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PF2E How is PF2E prep and GMing?

Reynard

Legend
I am going to be running PF2E to finally test the system. I am going to start with intermittent tests of combat, etc but once my 5E Avernus campaign finishes I am going to run a regular game for 6 or 8 weeks.

My question is how difficult or easy in preparation for PF2E and how difficult or easy is running the game, primarily in comparison to PF1 (which I ran before 5E came out but found overwhelming both in prep and at the table). Essentially I am trying to decide whether to run published adventures (Plaguestone or Age of Ashes) or run something home brewed which is my preference. I want something kind of sandboxy among other things.

Thanks.
 

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dave2008

Legend
I am going to be running PF2E to finally test the system. I am going to start with intermittent tests of combat, etc but once my 5E Avernus campaign finishes I am going to run a regular game for 6 or 8 weeks.

My question is how difficult or easy in preparation for PF2E and how difficult or easy is running the game, primarily in comparison to PF1 (which I ran before 5E came out but found overwhelming both in prep and at the table). Essentially I am trying to decide whether to run published adventures (Plaguestone or Age of Ashes) or run something home brewed which is my preference. I want something kind of sandboxy among other things.

Thanks.
I think @CapnZapp , @Celtavian , and @Campbell can help you more with this; however, I think it is significantly easier to DM than PF1 and for some it is easier than D&D 5e. Personally, I find all of the rules minutia hard to get a firm grasp of so I don't feel confident DMing yet. But if you are familiar with 3e/PF1 i think that shouldn't be a problem. I hear the encounter building guidelines are very accurate for determining difficulty.
 



dave2008

Legend
I guess we deserve being reminded with a full MENTION when we haven't replied in all of 22 minutes, eh fellow users-starting-with-a-C? :p
I didn't check to see when it was posted - sorry! I just know you three have been helpful with PF2e items in the past and are more knowledgeable on the subject than I am.

PS. Its not a reminder, I'm just point it out in case you miss it ;)
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
My question is how difficult or easy in preparation for PF2E and how difficult or easy is running the game, primarily in comparison to PF1 (which I ran before 5E came out but found overwhelming both in prep and at the table). Essentially I am trying to decide whether to run published adventures (Plaguestone or Age of Ashes) or run something home brewed which is my preference. I want something kind of sandboxy among other things.

Thanks.
I'd say GM prep is far easier.

Of course, at level 1 the differences aren't that great - every edition of D&D is fast and simple at level 1.

I would say "learning a new game" is the bigger challenge for players as well as the GM.

I would recommend starting off with at least a couple of prepublished encounters, just to make it easy on yourself (but not the players ;) ). Of course, if you feel confident you can handle building your own encounters, go for it. I myself started GMing PF2 using my own encounters (since the Adventure Path I was interested in - Extinction Curse - wasn't yet published). I would stick to existing Bestiary monsters at first, though - once you get a feel for the system, creating your own critters is very much simpler in PF2 than PF1 since monsters don't follow player character chargen rules (somewhat like 5E D&D).
 

Reynard

Legend
I'd say GM prep is far easier.

Of course, at level 1 the differences aren't that great - every edition of D&D is fast and simple at level 1.

I would say "learning a new game" is the bigger challenge for players as well as the GM.

I would recommend starting off with at least a couple of prepublished encounters, just to make it easy on yourself (but not the players ;) ). Of course, if you feel confident you can handle building your own encounters, go for it. I myself started GMing PF2 using my own encounters (since the Adventure Path I was interested in - Extinction Curse - wasn't yet published). I would stick to existing Bestiary monsters at first, though - once you get a feel for the system, creating your own critters is very much simpler in PF2 than PF1 since monsters don't follow player character chargen rules (somewhat like 5E D&D).
If the CR rules and encounter design system is reliable, I would prefer to roll my own as it were since I have a mini sandbox setting I want to use.
 


dave2008

Legend
If the CR rules and encounter design system is reliable, I would prefer to roll my own as it were since I have a mini sandbox setting I want to use.
There is no CR, the monsters have levels just like PCs. So a level on monster is roughly = to a lvl 1 PC. At least I think that is correct
 

Reynard

Legend
There is no CR, the monsters have levels just like PCs. So a level on monster is roughly = to a lvl 1 PC. At least I think that is correct
The actual play experiences thread and other reactions seem to suggest the encounter design guidelines are tight.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
I find PF2 to be the easiest on me as a GM out of all of the D&D and D&D-like games/versions I have played over the years.

