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Chapter 10: Game Mastering / Difficulty Classes

Specific Actions

Source Core Rulebook pg. 504 2.0
Several parts of this book, most notably Chapter 4: Skills, state that you as the GM set the DCs for certain checks or determine other parameters. Here are guidelines for the most common tasks. Remember that all of these are guidelines, and you can adjust them as necessary to suit the situation.

Craft

Source Core Rulebook pg. 504 2.0
When a character Crafts an item, use the item’s level to determine the DC, applying the adjustments from Table 10–6 for the item’s rarity if it’s not common. You might also apply the easy DC adjustment for an item the crafter has made before. Repairing an item usually uses the DC of the item’s level with no adjustments, though you might adjust the DC to be more difficult for an item of a higher level than the character can Craft.

Earn Income

Source Core Rulebook pg. 504 2.0
You set the task level when someone tries to Earn Income. The highest-level task available is usually the same as the level of the settlement where the character is located. If you don’t know the settlement’s level, it’s usually 0–1 for a village, 2–4 for a town, or 5–7 for a city. A PC might need to travel to a metropolis or capital to find tasks of levels 8-10, and to the largest cities in the world or another plane to routinely find tasks beyond that. Some locations might have higher-level tasks available based on the nature of the settlement. A major port might have higher-level tasks for Sailing Lore, a city with a vibrant arts scene might have higher-level tasks for Performance, and so on. If someone is trying to use a particularly obscure skill, they might have trouble finding tasks of an ideal level, or any at all—no one in most settlements is clamoring for the expertise of someone with Troll Lore.

Once the PC has decided on a particular level of task from those available, use the DC for that level from Table 10–5. You might adjust the DC to be more difficult if there’s inclement weather during an outdoor job, a rowdy audience for a performance, or the like.

Gather Information

Source Core Rulebook pg. 505 2.0
To set the DC to Gather Information, use a simple DC representing the availability of information about the subject. Adjust the DC upward if the PC Gathering Information seeks in-depth information. For example, if a character wants to Gather Information about a visiting caravan, you might decide that a common person wouldn’t know much about it, but any merchant or guard would, so learning basic facts uses the simple DC for trained proficiency. A caravan leader’s name is superficial, so discovering it might be DC 15 (the simple trained DC in Table 10–4). Learning the identity of the leader’s employers, however, might be DC 20 if the employers are more obscure.

Identify Magic or Learn a Spell

Source Core Rulebook pg. 505 2.0
The DC to Identify Magic or Learn a Spell is usually the DC listed in Table 10–5 for the spell or item’s level, adjusted for its rarity. A very strange item or phenomenon usually uses a higher DC adjustment. For a cursed item or certain illusory items, use an incredibly hard DC to increase the chance of misidentification.

Recall Knowledge

Source Core Rulebook pg. 505 2.0
On most topics, you can use simple DCs for checks to Recall Knowledge. For a check about a specific creature, trap, or other subject with a level, use a level-based DC (adjusting for rarity as needed). You might adjust the difficulty down, maybe even drastically, if the subject is especially notorious or famed. Knowing simple tales about an infamous dragon’s exploits, for example, might be incredibly easy for the dragon’s level, or even just a simple trained DC.

Alternative Skills

Source Core Rulebook pg. 505 2.0
As noted in the action’s description, a character might attempt to Recall Knowledge using a different skill than the ones listed as the default options. If the skill is highly applicable, like using Medicine to identify a medicinal tonic, you probably don’t need to adjust the DC. If its relevance is a stretch, adjust the DC upward as described in Adjusting Difficulty.

Additional Knowledge

Source Core Rulebook pg. 506 2.0
Sometimes a character might want to follow up on a check to Recall Knowledge, rolling another check to discover more information. After a success, further uses of Recall Knowledge can yield more information, but you should adjust the difficulty to be higher for each attempt. Once a character has attempted an incredibly hard check or failed a check, further attempts are fruitless—the character has recalled everything they know about the subject.

Creature Identification

Source Core Rulebook pg. 506 2.0
A character who successfully identifies a creature learns one of its best-known attributes—such as a troll’s regeneration (and the fact that it can be stopped by acid or fire) or a manticore’s tail spikes. On a critical success, the character also learns something subtler, like a demon’s weakness or the trigger for one of the creature’s reactions.

The skill used to identify a creature usually depends on that creature’s trait, as shown on Table 10–7, but you have leeway on which skills apply. For instance, hags are humanoids but have a strong connection to occult spells and live outside society, so you might allow a character to use Occultism to identify them without any DC adjustment, while Society is harder. Lore skills can also be used to identify their specific creature. Using the applicable Lore usually has an easy or very easy DC (before adjusting for rarity).

Table 10-7: Creature Identification Skills

Creature TraitSkills
AberrationOccultism
AnimalNature
AstralOccultism
BeastArcana, Nature
CelestialReligion
ConstructArcana, Crafting
DragonArcana
ElementalArcana, Nature
EtherealOccultism
FeyNature
FiendReligion
FungusNature
HumanoidSociety
MonitorReligion
OozeOccultism
PlantNature
SpiritOccultism
UndeadReligion

Sense Direction

Source Core Rulebook pg. 506 2.0
Pick the most appropriate simple DC when someone uses Survival to Sense Direction. This is usually the trained DC in normal wilderness, expert in deep forest or underground, master in featureless or tricky locations, or legendary in weird or surreal environments on other planes.

Social Skills

Source Core Rulebook pg. 506 2.0
When a character uses Deception, Diplomacy, Intimidation, or Performance to influence or impress someone whose level or Will DC you don’t know, estimate the level of the creature and use that DC. A commoner is usually level 0 or 1. Don’t worry about being exact. It often makes sense to adjust the DC based on the target’s attitude for Deception, Diplomacy, or Performance, making the DC easy for a friendly creature, very easy for a helpful one, hard for an unfriendly one, or very hard for a hostile one. You might adjust the DC further or differently based on the PC’s goal; for instance, the DC to Request something an indifferent NPC is fundamentally opposed to might be incredibly hard or impossible, and it might be easy to convince an unfriendly creature to do something it already wants to do.

Subsist

Source Core Rulebook pg. 506 2.0
A simple DC is usually sufficient for the Subsist action, with a trained DC for a typical situation. Use the disposition of the environment or city as a guide; an environment with scarce resources or a city with little tolerance for transience might require an expert or higher DC.

Track

Source Core Rulebook pg. 506 2.0
Often when a PC uses Survival to Track, you can pick a simple DC and adjust it based on the circumstances. For example, an army is usually easy to track, so you could use the untrained DC of 10. If the army marched through mud, you could even adjust this down to DC 5. On the other hand, if the party pursues a cunning survivalist using Cover Tracks, you might use their Survival DC as the DC to Track.

Train an Animal

Source Core Rulebook pg. 506 2.0
Train Animal (page 268) allows PCs to teach animals tricks. Use the level of the animal as the baseline; you can adjust the DC up if the trick is especially difficult, or down if the animal is especially domesticated, like a dog.