Resonance, Potency, & Potions: A Look At Magic Items in Pathfinder 2
  • Resonance, Potency, & Potions: A Look At Magic Items in Pathfinder 2


    Paizo has been delving into the way magic items work in its latest previews of Pathfinder 2nd Edition. Last week they spoke about Resonance, a resource that characters have for activating magical items; and on Friday they blogged about Potency, which is linked to the power of a magical weapon.




    Resonance is measured in Resonance Points (RP). Activating an item costs 1 RP, and your RP total is your level plus your Charisma modifier. Paizo points out that "We expect Resonance Points to be a contentious topic, and we're really curious to see how it plays at your tables. It's one of the more experimental changes to the game, and the playtest process gives us a chance to see it in the wild before committing to it."

    They also preview a few magic items - cloak of elvenkind, floating shield, staff of healing, and some trinkets such as a fear gem, and vanishing coin.

    When it comes to weapons, Resonance is not required; weapons have a "potency" value, which is roughly equivalent to its "plus" -- it gives you a bonus to attack, increases damage by a whole damage die per potency point (i.e. a +1 longsword gives +1 to hit and +1d8 damage). Potency and special qualities are limited by a weapon's quality - standard, expert, master, legendary.


    Quality Max Potency Max Properties
    Standard +0 0
    Expert +2 1
    Master +4 2
    Legendary +5 3


    Potency and properties are contained within transferrable magical runes, often found on a runestone. Some examples shown are disrupting, and vorpal.

    Amor similarly has potency and properties. Potency affects AC, TAC, and saving throws. Some properties include invisibility and fortification.

    This takes us on to potions. Potions can now have high level effects, and they don't have to be tied to the spell lists. Examples including healing potions, invisibility potions, dragon's breath potions, and oil of mending.

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    Comments 70 Comments
    1. Imaculata's Avatar
      Imaculata -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Activating an item costs 1 RP, and your RP total is your level plus your Charisma modifier.
      People sure are going to love Paladins now.
    1. fjw70's Avatar
      fjw70 -
      I like the scaling of weapon damage but would like to see it as a class feature and not through magic weapons.
    1. Jacob Lewis's Avatar
      Jacob Lewis -
      It definitely favors classes dependent on Charisma, as well as races (ancestries) with inherent bonuses in that characteristic.

      On the other hand, classes with less reliance on Charisma as a primary stat, like rogues and fighters, tend to have less use for magical items except weapons and armor. So maybe Paizo knows what they're doing. Best way to find out is to join the playtest and let them know about your experience.
    1. Ghal Maraz's Avatar
      Ghal Maraz -
      Strength gives bonus to Athletics skill, to-hit and to-damage and determines carrying capacity; Dexterity gives bonus to a bunch of Skills, to AC, to Reflex Saves, ranged (or Finesse weapons) to-hit and to Initiative; Constitution gives bonus to Hit Points and to Fortitude Saves; Intelligence gives bonus to initial Skill proficiency points and to a bunch of skills; Wisdom gives bonus to a bunch of Skills and to Will Saves; Charisma gives bonus to a bunch of skills and to the number of Resonance Points.

      While I find the use of Resonance and the magic items rules the part of the playtest I'm liking less, I still consider it interesting that there will be a real disincentive for every class in dropping any one skill without thought. Ok, perhaps Wizards and Sorcerers will probably keep Strength quite low and Alchemists won't invest so much in Charisma, but that's still a good idea.
    1. MechaTarrasque's Avatar
      MechaTarrasque -
      Quote Originally Posted by Imaculata View Post
      People sure are going to love Paladins now.
      And with Righteous Ally, they have one less thing to have to spend RP's on.
    1. Jer's Avatar
      Jer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Lewis View Post
      It definitely favors classes dependent on Charisma, as well as races (ancestries) with inherent bonuses in that characteristic.
      Well, in the sense that a character with a high Charisma will have 2-3 more resonance points per day than everyone else, I guess. But since you're adding the level of the character to the bonus, it seems like it would mostly be a problem at low levels and wash out once you hit mid levels unless you have a lot of magic items in your games (though the fact that healing potions cost resonance to use means that you might hit that limit even if you don't have a Christmas Tree of magic items that cost resonance on you, if your table is used to chugging healing potions to keep your adventuring day going).

