How Pathfinder 2's Resonance Reduces Wand-Spamming; & Comparisons to 5E Discussed

There's a fair amount to unpack in today's Pathfinder 2nd Edition news roundup! The big thing, I think, is where we find out what Resonance is and how it limits magic item use (and CLW wand-spamming); there's a ton more playtest demo media for you to watch or listen to, and some discussion from Paizo's Mark Seifter on Pathfinder 2nd Edition's differences to D&D 5E. All added, as always, to the now truly enormous Pathfinder 2nd Edition Compiled Info Page!


No new images to share today, so I'll re-use this preview of the gnome design sheet by Wayne Reynolds from yesterday

  • Jason Bulmahn and Game Trade Media live streamed a playtest demo of Pathfinder 2 last night. You can watch it on the Game Trade Media Facebook Page.
  • Erik Mona headed up a presentation at the GAMA trade show; I posted a few photographs here, courtesy of Paizo.
  • The Glass Cannon Podcast posted parts 2 & 3 of their playtest of the new rules, each about an hour long. There's some analysis here by Partizanski; I've summarised the juicy bits below:
    • Falling damage is 1 foot = 1 damage, and someone critically fumbled their reflex save, so they took double damage.
    • Starfinder non-lethal damage rules, only the last hit matters, no more separate tracking.
    • Thievery is a skill, a fumble caused the characters lock pick kit to be "dented",which gives an unspecified penalty.
    • Occultism is a skill, having to due with "strange runes or symbols"
    • Crits are no longer confirmed, there is a weapon property called deadly. It was on a short bow, and it mean that a crit did double damage +1d10. Rapier also has deadly.
    • Cantrip called "Forbidding Ward" that selects 1 enemy and 1 ally, giving the ally +1 to AC and "improved your saving throws against the target enemies attack spells and effects".
    • Knowledge (Religion) is still its own skill (not sure if that had been confirmed yet).
    • It appears that knowledge skills are now called lore instead.
    • Lore skills can be done untrained, it is up to the GM to decide if someone with out training would know a specific piece of lore/knowledge with no training.
    • Lore (underworld) which applies to "criminal elements, like thieves guilds, criminal syndicate or network"
    • The party was given a crystal vial labeled "Health" that healed 1d8 (no additional modifiers). That is similar to the healing serums of Starfinder
    • Condition called sick [x]. "Take -[x] on all checks and DC's, cannot willing ingest potions or anything else. Can spend action to attempt to recover to reduce by 1, or 2 on a critical success". Party could not try to recover until they exited the effect.
  • Resonance! -- from Partizanski's summary of the Glass Cannon Podcast above, this appears to be the way things like Wands of Cure Light Wound spamming are curbed:
    • "There is a concept called "Resonance Score", it is Level + CHA. Whenever you activate magic items or drink potions, you use up your resonance. Once it at 0, you have to start making checks to use items/drink potions. If you fail the check causing the use of the magic item to fail, and if you fumble it, you are cut of from magic items for the rest of the day. Potions no longer do anything. When you start the day, you do whats called "Investing", where you put on your magic items, and invest your resonance so they are good all day. Even if you are cut off, you keep your bonuses (I believe). If you find a magic items that have active effects, each use of that appears to use a resonance as well (example given was a sword that can shoot a ray of fire, each ray would cost one point of resonance). .The check after you resonance is done appears to be a "flat check", which means its a d20 with no modifiers. Starts at 10, goes up by one each time your "overspend". Again if you fumble you are cut off, which means you would need to roll a 1 on your second one to be cut off for the day."
    • Logan Bonner on Resonance -- "The way Resonance works came partially from the occultist because he defines the in-world concept of putting a piece of yourself into items to power them. As we do in many places, we’re expanding a PF1 concept by exploring its broader implications in our world. If we keep this system, the occultist would have new and more versatile ways to use his Resonance, just like a certain other class in the book!"
    • Mark Seifter on Resonance caps -- "Except for a particular time when my playtesters explicitly tried to see if they could get away with saving money on CLW wand spam despite being high level adventurers who could afford a better wand, and a few extreme stress test situations where I told them "This is the only fight today. Nova your heart out," my playtest group never really hit hard against the resonance caps, even the ones with lower Charisma."

