• Resources are back! Use the menu in the main navbar. If you own a resource, please check it for formatting, icons, etc.

Complexity vs. Depth -- A Look Inside Pathfinder 2nd Edition

One of the biggest tabletop RPG releases of the decade, Pathfinder 2nd Edition launches today at Gen Con. Many of us have playtested it, others have watched streams and podcasts, but this is the big day. Here are my thoughts on the new iteration of this classic game. I'm assuming here that you're basically familiar with either Pathfinder 1E or D&D 5E.

pf_cover.jpg



Background
Before I start this look at the Pathfinder 2nd Edition core rulebook, let me explain my background so that you can contextualize it. I was a big fan of D&D 3E and 3.5 back in the early 2000s and ran two multi-year campaigns with that ruleset (one being Age of Worms from Paizo). When the D&D 4E/Pathfinder edition war happened, I ran one long 4E campaign (our own War of the Burning Sky adventure path). After that, I played through the Kingmaker AP for Pathfinder as a player, ran a couple of D&D 5E storylines (loved Strahd!), and I've run about half the Pathfinder 2E playtest but having received my pre-ordered copy of the materials after they were on store shelves, struggled to keep up with the pace and eventually bowed out.

Going in to this: I was a fan of the 3.x ruleset, but felt a little left behind after a while with PF1 in terms of system mastery, rules boat, and setting lore. I didn't get on super-well with the playtest, so I was slightly wary as I opened this book. On the other hand, I do enjoy a bit of crunch in my games. A new jumping on point, you say? Let's take a look!

Overview
There are two important concepts to keep in mind when looking at this game: the difference between complexity and depth. I'd like to quickly define them as I use them, just in case your definitions are different. To me, complexity arises from multiple subsystems or different rules, or complicated rules. Depth, on the other hand, resides in the options and available customization. These two things can exist independently, and for me a game works best when it has low complexity but high depth.

The short version of this review: I think Paizo have pulled that off. Compared to PF1, they have reduced complexity. Compared to, say, D&D 5E, they have more depth. I would say that this game is about as complex as D&D 5E, but with more depth. The rules are more standardized than they used to be, but you have important choices at all stages of character development. If you don't want read this big wall of text of a review -- I like it, and it scratches an itch for me. I'm pretty sure I'll run it soon.

I find it amusing that Pathfinder 2nd Edition has the exact same page count as D&D 5th Edition. I don't know if that's a coincidence, some artifact of printing scales, or an inside joke at Paizo, but the Pathfinder 2E core rulebook is 640 pages, while the equivalent content, D&D's PHB plus DMG, is 639 pages. Basically, if you take the PHB and the DMG and smoosh them into one hardcover, it's the exact same size as the Pathfinder 2E core rulebook. Like, uncannily so.

Sticking with format, the edge of every right-hand page has a useful 'bar' which shows you where in the book you are. It's a big book, and this really helps with navigation (though I feel maybe adding each section's page number would help? Or maybe that would look too cluttered. Not sure!)

Screenshot 2019-08-02 at 00.06.39.png

The game now formally codifies some things which were not explicit in the original: the mechanics are divided into three "modes", namely encounter (rounds), exploration (freeform), and downtime (daily). And Golarion is officially the core, default setting and baked into the core rulebook, although under the pen-name of Age of Lost Omens. I don't know much about Golarion or the Forgotten Realms myself (I know FR has a Drizzt in it), and I'm not really a settings guy, but all of Paizo's adventure paths take place in that setting, so the chapter is useful.

Characters
So, let's look at the rules, starting with character creation. A character is built out of feats, which are chosen from lists granted by ancestry (what was once 'race'), background, and class.

At each stage you get a choice of from two to about six feats -- for example, if you choose the dwarf ancestry, you choose one of six feats at first level, then one at 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th. The effect of this is that any two dwarves are not the same; ignoring the heritages (basically 'sub-races') which grant minor tweaks like fire or poison resistance, a dwarf is going to choose between the familiar stonecunning, or something like dwarven ore, rock runner, unburdened iron, and so on. And this is what I mean by depth v. complexity: it's easy (you are just choosing one of six feats) but it's deeper (you have more customization to your race); plus you become more like your race as you go up in levels and get more of those race feats. Your ancestry keeps being important. You become more and more dwarfy.


