Bulmahn on Pathfinder 2 Design Goals; Plus Proficiency Clarifications & Archeologists!

This is my second attempt to do this today, as I had all this compiled earlier and then the internet flaked out on me just as I hit "Save". So... starting again! Today's Pathfinder 2nd Edition news update, remarkably similar to the one I wrote about an hour ago, includes Jason Bulmahn talking about game design goals, Mark Seifter clarifying some things about the new proficiency system, and Erik Mona discovering that the most popular archetype is the Archeologist! All, of course, will be added to the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Compiled Info Page!


  • Design Goals & Pathfinder 1 --
    • Jason Bulmahn on talking about design goals -- "It's been kind of fascinating watching some of the debates go round and round issues that we hashed out a year ago, some of which are deeply nuanced looks at how the math behind a system influences the overall feel and verisimilitude of a system. The fact that many have intuited our intent after just a few blogs is a testament to their understanding of the game. We could do better in talking about our goals and driving motivations, but I am worried that it is a bit too "techie" and not interesting to many. Still, I think it is probably worth giving a try. I think I am going to talk to folks in the office in the coming week about the best way to communicate some aspects of our design philosophy. The "why" behind the new rules. Is that something you want to see?"
    • The design goals for the new proficiency system -- "We knew that this one was going to raise some eyebrows. Fundamentally, this system is trying to replace a fundamental part of 1st edition that caused us HUGE problems at the high levels of play, which distorted character choice and severely hampered design. A huge disparity is statistics between characters/adversaries of equal level really warps the play space and it led to stability problems with the entire game engine. The goal here to find a middle ground that still allows characters to excel in the places that they want, but not in such a way as to dominate the game. To allow monsters to be an appropriate challenge for their level without having an ability that practically auto-cripples some characters." (Bulmahn)
    • On his love for Pathfinder 1 -- "... in regards to PF1. Let me state unequivocally. I LOVE the game. It was my life's work for the past decade. I do not at all want it to go away, but I cannot let my love and efforts blind me to the fact that it is not perfect. There are things that could be even better, making the game more approachable and hopefully widening out the audience of people who love the game just as much as I do."
    • Mark Seifter agrees -- "A hearty agreement here. I would not have left my degree to come work here if I didn't absolutely love PF1. I still play PF1, and in fact I just played in a PF1 Ironfang Invasion game earlier today. PF1 is a great system and works really well for my group, especially with our house rules to match our particular group style. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways to improve the chassis, fixing some of the issues with, for instance, the fast vs slow save progression compared to spell DC meaning that optimized PC and NPC spellcasters alike can eliminate multiple targets with one spell on any but the luckiest rolls if the spell targets a weak save. The presence of these issues doesn't mean the game isn't great; far from it. But just because the game is great, it doesn't mean it couldn't be even better."
  • The Mark Seifter Math Hour --
    • On different types of group skill check -- "We did the math there and suggested some rough guidelines for situations like (in roughly descending order of difficulty): "Everybody can keep rolling until it works with nothing bad on a failure"; "Everybody can roll once, only one person needs to succeed, and trying and failing doesn't do anything bad"; "Only the best person will roll this, possibly with assistance"; "Everyone has to roll and something bad happens to the people who fail"; "Everyone has to roll and if anyone fails, the whole thing fails" ... There's no reason we can't give advice for all of those situations. They all come up in adventures after all!"
    • On not scaling DCs according to the level of the characters -- "...we give examples of what tasks might be by level and elsewhere some suggested DCs for tasks of those levels (with several gradations within each level, to help GMs decide), but we go a step farther and have a significant discussion about the fact that you shouldn't scale things by level arbitrarily; a simple oak tree is a simple oak tree."
    • On auto-successes -- "I'm going to make a minor correction to this because I've been seeing it spread, so I'll repeat what I said about it before with a small clarification as to how this differs: There is an option you can choose (actually before Expert) that gives you the ability to auto-succeed at some checks depending on what your rank is. It is not Taking 10; it scales with proficiency rank and not with your bonus (so the level 7 Master is much better at using it than the level 20 Trained character, even though the level 20 Trained character would potentially have a higher result with 10+modifier)."
    • Legendary high level rogue vs. non-legendary high level guard -- "So a legendary rogue, maybe level 15? Pretty high level. I'm going to actually spot this random guard at least trained proficiency in Perception because a level 15 guard is an incredibly powerful figure on the worlds stage and is weirdly terrible at being a guard if he hasn't trained in Perception. We'll also assume that we've decided to build this guard out full PC style, since the numbers work out similarly anyway. The guard's Wisdom is not his primary attribute, but the rogue's Dexterity is. We'll say the guard has 16 Wisdom? It could be maybe 18 at the most or potentially much lower. If I recall correctly, this guard is going to be under the DC a legendary rogue can just not roll and auto-succeed with the right skill feat. Supposing the rogue didn't bother with that skill feat but does have some kind of magic cloak , we're looking at a situation where the rogue's bonus of ~+28 is going to roughly equal or surpass the guard's DC of 28 (we don't have opposed rolls) leading to near certitude of success. Even if the level 15 trained guard somehow had 18 Wisdom and some kind of magic goggles boosting him to a DC of 31, the equal level legendary rogue is still looking at a 90% chance of success. If the guard was actually untrained? It's even easier, though that just doesn't seem plausible for a level 15 guard."
    • What happens when his untried fighter friend tries the same thing? -- "But the difference is that in PF2, the untrained 14 Dex 15th level fighter is at +15 (or worse from armor, perhaps +14) instead of +2 (or worse from armor, perhaps +1), so while he is still more likely to fail than succeed against DC 28, he at least has a reasonable shot at trying, rather than no chance at all (opposed roll +1 Stealth vs +20 Perception)."
  • Ancestries allow for wide variation -- "Just a note, we will be talking a lot about ancestries soon, but I wanted to make one quick note. The way they are built allows for a wide variety of variation and differentiation between members of the same ancestry. We do not want to mandate anything aside from a few basic characteristics. That is half the reason we made this change, to allow your ancestry to speak to who you are as an individual." (Bulmahn)
  • Running out of resonance? "...in all honestly, it is very difficult for a low level character to run out of resonance (which is by design). Mass playtesting might show us otherwise, and we are looking forward to that feedback." (Bulmahn)
  • There will be monsters! Erik Mona confirms that there will be monsters available for use when the play test land in August -- "There will be a big monster download for free on August 2nd. The actual monster book for Second Edition (no matter how large) will presumably come out with the Core Rulebook in August 2019."

