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

kenada

Hero
Supporter
Here's the regular enworld forums reality check that Pathfinder 2e and communities related to it are growing, and that it just doesn't have much traction on roll 20 since they support it badly and the entire community aggressively recommends Foundry instead, and that most PF2e players are converts from 5e (to the best of our ability to measure the community of course) who prefer it to 5e.

Here is (again) the growth chart for the subreddit which has doubled in subscribers in the last year. This still being before fan favorite unique classes like the Gunslinger, Magus, and Summoner release and DURING a major pandemic that has smashed in person play, convention play, and local store play.

I'd say by all accounts we're doing pretty well for our ourselves.
There’s also a Foundry love fest happening on the official forum right now. roll20 is just so incredibly feature poor and expensive for what you get. It doesn’t even have the latest AP (yet? or ever?).
 

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Teemu

Adventurer
So from what I’ve gathered, a fairly common criticism of PF2 is that it’s too complex, granular, and cumbersome because of so many moving parts. But had Paizo made PF2 simpler and less complex, wouldn’t it compete with 5e even more directly? Why would you play PF2 if it was even closer to the experience you get with 5e? I just don’t quite understand why Paizo would want to produce another version of 5e. They need a niche, and the niche they chose was a more complex rule set. I guess they could’ve gone super light weight? But that would definitely alienate their core fanbase who’s used to PF1 complexity and crunch.
 

kenada

Hero
Supporter
Just to fill in a few details: RAW, you can use the Command Animal action on an animal that isn’t hostile or unfriendly, for a set list of tricks. (If you have a high enough proficiency level, the CRB suggests allowing this action on more exotic creatures to, though this is left to the GMs discretion.)

Anyone trained in Nature can also take the Train Animal skill feat to train animals in downtime to automatically do these tricks without a roll, or to teach it further tricks.

And anyone expert in Nature can get a non-special animal companion at lvl 2+ by taking the Bonded Animal skill feat and spending some downtime with the animal. This makes it permanently helpful, and increases Command Animal check results by one step.

None of these activities change the animal’s stats.
Thanks for the additional information. Something told me it was there, but I wasn’t finding it where I was looking. I didn’t think to check skill feats. I was expecting things like dogs and horses to be in equipment section, which I suppose is my thinking too much like other systems.
 


dave2008

Legend
So from what I’ve gathered, a fairly common criticism of PF2 is that it’s too complex, granular, and cumbersome because of so many moving parts.
If people are making those complaints, maybe PF2 isn't for them and that is OK. It is also possible that some people want more options than 5e offers, but not as much complexity as PF2 or basically some combination between 5e and PF2. To be honest, that is kinda where I fall. I like a lot of what I see in PF2, but it is a little to balanced and complex for my usual taste. But just a smidge. For me, it is currently easier to add the complexity I want to a game I enjoy and know well (5e) than remove it from a game I haven't played or know that well.
 

kenada

Hero
Supporter
I think the assumption is you could pare down the complexity/etc while preserving the system’s customization and tactical elements. There are some subsystems that border on vestigial. For example, the core rules have an entire subsystem for vision. It does basically nothing*. The Beginner Box dispenses with it and just explains what happens in plain language. PF2 would be an easier to understand game if it did more of that instead of trying (or appearing to try) to enumerate all the things you can do with specific rules for each.

--
* Specifically, it only defines what happens if you try to attack a hidden or undetected creature. All the stuff we associate with being hidden (moving, what happens when you take certain actions, treating targets as flat-footed, etc) is actually handled as riders on the Sneak and Hide skill actions, which makes those skills extremely verbose and harder to understand. The Beginner Box puts that stuff in a side bar next to the Stealth skill.

Sneak: Core Rulebook p. 252 said:
Sneak
You can attempt to move to another place while becoming or staying undetected. Stride up to half your Speed. (You can use Sneak while Burrowing, Climbing, Flying, or Swimming instead of Striding if you have the corresponding movement type; you must move at half that Speed.)

If you’re undetected by a creature and it’s impossible for that creature to observe you (for a typical creature, this includes when you’re invisible, the observer is blinded, or you’re in darkness and the creature can’t see in darkness), for any critical failure you roll on a check to Sneak, you get a failure instead. You also continue to be undetected if you lose cover or greater cover against or are no longer concealed from such a creature.

At the end of your movement, the GM rolls your Stealth check in secret and compares the result to the Perception DC of each creature you were hidden from or undetected by at the start of your movement. If you have cover or greater cover from the creature throughout your Stride, you gain the +2 circumstance bonus from cover (or +4 from greater cover) to your Stealth check. Because you’re moving, the bonus increase from Taking Cover doesn’t apply. You don’t get to roll against a creature if, at the end of your movement, you neither are concealed from it nor have cover or greater cover against it. You automatically become observed by such a creature.

Success You’re undetected by the creature during your movement and remain undetected by the creature at the end of it.