Screenshot 2019-08-02 at 00.08.17.png



The races are the standard list you'd expect; plus a goblin. Each race has a handful of heritages (sub-races), and half-orc and half-elf are now human heritages.

Moving on to classes, again we're looking at a fairly typical list. The Paladin is now a "Champion", and each class has some sample builds such as the Rogue Scoundrel, or the Ranger Archer. Like with race, you have a free choice of class feats from a list presented in that class -- the Alchemist, for example, has a choice of three at 1st level, three at 2nd level, and again at 4th, 6th, etc. This means that your Alchemist will differ from your friend's Alchemist. Low complexity (you're just choosing from a short list of feats again) but high depth (two characters of the same class can be customized by a choice of three options every other level).

There are other bits -- archetypes (used to pseudo-multiclass) and backgrounds (each gives ability adjustments, skills, and a feat) which customize your character a little more.

Feats & Skills
As with previous editions of both Pathfinder and D&D, this game features the expected skill list. It's familiar ground; each iteration of the d20 engine has a similar list, with some tweaking. In this case we have a list of 17. PF1 and D&D 3.x had skill ranks which went from 0 upwards (a bard character in my Age of Worms D&D 3E campaign was rolling something like +40 on Use Magic Device by the end of the campaign). D&D 5E simplified that to a binary skill proficiency - you're proficient, or you're not. Pathfinder 2E takes a middle ground - there are five skill levels called untrained, trained, expert, master, legendary. Some skill uses require a certain skill level, and can give access to certain skill feats (there's feats again!)

I keep talking about feats. There's a reason for that. Feats are the core of the game's depth: everything is a feat. Race feats, class feats, archetype feats, skill feats, general feats. You can very much customize your character with your choice of feats. At each level you'll be choosing one or more feats. These are literally on the character sheet, so you can see them, and simply fill in the box. That character sheet isn't pretty, but its very functional. You can see them below -- the character sheet tells you what feats you are choosing at any given level and - more importantly - while the game has a lot of feats in it, at any given time you're choosing from a short list. At 5th level, you get an ancestry feat, but you're only choosing from a small handful for your race at that level.


Screenshot 2019-07-30 at 23.22.09.png



It's easy to think that a game with a thousand feats is too complex. It's not. You never have to choose from a thousand feats; you're always choosing from a short list for that level of ancestry, class, skill, or what-have-you. Low complexity. High depth.

Equipment
Like all games of its ilk, PF2 has an equipment chapter. Pathfinder delves into equipment in more detail than its main competitor, but it's not onerous -- about 25 pages of the book. It's mainly familiar ground, with some structural differences -- equipment has a level which defines how hard it is to make, and encumbrance is measured in an abstract value called 'bulk' which takes into account size and weight. Then we have the usual lists of armor, shields, weapons, and gear, including alchemical stuff, animals, services, and so on. When I ran the playtest last year, I struggled with the sheer volume of keywords in the game - especially when they sounded similar, like a weapon that was deadly or fatal (aren't they all?), finesse or agile, and this hasn't changed; it's something which will come naturally with familiarity, I'm sure. Overall, though, this chapter is pretty much what you'd expect.

Magic
So, spells. Magic is a BIG part D&D and Pathfinder, and this book is no exception. You know when you buy a D&D descendant what you're getting into: a big 120-page chapter full of spells. Many you'll be familiar with -- your magic missiles and fireballs and walls of stone and so on. We have lists of spells for four magical traditions -- arcane and divine, plus primal and occult. These four big lists tell you which classes get access to them (wizards cast arcane spells, bards cast occult spells, druids cast primal spells, and so on), and each of the many, many spells listed in the book is tagged with one or more of those four lists.

The schools of magic are familiar, and Vancian magic is still king. Vancian magic has been D&D's core 'fire and forget' spell slot system since the 1970s, based on the books of Jack Vance. So what's changed?

