Game Modes, Bestiaries, and Death in Pathfinder 2nd Edition
  • Game Modes, Bestiaries, and Death in Pathfinder 2nd Edition


    The latest blog entry over at Paizo delves a little into the three game modes of Pathfinder 2nd Edition -- encounter, exploration, and downtime. Erik Mona also talks a little about the future Bestiaries, and some more discussion on death and dying. As always, all this information gets added to the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Compiled Info Page!




    Halfling by Wayne Reynolds




    • Game Modes! Jason Bulmahn gives us a more detailed look at Pathfinder 2nd Edition's new game modes -- encounter, exploration, and downtime.
      • Encounter mode -- this is the combat mode, with 6-second rounds, 3-actions per turn, cyclic initiative.
      • Exploration mode -- a free-form mode for solving tasks, interacting with the world, and travelling, measured in minutes and hours. What you are doing during this mode affects your initiative roll when you enter combat. Examples include Perception, Stealth, Diplomacy, Intimidation.
      • Downtime mode -- measured in days while you retrain (swap out a feat, skill, or class choice), craft, have a profession. Bard can use expert proficiency in Performance to make money at taverns. Craft weapons up to the quality to you proficiency, or with the Magical Crafter skill feat make magic weapons.

    • Raging Courage -- the game mode article mentions a new barbarian class feat called Raging Courage, shaking off the afraid condition with an action.
    • Intimidating Strike -- the same article also mentions Intimidating Strike for fighters, spending two actions to hit your foe and render it frightened and flat-footed.
    • Nature skills feats -- allow you to heal people, or train an animal.
    • Magical Crafter -- "The Magical Crafter skill feat is the feat to make magic items. It is the feat for spellcasters. It is the feat for fighters." (Seifter)
    • On language and use of the word "mode" -- "Use of the word mode just lets us have sentences that make sense. When in the middle of running text we might say, "while exploring", but we also like having the ability to say "During encounter mode, you can..." . Its not really worth delving into on this thread (and seriously.. I do not want to derail things), but we are trying to take a little bit of a lighter hand with hard-coded grammar constructions for our rules so that the text is a bit easier to read and parse." (Bulmahn)
    • Bulmahn on falling damage -- "I messed that up in the podcast, having misread the sentence in the rulebook. To be clear here folks, we are not going for super realistic physics here. This is an RPG after all, but it would be nice not to have to have pits in dungeons that are 50 feet deep just to deal reasonable damage to a character (it always messed up dungeon floor plans.. where are those pits going down into the level below). The rule that is in place does reasonable damage over distance fallen. It does not try to simulate the 1 in a million chance of falling out of airplane and living or dying after falling off a curb."
      • Seifter adds "The damage per foot in the podcast was not done correctly (it should be lower). Logan actually did the math for terminal velocity and we have an extremely high max falling damage based on terminal velocity."

