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Pathfinder 2E Another Deadly Session, and It's Getting Old

Yeah, honestly, if one really wants "combat as war" as a basis, few modern games outside of the OSR sphere are going to be satisfying; the vast majority of modern games either based around making combat mechanically interesting, or getting it out of the way (in a hopefully nonlethal way) as fast as possible to get on to the parts of the game the designers (and presumably players) find more interesting.
 

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GrahamWills

Adventurer
Yeah, honestly, if one really wants "combat as war" as a basis, few modern games outside of the OSR sphere are going to be satisfying; the vast majority of modern games either based around making combat mechanically interesting, or getting it out of the way (in a hopefully nonlethal way) as fast as possible to get on to the parts of the game the designers (and presumably players) find more interesting.
I guess it depends on what you want for a “satisfying combat”. I’ve had groups whose idea of a satisfying combat was spending hours of preparation, scouting and building advantages, and then destroying the encounter rapidly because they had done such a good job. They absolutely felt that was satisfying. That happens pretty regularly in games I run irrespective of the system (Fate, D&D4E, Savage Worlds). So long as you have a system that allows any form of pre-combat advantage to be created (which is frankly more common in modern systems than older and especially OSR systems) any system can do this — it’s player and GM style only that decides if it ”works”

The point of war is to remove the ability of the enemy to harm you. Modern systems, with their emphasis on creating advantages, on combating threat clocks/dials, on leveraging social and non-sword-swinging skills, etc. — they are by far the easier to run combat as war in.
 

I guess it depends on what you want for a “satisfying combat”. I’ve had groups whose idea of a satisfying combat was spending hours of preparation, scouting and building advantages, and then destroying the encounter rapidly because they had done such a good job. They absolutely felt that was satisfying.

That's satisfying planning. Not the same thing. You can do that in virtually any game.

That happens pretty regularly in games I run irrespective of the system (Fate, D&D4E, Savage Worlds). So long as you have a system that allows any form of pre-combat advantage to be created (which is frankly more common in modern systems than older and especially OSR systems) any system can do this — it’s player and GM style only that decides if it ”works”

The point of war is to remove the ability of the enemy to harm you. Modern systems, with their emphasis on creating advantages, on combating threat clocks/dials, on leveraging social and non-sword-swinging skills, etc. — they are by far the easier to run combat as war in.

I'll accept the argument--but I don't think most of them are actually interested in doing that.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
That's satisfying planning. Not the same thing. You can do that in virtually any game.
obviously, you do what you enjoy, but planning is an essential part of what most people think of as “war”. If you don’t like planning, then just play systems where you don’t need to plan to be be consistently successful — that‘s the “combat as sport” model — the GM always ensures a balanced fun combat and so planning is at best minorly relevant. That’s not a dit — I play and enjoy 4E which is about as “combat as sport” as you can get!

but when desiring the “combat as war” style, for which planning is arguably a larger component than actual rolling dice to see who hits who this round, more modern systems seem to work better for me.
 

obviously, you do what you enjoy, but planning is an essential part of what most people think of as “war”.

Which is why I distinguished between "war" and "combat" in my original post. Satisfying planning and satisfying combat aren't the same thing.

If you don’t like planning, then just play systems where you don’t need to plan to be be consistently successful — that‘s the “combat as sport” model — the GM always ensures a balanced fun combat and so planning is at best minorly relevant. That’s not a dit — I play and enjoy 4E which is about as “combat as sport” as you can get!

but when desiring the “combat as war” style, for which planning is arguably a larger component than actual rolling dice to see who hits who this round, more modern systems seem to work better for me.

Well, that, as I said, is a reasonable argument; its not one I necessarily think most modern games are designed for, however. Note my comment about the second category of games--ones where getting through the combat as fast as possible is the intent. That may, in some cases, reward planning but I'm not sure its still what most people who are talking about as "combat as war" are talking about.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
Yeah, it does vary quite a bit what people tend to mean, that's why I elaborated so heavily in my post about the incentives for each being different-- it doubled as a summary of what I meant by each.

I think that there's a definite difference between say Kids on Bikes/Brooms approach to combat (roll a 'fight check') and combat as war as practiced by an OSR game, namely that the latter has a bunch of mechanics intended to let the players sink their teeth into setting up the situation-- like extensive environmental effects and so forth. They might both be faster than combat as sport, but its to very different ends.
 


Retreater

Legend
Last night I was playing OSE and my 4th level thief died in two rounds after getting hit by a piercer. It sucked to lose a character, but it's not like PF2, because character creation takes about 5 minutes in OSE. Losing a character in PF2 means you're out of the game for over an hour as you make up a new one. It's way too lethal for the time investment to make a character, learn how to play the character, etc.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Last night I was playing OSE and my 4th level thief died in two rounds after getting hit by a piercer. It sucked to lose a character, but it's not like PF2, because character creation takes about 5 minutes in OSE. Losing a character in PF2 means you're out of the game for over an hour as you make up a new one. It's way too lethal for the time investment to make a character, learn how to play the character, etc.
If you know the system and (more importantly) what you want to do, it’s possible to make a character somewhat quickly. That’s still a lot slower, it’s probably not a good default assumption, and it’s certainly not going to be the case for anyone who likes to browse through the options instead of going in with an idea in mind. I tried to make one quickly and came in at around fifteen minutes. My players take at least four or five times as long. 😬

I did talk my group into trying out OSE (just a one-shot), so maybe my issues will be rendered moot in time. I’m certainly looking forward to giving it a spin. 😄
 

I was going to say that I could likely, if I went in with a concept firmly in mind and was dealing with a class I already knew my way around, to do it in five minutes.

