Pathfinder 2E Getting started with PF2

Thomas Shey

Legend
Thanks for all of the feedback so far, especially the discussion on healing and how that shapes party creation.

One concern I have is that the group I'd be playing this with the style seems a strong fit for the DM, who likes tactical, crunchy encounters, and some of the players as well. But not all the players are like that.

We have one casual player - bright but doesn't have time to read up between sessions and not a great depth of experience so would be effectively learning PF2 through play and probably will treat it like D&D 5e for a while. That said, can think tactically. She's smart, just doesn't have the years the rest of us have. What classes/roles would you suggest we steer them towards?

Some of the Fighter variations are probably okay. You just need to point out that using the third action for an attack is usually a "I can't find anything else to do" case. I'd think you could make a Sorcerer work for someone like that too, but it would be a good idea to guide the construction. A lot of other classes are based at least in part around specific tricks and things that might be okay because you accumulate them over time. I wouldn't recommend most other spellcasters or some of the more off-the-beaten path types like Investigators or Swashbucklers.


And another who gets satisfaction with something directly either hurting or healing. Buff, debuff, action denial aren't really their thing. They want to directly affect HPs. So either some sort of striker role or in-combat healing. It sounds like there's still lots of places they will have fun, right? Any hidden gotchas with that?

Direct them away from offensive spellcasters. They're effective, but primarily against groups; its easy for someone to get frustrated because their single target damage is not as exciting as someone would like, and there's a deliberate move away from take-out spells (and the ones that are there have a mechanic that make them explicitly bad against up-level opponents)

But none of that is a barrier to play, just things to keep in mind when we build a party.

Changing gears, I'll have to check out Foundry - we've been using Roll20 and it has it's strengths and it's pain points. But it sounds like there's good tools at Foundry that will be a big help. Are they free, subscription, purchase?

Finally, there was a mention about not being able to try disarming a trap without being an Expert and some warnings about if it's worth it to invest only a little in a skill. Could someone expand on that? Do characters need to be focused specialists like in D&D 3.x, or can you be more casual and still have chances to succeed? Is spreading yourself thin to be a jack of all trades viable? And what are "skill feats" - is that just a category of feats that affects skills or something else?

I haven't noticed my less-than-laser-focus with skills being particularly painful, but that may be an artifact of the classes I've played.

Feats in PF2e are basically broken into four categories: class feats (basically selectable class features, usually the best feat types you can get), ancestry feats (things that represent what particular heritage you have--some of these can be pretty decent too, but you don't ever get many of them), general feats, and skill feats. You get more of the latter than you do of any others and they're sometimes-useful but unless you're focused on a given skill, often underwhelming (they'll do things like slightly change the mechanics you use when you jump to your occasional benefit, or give you the ability to use crafting with magic items).

(This, by the way, is why when some people go off about how many feats there are in PF2e its hard to sometimes not read them as either not understanding the game or being disingenuous. Because of how those feats are binned, once you've created your character the majority of class and ancestry feats will never matter to you again, and even the skill feats are dependent on what skills you've taken).
 

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Staffan

Legend
And another who gets satisfaction with something directly either hurting or healing. Buff, debuff, action denial aren't really their thing. They want to directly affect HPs. So either some sort of striker role or in-combat healing. It sounds like there's still lots of places they will have fun, right? Any hidden gotchas with that?
The main one is that just wading into combat and attacking multiple times faces rapidly diminishing returns. If you're starting the round next to a foe, it's probably a bad idea to attack three times. You're probably better off doing something like Strike, Raise Shield, and Step back.

