Let's Look At Some Monster Stat Blocks For Pathfinder 2

The Monday update to the Pathfinder 2 development blog took a look at building monsters under the new rules. Today, with the Friday update we're getting a look at a couple of stat blocks. They look at an ogre and a redcap (pictured below).


You can see the details of the two monsters at the Paizo website. The stat blocks do look to be more streamlined than the equivalent in Pathfinder first edition, but what is interesting is the differences between a Pathfinder 2 and Starfinder stat block.


Obviously there is a good chance that there will be changes between this sample, the playtest edition of Pathfinder 2 and the final version of the game. What do people think...too much detail, or not enough?
 

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You said you could run monsters on the fly in whatever edition, except for 4e (or something a long those lines). But that is absolutely possible to do in 4e, that is the point. You can run a 4e monster just like any other edition pretty much.
I meant that I could run monsters accurately from memory, within a point or two on all of their numbers, because all of their abilities are standardized.

You can get the same accuracy on the numbers, by remembering the formulas for each role, but you can't derive their abilities in 4E because they're all unique (or semi-unique, within certain groups). You might be able to improvise a fight with two ogres and four hobgoblins, off the top of your head, but they probably won't act like the ones in the book.
 

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dave2008

Legend
I meant that I could run monsters accurately from memory, within a point or two on all of their numbers, because all of their abilities are standardized.

You can get the same accuracy on the numbers, by remembering the formulas for each role, but you can't derive their abilities in 4E because they're all unique (or semi-unique, within certain groups). You might be able to improvise a fight with two ogres and four hobgoblins, off the top of your head, but they probably won't act like the ones in the book.

Again, that is not my experience. It has been many years now since I ran a 4e game, but I remembering running standard orc, ogres, goblins and their ilk right off the top of my head. I could also easily modify them to be captains or some other type of "elite" without any need to consult books. I am sure that was not your experience, but it was mine, and I think we can leave it at that.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Fourth Edition had a lot going for it. I'm a big fan of the precise language and AEDU. I'm a huge fan of the multi-classing rules. The unique monster rules were, by a wide margin, the weakest part of the system.
I especially liked the precise language. The rest, less so. But I played 4e from beginning to end.
 

mellored

Hero
You know what would be cool? A table for each monster, to give them random equipment/quirks/feats.

i.e.

Oger
(Base Stats)

Quirk, 1d?
1: Dual Club (two weapons)
2: Oger Hook (grab on-hit)
3: Boulder Tosser (+2 to hit with boulders and other thrown weapons)
4: Berserker (-5 AC, +30 HP, +5 damage)
5: Clever (+3 Int, can make a trap out of trees)
???


Dryad
(Base stats)

Quirk: 1d?
1: Oak (+2 AC)
2: Willow (+4 to Ref, +5' reach)
3: Pine (Cold resist 5)
4: Bamboo (Regen 2)
???
 

Schmoe

Adventurer
Maybe it's just because I haven't really played PF1, but I find that statblock incredibly daunting to read. Just based on the statblock, I would need to know and track the following off the top of my head:

* The different qualities of items and their effects (expert, etc)
* The differences between (emotion, fear, mental) keywords for special abilities
* That there are at least 4 levels of the Frightened condition, and the effects of each, and which level a creature has at any given time
* How to parse between a critical failure, failure, success, critical success
* What the "bolstered" condition means, and which conditions a creature is bolstered against for how long
* What the "agile" keyword means for attacks
* What the different levels of "versatile" are and the effects of each
* What the "deadly" keyword means for attacks
* What a conditional bonus is and how it relates to other types of bonuses
* What multiple attack penalties are, how they are calculated, and what the multiple attack penalty is for any given creature for any given attack
* What a Stride action is
* What triggers each creature has for each of their [[R]] (I assume that's a reaction?) actions, and when they apply

Some of that will surely be core to the game and become second nature, but much of it will be situational and probably lead to a lot of cross-referencing books to make sure I'm doing something right or tracking a wide variety of situational effects and modifiers. I suppose I already do some of that in my current favorite game (3.5e), but just looking at it as someone unfamiliar with the terminology and unused to the game, it looks like a huge barrier to entry.
 

Dalamar

Explorer
I meant that I could run monsters accurately from memory, within a point or two on all of their numbers, because all of their abilities are standardized.

You can get the same accuracy on the numbers, by remembering the formulas for each role, but you can't derive their abilities in 4E because they're all unique (or semi-unique, within certain groups). You might be able to improvise a fight with two ogres and four hobgoblins, off the top of your head, but they probably won't act like the ones in the book.
So you could tell me now, without looking them up, what the stats of the ogre in 3.5 (or Pathfinder, if you prefer that) are? Including its Hit Dice and HP, skills, feats, AC and saves?

What about the stats of a satyr, something relatively close to the redcap that was previewed?
 

