Pathfinder 2E Free Archetype Variant Rule - if you DON'T use it, why, and how did your players react?


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The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
Well, I'll give you that I'd made an assumption given that Archetype do not, in any of the cases I've checked, have listed feats above 12th Level (something not true about normal class feats). However, there's another issue in that the term used is "Free Archetype" (note, singlular) and none of the ones I checked have more than eight feats anyway, so unless the singular is mistaken, there's no feats to take for the top few levels from a single Archetype.
Looking into this in detail:
The only difference between a normal character and a free-archetype character is that the character receives an extra class feat at 2nd level and every even level thereafter that they can use only for archetype feats.
you might restrict the free feats to those of a single archetype each character in the group has
If the group all has the same archetype or draws from a limited list, you might want to ignore the free archetype’s normal restriction of selecting a certain number of feats before taking a new archetype. That way a character can still pursue another archetype that also fits their character.
Sauce

The expectation is that even in cases where you give them a specific archetype, they can take another one with the rest of their archetype feats afterward.
 

Lojaan

Hero
I don't get why people use it. PF2 has enough feats as it is. You don't all need the same feats to be members of the same group or anything. If people want to multiclass they can pay the feat.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I don't get why people use it. PF2 has enough feats as it is. You don't all need the same feats to be members of the same group or anything. If people want to multiclass they can pay the feat.

Because class feats are valuable enough it makes it unattractive enough to make most of the Archetypes fundamentally useless? If you don't understand that's true with a rather large number of people, perhaps you should try.
 

Lojaan

Hero
Because class feats are valuable enough it makes it unattractive enough to make most of the Archetypes fundamentally useless? If you don't understand that's true with a rather large number of people, perhaps you should try.
Some feats are better than other feats so you should give the less good feats to everyone for free? Yes, that's an option.

I can see how players would like this option. Players will always say yes to more stuff. Coming from a DM angle this just feels excessive.
 
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Andvari

Hero
I can see how players would like this option. Players will always say yes to more stuff. Coming from a DM angle this just feels excessive.
Well, of course. Had the designers felt PCs had way too few feats and too few skills, they would have given them more feats and skills in the rules instead of in a variant.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Some feats are better than other feats so you should give the less good feats to everyone for free? Yes, that's an option.

If you want people to actually use them, you need to make it so the tradeoff is not too severe. Otherwise they just sit in a book.

I can see how players would like this option. Players will always say yes to more stuff. Coming from a DM angle this just feels excessive.

I'm a GM fall more than a player, and having seen it in play, "excessive" itself seems pretty excessive. Its not like most of these things stack in any direct fashion. They provide more options, and its impact on game balance is minor, and almost invisible until the higher levels.

Heck, hybrids don't show a particularly dramatic impact in most cases for a long time, and that's a lot stronger and option than free archetype.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Well, of course. Had the designers felt PCs had way too few feats and too few skills, they would have given them more feats and skills in the rules instead of in a variant.

Its not a question of "too few". Its a question of whether customizing a character has too high an overhead. Its not particularly uncommon for Archetypes to have options that are interesting, but weaker than the things you trade-off to get them. In terms of incentives, I don't think the effect that has is exactly unclear.
 

glass

(he, him)
The expectation is that even in cases where you give them a specific archetype, they can take another one with the rest of their archetype feats afterward
While I agree with the general premise that you get free-archetype feats all the way up, and (absent a campaign-specific restriction to the contrary) they can be from any combination of archetypes (subject to the usual requirement to take two feats before the next Dedication - again unless waived), I do not think that that bit is saying what you think it is saying.

"If the group all has the same archetype or draws from a limited list, you might want to ignore the free archetype’s normal restriction of selecting a certain number of feats before taking a new archetype. That way a character can still pursue another archetype that also fits their character." (Emphasis mine.)​

What it says to me is that, if you are using the variant with a specific mandated archetype in the extra slots, you might allow the PC to take a second archetype alongside it in their normal rather than having to wait until they are three feats in.

I can see how players would like this option. Players will always say yes to more stuff. Coming from a DM angle this just feels excessive.
Not always. I personally like the idea, but the reason I have not instituted it yet in the game I am running is that I am not sure how some of my players would feel about it.

Heck, hybrids don't show a particularly dramatic impact in most cases for a long time, and that's a lot stronger and option than free archetype.
What are "hybrids"? Is that another name for Dual Class characters, or a third variant I am unaware of?



Anyway, on the subject of the OP, I am still debating whether to do it for the current campaign (we have started, but the players are still first level and the variant does not kick in until second). As I said above, I like it, but I am not sure how the players will react to needing to pick ten more feats.

I decided to wait until I saw how the PCs were getting on before making the final decision. Since we have had one PC death already, I am going to go with "not great", so I am leaning towards using it. I have pretty much come to the conclusion that picking a lot of feats is something you just have to get used to with PF2.

As to how my player would have reacted had I gone in the opposite direction, with one possible exception I doubt any of them are aware it exists, so there would have been nothing for them to react to.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
What are "hybrids"? Is that another name for Dual Class characters, or a third variant I am unaware of?

Yes, its another term for dual-classes.



Anyway, on the subject of the OP, I am still debating whether to do it for the current campaign (we have started, but the players are still first level and the variant does not kick in until second). As I said above, I like it, but I am not sure how the players will react to needing to pick ten more feats.

I decided to wait until I saw how the PCs were getting on before making the final decision. Since we have had one PC death already, I am going to go with "not great", so I am leaning towards using it. I have pretty much come to the conclusion that picking a lot of feats is something you just have to get used to with PF2.

Honestly, its not that bad unless you're obsessed about planning all the way until the end of time. Its not like 3e ((or even PF1e) where you were fishing in a vast formless sea of feats. Worst-case, even if on a given level you're picking multiple feats, they'll be binned into categories, and often the categories will only have 2-4 choices, some of which may not even be available (because of prior choices). Our group just hit 10th level (which is a particularly feat-choice intensive level because you get a class feat, a skill feat, and (if doing free archetype) an archetype feat. In practice, I was choosing between two class feats and two archetype feats, because the others were either unavailable, or clearly not useful. I actually dithered more over the skill feats, mostly because most of them really weren't that useful because of the particulars of my character (most useful ones I acquired a while back).
 

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