Pathfinder 2E My Pathfinder 2e Post-Mortem

In my experience, its pretty easy. Usually some combination of move, attack, move. The monster might have some interesting extra action abilities, but smart players wont allow them a full round adjacent decision. Though, PF2 was built for it and porting it over to 5E might not be as ideal.

Or attack, attack, move (typically a step back for me, if possible).

I think the biggest thing about getting the most out of your enemies is to know what they are good at beforehand. Like, the difference between Brutes and Warriors beyond some stats is largely their loadout, which means if you know Brutes have a weapon that has the Disarm trait you can use their numbers to try that with their first attack using their attack bonus instead of Athletics and potentially mess with a PC (particularly Fighters, where the -2 to attack until the start of their turn means their Attack of Opportunity isn't as powerful). Warriors have forceful-sweep weapons, so they are incentivized to make multiple attacks at different targets. You don't always have to follow these rules, but it does give you ideas, and helps you think when you create your own.

Makes me kind of want to do a "What does your weapon say about you" post. :LOL:

As to the Encounter thing with APs... I just don't run them, so it's hard for me to comment. I do wonder if part of it is that players will often find themselves things to do socially outside of the adventure: you give players a town and they will find things to do in it. Thus you put in a bunch of combat encounters because the players are less likely to go running into those. Not great reasoning, but maybe? I dunno, it's probably that people just sort of expect a lot of combat from adventures and those sorts of players aren't the ones who go around talking on message boards like we do.

I think that's also part of why people aren't getting what they want out of "Exploration Mode": you gotta give them something to explore. I feel like most adventures and GMs feel like they have to put combat encounters in almost every room, which makes using such things kind of meaningless; if you keep running into people, there isn't really much to do. For me, I run dungeons that often are large and don't have many denizens; I kind of play "Dungeon as Fantasy Archeology", where there's reason to search, research, scout, set-up camp, etc. I had one where the PCs stumbled into an old Gnomish outpost, so they took on individual tasks and setup a base camp. There was small Kobold village hidden away in a crack in the wall, and rather than confront the PCs they started taking stuff from their camp as they went exploring. Finally got a few of them to stay behind to figure out who the hell was taking all their stuff. But that's the sort of thing that the exploration system would be good for, though I don't think people use it at all for that sort of thing. Same for a hexploration game, but I feel like for the most part people want to get to where they are going without too much interruption. If you aren't making the journey to a place part of the challenge, then exploration systems don't mean all that much, do they?
 

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Teemu

Hero
3-action economy & the GM
My issue here is limited to encounters with mooks, meaning encounters with a large number of weak enemies. If you as the GM control 7 weak mook enemies, they all require 3 actions to resolve. Yes, often it can be a Stride and two Strikes, etc., but you will often also consider positioning and other tactical elements. Overall that's a lot for mooks compared to both 4e and 5e. In 4e for example minions in the large majority of cases only do 2 things on their turn: move and attack once. In most 5e games the same rule applies. But in PF2 even the -3 and -4 enemies get the full complement of actions, and no VTT removes the need for the GM to actually consider and execute those 3 actions. All combat encounters with a large cast of (mostly weak) enemies took so much longer to run, in real time, and it's definitely one of the system's weaknesses -- hence the introduction of troops, which have their own issues (too granular once again, their movement is a massive pain since you have to move a dozen tokens for a single creature!).

5e suffers from the same issue at high levels because the DM has to use CR 5+ creatures as mooks, and those higher CR enemies often have multiattack with 3 attacks and possibly complex auras and other traits. Only 4e with its dedicated minion rules does this rules aspect well, in my experience.

How does a VTT make the following tracking that much easier and faster and less cumbersome: 3 melee enemies have longswords, shields, and alchemical bombs. 2 ranged enemies wield crossbows and longspears. Now as the GM you're juggling 5 NPCs' handedness, crossbow load status, and shield condition. You also have to mark which of the melee enemies raised their shields. And what if 1 melee enemy sheaths their sword to toss a bomb, but maybe they don't have the actions left to throw it, just to draw it? And 1 ranged enemy engages in melee with their longspear, but they want to Trip because of flat-footed bonuses, so now you have to remember if they re-gripped the weapon after releasing it to Trip with a free hand. And so on. Very convoluted. Even on a VTT you may have to actually mark or click or whatever the gripping and releasing and the loading, which all add up for 5-9 creatures.

