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4th number
2013-01-04, 06:55 PM
So say you roll a Spellcraft or Knowledge or Martial Lore (etc) check and hit the normal DC to know something. The DM hits you up with some knowledge that later turns out be be not just wrong but seriously harmful (in the sense that it leads you into a trap or to working for a bad guy or similar)?

What the hell?!, you ask your DM. The answer is that your mentor, the NPC who, canonically, taught you everything that you know* about [x], is actually a villain who systematically systematically misinformed you for his own reasons. You correctly recognized a man as a cleric of Kermit, but it turns out that who you thought was the god of frogs, puppetry, and pig farming is actually the god of all that plus kitten eating.

Is that fair? Does it become fair if an established part of the game is that backstory NPCs are likely to show up?

*Ah, you say, "But if they've put ranks in it since the start of the game, they must have learned from other sources." I say, "Yeah, this idea would be unfair in that case, but let's just say that they haven't put any additional ranks into it since the start of the campaign. Cool?"

Tvtyrant
2013-01-04, 06:57 PM
I personally wouldn't be mad, but some people no doubt would be. I guess it depends on how against having your mentor be evil you are.

Acanous
2013-01-04, 07:01 PM
this is railroading by DM fiat. Some folks like that kind of game. Some do not.
If it was essential for his plans that you not know something, he probably should have made it a closely guarded secret, only known to a few people (DC 35ish) which would have made it impossible for lower level characters to hit at all.

Cults of Asmodeus and the like actually do go around pretending to be other churches, which fools *clerics*, so if it's one of those, it actually makes sense (low DC tells you what they publicly pretend to be, high tells you what they actually are).

The way you've phrased it though, sounds like poor planning followed by enforced railroading. If your DM is new, give him a pass. He probably didn't have a good idea of how knowledges work. If he's been doing this a while, show him the skill, tell him you'll go along with it *this one time*, but that you expect him to inform you of such changes to the skill system in future games.

Grinner
2013-01-04, 07:03 PM
Is it fair? Never. But that's the point.

If this disinformation was introduced as a plot point, the DM should take advantage of it. It would represent information commonly acknowledged as fact being found false.

If the DM's doing it just for giggles, then no, it's not okay. Particularly if this becomes a recurring thing.


The way you've phrased it though, sounds like poor planning followed by enforced railroading. If your DM is new, give him a pass. He probably didn't have a good idea of how knowledges work. If he's been doing this a while, show him the skill, tell him you'll go along with it *this one time*, but that you expect him to inform you of such changes to the skill system in future games.

Knowledge doesn't necessarily mean that you know the undeniable truth of something. It only means that you know the lore surrounding it, some of which may be false.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-04, 07:09 PM
If this


your mentor, the NPC who, canonically, taught you everything that you know* about [x], is actually a villain who systematically systematically misinformed you for his own reasons.

is true, then it's no more unfair than your mentor turning out to be the BBEG, or the King really being the vampire that's stalking the community or really any other twist. However, it isn't unfair for you to request that in the future the DM tell you from what source(s) your knowledge comes from. But ultimately if you were supposed to trust your mentor, and you did trust your mentor, then this plays out exactly as it was supposed to, and it's not railroading provided that there was some way for you to have discovered this deception (even if that would be very difficult)

Slipperychicken
2013-01-04, 07:20 PM
If I succeeded on the appropriate DC? I would be super mad. Coupled with other offenses which would surely be present in such a campaign, I could storm out right then and there.

If you have Knowledge ranks, that represents factual knowledge. Success on a Knowledge check is just that: Success, you know the facts. Misinformation or faulty teaching would be represented by possessing fewer ranks, or a penalty on the skill check. Any 4 INT loser can believe his tea leaves will predict the lottery's winning numbers, or that rock music was invented by the devil, but he needn't spend skill ranks to acquire these notions. He gets these misconceptions by failing Knowledge checks, not succeeding in them.


EDIT: Think about it this way. Suppose you build a Fighter with large attack bonuses and damage, then make a successful attack roll, rolling a natural 20 against an opponent's AC indicating an automatic hit, then the DM says "well, your master trained you wrong so you fail, regardless of your attack bonuses and natural 20, and instead strike yourself for damage". Is that fair? Is that good DMing? No, on both counts. It violates the trust placed in the DM to honestly adjudicate the rules, more likely than not infuriates his PCs, and forever tarnishes his credibility as a DM.

Grinner
2013-01-04, 07:29 PM
If you have Knowledge ranks, that represents factual knowledge. Success on a Knowledge check is just that: Success, you know the facts.

What if the facts are simply wrong? What if the entire body of lore concerning Asmodeus is just Pelor's propaganda?

As a plot device, this scenario doesn't seem unreasonable.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-04, 07:32 PM
If you have Knowledge ranks, that represents factual knowledge. Success on a Knowledge check is just that: Success, you know the facts.

Per the SRD, this is not true. Knowledge represents:

"a study of some body of lore, possibly an academic or even scientific discipline."

Therefore a knowledge check is what you know from your study of that subject or lore. If as the OP suggests, all the knowledge his character would have regarding the subject comes from a single source, then misinformation would be reflected in that knowledge check. Further, if the check really was as simple as the OP states "You knew X and Y about a subject, and while X and Y are true, Z is also true and that would change your plans" that is still reflected in the knowledge check rules.

Edit
-------


Suppose you build a Fighter with large attack bonuses and damage, then make a successful attack roll, rolling a natural 20 against an opponent's AC indicating an automatic hit, then the DM says "well, your master trained you wrong so you fail, regardless of your attack bonuses and natural 20, and instead strike yourself for damage".

Your effectiveness or lack thereof as a fighter would be obvious to your character regardless of the bad training your master provided. Bad information provided from your sole source of information would not.

Slipperychicken
2013-01-04, 07:33 PM
What if the facts are simply wrong?

Facts can't be wrong. They are by definition the very opposite of being wrong. That's why they're facts, and not lies.


Definition of Fact

something that has actual existence <space exploration is now a fact>
: an actual occurrence <prove the fact of damage>

: a piece of information presented as having objective reality

enderlord99
2013-01-04, 07:35 PM
Success should tell you the real facts. If you don't want someone to know something no matter what, just don't tell them: don't ask them to make a check before lying to them anyway. Incomplete information is fine, but incorrect information would result from failures.

GolemsVoice
2013-01-04, 07:35 PM
It's a bit iffy, since I don't think players should be punished for successfully using a skill, but in the end, yes, information can be false sometimes, especially if all information on a specific subject comes from one source who deliberately falsified it.

As a player I'd feel a bit miffed, but nothing major.

Grinner
2013-01-04, 07:35 PM
Facts can't be wrong. They are by definition the very opposite of being wrong. That's why they're facts, and not lies.

It is unfortunate, then, that the skill Knowledge does not represent the knowledge of fact, only what is presumed to be fact.


If they're wrong, they're not facts. They're falsehoods. Success should tell you the real facts if you don't want someone to know something no matter what, just don't tell them: don't ask them to make a check before lying to them anyway.

Hell no, you should make them roll the skill check. Otherwise, they know that something is up.

ko_sct
2013-01-04, 07:40 PM
Well, I would be okay having been fed false information.

I could see cases were a character would roll high but still be wrong because what he learned was false, but this should be only in a very specific situation, like, everything you though you knew about this specific kind of monster was all lie. Not something like; your skill points are meaningless and you know nothing.


But in this specific scenario I'd be pretty mad. Why ? Because it doesn't make any sense ! Why would my master spend year teaching me false information when he could do better with his time ? I mean, sure, he could be telling me lies about a type of monster he despise or want to see all dead some day, but everything he teached me ? why ? that make no sense... When you take a student you want to get something out of him one day. Could be his money, could be his power, his standing, his allegiance or just knowing he's in security, but the scenario you describe would piss me off.

enderlord99
2013-01-04, 07:41 PM
Hell yes, you should make them roll the skill check. Otherwise, they know that something is up.

...And then telling them more misinformation the better they roll? No. Telling them to roll is fine if you ignore the result, I guess, but not if "better" results (higher rolls) are actually worse ones.

Grinner
2013-01-04, 07:52 PM
...And then telling them more misinformation the better they roll? No. Telling them to roll is fine if you ignore the result, I guess, but not if "better" results (higher rolls) are actually worse ones.

Perhaps, but that's really beyond the scope of the rules, as the DM doesn't often know what was studied, only that information was learned.

Going back to the Pelor example, the party's cleric could have spent her entire life studying religious scripture in a temple of Pelor, only to find out later that Pelor is actually evil. The bait-and-switch on the part of the GM would be justified, albeit only once. Additionally, the cleric would entirely justified in asking for certain compensations, like correct information and perhaps a change in patron.

But again, this shouldn't be a recurring thing.

enderlord99
2013-01-04, 07:57 PM
Perhaps, but that's really beyond the scope of the rules

So, you want to argue RAW?

"Curmudgeon! Could you come here for a second?"

Grinner
2013-01-04, 08:05 PM
So, you want to argue RAW?

"Curmudgeon! Could you come here for a second?"

That has nothing to do with RAW...

If you roll really well on a Knowledge(Pelor's Propaganda) Knowledge(Religion) check, then your character knows a lot about a particular piece of propaganda. It's not true, but it's what your character knows.

Amphetryon
2013-01-04, 08:05 PM
Facts can't be wrong. They are by definition the very opposite of being wrong. That's why they're facts, and not lies.

Scientists regularly revise their knowledge of facts, as evidence becomes available. Forty years ago it was a fact that Pluto was a planet.

Hiro Protagonest
2013-01-04, 08:10 PM
Knowledge (religion), considering he's a cleric? It depends on how the DM is the rest of the time. Spellcraft or Martial Lore? Totally infuriated.

enderlord99
2013-01-04, 08:13 PM
That has nothing to do with RAW...

Yes it does.


If you roll really well on a Knowledge(Pelor's Propaganda) Knowledge(Religion) check, then your character knows a lot about a particular piece of propaganda. It's not true, but it's what your character knows.

Ignore. The. Roll. Higher numbers usually mean information higher in both quality and volume. They occasionally mean "higher volume but the same quality." They never mean "higher volume but lower quality." If knowledge checks ever tell worse information when you do better, then that's a houserule, and the players should be told (as otherwise it's unfair)... but if you do that, it loses the point. Therefore, the best thing to do is simply ignore the dice and tell them the same thing no matter what. Players should not be punished for rolling well, they just don't have to be rewarded.

...Now to go read more youtube comments...

Grinner
2013-01-04, 08:24 PM
Yes it does.

No, it doesn't. It's about basic logic.


Ignore. The. Roll. Higher numbers usually mean information higher in both quality and volume. They occasionally mean "higher volume but the same quality." They never mean "higher volume but lower quality." If knowledge checks ever tell worse information when you do better, then that's a houserule, and the players should be told (as otherwise it's unfair)... but if you do that, it loses the point. Therefore, the best thing to do is simply ignore the dice and tell them the same thing no matter what. Players should not be punished for rolling well, they just don't have to be rewarded.

Well, of course you'd ignore the roll. But again, and I really have to stress this, it's only viable as a plot device. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time.

enderlord99
2013-01-04, 08:31 PM
Well, of course you'd ignore the roll. But again, and I really have to stress this, it's only viable as a plot device. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time.

I guess we're actually agreeing, then.:smallsmile:

shadow_archmagi
2013-01-04, 08:40 PM
I'd say it's acceptable if it's

A. Information that isn't commonly available. If Kermit is actually the god of kitten-eating, and kitten-eating is a secret second aspect that only true religious scholars know? That could be concealed. But if kitten-eating is prominently displayed on his shrines? Well then it makes no sense that your mentor would be able to accurately deceive you.

B. Information that's relevant to the BBEG's plan. If your Mentor is secretly a Kermit cultist planning to kill all the kitties in the world at once, and he knows you wouldn't go along with it if you knew, then that's fine. If he just filled in random parts of your knowledge base with lies (Ha! I'll tell him that Fighting type attacks are super effective against Flying types! Hohohohohohoho it'll be hilarious when he tries to punch a bird) this is not okay, because then you're not only negating the player's ranks, but making having them at all an actively dangerous thing. It'd be like if you decided the Trip/Grapple based Fighter's hometown was being invaded by the Kingdom of the Oozes.

Emmerask
2013-01-04, 08:45 PM
So say you roll a Spellcraft or Knowledge or Martial Lore (etc) check and hit the normal DC to know something. The DM hits you up with some knowledge that later turns out be be not just wrong but seriously harmful (in the sense that it leads you into a trap or to working for a bad guy or similar)?

What the hell?!, you ask your DM. The answer is that your mentor, the NPC who, canonically, taught you everything that you know* about [x], is actually a villain who systematically systematically misinformed you for his own reasons. You correctly recognized a man as a cleric of Kermit, but it turns out that who you thought was the god of frogs, puppetry, and pig farming is actually the god of all that plus kitten eating.

Is that fair? Does it become fair if an established part of the game is that backstory NPCs are likely to show up?

*Ah, you say, "But if they've put ranks in it since the start of the game, they must have learned from other sources." I say, "Yeah, this idea would be unfair in that case, but let's just say that they haven't put any additional ranks into it since the start of the campaign. Cool?"

Well it actually is fair if certain conditions are met

Had your character any chance to talk to other experts (or at least somewhat knowledgeable people) in that field?
-If not then everything is fine
-If yes then you should at least get some hint that either your "facts" or theirs are wrong

Had your character any chance to study any book regarding the subject not manipulated by the former master?
-If not everything is fine
-If yes then there should be some hint to the player that something is off

Always have the possibility that the player might find out, it sucks for the dm because a whole plotline might be gone now but hey the player feels good about it so mission accomplished then?

etc

If the dm followed these rules (which would imply it was planned all along) and didn´t just come up with the wrong knowledge plot out of the blue then I wouldn´t be mad at the dm, I would applaud him for it, because it really is good story telling imho.

As for the rules supporting it, well its not explicitly written down but the only reasonable explanation for skills is that this is knowledge you somehow acquired over your life, weather it is overheard or studied doesn´t matter.

Otherwise these knowledge checks would pretty much imply that Ao or some other omnipotent being tells you the FACT you need to know which is nowhere said in the rules but something of that importance would need to be in there.

So yes the knowledge checks can only offer you the knowledge you acquired and this could very well be wrong depending on where how and from whom you acquired it.

Ashdate
2013-01-04, 08:49 PM
Without a lot of really detailed specifics, my gut feeling would be that I wouldn't be mad. There's so many different variables involved, that unless it was done to be malicious I wouldn't have a problem with it.

For example, perhaps your "mentor" is manipulating you and you don't know it. He feeds you some information about the MacGuffin, and your character takes it as truth. When you then make a knowledge check related to the MacGuffin, your DM applies a penalty to your check (or perhaps just uses a higher DC). I don't really see anything wrong with that. In fact, it sounds like it lead to an interesting situation for the party, where you ended up unknowingly working for the "bad guy". That sounds pretty cool to me, but I guess your mileage will vary.

Perhaps the DM handled it badly? Perhaps you handled it badly? There are so many variables that I'm not sure I could give you an answer to the specific situation. I would suggest sitting down for coffee with the DM and talk about this. But please remember that you only have agency over one character in the DMs story - your own. And also remember that conflict (and even failure!) is what makes games interesting, not success. Unless your DM was doing this to be a jerk to you, he probably had the interests of the game at heart, and I don't think you can blame him for that.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-04, 08:53 PM
Incidentally, this is why

a) I dislike knowledge checks in general. If I'm not already certain as to whether the player would or wouldn't know, and I don't feel like saying yes, I would rather the player make a case for why his character would know the knowledge he seeks.

b) Do not tell the DC, or even better roll knowledge checks in secret when I do use them. Of course, I also never couch the results in certain terms, I give the players room to doubt "You recall hearing XYZ", "When you were studying in the library, you read a book which stated QPR", "It's long been rumored that ABC" etc etc.

Slipperychicken
2013-01-04, 08:54 PM
Scientists regularly revise their knowledge of facts, as evidence becomes available. Forty years ago it was a fact that Pluto was a planet.

That doesn't mean the facts change. It means we don't have them yet. There's one reality, and higher Knowledge skill brings you closer to it. If your understanding of reality doesn't align with it, that means your Knowledge skill is lower.

Emmerask
2013-01-04, 09:02 PM
That doesn't mean the facts change. It means we don't have them yet. There's one reality, and higher Knowledge skill brings you closer to it. If your understanding of reality doesn't align with it, that means your Knowledge skill is lower.

It actually is not clear if there is one reality ^^
Anyway I would not agree, having lots of knowledge about one subject only means you know a lot about it, not however that these "facts" are all true.

Yes you can make some logical conclusions and try to observe if your knowledge is actually a fact and the more you know the better you can try to do this, however if your "facts" are build on one another then it is not more easy ^^

NichG
2013-01-04, 09:04 PM
In general, I always expect there to be a body of information in any campaign which is inaccessible via character building. What I mean by that is, there is information which there is simply no way for a character to know, regardless of how high their skill modifier is. Beyond that, I also expect there to be staged DCs for things - a check that hits DC 25 but not DC 50 might get incomplete information such as in the OP's case.

I'd be dubious of the explanation that its because my mentor taught me X, since I will have been increasing my skills throughout my adventuring career, so if most of my Knowledge comes from post-Lv1 skill ranks its a bit odd. But if its early in the campaign I could see it being a safe assumption for the DM. More likely to me would be that the fact that clerics of Kermit eat kittens is probably just not known outside of their order, so its part of the set of information inaccessible to Knowledge checks.

erikun
2013-01-04, 09:10 PM
I would say that, the way you presented the situation, it seems fair.
That is:

1.) That the information was provided by your master,
2.) That you took no additional skill ranks in that knowledge since leaving them,
3.) That the information is relevant to your master, and that they would want to keep the knowledge hidden, and
4.) That the corrent counter-information is not obvious.

I would say that all of these would need to be true for it to work out well, though. If the information wasn't relevant to your master - if he just lied about everything, for example - then you should know after some time that he had lied about things and would not trust the other information from him. If you took additional skill ranks, then you should have ran across information that was not included/was contradictory to your master's information. And if it was something obvious - if people in the town nearby spoke of a frog-temple that ate kittens - then that should have been a big warning flag that something was wrong.

Other than that, it looks like producing a plot twist using part of the PCs backstory. As long at the player is fine with it - as long as the player didn't have a specific story or role for their old master - I don't see a problem with myself being that player.

The_Snark
2013-01-04, 09:24 PM
I don't think I'd be mad, no. It's an interesting plot twist, I'm usually happy to have the DM making use of my backstory, and if there's a plausible reason I'm perfectly OK with it. Knowledge skills are neither perfect or infallible.

That said, you shouldn't do this sort of thing often. This hypothetical character has invested skill points in Knowledge (x); that's an expenditure of resources. That expenditure should be meaningful—in general, they should be knowledgable about (x). As a dramatic one-time revelation, it's fine. If it turns out that everything your mentor taught you about (x) is wrong, and he was your only source of information... then the DM should either refund the skill points spent on Knowledge (x), or provide a way for the character to learn the truth, at which point their knowledge should become somewhat more accurate.

Moriwen
2013-01-04, 09:46 PM
Not mad at all. I'd think it was pretty cool.

I would be especially OK with it if they'd made it clear at the start that there would be lots of character/intrigue/backstory stuff going on, so I'd know to expect that sort of thing. But generally, I'd be pleased that they'd thought my backstory was exciting enough to base a fairly major plot point off of it.

I agree with previous posters who said it would be nice if the DM refunded the skill points, maybe with a caveat that they should be used for other Knowledge skills. Some other compensation would be OK, too (extra XP, cool magic item). But I wouldn't be upset if the DM didn't do any of that, just pleased if they did.

GoddessSune
2013-01-04, 10:06 PM
So say you roll a Spellcraft or Knowledge or Martial Lore (etc) check and hit the normal DC to know something. The DM hits you up with some knowledge that later turns out be be not just wrong but seriously harmful (in the sense that it leads you into a trap or to working for a bad guy or similar)?

Well, I'm this type of DM. A player is lucky to get even the slightest hint from a information roll. I really, really hate the 'know everything roll' to metagame and auto win.

And the idea that a single rank represents like a four year advanced collage course on a subject is just silly.

And it's worse that a single rank also represents absolute undeniable fact. To say that few things are 'facts' is an understatement. The world is much more vague then that. And a lot of so called facts would be disputed by some people. And even if you tell someone a 'fact' they might not care or still might not believe it.

Coidzor
2013-01-04, 10:08 PM
^: The fact that humans love to be ignorant and profit from perpetuating ignorance in others doesn't enter into the other fact that combining a strong acid and a strong base is a bad idea without adult supervision.

I'd find it to be poor form, especially if it's a technique that's overused.

I've never really had a character who only had one mentor though, most of my scholarly types are the sort to have accumulated it mostly through studying multiple sources rather than having been taught it by a lone individual or single group smaller than a university, and I imagine that would quickly become the case for backstories.

I'm much more OK with the idea that there can be errors added into the lore or perpetuated by others, but for it to be used with no chance for suspicion or for some knowledge that the lore is muddled would be crass.

huttj509
2013-01-04, 10:30 PM
It depends a lot in how it's presented, and carried out.

If you took 4 ranks in Knowledge(Kermit Cult), and everything you "know" about them is not only wrong but dangerous, I'd say not cool.

If you took 4 ranks in Knowledge(Religion), and it turns out that what you "know" about Kermit cultists isn't false, per se, but horribly, dangerously, secretly lacking, I'd say that's fine. The skill points aren't wasted, you still know about other religions. You even know about the general front of the Kermit Cult, you were just never introduced to the secret underbelly (and if it's secret, 4 ranks isn't gonna do much to uncover it anyway).

Of course, there's other ways it could go down, but I hope I conveyed the point that the specifics can matter a lot in reception.

navar100
2013-01-04, 10:32 PM
Well, I'm this type of DM. A player is lucky to get even the slightest hint from a information roll. I really, really hate the 'know everything roll' to metagame and auto win.

And the idea that a single rank represents like a four year advanced collage course on a subject is just silly.

And it's worse that a single rank also represents absolute undeniable fact. To say that few things are 'facts' is an understatement. The world is much more vague then that. And a lot of so called facts would be disputed by some people. And even if you tell someone a 'fact' they might not care or still might not believe it.

What an atrocity a player gets to know stuff. Who are they to believe they have a right to know what goes on in the world!

Coidzor
2013-01-04, 10:39 PM
It depends a lot in how it's presented, and carried out.

If you took 4 ranks in Knowledge(Kermit Cult), and everything you "know" about them is not only wrong but dangerous, I'd say not cool.

If you took 4 ranks in Knowledge(Religion), and it turns out that what you "know" about Kermit cultists isn't false, per se, but horribly, dangerously, secretly lacking, I'd say that's fine. The skill points aren't wasted, you still know about other religions. You even know about the general front of the Kermit Cult, you were just never introduced to the secret underbelly (and if it's secret, 4 ranks isn't gonna do much to uncover it anyway).

Of course, there's other ways it could go down, but I hope I conveyed the point that the specifics can matter a lot in reception.

I think so. Conveyed some of the point that I think I fumbled on, certainly. :smallsmile:

Deophaun
2013-01-04, 10:45 PM
*Ah, you say, "But if they've put ranks in it since the start of the game, they must have learned from other sources." I say, "Yeah, this idea would be unfair in that case, but let's just say that they haven't put any additional ranks into it since the start of the campaign. Cool?"
This basically saves the scenario, if you were doing this to my character. Basically, if I'm not trying to keep my knowledge skill current, then it means I was using it for a prereq. Knowing about the subject wasn't really the point, so I wouldn't be upset.

If, however, I was investing in knowledge (whatever) throughout my career, and you started pulling this on me? Yeah, that's not cool.

In terms of generic DMing advice, be very careful with this. Feel out your player's attitude first. Definitely make it clear up front that "Soandso the Sage taught you everything you know about X." That way, the player gets 1 of 2 things:

1) Everything he knows about X may not be accurate, because Soandso was known to be a bit daft in the head, so double check your knowledge with another character, or...

2) Happening upon the rather rude discovery that you were fed untruths by your tutor, maybe Soandso isn't such a good guy after all, and you should invest in some scrying.

Once the character gets burned by the lack of knowledge, make sure this penalty is erased during any downtime where the character decides to hit the books, even if he doesn't spend more ranks in the skill.

Arbane
2013-01-04, 10:54 PM
I think my first reaction to something like this would be along the lines of 'I want my skill-points back, jerk.'


Well, I'm this type of DM. A player is lucky to get even the slightest hint from a information roll. I really, really hate the 'know everything roll' to metagame and auto win.

Given how many weird things D&D has of the 'this can only be hurt by blessed silver weapons wielded left-handed' variety, how do you expect them to figure all this stuff out without just saying 'screw it' and reading the Monster Manual?

Or would you just rather the PCs didn't have skills at all? 2nd Ed D&D is that way....



To say that few things are 'facts' is an understatement. The world is much more vague then that. And a lot of so called facts would be disputed by some people. And even if you tell someone a 'fact' they might not care or still might not believe it.

Man what?

It is a 'fact' that fire burns things. In D&D, it is a 'fact' that ice hurts fire elementals. This is a 'fact' that PCs should be able to 'know'. Or are you meaning something a lot more bizarre that I'm not understanding?

TuggyNE
2013-01-04, 11:13 PM
a) I dislike knowledge checks in general. If I'm not already certain as to whether the player would or wouldn't know, and I don't feel like saying yes, I would rather the player make a case for why his character would know the knowledge he seeks.

The problem with this is that it doesn't give much of a basis for figuring out whether a character should know something fairly minor, other than the principle of indifference or just letting them know whatever they like. It's somewhat like Rich's annoyance at lousy Diplomacy DC guidelines that require enormous adjudication up front to avoid terrible results, rather than just setting up a sensible framework for most checks (and allowing efficient and reasonable exceptions where necessary).


b) Do not tell the DC, or even better roll knowledge checks in secret when I do use them. Of course, I also never couch the results in certain terms, I give the players room to doubt "You recall hearing XYZ", "When you were studying in the library, you read a book which stated QPR", "It's long been rumored that ABC" etc etc.

Now, that's fair enough. Basically, there's a difference (slight, but crucial) between "yeah, your character got lied to by this NPC" and "haha, I the DM am lying to you the player", and a lot of that difference is in how the check result is presented. (Most of the rest is in whether the player would have any way to avoid this, such as by seeking out another unrelated NPC to continue their training, or whether it's just fiated into place no matter what.)

Edit:
Well, I'm this type of DM. A player is lucky to get even the slightest hint from a information roll. I really, really hate the 'know everything roll' to metagame and auto win.

Knowledge rolls aren't metagaming, they're exactly the reverse: they represent what the character themselves knows. (There are marginal cases, of course, where the character knows just enough for the player to metagame the correct course of action, but those are eliminated by the character's increasing Knowledge, rather than exacerbated.)


And the idea that a single rank represents like a four year advanced collage course on a subject is just silly.

I suppose it depends on your opinion of college, no? :smalltongue:

But seriously, a rank is probably worth a semester to a year of college at a decent school, depending on how you calibrate it; a college graduate with a major in Oozes and Beholderkin should be fairly well represented by a first-level character with 4 ranks in Knowledge: Dungeoneering.


And it's worse that a single rank also represents absolute undeniable fact. To say that few things are 'facts' is an understatement. The world is much more vague then that. And a lot of so called facts would be disputed by some people. And even if you tell someone a 'fact' they might not care or still might not believe it.

Er... there are certainly some things about which there is a great deal of reasonable dispute, and other things that are fairly certain, but may still have minor flaws in our current understanding. However, there's a very great number of genuine facts: pieces of information that have been exhaustively verified and relied upon for hundreds or thousands of man-years, and show no particular sign of being falsified. For example, the chemical, electrical, aerodynamic, and mechanical principles involved in designing a car (the human factors principles are less certain, of course, but even there it is not difficult to factually find optimum angles and distances of various interior parts).

valadil
2013-01-04, 11:25 PM
How mad would I be? It depends.

I think it's a really creative idea and has the potential to be awesome. But I don't trust all my GMs to run an idea like that in a satisfying manner. Off the top of my head I can only think of one GM who I'd absolutely trust to run something like this. I can think of a few who *might* be able to pull it off. Most of them I wouldn't trust with a plot like this.

Basically what it comes down to is this. Sorting out what's real from a web of lies sounds like a fun plot. It could even be the focus of a campaign. I'd gladly trade a portion of my skill points to be the main character in a game focused around a plot like that.

The way I would expect it to work out is that I lose access to a skill and the sabotage is either distant background or a side plot. Once I figure out that skill is useless I stop rolling or try to retrain it. That seems more like screw than a satisfying plot.

tl;dr Playing a wizard in a world where everything he knows is wrong would be fun. Playing "oh noez, my skill pointz!" would not be.

cucchulainnn
2013-01-04, 11:38 PM
Man what?

It is a 'fact' that fire burns things. In D&D, it is a 'fact' that ice hurts fire elementals. This is a 'fact' that PCs should be able to 'know'. Or are you meaning something a lot more bizarre that I'm not understanding?

how many facts from the past no longer are, how many facts today will be proven wrong in the future, the concept of fact is a conceit of humans for something that we feel is indisputable. unfortunately very few things are, after all we are limited by current available information and our ability to understand that information.

are you saying that real world research is no longer needed as all the facts are currently known? i am not sure if i understand the point you are trying to make. on the flip side if real world facts are still unknown the same can be true in game. or are you saying that with the proper skill check all facts could be known by a character of situation?

Tengu_temp
2013-01-04, 11:44 PM
It'd be a pretty great twist, but after it's revealed, I'd expect all my passed knowledge skill rolls to give me correct info from that point on. Doing this more would just be overstaying its welcome.

I know where you got the idea from, by the way. And I haven't even played that game.

GolemsVoice
2013-01-05, 12:28 AM
If a fact is known, e.g. vampires are vulnerable to sunlight, I'd let the player know that with a successful knowledge check, the difficulty depending on the rarity of the information. If something is disputed or not very well reasearched, I'd give the player the current view of the corresponding field, e.g. "some say that X, others say that Y"

This way, infomration that should be vague can be vague, and information that's widespread and tested is just that.

navar100
2013-01-05, 12:36 AM
how many facts from the past no longer are, how many facts today will be proven wrong in the future, the concept of fact is a conceit of humans for something that we feel is indisputable. unfortunately very few things are, after all we are limited by current available information and our ability to understand that information.

are you saying that real world research is no longer needed as all the facts are currently known? i am not sure if i understand the point you are trying to make. on the flip side if real world facts are still unknown the same can be true in game. or are you saying that with the proper skill check all facts could be known by a character of situation?

If you call a "tail" a "leg", how many legs does a dog have?

Acanous
2013-01-05, 12:54 AM
This thread is now an argument between people who believe Knowledge skills reprisent a game element, against those who believe it reprisents a plot element.

Personally, I side with the Game element folk, as it is something detailed by the player during character creation and at level-ups, which follows game rules. Knowledge checks should always give a character who meets or exceeds a DC factual information on the subject.

Secret or misinformation should be detailed under a seperate knowledge Knowledge: Secret Cults, for example, doesn't exist by the main rules, but could exist in your campaign. If it did, the players should know that there are "Secret knowledges" they need to roleplay in order to access.

Knowledge: Religeon can feed someone misinformation, but it will be misinformation discoverable by observation. Like if there's a cult of squiggledespooch masquerading as a church of Garl Glittergold, Knowledge: Religeon will tell you a good deal about the church of Garl Glittergold, and possibly something that does not fit with the cultists you are dealing with- that would present you with a clue that something is up, making your skill points a wise and useful investment, while not giving away the plot.

If they otherwise discover that Gasp! It is a cult of Squiggledespooch! Knowledge: Religeon should be telling them a good deal about the cult (Like who their enemies are, what their public goals are, etc).

That's my stance on the matter, and now I'm out before I say something crass.

TuggyNE
2013-01-05, 12:55 AM
how many facts from the past no longer are, how many facts today will be proven wrong in the future, the concept of fact is a conceit of humans for something that we feel is indisputable. unfortunately very few things are, after all we are limited by current available information and our ability to understand that information.

In most cases, earlier "facts" were either based on little more than guessing, or were subsumed into a more comprehensive theory (i.e., the known facts, while generally correct within certain limits, could not appropriately be extended to all cases — Newtonian physics is still useful as an approximation, despite the inaccuracies that show up at extremely high speeds or under extremely high gravity). Similarly, there are undoubtedly some things currently believed that are just not true, but they're outweighed by the number of things that are true to an extent, and still more by the number of things that, well, simply are true for all intents and purposes.

Pragmatically, yes, facts are largely knowable, and knowledge of facts is largely verifiable, hypothetical epistemological conundrums aside. This is especially true for fairly straightforward things, like "what is Deity X's philosophy?" which is normally maybe a DC 15 at most.


are you saying that real world research is no longer needed as all the facts are currently known? i am not sure if i understand the point you are trying to make. on the flip side if real world facts are still unknown the same can be true in game. or are you saying that with the proper skill check all facts could be known by a character of situation?

There's a very large qualitative difference between "you have no idea what a zombie is" (ignorance) and "your reasonable studies as to the nature of zombies have proven utterly incorrect due to a conspiracy" (false knowledge). The first case is just a matter of not knowing enough (and is easy to distinguish and perfectly normal), the second is a matter of "knowing" things that were specifically wrong — not merely inaccurate in some niche cases, but tuned to mislead on important problems.

NichG
2013-01-05, 01:26 AM
People seem to be going to math and physics for examples of Knowledges, but look at most of the Knowledges in D&D - they're a lot softer. Nobility & Royalty, Nature, Dungeoneering, History, etc.

People should probably not be definitively sure that a given mushroom is safe to eat when in fact its deadly poison. But they could easily think that this or that herb helps against certain diseases when really its a placebo effect, or actually something about minerals in the soil where that herb grows, or something more subtle.

And as far as 'Who is King Erik's father?' as a Nobility & Royalty check, it'd be completely reasonable to get the common answer when actually he was secretly the product of an affair.

GolemsVoice
2013-01-05, 02:05 AM
But why invest in, say, knowlegde (nature) if you can't even do exactly what this skill is for, namely identifying plants and animals?

Knowledge skills aren't just rumour and hearsay, at least at higher skill ranks. They represent academical study or lots of experience with the subject.

So yes, a high enough knowledge roll SHOULD actually give you the information that king Eric's son is a bastard, provided this information is actually available to even a small segment of the public.

I mean, knowledge skills don't magically give you information that you just couldn't know. They're no spells, and not clairvoyance or something. But to the extend that they DO give information, on a successful roll it should be truthful, in general.

Jerthanis
2013-01-05, 02:15 AM
A waffling answer is a terribly un-useful answer, but if it is interesting it will be fine, but if it isn't, it won't be.

Really, I wouldn't be drawing the comparison to other Knowledges, but to skills like Tumble and Jump or Sleight of Hand or Disable device. They are an investment of the character's overall skill and power to accomplish tasks. To have an investment of skill and power not turn out to have the effect the person chose it for is slightly unfair.

A comparable situation would be a villain who taught a Rogue how to Tumble wrong such that people who use weapons that are piercing and slashing, like Halberds, can still take AoOs. Or how to use Sleight of Hand to pickpocket, but that the technique used for planting items would be discovered every time. Or a jumper who is taught how to jump down from a height wrong, and takes extra damage each time they do it. Or a trap disarmer who knows a technique that will always let themselves get hit while disarming a springloaded needle trap.

When you interact with the world, you will discover you were taught wrong, and skill is built by interacting with the world, so the only time Kermit turns out to be also god of eating kittens makes sense is when that fact is a guarded secret that only a specialist on the level of yourself and your mentor would even possibly know...

Real world example: If you were taught that Cruithne was Earth's 2nd moon, and a real natural satellite, you might not have that disproven when in casual conversation on the topic with laypeople, but you'd have to never read books on the subject or ever discuss this fact with any astronomers to maintain the misinformation.

