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Pathfinder 2E Advice for a 5E DM moving to PF2E

Reynard

Legend
I am finally going to give Pathfinder 2E a honest go this spring -- using Abomination Vaults. From the perspective of someone going from 5E for the last 6 years (holy crap it has been 6 years) and Pathfinder 1E before that, please give me some practical advice for grokking PF2E.

A note: a couple things won't be helpful in this discussion. First, telling me not to do it or that PF2E sucks is not going to help, because I want to make any quality judgement on my own. And second, a wall of text probably won't help either. Maybe you have a hundred things to tell me, and I appreciate that, but maybe do it one point at a time?

Thanks.
 

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kenada

Hero
Supporter
Some things that come to mind:

Almost everything is part of the SRD. Archives of Nethys is your friend.

Pathbuilder is a good character creation app. Hero Lab Online kind of sucks. Nothing is standard like D&D Beyond.

Foundry has much better support for PF2 than roll20. The community is constantly adding and updating support.

Character creation is different from other D&Ds. Make sure your players have assigned all their boosts, especially the four free ones.

The encounter-building guidelines in PF2 actually work. If they say something is a severe-threat, that’s probably true.

PF2 expects the PCs fight as a team. If your players don’t, encounters can be more dangerous than the guidelines would suggest.

Not everything can make Attacks of Opportunity. If people forget or don’t realize and assume it works like 5e, they might move around less than they should.

Use exploration mode. It’s part of the game, and it’s where PCs can do stuff to help themselves out and prepare for a fight.

You don’t have to run the adventure rigidly by the book. In fact, that seems to be a recipe for disaster. See also: use exploration mode.
 

PF2 expects the PCs fight as a team. If your players don’t, encounters can be more dangerous than the guidelines would suggest.
THIS. I would even go a step further. Make sure the characters choose characters that will work together as a party. In 5e, a literal group of misfits can probably be pretty successful, PF2, not so much.

In PF2, a party absolutely needs a tank, someone with in-combat healing, and someone who invested heavily in the Medecine skill tree (preferably more than one person).
 

!DWolf

Explorer
I never ran 5e but here is some (randomly presented) advice for running 2e based on my experience (keeping in mind I run in person with a group comprising a mix of veteran an new players):

PF2E specific
  • Remember hero points.
  • Delaying is possible and useful in this edition.
  • explain how ready actions work. This has been the hardest thing for my players to grasp for some reason.
  • Your number intuition will be off at first. That is you/your players will see things like a +2 to AC from raising a shield and think that isn’t that much when in reality it is fantastic. Same thing for spells like bless and the fighter starting with expert proficiency.
  • Shields can be used by anyone - raising a shield requires no check.
  • The free archetype variant is fantastic
  • If you are creating characters, it helps to have your players select a concept with two or three schticks (for example a sword and board fighter who is highly superstitious and adorns themselves with talismans or a polearm fighter who is a dragoon who rides their horse to battle but dismounts to fight) and then select feats, skills, etc. that support that. If you have ever played chronicles of darkness games such as mage 2e the concept is very similar.
  • In earlier games such as PF1 putting everything into a single schtick was the way to build effective characters but in PF2E a broader approach seems to work better: so once you get three or four feats into a shtick consider adding another shtick instead.
  • you might want to consider milestone leveling. The milestones are on page three of the module.
  • the chase rules are quite good.
  • be familiar with the stealth rules and initiative rules - they are a little different from previous editions.
  • combat is more balanced between offense and active defense than earlier editions and it is often more beneficial to take a defensive action (raise shield, step away) than to make an attack at high MAP. Make sure your players understand this.
  • additionally the game is more focused on teamwork than previous games and it is often beneficial for decent sized parties to use actions (demoralize, trip, flanking, bon mot, recall knowledge, etc.) to help set up their teammates turn rather than take another strike action.
  • effects of some feats might not be apparent until they are used in play. For example: reactive shield tends to increase a characters offense, brutish shove is often used to deny enemy actions, and swipe is absolutely devastating and changes the positioning the gm (or players if the monster has it) can use.
  • don’t be afraid to have intelligent monsters retreat and to have animals act like animals (sharks will retreat after realizing people aren’t seals, something defending its lair can be avoided by simply backing off and going around, even a starving wolf isn’t going to attack four people, etc.) Likewise mindless monsters won’t use sophisticated tactics and will walk right into situations that will go poorly for them without a thought.
  • character have skill feats, be sure to know what they are and make notes on where they might come up as you prep the module. A lurking slurk might be detected with survey wildlife for instance.
  • likewise for lore skills. Labor lore to clear rubble for instance. In general I reduce the DCs by five if the character is using the appropriate lore skill.
  • monsters should usually be engaged in some activity rather than sitting in a room could completely silent, fully armed and armored, waiting for the characters to arrive. Exceptions are if they are alerted and staging an ambush or they are mindless undead or constructs. If possible increase verisimilitude by having the players discover the activities (there is a poker table with cards on it in the hobgoblin guard room, you hear the yells of mites trying to train their vermin, the antipaladin is in her pajamas and her hair is a mess, etc.)
  • when foreshadowing remember the long range effects of monsters. In the module in particular Otari is just a mile away. They will know about some of the monsters that come out and hunt.
  • it might be useful to audit the characters before the session and make sure that they have things like healers tools, ranged and melee options, and third action options.
  • let the players know it’s okay to tactically withdraw (I.e. retreat).
  • also that retreating is best done before the combat even starts. That is the players detect the encounter, determine it would be better fought in a different location, move to that location, and then engage the encounter.
  • if things go really bad, remember that Otari is a five minute run from the dungeon (I would use the chase rules). Also signal whistles from gauntlight can probably be heard back in town (and flares at night).