Exploration Mode
The problem here was that I had to stop using the rules as written because they were too cumbersome. Imagine a party of 4 are exploring an area or a dungeon. PC 1 is Searching, PC 2 is Investigating, PC 3 is Avoiding Notice, and PC 4 is Repeating a Spell (detect magic). First off, it's unwieldy to be asking after every encounter/scene what each PC is doing as they explore. Second, it's just another mental load for the GM to remember what each PC is doing -- because you are rolling any relevant secret checks! Better not forget that PC 2 was not in fact Searching as they went into the side room, so they don't get a Perception check for the hazard... Then of course the party changes tactics maybe 20 minutes later, and once again the GM has to remember what each PC is doing.

Towards the end I just handwaved it all. And one of the main issues with PF2 I have is the sheer amount of rules I had to handwave away because they got in the way of the flow of the session.

Skills & Feats
The rogue has a class feat that gives them a free Perception check even if they're not Searching as their exploration activity. Normally you cannot both sneak about and keep an eye out for danger. That doesn't feel good. The barbarian has a class feat that lets them attempt to Force Open a closed door or window other obstacle as part of a 2-action Stride -- a class feat! A barbarian cannot Demoralize enemies while raging unless they take Raging Intimidation -- a barbarian can't threaten enemies as they rage without spending a class a feat! You need a feat to read text upside down... A lot the worst stuff is from APG by the way.

I didn't slavishly abide by the skill actions. Again, it was another rules feature that I handwaved to improve the flow of the game but also to empower the players and let them feel good about their characters. No, you can't Demoralize because you're 35 feet away, the limit is 30 feet (I handwaved it and allowed it at longer ranges with a penalty). No, you can't Make an Impression on these 2 people in a single short conversation because you have to address each separately (handwaved away). You want to kick the enemy Prone? Nah, you need a free hand to Trip, duh! In the Pathfinder 2e world people can't kick their opponents prone (there could be feat for it though).

Again, I allowed the players much more freedom to use their skills, but these were house rules and more handwaving of established Core Rulebook rules. About 10 months into the game I realized just how much I had to change in order to improve the experience, but also how careful I had to be with some of the changes because PF2 is a complex, rich system with cascading effects once one thing is altered.

Downtime
This was a minor gripe all things considered. It's just a boring system without any stakes. If the party takes 5 days of downtime to... do a regular job (riveting), you're supposed to roll for each day. Each. Day. 5 rolls for each character. Is that the most engaging system? A single day is a single roll, with no real stakes for failure. Where are the stakes?! Why even roll to see if you make 5 silver or whatever? Just give them the coin (again, more handwaving).

Filler Encounters in APs
These could often be things like animals, elementals, constructs, or mindless undead that the party has to fight, with no other alternatives given. And these enemies have no bearing on the overall story of the AP, no stakes, no relevance. I don't mind the occasional low-stakes combat encounter, those can be fun, but they have to be occasional, maybe once per level or once per every other level. They are a constant in the Paizo APs I've run. Like I mentioned, I began to remove them entirely or changed them into more fun dynamic encounters where the players could interact with the opposition in a variety of ways.
 

3-action economy & the GM
My issue here is limited to encounters with mooks, meaning encounters with a large number of weak enemies. If you as the GM control 7 weak mook enemies, they all require 3 actions to resolve. Yes, often it can be a Stride and two Strikes, etc., but you will often also consider positioning and other tactical elements. Overall that's a lot for mooks compared to both 4e and 5e. In 4e for example minions in the large majority of cases only do 2 things on their turn: move and attack once. In most 5e games the same rule applies. But in PF2 even the -3 and -4 enemies get the full complement of actions, and no VTT removes the need for the GM to actually consider and execute those 3 actions. All combat encounters with a large cast of (mostly weak) enemies took so much longer to run, in real time, and it's definitely one of the system's weaknesses -- hence the introduction of troops, which have their own issues (too granular once again, their movement is a massive pain since you have to move a dozen tokens for a single creature!).