There are also quite a few opponents you really don't want to have right next to you at the start of their turn, because it's fairly common to have absolutely devastating three-action combos. For example, the Dire Wolf can attack you, and if it hits it can automatically Grab you in its jaws as a second action, and then as a third action shake you in its teeth dealing only slightly less damage than a Jaws attack, but automatically hitting (though you do get a basic Fortitude save to reduce the damage). If it needs to spend an action to get close to you, it doesn't get to do its full routine and you and your buddies have a round where you can hopefully Escape before it gets to Worry you again.
Finally, there was a mention about not being able to try disarming a trap without being an Expert and some warnings about if it's worth it to invest only a little in a skill. Could someone expand on that? Do characters need to be focused specialists like in D&D 3.x, or can you be more casual and still have chances to succeed? Is spreading yourself thin to be a jack of all trades viable? And what are "skill feats" - is that just a category of feats that affects skills or something else?
For the important stuff, you need to specialize in skills. There is some lip service paid to the idea of the world being fairly static and so high-level characters will have an easier time with lots of things without specializing. As an example, at about 8th level our party wanted to attack a ship that was anchored in a harbor. Swimming to the ship and climbing it was no big deal, even for the non-athletes in the group (though I think those without Athletics at least had the feat that gives you a proficiency bonus equal to your level even on skills you're Untrained in), because that was just fairly placid water for DC 15 or so.

But for the things that matter, you want to be specialized. Any skill you'd use offensively (e.g. Athletics for various maneuvers like Shove or Trip) will be resisted by one of the opponent's saves, which will be level-appropriate. Hazards generally have very high DCs for their level. Recall Knowledge to figure out an opponent's weaknesses usually uses a DC based on the opponent's level modified by rarity.

Again taking my own experience as an example, my Elemental Sorcerer started out trained in both Nature and Arcana. At 1st level, my Nature skill was +6 (Trained +3, Wis +3) and my Arcana was +4 (Trained +3, Int +1). If I was trying to use Recall Knowledge on a 1st level opponent, the DC would be about 15. So If it's something I could figure out with Nature (e.g. a beast, elemental, fey, plant, or something like that) I would need to roll a 9+, and if it's something that would need Arcana (e.g. a construct or a dragon) I'd need an 11+. That's fairly cool. But then move up to 11th level. Now I am a Master in nature, and I've increased my Wisdom bonus, and I'm pretty sure I have at least a +1 item bonus from something (+2 on plants IIRC), so my Nature skill is +22 (Master +17, Wis +4, Item +1). Meanwhile, I'm still only Trained in Arcana, and my Int remains at +1, so my bonus there is only +14 (Trained +13, Int +1). The DC for a typical level 11 creature is 28 which means I succeed on a 6+. So relatively speaking, pumping a lot of resources into my Nature skill has effectively given me a +3. Meanwhile, on an Arcana-type creature I need to roll a 14+. That's tough. Probably not something I'd spend actions on in combat. My neglect of the skill has given me an effective -3 compared to 1st level.

Now, the DC for identifying say, a wyvern hasn't changed. It's DC 22 (for a level 6 creature) no matter what my level is, so I have objectively become better at Arcana just by leveling up. But the challenges I face rise in difficulty faster than my capabilities unless I keep investing in those specific capabilities.

As for skill feats: Pathfinder 2 has a number of different categories of feats which you get based on your level from various sources. Skill feats is a specific type of General feat (so if you get a General feat you can choose a Skill feat, but not vice versa) that either indicates a specialization of a skill (a bonus in a narrow circumstance) or letting you use the skill in different ways. Normally, you start with one skill feat from your Background, and you get another one at every even level (Rogues and Investigators get one every level). Often, skill feats either require a higher proficiency level or become stronger at higher proficiencies. The skill feats that have been mentioned the most in this thread are Medicine skill feats, because some of them greatly increase the utility of the Treat Wounds usage of Medicine.

At its basic level, Treat Wounds lets you spend 10 minutes on a patient and roll Medicine vs DC 15 to heal 2d8 hp. On a higher proficiency level, you can attempt a higher DC in order to heal more. On a success, you can spend a full hour instead to recover twice that. Treat Wounds has a "cooldown" on any given patient of one hour, which runs parallel to the actual treatment time (so if you start treating a patient at 1 o'clock, you can treat them again at 2 o'clock, not 2:10). There are two main skill feats that make this more useful: Continual Recovery reduces the cooldown to 10 minutes, and Ward Medic lets you treat multiple patients at once (depending on your proficiency level).

Other fun skill feats are Catfall (Acrobatics) which lets you negate a certain amount of falling damage, Magical Crafting (which lets you craft magic items), Intimidating Glare (which lets you avoid language penalties on Intimidation), or Courtly Graces (which lets you use Society instead of Diplomacy to Make an Impression on nobles).
 

niklinna

satisfied?
Thanks for all of the feedback so far, especially the discussion on healing and how that shapes party creation.