  • Erik Mona on Ezra's age -- "Funny story. 10 years ago, when most of us were in our late 20s or early 30s, making old-man Ezren 42 didn't really ping anyone's radar. Whelp, I'm 42 now, and holy gods Ezren should have been older in first edition."
  • Erik on the scope of setting books -- "Lots of things to think about when it comes to treatments of Golarion in second edition, but for me, within the context of a single book, the main questions are "how wide is the focus" and "how deeply do we explore the topic. Right now, as in the case of the Dragon Empires book, the answer is usually REALLY WIDE, ALL-INCLUSIVE, REALLY and NOT PARTICULARLY DEEP. I am starting to think that might not be the best option in second edition... Yeah, to be totally honest I'm not really interested in publishing a book with four pages on each of the Inner Sea nations. I kinda feel like people have already bought that."
  • Erik has just finished editing the magic items chapter -- "I haven't decided much of anything yet, just musing aloud to myself before I go to bed after finishing my first edit on the Playtest Rulebook's magic item chapter. You know, as one does after hours at a con.... Would you believe it more if I told you I actually finished my edits on the flight over here (which btw I posted about on my twitter yesterday), and that what I did tonight was simply enter those edits into a Word file? Cause that's what happened. Took about three hours all told."
  • Erik Mona continues the recent discussion on the monster book(s) --
    • "The first monster book has got to be a basic reference, so there will be a lot of key monsters in the book for sure, no matter how long it ends up being. That said, I refuse to publish the same exact book, so we'll be adding a lot of stuff that isn't in the B1 book, moving a few weird choices to later books, etc. So it won't be exactly the same. This is honestly part of why I'm curious about a bigger book. With more pages, there can be even more "new" stuff."
    • Will monsters have subtypes, like goblin archers, bombers, etc.? "This one is currently an open question. Especially if the book is a bit bigger, I can see including more than one stat block for REALLY common characters, but I understand that some people hate this kind of thing. Speaking as a gamer and not as a publisher, I'm of two minds. I figure one reason people buy books is to have the publisher doing some of the work for them, so two pages with five different orc stat blocks that keeps me from having to crunch five different stat blocks? Sign me up. THAT SAID, monster creation is much easier to do "on the fly" in the new edition, so we're still working through the best choice on this front. Book length will probably play into this decision, ultimately."
    • Hags will be organised properly -- "I don't know if we'll end up fitting ALL of the hags in the first monster book, but we'll for sure alphabetize them properly when we do. This is one of our proudest editorial bugaboos with the current edition as far as monster organization is concerned, so it's a dead lock that we'll be addressing it in PF2."
  • Bonner on language clarification around unarmed attacks -- "I put a lot of time into unarmed attack language, and I’m hoping it’s close. We’re aiming to be more precise about not defining a thing that’s not a weapon as a weapon. (See also 1E natural “weapons” vs. unarmed strikes). Yet unarmed attacks need to live in some of the same categories for weapon groups, etc. Challenging!"
  • Mark Seifter says that PF2 is more accommodating of unusual race/class combos -- "Would you believe that it still manages to be drastically more forgiving than PF1 towards nonstandard ancestry/class combinations? We absolutely did not want to say "Alchemists and wizards who aren't humans or elves are always behind" or the like. You still might be behind a little bit if you pick an ancestry that traditionally has a penalty, but not nearly as much as a dwarf sorcerer in PF1 (which would have 4 less Cha than a human, halfling, or gnome who spent the same effort). It all comes down to the extra customization inherent in ancestry. If it seems like this might be impossible to achieve alongside the other features I mentioned to Daedalus, it wasn't easy. We worked really hard cracking this nut and had to reject many false starts before we found it."
  • Mark Seifter on 5E comparisons --
    • Comparison to D&D 5E's underlying math (this was actually from a few days ago) -- "The math we chose makes it much easier to tell stories where the PCs are oversized heroes critting left and right against weaker opponents or underdogs struggling against disaster against a powerful foe that requires serious teamwork to scratch, but the flatter proficiency from 5e would allow multiple weaker opponents to remain relevant threats for many more levels or greater foes to be defeated quite a few levels sooner by sufficiently tactical characters outnumbering them. Both can be awesome depending on which kind of story to tell! For instance, I remember when I was reading some fantasy novel where a ridiculous swordmaster was accosted by 8 brigands with swords all at once, and he thought to himself that no matter how good he was, the sheer numbers would make him likely to die here. That's honestly more realistic. But most of the books, TV shows, and movies I had seen before reading that book taught me that the high level swordmaster would annihilate eight basic brigands. This latter truth is very much the reality in the new game."