5e suffers from the same issue at high levels because the DM has to use CR 5+ creatures as mooks, and those higher CR enemies often have multiattack with 3 attacks and possibly complex auras and other traits. Only 4e with its dedicated minion rules does this rules aspect well, in my experience.

I suppose for me I've never had problems with contemplating what actions to take with dudes because I don't necessarily optimize all actions for mooks and just try to be characterful. With 5E, I was like actively adding 2-4 more actions for mooks to do to give them more flavor. Like, my Gnolls would use the bite action and had a special grapple with it to reflect their hyena nature, plus shield bashing and other stuff I added in.

What I'm getting at is that I'm a freak.

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How does a VTT make the following tracking that much easier and faster and less cumbersome: 3 melee enemies have longswords, shields, and alchemical bombs. 2 ranged enemies wield crossbows and longspears. Now as the GM you're juggling 5 NPCs' handedness, crossbow load status, and shield condition. You also have to mark which of the melee enemies raised their shields. And what if 1 melee enemy sheaths their sword to toss a bomb, but maybe they don't have the actions left to throw it, just to draw it? And 1 ranged enemy engages in melee with their longspear, but they want to Trip because of flat-footed bonuses, so now you have to remember if they re-gripped the weapon after releasing it to Trip with a free hand. And so on. Very convoluted. Even on a VTT you may have to actually mark or click or whatever the gripping and releasing and the loading, which all add up for 5-9 creatures.

For me, actions aren't the problem. Conditions can be a problem, but VTTs are better at marking that consistently compared to doing it on a tabletop grid (I could probably use the little rubber bands I see people using, but for whatever reason I just can't abide them. I don't know why, I'm a weirdo, it's-me-not-you.) or especially theatre of the mind.

Exploration Mode
The problem here was that I had to stop using the rules as written because they were too cumbersome. Imagine a party of 4 are exploring an area or a dungeon. PC 1 is Searching, PC 2 is Investigating, PC 3 is Avoiding Notice, and PC 4 is Repeating a Spell (detect magic). First off, it's unwieldy to be asking after every encounter/scene what each PC is doing as they explore. Second, it's just another mental load for the GM to remember what each PC is doing -- because you are rolling any relevant secret checks! Better not forget that PC 2 was not in fact Searching as they went into the side room, so they don't get a Perception check for the hazard... Then of course the party changes tactics maybe 20 minutes later, and once again the GM has to remember what each PC is doing.

Towards the end I just handwaved it all. And one of the main issues with PF2 I have is the sheer amount of rules I had to handwave away because they got in the way of the flow of the session.

I suppose that's one of those load-processing things that I'm alright at. Again, I can probably concede that this system was built for me like it was a hole in a Junji Ito story.

Skills & Feats
The rogue has a class feat that gives them a free Perception check even if they're not Searching as their exploration activity. Normally you cannot both sneak about and keep an eye out for danger. That doesn't feel good.

I mean, that's not exactly true. So like, if you read Avoid Notice, it kind of hints that you are allowed to take a second activity, you are just moving at half speed when you do it. Why else mention that you can move full speed if you have Swift Sneak, but you don't get a second exploration activity, and that you get one if you have Legendary Sneak while moving at full speed? It's just kind of poorly written, but I don't think that interpretation is invalid. If you wanted to do something else, you basically stack the penalties on top of one-another.

But again, this stuff comes off as being written to limit Society players. I've had characters make up exploration activities (I think one was Sentry, which was patrolling an area looking for people as a focused version of Search).

The barbarian has a class feat that lets them attempt to Force Open a closed door or window other obstacle as part of a 2-action Stride -- a class feat!