So if I were to be trapped by information I should have, and paid a resource for my character to know, I'll be pretty peeved without justification for being unable to learn it from a person other than my mentor, or if the story is really interesting because of it.

Extra_Crispy
2013-01-05, 05:54 AM
Im going to agree with most of what has been said, it depends on how it was done.

If say my parents told me that :smallmad: is a brown face and that that color was brown then I would think it was brown all the way up untill I entered school and everyone corrected me that it is actually red. If the mentor told me one thing but I, through adventuring, and putting skill points into a skill, should have learned that what he told me is not true or is atleast somewhat incorrect. Giving false info after a high skill check would make me mad, it makes it sould like the GM just wanted you to run the red light because it was brown and get run over.

On the other hand let us say the info given to you by your mentor is that king of such and such land is actually a evil doppleganger and you are ment to kill him. Know one knows this but him because he was best friends with the king and knows the real king is dead. Truth is that the mentor is evil and the king is good and not a doppleganger but the only way to get close to the king because of protections, wards, or other such is for a good person, ie a Dupe. Your mentor may tell you exactly how to kill this evil doppganger but as the king is not one, it is all a lie to get you to kill the king and get by his protections. So all your info on killing dopplegangers is wrong because it is actually how to kill the king. So you run into a real doppleganger and low and behold your monster lore in this case is completely wrong, no matter how high you roll it is wrong. If used for other monsters it could be right, just this case it is wrong. Now after running into this doppleganger I would allow the character to talk to others and/or research and thus not be misinformed, and not have it happen again. But that does not invalidate the whole skill as it can still be used for other monsters.

Basically if used correctly in a plot hook with a believable reason for the mentor to lie to you then I would actually enjoy it and think it is great. If used just to make me fail at something or as I stated above run a red light and get hit then yes I would be very mad.

The Random NPC
2013-01-05, 10:50 AM
Scientists regularly revise their knowledge of facts, as evidence becomes available. Forty years ago it was a fact that Pluto was a planet.

Pluto is still a planet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto)... A dwarf planet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_planet).

Emmerask
2013-01-05, 11:58 AM
Pluto is still a planet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto)... A dwarf planet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_planet).

which is not a planet :smallbiggrin:

enderlord99
2013-01-05, 12:12 PM
which is not a planet :smallbiggrin:

Is a toy poodle not a poodle? Is a pepperoni pizza not a pizza? Is a stupid person (like me) not a person?

...Actually, don't answer that last one. I know I'm not.

Emmerask
2013-01-05, 12:21 PM
Well
a toy poodle is not a poodle, its a toy designed to look like a poodle,
a pepperoni pizza is a pizza just with different stuff on it

But what gave away that a dwarf-planet is not a planet is pretty much the first sentence in the wiki article:

A dwarf planet is a planetary-mass object that is neither a planet nor a satellite.

:smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:

Guizonde
2013-01-05, 12:32 PM
this actually happened last session (i read the thread and understood better what you were getting at). we asked an npc what was the danger of following the abandonned major thoroughfare, he told us cockatrices had infested the area (he also told us 200 years of the road's history).

no cockatrices, but an abandonned town infested by demons. we felt cheated, having prepared the wrong spells.

after the game, we asked the dm, even for him, that was a low blow: he rolled a natural 20 on the knowledge check for the road (all true info), and a natural 1 for the dangers... so far, he's been fair although he never tells us DC for those checks, couching it in terms of "yeah, that's obscure", "that's common knowledge", etc... best bet is to talk it out with your dm, seeing where you both stand on the issue

enderlord99
2013-01-05, 12:37 PM
Well
a toy poodle is not a poodle, its a toy designed to look like a poodle,

..."Toy" as in "miniature."

The Random NPC
2013-01-05, 12:50 PM
Is a toy poodle not a poodle? Is a pepperoni pizza not a pizza? Is a stupid person (like me) not a person?

...Actually, don't answer that last one. I know I'm not.

No, he's right, I'm just being contrary. That's why I linked both articles instead of just the Pluto one.

Treblain
2013-01-05, 03:09 PM
The proper DM response to the roll should be "You recall your master teaching you that Kermit is the god of so-and-so." Then, when it turns out to be wrong, the player knows exactly where to turn after surviving a battle with Kermit cultists, and the master deserves to be hunted down for pulling a trick that exposes his duplicity.

If the roll was very high and there is some reason that the player might have heard the truth from another source, they should get both pieces of information, along the lines of, "Your master told you this, however, you recall hearing something about kitten-eating Kermit worshippers. Hmmmmm..."

Deophaun
2013-01-05, 03:52 PM
which is not a planet :smallbiggrin:
Sure it is, depending on how you define planet.

Our knowledge of Pluto didn't change, our definition of planet did. And it changed simply because a group of scientists didn't like having a dozen or more planets in the Solar System, not because objective facts told them that the definition was wrong. There are still astronomers who, to this day, will call Pluto a planet, and it's not because they are misinformed.

And what's worse, in demoting Pluto they came up with an idiotic term for it...

Hiro Protagonest
2013-01-05, 03:54 PM
how many facts from the past no longer are, how many facts today will be proven wrong in the future, the concept of fact is a conceit of humans for something that we feel is indisputable. unfortunately very few things are, after all we are limited by current available information and our ability to understand that information.

are you saying that real world research is no longer needed as all the facts are currently known? i am not sure if i understand the point you are trying to make. on the flip side if real world facts are still unknown the same can be true in game. or are you saying that with the proper skill check all facts could be known by a character of situation?

Are you suggesting that vampires burn up when exposed to a blue sky, rather than the sun? Because the sun is fire (and in real life, we have proved it), the sky is not.

Nero24200
2013-01-05, 04:18 PM
I would be pissed. It's not just a railroad, it's an obvious railroad. What would happen if I failed the check? Would I get the same results? If not, why am I being punished for succeeding? If I get the same results then what is the point of the check?

Avilan the Grey
2013-01-05, 04:59 PM
I think it is a good idea. But then I am not a diehard DnD player, but I think it is a very clever, logically sound and good way to add a plot hook.

king.com
2013-01-05, 09:59 PM
I think it is a good idea. But then I am not a diehard DnD player, but I think it is a very clever, logically sound and good way to add a plot hook.

Yea exactly, this sounds like a great idea. Sounds like a solid plot twist and I'm not exactly seeing the whole 'railroading' thing coming across at all. The environment acted and he worked to incorporate the characters backstory into events and the final result was something which hinders a player temporarily but allows the character to work towards repairing the damage. He has a goal to relearn and improve himself.

People are honestly mad at something like this? Not even 'I disagree that this is a good idea' but geniuinely emotionally effected by it? Madness, seems to encourage my keeping a distance from D&D style games if thats the reaction people are having to something ultimately minor.

Grinner
2013-01-05, 10:17 PM
Yea exactly, this sounds like a great idea. Sounds like a solid plot twist and I'm not exactly seeing the whole 'railroading' thing coming across at all. The environment acted and he worked to incorporate the characters backstory into events and the final result was something which hinders a player temporarily but allows the character to work towards repairing the damage. He has a goal to relearn and improve himself.

People are honestly mad at something like this? Not even 'I disagree that this is a good idea' but geniuinely emotionally effected by it? Madness, seems to encourage my keeping a distance from D&D style games if thats the reaction people are having to something ultimately minor.

D&D tends to divide a game into two parts: the DM's world and the player's characters. Each is largely separate, bound only by an assembly of rules. Additionally, there's an entire culture of character optimization built around D&D; people invest days into character builds. So, when the DM steps in and subverts an aspect of a player's character without doing so through the rules, players will tend to cry foul, their territory having been intruded upon.

In other words, D&D is, in every sense of the word, a game. Not a roleplaying game, just a game.

GolemsVoice
2013-01-05, 10:31 PM
Well, I really understand where it's coming from, though not in that severity. The player character is, in most games (and far from only D&D) the only thing that the player controls, that's why all other characters are called N-PCs.

For me, roleplaying games are kind of a social contract. The players agree to get along with the story the DM has spent time and energy crafting, and the DM doesn't mess with the players in turn.

And since you build your skills because you want your character to succeed in that area, it's only fair to expect the GM not to mess with these results. I mean, if the player can't trust his own skills, and can't reliably assume that the points he put in skills (or whatever the particular game has, ranks, dots, dive types) will actually HELP him, why bother?

Consider this: a player makes a jump check, and the DM wants to provide a challenge, for example in a zombie apocalypse game. He says, yes, you jumped over the chasm, but landed so that you sprained your ankle, for the next week, you can only limp at half speed.


I do, however, see nothing wrong with the OP's example, if it's only a one time deal.

Grinner
2013-01-05, 10:48 PM
From what I've read, FATE's mechanics handle the problem of perceived railroading so well. In my experience, players call the DM on railroading when he attempts to assert something about the player characters without permission. FATE, however, incorporates qualitative descriptions as quantitative mechanics and then allows anybody to "tag" these "aspects", providing mechanical justification for assumptions and solving the problem so elegantly.

cucchulainnn
2013-01-05, 10:50 PM
let me see if i can explain what i am trying to say, obliviously i am not getting my point across. i am not that good at writing so will assume the problem is on my end.

there are lots of valid reason why the op would have the wrong information. just because he pass the skills roll dose not automatically mean he gets correct information. assuming that the information was believed to be accurate and or he intentionally mislead.

we haven't been told the nature of the information the op is upset about, which leaves a lot of room for speculation. of course if it is some thing like he was lead to believe that paper burns and the then the dm said it didn't, i would be upset. but if the player tried to burn said paper in a vacuum then too bad. regardless of the roll of skill check how could a character with a fantasy worlds tech level know that oxygen is needed for the chemical reaction to work. with out a fairly advanced tech level there is no way for some to test for that and a character to learn about it. there are a lot of things that will be limited by the tech level of the campaign.

as a dm would you allow a player character to invent anything and know anything simply because of a roll. at what point dose it go from being a fantasy game with fantasy world tech to sifi. i personally am cool with either and with mixing them but to assume they should be mixed as the baseline some how seems off to me.

i have always assumed fantasy to have imprecise scientific understand and tech. sure they could make a master crafted sword, but can they make internal combustion engine. yes they are smart enough to understand that their planet revolves around a star and may even suspect it dose but with out telescopes can they test that theory. even if they know how to make a telescope is the tech level advanced enough to make one strong enough to see farther then a mile. some earlier mentioned Newtonian theory, well newton was some one who passed his skill check and based his theories on available information limited by the tech available to make the tools needed to test them.

i get it that i am the odd man out who believes that fantasy by it nature has fuzzy science and there are no facts, with complete understanding of any thing. i see nothing wrong with a dwarf know that to make this master crafted sword requires ore from a specific mountain with out know the chemical make up of the alloys.

TuggyNE
2013-01-05, 11:12 PM
there are lots of valid reason why the op would have the wrong information. just because he pass the skills roll dose not automatically mean he gets correct information. assuming that the information was believed to be accurate and or he intentionally mislead.

There are actually (in general) only a few, exceptional reasons why the information returned would be massively wrong. (I.e., not inconsequentially wrong, like having a weird idea of how the world and its sun move around each other, but directly affecting in-game events.) There tend to be a few more reasons at higher target DCs, of course, but that only really starts becoming plausible at 25+ or even 30+, where there's not very many scholars to correct misinformation.


we haven't been told the nature of the information the op is upset about, which leaves a lot of room for speculation.

Really? I thought it was basically the Kermit thing. (Presumably with the specifics a bit different, since a world in which a muppet was actually a deity doesn't sound serious enough in tone to have this sort of problem :smalltongue:.)


of course if it is some thing like he was lead to believe that paper burns and the then the dm said it didn't, i would be upset. but if the player tried to burn said paper in a vacuum then too bad. regardless of the roll of skill check how could a character with a fantasy worlds tech level know that oxygen is needed for the chemical reaction to work. with out a fairly advanced tech level there is no way for some to test for that and a character to learn about it. there are a lot of things that will be limited by the tech level of the campaign.

Oxygen was to a large extent understood by the late 1700s, using primarily vacuum pumps (invented 1650s), flames, and small animals. D&D's typical anachronism stew means that, if you take some of the weaponry as the date, you're not more than a hundred years away if that. :smalltongue:

Whether or not wizards would have discovered this already, what with the ability to make airtight walls of force and research spells to reduce pressure/teleport into vacuum areas/adapt to all conditions including vacuums, I'm not sure. However, an unusually high Knowledge roll is not so implausible here as you might think.


as a dm would you allow a player character to invent anything and know anything simply because of a roll.

No. No one that I know of is suggesting that. It's reasonable to set certain DCs extremely high (and also adjust certain spells to avoid various boosting cheese), but it's not anywhere near so reasonable to have a fairly low DC that's easy enough to pass, and then gets you outright fallacious and deliberately faked information on a success.


i have always assumed fantasy to have imprecise scientific understand and tech. sure they could make a master crafted sword, but can they make internal combustion engine. yes they are smart enough to understand that their planet revolves around a star and may even suspect it dose but with out telescopes can they test that theory. even if they know how to make a telescope is the tech level advanced enough to make one strong enough to see farther then a mile. some earlier mentioned Newtonian theory, well newton was some one who passed his skill check and based his theories on available information limited by the tech available to make the tools needed to test them.

i get it that i am the odd man out who believes that fantasy by it nature has fuzzy science and there are no facts, with complete understanding of any thing. i see nothing wrong with a dwarf know that to make this master crafted sword requires ore from a specific mountain with out know the chemical make up of the alloys.

Even knowing what ore to use is a fact, and probably requires a Knowledge check (or a Profession check, if you want to fold it in). Planning where to mine in order to find more of that ore? Probably a combination of Knowledge: Dungeoneering and Profession: Miner.

Again, the possibility of insufficient knowledge (i.e., the DC is too high, you failed the check) is not at all the same as outright wrong knowledge (i.e., you believe the needed ore comes from trees, despite passing the DC).

GolemsVoice
2013-01-05, 11:19 PM
we haven't been told the nature of the information the op is upset about, which leaves a lot of room for speculation. of course if it is some thing like he was lead to believe that paper burns and the then the dm said it didn't, i would be upset. but if the player tried to burn said paper in a vacuum then too bad. regardless of the roll of skill check how could a character with a fantasy worlds tech level know that oxygen is needed for the chemical reaction to work. with out a fairly advanced tech level there is no way for some to test for that and a character to learn about it. there are a lot of things that will be limited by the tech level of the campaign.

I mostly agree with you, however, there's a difference between: "you don't know" or "you aren't sure" or even "you THINK it SHOULD work" and "sure, it works!" This way, the player knows that this is the best information he's likely to get.

EDIT:

i see nothing wrong with a dwarf know that to make this master crafted sword requires ore from a specific mountain with out know the chemical make up of the alloys.

That's actually a good example right here: the dwarf, with a successful check, knows that he need to get a certain ore. Reasonable, he has read about the crafting process, or watched it, or whatever. He knows the technique or can learn it via another gather information or knowledge check. He does NOT know WHY he needs that ore, but that information is also irelevant if all he wants to do is forge a sword.

Again, some people seem to confuse succeeding on a knowledge roll with handing the player any and all available information. The DM has every right to restrict certain knowledge, and make rolls very hard if the information is rare. And even a successfull roll doesn't mean the player knows everything ever about the subject.

This way, the player knows that this is the best information he's likely to get.

Slipperychicken
2013-01-06, 12:49 AM
And even a successfull roll doesn't mean the player knows everything ever about the subject.

There are even rules for to determine how much you know. For every 5 by which you succeed a Knowledge DC, you gain one additional useful fact.

Averis Vol
2013-01-06, 01:16 AM
Once. and only once before I start relying on magic rather then good ol' fashioned brainwork to answer my questions.

As for the OP's situation.....well no, if I was stupid enough to only learn from this guy and never read a book, or go out and do field work, or ask another person what trolls are most effected by, and I take my mentors word that they are FOR SURE screwed hardest by ice before I go strolling over the bridge of the toll bridge troll and start pelting him with ray of frost I deserve the ass beating when he just regenerates all the health and makes me lunch.

But unless you we're raised by this person from birth or we're molded to listen to everything everyone says always, its only natural to be skeptical and want to check you're work. I don't claim to be an authority on the brain or anything, but from my experience it is a very ignorant person that takes everything at face value; so if my wisdom got absolutely dumped to the nether regions I would totally believe him and most likely eat his every word like I were starving.

basically it all comes down to the character; skills are a conduit to keep the game running and add some sense of realism to this wonky world where the nerds get to pick on the jocks for once.

(Note: I use ignorant in the lightest manner possible. but I also believe it is the correct term and have no intention of changing it.)

cucchulainnn
2013-01-06, 02:11 AM
i guess that is where we differ, i've always thought of fantasy as being earlier then renaissance although renaissance fantasy dose sound interesting. a three musketeers adventure or setting with all the typical fantasy elements. yea i can see that as fun.

but back on point. i have no problem with and feel it's reasonable for a fansty world with out a galileo or copernicus believing that the universe revolves around earth is factual. and a player using a successful skill check being told such.

amended by myself, all i've said is speculative and dependent on the sought after information the character was seeking, it is very possible to have been completely reasonable to expect accurate information.

MukkTB
2013-01-06, 06:13 AM
#1 The character is the realm of the player. When you are starting a game its good form for the DM to be willing to negotiate the starting circumstances instead of dictating them to you. At the very least he should explain what he wants to do.

"We're all going to be hairdressers in a Zombie apocalypse. Don't try to make a car engineer or anything. This is about hairdressers."

Most of the time there is a lot more wiggle room and place for negotiation.

"Ok we're starting in a small backwoods town. Fred wants to be the son of one the richer farmers. Does anybody want to be the apprentice of the local wizard? He's pretty powerful but he's into some strange religious stuff. John? Great. Here I'm willing to give someone an extra feat if they want to be a gimp it has some relevance to the story."

Its incredibly bad form to mess with the character sheet or dump things on the player's character creation without his input. The DM suddenly ruling someone is starting with a hand cut off, or taking double cold damage would be just as bad as what the op describes. D&D has an underwritten agreement. The DM controls the world, the players control their characters.

#2 Clever wording could have negated the entire problem. Instead of "You know X and Y" the wording could have been, "Your mentor always said X and Y." Sure it leaves clues for the player to pick up on, but thats the part that makes it a game. The player is supposed to have an opportunity to win. If the player fails to pick up the hint, he will remember it after the reveal and kick himself while applauding the DM's worldbuilding. If the player picks up the hint, and that pays off, he will feel clever and happy. Win/Win

the_david
2013-01-06, 06:22 AM
You could just do this on a failed check. (DC-5 or lower) If you keep mentioning "your mentor taught you..." You should get his attention.

Also, don't let him roll his own knowledge checks. He doesn't need to know if he made his check or not.

Bit Fiend
2013-01-06, 07:55 AM
Am I the only one this scenario reminds of a certain BioWare kung-fu game? :smallconfused:

Grundy
2013-01-06, 09:08 AM
If I read the op right, the PC hit what *should have been* the target DC for common knowledge. Then the DM fed the PC info. Later it turns out to be seriously wrong.
Nowhere in there did the DM say "roll a DC 15 check.... Oh a 17? Well <here's a big line of railroad BS>"

So the actual DC could have been 35 and the PC (and player) never knew it. Especially if the DC was so high because of the PC's backstory/mentor/whatever.
I'll admit the explanation sounds a little hinky after the fact, but deception is..... deceptive, after all.
Uncovering a major plot with a single knowledge check, on the other hand, would be a major (yawn) downer. Why bother playing? Just sit down for fifteen minutes and roll D20, and cheer whenever you roll nat 20.

Jay R
2013-01-06, 09:51 AM
Success should tell you the real facts. If you don't want someone to know something no matter what, just don't tell them: don't ask them to make a check before lying to them anyway. Incomplete information is fine, but incorrect information would result from failures.

There is no such thing as a skill that can tell you that what you have been taught all your life is false by a single simple check. Such a skill would be a far more fantastic element than mere fireballs, and dragons.

What you want a simple knowledge check to be capable of, I would not allow out of a Limited Wish - a seventh level spell just isn't that powerful. A full Wish would probably work - if you worded it very carefully.

Longstrider
2013-01-06, 12:08 PM
I got mad just reading the description.

Deathkeeper
2013-01-06, 12:53 PM
Personally, if this happened to me, I'd be pissed. Now, I don't mind if I took a penalty to Knowledge rolls on one or two specific subjects (hidden, of course) until I was corrected by someone/a library, and being misled into an encounter may be fine, but having the DM essentially lie to put the party into dangerous situations on multiple occasions by rendering a certain skill useless is not cool. After two times or even once I'm pretty sure the character would figure out something was up.

hymer
2013-01-06, 01:02 PM
I'd be angry, perhaps, but I don't think justifiably so. I'd calm down (I hope) after explanations and reading a bit of the rules.

oxybe
2013-01-06, 01:20 PM
if it came from left-field with no indication that this might happen at the start of the campaign? i can't see myself walking out for that alone, but it would be one check against the dm and definitely a breach of trust.

if i roll to know something and i am told false truths or to perform a task but somehow fail, even though i rolled the successful number, i would be peeved for sure.

if i roll a successful check to know something and i am told OF false truths, then it's awesome... effectively a "fail forwards" where even though i "failed", i'm given a distinct lead to where the correct info is.

bottom line, it's about expectations. when i sit down to play a game, i expect that my stats are true and the numbers on my sheet mean exactly what they read.

if i'm told to expect correct information on a metagame level (IE: roll X to get Y bit of information) then i will expect just that.

if i'm told that i would be given information based on how well i roll, then i'll take it with a grain of salt as there is no expectation beyond if you're gonna ask for a roll, it's because we can make it.

note that i also prescribe to the notion that if the PCs can't make the roll, don't ask for it and simply give them the misinformation without calling it out as such.

if i'm told to roll a DC 25 check to find out the true nature of the church and i roll that 25 or higher, i expect to be told the true nature... not that "Pelor is Pelor, the god of sunshine and rainbow farts. Totally not Puppystrangler. because that's a DC 1kajillion."

however "Pelor is Pelor, the god of sunshine and rainbow farts. you can find out more about Pelor at his main temple on the corner of Puppystrangle Blv. and Kittenimmolation Ave., where Sacrificial Fridays are Fun-days!" is fine as the information gained is kinda conflicting.

it's a lead that goes "hey, maybe pelor isn't the swell guy we all think he is, let's find out more based on this conflicting information" and this leads the party to going to his main temple and eventually reading "THE BIG BOOK OF PUPPYSTRANGLER PELOR", where they get the correct info.

alright. maybe a bit more subtle then that, but simply having a player fail for succeeding is bad GMing. Failing forwards, however, makes for better gameplay and less obvious acts of jerkitude since the "failed" roll will still tell the player where to get the correct info.

a mysteriously handsome and bearded individual started a movement called "don't be a [phallic object]".

it's one i prescribe to and try to uphold (which is hard since i have many jerkish tendencies). i also expect the same from everyone at the table.

4th number
2013-01-06, 03:05 PM
Hi, OP here. To be clear, this really is a hypothetical-- neither am I an angry player nor a DM with an angered player (or even a game in which I'm considering doing this).

valadil
2013-01-06, 03:23 PM
Further thoughts. For this to work it would have to be topical. I couldn't deal with "your mentor was a ****, so your knowledge arcana is ruined."

The way I picture this working is with several topics within one or more skills. Maybe your mentor was a servant of Bane and he's brainwashed you into thinking that all deities demand ritual sacrifice, but the so-called good ones are more secretive about it. Knowledge: religion will still let you know how to handle the undead or recognize holy symbols, but you might not get why the rest of the party takes offense when you sacrifice a prisoner. I feel like as long as the misinformation is localized to the relevant topics that serve the mentor's agenda and are within a reasonable scope, it could still be a fun idea.

LordBlades
2013-01-06, 03:26 PM
Most of my gaming group would take it as 'now I need to somehow get having checked everything I know by at least 3 completely unassociated people into my background to ever use a knowledge check again', so they'd be pretty mad.

I personally wouldn't like it but not make a big fuss about it provided it was an isolated incident and not something the DM did regularly (suspending the rules in favor of what he thinks to be cool).

TuggyNE
2013-01-06, 07:50 PM
Hi, OP here. To be clear, this really is a hypothetical-- neither am I an angry player nor a DM with an angered player (or even a game in which I'm considering doing this).

OK then. I think we've covered most of the possibilities.

4th number
2013-01-07, 08:39 AM
Yeah, my takeaway was: If you have a plot-focused group to do this with, and you only do it once, and you specify the source of the knowledge in check results, and you provide a way to gain correct knowledge afterward, then you're fine. :smallbiggrin:

Mnemnosyne
2013-01-07, 09:26 AM
Definitely depends on whether it's handled and set up well or not. If the PC really did have no other source of information than their mentor, and has never logically encountered contradictory information, then it's plausible.

After that you have to look at the reason for the mentor to be doing this. It has to be a good one, because it has to cover why the mentor has been mentoring the PC but lying to them about either one specific thing, or a number of such things. That's a lot of time to put into teaching someone who you're basically double-crossing right from the start. Without a really, really good explanation, it doesn't make any sense. So yeah...the Sun Li thing works...but the story has to have a good reason why the PC is irreplaceable. Without that key point it probably won't make any sense, and if the story makes no sense, I'd definitely be upset at the whole setup.

Finally, once the PC's training has been revealed to be flawed, the PC needs to have the chance to correct the flaw, without expending much of any actual character resources. In no event would it be ok to make those skill points forever wasted.

Edit: Additional thought. It also has to make sense with the way the mechanics of the world work. Spellcraft in particular makes this tricky. Spellcraft is required for a wizard to learn their spells. Is it possible to introduce a 'flaw' into Spellcraft without it also meaning that the wizard's entire spellcasting mechanic has a flaw in it? This should be considered before attempting a plot point of this nature with a 'functional' skill.

Jay R
2013-01-07, 10:38 AM
In the sixties, the schools taught that there were nine planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Every person from those schools who made a successful roll on Knowledge (Planets) remembered those nine names, and everybody who failed their roll could not remember those nine names.

But it turns out that Pluto is not a planet. It isn't the same kind of thing. Too small, wrong kind of orbit, wrong location, etc.

Nonetheless, when I made my Knowledge (Planets) roll, I could recall those nine names.

It would be absurd to assume that making a simple Knowledge (Planets) roll in the seventies would have taught me that every book I'd read was wrong, and that every scientist in the world was wrong. Learning that required years of research and study, with tools that didn't even exist decades ago.

A Knowledge check allows a PC to recall an item that the character has learned in the past. It does not replace years of high-level research.

4th number
2013-01-07, 11:08 AM
Jay R, that's a very good argument against the "I would be so mad that I would leave the game" position-- at least assuming, as Mnemnosyne says, that it's a generally well-planned and -executed thing.

And I'm in total agreement that Spellcraft, Psicraft, and Martial Lore should never be subject to this kind of skulduggery-- they're too closely tied to a character's core abilities, and those belong to the player 100%.

RFLS
2013-01-07, 01:14 PM
That doesn't mean the facts change. It means we don't have them yet. There's one reality, and higher Knowledge skill brings you closer to it. If your understanding of reality doesn't align with it, that means your Knowledge skill is lower.


What an atrocity a player gets to know stuff. Who are they to believe they have a right to know what goes on in the world!

You know, half a year ago, I was right behind you. Then I had a player regularly making 40+ on all his K(Whatever) checks. I don't deny K(Whatever) checks, but I'm certainly a lot more wary of them.


And it's worse that a single rank also represents absolute undeniable fact. To say that few things are 'facts' is an understatement. The world is much more vague then that. And a lot of so called facts would be disputed by some people. And even if you tell someone a 'fact' they might not care or still might not believe it.

Calling something "so called" doesn't make it false or debatable. I'd be very careful saying things like that; someone might break out the Science Hammer.


how many facts from the past no longer are, how many facts today will be proven wrong in the future, the concept of fact is a conceit of humans for something that we feel is indisputable. unfortunately very few things are, after all we are limited by current available information and our ability to understand that information.

are you saying that real world research is no longer needed as all the facts are currently known? i am not sure if i understand the point you are trying to make. on the flip side if real world facts are still unknown the same can be true in game. or are you saying that with the proper skill check all facts could be known by a character of situation?

This (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method) might help your confusion a little. We know we don't know everything, and we know some of what we think we know is probably wrong, so we do our damn best to acquire a better grasp of the facts. We also know that what we know today is more accurate than what we knew a year, or a decade, or a century ago.


If you call a "tail" a "leg", how many legs does a dog have?

Six.

:smalltongue:


Are you suggesting that vampires burn up when exposed to a blue sky, rather than the sun? Because the sun is fire (and in real life, we have proved it), the sky is not.

Clarification: The sun is a massive accumulation of hydrogen, helium, and a small percentage of other elements. The hydrogen (and occasionally helium (and even less often, the other elements)) is undergoing fusion, producing large amounts of energy, as well as producing new atoms of larger elements.

On topic, I'd probably be a little peeved. I'd have been fine if he'd brought it to me beforehand and asked if it was okay, though.

Saph
2013-01-07, 01:18 PM
It actually sounds pretty fun. I'd be kind of annoyed at the time, but if the campaign kept going and we played out the whole story it would more than make up for it. How often does a Knowledge check end up becoming a major plot-point for a whole campaign?

Asheram
2013-01-07, 01:32 PM
Knowledge Religion, Vampires.

DC 10. Vampires sparkle. Vampires can only be destroyed by tearing them into pieces and burning the ashes which can only be done by a vampire or werewolf. Vampires do not have fangs. Vampires can be out in sunlight without harmful effects.

DC 15. Vampires doesn't actually sparkle. Vampires have fangs. Vampires possess supernatural speed, strength and stamina. Vampires have an aversion to holy symbols, garlic and crossing running water. Vampires are destroyed by sunlight.

DC 20. Vampires can spread their vampirism by biting others, sucking their blood and then sharing their own blood with them. Vampires, soulless creatures, doesn't show up in mirrors and can't be captured on photographs.

I think it's perfectly alright to tier knowledge checks according to "Common knowledge" Just because you learn something in school doesn't mean it is absolutely true, but if you go deeper and do the research you should eventually be able to find out more detailed and accurate facts (for as long as the information is actually spread and written down)

GolemsVoice
2013-01-07, 02:42 PM
Ah, well, it makes sense, certainly, but I still think you shouldn't give UNhelpful infomration, just less, or nor information.

I mean, you invest in a knowledge skill, and you get wrong information even for a successful check, in the vampire example, running around and looking for werewolves to burn your vampire.

I mean, imagine other skill checks: jump, DC 15. You jump over the chasm, but hurt your leg, roll 1d6 for damage.

Jump, DC 20. You make it across safely.

Asheram
2013-01-07, 03:03 PM
I mean, imagine other skill checks: jump, DC 15. You jump over the chasm, but hurt your leg, roll 1d6 for damage.

Jump, DC 20. You make it across safely.

But isn't it the same? You jump over a chasm, you fail, you plunge to your death.
You perform a knowledge check, you "fail" you get the wrong info.

Slipperychicken
2013-01-07, 03:11 PM
I mean, imagine other skill checks: jump, DC 15. You jump over the chasm, but hurt your leg, roll 1d6 for damage.

Jump, DC 20. You make it across safely.

It's more like:

Jump DC 20: You make it across safely. If you fail by 5 or less, you may attempt a Reflex save DC 15 to grab the edge, then pull yourself up with a DC 15 Climb check. If you fail the Jump check by more than 5, you fall into the damn pit hahahaha.

GolemsVoice
2013-01-07, 03:12 PM
You get NO info, isn't that enough failure? Either way, I'd either give no information on a failed check, or make increments that give some information, but all of this information would be right.

It just feels fair. I don't think people should be punished for making a check. At least not for succeeding.

Slipperychicken
2013-01-07, 03:13 PM
You get NO info, isn't that enough failure? Either way, I'd either give no information on a failed check, or make increments that give some information, but all of this information would be right.

It just feels fair. I don't think people should be punished for making a check. At least not for succeeding.

Agreed completely.

Emmerask
2013-01-07, 03:35 PM
You get NO info, isn't that enough failure? Either way, I'd either give no information on a failed check, or make increments that give some information, but all of this information would be right.

It just feels fair. I don't think people should be punished for making a check. At least not for succeeding.

well look at it this way, long ago people where taught that the sun revolves around earth.

Now if someone would ask some noble who was taught the above how the solar system is structured and they succeed their knowledge astronomy check, what would they answer?

A) Earth revolves around the sun
B) The sun revolves around earth
C) Nothing

:smallwink:

GolemsVoice
2013-01-07, 04:47 PM
People with ACTUAL knowledge: astronomy (beginning with the ancient greeks, for example) KNEW that the earth revolves around the sun. All others THOUGHT they had knowedge: astronomy, but didn't :-)

Asheram
2013-01-07, 04:54 PM
People with ACTUAL knowledge: astronomy (beginning with the ancient greeks, for example) KNEW that the earth revolves around the sun. All others THOUGHT they had knowedge: astronomy, but didn't :-)

Knowledge is still knowledge even if they are wrong, you know.

Emmerask
2013-01-07, 05:46 PM
People with ACTUAL knowledge: astronomy (beginning with the ancient greeks, for example) KNEW that the earth revolves around the sun. All others THOUGHT they had knowedge: astronomy, but didn't :-)

Well the noble in question would have some knowledge that is actually correct, he would know that there are other planets in the solar system, he would know calender and timekeeping stuff etc
I think this would actually warrant some ranks in knowledge astronomy.
ie lets say he actually had some introduction in astronomy by a tutor.

Did engineers have no knowledge physics, engineering or similar just because they believed the sound barrier was an insurmountable obstacle? (I don´t actually know if this is just an urban myth or reality^^) etc

Knowledge is just what society (or teacher) knows and has passed on to you, it is not some divine inspiration that is the TRUTH.
(or in rare cases what you discovered yourself)


The earth is flat and if you venture far enough you will fall off of it, that was common knowledge at some point :smallbiggrin:


Anyway I agree that in most cases knowledge should tell "true" information, but used very very rarely as a plot device I think its very nice, both as a player and a dm.

Soylent Dave
2013-01-07, 11:24 PM
We also know that what we know today is more accurate than what we knew a year, or a decade, or a century ago.

No, we believe that what we know today is more accurate...

Sometimes the new 'knowledge' which replaces the old is simply wrong, or less accurate - but it becomes 'true' for a while.

e.g. in 1839 Thomas Huxley proposed that dinosaurs were ancestors of birds, (including the suggestion that they were perhaps feathered or furred)

This idea was rubbished by the scientific community, and it was accepted that bird-like dinosaurs were entirely separate until 1964.

(and the idea that dinosaurs were commonly feathered has only begun to be accepted in the last five years!)

The point being that, even in the real world, knowledge isn't ever certain.


Knowledge Religion, Vampires.

DC 10. Vampires sparkle.

DC 15. Vampires doesn't actually sparkle. Vampires have fangs.



I like this example - a tiered test can clearly show the line between 'common knowledge' and 'educated knowledge' (or even 'the truth').

-

Going back to the original question, the scenario given doesn't really strike me as 'punishing the player for passing his Knowledge check', as some have suggested.

The successful check may not give truthful information, but it's still providing important information - it will ultimately tell the character that he's been lied to (the rule of drama means they'll find out eventually), it can be used to teach the players about the world they're in

(character - player and non-player - knowledge about the world doesn't need to be accurate to be useful, particularly if your players are abstract enough to think along these lines (i.e. Hmm, frost giants aren't vulnerable to cold... that tells me something about [place where I learned that information])).

I think what I'm saying is a good roll on a Knowledge check means the character definitely knows something important, or useful. It doesn't matter so much if it's true - as long as that deception is being used to drive the story, which the OP is clearly an example of.