One concern I have is that the group I'd be playing this with the style seems a strong fit for the DM, who likes tactical, crunchy encounters, and some of the players as well. But not all the players are like that.

We have one casual player - bright but doesn't have time to read up between sessions and not a great depth of experience so would be effectively learning PF2 through play and probably will treat it like D&D 5e for a while. That said, can think tactically. She's smart, just doesn't have the years the rest of us have. What classes/roles would you suggest we steer them towards?

And another who gets satisfaction with something directly either hurting or healing. Buff, debuff, action denial aren't really their thing. They want to directly affect HPs. So either some sort of striker role or in-combat healing. It sounds like there's still lots of places they will have fun, right? Any hidden gotchas with that?

But none of that is a barrier to play, just things to keep in mind when we build a party.

Changing gears, I'll have to check out Foundry - we've been using Roll20 and it has it's strengths and it's pain points. But it sounds like there's good tools at Foundry that will be a big help. Are they free, subscription, purchase?

Finally, there was a mention about not being able to try disarming a trap without being an Expert and some warnings about if it's worth it to invest only a little in a skill. Could someone expand on that? Do characters need to be focused specialists like in D&D 3.x, or can you be more casual and still have chances to succeed? Is spreading yourself thin to be a jack of all trades viable? And what are "skill feats" - is that just a category of feats that affects skills or something else?
I've found Nonat1's videos to be fairly informative. The class guides are pretty much him just reading off all the feats and giving his opinions, but his videos that are actually about questions are good. These two videos in particular should help your group members find what classes they'll most enjoy.


 

Yardiff

Adventurer
I'd also suggest "How Its Played" videos for learning about PF2e. But again a lot of the info will be 'out of date' ,but still useful, when the Remastered version come out. I expect a lot of new video's once they YouTubers get a hold of the Remastered info.
 

Retreater

Legend
Changing gears, I'll have to check out Foundry - we've been using Roll20 and it has it's strengths and it's pain points. But it sounds like there's good tools at Foundry that will be a big help. Are they free, subscription, purchase?
I was initially running PF2 on Roll20, and Foundry was a game changer. I'm not a techie guy - I don't build gaming rigs or anything like that. It took me a few weeks of diving into Foundry to really learn its bells and whistles, but it was totally worth it.

So here's what you get with Foundry VTT. One time purchase for the program - I think it's $50 at the base price (sometimes it goes on sale). Only the GM needs to purchase it. You can run many systems with it - not just limited to Pathfinder 2.

If you're like me and you're not comfortable setting up a hosting computer, you want to have it available at all times for your players to log-on, etc., then it's a good idea to sign up for The Forge. There's a monthly fee involved (I think $9/month), but again I think it's well worth it just to not have to fool around with my own hosting settings. (If you feel comfortable doing that, then there's zero fees for using Foundry.)

All the monsters, spells, character classes, rules, ancestries, etc., are free on a drag-and-drop compendium. The stuff that you're spending $50 per book to use on Roll20 - every bit of that is free on Foundry, all dragged in from Archives of Nethys, I believe.

If you've happened to purchase PDFs from Paizo, you can import most of them into Foundry for free as well. For things like the Bestiaries you already have the rule information, but you get tokens generated from the artwork in the PDF. Many of the Adventures and Adventure Paths can be uploaded into Foundry, laid out with maps with dynamic lighting, journal entries, tokens pre-placed, etc., - and you've guessed it - it's all free. The adventures you'd be buying on Roll20 for $25-ish dollars each are free (assuming you've purchased legal PDFs from Paizo).

You have automation built into the system. It tracks ammunition. You can target an enemy and it will tell if your attack hit. It knows the range of your dwarf's darkvision. Dragging the Enlarge Person spell effect on your token adjusts the stats as well as your token size and tracks the duration. Persistent damage is automatic. If someone has the Enfeebled condition, it deducts from Strength checks automatically. You can drag your token and it measures distance travelled. There are templates to remind you about Fear auras, etc.