And some general advice:
  • If possible record your sessions and go back over them.
  • I found some of Seth Skorkowsky’s videos super helpful. Especially the ones on mindset and player tactics.
 

meltdownpass

Explorer
Are you running as a DM or PC?

DM-wise:
  • Be prepared that PF2E is significantly more deadly to PCs than almost any edition of D&D
    • That being said, it's hard for characters to actively die if you have foes pull punches. The dying-condition is fairly forgiving.
    • Beware of TPKs once players start dropping. It's very easy once you drop one player to snowball into TPK.
  • Expect and encourage characters to rest and heal to full between every encounter
  • In a moderate encounter, the opponents your PCs will regularly fight will be equal-to or better-than your PCs
    • Because crits occur anytime you beat a value by +10, enemies will crit often on your PCs.
  • Read ahead in the AP. Make an effort to foreshadow things that players might encounter.
    • Let your players outsmart the opponents where applicable
    • Don't be afraid to change up the monsters to help define enemy class identity more strongly.
      • Pathfinder 2 enemies don't have anything like D&D 4th Edition's Defender/Striker/Support/Control archetypes -- This is actually to its detriment since enemies can feel same-y.
PC-wise:
  • Sometimes the AP might give you a sense of urgency to push forward; always play conservatively
  • Most of the time you can't optimize UP; instead optimize OUT to gain new capabilities
    • If you're like me and your first instinct is to run a simple Single-Class 1-20 character when you're learning a new system, realize this puts you at a big disadvantage
    • Review the Archetypes in detail, because they can add major new capabilities to your character that often outweigh single Class feats
    • Ex. The Medic Dedication lets your Stride and perform Battle Medicine for one action. As a support character that's a huge benefit.
  • Using your actions efficiently is the key to staying alive
    • Avoid the impulse to take suboptimal roleplay actions in combat, you might accidentally get yourself or a friend killed. Arguably this is more realistic roleplaying!
  • You will want at least one player with Battle Medicine, and one player with access to Healing magic
  • For spellcasters there is a ton of trap options, especially at low levels.
    • Be careful taking any single-target damage dealing spell
    • Be careful taking any single-target status-inflicting spell
    • Haste
 

The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
Make sure everyone has their key stat maxed, its possible on any build and the game naturally spreads your stats out so there's no reason not to.