I would definitely be very tempted to give my players the opportunity to spot some moustache twirling / catch the mentor out in a less important lie first, though.

Foreshadowing is a useful trick - not just for dramatic purposes, but also because it prepares your players. It's better if stuff like this doesn't come entirely out of left-field (although if they expect it of you as a GM, that can be enough).

Yukitsu
2013-01-07, 11:32 PM
It doesn't matter so much if it's true - as long as that deception is being used to drive the story, which the OP is clearly an example of.

Actually, a lot of players hate it when the DM alters a mechanical aspect of the game to force the story along a specific path. That isn't a positive use for altering the way skill checks work.

Grundy
2013-01-08, 01:05 AM
If I were DMing a group that expects all information their players collect to be accurate, I'd immediately begin feeding them conflicting information from every NPC in the most amusing way possible.
There is a contract to be fair and abide by rules between DM and players, but there is also a strict disconnect between DM actions and npc actions, and hopefully any given group knows this, and finds its own comfort zone.

In the op's scenario, it's not that the DM has rigged the game against the player, it's that the PC was lied to by an npc, and bad things happened as a result. Sounds villainous to me! That's an adventure hook, not a railroad.

Balain
2013-01-08, 01:42 AM
if it was me running that I would make easy and and average DC false information, if you roll much higher than the DC, this is what you know, but something seems off. I would also scatter hints and clues not related to the mentor. Stuff that you don't even need to make a knowledge check on.

prufock
2013-01-08, 07:21 AM
Late to the party, but I'm of the opinion that a successful knowledge check should not give you false information about a subject. If a successful check is giving you incorrect information, the skill is pointless. I wouldn't necessarily be mad, but I would tell the DM that I was trading in my useless ranks in Knowledge (whatever) for something that's actually worth it, like Swim, Appraise, or Use Rope.

GolemsVoice
2013-01-08, 07:37 AM
If I were DMing a group that expects all information their players collect to be accurate, I'd immediately begin feeding them conflicting information from every NPC in the most amusing way possible.
There is a contract to be fair and abide by rules between DM and players, but there is also a strict disconnect between DM actions and npc actions, and hopefully any given group knows this, and finds its own comfort zone.

There's a huge difference between information that is gained from asking NPCs and information gained via a knowledge check, at least for me.

Aasimar
2013-01-08, 07:38 AM
You're going about it wrong.

You should be making the true secret knowledge DC 35 or so. Giving that particular character a -5 secret circumstance penalty for that particular secret since his main source of information on the subject was deliberately misleading him.

All the other DCs for knowledge in that area should be normal and only reveal stuff that does not in fact, unveil the plot.

Grundy
2013-01-08, 08:28 AM
Aasimar has it right. At least IME, when rolling a knowledge check (and most checks), a PC doesn't know the DC they need to hit. There are guidelines in the ph, but the DM sets the DC, and gives results, without even telling the party whether the PC was successful.
Also, as many have pointed out even IRL knowledge, especially common knowledge, isn't always reliable. There's no reason to assume that dnd has a tradition of scientific method (outside of magic), so that makes knowledge especially unreliable.

Ashtagon
2013-01-08, 08:42 AM
D&D and d20 Modern both suppose that a Knowledge skill represents the standard body of lore in that topic that the thinking classes of the setting generally agree on. This is explicitly noted in d20 Past, which notes that the Knowledge (physics) skill for example, in 19th century England would give an excellent grounding in Newton's theories, but none at all in Einstein's theories, no matter what your skill level.

The SRD notes that it represents "knowing a body of lore, possibly an academic or even scientific discipline." That definitely to me implies a community of thinkers, not "lies my only teacher I ever had told me".

For me, a successful Knowledge check gives the answer that the majority of the 100 best mundane sages in the setting would give on the subject. Otherwise, what you bought ranks in isn't Knowledge (physics) but Knowledge (lies my teacher taught me).

That said, it'd be wrong for the GM to say the player had false knowledge because his one and only tutor fed him false knowledge. That's a solid grounding in knowledge from a single source, not a solid grounding in the knowledge of the thinking classes.

The way the GM should have played it, the player should have been fed the information his character's tutor taught him. A successful Knowledge check should then also have told him the general consensus view on the subject, and then let the player sort the truth from the lies. A badly failed check should have given the player the tutor's version and a different version which is also a believable lie.

In effect, you always get the tutor's lie (which is a plot point). The Knowledge check determines whether you also get the thinking class's version. Sorting out the truth then becomes an exercise in role-playing.

GolemsVoice
2013-01-08, 09:25 AM
Well, if literally all knowledge on that subject came from his teacher, I can see him being justified, but then you'd have to ask if the ranks in knowledge are justified. If the mentor told the truth on all the other things, I'd say yes, in the end.

Jay R
2013-01-08, 12:04 PM
It depends on what you think a Knowledge Check is.

If it is checking the character's knowledge - seeing what knowledge the PC has been exposed to in the past, and if he can remember it when called upon, then of course it will reveal the false information that he has been exposed to.

If on the other hand, you consider it extremely powerful magic, at least equal to Legend Lore or Commune, then it will reveal the true information that the character has never had any opportunity to learn.

Grundy
2013-01-08, 12:08 PM
Basically, it comes down to how many lies are there? Did the mentor teach that the sky is green, magical power comes from eating dead rats, and the pupil has purple hair, or was is a specific lie on a narrow subject designed to cover up a crime/cabal, or otherwise manipulate the PC?
In other words, is it plausible? If so, it sounds like fun to me.

Craft (Cheese)
2013-01-08, 01:45 PM
It depends: How was this mentor spelled out in the player's backstory? I believe that when you're a player telling people stuff about what happened to you in the past, it should be expected that what you say should be held as true (unless others disagree, and these disputes should be resolved immediately instead of 5 sessions down the road), and nobody else should contradict that. That's sorta how collaborative worldbuilding and storytelling, you know, works. The DM stomping all over that to serve whatever plot they have in mind (or worse, just to be mean-spirited and sadistic) is just Not Cool.

In my mind it's not terribly different from this sort of thing:

Player: Okay, I run up the stairs to escape the advancing goblins!

DM: You can't get up the stairs. You're stuck down there.

Player: What!? Why!?

DM: Your character is in a wheelchair. She lost the use of both her legs in the war.

Player: No she ****ing didn't! You just made that up!

DM: Sorry, I'm the DM, so it's my world. Deal with it. *sunglasses*

Arcanist
2013-01-08, 01:58 PM
In the sixties, the schools taught that there were nine planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Every person from those schools who made a successful roll on Knowledge (Planets) remembered those nine names, and everybody who failed their roll could not remember those nine names.

But it turns out that Pluto is not a planet. It isn't the same kind of thing. Too small, wrong kind of orbit, wrong location, etc.

Nonetheless, when I made my Knowledge (Planets) roll, I could recall those nine names.

It would be absurd to assume that making a simple Knowledge (Planets) roll in the seventies would have taught me that every book I'd read was wrong, and that every scientist in the world was wrong. Learning that required years of research and study, with tools that didn't even exist decades ago.

A Knowledge check allows a PC to recall an item that the character has learned in the past. It does not replace years of high-level research.

Think of it this way. At the time, nobody could have made a Knowledge (Planets) check high enough to realize that Pluto was actually a Dwarf Planet, however now a days, we have Astronomers with high enough Knowledge (The Planets) ranks to actually be able to make the skill check.

Meaning for about 50 years, we've been having people failing Knowledge (The Planets) check. I recall someone writing something up around Master Blacksmiths or something in relation to the real world or something... Can't remember where it is though...

xilokix
2013-01-08, 02:23 PM
To be completely fair. Reading that first post leads me to believe the DM played Jade Empire and saw how Master Li treated the PC and molded them around philosophy with the the exception of one flaw, or in your case a lie.

Narren
2013-01-08, 02:29 PM
I'm afraid that I'm unable to read all of the replies right now, so forgive me if this point was already brought up.

I would be peeved if I took points in a skill, and was later told that it was all completely useless. Not just useless, but detrimental. Imagine if you took points in appraise, but it turns out your trainer was a buffoon, so now you appraise everything incorrectly. Or the guy who taught you to lie was trying to jam you up, so he taught you incorrectly and now your Bluff check is useless. Oh, and you thought that one guy was teaching you how to speak goblin, but it was actually Klingon! Jokes on you!

I don't mind my DM pulling a fast one me. But don't mess with the mechanics....that takes away any little bit of control that the player actually has.

Jerthanis
2013-01-08, 02:31 PM
In the sixties, the schools taught that there were nine planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Every person from those schools who made a successful roll on Knowledge (Planets) remembered those nine names, and everybody who failed their roll could not remember those nine names.

But it turns out that Pluto is not a planet. It isn't the same kind of thing. Too small, wrong kind of orbit, wrong location, etc.

Nonetheless, when I made my Knowledge (Planets) roll, I could recall those nine names.

It would be absurd to assume that making a simple Knowledge (Planets) roll in the seventies would have taught me that every book I'd read was wrong, and that every scientist in the world was wrong. Learning that required years of research and study, with tools that didn't even exist decades ago.

A Knowledge check allows a PC to recall an item that the character has learned in the past. It does not replace years of high-level research.

No, it's more like your master taught you the names were Mercurius, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptoon, and Pluto. Everyone else who makes a successful check knows they're Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto... but your successful check doesn't return that.

It would be absurd to assume that making a Knowledge (Planets) roll in the seventies would have made you believe that every astronomy textbook was wrong and that the Roman god of the sea was named Neptoon. That's why I am saying that Kermit eating kittens has to be a secret known only to select few (such that the DC to know it is higher than you can make, or that on the topic you get a circumstance penalty of -5 or whatever, meaning that if your knowledge has grown since training, you can overcome the incorrect training and still get something out of your investment.) If the knowledge is something the average expert will know, your master won't be able to maintain your ignorance without brainwashing you or isolating you completely.

However, I do agree with the idea that knowledge skills don't represent objective or unknown knowledge. It's not like you can Knowledge: Geography to know about undiscovered continents, or Knowledge: Local to know the location of the Thieves' Guild's secret stash known only to the guildmaster. You can't Knowledge (Who the killer is) to solve a murder.
.

Grundy
2013-01-08, 03:12 PM
What textbooks? What standardized body of knowledge? Before industrialization, those are impossible concepts. There was no standardization, period. The Singer sewing machine was the first standardized thing. Standardized knowledge is more modern than that.
In pre-modern times there wasn't even commonly accepted spellings, so Neptoon/Neptune/Nept'une would have been glossed over or at most debated. Every bit of knowledge was experiential or handed down master to apprentice, or at best jealously guarded by guilds.
This idea of "correct knowledge " is extremely nebulous, and easily manipulated.
Besides, getting mad that your adventurer is in danger, or at a disadvantage, or lied to, is disingenuous at best. That's the whole point of a PC! They're supposed to be in that position!

RFLS
2013-01-08, 03:29 PM
No, we believe that what we know today is more accurate...

Sometimes the new 'knowledge' which replaces the old is simply wrong, or less accurate - but it becomes 'true' for a while.

Okay, clarification for the guy that thinks playing semantics is fun: Taken as a whole, what we know today is more accurate than what we knew a decade ago, and this is verifiable because when we act on what we know, the results tend to be closer to what was expected. That's how science works.

Paleontology is a poor example at best, as large portions of that field are entirely guesswork. Your point, in particular, was poor, as you were referencing the theory of one man, when, at the time, he had little to no evidence for his theory. Now, if you can find a time when the scientific community largely agreed upon one correct theory, switched to an incorrect one, and then switched back, I'd be delighted to hear it. (Hint: You won't find one, because when you discard a theory, you have a fact that explicitly contradicts it.)

RFLS
2013-01-08, 03:36 PM
What textbooks? What standardized body of knowledge? Before industrialization, those are impossible concepts. There was no standardization, period. The Singer sewing machine was the first standardized thing. Standardized knowledge is more modern than that.
In pre-modern times there wasn't even commonly accepted spellings, so Neptoon/Neptune/Nept'une would have been glossed over or at most debated. Every bit of knowledge was experiential or handed down master to apprentice, or at best jealously guarded by guilds.
This idea of "correct knowledge " is extremely nebulous, and easily manipulated.
Besides, getting mad that your adventurer is in danger, or at a disadvantage, or lied to, is disingenuous at best. That's the whole point of a PC! They're supposed to be in that position!

What? I can't (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes) understand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci) you. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus) You should perhaps research something known as "the Renaissance" before claiming that there was no standardized body of knowledge before industrialization. It's either that or you need to clarify your definition of "standardized."

GolemsVoice
2013-01-08, 03:37 PM
They're supposed to be in that position and their skills and all are supposed to help them get OUT of that position. Being lied to is not the problem, using the PCs skills to lie to him is.

Asheram
2013-01-08, 03:39 PM
I think there's slight confusion around here due to the different discussions we have going on.
We have.

1. Is it alright for the DM to make a skill essentially worthless due to the backstory of the PC?

and

2. Is it alright for the DM to make certain skills (like knowledge) give faulty information due to that being the general information available to the public at that DC?

An answer to 1, I think we can all agree upon that question 1 is quite bull. I can agree that the general knowledge that the person has (Essentially the basic knowledge you have of a thing without having to roll anything) can be influenced by other people, especially if they lie to you, but a knowledge check should disprove that or atleast put that into serious doubt.

An answer to 2. I believe that a knowledge check should give all views, even the public ones. A lower check might give the public opinion, a medium from a learned perspective and high from an experts perspective. And I believe that it's alright if the lower tiers might be off or even completely wrong.

Ashtagon
2013-01-08, 03:48 PM
What textbooks? What standardized body of knowledge? Before industrialization, those are impossible concepts.

Not at all. Taking Knowledge (astronomy), as a random example. The standard scientific body of knowledge would be dominated by a textbook known as "Almagest" (yes, it's a real book). 2nd century AD. K/Law would best be codified by the legal systems of the local nation-states and the corpus of their judgements and law books. K/physical sciences would be dominated by The Hundred and Twelve Books, a set of books attributed to the 8th century Arab Jabir ibn Hayyan. The main reference books for Knowledge/life sciences might have been the Hippocratic Corpus, a set of books attributed Hippocrates (3rd century BC).

Note that two of these, although traditionally ascribed to a single author, are nowadays acknowledged as being too broad to have been written by a single individual. So yes, they represent an academic consensus of opinion on a scientific subject. No industrialisation needed.


There was no standardization, period. The Singer sewing machine was the first standardized thing. Standardized knowledge is more modern than that.

Actually, the shirt was. The first major product of industrialisation was woven clothing, as evidenced by the loom, sometimes known as the spinning jenny. The original Luddites were up in arms over weaving looms, not sewing machines. You're probably thinking of precision machined tools.


In pre-modern times there wasn't even commonly accepted spellings, so Neptoon/Neptune/Nept'une would have been glossed over or at most debated. Every bit of knowledge was experiential or handed down master to apprentice, or at best jealously guarded by guilds.

Bit parochial to look solely at the English-speaking world for this point, but not important. Dictionaries have existed since Akkadian times (about 2300 BC). Just because one culture (culture, not nation, before you note that all of Europe fell this way)fell into a dark age and lost that, doesn't mean it never existed up to that point.

The earliest translation dictionary that included English and one or more other languages was written in 1220, and the earliest English-English dictionary in 1604. Both of these pre-date industrialisation by hundreds of years. So even back then, spelling mistakes would have been noted as indicating a lower standard of education, albeit in a culture where standards of education were quite appalling anyway. The earliest English dictionary of note, by Samuel Johnson, also pre-dates industrialisation by a few decades.

So, yeah.

Craft (Cheese)
2013-01-08, 03:48 PM
Now, if you can find a time when the scientific community largely agreed upon one correct theory, switched to an incorrect one, and then switched back, I'd be delighted to hear it. (Hint: You won't find one, because when you discard a theory, you have a fact that explicitly contradicts it.)

A history of Scurvy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy#History). Not a perfect example though as the scientific community did not act in unison and few were using proper rigor in their experiments.

oxybe
2013-01-08, 05:11 PM
if i can't trust what's written on my character sheet or the rules i'm referencing when deciding to take an action, i'd rather not play with rules at all.

while, yes, your mentor might have BS'ed you, i'm quite frankly amazed that the PC can't actually figure things out by themselves with their own study or theorizing on the subject. if you only know what you are thought and absolutely nothing else, it would impossible to have any progress in any sort of field as that knowledge would have to be learned from somewhere that isn't "the guy who thought you".

if you make a successful roll, you should be getting the correct information or at least be told what you were taught is wrong.

if everything you know is wrong: black is white, up is down & short is long and everything you thought was so important just doesn't matter... i would ask for immediate retraining as my actual knowledge in the field is non-existant.

should such a GM force me to keep points in something i didn't even know was wasted would probably be the second mark (past the outright ignoring that my roll was successful) and be more incentive to leave.

RFLS
2013-01-08, 05:18 PM
A history of Scurvy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy#History). Not a perfect example though as the scientific community did not act in unison and few were using proper rigor in their experiments.

I'm missing the part where they, as a whole, switched to an incorrect theory. The history you linked seemed to be mostly people saying "yeah, eat citrus fruits. I dunno why it works, but it does." You also need to keep in mind that medicine was, by and large, more of an art than a science until the Industrial revolution. It definitely trailed behind chemistry and physics.

Craft (Cheese)
2013-01-08, 05:45 PM
I'm missing the part where they, as a whole, switched to an incorrect theory. The history you linked seemed to be mostly people saying "yeah, eat citrus fruits. I dunno why it works, but it does." You also need to keep in mind that medicine was, by and large, more of an art than a science until the Industrial revolution. It definitely trailed behind chemistry and physics.


West Indian limes replaced lemons because they were more easily obtained from Britain's Caribbean colonies,[16] and were believed to be more effective because they were more acidic, and it was the acid, not the (then-unknown) Vitamin C that was believed to cure scurvy. This was mistaken – the West Indian limes were significantly lower in Vitamin C than the previous lemons (having only ¼ the Vitamin C content), and further were not served fresh, but rather as lime juice, which had been exposed to light and air and piped through copper tubing, all of which significantly reduced the Vitamin C. Indeed, a 1918 animal experiment using representative samples of the Navy and Merchant Marine's lime juice showed that it had virtually no antiscorbutic power at all.[16]

The belief that scurvy was fundamentally a nutritional deficiency, best treated by consumption of fresh food, particularly fresh citrus or fresh meat, was not universal in Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and thus British sailors and explorers continued to suffer from scurvy into the 20th century.

In the Royal Navy's Arctic expeditions in the 19th century it was widely believed that scurvy was prevented by good hygiene on board ship, regular exercise, and maintaining the morale of the crew, rather than by a diet of fresh food, so that Navy expeditions continued to be plagued by scurvy even while fresh (not jerked or tinned) meat was well known as a practical antiscorbutic among civilian whalers and explorers in the Arctic. Even cooking fresh meat did not entirely destroy its antiscorbutic properties, especially as many cooking methods failed to bring all the meat to high temperature.

The confusion is attributed to a number of factors:[16]

- while fresh citrus (particularly lemons) cured scurvy, lime juice that had been exposed to light, air and copper tubing did not – thus undermining the theory that citrus cured scurvy;

- fresh meat (especially organ meat and raw meat, consumed in arctic exploration) also cured scurvy, undermining the theory that fresh produce was essential to preventing and curing scurvy;

- increased marine speed via steam shipping, and improved nutrition on land, reduced the incidence of scurvy – and thus the ineffectiveness of copper-piped lime juice compared to fresh lemons was not immediately revealed.

In the resulting confusion, a new hypothesis was floated, following the new germ theory of disease – that scurvy was caused by ptomaine, a waste product of bacteria, particularly in tainted tinned meat.


As I said, not everyone switched to the germ theory of scurvy, but it did cost the lives of many, many sailors and explorers.

Jerthanis
2013-01-08, 07:17 PM
Well, okay, so Knowledge can return useless or wrong information regardless your investment, and its fundamental 'success' criteria is returning correct or useful information. So in this way, Knowledge Skill Ranks can either represent an investment towards success, or an investment that doesn't affect success or failure, depending on whether such knowledge is available.

So the distinction really comes down to what knowledge is available or not. I think it's not unreasonable to have common knowledge more available than uncommon information and that more common than secret or obscure knowledge.

So the issue really comes down to the expectations people enter the game with. For instance, I'm in a Sci-Fi game where I took Craft: (Genetic Sequence), which is appropriate because of the nature of the game. I obviously wouldn't enter a game set in Medieval Fantasy Europe with such a Craft skill. So basically, in this case, where Kermit is the god of a bunch of stuff and also kitten eating, but where Knowledge (Religion) couldn't be expected to know that fact, due to insufficient knowledge pooling of experts, or rampant misinformation campaigns or that fact being a closely guarded secret, then the value of Knowledge (Religion) is somewhat diminished and it should be made as clear to the player thinking of making that investment of the limitations as a person taking Craft (Genetic Sequence) in a world without the knowledge or tools to make use of it. If your Paladin takes Craft (Genetic Sequence) in a barely post-Mendelian world, I could have knowledge of crossbreeding for traits, but it wouldn't have the precise control my Scientist in the far future has over the exact traits of microbiology.

In a traditional D&D world, the knowledge of which gods are good and which are evil is usually pretty clear even to laypeople. Churches, when they have secrets, are conspiracies that no one knows of and don't represent the larger church, or are obscure or forgotten gods, but that when you get ancient texts that describe them, they're vague or hard to interpret, but aren't actively deceptive as to the god's nature. As such, the standard idea is that skill ranks will interact with knowledge in a similar way to the standard model. I think this is why this idea is so offensive to people... that it changes the nature of your choices without letting you know.

Now, personally, I think this kind of thing is too dependent on circumstance to really pin down when it is acceptable and when it isn't. But the idea of the same level of investments having different returns in different games is fine, it's just the level of awareness and depth of difference that is the variable that can push it to either side of the acceptable line.

Zeful
2013-01-08, 07:41 PM
I think there's slight confusion around here due to the different discussions we have going on.
We have.

1. Is it alright for the DM to make a skill essentially worthless due to the backstory of the PC?

and

2. Is it alright for the DM to make certain skills (like knowledge) give faulty information due to that being the general information available to the public at that DC?

An answer to 1, I think we can all agree upon that question 1 is quite bull. I can agree that the general knowledge that the person has (Essentially the basic knowledge you have of a thing without having to roll anything) can be influenced by other people, especially if they lie to you, but a knowledge check should disprove that or atleast put that into serious doubt.

An answer to 2. I believe that a knowledge check should give all views, even the public ones. A lower check might give the public opinion, a medium from a learned perspective and high from an experts perspective. And I believe that it's alright if the lower tiers might be off or even completely wrong.

Given that "discussion" 1 is completely fabricated from the aether by people overreacting to an insane degree, yes it's crap. But no, I don't think knowledge checks should be omniscient, especially since that's not in the rules. If that makes it worthless to some people, they obviously aren't the kind to actually think about the things you tell them to actually make knowledge checks useful in the first place.

TuggyNE
2013-01-08, 09:30 PM
Well, okay, so Knowledge can return useless or wrong information regardless your investment, and its fundamental 'success' criteria is returning correct or useful information. So in this way, Knowledge Skill Ranks can either represent an investment towards success, or an investment that doesn't affect success or failure, depending on whether such knowledge is available.

So the distinction really comes down to what knowledge is available or not. I think it's not unreasonable to have common knowledge more available than uncommon information and that more common than secret or obscure knowledge.

So the issue really comes down to the expectations people enter the game with. For instance, I'm in a Sci-Fi game where I took Craft: (Genetic Sequence), which is appropriate because of the nature of the game. I obviously wouldn't enter a game set in Medieval Fantasy Europe with such a Craft skill. So basically, in this case, where Kermit is the god of a bunch of stuff and also kitten eating, but where Knowledge (Religion) couldn't be expected to know that fact, due to insufficient knowledge pooling of experts, or rampant misinformation campaigns or that fact being a closely guarded secret, then the value of Knowledge (Religion) is somewhat diminished and it should be made as clear to the player thinking of making that investment of the limitations as a person taking Craft (Genetic Sequence) in a world without the knowledge or tools to make use of it. If your Paladin takes Craft (Genetic Sequence) in a barely post-Mendelian world, I could have knowledge of crossbreeding for traits, but it wouldn't have the precise control my Scientist in the far future has over the exact traits of microbiology.

In a traditional D&D world, the knowledge of which gods are good and which are evil is usually pretty clear even to laypeople. Churches, when they have secrets, are conspiracies that no one knows of and don't represent the larger church, or are obscure or forgotten gods, but that when you get ancient texts that describe them, they're vague or hard to interpret, but aren't actively deceptive as to the god's nature. As such, the standard idea is that skill ranks will interact with knowledge in a similar way to the standard model. I think this is why this idea is so offensive to people... that it changes the nature of your choices without letting you know.

Now, personally, I think this kind of thing is too dependent on circumstance to really pin down when it is acceptable and when it isn't. But the idea of the same level of investments having different returns in different games is fine, it's just the level of awareness and depth of difference that is the variable that can push it to either side of the acceptable line.

I was going to make another post, but this seems pretty much it, especially the bolded.

Fundamentally, it's about the social contract between the player and the DM, not the interactions between character and NPC. If the DM fools the player, that's not good (unless you're a fan of enforced method acting), but if the NPC fools the character, that's reasonably fine. (Though should be used in moderation to avoid complicating play too much.)

Grundy
2013-01-08, 11:02 PM
What? I can't (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes) understand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci) you. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus) You should perhaps research something known as "the Renaissance" before claiming that there was no standardized body of knowledge before industrialization. It's either that or you need to clarify your definition of "standardized."

I didn't get all your links.

Many of Davinci's inventions weren't put to use until industrialization, Copernicus wasn't even discredited by the church or read by more than a handful of people until 60 years after he died, and his successors didn't even buy all his theories. Even Descartes' math was considered controversial by the best of the best. That's not standardized knowledge by any definition.
Through the lens of history, these guys are geniuses, and even if their ideas aren't considered completely accurate today, they are part of our standaradized knowledge. That doesn't mean that there was any sort of agreement at the time.

It all comes back to degree, as I said before. If your PC's mentor tells your PC 2+2=5 and your DM tries to push that through, that's untenable. If you failed a single knowlege roll that affected the course of the campaign, and sent your party down the path to discovering the deception- even painfully- then that's gaming.
It should be shocking and disheartening to discover the deception, but to me it's not a DM/Player thing. The game is collaborative. If a player can write a backstory for a PC, does that mean the player has ultimate control over every character introduced? I say no. That doesn't mean the DM should run roughshod over the whole thing, but this sounds like an interesting tweak to the story that opens up the story and the role playing.

TuggyNE
2013-01-08, 11:07 PM
Many of Davinci's inventions weren't put to use until industrialization, Copernicus wasn't even discredited by the church or read by more than a handful of people until 60 years after he died, and his successors didn't even buy all his theories. Even Descartes' math was considered controversial by the best of the best. That's not standardized knowledge by any definition.
Through the lens of history, these guys are geniuses, and even if their ideas aren't considered completely accurate today, they are part of our standaradized knowledge. That doesn't mean that there was any sort of agreement at the time.

... and a sufficiently high Knowledge check should reveal the existence of those theories and ideas. (Exactly what skill checks should be used to represent the formulation of new theories based on primary research and existing data I'm not sure, but it would probably also involve Knowledge.)

Zeful
2013-01-08, 11:22 PM
... and a sufficiently high Knowledge check should reveal the existence of those theories and ideas. (Exactly what skill checks should be used to represent the formulation of new theories based on primary research and existing data I'm not sure, but it would probably also involve Knowledge.)

But not the validity of those theories and ideas, as some posters suggest. And there is no skill or attribute representing the formulation of new theories based on research and existing data, as such activities are far beyond the scope and intention of the game.

Grundy
2013-01-09, 12:22 AM
Not at all. Taking Knowledge (astronomy), as a random example. The standard scientific body of knowledge would be dominated by a textbook known as "Almagest" (yes, it's a real book). 2nd century AD. K/Law would best be codified by the legal systems of the local nation-states and the corpus of their judgements and law books. K/physical sciences would be dominated by The Hundred and Twelve Books, a set of books attributed to the 8th century Arab Jabir ibn Hayyan. The main reference books for Knowledge/life sciences might have been the Hippocratic Corpus, a set of books attributed Hippocrates (3rd century BC).

Note that two of these, although traditionally ascribed to a single author, are nowadays acknowledged as being too broad to have been written by a single individual. So yes, they represent an academic consensus of opinion on a scientific subject. No industrialisation needed.



Actually, the shirt was. The first major product of industrialisation was woven clothing, as evidenced by the loom, sometimes known as the spinning jenny. The original Luddites were up in arms over weaving looms, not sewing machines. You're probably thinking of precision machined tools.



Bit parochial to look solely at the English-speaking world for this point, but not important. Dictionaries have existed since Akkadian times (about 2300 BC). Just because one culture (culture, not nation, before you note that all of Europe fell this way)fell into a dark age and lost that, doesn't mean it never existed up to that point.

The earliest translation dictionary that included English and one or more other languages was written in 1220, and the earliest English-English dictionary in 1604. Both of these pre-date industrialisation by hundreds of years. So even back then, spelling mistakes would have been noted as indicating a lower standard of education, albeit in a culture where standards of education were quite appalling anyway. The earliest English dictionary of note, by Samuel Johnson, also pre-dates industrialisation by a few decades.

So, yeah.

I had a long reply but lost it due to my exceptional computing skills:smallsigh:

Good points about the texts and my inherent parochialism. There were some texts, but how widely distributed were they, were they intact or fragmented, were they taught in the same manner, were they well understood, and could they be considered to constitute standardized knowledge in broad terms?

As to Singer/Shirts, they are both components of the industrial revolution. That's when "standard" became the concept we think of, and when it became important.

My point is, would a Medieval scholar from London have the same knowledge set as his contemporary from Persia, China or Alexandria? How about Kent, Anjou or Glastonbury? It is my understanding that learning was handed down teacher to student in a much more individualized manner than is commonly accepted today, and that any two scholars might have disagreements on major points.
For an example from an earlier poster, Copernicus and Tycho Brahe disagreed about whether the earth revolved around the sun. That's a fundamental disagreement, I'd say. Any two scholars of different schools are likely to disagree on salient points. A mentor/teacher has vast opportunity to deceive their students, if they're good at it.

That does not constitute standardized knowledge to me, and gives a DM all the leeway necessary to execute the OP's plot point, without stomping on the player's rights, or peeing in their soda, or even doing anything other than introducing a plot hook and opportunity for the player to react.

Grundy
2013-01-09, 12:44 AM
... and a sufficiently high Knowledge check should reveal the existence of those theories and ideas. (Exactly what skill checks should be used to represent the formulation of new theories based on primary research and existing data I'm not sure, but it would probably also involve Knowledge.)

Ok. And if you miss the check, would the more interesting answer be "You don't know anything about that," or "You've read of DaVinci's work, and you know that he built some of these machines, and they're buried in orc infested hills..."

While completely false, and leading the PC into danger, the second result is FUN! And it doesn't remove player agency. The player can do what they like with the info, misleading or not.

Ashtagon
2013-01-09, 01:07 AM
I had a long reply but lost it due to my exceptional computing skills:smallsigh:

Good points about the texts and my inherent parochialism. There were some texts, but how widely distributed were they, were they intact or fragmented, were they taught in the same manner, were they well understood, and could they be considered to constitute standardized knowledge in broad terms?

The texts I referred to were in fact known among all the major universities of the middle ages that taught the relevant subjects. In the case of England, that means Oxford and Cambridge, although both were far smaller than today, and it is questionable that medicine and chemistry wee among their subjects. England was a backwater country in a backwater continent in the middle ages. Relatively speaking, it's like expecting modern Mozambique to be a wellspring of academic excellence.


My point is, would a Medieval scholar from London have the same knowledge set as his contemporary from Persia, China or Alexandria? How about Kent, Anjou or Glastonbury? It is my understanding that learning was handed down teacher to student in a much more individualized manner than is commonly accepted today, and that any two scholars might have disagreements on major points.

To the extent that a) the general academic knowledge of the field had developed among the overall culture (no middle ages scholar would have a knowledge of genetics, as a random example), and b) academic learning in the specific region had developed, yes, a medieval scholar from Glastonbury could potentially hope to attain the same body of knowledge held by his contemporary in Constantinople (the New York of its day).


For an example from an earlier poster, Copernicus and Tycho Brahe disagreed about whether the earth revolved around the sun. That's a fundamental disagreement, I'd say. Any two scholars of different schools are likely to disagree on salient points. A mentor/teacher has vast opportunity to deceive their students, if they're good at it.

I would say that demonstrates an example of when the cultural body of lore concerning Knowledge (astronomy) grew. Someone successfully making a successful K/astronomy check before the "growth" period would get the geocentric theory; someone making it after would get the heliocentric version. Someone during, would get both theories (since they have a roughly equal weighting in the high-level academic consensus) and would be left to make up his own mind. A skill check should not be allowed to resolve would could be a campaign plot point.

A more modern related example is that we currently do not know the final fate of the universe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_fate_of_the_universe) (big crunch, big freeze, big rip, big bounce). A successful Knowledge (astronomy) check will reveal all four theories. In a few centuries once the answer is known, it will reveal just one, with maybe a footnote about what was historically believed but now proven incorrect. A few centuries ago, such a question would have been a check against Knowledge (religion), and success would result in a variety of answers, ranging from Ragnarok through Mayan prophesy to Armageddon. In the 16th century, Knowledge (astronomy) could not have been used to answer that question, because that field had not yet made a study of that question.

Simply put, a successful check can and often will result in multiple answers. It gives what the academic community currently holds, not necessarily what is "correct". And certainly it is never "lies my teacher told me".


That does not constitute standardized knowledge to me, and gives a DM all the leeway necessary to execute the OP's plot point, without stomping on the player's rights, or peeing in their soda, or even doing anything other than introducing a plot hook and opportunity for the player to react.

As I noted earlier, "lies my teacher told me" would best be represented by mixing his lies in among with the competing theories. The player gets the truth (or as much as is believed to be true by the academic community) along with the lie. If they role-play some fact checking, they might detect the lie. If they role-play some background checking on the tutor (although the GM should give a hint somewhere that the tutor was unreliable), that's another opportunity to question the information. But the information from a Knowledge check shouldn't be perfect; merely what is currently known by most sages.

Noctani
2013-01-09, 02:04 AM
I concur with Aismar. PC's don't know whats needed on a check.

I wouldn't be mad at all, i just hoped he built a good relationship between your mentor and yourself during the actual story so you felt betrayed. That's good RPing by the DM.

Although, as a DM, I warn players from the beginning that any information, exposition, or other beliefs about society can always be half truths before the game even begins.

Grundy
2013-01-09, 02:23 AM
@ Ashtagon:
So in your opinion does investing ranks in these skills equate to studying at a major university?

Regarding Brahe, he was Copernicus' successor, as it were. He knew those theories and disagreed on that point. Now, you could argue that he "rolled lower" and I'd agree. Failing a check can lead to misinformation, even under ideal circumstances.

In the case of the OP, I see it like this: the PC failed the check, and didn't know it. They had a modifier because of the NPC. And all of my arguments about knowledge have been simply saying that I can see how a student, especially in that setting, could be deceived by a teacher, so long as that deception was focused enough, and the students education was limited enough- as stated in the OP.

My other point is, why not take it as RPGs are intended- for fun- and run with it? Why would one failed skill check break the DM/player contract? I could imagine that if it was done clumsily it might require an OOC discussion and explanation, but it doesn't even sound like railroading to me.

Ashtagon
2013-01-09, 02:56 AM
@ Ashtagon:
So in your opinion does investing ranks in these skills equate to studying at a major university?

Pretty much, yes. Obviously, some cultures won't actually have universities, and in some they might not be recognisable to us as higher education centres, and in some skills a university wouldn't even be the logical place for such study to take place, and ranks don't necessarily reflect a back-story at a university either. They represent a depth and breadth of knowledge that is, for game purposes, equivalent to having studied at a centre of learning among a community of thinkers on the subject. The number of ranks represents the depth of that knowledge.

