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Pathfinder 2E How is Pathfinder doing?

The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
I think part of my issue is that Pathfinder 2 has gone for exclusively "tall" boss fights. Boss-type creatures are bosses because numbers big. This is unlike 4e with "wide" bosses: defenses and attack bonuses in about the same range as regular monsters, but more hit points, better action economy (e.g. strong reactions, interrupts, cleaves/AOEs), and so on. This is something I miss. I sometimes hear Pathfinder designers talk about this as a feature: The same 3rd level ogre stat block can make for a boss encounter at level 1, and act as a minion at level 5, and that's cool because it lets the PCs feel how much more powerful they are. I see that point, but I think it's more important to have satisfying boss fights now rather than being able to compare fights across levels.
I like the tall boss fights because to me (a player who started with 4e and loves it dearly) the wide boss fights don't feel the way boss fights should-- they don't feel like you're punching up at something super powerful because the HP values are generally hidden, so your larger damage numbers are just vanishing into a void until its bloodied / dies. In pf2e when my spells are reduced to half damage, that feels like the boss is showing me that its on a whole other level which makes it more satisfying when the party finally gets those big hits in, wears it down, and creates opportunities-- its got that whole "if it doesn't bleed, make it bleed then you can kill it" where you're throwing flanks and frightens and fireballs and magic missiles at it to build up to those grand slam moments and struggling against overwhelming force. It feels very cinematic to have that dynamic where the boss is a bull in a china shop and we need to thread the needle to wear it down and bring it to its killzone.

Similarly, on the player's defensive side the bosses crushing blows (their greater likelihood of hitting and critting) really convey the enormous power that someone has to try and take, and the party has to deal with-- you feel like your party is going to 'overheat' from the amount of 'heat' the boss is putting on them if you can't bail water enough to keep fighting, and you have to race to end it before it catches you out. That feeling of desperate struggle is the main feature of PF2e boss fight for me, and I really love the feeling of fighting them, and the GM gets to have this awesome power fantasy where something like a dragon breath is just this huge 'oh, we're in for it now' moment for your players, and they'll probably pull through, but they have to really spring into action to pick up the pieces and drag themselves back from the brink.

The fact that you can have that with like a dragon or some other stereotypical boss monster, and then eventually you might have an encounter where you're batting a bunch of them aside as they're coming at you, letting you see how far you've come, is icing on the cake.
 

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Not my intent. I've sincerely attempted to run the game numerous times and asked for advice. I've put out promotional effort to start a local 2e PFS game. I've tried to encourage friends and strangers to play it.
I guess my posts reflect the constant frustration I feel trying to get this game accepted in my circles. Perhaps my experience is atypical? Perhaps I'm finding signs of the game's lack of success where there are none? Maybe that's my frustration coming out: because if it's doing so well, why can't I get a game going, why do the books sit on the shelves of my local store, and (most fundamentally) what could I do about it?
But I guess I shouldn't be concerned about this. My posts about this topic are not welcome here. They're either bringing people down or met with snark and outright insults.

No, it's not about liking the game. It's about taking the most pessimistic view of everything for no real reason. Read the post you wrote, or most of your posts in this thread. I don't care if you like the game, but you keep seeming to indicate things are doing badly when all evidence we have is to the contrary. I had this same problem with some people and 5E back in 2014-2015 and I just don't get it.
 

