal of him to do.

A fighter 20 with no magic isn't that great of a threat.

Math_Mage
2010-03-27, 12:48 AM
if it is a monster, knowledge recognizes that monster. The DC is also directly dependent on its HD of all things. So the higher its HD, the higher the DC (if the DM tells you the DC, you can calculate the HD via simple subtraction).

Such rolls are often made secretly, though--or, at the very least, the DC is not given freely to the player--in order to maintain sync between IC and OOC knowledge and avoid metagaming.


if it is a PC or NPC humanoid, detect magic tells you exactly how many (and how powerful) magical items it has (and if your spellcraft is high enough, you automatically identify all of them as well; no retry on the identify though, DC is 25+0.5*CL of item,roll per item, automatically rolled without taking any in game time or requiring a specific action of you... that is, other then concentrating for 3 rounds on detect magic to read the auras), you also identify all currently active spells on them... You can tell a great deal about someone by identifying all their magic items... the guy with the holy avenger is a paldin, the one with the daggers of gravestrike is a rogue, etc...
the guy with the plus 1 sword of flaming burst+shocking burst+icy burst+corrosive burst with GMW +5 cast on it, a +6 belt of str, +6 gloves of dex, +6 amulet of con, and full fortification mithril full plate armor +5 is probably someone you don't want to mess with without preparation :P

While that's very handy for casters, this only serves to accentuate the gap between magic and non-magic, when the mundane analysis of an opponent's strength cannot be reliably conducted without magical support. Having a skill-based mechanic to emulate the seasoned warrior (hopefully not a Warrior, of course) sizing up his opponent helps to mitigate that.

Clovis
2010-03-27, 04:35 AM
Well, you could tell the difference by looking at their stance. An inexperienced soldier would have that hog-in-armour look. Eg their breastplate might chafe and they would be shifting that around uncorfortably; this would be obvious even if they are wearing cloaks. A seasoned veteran would be very much used to standing in attention with weight equally balanced and ready for action.
Also, how they are observing their environment. A rookie trying to look inconspicuous would stand out immediately if your PCs are not 1st level themselves.