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

kenada

Hero
Supporter
I just want to point out that these math theory walls of text aren't really useful to me in the context of my OP.
Sorry about that. I tried to make the first one at least useful as a way to help new GMs (since my group did manage to botch character creation the first time we did it), but I wanted to respond to CapnZapp to clarify since he had a bunch of questions.
 

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Reynard

Legend
Sorry about that. I tried to make the first one at least useful as a way to help new GMs (since my group did manage to botch character creation the first time we did it), but I wanted to respond to CapnZapp to clarify since he had a bunch of questions.
It's no problem, I was just hoping to derail a thread killing tangent/argument.
 

Again, I'm not asking for customization in generating stats, but flexibility in using them. A STR 16 or even 14 fighter in 5e is completely acceptable. From what I am hearing here, that is a death wish in PF2.

Really this gets to a lot of differences between the systems and not stat generation. It was just this discussion that made it home a bit more.
I played an Elven Wizard in PF2 (before I had extensively grokked the system). Naturally, I had an 18 Int. The 14 Dex was sufficiently for my character to play like he had a death wish, because most opponents encountered had a 15% chance to crit him on the first hit (and a 5% chance on the second).

Those crits are deadly.
 

Also speaking from my 5e guild game experience with interchangeable group a starting 14 in strength would not be acceptable in 5e. Those were the characters that ended up feeling kind of bad for the player if the rest of the group wasn't similarly badly optimized and the GM wasn't pulling punches for their sake.
My current group just hit level 8. The fighter has STR 20. The paladin has STR 14, DEX 14. No complaints from the paladin about how ineffective he feels. YMMV.
 

TheSword

Legend
These comments about expectations of the maths are really depressing. One of the things I loved about pathfinder 1 was how you could basically build any character type you wanted because of the flexibility and forgiveness of the system.

You didn’t need to fight for every + because there were so many floating around that if you did you’d be unnecessarily overpowered it gave the freedom to indulge yourself a little. It sounds like PF2 is less forgiving in this regard and has more expectations due to difficulty of encounter design and the impact of levels of success/failure.

I wonder how much of this is the law of unintended consequences at play.
 

dave2008

Legend
These comments about expectations of the maths are really depressing. One of the things I loved about pathfinder 1 was how you could basically build any character type you wanted because of the flexibility and forgiveness of the system.

You didn’t need to fight for every + because there were so many floating around that if you did you’d be unnecessarily overpowered it gave the freedom to indulge yourself a little. It sounds like PF2 is less forgiving in this regard and has more expectations due to difficulty of encounter design and the impact of levels of success/failure.

I wonder how much of this is the law of unintended consequences at play.
Though I agree with you somewhat, from the responses I've gotten in this thread, it seems you do have the freedom because getting max primary stat is easy, so you have freedom to apply your other bonuses elsewhere. Others can correct me if I am mistaken.
 

Looking over the thread there is some great advice but while the math in PF2 is tight....there are several tools in the Bestiary[weak, and elite template], and GMG[monster creation rules] to adjust encounters. As a long time PF1 player and now running PF2 the difficulty in the systems greatly depend upon the content you are running.
While Paizo is often praised for their adventure paths, I would classify the vast majority of them as "Hard Mode". Every player in an adventure path should be focused in concept, with ideal stats spreads, ability choices, and working together as a team.
For new groups I would recommend instead to run something from the Pathfinder 2 Beginner box or one of the Pathfinder Society adventures. With the society adventures[ at least the ones I've run and played] they are more "forgiving" in the difficulty since anyone could show up to the table.
This weekend I ran the PFS Bounty: Witch's Winter Holiday, for two players. The Leshy wizard had a 16int, the Dwarf Swashbuckler had a 16 str and a 14 dex. The adventure had in essence 3 skill challenges and 1 combat. The players aced the skill challenges, and defeated the combat[level 2 monster, I applied the weak template], after a few rounds of combat.
As with any system the experience at the "table" will depend a lot on the types of players there, who is running the game, and what content is being played through.
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
I can say with certainty and confidence you can 100% successfully play without min/maxing your prime stat. with non-optimized PC's, we have not had an unending blood-bath of PC deaths. We have had 26 sessions of Fun. Close calls, not 1 PC perma-death, laughter, hijinks, great role-playing, the ability to attempt and succeed and fail at non-core abilities, to sneak past guards, to negotiate out of fights, to swing across chandeliers, chases through dungeons, and merging encounters into session long running battles.

In short, everything I love about fantasy role-playing is not only allowed, but actively supported in PF2.

If your prime stat was supposed to be at max, and this was "by design", don't you think the designers would have, you know, created a char-gen process to enforce this? This assertion, and other statements about the "one-true-way" that PF2 must be played, my first-hand experience in every instance becomes the counter argument as to why these facts are simply stylistic choices. But don't mistake what I just said as the one-true-way either - my choices are also stylistic and I only included as illustrative that there are other ways the PF2 can be played.

PF2 is the most dial-rich version of D&D I've ever played. By "dial-rich" I mean inbuilt support for dialing up or down rules, complexity, difficulty, and adherence to the various rule subsystems. <-- right here is what past me would have loved to have heard future me say, so I didn't obsess so much about learning it all, all at once.