For a start, we now have 10 spell levels (plus cantrips) rather than the traditional 9. All four lists go up to 10, and that top level contains the heavy hitters like wish, gate, time stop, and cataclysm. Generally speaking, you'll only ever have one 10th level spell slot, although there is a way to get a second. You can 'heighten' spells by putting them in a higher level spell slot, and each spell has a little list of what benefits that gives you - usually it's a numerical or damage increase, but other times it's an upgrade in functionality - a 1st level detect alignment, for example, indicates the presence of but not location or strength of aligned auras. If you heighten it to 2nd level, however, you get each aura's location and strength, too.

Most spells take between 1-3 actions to cast (more on the 'three-action economy' later), and this is depicted by a nifty little icon in the spell description. 2 actions seems to be the default, some like guidance take a quick single action, and some vary depending how you use the spell - magic missile is one action per missile, heal increases its range and area depending on how many actions you use, and so on. Others take minutes or longer. Here's magic missile and heal, as an example:

mmhe.jpg


The Core Rules
Pathfinder has a reputation for having a lot of rules. This is where a lot of work has been done. Rather than many subsystems, or weird ways of doing different things, Paizo has streamlined the game here; going back to my theme of reduced complexity, this is the obvious area you'll see the effects. Anybody familiar with d20-based games knows that a check or attack is a d20 plus modifiers to beat a target number, and this hasn't changed, though the actual numbers are slightly different (skills have a limited tier of modifiers rather than running from 0 to infinity).

Sadly, the many itty bitty modifiers are still in there (I love D&D's advantage/disadvantage system, though I recognise it's lack of granularity), but Paizo has done something interesting here: all checks, whether an attack, a save, or a skill check, have four degrees of success baked into the core. You can critically succeed (beat the target by 10+), succeed, fail, or fumble (miss the target by 10+). Many activities tell you exactly what happens in those situations. Let's look at a couple of examples:

Skill Check using Acrobatics to balance:

  • Critical Success You move up to your Speed.
  • Success You move up to your Speed, treating it as difficult terrain (every 5 feet costs 10 feet of movement).
  • Failure You must remain stationary to keep your balance (wasting the action) or you fall. If you fall, your turn ends.
  • Critical Failure You fall and your turn ends.

Saving against the 5th level banishment spell:
  • Critical Success The target resists being banished and you are stunned 1.
  • Success The target resists being banished.
  • Failure The target is banished.
  • Critical Failure The target is banished and can’t return by any means to the plane it’s banished from for 1 week.
You'll see this all throughout the book, whatever the activity.

Combat
Combat has had quite an overhaul. It's faster now, and a little more tactical. I feel like characters are making meaningful choices more often, but from our playtests, I really did feel it ran quicker. Time will tell with big convoluted encounters and high-level stat blocks, of course, the latter of which Pathfinder is famous for.

Notably, there isn't a big section called "Combat". The section is called "Encounter Mode".

Combat begins with Initiative, as always. Initiative has been tweaked here; instead of rolling d20 plus a dex modifier, instead you are making a skill check. The fun part is that it's not always the same skill check -- often it will be Perception, but a sneaky rogue might be rolling Stealth, and sometimes you might even be rolling a Diplomacy check! Even if you don't play PF2E, use this in your d20 game, whatever it is.

Screenshot 2019-08-02 at 00.26.39.png

Each character gets three actions, in what people are calling the new "three-action economy". This is a big change. Any given activity takes between 1-3 actions (most are one action, spells are often 2-3, and so on). You could move three times, move and attack twice, attack and then move then cast a 1-action spell, or whatever you like. Available actions are listed, and include things like Aid, Crawl, Ready, Seek, Step, Take Cover, and more. Something those who played the playtest will recall, and which is still in, is the choice to take an action to Raise A Shield in order to gain an AC bonus until your next turn; this initially sounds fiddly and extra complication where it's not needed... but it's not. It works. Everyone I played with reported that it made it feel like their shield was a thing, not just a static bonus on their character sheet, and that its use was a defensive choice (after all, you could use that action to attack or move). It's a little innovation which adds far more to the game than it has any right to do.

Screenshot 2019-08-02 at 00.28.10.png

What happens when you die? Well, you can't go below 0 hit points. At that stage you gain the "Dying" condition, which has four levels. Each round you roll to see if you get better or worse, and if you get to Dying 4 you're dead. If you do recover, you gain the Wounded condition, which adds to future Dying values - so you can't keep bouncing up and down; it'll catch up with you. Other than that, you have a fairly standard set of conditions - blinded, fatigued, invisible, and so on.

