• Resources are back! Use the menu in the main navbar. If you own a resource, please check it for formatting, icons, etc.

It's Finally Here! The Pathfinder 2E Review

Hello my lovelies and welcome back to the PAIZO NEWS UPDATE! We got a very special update as you might imagine, so without further ado: IT’S HERE! IT’S HERE! IT’S FINALLY HERE! PATHFINDER SECOND EDITION IS HERE! The second edition of the classic tabletop roleplaying game Pathfinder is live and in the wild TODAY! We were fortunate enough to be sent a review copy so we could really sink our teeth in and let you know as soon as it dropped the ins, outs, ups, downs, good, and bad of the new edition. Let’s get started!

9781640781689.jpg

But first, some ground rules. I’ll be initially approaching the review from a two different angles: that of an experienced member of the TTRPG community, and from the viewpoint of someone opening the Core book as their first entry into the hobby. I bring this up because it’s important to consider new players at every stage of our often-arcane pastime.

Secondly, this edition of Pathfinder (PF2E) will at times be compared to its competition: not only the previous edition, but also various editions of other prominent roleplaying games on the market. As much as I have heard that the Golem likes to avoid such comparisons, they are inevitable. Parts of the system were clearly designed as a reaction to (or were inspired by) specific aspects of those other games. Now, on to the review!

PART ONE: DIVING IN

Clocking in at 640 pages, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook is a hefty tome that’s less wide than the D&D PHB and DMG by the thickness of a single cover panel – and that’s including the sandwich of two cover panels separating the D&D books! Wayne Reynolds is back with his very distinct art style, and as far as I can tell the first and only time the words “second edition” appear in the entire book is squeezed up in a corner. But enough judging a book by its cover, let’s get to the meaty goodness!

The table of contents is given a two-page spread to introduce each section and provide a description of what’s in store. The clear, understandable writing sets the tone for what’s to come in the introductory chapter. I can't emphasize how important it is to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS IN ORDER. This advice applies to any TTRPG, but it's even more important for PF2E. There are enough changes from the first edition (PF1E) that even seasoned vets will quickly get lost without a careful read-through.

You should also read the introductory chapter because it’s a great introduction to roleplaying games in general. It’s everything you’ve ever tried to describe about our favorite hobby condensed into an easy-to-digest single page. It's the culmination of all the wisdom our hobby has fumbled its way into since the dawn of TTRPGs. PF2E is also quick and efficient in laying out fundamental concepts and expands on them in a very natural way. Resist the temptation to jump ahead! The answer is often in the next paragraph or on the next page. That said, it feels like the introduction pushes the limits of frontloading information to new players. It’s necessary, but it could easily take an entire evening (or two!) for new players to transition from reading the book to playing the game.

This issue with design overload is on full display in PF2E's character sheets: There are four pages for each sheet! Most players are unlikely to use the third page (because what Pathfinder player cares about taking notes or characterization beyond Chaotic Neutral? Ha!), but even some martial characters are going to need the fourth (spellcasting) page due to the way that their extraordinary abilities are handled like spells. The first page is dense, but once you get a handle on the core systems it starts to make sense. I was raised on D&D 3.5, so I’m used to a character sheet cluttered with many small boxes for skills and weapon attacks and armor class and what have you, but new players will almost certainly feel overwhelmed.

Also, there is an entire PAGE dedicated to feats. Did some forever-mage on the design team get salty about how many feats the fighters got? If the character sheets were a new player's exposure to the game, I think it would turn them off to PF2E -- four pages to D&D 5E's two! I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the two-sheet game would win – especially since there’s a lot less math involved. There are pared-down versions on the Internet. Use those, or make your own.

2E-Adventure.jpg

PART TWO: AND NOW, SOME RULES

Speaking of comparisons to other systems: PF2E uses a brand new mechanic called proficiency. It does all the heavy lifting that BAB, skill points, and save bonuses used to, and it’s got discrete tiers that increase with level! Don’t worry, though, this isn’t your D&Dad’s proficiency: this proficiency goes up to 8, not 6, AND you add your level to it.

You’ll also notice that there are now melee and ranged Strikes. This is your primary attack; PF2E just renamed it for ease of general reference. Of course, general-reference attack actions in a special box with a special symbol do make me think of D&D 4E, which is a good thing: D&D 4E was very efficient as a game engine at the combat level. Once you get into that mindset, the change bodes well for the PF2E system as a whole – it's streamlined, which makes it easier to reference and interchange abilities.