The OP asks what should a 5e DM consider when moving to PF2? Though I did add some feedback in earlier posts, I would say the following as a general statement. Depending on your group's play style (my group is VERY free-flowing with Rule of Cool being most important), I would suggest the following:

While PF2 supports a much more rules heavy approach to game-play, it does not need to - and the game does fully support a much more rules-light GM Fiat mode of play similar to 5e. Don't bog yourself down with trying (initially) to memorize all the conditions, or modifiers or traits or feats. You really only need to understand the -4 to +4 range for penalties/bonuses with +/- 1-2 being the norm and keep the CRB tables 10-4, 5 and 6 handy for quick reference. Otherwise, simply knowing what the top line skill and attribute definitions are without fretting over specific skill actions, you will be 100% fine and will have a great time playing PF2.

It really can be that simple. (if you want it to be)

Cheers,

J.
 
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Porridge

Explorer
I think part of the pressure people have felt to maximize one’s main stat comes from the difficulty level of the first batch of adventures Paizo released for PF2, when Paizon was still getting a feel for the system. (And since they have to send this stuff to the publishers loooong before it comes out, it took them a while before they could start responding to feedback on difficulty in published adventures.)

If you compare the difficulty level of the early adventures versus that of the most recent Abomination Vaults AP, the difference is pretty dramatic. So I suspect you’d be OK running less than fully min-maxed PCs through the Abomination Vaults AP.

So it turns out I am running Fall of Plaguestone first, and the bastards have decided to build an all goblin party. I can't tell if it is a sign of enthusiasm or an act of protest.

...speaking of which, Fall of Plaguestone has a reputation for being perhaps the worst balanced PF2 adventure difficulty-wise. I haven’t played it personally, but from what I’ve heard from those who have, you might want to consider giving the PCs an extra level (and using milestone leveling to keep them 1 level ahead) if you’re going to run the encounters as written.
 

Reynard

Legend
...speaking of which, Fall of Plaguestone has a reputation for being perhaps the worst balanced PF2 adventure difficulty-wise. I haven’t played it personally, but from what I’ve heard from those who have, you might want to consider giving the PCs an extra level (and using milestone leveling to keep them 1 level ahead) if you’re going to run the encounters as written.
I have heard that. I have 5 players so I am going to play it as it at first anyway and see if the additional party member evens things out a little. I hate messing with stuff during a testing phase if I can help it.
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
...speaking of which, Fall of Plaguestone has a reputation for being perhaps the worst balanced PF2 adventure difficulty-wise. I haven’t played it personally, but from what I’ve heard from those who have, you might want to consider giving the PCs an extra level (and using milestone leveling to keep them 1 level ahead) if you’re going to run the encounters as written.

I've heard that as well.

as a very quick counter to this. I ran Plaguestone for a group of 5. 16 sessions worth of play.
no TPK, no single player perma-death

and I increased the difficulty in some parts.

  • I added 2 gnolls in the Hallod BBG end-fight to conclude chapter 1 (added difficulty to the encounter mistakenly)
  • did not do the bear fight ('cause the whole "walk around town didn't sit well with me)
  • had most orcs (I changed them to gnolls) in the upper/ground section of spites cradle fight all at once (like 4 encounter areas merged into one)
  • the blood ooze and the sculptor fought together (this was a very close battle), with the Sculptor able to mini-command the ooze

it was tough, nail biting even in some parts, but with 5 players even with some "mistaken" increased lethality like I did survivable. I'm not an optimizer GM.

cheers,

J.
 





dave2008

Legend
Question here. How does the Fighter have a str of 20 at lv 8? Do they have a stat increase item?
@FrozenNorth was talking about their 5e group (I believe) in response to a comment by The-Magic-Sword that: "... group a starting 14 in strength would not be acceptable in 5e."

It is very easy to have a maxed stat in 5e for a fighter at lvl 8.
 


Justice and Rule

Adventurer
@FrozenNorth was talking about their 5e group (I believe) in response to a comment by The-Magic-Sword that: "... group a starting 14 in strength would not be acceptable in 5e."

Ah. I guess it's passable, but typically that low a stat in your primary ability is asking to be outshone by someone else. Also depends on the class: it's easy for a Paladin to stay useful because their big selling point is largely in auras and nova-damage from smites. Their primary stat is meant to be Charisma, anyways. Meanwhile, a Fighter needs that high stat because they have limited ability to cause massive damage without it.

Actually, it's interesting that in the case of PF2, you could get away with a lower primary stat as a fighter because they start as Experts in their weaponry (a +4 instead of the +2 most classes start out with), they make up for it with pure skill. Of course, you do miss out a bit on the Fighter being an insane crit machine because they have that higher skill, but I suppose you'd make up for it by potentially having higher stats across the board.
 
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Question here. How does the Fighter have a str of 20 at lv 8? Do they have a stat increase item?
Sorry, I was responding to The-Magic-Sword’s claim that in his D&D group, starting with a 14 in your main stat was unacceptable. YMMV: in my D&D group, the paladin not only started with a 14 in their main stat, but passed up 2 ASIs, and isn’t noticeably less competent than the fighter who had a 20 Str by level 6.

The paladin also has a 14 Cha.
 


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