Game Mastering
This 40-page section of the book is part GM advice, and part collection of miscellaneous rules. Here you'll find the rules for environments, hazards, natural disasters, and traps. You'll also see mechanical advice on appropriate rewards, setting difficulty classes, and using the different modes of play. And, of course, information on how to plan a campaign, create a welcoming environment (there's a sidebar which calls out X-Cards as a veil, and a section on dealing with objectionable content, with a description of what the game's assumed "baseline" is -- PCs don't torture, rape, own slaves, harm children, and so on). It's a useful chapter, although it feels a little eclectic; a grab-bag of stuff that doesn't quite fit elsewhere.

Treasure!
No d20 game is complete without a big list of magic items, and those familiar with PF1 or D&D will recognise many of these. Interestingly, this chapter is actually called "Crafting & Treasure"; 3.x and PF always had a crafting element to magic items, and PF2 is no exception. It's one thing that 5E studiously avoids.

So, in addition to pages and pages of wands, potions, amulets, and other assorted magical items (the categories have actually changed a bit) we have a big section on crafting items. You can make things out of special materials like darkwood or cold iron, and you make them magic by etching runes on them - runes like Invisibility, Dancing, Thundering, Vorpal, and so on. There's also a section on crafting snares (simple traps).

That Character Sheet
The character sheet is not a pretty sight. It looks like a tax form, and I feel like it alone could put people off this game. But it IS functional. The feats section pretty much tells you what you need to know about the game: you start by looking at it and saying "ten million feats!" but then you realise you're just picking a couple from a different short list each time, and the character sheet tells you when you do that. It's much more manageable than you might think at first. I can see why people might balk at this sheet, but I'm sure that fans will create dozens of pretty ones within hours of the game's release.

Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 14.41.57.png

Summary
This was always going to be a tricky launch. Somehow Paizo has to keep the fans of PF1E on board, many of whom are veterans of the D&D 3.x games, switched over when 4E was released and are naturally invested in that system by definition; but the game has reached peak bloat, the engine is 18 years old, and its cracks are really showing. Is that even possible?

For me personally, they pulled it off. They have reduced complexity AND increased depth. I know I keep saying that, but that's the thing I keep coming back to and it's the theme of this article.

Is it perfect? No. It's too keyword heavy for my tastes (requiring a lot of "what does 'deadly' mean?" at the table), and that requires time to gain mastery in. I feel that, if anything, would be the barrier to new gamers. Also, there's still lots of those little +1 or +2 modifiers or penalties which I find too finicky.

But it is good. It's a really good evolution of the d20 system. It's modern game design, with heritage. And it feels weighty in a "reliable" not a "cumbersome" way. Is it D&D 5E? No. Is it D&D 4E? No (although the monster stat blocks do remind me of that game in terms of layout). It is neither of those things. It's very much Pathfinder 2E. Of course, there are some general design principles which are found in most modern RPGs, some of which 5E and 4E created and others which they adopted from elsewhere, and you will see the edges of the Venn diagram overlap with Pathfinder 2E, but it would be a mistake to think it's not its own game.

So who's it for? If you're a new player, it may be a little intimidating as a first game, but the complexity is about on par with D&D 5E. If you're a 5E player, it has some extra depth where 5E leans more into the storytelling, and might scratch that itch for a little more mechanical heft and character customization. If you're a Pathfinder 1E player, it's more difficult -- it depends on how invested you are in that system, and I'm not yet clear on the level of backward compatibility.

Things I personally struggled with:
  • Lots of keywords. I'll be looking up the difference between deadly, dangerous, fatal, and mildly-ouchy weapons for a while (OK, I made two of those up); I'm sure the designers are thinking "What? But that's so simple!" and I am sure it is after a bit of play.
  • Lots of small +1 modifiers.
The people I think would like this game are those who, like me:
  • Like Pathfinder 1E but would like a more modern, streamlined play experience than the aging 3.x engine
  • Like D&D 5E but would like a bit more mechanical depth
  • Were intimidated by the sheer volume of Pathfinder 1E material and are looking for a jumping-on point
  • Want to customise their character more
I wasn't sure going in, but I think this is a better game than its predecessor and scratches an itch for mechanical depth. I'm going to run it.
 
