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!


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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 -- "...it 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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I'm a fan of the idea that a swordsman and hero the caliber of Aragorn has to worry about fighting Orcs and Goblins still so the power curve of this does not sound like my bag.
 

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RSIxidor

Adventurer
I do not care for resonance. I have to agree that a check alongside it makes more sense. I'd prefer even more that such an item just doesn't exist. I'd much rather such a wand has 3-5 charges a day rather than be unlimited in use. Although, in my games, I typically limit magic items pretty heavily anyway to avoid this sort of thing.
 

Pandatheist

Villager
On further thought I have to agree with the other comments. More expensive wands with lower max charge, or a charges per day limit seems like a more elegant solution.

Potions still make no sense to me.
 

When they do put out a book about the setting, I hope they finally give each Mwangi ethnicity their own entry. The current ones tell us how the people of Avistan have trouble telling them apart, but that doesn't mean the book has to promote that among players by lumping them together!
 

ddaley

Explorer
On further thought I have to agree with the other comments. More expensive wands with lower max charge, or a charges per day limit seems like a more elegant solution.

Potions still make no sense to me.

In what way do potions not make sense? In terms of resonance?

Potions could be self limiting in the sense that you can only carry so many of them.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Resonance sounds unnecessarily fiddly, and a case of treating the symptom rather than the illness. Will it limit CLW wand spamming? Sure, but it won’t fix the underlying problem that makes CLW spam necessary.
 

Resonance sounds like a very elegant solution to three problems at once: It solves the x-mas tree of magical items (similar to attunement in 5E), it makes Charisma useful to everyone, and it places a reasonable limit on wand spam (without removing wands as an iconic fantasy item or getting into the shenanigans of overnight full-healing).

This is, without a doubt, the best rule I've seen so far for this entire edition.
 

snickersnax

Explorer
I'm a fan of the idea that a swordsman and hero the caliber of Aragorn has to worry about fighting Orcs and Goblins still so the power curve of this does not sound like my bag.

Seems like Aragorn would at least be as good as Legolas and Gimli and both of them had 40+ kill counts in a single battle. I would say that's mostly not having to worry about fighting orcs.
 

Pandatheist

Villager
In what way do potions not make sense? In terms of resonance?

Potions could be self limiting in the sense that you can only carry so many of them.


Exactly. Thematically potions doing nothing when you drink them without some kind of limited use mystical bond seems...bizarre. Every class is suddenly a magic class.

I think you’re right about limited carry being a good solution.
 

Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
Even though wands and potions are what people are focusing on, resonance also means the removal of body slot magic item tracking. you want 5 rings, wear them and spend 5 resonance in the morning. It also means you can carry specialzed magic gear and use it when you need it. Have a ring of frost resistance, don't use resonance in the desert, but do so when going up against white dragons.
I like the "This is why I've been lugging that amulet around" and use it for the perfect situation.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Seems like Aragorn would at least be as good as Legolas and Gimli and both of them had 40+ kill counts in a single battle. I would say that's mostly not having to worry about fighting orcs.

In the books they were quite worried about running into groups of orcs/goblins and other foes. I just prefer the lower level power scale where a group of 6-8 orcs/brigands/etc could overwhelm a single fighter no matter how good he is. Its easier to do in 5e than 3.5/PF so I was curious how the power scaling was going to go in this edition since I have other issues with 5e that make me not want to play it.
 

ddaley

Explorer
Even though wands and potions are what people are focusing on, resonance also means the removal of body slot magic item tracking. you want 5 rings, wear them and spend 5 resonance in the morning. It also means you can carry specialzed magic gear and use it when you need it. Have a ring of frost resistance, don't use resonance in the desert, but do so when going up against white dragons.
I like the "This is why I've been lugging that amulet around" and use it for the perfect situation.

This is still bizarre... so, if you wear 1 ring for half a day and then take it off, but don another, does that use another resonance point? What if the "power" of the ring was never put to use during that time? If it were a ring of frost resistance, but you didn't encounter cold? Also, at what point does it consume a resonance point? When you wake up? At midnight? At sunrise?
 

RSIxidor

Adventurer
Even though wands and potions are what people are focusing on, resonance also means the removal of body slot magic item tracking. you want 5 rings, wear them and spend 5 resonance in the morning. It also means you can carry specialzed magic gear and use it when you need it. Have a ring of frost resistance, don't use resonance in the desert, but do so when going up against white dragons.
I like the "This is why I've been lugging that amulet around" and use it for the perfect situation.

Thanks for pointing out this aspect of the concept. I did miss that this covered more than things like wand of CLW and potions.

So it's got some of the limitations of 5E magic items (where you can only have 3 magic items attuned to you) but allows you to also limit things that should be expendable as well. And it allows how many magic items various characters can use to be more variable and dynamic, which is more interesting than the 5E system.
 

Exactly. Thematically potions doing nothing when you drink them without some kind of limited use mystical bond seems...bizarre. Every class is suddenly a magic class.
I'm pretty sure that's how they worked in 4E, for what it's worth. Not to say that this is an argument for what makes sense as to how a fantasy world should work or anything, but D&D and Pathfinder aren't exactly standard fantasy, so sometimes you need to introduce counter-intuitive rules in order to prevent other aspects from growing out of control.