Use Pathbuilder 2e to build the characters if you can, its an android exclusive app, although a web version is coming along nicely-- making Pathfinder 2e characters with it is way faster than sheets, or even DND Beyond is for that game. The 'import as statblock' option makes really simple and easy to use references.

Don't overwhelm yourselves with the rules, learn as you go along, its not the worst thing if you aren't using exploration mode properly at first, or don't bother with the downtime rules for a while. They're great systems, but they can wait till you have a good grasp on the basics.

Thats pretty much it, take your time playing and learning the game, players may have a tough time at first with some of the encounters, depending on their personalities they might just enjoy taking their time and getting better at the game (which will absolutely fix it), or boost them up a single level over what the book expects them to be at if they're not the types to enjoy the experience of improving.
 
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Porridge

Explorer
One of things that's not immediately obvious when building a character, but which has (IME) an outsized effect on player enjoyment, is making sure the character have a variety of attractive options for what to do with their third action (after casting their 2-action spell/cantrip, after attacking twice, or using a 2-action ability).

For example, for a caster, it's fun to have choices for your third action like: take a shot with your shortbow, cast a Shield cantrip to boost your defense, or Recall Knowledge. But, of course, for these to be attractive options, you need to invest in them a bit: you need to make sure you have a decent Dex and shortbow proficiency, the Shield cantrip, and good knowledge skills.

For another example, for a Ranger, it's fun to have choices for your third action like: raise a shield, Demoralize your opponent, or command your animal companion. But again, for these to all be attractive options, you need to invest in them a bit: get the Shield Block feat (if your class doesn't give it to you), invest in Intimidation and have a decent Charisma, and go for the animal companion line of feats.

Anyway, I've found that having at least three attractive third action options is a sweet spot, and something worth encouraging your players to do.
 
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I'd love hear how this campaign goes. I'm just wrapping up a 1-20 5E campaign that went all across the Forgotten Realms and the planes. For my next campaign I want something a little bit more...focused. Smaller scale. Probably a dungeon crawl. I'm looking at either the Abomination Vaults or The Banewarrens from Ptolus.
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
Surprise rules. at first, because there are no surprise rules in the book, you are going to think its just not a thing. and the editing doesn't help. but they are in there, and once you tease them out, THEY ARE AWESOME - because unlike 5e, where surprise is about a free action, in PF2, Surprise is about positioning before initiative gets rolled. I played like 20+ sessions and never got this until we gamed it out after a session for about an hour. now this is one of the best things in PF2 IMO.

other, quicker elements:
  • encounters are tougher. but really, only to the extent at which the GM is an optimizer.
  • +1's seem to matter, but players will get sad-face at "only" a +1. remind them that +1 is important because it intersects 4-ways due to the +/- 10 to crit core rule
  • Exploration mode is fun. harkens back to the 10 minute turn. there is stuff for everyone to do. a great way to get all players involved in out of combat play
  • I continue to have a hell of a time with conditions and traits and stacking of modifiers. this will continue to be the bane of me with my poor "rules" memory. if you can get this, you'll be a rock-star
  • the online tools - in particular (Pathfinder 2 | easy Actions Library | Beta) and (Home - Archives of Nethys: Pathfinder 2nd Edition Database) are the only way to play. unlike 5e where I, like you, have years of experience and "winging" it is easier, PF2 is a tight system and having these fantastic online tools makes in-the-moment rule references, spell, condition and monster lookups makes the game playable.
  • you are going to see Crits EVERYWHERE. get used to it. especially from monsters
  • the 3-action economy is fantastic, but players will need help, especially if they are not used to synergistic play. Aid is viable, movement is important, cover and prone and flanking etc. as a GM who is first and foremost the fans of my players, I spend time reminding players each turn of other options available to them instead of simply stride-strike-strike (at -5). I try to teach and learn how to make each encounter more dynamic.
  • another 5e to pf2. Triggering opportunity attacks. any movement within the threatening space of an opponent will trigger an opportunity attack unless you take the step action. that takes some getting used to.

