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Pathfinder 2E Does PF2E have tiers of play?

Celtic-Knight

Villager
Hey hey, does PF2E have tiers of play similar to how level 1-4 is Local Heroes in dnd 5e or could someone please give me an equivalent? Sorry if it is in the rulebook somewhere, but I'm curious to know as I'm planning a small sandbox game and would like their reputation to reflect their level of renown.
 
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Celtic-Knight

Villager
Im really curious how a sandbox even works in PF2?
Well I've set it in the Fable universe so the players have all of Albion to enjoy. I've set up the narrative that the players are young Heroes and every time they complete a quest they get one step closer to levelling up. No exp for killing enemies as I want to encourage diplomacy, exploration and caution. I'm basically copying Rime of The Frost Maidens structure with Reaver being the bbeg. (Cus he's an evil bastard who needs to die).

Structurally it looks like:
Main quest 1
Side
Side
Side - Level up
Lead from Main Quest 1 shows up for Main Quest 2 with agency or tempting rewards
Repeat steps until the game comes to a natural and satisfying conclusion and hope we don't fizzle out before then.

I would suggest that maybe you look at the different proficiency tiers. Trained and expert can be any level, but master training happens at 7th+, legendary at 15th+.
Thank you, I did do more searching online and this does seem to be the consensus.
 
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payn

Explorer
In relation to a sandbox I was thinking more about the +level design of PF2. Is the world just completely compartmentalized into zones. You stay in a zone that isnt suicide until its a cake walk? Im just not sure how a traditional sandbox works in a system like that.
 

Celtic-Knight

Villager
In relation to a sandbox I was thinking more about the +level design of PF2. Is the world just completely compartmentalized into zones. You stay in a zone that isnt suicide until its a cake walk? Im just not sure how a traditional sandbox works in a system like that
I see the world and encounters in a fluid state, the cities and the trade routes that connect them are "safe" for commoners and low-level PC's. The danger is when they leave the roads or head to more remote places, like there is no levelled zones as I scale the quests/rumours to their level but that doesn't mean werewolves and witches aren't running around either. Maybe I've chosen the wrong system for the game I want to run, but I've never ran a game with mmo-style zoning. I don't know how to explain I find the idea of zoning completely alien to me and ive every game I've ever ran or played portrayed much higher level enemies as threats to be spotted, avoided or tricked. I grew up with Pendragon D20 and we had all of Britain to roam, Scotland wasn't a different level zone from Wales because threat aren't separated by arbitrary borders they are around every corner, in every cave or every ruin and that's part of the exploration and exciting danger of accepting quests.

Basically I'm not going to throw unfair fights at the players and real threats will usually be foreshadowed or come with plenty of warning, because I want them to desire power so they can take on these threats and feel part of a living world. I don't know, I've never seen roleplaying through the lens of zoning and read +level as a tool of narrative escalation and system mastery.
 

!DWolf

Explorer
There isn’t an official level = reputation system but there is a reputation system in the gamemaster guide that, while probably more detailed than what you are looking for, might be useful with some alterations: you could set it up for the entire sandbox and have each adventure/quest/task that they accomplished give them a number of reputation points for the area.
 

!DWolf

Explorer
In relation to a sandbox I was thinking more about the +level design of PF2. Is the world just completely compartmentalized into zones. You stay in a zone that isnt suicide until its a cake walk? Im just not sure how a traditional sandbox works in a system like that.
I am running a successful pseudo-sandbox and I know @kenada is running an actual sandbox. Kenada uses the proficiency-without-level rules to flatten the math, while I use bell curve encounter distribution: most encounters will be calibrated to be moderate for level X but there will be harder and easier fights with the number of them growing less frequent the farther they get away from the median. As long as you give forewarning and have players who want to do things other than blindly rush in and fight every thing they encounter to the death, and you know how to correctly do random encounters (if you are using them), I have found pf2e works really well.

You might want to check out the exploration mode thread as well. Among other things: both kenada and I posted our exploration procedures and I posted a example of the PCs taking on a quadruple extreme encounter.
 

Celtic-Knight

Villager
There isn’t an official level = reputation system but there is a reputation system in the gamemaster guide that, while probably more detailed than what you are looking for, might be useful with some alterations: you could set it up for the entire sandbox and have each adventure/quest/task that they accomplished give them a number of reputation points for the area.
Very cool, I will check that out thank you.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
In relation to a sandbox I was thinking more about the +level design of PF2. Is the world just completely compartmentalized into zones. You stay in a zone that isnt suicide until its a cake walk? Im just not sure how a traditional sandbox works in a system like that.
Like @!DWolf said, I’m running a sandbox *crawl in PF2. I don’t think sandbox necessarily implies a *crawl, but they are structures that commonly go together. Anyway, I do a couple of things to manage encounters.