That's not really a great feat, but also I don't really see it as a dealbreaker. Like, it's an action-economy saver in combat. If you want to be a dude who is the breacher of the party, okay? Otherwise don't take the feat.

A barbarian cannot Demoralize enemies while raging unless they take Raging Intimidation -- a barbarian can't threaten enemies as they rage without spending a class a feat!

HULK DOES NOT USE WORD GAMES, HULK SMASH!

Honestly I was in the same place as you until one of my players articulated the other side of the argument: you can't intimidate because you're raging, and thus you should always be incentivized to charging and messing dudes up because you're currently a freight train of violence coming off the tracks. Stopping to try and soften up an enemy's morale? That's too many brain cells. You know what also softens up enemies? This greataxe.

And I had never thought about it before, but the limitation made a lot more sense as enforced roleplaying, and getting Raging Intimidation is you having the extra braincell to occasionally stop and scream to throw off your enemies... and then destroy them with your greataxe. Yeah, I really kind of turned around on it. :p

You need a feat to read text upside down... A lot the worst stuff is from APG by the way.

That's not the feat, though. You can read stuff quickly at a glance, even through a sealed envelope; the ability to do so if the text is in a mirror or upside-down feels more like preventing a GM from screwing you by using that as an excuse not to be able to use the skill. Basically if you get a glance at a document or merely handle it, no matter how, you can attempt to Decipher Writing to figure out what it is. And that's a pretty cool feat, to be honest.

I didn't slavishly abide by the skill actions. Again, it was another rules feature that I handwaved to improve the flow of the game but also to empower the players and let them feel good about their characters. No, you can't Demoralize because you're 35 feet away, the limit is 30 feet (I handwaved it and allowed it at longer ranges with a penalty). No, you can't Make an Impression on these 2 people in a single short conversation because you have to address each separately (handwaved away). You want to kick the enemy Prone? Nah, you need a free hand to Trip, duh! In the Pathfinder 2e world people can't kick their opponents prone (there could be feat for it though).

I mean, you make exceptions with edge cases present themselves. That happens in all rules. For some of those, you don't even need to really make an exception (Just take two minutes instead of one for Making an Impression ¯\(ツ)/¯ ). I'm not saying you're slavishly abiding the rules, but maybe you're just thinking about them too rigidly. What I liked about PF2 was more that it provided structure that gave me an idea of what the system could do, even if I would bounce around within it.

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Again, I allowed the players much more freedom to use their skills, but these were house rules and more handwaving of established Core Rulebook rules. About 10 months into the game I realized just how much I had to change in order to improve the experience, but also how careful I had to be with some of the changes because PF2 is a complex, rich system with cascading effects once one thing is altered.

I mean, it's not handwaving, there are always edge-cases. Sometimes the rules make sense, but there are always situations where they don't.

Downtime
This was a minor gripe all things considered. It's just a boring system without any stakes. If the party takes 5 days of downtime to... do a regular job (riveting), you're supposed to roll for each day. Each. Day. 5 rolls for each character. Is that the most engaging system? A single day is a single roll, with no real stakes for failure. Where are the stakes?! Why even roll to see if you make 5 silver or whatever? Just give them the coin (again, more handwaving).

Uh, you really aren't supposed to roll each day. Under Earn Income, you only roll once and you keep that roll for however long you decide to do that task. But Earn Income is kind of something you do when you don't have anything else to do; you could be making contacts, researching spells and topics, and other things. I suppose it depends on your day job, though.

Filler Encounters in APs
These could often be things like animals, elementals, constructs, or mindless undead that the party has to fight, with no other alternatives given. And these enemies have no bearing on the overall story of the AP, no stakes, no relevance. I don't mind the occasional low-stakes combat encounter, those can be fun, but they have to be occasional, maybe once per level or once per every other level. They are a constant in the Paizo APs I've run. Like I mentioned, I began to remove them entirely or changed them into more fun dynamic encounters where the players could interact with the opposition in a variety of ways.

Yeah, that sort of stuff is why I'm against published adventures normally. At least, in d20 roleplaying. I find other systems and settings to generally be better for that stuff (Oh man, some of the Delta Green prewritten scenarios are amazing).
 

Uh, you really aren't supposed to roll each day. Under Earn Income, you only roll once and you keep that roll for however long you decide to do that task. But Earn Income is kind of something you do when you don't have anything else to do; you could be making contacts, researching spells and topics, and other things. I suppose it depends on your day job, though.

I actually kind of want to expand on this, now that I think about it. I don't disagree that the system itself is kind of dull and doesn't create the story systemically. It basically asks you to describe the result of the roll, and you can potentially put out story ideas from there. I think the two examples they give (Which, f*** me, it took me a minute to find and I only did because I knew Harsk and Lem were the examples and did a name search on my PDF copy) aren't bad at showing how to narratively weave those sorts of tasks. I know I could at least take those situations and narratively run with them.

However, I have to take initiative with those. It's not systemic, it's me making a choice as a GM to add something, which is fine but can be frustrating to mentally have to make those sorts of decisions by fiat, really. As a Fantasy Flight Dice Apologist, one of the things I wish more games would do would be to add a second axis of success to allow for lateral problems and benefits to occur. The FFG system with Star Wars and Genesys are really good at doing that, and also blending it into the math of the system (characters who are skilled at something are more likely to get benefits from failures compared to those who don't have skills). It's nice to see a roll and say "Well, you failed, but you have 3 advantage. Let's figure out how to spend that..." or "Ah, you succeed, but you have two threat. So here's what happens..." Just giving me a range of how good or bad a side effect is can really be very helpful and get my creative juices stirring.
 

Actually, I want to go further about some other things, particularly skill feats and skills in general.

Like, I'm a proponent of every variant that gets a PC more feats: Ancestral Paragon and Free Archetype are like absolutely mandatory for me. But what I really like about PF2 is... well...

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So like, one of the reasons I really love PF2 is that it's modular and that things are balanced so that if someone has an extra feat or skill, things aren't completely thrown out of whack. The way the classes have been designed, feats allow players to express niches, but generally-speaking don't completely change the game or stack with each other like old feats that can create power-gaming monsters. It's not in the rules (for obvious reasons), but the system framework itself makes it easy, especially compared to a lot of level-based systems.

Like, one of my big problems with 5E was that it was difficult to give my players the ability to learn things over time: everything immediately goes to proficiency level, so there's no learning things because you are instantly at level with any skill, and giving people special skills similar to feats were things I had to create. And in fairness, I did do that: I had special monk techniques that were taught by masters or found on scrolls, fighter maneuvers that had to be discovered and learned that worked outside of the normal game. That stuff was immensely fun to me, even if it was incredibly difficult to balance because the system just wasn't built to add in that sort of stuff.

But Pathfinder 2E? It's done most of the work for me. Learn a new skill? Easy, you start Trained, or you can modify it to have a step lower in several different ways. Dead simple. Just add it in. Your Barbarian wants to be that breacher dude? Let him hone himself over time and maybe just give it to him after training and practice. Your guy is joining a secret organization that does spying? Maybe they'll just teach him Glean Contents so that he can be useful to them. You want to learn a Lore skill? Sure, let's go for that. Great use of extended downtime. That stuff just doesn't break the game because of the way feats were made and doled out. There's just not a magic combo to break things unless I decide to get drunk and give them anything or everything they want.

The feats, in essence, are free because of the framework created by the game. They just give options, niches rather than completely defining skills. Martial arts masters can now teach hidden techniques that are locked as feats, Masters of Defense can instruct fighters in special maneuvers they might not know, Archmages can teach a specialized metamagic to a Wizard if they can hunt them down... it opens up a lot of options that you as the GM can allow the players to explore. You can limit it as you like, but that the system can bear it at all kind of speaks to the system itself.

And we can call that homebrew, and I guess that isn't wrong... but it's homebrew that would be difficult to implement in other similar games because they just don't support that sort of growth idea. And as a guy who really likes level-less games, PF2 can kind of emulate that if you want it to, far more easily than you'd expect. They've done most of the work for me by making all these feats, and they've honestly made making feats for my players much easier because the extensive breadth of options gives me a good baseline of what to expect at most levels.