Then there are a variety of bells and whistles that can be added with free modules. Like if you want to put a flashing orb around the current active player's token. Reminders when to award Hero Points, Recharge Breath Weapons.

Really, it's SO GOOD and totally affordable. Roll20 is junk compared to it, and I can safely say that as someone who used Roll20 for years.
 

Lojaan

Hero
I was initially running PF2 on Roll20, and Foundry was a game changer. I'm not a techie guy - I don't build gaming rigs or anything like that. It took me a few weeks of diving into Foundry to really learn its bells and whistles, but it was totally worth it.

So here's what you get with Foundry VTT. One time purchase for the program - I think it's $50 at the base price (sometimes it goes on sale). Only the GM needs to purchase it. You can run many systems with it - not just limited to Pathfinder 2.

If you're like me and you're not comfortable setting up a hosting computer, you want to have it available at all times for your players to log-on, etc., then it's a good idea to sign up for The Forge. There's a monthly fee involved (I think $9/month), but again I think it's well worth it just to not have to fool around with my own hosting settings. (If you feel comfortable doing that, then there's zero fees for using Foundry.)

All the monsters, spells, character classes, rules, ancestries, etc., are free on a drag-and-drop compendium. The stuff that you're spending $50 per book to use on Roll20 - every bit of that is free on Foundry, all dragged in from Archives of Nethys, I believe.

If you've happened to purchase PDFs from Paizo, you can import most of them into Foundry for free as well. For things like the Bestiaries you already have the rule information, but you get tokens generated from the artwork in the PDF. Many of the Adventures and Adventure Paths can be uploaded into Foundry, laid out with maps with dynamic lighting, journal entries, tokens pre-placed, etc., - and you've guessed it - it's all free. The adventures you'd be buying on Roll20 for $25-ish dollars each are free (assuming you've purchased legal PDFs from Paizo).

You have automation built into the system. It tracks ammunition. You can target an enemy and it will tell if your attack hit. It knows the range of your dwarf's darkvision. Dragging the Enlarge Person spell effect on your token adjusts the stats as well as your token size and tracks the duration. Persistent damage is automatic. If someone has the Enfeebled condition, it deducts from Strength checks automatically. You can drag your token and it measures distance travelled. There are templates to remind you about Fear auras, etc.

Then there are a variety of bells and whistles that can be added with free modules. Like if you want to put a flashing orb around the current active player's token. Reminders when to award Hero Points, Recharge Breath Weapons.

Really, it's SO GOOD and totally affordable. Roll20 is junk compared to it, and I can safely say that as someone who used Roll20 for years.
Interesting! Are there any tutorial resources you recommend? Ive considered Foundry but was turned off by talk of "hosting". Seemed too tech for me.
 

Kichwas

Half-breed, still living despite WotC racism
We have one casual player - bright but doesn't have time to read up between sessions and not a great depth of experience so would be effectively learning PF2 through play and probably will treat it like D&D 5e for a while. That said, can think tactically. She's smart, just doesn't have the years the rest of us have. What classes/roles would you suggest we steer them towards?
A healer or other support character would normally be my recommend for a new player except I hate pointing to the support for a female player as that's what happens to women gamers in MMOs... all... the... [censored]... time...

A ranged caster with a basic spell list can be easy - sorcerer is straightforward AFTER character creation.

Bard will be like telling the female player that just joined your MMO raid group; "oh, you're the girl - play this sweetie." They're buff bots.

Avoid Witch as it's broken (it's getting a rewrite in the remaster because the class' abilities do not internally synergize - lots of dead end feats, feats that need enablers that were never written (such as an entire line for melee combat abilities but no ability to be able to hit with them, and they don't work with each other in any unified way). When I say witch is broken I don't mean balance - I mean doesn't actually function as advertised.

If she enjoys tactical play, but is new / casual so you want to go rules light... one "insane" idea is a rogue with the thief racket. This is an extremely tactical option that is also very straight forward: get into flank position so you get sneak attack. Attack with Rapier, then Shortsword, use first and OR third actions to move in or away, tumble through, take cover, demoralize, and as time goes on, other things.

(EDIT: Typo had me saying the opposite of what I meant...)