You become observed as soon as you do anything other than Hide, Sneak, or Step. If you attempt to Strike a creature, the creature remains flat-footed against that attack, and you then become observed. If you do anything else, you become observed just before you act unless the GM determines otherwise. The GM might allow you to perform a particularly unobtrusive action without being noticed, possibly requiring another Stealth check. If you speak or make a deliberate loud noise, you become hidden instead of undetected.

If a creature uses Seek and you become hidden to it as a result, you must Sneak if you want to become undetected by that creature again.

Failure A telltale sound or other sign gives your position away, though you still remain unseen. You’re hidden from the creature throughout your movement and remain so.

Critical Failure You’re spotted! You’re observed by the creature throughout your movement and remain so. If you’re invisible and were hidden from the creature, instead of being observed you’re hidden throughout your movement and remain so.

Beginner Box Heroe’s Handbook: Sneak p. 58 said:
Sneak
When you’ve successfully hidden from someone using Hide, you can Sneak to move to another place so they don’t know where you are. Stride up to half your Speed. At the end of your movement, the GM rolls your Stealth check in secret and compares the result to the Perception DC of each creature that couldn’t see you but knew where you were at the start of your movement (Perception DC = 10 + the creature’s Perception). If you have standard cover (page 68) from the creature throughout your Stride, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to your Stealth check. You can roll against a creature only if, at the the end of your Stride, you have standard cover or the concealed condition; otherwise, it sees you.

Success The creature can’t see or hear you during your movement and doesn’t know where you are after you stop moving.

Failure A telltale sound or other sign gives your position away. The creature still can’t see you, but it knows where you are.

Critical Failure You’re spotted! The creature can see you.

There’s a sidebar on page 59 that explains what happens when you end stealth. Because the sidebar is not tied to a specific action, it provides GMs with a tool for adjudicating unexpected situations (or even expected ones where they’ve forgotten the specific skill actions).

Beginner Box Heroe’s Handbook: Ending Stealth p. 59 said:
Ending Stealth
You stop being hidden from a creature if you move to a place where you no longer have cover from it, or you use any action other than Hide, Sneak, or Step. A creature you’re hidden from has the flat-footed condition against you, taking a −2 circumstance peanlty to AC against your attacks. If you attempt to Strike the creature, it has the flat-footed condition against that one attack, but then it sees you.

Creatures can use the Seek action to try to find you, as described on page 65. If they find you, you have to successfully Hide again to become hidden once more.

Invisibility
If you’re invisible (due to the invisibility wizard spell, for instance), you can’t be seen. You get the benefit of a successful check to Hide all the time. That means if anything would let a creature see you (like critically failing a check to Sneak), the creature knows where you are but can’t see you. You can Sneak while invisible without needing to Hide first.
 
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Campbell

Legend
How does the fighter wield a giant size sword? Is this addressed in PF2 or would I have to house rule that?

They cannot. A small or medium size creature may wield a weapon meant built for a large creature, but gains no special benefit and is Clumsy 1 while wielding it. Basically no going up more than one band. You may transfer the runes etched into the weapon to a different weapon if you have the know how or can find someone who does.

PF2 SRD said:
Items and Sizes

The Bulk rules are for Small and Medium creatures, as the items are made for creatures of those sizes. Large creatures can carry more, and smaller creatures can carry less, as noted on Table 6–19.

These rules for Bulk limits come up most often when a group tries to load up a mount or animal companion. The rules for items of different sizes tend to come into play when the characters defeat a big creature that has gear, since in most cases, the only creatures of other sizes are creatures under the GM’s control. In most cases, Small or Medium creatures can wield a Large weapon, though it’s unwieldy, giving them the clumsy 1 condition, and the larger size is canceled by the difficulty of swinging the weapon, so it grants no special benefit. Large armor is simply too large for Small and Medium creatures.
 


kenada

Hero
Supporter
They cannot. A small or medium size creature may wield a weapon meant built for a large creature, but gains no special benefit and is Clumsy 1 while wielding it. Basically no going up more than one band. You may transfer the runes etched into the weapon to a different weapon if you have the know how or can find someone who does.
I should have gone with my original choice (raja rakshasa), which was medium but still used a striking weapon. I wanted to show how the PCs also would get to do multiple dice worth of damage like the monsters did. 😬
 

dave2008

Legend
They cannot. A small or medium size creature may wield a weapon meant built for a large creature, but gains no special benefit and is Clumsy 1 while wielding it. Basically no going up more than one band. You may transfer the runes etched into the weapon to a different weapon if you have the know how or can find someone who does.
I don't really like the idea of striking runes and prefer the 4e approach of increased proficiency with the weapon allows you to do more damage. In PF2 it seems like I could probably do away with striking runes and just say at X level or Y proficiency you do an additional die (or 2) of damage. Do you see an issue with that idea?
 


kenada

Hero
Supporter
I don't really like the idea of striking runes and prefer the 4e approach of increased proficiency with the weapon allows you to do more damage. In PF2 it seems like I could probably do away with striking runes and just say at X level or Y proficiency you do an additional die (or 2) of damage. Do you see an issue with that idea?
That’s pretty much what the Automatic Bonus Progression variant does. You don’t have to use it for every item or bonus. Just get rid of striking runes and give out devastating attacks at the appropriate levels.
 



Campbell

Legend
I don't really like the idea of striking runes and prefer the 4e approach of increased proficiency with the weapon allows you to do more damage. In PF2 it seems like I could probably do away with striking runes and just say at X level or Y proficiency you do an additional die (or 2) of damage. Do you see an issue with that idea?

I would not tie it to proficiency. Doing so would increase the edge the fighter has significantly and fighters really do not need any help in PF2. Instead I would look to either Automatic Bonus Progression or High Quality Equipment.

 

The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
The sites very owner is a PF2E fan and has had a long running campaign too! But sometimes folks gotta start with hostile. I just hope they didn’t mean it and it only read that way.
Directed at Zapp mostly, now that I look back, although I didn't notice it was just pretty much them at this point. No hostility at all, though I enjoy a bit of snark when people get melodramatic, like their 'you have to accept the illness for healing to occur' bit, I know they weren't the only one cherrypicking the amazon and roll20 data despite reasons those might not be the best metric. I was literally pointing out to the people that continue to insist Pathfinder 2e is an accepted failure that its doesn't quite match reality, hence a reality check.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Separately, but wanting to compress to one post, someone mentioned complaints about complexity, its interesting because its all over the place from what I've seen, Morrus's own review cites it as being about as complex as 5e, whereas I'd rate it at slightly more complex, but with a way better depth to complexity ratio, but then other people treat it as if its an out-of-touch rules dense slog. Its interesting how much perception of the game's material complexity varies.
 

dave2008

Legend
I would not tie it to proficiency. Doing so would increase the edge the fighter has significantly and fighters really do not need any help in PF2. Instead I would look to either Automatic Bonus Progression or High Quality Equipment.

Well I just realized striking runes have a level don't they. I would tie it to that, maybe with a minimum proficiency (so as not to favor the fighter).
 

dave2008

Legend
Separately, but wanting to compress to one post, someone mentioned complaints about complexity, its interesting because its all over the place from what I've seen, Morrus's own review cites it as being about as complex as 5e, whereas I'd rate it at slightly more complex, but with a way better depth to complexity ratio, but then other people treat it as if its an out-of-touch rules dense slog. Its interesting how much perception of the game's material complexity varies.
Personally I don't separate complexity and depth quite like you do. PF2 definitely has more depth, but that is more complexity for me. The way I approach the game I can't really separate the depth from complexity much. So, from my perspective the depth to complexity ration is closer to way off than way better. Now, I fully understand that is just my perspective and not a game / design issue.
 

Starfox

Adventurer
The funny thing is I said that, yet I had a player who had really been into 3.5 who demanded I explain why a monster was able to do anything it did. Every session, every new monster, he'd say at least once, "What?!?!? How is the monster able to do that?!?!?!"
On the subject of PC vs. NPC creation, I dont mind NPCs having a simplified system as long as the final numbers are comparable. If one of the player characters is absent from a scene, I want to be able to hand that player a guardsman to play, and it should work out of the box. How those numbers were made up? I couldn't really care less as longa s they make sense in the story. 3E's insitance that you build monsters like characters was one of the main flaws with it in my book.

What I actually play these days is Action [Edit: My homebrew], which is pretty much DnD reimagined using Feng Shui as a base ruleset. Though it nominally does other genres, DnD is what we have actually use it for. Character creation in Action is entirely points-based, but there is something equivalent to level. There are no classes. In a lot of ways, Action characters are built like NPCs in other games - there are very few restrictions and its the player's responsibility to make it into a cohesive whole. Fits my table.

The free League (Fria Ligan) used to appear at game cons in Sweden maybe 20 years ago with innovative but weird scenarios. Doing things like Twilight 2000 today, they have become much more conventional - but others in the group still do the wierd shit. Good kids!
 
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The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
Personally I don't separate complexity and depth quite like you do. PF2 definitely has more depth, but that is more complexity for me. The way I approach the game I can't really separate the depth from complexity much. So, from my perspective the depth to complexity ration is closer to way off than way better. Now, I fully understand that is just my perspective and not a game / design issue.
So to me, I wanna clarify they're interrelated, you do need more complexity to have more depth, generally-- but the amount of depth you buy with any amount of complexity is down to the 'elegance' of the design, 'efficiency' might be the right word. Pathfinder 1e (3.5 really) was very deep because it had a mountain of complexity, but none of the complexity was that efficient. Whereas I view Pathfinder 2e as having a similar depth, but far less complexity, but it still needs some to do what it does. For point of reference, I view 5e as having very little depth per complexity, but it also has very little complexity. How much complexity is justifiable, even if its efficient, is of course down to taste and how much you value the kind of depth you can get from a rules system (which isn't the be all / end all.)

My biggest problem with 5e, now that I think about it, is that its so much more complex than say PBTA or other rules lite systems... but its not especially deeper than them, while managing to be a little simpler than other d20 games of its ilk, but losing out massively in the depth that arguably makes them attractive in the first place.
 
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