    • If you prefer the 5E style where multiple low level creatures are a threat to a high level character -- "I imagine that there would be a small series of mathematical steps that you could perform that wouldn't require any particularly challenging math-fu to get closer to that goal if you want to tell that story. The math juke could have some side effects, but I think it would work for what you want (depending on the level of the basic brigands and the swordmaster in the example)."
    • On how proficiencies work -- "...there are quite a few ranks of proficiency you can gain in a skill.... your proficiency modifier and ability modifier are not the only bonuses you can ever add to your skill. Is just proficiency+ability modifier with no other additions possible what 5e does? I actually don't know 5e solidly enough to be certain (I likely should learn 5e better, but with PF1, Starfinder, and PF2 rattling in my head, there's just too many games in there right now).... In that case, no, that's not what we're doing at all."
    • He talks about why people are connecting PF2 proficiencies with 5E proficiencies -- "I mean to be fair, proficiency is also a concept from Pathfinder, older editions of D&D, and a lot of other RPGs. I think people are reaching this connection because 5e is popular right now (and, from what I've seen of it so far, a cool and fascinating system designed by some really talented designers), and so it's in the zeitgeist. But that's not really what Pathfinder is, so we don't really have any interest in replicating that."
  • How to do Investigators and Warpriests with the playtest rules -- "Depending on what you're looking for from investigator, you might be able to pull it off just fine with the playtest book, honestly, choosing the right feats. It would work as a starter as you describe. But warpriest style is even easier than that, so it might be that warpriest is easy and investigator is medium, rather than saying investigator is super hard." (Seifter)
  • Seifter on ability score advancement -- "We are not using [the Starfinder] generation method. As Logan hinted in the blog itself, the stat generation is more organically tied to your character concept and helps you spread around your ability scores if you like. As it so happens, you also wind up with slightly higher overall starting stats, than in Starfinder mainly in your less important ability scores that you're fleshing out for RP purposes, though I'm considering using the PF2 statgen system the next time I run a Starfinder home game as it's more generous to multi-stat classes at low levels, like solarians."
  • On skill spreads of +/-20 between characters -- " seems like people are thinking that the system is so tightly designed that you can never get into such a skill spread. In fact, by level 20, it's possible for two characters designed to diverge dramatically to have a difference of somewhere around 17, before accounting for buff effects or circumstantial benefits like "+2 circumstance bonus to Intimidate giants," so you definitely can get into that 20 spread situation and we're not limiting the math in a way that everyone has to be close. But in that case, not only is the character that's ahead a paragon of that skill, the character who's behind is being really inattentive to that skill. By comparison, in PF1, it was pretty easy to have a +20 advantage, or even more, against your fellow PC who was actively trying to be good at that skill, maxing their ranks, etc." (Seifter)
  • Why keep ability scores and not just use the modifiers? "We support your decision to only use modifiers, the tradition of ability scores is too strong to remove them. It shouldn't be hard for you to just stick with modifiers though." (Seifter)
  • Why is a simple XP chart better than just story-based levelling? "Imagine a product that was basically a mega Kingmaker-style hex map full of cool secrets to find, enemies to fight, allies to make, resources to acquire, and more. Basically a giant sandbox. Suppose the sandbox had a few high level threats (the slumbering red wyrm under the mountain, etc) but was mostly in the mid-level range except for some lower level stuff around where the PCs start off, and the product even advises the GM what XP rate to use to match the content (you could also assume it was a GM homebrewing the sandbox campaign I describe instead). This allows the PCs freedom to explore at their pace in the order they choose while generally being at a good level to do so, while also providing something measurable for the PCs to use to gauge progress, since sandboxes can be much trickier to do story-based milestones than a more linear story game (to give one example of this, imagine you said "When the PCs discover the lich's castle, that's the milestone to hit level 10," and then they somehow stumble into it almost right away)." (Seifter)
  • On reasons to choose non-optimal armor -- "My paladin in one of the playtests was in splint mail and loving it!" (Seifter)
  • Using Acrobatics to move through an enemy space is vs. their reflex DC. "That Acrobatics use isn't trained only." (Seifter)

