How long in game time should a characters one-time-a-day bonus from the Streetwise Performer bard archetype take?

The bluff skill reads that bluffing to deceive takes one round minimum, longer for more intricate lies.

Typically, taking 20 usually takes 2 minutes. What is the point of this ability if a character could have done this anyway?

In this specific example, my bard tried to convince the dragon that halfling meat is poisonous. I asked to use my take 20 ability from quick change.

Does this take one round or two minutes?


1 Answer 1


Most will likely find that part of the special ability quick change frustrating if played as written

The bard archetype street performer at level 5 gains the extraordinary ability quick change, which says that the bard

can don a disguise as a standard action by taking a −5 penalty on his check. He can take 10 on Bluff and Disguise checks and use Bluff to create a diversion to hide as a swift action. He can take 20 on a Bluff or Disguise check once per day, plus one time per six levels beyond 5th.

Emphasis mine. This is a problem because Take 20 says

When a character or creature has plenty of time, and is not faced with threats or distractions, and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, he/it can take 20. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the check, just calculate the result as if the die had rolled a 20.

Taking 20 means you continue trying until you get it right, and assumes that you will fail many times before succeeding. Taking 20 takes 20 times as long as making a single check would take (usually 2 minutes for a skill that takes 1 round or less to perform).

Since taking 20 assumes that your character will fail many times before succeeding, your character would automatically incur any penalties for failure before he or she could complete the task (hence why it is generally not allowed with skills that carry such penalties).

Emphasis mine. So, according to a take-no-prisoner, rules-as-written reading, to Take 20 on a Bluff skill check could be the equivalent of rolling 19 1s on the Bluff skill check before rolling the 20 and incurring all the associated penalties for having first rolled 19 1s on that Bluff check! (A 2012 Paizo messageboard thread supposes this might be like Maxwell Smart's increasingly implausible lies in the face of danger: "Would you believe…?") Further, when a creature attempts to convince someone of a falsehood and fails, the GM can impose a −10 penalty on future Bluff skill checks or just rule that further attempts are impossible, therefore possibly ending early and completely the likelihood of convincing the target of the falsehood at all. Finally, to Take 20 on a Bluff check takes at least 20 rounds (2 min.)—far, far too long for it to be of use in combat, and only barely useful otherwise when a typical, reliable Take 10 lie can be told in 1 round.

Taking 20 on a Disguise skill check is less complicated, but doing so may also cost 100 gp. (Imagining a montage of failed disguises before getting it right, however, is amusing.) Fortunately, the class feature's reduction in time means creating a disguise in 2 min. if the bard's willing to suffer a −5 penalty on the Disguise skill check (thereby, essentially, taking 15). Otherwise, the bard takes (1d3×10)×20 minutes (from about 3½ to 10 hours) to take 20 on that Disguise skill check!

"That's ridiculous!"

I know! Because that's so absurd, even though there's no way for me to be sure, I strongly suspect the intent was not to have the bard street performer actually Take 20 on these checks. I suspect take 20 is instead shorthand for this:

A street performer can once per day, instead of rolling the die, treat his check's result as if the die's result were a 20 when making either a Bluff skill check or a Disguise skill check. He can use this ability instead twice per day at level 11 and instead thrice per day at level 17.

Thus, under this house rule, a street performer makes such checks in the normal amount of time and gains, essentially, a +10 bonus on the check's result.

That other stuff

Just for completeness, here's a quick rundown of what this class feature also does: As a creature must normally take 1d3×10 minutes to don a disguise, doing so in a standard action is awesome, even with a penalty on the Disguise check. The ability to Take 10 on Bluff skill checks is merely interesting compared to being able to Take 10 on Disguise skill checks: normally, the DM rolls Disguise skill checks on your behalf so you've no idea how badly the random number generator's screwed your PC until a guard realizes the bard is not, in fact, a shrubbery ("The Disguise check is made secretly, so that you can’t be sure how good the result is"). Creating a diversion to hide is mentioned in the skill Stealth as part of the skill Bluff but rules for doing so are available under the skill Influence in Pathfinder Unchained. (In D&D 3.5 a creature takes a standard action to make a Bluff skill check to create a diversion to hide, but that use seems omitted from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like to roll the Disguise dice only when the PCs are in front of the guards, so it's not a hidden check but when they know it's too late to go back. (For the same reason I roll CON checks for stabilizing only when fight is over) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 14:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .