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


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fearsomepirate

Adventurer
I wish Paizo had come out with something that wasn't so much CTRL-C CTRL-V from Dungeons & Dragons. Over the last few years, I've gotten Dungeon Crawl Classics, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, ACKS, and Castles & Crusades, and I've run none of them, because I realized something: a slightly different way to stat out a wizard and cast Magic Missile at an orc is, on its own, not very interesting to me. I'm switching to an OSR system for my next campaign largely because I like running old modules.

But outside of that, you know what? Selling anybody on, "D&D, but kind of different," when they're already having fun with 5e is pretty tough. Playing something actually different is an easier pitch.

Yeah, it's the first time it's gone down, but at this point it may we be because PF2 players are just moving away from Roll20. It's like the worst major VTT for the system compared to FGU and Foundry.

As of mid-2020, PF2 enjoyed a 4% share of active Fantasy Grounds games.
 

Not a single officially published NPC in 5e uses the PC creation rules. They don’t get feats or ASIs, they don’t get XP, they don’t have inspiration. All built with the “monster” creation rules.
And as a player, non of that matters to me. If the play the same at the table, they are using the same rules as far as I am concerned.
 

fearsomepirate

Adventurer
And as a player, non of that matters to me. If the play the same at the table, they are using the same rules as far as I am concerned.
I mean did a single player in the history of 3.x gaming care that a monster was able to bite him in the face because of "Monster Feat: Improved Face-Biting" instead of it just being in the stat block?
 
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kenada

Hero
Supporter
the latest Orr report doesn't agree.
That’s correct, but the Q4 report wasn’t available when I posted that. It was released about a week later. I’m not sure it’s time yet to sing the doom song, but it’s definitely not good if the trend continues into Q1 2021.

Edit: Saw new page, and yes, it could be the effect of other VTTs having better PF2 support than roll20.
 
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kenada

Hero
Supporter
The gatekeeping claims are 100% BS.
It’s one thing to call out problems with PF2. It’s another to claim it’s not an RPG. If that’s not gatekeeping, then it’s lazy rhetoric.

To the contrary, people complaining about PF2E want it to appeal to MORE people.
I’m under no illusion that PF2 is a perfect system. I’ve posted my share of criticisms in these threads too. However, I try to keep my comments constructive and moderated (hence why I’ve tried to avoid going into specifics why we’re switching from PF2 to OSE) because I don’t think complaining helps attract more people to PF2.
 
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Nilbog

Snotling Herder
I think this is always true. And triply so on the internet.

However, the reverse applies as well. People will insist that the thing they like is perfect "as is" and no amount of evidence will change that.

I think PF2E failed to learn from 4E when it went all-in on a math-balance first mechanic foundation.

It isn't growing. It isn't gaining popularity. It is "fine", I suppose because of course nobody can say what Paizo wanted. But you can't even point to any evidence that it is doing better than PF was doing the day before PF2E was announced. It trades off with Call of Chthulu in sales and there is now 5E 3PP that is solidly outselling it day over day on Amazon.

I know it is considered a low blow to compare PF2E to 5E. But this is 5E 3PP!!!!
I have a hard time believing that Paizo couldn't CRUSH any other 5E 3PP if they had elected to go that direction. And they could have done it with a far smaller investment.

And, of course, I'm just saying this because I'm sour. OK. Guilty. It doesn't make it not true. I'll completely own that I was super excited for the design team of Paizo to turn their talents to a more modern game that still provided the game experience I enjoy. But they turned away from that and I'm bummed by that.

I do like 5E. I like it a lot. But if they wanted to make my personal ideal game it would be a lot different. And it would be a lot less popular. A whole lot less. I am quite conscious of my personal taste bias. And I don't confuse that for trying to look at the data honestly.

I anyone thinks that four years ago the Paizo mgmt sat down and said "go design a game that will be on par with CoC and behind 5E 3PP after 18 months" then I think they are out to lunch.

Well I play PF2E, and think it's far from perfect, however for me it works because the areas I don't like are ones that I can easily hand wave or house rule.

I don't think an essentials line would work, as I think it would just dillute the pathfinder fanbase even more. If it isn't selling well that's a shame for many reasons, but we live in a competitive world and not everything can be a success, be that something you like or not.

My objection to people hating on it isn't that I feel offended, I'm too old for that, it's that potential we lose an established creative outlet, that offers market diversity. I like 5e, but having no other current alternatives available that aren't super obscure (which looking at the metrics pf2e is) isn't healthy for the rpg industry. Sure something can and will pick up if pathfinder fails, but it will be a lot harder to reach even pathfinders status.

Live and let live enjoy the fact there are alternatives even if you may not like them (not directing this at you @byrond as I think you comments are fair it's just my general opinion on well anything really)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
And as a player, non of that matters to me. If the play the same at the table, they are using the same rules as far as I am concerned.
You're getting the right point, but I'm not sure for the right reasons.

PF2 NPCs play the same in the sense that they use the same end interface (numbers like AC or Will saves) and obey the same fundamental rules (such as "you can only take the actions you have available on your character sheet plus those of the CRB").

But PF2 NPCs are created very differently from PF2 PCs. Their stats obey a completely different set of rules (by which I mean "no rules" since it's table look-up only). They have none of the feats available to players (though designers frequently give them unique actions that mimic some of the most iconic feats for each class).

They also can be equipped with special actions that simply have no counterparts for player characters. They can (and frequently do) have considerably better numeric values (and not just for obscure defense values but for highly visible ones like their attack bonus).

However, they rarely have substantial recovery resources, which of course is the single most important reason heroes routinely overcome them, despite being outclassed at first blush.

---

So, yes, you're quite right in not letting any of this matter to you. That's the goal and purpose.

But they don't play the same at the table, not really.

And that's because they really aren't using the same rules at all. Yes they have three actions just like you do. Yes they can take Jump and Hide actions just like you can.

But when you dig a little deeper under the hoods the cracks become obvious. When you're interacting beyond the basic trading of blows with monsters in general and NPCs in particular you'll note monsters often lack crucial skill proficiencies.

Actions particularly with the physical fields of Athletics and Acrobatics are significantly constrained in important ways and then there are player-side feats like Combat Climber of Quick Squeezer to negate them. True some monsters are created by writers paying attention and so have corresponding unique abilities to achieve the same thing. But most don't. At high level, if you take the Cloud Jump feat, you will consistently be able to trivially win any long-jumping contest against a monster trying to play by the rules (as opposed to, say, having a Fly Speed), simply because without this specific feat, you can never jump longer than your Speed. And unless the monster's speed is three times as fast as yours you have won before the event even started.

Social interaction is governed by a little rule on page 246-247 called "Changing Attitudes", notably how player characters are immune to it. Skills like Diplomacy are otherwise extremely potent in Pathfinder 2 (bordering on the magical) simply because of how widely scores vary across levels. Just as a player hero with a decent Charisma score needs no magic to pretty much do whatever he wants to a villager four or five levels below him (because any roll will likely be a critical success even if the GM decrees an ad-hoc +2 or +5 modifier to the DC for the PC suggesting something outrageous), an NPC can't do the same to a PC against that player's will.

---

I'm not stating this to hate on the system. In fact, I am supremely convinced this is the way to go (because otherwise creating high-level NPCs become a nightmare for the GM).

I'm saying this because I am convinced pretending NPCs use the same rules as PCs is not the way to go. It is too obvious they really aren't.

It is much better imo to 1) acknowledge the disparity and then 2) actively ignore it, accepting it as a price worth paying. After all, I quit DM'ing third edition specifically because NPCs had to be created as PCs, so I know that while the price is not trivial it is most certainly preferable to the alternative, which is not to play at all, or only to play the simplest of games where (N)PC creation is not a time-consuming endeavor.

Have a nice day.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Pretending all is well with the PF2 ruleset is not what I consider a fruitful way going forward

Denial of the illness is after all the greatest barrier to healing.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
I think this is always true. And triply so on the internet.

However, the reverse applies as well. People will insist that the thing they like is perfect "as is" and no amount of evidence will change that.

I think PF2E failed to learn from 4E when it went all-in on a math-balance first mechanic foundation.

That's an interesting idea, though I think it's "failure" was largely being a new game at all. Pathfinder was created for people to keep using 3.X and getting content for it; lots of people had big libraries that they still wanted to be able to use, and that was clearly not easy with 4E. Those people still exist today, and that's part of the reason why PF1's base just doesn't switch over: they never were going to. They were attached to PF1 because it was based on an older system. If they stuck through 5E without taking a new system, what makes you think that any system that was notably different from 3.X would garner these people?

It isn't growing. It isn't gaining popularity. It is "fine", I suppose because of course nobody can say what Paizo wanted. But you can't even point to any evidence that it is doing better than PF was doing the day before PF2E was announced. It trades off with Call of Chthulu in sales and there is now 5E 3PP that is solidly outselling it day over day on Amazon.

I mean the former is demonstrably not true: it does not "trade off in Call of Cthulhu" in sales. CoC does not actually sell that much; that it takes up such a large portion of Roll20 is less a function of "selling" and more 30+ years of influence and sales. We can see this through Amazon, where the biggest CoC book varies from "nearly there" to "not close".

And the 5E 3PP thing happens: it outsold even some of WOTC's own stuff. I don't think you truly understand how big D&D is compared to everything else. The second Tome of Beasts is basically riding its initial sales wave from November, and people are buying up the first Tome at the same time. I don't expect it to maintain that for long.

I know it is considered a low blow to compare PF2E to 5E. But this is 5E 3PP!!!!
I have a hard time believing that Paizo couldn't CRUSH any other 5E 3PP if they had elected to go that direction. And they could have done it with a far smaller investment.

Given the absolute size disparity between the two? I doubt it. People like to assume this because PF1 beat out 4E at certain points, but the markets aren't the same anymore: 5E exploded the size of the RPG market, particularly for itself.

And, of course, I'm just saying this because I'm sour. OK. Guilty. It doesn't make it not true. I'll completely own that I was super excited for the design team of Paizo to turn their talents to a more modern game that still provided the game experience I enjoy. But they turned away from that and I'm bummed by that.

I do like 5E. I like it a lot. But if they wanted to make my personal ideal game it would be a lot different. And it would be a lot less popular. A whole lot less. I am quite conscious of my personal taste bias. And I don't confuse that for trying to look at the data honestly.

I anyone thinks that four years ago the Paizo mgmt sat down and said "go design a game that will be on par with CoC and behind 5E 3PP after 18 months" then I think they are out to lunch.

I think this misses that COVID hit Paizo really hard. Given how they are running their warehouse at moment, they have had stock issues for a while and have been promoting their PDFs as a way around it.

The gatekeeping claims are 100% BS.

To the contrary, people complaining about PF2E want it to appeal to MORE people.

The biggest two complaints here right now that "PF2 isn't a roleplaying game, it's a rollplaying game" and "PF2 should be more like 5E". One is absolutely a gatekeeping argument, the other is... bland? We've gone over this "ad nauseum", but creating a 5E clone when 5E already exists would seem to be an easier way to get you completely killed comparatively: 5E players will stick with 5E, Pathfinder players (who, again, didn't leave PF for 5E in the first place) stick with 3.X stuff, and you have nothing that draws people in.

Pretending all is well with the PF2 ruleset is not what I consider a fruitful way going forward

Denial of the illness is after all the greatest barrier to healing.

This would be more impactful if it didn't come from a guy who, when rebuked by most of the community, didn't reflect and decided that a "victory declaration" would be more appropriate. ;)
 

Starfox

Adventurer
I've been thinking over what makes PF2 feel like a rollplaying game (using Justice and Rule's term). I think it is because all the options are so siloed. If I play an elven rogue, I pick elf and rogue feats. Elves and rouges may or may not have a certain ability. If they don't, I am out of luck. I am not freeing my imagination to create a character, I am picking from a rather closed menu. Some abilities are based on skill feats available to anyone, but this could be many, many more.

The second thing is something I mentioned above, that the rules create a world that feel ephemeral. There is not enough connection between the rules and the in-world image. The best example here is the one i already used; the only difference between large and small animal companions is the size of the playing piece.

The third is even more nebulous. In PF1 we used squares to move, had a zone of control (reach and AoO) and generally played an advanced boardgame. But that was somehow ok. In PF2 the same thing crossed some threshold to me, it became too gamey. This might just be lack of practice, I've been playing 3E, 3.5, and PF1 for decades and PF2 around 4 months.

All these points are subjective, they are how I feel. I am happy people don't agree because I still genuinely like Paizo.
 

You're getting the right point, but I'm not sure for the right reasons.

PF2 NPCs play the same in the sense that they use the same end interface (numbers like AC or Will saves) and obey the same fundamental rules (such as "you can only take the actions you have available on your character sheet plus those of the CRB").

But PF2 NPCs are created very differently from PF2 PCs. Their stats obey a completely different set of rules (by which I mean "no rules" since it's table look-up only). They have none of the feats available to players (though designers frequently give them unique actions that mimic some of the most iconic feats for each class).

They also can be equipped with special actions that simply have no counterparts for player characters. They can (and frequently do) have considerably better numeric values (and not just for obscure defense values but for highly visible ones like their attack bonus).

However, they rarely have substantial recovery resources, which of course is the single most important reason heroes routinely overcome them, despite being outclassed at first blush.

---

So, yes, you're quite right in not letting any of this matter to you. That's the goal and purpose.

But they don't play the same at the table, not really.

And that's because they really aren't using the same rules at all. Yes they have three actions just like you do. Yes they can take Jump and Hide actions just like you can.

But when you dig a little deeper under the hoods the cracks become obvious. When you're interacting beyond the basic trading of blows with monsters in general and NPCs in particular you'll note monsters often lack crucial skill proficiencies.

Actions particularly with the physical fields of Athletics and Acrobatics are significantly constrained in important ways and then there are player-side feats like Combat Climber of Quick Squeezer to negate them. True some monsters are created by writers paying attention and so have corresponding unique abilities to achieve the same thing. But most don't. At high level, if you take the Cloud Jump feat, you will consistently be able to trivially win any long-jumping contest against a monster trying to play by the rules (as opposed to, say, having a Fly Speed), simply because without this specific feat, you can never jump longer than your Speed. And unless the monster's speed is three times as fast as yours you have won before the event even started.

Social interaction is governed by a little rule on page 246-247 called "Changing Attitudes", notably how player characters are immune to it. Skills like Diplomacy are otherwise extremely potent in Pathfinder 2 (bordering on the magical) simply because of how widely scores vary across levels. Just as a player hero with a decent Charisma score needs no magic to pretty much do whatever he wants to a villager four or five levels below him (because any roll will likely be a critical success even if the GM decrees an ad-hoc +2 or +5 modifier to the DC for the PC suggesting something outrageous), an NPC can't do the same to a PC against that player's will.

---

I'm not stating this to hate on the system. In fact, I am supremely convinced this is the way to go (because otherwise creating high-level NPCs become a nightmare for the GM).

I'm saying this because I am convinced pretending NPCs use the same rules as PCs is not the way to go. It is too obvious they really aren't.

It is much better imo to 1) acknowledge the disparity and then 2) actively ignore it, accepting it as a price worth paying. After all, I quit DM'ing third edition specifically because NPCs had to be created as PCs, so I know that while the price is not trivial it is most certainly preferable to the alternative, which is not to play at all, or only to play the simplest of games where (N)PC creation is not a time-consuming endeavor.

Have a nice day.
Thank you for the PF2 explanation, I haven't played yet. However, @Teemu was talking about 5e. Based on your description of PF2e, it is even more like a board game than 5e according to his/her criteria. Not that I agree with that!

Apparently 5e is also a board game because PCs and NPCs don’t follow the same rules.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
I've been thinking over what makes PF2 feel like a rollplaying game (using Justice and Rule's term). I think it is because all the options are so siloed. If I play an elven rogue, I pick elf and rogue feats. Elves and rouges may or may not have a certain ability. If they don't, I am out of luck. I am not freeing my imagination to create a character, I am picking from a rather closed menu. Some abilities are based on skill feats available to anyone, but this could be many, many more.

Hm. Hmmmm. I think this is an interesting disconnect, because to me PF2 characters are way more à la carte than other d20 games: Most class feats are generally for combat flavor, with some of them being more character-stylization (the Investigator being the one '"exception that proves the rule" in this case). Most General and Skill feats (which are available to everyone) concern roleplaying stuff beyond class. Plus there are no longer skill restrictions based on class, which opens up build possibilities a lot.

The second thing is something I mentioned above, that the rules create a world that feel ephemeral. There is not enough connection between the rules and the in-world image. The best example here is the one i already used; the only difference between large and small animal companions is the size of the playing piece.

I can kind of see this one: stuff like familiars, animal companions, and wild shape have a modular approach where you have a sort of "base" and things are modified by your choices. I see both sides on it: you can have a cognitive disconnect between these things coming off a modular base rather than being completely individualized, but at the same completely individualized options make "must-picks" and "traps" more common because there will inevitably be less balance between the choices.

I think PF2 made the smart choice for its system in this case, though I can understand why it bounces off for some people. I think there are still some work they can do (man, there are some easy things I would want to do to the Dinosaur Shape choices to make them a little more varied, but I'd want to run the numbers to balance them a bit... a conversation for another day...), but it's grown on me.

The third is even more nebulous. In PF1 we used squares to move, had a zone of control (reach and AoO) and generally played an advanced boardgame. But that was somehow ok. In PF2 the same thing crossed some threshold to me, it became too gamey. This might just be lack of practice, I've been playing 3E, 3.5, and PF1 for decades and PF2 around 4 months.

Gonna put a guess out and say "more options": there are just more moves that balloon out the tactical aspect of the game. So many class feats create new actions to use, which means that old aspects that you might be okay with suddenly take up new importance, positioning and order of attacks becomes more important because of riders like attacks that need the "Flat-footed" condition or have the quality "Press", "Flourish", etc. I can see how this can suddenly feel like a greater emphasis on combat and its minutiae.

All these points are subjective, they are how I feel. I am happy people don't agree because I still genuinely like Paizo.

Thanks. Writing this out helped me grok your opinion a bit more. :)
 

kenada

Hero
Supporter
Thank you for the PF2 explanation, I haven't played yet. However, @Teemu was talking about 5e. Based on your description of PF2e, it is even more like a board game than 5e according to his/her criteria. Not that I agree with that!
It’s much ado about nothing. 3e is unusual system for trying to build creatures and NPCs like PCs. Even Fate with its bronze rule (everything can be built like a character) doesn’t bother building most opposition that way. Only your main NPCs (i.e., someone who will antagonize the PCs over the course of a campaign) get the full treatment.

I can understand it as an aesthetic preference, but there are far more visible areas that creature creation where PF2 abandoned 3e’s attempt at systemic naturalism. For example, all the DCs are gone. It’s up to GM fiat now. The system delegates to the GM much more frequently that PF1 did. The dearth common feats between classes is another one.
 



fearsomepirate

Adventurer
Hm. How far can you stretch d20 before it no longer becomes recognizable? I'm honestly kind of interested in the options.

It's less about the use of a 20-sided die than it is the D&D-inspired fantasy. I have a GURPS-based dungeon crawler that is just D&D, but with different math, and as such, I can't be bothered to play it. In the case of PF2 and so many others, having evil chroma dragons and good metal dragons isn't "high fantasy;" it's Dungeons & Dragons. If you have evil, depth-dwelling duergar who grow huge and turn invisible, that's D&D. If you're mashing up dinosaurs, Greek myth, European fairy tales, Tolkien, and things that a bunch of nerds in Wisconsin dreamed up because winter there is hell, that's D&D.

Stop it.

Do something original. Do something that says something other than, "Your mom says Fruit Roll-Ups are too expensive? Well, check out these Fruity Roll-Snacks! They're almost as good!"
 

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