Last edited:
Russ Morrissey

Comments

FrogReaver

Adventurer
First off, you write walls of text. Sorry if that means you feel people only respond to half your points.

I don't remember if you belong to the absurd "a +2 AC bonus means 25-30% less damage" people, but I don't hope so.
+2 AC equates to about 25% less damage taken in Pathfinder. The value of AC in this game is a lot more consistent than the value of AC in 5e.

Other than that I read a "Pathfinder is different" claim that I don't see any arguments for.
Isn't Pathfinder being different self evident? 3 Action economy, higher hp, diminishing attack bonus per attack. No more -5/+10 feats, no more melee nova abilities.

Look, in D&D the cost of getting the +2 AC bonus has always been the reduced DPR from not holding a weapon in that hand.
Yes. But D&D is different than pathfinder 2.

Now Paizo asks us to also give up 1/3 of our action allowance. The argument"you're only giving up your crappiest attack" is entirely unconvincing. Of course the cost will be more expensive than that.
I explained the math. I explained that anything else you might do, the shield wearer can also do. If your not convinced it's not because the facts don't support my position.

So I'm thinking it must be because of the shield block that extra cost was added. And so I want to discuss how much DR you need to get in order to sacrifice 1 point of DPR.
Until proven otherwise I think the shield block is a terrible ability, except for the most niche of builds it's value is going to be extremely low IMO.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Can you clarify what this means?
Fourth Edition was the first edition where the outcome of combat depended much more heavily on the round-to-round choices you made after the fight started, than it did on how you arranged things before going into the fight.

In order for teamwork within combat to become the deciding factor, you need to massively devalue things like character build and out-of-combat preparation. There's no steamrolling the enemy with boulders so that you can finish them off quickly. There's no potion of fire resistance which trivializes a fire elemental. You can't build a character with a reliable AC, at the expense of other things, such that you can actually withstand a dozen archers.

When a game is balanced around combat, anything that would trivialize combat is disallowed. The game becomes about combat, instead of about surviving and exploring and only resorting to combat when you have a decisive advantage.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
The shield action is a choice, and often a good one because of the diminishing chance of success with a third attack action. During combat, the 3 action economy gives you fun tactical choices about how mobile, offensive or defensive you want to be on a turn by turn basis. It makes combat more engaging and less likely to devolve into "I swing, I swing."

Shields have gone from something you just buy and forget to something you actually use. And use in an interesting fashion.
Okay fair enough.

Now back to the actual question, do the math support the intended usage?
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
+2 AC equates to about 25% less damage taken in Pathfinder. The value of AC in this game is a lot more consistent than the value of AC in 5e.
So, this "consistency" somehow makes +1 AC mean something else than a 5 percentage units lower hit probability..?

What am I missing?
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
So, this "consistency" somehow makes +1 AC mean something else than a 5 percentage units lower hit probability..?

What am I missing?
MAP and AC reducing critical hits.

Consider an enemy with a 60% chance to hit you.

DPR taken by 3 attacks would be:
=(0.6+0.1+0.35+0.05+0.1+0.05)*AvgDmg
= 1.25*AvgDmg

With +2 AC Dpr by 3 attacks would be
= (0.5+0.05+0.25+0.05+0.05+0.05)*AvgDmg
= 0.95*AvgDmg

.95/1.25 = 76% Damage taken = 24% Damage Reduction

The math isn't that complicated. Do the freakin' math!

(BTW nothing significantly changes with % Damage Reduction in the case of 1 attack or 2 attacks as opposed 3 attacks)
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Fourth Edition was the first edition where the outcome of combat depended much more heavily on the round-to-round choices you made after the fight started, than it did on how you arranged things before going into the fight.

In order for teamwork within combat to become the deciding factor, you need to massively devalue things like character build and out-of-combat preparation. There's no steamrolling the enemy with boulders so that you can finish them off quickly. There's no potion of fire resistance which trivializes a fire elemental. You can't build a character with a reliable AC, at the expense of other things, such that you can actually withstand a dozen archers.