JThursby

Adventurer
I feel like you're desperate to create a problem where there is none on the basis of your vibes alone.
Not my intent. I've sincerely attempted to run the game numerous times and asked for advice.
I have gotten that sense as well. I don't think you're anti-Pathfinder or anti-Paizo, and even if you were that's not wrong or anything, it's a preference in entertainment. What I do think is happening is an overreaction to perceived fiscal failures based on very shaky evidence.
But I guess I shouldn't be concerned about this. My posts about this topic are not welcome here. They're either bringing people down or met with snark and outright insults.
When @darjr posts about Paizo being well stocked and shopped at GenCon, and then you say that in reality Paizo is doing worse and worse because of some hidden "important" factor like how many books are on a table at one time that isn't mentioned, it's hard to read that as anything other than you accusing him of lying, be it on accident or on purpose. People generally don't like to be called liars, and that kind of exchange has happened multiple times in this thread. If you brought some compelling evidence that those pictures or any other indicator of Paizo's status don't measure up to reality you'd get a different response, but you haven't. To me, it appears you're married to the conclusion of "Paizo is failing, and their games are failing" and are shopping for supporting evidence.
 

darjr

I crit!
Sometimes I think them surpassing WotC in sales for a product line did them a disservice.

But only in as so far as perception goes.

They have a new third party board game coming out. They can continue to afford to have a BIG room at GenCon. And Beadle and Grimm are going to do another box. They continue to outsell all other RPG companies, and many times by a large margin.

If WotC and D&D 5e were not there they'd be the big 500 lbs gorrilla with the SAME EXACT EVIDENCE.;

I don't know how well they are doing internally but I do know they had hit on hard times as a company.

My goodness they weathered a freaking STRIKE (in all but name). What other RPG company could do that besides maybe WotC?
 
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Staffan

Legend
I like the tall boss fights because to me (a player who started with 4e and loves it dearly) the wide boss fights don't feel the way boss fights should-- they don't feel like you're punching up at something super powerful because the HP values are generally hidden, so your larger damage numbers are just vanishing into a void until its bloodied / dies. In pf2e when my spells are reduced to half damage, that feels like the boss is showing me that its on a whole other level which makes it more satisfying when the party finally gets those big hits in, wears it down, and creates opportunities-- its got that whole "if it doesn't bleed, make it bleed then you can kill it" where you're throwing flanks and frightens and fireballs and magic missiles at it to build up to those grand slam moments and struggling against overwhelming force. It feels very cinematic to have that dynamic where the boss is a bull in a china shop and we need to thread the needle to wear it down and bring it to its killzone.
Part of the problem for me is that one of the natural reactions to a strong creature is to try to find ways to undermine it, to take it down a notch in order to make it more killable. In other words, debuffs. But since bosses have such strong defenses, trying to debuff them usually just ends up in failure. There's no use in trying to demoralize, trip, or grapple a higher-level foe – particularly with the last two, you're probably more likely to crit fail and end up prone than actually succeeding, and then even if you don't crit fail you still get MAP on the rest of your attacks.
 

Sometimes I think them surpassing WotC in sales for a product line did them a disservice.

But only in as so far as perception goes.

They have a new third party board game coming out. They can continue to afford to have a BIG room at GenCon. And Beadle and Grimm are going to do another box. They continue to outsell all other RPG companies, and many times by a large margin.

If WotC and D&D 5e were not there they'd be the big 500 lbs gorrilla with the SAME EXACT EVIDENCE.;

I don't know how well they are doing internally but I do know they had hit on hard times as a company.

My goodness they weathered a freaking STRIKE (in all but name). What other RPG company could do that besides maybe WotC?

Yeah. I mean, Spring 2022 ICv2 numbers are out and it's still #2, with Goodman Games (EDIT) and Darrington Press (the Critical Role expansions) behind it in the third spot and the releases of Power Rangers and GI Joe behind those. What arbitrary measure of success do we have to reach where Paizo is doing "good" at this point?
 
