The Know Direction Podcast interviewed Paizo's Erik Mona and Logan Bonner about Pathfinder 2nd Edition. It's well worth a listen, but if you don't have time, here's the information I managed to glean from it. By necessity I had to paraphrase - a two hour podcast takes 5+ hours to parse this way! There's a LOT of information to unpack below, covering a massive range of topics.
All the below information has been added to the Pathfinder 2 Compiled Information Page.
All the below information has been added to the Pathfinder 2 Compiled Information Page.
- Products -- it was Erik Mona's decision when to do Pathfinder 2nd Edition.
- Final (non-playtest) products release in August 2019.
- It turned out (back in 2008 with the PF1 playtest) it was cheaper to buy a copy of the playtest book from Paizo than to print it yourself, and they sold out in three days. (Mona)
- Starter BOX TBD. Haven't discussed post playtest products. Revising the ruleset and creating a beginner box are two very different tasks. (Mona)
- Not just going to regurgitate products people have already bought. Obviously we'll do the core book, monster book. But we're not going to just convert Advanced Players Guide and Ultimate Magic and so on. Taking a holistic look at the whole thing and the opportunity to create truly new stuff. Same way PF1 didn't just repeat D&D and do Oriental Adventures and Dungeoneers Survival Guide. I refuse to just regurgitate the same products (Mona)
- Erik Mona comments that Paizo knows a lot more about how to make books after 20 years of experience with the 3.x system, and evolving a presentation template which was initially created back in 1999 for D&D 3.0.
- Playtest cover won't be cover of final book. (Mona)
- Tons more Wayne Reynolds art. In the playtest, some will be black and white "in process" art. (Mona)
- Logo - there will be a new Pathfinder logo. Playtest logo is not the 2E logo. Haven't started designing it yet. (Mona)
- Subscriptions -- will continue, with plenty of warning about what's coming down the road. Don't want people to have to reset up their subs. Don't know about paces and sizes of each sub yet. (Mona)
- Playtest stuff not part of subscription. (Mona)
- Starfinder -- its its own thing and genre. Not a halfway edition between Pathfinder 1 and 2. A different branch off the same tree. (Mona)
- On D&D 5th Edition -- "The fact of the matter is that [Pathfinder 2 and D&D 5E] are branches of the same tree to some degree; the design goals that they had with D&D 5th Edition were "4th didn't really work, how do we take the basic 3.5 rules, or really going back to 1st Edition, and evolve those into today", and they had a set - I assume - of design goals. We're doing the same thing in the sense of we had Pathfinder, which is an off-branch of 3.5, and now we want to make Pathfinder the best version of Pathfinder, and so there's going to be some things that are similar but in no way is there an intent to make this 5.1. Quite frankly, we're so busy playing Pathfinder, which we enjoy, that we're not experts at 5th edition. We wouldn't dream of making "an even better versions of 5E!"; that's not the goal. The goal is to make a better version of Pathfinder, and it may be that some of the solutions we come up with are similar to some of the solutions that they came up with, and frankly some of the solutions that they came up with are very similar to Pathfinder in the first place!" (Mona)
- Some people ask is this a versions of 4E or 5E. It's neither of those, it's a version of Pathfinder. Still crunchy, still expansion-heavy. The things our fans love, like more options and more stuff they can dig deep into. 5E is a little simpler, a little more loose, a different play style than Pathfinder. We want to maintain a similar play style while smoothing down some of the rough edges. (Bonner)
- "Streamlining", "proficiencies", "background" are three words in the publicity people have associated with 5th Edition D&D, and the implantation is significantly different. (Mona)
- If you're concerned we're dumbing down the game or making it too simple, really that is not the case. Core foundation in the core rules designed to allow for more choice and more customization. We want tons of depth of character options. (Mona)
- Tactical complexity. Pathfinder is the customisable complex game. I love the grid, miniatures. It's not just an excerise in roleplaying or acting. Pathfinder is a tactical roleplaying game. Were not changing that. (Mona)
- Playtests -- internal playtests are being done like crazy. (Mona)
- Current playtests much more robust than 5 months ago. Solid collection of monsters now. (Mona)
- Been playtesting for the last couple of years. Now at the point of not saying "do we have this rule?" but rather "where in the book is the rule?" (Bonner)
- Major parts of the rulebook are pretty unlikely to change now. Playtesting with a fairly reasonable final version, but it's not too late to make a change. (Mona)
- They're going to make changes up till the last section, but they aren't operating off drafts. (Mona)
- Sometimes in the playtest, they couldn't decide whether to make a big leap, so in the playtest is the more extreme thing. Some envelope pushing, with the chance to pull back. (Bonner, Mona)
- Alchemist -- a popular class, and in the core book they can look at what alchemy means in the game right from the get-go. Baking alchemical items, crafting into the system from the core. (Bonner).