That doesn't exclude the possibility of "GM specials" when feeding information through such a skill check; just that the specials should be in addition to the regular "common consensus" information given for a successful check.

Incidentally, modern universities probably wouldn't be recognised as universities by medieval universities, due to the relative lack of personal contact with tutors and the close association with industry and business concerns, not to mention that the students do not enjoy immunity from common civil courts.

Killer Angel
2013-01-09, 04:12 AM
(snip)

2. Is it alright for the DM to make certain skills (like knowledge) give faulty information due to that being the general information available to the public at that DC?

(snip)

An answer to 2. I believe that a knowledge check should give all views, even the public ones. A lower check might give the public opinion, a medium from a learned perspective and high from an experts perspective. And I believe that it's alright if the lower tiers might be off or even completely wrong.

It depends. If the expert (your mentor) is feeding you with false infos, you may tend to discard the ones given by public opinion, reinforcing your wrong idea. Of course, there are various fonts (books written by other experts, and so on), but when you roll your skill check on an obscure point, you can be tricked into failure.
And who knows what is the real DC?
Let’s say we want to gain info about a creature (special powers or vulnerabilities). In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s HD, so the DM sets the DC at 22.
You roll the skill, 23!
But the DM gives you a wrong info… why? ‘cause one of your fonts lied to you, and this gives a penalty to your check (-4 circumstance?). And that penalty is secret, the player doesn’t know about it.
Only if your roll were a 26, you know the truth (and start wondering about your mentor).

Jzombie
2013-01-09, 04:40 AM
And that's why DM should make critical skill cheaks be himself, secret from the players !

daemonaetea
2013-01-09, 06:23 PM
I have to be honest and admit I haven't read through the whole thread. However, I wanted to comment, because I'm actually doing something similar to the OP in a current campaign.

There was a Great War 800 years before the start of the campaign, and nearly the entirety of the knowledge they have about it is propaganda. The way I have it work is that DC checks of 15, 20, and 25 give them this propaganda information. For 30 and above they don't exactly learn the whole truth, but they do learn that there are serious holes in what they've been taught, and that some of the details don't add up. For 35 they may have even read a few ancient notes in the margin with bits of the truth.

However, even without the checks they've begun to realize that what they know probably isn't the whole truth. One of them even commented, after meeting the descendants of the Bad Guys of the war, that what they've learned probably has an element of propaganda to it.

So while I have had them getting incorrect info from their knowledge rolls, I've also allowed really good rolls to notice at least some of the inconsistencies and other problems with the story. So far they don't seem bothered by it, and I'm hoping it'll pay off, but I guess only time will tell.

(Basically the world is setup to look like the baseline Orcs Bad/Humans Good act, but it turns out the Great War has slightly more blame placed on the Human end, and that the Orcs on this continent were originally a group of mostly Neutral and Good offshoots from the race, looking for a place they could find peace. They began to question the "Monstrous" designation for the Orcs after a leader of warband they encountered turned himself over to their control to save his men.)

Deophaun
2013-01-09, 07:22 PM
Think of it this way. At the time, nobody could have made a Knowledge (Planets) check high enough to realize that Pluto was actually a Dwarf Planet, however now a days, we have Astronomers with high enough Knowledge (The Planets) ranks to actually be able to make the skill check.
Calling Pluto a "dwarf planet" is just a matter of convention, not a matter of knowledge. If you called Pluto a "dwarf planet" back then, you would have been wrong in terms of convention, and no more right or wrong in terms of fact.

Soylent Dave
2013-01-09, 09:51 PM
Okay, clarification for the guy that thinks playing semantics is fun: Taken as a whole, what we know today is more accurate than what we knew a decade ago, and this is verifiable because when we act on what we know, the results tend to be closer to what was expected. That's how science works.

I'm not playing semantics.

If you're saying that the whole of human scientific progress has been a clear and certain progression towards increasing scientific accuracy then I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken.

The best we can say is that we believe our current understanding of things is correct (or as accurate as we can achieve). We're trying to improve our understanding.

That is not the same as saying we are. There is every possibility that a discovery is made tomorrow that renders decades of progress obsolete - or that restores a discredited theory - every now and then something that big happens (q.v. Einstein rendering centuries of physics almost totally irrelevant, the scamp)

There's also quite a lot of knowledge that we know is inaccurate, but we judge to be 'accurate enough'. Pretty much all Newtonian physics, for example.

Aside from the palaeontology example, or the scurvy one given by Craft (Cheese), there are others in fields like nutrition, climatology, geology, psychology, astronomy and quantum physics - but they're increasingly esoteric.

Perhaps another good example is the Big Bang theory, which was dismissed by a majority of leading astronomers for 20 years in favour of the Steady State theory.

Or the way atomic structure has continually been redefined and re-interpreted using portions of older models (that's quite common in chemistry and physics; ideas that have been dismissed in whole get resurrected in part)

-

The pertinent point I was getting at, in any case, is that in the real world we deliberately teach people things that are wrong. We even write them in textbooks.

Not to deceive students, but because they are almost right (e.g. we teach high school students the Bohr Model of atomic structure and Newtonian gravity).

Another is that as knowledge increases, we are increasingly forced to rely on faith in our teachers (or the scientific community) - unless you're a true renaissance man, or you have a lot of time on your hands, you can't become an expert in all things. So we need to have faith that the things we are taught or told about by scientists are true (or 'more accurate').

I think these are both concepts that extend very easily into a roleplaying game, particularly in this case as a deliberate attempt at misinformation (in a world where textbooks and tutors certainly aren't 100% reliable)

Although as a GM I'd make sure my player knew where his knowledge came from, and I'd be making sure to draw his attention to any discrepancies & inconsistencies (whether from personal experience or other knowledge sources, libraries - the other PCs - and so on).

As I think I said earlier, it's something you have to be certain your players are okay with - but if you know your players, it strikes me as an excellent way to feed them plot hooks (about characters in their backstory, too. That's always nice).

Arcanist
2013-01-09, 09:51 PM
Calling Pluto a "dwarf planet" is just a matter of convention, not a matter of knowledge. If you called Pluto a "dwarf planet" back then, you would have been wrong in terms of convention, and no more right or wrong in terms of fact.

Using my interpretation of it, a person calling Pluto a dwarf planet back then would have been ridiculed and called wrong because nobody else is able to make the same Knowledge check as them (and probably would have asked what a Dwarf Planet was before throwing you in a madhouse). In the centuries to come they will realize your genius though (maybe).

So yes, wrong by convention, not knowledge. :smallsmile:

Humility is a modern innovation I'm afraid. My case and point being the Geocentric model and how everyone KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that this was how the universe worked. Now-a-days we say "This is what we believe so far".

Yukitsu
2013-01-09, 10:49 PM
Using my interpretation of it, a person calling Pluto a dwarf planet back then would have been ridiculed and called wrong because nobody else is able to make the same Knowledge check as them (and probably would have asked what a Dwarf Planet was before throwing you in a madhouse). In the centuries to come they will realize your genius though (maybe).

So yes, wrong by convention, not knowledge. :smallsmile:

Humility is a modern innovation I'm afraid. My case and point being the Geocentric model and how everyone KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that this was how the universe worked. Now-a-days we say "This is what we believe so far".

No, they'd still be just as wrong back before they decided it was. The standards and exclusions to make Pluto not a planet were completely arbitrary, not defined by any objective criteria of the terms involved until recently, so calling it a "dwarf planet" wouldn't be in any way based around knowledge, even to a guy that knew about Eris before Pluto's name was changed.

It'd be like a guy calling a plant emmer wheat emmer wheat before it was named. It's not smart, it's just nonsense that by chance will be right later. Names don't have attached meaning until we agree on the meaning, and in this case, some random people agreed to more precisely defined planet in a manner that didn't include Pluto. I still have no idea why we just accept them as some sort of authority, the change was essentially arbitrary, and just as reputable scientists want to discard the "dwarf planet" classification as unnecessary and would rather name Eris a planet. A decision that would be just as arbitrary rather than based in knowledge.

As for the epistemic argument of knowledge as applied to any sort of game system, the argument that "knowledge as we know it is wrong, and we will never have the full truth" is identical to stating that knowledge is useless in mechanical terms, and should be removed from the game.

If you're running under the assumption that everything the character knows is in some way or another incorrect, it's better to use the cost of that knowledge for something that actually provides a tangible benefit. Theories make a solid, practical basis of knowledge in real life, but that doesn't translate well into games. I know some people don't like to acknowledge this, but in games, it should always, always, always be invest resources, get benefit. The more you invest, the more benefit, so when knowledge actively misleads you, which is a penalty, the cost should not be there.

Avilan the Grey
2013-01-10, 03:36 AM
IMHO, I think the idea that a Knowledge roll somehow makes you magically knowing things is absurd.

Ashtagon is right, you can, at maximum, know things taught at the place of highest possible learning in your world. Probably not even that, unless your character actually went to that place of learning in the past.

in D20 modern there is standardized textbooks. And Wikipedia. And Flat Earth scientists. And other tinfoil-wearers. In DnD? Not so much. If your sole teacher on the subject gives you false information... This is what you will "know".

Basically, a natural 20 will still not give you everything you need to know in that situation.

Ashtagon
2013-01-10, 03:55 AM
IMHO, I think the idea that a Knowledge roll somehow makes you magically knowing things is absurd.

Ashtagon is right, you can, at maximum, know things taught at the place of highest possible learning in your world. Probably not even that, unless your character actually went to that place of learning in the past.


Thanks :smallsmile:



in D20 modern there is standardized textbooks. And Wikipedia. And Flat Earth scientists. And other tinfoil-wearers. In DnD? Not so much. If your sole teacher on the subject gives you false information... This is what you will "know".

But I take exception to that last sentence. Ranks represent Knowledge in the subject's body of lore, not Knowledge in the lies your teacher taught you.

If there are books (and this certainly applies to standard pseudo-medieval settings), those books will have the academic consensus, regardless of your teacher's lies. If no books, perhaps visiting scholars came round every few months and you listened in on your tutor's conversations while serving them supper. If your only teacher ever was that primitive and that remote that he had neither books nor academic peers, maybe you just plain had a "sixth sense" that tells you that your tutor was lying on certain areas if you have enough ranks.

And I'd question a back-story that allowed high ranks in such a situation removed from academic learning. The DMG notes that it is acceptable to disallow learning a skill in circumstances where reasonable opportunity to learn the skill exists. The example in the DMG is a desert nomad learning the Swim skill, although being isolated from any academic community and lacking appropriate academic texts would, in my opinion, be grounds for disallowing ranks in Knowledge skills (or giving in if the player demands that his back-story Knowledge skill ranks be traded in).

But "lies my teacher taught me"? Those are GM specials to be given out whenever appropriate to the plot, as plot devices, but in addition to whatever your Knowledge checks give you.

Avilan the Grey
2013-01-10, 07:17 AM
Thanks :smallsmile:



But I take exception to that last sentence. Ranks represent Knowledge in the subject's body of lore, not Knowledge in the lies your teacher taught you.

I agree, but my choice of words might be bad. I should have picked "your single source of Lore".

Agent_0042
2013-01-10, 07:58 AM
What matters is whether or not you spent character resources on the knowledge. If you didn't - everyone gets knowledge skills for free, or it's part of a character's background traits, or what have you - then the OP is maybe acceptable.

If you purchased that knowledge with skill points, build points, or some other resource, to the exclusion of other areas of competence, then the OP is a **** move, regardless of how interesting the plot becomes. By investing those character resources, you indicated to your GM that you wanted knowing creature weaknesses or whatever to be part of your schtick. If he turns around and denies that after the game has started, to not only set those character resources on fire but burn your party in the resulting flames, then you have every right to be pissed.

If you want to pull such a plot twist, there are far less contentious and railroad-y ways of doing so.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 09:04 AM
If you purchased that knowledge with skill points, build points, or some other resource, to the exclusion of other areas of competence, then the OP is a **** move, regardless of how interesting the plot becomes. By investing those character resources, you indicated to your GM that you wanted knowing creature weaknesses or whatever to be part of your schtick. If he turns around and denies that after the game has started, to not only set those character resources on fire but burn your party in the resulting flames, then you have every right to be pissed.

By that same token, by investing those character resources you also indicated that those powers are important to you and that therefore can be exploited to create interesting and relevant conflict, up to and including the temporary negation of those resources. Yes, it is absolutely a **** move for the DM to simply perpetually negate PC resources wholesale and give the players no recourse or ability to regain those resources. But temporary removal of power is one of the classic conflict scenarios throughout history.

Was the DM of the OOTS world a **** because he shattered Roy's sword (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0112.html)? Presumably that family heirloom was written on the character sheet, likely with a house rule to handle an heirloom weapon and make it worth while for the player to continue using that weapon rather than taking the surely superior weapons they encountered over the course of their journeys prior. Was it a **** move for the GM in "The Gamers 2" to take away the clerics powers during the fight with the BBEG? Certainly that cleric invested resources into that. I would certainly argue no, because in each case it was designed to generate conflict and to make things interesting.

I think the fundamental problem is actually expressed in the title of this thread: "If a DM did this to you..." These are not things done to a player, they are actions done to a character, a character in a collaborative story. Stories thrive on conflict, therefore you should expect that your character is going to be involved in conflict. Overcoming those conflicts is the entire driving point of any story and certainly any D&D game.

LordBlades
2013-01-10, 09:52 AM
Was the DM of the OOTS world a **** because he shattered Roy's sword (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0112.html)? Presumably that family heirloom was written on the character sheet, likely with a house rule to handle an heirloom weapon and make it worth while for the player to continue using that weapon rather than taking the surely superior weapons they encountered over the course of their journeys prior. Was it a **** move for the GM in "The Gamers 2" to take away the clerics powers during the fight with the BBEG? Certainly that cleric invested resources into that. I would certainly argue no, because in each case it was designed to generate conflict and to make things interesting.


Both your examples aren't actual games, they're stories with a single man in control that's free to manipulate the actions of all characters&the world for maximum dramatic tension. There was no player behind either Roy or the cleric that could get angry or upset.

You cat take much more liberties in a story without any interactive element.

Kyberwulf
2013-01-10, 10:04 AM
What's the matter with you guys. Your in a world where Gods are real, Dragons exsist, and Magic {Scrubbed} up on a Daily basis. Science doesn't work. In a world where gods can get angry at uppity humans for trying to declare that this thing, called gravity, is the reason we all don't just fly away to the skies. They could just turn around and make it so that the reasons we stay down is cause the birds flapping their wings keep us down.
There are tons of reasons that the Mentor lies would keep {Scrubbed} up character's knowledge. The player could have been subtly influenced by magic, could have failed against the Mentor's Diplomacy check. Could be that the god subtly mucks up your knowledge cause he really doesn't want you to know the truth.
Arguments about how Science does this, or science disproves that. It doesn't matter. Your Pc's live in a world where Logic and Knowledge exist on the whims of gods. Having ranks in Knowledge in things just mean you know something, not everything about that subject.

LordBlades
2013-01-10, 10:17 AM
What's the matter with you guys. Your in a world where Gods are real, Dragons exsist, and Magic [email protected]#s **** up on a Daily basis. Science doesn't work. In a world where gods can get angry at uppity humans for trying to declare that this thing, called gravity, is the reason we all don't just fly away to the skies. They could just turn around and make it so that the reasons we stay down is cause the birds flapping their wings keep us down.
There are tons of reasons that the Mentor lies would keep [email protected]#ing up character's knowledge. The player could have been subtly influenced by magic, could have failed against the Mentor's Diplomacy check. Could be that the god subtly mucks up your knowledge cause he really doesn't want you to know the truth.
Arguments about how Science does this, or science disproves that. It doesn't matter. Your Pc's live in a world where Logic and Knowledge exist on the whims of gods. Having ranks in Knowledge in things just mean you know something, not everything about that subject.

The matter I think is that according to many people's understanding of the rules, a successful knowledge check should provide correct information. If the DM decides that for whatever reason THIS knowledge check works differently, he's changing the rules mid-game and without prior warning, and many people don't like that.

Jane_Smith
2013-01-10, 10:23 AM
Heres the thing -

Its like you taking 10 ranks in Jump. Your a good jumper. Dm says nope, your not. You were trainer wrong and lied to, your actually a horrid jumper. All the jumps youve ever known and performed? Were just illusions and lies, a facade. You actually fell to your death years ago from a 2 foot fall and smashed your head into the rock. You think those 10 ranks mean anything? HA. Nope, your not, your pathetic at it, you wasted every point because I want you to be pathetic at it, you won't pass this challenge now because I say your pathetic, no matter how hard you have tried or what you have developed with your character. Get use to it, cry in a corner, I don't care. Enjoy the game.

Same can be said of attack rolls, spellcraft checks to identify spells, etc. Oh, I rolled a high spellcraft roll to identify that spell being cast! Oh, its a magic missile! Wait, its a apocolypse spell? But I got a 18 + 11 on my roll, I could even identify 9th level spells, wtf is this crap? Hes not even an illusionist! Wtf you mean everything I ever learned was a lie up to now and the villian planned it all to trick me at this vital moment? Bull**** I say!

I would punch my dm, I think, for being that much of an ass. If you spend points in a knowledge check that means you have studied from multiple sources, like looking things up online or playing a game for years, you have actually deveoted time to clear out the lies, look into it for yourself, and actually found the common ground between all the speculation, falsehoods, facts and boogy-man stories about that topic to have a FIRM grasp in that field of knowledge. If you fail your check, you remember a false piece of information that can even be harmful, if you succeed your check you remember a real fact - thats how the game goes, thats how jumps work, thats how attacks work, thats how spells work. There is no "oh, you succeed but it was fakes, lol you got cockblocked", because then the rules/etc would be for moot. The dm should have given him SOMETHING useful in the garble of falsehoods at the least. It has nothing to do with being lied to in your past because to know you were lied to.. you would have actually known the truth to discover the falsehood and need time to find out if it was actually a lie or not. So effectively we have a situation where the dm said, HA, your ranks, your time studying, all of it, and your previous uses of knowledge or even so much as opening your eyes or listening to people speak, reading the news paper, whatever, was FOR NOTHING because I can just say everything you know is a complete lie and you cant do anything about it even if you roll a nat 20, and you got a +20 bonus.

Come on people, we all know that is just a bad move by the dm and a massive insult to the player.

Amphetryon
2013-01-10, 10:30 AM
Come on people, we all know that is just a bad move by the dm and a massive insult to the player.Apparently, that's not what we all know about the situation, given the variety of responses thus far.

oxybe
2013-01-10, 10:59 AM
What's the matter with you guys. Your in a world where Gods are real, Dragons exsist, and Magic [email protected]#s **** up on a Daily basis. Science doesn't work. In a world where gods can get angry at uppity humans for trying to declare that this thing, called gravity, is the reason we all don't just fly away to the skies. They could just turn around and make it so that the reasons we stay down is cause the birds flapping their wings keep us down.
There are tons of reasons that the Mentor lies would keep [email protected]#ing up character's knowledge. The player could have been subtly influenced by magic, could have failed against the Mentor's Diplomacy check. Could be that the god subtly mucks up your knowledge cause he really doesn't want you to know the truth.
Arguments about how Science does this, or science disproves that. It doesn't matter. Your Pc's live in a world where Logic and Knowledge exist on the whims of gods. Having ranks in Knowledge in things just mean you know something, not everything about that subject.

if the rules don't matter, then i'm not going to play by the non-mattering rules.

arguments that go "but gods and magic and dragons" are easily debunked becase: gods and magic and dragons don't exist. that's why we have rules in the game to determine what they can and cannot do.

if those rules, in which we all (as in the players & gm) agreed on when we sat down, don't matter on one side of the screen then i'll take it to matter that they don't matter on both sides.

if i can't trust my rolls to do what they say they're supposed to do, if i can't trust what is on my character sheet to actually be what's on my sheet...

how can i trust my GM when he's the cause of that distrust? when he's the one who's purposefully ignoring out agreement?

i can't.

and i don't hang out with people i can't trust.

at this point, if the BS of "gods, magic and dragons" would come out, i would walk.

valadil
2013-01-10, 11:18 AM
The matter I think is that according to many people's understanding of the rules, a successful knowledge check should provide correct information. If the DM decides that for whatever reason THIS knowledge check works differently, he's changing the rules mid-game and without prior warning, and many people don't like that.

What if that's how you've always run knowledge checks? Irrespective of any wool over the eyes plots, I always try to give characters relative knowledge. That's not to say some characters get more knowledge than others, but that there are a great many pieces of lore that a roll of 25 gets you and which one you get is going to depend on what your character may have been exposed to. If the inconsistency is the problem, would you still object if knowledge checks were always relative and this wasn't an exception?

I do agree with what you're saying btw. ~5 years ago I ran a typical murder mystery. The players spoke to each NPC and then paused the game to tell me I'd read my notes wrong. The clues were contradictory and obviously I'd given them the wrong piece of information here, here, or here.

I was hoping they'd figure this out on their own, but the scenario was a social one. It was not a logic puzzle. They assumed it was a logic puzzle and were (naturally) disappointed when it wasn't. When I got them to switch gears and approach it as a social puzzle, where not only might people be lying, but they might be conveying untruths without lying due to their own misinformation, they had fun with it.

Back to the original post, I think the whole thing comes down to player expectations. If your players expect knowledge checks to be absolute, screwing with them will be disappointing. Players like me would enjoy it.

Unlike my story above, I don't think you could sidestep the whole thing by switching gears. That was a one time thing, but this would be have a history of mismatched assumptions. While I wouldn't outright state that a game used relative knowledge, since that would spoil this sort of thing, I'd only ever use this plot with gamers who I'd played with before and had similar ideas about how in game knowledge worked.

Zeful
2013-01-10, 11:51 AM
Heres the thing -

Its like you taking 10 ranks in Jump. Your a good jumper. Dm says nope, your not. You were trainer wrong and lied to, your actually a horrid jumper. All the jumps youve ever known and performed? Were just illusions and lies, a facade. You actually fell to your death years ago from a 2 foot fall and smashed your head into the rock. You think those 10 ranks mean anything? HA. Nope, your not, your pathetic at it, you wasted every point because I want you to be pathetic at it, you won't pass this challenge now because I say your pathetic, no matter how hard you have tried or what you have developed with your character. Get use to it, cry in a corner, I don't care. Enjoy the game.

Same can be said of attack rolls, spellcraft checks to identify spells, etc. Oh, I rolled a high spellcraft roll to identify that spell being cast! Oh, its a magic missile! Wait, its a apocolypse spell? But I got a 18 + 11 on my roll, I could even identify 9th level spells, wtf is this crap? Hes not even an illusionist! Wtf you mean everything I ever learned was a lie up to now and the villian planned it all to trick me at this vital moment? Bull**** I say!

I would punch my dm, I think, for being that much of an ass. If you spend points in a knowledge check that means you have studied from multiple sources, like looking things up online or playing a game for years, you have actually deveoted time to clear out the lies, look into it for yourself, and actually found the common ground between all the speculation, falsehoods, facts and boogy-man stories about that topic to have a FIRM grasp in that field of knowledge. If you fail your check, you remember a false piece of information that can even be harmful, if you succeed your check you remember a real fact - thats how the game goes, thats how jumps work, thats how attacks work, thats how spells work. There is no "oh, you succeed but it was fakes, lol you got cockblocked", because then the rules/etc would be for moot. The dm should have given him SOMETHING useful in the garble of falsehoods at the least. It has nothing to do with being lied to in your past because to know you were lied to.. you would have actually known the truth to discover the falsehood and need time to find out if it was actually a lie or not. So effectively we have a situation where the dm said, HA, your ranks, your time studying, all of it, and your previous uses of knowledge or even so much as opening your eyes or listening to people speak, reading the news paper, whatever, was FOR NOTHING because I can just say everything you know is a complete lie and you cant do anything about it even if you roll a nat 20, and you got a +20 bonus.

Come on people, we all know that is just a bad move by the dm and a massive insult to the player.

Except no. None of those examples are even remotely comparable to the scenario being described, and are based in sensationalist example making to prove your point, and reducing the opposing point of view to an absurd degree, which incidently, invalidates it as an example. Logical fallacies do not strengthen your argument, especially when your basic premise is wrong.

Let's actually look at what the knowledge entry actually says:


Like the Craft and Profession skills, Knowledge, actually encompasses a number of unrelated skills. Knowledge represents a study of some body of lore, possibly an academic or even scientific discipline. Below are listed typical fields of study. With your DM's approval, you can invent new areas of knowledge.

[list omitted for brevity's sake]
Check: Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).
In many cases you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers of vulnerabilities. In general the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster's HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster. For every 5 points by which your check exceeds the DC, the DM can give another piece of useful information.

It would seem the only definitive statement about the quality of the information you get is entirely related to the part about identifying monsters. What do you know, like the people arguing about social rolls and diplomacy's place therein, you've actually misrepresented how the skill works. Because if you aren't identifying monsters, there is no onus on the information your character recalls to actually be factual or correct. So you're punching your DM for giving you a plot hook in a non-standard way, without breaking any actual rules, because you don't know how skills you use actually work. I'd say I expect different out of this community, but this kind of crap is actually really too damn common.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 12:05 PM
Both your examples aren't actual games, they're stories with a single man in control that's free to manipulate the actions of all characters&the world for maximum dramatic tension. There was no player behind either Roy or the cleric that could get angry or upset.

You missed the point. It's not whether OOTS or The Gamers is a real game or not, it's whether if you were playing in a game and those events occurred, would you consider it to be a **** move by the DM?


If the DM decides that for whatever reason THIS knowledge check works differently, he's changing the rules mid-game and without prior warning, and many people don't like that.

Show me any group that plays 100% all the time by the rules, exactly the same way. Show be a group where no one ever fudges a die roll (secretly or openly). Show me a group where the DM never decides that even though the last swing missed the monster, he only had 2 hp left and the fight has gone on long enough. Show me a group where players have never ever ever used player knowledge to influence the actions of their character. The fact of the matter is, groups make "THIS X check" work differently all the time, sometimes it's agreed to in advance, other times it isn't. But it almost always works out in the end because we're all human beings, we all want to have fun, and aside from some social issues, we all generally trust each other to work towards a goal of fun. Quite frankly, if you can't trust your other players to know when it's appropriate to bend the rules, and trust that when they bend them it is in the interests of the greater game, then you shouldn't be playing with them at all.


Its like you taking 10 ranks in Jump. Your a good jumper. Dm says nope, your not. You were trainer wrong and lied to, your actually a horrid jumper. All the jumps youve ever known and performed? Were just illusions and lies, a facade. You actually fell to your death years ago from a 2 foot fall and smashed your head into the rock. You think those 10 ranks mean anything? HA. Nope, your not, your pathetic at it, you wasted every point because I want you to be pathetic at it, you won't pass this challenge now because I say your pathetic, no matter how hard you have tried or what you have developed with your character. Get use to it, cry in a corner, I don't care. Enjoy the game.

Same can be said of attack rolls, spellcraft checks to identify spells, etc. Oh, I rolled a high spellcraft roll to identify that spell being cast! Oh, its a magic missile! Wait, its a apocolypse spell? But I got a 18 + 11 on my roll, I could even identify 9th level spells, wtf is this crap? Hes not even an illusionist! Wtf you mean everything I ever learned was a lie up to now and the villian planned it all to trick me at this vital moment? Bull**** I say!

Except it's nothing at all like these examples. First of all, knowledge checks are limited domain. Second of all, once the lie is discovered, the new knowledge is gained, and further checks would take that into account. Finally, I don't see anything in the OP to suggest that this false knowledge would apply to all rolls under that knowledge skill for all things, merely to this one specific cult and their one specific deity.


If you spend points in a knowledge check that means you have studied from multiple sources, like looking things up online or playing a game for years, you have actually deveoted time to clear out the lies, look into it for yourself, and actually found the common ground between all the speculation, falsehoods, facts and boogy-man stories about that topic to have a FIRM grasp in that field of knowledge.
...
Come on people, we all know that is just a bad move by the dm and a massive insult to the player.


Except by the OP, that isn't true. Per the OP, the only source of information the PC had for information about this cult was his mentor. By the very scenario described, the ranks in knowledge, concerning this specific cult were from one source only. No time spent seeking multiple sources. Clearly it's not a massive insult.


If you fail your check, you remember a false piece of information that can even be harmful, if you succeed your check you remember a real fact - thats how the game goes, thats how jumps work, thats how attacks work, thats how spells work.

So how is this fundamentally different from failing? The fact that the player was also lead to believe that they had succeeded? Alternatively, per the OP, the player did get correct knowledge, they just didn't get it all, how is that any different than assigning all the correct knowledge a DC of Eleventy Billion? That's part of the fun, you spend time operating under a false assumption, suddenly you discover it isn't true and you have to figure out how to solve the problem you've now found yourself in. How is this any different than the king who sent you on a quest turning out to be the BBEG?


if i can't trust my rolls to do what they say they're supposed to do, if i can't trust what is on my character sheet to actually be what's on my sheet...

how can i trust my GM when he's the cause of that distrust? when he's the one who's purposefully ignoring out agreement?

I would say because this is a social game that you're supposed to be playing with people you trust, and therefore you trust them to help ensure that the game remains fun and engaging even if any one particular point is not as fun. I mean seriously, your GM feeds you false information on a knowledge check concerning ONE specific plot related piece of information in order to generate an interesting and plot appropriate scenario for the players and now you suddenly can't trust them at all? Really? I only have to assume that you also stop playing with your GM when they reveal the captain of the town guard is really the murderer, when they roll your sneak check in secret and allow you to think you're sneaking when you failed and also when your spot check doesn't let you know about the invisible stalker even through you rolled over 20.

Jerthanis
2013-01-10, 12:12 PM
It would seem the only definitive statement about the quality of the information you get is entirely related to the part about identifying monsters. What do you know, like the people arguing about social rolls and diplomacy's place therein, you've actually misrepresented how the skill works. Because if you aren't identifying monsters, there is no onus on the information your character recalls to actually be factual or correct. So you're punching your DM for giving you a plot hook in a non-standard way, without breaking any actual rules, because you don't know how skills you use actually work. I'd say I expect different out of this community, but this kind of crap is actually really too damn common.

I think the thing that has people up in arms is not simply that Knowledge doesn't represent omniscience, but that we expect the things we invest resources in to be effective rather than ineffective. The scenario put forth is that the investment of our resources was not only ineffective, but detrimental, that we'd have not been in so much danger if we had no ranks in the skill. The quotation of the rules doesn't include a proviso for providing false pieces of knowledge, only useful ones. If the knowledge skill had such a proviso, do you think it would be more appropriate as the result of a failed check, or a successful one?

It's not that we think Knowledge (Who Killed The King) ranks should solve the murder, and circumvent the plot and it's ups and downs, it's that we think a Knowledge (Criminal Psychology) success should point us in the right direction towards clues and accomplishing our goals rather than in the wrong direction towards letting the killer go free, even if it's the plot that the DM thinks will be more interesting.



So how is this fundamentally different from failing? The fact that the player was also lead to believe that they had succeeded? Alternatively, per the OP, the player did get correct knowledge, they just didn't get it all, how is that any different than assigning all the correct knowledge a DC of Eleventy Billion? That's part of the fun, you spend time operating under a false assumption, suddenly you discover it isn't true and you have to figure out how to solve the problem you've now found yourself in. How is this any different than the king who sent you on a quest turning out to be the BBEG?

Assigning it a DC of eleventy billion represents essentially a secret that is essentially totally concealed. If Kermit's kitten eating habits are literally known to no one, we can accept not succeeding at a check to know it.

If it's a matter of your mentor teaching you wrong, but it being relatively common knowledge, such as "Horses have hooves" it doesn't make sense that you wouldn't have corrected it. Even if it were sort of obscure like, "Cruithne isn't a satellite of Earth, but it appears to orbit a point in our path around the sun, following us." then you'd have picked it up if you had done any serious reading or personal development in the field since you ended your apprenticeship. It has to be totally obscured, secret knowledge that you have no chance of picking up elsewhere, or your apprenticeship has to have been in isolation and only recently ended or is still in fact ongoing, or the mentor has to have employed brainwashing that goes beyond merely bad information.

Basically, to hear about it suggests a difficult to believe scenario. If the scenario isn't difficult to believe (knowledge is exceptionally secret, even though it was technically known by mentor, it is known only by the mentor and wasn't shared during training.) then it's totally fine. or if the scenario is still interesting in spite of being difficult to believe, it's acceptable, such as if the PC were brainwashed, but it's playing with fire for no good reason.

oxybe
2013-01-10, 12:25 PM
I would say because this is a social game that you're supposed to be playing with people you trust, and therefore you trust them to help ensure that the game remains fun and engaging even if any one particular point is not as fun. I mean seriously, your GM feeds you false information on a knowledge check concerning ONE specific plot related piece of information in order to generate an interesting and plot appropriate scenario for the players and now you suddenly can't trust them at all? Really? I only have to assume that you also stop playing with your GM when they reveal the captain of the town guard is really the murderer, when they roll your sneak check in secret and allow you to think you're sneaking when you failed and also when your spot check doesn't let you know about the invisible stalker even through you rolled over 20.

if it's a social game, i would expect everyone, GM included, to follow the same rules everyone agreed to. as i said in my first post, i probably wouldn't leave for that one incident, but it would be a mark against the gm.

and if i find a GM changing rules mid-game and call them out on it, then they feed me a bs line like "gods or mentors or magic", then yeah, i'll probably leave.

why? it has nothing to do with "captain of the town guard is really the murderer" or allowing me to think i succeeded when the rules say i didn't.

it's him going "everything and anything, no matter what, you do will point away from the captain of the guard being the murderer and this reveal will only happen when i say it does", "well, i don't want oxybe to sneak past the guard, so i'll have him be spotted" or outright going "i don't want him to see the stalker even though he's rolled high enough, so he doesn't".

it's a case of trust, plain and simple. mainly that it's not fun knowing that any investment or action i take is effectively pointless, because it all relies on the unstable whim of one guy who happens to sit at a different part of the table. if i can't trust the gm, then i'd rather not sit at his table.

i guess i kinda expect too much from most people.

guess that's why i don't play with most people.

Zeful
2013-01-10, 12:32 PM
I think the thing that has people up in arms is not simply that Knowledge doesn't represent omniscience, but that we expect the things we invest resources in to be effective rather than ineffective. The scenario put forth is that the investment of our resources was not only ineffective, but detrimental, that we'd have not been in so much danger if we had no ranks in the skill. The quotation of the rules doesn't include a proviso for providing false pieces of knowledge, only useful ones. If the knowledge skill had such a proviso, do you think it would be more appropriate as the result of a failed check, or a successful one?

It's not that we think Knowledge (Who Killed The King) ranks should solve the murder, and circumvent the plot and it's ups and downs, it's that we think a Knowledge (Criminal Psychology) success should point us in the right direction towards clues and accomplishing our goals rather than in the wrong direction towards letting the killer go free, even if it's the plot that the DM thinks will be more interesting.

Except, the statement is ludicrous. Let's look at a specific scenario and skill: The PCs enter a small frontier town, that are being ravaged at night. Nobody knows what it is. A PC makes a Knowledge (Local) check to know that there are some tribes of Goblins in the area, and a Gather Information check to find out they come from the east. So they prepare for goblins, head east, and find that the enemy ravaging the town is a cult to Vecna.

The PCs have had their successful checks rendered both ineffective and detrimental. Is this wrong way to do things? Because based on what you've said, and what others have said, this is terrible DMing, and the DM should be punched in the face for it.

I'm sorry, if this is terrible DMing, then I'd argue that good DMing isn't worth crap.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 12:44 PM
if it's a social game, i would expect everyone, GM included, to follow the same rules everyone agreed to. as i said in my first post, i probably wouldn't leave for that one incident, but it would be a mark against the gm.

and if i find a GM changing rules mid-game and call them out on it, then they feed me a bs line like "gods or mentors or magic", then yeah, i'll probably leave.