When a game is balanced around combat, anything that would trivialize combat is disallowed. The game becomes about combat, instead of about surviving and exploring and only resorting to combat when you have a decisive advantage.
I don't think we want character building to be the combat as war factor. That isn't interesting. We do want preparation to allow us to decimate our foes. That seems plenty allowed in Pathfinder 2e?
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
MAP and AC reducing critical hits.

Consider an enemy with a 60% chance to hit you.

DPR taken by 3 attacks would be:
=(0.6+0.1+0.35+0.05+0.1+0.05)*AvgDmg
= 1.25*AvgDmg

With +2 AC Dpr by 3 attacks would be
= (0.5+0.05+0.25+0.05+0.05+0.05)*AvgDmg
= 0.95*AvgDmg

.95/1.25 = 76% Damage taken = 24% Damage Reduction

The math isn't that complicated. Do the freakin' math!

(BTW nothing significantly changes with % Damage Reduction in the case of 1 attack or 2 attacks as opposed 3 attacks)
Just for comparisons sake. +2 AC in 5e in the same scenario would be something like. (estimiating additional damage from crit at +50%)

.6*AvgDmg +.05*.5AvgDmg
=.625*AvgDmg

.5*AvgDmg +.05*.5*AvgDmg
=.525*Avg Dmg

=84% Damage Taken = 16% Damage Reduced.

As you can see, the corresponding benefit of higher AC in Pathfinder 2e is more than the benefit of it in 5e given a similar chance to be hit.
 

Markh3rd

Explorer
Fourth Edition was the first edition where the outcome of combat depended much more heavily on the round-to-round choices you made after the fight started, than it did on how you arranged things before going into the fight.

In order for teamwork within combat to become the deciding factor, you need to massively devalue things like character build and out-of-combat preparation. There's no steamrolling the enemy with boulders so that you can finish them off quickly. There's no potion of fire resistance which trivializes a fire elemental. You can't build a character with a reliable AC, at the expense of other things, such that you can actually withstand a dozen archers.

When a game is balanced around combat, anything that would trivialize combat is disallowed. The game becomes about combat, instead of about surviving and exploring and only resorting to combat when you have a decisive advantage.
I see. I appreciate the clarification. My friend's PFS game he played made it feel very combat and tactics oriented and less roleplaying oriented. But that was his first game so far.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
If anything there is an increased emphasis on preparation and managing time outside of encounter mode. Spellcasters have fewer slots so they must manage their spells more carefully. A spontaneous caster must either know the spell they want to cast in a given slot at that level or have it as one of their signature spells.

There is a strong focus on exploration. It is assumed outside of encounters that time is tracked in 10 minute increments and there are rules for things like searching, avoiding notice, and scouting ahead. Generally everything in the game you do has a cost listed in terms of time. Post combat recovery includes focusing on repairing shields, treating wounds with the Medicine skill, and the like. There are no short rest or long rest mechanics.

Consumables are still a large part of play including talismans, a new class of magic items that must be attached to armor or weapons (taking 10 minutes) and have one use abilities for martial characters. Once a talisman is used it's magic is gone.

Where the game has gotten more tactical it is by focusing in on the details. Things like blocking a blow with your shield, movement and positioning, and the like. Many things which were free actions now have a cost and must be managed. Several tactical options like Grapple, Trip, and the like now require a free hand to utilize. Several spells function best when appropriately timed, but everything is very much focused on the details of the fiction. Often spell casters will have to devote an action to holding on to their magic, but most spells just last as long as they last. Buff and debuff stacking is still a thing. It's a bit more limited than 3e. There are only 3 bonus types.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I should add that many monsters inflict long lasting conditions on characters and afflictions like poisons, diseases, and curses are quite common. These can be removed by spells, but removing those from higher level creatures and spell casters is difficult. Sometimes you will have to resort to long term treatment from someone with the Medicine skill. Monsters are also have a number of immunities, resistances, and weaknesses that must be dealt with. Knowledge of what your facing is incredibly impacting. A few monsters like the hydra even have special ways you need to kill them.
 