- Alchemist is uniquely Pathfinder. They don't want to make another D&D, but the best version of Pathfinder. (Mona)
- Incorporating the golem, a creature associated with their brand. (Mona)
- Class selection -- why these 11 core classes? People would freak out without them. Taking things away from people is never a good idea. Eg gnome being removed from 4E D&D core. (Mona)
- Why alchemist rather than gunslinger or psychic magic? Guns a little far outside conception of fantasy and gunslinger character are pretty rare compared to alchemists. (Bonner)
- A lot of people prefer guns be an option rather than core. (Mona)
- Alchemy has high extendibility to other characters. (Bonner)
- Gunslingers need a more focused playtest. (Mona)
- Witch is a very popular class. Almost made it in. Definitely won't have to wait 3-4 years for it. (Mona)
- Every other level grants a class feat. Simulating hybrid classes can be done with class feats to an fair amount; depends on the individual class. Could do a pretty good warpriest. Investigator more of a challenge. (Bonner).
- Archetypes in core -- no classes are being rebranded as archetypes. Demoting core classes would upset people, but focused on core game and going back and forth on how to deal with those.
- Archetypes in playtest are a fairly small selection. (Bonner).
- Not much like Starfinder or 1E. More experimental. (Bonner)
- Broadly accessible concept archetypes in core rather than class-specific, but can theoretically could have prerequisites such as Wizard-specific. (Bonner)
- Advanced Player's Guide is when "Pathfinder became Pathfinder" as a ruleset, with introduction of archetypes. But clerics had nothing to swap out and have been denied a fundamental part of the rules for 8 years. (Mona)
- Space -- the current playtest is 400-416 pages, roughly, maybe a bit bigger. The final core rulebook guidelines is it can't be bigger than the 1E book (576 pages is the line). That means there is room to create new stuff to deal with issues which come up during the playtest. (Mona)
- Mona's top Pathfinder peeves (not necessarily addressed by 2E):
- Identifying magic items is a stupid waste of time. Being addressed in 2e, "it's pretty awesome".
- A bunch of little editorial pet peeves like hags being alphabeticized by their first letter.
- Wand of cure light wounds. Never read a fantasy story where somebody said "let me hit you with 49 changes of my cheap wand". Artifact from 199 which has stuck with us.
- Detect magic spell. Takes several rounds to get info, some of which is not useful.
- Shields -- new way of working. Riase shield as one of your 3 actions to absorb damage of a hit up to hardness of the shield.
- Two shields is a viable build... (Mona)
- Attach shield boss or shield spikes to attack. (Bonner)
- Haven't looked at buckers yet. (Bonner)
- Metamagic? Yes. (Bonner)
- Magic system -- Wizard and Sorcerer are really different to each other. (Bonner)
- There's still prepared casting and spontaneous casting.
- Casting type hasn't changed for casters. Some may have a little more or less.
- Vancian system still there. Specific prepared recipes as aways.
- But sometimes you can spend more actions to make spells better. Magic missile one missile per action spent. (Mona)
- Healing is a touch for an action, ranged for two actions, burst for 3 actions. (Bonner)
- This approach done judiciously, not everywhere. Small number of iconic spells to make extra special. (Bonner)
- 3-action spells are rare. Generally a spell caster's turn will likely be a spell and one other action. (Bonner)
- That other action could be a one-action spell like shield. Acid splash 2 actions, shield 1 action in the same round. (Mona)
- Shield spell works a lot like an actual shield (Bonner).
- Featherfall is a reaction (Bonner).
- Summoning is 3 actions. Some revisions ongoing but looks like it appears right away, acts right away with 2 actions on its turn. (Bonner).
- Caster level scaling of spells is gone. To do more damage with a fireball, prepare it as a 5th, 6th, 7th level spell. Spontaneous caster is not left behind because it's generous how often you can swap out your spell you know as you level up. (Bonner)
- How is that not like D&D 5E? A lot of 5E comparisons are off base but in this case it is similar. It is coincidental though, as Mark Seifter hadn't read 5E when he designed that bit. (Bonner)
- Simplification of schools of magic. Changing way magic is categorised. (Mona)
- Solving "why is this conjuration instead of evocation?" (Bonner)
- Acid splash is evocation now. (Mona)
- No spell creation system in core rulebook. (Bonner)
- Spells go 1-10. No 0-level spells. Cantrips still exist. (Bonner)
- Magic items -- Brand new magic items. Not just converting same old items. Many operate with new elements of the rules system. For those who have seen six editions of marvellous pigments, there's lots to love. (Mona)
- +1 swords are so much more exciting. And particularly +4 swords. (Mona)
- Getting rid of items needed just to Keep Up With The Joneses. Not the same approach to cloaks of deflection and rings of protection. Required quest to get all those little +1s is almost gone. (Mona)
- Those items are minimized a lot. 3 core items. (Bonner).