      I'm still not quite sure on what problem Resonance is trying to solve though. The four bullet points on the Resonance blog don't really make much of a case for something this complex - it doesn't really seem to simplify things all that much (especially with the new action economy that PF2 proposes), and while you may have "less to track" in the overarching sense of individual pools for individual items, you now have one big pool where spending a point to activate a vorpal weapon on a crit now might impact whether you can heal after the battle - leading to some complex tradeoffs at the table that might make option paralysis worse.

      The one piece where I can see it solving a problem is bullet point 3 - having adventurers stockpile a cord of wands of healing because it's cheaper and more effective to do that than to buy one high level wand seems like the kind of meta-gaming move you might want a rules fix for, but this seems like a heavy handed fix for something like that (and outside of healing I don't see that kind of magic item tradeoff as usually being worthwhile, so maybe it's a problem with the healing rules and not so much with the magic item rules?)

      (I will say that this continues to cement for me the idea that PF2 wants to be the version of D&D that caters to people who really like the resource management subgame. Have they previewed any encumbrance rules yet?)
    1. Lord Mhoram's Avatar
      Lord Mhoram -
      The thing I found nice were Runes. Can just be special abilities for weapons you already own for treasure. Made me think of Bladerunes from Rolemaster 2nd, and Materia from FF.
      I made my peace with resonance a while ago.
    1. Kurviak's Avatar
      Kurviak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
      ... Have they previewed any encumbrance rules yet?)
      It's based on strength via encumbrance points. Just like Starfinder's encumbrance
    1. mellored's Avatar
      mellored -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
      I'm still not quite sure on what problem Resonance is trying to solve though.
      It allows a DM to throw out hundreds of magical items or dump tons of gold, and not have to worry about overpowered characters.

      Have they previewed any encumbrance rules yet?
      I don't think so, but that's basicly just resonance with Str instead, and a lot easier to get around (horses, wagons, etc...)
    1. Saelorn's Avatar
      Saelorn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
      I'm still not quite sure on what problem Resonance is trying to solve though.
      In Pathfinder 1E, and supposedly in D&D 3E before it, healing wands trivialized any amount of HP damage (as long as you survived the fight). D&D had long been a game of resource management and attrition, which was inadvertently obviated through the combination of linear HP-growth with exponential wealth rewards.

      Resonance is specifically trying to fix that problem. If you use a cheap wand of Cure Light Wounds to try and heal a mid-level character, then they'll run out of Resonance before they're half-way back. In order to keep a mid-level character up and going, you'll need to use a (vastly more expensive) wand of Cure Serious Wounds.
    1. Grimstaff -
      At least two of the staffs pictured are disconcertingly top-heavy, and should impose a -4 Dex pen tally to the characters wielding them.
    1. Tony Vargas -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Resonance is measured in Resonance Points (RP). Activating an item costs 1 RP, and your RP total is your level plus your Charisma modifier. Paizo points out that "We expect Resonance Points to be a contentious topic, and we're really curious to see how it plays at your tables. It's one of the more experimental changes to the game, and the playtest process gives us a chance to see it in the wild before committing to it."
      Hope it doesn't get shouted down, it sounds like a decent, even flavorful magic-feeling, way to keep a few extra magic item drops or systematic item creation or the like from breaking things too easily.

      weapons have a "potency" value, which is roughly equivalent to its "plus" -- it gives you a bonus to attack, increases damage by a whole damage die per potency point (i.e. a +1 longsword gives +1 to hit and +1d8 damage).[/quote] Sounds like we're going to have some serious damage scaling, like in 13A.

      Amor similarly has potency and properties. Potency affects AC, TAC, and saving throws. Some properties include invisibility and fortification.
      Magic armor boosting Touch AC is an idea who's time has come...

      ...18 years too late for a lot of characters...


      Seriously, though, definitely a good idea.