Cheers,

J.
 


JmanTheDM

Explorer
nowhere, everywhere... :). this is going to meander a bit.. so stay with me :)
we all know that initiative is rolled at the start of an encounter. "surprise" is in delaying the start of an encounter until conditions are most favourable to your side.

Initiative is also now determined by different skills based on what you are doing - eg. if you are sneaking, you would roll stealth instead of Perception. this implies that the actions you were up to prior to entering hostilities in many ways dictates how you will respond (and how fast you will react), once initiative is called.

the GM also has the ability to apply bonuses to Initiative based on the actions the PC's or Monsters are doing just before Initiative has been called.

per the CRB pg 468. "Rolling Initiative marks the start of an encounter. More often than not, you’ll roll initiative when you enter a battle."

so you DON'T want to enter battle until you want to enter battle. Surprise here is determining (when possible) when to start a fight. in the GM section, calling initiative is the transition from Exploration mode into encounter mode.

but the key KEY element is on pg 498 Rolling Initiative: "Call for initiative once a trap is triggered, as soon as two opposing groups come
into contact, or when a creature on one side decides to take action against the other."

holy crap, long winded way to get to my point :)
worth noting, save for one little side-bar on pg 499, there is no use of the word surprise anywhere for combat.

so, here's how my group has interpreted all of the above. Combat starts "as soon as 2 opposing groups..." or "when a creature on one side decides to take action..." the key here is to either not be perceived as an opposing group or to not force a decision to take an action until its on your terms. how is this done? entirely through your actions in Exploration mode prior to the start of combat.

Example 1: kick down the door, rush in. monsters automatically perceive you as an opposing group, initiative is rolled as soon as the door fly's open. you are at a (possible) positional disadvantage because you are at the door and will need to move a certain distance to get within striking range of your opposition. this costs you actions that could be otherwise allocated for other purposes.

Example 2: same door, you hear the monsters, some of the party sneak, and some are going to try and bluff their way into the room. door opens, monsters sense motive and seek - and discover something is amiss. at this point, same as example 1, you instantly transition into combat by calling initiative and PC's are at positional disadvantage.

Example 3. same as 2, but PC's pass all their exploration actions. monsters are completely oblivious. the sneaky sneaks are sneaking, and the deception of the pizza delivery is working. the PC's move into the room, they slide into position. Pizza Delivery folks get themselves into Flank position ahead of time, or close to the rooms BBG - whatever. Monsters are, like, "sure whatever, we love pizza!" and depending on what the PC's are doing, there may be other sense motive or seek what's going on. maybe not. until the PC's are ready. the PC's "spring the trap".

now, initiative is rolled exactly the same. Order is figured out exactly the same. 3-actions are exactly the same way, with the following differences. nobody gets a "surprise round". this doesn't exist
  • if you were sneaking in exploration - you will likely roll stealth
  • if you were pretending to be the pizza delivery dude - you might roll deception
  • if you are hiding around the corner, waiting out of site for the "go" - you may roll Perception
  • monsters, likely will roll perception
  • GM, may decide that the pizza dudes get a +1 or +2 on their initiative because of role-play reasons. (optional)

now, you'll notice the flaw (if you think in a 5e mindset). rolling initiative as per normal, you or your side has no "guarantee" of going first. this is 100% correct. You better be using those stealth and deception skills that you are really good at to try and get into position (otherwise, you will likely have been caught earlier), but this is the vagaries of life and combat. there is no guarantee that the ambushing side will universally act faster. there is nothing to suggest that a monster may notice that slight twitch in your eye and they react quicker. the only thing you can hopefully do is decide when the fight will start, using the skills/abilities you have to give you the most advantage to try and go first - but once it starts, its all up to luck.

some may say this is not "Surprise" in the traditional sense. I 100% agree, but what I LOVE about this is the positional aspect of the lead-up to combat. if you can start a fight when you are flanking a foe, just due to the action economy, you have given yourself in the 1st round a huge advantage...