What are the most popular archetypes? Erik Mona took an informal poll and got these results:
Archaeologist (Bard) 40 (!!!)
Lore Warden (Fighter) 24
Eldritch Scoundrel (Rogue) 22
Vivisectionist (Alchemist) 20
Arcane Duelist (Bard) 17
Zen Archer (Monk) 17
Tattooed Sorcerer (Sorcerer) 17
Titan Mauler (Barbarian) 16
Mooncursed (Barbarian) 13
Drunken Master (Monk) 12 (TIE)
Evangelist (Cleric) 12 (TIE)
Skirmisher (Ranger) 12 (TIE)​
Finally, over on TRAILseeker, we have a little poll running:

As you may know, Paizo announced Pathfinder 2nd Edition a couple of weeks ago. The final game doesn't arrive until August 2019, and no third party licensing information is being released until early 2019, so there's no rush on our end of things to plan TRAILseeker's future; we have the luxury of taking our time and consulting with you, our patrons.Here's where we are right now, although nothing is set in stone (and we have 18 months to wait):

  • TRAILseeker will continue to support Pathfinder 1E as it always has. That's not going away.
  • We will launch a second Patreon, TRAILseeker II, which will focus exclusively on Pathfinder 2nd Edition.
Our question to you is this -- would a Pathfinder 2E Patreon, which works just like this one, be of interest to you? We need to gauge overall interest levels. The team would be the same -- Felipe (editor) and Alex (layout) would be doubling up their efforts to run both Patreons simultaneously, and we anticipate that there will be an eager pool of writers willing to contribute.

Let us know in the poll! And remember, this is still 18 months away. No rush!


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Id like to change for 5e the above and just use a bonus based on the stat-10(so a 15 would be +5 for ex).

Yep. Although, I prefer straight stat for attack and stat +8 (or 10) for defense, no negative numbers that way.

The math for skill use works ok, but combat requires too much rejigging and there is a number of corner cases
Hmm. Perhaps if your trying to redesign the whole system, but for one's own use it isn't to difficult (IMO). The big issue I see it is that it lessons the impact of advantage / disadvantage at higher levels. But personally I think that is a good thing.

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