Another change is the explicit division of gameplay between encounters (fights measured in initiative and rounds), exploration (measured in minutes or hours), and downtime (measured in days to years). There’s definitely more support in this book for encounters, but I like that the division is made clear there and that certain things are described as too tiring to maintain during exploration or downtime (like casting most spells, for instance). This mechanic, like a few others in this book, makes me wonder how much it will see of actual play, but that’s just one of those modular things about TTRPGs that make them good for any table.

The introduction covers a general run-through of character generation, which is very well done. As a D&D 3.X fan, I’m not fond of the “ability boost” system for chargen, but the breadth of free boosts does quell my concerns about only being able to make a given character type in one singular mold. There’s enough variety that you should easily be able to make an atypical member of your ancestry or class.

PART THREE: ANCESTRIES AND BACKGROUNDS

First, the bad news: PF1E players who were accustomed to bundling racial traits together will have to make some tough choices. You want your dwarf to have stonecunning? They can’t have battle training versus giants. You want your elf to have resistance to magical sleep effects? Then they aren't getting free proficiency with longbows.

The upside to all this is there’s a much greater level of customizability available to each character. D&D 5E fans will recognize three-to-four flavors for each ancestry (spoilers: that shows up in classes too), and I really like the idea of continuing to gain greater ancestral boons (in the form of more feats) as you level up. This means your dwarf will get dwarfier as they do dwarf things until they are the dwarfiest dwarf. Full disclosure: I was experimenting with a similar system for a homebrew PF1E setting a while ago and it’s gratifying to see that I was in good company!

Other thoughts: hello goblins, you will be my exclusive choice of ancestry from now on! Halflings can now heal more if they eat a snack while being healed, which is just incredibly on-brand for them. Also, they can pick up an anti-grapple ability which looks like it’s going to cause SO much frustration for DMs down the line. Backgrounds granting skill proficiencies will once again be familiar to D&D 5E converts and -- as with everything in PF2E -- come with yet more feats.

Hats off to the designers for the care taken in making the new system inclusive: not only is there deliberate support of the gender spectrum (including lack thereof) and choice of pronouns, but the Languages section dedicates space to accommodating deaf or hearing-impaired characters. Gold star!

2E-Core.jpg

PART FOUR: CLASSES

There’s a lot going on with classes, as you might expect from Pathfinder, but once you read the introductory section in this chapter and take your time through a few of the classes, you’ll start to see some commonalities.

This is where that proficiency modifier comes out to play, and it's applied to everything. Heck, it’s even applied to AC! That said, not every class increases their proficiency bonus to AC at the same rate or to the same level, so you’re still going to end up with squishier wizards and tanky fighters. Proficiency is also applied (unevenly) to Perception, which is part of every class’ features. I guess I’m not allowed to play witless inattentive idiots anymore. To be fair, Perception also functions as your initiative modifier, which is one less number to worry about.

There’s no such thing as “rolling for hit points” any more; everyone just gets a flat number. PF1E fans will recognize this number as the max HP from the class’ old hit die...but I liked the ability to lose hit points when leveling! I miss my 1d4 Hit Dice wizards!

You’ll also discover that each class features a number of different subclasses. Similar to D&D 5e, each of these subclasses has a different name. I would have preferred if PF2E stuck with the umbrella term "subclass." Much of the variety these subclasses provide are in name only: it's PF2E's way of saying “your saves are better now” or “your BAB increased." I predict there will be fan-made charts condensing the advancement benefits that do away with the fancy subclass names.

The overriding theme here is that everything is balanced. It might shake out differently in actual play, but this looks like a fairly well-balanced system to me. It reminds me a lot of D&D 4E, which is another mark in its favor -- D&D 4E was was a superb tactical combat machine.

On to the classes! First up is Alchemist, which took some hits in dividing up mutagen focus and bomb focus along subclass lines. That’s not to say that you can’t get mutagens and bombs with the other focus, however: the subclass just gives you extra “spell slots” (they’re called formula, but they’re basically spell slots) for your preferred alchemy. Speaking of that semantic division: the magic section makes a big deal out of the four flavors of magic (divine, arcane, occult, and primal for clerics, wizards, bards, and druids respectively), but alchemists and their formulae constitute yet another flavour. Bombs got downgraded a lot, but I’d say level-scaling versions of thunderstones and acid flasks make up for it. As with most classes with a magical bent, alchemists also get a baked-in version of metamagic as part of their customization options.