    • Logan Bonner on spell durations and modes -- "Durations still go by time, but exploration allows that time between encounters isnít precise, and that if youíre going into exploration, you recognize that youíre no longer in the keyed-up, precise time scale of rounds. We also call out that a pell durations are abstractions. You canít set your watch by resist energy... The durations are constructed with their typical length in mind. Part of that comes from not having them all increase with caster level. If a spell lasts a minute, itís pretty dang hard, but not impossible, to make it last past 1 encounter. Takes some serious planning! We did reduce the likelihood of having a spell that lasts just long enough that rushing becomes strategically sound a lot of the time."
    • Mark Seifter talks the evolution of Power Attack -- "First we tried an accuracy penalty, and that didn't work. Then we tried the extra action for a flat add on damage (I believe it was something like +4 that eventually doubled to +8), but that just meant that tiny little daggers got the most out of Power Attack, which didn't fit the fantasy of Power Attack. Then we moved to the extra die (doubling to two dice), and suddenly it all worked out!"
    • Seifter describes Intimidation in his latest playtest game -- "Oh man, I just got home from my PF2 playtest game. In our third fight, Luis's fighter Randyll, a master of Intimidation, intimidated a pukwudgie with his battle cry, two-hand smacked the pukwudgie then shifted his bastard sword so he could smack and grab the thing (eating the spine damage and critically succeeding against the poison), and on his next turn, he grabbed it by the neck and started shaking it and critically succeeded on his Intimidation check, thus ending the fight with his social skills, as the pukwudgie ordered its undead to back off and let the party explore unimpeded. Luis also had an ability such that the pukwudgie will never inform his dullahan boss because he's too terrified of Randyll."
    • Erik Mona talks Bestiaries!
      • Size/format of the book -- "I'm going to have to be cryptic for the moment, but I've been thinking about you and your heavy book concerns, and I honestly think I've come up with a non-digital solution that allows you to read a bunch of cool lore AND run games without having to heft around the Book of the Damned."
      • A possible bigger first bestiary? -- "I'm VERY sympathetic to the folks who want a really decent-sized chunk of the "core plus" Pathfinder monsters, classes, ancestries, etc. right out of the gate, and all of my current thinking is focused on trying to deliver a credible version of that relatively quickly. That's part of the reasoning behind the idea of a potential "bigger" first monster book. Buuuut, that book's going to end up costing $60 or $70, and I don't think people have the endurance for that price level year after year after year, even if it does mean getting the whole of PF1's conceptual content out sooner rather than later. And we're gonna do a bunch of new stuff, too. I'm not interested in waiting until we've re-done everything in PF1 before treading new ground. I always want to be doing that. So. The first monster book is very likely going to be bigger than the later ones."
      • The Bestiary will have new monsters -- "I wanted to jump in immediately even before reading the rest of this post to state clearly that THERE WILL BE NEW MONSTERS IN THE FIRST MONSTER BOOK. And ALL the monster books. We want to convert as much PF1 content as we can, but we're not just starting at the beginning and re-doing everything we have done before. There will ALWAYS be new monsters!"
      • Golarion animals and vermin which aren't the same as Earths? "This is a good idea."
      • Mark Seifter on converting monsters between editions -- "Department of Expectation Management: Being able to run on the fly if you have the new version of the monsters does not mean that all the numbers are the same. It does mean that when they aren't the same, we provide you with the tools to quickly determine what the new number should be."

    • A bit about death and dying:
      • Healing heals from zero -- "I want to point out one subtle point here that really changes the dynamic. In PF1 if you were at death's door, (16 Con fighter at -15) and you got healed to 5 hp by a spell, you would indeed get right back up and be in danger of going down again with almost any hit. In PF2 that same healing effect would put you up to 20 (because we don't do negatives). Once you made the save to get up, you would stand a much better chance of staying up for at least a hit or two, giving you the time needed to get some more healing if needed. We want you to feel the pressure of being so close to death that it alters your actions and the actions of the other characters around you. When an ally is critically hurt, we want the narrative to respond."
      • How often do characters die? "...assuming that nothing is attacking or damaging you after you already dropped and also assuming that someone in your party provides stabilize or some healing as part of their next turn, you actually can't die, even from the dreaded critical hit -> critical failure on Fortitude save. Now those caveats above don't always happen, so we have had characters die, but it's not super common." (Seifter)
      • Jason Bulmahn talks about the different death/dying rules they tried before settling on the current ones:

    So, we have gone round and round on these rules throughout the design phase. At one point in time we had three competing systems, all trying to reach for the same goals.

    1. Make falling unconscious a point of focus in the narrative of the combat. When someone goes down, everyone should stop and take notice. If the other players just shrug and stop worrying about you because you have 8 rounds to live, that is not great for game play.

    2. Add an element of randomness to the dying process. It should not be something that is easily predictable (as this violates point 1).

    3. Make the condition of the character obvious to the player, so that they know how much peril they are in, even if they cannot predict how that will turn out.

    4. Prevent character's from "yo-yo-ing" between conscious and unconscious by giving a system that allows them to possibly return with a handful of hit points.
    Taking these into account, we ended up with the system that is currently in the game. Once you get a chance to use it, I think you will find that it is really no more complicated that being poisoned or afflicted with almost any other condition in the game.


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    Comments 19 Comments
    1. LuisCarlos17f's Avatar
      LuisCarlos17f -
      What plans about Bestiary 2, 3, 4...? or will we see anything like bestiary: undead, fays, dragons, aberrations? I would like a bestiary with all the true dragons (planar, imperial, outer..) being translated to my naive languange.

