Is Pathfinder 2 Paizo's 4E?

CapnZapp

Hero
So, I'm playing a rather difficult video game at the moment, and, for me, all the consumables you pick up I mostly ignore. Because they are small effect and honestly, I'm better practicing deflect + punish to get better at the basics rather than spend the mental effort deciding whether to use a Fistful of Ash on this boss.

But that's just me -- a boss I fight by practicing dodge and taking my time with, another player is blowing snap seeds and long sparks and using them. I don't really have a problem with other people caring about consumables when I usually don't. It's the same for me in role playing games. Talismans seem of minimal use to me, so I'm not excited to use them, but others will have fun getting that last possible bonus. It's not like once I decide not to bother with talismans I have to spend any more effort. I can just happily ignore them.
True dat.

I guess I can still GM Pathfinder since I can just... never hand out any Talismans, and nobody will ever bother to purchase 'em.

Mind you, I still harbor a deep grudge against the dev(s) that wasted not only half a dozen rulebook pages, but a cool concept too. Talismans could have been so cool - imagine if they were meaningfully connected to the Occult power source, and had some smidge of cool story background.

Even if they lasted a full minute I could buy their little fiddly powers, and how you must muck about beforehand setting them up. Getting 50% more speed or better pushes or fear bonus for a whole encounter is at least narratively perceptible. It's much more like a proper magic item, that provides a bonus that really changes something. It would definitely help me in not associating the game with the bland beige boring crap that was magic items in 4th edition.
 

S'mon

Legend
True dat.

I guess I can still GM Pathfinder since I can just... never hand out any Talismans, and nobody will ever bother to purchase 'em.

Mind you, I still harbor a deep grudge against the dev(s) that wasted not only half a dozen rulebook pages...
By RPG design standards, I think that's a pretty minor sin! I own hundreds of pages of 4e rules that no one will ever use - you mentioned 4e magic items, but 4e Martial Practices were a lot worse!
 

Saelorn

Hero
No, I am personally offended by the very thought anyone is expected to bother with a single Talisman, at all.
That describes the vast majority of magic items (and feats) in PF1. I remember playing through an adventure path, and finding countless magic weapons that made absolutely no sense why anyone would ever craft them in the first place. It was one of the major frustrations with trying to play the game.

I haven't read through PF2 yet, but I did just finish reading Starfinder, and it seems like they still don't understand why this sort of thing would be problematic.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
That describes the vast majority of magic items (and feats) in PF1. I remember playing through an adventure path, and finding countless magic weapons that made absolutely no sense why anyone would ever craft them in the first place. It was one of the major frustrations with trying to play the game.

I haven't read through PF2 yet, but I did just finish reading Starfinder, and it seems like they still don't understand why this sort of thing would be problematic.
You will have to point to something specific, because in my mind there is a clear line between 3E (and PF) and 5E items on one hand, and 4E items on the other.

I mean, yes of course there was truckloads and truckloads of bizarre stuff in d20, a lot of it quite useless, but still, it is rare (in my mind) to find the miserly approach that dominated 4E PHB items. Those d20 items could well be of "what were they thinking?" variety - but there's a difference between individual items being crap, and entire classes of items being designed as "littlest" already from the get-go.
 

Saelorn

Hero
You will have to point to something specific, because in my mind there is a clear line between 3E (and PF) and 5E items on one hand, and 4E items on the other.

I mean, yes of course there was truckloads and truckloads of bizarre stuff in d20, a lot of it quite useless, but still, it is rare (in my mind) to find the miserly approach that dominated 4E PHB items. Those d20 items could well be of "what were they thinking?" variety - but there's a difference between individual items being crap, and entire classes of items being designed as "littlest" already from the get-go.
I was mostly thinking of individual items being terrible, a la the +1 thawing spear of dragonslaying, which could only have been useful for melee combat against ice dragons by someone not proficient in martial weapons. That's the kind of thing which I take as a personal insult.

Most of the worthless expendables (aside from potions and scrolls) were added to 3.5 in much later supplements, and were safely ignored. I could have sworn that there was a huge list of one-shot elemental attack items, with different level variations in case you really wanted to spend thousands of gold on a 10d6 lightning grenade, in the Magic Items Compendium.

Since you mention it, though, that might actually be from early 4E. The only thing about 4E magic items that I clearly remember is how a +2 item with a dumb gimmick was always priced between a +2 item and a +3 item, which makes perfect sense.
 

Remus Lupin

Adventurer
I think the big difference is the 4e took a relatively unified market and fragmented it. PF2 is entering an already fragmented market, and hoping to revitalize its existing fan base. Folks who switched out from PF when 5e came out might come back. Folks who just aren't so fond of 5e might be looking for something else. Meanwhile, if they're seeing declining sales on PF1, it only makes sense to try and renew the market for themselves.