Barbarians' subclass divisions (“instincts”) come with fun little roleplay opportunities in the form of anathemas. Basically, if you behave in a certain way (generally not being too aggressive), you lose your subclass benefits until you spend a full day of downtime (?!). Which is…neat, from a roleplaying sense, but could be more of a pain than it’s worth, especially since one of the anathemas is “ignoring an insult." Guess which class is going to cause a lot of headaches in the party? Barbarians also give me an opportunity to gripe about something in 2E I've never been a fan of: Attacks of opportunities are now OPTIONAL FEATS! Whatever.

Bards get the ability to hide spells as part of a performance! They could do that in PF1E, or at least cast them as part of a performance, but hiding spells is new and s definitely something that has been houseruled a LOT. They’re also now “occult” magic users (one of the four flavors, or "traditions"), also known as “knowing a bunch of random mostly useless trivia” magic. Just one more reason I’m a bard, I guess.

Clerics continue to be able to vomit forth healing if they really put their minds to it, and now it should even look cool when they do it. The new-kid-on-the-block version of healing spells/channel energy takes more time to cast to get bigger effects. Necromancy also took a brutal downgrade and clerics are where it’s first mentioned: you can have at max four pets, and you have to spend one of your three actions for them to do anything. More on that in a moment.

You wanted paladins? You got champions! Paladins are one of the champion's three subclasses, or “causes”; you can further distinguish your champion by taking a different divine ally (blade and mount return from PF1E and shield keys off the new mechanics in PF2E) and a different oath (dragonslayer, fiendsbane, and shining). Oaths give you benefits based on your cause and let you ignore the authority of a specific kind of evil being. Neat! That means you can break the law in an undead-ruled city and not lose your subclass benefits.

By the time I got to the druid section, I was starting to see a pattern in how the classes have changed. Most spellcasters get the option to either a) get an additional 10th-level spell slot, b) do something ridiculous, or c) do something also ridiculous. Druids can choose between a) that sweet 10th level slot or b) be able to cast a 5th-level spell for free once a minute, or c) TURN INTO A GIANT MONSTER. Given Pathfinder’s history with polymorph effects, this sounds a lot cooler than it is.

Fighters! My very early fears of fighters being melee-only were quelled because fighters can choose to waste their time with a weapon style that doesn’t add their primary stat to damage, like archery. Also, raising a shield now takes one of your three actions! This rule was in the playtest and I didn’t like it, and it’s in the game now and I still don’t like it. We'll come back to action economy in a bit. Fighters also show the disparity in capstones: permanently getting an extra action every turn or an extra reaction on every enemy turn just doesn't seem as awesome as druids turning into giant kaiju!

Monks feel a lot more like their PF1E counterparts because their subclass choice comes from the various stances they can take . Fans of flurry of blows will be disappointed, as that’s a once-a-turn thing and it only gets you one additional punch. Monks are also casualties of the “what was bundled is now optional” as Deflect Missiles and Wholeness of Body are now mutually exclusive, to name just one example.

What’s with new editions of TTRPGs and being mean to rangers? PF2E Rangers aren’t bad, but they've got similar issues to their brothers and sisters in D&D 5E. A solid amount of your class features can go into an animal companion (we all know how quickly you lose them), and the capstones are as disparate as “ignore difficult terrain and triggering traps” or “track your prey across planes." I’m being harsh on rangers, but when a class’s choices include “lean into multi-attack penalties that don’t get much better”, “lean into the less-damaging archery style”, or “get a companion that will always be weaker than you AND take some of your action economy”, silver linings are harder to come by.

Rogues are now the big kids on the block, because in addition to getting SO MANY skills, they also get SO MANY FEATS. Their sneak attack now maxes out at 4d6 precision damage. All that said, they’re the only way to get Dexterity modifiers to damage on finesse weapons, which is way cooler than either of the other two subclasses. There’s also frustratingly little support for the subclass that’s supposed to be all about fast-talking and silver tongues; most of their feats are geared towards damage or sneaking. It seems like a lost opportunity to make a character shine during an atypical gameplay moment like exploration or downtime.

Sorcerers have always been the blaster magic class and in this edition that means instead of three spell slots at every level they get four. They’re also the first class to get counterspelling, which is both easier to understand than PF1E but no less difficult to do: counterspelling requires you to at least know the spell being cast and is also restricted by traditions of magic.

Finally, wizards. They also get counterspelling, but they have to use the specific spell being cast(?!). Only with a feat investment can their counterspelling be more general. At that point, why bother? Their Bonded item also lets them keep up with sorcerers in a small way by getting another casting of a prepared spell. Speaking of wizards, concentration normally takes one of your three actions to maintain unless you drop some high-level feat on it. Wizards can also pick up a version of concealing their spellcasting, which I think is just neat.

testbanner2.jpg

PART FIVE: SKILLS AND FEATS

Boy have they made skills easier to handle! Not only are there fewer skills, but their increases happen less granularly and general DCs are more static. Two developments that I think are great: some skill checks require a certain level of proficiency, so that someone who hasn’t invested any training in Arcana couldn’t randomly roll better than a down-on-his-luck wizard. Also, some checks are secretly rolled by default, like Perception. This avoids the common player problem when one person rolls poorly and the whole group sees that and every other player "decides to roll Perception" for no in-character reason!

Advancement seems a bit off. It’s possible for a character to start out with a third of the five skill proficiency tiers (untrained/trained/expert/master/legendary), which means there isn’t much advancement after that. To accommodate, the “expert” tasks can seem fairly mundane, and the “legendary” tasks are, well, legendary. For example, the sample “expert” Survival check to avoid being lost is “successfully navigate a hedge maze”; while the sample “legendary” check for the same skill is “navigate an ever-changing dream realm." And the single intermediary step in-between is “not get lost in a featureless desert”! You’re restricted from hitting “legendary” until the mid-teens in level, but that could end up meaning a lot of adventuring without much progression.

PF2E has also done away with opposed checks. Characters and creatures use a DC equal to 10 plus whatever bonus they have to the applicable save or skill. For example, instead of rolling Stealth versus Perception, you simply roll Stealth versus the target’s Perception DC. Instead of rolling Intimidation versus a DC, you just roll Intimidation versus the target’s Will DC. Clean and simple – and another great idea inspired by D&D 4E.

On to feats! THERE ARE SO MANY FEATS. After the initial shock of seeing three whole pages of feat tables, you’ll see it’s helpfully broken down by skill. It would have been nice if the tables had also included a page number with each entry. Also, be sure you to read the heading at the start of the feat chapter, as it can be a bit confusing trying to figure out which feats you can take.

PART SIX: EQUIPMENT

In theory, the Pathfinder system uses the silver piece (SP) standard, but most of the currency values are in gold pieces (GP), even your starting currency. It also lists starting currency in SP if you want to reinforce the SP economy. I get the distinct sense that the silver standard won’t last very long in actual play.

Some of the GP scaling you may be accustomed to has changed. A set of full plate is only 30 GP! Even spyglasses, notorious wastes of money, have been brought down a peg or two: the best version in the Core book is only 80 GP. In general, a zero has been sanded off PF2E's equipment costs, which is fine with me.

My least-favorite part of PF2E's new systems is bulk. I understand the concept in theory: some things are more than just their physical weight to lug around. I didn’t like it in Starfinder, I didn’t like it in the Playtest, and I don’t like it now because it punishes martial characters. A set of armor, a shield, and a sword will take up to half of your encumbrance capacity. Even assuming a max-strength starting character, getting fully kitted out takes a quarter of your carry space. On top of that, the base Bulk values for armor and weapons are for when they’re being WIELDED; CARRYING the things increases their bulk. I’m sure this was probably true when flat-carry weight was the norm, but also: who was actually tracking carry weight of worn armor?

I was shocked to discover that greatswords use a D12 for damage now! The tactical decision between great big dice or consistent dice is gone! This also means that, with the new rules on dice size increase, big weapon fighters get the short end of the stick.

I’m also predicting that new players from D&D 5E are going to be rather turned off when they see that finesse and ranged weapons don’t add Dexterity modifiers to damage. Maybe it makes the whole fighting style overpowered, but it will definitely come as a shock.

Weapons also have a range of special qualities and critical hit effects. If you're part of the old school polearm crowd or like to spend time in a wiki deep dive on medieval weaponry, I suppose this is appealing. Personally, I think it’s too much. The tactical options are nice, so the net result for weapons is a mixed bag.

This is a fairly minor point, but if a rulebook is going to have half of a page in the armor section dedicated to an illustration, shouldn’t the illustration be of the armors the page is describing? Kyra’s isn’t very illustrative of armor other than studded leather drowned in robes. I wouldn’t know Kyra’s name unless I googled it! I miss the days when illustrations came with their own snippet of flavor text that related the image to what it illustrated on that page, and gave personality to the characters it described.

