Pathfinder 2E My Pathfinder 2e Post-Mortem

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
For me, they’re a tool to save time. If I’m going to have to do a bunch of prep anyway to make the module’s material usable, the value of using a module drops considerably. I spent a lot of time prepping Pathfinder adventures, which is I should like to spend on other things.
Yeah that’s time I enjoy spending on making a memorable game come to life. One thing seems obvious there is a hunger out there for a hamburger helper line of modules that are easy and time saving for folks.
 

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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!

That's not a bad one. d20 systems need to try out Bennies systems because it's one of the easier ways to link it into those systems given their structural problems in adapting such things. I don't think a reverse version of that where the GM causes you to fail but gives you something extra in return would go over as well, but it should be considered.

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.

The Player's Guide is clearly meant for people who are going to Society play as what they need, which limits it to stuff that largely comes up in Society play. The GMG is way more expansive, with most of that stuff is tied into their VP systems they create. For example, they give a bunch of examples of downtime activities and their results in the Infiltration chapter, where you are pulling a heist. That's actually a lot of really good stuff, but I guess it just doesn't play into stuff like APs, which is honestly sad because it's really good stuff.

But it is there! There are other systems, too, like the Research system. That whole thing of how to research, largely focused on libraries, is basically transferable to anything: You set thresholds for what you learn, maximums for the places you can gain research from, etc. I'm currently using it myself right now and have a little chart of the things they've learned with some thresholds about what they learn when. It's also something that encourages you to create sources of information for the players to look up.

It's also where it's useful to hand the PCs a special feat every now and then for their efforts. It's obviously much easier to do this with Wizards and such, where you can hand out a spell, since switching spells in and out is generally much easier. But tossing them a neat custom feat or something that they've been desiring but are limited in getting from the level system makes for a reward that allows the players to actively seek things out and engage with the world.

Again, the biggest limitation seems to be the divide between players in PFS and players outside of it. You have to have everything able to be used in PFS and they just didn't make those sorts of systems a part of that, so they didn't attach feats to them.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
Is that because people prefer combat or because that’s what the games offer? If there were equal support for non-combat activities, would those be more popular? Our crew in our Blades in the Dark game is quite violent (we’ve eradicated factions and killed a higher-tier NPC last session because we got word he was going to turn an ally against us), but we’ve also had some incredible social scores adventures, which were made possible by the structure of the mechanics.

This relates to my conversation with @Justice and Rule because I think those kinds of sessions are totally possible in PF2 if you bring in the VP subsystem and use it pervasively, but that’s not the default. It actually makes the game more complicated because how those social (and exploration) skill feats interact is kind of mushy instead of being well-defined. Imagine if combat worked that way, and there was no 3-action economy, and the efficacy of combat feats was up to how the group played.
It's hard to say, I will note that the players coming into TTRPG now are generally informed by video games in respect to their tastes in greater numbers than before, which heavily feature violence as a primary form of engagement nearly across the board, even cozy slice of life farming game Stardew Valley features a many level generic dungeon you can farm with a sword in hand-- and that's not likely to change given how much larger the video game market is, I think there's a desire for games that feature other things, but I don't think it's a pivot so much as an additional interest some players have, with a much smaller number being disinterested in the monster fighting entirely, and out of that number some of them dislike fighting because its heavily mechanical and would resent the intrusion of crunch into their improv roleplay time, I've comes across that type quite a bit.

From experience, the VP system meshes ok with feats if only because of how relatively painless it is to offer bonuses-- if you have group impression, but the VP system is in play say in a political context where the resolution of each conversation is too low for its usual effects ("You go and discuss X with Y, lets see how that goes, roll"), it's trivial to convert it to a circumstance bonus to the roll when the player raises the fact that they have it (to reflect the fact that if you're handling a bunch of people at once, you're effectively playing the odds) whereas if the resolution is higher, it might be usable ("Ok the guest list includes four of X, because you're going to discuss Y with them and have group impression, let's roleplay it and do the skill rolls as they come up")

The weirdness is actually arising from the fact that unlike combat, social stuff sometimes takes place in encounter mode (word for word conversations, the back and forth of a detailed scene), sometimes takes place in exploration mode (a series of interactions across a ball that aren't tracked individually), or even in downtime mode, so the bonuses that benefit it sometimes needs to flex a little to reflect those three different framings.
 
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kenada

Legend
Supporter
Yeah that’s time I enjoy spending on making a memorable game come to life. One thing seems obvious there is a hunger out there for a hamburger helper line of modules that are easy and time saving for folks.
If that’s what you think it takes to run a good campaign, then that’s fine, but I also don’t agree. I don’t think that level of prep is necessary for a good campaign, and it definitely shouldn’t reflect poorly on GMs who want tools that actually work for them. It’s like holding up the crappy encounter-building rules in 5e as fine because a “good GM” can make it work. Even WotC doesn’t agree! That’s why they’ve said they plan to improve them for 2024 version of the rules. Why should we as GMs settle for less?
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
It's hard to say, I will note that the players coming into TTRPG now are generally informed by video games in respect to their tastes in greater numbers than before, which heavily feature violence as a primary form of engagement nearly across the board, even cozy slice of life farming game Stardew Valley features a many level generic dungeon you can farm with a sword in hand-- and that's not likely to change given how much larger the video game market is, I think there's a desire for games that feature other things, but I don't think it's a pivot so much as an additional interest some players have, with a much smaller number being disinterested in the monster fighting entirely, and out of that number some of them dislike fighting because its heavily mechanical and would resent the intrusion of crunch into their improv roleplay time, I've comes across that type quite a bit.
The first D&D campaign I joined was a hack and slash campaign. There’s nothing wrong with finding fun in that, and it was the gateway for me into the hobby. However, I think we should hold adventures to a higher standard than we do. Especially if people are coming to RPGs with assumptions from other media, then adventures should be a way to introduce them to what RPGs do beyond just offering a bunch of combat.