So... yeah. I've been doing that when I play. It's not exactly how the game was meant to be played, but it is kind of how the game was built.
 

!DWolf

Adventurer
Exploration Mode

The problem here was that I had to stop using the rules as written because they were too cumbersome. Imagine a party of 4 are exploring an area or a dungeon. PC 1 is Searching, PC 2 is Investigating, PC 3 is Avoiding Notice, and PC 4 is Repeating a Spell (detect magic). First off, it's unwieldy to be asking after every encounter/scene what each PC is doing as they explore. Second, it's just another mental load for the GM to remember what each PC is doing -- because you are rolling any relevant secret checks! Better not forget that PC 2 was not in fact Searching as they went into the side room, so they don't get a Perception check for the hazard... Then of course the party changes tactics maybe 20 minutes later, and once again the GM has to remember what each PC is doing.
Imaging it as described, the dungeoneering game play loop seems really off: stiff and unnatural with lots of game terms in what should be a more casual conversation.

In contrast here is my loop for dungeons from abomination vaults (keep in mind I am usually playing theater of the mind and I don’t use VTTs):
  1. I ask how they are opening the door/walking down the hall/whatever leads to the next area. I usually ask in a manner that assumes their standard order and operating procedure (“I assume you are checking for traps before you open the door?”).
  2. They may sense something about the next area (this is more common if they are moving down a hall). In that case I pause and let them reassess their actions (“as you approach the backside of the secret door you hear raised voices in the other room, are you going to continue with your plan to open the door?”)
  3. I describe the transition to the area and then the describe the area. (“you fling open the secret door with a crash. Inside is a twenty foot long and fifteen foot wide scriptorium with a closed door at the far end. Sitting on stools, working on books, are two ghouls looking quite startled.”)
  4. Fights or social-fu usually happen here. Note that I have their exploration actions either SOP or because they just told me. (The poor ghouls died without ever getting a turn)
  5. I ask the characters what they are going to do to interact with the new area. I tend to resolve this one at a time in the order that the players speak up unless there is danger or a hazard or the characters are going to split up or I feel like it. (“GM: The ghouls are destroyed, you don’t here any noise from behind the closed door. WIZARD: I am going for the books. GM: Okay roll for it. Perception. WIZARD: 9. GM: you get distracted by a text with big words. ROGUE?…). If players transfer to a new area I go to step one.
  6. Once everyone has a chance to act. I advance the state of the dungeon as necessary (“The door suddenly opens and a ghoul walks in carrying a damaged book, a little confused by the light”). I know the exploration actions because they just told me (not in those words of course but as suggested by the rules I assign the closest action to what they were doing).
  7. Repeat from five.
Skills & Feats

The rogue has a class feat that gives them a free Perception check even if they're not Searching as their exploration activity. Normally you cannot both sneak about and keep an eye out for danger.
But you absolutely can keep an eye out for danger while avoiding notice. That is not what Trap Finder does. I actually had this conversation with a player of mine. I asked him what he thought searching for traps was like and to demonstrate in the room we were in. He turned his head to the left and then to the right and said “Done.” That is not what searching a room for traps is! To properly search a room for traps (at least those that are hidden, remember if a trap doesn’t have a listed proficiency rank characters can notice it without searching) you are going to have to do things like check for trip wires with light sources or strings, check for pressure plates, even under rugs, look under tables for crossbows, check the ceiling for holes and loose bricks, closely examine the door handle and around the frame of the door, pour water in the floor to look for seams, etc. Another way to think of it is to envision soldiers clearing a minefield in a war movie: they are moving extremely slowly probing each inch of dirt, not just glancing around. What trap finder does is give you an almost supernatural sense of where traps/hazards are so you CAN detect traps just by glancing about (and it won’t detect treasure or things other than hazard’s).