- No body slot system. Aimed at a small number of cool items than a whole bunch of clutter. (Bonner)
- Specific challenges might make you focus on 3-4 of your 8 items over others. A lot more interesting decision making. (Mona)
- Do I want to use this wand or save my resources for something else? (Bonner)
- Healing & Hit Points -- you're going to want a small number of strong heals rather than a bunch of tiny heals. There's a cost associated. (Bonner)
- 1st level characters will not be as fragile. 1st level paladin has 17 or 19 HP. (Mona)
- Race hit points and class hit points.
- No stamina/resolve from Starfinder.
- 1st level characters -- choosing the same number, maybe a little more, options as 1E. But made a little stronger, a little more going on with them. (Bonner)
- Sudden Charge for the fighter -- move double speed, make one attack with two actions.
- Sudden charge, double slice.
- Not a normal charge any more, but you can move twice and attack without Sudden Charge using your 3 actions.
- Less times you'll take something OK to get something better later.
- Retraining rules in core.
- Hero points - will be in the playtest. Not exactly the same way. Currency players have, not characters. Might be really divisive. (Bonner)
- High level play -- less rocket tag. Better balance at big level spells and things that just end encounters. Less stress of having to remember tons of stuff a monster can do for just 6 seconds of game time. (Bonner)
- Tighter math at high level. Fighter will hit more often still, Paladin's AC is still high, but gap between them and wizards isn't so great that the monster just squashes the wizard, or the wizard invalidates everyone with their spells. Still an expanding gap as you go up in levels, but not as drastic. (Bonner)
- Rather than "fighter is the only one with a chance to hit" now the fighter hits more often than before, but the other classes are not falling quite so far behind and still have a chance. (Bonner)
- Ancestry -- you don't just decide at 1st level, you come back to it again and again, so no two Dwarves are the same. (Mona)
- Deeper than just a new word for race. Choice you make at creation, then as you advance a series of decisions you make to make yourself, say, even more Dwarfy. (Mona)
- Gives opportunity for human ethnicities, half elves, half orcs, without getting into "this is technically a subrace". (Mona)
- Goblins writeup is lighter on "eating babies" and more how a goblin works in context of an adventuring party. (Mona)
- Goblin PCs are extraordinary, not typical conception of a goblin. Some verbiage addresses the social contract of the game and how to play well with others. (Bonner)
- While PC goblins are playable, in the bestiary there will be chaotic evil goblins. They are still adversaries too. (Bonner)
- Complexity -- Recalculating stuff on the fly has changed.
- E.g. Enfeebled condition. Tells you things that change - lowers our damage, lowers your attack bonus. Applies directly to the frontal numbers rather than changing your Strength and making your recalculate everything. (Bonner)
- Example of it being easier and less math at the table, but the complexity hasn't been reduced. (Mona)
- Less types of bonuses and things that stack. No types that stack and others that don't. The types don't stack. (Bonner)
- Logan Bonner commented that math streamlining meant that some things which "looked good" on paper (e.g. "half your level", etc.) don't really hold up at higher levels. Now higher level is closer to the lower levee experience in that while one character may be way better at something, another character can still at least try it. Things that feel like you should be able to do are things you actually can attempt.
- Actions -- combat is more mobile (Bonner).
- Effectively spring attack at first level using the three actions.
- Alignment -- pretty much still the same. Some class restrictions going away. (Bonner)
- Detecting alignment a bit more fuzzy, with GM having more power to determine how the info is presented. And also easy to not include in the game. (Bonner)
- Conversion -- converting an adventure not too hard. Some monkeying with treasure, but encounter grouping transferable. You'd have to convert new monsters (there's a new monster system, about 15 mins to convert a mid-level monster). (Bonner)
- Easier to replace a stock giant spider from early years than an advanced Bestiary 6 monster from later. (Mona)
- Originally specific backwards compatibility was vital, but after a decade there are areas where it's more important to improve the gameplay. (Mona)
- We never said we would never do a new edition. (Mona)
- Monsters -- monster stats with benchmarks and you give it abilities you want rather than a process like character design. Though you can still do NPCs like characters if you want. (Bonner)
- Taking the tedium, but not the fun, out of designing an adventure. (Mona)
- Game rules as physics can make design tedious; experimenting with ways to make it quicker and generate things that do what you need it to do for that encounter. (Mona)
- No assumption that every NPCs has gone through the same path as a PC. The PC rules are just one path. (Bonner)
- Terminology -- characters built in the same way - you don't have to learn the difference between a rogue "exploit" and a fighter's combat "feat". It's all feats. (Bonner)
- Codifying terminology is a big thing. (Mona)
- Tags -- things have tags. Eg. "dwarf" tag, so we can thing that effect dwarves easily. (Mona)
- Spells don't have to say "this functions as...."; it's clear whether it is or isn't the thing. Removes ambiguity. (Bonner)
- So spell-like abilities are spells accessed in a special way, not a separate thing. Things that are kind of like spells are spells. (Bonner)
- Prestige classes -- You will see a concept which may have once been a prestige class in the core rulebook. (Bonner)
- Worth noting that Bonner and Mona gave each other a look when that was asked which makes it look like there's a LOT they're not saying on that subject right now.
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