Anyway, that's how my table has interpreted things, and I honestly love it.
(now I'll grab some popcorn and wait to hear how stupid we are :) )

cheers,

J.

couple quick notes:
  • traditional "surprise" is described as 2 groups rounding a corner at the same time. Surprise! if lucky, your group can go first. this doesn't happen here. initiative, in a narrative sense, in this case determines which PC or Monster recovers from the surprise fastest and reacts first.
  • note 2. I think of PF2 surprise as an ambush. nobody wants to setup an ambush and have the enemies spot it 100 yards away, they want the trap sprung in the kill zone. the advantage of an ambush is springing the trap in the kill zone, not individual reaction speed.
 

kenada

Hero
Supporter
nowhere, everywhere... :). this is going to meander a bit.. so stay with me :)
we all know that initiative is rolled at the start of an encounter. "surprise" is in delaying the start of an encounter until conditions are most favourable to your side.

Initiative is also now determined by different skills based on what you are doing - eg. if you are sneaking, you would roll stealth instead of Perception. this implies that the actions you were up to prior to entering hostilities in many ways dictates how you will respond (and how fast you will react), once initiative is called.

the GM also has the ability to apply bonuses to Initiative based on the actions the PC's or Monsters are doing just before Initiative has been called.

per the CRB pg 468. "Rolling Initiative marks the start of an encounter. More often than not, you’ll roll initiative when you enter a battle."

so you DON'T want to enter battle until you want to enter battle. Surprise here is determining (when possible) when to start a fight. in the GM section, calling initiative is the transition from Exploration mode into encounter mode.

but the key KEY element is on pg 498 Rolling Initiative: "Call for initiative once a trap is triggered, as soon as two opposing groups come
into contact, or when a creature on one side decides to take action against the other."

holy crap, long winded way to get to my point :)
worth noting, save for one little side-bar on pg 499, there is no use of the word surprise anywhere for combat.

so, here's how my group has interpreted all of the above. Combat starts "as soon as 2 opposing groups..." or "when a creature on one side decides to take action..." the key here is to either not be perceived as an opposing group or to not force a decision to take an action until its on your terms. how is this done? entirely through your actions in Exploration mode prior to the start of combat.

Example 1: kick down the door, rush in. monsters automatically perceive you as an opposing group, initiative is rolled as soon as the door fly's open. you are at a (possible) positional disadvantage because you are at the door and will need to move a certain distance to get within striking range of your opposition. this costs you actions that could be otherwise allocated for other purposes.

Example 2: same door, you hear the monsters, some of the party sneak, and some are going to try and bluff their way into the room. door opens, monsters sense motive and seek - and discover something is amiss. at this point, same as example 1, you instantly transition into combat by calling initiative and PC's are at positional disadvantage.

Example 3. same as 2, but PC's pass all their exploration actions. monsters are completely oblivious. the sneaky sneaks are sneaking, and the deception of the pizza delivery is working. the PC's move into the room, they slide into position. Pizza Delivery folks get themselves into Flank position ahead of time, or close to the rooms BBG - whatever. Monsters are, like, "sure whatever, we love pizza!" and depending on what the PC's are doing, there may be other sense motive or seek what's going on. maybe not. until the PC's are ready. the PC's "spring the trap".

now, initiative is rolled exactly the same. Order is figured out exactly the same. 3-actions are exactly the same way, with the following differences. nobody gets a "surprise round". this doesn't exist
  • if you were sneaking in exploration - you will likely roll stealth
  • if you were pretending to be the pizza delivery dude - you might roll deception
  • if you are hiding around the corner, waiting out of site for the "go" - you may roll Perception
  • monsters, likely will roll perception
  • GM, may decide that the pizza dudes get a +1 or +2 on their initiative because of role-play reasons. (optional)

now, you'll notice the flaw (if you think in a 5e mindset). rolling initiative as per normal, you or your side has no "guarantee" of going first. this is 100% correct. You better be using those stealth and deception skills that you are really good at to try and get into position (otherwise, you will likely have been caught earlier), but this is the vagaries of life and combat. there is no guarantee that the ambushing side will universally act faster. there is nothing to suggest that a monster may notice that slight twitch in your eye and they react quicker. the only thing you can hopefully do is decide when the fight will start, using the skills/abilities you have to give you the most advantage to try and go first - but once it starts, its all up to luck.