FEADIN

Explorer
Hello from France and sorry for the mistakes,
Thank you for all your opinions and explanations about this new edition but we must not forget that's first a RPG, you can change the rules add feats, skills, spells, the game is what the GM will tell you, the story you hear, it's about exploration, dreams, wonders, the surprise around the corner or around the next mountain, it's about storytelling, whatever the combat rules or the spells.
Yes, it's fun to customize your character to think what feat it will take next but is it really interesting, you make him live a life in the future but he has to live the current level first to see the next day and maybe the choices will be differents?
One more point about feats; players nearly always choose the same, nobody wants his character to be inactive with powers that have a great flavor but are useful once in a while so you can make big lists or short ones on the sheat the same will be written, it's called optimization, its started in what we called 2.5 with the "class books" and the point system to buy the class powers.
I play D&D since 1981, I've seen a bit of Basic then A&D 1st, 2nd, 3.0, 3.5, and now PF but recently for some, we never tried 4 or 5, lack of time to shift to a too different sytem and lack of time to play and fully test each one and enjoy (or detest) it.
I think that we'll never try PF2 for the same reasons we never tried 4 & 5, we prefer to enjoy a game that we better understand and which is still new for us (higher level around 7/8) and that we can continue to discover at high level and we still play in 3.5 to.
 

DWChancellor

Kobold Enthusiast
Honestly, the number of days I've had this article open and can't get myself to finish reading it about sums up my feelings on PF2. Sigh. They do good work but I guess I'm too old and busy.

settles back down into steel garbage can and pulls lid on top
 

Johnny3D3D

Adventurer
Fourth Edition was the first edition where the outcome of combat depended much more heavily on the round-to-round choices you made after the fight started, than it did on how you arranged things before going into the fight.

In order for teamwork within combat to become the deciding factor, you need to massively devalue things like character build and out-of-combat preparation. There's no steamrolling the enemy with boulders so that you can finish them off quickly. There's no potion of fire resistance which trivializes a fire elemental. You can't build a character with a reliable AC, at the expense of other things, such that you can actually withstand a dozen archers.

When a game is balanced around combat, anything that would trivialize combat is disallowed. The game becomes about combat, instead of about surviving and exploring and only resorting to combat when you have a decisive advantage.
I find that I both agree and disagree.

I would agree (to an extent) that 4E appeared to have that intent. Though, I'm not sure I would agree that the structure of the game actually succeeded in disallowing the trivialization of combat. Anecdotally, one of my primary complaints against 4E (despite actually enjoying some of the idea behind encounter design) was that the PCs could so easily steamroll their adversaries. Though, to be fair, the ability to do so was primarily due to in-combat ability.

Though, generally, I think I agree with what you're asserting here.
 

Jimmy Dick

Villager
It really comes down to your style of play. If you choose to play a stat block instead of an actual character, then it's just all about numbers for you. That's fine. That's your style of play. I don't play that way. It's just not my cup of tea.

For those of us who play characters or those of us who roleplay characters with personalities, the new game system is very deep and richly rewarding. Our choices have consequences. For us it is not about how much damage we pump out. It is about the team building process, the thrill of using our combined resources to overcome challenges, and the camaraderie we experience with one another in that process.

PF2 combat offers a lot of choices. I think that is ultimately the bestselling point about this game. I've seen a lot of comments from the min-maxers who play stat blocks and they are not happy with the game overall as it does not reward their style of play very well. It was not meant to. I asked the developers about this when the Playtest was released. They were not building the new edition for min-maxing players. That's the smaller community in their estimation. They wanted to build a well balanced game system. I think that is exactly what they did.
 

Agamon

Adventurer
Well, it's not the most random sample available, but the char-op threads in the general board for PF2 on Paizo are quickly beginning to outnumber the more interesting ones. And that's the general board, I'm not even bothering looking at the advice board....
 

zztong

Explorer
It really comes down to your style of play. If you choose to play a stat block instead of an actual character, then it's just all about numbers for you. That's fine. That's your style of play. I don't play that way. It's just not my cup of tea.

For those of us who play characters or those of us who roleplay characters with personalities, the new game system is very deep and richly rewarding...
I can appreciate that perspective, but I don't share it. You can attach a personality to, and roleplay characters from systems of any complexity and detail. I could probably crumple up paper and you could play it. People can min/max characters from systems of any complexity and detail. Folks will figure out how far they can throw the crumpled up paper. But what isn't always easy to do with a system is build/model a character that matches the concept that is in your head. That is, make origami from that paper.