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On the Math: I'm excited for BBEGs to be strong, having meaningful final boss fights is really important to the games I enjoy.

High level swordsman absolutely destroys 8 low level brigands :)

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Resonance intrigues me. Definitely something I'd want to playtest before making up my mind. Having players making those hard choices is always a good thing in a rpg. Making charisma more useful is a good thing too. There should be no dump stats.


Resonance intrigues me. Definitely something I'd want to playtest before making up my mind. Having players making those hard choices is always a good thing in a rpg. Making charisma more useful is a good thing too. There should be no dump stats.

It is yet another thing to track. That is why I would prefer something like the idea of corruption from DCC... if you fail badly to use some device, then it has a negative consequence right then.


Golden Procrastinator
I really sympathize with the design goal of dealing with cure light wound wand spam, but resonance seems like a poor way of adressing the issue. The root of the problem is cheapo wands after all...
I also dislike cheap wands, but I'm extremely keen on a system that limits the usage of magical items, including consumables such as potions.


It is yet another thing to track. That is why I would prefer something like the idea of corruption from DCC... if you fail badly to use some device, then it has a negative consequence right then.

Could get frustrating if you fail your first item of the day, and its just a piddly little potion. Actually, my favourite system is in 13th Age. All magic items have a semblance of intelligence. If you carry past your limit you start taking on the quirks of the magic item. Nothing to really track, leaves the decision in players' hands, and is a lot of fun.

That resonance idea is interesting, although I figure there will be complaining that it uses cha instead of a class specific stat.

Interestingly enough - most of the comments I've seen on the paizo boards, in multiple threads, was "Yay Cha means something now!" even if they don't like the idea of Resonance in general.


Scruffy and Determined
okay but PF devs talking in-depth about the math of the game and class/race balance as a goal? am I in bizarro land? (do keep in mind I haven't paid much attention to them since before pathfinder was its own game, but still)



Yep, I agree with others here...sounds like a pain to keep track of those resonance rules and without any real cool payoff. As Arilyn said, 13th Age’s system was nice and DCC makes them special too. I’d rather lose magic item crafting and classes built around such than have to fiddle about with minutae mechanics that don’t really sound in any way fun.


Resonance seems like an ok, if fiddly, way to limit magic item use, but it feels really weird for potions. Unless in game a potion is water+food coloring+untapped magical potential...

The different base math I think is smart. They need to have an easy differentiator from 5e, and saying “our game is more heroic fantasy that gritty fantasy” is an easy way to sell it.

I will forever be sad that no one has the guts to drop ability scores and go modifiers. I’ve been playing and teaching people dnd for a long time and that is always the first “wait what?” moment new players have. Early on in the 5e playtest I remember there being discussion about using ability scores as #under skill challenge autopasses, but nothing came of it. So its just another number new players have to learn that is only there for the sake of calculating a different number. What a waste :(



If the stat’s 3-18 type rating no longer serves any useful purpose then they may as well dump that pointless bit of secondary calculating. I wouldn’t care.

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