some may say this is not "Surprise" in the traditional sense. I 100% agree, but what I LOVE about this is the positional aspect of the lead-up to combat. if you can start a fight when you are flanking a foe, just due to the action economy, you have given yourself in the 1st round a huge advantage...

Anyway, that's how my table has interpreted things, and I honestly love it.
(now I'll grab some popcorn and wait to hear how stupid we are :) )

cheers,

J.

couple quick notes:
  • traditional "surprise" is described as 2 groups rounding a corner at the same time. Surprise! if lucky, your group can go first. this doesn't happen here. initiative, in a narrative sense, in this case determines which PC or Monster recovers from the surprise fastest and reacts first.
  • note 2. I think of PF2 surprise as an ambush. nobody wants to setup an ambush and have the enemies spot it 100 yards away, they want the trap sprung in the kill zone. the advantage of an ambush is springing the trap in the kill zone, not individual reaction speed.
That approach to surprise is similar to the encounter procedure in basic D&D. Neat.
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
I obviously have a lot to say about this :). Couple of points that my table needed to work through.
"but what if I roll a 1 on my initiative, and I was the one who triggered the start of the fight"
  • answer 1: tough beans. such is the vagaries of war.
  • answer 2: spend a hero point and re-roll. nowhere does it say Initiative cannot have hero points applied to it (as far as I am aware)
  • answer 3: next time, don't try bluffing as the pizza delivery dude, when deception is a middling skill mr. all tracking Ranger?

"but it doesn't make logical sense. I'm the one that springs the trap by charging, why is the cleric who's hiding behind the wall in the other room get to go before me?"
  • answer 1: tough beans. such is the vagaries of war
  • better answer 2: everything is happening at the same time. as soon as you shouted your battlecry to start the attack, the cleric who was on the balls of his feet ready to spring into action simply reacted in that very instant when he heard your first syllable of your shout.

"why do the monsters get to go before us, they were totally fooled?"
  • answer 1: were they? narratively, the fast acting monsters may have had "suspicions" that allowed them to keep their guard up while still not triggering a move into combat
  • answer 2: tough beans. some monsters simply react faster than you do, some of the time.
  • answer 3: but look at all the actions they need to spend (Assuming thinking monsters) to get out of this disadvantageous position. likely needing to spend an action to step out of flank and Opportunity attack. maybe spend another action to move to a tactically superior position. you are looking at between 33-66% of this first responder's turn "burned up" in trying to mitigate the disastrous starting position as a result of this ambush.
its a phenomenal advantage in pf2 if you can "cost" your opponent actions by forcing them to react while "saving" yourself actions by not needing to move into position simply by starting combat where you optimally want to start things.

Cheers,

J.
 
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The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
Is this true? If so, it makes me a bit sad. I hate the idea that you have to have a maxed stat.
its true unless you don't use attack rolls or saving throws at all, but the game naturally spreads your stats out anyway, so you aren't really losing anything by doing it, and any ancestry can get a maxed stat as well, so its not restrictive either. Its a product of the math being tight, if +1 matters, then conversely -1 matters too.

That being said I've seen people claim a starting 16 is fine, and you'll have the same modifier as someone who maxed it for half of the game's levels (since your modifier only increases on odd numbers) I would personally suggest a starting 18 is a better experience for new players though.

My group's opinion is that anything below an 18 is terrible for a primary stat, and will feel super bad, so I'd go with what they say, given that they seem to do better than most of the people I read about, and with harder encounters.
 

dave2008

Legend
its true unless you don't use attack rolls or saving throws at all, but the game naturally spreads your stats out anyway, so you aren't really losing anything by doing it, and any ancestry can get a maxed stat as well, so its not restrictive either. Its a product of the math being tight, if +1 matters, then conversely -1 matters too.