The barbarian has a class feat that lets them attempt to Force Open a closed door or window other obstacle as part of a 2-action Stride -- a class feat!
It’s actually a really good feat if you are running a lot of dungeons with intelligent enemies. Basically, it saves one or more actions (remember to move to a door, force open the door, and then stride again is three actions; with the feat you can stride twice and force open at any point during the movement for two actions) AND gives a bonus to do it AND that bonus stacks with Adrenaline Rush. A very simple, and nasty tactic for enemies is to simply close (and potentially lock, brace, or bar) doors and divide the PCs or buy time for reinforcements to arrive (a variant has them slam the door shut in a spellcasters face as a readied action causing their spell to fizzle) or to fight from behind a portcullis/barricade (the nastiest ones are on the tops of steep staircase where the enemy can shove the PCs off the stairs without exposing themselves or create kill zones between two portcullis). With this that whole class of tactic is much less effective.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I actually kind of want to expand on this, now that I think about it. I don't disagree that the system itself is kind of dull and doesn't create the story systemically. It basically asks you to describe the result of the roll, and you can potentially put out story ideas from there. I think the two examples they give (Which, f*** me, it took me a minute to find and I only did because I knew Harsk and Lem were the examples and did a name search on my PDF copy) aren't bad at showing how to narratively weave those sorts of tasks. I know I could at least take those situations and narratively run with them.

However, I have to take initiative with those. It's not systemic, it's me making a choice as a GM to add something, which is fine but can be frustrating to mentally have to make those sorts of decisions by fiat, really. As a Fantasy Flight Dice Apologist, one of the things I wish more games would do would be to add a second axis of success to allow for lateral problems and benefits to occur. The FFG system with Star Wars and Genesys are really good at doing that, and also blending it into the math of the system (characters who are skilled at something are more likely to get benefits from failures compared to those who don't have skills). It's nice to see a roll and say "Well, you failed, but you have 3 advantage. Let's figure out how to spend that..." or "Ah, you succeed, but you have two threat. So here's what happens..." Just giving me a range of how good or bad a side effect is can really be very helpful and get my creative juices stirring.
You could do this with the degrees of success system in PF2, but it’s not the default orientation.



An idea just occurred to me: players could gain a hero point if they opted to turn a plain failure into success with consequences. That would create a hero point economy (something I found lacking because remembering to give them out at the prescribed rate is something I could never do) while also providing a way to inject new sources of conflicts and trouble into the game.

Failed your Earn Income roll? Take a hero point, and you can get that money, but your rival dropped by and tipped that they’re leaving in a few days to head to the adventuring site to try get the loot before you. There’s enough time after your downtime, but you will have to trade off on some of the preparations you wanted to make!
 

Staffan

Legend
There is more to RPGs other than combat, especially in a game like PF2 that tries to support different modes of play and provides a variety of subsystems. It’s astounding they think (or would think) they need a ton of combat encounters to provide enough “value” in an adventure.
That's not exactly the thing, though. They recognize that there are non-combat encounters that can be used for XP. But they generally take up a lot of room.

To use Extinction Curse as an example again, at the start of adventure 2 you need to negotiate for the use of a plot near Escadar where you can hold your circus performance. This is an encounter that takes up two pages in the book, and introduces a couple of NPCs that will show up later, and success at the negotiations gives you 80 XP.

You know what else gives 80 XP? A moderate combat encounter. For example:

Black pudding -- Creature 7
Pathfinder Bestiary 255
Initiative Perception +9

Now, if you have 64 pages in which to deliver 4,000 XP, you can be forgiven for leaning more on option B than option A. In the words of Londo Mollari, "And here we are, victims of mathematics."

Uh, you really aren't supposed to roll each day. Under Earn Income, you only roll once and you keep that roll for however long you decide to do that task. But Earn Income is kind of something you do when you don't have anything else to do; you could be making contacts, researching spells and topics, and other things. I suppose it depends on your day job, though.
The issue is that there's not really any support for that. The downtime rules in the core book take up one (1) page, and enumerate the things you can do during downtime:
  • Long-term rest
  • Retraining
  • Skill activities, specifically:
    • Craft
    • Create forgery
    • Earn income
    • Subsist
    • Treat disease
There's also a section on "other downtime activities." It is a single paragraph seven lines long that basically says "Oh, and other things I guess." Yes, you could be researching spells, making contacts, or whatever. But there is no support for that in the game itself, so at that point you have to figure out rules yourself.