PF2Ec.jpg

PART SEVEN: SPELLS

Spellcasting is always the thorniest part of any fantasy RPG and part of that boils down to how well they function in the crucible of at-home play. A good part of the complexity of spellcasting in PF2E is what I call “keyword soup." Keyword soup is the menu of keywords found at the top of most stat blocks in PF2E and it just gets tiring after the first few iterations. Spells, weapons, character abilities, feats… keyword soup is useful from a design perspective, but it’s intimidating to new players.

One of the issues that plagues D&D 5E is that casting spells at a higher level than their base level doesn't make for a significant difference in the spell's effect. From a few of the calculations I’ve done with some of the damaging spells in PF2E, this isn’t an issue for PF2E casters!

Focus Spells are only available through certain class features and their spell slots can only be recharged by spending 10 minutes to meditate. They allow access to some of the more iconic class abilities like bardic inspiration and monk ki abilities. Thankfully, these spells are given their own section of the spellcasting chapter; it would be a nightmare to try to find them intermixed in the general spell listings.

Ritual spells take at least an hour to cast and have other, more specialized requirements, but they do not require a creature to have spellcasting abilities to use. I like the idea of a bunch of idiot cultists trying a ritual they have no business attempting, but unfortunately rituals also have a minimum level for the ritual leader. Fortunately, it's a rule that's easy enough to ignore.

My final point about spells is an issue with components. Some number of spells require material components, but there’s nothing to say what the components are or how to get them -- other than a blanket statement that all components are generally in a spell component pouch. I don’t have a problem with handwaving away the mechanical limitations of components; D&D 5E did away with enforcing that restriction largely because it’s been ignored pretty much since it was invented. But if that's the case, why include material components at all? There's humor in D&D 5E's material components involving a small custard pie and a duck feather; but if they're not even listed, material components are just another bone in your keyword soup.

testbanner.jpg

PART EIGHT: SETTING

I don't have a lot to say about this chapter, as veteran players will already know more than is provided here. While this chapter gets new players excited to play in fantastical regions, the looming specter of a flood of supplement books sours any enjoyment I might find in wanting to know more. With the hindsight of my experience with PF1E, each subheading seems like a promise of a twenty- to forty-page supplement. To get a complete picture of Golarion, we'll need to buy them all!

PART NINE: PLAYING THE GAME

I previously mentioned the three-action economy and it looms large here. It’s an interesting design choice that allows for a little more flexibility in terms of arranging what you want to do on your turn when. That said, I can’t imagine that it’ll feel much different in practice. Consider that shields take an action to raise, the multi-attack penalty discourages more than one or two Strikes per turn until higher levels, and characters need to move to engage their targets. Most spells still take two actions to cast, which translates to the PF1E equivalent of a move, minor, and standard action.

It looks like the XP system got a complete overhaul: now each level takes a fixed 1,000 XP to reach, with monsters and challenges providing a variable amount of XP based on their relative level to the adventuring party. I like this! It makes encounter budgeting a lot easier on the DM’s side. Having relative challenge XP should also make social or exploration challenges easier to reward players , as you can just base the XP award off a DC appropriate for whatever level you want.

I’m amused that there’s a half-page sidebar that says in a very polite way “shut up and listen to your DM” and “quit being a RAW munchkin."

This section of the book also demonstrates PF2E's inspiration from other sources. Persistent damage (damage taken at the end of the turn, then an unmodified roll is used to see if the damage stops) seems a lot like ongoing damage from D&D 4E; and the fortune and misfortune effects (rolling two d20s and taking the better/worse result) were definitely inspired by advantage and disadvantage from D&D 5E. I don’t imagine these effects will come up that often, but I appreciate the designers incorporating useful mechanics from other systems.

The "donut" of threatened areas with reach from PF1E is gone, thank goodness. Falling distance is roughly consistent with my back-of-the-envelope math, and damage is just a flat number based on distance fallen – maxing out at 750 damage! Eat it, high-level barbarians! On the flip side, if Bleed damage is a special kind of Physical damage, why wouldn’t it be under the Physical section of the damage type sidebar instead of in an entirely new column after energy, alignment, mental, and poison damage?