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The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
Part of the problem for me is that one of the natural reactions to a strong creature is to try to find ways to undermine it, to take it down a notch in order to make it more killable. In other words, debuffs. But since bosses have such strong defenses, trying to debuff them usually just ends up in failure. There's no use in trying to demoralize, trip, or grapple a higher-level foe – particularly with the last two, you're probably more likely to crit fail and end up prone than actually succeeding, and then even if you don't crit fail you still get MAP on the rest of your attacks.
When you do succeed, it is disproportionately effective, especially as a caster where even a low level fear spell is super likely to knock a point off their AC that stacks with flat footed (if not 2 from a failed throw) and the parties buffs, demoralize is very common as well due to Charisma characters being fairly common, and the fact that its 1 action with no MAP cost, feint has a similar benefit if a martial uses it for themselves and didn't have a flank partner, I've seen hero points used for the purpose too

The aggregate is the key, you're working hard to accomplish it, but you get a big pay off when things do go your way.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
When you do succeed, it is disproportionately effective, especially as a caster where even a low level fear spell is super likely to knock a point off their AC that stacks with flat footed (if not 2 from a failed throw) and the parties buffs, demoralize is very common as well due to Charisma characters being fairly common, and the fact that its 1 action with no MAP cost, feint has a similar benefit if a martial uses it for themselves and didn't have a flank partner, I've seen hero points used for the purpose too

The aggregate is the key, you're working hard to accomplish it, but you get a big pay off when things do go your way.
I have heard about this stacking debuff type of game, and it sounds awesome, but its not what I have experienced from PF2. It usually one out of 4 or more players succeeding (marginally) on the things they want to do, and everybody else failing because the enemies defenses are too strong. So, this cascade of boons never materializes.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Sometimes I think them surpassing WotC in sales for a product line did them a disservice.

But only in as so far as perception goes.

They have a new third party board game coming out. They can continue to afford to have a BIG room at GenCon. And Beadle and Grimm are going to do another box. They continue to outsell all other RPG companies, and many times by a large margin.

If WotC and D&D 5e were not there they'd be the big 500 lbs gorrilla with the SAME EXACT EVIDENCE.;

I don't know how well they are doing internally but I do know they had hit on hard times as a company.

My goodness they weathered a freaking STRIKE (in all but name). What other RPG company could do that besides maybe WotC?
I think part of it is viewing it through the lens of the internet. MMOs are totally like this. Every new one to hit the market has to take out WoW. If it doesn't, total failure with nobody playing it. WoW does have the biggest player base and talk of the town, but many MMOs go on for years with decent sized player bases too. Though, the internet talk is that the servers plug will be pulled any day now because they couldnt take on WoW.

Anytime some of these folks can find some anecdotal piece of evidence (like low gencon presence) it seems to just add to the proof that the game failed to take on the king and its all over. To be honest, I dont think gencon is the big thing anymore. I think companies like WotC and Paizo are spreading out their presence among many cons. Seeing big presence from folks like Free League should be encouraging, it means folks are actually branching out from D&D and PF.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I see the point there, but I think "expend a limited resource on single-target damage" should do more than "expend a limited resource on AOE damage".

If there were no other factors in play, I'd agree, but as I said there are. Single target damage is, frankly, a big part of the function of martials and other non-casters, and as such, I think its just something casters are going to have to learn to live with not being too exciting. Ones that do things like avoid most damage resistance, poke at vulnerabilities, have riders or do something else interesting is the best I'm willing to cede them.

And if that feels bad for the martials, I'm all for giving them limited resources to do cool things too.

I think its going to be hard to set that up so the tradeoff seems reasonable without going fairly far down the 4e road.

My GMing experience has been mostly with Extinction Curse, which in the first two volumes and first eight levels had 6-7 dungeons (depending on whether you count the levels in the underground Aroden temple as one or two dungeons – you're supposed to level up after the first level, so I'll count it as two) each with 10+ encounters, three of which are strongly urged to be done in a single run.

And I'll admit I'm basing my assumptions about observations of what worked for the casters in the Age of Ashes campaign I was in that just concluded last night. But again, I have to qualify that of the three casters in the group, only one was a prepared caster--but even he didn't seem to run out of useful things to do very often, and that's accounting for the fact they were a witch, which I'm given to understand is not over-equipped with spell slots.
 

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