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Pathfinder 2E Is It Time for PF2 "Essentials"?

Retreater

Legend
When D&D 4e was released and didn't go over well, WotC brought out the Essentials line about two years later to revise the monster math, provide some streamlined character options, changing skill challenges, and to try to revitalize the brand with better adventures.
Are we at that point with Pathfinder 2E? Like a soft reboot - a PF 2.5?
The APs are considered not up to the previous standards. It's largely failed to catch on, with dwindling physical book sales, falling market share on VTTs, and little 3PP support. Two years of flailing around was enough for WotC to do a soft reboot - is it soon enough for Paizo to do the same?
Do you think a revised, streamlined PF2 would help? What would you like in it?
 

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kenada

Hero
Supporter
Is PF2 really doing that badly? It’s not setting the world on fire, but it was my understanding that it is growing slowly on roll20. I think expecting it to be huge like PF1 is not a very fair expectation. It’s unlikely anything is going to supplant D&D again unless WotC stops putting out material for a while (like they did with 4e).

Do you think a revised, streamlined PF2 would help? What would you like in it?
The Beginner Box is largely this. It is more succinct and better organized than the CRB. I really should have been the first product released for PF2. If it had ben, it would have been the benchmark instead of the CRB.
 

Retreater

Legend
Is PF2 really doing that badly? It’s not setting the world on fire, but it was my understanding that it is growing slowly on roll20.
What I just read on the Paizo boards is that Roll20 has no plans to offer their newest AP (the Abomination Vaults) on the service. That doesn't bode well. I was actually excited to see that one - oh well.
 

kenada

Hero
Supporter
What I just read on the Paizo boards is that Roll20 has no plans to offer their newest AP (the Abomination Vaults) on the service. That doesn't bode well. I was actually excited to see that one - oh well.
roll20’s PF2 support has always been uneven. I find it difficult to take “it’s still half-assed” as an ill omen. All I could find on this is roll20 apparently worked on Trouble in Otari first, and their not doing Abomination Vault was news to Aaron Shanks, Paizo’s marketing and media manager.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Let me first note nobody has cared to answer the actual question.

When D&D 4e was released and didn't go over well, WotC brought out the Essentials line about two years later to revise the monster math, provide some streamlined character options, changing skill challenges, and to try to revitalize the brand with better adventures.
Are we at that point with Pathfinder 2E? Like a soft reboot - a PF 2.5?
The APs are considered not up to the previous standards. It's largely failed to catch on, with dwindling physical book sales, falling market share on VTTs, and little 3PP support. Two years of flailing around was enough for WotC to do a soft reboot - is it soon enough for Paizo to do the same?
Do you think a revised, streamlined PF2 would help? What would you like in it?
My answer is: learn from 4E. That is, don't try to salvage a sinking ship - abandon it and build a new one. Look at how much better D&D is off!

In my opinion, a PF 2.5 would be the worst option. Either stick to your guns (keep supporting 2.0 accepting the game will never be nearly as huge as PF 1)) or don't (and hope you can muster a PF 3 before running out of cash).

(This comment accepts the premise at face value in order to attempt an answer to the actual question)
 


kayman

Explorer
Pathfinder 2e is doing well , there is no need to change imho ... I am running Abomitation Vaults and having a blast ... Thank paizo for the best version ever made of the d20 system. and when Secrets of magic reveals the new non-vancian-magic system i hope i would be able to say the game is perfect.
 

kayman

Explorer
i want to ad two more things ... the three action economy alone make PF2 better than every version of the d20 system and The support for lost Omens line is amazing with no parallel on the market.... For those who are having problems with finding a game ... search for PFS on discord ,,, you will have a lot of fun ...
 

Pathfinder 2 is doing just fine and ever Starfinder is staying profitable. If you prefer PF1E then just play that, there is enough material for it too last for years and years anyways. No we don't need an essential product or anything similar. I love Pathfinder but I love Pathfinder 2E more. If 6E came out and it was a crunchier system I might like that too.
 




CapnZapp

Legend
Again, "PF2 isn't going well" is kind of the premise of the thread.

Maybe a better way to phrase the OPs question would be:

Let's assume Paizo decided to do a PF 2.5 - what changes would you make?
(completely sidestepping the "but is it doing poorly?" question)

Myself, I would:
  • lighten the restrictions on the core structure of a character. I want a way to increase my character's Fortitude save at the expense of her Will save. Or maybe AC. Or Perception. Instead of just saying "no, you can't do it" make it happen even if you balance it conservatively.
  • scrap the current thinking "let's reserve every last little bit of design space for the feats we sell". Having a high level character that still can't crawl reasonably fast, or can't climb and fight at the same time, or can't make decent jumps even though you're Legendary in Athletics... (because you didn't take the feats Quick Crawler, Combat Climber, or Cloud Jumper) It's just so much more natural (intuitive and fun) if these basic improvements come with higher proficiency levels for free. Every hero that's legendary in Acrobatics should be able to pull off cool stunts without having to remember to take a whole slew of obscure low-level feats!
  • In fact, the entire "let's turn on the firehose spewing feats faster than anyone can play them" idea is deeply unsatisfactory, so each and every feat should be scrutinized: if there are three or five feats doing nearly exactly the same thing, just with minute variations, then combine them into one single feat (so you don't need to remember slightly different rules just because you're playing this class instead of that class). Paizo likes to brag about how they have cleaned up the rules mess that was PF1, but nobody seems to realize PF2 is nearly as bad, with load and LOADS of little niggly rules differences between feats and abilities that should have worked identically because they should all have referenced one and the same thing! First assignment: scrap HALF of the over 2,000 feats that currently exist. (I am absolutely certain the game would be better off if there were just 500 feats - as if that's a low number - but that selection might be actually hard so let's start with something simple like just erasing every other feat...)
  • Next item on the agenda: little niggly conditionals. Getting a +1 is too mathy for 5th Edition, but that in itself is okay for Pathfinder 2. But the problem is, there are loads and loads of items and abilities that only give you that +1 on a Saturday, or when you dess in yellow but not in green. Get rid of all the conditionals no sane player will ever bother with. Don't assume the game is played by veritable living computers! Magic items are especially egregious culprits here.
  • So let's discuss PF2 magic items. Simply but, they're boring as hell. In fact, they remind me of 4E magic items, and boy, is that not a flattering comparison. I remember when DMing 4E I tried combining two supposedly-awesome items into one, and they were still forgotten by the players. Getting a +1 is noice if you can record it on your character sheet and forget about it. Getting a +1 that only works if you're Expert in this skill, and have taken this specific action just prior, and you can only use it once a day, and then only with this or that restriction...? Hell no, just drop that like a hot turd. Remembering the specific conditions for half a dozen items because they only give their bonus at exactly the right time? Yeah, if that bonus is awesome! For a +1 that likely won't matter in the slightest? No. Just no.
  • So the entire roster of magic items in PF2 needs to be deleted, and Paizo needs to bring in a designer of 3E or 5E items where getting the item actually matters. Where players actually care to remember to use them (often because there's nothing to remember, you just get an awesome power or bonus!)
  • While you're at it, the idea to keep fundamental runes as items needs to die. It feels wonky as hell. Magic items works best when players are happily surprised when they get 'em. Not when they feel not having them is a curse and getting them is an obligation.
  • And while you're at this, the idea to have every desirable item as a trivially transferred rune needs to be restricted to a variant. It's no fun when you continuously see your players strip every cool item you give them for their runes, which they immediately transfer to their existing weapons. I understand that for PFS (tournament play) purposes, this is almost a necessity, but for home campaigns, "free runes" should never have been the default rule. Instead, the wisdom is: don't make abilities that are specific to individual weapons. The 5E devs learned this early in that game's lifespan when they made an UA with feats like "+1 to Hammers" and the response was overwhelmingly negative. Don't force the Fighter to specialize in, "swords" or "polearms"! This only makes it impossible to hand out a magic axe, since the Fighter will not want to use it! If there ever was a character class whose feature should be "can use ALL weapons" it should be the Fighter. And Paizo even markets the class as such, but then immediately shot themselves in the foot by not giving the class "can switch specialization overnight" (until very high level I believe).
  • Shields suffer another baffling implementation. It's far from immediately clear, but careful scrutiny reveals you have to choose: either pick a magic shield too frail to actually use (as a shield) or choose a shield sturdy enough to function as a shield (but then this sturdiness will be the shield's only "magical power")...
  • There are several rules subsystems that just are incredibly subpar. Medicine and Earn Income is each super complicated for no reason. (Or rather, they were written by a designer who mistake clutter for quality). Crafting and Recall Knowledge are two subsystems that are just broken-as-frak. (I've written entire threads about these and won't repeat that here) We've already mentioned how restrictive the three-action system is in practical play when you can't just wing it, and everything is locked down by a feat.