The big problem with 4e was that it became a really divisive inflection point for gaming and gave Paizo an entry point to the market. Now it's just one of several players on the same field, so it's got a different set of incentives and goals.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
I think the big difference is the 4e took a relatively unified market and fragmented it. PF2 is entering an already fragmented market, and hoping to revitalize its existing fan base. Folks who switched out from PF when 5e came out might come back. Folks who just aren't so fond of 5e might be looking for something else. Meanwhile, if they're seeing declining sales on PF1, it only makes sense to try and renew the market for themselves.

The big problem with 4e was that it became a really divisive inflection point for gaming and gave Paizo an entry point to the market. Now it's just one of several players on the same field, so it's got a different set of incentives and goals.
Yeah I'm a little confused by what market exactly is fragmented?? I would argue 5e has already done what you are claiming PF2 is trying to do and has, by all accounts, succeeded beyond all expectations...
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I think the big difference is the 4e took a relatively unified market and fragmented it. PF2 is entering an already fragmented market, and hoping to revitalize its existing fan base. Folks who switched out from PF when 5e came out might come back. Folks who just aren't so fond of 5e might be looking for something else. Meanwhile, if they're seeing declining sales on PF1, it only makes sense to try and renew the market for themselves.

The big problem with 4e was that it became a really divisive inflection point for gaming and gave Paizo an entry point to the market. Now it's just one of several players on the same field, so it's got a different set of incentives and goals.
Yeah, well, the market is probably more unified than ever since you have 5E, then nothing, then still nothing, THEN maybe other games all combined...
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
What preexisting need did Original Dungeons and Dragons fill? What about Vampire - The Masquerade? What about Starfinder? What about Edge of the Empire?

When it comes to product design there are very few instances like Pathfinder First Edition or Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition where there is a market already sitting there waiting for you. Often you have to show people something they have not seen before and never knew they wanted until they see it. The answer to where is the market is that they are attempting to create it.

They have created a meaningfully differentiated game that is fun to play designed specifically to tell the kinds of stories they want to tell. When you open the spine of Pathfinder Second Edition you see a piece of fiction that portrays the iconic heroes holding off undead hordes empowered by The Whispering Tyrant. There is a specific call out to the death of Aroden, God of Prophecy whose demise started The Age of Lost Omens. The games introduction starts like this:

Pathfinder Core Rulebook said:
Pathfinder adventures take place in the Age of Lost Omens, a perilous fantasy world rife with ancient empires; sprawling city-states; and countless tombs, dungeons, and monster lairs packed with plunder. A Pathfinder character’s adventures might take them to forsaken underwater ruins, haunted gothic crypts, or magical universities in jungle cities. A world of endless adventure awaits!
I also find this telling:

Age of Lost Omens World Guide Back Cover said:
The god of humanity is dead and prophecy is broken, leaving adventuring heroes like you to carve out your own destinies out of an uncertain future!
Uncertainty looms large over Pathfinder Second Edition. The game has been fundamentally restructured to be focused on risk vs reward. Everything you do has a range of success that dramatically shapes the outcome of the narrative. Spells have been made more uncertain. You largely cannot build characters to auto succeed anymore. Secret rolls are used to create a fog of war that mirrors the uncertainty of the characters. Many spells have become rituals that have significant consequences for failure.

While it is very modern in some respects in a lot of ways it rejects many modern "advancements" in favor of the primordial history of Dungeons and Dragons. Wizards are definitely Vancian. Fighters are better at fighting than other martial classes. Class features make it even more Vancian. It utilizes B/X style exploration turns and secret rolls. Its new Bulk system doubles down on encumbrance. It doubles down on Alignment, even adding specific Anathema to some classes. Some spells can only be acquired through adventuring. Long term consequences like poisons, diseases, and curses are common. Monsters are designed like puzzles to be solved. The roleplaying advice for classes in the Core Rulebook suggest that a fighter might build a stronghold, a rogue might create a thieve's guild, a wizard might start a school, and a cleric might establish a temple.

It cares about more than adventuring. It is a game that cares about what you do outside of your adventures. Many classes have specific ties to the world. Your first level fighter might hold down shifts as a bartender when she is not fighting monsters. Your wizard might track down Uncommon and Rare spells to add to their spell book. Your ranger might seek out a mentor to learn a unique technique. You might be part of an organization. You might cast rituals that require the assistance of secondary casters that you need to track down. The game makes it clear that it is about the individual stories of the player characters as much as it is about the adventures they go on.

Lost Omens looms large. It's telling that the majority of the supplemental content we are seeing is heavily stepped in the lore of the game. It's not just for reading either. They want player characters to become part of the setting and actively engage with the world, its organizations, and gods. There is a lot of embedded story in the archetypes available like taking your Hell Knight Test to join an order or how the Living Monolith needs to undergo the Ka Stone Ritual. Gods and Magic will have rules for divine intercession. They intend for The Age of Lost Omens to be an active part of your game if you so choose.