      * About damage by fall... can it be avoided or reduced by creatures with wings or fly movementet?
    1. Elodan's Avatar
      Elodan -
      Quote Originally Posted by From Blog Post View Post
      ...To start with, each character gets 3 actions on their turn. While everyone has access to a list of basic actions, like stride (which lets you move your speed), step (which lets you move just 5 feet, but without provoking any reactions), and strike (which lets you make an attack)...
      Is there any reason they need to call the move action stride and the attack action strike aside from alliteration? It just irks me for some reason.

      Still interested to see where PF2 is going.
    1. Markn -
      I find the new terms (strike and stride) a bit jarring too. However, I believe this is part of the conscious effort to clean up terminology. The words Attack and move are often used for non-game terminology reasons. Strike has the same intent as attack but likely wonít see use unless they precisely mean the strike action. Same goes for stride.
    1. Arakasius's Avatar
      Arakasius -
      Attack and what could be substituted for attack is a huge source of confusion in PF1. Iím surprised by people Iíve played with for over a year who donít understand how the extra attack from haste works. They stayed last week they are getting rid of terminology to make X act as Y. Alt that stuff just makes things confusing. Theyíre probably also a bit sick of the non stop RAW vs RAI on the forums and would prefer to get their rules very clearly laid out the first time. Hopefully theyíre a bit more focused on editing splat books too, since many of the most egregious content came from them.
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      Quote Originally Posted by Elodan View Post
      Is there any reason they need to call the move action stride and the attack action strike aside from alliteration? It just irks me for some reason.

      Still interested to see where PF2 is going.
      Probably for the same reason that MTG started calling the play area "The Battlefield", cards that were removed from game "Exiled". It can be a little weird at first, but it REALLY goes a long way to clean up the language and help people understand what parts of the game they're talking about. It can also avoid many of the "common language" issues that 5E has had.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Elodan View Post
      Is there any reason they need to call the move action stride and the attack action strike aside from alliteration? It just irks me for some reason.

      Still interested to see where PF2 is going.
      To eliminate lunguistic ambiguity. This is a big problem in, for example 5e, where taking the Attack Action allows you to make one or more attacks, and some abilities trigger when you make an attack, while others trigger when you take the Attack Action. By calling the Action ďStrikeĒ and leaving the roll a Strike allow you to make an ďAttackĒ it becomes much clearer which is which.
    1. Adso -
      Quote Originally Posted by Charlaquin View Post
      To eliminate lunguistic ambiguity. This is a big problem in, for example 5e, where taking the Attack Action allows you to make one or more attacks, and some abilities trigger when you make an attack, while others trigger when you take the Attack Action. By calling the Action ďStrikeĒ and leaving the roll a Strike allow you to make an ďAttackĒ it becomes much clearer which is which.
      That's exactly why we did it. You may find it striking because it's new, but it will help create a more precise flow of language and terminology. This may not seem important (and can even be a tad jarring) to folks who have been playing these types of games for years, but it can be an annoying hurdle to new players, either brand new to this type of game or that come in from other RPG traditions.

      Stephen Radney-MacFarland
      Senior Game Designer
      Paizo
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Adso View Post
      That's exactly why we did it. You may find it striking because it's new, but it will help create a more precise flow of language and terminology. This may not seem important (and can even be a tad jarring) to folks who have been playing these types of games for years, but it can be an annoying hurdle to new players, either brand new to this type of game or that come in from other RPG traditions.

