Paizo A question about Paizo/PF adventure design

CapnZapp

Legend
Something that occurred to me while reading your post is that this is how 3e and PF1 were supposed to work. Two CRs are equal to a CR+2, and a CR+2 is supposed to be twice as difficult. Of course, that’s not how it worked in practice.
I'm curious as to why you'd think that.

I played 3rd edition for a long time, and never got this impression.

It was only very rarely a problem for the characters that the monsters regrouped, since "regrouping" implies "there's so many of them they're not individually threatening" and if they're not individually threatening, a Fireball handles twice as many just fine.

In contrast, it's really only now at ~15th level I'm starting to see Pathfinder 2 work that way. The four heroes just fought off eight Level 12 monsters (gogiteths) like it was nothing. And they didn't even need to use any area effects. (They crit easily, and two or three crits easily deal 250 damage. Not to mention how they popped them left and right with Scare to Death)
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
I think the point is PF2 APs do what you want.

There are low-threat encounters, but the majority are moderate-threat or harder. Moderate-threat encounters can turn into TPKs if something reacts dynamically and joins the fight. PCs need to be super careful and do what they can to eek out an advantage. Like @CapnZapp says, it’s very much “combat as war” rather than “combat as sport”. However, if a group is bad at tactics (like mine is), then even moderate-threat encounters are potentially life-threatening without any reinforcements or dynamism. PF2 places a much higher emphasis on good, tactical play than PF1 does.
Aren't these two quotes (taken from the same post) contradicting each other?

I would say PF2 APs doesn't do whatever you want. I would say they do the exact opposite - they do a very specific thing, and if that's not what you want you have to start changing things around.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I just don't like "Oh a combat encounter? I'm gonna go make a sandwich, you guys are good." A little bit of tension is nice. The threat of combat actually produces tension, rather than "Yee haw, sports time" and players may exercise caution.
Pathfinder 2 is the perfect game for the games master who was fed up on spending laborious hour after laborious hour, painstakingly creating lots of monsters and NPCs and setting up encounters according to the guidelines, only to see the heroes cut through those encounters like a hot knife through butter.

In Pathfinder 2 every monster is a threat, unless it's more than four levels lower, and then the game doesn't even bother (practically telling you to skip the fight - after all you get no XP). And it's is very easy and quick to stat up your own monsters. And NPCs aren't different - they work exactly like monsters and almost nothing like PCs.

Official APs routinely features a dozen fight that follow a comparatively very strict regimen - if there's just one, it completely outclasses the heroes, if there's four they're more evenly matched, and so on. After the first round, there's doom and gloom as the monsters come across as unbeatable, but after the third round, the heroes triumphantly rise from the ashes to come out on top anyway, and then it's just mop up. And repeat. (This is not due to the game rules, this is due to how APs are written)

Had it not been for the huge rules clutter headache, the game would have been a wonder for its uncanny ability to create so much excitement without in the end being that much more deadly* :)
*) level 1 is still fantasy freaking vietnam thou
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I'm curious as to why you'd think that.

I played 3rd edition for a long time, and never got this impression.
It’s what the DMG says about building encounters.

DMG, page 101:
In general, if a creature’s Challenge Rating is two lower than a given Encounter Level, then two creatures of that type equal an encounter of that Encounter Level. Thus, a pair of frost giants (CR 9 each) make an EL 11 encounter. The progression holds of doubling the number of creatures for each drop of two places in their individual CR, so that four CR 7 creatures (say, four hill giants) are an EL 11 encounter, as are eight CR 5 creatures (such as ettins). This calculation does not work with creatures whose CR is 1 or less, so be sure to use Table 4-1: Encounter Numbers for such encounters.
If doubling the number of creatures increases the EL by 2, then it should follow that an CR 4 creature should be twice as difficult as an CR 2 creature, and a CR 10 should be twice as difficult as an CR 8. Of course, that’s not really how things worked (especially with how variably powerful PCs could be). Your experience matches what I’m saying (that the system didn’t work the way the guidelines said it should).

My point was that PF2 seems to follow a similar curve, except it actually works. Hence all the hand-wringing about difficulty in encounters. If the GM preps a hard encounter, it’s likely to play out as an actual challenge.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Not sure what you mean by "baby" encounters?
A “baby” encounter is essentially anything that a combat-focused group would find trivial or boring (as suggested in the OP). In terms of guidelines, it’s probably anything that is less than a moderate-threat encounter (especially if that happens regularly rather than infrequently).

