I'm wondering about a situation I had recently. My players forgot (ok, I forgot too) what treasure a NPC has said, will be given when players fulfill his mission. Only one player asked "Wasn't that guy supposed to give us something?" and I simply answered "Should've written that down".

Now that I thought about it I'd prefer a different solution. I'd say "Roll 1d20 for remembering" since it was reasonable for the player to forget (the mission spanned two sessions) but was less reasonable for PC to forget (mission took something like 12 hours). And I started to wonder which modifier should I add, would it be Int or Wis? And what DC should it be? It seems pretty simple, so like 15? More intelligent PC would be able to spew facts with just taking 10, but less intelligent/wisdom bestowed would've failed more often the not.

Just a joke, but now I thought that I should also introduce negative modifiers based on age :)


It is not necessary to make any skill checks unless the character is under the effects of a memory altering ability or spell (see Memory Lapse) or an affliction that affects his memories.

As the GM, you decide if it makes sense or not if the characters know something.

While it may seem logical that Intelligence decides what a character remembers or not, keep in mind that even animals with 1-2 int scores, a modifier of -5 on intelligence checks, will remember things. Everyone that can "learn" can remember things, you remember how to use your feats, you remember how to use your skills, you remember how to cast your spells. A sorcerer with 1 int (by ability drain for instance) still remembers what his spells do and how to cast them.

Memorization is not keyed to Intelligence, but Intelligence governs reasoning and logic. Which is why wizards prepare (they don't memorize spells) using their Intelligence, but clerics will prepare using their Wisdom and paladins using their charisma. While a sorcerer memorizes his spells known based on how well she knows herself. All of them are "memorizing" things so they can use up later.

If a character really requires a check to remember something, and it does make sense that they could forget it, these are the abilities i would use for each kind of situation:

  • Intelligence

    • Remember a date (he said 24th or 25th?);
    • Remember a number (im sure we had to pick up either a thousand or a hundred of those...);
    • Remember a name (we met the guy once and that was a month ago...).
  • Wisdom

    • Remember things that are common sense:
      • the sun goes from east to west or west to east?
      • how many hours are in a day?
      • what are the dangers of travelling at night?
      • where do babies come from?
    • Do note that most of these, the players would easily answer, because they are common sense. But probably not if the player is a young person.
    • Remember things that are intuitive:
      • i am stuck in a maze, now what?
      • we will starve to death, how can we find food?
      • that guy on the road with his sword draw looks dangerous to me?
  • Charisma
    • Remember things related to their character:
      • what was the name of my mother? (if it happens in real life, it happens in the game)
      • when was the last time i had a bath?
      • when is my birthday?
      • do i like pork?
    • Remember things related to people close to their character:
      • when was my mother's birthday?
      • who is my best friend?
      • who is my worst enemy?

The DC? Probably around 5 or 10. Never higher than that unless it was about a complex topic, but those are better governed by Knowledge skill checks. For instance, remembering basics tenets of your deity is a DC 5 knowledge (Religion) check.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This would be an even better answer if it covered why penalising a player for forgetting something is different to penalising a character. \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs May 6 '17 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wibbs that is a pretty good topic on its own. I dont think this answer needs to address that, but could be linked to a question and answer about it. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras May 7 '17 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ That was a confusion between wizard and sorcerer, my bad. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme May 9 '17 at 13:22

Traditionally with Dungeons & Dragons, the go-to stat for remembering stuff has been Intelligence. I would expect this to be the same in Pathfinder. It's why Wizards can remember more spells if they have high Int (and why "meticulously memorizing spells" type classes are keyed off Int. It's also why Knowledge checks run off Intelligence. In 5e, the feat that gives you the ability to perfectly remember everything also gives an Intelligence bonus.

That said; I don't think it makes sense to make players roll. I would just tell them, because while the players might have forgotten due to time between sessions, no sane adventurer would forget this, not even the ones with poor memory.

Even a DC of 5 would be too high in my opinion. I have very bad memory, but even I don't forget how much I'm promised to get paid for the work I do.


Personally I would allow them to choose to use either intelligence or wisdom. You could certainly argue for either being applicable in this case since you could describe one as representing "book smarts" while the other represents "common sense".

Pathfinder in general has mental attributes increase and physical ones decrease as you age so age-based penalties wouldn't be a good fit.

As to the DC, that's down to you. If you think that this is something anyone halfway bright in the party would remember then set the DC to 10. If only the smarter people then 15, if only the smartest then 20.


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