No, you don't normally have some sort of quasi-mystical limit on how many magic potions you can take in a traditional fantasy world, but traditional fantasy worlds also don't feature characters who can easily acquire dozens of magical potions in every town they come across. Traditional fantasy worlds make a healing potion into a semi-unique item, which may itself be the object of an entire quest. By introducing the concept of Resonance for potions (or using the Healing Surge limitation in 4E), you stay closer to the way that potions worked in literature - you don't get anyone carrying around entire backpacks full of potions and chugging them down like Gatorade after every fight.

In particular, the Healing Surge limitation makes sense to me as a way that a fantasy world could work. I mean, healing magic can have a pretty dramatic effect on your body, and it makes that there might be a limit to how much rapid transmutation you can safely undergo. (The ability for anyone to spend a Healing Surge and spontaneously recover makes less sense, in that context, and I have no defense for that particular sub-rule.)

And personally, an arbitrary limit on how many potions you can carry seems way more contrived and suspension-breaking than an arbitrary limit on how many you can use.
 

ddaley

Explorer
And personally, an arbitrary limit on how many potions you can carry seems way more contrived and suspension-breaking than an arbitrary limit on how many you can use.

How many fragile bottles full of liquid could you reasonably stuff in your backpack while trudging through a jungle or delving into a dungeon without having them break. How much gear can your backpack hold? Having a reasonable limit doesn't seem contrived at all.
 

How many fragile bottles full of liquid could you reasonably stuff in your backpack while trudging through a jungle or delving into a dungeon without having them break. How much gear can your backpack hold? Having a reasonable limit doesn't seem contrived at all.
Unless you're going to get rid of extra-dimensional spaces entirely, it just increases the value of a bag of holding or handy haversack. I would certainly spend one Resonance on a bag that let me carry an extra hundred healing potions.

That aside, if the only real limit on potions was how many you could carry, then every single adventurer would look like a Rob Liefeld character. Potion bandoliers are already an item in Forgotten Realms. Tying the limit into your carrying capacity would also unduly benefit larger characters over smaller ones (larger back = larger backpack), unless you start forcing arbitrary limits on backpack size and ownership. And if that becomes a burden, there are always pack animals, which I would really rather not make mandatory for every fellowship.
 

dave2008

Legend
I will forever be sad that no one has the guts to drop ability scores and go modifiers.

Why would you do this, why not use the ability score and drop the modifiers. Thus every point matters. I rather see:

Attack: ability score + proficiency + d20
Defense: 10 + ability score (or armor)
 

Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
This is still bizarre... so, if you wear 1 ring for half a day and then take it off, but don another, does that use another resonance point? What if the "power" of the ring was never put to use during that time? If it were a ring of frost resistance, but you didn't encounter cold? Also, at what point does it consume a resonance point? When you wake up? At midnight? At sunrise?

The way I looked at it - Magic items are passive, so you have to invest a tiny little bit of personal energy (magical potential, soul, aura - whatever) to make them work for you. You spend a resonance point to attune to the ring when you get up, and if you have free points, you can do that to any magic item during the day, or to a thing like a wand charge or whatever). The actually atuning happens when the player decides to attune to that time - once it's attuned it's attuned until you start again the next day (a lot of this is assumption - we have very little rules info to go on). So instead of the classic "you need to wear the ring for a day before it benefits you" you attune.

I'm unsure about scrolls and Potions, but I like it for everything else, and has great story and characterization potential. Clerics attune when they pray, wizard by meditation. Heck there are even pieces in fiction where that fits - this is a fighter (or ranger) attuning to a magic arrow just before he lets fly "Arrow! Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!""
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Resonance, though trying to fix a valid issue, has issues of its own right out of the gate:

1. It's yet another things players have to track.

2. As one's Resonance score is tied to Charisma, and one's Charisma is in part defined as one's physical attractiveness, this implies beautiful people are inherently better at using magic than ugly people. Yeah, that's going to go over well....

But it's not all bad by any means.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned yet the sheer brilliance of the 'sick x' mechanic. If done right (big if!), this has obvious potential to elegantly tie poison effects, disease effects, and lingering injuries all together into one simple easy-to-use and easy-to-grok system. It could also be used for other situations e.g. being negatively affected by one's location or by a Bane-like spell. As a mechanic this one's good enough to be portable into all sorts of other systms/editions as well...

The only thing I'd want to change is the name - calling it "sick x" implies it only applies to disease effects - but off the top I can't think of a better alternative.
 

Igwilly

First Post
2. As one's Resonance score is tied to Charisma, and one's Charisma is in part defined as one's physical attractiveness, this implies beautiful people are inherently better at using magic than ugly people. Yeah, that's going to go over well....

Honestly, even in old D&D books, the instances where Charisma really is used for physical beauty are pretty rare. Almost always, it's about force of personality and such.
 

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