Great, so where in the rules does it say that the results of a knowledge check have to be 100% factual?


it's him going "everything and anything, no matter what, you do will point away from the captain of the guard being the murderer and this reveal will only happen when i say it does", "well, i don't want oxybe to sneak past the guard, so i'll have him be spotted" or outright going "i don't want him to see the stalker even though he's rolled high enough, so he doesn't".

it's a case of trust, plain and simple. mainly that it's not fun knowing that any investment or action i take is effectively pointless, because it all relies on the unstable whim of one guy who happens to sit at a different part of the table. if i can't trust the gm, then i'd rather not sit at his table.

Except this isn't the scenario the OP described.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 12:47 PM
Great, so where in the rules does it say that the results of a knowledge check have to be 100% factual?

Doesn't matter. If it's not, then the skill is useless or detrimental even when successful some of the time. If you don't go out of your way to distinguish between when it is harmful and when it isn't through out of character knowledge, you're wasting their points and unbalancing a portion of the game by making some character archetypes completely useless.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 12:55 PM
If it's not, then the skill is useless or detrimental even when successful some of the time. If you don't go out of your way to distinguish between when it is harmful and when it isn't through out of character knowledge, you're wasting their points and unbalancing a portion of the game by making some character archetypes completely useless.

Not at all, it simply means that you'll be playing with incomplete information. Buffing your knowledge skill just means that you're more likely to get accurate information. That doesn't make it any less useful than if your DM rolls all your knowledge checks in secret (which they should anyway, exactly to avoid keflufles like this).

Zubrowka74
2013-01-10, 12:56 PM
I would have made a secret "sens motive" check of some sort to see if the player suspected anything. Defore the knowledge check.

Zeful
2013-01-10, 12:57 PM
Doesn't matter. If it's not, then the skill is useless or detrimental even when successful some of the time. If you don't go out of your way to distinguish between when it is harmful and when it isn't through out of character knowledge, you're wasting their points and unbalancing a portion of the game by making some character archetypes completely useless.

So because you can't or won't think independently of the information you receive, all knowledge in the setting must be true?

You don't see the problem in this at all?

Jerthanis
2013-01-10, 12:58 PM
Except, the statement is ludicrous. Let's look at a specific scenario and skill: The PCs enter a small frontier town, that are being ravaged at night. Nobody knows what it is. A PC makes a Knowledge (Local) check to know that there are some tribes of Goblins in the area, and a Gather Information check to find out they come from the east. So they prepare for goblins, head east, and find that the enemy ravaging the town is a cult to Vecna.

The PCs have had their successful checks rendered both ineffective and detrimental. Is this wrong way to do things? Because based on what you've said, and what others have said, this is terrible DMing, and the DM should be punched in the face for it.

I'm sorry, if this is terrible DMing, then I'd argue that good DMing isn't worth crap.

Wow, just keep putting words in my mouth, I'll choke on them eventually and you'll win by default.

The goal is "Find out what is ravaging us at night" and that is a complete unknown. With some successful skill checks, a suspect is discovered and the investigation plot continues. The players can choose to journey to the goblins and ask them what's up, or they can stick around and guard the town and see if they can identify the attackers by fighting back. Both are options and can yield good or bad results. If Kermit's kitten eating property is unknown or a closely guarded secret, there's no problem because the DC is too high to make and the lack of knowledge is the same as a failed check.

A more comparable result would be if they talked with the Goblins to the east and the Goblins said they were being raided too, and they had some other clue about their identities, and at some point Vecna cultists comes up as a suspect, and the players roll Knowledge (Religion) and get a good result from a skilled person... and the fact they know for sure about Vecna cultists is: "They are honest, hardworking do-gooders who value appropriate use of knowledge, keeping secret what is too dangerous, and spreading knowledge that can aid people. A humanitarian group for sure."

And then they go to any population center anywhere and you mention Vecna and people will explain the common knowledge that that is a total misrepresentation of Vecna, that he's an evil, evil dude worshiped by evil, evil dudes.

Or alternatively, it'd be using Gather Information to learn the goblins are to the east, and the townspeople knew they were actually to the west, they were just trolling you for no reason and in total solidarity that didn't even let you know there was some uncertainty that it was to the east, in spite of an extremely high check.

Again, I'm not saying this CAN'T be acceptable, but it has to be believable, and not represent a trend of making the things you spend your finite resources on be ineffective or detrimental at the sole task that skill is supposed to help you be effective at.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 01:01 PM
Not at all, it simply means that you'll be playing with incomplete information. Buffing your knowledge skill just means that you're more likely to get accurate information. That doesn't make it any less useful than if your DM rolls all your knowledge checks in secret (which they should anyway, exactly to avoid keflufles like this).

Take 10 on knowledges. :smallannoyed:

That aside, the "more likely to get accurate answers" is relatively irrelevant, the actual DC to get correct information is generally a low DC, and in the case that the DM does role lower than the success threshold, he isn't by standard rules, supposed to tell you a false answer, he's supposed to tell you you don't know. When he's throwing in successes as worse than a failure, that's a wasted resource. That said, there is actually absolutely no reason for the DM to do secret rolls for knowledge, because the effect is supposed to be binary, either you tell them the information, or you tell them they failed.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 01:12 PM
So because you can't or won't think independently of the information you receive, all knowledge in the setting must be true?

You don't see the problem in this at all?

Nope. If I'm paying a significant cost to actually know something, I should receive a benefit for the cost. Not get screwed over because the DM doesn't want me to know something for plot reasons. And yes, I'm aware that the players may receive information that allows them to bypass some weird plot thing the DM wanted to keep under wraps. And yes, I'm entirely disdainful of a DM that has to fiddle with mechanics to protect his plot. None of this has ever prevented me from surprising the players when I'm DMing, none of this has ever forced me to reveal some big secret to the players when I didn't want to, and none of this has ever forced my players to complain about how knowledge works as a skill. Outright rendering abilities in the game useless for the sake of plot is lazy DMing, you can get just as many interesting plot hooks if you stop, think and use what they actually do know to let them make informed decisions.

oxybe
2013-01-10, 01:20 PM
to 1337 b4k4:
where does it say that a successful check needs to be 100% detrimental?

the thing is, if i invest training in a skill, i expect to get a positive return on it. i expect that skill to be useful in play. that's why i took the skill. when a successful check to know something ends up actively hurting the party because the gm is intentionally misleading them, then that investment is pretty flipping pointless.

think of it this way: if i invest X ranks in knowledge(something) and see damage done by a monster and my successful checks return "it was done by fire elementals".

at this point, the party would prep itself as though it's going to be going against fire elementals.

and whoops, it was ice elementals. at this point those cold-based spells the wizard prepped and fire-prevention spells the cleric prepped are useless. the fighter and rogue wasted money on fire-proofing their gear and oils to make their weapons deal cold damage.

it probably had been better in such a case for the party to go in blind since they would probably have a wider range of prep, rather then being focused on what they were intentionally misled to believe. the successful knowledge was harmful to the party.

to be told "well, your mentor taught you..." is a cheap cop-out. it's entirely "the gm intentionally misled you by feeding incorrect and harmful information".

because that's what the op said:

"The DM hits you up with some knowledge that later turns out be be not just wrong but seriously harmful."

basically the gm is not just putting red herrings, but actively changing the way the character interacts with the world, that is harmful to the party's success.

valadil
2013-01-10, 01:40 PM
I should receive a benefit for the cost.

Isn't being the center of a major plot with some potentially interesting roleplaying a benefit?


And yes, I'm entirely disdainful of a DM that has to fiddle with mechanics to protect his plot.

How would you run The Matrix in RPG form without screwing with knowledge mechanics. There are probably better examples out there, but that's the first thing that comes to mind where the protagonist believes he lives in a world that's not actually reality. Would there be a high enough knowledge check to figure out that Neo was in a simulation?


to be told "well, your mentor taught you..." is a cheap cop-out. it's entirely "the gm intentionally misled you by feeding incorrect and harmful information".


What if the white dragon you've prepared fire spells for turns out to be an illusioned up red dragon? Or an albino red dragon? Or a red dragon covered in white paint (complete with doubly painted miniature)? Anything you learn from knowledge nature (or arcane, can't remember where dragons go) is going to be harmful if you're researching white dragons.

I see this as a case of the bad guy deliberately dropping bad information so that the PCs will be at a disadvantage. I think this is a perfectly fine thing to happen in the game. I'm not sure how it's any different than the OP's suggestion.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 01:50 PM
Isn't being the center of a major plot with some potentially interesting roleplaying a benefit?

Not when you were forced, coerced or tricked into doing it. That's pretty much railroading, and it's a bad practice to get into. It's when players are doing something because they choose to do it that it's unequivocally beneficial.


How would you run The Matrix in RPG form without screwing with knowledge mechanics. There are probably better examples out there, but that's the first thing that comes to mind where the protagonist believes he lives in a world that's not actually reality. Would there be a high enough knowledge check to figure out that Neo was in a simulation?

I'd start them as level 1 ordinaries, and set the DC at 30. When one of them is like "Boom, natural 20 knowledge, do we live in the Matrix" I can be like "You don't know, your level 1ness has given you a total of 28." If they decided to completely tweak it so they did just make it, of course I'd tell them. After all, their character was 100% useless except in answering that question, and I'd be handing them the blue pill red pill option shortly after anyway.


What if the white dragon you've prepared fire spells for turns out to be an illusioned up red dragon? Or an albino red dragon? Or a red dragon covered in white paint (complete with doubly painted miniature)? Anything you learn from knowledge nature (or arcane, can't remember where dragons go) is going to be harmful if you're researching white dragons.

Sans the illusion example, dragons have unique physiology and home configurations beyond their colour, so knowledge should be even more useful than normal there, in that it would directly point out that you aren't fighting a white dragon.


I see this as a case of the bad guy deliberately dropping bad information so that the PCs will be at a disadvantage. I think this is a perfectly fine thing to happen in the game. I'm not sure how it's any different than the OP's suggestion.

Because a bad guy dropping bad information has a counter skill (sense motive) that if passed automatically tells the players it's bad information, and the bad information is otherwise free of charge. Paying for bad information is a stupid mechanic.

Kyberwulf
2013-01-10, 01:52 PM
Well, if we are going by the Air Bud Clause... Where does it say that Skill Checks are never detrimental.

RFLS
2013-01-10, 01:56 PM
I'm not playing semantics.

If you're saying that the whole of human scientific progress has been a clear and certain progression towards increasing scientific accuracy then I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken.

The best we can say is that we believe our current understanding of things is correct (or as accurate as we can achieve). We're trying to improve our understanding.

That is not the same as saying we are. There is every possibility that a discovery is made tomorrow that renders decades of progress obsolete - or that restores a discredited theory - every now and then something that big happens (q.v. Einstein rendering centuries of physics almost totally irrelevant, the scamp)

There's also quite a lot of knowledge that we know is inaccurate, but we judge to be 'accurate enough'. Pretty much all Newtonian physics, for example.

Aside from the palaeontology example, or the scurvy one given by Craft (Cheese), there are others in fields like nutrition, climatology, geology, psychology, astronomy and quantum physics - but they're increasingly esoteric.

Perhaps another good example is the Big Bang theory, which was dismissed by a majority of leading astronomers for 20 years in favour of the Steady State theory.

Or the way atomic structure has continually been redefined and re-interpreted using portions of older models (that's quite common in chemistry and physics; ideas that have been dismissed in whole get resurrected in part)

-

The pertinent point I was getting at, in any case, is that in the real world we deliberately teach people things that are wrong. We even write them in textbooks.

Not to deceive students, but because they are almost right (e.g. we teach high school students the Bohr Model of atomic structure and Newtonian gravity).

Another is that as knowledge increases, we are increasingly forced to rely on faith in our teachers (or the scientific community) - unless you're a true renaissance man, or you have a lot of time on your hands, you can't become an expert in all things. So we need to have faith that the things we are taught or told about by scientists are true (or 'more accurate').

As I've said now three separate times, we might not always advance in every field continuously, but, as a whole, what we know today is more accurate than what we knew yesterday.

I think you're missing something with your examples. A new discovery does not render X amount of science irrelevant; it adds to it or modifies it. Einstein most certainly did not render centuries of physics irrelevant; he built on existing physics and enhanced it. That he added a new level of our understanding of the physical world does not mean that Newton is irrelevant. I certainly don't bust out the general and specific theories of relativity when I need to calculate a basic physics problem.

The examples you gave of things that we teach that are wrong are not, in fact, wrong. They're less right, and it's an important distinction. For most people, the Bohr Model and Newtonian physics are more than enough to get by; the ones for whom it is not are taught more refined models. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that this is where the confusion is. Scientific theories aren't 100% right or 100% wrong; there's room in the middle that they occupy. The whole scientific process is about becoming more right, and having a theory that's more right than the previous one. The previous one is not wrong.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 01:56 PM
Well, if we are going by the Air Bud Clause... Where does it say that Skill Checks are never detrimental.

Because when some skills are, and others are not, it unbalances the game to the point where it's rendered unplayable. Similar to how if you were to try and use that in real life, the ref would laugh at you and give you a red card for arguing.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 01:58 PM
Nope. If I'm paying a significant cost to actually know something, I should receive a benefit for the cost. Not get screwed over because the DM doesn't want me to know something for plot reasons. And yes, I'm aware that the players may receive information that allows them to bypass some weird plot thing the DM wanted to keep under wraps. And yes, I'm entirely disdainful of a DM that has to fiddle with mechanics to protect his plot. None of this has ever prevented me from surprising the players when I'm DMing, none of this has ever forced me to reveal some big secret to the players when I didn't want to, and none of this has ever forced my players to complain about how knowledge works as a skill. Outright rendering abilities in the game useless for the sake of plot is lazy DMing, you can get just as many interesting plot hooks if you stop, think and use what they actually do know to let them make informed decisions.

What I find so fascinating about all of this is that the scenario the OP described was :


You correctly recognized a man as a cleric of Kermit, but it turns out that who you thought was the god of frogs, puppetry, and pig farming is actually the god of all that plus kitten eating.

Which is exactly the scenario you describe. The DM did not render the skill useless. It indeed returned accurate information, it simply did not return all of the information necessary to make an accurate decision. There is no rendering abilities useless, there is no worse than failure (excepting that the party continues on on the incomplete information). Yet for some reason, you see this as a violation of the rules simply because the information presented was not enough to make an accurate decision.


where does it say that a successful check needs to be 100% detrimental?

They don't, nor do I claim they do. I simply claim that an inaccurate or incomplete result from a knowledge check is neither a violation of the rules, nor player trust, nor any of the social contracts surrounding playing a collaborative story.


think of it this way: if i invest X ranks in knowledge(something) and see damage done by a monster and my successful checks return "it was done by fire elementals".

at this point, the party would prep itself as though it's going to be going against fire elementals.

and whoops, it was ice elementals. at this point those cold-based spells the wizard prepped and fire-prevention spells the cleric prepped are useless. the fighter and rogue wasted money on fire-proofing their gear and oils to make their weapons deal cold damage.

Nothing in the OP suggests that the knowledge skill isn't useful, or won't be useful in the future. Further, you're making an awful big assumption here. It's not like the history of conflict isn't full of false flag campaigns. Attackers have often disguised themselves or their methods to make it appear as though others have done the attack. This is actually fairly common in any guerrilla conflict. Knowledge(X) isn't a "Win" button, and expecting it to be is a good way to be disappointed.


basically the gm is not just putting red herrings, but actively changing the way the character interacts with the world, that is harmful to the party's success.

Which is a temporary condition which the GM expects you to be able to solve. Nothing in the OP suggests that the lack of information is a permanent or unchangeable scenario. It's your (and others) "worst first" and bad faith assumptions about the motivations of the GM that make this a bad thing. Again, skill checks are not "win" buttons, they still require the application of the player. If the game didn't involve a human element it would boil down to who has the character that is mathematically capable of deriving the plot, which is boring.


Because when some skills are, and others are not, it unbalances the game to the point where it's rendered unplayable.

Please, I have never in my life seen a game rendered unplayable because sometimes the rules were altered for the purposes of the greater game. You all need to loosen up if this is really a world shattering problem for you.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 02:04 PM
What I find so fascinating about all of this is that the scenario the OP described was :

Which is exactly the scenario you describe. The DM did not render the skill useless. It indeed returned accurate information, it simply did not return all of the information necessary to make an accurate decision. There is no rendering abilities useless, there is no worse than failure (excepting that the party continues on on the incomplete information). Yet for some reason, you see this as a violation of the rules simply because the information presented was not enough to make an accurate decision.

Yes, that only applies to encounters though. Knowledge about a topic does not become more comprehensive as the rolled result gets higher (in other words, the DM should have given that information on both a 30 and a 100.) When it skips what is arguably the only relevant information, you should probably just get back the answer "you don't know." because the DM hasn't told you anything useful.

You'll note that in my case it isn't "I give some harmful information and hold back the useful information" it was "I either give them all the information or none of the information, and tell them which was which."

valadil
2013-01-10, 02:14 PM
Not when you were forced, coerced or tricked into doing it. That's pretty much railroading, and it's a bad practice to get into. It's when players are doing something because they choose to do it that it's unequivocally beneficial.


I can see where you're coming from, but I still disagree with the premise. If I'm taking a particular course of action because I know that my knowledge check is infallible, aren't I metagaming? My character can't tell that the information was the result of a die roll.




I'd start them as level 1 ordinaries, and set the DC at 30. When one of them is like "Boom, natural 20 knowledge, do we live in the Matrix" I can be like "You don't know, your level 1ness has given you a total of 28." If they decided to completely tweak it so they did just make it, of course I'd tell them. After all, their character was 100% useless except in answering that question, and I'd be handing them the blue pill red pill option shortly after anyway.



Where does that knowledge actually come from though? I'm not sure I'd be interested in playing a game where having the right number of points in a skill makes knowledge appear out of thin air. That sounds like the same game where you try to diplomacy the guards, with no explanation of what you're actually trying to tell them.




Sans the illusion example, dragons have unique physiology and home configurations beyond their colour, so knowledge should be even more useful than normal there, in that it would directly point out that you aren't fighting a white dragon.


Because a bad guy dropping bad information has a counter skill (sense motive) that if passed automatically tells the players it's bad information, and the bad information is otherwise free of charge. Paying for bad information is a stupid mechanic.


Good rebuttal. That said, it was just a humorous example. There are plenty of ways the bad guy can spread misiniformation without the aid of paint, gnomes, or albinoism. They won't necessarily be spottable with sense motive.

I'd argue that the failsafe against the mentor's bad information is the rest of the party. If the group decides that Steve should roll because Steve has the highest score, they can take the compromised information and go with it. If everyone who knows a thing or two about the relevant topic takes a roll, and they all conflict with Steve's info then they'll know something's afoot.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 02:25 PM
I can see where you're coming from, but I still disagree with the premise. If I'm taking a particular course of action because I know that my knowledge check is infallible, aren't I metagaming? My character can't tell that the information was the result of a die roll.

You'll recall I advise to take 10. That aside though, yes, it's in part a metagame decision. Deciding to use the mechanics as they are cannot be an in character decision, that wouldn't make any sense. Using that to inform your in game actions is simply going to be a reality of it being a game. You don't have your character assume that something completely out of the realm of the rules is possible, even if there is no reason they would assume something is "illegal" by the rules. Knowledge and the results of those checks is no exception.


Where does that knowledge actually come from though? I'm not sure I'd be interested in playing a game where having the right number of points in a skill makes knowledge appear out of thin air. That sounds like the same game where you try to diplomacy the guards, with no explanation of what you're actually trying to tell them.

The latter case you're theoretically supposed to role play, but in a standard system where you progress, it unfortunately does have to come out of thin air, as you don't have any particular downtime to justify your numbers going up in any specific way. However, even barring that, scholars in settings with magic can arrive at unequivocal truths via magic, so those scholars creating and disseminating knowledge through books (which can then be fact checked by peers to catch lies) are a likely source.


Good rebuttal. That said, it was just a humorous example. There are plenty of ways the bad guy can spread misiniformation without the aid of paint, gnomes, or albinoism. They won't necessarily be spottable with sense motive.

Higher knowledge should have higher chances of noticing the discrepancy, not just garbling at you the useless information of "this is the traits of the lie". Same as the high knowledge guy noticing that white dragons don't live in volcanoes, don't look like that red thing etc.


I'd argue that the failsafe against the mentor's bad information is the rest of the party. If the group decides that Steve should roll because Steve has the highest score, they can take the compromised information and go with it. If everyone who knows a thing or two about the relevant topic takes a roll, and they all conflict with Steve's info then they'll know something's afoot.

Knowledge skills are expensive, and require ranks to even make the check in D&D. It's not uncommon for only a single character to have each knowledge, simply because it's hard to dip across multiple skills that aren't required on a one by one basis like tumble or balance.

oxybe
2013-01-10, 02:25 PM
@valadil

i would say a successful check in the presence of deceit should show the presence of deceit at the very least. this way the party can start taking the correct steps to prep themselves.

we can throw corner cases all we want, but to be quite frank, that'll get us nowhere.

if someone casts an illusion of a dragon then rolls are made and the rules say it fails to affect me, i should be told "there is no real dragon there/that dragon is an illusion", not "you firmly believe there is a dragon white".

and the albino red dragon or a red painted white would only fool the people who know absolutely nothing about dragons... beyond the existance of 4 legs, wings & a tail, the physical characteristics vary quite a bit... they're not the same species. hell, i'm not a dragonologist but i've seen the MM and can note the differences in faces between a red and a white beyond color: the former generally having a longer, thinner face with barbs, horns and frills as well as an overall leaner body, whereas the latter tends to have a shorter, flatter face with a crest and tends to be a bit stockier as a whole.

that's like trying to convince me a saint bernard is nothing but large chihuahua who moonlights trafficking rum.

@L33t

They don't, nor do I claim they do. I simply claim that an inaccurate or incomplete result from a knowledge check is neither a violation of the rules, nor player trust, nor any of the social contracts surrounding playing a collaborative story.

so you're saying that the rules are worth less then the paper they're printed on. if you can't get anything reliable from using the rules... why use them at all?

at this point it sounds to me that you're defending badly made rules. if there are rules to get information and you can't trust that information... then what's the point here?


Which is a temporary condition which the GM expects you to be able to solve. Nothing in the OP suggests that the lack of information is a permanent or unchangeable scenario. It's your (and others) "worst first" and bad faith assumptions about the motivations of the GM that make this a bad thing. Again, skill checks are not "win" buttons, they still require the application of the player. If the game didn't involve a human element it would boil down to who has the character that is mathematically capable of deriving the plot, which is boring.

it's not a lack of information though. it's entirely the worst first... the OP actually states that the information gotten leads to harmful results on the party.

how else am i supposed to take this?

if a GM purposefully give harmful information to the group on a successful check, something that has historically been a positive outcome (pass your check, roll above target number = good things), the players have no reason not to trust this information as nothing given indicates otherwise, and will most likely approach a situation using that info in good faith.

unless, of course, you're telling me to start metagaming the whole thing and relying on out of character knowledge. if comes to the point where you're challenging the player over the character and there are far better games to do that then TTRPGs.

BlckDv
2013-01-10, 02:31 PM
I'm going to get my direct reply to the OP out of the way first, as a lot of this will be relating t items the Op did not ask or does not seem to be too worried about.

To the Op:
If the back story that had been established for my PC made it clear that this NPC was the primary source of my knowledge in this and other areas prior to the moment of this check, the fact which was "wrong" was not one I would be likely to encounter in casual observation or conversation, and I had the ability to visit some tutor or library to check for any other "errors" in my teaching without having to spend more points after learning of this deception, I'd be pretty cool with it.

I can specifically recall a fun gaming experience that resulted from the rest of the party trusting my PC when he gave faulty lore that Drow were good friends to Dwarves; lore based on elements in his Backstory that made him have bad base assumptions that I agreed with the DM would skew his "facts".

Pertaining to the deeper debate:

I have to side firmly that a player expecting that when a PC makes a knowledge check the only outcomes are the correct answer or no info is straining the system of what the Knowledge skills are.

A few examples:

The Elder Elemental Eye is a cult in D&D that moderate DCs will specifically tell you is a cult of a potent primal elemental entity (the specific nature varies with editions). This is flat out false. Even the powerful Elemental Princes that serve the cult act on this knowledge however. The TRUTH is that it serves the god Tharzidun... and refusing to give the factually wrong answer that lower DCs give undermines the lore and function of this cult. It is wrong but also helpful; as most cultist are also acting on this knowledge, your PC may well benefit from this wrong information.

Real World example: Who invented Movable Type? Someone with moderate/low skill in History will probably answer Gutenberg, while someone with higher ranks may say "Someone in China" and eve higher ranks Bi Sheng. The first answer is flat out wrong... but it *is* the common knowledge in most Western cultures. If a Knowledge skill never gave false info, only a lack of info, everyone would answer "I don't know" and no one would be able to recall Gutenberg's name when asked the question... a clearly false model. In no way is "Bi Sheng" a refinement of the answer "Gutenberg" and yet they would be reasonable results for different DCs.

Likewise, in many cases a player may be needing information from a Knowledge check for social reasons, and if everyone thinks the world is a sphere that orbits the sun annually and the solar system exists in a vast gulf of space and you use Knowledge (Astronomy) to inform them that the sun is actually a fiery orb that orbits the world in the center of a sphere of glass in the phlogiston sea, you may be unpopular, if right.. and your DM refusing to give you untrue information is a detriment to you. You *should* probably know that "Common knowledge is..." and then "But your expert training also tells you..." while someone who only gets the Common knowledge should not be told 'You don't know" they SHOULD be told 'The teachings at your temple and the nearby academy agree that the world orbits the sun." Demanding that you are not able to recall common knowledge with a knowledge skill because it is untrue, or that you somehow inherently know what elements of this knowledge to doubt. just hurts me to parse.

To be frank, in many of my D&D campaigns I do not bother to consider the "truth" of natural forces. If the DM does not know if gravity is a force inherent to matter or a whim of some divine being; how can a skill check give you only inerrant facts?

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 02:43 PM
Real World example: Who invented Movable Type? Someone with moderate/low skill in History will probably answer Gutenberg, while someone with higher ranks may say "Someone in China" and eve higher ranks Bi Sheng. The first answer is flat out wrong... but it *is* the common knowledge in most Western cultures. If a Knowledge skill never gave false info, only a lack of info, everyone would answer "I don't know" and no one would be able to recall Gutenberg's name when asked the question... a clearly false model. In no way is "Bi Sheng" a refinement of the answer "Gutenberg" and yet they would be reasonable results for different DCs.

That model is useful in real life, but when the quest hook is "Go find the first moveable type" and you all head to Germany, and then get stuck that's a different matter, it doesn't facilitate any sort of interesting game, unless you're going to lead the players by the nose from there to China through some awful contrivance.


Likewise, in many cases a player may be needing information from a Knowledge check for social reasons, and if everyone thinks the world is a sphere that orbits the sun annually and the solar system exists in a vast gulf of space and you use Knowledge (Astronomy) to inform them that the sun is actually a fiery orb that orbits the world in the center of a sphere of glass in the phlogiston sea, you may be unpopular, if right.. and your DM refusing to give you untrue information is a detriment to you. You *should* probably know that "Common knowledge is..." and then "But your expert training also tells you..." while someone who only gets the Common knowledge should not be told 'You don't know" they SHOULD be told 'The teachings at your temple and the nearby academy agree that the world orbits the sun." Demanding that you are not able to recall common knowledge with a knowledge skill because it is untrue, or that you somehow inherently know what elements of this knowledge to doubt. just hurts me to parse.

I'd somewhat agree here, but in this case I view "what is the common convention" as a separate question, which it is, and in some cases, it has a different answer. Though when the guy is asking for a "knowledge religion" check for something about astrology, well frankly even middle ages astrologers knew better.


To be frank, in many of my D&D campaigns I do not bother to consider the "truth" of natural forces. If the DM does not know if gravity is a force inherent to matter or a whim of some divine being; how can a skill check give you only inerrant facts?

Does it matter? If they don't get it from skills, they can get it from spells, and when that inerrant fact is now knowledge, it's part of the public knowledge pool. The only solace is that players don't care to ask that question, they care to ask what's relevant to them, and as a DM you had sure as hell have answers to those questions.

Kyberwulf
2013-01-10, 02:48 PM
Since other people are making baseless comparisons. It's like making a Jump check to jump a 7 foot Chasm. Only to find out that the ledge was a Mirage Arcana. You actually land on nothing. Your skills are their to be used. Yes. They don't magically alter reality to comform the world to your skills.

In this argument. Your mentor could have taught you all you know about your skill. He could have taught you the truth. It's just in this one aspect he lied to you. Now, seeing as he taughty you the truth about all your other religious knowledge. Why are you going to suddenly doubt his telling your this Frog guy isn't what he says it is. Especially when no one else really knows about this Frog guy. I doubt your character is so untrusting as to re- Study EVERYTHING your mentor taught you just to prove him wrong. Espcially since it seems the character and the mentor seems to be really close.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 02:52 PM
Since other people are making baseless comparisons. It's like making a Jump check to jump a 7 foot Chasm. Only to find out that the ledge was a Mirage Arcana. You actually land on nothing. Your skills are their to be used. Yes. They don't magically alter reality to comform the world to your skills.

In this argument. Your mentor could have taught you all you know about your skill. He could have taught you the truth. It's just in this one aspect he lied to you. Now, seeing as he taughty you the truth about all your other religious knowledge. Why are you going to suddenly doubt his telling your this Frog guy isn't what he says it is. Especially when no one else really knows about this Frog guy. I doubt your character is so untrusting as to re- Study EVERYTHING your mentor taught you just to prove him wrong. Espcially since it seems the character and the mentor seems to be really close.

Just saying this from an academic point of view, but you absolutely re-learn everything that people have taught you, even if the teacher is someone you really trust.

Also, the jumper made the 7 foot jump. It didn't matter, but he did exactly what he was trying to do. The knowledge checker didn't do what he wanted, that being getting a good answer.

Kyberwulf
2013-01-10, 02:58 PM
He got an answer. From his point of view he got a good answer. The end effect is the same. Where he got to wasn't what he thought. It happens.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 03:01 PM
He got an answer. From his point of view he got a good answer. The end effect is the same. Where he got to wasn't what he thought. It happens.

There is no specific case in the knowledge skill that causes you to receive false information, but jump checks do specifically go a distance as calculated by the check. Unlike knowledge, a failed jump check specifically has a consequence other than "you don't jump."

In fact, jump has no "pass fail" at all. The higher you get, the farther you go, but there is no "reach DC to pass". Should probably stick to a binary skill if you're going to compare, because yes, knowledge unrelated to a CR encounter is binary.

valadil
2013-01-10, 03:05 PM
You don't have your character assume that something completely out of the realm of the rules is possible, even if there is no reason they would assume something is "illegal" by the rules. Knowledge and the results of those checks is no exception.


I actually do operate on the assumption my knowledge checks are fallible. I accept that I'm in the minority on this one, at least according to this thread.

Here's a situation that bothered me in one of my groups. Players would use all their gold and consumables in the last session on the basis that it was the last session. To some extent we knew it was the climax of the game, but burning through your character's savings account when your character expects to have a life after the session ends always struck me as metagamey. Would you consider this sort of thing as metagamey or an acceptable part of the game.



Knowledge skills are expensive, and require ranks to even make the check in D&D. It's not uncommon for only a single character to have each knowledge, simply because it's hard to dip across multiple skills that aren't required on a one by one basis like tumble or balance.

That hasn't been my experience. Maybe my groups are more wizard-happy than yours?


@valadil

i would say a successful check in the presence of deceit should show the presence of deceit at the very least. this way the party can start taking the correct steps to prep themselves.



No disagreement there.


@valadil

we can throw corner cases all we want, but to be quite frank, that'll get us nowhere.



But corner cases are my speciality! Those are what I strive for as a GM. I want to take standard game elements as input and use them in new ways so as to surprise even the wiliest of veterans. But my GMing style may also be a corner case...

Kyberwulf
2013-01-10, 03:08 PM
The Knowledge you get for making succsessful checks are based on the GM. He got the knowledge he was taught about the secret cult. Not false information. It was the knowldege he learned.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 03:12 PM
I actually do operate on the assumption my knowledge checks are fallible. I accept that I'm in the minority on this one, at least according to this thread.

I generally accept that they tell me what they tell me, and they tell me what I asked, which may or may not be the information I need. I still assume that given the correct question and answer that I will have the useful information.


Here's a situation that bothered me in one of my groups. Players would use all their gold and consumables in the last session on the basis that it was the last session. To some extent we knew it was the climax of the game, but burning through your character's savings account when your character expects to have a life after the session ends always struck me as metagamey. Would you consider this sort of thing as metagamey or an acceptable part of the game.

Depends. A lot of final encounters are fully built up to and in the context, it's a big, desperate all or nothing battle. In that case it's perfectly reasonable for the characters, in character, to spend all their resources. If the battle is less built up to, then that would be metagamey without any redeeming factors making it positive.


That hasn't been my experience. Maybe my groups are more wizard-happy than yours?

Even when we're a 3 wizard team we fall short in the skill department somewhere. Sometimes it'll be a knowledge, and if we're overlapping skills, it'll probably be several knowledges, so we generally try to avoid too much overlap.

Yes, metagamey as all get out, but honestly, metagaming the group composition so you don't have people stepping on one another's toes is a positive aspect of metagaming, rather than having a swordsage completely overshadowing a ninja at being a ninja, the guy could play a warblade instead and at least be worse at ninjaing than the ninja.


The Knowledge you get for making succsessful checks are based on the GM. He got the knowledge he was taught about the secret cult. Not false information. It was the knowldege he learned.

Which means your skill is useless, and you need to get your points redeemed.

Also, learning something does not make it true or useful.

valadil
2013-01-10, 03:20 PM
Yes, metagamey as all get out, but honestly, metagaming the group composition so you don't have people stepping on one another's toes is a positive aspect of metagaming, rather than having a swordsage completely overshadowing a ninja at being a ninja, the guy could play a warblade instead and at least be worse at ninjaing than the ninja.


Absolutely. I fully encourage pre-game metagaming. I want party members to have chemistry with each other.

I think the other difference in experience here may also be part of my group's culture. If the group assumption is that knowledge is relative to each character, there is a tangible benefit to overlapping knowledge skills. Sure only one of us needs Knowledge: Heraldry, but Arcana, Planes, and Religion need as much knowledge as we can get.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 03:25 PM
Absolutely. I fully encourage pre-game metagaming. I want party members to have chemistry with each other.

I think the other difference in experience here may also be part of my group's culture. If the group assumption is that knowledge is relative to each character, there is a tangible benefit to overlapping knowledge skills. Sure only one of us needs Knowledge: Heraldry, but Arcana, Planes, and Religion need as much knowledge as we can get.

We rarely have enough skill points through the group to cover all of those skills, so typically even if we would like a secondary skill checker we generally can't, unless we have a 6 player table. Because of that, it's impractical to essentially demand 3 people take the knowledges to get a more reliable answer.

Jerthanis
2013-01-10, 03:58 PM
In this argument. Your mentor could have taught you all you know about your skill. He could have taught you the truth. It's just in this one aspect he lied to you. Now, seeing as he taughty you the truth about all your other religious knowledge. Why are you going to suddenly doubt his telling your this Frog guy isn't what he says it is. Especially when no one else really knows about this Frog guy. I doubt your character is so untrusting as to re- Study EVERYTHING your mentor taught you just to prove him wrong. Espcially since it seems the character and the mentor seems to be really close.

Don't you realize that we've been mentioning that this bolded component is a necessary factor to this quality being acceptable? If it's common knowledge, it's unreasonable to have its nature concealed from you. If it's a secret such that any level of knowledge can't know it, it's acceptable even if your mentor was privy to the conspiracy. When it's common knowledge, but it was still concealed from you because of training, that's when it's unbelievable.

