Know Direction 218 – GMing Pathfinder 2e with Stephen Glicker

Philip Benz

Explorer
This latest KD podcast is quite interesting, for a number of reasons, and resonates with some recent discussions here on this board. They talk about Paizo's new critical hit and fumble decks, but keep coming back to this comment from Stephen Glicker from Roll for Combat.
Stephen Glicker said:
"It's a very swingy system, for better or for worse [...] whenever we play, Lauren said it best, it's that she's always nervous. Which is very different from any system I've ever played. It's like she's always on the edge of her seat."
I've noticed this too, with my players. It's not that they weren't engaged before, with PF1, but with so many more chances for extreme critical results (both failures and successes), it feels like there is a lot more variety, a lot more surprises, a lot more unexpected things happening at the gaming table. Which I feel is a good thing, but not everyone may agree.
 
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JeffB

Hero
This latest KD podcast is quite interesting, for a number of reasons, and resonates with some recent discussions here on this board. They talk about Paizo's new critical hit and fumble decks, but keep coming back to this comment from Stephen Glicker from Roll for Combat.


I've noticed this too, with my players. It's not that they weren't engaged before, with PF1, but with so many more chances for extreme critical results (both failures and successes), it feels like there is a lot more variety, a lot more surprises, a lot more unexpected things happening at the gaming table. Which I feel is a good thing, but not everyone may agree.
I agree this is all a good thing. This is why at the end of the day I prefer systems like DW, or FFG SW where rolling dice is not likely to be a simple pass/fail result.
 

dave2008

Legend
This latest KD podcast is quite interesting, for a number of reasons, and resonates with some recent discussions here on this board. They talk about Paizo's new critical hit and fumble decks, but keep coming back to this comment from Stephen Glicker from Roll for Combat.


I've noticed this too, with my players. It's not that they weren't engaged before, with PF1, but with so many more chances for extreme critical results (both failures and successes), it feels like there is a lot more variety, a lot more surprises, a lot more unexpected things happening at the gaming table. Which I feel is a good thing, but not everyone may agree.
Glad to see another PF2e thread - thank you for sharing! I am interested in this "feature" of PF. However, I'm down to one group and I don't think they would go for that amount of deadly (I tried something similar for one session and we had to go back to our standard rules ASAP). I am interested to play it myself though. Maybe after things calm down a bit I will try to find a group again.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I don't think they would go for that amount of deadly
I don't have to tell you this Dave, but nothing stops the GM from pulling her punches. Drop one Orc from the encounter; replace the level 1 Orc Warriors with level 0 Orc Brutes, that sort of thing. Start the heroes at level 2 instead of level 1... maybe let them find generous amounts of Elixirs of Life.

I am not trying to deny the swinginess or the deadliness. I am trying to say that it's a shame if the only thing stopping a group from trying the game is "it's too deadly"...
 

dave2008

Legend
I don't have to tell you this Dave, but nothing stops the GM from pulling her punches. Drop one Orc from the encounter; replace the level 1 Orc Warriors with level 0 Orc Brutes, that sort of thing. Start the heroes at level 2 instead of level 1... maybe let them find generous amounts of Elixirs of Life.

I am not trying to deny the swinginess or the deadliness. I am trying to say that it's a shame if the only thing stopping a group from trying the game is "it's too deadly"...
No, that is not what I meant. I made my 5e game deadly and they didn't go for it. I haven't been able to convince them to try PF2e yet.

EDIT: I am sure I would have had a better chance with my other group, but they have mostly left for University (my elder son and his friends), and I think it is basically dead:( My remaining group has been playing a version of D&D together since the 80's and we skipped 3e completely. They are a lot harder to get to change.
 
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Philip Benz

Explorer
I don't have to tell you this Dave, but nothing stops the GM from pulling her punches.
I do this all the time. Have a monster spend an action (or two) to roar or gloat. Have an NPC adversary decide to push or trip a PC rather than hit her with a weapon. Have a critter get confused and move to a suboptimal position. Have a critter stop to feed rather than pursue attacks.

I don't "fudge" DM dice (especially since I usually roll in the open) but I do make choices for NPC and monster actions that are flavorful without being optimally deadly.

There's also nothing wrong with having a given monster hesitate, show fear or try to run away, for whatever reason.

This said, the "swingy" nature of d20-based combat, enhanced by the PF2 system of four levels of success, is a feature, not a bug. How boring would it be if every battle were a simple slugfest, combattants just moving forward and strike, strike, strike. There are so many other options and conditions and effects.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
This said, the "swingy" nature of d20-based combat, enhanced by the PF2 system of four levels of success, is a feature, not a bug. How boring would it be if every battle were a simple slugfest, combattants just moving forward and strike, strike, strike. There are so many other options and conditions and effects.
I agree about "feature not bug" but I wouldn't dismiss 5E (or 3E, or AD&D) as "a simple slugfest, combattants just moving forward and strike, strike, strike". 5E wasn't as exciting, no, but the simplicity is what attracts. My objections to 5E were never "simple slugfest" - more like monsters devs afraid to challenge players...
 

Philip Benz

Explorer
I don't mean to "dismiss" any game, be it DD5, PF1, DD3.5 or any other game system. I'm sure that whatever the game system, clever players and a clever DM can make it exciting, varied and fulfilling (as I've said before). However I do appreciate the varied results that the PF2 system of four levels of success give us.

If the "swingy" nature of PF2 combats makes players think twice before charging into the thick of things, that's good. They can give a thought to their own mortality and still be "heroic".

In my games, I'm doing everything I can to encourage players to explore the possibilities of combat maneuvers and wild tactics. One player decided his character was going to run up a straining mooring line to attack the guys on a ship that was trying to leave the dock. He ended up falling, grabbing an edge, dangling from the mooring line, climbing up while hanging under the line, and getting onto the ship before the pirates on board could cut the lines. That was memorable.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
I'm doing a session 0 for Age of Ashes this Sunday. I should give a listen to this podcast. Looking for any information about PF2 to prepare.
 

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