Rogue is both a perfect character for simple play, and most varied play. Want to do something? The rogue likely has the skill for it. So the rogue will be the character that has the most options - yet they are all very straightforward.

It's ideal for a more engaged but not too 'game obsessed' player.

If they just want to 'hit stuff' with as little mechanics worry about as possible - Barbarian. But a less involved player will not know what to do out of combat and might get bored.

The caution on Fighter: It seems like a straightforward hit things option... but the fighter player needs to be tracking all kinds of different maneuvers they could pick from. Attack, shove, trip, grapple, sweep... use my reaction to raise shield or save it for the AoO that might happen if that guy there moves... try to kite this enemy to that spot and that enemy to this spot... etc. If this was an MMO you are both the top melee DPS and the off-tank at the same time (if a Champion is around they are the maintank).

And another who gets satisfaction with something directly either hurting or healing. Buff, debuff, action denial aren't really their thing. They want to directly affect HPs. So either some sort of striker role or in-combat healing. It sounds like there's still lots of places they will have fun, right? Any hidden gotchas with that?
If a highly tactical player - a melee. Fighter, Rogue, Champion.

The caution on the Champion: you are a tank, Your job is to sit there and take hits, or chase down opportunities to be the one to take the hit because this isn't an MMO with a taunt button. You will want to do tactics like a fighter - but you don't have as good of tools for that. You just need to 'get in the way' of things all the time. On a very tactically minded player, or one who knows PF2E well - this can be exciting. On a less tactical player they will feel like all they get to do is a basic attack and then raise their shield. A Champion needs a player who will deep dive what they can do with it because on the surface it can look boring.

If not - a non magical ranged. Non-magical ranged do work best when played tactically but you can also just 'point and shoot'. Archers and Gunslingers. Or a less tactical melee in a Barbarian (they can be played to just hit things), Swashbuckler (they are meant to be tactical, but the most effective way is often just to spam 'finisher' and ignore all the class mechanics).


Changing gears, I'll have to check out Foundry - we've been using Roll20 and it has it's strengths and it's pain points. But it sounds like there's good tools at Foundry that will be a big help. Are they free, subscription, purchase?
Yeah, if you run PF2E in a VTT, you almost always want that VTT to be Foundry.

Unlike Roll20 the rules come included. Paizo itself put out support items for Foundry. There are a TON of great mods. Adventure packs need to be bought or you can manually import and make the maps. But it's worth it to just buy the adventure's Foundry key if it exists. There are some people who sell some stuff on patreon for it - animations, maps, music packs. Some of that is very high quality but none of it is needed.
 
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Retreater

Legend
Interesting! Are there any tutorial resources you recommend? Ive considered Foundry but was turned off by talk of "hosting". Seemed too tech for me.
Yeah. That's why I let the Forge do it. At that point, it's basically like Roll20 from that angle - you give players a code to join your game. Super easy.
This guy's channel (Encounter Library) is good for basics.
There are people who specifically cover PF2e add-ons (The Rules Lawyer on YouTube made some good videos.)
The Foundry Discord has also been extremely helpful if you need to ask a quick question about a specific issue.
 

Interesting! Are there any tutorial resources you recommend? Ive considered Foundry but was turned off by talk of "hosting". Seemed too tech for me.
Self hosting isn’t a huge issues. There are several tutorials on YouTube that explain it. I host through The Forge. It’s pretty seamless and it’s a flat annual fee. Send your players the game link. They log into Forge. The player accounts are free. Only hoster pays the annual fee.
 

Teemu

Hero
I want to caution you to have more realistic expectations with Foundry, in that while it is a really good VTT for PF2, it's not perfect and it can be a bit clunky and buggy at times. The PF2 rules module is made entirely by volunteers, so they're not paid professionals who are creating a product to be sold. It works quite well overall but the user interface takes some time getting used to. Because there's so much automation, you also have to tinker with certain elements of the character sheet for the automation to work, or you have to spend time learning what exactly you need to add from the compendium for things to work as desired. Because of the automation element, it's more difficult to adjust feats or items or spells. If something is bugged, it can be rather frustrating because of the reliance on the automation.

I just wanted to point this out because I was oversold on Foundry by the enthusiasts. It's good, but it's not perfect.
 

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