      Stephen Radney-MacFarland
      Senior Game Designer
      Paizo
      Thanks for doing that, by the way! I really appreciate having clear and unambiguous technical language in games, as it makes it much easier to determine intended functionality, even for very experienced players. 5e made a big push towards natural language in response to backlash against the very technical language of 4e, which I think was a huge mistake. Anything that makes it easier to correctly interpret the rules on a casual read is a good thing in my book.
    1. Lanefan -
      Not impressed at all with those death and near-death mechanics. Makes the 5e ones look good by comparison, which is really hard to do.
    1. Arakasius's Avatar
      Arakasius -
      I donít see how itís worse than 5e. In fact theyíre pretty similar with only a couple key differences. They both basically have the rule of after several failed saves (four for pf, three for 5e) youíre toast. They have similar rules for critically failing dropping by two and success stabilizing. The main difference is that PF2 states an unconscious state after going back up to stop the yo-yo effect.
    1. Adso -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
      Not impressed at all with those death and near-death mechanics. Makes the 5e ones look good by comparison, which is really hard to do.
      Well, I would advise participating in the playtest, let us know what you think after play because that is precisely the kind of information we are looking for. Of course, giving your opinion without play is perfectly fine as well, but it will have less weight in general on the final design of the game.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Arakasius View Post
      I donít see how itís worse than 5e. In fact theyíre pretty similar with only a couple key differences. They both basically have the rule of after several failed saves (four for pf, three for 5e) youíre toast. They have similar rules for critically failing dropping by two and success stabilizing. The main difference is that PF2 states an unconscious state after going back up to stop the yo-yo effect.
      Itís still only 3 in PF2, if I understand it correctly. You die at Dying 4, but going to 0 puts you at Dying 1, so it takes 3 failed saves (or 1 failed and 1 fumbled) to get you from Dying 1 to Dying 4.
    1. Markn -
      Thatís how I understand it too Charlaquin.

      The few very minor differences that do exist are an improvement on the 5e model IMO.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Markn View Post
      Thatís how I understand it too Charlaquin.

      The few very minor differences that do exist are an improvement on the 5e model IMO.
      I agree. Itís basically the same death and dying system as 5e, only the DC of the save is variable based on the opponent that downed you instead of always being 10, you still have to succeed a save after gaining HP to get back up, which reduces the chumba wumba effect, when you do get back up you have a turn of not being able to act to your fullest, which is a nice touch, and your falied saves linger for longer, making unconsciousness much more effective as an emergency state.
    1. thedmstrikes's Avatar
      thedmstrikes -
      How will the traditional Barbarian still struggles on while dying work? Will they take penalties to the save or auto fail if still up and raging? It is a classic moment for the Barbarian to carry the day at death's door and then fall over dead at the end of combat when the rage subsides.Is this not going to be possible anymore? Also, I am not familiar with 5Es mechanic enough to know how it works in that system...
    1. Henry's Avatar
      Henry -
      In my experience at least, the new death and dying rules work pretty well in 5eís implementation. To prevent the ďoh, youíre fine for two more rounds!Ē Phenomenon, I am thinking of a house rule that the downed PCís player CAN NOT announce his current status for death saves unless a PC is adjacent using medicine to check. That way, their death status is in the air until someone interacts with them. Wait too long, and they could be dead when you get there 20 seconds later (or less, if they rolled a natural 1!) that should put at least a little urgency into a PC getting cut down. Perhaps something similar could work for the PF 2 rules?
    1. Koloth's Avatar
      Koloth -
      On the "Size/format of the Book" thing. Really hope PF2 books are released in the Pocket Edition size from day 1. I have found the PF1 pocket editions large enough to be readable at the table and small/light enough to want to carry to games not at my house.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by thedmstrikes View Post
      How will the traditional Barbarian still struggles on while dying work? Will they take penalties to the save or auto fail if still up and raging? It is a classic moment for the Barbarian to carry the day at death's door and then fall over dead at the end of combat when the rage subsides.Is this not going to be possible anymore? Also, I am not familiar with 5Es mechanic enough to know how it works in that system...
      Here's how it works in 5e:

      Starting at 11th level, your rage can keep you fighting despite grievous wounds. If you drop to 0 hit points while you're raging and don't die outright, you can make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. If you succeed, you drop to 1 hit point instead.

      Each time you use this feature after the first, the DC increases by 5. When you finish a short or Long Rest, the DC resets to 10.
      There's also a Barbarian subclass in a later book that lets you remain conscious while at 0 HP as long as you're raging. You still have to make death saving throws, but you're conscious the whole time, and even if you fail three of them, you don't die until your rage ends. I imagine the latter is more likely how it would work in PF2.
    1. trancejeremy's Avatar
      trancejeremy -
      It's kind of obvious that the bestiaries will have some new monsters, but what percentage is the real question. It wasn't really until Bestiary 4 that they really started having most of the book being new monsters.
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