That being said I've seen people claim a starting 16 is fine, and you'll have the same modifier as someone who maxed it for half of the game's levels (since your modifier only increases on odd numbers) I would personally suggest a starting 18 is a better experience for new players though.

My group's opinion is that anything below an 18 is terrible for a primary stat, and will feel super bad, so I'd go with what they say, given that they seem to do better than most of the people I read about, and with harder encounters.
Thank you for the reply. That is disappointing. I wonder if there is anything that can be done to break out of that straight jacket.
 

Campbell

Legend
In general assuming the default ability boost generation method when you opt out of an 18 it's going to be because you are prioritizing your third or fourth best ability score. If something is not your key ability you cannot get above a 16 anyway.

Some sample arrays (assumes a human character)

18 / 16 / 12 / 12 / 10 / 10
18 / 14 / 14 / 12 / 10 / 10
16 / 16 / 14/ 12/ 10 / 10
16 / 14 / 14/ 14/ 10 / 10

At the end of the day I really do not think a 16 is gimping you. Your gameplay choices are going to have a lot more effect on how successful you are, but there's just not like a lot of reason not to prioritize your main strength because there are plenty of options to still be good at other stuff while having that 18.

Here's the same arrays at Level 5 assuming we prioritize the 4 top stats


19 / 18 / 14 / 14 / 10 / 10
19 / 16 / 16 / 14 / 10 / 10
18 / 18 / 16/ 14/ 10 / 10
18 / 16 / 16/ 16/ 10 / 10

Far and away you generally one of the biggest factors in not encouraging you to dump your key ability score for tertiary stuff is that Constitution's impact on hit points is far less than other versions of the game and when it comes to Dexterity's impact on AC you want sufficient Dexterity, but more does not help. Generally you want to be good at something because you want to be good at what it does. Not to avoid dying.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
THIS. I would even go a step further. Make sure the characters choose characters that will work together as a party. In 5e, a literal group of misfits can probably be pretty successful, PF2, not so much.

In PF2, a party absolutely needs a tank, someone with in-combat healing, and someone who invested heavily in the Medecine skill tree (preferably more than one person).
Well, one single character can't really "tank". What you need is several heroes able and willing to step in and cover each other.

At low level, the offensive power of spells is significantly lower than you would be used to coming from pretty much any other edition of D&D, so my recommendation for a party composition that makes things as easy as possible would be three weapon users and one cleric. That is, instead of the "classic" party of four: fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard; you switch out the wizard for a ranger, barbarian, paladin or even bard, druid or (of course) second fighter.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
[*]don’t be afraid to have intelligent monsters retreat and to have animals act like animals (sharks will retreat after realizing people aren’t seals, something defending its lair can be avoided by simply backing off and going around, even a starving wolf isn’t going to attack four people, etc.) Likewise mindless monsters won’t use sophisticated tactics and will walk right into situations that will go poorly for them without a thought.
[*]monsters should usually be engaged in some activity rather than sitting in a room could completely silent, fully armed and armored, waiting for the characters to arrive. Exceptions are if they are alerted and staging an ambush or they are mindless undead or constructs. If possible increase verisimilitude by having the players discover the activities (there is a poker table with cards on it in the hobgoblin guard room, you hear the yells of mites trying to train their vermin, the antipaladin is in her pajamas and her hair is a mess, etc.)
What all of this means is only "monsters are deadly in PF2" and (low level) combat can be incredibly dangerous.

You actually aren't obligated to do any of the above (more than in any other edition of D&D), it's just a way for the GM to voluntarily lower the difficulty level. God knows PF2 heroes (again, at low level) need it.

But it should be remembered that there's no "should" here, as if the GM were to blame otherwise.

PF2 can be unforgivingly hard - but that is entirely on Paizo, since they did not tell GMs of any of this in their GM advice. GMs aren't obliged to go soft on their players to save Paizo's reputation here.
 

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