Grade the Pathfinder 2E Game System

How do you feel about the Pathfinder 2E System?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 30 17.4%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 32 18.6%
  • Meh, it's okay.

    Votes: 37 21.5%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 15 8.7%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 57 33.1%
  • I've never heard of it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

Retreater

Legend
Would the feats in 5e count as Feat Bundles? curious
Maybe the subclasses fit more what I'm thinking about? But, yeah, the feats in 5e are much more substantial than in PF2. So are the races/ancestries.
That would result in the same severe problems D&D 5E has. Class feature compartmentalisation. There would be no choices to make. (except for casters of course lol nobody demands spells to come prepackaged for some reason I wonder why?)
You can have both options: pick your feats a la carte or select a chunk of abilities that just work.
They could present a "default" elf that does everything we expect an elf to do - and then have the "custom" elf option that is really dialed to be the elf someone who wants to look through dozens of feats AND remember to use them.
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Maybe the subclasses fit more what I'm thinking about? But, yeah, the feats in 5e are much more substantial than in PF2. So are the races/ancestries.

You can have both options: pick your feats a la carte or select a chunk of abilities that just work.
They could present a "default" elf that does everything we expect an elf to do - and then have the "custom" elf option that is really dialed to be the elf someone who wants to look through dozens of feats AND remember to use them.
I've took the former as play 5E, and the latter as play PF, but getting both in a single system is intriguing.
 

Leverage their Archetype system. At level 1 you pick your class Archetype (sub- class) and that fills in the class feat blanks as you level.

Skill feats could be tree’d up the same way. I want to go with the Healer Skill Spec which means I get the healer appropriate fears as a group up front, and get access to them as you level.

I’m not sure how hard something like that would be to put together. Probably not very. But you’d absolute hear it from the customizeability crowd.

Which leads me back to another issue I have. Once you go down the road of a feat tree your likely to keep going. There’s a choice, but it’s an illusion to some degree.
 

Which leads me back to another issue I have. Once you go down the road of a feat tree your likely to keep going. There’s a choice, but it’s an illusion to some degree.

True, but there aren't really feat trees in PF2. There are generally not feats that require other ones very often. Maybe there are certain paths based on hitting on what you want to hit, but that's a bit different than a feat tree.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I've only done three of these so far (might do another one after the weekend...any requests?) but this one is hands-down the most popular one so far: it has been played by 75 ENWorld members...more than all the others combined.

I guess that shouldn't be all that surprising; it is a D20 System after all, and D20 is the most popular RPG system to date.
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
I just wanted to ramble a bit about a couple of things.

Skill Feats: First, I'm going to agree up-front that some of them are not that exciting.

But that's kind of okay. What I mean by that is since they're binned off by themselves, you're not sacrificing much to take one that may be a minor or specialized. I mean, yeah, the Medicine related ones are probably more useful than many, but unless you're going to regularly invest in Medicine, who cares?

That said, they can be useful in aggregate if you want to specialize in an area, and then to some extent force the use of them by your tactics. As an example my first PF2e character was a sword-and-board fighter with a high Athletics. I took a number of the feats related to jumping. To make it clear you do not need to take any of those feats to get value out of Athletics, or even to jump usefully. But once I took them, I found a lot of applicability on a lot of battle maps that I'd have had to deal with in other ways and/or get slowed down. They weren't exciting or necessary, but they were useful, and gave a bit of extra color to him than he'd otherwise have had.

Shields: Honestly, the biggest problem with the shield block action is that if you plan to use it regularly and get value out, it forces you into one of the two classes of shields that get improved armor and hit points. It pretty much leaves all the more interesting shields to people who use them, but don't block. That's kind of unfortunate. Other than that, they can both make an interesting tactical decision, and seriously up the surviveability of a character trained to do that.
 

MuhVerisimilitude

Adventurer
I want to add that I find that if you sit down and start thinking about designing a ttrpg, you are likely to run into having to implement something like skill feats if your system supports D&D style spellcasting. Without skill feats there are only two types of improvements for a non-caster character.