The GMG has a little more stuff on downtime, but they're basically ways of making Earn Income more interesting by providing examples of what it can actually mean using different Lores at different levels, and how you can spice it up some. There's still no support for doing other stuff during downtime.
 

Retreater

Legend
Concerning VTTs and running PF2, that's the only way I'd want to run the game. Foundry makes it significantly easier. It tracks conditions and applies them correctly (ex: "want to remember which of the two baddies are Frightened 2 and what that applies to..."). How much are you penalized for a third attack with an Agile weapon? Does the axe have the Sweep trait? What are the four different effects of a spell based on success categories? How many diagonals did my character move? There are ten different initiative scores on this tracker - which of the goblins goes at 14?
This is why I get so nervous when things change on Foundry. For me PF2 is built on the deck of cards which is fan-made modules on Foundry. For what I'm able to handle as a GM, that system will dissolve and fade into the annals of history like 4e as soon as the online tools stop being supported.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
That's not exactly the thing, though. They recognize that there are non-combat encounters that can be used for XP. But they generally take up a lot of room.

To use Extinction Curse as an example again, at the start of adventure 2 you need to negotiate for the use of a plot near Escadar where you can hold your circus performance. This is an encounter that takes up two pages in the book, and introduces a couple of NPCs that will show up later, and success at the negotiations gives you 80 XP.

You know what else gives 80 XP? A moderate combat encounter. For example:

Black pudding -- Creature 7
Pathfinder Bestiary 255
Initiative Perception +9

Now, if you have 64 pages in which to deliver 4,000 XP, you can be forgiven for leaning more on option B than option A. In the words of Londo Mollari, "And here we are, victims of mathematics."
Why does a social encounter require two pages and a combat encounter only a short description?

Here is an outstanding pair of social score adventures we had in Blades in the Dark: trick your rival into attacking another faction while your companions set up another faction to take the hit, so you tip off the Bluecoats and frame your rival for your crimes. That was an entire session. Lots of stuff happened, and it was awesome. I doubt @Manbearcat needed two pages of material to prep and run it. (In fact, I doubt he did much prep at all for it.)

How should that encounter be presented in the AP? It should be: negotiate with so-and-so for a place to hold your performance (12-point negotiation). If the NPC hasn’t already been established, provide some adjectives describing them and a list of things the PCs can tug at. The BIFTs stuff in 5e would actually be really good for this. I’d expect such an encounter to take up about as much space as a typical keyed entry for a combat encounter. (Sure, it’s easy to list out some monsters, but Paizo usually also describes the scene and what’s happening in the key, so there’s more context than a list of things to fight.)

So, again, why is a social encounter two pages? Does Paizo feel the need to script it? My guess, having run other Pathfinder APs and adventures, is Paizo is giving the GM way too much background information on the NPC. A lot of that stuff is neat, but it’s not very useful for the GM. You might get some of it to come out, and maybe they’re trying to nudge the GM into deciding how things should go that’s in alignment with what the adventure needs.

However, I reject the idea that such a thing is necessary. It’s not if these types of encounters are systematized. They are for combat, but they’re not for other types of play. With everything having a proper structure and play loop, you can let them do the heavy lifting of driving play while the adventure’s key can focus just on the needed context (and stop writing two page backstories for NPCs that only the GM will read while you’re at it).

And if the adventure needs PCs at a certain level, and it’s a story-driven adventure as Paizo’s usually are, they should just use milestone leveling. Free up the adventure to spend space on doing cool, story-driven stuff instead of apparently needing to provide the right number of fights, so people can advance at the required rate. If people really want to track XP, award it in chunks for completing various parts of the adventure (like what PFS does).
 

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