Also, if you face kitten eating cultists of Kermit when you were taught only of the Pig farming and frog aspects, it'll pretty seriously drive a wedge between your formerly close relationship if you find out he knew that ahead of time and intentionally misinformed you. You may seek out other sources of info to prevent further misinformation.

valadil
2013-01-10, 04:04 PM
We rarely have enough skill points through the group to cover all of those skills, so typically even if we would like a secondary skill checker we generally can't, unless we have a 6 player table. Because of that, it's impractical to essentially demand 3 people take the knowledges to get a more reliable answer.

Yet another playstyle difference. I'm used to 6+. In this case, one player missing skill points is way less of a big deal.

If I ever go back to 3.5 I'm now wondering if I should alter how many skill points players get based on how many players are at the table.

BlckDv
2013-01-10, 04:18 PM
That model is useful in real life, but when the quest hook is "Go find the first moveable type" and you all head to Germany, and then get stuck that's a different matter, it doesn't facilitate any sort of interesting game, unless you're going to lead the players by the nose from there to China through some awful contrivance.


Mostly a DM style thing here I suppose. If my party lacked anyone with the Knowledge (History) to at least get the China part of the knowledge and I planned a "Recover the First Movable Type" quest, I'd be sure that clues existed to give them another way towards the right answer. Maybe they get an exposure to a letter from "A strange Eastern Land" that appears to be printed in movable type that (depending on how quick my players tend to be with clues) is either dated pre-Gutenberg or answers a question that clearly places it as written pre-Gutenberg. Or someone could even flat out say that they doubt Gutenberg was really first and offer a reward for proof of such, giving the PCs a reason to do some more research and a motive to want to rather just just head right to Germany.

Now if everyone in the party had History ranks of 10+ and they all manged to roll Natural 1's and agree on Gutenberg, well, the pool of players I usually game with would scoff at any counter claims against such unanimous agreement among them, prepare themselves for a madcap misadventure half a world away from their PCs actual goal (expecting me as DM to at least give them fun things to do in Germany while their rivals finish grabbing the Type that lets them print the One Chinese Menu to Rule Them All!) and laugh about it over beers for years to come.

I know other groups of players who would not be happy to keep playing when they know OOC that their PCs are going to fail/ be at a severe disadvantage, and I respect that as a valid point of view which would make the result of the misinformation more an issue... If I was DMing for such a group I would always have in place prior to asking for Knowledge checks clues/NPCs/encounters which would give the PCs alternate information or at least a cause to question the results of bad checks, but maybe not until after the bad info had cost them some time/money/social embarrassment.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 04:44 PM
Yes, that only applies to encounters though. Knowledge about a topic does not become more comprehensive as the rolled result gets higher (in other words, the DM should have given that information on both a 30 and a 100.) When it skips what is arguably the only relevant information, you should probably just get back the answer "you don't know." because the DM hasn't told you anything useful.

Sorry, that would be incorrect. From the SRD:


Check

Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

In many cases, 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 monster’s 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.
...

Untrained

An untrained Knowledge check is simply an Intelligence check. Without actual training, you know only common knowledge (DC 10 or lower).


It's quite clear that knowledge checks are continuum of success type checks. This is made even more clear by the multitudes of source books printed later all which specify what things players know at different DCs on a knowledge check.


at this point it sounds to me that you're defending badly made rules. if there are rules to get information and you can't trust that information... then what's the point here?


Ah, perhaps here is the disconnect. The knowledge rules are not rules to get information, they are rules to resolve what your character already knows about something. An important but subtle distinction. For example, if your character has 10 ranks in Knowledge(Monsters) and then comes across a brand new form of secret super goblin that looks like a normal goblin that he has never seen before in his life, no matter how high he rolls on his knowledge check, he will never get more information than that he's looking at a goblin, and what goblins do. That information will of course be wrong, but there's no way in heck your character would know that this isn't a normal goblin until he's interacted with it.


it's not a lack of information though. it's entirely the worst first... the OP actually states that the information gotten leads to harmful results on the party.

how else am i supposed to take this?


Exactly as you take any other scenario where the players act on incomplete information and things turn out badly? As part of the game. Are you seriously telling me you can't envision a scenario where if the PCs have incomplete information and act on it that they will be harmed? Or are you telling me that the GM should never allow a scenario where the PCs can act on incomplete information and be harmed by it? If so, that's patently ridiculous.


if a GM purposefully give harmful information to the group on a successful check, something that has historically been a positive outcome (pass your check, roll above target number = good things), the players have no reason not to trust this information as nothing given indicates otherwise, and will most likely approach a situation using that info in good faith.

unless, of course, you're telling me to start metagaming the whole thing and relying on out of character knowledge. if comes to the point where you're challenging the player over the character and there are far better games to do that then TTRPGs.

Actually, I'm telling you to stop metagaming. You know things. Can you say with conviction that everything you know is true and complete and that you would never have to act on incomplete information and that the things you know could never harm you? If not, why should your PCs be any different?


That model is useful in real life, but when the quest hook is "Go find the first moveable type" and you all head to Germany, and then get stuck that's a different matter, it doesn't facilitate any sort of interesting game, unless you're going to lead the players by the nose from there to China through some awful contrivance.

You don't have to lead them by the nose, you simply have to allow them to correct their incorrect information or find new information. Just as the GM has to any other time the players get stuck.


Just saying this from an academic point of view, but you absolutely re-learn everything that people have taught you, even if the teacher is someone you really trust.

And sometimes you re-learn by discovering that what you were taught was wrong. Just like the PCs in the OP did.


Also, learning something does not make it true or useful.

Exactly, and knowledge checks are a reflection of what your character has learned. So why do you not see how the OPs scenario is perfectly cromulent?

Bacon Elemental
2013-01-10, 04:51 PM
That model is useful in real life, but when the quest hook is "Go find the first moveable type" and you all head to Germany, and then get stuck that's a different matter.


This is an awesome campaign hook. Travelling through time chasing after the inventor(s) of type, climaxing in an epic showdown in ancient china against the Ascendant Of Printing.



Now to find a reason and that's my next campaign. Fo Shure.

Asheram
2013-01-10, 05:19 PM
This is an awesome campaign hook. Travelling through time chasing after the inventor(s) of type, climaxing in an epic showdown in ancient china against the Ascendant Of Printing.

Now to find a reason and that's my next campaign. Fo Shure.

A proper time-travel campaign, or more of a "Riddle of Master Lu" type of setting? Both would be pretty interesting.

Fetch quests aren't that uncommon, but proper detective work which brings you all over the planet would be just lovely.

oxybe
2013-01-10, 05:20 PM
Ah, perhaps here is the disconnect. The knowledge rules are not rules to get information, they are rules to resolve what your character already knows about something. An important but subtle distinction. For example, if your character has 10 ranks in Knowledge(Monsters) and then comes across a brand new form of secret super goblin that looks like a normal goblin that he has never seen before in his life, no matter how high he rolls on his knowledge check, he will never get more information than that he's looking at a goblin, and what goblins do. That information will of course be wrong, but there's no way in heck your character would know that this isn't a normal goblin until he's interacted with it.

so in other words you're telling the player that his resources are bunk and aren't worth using.

even if it is a new goblin, if you're asking for a check then it should at least tell him it isn't a normal goblin, otherwise you're just rubbing his face in the fact that you've allowed him to sink several levels worth of resources into a knowledge skill that, upon succeeding the roll you asked him to tells you "you know nothing" or outright lies.

why ask for the roll in the first place then?

what does that add to the game?

**** all, is what.

if you don't want the player to know something, don't ask him to roll for it then get surprised that he's angry you lied to him about the result.

it doesn't matter if it's a knowledge check, an athletics roll or an attack roll... if you ask someone to roll, that's because there's not just a chance of failure but also a chance of success.

if there is no chance of actual success... why ask? just tell the player "no, this is something you cannot know".


Exactly as you take any other scenario where the players act on incomplete information and things turn out badly? As part of the game. Are you seriously telling me you can't envision a scenario where if the PCs have incomplete information and act on it that they will be harmed? Or are you telling me that the GM should never allow a scenario where the PCs can act on incomplete information and be harmed by it? If so, that's patently ridiculous.

there is a difference between acting on incomplete information and acting on malicious information taken at face value with good faith because the DM decided to be a jerk this one time.

if you can't spot the difference, i can't help you.


Actually, I'm telling you to stop metagaming. You know things. Can you say with conviction that everything you know is true and complete and that you would never have to act on incomplete information and that the things you know could never harm you? If not, why should your PCs be any different?

they should be different because it's a game. the knowledge checks exist so we can figure out what the character knows since Oxybe the player does not have the same experiences Vorpal Von Hackenslash does. as much as i would like to take the next 25 years of my life reliving Vorpal's entire life pre-campaign, that doesn't lend itself to ease of play.

so knowledge checks.

as i've been saying : if you don't want the player to know something... don't make him roll.

that simple.

if you do make him roll, that immediately sets the expectation that he'll get the correct information because every other roll is like that: roll dice > add number > succeed the check > get positive result.

anywho i'm out.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 05:41 PM
Sorry, that would be incorrect. From the SRD:

It's quite clear that knowledge checks are continuum of success type checks. This is made even more clear by the multitudes of source books printed later all which specify what things players know at different DCs on a knowledge check.

That was very selective editing on your part. The "answer a question" isn't a "you get a better answer for a higher result" it's answering progressively more difficult questions, which is still a binary state. The actual continuum of information as you just quoted applies to creatures, following the clause that a succesful knowledge check against a creature provides a bit of information. You can argue it's meant to apply to both, but they haven't structured it in a way that implies that.


Ah, perhaps here is the disconnect. The knowledge rules are not rules to get information, they are rules to resolve what your character already knows about something. An important but subtle distinction. For example, if your character has 10 ranks in Knowledge(Monsters) and then comes across a brand new form of secret super goblin that looks like a normal goblin that he has never seen before in his life, no matter how high he rolls on his knowledge check, he will never get more information than that he's looking at a goblin, and what goblins do. That information will of course be wrong, but there's no way in heck your character would know that this isn't a normal goblin until he's interacted with it.

On the contrary, he'd know that whatever it was was acting or had traits that were not indicative of goblins. Useful information that you don't have to lie about.


You don't have to lead them by the nose, you simply have to allow them to correct their incorrect information or find new information. Just as the GM has to any other time the players get stuck.

When you control the information, subvert the mechanics to attain information and provide no reliable means to correct errors, you are leading them by the nose in the most egregious of ways.


And sometimes you re-learn by discovering that what you were taught was wrong. Just like the PCs in the OP did.

Most people in academics call that failing their classes.


Exactly, and knowledge checks are a reflection of what your character has learned. So why do you not see how the OPs scenario is perfectly cromulent?

Because knowledge as a skill isn't a reflection of what your character has learned, it's a metagame construct provided to create ease of play. That's why I can suddenly gain 12 ranks of knowledge: religion when I was out in a forest and hadn't been taught a single damned thing about religion the entire journey.

Zeful
2013-01-10, 05:46 PM
Wow, just keep putting words in my mouth, I'll choke on them eventually and you'll win by default.You have made arguments, I have responded to those arguments to the best of my understanding. If you have a problem with my representation of your opinion, explain it better.


The goal is "Find out what is ravaging us at night" and that is a complete unknown. With some successful skill checks, a suspect is discovered and the investigation plot continues. The players can choose to journey to the goblins and ask them what's up, or they can stick around and guard the town and see if they can identify the attackers by fighting back. Both are options and can yield good or bad results. If Kermit's kitten eating property is unknown or a closely guarded secret, there's no problem because the DC is too high to make and the lack of knowledge is the same as a failed check.

A more comparable result would be if they talked with the Goblins to the east and the Goblins said they were being raided too, and they had some other clue about their identities, and at some point Vecna cultists comes up as a suspect, and the players roll Knowledge (Religion) and get a good result from a skilled person... and the fact they know for sure about Vecna cultists is: "They are honest, hardworking do-gooders who value appropriate use of knowledge, keeping secret what is too dangerous, and spreading knowledge that can aid people. A humanitarian group for sure."

And then they go to any population center anywhere and you mention Vecna and people will explain the common knowledge that that is a total misrepresentation of Vecna, that he's an evil, evil dude worshiped by evil, evil dudes.

Or alternatively, it'd be using Gather Information to learn the goblins are to the east, and the townspeople knew they were actually to the west, they were just trolling you for no reason and in total solidarity that didn't even let you know there was some uncertainty that it was to the east, in spite of an extremely high check.

Again, I'm not saying this CAN'T be acceptable, but it has to be believable, and not represent a trend of making the things you spend your finite resources on be ineffective or detrimental at the sole task that skill is supposed to help you be effective at.
You know, even your example of how this would be bad, could actually fit into the rules. But the point of my scenario is that the problem isn't with the scenario, it's with the players. They don't look deeper than what is initially presented "goblins nearby," and "attack comes from the east" and come across something they weren't prepared for. People in this thread have stated that this is the DM's fault, not the players because, of course, it's impossible for the player to be at fault for anything, it's always the DM's fault, now and forever.


Nope. If I'm paying a significant cost to actually know something, I should receive a benefit for the cost. Not get screwed over because the DM doesn't want me to know something for plot reasons. And yes, I'm aware that the players may receive information that allows them to bypass some weird plot thing the DM wanted to keep under wraps. And yes, I'm entirely disdainful of a DM that has to fiddle with mechanics to protect his plot. None of this has ever prevented me from surprising the players when I'm DMing, none of this has ever forced me to reveal some big secret to the players when I didn't want to, and none of this has ever forced my players to complain about how knowledge works as a skill. Outright rendering abilities in the game useless for the sake of plot is lazy DMing, you can get just as many interesting plot hooks if you stop, think and use what they actually do know to let them make informed decisions.
Except, as I've stated, with rules support Yuki. The DM giving you bad information, isn't fiddling with the mechanics. At all, ever. Unless you have a source that says otherwise, in which case, cite it. Because your basic argument "knowledge skills give you correct information" is not the rule.

Now moving on to your more general complaining: you seem to be missing the point something fierce, to the point that I'm ready to dismiss your entire post as a hyperbolic strawman argument (which it pretty much is to begin with). The purpose of giving PC's bad information isn't, as you put it to prevent the players from knowing something for plot reasons. It's to inform the players of something for plot reasons, but if the PC's believe the bad information, that's their problem.

Or would you call a DM who's players didn't even bother rolling Sense Motive against the evil chancellor lazy for not making the character more cartoonishly evil? Because that's about how sensible your argument is.


Sorry, that would be incorrect. From the SRD:

It's quite clear that knowledge checks are continuum of success type checks. This is made even more clear by the multitudes of source books printed later all which specify what things players know at different DCs on a knowledge check.
I quote the entire section of the Knowledge skill in a previous post, it's very clearly only a continuum of success type check when identifying monsters. As the line you bold is not part of the statement about answering questions, and is in fact part of a separate paragraph entirely.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 05:53 PM
Except, as I've stated, with rules support Yuki. The DM giving you bad information, isn't fiddling with the mechanics. At all, ever. Unless you have a source that says otherwise, in which case, cite it. Because your basic argument "knowledge skills give you correct information" is not the rule.

I haven't said you can't. I've said that assuming you can renders the rules for that aspect unusable. Trying to render a system unplayable in practice is a bad goal.


Now moving on to your more general complaining: you seem to be missing the point something fierce, to the point that I'm ready to dismiss your entire post as a hyperbolic strawman argument (which it pretty much is to begin with). The purpose of giving PC's bad information isn't, as you put it to prevent the players from knowing something for plot reasons. It's to inform the players of something for plot reasons, but if the PC's believe the bad information, that's their problem.

Did you give them some practical way to immediately know that despite a success, they don't know anything? Because if not, then you have absolutely not provided the incentive to search for further answers and are absolutely railroading.


Or would you call a DM who's players didn't even bother rolling Sense Motive against the evil chancellor lazy for not making the character more cartoonishly evil? Because that's about how sensible your argument is.

No, your argument is that if they pass the sense motive check, you can lie to them. That is exactly your argument.

NichG
2013-01-10, 05:54 PM
From a game design point of view, go-fish is uninteresting.

Its a poorly designed plot that says 'either you make this check, or you can't progress'. Thats equally true for Open Locks, Disable Device, and Knowledge checks.

A better design is for skills and abilities to act as tools to allow the player to engage with a more complex scenario. A battle that is determined by a single skill check is boring - its the interaction of abilities, uncontrollables, and uncertainties that makes a battle interesting. Basically, because you have to react dynamically, not just predict what checks the DM will ask for in advance.

Similarly, a binary Knowledge mechanic is boring. If you only allow there to be absolute certainty about what you know and don't know, then there is no puzzle or thought - either the person made the check, in which case the challenge is defeated, or they failed, in which case they have made no headway at all. It makes for a more interesting game if, say, three PCs can get the same knowledge check result but each receive a different piece of information, the combined analysis of which reveals the actual truth.

Saying 'it must be all or nothing or its useless' is ingenuous, especially since the investiture of a skill rank is much smaller than, say, the case of someone investing class levels in rogue and finding that they're fighting undead today. You're already playing go-fish, trying to guess what the adventure is about, so its quite likely that many of your skill investments will be useless anyhow. If there's nothing to Hide or Move Silently to bypass, you wasted those skill points. If its a dungeon crawl and you put in for Gather Information, you wasted those skill points. On the other hand, if the adventure design requires some knowledge to be secret and not directly accessible via skill checks, the DM is making those skill points _less_ wasted by allowing them to at least hint at the secret information even if no matter what you roll you won't get the full story.

I'd say there's no support for the idea that a failed check must always be reported as 'you failed your check'. The argument is, other skill checks don't penalize you for trying and failing, but that's actually not true. Many other skill checks do penalize you for failing: Disable Device can set off the trap, Appraise can give you the wrong gp value of an item, Use Magic Device can wreak havoc on a Nat 1 (an oddity of that skill in particular, I'll grant), Diplomacy can worsen an NPC's opinion of you and make future checks harder. So there's a lot of precedent for a sufficient degree of failure causing harm. This case is even softer since its not direct misinformation, its the omission of a salient detail. So aside from arguments about fixed DCs for fixed questions and no scaling returns, its perfectly in line for the DC of the question 'are these guys actually murder cultists' to be higher than what the player rolled.

GolemsVoice
2013-01-10, 05:54 PM
if you don't want the player to know something, don't ask him to roll for it then get surprised that he's angry you lied to him about the result.

it doesn't matter if it's a knowledge check, an athletics roll or an attack roll... if you ask someone to roll, that's because there's not just a chance of failure but also a chance of success.

if there is no chance of actual success... why ask? just tell the player "no, this is something you cannot know".

Well, in generally I agree with you, but the PLAYER could ask for the roll, as I believe it would be the case with monsters ("can I roll to see what weaknesses it has?"). Why he would toll for what is essentially a normal goblin is the question here, but if he had made his roll (with hefty mali) I'd at least tell him that this seemingly normal goblin doesn't act like a normal goblin would.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 06:03 PM
Other ways to run knowledge.

If you're doing a non-binary knowledge system for whatever reason, and have included the failure state of attaining outright falsified information, that's a house rule. If you're using a house rule, and the players are informed of it, and are OK with it, then that's fine. As that isn't the case in this situation, that's not something that would ease my irritation at this scenario, as it's fairly clear that this variety of knowledge check is binary rather than granular, and has absolutely no penalty for failure.

Again, I don't like a system that does have those aspects, and if they were in the system, I wouldn't invest in any knowledges, as they provide no solid bonus whatsoever. Your post is leaning towards enforcing role playing to attain successful knowledge, which means you've removed the relevancy of knowledge checks from the equation making it instead a manner of slogging it out until the players either get it or give up and play Xbox. That's fine, but I'm not paying the points for something that you're forcing me to essentially now do out of character.

DontEatRawHagis
2013-01-10, 06:03 PM
In the end, no, because it would lead to my character looking for a new god or leave behind being a cleric. ie Character development.

Kyberwulf
2013-01-10, 06:08 PM
It's not a house rule. It doesn't say that your character knows the unadulterated truth about everything and your logic will be infallible when you make a role. It just says your character knows some stuff. Which means he could be wrong. Just cuase you make a role doesn't mean your Sherlock Holmes.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 06:12 PM
It's not a house rule. It doesn't say that your character knows the unadulterated truth about everything and your logic will be infallible when you make a role. It just says your character knows some stuff. Which means he could be wrong. Just cuase you make a role doesn't mean your Sherlock Holmes.

The way he's mentioned it, a higher roll provides more information, which is doesn't. An infinite gets you just as much information as a 10 assuming a 10 is a success. Failure simply grants you the response that you didn't succeed your check, not that "the pope is Spanish" or some other falsehood. He's discussing a house rule in every sense of the term.

Even if you don't get the full irreducible truth of the thing, the above points are still true. An infinite check gives you just as much information as a bare pass, and a failure doesn't provide a penalty.

Nothing wrong with houserules if everyone at the table is fine with them. However, his preference for how knowledge should work in his opinion isn't how the rules are structured, or how the typical by the book party uses knowledge.

Asheram
2013-01-10, 06:19 PM
The way he's mentioned it, a higher roll provides more information, which is doesn't. An infinite gets you just as much information as a 10 assuming a 10 is a success. Failure simply grants you the response that you didn't succeed your check, not that "the pope is Spanish" or some other falsehood. He's discussing a house rule in every sense of the term.

Even if you don't get the full irreducible truth of the thing, the above points are still true. An infinite check gives you just as much information as a bare pass, and a failure doesn't provide a penalty.

Haven't you seen the example DC's in... Elder Evils for example? There is no "success" on such knowledge checks, there is only more and more information given to you.
Edit: That was a lie I suppose, there is a finite amount of information you can get which is written down.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 06:27 PM
Haven't you seen the example DC's in... Elder Evils for example? There is no "success" on such knowledge checks, there is only more and more information given to you.

IIRC, that was out just before 4E, which moved to the granular system of "cave bears live in caves". Not positive if that applies to answering questions, but as far as I recall, not playing 4E they don't have knowledge in the same sense as 3.5. Still though, it's a case of specific for the campaign going against the general of the actual rule, that doesn't change what the actual rule is.

Also, I'm pretty sure those were encounters that had the scaling knowledge checks in the tome of madness. Those I think everyone agrees have scaling knowledge checks.

Edit: Re-reading tome of madness, they do use fixed DCs to answer specific questions.

Kyberwulf
2013-01-10, 06:57 PM
He rolled his Knowledge check and he got some information. He got his answers. He thought they where right. I fail to see how it's a house rule.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 07:00 PM
He rolled his Knowledge check and he got some information. He got his answers. He thought they where right. I fail to see how it's a house rule.

Because that has nothing to do with what NichG is talking about.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 07:38 PM
so in other words you're telling the player that his resources are bunk and aren't worth using.


Either quote where I use those words or stop reading what isn't there. It is extremely irritating to have a discussion with someone who is arguing in bad faith. I have said over and over and over again that the resources have value, it is merely that that value isn't "100% perfectly accurate, correct and complete information about any topic about which you ask". If you refuse to accept that statement about my beliefs as fact, then you and I have nothing further to discuss because I refuse to argue with someone who won't read what I write.


why ask for the roll in the first place then?

what does that add to the game?

**** all, is what.

if you don't want the player to know something, don't ask him to roll for it then get surprised that he's angry you lied to him about the result.

it doesn't matter if it's a knowledge check, an athletics roll or an attack roll... if you ask someone to roll, that's because there's not just a chance of failure but also a chance of success.

if there is no chance of actual success... why ask? just tell the player "no, this is something you cannot know".

A) Who says I'm the one asking for the roll? I rarely if ever ask for knowledge rolls. Characters either know something (however right or wrong that may be) or they don't. But players often ask for rolls.

B) I roll for the same reason I roll for secret doors when there aren't any, the same reason I roll wandering monster checks even when there aren't any and the same reason that I roll diplomacy checks even though I know the players have already succeeded, and the same reason I roll sneak checks for the players in secret, because it makes the game interesting when the players can't meta-game about what actions I take or don't take to determine how well or bad they're doing at a task or how safe or unsafe they are at any given moment. I am constantly rolling dice behind the screen, even when there's nothing going on. I do it because as a player I hate that moment when you walk into a room, and suddenly the DM sits up, starts rolling a bunch of dice and then tries to pretend like everything is normal and he didn't stock this room with an invisible gelatinous cube with a rust monster on top. It ruins the surprise of actually running into the enemy.


there is a difference between acting on incomplete information and acting on malicious information taken at face value with good faith because the DM decided to be a jerk this one time.

if you can't spot the difference, i can't help you.


Look, I'm really getting sick of you ignoring what I write. I have quoted the OP repeatedly, and I have shown you the very exact lines where the OP stated that this was an incomplete/partially correct information scenario. It's really getting irritating that I'm talking about the scenario outlined by the OP and you're talking about some malicious strawman of a DM you made up in your head. Stop doing that.


That was very selective editing on your part. The "answer a question" isn't a "you get a better answer for a higher result" it's answering progressively more difficult questions, which is still a binary state. The actual continuum of information as you just quoted applies to creatures, following the clause that a succesful knowledge check against a creature provides a bit of information. You can argue it's meant to apply to both, but they haven't structured it in a way that implies that.

and


I quote the entire section of the Knowledge skill in a previous post, it's very clearly only a continuum of success type check when identifying monsters. As the line you bold is not part of the statement about answering questions, and is in fact part of a separate paragraph entirely.

I'm going to answer both of these together because they both make the same argument, that the 3rd paragraph of the checks section in the SRD refers back to the previous paragraph. In the english language, paragraphs are used to section information into separate and distinct topics. See here (http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/writing/grammar/grammar-guides/paras) or here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paragraph). This means that independent paragraphs are just that, independent. Had the writer intended the 3rd paragraph to apply ONLY to the preceding paragraph and not to checks as a whole, it would have been another sentence on the 2nd paragraph. An examination of other skills throughout the SRD will show this to be the case, that paragraphs stand on their own and modifiers are included within the paragraph or explicitly declare the instances they modify. Therefore, the 3rd paragraph applies to all knowledge checks.


On the contrary, he'd know that whatever it was was acting or had traits that were not indicative of goblins. Useful information that you don't have to lie about.

He would not have that information until he interacted with or observed the goblin for some time. Remember I explicitly stated that this goblin looks like any other goblin, just like a cult hiding their secret would look like any other cult. And just like the player would learn that his knowledge check was incomplete by learning that the goblin in question did not behave as others (say by breathing fire when attacked), so too does the party from the OP learn that their knowledge is incomplete when they enter the cult's stronghold and find the dead kittens everywhere.


When you control the information, subvert the mechanics to attain information and provide no reliable means to correct errors, you are leading them by the nose in the most egregious of ways.


You're getting to be as bad as oxybe. Show me where in the OP it is said that the GM subverts the mechanics (be sure to cite the sources which say all successful knowledge checks must be 100% complete, accurate and correct). Please also show me where the OP indicated that the party was given no means to correct the errors in their training. If you can't show this to me in the OP then please stop talking about it, because we're talking about the scenario outlined by the OP, not the evil DM you have dreamed up in your head.


Most people in academics call that failing their classes.

If you had been a student in 1865, studying under Joseph Leidy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Leidy), you would have been taught that the Hadrosaurus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadrosaurus) stood completely upright, as old depictions of T-Rex's looked. You would have passed his classes, and you would have gone on to work at the American Museum of Natural History in 1915, where under direction on Henry Osborn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Fairfield_Osborn) you would have assembled a T-Rex display, using Leidy's teachings and that display (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranosaurus_Rex#Posture) would be considered correct until about 1970 when the scientific community realized that that model and depiction of bipedal dinosaurs was incorrect. That would be incorrect information that would have been the result of a knowledge(dinosaurs) check, that would also have been completely wrong and would have been without you failing a class. I hate to break it to you, but your teachers, and your schools are not infallible.


That's why I can suddenly gain 12 ranks of knowledge: religion when I was out in a forest and hadn't been taught a single damned thing about religion the entire journey.

If you were playing in my campaign, you wouldn't be able to gain even 1 rank of knowledge(religion) without coming up with a plausible explanation as to why your character suddenly knows so much about the world religions when until this point they haven't known anything.


I haven't said you can't. I've said that assuming you can renders the rules for that aspect unusable. Trying to render a system unplayable in practice is a bad goal.

Again with the "rending the game unplayable" canard. This is a load of bull and I would appreciate if you stopped trotting it out. No game has ever been made unplayable by the fact that knowledge(x) didn't give out 100% correct, accurate and reliable information. No game has ever been made unplayable by the occasional bending of the rules.


Did you give them some practical way to immediately know that despite a success, they don't know anything? Because if not, then you have absolutely not provided the incentive to search for further answers and are absolutely railroading.


The players only have no reason to search for further answers if they are under the (mistaken) impression that knowledge(x) translates into perfect, complete and accurate information 100% of the time.


No, your argument is that if they pass the sense motive check, you can lie to them. That is exactly your argument.

Actually, the argument is that if you roll a sense motive check after the (Evil) Chancelor tries to usher you out the door to save his kidnapped daughter and you succeed, that I can tell you that you sense he's lying about his kidnapped daughter and not tell you that he isn't lying about her being kidnapped, he's lying that he wants her back and he's sending you off into a trap to die.


Again, I don't like a system that does have those aspects, and if they were in the system, I wouldn't invest in any knowledges, as they provide no solid bonus whatsoever.

They absolutely provide a bonus. Each rank gives you A) the chance to know any information at all and B) A higher likelihood that the information you do know is correct, accurate and complete. Just because a skill doesn't give you better chances of 100% success, doesn't mean the skill isn't useful.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 08:06 PM
I'm going to answer both of these together because they both make the same argument, that the 3rd paragraph of the checks section in the SRD refers back to the previous paragraph. In the english language, paragraphs are used to section information into separate and distinct topics. See here (http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/writing/grammar/grammar-guides/paras) or here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paragraph). This means that independent paragraphs are just that, independent.

Actually, if you continue on in style and standards guides for language, the logical flow of paragraphs does indicate that the order that you place your paragraphs in does make an effect on how the paragraphs apply to one another. The loose guideline of what is in a single paragraph that you've provided doesn't talk about that.

Even then, in this particular case, the specific rule for creatures involves pieces of information, which the third paragraph expands upon. Questions do not provide pieces of information, they provide a singular answer.


Had the writer intended the 3rd paragraph to apply ONLY to the preceding paragraph and not to checks as a whole, it would have been another sentence on the 2nd paragraph. An examination of other skills throughout the SRD will show this to be the case, that paragraphs stand on their own and modifiers are included within the paragraph or explicitly declare the instances they modify. Therefore, the 3rd paragraph applies to all knowledge checks.

It does not, or it does irrelevantly. Questions provide answers, creatures allow bits of information, which paragraph 3 pertains to. There is also only a relevant limit in asking what abilities and vulnerabilities a creature has. So long as you're asking a distinct question with a distinct answer, you can continue a chain of logic in knowledge checks until you fail (and cannot continue thanks to failure) or hit another wall, meaning even if it were the case, the granularity would be irrelevant.


He would not have that information until he interacted with or observed the goblin for some time. Remember I explicitly stated that this goblin looks like any other goblin, just like a cult hiding their secret would look like any other cult. And just like the player would learn that his knowledge check was incomplete by learning that the goblin in question did not behave as others (say by breathing fire when attacked), so too does the party from the OP learn that their knowledge is incomplete when they enter the cult's stronghold and find the dead kittens everywhere.

That's still not entirely true though. Most individuals which are unique to the standard are unique in some way. If they're acting overtly and have been under scrutiny for a significant amount of time, then the knowledge that it's not a standard goblin is nearly irrelevantly easy to attain. If you're some expert on goblins, and your argument is, the expert can't look at and distinguish this one as unique, then what the balls is the point in being an expert in goblins? So that you'll know it's different when absolutely everyone else already does?


You're getting to be as bad as oxybe. Show me where in the OP it is said that the GM subverts the mechanics (be sure to cite the sources which say all successful knowledge checks must be 100% complete, accurate and correct). Please also show me where the OP indicated that the party was given no means to correct the errors in their training. If you can't show this to me in the OP then please stop talking about it, because we're talking about the scenario outlined by the OP, not the evil DM you have dreamed up in your head.

Even assuming granularity of knowledge checks as opposed to all inclusive knowledge at a fixed DC, the statement "useful piece of information" has been violated, as in the OP example, absolutely none of the information was useful.


If you had been a student in 1865, studying under Joseph Leidy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Leidy), you would have been taught that the Hadrosaurus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadrosaurus) stood completely upright, as old depictions of T-Rex's looked. You would have passed his classes, and you would have gone on to work at the American Museum of Natural History in 1915, where under direction on Henry Osborn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Fairfield_Osborn) you would have assembled a T-Rex display, using Leidy's teachings and that display (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranosaurus_Rex#Posture) would be considered correct until about 1970 when the scientific community realized that that model and depiction of bipedal dinosaurs was incorrect. That would be incorrect information that would have been the result of a knowledge(dinosaurs) check, that would also have been completely wrong and would have been without you failing a class. I hate to break it to you, but your teachers, and your schools are not infallible.

I've also said this makes for absolutely atrocious game play. Which is still true. I've also conceded the Gutenburg argument, but again elaborated that unless the DM is going to railroad them all from Germany to China (which is in and of itself bad practice) that it's detrimental to the game for them to stall based on bad knowledge.

I think the problem here stems from the assumption that games are supposed to emulate real life. They aren't. If I'm supposed to go find some artifact because I'm an archaeologist, and I can't find some random thing because my information is incorrect, well tough that's life. That makes for an absolutely awful story though, and in a semi-heroic setting, there's a reason they don't write things that way.


If you were playing in my campaign, you wouldn't be able to gain even 1 rank of knowledge(religion) without coming up with a plausible explanation as to why your character suddenly knows so much about the world religions when until this point they haven't known anything.

Again, that's entirely up to you and if your players are fine with that, that's wonderful for you. But at the typical table, where everyone else is, knowledge spontaneously comes about when you level. And frankly if you were DMing and being strict about sources, the only thing anyone would ever do is sit down and burn dozens of spell slots so their knowledge isn't fallible.


Again with the "rending the game unplayable" canard. This is a load of bull and I would appreciate if you stopped trotting it out. No game has ever been made unplayable by the fact that knowledge(x) didn't give out 100% correct, accurate and reliable information. No game has ever been made unplayable by the occasional bending of the rules.

Absolutely none of what you've got here is an argument. If you can't rely on mechanics to grant a benefit commensurate to cost, and that instead, the mechanic that you paid for provides a penalty, the only solution is to pay all of your resources elsewhere, which entirely breaks knowledge as a system.


The players only have no reason to search for further answers if they are under the (mistaken) impression that knowledge(x) translates into perfect, complete and accurate information 100% of the time.

That doesn't answer my question honestly. If, in a standard game of D&D, I have no default means of knowing if my knowledge check is correct or not, I have no reason to have made it. I would instead save the points and skip directly to whatever is correct.


Actually, the argument is that if you roll a sense motive check after the (Evil) Chancelor tries to usher you out the door to save his kidnapped daughter and you succeed, that I can tell you that you sense he's lying about his kidnapped daughter and not tell you that he isn't lying about her being kidnapped, he's lying that he wants her back and he's sending you off into a trap to die.

Actually, the way you've phrased that would be just as much at fault, so I'm OK with it. In that scenario, by saying "he's lying about his kidnapped daughter" you're directly misleading the players, as you should have said "he's lying about something" as you've stated yourself, he's not lying about his kidnapped daughter.


They absolutely provide a bonus. Each rank gives you A) the chance to know any information at all and B) A higher likelihood that the information you do know is correct, accurate and complete. Just because a skill doesn't give you better chances of 100% success, doesn't mean the skill isn't useful.