So you could tell me now, without looking them up, what the stats of the ogre in 3.5 (or Pathfinder, if you prefer that) are? Including its Hit Dice and HP, skills, feats, AC and saves?
Eh, probably. Ogres are supposed to vary within a few points, so if I told you that it had Strength 24 and 36 hit points, then it would be accurate for that particular ogre. Its feats are probably Improved Natural Armor and Weapon Focus. It attacks with a large greataxe at +11 for 3d6+10 damage, because greatclubs are dumb and outfitting an ogre with a greataxe gives a good return-on-investment for most employers.

What about the stats of a satyr, something relatively close to the redcap that was previewed?
I've never encountered or run a satyr before, so I'd be running it as a bard. Knowing how Pathfinder works, it probably does have a bunch of fiddly spell-like abilities, but at least I would know what those were if you told me. If you said that it had magic pipes that could be used to fascinate three times per day, then I'd know what that means because fascinate is a mechanic that players should know.

But honestly, Pathfinder 1E was already halfway guilty of gratuitous complexity in weird monster mechanics. Normal monsters, like orcs and ogres, are still relatively sensible. Any sort of fey or outsider tends toward being weird. The redcap, specifically, I know is almost as bad in 1E as it is in the 2E preview, because I remember seeing it in action and thinking that its abilities made no sense even then.
 

Dalamar

Explorer
Eh, probably. Ogres are supposed to vary within a few points, so if I told you that it had Strength 24 and 36 hit points, then it would be accurate for that particular ogre. Its feats are probably Improved Natural Armor and Weapon Focus. It attacks with a large greataxe at +11 for 3d6+10 damage, because greatclubs are dumb and outfitting an ogre with a greataxe gives a good return-on-investment for most employers.
You've overvalued all the numbers of the ogre by more than two points (3.5: STR 21 -> 24, HP 29 -> 36, Attack bonus +8 -> +11, damage 2d8+7 [average 16] -> 3d6+10 [21,5]). Well, I guess the STR modifier only went from +5 to +7, so that is within two points. But it was nowhere near what you said earlier, that you could "run monsters accurately from memory, within a point or two on all of their numbers". You didn't give a guess to AC or saves, but I'm guessing you wouldn't estimated them similarly over what the game has.
I've never encountered or run a satyr before, so I'd be running it as a bard. Knowing how Pathfinder works, it probably does have a bunch of fiddly spell-like abilities, but at least I would know what those were if you told me. If you said that it had magic pipes that could be used to fascinate three times per day, then I'd know what that means because fascinate is a mechanic that players should know.
So basically you're saying you can't actually run any enemies within two points on all official numbers, but rather that you've got your own system of getting numbers you consider good.
 

So basically you're saying you can't actually run any enemies within two points on all official numbers, but rather that you've got your own system of getting numbers you consider good.
Officially, canonically, the numbers in the book are just a suggestion; they describe a hypothetical "typical" specimen, for whatever that's worth. You never actually meet a "typical" specimen, though. The ogres you actually fight tend to be stronger than average, for the exact same reason that the average orc you come across has above-average strength for an orc.

I said that I could run the encounter accurately from memory, and I can. I would have given similar numbers if I'd had the book in front of me.

Fourth edition was better about giving numbers you might actually use, rather than the average values that were more useful from an academic perspective, but that's beside the point. This sub-thread is talking about abilities - monster powers - and how they work. If you tell me the name of a monster power in 3E, then I don't usually need to read the monster entry to figure out what it does. (There were always exceptions to that rule, of course, but they tended to be the obscure monsters that didn't show up much; and even then, they probably only had one unique ability, as compared to the three or four in the opening example.)
 

Dalamar

Explorer
Officially, canonically, the numbers in the book are just a suggestion; they describe a hypothetical "typical" specimen, for whatever that's worth. You never actually meet a "typical" specimen, though. The ogres you actually fight tend to be stronger than average, for the exact same reason that the average orc you come across has above-average strength for an orc.

I said that I could run the encounter accurately from memory, and I can. I would have given similar numbers if I'd had the book in front of me.
That is not how I've seen things go at all in any game group I have been a part of. If you encounter an ogre, it has exactly the stats from the MM, with the exception of the DM maybe rolling the hit points instead of using the average. Not to mention that thanks to all the number increases you gave the ogre, it should probably be at least one CR higher.

The only reason an enemy would have anything other than the average scores is if that enemy has levels in a class, in which case it uses either the Nonelite Array (13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8) for NPC classes or the Elite Array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) for PC classes as a base instead of 10s and 11s. This, by the way, is the case for the typical orc an adventurer is likely to encounter: the MM lists stats for a 1st-level Warrior with the Nonelite Array.

Fourth edition was better about giving numbers you might actually use, rather than the average values that were more useful from an academic perspective, but that's beside the point. This sub-thread is talking about abilities - monster powers - and how they work. If you tell me the name of a monster power in 3E, then I don't usually need to read the monster entry to figure out what it does. (There were always exceptions to that rule, of course, but they tended to be the obscure monsters that didn't show up much; and even then, they probably only had one unique ability, as compared to the three or four in the opening example.)
So off the top of your head, you could tell me the differences between the breath weapons of a Hell Hound (CR 3 medium creature) and a Wyrmling Red Dragon (CR 4 medium creature)? Those seem pretty common to me.
If a monster has a disease or poison ability, you wouldn't have to read the monster entry to figure out what it does?
You remember the differences between clumsy, poor, average, good and perfect flight maneuverability?
You can remember what the Wingover feat does? Or how Awesome Blow works? And you'd actually remember to check the feats to know the monster has these abilities?