1: You improve your chance of success with your skills.
2: You gain new class features that enable new actions.

Now casters gain a lot of class features thanks to their spells. Each spell is functionally a class feature. If you attempt to compete with this class progression by adding more class features to martials you will end up compartmentalising the classes. For example you might want to improve the martial ability to jump, somehow. But if you make it a class feature now suddenly every class that can jump will need that class feature. At that point it is much easier to make it separate from the class feature system, by making it into something like a skill feat that can be taken by every class that will need access to that skill.

I'm not sure the implementation of skill feats in PF2 is necessarily the best one, though.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
Skill feats can be fun, though some def depends a bit on the rulings your GM tends to make, or the need to perform certain activities in a given campaign, but retraining means you're never far off course correction. I like the ones that in aggregate form out a kind of kit for a neat thing-- like taking the handful of feats that let you do some neat things with society.
 

No, the phenomenon I've experienced is pretty much only universal to deeply a-la-carte systems. Any class-based system with non-existent or severely limited multiclassing tends to avoid it immediately, because there's no inherent flaw in allowing you to get really good, class-defining, signature abilities at level 1. Any system that lets you pick up a level of this and a few levels of that as your means of creating character options pretty much guarantees that you can't have those kinds of abilities early in the class tree.

4e D&D avoids it much better than either 3e, 5e, or either edition of PF. 5e LotR and AiME prove that the 5e system can do it pretty easily once you discard multiclassing, and discarding the spell system helps even more. B/X D&D avoids it better than 3e or 5e because the only abilities you have are either what you start the game with or those tied to the magic items you find along the way.

Basically, if your game has to say, "We can't allow front-loading of class abilities because multiclassing exists," then your game system has this problem.

PF2e is a different. It doesn't allow 3e style multiclassing. However, the game silos nearly all character abilities and progression into categorized feats, grants very minimal sets of abilities at level 1, and then the design evenly spreads progression out over all 20 levels. In other words, PF2e still does all the anti-frontloading tricks that it's progenitors did. It's the same design as PF1e and 3e D&D, even though the game doesn't have to care about multiclassing breaking the design in half! They just left in this artifact of 3e design in without understanding that you don't have to be a clodhopping peasant at level 1. It just means you have to wait until much later in the game to have a minimally meaningful and minimally defining set of abilities.

PF2e could front-load your abilities more than it does and launch your character as a hero faster. It's a vestigial design.

Worse, PF2e doubles down on it. They take this vestigial design from classes, and they move it to Ancestry and Background, too. If you're an Elf, you get low light vision and the elven language. Then you can pick one of a dozen elf abilities. The rest aren't available until several levels later. Want to be an Elf that knows about elven arcana and elven weapon training and has elven resistance to magic? D&D lets you do that at level 1. PF2e lets you do that at level 9. To me, an Elf Hunter Fighter simply doesn't feel distinct enough at level 1 from a Human Guard Fighter.

The only reason it looks complicated is because they give it all to you as choices. But your resulting character can just do less in terms of standout, signature abilities and the game just doesn't have flavorful, situational abilities unless you purposefully select them. That's why I say my character doesn't feel complete until about level 8. It takes about that long to have earned enough feats to have enough distinctiveness. If I'm an Elf Hunter Fighter, well at level 1 that means I can see in the dark, can use weapons, and have some skill proficiencies. And that's basically it. If I want two elf abilities? Yeah, that won't be done until level 5 when I get my second Ancestry feat. By the time you get to level 8, you'll have a few abilities from each area, and now it feels like my character has enough stuff from the catalog to feel like a unique character.

Except I'm freaking level 8! Even in an idea world the campaign is basically half over.

But there's even less to like. I'm making all these decisions at character creation that limit what I can choose for the rest of the game. They don't actually feel like they do much at level 1, but those three choices at level 1 affects almost every choice I get for the rest of the game. It's particularly frustrating because I can't see how the game allows my character to develop over the campaign as a result of the events within the campaign because so much of everything is decided for me at level 1.