The way the system is set up, for better or for worse, does not grant better information as you increase the results of your check. Even assuming that "additional useful information" is applied to it, the fact that your answer can lead to legitimately different questions simply makes it a longer, more irritating process.

NichG
2013-01-10, 09:21 PM
IIRC, that was out just before 4E, which moved to the granular system of "cave bears live in caves". Not positive if that applies to answering questions, but as far as I recall, not playing 4E they don't have knowledge in the same sense as 3.5. Still though, it's a case of specific for the campaign going against the general of the actual rule, that doesn't change what the actual rule is.

Also, I'm pretty sure those were encounters that had the scaling knowledge checks in the tome of madness. Those I think everyone agrees have scaling knowledge checks.

Edit: Re-reading tome of madness, they do use fixed DCs to answer specific questions.


He rolled his Knowledge check and he got some information. He got his answers. He thought they where right. I fail to see how it's a house rule.


Because that has nothing to do with what NichG is talking about.

Let me put this in a more general way then. Even if the rules say that every discrete question has a fixed DC (which they don't - there are tiered knowledge checks about classes in e.g. Tome of Battle, for instance the Warblade Lore chart on p25), there is still the point that 'What do I know about X' is a very ill defined question, and 'tell me everything I know about X' is not even a question. As such, one could interpret 'tell me everything I know about X' as 'read off the questions and answers whose DCs are lower than my check result' (in some imaginary ideal case where every possible subject and question has been pre-indexed by the DM with a DC associated with it).

In this case, say you rolled a 15 total. You would receive the answers to questions whose DC is 15 or less. You would not receive any information that there existed a question whose DC was 20 whose answer you did not receive.

The OP says that the person making the check would receive a lot of the public information about the church. The fact that there is in fact some piece of secret information whose DC is higher (perhaps arbitrarily higher) is irrelevant - by the mechanics of Knowledge, if we're being strictly by the book, the player has to ask specific questions to receive such binary answers. Since the player didn't ask 'are the clerics of Kermit kitten eaters?' they get no answer. Player fault - they didn't ask the right question. Of course this interpretation does risk making Knowledge useless since you pretty much have to know the answer to know the question to ask, or waste everyone's time asking 100 inane questions and try to hit it in the dark, but it is about as 'by the book' as I can get.

I think this is a very stark and hostile way to run a game, insisting on such 'formal' statement of actions and reactions. At my table or tables I play at, the game is more about cooperation between the DM and players, and things like 'that isn't a question so its not a viable use of Knowledge' get ignored in favor of 'what are you trying to do with this check? Okay, this is what happens/what you find out'.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 09:50 PM
Actually, if you continue on in style and standards guides for language, the logical flow of paragraphs does indicate that the order that you place your paragraphs in does make an effect on how the paragraphs apply to one another. The loose guideline of what is in a single paragraph that you've provided doesn't talk about that.

This is generally true for topical essays and stories, and generally not true for technical manuals and reference documents, which the SRD is. When looking at something like the SRD, you could look at each paragraph as part of a bulleted list under the heading. But I can prove my point with our sense motive skill as well. Under the special heading there is the following 2 lines:


A ranger gains a bonus on Sense Motive checks when using this skill against a favored enemy.

If you have the Negotiator feat, you get a +2 bonus on Sense Motive checks.

No one here would argue that the paragraph concerning the Negotiator feat only applies to rangers even though the immediately preceding paragraph talks about rangers.


Questions do not provide pieces of information, they provide a singular answer.

Demonstrably false as follows:

Question: Why is the sky blue.

DC 10 Answer: Because of the way light passes through the atmosphere
DC 15 Answer: Because when light passes through the atmosphere it is refracted and scattered.
DC 20 Answer: Because light is made up of all different colors, as the light passes through the atmosphere, blue is the shortest wavelength and easiest to scatter and so while most of the light reaches you directly, the blue light scatters all around making the rest of the sky appear blue. This is also why the sun turns red as it sets.
DC 25 Answer: The same as DC 20, but also dust and gas in the atmosphere are the agents causing the light to scatter.

One question, 4 correct answers, each with more information than the last. Questions are not binary any more than any other generalized piece of knowledge is.


If you're some expert on goblins, and your argument is, the expert can't look at and distinguish this one as unique, then what the balls is the point in being an expert in goblins? So that you'll know it's different when absolutely everyone else already does?

So it is my understanding that your position is that an expert is useless if they don't know everything about their subject matter, regardless of whether or not it is feasible that they would know that thing. Is this correct?


Even assuming granularity of knowledge checks as opposed to all inclusive knowledge at a fixed DC, the statement "useful piece of information" has been violated, as in the OP example, absolutely none of the information was useful.


You are (without evidence) assuming that the identification of a cleric of Kermit was not useful, even if on the balance the information harmed the party.


I've also said this makes for absolutely atrocious game play. Which is still true. I've also conceded the Gutenburg argument, but again elaborated that unless the DM is going to railroad them all from Germany to China (which is in and of itself bad practice) that it's detrimental to the game for them to stall based on bad knowledge.

I think the problem here stems from the assumption that games are supposed to emulate real life. They aren't. If I'm supposed to go find some artifact because I'm an archaeologist, and I can't find some random thing because my information is incorrect, well tough that's life. That makes for an absolutely awful story though, and in a semi-heroic setting, there's a reason they don't write things that way.


Actually it makes for a great game and great stories provided that the hero(es) in question have an opportunity to correct for their incorrect information. No railroading needing, just players (or characters) willing to not throw a tantrum when it turns out some knowledge they have was wrong, and to continue exploring.


Again, that's entirely up to you and if your players are fine with that, that's wonderful for you. But at the typical table, where everyone else is, knowledge spontaneously comes about when you level. And frankly if you were DMing and being strict about sources, the only thing anyone would ever do is sit down and burn dozens of spell slots so their knowledge isn't fallible.

...

If you can't rely on mechanics to grant a benefit commensurate to cost, and that instead, the mechanic that you paid for provides a penalty, the only solution is to pay all of your resources elsewhere, which entirely breaks knowledge as a system.


Or you know, they would play the game and solve the mysteries with skill and investigation, rather than relying on lucky rolls to allow them to drag all the data they need out of the DM with a game of 20 questions. I mean, hell if I wanted to play 20 questions with my players, it's a heck of a lot cheaper if I don't buy the D&D source books.

As far as benefits go, you do realize there are more types of benefits out there other than "+X chance to get 100% awesome"


That doesn't answer my question honestly. If, in a standard game of D&D, I have no default means of knowing if my knowledge check is correct or not, I have no reason to have made it. I would instead save the points and skip directly to whatever is correct.

There is no "skip directly to whatever is correct". You roll knowledge, answer you get is based on a number of factors including your applicable knowledge skill, where you would have learned such information and how well you do on your knowledge roll. It is then up to you as a player to determine what you do with the information given. Without the roll however (assuming I don't give you the information anyway) you wouldn't have the information at all.

------

Incidentally, I happen to have some 3e books here, let's take a look at what they say about skills. Lets start with the DMG (emphasis mine)



Sometimes determining success isn't enough, and the degree of success is important to a task.

...[Example using Listen Check]...

To determine how much information to give out, compare the opposed rolls (or for a nonopposed roll, the roll and the DC)

...

(See below for information on critical success)


If we look at the critical success section, we find an example regarding a knowledge skill. That looks to me like rules supporting degrees of success on knowledge rolls.

Now let's look at the PHB



When you use a skill, you make a skill check to see how well you do. The higher the result on your skill check, the better you do. Based on the circumstances, your result must match or beat a particular number to use the skill successfully. The harder the task, the higher the number you need to roll.

...

ACCESS TO SKILLS
The rules assume that a character can find a way to learn any nonexclusive skill. For instance, if Jozan wants to learn Profession (sailor), nothing in the rules exists to stop him. However, the DM is in charge of the world, including decisions about where one can learn certain skills and where one can’t. While Jozan is living in a desert, for example, the DM can decide that Jozan has no way of learning to be a sailor. It’s up to the DM to say whether a character can learn a given skill in a given setting.

PP.61
[There is an example here of a single skill check having multiple DCs to get multiple results, a form of degrees of success]

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 09:53 PM
Let me put this in a more general way then. Even if the rules say that every discrete question has a fixed DC (which they don't - there are tiered knowledge checks about classes in e.g. Tome of Battle, for instance the Warblade Lore chart on p25), there is still the point that 'What do I know about X' is a very ill defined question, and 'tell me everything I know about X' is not even a question. As such, one could interpret 'tell me everything I know about X' as 'read off the questions and answers whose DCs are lower than my check result' (in some imaginary ideal case where every possible subject and question has been pre-indexed by the DM with a DC associated with it).

Martial lore is a means to identify the specific traits of an encounter, as a class is an encounter. That's why it's a tiered system. It's also, again, a system made closer to 4E, where they had started to try to use that system, but it doesn't by default apply to absolutely everything.

And the reason you don't have this is because obviously it would be absolutely absurd for the DM to pre-index the information. But also, it's absurd because players may ask for more specific, more narrow, but not more difficult information on a topic that wasn't included even though it's on topic. And when rolling that specific check, I don't want a million pseudo related factoids about, say in this case a warblade, I want to know a specific thing, and all the other noise may just be wasting time.


In this case, say you rolled a 15 total. You would receive the answers to questions whose DC is 15 or less. You would not receive any information that there existed a question whose DC was 20 whose answer you did not receive.

This depends a lot on what the OP asked honestly, and also the number he got. He hasn't posted around much lately, but the impression that you get is that he asked "What's it a cult of" and that he must have been more competent than a 15 at the knowledge, otherwise very basic knowledge is assumed and is what one asks for.

Though frankly, the very basic knowledge of what a God is the God of, is a 10 or even a 5 and under your assumption, the 15 should have revealed something relevant that would have altered the perception of him anyway.


The OP says that the person making the check would receive a lot of the public information about the church. The fact that there is in fact some piece of secret information whose DC is higher (perhaps arbitrarily higher) is irrelevant - by the mechanics of Knowledge, if we're being strictly by the book, the player has to ask specific questions to receive such binary answers. Since the player didn't ask 'are the clerics of Kermit kitten eaters?' they get no answer. Player fault - they didn't ask the right question. Of course this interpretation does risk making Knowledge useless since you pretty much have to know the answer to know the question to ask, or waste everyone's time asking 100 inane questions and try to hit it in the dark, but it is about as 'by the book' as I can get.

Generally, a question asked starts off as a broad enough base to acquire all the knowledge around the topic that lets you ask more specifics. For example, "What is Kermit the diety of?" or "What does a cultist of Kermit do" are both valid enough questions that are simple, directed, likely in the context, and would arrive at the answer "eats kittens". Having to ask the specific question "Does he eat kittens" is only relevant in the non-binary system, as in the binary system, they get a definitive answer, not a portion of the answer. If you're doing non-binary, since every answer is incomplete on virtue of a higher number being more complete, you actually have to ask the questions because your answer is never definitive.

So the threat of the binary way of doing things ruining the knowledge system only applies if you aren't willing to give everything that they asked, and largely direct that information at the sub section of what they intended to ask for time's sake.


I think this is a very stark and hostile way to run a game, insisting on such 'formal' statement of actions and reactions. At my table or tables I play at, the game is more about cooperation between the DM and players, and things like 'that isn't a question so its not a viable use of Knowledge' get ignored in favor of 'what are you trying to do with this check? Okay, this is what happens/what you find out'.

On the contrary, most questions are loose and broad enough that formality isn't required. The only risk is the DM may be a complete bore about it and drone on and on about literally everything the check could cover wasting everyone's time.

Yukitsu
2013-01-10, 10:38 PM
This is generally true for topical essays and stories, and generally not true for technical manuals and reference documents, which the SRD is. When looking at something like the SRD, you could look at each paragraph as part of a bulleted list under the heading. But I can prove my point with our sense motive skill as well. Under the special heading there is the following 2 lines:


A ranger gains a bonus on Sense Motive checks when using this skill against a favored enemy.

If you have the Negotiator feat, you get a +2 bonus on Sense Motive checks.

No one here would argue that the paragraph concerning the Negotiator feat only applies to rangers even though the immediately preceding paragraph talks about rangers.

That's because the specific paragraph is clarified in the descriptor of the feat, and second, the cited "paragraphs" are a point form list of modifiers. Lists in technical manuals are always unrelated to each other other than that they fall into the list, as are lists in any other medium. The other paragraphs that you've mentioned were not lists.

Also, if it is following a technical manual form the mention of "useful information" applies to "useful information" as cited in paragraph 2, but not to "answers" in paragraph 1.


Demonstrably false as follows:

Question: Why is the sky blue.

DC 10 Answer: Because of the way light passes through the atmosphere
DC 15 Answer: Because when light passes through the atmosphere it is refracted and scattered.
DC 20 Answer: Because light is made up of all different colors, as the light passes through the atmosphere, blue is the shortest wavelength and easiest to scatter and so while most of the light reaches you directly, the blue light scatters all around making the rest of the sky appear blue. This is also why the sun turns red as it sets.
DC 25 Answer: The same as DC 20, but also dust and gas in the atmosphere are the agents causing the light to scatter.

One question, 4 correct answers, each with more information than the last. Questions are not binary any more than any other generalized piece of knowledge is.

Can you please, please, stop bringing up real life questions and their answers. I'm tired of having to repeat, it does not make for good gaming, even though I admit that's how knowledge works in increments in real life. This case is no different. That knowledge is binary is in game, so your "demonstrably" is demonstrating something entirely different from what you're arguing against.


So it is my understanding that your position is that an expert is useless if they don't know everything about their subject matter, regardless of whether or not it is feasible that they would know that thing. Is this correct?

In a game, assuming that your investment into the knowledge is capable of answering the DC difficulty of the question, then absolutely. And again, this isn't real life, this is a game. Real life isn't fair, is frustrating, is sometimes pointless, fruitless, and is often disappointing. Pretty much, if your game emulates or emphasizes those parts of life instead of the better parts of life, it's not a good game.


You are (without evidence) assuming that the identification of a cleric of Kermit was not useful, even if on the balance the information harmed the party.

You do realize that perfectly intelligent people can extrapolate information from small or minimal evidence to come to perfectly rational conclusions right? Given the context, the likelihood that any of that information is useful is completely minimal, the inverse would require far more evidence at this stage than the assumption that it isn't.


Actually it makes for a great game and great stories provided that the hero(es) in question have an opportunity to correct for their incorrect information. No railroading needing, just players (or characters) willing to not throw a tantrum when it turns out some knowledge they have was wrong, and to continue exploring.

The main problem with this that I'm stating, is that the means to correct this problem have all been non-existant other than railroading from the suggestions of people who defend it. "Correct their errors" with what? They're in Germany, that doesn't give them any more correct information than they already have. If the DM is laying a string of mandatory and convenient plot hooks along the road, yes, they're correcting the mistake, but at the DM's discretion, because they refuse to give an alternative means to actually get reliable information. That's railroading.


Or you know, they would play the game and solve the mysteries with skill and investigation, rather than relying on lucky rolls to allow them to drag all the data they need out of the DM with a game of 20 questions. I mean, hell if I wanted to play 20 questions with my players, it's a heck of a lot cheaper if I don't buy the D&D source books.

I think this is a problem with a lot of games. Most aren't supposed to be geared around solving mysteries at all. Yes, if it is a detective game, then the knowledge system as a whole needs to be completely shut down. But if it isn't, trying to get players to spend exorbitant times crawling around the mud looking for whatever clues the DM feels he's dropping in his little trail of breadcrumbs. Unless he's a good detective writer, in which case maybe he actually does have good rational clues around instead of bad moon logic that lead the players around the nose.

And really that's exactly why gather information, knowledge and other skills to acquire information exist. It's to expedite parts of the games that most aren't supposed to focus on, and where they are, you have to alter the system. Otherwise someone just goes and casts the spells and mystery over. If you're trying to rely on secrets to keep players engaged, you're going to need to use either something other than D&D, or heavily modify the game.


As far as benefits go, you do realize there are more types of benefits out there other than "+X chance to get 100% awesome"

That's phrased poorly, there is nothing better in a game than being awesome. You could have said "effective" and then you'd be correct.


There is no "skip directly to whatever is correct". You roll knowledge, answer you get is based on a number of factors including your applicable knowledge skill, where you would have learned such information and how well you do on your knowledge roll. It is then up to you as a player to determine what you do with the information given. Without the roll however (assuming I don't give you the information anyway) you wouldn't have the information at all.

Just repeating what I said earlier, but unless you're playing a detective game, that isn't at all interesting or more to the point, how you're meant to play knowledge or gather information in a typical D&D campaign, where a knowledge check is supposed to expedite the process for a character that in all honesty is probably smarter than we are anyway. You can slant it as much as you like to investigating things, but that's really not what the system is geared towards. Most people in it would just cast "solve mystery" and be done with it.


Incidentally, I happen to have some 3e books here, let's take a look at what they say about skills. Lets start with the DMG (emphasis mine)

I'm not honestly talking about 3e, though in the case of their particular rule set, you would be correct. However, that implies there are reasons they changed it. Even if they didn't change it because the decision was awful, there is no specific notion that you should endeavor to give harmful or false information on lower rolls.

In the case of knowledge, it still does bring up the issue that if your DM is constantly being stingy with the tidbits of information that you're getting on the rolls, you just have to ask more questions, when your number is good enough to get a much more definite answer if he were just giving you the sodding answer.

valadil
2013-01-10, 11:11 PM
I'm not honestly talking about 3e, though in the case of their particular rule set, you would be correct. However, that implies there are reasons they changed it. Even if they didn't change it because the decision was awful, there is no specific notion that you should endeavor to give harmful or false information on lower rolls.


Here's a 3.5 rule from http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/knowledge.htm:


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

That doesn't just imply more knowledge on a higher roll, it outright states it.

Jerthanis
2013-01-10, 11:21 PM
You have made arguments, I have responded to those arguments to the best of my understanding. If you have a problem with my representation of your opinion, explain it better.

You were directly misrepresenting the content of my posts, it wasn't that I had a post that was unclear, you claimed I said something I never said. I can't explain my opinion better if you're just going to rewrite it for me.



You know, even your example of how this would be bad, could actually fit into the rules. But the point of my scenario is that the problem isn't with the scenario, it's with the players. They don't look deeper than what is initially presented "goblins nearby," and "attack comes from the east" and come across something they weren't prepared for. People in this thread have stated that this is the DM's fault, not the players because, of course, it's impossible for the player to be at fault for anything, it's always the DM's fault, now and forever.

You constructed a scenario unrelated to the one we had been talking about where use of a knowledge skill and a social skill resulted with true information that the PCs then misused. It is an entirely different issue. Yes, PCs can misuse true data and come to incorrect conclusions about them. PCs who succeed at a knowledge check to know Kermit is secretly also the god of eating kittens, and then slaughter everyone in a temple to Kermit that didn't know that fact themselves could be an example of that. That doesn't intersect with whether Knowledge should return useful information rather than detrimental information.

I just don't understand how you could possibly fail to see how your scenario is fundamentally different from the one proposed by the OP. You have successful knowledge checks return useful information that the PCs then misuse, while the OP's suggested scenario involves a successful check that results in information that is not just useless, but actively harmful. It is a fundamentally different problem. PCs misusing useful information by jumping to erroneous conclusions is their fault... the PCs relying on information that is the result of a successful check and being exposed to harm as a direct result of acting intelligently on that information is the DM's fault. It is the DM asking the PCs to make a decision, the PCs successfully employing tools to make the best decision they can, and then punishing the PCs for doing so.

Now, again, I'm saying this is a tricky grey area, not an absolute wrong. The job of the DM is indeed to expose PCs to danger in interesting ways... it's just that this particular method has serious risks of verging on the implausible and specifically uses the investments of the player against them. Doing so casts doubt on their reliability... if I can make a successful Knowledge (Religion) check to know about undead, but sometimes it returns things that aren't true, then I can no longer trust it. I can no longer act on what it tells me without hesitation... it stops being a tool and starts being a gamble, and I would be smart to stop investing in it without assurances that it was a hook for an adventure, and from now on I CAN trust it.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-10, 11:49 PM
Also, if it is following a technical manual form the mention of "useful information" applies to "useful information" as cited in paragraph 2, but not to "answers" in paragraph 1.

Nice try, but you don't get to do this. If you're going to require that answers to questions are accurate, complete and precise, then that by definition is "useful information".


That knowledge is binary is in game, so your "demonstrably" is demonstrating something entirely different from what you're arguing against.

Sorry, you have yet to cite any source that states that knowledge in D&D is a binary choice between "you know nothing" and "you know everything". Until you do, I'm going with knowledge is a continuum of success, as it is in real life and as the text of the skill and the text about skills heavily implies.


In a game, assuming that your investment into the knowledge is capable of answering the DC difficulty of the question, then absolutely. And again, this isn't real life, this is a game. Real life isn't fair, is frustrating, is sometimes pointless, fruitless, and is often disappointing. Pretty much, if your game emulates or emphasizes those parts of life instead of the better parts of life, it's not a good game.


Name for me any game you think is good and I will show you where it emulates and contains parts of life that are unfair, frustrating, fruitless or dissapointing. These feelings are part of the human existence. They give meaning to our successes and make them all the sweeter. If failure and the chance thereof was not interesting, if frustration was not a key element of games, then every game in the wold would come with permanent god mode installed. And yet, the history of gaming shows that to not be the case. Mario, Tetris, Missile Command, any CRPG, any TTRPG, Munchkin, Fluxx, Catan, God of War, any FPS, any game, heck any story worth being told has frustration, unfairness, fruitlessness, disappointment or straight up failure as a component. Hell even rock-paper-scissors has this. It's a fundamental part of life, and a fundamental part of conflict. What makes games fun and good is that there is a way to overcome.

---Edit---

By the way, as a direct refutation from the TTRPG world of your assertion that a game which emulates those parts of life is not a good game:

Burning Wheel / Mouse Guard
You have to fail to advance in these games. They are considered very very good games.

Additionally, if you're into horror, Call of Cuthulu
You will die or go insane. It's inevitable. Talk about pointless and disappointing

And from the computer gaming side of things recently, Faster Than Light:
Again, you will die. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.

---End Edit---


You do realize that perfectly intelligent people can extrapolate information from small or minimal evidence to come to perfectly rational conclusions right? Given the context, the likelihood that any of that information is useful is completely minimal, the inverse would require far more evidence at this stage than the assumption that it isn't.

So it is your argument that it is perfectly reasonable to extrapolate from the OP that the DM is a complete and utter jack-wipe who has no respect for any of his players, has no plan whatsoever, will not provide them with any opportunity for redemption and is otherwise an all around monster? And that this requires less evidence than assuming that he is a normal human being as are most of us and likely isn't a jerk who only wants to screw over his players so he can get his jollies? I mean let's be perfectly clear here, knowing nothing else other than what was presented, you are assuming that the GM in question is a horrible GM and will do everything possible to ruin the game for his players. That isn't reasonable my friend. It's down right crazy, and it really makes me wonder about the type of people you've played games with before.


"Correct their errors" with what? They're in Germany, that doesn't give them any more correct information than they already have. If the DM is laying a string of mandatory and convenient plot hooks along the road, yes, they're correcting the mistake, but at the DM's discretion, because they refuse to give an alternative means to actually get reliable information. That's railroading.


So the PCs couldn't, oh I don't know, hit up a library, ask at the local printers guild, find the secret cult of Anti-Gutenburgs, or heck, even examine the Gutenberg estate and possibly discover stolen writings among them or other clues? Seriously this is the point I'm trying to drive at, there are other ways to get information and to gain knowledge in D&D then simply hoping the random number generator favors you on this roll. I mean how the heck do you expect the players to advance the plot if they just fail their rolls and decide to go to Gemany for the heck of it?


And really that's exactly why gather information, knowledge and other skills to acquire information exist. It's to expedite parts of the games that most aren't supposed to focus on, and where they are, you have to alter the system. Otherwise someone just goes and casts the spells and mystery over. If you're trying to rely on secrets to keep players engaged, you're going to need to use either something other than D&D, or heavily modify the game.


Except of course that D&D is rooted in exploration of the unknown. Heck, before 3e, the DMGs emphasized keeping information from players, and letting them discover it on their own. Until 3e, there wasn't a "Knowledge" skill, if your players wanted to know something, they had to find someone to ask and either confirm it themselves or hope they were telling the truth. Gary himself was well known for including mysteries and oddities (look up the jeweled man (http://www.paperspencils.com/2012/01/15/gary-gygax-the-jeweled-man-and-letting-your-players-fail/)). Yes, there are better game systems to run a sherlock holmes style adventure, but to say that D&D doesn't support having mysteries or having to hunt down clues and information just because you mis-understand how knowledge checks work in one edition of the game is quite absurd.


That's phrased poorly, there is nothing better in a game than being awesome. You could have said "effective" and then you'd be correct.

Sure there is, but now we're getting way off topic and considering you and I can't even agree on whether or not it's ok for players to sometimes not know the whole truth, I highly doubt you and I will see eye to eye on the best things in a game.


I'm not honestly talking about 3e, though in the case of their particular rule set, you would be correct. However, that implies there are reasons they changed it. Even if they didn't change it because the decision was awful, there is no specific notion that you should endeavor to give harmful or false information on lower rolls.

Oh good lord. If you're not talking about 3rd edition than what edition of D&D are you talking about? In 4th, knowledge is explicitly a continuum of success (a look in any of the monster manuals will confirm that) and prior to 3e, there wasn't a knowledge skill. So if we haven't been talking about 3e D&D for the last 5 pages, then what exactly have we been talking about?


In the case of knowledge, it still does bring up the issue that if your DM is constantly being stingy with the tidbits of information that you're getting on the rolls, you just have to ask more questions, when your number is good enough to get a much more definite answer if he were just giving you the sodding answer.

That of course assumes that with your current resources and abilities you can ever roll high enough to learn the truth.

@valadil: I've tried pointing that out already. Yukitsu argues that all evidence to the contrary, and the despite that there isn't another skill that does this (that I'm aware of) the 3rd paragraph is dependent on the 2nd paragraph. Why (if that's the case) the designers broke with their own conventions and stuck that sentence in it's own paragraph is of course a mystery with a DC 1000 check, and there's no continuum of success.

Yukitsu
2013-01-11, 01:06 AM
Nice try, but you don't get to do this. If you're going to require that answers to questions are accurate, complete and precise, then that by definition is "useful information".

Yes, I can do that as you're trying to make two dissimilar terms identical. Useful information is not directly equivalent to an accurate, complete (did not require precise as far as I recall) answer to a question. An answer will often be accurate, complete and maybe even precise while containing no useful information, if you're not asking a question to be used for anything. The answer require the correct question, and if you asked the right question, have the requirements to answer it correctly, you should receive the correct answer. If you're demanding useful information, if you ask a question, have the means to acquire the answer, then you may not get an answer that answers your question, but it can be useful.


Sorry, you have yet to cite any source that states that knowledge in D&D is a binary choice between "you know nothing" and "you know everything". Until you do, I'm going with knowledge is a continuum of success, as it is in real life and as the text of the skill and the text about skills heavily implies.

Because the rules as they are written don't support that you get more knowledge as your skill increases ad infinitum. Also, it was found in pre-made modules that if you ask the question roll high enough, you get the answer. There are no further answers that arise from higher results.


Name for me any game you think is good and I will show you where it emulates and contains parts of life that are unfair, frustrating, fruitless or dissapointing. These feelings are part of the human existence. They give meaning to our successes and make them all the sweeter. If failure and the chance thereof was not interesting, if frustration was not a key element of games, then every game in the wold would come with permanent god mode installed. And yet, the history of gaming shows that to not be the case. Mario, Tetris, Missile Command, any CRPG, any TTRPG, Munchkin, Fluxx, Catan, God of War, any FPS, any game, heck any story worth being told has frustration, unfairness, fruitlessness, disappointment or straight up failure as a component. Hell even rock-paper-scissors has this. It's a fundamental part of life, and a fundamental part of conflict. What makes games fun and good is that there is a way to overcome.

You're once again, talking about something relatively unrelated. Yes, those are elements included into a game, but they aren't made into central mechanics of them. Any of those cases present a challenge, but in any of those, if you use the correct skill, have enough of that skill to get a success, you succeed. Any of those. Mario doesn't run face first into a goomba just because some arbitrary force decides that jump shouldn't always be a 100% success, even if you use it correctly, and at the right time. Rock doesn't spontaneously beat paper. Losing legitimately and fairly shouldn't even be frustrating or disappointing.

Failure states have to be because you failed. That's what a challenge is. Artificial challenge, which anyone that games despises is what you seem to want, where inputting the correct command may or may not provide the desired results. That isn't good game design.


By the way, as a direct refutation from the TTRPG world of your assertion that a game which emulates those parts of life is not a good game:

Burning Wheel / Mouse Guard
You have to fail to advance in these games. They are considered very very good games.

Haven't played them, don't know anyone who personally plays them, can't comment. I get the idea that it's not a widely played or widely liked system, so I don't really view this as a good game.


Additionally, if you're into horror, Call of Cuthulu
You will die or go insane. It's inevitable. Talk about pointless and disappointing

Call of Cthulhu is an explicit horror and investigative system. In the specific context, and I've mentioned the context of investigative games earlier, this game is supposed to embody the searching of answers through investigative logic and so forth.

Honestly when I have played it, it's rather dull. It's a single or several short stories where no character gets fleshed out because they die like flies, and usually the premade story is "It's a shoggoth isn't that terrifying?" which rather misses the point of what Lovecraft was trying to convey.


And from the computer gaming side of things recently, Faster Than Light:
Again, you will die. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.

I've played this. Again, only if you make mistakes. And honestly, losing is not the fun in that game as much as people like to convince themselves that it is. Getting through is way more exciting.



So it is your argument that it is perfectly reasonable to extrapolate from the OP that the DM is a complete and utter jack-wipe who has no respect for any of his players, has no plan whatsoever, will not provide them with any opportunity for redemption and is otherwise an all around monster? And that this requires less evidence than assuming that he is a normal human being as are most of us and likely isn't a jerk who only wants to screw over his players so he can get his jollies? I mean let's be perfectly clear here, knowing nothing else other than what was presented, you are assuming that the GM in question is a horrible GM and will do everything possible to ruin the game for his players. That isn't reasonable my friend. It's down right crazy, and it really makes me wonder about the type of people you've played games with before.

"complete and utter jack-wipe who has no respect for any of his players, has no plan whatsoever, will not provide them with any opportunity for redemption and is otherwise an all around monster?" is a pretty good descriptor of some, and one in particular.

But much more realistically, that question is allegorical and the real one used in campaign is completely unrelated. Still however, the number of DMs that you can find who don't want some revelation to come out too early is far greater than the number of DMs who are willing to just let players go 100% off the rails. This isn't a horrible betentacled monster DM that hates your guts, this is just a DM that got a little too invested in telling a story. I've been there, I know the feeling. I didn't in the end hide anything that the players should have gotten, but I did feel let down by the situation. The players on the other hand? Weren't let down at all.


So the PCs couldn't, oh I don't know, hit up a library, ask at the local printers guild, find the secret cult of Anti-Gutenburgs, or heck, even examine the Gutenberg estate and possibly discover stolen writings among them or other clues? Seriously this is the point I'm trying to drive at, there are other ways to get information and to gain knowledge in D&D then simply hoping the random number generator favors you on this roll. I mean how the heck do you expect the players to advance the plot if they just fail their rolls and decide to go to Gemany for the heck of it?

Not really, no. As far as I'm aware, none of those exist (though I could be wrong.), and if you're talking modern day, people would just hit up google and have been done before they even left the door of their houses. Because really, just because you can give people essentially complete knowledge if they look for it doesn't mean all their problems are solved as real life adequately demonstrates.


Except of course that D&D is rooted in exploration of the unknown. Heck, before 3e, the DMGs emphasized keeping information from players, and letting them discover it on their own. Until 3e, there wasn't a "Knowledge" skill, if your players wanted to know something, they had to find someone to ask and either confirm it themselves or hope they were telling the truth. Gary himself was well known for including mysteries and oddities (look up the jeweled man (http://www.paperspencils.com/2012/01/15/gary-gygax-the-jeweled-man-and-letting-your-players-fail/)). Yes, there are better game systems to run a sherlock holmes style adventure, but to say that D&D doesn't support having mysteries or having to hunt down clues and information just because you mis-understand how knowledge checks work in one edition of the game is quite absurd.

Again, talking more about 3.5, which absolutely doesn't. If 2E does support investigative techniques, then if you're playing them, that makes more sense. In fact, it becomes necessary because apparently skills don't line up with knowing anything. Still though, I am pretty sure "give me an answer" magic was around in earlier editions, which makes me wonder why someone would want to run an investigative campaign without heavily penalizing people for playing diviners.

And also I'm willing to go on the record saying I really didn't like the few modules he's made that I've played. Most of the puzzles were far to caught up in Gygax' own head, a lot of the time the dungeons felt slow and completely unengaging, and the rails felt like they were on all the time. The investigative aspect of his campaigns didn't feel to me like they added anything to the game, simply because I found a lot of puzzles had a lot of potentially correct answer, but only accepted 1, if that tells you anything about my point of view.


Sure there is, but now we're getting way off topic and considering you and I can't even agree on whether or not it's ok for players to sometimes not know the whole truth, I highly doubt you and I will see eye to eye on the best things in a game.

Awesome just means that you like the character, or that your character is cool, it doesn't mean they're good at anything. Saying having a character that you don't like is the best part of the game is really odd.


Oh good lord. If you're not talking about 3rd edition than what edition of D&D are you talking about? In 4th, knowledge is explicitly a continuum of success (a look in any of the monster manuals will confirm that) and prior to 3e, there wasn't a knowledge skill. So if we haven't been talking about 3e D&D for the last 5 pages, then what exactly have we been talking about?

3.5. Also, 4E is a small number of set points, not a true continuum. I don't actually have many books on me at any given time, so I generally stick to what few books I have got, or anything that has an SRD. Pathfinder in particular removes the separation of paragraph 2 and 3 in the knowledge skill for example, and so at the very least, the people who make pathfinder agree with my point of view on that point.

Also, as I do have the 3.5 actual players handbook, turn to page 78 and you'll find that there is no separation of the paragraph relating to increased knowledge from a higher check. I don't think there is any errata separating this.


That of course assumes that with your current resources and abilities you can ever roll high enough to learn the truth.

And if they can't, then you shouldn't give them an answer if the scope of the question goes beyond what the player can know.

NichG
2013-01-11, 02:35 AM
Honestly, Yukitsu, it sounds like you just don't like a certain type of campaign. I will grant that if all you want Knowledge skills to do is to be a way for you to bypass sections of play you consider boring, then its disadvantageous for you to buy into them if they don't actually do this but instead expand that section of the game. On the other hand, other players and DMs may be trying for that kind of campaign, in which case your advice seems to be pretty harmful.

You're giving examples like 'because of the failed Knowledge check, the quest grinds to a halt - thats why X is bad gaming'. But actually, thats exactly the opposite of the OP's post. In the OP's example, the failed Knowledge check encouraged the party to make contact with the antagonists where they might have steered clear otherwise, thus actually helping the game to move forward. Yes, its steering - I refuse to call it railroading unless the PCs try to leave the rails and find they cannot. Steering is necessary to ensure that things happen, like the party actually going to China instead of Germany in the movable type example.

The Knowledge check shouldn't be a pass-fail system that determines whether the plot occurs. It should be something whose results, either from a pass or a fail, both move the game forward, but perhaps along different tracks. So the movable type thing is a bad example because the nature of the failure in this case doesn't move the game forward. But neither does 'you fail the check and cannot retry'! They're both examples of bad adventure design. A better design would be to make the important details impossible to miss - have documents provided that show the history of movable type, etc, but then have the Knowledge check be more about the details of how that plotline is resolved. Heck, a DM could salvage the failed check by having a competing group make the same mistake, and you run into them in Germany. Its dramatic, it reveals more of the plot (info about the competing group), and so its not wasted time, even if there is additional peril compared to making the check outright.