And if you say you don't have to remember the ability exactly, why do you think you need to remember the ability exactly for PF2e monsters or 4e monsters but not for 3.5 or PF1e monsters?
 

That is not how I've seen things go at all in any game group I have been a part of. If you encounter an ogre, it has exactly the stats from the MM, with the exception of the DM maybe rolling the hit points instead of using the average.
Weird. I never would have imagined. YMMV, I guess.
And if you say you don't have to remember the ability exactly, why do you think you need to remember the ability exactly for PF2e monsters or 4e monsters but not for 3.5 or PF1e monsters?
If you go way, way back up-thread, this whole tangent started when I said that it felt like I needed to learn the monsters from scratch, every time I ran an encounter in 4E; because every monster had its own complicated abilities, and there's no way to predict what any of those abilities would be without reading the stat block.

If you tell me that a redcap wears spiked boots, then it doesn't automatically follow that it would be able to move half of its speed and make a stomp attack as one action, which deals bleed damage only if the target is prone. I can figure out how to use it, and work out some sort of tactics for running the monster that would make use of it, but it's going to require some effort. If I need to do that for ten new monsters every session, then that's a significant burden to running the game.

If you tell me that a winter wolf has a breath weapon, then I know what that means. Even if I didn't know the damage or the save DC off the top of my head, I already know what a breath weapon is and how it works and how to use it. Likewise, if something has a spell-like ability, then I already know what that is and how to use it. I don't need to learn the monster from scratch in order to run it effectively. It's very user-friendly in that way.
 

Dalamar

Explorer
If you tell me that a winter wolf has a breath weapon, then I know what that means. Even if I didn't know the damage or the save DC off the top of my head, I already know what a breath weapon is and how it works and how to use it. Likewise, if something has a spell-like ability, then I already know what that is and how to use it. I don't need to learn the monster from scratch in order to run it effectively. It's very user-friendly in that way.
It's different strokes, it seems. Since no 4e monster ability is as complex to parse as half the spells are in 3.x, I've had no trouble assimilating monster powers. But give a monster a spell-like ability, and I'll have to go hunting through the books for the effects and what save it allows and if it is affected by SR.

Heck, I could probably play any of the 4e characters for my players effectively with a brief refresher, but I will be hard-pressed trying to tell you what the Holy Word spell does in 3.x.
 

It's different strokes, it seems. Since no 4e monster ability is as complex to parse as half the spells are in 3.x, I've had no trouble assimilating monster powers. But give a monster a spell-like ability, and I'll have to go hunting through the books for the effects and what save it allows and if it is affected by SR.
Right, but my point on that was there was less barrier in transitioning between player and DM. Spells are objectively more complex that ad hoc monster abilities, but it's work which I already did way back when I was a player, so the added burden was less.

And to its credit, the precise technical language and formatting of 4E tried to minimize that burden by making abilities even easier to parse. And unfortunately, it doesn't look like Pathfinder 2E is copying them on that point.
 

Dalamar

Explorer
Right, but my point on that was there was less barrier in transitioning between player and DM. Spells are objectively more complex that ad hoc monster abilities, but it's work which I already did way back when I was a player, so the added burden was less.
See, to me that just isn't the case. I started DnD with 3.0, and did play an assortment of characters over the time (still playing an Incarnate/Ironsoul Forgemaster in a campaign that's been stretching on for years, just hit level 20 last week), but as soon as I stop playing a character, I start losing any rules specific to that character. I can tell what Close, Medium, and Long ranges are for spells, but the only spell I can say for certain has one of those is Fireball with Long. When a monster has a list of spell-like abilities, that for me is harder than an ad hoc ability in its description because in addition to having to assimilate it, I have to get another book to do so.

I think part of our different experience might be outright bias. I love monsters having something that makes them unique. The redcap's run'n'stomp seems like an amazing ability, and I can't wait to have one run circles around the party, stepping on everyone's toes in process.

And to its credit, the precise technical language and formatting of 4E tried to minimize that burden by making abilities even easier to parse. And unfortunately, it doesn't look like Pathfinder 2E is copying them on that point.
Yeah, I don't think Paizo can copy the presentation too much because they are already being negatively compared to 4e with as little as they have moved in that direction. Shame, really.
 

Starfox

Adventurer
I quite like the new organization; Role-playing info first, then combat info. I never really got familiar with the PF1 statblocks.

The susceptibility to holy symbols ability uses the word "bolster". I wonder if this is a game-defined term? I guess it is, as the paragraph doesn't make much sense otherwise.
 

Kaodi

Hero
I really just want to see a dragon statblock. The other day I made up a hypothetical "Universal Dragon" for PF1 with a slightly different take on resistances and damage reduction. Not sure if there is point in posting it though.
 

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