PF2 provides a lot of choices and complexity. What PF2 character generation isn't satisfying is my itch to model a concept. It is more frustrating than fulfilling. So long as you're willing to pick from the provided choices of a class silo, you can make your character. This has always been a limit of classes, but PF2 seems to be more limiting. Maybe after a half-dozen years of more supplements that will change.

EDIT: To clarify, a model is personality and performance. If your personality doesn't match your performance, and vice versa, you'll likely end up with comic relief.
 

Teemu

Explorer
Fourth Edition was the first edition where the outcome of combat depended much more heavily on the round-to-round choices you made after the fight started, than it did on how you arranged things before going into the fight.

In order for teamwork within combat to become the deciding factor, you need to massively devalue things like character build and out-of-combat preparation. There's no steamrolling the enemy with boulders so that you can finish them off quickly. There's no potion of fire resistance which trivializes a fire elemental. You can't build a character with a reliable AC, at the expense of other things, such that you can actually withstand a dozen archers.

When a game is balanced around combat, anything that would trivialize combat is disallowed. The game becomes about combat, instead of about surviving and exploring and only resorting to combat when you have a decisive advantage.
Ok, I can see your point, but you're using invalid examples. Fire resistance potions exist. A ritual that grants fire resistance exists. Your character can get the best armor and take armor and defensive related feats and get magic items that make your AC much higher than the other PCs, and which allow you to play a defensive role. "Combat as war" does exist in 4e too, but not to the extent of 3e/PF1. Get familiar with the rules of an edition before you talk about it in depth.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Ok, I can see your point, but you're using invalid examples. Fire resistance potions exist. A ritual that grants fire resistance exists. Your character can get the best armor and take armor and defensive related feats and get magic items that make your AC much higher than the other PCs, and which allow you to play a defensive role. "Combat as war" does exist in 4e too, but not to the extent of 3e/PF1. Get familiar with the rules of an edition before you talk about it in depth.
I'm not saying that Fire Resistance potions/rituals/spells/etc don't exist. The question is, if you do take a Fire Resistance potion before fighting a fire elemental, does it go from a challenging encounter to a cake walk? Is it possible for preparation to become the deciding factor of combat, such that tactical play and teamwork become irrelevant?

I'm not saying that you can't do this in PF2. I'm saying that, if you can do this, then tactical play is not the deciding factor, as reported by the person I was originally quoting.
 

Matrix Sorcica

Explorer
It really comes down to your style of play. If you choose to play a stat block instead of an actual character, then it's just all about numbers for you. That's fine. That's your style of play. I don't play that way. It's just not my cup of tea.

For those of us who play characters or those of us who roleplay characters with personalities, the new game system is very deep and richly rewarding. Our choices have consequences. For us it is not about how much damage we pump out. It is about the team building process, the thrill of using our combined resources to overcome challenges, and the camaraderie we experience with one another in that process.

PF2 combat offers a lot of choices. I think that is ultimately the bestselling point about this game. I've seen a lot of comments from the min-maxers who play stat blocks and they are not happy with the game overall as it does not reward their style of play very well. It was not meant to. I asked the developers about this when the Playtest was released. They were not building the new edition for min-maxing players. That's the smaller community in their estimation. They wanted to build a well balanced game system. I think that is exactly what they did.
Oh, please don't give us that badwrongfun s**t.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
It really comes down to your style of play. If you choose to play a stat block instead of an actual character, then it's just all about numbers for you. That's fine. That's your style of play. I don't play that way. It's just not my cup of tea.
[...]
For those of us who play characters or those of us who roleplay characters with personalities, the new game system is very deep and richly rewarding. Our choices have consequences.
[...]
PF2 combat offers a lot of choices. I think that is ultimately the bestselling point about this game.
Our decisions are not less meaningful, or less role-playing-based, for the fact that we want to make them outside of combat. The decisions which go into generating a stat block (as distinct from any other stat block) are just as valid as decisions about which enemy to attack and where to move.

I just want the lasting consequences for making the serious choice of using a shield to be more important than the ephemeral consequences of making an on-the-spot choice of whether to raise that shield right now.

My game is about who my character is, and how they go about doing what they need to do. It's not just about tactical combat.
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Top