Mysteries can be a big or even central part of D&D campaigns and can be done in a very successful way. There are techniques to prevent this from merely being 'go through the motions until you've appeased the DM', such as the DM always using three clues where one would do (on the assumption that things will be missed), having an active timetable for the mystery (so as you don't solve it, more things happen to move things along so things don't get stuck), having non-binary success criteria (stopping the murderer after 1 death, 2 deaths, or 3 deaths), making sure players have many options with which to engage the mystery, avoiding certain poorly telegraphed road blocks (e.g. the players can't know that if they just wait till 8pm, someone will slip up and they'll get another clue, so they may spend forever on the 5pm scene to avoid wasting time even if they can't solve it yet), and so on.

Arcanist
2013-01-11, 03:06 AM
Sorry, you have yet to cite any source that states that knowledge in D&D is a binary choice between "you know nothing" and "you know everything". Until you do, I'm going with knowledge is a continuum of success, as it is in real life and as the text of the skill and the text about skills heavily implies.


Usually none. In most cases, making a Knowledge check doesn’t take an action—you simply know the answer or you don’t.

Hmm... This is very odd :smallconfused:

Avilan the Grey
2013-01-11, 03:12 AM
Heres the thing -

Its like you taking 10 ranks in Jump. Your a good jumper. Dm says nope, your not.

Not the same thing at all. One is a verifiable, physical feat ("he jumped across a 30 feet chasm!!") the other is a theoretical, unverifiable feat ("he claims he knows who the founder of the cult of RHKNJG!54! is. Anybody have any information to the contrary? No? Then we trust this guy").

Edit: On a sidenote... if one does not approve of any kind of railroading, at all, go play Skyrim. Seriously. I would never want someone like that in my group, because it would just lead to anarchy and destroy any kind of good plot or storytelling in the game. Now, it is up to the DM / GM / ST to serve strong enough, and interesting enough, plot hooks to make you WANT to follow the rails, but if everyone is to have fun together, don't go off the rails if you don't have a good reason.
IMHO, of course.

Also, I think it is pretty clearly established by now that

A) the OP talks about a mentor that doesn't mention an aspect of a deity, not feeding him completely fals information all the way

B) Knowledged do not appear out of thin air, neither logically nor according to the rules

C) A DM can decide what it is possible for a PC to know, even if he succeeds his rolls

One can be angry at the DM, but it doesn't seem like a horrid crime or even a proper rule break has taken place.

Killer Angel
2013-01-11, 03:54 AM
OK, let's stop bringing RW examples... then, I would like to recall this:



The Elder Elemental Eye is a cult in D&D that moderate DCs will specifically tell you is a cult of a potent primal elemental entity (the specific nature varies with editions). This is flat out false. Even the powerful Elemental Princes that serve the cult act on this knowledge however. The TRUTH is that it serves the god Tharzidun... and refusing to give the factually wrong answer that lower DCs give undermines the lore and function of this cult. It is wrong but also helpful; as most cultist are also acting on this knowledge, your PC may well benefit from this wrong information.

See? a moderately successful knowledge skill check can give you false informations, especially when someone is actively trying to trick potential meddlesome people.
Asmodeus is spreading false rumors across the planes to improve its schemes, and the list goes on.
Sometime, the players cannot (and shouldn't) know what is the exact DC to gain true infos, exactly in the same way sometime they cannot (and shouldn't) know what is the exact AC of a particular monster.


EDIT:
and here we're not talking 'bout false infos, but incomplete infos.
You find infos (you think you know what you need, but that's not true), then you work around what you know, then you had to guess something is missing, then you had to puzzle out what is wrong and finally you had to find the missing details. Seriously, it kinda common in investigative adventures.

Roderick_BR
2013-01-11, 05:35 AM
I would call BS on the DM. Yeah. I don't play this kind of game, I would just complain and walk off in the middle of the game. Screw him.

Killer Angel
2013-01-11, 05:53 AM
I would call BS on the DM. Yeah. I don't play this kind of game, I would just complain and walk off in the middle of the game. Screw him.

If this is your attitude, you're free to leave.
You don't know what is the real DC of the check is, even if you think so.
If you want to gain info about a creature (special powers or vulnerabilities), the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s HD, so the DM sets the DC at 22.
Except, one of your fonts lied to you (in this case, your primary font of infos), and this gives a secret circumstance penalty to your check.
As I've said in mt previous post, there are many documented cases in D&D when knowledge checks can give you not only incomplete informations (OP's case), but false ones, and you had to discover it. It's the stuff investigative adventures are made of.

Grundy
2013-01-11, 08:25 AM
Here's a 3.5 rule from http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/knowledge.htm:


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

That doesn't just imply more knowledge on a higher roll, it outright states it.

I agree. What that says is that with a rolled result of 20 on a DC of ten, you would know 3 useful things about the subject, no rerolls. So the PC knows 3 things about Kermit. God of frogs, cuddling and ponds. So it's totally within the rules- required in fact- that the DM omit information.

The difference here seems to be whether or not a check should
A) solve the problem or
B) help solve the problem.

I think it's play style. How much time and effort should be put into this "mystery"? Ask 100 people, get 100 answers.

Emmerask
2013-01-11, 09:18 AM
I think overall its more a roleplay vs rollplay thing:

A roleplayer would be absolutely fine with it because he plays his character and would know that his knowledge could be wrong.

A rollplayer would absolutely not be fine with it, he rolled his roll and met the dc stated, this would invalidate the whole playstyle.

There are very little raw rules support either way so as a dm be sure with what kind of player you are dealing before pulling that trick :smallsmile:

valadil
2013-01-11, 09:38 AM
@valadil: I've tried pointing that out already. Yukitsu argues that all evidence to the contrary, and the despite that there isn't another skill that does this (that I'm aware of) the 3rd paragraph is dependent on the 2nd paragraph. Why (if that's the case) the designers broke with their own conventions and stuck that sentence in it's own paragraph is of course a mystery with a DC 1000 check, and there's no continuum of success.

I read technical manuals for fun. I own a copy of Strunk and White. And yet I find the paragraph dependency part of this thread tedious. I honestly think you two have spent more time on the dependencies of paragraphs than the people who wrote it and that makes me sad.

1337 b4k4
2013-01-11, 09:56 AM
Failure states have to be because you failed. That's what a challenge is. Artificial challenge, which anyone that games despises is what you seem to want, where inputting the correct command may or may not provide the desired results. That isn't good game design.

And in the OPs case, the players failed. They relied exclusively on their knowledge checks to answer all their questions, never considering that their knowledge checks might not be applicable or might not reveal useful information to the party. If the party finds a village being ransacked at night, and asks the DM what their Knowledge(local) tells them about monsters in the area that attack at night in the area and the DM lists a vampire to the north, a graveyard of gouls to the south and a goblin camp to the west, that's accurate and complete information. The players then head north, kill the vampire, south to slaughter the ghouls and west to drive off the goblins. And the murders continue. Just because it turns out that it's actually demons being summoned from within the village by the local mad wizard doesn't mean that it's a bad game, it means the players failed to use all of their resources to gain the knowledge they need.


Haven't played them, don't know anyone who personally plays them, can't comment. I get the idea that it's not a widely played or widely liked system, so I don't really view this as a good game.

Mouse Guard of course won best RPG in 2009 at the Origin Awards, Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard both retain high ratings at RPG.net and at Amazon.com. Where do you get the idea that this isn't a well liked system?


I've played this. Again, only if you make mistakes. And honestly, losing is not the fun in that game as much as people like to convince themselves that it is. Getting through is way more exciting.

Losing is never fun. That's not the point. The point is that the losing make each time you get through, each time you get a little bit farther that much better. If there was no real danger, no real risk of losing or dying unless you ignored every problem for a year in real time, the game wouldn't be anywhere near as fun, and getting through wouldn't be exciting. But even that is besides the point. You said games that emulate the bad parts of life aren't good games. Clearly you're wrong as the list of games out there that are good games and emulate the bad parts of life in some way or another shows.


Not really, no. As far as I'm aware, none of those exist (though I could be wrong.), and if you're talking modern day, people would just hit up google and have been done before they even left the door of their houses. Because really, just because you can give people essentially complete knowledge if they look for it doesn't mean all their problems are solved as real life adequately demonstrates.

So in your games, if the plays fail their knowledge rolls (remember, no re-check) or don't even have the knowledge skill necessary, there's no way to advance the plot?


Still though, I am pretty sure "give me an answer" magic was around in earlier editions, which makes me wonder why someone would want to run an investigative campaign without heavily penalizing people for playing diviners.

Yup, and even 3e talks about how to handle divinations, noting that the DM can either reveal the information completely and simply and make the adventure about getting to the information, or they can equally hide the information in a riddle and answer only the specific question that was asked. This of course is also supported by the literature and mythology on which D&D is based, where just because the gods give you an answer doesn't mean that it's all the information you need to know.


Pathfinder in particular removes the separation of paragraph 2 and 3 in the knowledge skill for example, and so at the very least, the people who make pathfinder agree with my point of view on that point.

Ah but even pathfinder supports different DCs providing more detailed information. From the SRD example DCs:



Recognize a common deity’s symbol or clergy Religion 10
Know common mythology and tenets Religion 15

Meaning your players see a cleric running away from a murder scene, you roll a knowledge religions check to see what you know about the cleric, you roll a 13, and thus you know that the cleric is a cleric of kermit the god of frogs, but you don't know that one of the tennets of kermit is kitten slaughter at midnight. Same thing with knowing local rulers. Knowledge(local) at DC 10 will tell you the Viscount is the ruler of the city, Knowledge(local) 20 will tell you that the Vicount is secretly controlled by a Lich.


And if they can't, then you shouldn't give them an answer if the scope of the question goes beyond what the player can know.

So just to be clear here. Your party has recently been clearing out vampire dens along the eastern coast after receiving a letter asking for help from a local mayor. As you work your way south, your receive another letter from King Tepes, who has heard of your brave doings and wishes to meet with you and personally reward you. The party rolls a Knowledge(local) check to see what they know about King Tepes, and what they find out is that he has been the ruler of the southern part of the continent for the last 50 years ever since their last king was killed by one of these vampires, and that he is a reclusive ruler who fears for his safety. who doesn't often grant audiences and thus being granted an audience is considered a high honor in the area. The party decides to go south and collect their reward and accolades. When the party gets there however, a trap is sprung and the PCs are captured. It turns out that Tepes is also a vampire and is indeed the vampire king in this area and he lured the party here to capture and kill them because they've been killing his loyal servants and family.

By your arguments, this was not only a bad game, but that it would have been better for me to never have given the party any information at all about the king because the DC to learn that the king was a vampire was too high for them to get. Sorry, but this is insanity to me, and it's clear you and I are never going to come to any agreement on this. Let us just be glad that neither one of us runs a game with the other and be done with it.


Hmm... This is very odd

Now it's my turn to be pedantic about the rules. The section you bold is under the "re-check" heading and specifically refers to whether rolling a second check on knowledge will reveal new or better information. They are referring to the fact that the result of the knowledge check is the extent of your knowledge. That line applies equally to the checks for monster skills, which we have already acknowledged is a continuum of success check.


I read technical manuals for fun. I own a copy of Strunk and White. And yet I find the paragraph dependency part of this thread tedious. I honestly think you two have spent more time on the dependencies of paragraphs than the people who wrote it and that makes me sad.

Such is life when it comes to the english language, a horribly imprecise mode of communication. It's why our laws are painful to read, it's why our lawyers make millions arguing over the definition of "is" and it's why over 200 years later, we still can't agree on what the US Constitution actually says. But I agree that this is getting tedious. It's clear the Yukitsu and I play games for two entirely different reasons and that we are never going to see eye to eye on this. So I'm out of this conversation. I've said my piece more than enough.

Mono Vertigo
2013-01-11, 10:17 AM
To answer the question in the title, and having read the original post:
- I wouldn't be mad. It makes for an interesting twist and opens up many possibilities for plots and character development. As long as it is done in moderation and the GM doesn't exclusively rely on it to advance the game, I'm quite fine with it.
- I don't think the situation described is so bad, provided it makes sense in-game (namely what are the motivations behind the original lies, and is the mentor even aware he's propagating a lie? Who knows the truth? ).

Arcanist
2013-01-11, 12:22 PM
Now it's my turn to be pedantic about the rules. The section you bold is under the "re-check" heading and specifically refers to whether rolling a second check on knowledge will reveal new or better information. They are referring to the fact that the result of the knowledge check is the extent of your knowledge. That line applies equally to the checks for monster skills, which we have already acknowledged is a continuum of success check.

Ah, but that is the funny thing. There is no "re-check" heading. Now if it were under the "re-check" heading it would be under "Try again" common mistake though. :smallwink: Knowledge is mentioned as being flat out a "You know or you don't know" situation where success of the check means that you know and failure means you don't know.

It is explicitly under the Action "heading" on that note:



No. The check represents what you know, and thinking about a topic a second time doesn’t let you know something that you never learned in the first place.mind you this section below is just commentary on the skill at large is in no way directed at any one individual
Knowledge is a VERY interesting skill in that it requires forethought into a situation. For example: You cannot make a Knowledge (Religion) check about Kermit eating Kittens if you've never studied Kermit eating Kittens, however if you have studied Kermit eating Kittens (even by picking up Religion for Dummies) a successful Knowledge (Religion) 30 will reveal that regardless of whether or not you have studied Kermit that extensively enough to that or not you know it through something or other. This applies to most Intelligence based skills and anything else that would seem reasonable to have learned from a mentor.

More or less. If you argue that "Your mentor taught you this, so you know this" then you've already drawn a line so thick that the Player doesn't even exist anymore and if you argue that "The rules say that I make the check so even if my mentor taught me this, I know the truth!" then you are performing the exact same thing (in reverse mind you). To create such a bold line between the Character and the Player is criminal to say the least.

EDIT:


To answer the question in the title, and having read the original post:
- I wouldn't be mad. It makes for an interesting twist and opens up many possibilities for plots and character development. As long as it is done in moderation and the GM doesn't exclusively rely on it to advance the game, I'm quite fine with it.
- I don't think the situation described is so bad, provided it makes sense in-game (namely what are the motivations behind the original lies, and is the mentor even aware he's propagating a lie? Who knows the truth? ).

Pretty much this really. Sure, he shouldn't have made the Skill check untrustworthy, but he most definitely is entitled to M. Night Shyamalan my ass :smallbiggrin: (just not in excess otherwise we end up with The Last Airbender)

navar100
2013-01-11, 01:16 PM
See? a moderately successful knowledge skill check can give you false informations, especially when someone is actively trying to trick potential meddlesome people.
Asmodeus is spreading false rumors across the planes to improve its schemes, and the list goes on.
Sometime, the players cannot (and shouldn't) know what is the exact DC to gain true infos, exactly in the same way sometime they cannot (and shouldn't) know what is the exact AC of a particular monster.



When you roll a 12 and miss while next turn roll a 13 and hit, you know the monster's AC, even in character. You're right there fighting it. You know how hard it is. In 3E a successful Knowledge check in the appropriate knowledge is supposed to let you know what the AC is, among other things, about the generic monster you are fighting. It is not an atrocity for PCs to know stuff. Important campaign plot point mysteries, ok, that takes playing the game to figure out. It's the point of playing.

Killer Angel
2013-01-11, 01:40 PM
When you roll a 12 and miss while next turn roll a 13 and hit, you know the monster's AC, even in character. You're right there fighting it. You know how hard it is. In 3E a successful Knowledge check in the appropriate knowledge is supposed to let you know what the AC is, among other things, about the generic monster you are fighting. It is not an atrocity for PCs to know stuff. Important campaign plot point mysteries, ok, that takes playing the game to figure out. It's the point of playing.

Well the knowledge gives you a bit of info about monsters, AC could be one of those pieces of knowledge. Sometime you know it, sometime you don't.
BUT, of course you quickly learn what is the AC of the critter you're fighting, during combat, after some to hit rolls... in a similar way, a knowledge roll could be not definitive: it gives you some piece of advice, and rolls made by other characters, or new infos, give you a better idea on the subject.
Sometime, a knowledge's roll is sufficient, sometime not.

Yukitsu
2013-01-11, 04:30 PM
Honestly, Yukitsu, it sounds like you just don't like a certain type of campaign. I will grant that if all you want Knowledge skills to do is to be a way for you to bypass sections of play you consider boring, then its disadvantageous for you to buy into them if they don't actually do this but instead expand that section of the game. On the other hand, other players and DMs may be trying for that kind of campaign, in which case your advice seems to be pretty harmful.

I don't mind it, but you have to keep in mind, I'm not talking about making D&D into a by default "this is a Sherlock Holmes thing, if your players want to get to action, role playing and intrigue instead of puzzles, tough luck". I've run a detective themed game, but I'm not going to say that anything at all that I had to do to alter how knowledge, divination and question and answering works, is how a standard adventure should run, as I don't honestly believe that the vast majority of players build detectives as their main characters in most settings.


You're giving examples like 'because of the failed Knowledge check, the quest grinds to a halt - thats why X is bad gaming'. But actually, thats exactly the opposite of the OP's post. In the OP's example, the failed Knowledge check encouraged the party to make contact with the antagonists where they might have steered clear otherwise, thus actually helping the game to move forward. Yes, its steering - I refuse to call it railroading unless the PCs try to leave the rails and find they cannot. Steering is necessary to ensure that things happen, like the party actually going to China instead of Germany in the movable type example.

I think this will be a matter of opinion, but I'm generally of the view that if you just hock out any resource that should let players make an informed decision and instead steer them towards the decision you want them to make, rather than the one they both should be making, and should be capable of making, that it's railroading. In this case, I don't believe there is any realistic way for the players to jump the rails sans to just not follow any adventure hooks, as it's not realistic to say "well it's possible for them to just go to China anyway." Yeah they can, but it's just as possible for them to go to New Orleans or South Africa, it doesn't allow for continuation of that story arc without blind luck or direct guidance.


The Knowledge check shouldn't be a pass-fail system that determines whether the plot occurs. It should be something whose results, either from a pass or a fail, both move the game forward, but perhaps along different tracks. So the movable type thing is a bad example because the nature of the failure in this case doesn't move the game forward. But neither does 'you fail the check and cannot retry'! They're both examples of bad adventure design. A better design would be to make the important details impossible to miss - have documents provided that show the history of movable type, etc, but then have the Knowledge check be more about the details of how that plotline is resolved. Heck, a DM could salvage the failed check by having a competing group make the same mistake, and you run into them in Germany. Its dramatic, it reveals more of the plot (info about the competing group), and so its not wasted time, even if there is additional peril compared to making the check outright.

The argument about the movable type is about the problem under a microscope. Any individual that does fail their knowledge check because their group isn't competent at knowledge history, or the guy didn't take 10 for whatever reason can go to other resources that they think would be capable of handing them that information, be it some form of research check, or gathering information.

However, those same skills operate under that same microscope. If say, you pass your social skills, but your informant outright lies to you, that's just as bad. If you are pulling research checks, and they come up from false resources even if you passed your checks, that's equivalently as bad. Those similarly, need to give you tangibly useful information if you succeed the check and made the investment to do so.

An answer can be a completely binary pass fail because out of the microscope, there should be other options. Why I'm ignoring that when I am looking under the microscope? Because now, the guy with the knowledge that doesn't work, despite passing, is useless by contrast to the others who apparantly got out of the way of the DM's arbitrary laser and had working skills. Alternatively, if all three are working under the same DM autofailure ruling, that's still railroading, and as you add more layers of this, the railroading becomes more serious. It ultimately doesn't matter if the knowledge guy isn't the only option in the group, if a die roll success is just going to find the information anyway, hiding it from him despite his success is just nerfing that one character for no useful reason.


Mysteries can be a big or even central part of D&D campaigns and can be done in a very successful way. There are techniques to prevent this from merely being 'go through the motions until you've appeased the DM', such as the DM always using three clues where one would do (on the assumption that things will be missed), having an active timetable for the mystery (so as you don't solve it, more things happen to move things along so things don't get stuck), having non-binary success criteria (stopping the murderer after 1 death, 2 deaths, or 3 deaths), making sure players have many options with which to engage the mystery, avoiding certain poorly telegraphed road blocks (e.g. the players can't know that if they just wait till 8pm, someone will slip up and they'll get another clue, so they may spend forever on the 5pm scene to avoid wasting time even if they can't solve it yet), and so on.

I've run explicitly detective based games around that premise, and they're fine. Several RPGs, especially ones where you're dealing with explicitly powerful individuals, don't particularly lend themselves well to mystery, as magic for the most part just solves it. A problem I noted for example in the Dresden files campaign setting, depending upon how you set up your character, either DMs have to completely sack nerf the guy who built around knowing things, or the mystery dissolves and the scene cuts to the chase. Even in standard campaigns, I get irritated when someone plays a diviner and then gets completely rendered irrelevant because the DM wants to maintain some form of mystery, even when I'm not that diviner.

NichG
2013-01-11, 05:46 PM
I don't mind it, but you have to keep in mind, I'm not talking about making D&D into a by default "this is a Sherlock Holmes thing, if your players want to get to action, role playing and intrigue instead of puzzles, tough luck". I've run a detective themed game, but I'm not going to say that anything at all that I had to do to alter how knowledge, divination and question and answering works, is how a standard adventure should run, as I don't honestly believe that the vast majority of players build detectives as their main characters in most settings.


In some sense this applies to your comment further down. Its actually easier to run a D&D game about investigation and solving mysteries if the players don't build characters specifically to be detectives, because there's not that much mechanical design space dedicated to it in D&D (basically, one or two characters will saturate this niche and render the others irrelevant). On the other hand, having a game that has combat, role playing, intrigue, puzzles, and mysteries has a broader design space so you get less character overlap. Also making the solving of mysteries more about brainpower and less about, well, 'powers' means that there's a higher chance everyone at the table can participate in it.

Even if you have someone playing a fully spec'd out diviner wizard, or a skill-checks-in-the-60s buff build, its still possible to run mysteries, but it will admittedly be harder for DMs who haven't been in that situation before to know how to do it (basically instead of 'who killed this man' you usually have to go a lot more subtle, large-scale, or abstract; if a god asks you to solve a mystery, Commune or Contact Other Plane isn't going to help so much because even the gods may not just know the answer, even if they may have bits of information). On the other hand changing the mechanics problematic for mysteries is a much cleaner way to do it, and really I don't think it interferes at all with the other aspects (combat, role playing, intrigue, dungeon crawling, etc) of the game all that much.




I think this will be a matter of opinion, but I'm generally of the view that if you just hock out any resource that should let players make an informed decision and instead steer them towards the decision you want them to make, rather than the one they both should be making, and should be capable of making, that it's railroading. In this case, I don't believe there is any realistic way for the players to jump the rails sans to just not follow any adventure hooks, as it's not realistic to say "well it's possible for them to just go to China anyway." Yeah they can, but it's just as possible for them to go to New Orleans or South Africa, it doesn't allow for continuation of that story arc without blind luck or direct guidance.


The reason I didn't want to use the word 'railroading' is that some people have a uniformly negative association with it. Without some railroading though, the game can lose direction and the players themselves can have no idea what they should be doing, not just on a 'whats next' level but on the level of 'what should we care about?'. In the Germany/China example, getting the party to China by hook or by crook is beneficial railroading because, with regards to the party's stated goal of 'get the first movable type', thats where it is. If they just don't get there, the plot that the party assumedly wants to persue never progresses. On the other hand, it becomes harmful the second the party says 'wait, we're getting the movable type because its part of some ancient Rube Goldberg prophecy device; lets just go after another piece of the device instead' and the DM says either by force or by contrivance 'no, you can't'. Or if in the China example the party attempted a technique that could get them the type but didn't require them to go to China, and was shot down for some metagame reason.



The argument about the movable type is about the problem under a microscope. Any individual that does fail their knowledge check because their group isn't competent at knowledge history, or the guy didn't take 10 for whatever reason can go to other resources that they think would be capable of handing them that information, be it some form of research check, or gathering information.

However, those same skills operate under that same microscope. If say, you pass your social skills, but your informant outright lies to you, that's just as bad. If you are pulling research checks, and they come up from false resources even if you passed your checks, that's equivalently as bad. Those similarly, need to give you tangibly useful information if you succeed the check and made the investment to do so.


I think the difficulty here is the concept of a single DC. The sticking point seems to be 'I succeeded, but I get a result that is basically a failure.' thus making the skill appear to be useless or futile. But really what is being talked about here is much better modeled by tiered DCs. Its not that you succeed on a social skill but the informant outright lies, its that you succeeded on a social skill sufficiently to get the informant to betray his organization, but not sufficiently to get him to betray his family. So you get truths until one of those truths would harm his family, and then you get a lie.

For the research check, its not that you passed your research check to get true knowledge; perhaps you passed your research check to find all the relevant materials this particular library you were consulting contained, but that library contained no materials with the real truth (this is more of a miscommunication about what the skill does). Alternately, as before, you passed a low tier DC but failed against a high tier DC, so you obtained those materials available at the low tier DC.



An answer can be a completely binary pass fail because out of the microscope, there should be other options. Why I'm ignoring that when I am looking under the microscope? Because now, the guy with the knowledge that doesn't work, despite passing, is useless by contrast to the others who apparantly got out of the way of the DM's arbitrary laser and had working skills.


This last line is a bit of rhetoric. You're implying that any non-binary system for skills makes them not 'working skills', but thats not true. Having a situation where the DM arbitrarily decides that the best success is worse than not trying is one thing, but here we're actually talking about someone who failed the top-tier DC. Its not about a success being a failure, its about whether a failure can masquerade as a success to prevent the metagame of 'well I failed that check, so there must be a trap'.



I've run explicitly detective based games around that premise, and they're fine. Several RPGs, especially ones where you're dealing with explicitly powerful individuals, don't particularly lend themselves well to mystery, as magic for the most part just solves it. A problem I noted for example in the Dresden files campaign setting, depending upon how you set up your character, either DMs have to completely sack nerf the guy who built around knowing things, or the mystery dissolves and the scene cuts to the chase. Even in standard campaigns, I get irritated when someone plays a diviner and then gets completely rendered irrelevant because the DM wants to maintain some form of mystery, even when I'm not that diviner.

Partially addressed in the first paragraph. I feel that (openly and pre-emptively, e.g. before someone plays a diviner) nerfing divination is a good way to allow mysteries to exist in D&D without being as hard to DM. But its also possible to do it by being selective about the type of mystery run and by adjusting the campaign to the real power level of the protagonists. E.g. if you have 5th level characters regularly doing DC 60 skill checks, you have a campaign about mortals whose abilities rival the gods, and so the sort of thing they should be dealing with is tasks that the gods themselves would be challenged by. The mystery isn't 'Who killed this man here?', its 'Why have the stars been rearranging themselves?'. Contact Other Plane stops being an auto-answer spell, which could be seen as a divination nerf (though even by the book there are things the gods can't simply know), but it retains utility as a way to directly interrogate the suspects, which is still essential to addressing the mystery.

Jay R
2013-01-11, 10:05 PM
Consider three players.

Player1: I attack the Lightning Monster with the sword (rolls) I succeed.
DM: Roll for damage. (records the damage.) Now take (rolls again) 17 points of electricity damage.
Player 1: That's not fair! I rolled a success!
DM: Yes, you successfully hit a lightning monster with a metal sword. You did what a sword does, but you also touches an electric field with a conductor.
Player1: But I rolled a success! That's supposed to be beneficial. You're making my skill unusable!
DM: You rolled a successful hit with a sword, and hit your opponent. But no sword roll magically prevents the effects of electricity.

DM: As you run from the guards, you see an eight-foot tall wall in front of you.
Player2: I make a Jump roll, to jump over the wall. (rolls) I succeed.
DM: OK, you leap over the wall, and land on the other side, in the twenty-foot pit with spikes. You take (rolls again) 17 points of falling and spike damage.
Player2: That's not fair! I rolled a success!
DM: Yes, you successfully jumped over the wall, but the other side of the wall has a twenty-foot pit with spikes.
Player2: But I rolled a success! That's supposed to be beneficial. You're making my skill unusable!
DM: You rolled a successful leap over the wall, and cleared the wall. No Jump check magically removes any dangers on the other side.

Player3: Hey! I thought I made a Knowledge check about this situation.
DM: Yes, you successfully recalled everything you had ever heard about it. You hadn't heard about the <whatever>.
Player3: That's not fair! I rolled a success!
DM: Yes, you successfully recalled all the information available to you. This aspect was information that your character never knew.
Player3: But I rolled a success! That's supposed to be beneficial. You're making my skill unusable!
DM: Yes, you rolled a successful Knowledge check, and successfully remembered all knowledge that your character had on the situation. But no Knowledge check magically grants you powers of Detect Lie, ESP, and Legend Lore combined.

I sincerely hope that all three players find a game they can enjoy, run by a DM whose rulings they accept. But mine is not that game, and I am not that DM.

Yukitsu
2013-01-11, 11:21 PM
This last line is a bit of rhetoric. You're implying that any non-binary system for skills makes them not 'working skills', but thats not true. Having a situation where the DM arbitrarily decides that the best success is worse than not trying is one thing, but here we're actually talking about someone who failed the top-tier DC. Its not about a success being a failure, its about whether a failure can masquerade as a success to prevent the metagame of 'well I failed that check, so there must be a trap'.

The rest of the post I can see value in, and don't necessarily disagree. I simply wouldn't want to run a campaign in that manner, and see many DMs struggle to make those sort of campaigns run smoothly. Here though, you're slightly misunderstanding. The skill in question is useless in my view, if it's binary or granular if the DM misinforms the player. The nature of the skill otherwise doesn't make a difference. If that's what he's doing, my statement isn't rhetoric at all.

I don't view the scenario as presented as reasonably the DM giving a failed check a disguised answer (which again, I disagree with, I would not want that in a game) but that the DM had to justify making a success a failure from some back story manipulation. If it was an outright failure, my problem with the scenario is a separate one, but that isn't how I view it as being presented.

@JR: Both your examples involve a success with a penalty in addition. The elemental presumably took damage, and caused some retribution, meaning that there were both positive and negatives. If you tried to jump over a wall, you got over the wall as you intended, but you took some damage.

The knowledge example was analogous to taking damage without hurting the elemental, even if your specific weapon and roll should have caused damage, or smashing into the wall and taking damage without clearing over it despite rolling sufficient to clear the wall. The knowledge example was not "You get the pass result + this circumstantial penalty" it was "You get a penalty and you don't get anything beneficial".

Even worse, in that situation, it's better to have your character sit down with a book and just read the facts and not take any knowledge skills.

The Random NPC
2013-01-11, 11:46 PM
Consider three players.

Player1: I attack the Lightning Monster with the sword (rolls) I succeed.
DM: Roll for damage. (records the damage.) Now take (rolls again) 17 points of electricity damage.
Player 1: That's not fair! I rolled a success!
DM: Yes, you successfully hit a lightning monster with a metal sword. You did what a sword does, but you also touches an electric field with a conductor.
Player1: But I rolled a success! That's supposed to be beneficial. You're making my skill unusable!
DM: You rolled a successful hit with a sword, and hit your opponent. But no sword roll magically prevents the effects of electricity.

DM: As you run from the guards, you see an eight-foot tall wall in front of you.
Player2: I make a Jump roll, to jump over the wall. (rolls) I succeed.
DM: OK, you leap over the wall, and land on the other side, in the twenty-foot pit with spikes. You take (rolls again) 17 points of falling and spike damage.
Player2: That's not fair! I rolled a success!
DM: Yes, you successfully jumped over the wall, but the other side of the wall has a twenty-foot pit with spikes.
Player2: But I rolled a success! That's supposed to be beneficial. You're making my skill unusable!
DM: You rolled a successful leap over the wall, and cleared the wall. No Jump check magically removes any dangers on the other side.

Player3: Hey! I thought I made a Knowledge check about this situation.
DM: Yes, you successfully recalled everything you had ever heard about it. You hadn't heard about the <whatever>.
Player3: That's not fair! I rolled a success!
DM: Yes, you successfully recalled all the information available to you. This aspect was information that your character never knew.
Player3: But I rolled a success! That's supposed to be beneficial. You're making my skill unusable!
DM: Yes, you rolled a successful Knowledge check, and successfully remembered all knowledge that your character had on the situation. But no Knowledge check magically grants you powers of Detect Lie, ESP, and Legend Lore combined.

I sincerely hope that all three players find a game they can enjoy, run by a DM whose rulings they accept. But mine is not that game, and I am not that DM.

I don't believe these situations are at all similar to the one presented.
EDIT: The situation as I understand it is basically, Player A has been taught stuff from their master (who has never appeared in game), giving them 5 ranks in Knowledge (Religion). As it turns out, they have been lied to and either take a secret -5 penalty or can't succeed at all. The third situation is pretty close as is, but the other two would be better represented by imposing a -X penalty or just telling the player they've been taught wrong and can't make attacks/jumps.
EDIT2: I don't like these situations, because it just encourages me to never make a backstory that the GM can use against me. I mean if this player hadn't made a master that taught them stuff, the GM would likely not have the check penalized, thereby rewarding those players that don't make a backstory beyond "I exist".

NichG
2013-01-12, 01:17 AM
The rest of the post I can see value in, and don't necessarily disagree. I simply wouldn't want to run a campaign in that manner, and see many DMs struggle to make those sort of campaigns run smoothly. Here though, you're slightly misunderstanding. The skill in question is useless in my view, if it's binary or granular if the DM misinforms the player. The nature of the skill otherwise doesn't make a difference. If that's what he's doing, my statement isn't rhetoric at all.

I don't view the scenario as presented as reasonably the DM giving a failed check a disguised answer (which again, I disagree with, I would not want that in a game) but that the DM had to justify making a success a failure from some back story manipulation. If it was an outright failure, my problem with the scenario is a separate one, but that isn't how I view it as being presented.


Okay, fair enough. I can see reading the situation this way, and why in this case it would render the skill useless - namely, if the DM had the tendency to decide 'okay, I'll allow a check for this' but then after seeing that the character succeeded against the DC they had decided then turned around and say 'I'll make it fail anyhow'. This is a sort of 'moving the goalposts to prevent player success' DM error, and can happen just as much with AC, enemy saves, save DCs, etc.

BootStrapTommy
2013-01-12, 06:38 PM
I'd up and say this is not fair. Doing this effectively makes your Knowledge check useless for almost all purposes.

Emmerask
2013-01-12, 07:25 PM
I'd up and say this is not fair. Doing this effectively makes your Knowledge check useless for almost all purposes.

well the other way round is not really fair either ie making knowledge skills some form of divine inspiration + legend lore (something completely unsupported by either the rules or common sense).

And really it makes knowledge checks useless? Just because one highly specialized knowledge is just wrong?

Thats like saying that all our current knowledge is completely useless because we might have some stuff wrong???

Killer Angel
2013-01-13, 04:44 AM
I'd up and say this is not fair. Doing this effectively makes your Knowledge check useless for almost all purposes.

:smallannoyed:



And really it makes knowledge checks useless? Just because one highly specialized knowledge is just wrong?

Precisely. We're talkin 'bout a single instance related to a specific thing in the whole field covered by the skill. Which, BTW gives you a non complete info.

Which is similar to say "hey, that monster reduces 10 damage from slashing weapons! Dude, my greatsword is now useless for almost all purposes!"

Cactuar
2013-01-13, 10:09 AM
Which is similar to say "hey, that monster reduces 10 damage from slashing weapons! Dude, my greatsword is now useless for almost all purposes!"

No, it's more like saying:

"Hey, my greatsword randomly heals monsters for the same amount as it should have hurt them!"

Yeah, sure, it might come in handy but you're better off using something that's much more reliable.

Amphetryon
2013-01-13, 10:16 AM
No, it's more like saying:

"Hey, my greatsword randomly heals one type of monster for the same amount as it should have hurt them!"

Yeah, sure, it might come in handy but you're better off using something that's much more reliable.
Seems closer to this.