  • Talismans deserves a special shoutout for being a rules system that actively fill me with rage. Yes, it's uniquely infuriating. It combines the worst tendencies of PF2 rules design in a single package. (No, nobody will ever bother spending that much time and attention on getting a minuscule bonus on a very specific action only once, and that often only to the character in the party that needs the bonus the least...)
  • Consumables are horribly overpriced. The intent seems to be "giving one-time bonuses is unbalancing so players should only be given the consumables we place as loot"... and that's exactly the result when playing. You basically never purchase a one-time bonus when you can purchase a permanent upgrade for just four times the price. Healing potions are a joke. Spend two actions and a lot of gold on getting an entirely inadequate amount of healing? Yeah, no. In combat, use a Cleric. Out of combat, use Medicine.
  • Slotted spells are just too weak at low level. (Playing a Wizard becomes truly fun at around level 11...)
  • The Focus point system appears to be written for an entirely different game than the Medicine subsystem. (If you routinely need to rest for 30-60 minutes between encounters, the supposedly fun minigame of choosing your ten-minute activities ("should I repair my shield or regain a Focus point") just never becomes relevant since you always go "I'll do all of 'em").
  • Cantrips are bewilderingly badly balanced. On one hand you have Electric Arc which deals half damage on a miss and can very often target two people. On the other hand you have a slew of attack spells where you often miss (low level casters are shite at hitting things. And since their cantrips are ranged attacks they can't benefit from extremely vital low-level bonuses like flanking) and do nothing. What were they thinking...?
  • That individual classes and abilities can be bad is not something I'll dock the game points for. Every game has that. Still, attack spells and Alchemists deserve a do-over in a Pathfinder 2.5
  • In fact, in order to polish the spell list here's what I'd do. I'd read the internet guides on spells (Wizard Guide, Cleric Guide and so on) that fans have created for the game. Then I'd list every spell that three guides list as red (the color used for spells everybody agree are useless traps), and upgrade that spell. Instantly you'd easily have 20% more spells to choose from! (I'd do that with orange or purple spells too, the colors commonly used for subpar or special-use spells, but with a little more care obvs)
  • I really recommend Paizo to find a replacement for Incapacitation. There are sooo many spells that are just rendered useless for player characters by having Incapacitation. (They're still great for BBEGs!) The tendency to "fix" it by adding spells that have useful outcomes even on a failure is a nuisance, since they make it impossible to just remove Incapacitation. But since this is a new revision of the game, Paizo can pay a designer to come up with a fix that doesn't come across as so incredibly heavy-handed. Basically the game needs to offer - at least as a variant - a way to select "protected" NPCs by narrative needs and not strictly by level or other game stats. (Akin to how in 5E you can elect to make any monster "Legendary" if you wish)
  • Paizo really needs to offer official support for people wishing to use the game for traditional games where resource attrition is a thing. That is there should be a variant detailing all the changes you need to make (beginning with nerfing free healing aka Medicine), and maybe doubling everybody's health by calling Hit Points Wounds and adding an equal amount of easily-regained Vitality. (Btw, the current Wounds and Vitality variant in the GMG? Yep, over-engineered and cluttery just as usual...)
  • Paizo really needs to recognize the unique difficulties presented to new GMs when it comes to encounter balancing, and specifically rebalancing on the spot. Very much unlike 5th Edition, you simply can't have two groups of monsters unite for safety from the pesky heroes - that's a given TPK in the making. But Paizo so far pretends encounter-building works much like in PF1, which simply is untrue. I find the selection of variant rules deeply unsatisfactory since they don't really allow for playing the game in new (or old) modes. It's all too focused on PFS and AP play.

So there you have it. A long list I know. It should not obscure the truly great things about the game: the three action combat system actually works (as long as you focus on combat and not things like opening doors or fighting on cliff sides...), the quality of monsters and their abilities is far superior to 5E, and... well, that's it, but since combat against monsters is the bread and butter for games in the Gygax family, that's alright.

Zapp
 
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Aldarc

Legend
What I just read on the Paizo boards is that Roll20 has no plans to offer their newest AP (the Abomination Vaults) on the service. That doesn't bode well. I was actually excited to see that one - oh well.
Is it sinking though? If Paizo is hiring I think the answer is no. It isn’t at a point that would have satisfied WotC, maybe, but what can?

edit to add, no I don’t think so. I think they should keep on keeping on.
Roll20 also supports games that are likely selling worse than PF2: e.g., 13th Age, Kids on Bikes, Ryuutama, Lancer RPG, Lasers and Feelings, etc. I'm not sure if Roll20 is necessarily indication of the success or health of a game.
 



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