Primarily coming down to the encounter building guidelines being not just easy to remember and utilize without doing much math (which numerous versions have achieved) but also matching to expectations of difficulty.

Even just a few months into using the system I already feel as comfortable designing encounters and adventures with it as I do AD&D 2nd edition which is the version I've put the most time into running.
 

The actual play experiences thread and other reactions seem to suggest the encounter design guidelines are tight.
It is really easy to set up an encounter. You have an XP budget based on how difficult you want the encounter to be. So an Extreme encounter for the characters level has 160 XP, and a Trivial would have 40 or less. A creature of the parties level costs 40 XP. So basically one creature of the party's level in trivial, and 4 are Extreme. A creature of party level + 4 by itself is also an extreme encounter. I tend to do a lot of Moderate encounters which are 80 XP that seems to be challenging, but not too deadly.
 


kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
My question is how difficult or easy in preparation for PF2E and how difficult or easy is running the game, primarily in comparison to PF1 (which I ran before 5E came out but found overwhelming both in prep and at the table). Essentially I am trying to decide whether to run published adventures (Plaguestone or Age of Ashes) or run something home brewed which is my preference. I want something kind of sandboxy among other things.
I’m running a sandbox hexcrawl. Exploration mode works pretty well for exploration-type games. I combine it with some ideas from the Alexandrian and Old-School Essentials to good effect.

Actually running the game is not too bad, but even after running it since release (about 12 sessions) I find myself sometimes missing trait interactions. My players also have trouble keeping their character sheets straight, which has been a source of frustrating, but there are tools for mitigating that. I like the Proficiency without Level rules. I think they help give me more options in terms of creature variety, but I don’t seem to get much agreement whenever I suggest that.

You mention encounter building in a subsequent post. PF2’s encounter building math is pretty solid. By all accounts, it works all the way up to even high levels. It’s really the case that creatures with levels higher than the PCs are dangerous, and ones significantly higher levels are significantly dangerous. It’s worth noting that PF2 doesn’t provide any advice on encounter pacing. It’s not like 5e where it assumes (wrongly) that an adventuring day is some number of encounters long. I like to use adversary rosters, so I tend to favor a mix of smaller encounters with occasional big creatures, but you can also favor moderate and tough encounters as long as the PCs are savvy and have downtime to heal and recover.

I agree with the suggestions to start with the creatures in the books. The Bestiary 2 just came out. Both it and the Bestiary are good books, but the Bestiary 2 really helped flesh out the roster with some creatures that were missing. Designing custom creatures and hazards isn’t difficult. The Gamemastery Guide has all you need to do that, but it’s very open-ended. The procedures are essentially just benchmarks you should meet in terms of creature power. That’s makes it much easier if you have a vision already, or you want to tweak or convert something, but it can make building one up from scratch a little more difficult.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
PF2 doesn’t provide any advice on encounter pacing.
PF2 gives easy access to essentially-free out-of-combat healing powers (free as in not costing spell slots or money), so you need to be aware that given 20 (or 40 or 80) minutes, everybody is back at full hp. Your fighters can hack through dozens of encounters in a single day without having any reason to stop!
Do note, you still need to select these abilities, meaning that it is possible to create a party without any such abilities.

I get the definite impression official adventures are written with this in mind, i.e. that each encounter pretty much assumes healed-up heroes. So there it's pretty much a non-issue.