Its entirely fair to note that people inexperienced with the system and/or less decisive will take longer, but I think the idea its intrinsically going to take an hour to do so is a little excessive.

That said, I can think of games far more intrinsically lethal than PF2e that have character gen that is just as long (Almost any BRP or RQ related game comes to mind). Under normal circumstances, you actually have to work to lose a single PF2e character (note that there are unusual circumstances with some monsters, but they're just that). A PF2e character can end up going down relatively easily, but to use two examples I'm recently familiar with, its far easier to have a Mythras or Fragged Empire character actually die.

(Note the qualification I made on "single"; a TPK is a different situation).
 


CapnZapp

Legend
I don't really see the usefulness of comparing to retro games and OSE.

The whole point of Paizo's games is to offer a shit tonne of building crunch, something old-school games eschew, pretty much by definition.

Saying "you can roll up an old-school character in 5 minutes instead of two hours" may be true, but then I would like to observe that you can create four characters significantly faster than a single OSE character in Ludo...

Point is: nobody interested in a deep-crunch game like PF2 will consider OSE a comparable alternative.
 

Retreater

Legend
Point is: nobody interested in a deep-crunch game like PF2 will consider OSE a comparable alternative.
The point I was trying to make is that the designers of PF2 seemed to want OSR paradigms: lethal fights, combat as war, etc. My comparison was only to say that if you want to use those paradigms, then play and character creation should be streamlined.
We were having characters die on average every two sessions. That's not enough time to gain any system mastery.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The point I was trying to make is that the designers of PF2 seemed to want OSR paradigms: lethal fights, combat as war, etc. My comparison was only to say that if you want to use those paradigms, then play and character creation should be streamlined.
We were having characters die on average every two sessions. That's not enough time to gain any system mastery.
I know it's poor consolation but the number of deaths* fell to zero once we reached level 7 or so.
*) since my Hero points work like WFRP Fate points there haven't actually been any character replacements.
 

Retreater

Legend
I know it's poor consolation but the number of deaths* fell to zero once we reached level 7 or so.
*) since my Hero points work like WFRP Fate points there haven't actually been any character replacements.
We've had a few in the Cult of Cinders (book 2 of the Age of Ashes AP), and they were in the 7th level area. I think we stopped around 8-9th level, with the adventure showing little chances of improving.
I never tried it with the variant Hero Points. RAW, they are basically "get out of jail free" cards - which is fine when the rest of the party can recover your unconscious body. But in the cases I had, these were TPKs (or at least total party dead/running away).
Of the modern d20-based games I've DMed, PF2 is probably the most lethal, where things can go really bad very quickly.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
RAW, they are basically "get out of jail free" cards - which is fine when the rest of the party can recover your unconscious body.
That's why I wrote:
I believe the RAW rule is strangely generous and stingy - at once.
Auto-stabilising isn't exactly nothing, but you still die if your friends lose the fight. Again, the narrative power of the meta currency is almost entirely absent.

I never tried it with the variant Hero Points.
Just to be clear, it's not Paizo's variant, it's mine:

with the adventure showing little chances of improving.
To be clear, it's not that the adventures improve. It's that combats get slightly easier each level. The power balance between PCs and monsters slowly tilt in the PCs' advantage as you level up.

In fact, at high levels the official adventures start featuring more and more Extreme encounters, a challenge level that's almost entirely absent (and unneeded) at lower levels.
 
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MaskedGuy

Explorer
Meanwhile on sidenote, my "has seen deaths in PF2e" count is now... 1, but that guy got better since they had enough fame in organized play :p It was case where sorcerer had to act as hp tank vs boss due to everyone being immobilized by web.

I'm still curious to hear how first three books of age of ashes, extinction curse and agents of edgewatch compare difficulty wise. I can see at least two moments from first two ap that are overly deadly or at least risky(barghest in age of ashes and level 1 of extincion curse)
 

Furmyr

Villager
I run an Age of Ashes campaign and play in a Extinction Curse campaign.

In AoA we've had 3 deaths so far. Once in Adventure 2 (2 deaths in the same encounter) and once in adventure 3. We are currently in adventure 4 and there we've so far had one close call due to a huge tactical error by the fighter. This group has no cleric, but a alchemist that's responsible for keeping people up.

Last session I had a situation where three encounters bled into each others. They didn't fight all three at full strength at the same time. But by the time the first encounter were winding down reinforcements arrived. They held their ground and had little trouble dealing with them. All the encounters were several lower level enemies and I think that must have helped.

In Extinction Curse we've had no deaths and we've come to adventure 3, though we have had a couple of close calls where it's come down to one roll of the die and once I had to use a hero point to stabilize because the healer had to prioritize. Here we have had a very healing oriented cleric and that has saved us more than once.
 

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