For dungeon exploration, I follow the old-school style of floor = #HD. I wouldn’t call that zones, but I wouldn’t fault someone for seeing it that way. I pick a target level then tune the floor for that level. Proficiency Without Level helps by giving me a wider range of creatures to use, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary in this approach.

For wilderness exploration, I just use whatever makes sense. My setting has a hard cap of 12th level, but I have some areas with 17th level creatures. They just make sense to be there, and the party will need to use its wits if it wants to make it out okay. Of course, since we aren’t assuming they are supposed to fight everything, they have a chance of escaping or parleying.

I think that last line is the assumption that makes things work. The party shouldn’t expect to fight and kill everything they meet. Exploration mode helps a lot to structure play so that they’re not just trudging from encounter to encounter, but it really comes down to communicating expectations. This is not a game where you should expect to fight everything and win.

However, a *crawl is just one type of sandbox. You don’t have to do that. You can give PCs a bunch of hooks and use node-based design to let them decide how they want to handle the situation. That’s usually how I handle short adventures: give the PCs a goal, and let them loose.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Hey hey, does PF2E have tiers of play similar to how level 1-4 is Local Heroes in dnd 5e or could someone please give me an equivalent? Sorry if it is in the rulebook somewhere, but I'm curious to know as I'm planning a small sandbox game and would like their reputation to reflect their level of renown.
First we need to establish we're talking about the same thing. 5E uses "tiers" as shorthand for "what the heroes get up to" - or what sorts of challenges are appropriate. That is, tiers mean nothing more than things like "a stone wall is a significant challenge at tier I but not at tier III because there's so many ways to fly over it or teleport through it or even smash it with you fist".

So in that general sense, you can absolutely use the same thinking and the same terminology. In other words, you can say PF2 too has four tiers of play.

Of course the games aren't identical, and so a particular effect doesn't come into play at the exact same level, and in some cases you can't even do a thing the other game lets you at all. (In general, magic in 5E is more generous. At the highest levels, though, magic has arguably a greater impact in PF2)

---

That said, my guess as to why PF2 doesn't talk tiers is the lack of bounded accuracy.

That is, at any given level, monsters can (and should) be of four levels lower than the heroes up to four levels higher than the characters.

So, if the heroes are level 10, only monsters of level 6-14 work well. (lower and they're completely trivial; higher and the heroes should flee)

This way, you have one "tier" at level 10, for level 10 characters, encompassing monster levels 6-14. Then you have another "tier" at level 11, encompassing monster levels 7-15. And so on, ending up with twenty tiers... or levels, as it were.

This is because any given scenario becomes significantly easier just by leveling up. Once.

If the party holds off two levels, that particular adventure is now outright simple.

This goes counter to the sandbox idea to let the heroes choose what to do (and in what order)... unless you let monsters level "dynamically" (to use a computer game term).

But if the bandit chief is always two levels higher than the party, regardless of when the heroes decide to wipe out the bandit gang, then it isn't a true sandbox.

---

For your sandbox, you might want to use the proficiency without level variant of the Gamemastery Guide. If you don't you can't really have a true sandbox like one meant for heroes of, say, 5th through 10th level, since any monster that's a challenge for 10th level characters will just stomp on fifth level characters.

In a way that just doesn't happen in 5E (because of the deliberate design decision called "bounded accuracy"). In 5E, a level 5 party can totally experience the thrill of seeing a level 14 monster. Unless the DM goes out of his way to kill the party, they can survive long enough to realize they need to flee.

In PF2 a level 14 monster will simply kill one character each round without breaking a sweat. Such a thing is no fun.

So you can't just have the level 5 party randomize encounter the level 14 monster, which is what a sandbox is all about. As soon as you try to solve this, it's no longer a true sandbox, whether you place hints so the party knows what to avoid, or simply create two or three areas, so there's no monster more than 5 levels higher than the heroes at least. (Even facing a level 10 monster - any level 10 monster - is a nasty experience for even the most minmaxed level 5 PF2 party...)

So yeah, that's my response to the question of tiers.
 



Pragmort

First Post
Hey hey, does PF2E have tiers of play similar to how level 1-4 is Local Heroes in dnd 5e or could someone please give me an equivalent? Sorry if it is in the rulebook somewhere, but I'm curious to know as I'm planning a small sandbox game and would like their reputation to reflect their level of renown.
Page 48 of the GM's Guide offers the attached quick reference for adventure groups that should help with determining what you might consider "elite" enemies, "boss" enemies etc.
 

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