So, again, it feels like I need to have my character planned out completely before I sit down at the table, which is something I didn't like in 3e, or 4e, and is still over-rewarded in 5e. The game's rewarding me for completely planning my character in advance like that, and I don't want that. I don't really want to know what I'm going to take for the whole game before it even begins, and it feels really egregious because you're so bland at level 1.

Like it doesn't matter if every choice individually isn't OP. System mastery will allow me to make choices for abilities that work well together, or situational abilities that just come up far more often than everything else. That's rewarding system mastery. System mastery isn't about being able to make your character super OP. It's just about how much the game rewards experience with the game.

Nevemind the ludonarrative dissonance from reaching level 9 and gaining access to Ancestral abilities that are conceptually based on what your character should already know. "I have killed enough bandits to be able to understand my people's knowledge of Arcana and Nature." It's weird when D&D does it. PF2e seems to make everyone do it. Kinda weird.

The whole design feels orthogonal to how I think of TTRPG characters now. PF2e feels like a character building game that incidentally supports play as a TTRPG.
That describes pretty well one of the things I noticed. Your character starts at 0, and you are likely going to plan your character for the next 19 levels at Level 1 (even if you might not fully realize it, but you will quickly notice that if you hadn't planned for it, it's probably not a god option).

The way the math is "tight" often also feels off. You start with basically a +3 bonus ahead of someone untrained, but end with something like +26 or 28. And if you don't keep boosting that skill everytime you get the chance, you can basically forget about relying on the skill in a "level appropriate" challenge. At the same time, the rule for untrained is also kinda ridicilous, losing 20 points compared to the guy you have been fighting side-by-side for the last 20 levels...
I also think "add your level to everything" really constrains the viability of monsters and challenges way too much. We ran a sandbox / hexcrawl style campaign, and so often you just accidentally entered enemies that were either boringly easy or absolutely deadly to fight.
We found out too late that some of the online tools we used would have allowed us to turn this off, but it feels a bad choice for the system to have this in the first place.
(TO be fair, as a 4E fan, I also didn't like 4E half-level bonus rule that much. But at least it was a lower bonus, and it applied to untrained checks, too.)
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
That describes pretty well one of the things I noticed. Your character starts at 0, and you are likely going to plan your character for the next 19 levels at Level 1 (even if you might not fully realize it, but you will quickly notice that if you hadn't planned for it, it's probably not a god option).

The way the math is "tight" often also feels off. You start with basically a +3 bonus ahead of someone untrained, but end with something like +26 or 28. And if you don't keep boosting that skill everytime you get the chance, you can basically forget about relying on the skill in a "level appropriate" challenge. At the same time, the rule for untrained is also kinda ridicilous, losing 20 points compared to the guy you have been fighting side-by-side for the last 20 levels...
I also think "add your level to everything" really constrains the viability of monsters and challenges way too much. We ran a sandbox / hexcrawl style campaign, and so often you just accidentally entered enemies that were either boringly easy or absolutely deadly to fight.
We found out too late that some of the online tools we used would have allowed us to turn this off, but it feels a bad choice for the system to have this in the first place.
(TO be fair, as a 4E fan, I also didn't like 4E half-level bonus rule that much. But at least it was a lower bonus, and it applied to untrained checks, too.)

It wasn't like in the 3e days people didn't chronically go up as regularly as was possible. All that happened was the thing you complain about in your second paragraph where the skills became worthless above a certain level (and far worse; its sometimes hard to get value out of a skill you haven't kept investing in in PF2e, but its not impossible in a lot of cases). On the other hand, in 3e (or PF1e) the skill you haven't invested in in ten levels might as well not exist. The automatic level add essentially says "We're not going to force people to play this stupid game of chase-the-level".

And I should note if you really want to avoid that, there's an optional rule to do so. Its just not the core rule, because, frankly, they decided for the routine user, its not a virtue.
 

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