If you run your own campaign, you can of course switch this up. Just be aware that the "attrition" approach to combat (where the question isn't so much "will we survive" but "will we survive without expending finite healing powers") will require you to read up on (and restrict) the many and varied EFOOCHPs. Unless of course you go with the old chestnut time-pressure (which might get old quick, given that you only need minutes, not hours or days, to recuperate).
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Yeah, I touched on it, but that’s worth calling out more explicitly. PF2 is much more generous than 5e about allowing PCs to heal between encounters. It’s closer to PF1 when people had easy access to CLW spam (which makes sense considering the system was designed to eliminate that).

Since I’m running an exploration-based game, attrition and resource management are things. The way I handle it is with an eye towards OSE and using the ideas on wandering monsters from the Alexandrian. This is something that works pretty well within the exploration mode framework. The only changes I’ve made are to firm up the duration of exploration turns and roll wandering monster checks regularly.

The way I handle attrition is with my wandering monster checks. Specifically, I continue rolling them even while you stop to heal. If I get one, that doesn’t mean a monster attacks you immediately. That’s awful and not very fun. Instead (using the suggestions from the Alexandrian), the dungeon might change based on the roll.

Say you’re exploring an old crypt, and you duck into a side room to heal and spike the door so nothing will bother you. I roll “zombies”. You’ve done a pretty good job of securing your hiding place, so I can’t just spring the zombies on you. Also, punishing you for doing the thing expects you to do is lame. Instead, I could decide zombies wander up from deeper in the dungeon, and the areas you cleared might have repopulated again.

One might say that repopulating the dungeon is nearly as awful, but that’s only true if you’re not designing your maps for exploration. If you’re using a properly Jaquayed map, then there are multiple ways your PCs can explore the dungeon. Those zombies then might just encourage the PCs to explore an area they haven’t yet. This series is what inspired me to use this approach, and it’s a good example of how it plays out at the table.

Obviously, if you’re running a story-based game instead of a sandbox-style game, this might not work. For the kinds of dungeons that typically get included in APs, I’m not even sure it’s appropriate. However, if you want something sandboxy (like the OP indicated), then it works pretty well, and PF2 accommodates it nicely.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
PF2 is much more generous than 5e about allowing PCs to heal between encounters. It’s closer to PF1 when people had easy access to CLW spam (which makes sense considering the system was designed to eliminate that).
Yeah, well, they eliminated the wand spam, but they didn't eliminate its effects. It's as if people were saying "I love the cheap healing I just don't want it to come from wands" :rolleyes:

The rulebook definitely would have been improved if this was discussed (or even acknowledged) anywhere. It's not even a variant in the GMG.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
people basically do say they want a full heal after every encounter - whether that comes from constantly retreating to rest up, wand spam, hit dice, or treat wounds or anything else that can achieve it is barely relevant.

What is relevant is if the system holds up to whatever the best the players can muster without the GM figuring out how to compensate, and PF2 does because each individual encounter is a challenge without attrition-based changes wearing the party down.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Because I do not want to feel like the other players owe me anything I only do prep that is fun for me. I do not really keep track of prep time, but I can tell you the kinds of preparation in PF2 are a lot more focused on setting and narrative level concerns. I have run successful sessions with only a couple hours to prep, but usually prefer to spend 4-5 hours prepping for a 5 hour session.

I will say this. Pathfinder Second Edition is not well suited to you if you tend to hold a tight grip on pacing. Both the combat and exploration rules are pretty dynamic. In my experience the more a GM tries to actively control the game the more they will end up fighting against the game.
 

dave2008

Legend
What is relevant is if the system holds up to whatever the best the players can muster without the GM figuring out how to compensate, and PF2 does because each individual encounter is a challenge without attrition-based changes wearing the party down.
I'm a bit confused by your statement so I want to ask: does it hold up if you want attrition to wear the party down? I mean some of my group's best moments come out when we are wearing thin on resources. Just want to make sure that is still an option.
 
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