Also, a couple little treats for DMs as we finish out the Core Ruleboook: in case of ties, MONSTERS GO FIRST IN INITIATIVE! Also, hazard damages (read, blizzards and avalanches and forest fires and lava and the like) have been standardized for ease of reference. Phew!

2E-Besstiary.jpg

PART TEN: THE BESTIARY

We’re moving on to the second part of this review – that’s right, the Core Rulebook and the Bestiary get reviewed as a pair! Take a stretch break, get some water, relax your shoulders and unclench your jaw. We’re in the home stretch!

If you read through the Core Rulebook in a single sitting then the Bestiary won’t be much of an issue. A lot of the material in the Bestiary builds off the patterns set up in the core rulebook in terms of stat blocks and keyword soup, and just in case there’s a wonderful introductory section to refresh you.

What stands out most to me is how much Paizo wants to remind us that these creatures are NOT D&D monsters. You can feel this design choice in everything from the descriptions to the abilities to the relative power of monsters. It’s particularly pronounced with monster names, where a relatively iconic monster will have a new PF2E-specific name as its primary descriptor – and then in the first line of its flavor text, the name of the monster from D&D. I assume this is so older nerds like myself will know how to connect the new monster with the old one, but it feels unnecessary. Stick to your guns, Paizo!

You also see a bit of one-upmanship here and there. You thought D&D aboleths were nasty? Well they’re in Pathfinder too and they’re CHUMPS compared to the SUPER ABOLETHS who have a way cooler name like VEILED MASTERS! You thought liches were way powerful? They’re only level 12! You know what’s super powerful and scary? The only demon lord statted up in the entire book after ten pages were spent talking about how cool demons and demon lords were!

Speaking of demons, the only two demons with non-monstrous appearances are both illustrated as female-presenting, and are representative of the sins of Lust and Pride. Yes, the descriptions of both creatures say that gender is fluid and arbitrary for said demons; and yes, they’re both clothed very tastefully; but that’s still a misstep in this day and age. Heck, D&D 5E isn’t perfect in this regard, but it at least depicts both male and female versions of succubi on equal footing and with equal appeal. In a similar vein, the page on orcish culture does nothing to diminish their role as sometimes problematic stereotypes.

Paizo’s obsession with full-page layouts short-changes some of the monsters in the Bestiary, most notably the Nightmare. The poor critter gets only a single sentence description before it’s right into the statblock and the next stat block.

There are a few entries in the Bestiary that are practically SCREAMING for a supplement to come along and make them a playable ancestry – especially since goblins are now part of the core squad. I wouldn't be surprised if catfolk (who are definitely not D&D 5E's tabaxi) were a playable ancestry in the future, with orcs not far behind. That may explain why ogres are more muscled and clean in illustration – they might end up as playable ancestries, so PF2E avoids portrayting them as sweaty slobs.

As a final delightful little nugget tucked away towards the back of the Bestiary, the developers included a sidebar that makes it clear sharks rarely harm humans and that their danger is far overblown by survivors’ tales – good on you again, Paizo! Another gold star!

CONCLUSION

As much as I have already written about the Core Rulebook and the Bestiary for PF2E, there’s still plenty that’s fallen to the editorial red pen – so go check it out for yourself! A lot of care was put into the introductory section to make sure you land on your feet when you jump into PF2E and Paizo has clearly learned from the best – including PF1E! – when it came to balancing the new system. There are a few issues here and there, but overall it looks like an excellent new addition to the TTRPG pantheon and a great way to kickstart an obsession with our favorite pastime.

This article was contributed by Ben Reece (LongGoneWriter) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Ben Reece

Comments

Haven't played, but read through the rulebook. It does remind me of 4th edition, which I personally enjoyed for the first five levels of play. Played during GenCon last year with their playtest edition, but as you know, a one shot is very different than playing a campaign or even than playing with a familiar GM. Overall, I am impressed with a lot of it (ancestries, backgrounds and gamemastering), but other parts feel half-assed (age of lost omens).
 

mellored

Explorer
I find it to be a lot closer to 5e than 4e.
For instance, classes get a similar 5e mix at-will, short rest (focus) and long rest(daily). Fighters are just at-will for example.
Spells are pretty close to 5e, getting 3 of each level, can cast in higher level slots for extra, and only the DC of lower level spells scaling to keep up with.
The healing is closer to 5e.

It only really 4e in character customization, with a choice between these 3-4 feats each level (though many are just upgrades trees like double shot -> triple shot). And possibly a bit more tactical than 5e with it's 3 actions. Though move+attack+attack works just fine.
 