      This takes us on to potions. Potions can now have high level effects, and they don't have to be tied to the spell lists. Examples including healing potions, invisibility potions, dragon's breath potions, and oil of mending.[/LEFT]
      "Can now have?" How 'bout "high-level potion effects return..."
    1. Kaodi -
      I fear our new 2nd Edition overlords may have jumped the astral shark on this one. Some of these effects which require a whole RP to activate seem incredibly weak. Opportunity cost is going to define this system hard.
    1. Saelorn's Avatar
      Saelorn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kaodi View Post
      I fear our new 2nd Edition overlords may have jumped the astral shark on this one. Some of these effects which require a whole RP to activate seem incredibly weak. Opportunity cost is going to define this system hard.
      To be fair, ninety percent of the magical items in PF 1E were also vendor trash that nobody in their right mind would ever create, though I guess some of them saw use if they happened to show up somewhere.
    1. Kurviak's Avatar
      Kurviak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kaodi View Post
      I fear our new 2nd Edition overlords may have jumped the astral shark on this one. Some of these effects which require a whole RP to activate seem incredibly weak. Opportunity cost is going to define this system hard.
      But we have the opportunity to play test it and share our findings with the development team, so if enough people find the resonance system lacking it’ll be modified
    1. mellored's Avatar
      mellored -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      Sounds like we're going to have some serious damage scaling, like in 13A.
      You don't get multi-attack scaling, so damage it is.

      Magic armor boosting Touch AC is an idea who's time has come...

      ...18 years too late for a lot of characters...


      Seriously, though, definitely a good idea.
      I'd rather not have touch AC at all. There's enough defenses without it.

      So either make it a Dex save or give spells the appropriate attack bonus to hit regular AC.
    1. Sunseeker's Avatar
      Sunseeker -
      Of all the things I have issue with in PF2, this isn't one of them. This is probably one of the best elements I've seen.
    1. Koloth's Avatar
      Koloth -
      Yet another reason for parties to rest after EVERY encounter. Bad enough that many magic types feel that entering any combat with less then a full spell load just can't be allowed to happen, now ALL classes have a RP pool to manage and worry if any amount less then 100% means they need to stop and rest for the day.
    1. Jhaelen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Imaculata View Post
      People sure are going to love Paladins now.
      Which is kind of funny, given that Paladins in D&D traditionally were limited to a small amount of belongings (and magic items).
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      We expect Resonance Points to be a contentious topic, and we're really curious to see how it plays at your tables. It's one of the more experimental changes to the game, and the playtest process gives us a chance to see it in the wild before committing to it. Here are the advantages we see from a design perspective:

      Using items is clear and consistent. Spend the required actions and 1 RP, and you activate or invest your item. If someone else wants to use the same item, you can remove it and let them put it on and invest it themselves.
      You have less to track. We get to remove some of the sub-pools that individual items have (such as "10 rounds per day which need not be consecutive" or "5 charges") because we know you have an overall limited resource. There are still some items that can't be used without limit, but they get to be special exceptions rather than being common out of necessity.
      It puts the focus on the strongest items. Because you can't activate items indefinitely, your best bet is to use the most RP-efficient item, not the most gp-efficient item. You want a high-level healing wand because you get more healing for your Resonance Point rather than getting a bunch of low-level wands because they're cheap.
      Investiture limits what you can wear. That means we don't need to rely heavily on an item slot system, creating more flexibility in what kind of worn items are useful. You'll read more about this on the blog on Friday, when we talk about removing the magic item Christmas tree!
      There are a couple of contradicitons that obviously spring to mind when I read through the "advantages" to resonace that Logan suggested:

      Using items is clear and consistant: Except that some of the items Logan gave as examples did use resonance and some did not.

      You have less to track: Except that some of the items like the Luck Blade can only be used once per day and others have charges that not only need to be tracked but then also use your resonance to cast your own spells.

      Investiture limits what you can wear: Except that he then specifies that you can not use two cloaks but can use two amulets. So in other words we still have the old body slot limitation but as an extra benefit get to add another extra Resonance tax on top of it. Unless your item does not actually use resonance because it may or may not.

      And of course that is not even mentioning that Charisma powers Resonance unless it does not issue that we have known about for a while. Because Alchemists are the ones who create magic items now.

      But at least we still have Resonance forcing us to focus on the strongest items we have instead of well any other option that we wanted to. So I guess one out of four is not a bad success rate.
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