Paradigm Concepts

Talents affecting passive skill values?
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Author:  wilcoxon [ Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Talents affecting passive skill values?

Do talents generally affect passive values? The section on "Passive Action Rolls" on page 91 would seem to say yes but the section on "Step 7: Train Your Hero's Skills" would seem to say no. The one other argument for "no" is that some talents specifically state that they affect passive skill values.

Author:  val Holryn [ Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

Generally the answer is no. There are a handful of exceptions...chiefly Wary that explicitly says they increase the passive values.

Author:  wilcoxon [ Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

Thanks. That's what I thought but wanted to make sure. Personally, I think certain talents should affect passives but they don't (at a minimum, Foundation talents should). However I'm not expecting anything to change with regards to this...

Author:  Dante [ Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

I've had past discussions on this topic with experienced GMs whom I respect, and there is not a complete consensus but a leaning towards including modifiers for passive values. In my opinion, the ARPG book is not clear, and it could be interpreted either way. It was probably obvious to the original author of the rule set, but the book's wording doesn't make it crystal clear to everyone. (Yes, I'm a computer programmer who's also used to letter-of-the-rules arguments in different game systems.)

My own interpretation is that it seems ridiculous for general modifiers to not affect both Passive values and Active checks. Suppose a guard has a "+5 bonus to all Perception Action Rolls" (with the wording generally given in skill bonuses. Should the +5 occur only for making an active roll and not for passively guarding? Suppose a warrior has a "+2 to all Might Attribute Action Rolls". Should the +5 occur only for making an active dice roll and not for passively checking strength? Suppose a wizard has a "+4 to all Arcanum (Sorcery) Skill Rolls". Should the bonus apply when rolling dice (such as to hit with a spell or to see whether a spell is successfully cast) but not when using passive values (such as seeing about meeting the CTN for automatically casting a spell without a roll or to check on unraveling the thread [dispelling] that self-same supposedly powerfully cast spell)? To me, doing one but not the other seems weird and contradictory.

But we have another set of wording beyond the ARPG hardback. I checked the old Shattered Empires Quickstart rule book, and its wording is more explicit than the final rule book. To quote the rules from pages 62-63:
Passive Action Rolls
Sometimes an Action Roll is needed to overcome the efforts of an unaware or absent character. In such cases, the Action Roll has a TN equal to the opposing character’s modifier plus 12. This system works in a manner similar to defenses (see Combat) and can govern many situations where an opposed check would be suitable, except that one or both parties are unaware of the contested action.
EXAMPLE: A character may wish to sneak past a distracted guard. Rather than slow the pace of game play with a series of dynamic Action Rolls the character performs an Action Roll against the guard(s) Perception skill (and other modifiers) + 12. This system could also be used to defeat traps set by a skilled artisan, to spot a forgery, decipher a code, or any other situation one may imagine.

That seems to imply that all modifiers to the guard's Perception skill apply to the passive as well as active skills. It also states (as does the ARPG) that the point of passive is to reduce the need for lots of die rolling, and thus a modifier for one should apply to the other--unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Author:  Hat [ Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

Thomas, having done extensive playtesting of the original rules prior to release with a lot of conversations with Pedro throughout that process I can say unequivocally that his intent was that bonuses to skills - except where noted - were not to be added to passive values. This can be seen in the talent Wary which explicitly calls out the addition to passive value. The clear example within the original rules at a minimum should strongly bias any uncertainty towards that intent. Pedro had felt that bonuses to passive values were powerful, especially added to things like arcanum.

Matt Flynn is now the official arbiter of rules related questions. If there's an official change, that's fine, but barring that it should be left as is.

With a sweep of his hat,


Author:  val Holryn [ Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

Like Hat I think this is long settled. Doesn't mean the ruling can't be revisited. But does mean that there should be no ambiguity in the rules intentions.

I would also just note that the rules for skills are not exactly the same between PCs and "monsters." See the Bestiary for how NPCs are built if curious. A guard that is +5 to perception almost certainly has an appropriate passive.

Hat (and others) are particularly right in keeping an eye out for things that can increase the passive score of arcanum. A spell casters passive arcanum is one of the primary metrics of how powerful they are in combat (I certainly have taken every legal opportunity to increase Tukufu's passive arcanum...)

Author:  Dante [ Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

Paul's vast playtest experience carries valuable weight. I'm still surprised since it sure looks to me like Passive Values are intended as a time shortcut to achieving approximately the same thing as Dynamic Action Rolls.

Given that the intention here is not totally clear in the rules and that disagreements about this rule have come up before, I strongly recommend that it be clarified in the FAQ to prevent misunderstandings and arguments.

Author:  Hat [ Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

At least for the purposes of people reading this thread, I found Pedro's previous comments on it.


"I purposely wanted to keep bonuses to a passive skill values rare..."

Matt can still add it to the FAQ at some point, but this really should be considered a closed issue.

With a sweep of his hat,


Author:  Dante [ Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

Thanks for posting a link to Pedro's comment, Paul. That helps. Since the question has been brought up several times, I do encourage adding it to the FAQ.

Author:  Dante [ Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Talents affecting passive skill values?

I'm confused, now, as to what should be done for contested skills. The rules indicate and, more importantly, the way we actually play the game, is that one person makes a skill check against the other person's passive value rather than doing a dynamic skill roll-off. What happens when two characters are "competing" and both have skill-roll bonuses? The one who rolls gets to roll gets the bonus. How should that be handled in the game?

For example, suppose Plato is trying to deceive Socrates in conversation. Plato has a net +2 bonus "to Deceit Action Skill Rolls", and Socrates has a net +2 bonus "to Empathy Action Skill Rolls." If Plato rolls the dice for Deceit against Socrates' passive Empathy and Plato gets the bonus but Socrates does not, then Plato has an advantage. On the other hand, if Socrates rolls the dice for Empathy against Plato's passive Deceit and Socrates gets the bonus but Plato does not, then Socrates has an advantage.

As another example, suppose Brutus is trying to sneak up on Caesar, who has been forewarned by soothsayers. Brutus has a net +2 bonus "to Stealth Action Skill Rolls", and Caesar has a net +2 bonus "to Perception Action Skill Rolls." If Brutus rolls the dice for Stealth against Caesar's passive Perception and Brutus gets the bonus but Caesar does not, then Brutus has an advantage. On the other hand, if Caesar rolls the dice for Perception against Brutus's passive Stealth and Caesar gets the bonus but Brutus does not, then Caesar has an advantage.

How should that be handled? My best recommendation is that the above examples are covered by the ARPG p. 91. Both of those examples should be Dynamic Action Rolls in which both players roll the dice, and both characters get their bonuses. These should not be Passive Action Rolls. In the game in practice, we seem to do too many Passive Action Rolls when we should do Dynamic Action Rolls. I can recall a handful of recent active interactions with NPCs where the GM indicated that we players were rolling against a passive value or where I (as GM) used a passive value and now think I should have had a dynamic action roll.

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