Does anyone else find the rulebook a little bit disjointed?
Conditions are in a variety of areas, and only in an example (from what I have found), are condition values even explained. And even then they're not stated in any type of uniformity.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Conditions are in a variety of areas, and only in an example (from what I have found), are condition values even explained. And even then they're not stated in any type of uniformity.
The conditions have a whole section of the appendix. It is there you will find the full definitions.
 
The conditions have a whole section of the appendix. It is there you will find the full definitions.
Yes, I know. However, it does not explain what the condition values actually do. It defines condition values in a vague manner. The conditions and effects on page (book not around but it's in the 450 range) does the same. It is only in the examples, does it relay the information. That's what I meant about disjointed.
Don't get me wrong, the book is great. I am enjoying it. Just wish there was a better organizational pattern.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Conditions are in a variety of areas, and only in an example (from what I have found), are condition values even explained. And even then they're not stated in any type of uniformity.
Condition values are one of the things I've struggled with, too. My game grinds to a halt when I see a reference to "Grumpy 3" or what-have-you. I'm sure that will go away with experience though.

The values are explained in the conditions themselves (not many have them). Dying is an obvious example -- look at Dying, and it explains what the values from 1-4 are.

Usually it's just -1 per value to checks.

Encumbered refers to "Clumsy 1" but there's no Clumsy condition.

(Clumsy?), Doomed, Dying, Frightened, Sickened, Stunned, Stupefied, Wounded.
 
Last edited:

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Condition values are one of the things I've struggled with, too. My game grinds to a halt when I see a reference to "Grumpy 3" or what-have-you. I'm sure that will go away with experience though.

The values are explained in the conditions themselves (not many have them). Dying is an obvious example -- look at Dying, and it explains what the values from 1-4 are.

Usually it's just -1 per value to checks.

Encumbered refers to "Clumsy 1" but there's no Clumsy condition.

(Clumsy?), Doomed, Dying, Frightened, Sickened, Stunned, Stupefied, Wounded.
Clumsy is listed both on the summary of Conditions on p.454 and in detail in the appendix on p. 618.

Core Rulebook said:
Clumsy

Your movements become clumsy and inexact. Clumsy always includes a value. You take a status penalty equal to the condition value to Dexterity-based checks and DCs, including AC, Reflex saves, ranged attack rolls, and skill checks using Acrobatics, Stealth, and Thievery.
The following Conditions have values:
  • Clumsy
  • Doomed
  • Drained
  • Dying
  • Enfeebled
  • Frightened
  • Sickened
  • Slowed
  • Stunned
  • Wounded

Conditions that have a value indicate what that value does. The appendix explains things nicely, but I would have rather seen that information in Playing The Game.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Yes, I know. However, it does not explain what the condition values actually do. It defines condition values in a vague manner. The conditions and effects on page (book not around but it's in the 450 range) does the same. It is only in the examples, does it relay the information. That's what I meant about disjointed.
Don't get me wrong, the book is great. I am enjoying it. Just wish there was a better organizational pattern.
Guess I will have to read it again because I don't understand your complaint. Carry on, as you were, etc
 

GrahamWills

Explorer
Haven't played, but read through the rulebook. It does remind me of 4th edition
Readers of the thread please note: The vast majority (all?) of the comments saying that PF2 is like 4E are by people who have not played PF2. Those of us who have can confirm it feels nothing like it. I'm a 4E fan (1000+ hours of play, current character just hitting epic) and I'll be playing PF2 specifically because it plays so differently from 4E.

I honestly can't think of anything that is like 4E. The combat in particular is completely different -- PF2 is more fluid and simple; no worrying about AoEs; no need to do much coordination or planning with team members; iterative attacks which are missing in 4E; no-where near the variety of 4E's attack powers or condition-creating. Plus fewer and way simpler react actions, so no 4E style interrupt/react chains.

And honestly, 4e is pretty much all about the combat -- so if THAT is completely different, it's not going to feel the same to you!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Readers of the thread please note: The vast majority (all?) of the comments saying that PF2 is like 4E are by people who have not played PF2. Those of us who have can confirm it feels nothing like it. I'm a 4E fan (1000+ hours of play, current character just hitting epic) and I'll be playing PF2 specifically because it plays so differently from 4E.