So none of this was something I was like looking for, but I find it very compelling. That's the bet - that people will find it compelling. They have done a year long open play test and significant focus group testing with new players. They are absolutely taking a risk, but I think they kind of had to. Pathfinder had fallen to #5 on the icv2 charts and was bleeding off sales to Fifth Edition. They had to do something.

Really the underlying question here seems to be why didn't they just start supporting Fifth Edition? My guess is they see more potential in what they have created. I am also going to guess the other answer is that they just do not want to. Paizo is a company that is largely run by creatives who have a strong vision of their setting and the types of stories they want to tell. It is easy to forget that the creation of Pathfinder First Edition was motivated as much by being dissatisfied by the narrative structures of Fourth Edition as an analysis of market needs. They might feel the same way about Fifth Edition.

I mean so far they have definitely reclaimed the #2 spot and sales look pretty good. They aren't competing with Fifth Edition, but I do not think that was ever on the radar. They are building their audience and regrowing the brand. Time will tell if their risks will pay off. I do not think we should be shaming them for attempting to innovate and create a compelling new experience that is more compatible with the stories they have always wanted to tell.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I completely believe you are making these suggestions in good faith, and that you yourself believe what you say.

Problem is, I don't see it. At all.

I don't see anything in their stories that require a game that hews dangerously close to 4E if not in actual execution then in presentation.

I don't see the value of a million littlest feats that mostly give off the illusion of deep charbuilding while in reality just hiding the fact the game strictly controls the math.

And I definitely don't see why their stories require a brand new game engine that will come off as nothing less than alienatingly complex to the overwhelmingly vast prospective audience, namely, 5E gamers.

If we believe the simplest explanation is also likely the true explanation, I offer the following alternative:

That Paizo can't bring themselves to the realization their existence depends on D&D, and that they could not bring themselves to biting the bullet, making a game accessible to the only really big market out there.

Instead, to me it is painfully obvious they thought they did not need to even look at 5th editions and what made it so spectacularly popular. Their offering might have seemed reasonable in a world where the alternatives are either Pathfinder 1 or 4th edition.

But we don't live in that world.
 
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amethal

Explorer
Instead, to me it is painfully obvious they thought they did not need to even look at 5th editions and what made it so spectacularly popular.
It seems staggeringly unlikely to me that professional game designers who specialise in d20 products did not even look at the current version of Dungeons and Dragons.

I appreciate that you find it difficult to comprehend how Paizo could look at the same situation as you did and not come to the same conclusion as you did, but that is what has happened.

Incidentally, I am not saying you are wrong when you say Paizo have made a mistake. The role-playing game industry has many examples of gaming companies completely misreading the market. Time will tell in this case.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
It seems staggeringly unlikely to me that professional game designers who specialise in d20 products did not even look at the current version of Dungeons and Dragons.
Sure, but let's not discuss this in terms of generics, since that doesn't lead anywhere.

Please have a look at PF2 and tell me if you can find a single element that hints at Paizo understanding and learning from what made 5E great. I'm sure there is one, I just haven't found it yet.
 

amethal

Explorer
Sure, but let's not discuss this in terms of generics, since that doesn't lead anywhere.
Ok, let's be less generic.

It seems to me to be staggeringly unlikely that Paizo staff did not even look at the current version of Dungeons and Dragons.

Please have a look at PF2 and tell me if you can find a single element that hints at Paizo understanding and learning from what made 5E great. I'm sure there is one, I just haven't found it yet.
Why on earth would I want to do that? I'm perfectly happy to take your word for it.
 
Paizo is reacting to the vocal group of players who thinks 5e is too simple and want (at least the illusion of) customization and depth. They also want to fix the inherent flaws of 3e that have plagued the game, such as magic item math and attack/save scaling. If you want to fix the inherent math problems but also keep the game with multiple choice points per level, you end up with something similar to 4e. Paizo us hoping that avoiding ADEU and including vancian magic is enough to thread the needle.
 

Arilyn

Hero
Perhaps not. I am just suggesting that perhaps not everyone enjoyed 5e. I didn't. Maybe Paizo's designers didn't either.
Actually they do like 5e, and have played it at their office. Paizo staff play a variety of games during their breaks including Call of Cthulhu and Shadow ofthe Demon Lord.

In total agreement with you, however. Paizo doesn't need to do a 5e clone. Even if PF2 fails, redoing a crunchier version of 5e would fail even more. We already have a thriving D&D.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
You do not really even have to play PF2 with Vancian casting if you do not want to, given that the Sorcerer can "do it all" at least sort of, not to mention the Bard, and possibly the Oracle when it is released.
 

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