My group can’t really do anything beyond moderate-threat, and it sometimes struggles with moderate-threat encounters. That was part of an aside where I discussed how I recalibrated (in theory, anyway) the scale so I can have the full range back for my group when planning encounters. Harder encounters will still be extremely challenging for us, but the challenge should be more in line with what the system appears to intend.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Aren't these two quotes (taken from the same post) contradicting each other?

I would say PF2 APs doesn't do whatever you want. I would say they do the exact opposite - they do a very specific thing, and if that's not what you want you have to start changing things around.
The OP questioned why APs had easy encounters. He subsequently expressed a preference for those being rare. My inference is that the OP wants challenging encounters (that “pose a threat”). Per your post, monsters are lethal. In one of these threads, someone posted a breakdown of encounters in the first module of Age of Ashes. Unfortunately, I can’t find it right, but it had something like more than half of the encounters at moderate-threat or higher.

Based on my understanding of what the OP wants and the overall challenge of monsters and the way APs are structured, PF2 seems to give the OP just what he wants (encounters that “pose a threat”). Most of the examples in this thread seem to be from PF1, so I’m ignoring them for the sake of discussing how PF2 align with the OP’s expressed preference.

If that wasn’t your point, then I apologize for misreading you. I figured when you said that “nearly EVERY combat is of the harrowing” it should follow that it does what the OP wants (i.e., pose a threat, offer something overtly lethal).

There was a subsequent discussion of whether that causes problems for the AP format, but I think that’s nothing really new. It’s certainly a point that’s been made here before (that the system seems ill-suited for running AP-style games [unmodified, anyway]).
 

Lackofname

Explorer
@kenada I want to reiterate, while PF2 may line up more with my encounter difficulty tastes, it doesn't give me what I want considering I do not intend to play PF, 1e or 2e. I have no horse in this race.

The thread's intent is simply to understand "Why are there easy encounters in the module".
 
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!DWolf

Adventurer
In one of these threads, someone posted a breakdown of encounters in the first module of Age of Ashes. Unfortunately, I can’t find it right, but it had something like more than half of the encounters at moderate-threat or higher.
That was me:

Level 1:
There are 13 encounters at this level.
7 trivial,
4 moderate
2 severe.
Both of the severe encounters and one of the moderate encounters (and the only encounter to have a level 3 creature) have text specifically indicating that they can be resolved socially (and some of the creatures in those encounters may join the pcs to help them).

Level 2:
This level has 9 encounters:
4 low encounters
5 moderate encounters
One of the low encounters (a level 3 creature) is not meant to be fought - instead it is used to attack other creatures on the level. One of the moderate encounter explicitly lists surrender conditions. And one moderate encounter can be resolved social (and is adorable)

Level 3:
There are 10 encounters total, but the first three are in the dungeon and then there is an exploration/rp section with one encounter and then a mercenary camp. Total there are:
2 trivial
4 low
3 moderate
1 severe
The three moderate encounters have multiple ways to bypass them listed. Two low and two trivial encounters are mercenaries that might call reinforcements and become a higher threat encounter. They can be dealt with socially somewhat. The severe encounter is the end of the level boss fight.

Level 4:
This level only has 5 encounters:
1 trivial
1 low
1 moderate
2 severe
The trivial and low encounters can be befriended. One sever enucounter is the end of the module boss fight. The other is a level 7 creature that can TPK the party. It can be dealt with socially (appeasement) but most players won’t do it - especially since it doesn’t seem as dangerous as it is. This seems the only “overturned” encounter though.

Numbers:
37 total encounters (not all combat)
10 trivial (27%)
9 low (24%)
13 moderate (35%)
5 severe (14%)

Again note that not all the encounters are combat.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
@kenada I want to reiterate, while PF2 may line up more with my encounter difficulty tastes, it doesn't give me what I want considering I do not intend to play PF, 1e or 2e. I have no horse in this race.

The thread's intent is simply to understand "Why are there easy encounters in the module".
That’s fair. I was responding to that particular post but ended up ignoring the wider purpose of this thread. I’ll let the tangent lie since it’s ultimately moot.
 

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