I honestly can't think of anything that is like 4E. The combat in particular is completely different -- PF2 is more fluid and simple; no worrying about AoEs; no need to do much coordination or planning with team members; iterative attacks which are missing in 4E; no-where near the variety of 4E's attack powers or condition-creating. Plus fewer and way simpler react actions, so no 4E style interrupt/react chains.

And honestly, 4e is pretty much all about the combat -- so if THAT is completely different, it's not going to feel the same to you!
If anything is influenced by 4E it’s the monster design.
 

MonsterEnvy

Explorer
Though the monsters are still pretty complicated in a lot of places and do the annoying thing of referring you to other monster statblocks for some abilities they have. Guess they did not want to repeat stuff too much?
 
Readers of the thread please note: The vast majority (all?) of the comments saying that PF2 is like 4E are by people who have not played PF2. Those of us who have can confirm it feels nothing like it. I'm a 4E fan (1000+ hours of play, current character just hitting epic) and I'll be playing PF2 specifically because it plays so differently from 4E.

I honestly can't think of anything that is like 4E. The combat in particular is completely different -- PF2 is more fluid and simple; no worrying about AoEs; no need to do much coordination or planning with team members; iterative attacks which are missing in 4E; no-where near the variety of 4E's attack powers or condition-creating. Plus fewer and way simpler react actions, so no 4E style interrupt/react chains.

And honestly, 4e is pretty much all about the combat -- so if THAT is completely different, it's not going to feel the same to you!
I re-read the core book again (still haven't played). I also have many many hours of playing 4e (all fun until high levels). You are correct, I am skewed because I have not played. But, I can say that I understand the rule system pretty well and can get a feel for its playstyle. That said, there is no proof it will play like 4e.

That said, I can say maybe its the graphical layout of the book. The block text and design remind me very much of 4e. Perhaps that's what is swaying me. But, GrahamWills is correct, I have not played and do not know that it will play like 4e. Too much of an assumption on my part. I apologize (and can't wait to play).
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Speak for yourself on that one. Oh wait, you claimed to be speaking for everyone...
When you look at the game critically and look beyond its design language you will find a fundamentally different sort of game. For one thing this a game with a well developed system for exploration that gives substantial treatment to noncombat and skill use. For another thing it is deeply concerned with strategic play of sort featured in Moldvay. The combat model is almost the opposite of Forth Edition's combat model. It is fast and furious. Both creatures and player characters do a lot of damage and can go down easily. Monsters have plenty of immunities, weaknesses, and resistances.

There are features of the design that come from Fourth Edition, but the same is true of Fifth Edition. Some of the features of Fourth Edition that it lacks but Fifth Edition retains are why I am so excited about it. There are no abstract martial resources, nothing like hit dice, no short rests or long rests, and they clearly explain what is going in the fiction. Monsters do not have extremely bloated hit points. No abilities like Second Wind or Bardic Inspiration that have limitations not built into the fiction of the game.

It does feature clear templating and precise design language. It does feature extremely tight math, tighter than either Fourth or Fifth Edition. It does feature monsters with unique abilities, but they are designed for both combat and noncombat purposes.

I am not saying people who look at the game and see similarities to Fourth Edition are crazy, but there are substantial differences just like there are substantial differences between Fourth Edition and Fifth Edition despite sharing some design technology. The game also shares much with Moldvay in its focus, exploration rules, use of time as a resource, and how monsters are put together to be like individual puzzles. It also has elements that remind me of Apocalypse World in the way it focuses on risks even in spell casting and lays out results on spectrum of Critical Success, Success, Failure, and Critical Failure.

Superficial analysis does not give a clear picture of the game. There are some similarities, but there are also dramatic differences.
 

Mistwell

Hero
When you look at the game critically and look beyond its design language you will find a fundamentally different sort of game.
I think you did not understand my post...which had zero to do with PF2.

I was saying speak for yourself concerning 4e being only about combat.

I will comment on one similarity I am starting to notice...PF2 fans seem about as die-hard and defensive as 4e fans did to the point they will post paragraph after paragraph of heartfelt defense at the mere hint of a whiff of a possible critique ;) I am saying that with a smile, as someone who was one of those die-hard and defensive 4e fans.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I think you did not understand my post...which had zero to do with PF2.

I was saying speak for yourself concerning 4e being only about combat.
Never mind then. My own experience included many games where we engaged the skill challenge and ritual systems far more than the combat system. These days I prefer less abstract systems, but there was definitely significant support for noncombat challenges.

I apologize for taking you the wrong way.
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Top