From experience, the VP system meshes ok with feats if only because of how relatively painless it is to offer bonuses-- if you have group impression, but the VP system is in play say in a political context where the resolution of each conversation is too low for its usual effects ("You go and discuss X with Y, lets see how that goes, roll"), it's trivial to convert it to a circumstance bonus to the roll when the player raises the fact that they have it (to reflect the fact that if you're handling a bunch of people at once, you're effectively playing the odds) whereas if the resolution is higher, it might be usable ("Ok the guest list includes four of X, because you're going to discuss Y with them and have group impression, let's roleplay it and do the skill rolls as they come up")

The weirdness is actually arising from the fact that unlike combat, social stuff sometimes takes place in encounter mode (word for word conversations, the back and forth of a detailed scene), sometimes takes place in exploration mode (a series of interactions across a ball that aren't tracked individually), or even in downtime mode, so the bonuses that benefit it sometimes needs to flex a little to reflect those three different framings.
I think we agree here? I hadn’t considered the situation where the group is larger than what your feat allows, but I think what you propose sounds like a reasonable solution. Anyway, my point is the VP subsystem makes it clear you can still attempt the activity. The situation otherwise is it can feel like the feat is gating off something you “should” be able to do (even if technically it is reducing the number of rolls or time it takes).
 

The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
The first D&D campaign I joined was a hack and slash campaign. There’s nothing wrong with finding fun in that, and it was the gateway for me into the hobby. However, I think we should hold adventures to a higher standard than we do. Especially if people are coming to RPGs with assumptions from other media, then adventures should be a way to introduce them to what RPGs do beyond just offering a bunch of combat.


I think we agree here? I hadn’t considered the situation where the group is larger than what your feat allows, but I think what you propose sounds like a reasonable solution. Anyway, my point is the VP subsystem makes it clear you can still attempt the activity. The situation otherwise is it can feel like the feat is gating off something you “should” be able to do (even if technically it is reducing the number of rolls or time it takes).

Yup, it was more just describing my experience of it being relatively easy to adjust to suit the framing, in regards to the intersection of skill stuff and the vp systems.

But as for Adventures, yeah, I tend to see published adventures as being more mass market since they need to move volume-- they tend to hew closely to the idea of a relatively default experience, whereas home games can tend to be more high concept because fewer people need to buy in.

Its actually one of the reasons I don't love them as a snapshot of the system, their incentives differ in some key ways, from those of the system's core design. Some 5e players I know would probably appreciate that pf2e is more flexible in terms of encounters per day, because difficulty is less weighted according to daily resources, but it doesnt matter to the published adventures because they're catering to a market for whom lots of encounters is presumably a selling point (taking for granted they do their own market research well.)

My big complaint is that I like site based adventures more than narrative sequences, and the AP format doesnt do super well with that-- though Malevolence by itself was good in that respect.
 

Staffan

Legend
Why does a social encounter require two pages and a combat encounter only a short description?
Because the social encounter introduces four NPCs that are relevant in the adventure, and then introduces a sub-system for the party to persuade a person with authority to allow them access to a good plot. Note that the only stats listed for the NPCs are the ones relevant to the debate, although they have full stats elsewhere.

The combat encounter, on the other hand, offloads a lot of work by referring to the Bestiary.
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).
I agree. Paizo apparently does not (or at least did not at the time).
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Because the social encounter introduces four NPCs that are relevant in the adventure, and then introduces a sub-system for the party to persuade a person with authority to allow them access to a good plot. Note that the only stats listed for the NPCs are the ones relevant to the debate, although they have full stats elsewhere.
Out of curiosity, was the debate subsystem VP-based? It’s my understanding Paizo has used VP-derived subsystems in other adventures, so my presumption is it is, but I don’t know. If only it were a core mechanic (versus being banished away to the GMG), they could rely on it the way they do the bestiary and combat subsystems to handle combat (thus freeing up space for more adventure content).
 

Because the social encounter introduces four NPCs that are relevant in the adventure, and then introduces a sub-system for the party to persuade a person with authority to allow them access to a good plot. Note that the only stats listed for the NPCs are the ones relevant to the debate, although they have full stats elsewhere.

The combat encounter, on the other hand, offloads a lot of work by referring to the Bestiary.

Plus what happens in combat is largely dictated by the combat system itself, while motivations and other social things aren't really dictated by the social system. Like you say, most of combat is offloaded elsewhere, whether it be in the Bestiary or just in the rulebook. You can quickly cover some potential results (death, surrender, retreat) in a sentence or two. Covering the motivations, wants, needs, and the variety of potential situations that can come from conversation and negotiation are just vast and generally require a bit more guidance if you are doing a strongly-structured adventure.
 

Staffan

Legend
I think some of this is taken out of context. The AP modules have about 1/3 setting material and fiction that provide color but dont actually have any direct impact on running the module. Thats been a very divisive topic for at least 10 years now. Folks who want only adventure material dislike it, and others are subscribers because of the color and fiction.
Removing the supporting material would not give you more adventure. It would just result in a 64-page book instead of a 96-page one (and possibly at a lower cost, but not 2/3 of the cost). The supporting material is almost always written by people other than the main adventure writer, which is why it's usually only tangential to the adventure.
Out of curiosity, was the debate subsystem VP-based? It’s my understanding Paizo has used VP-derived subsystems in other adventures, so my presumption is it is, but I don’t know. If only it were a core mechanic (versus being banished away to the GMG), they could rely on it the way they do the bestiary and combat subsystems to handle combat (thus freeing up space for more adventure content).
VP-ish, but not exactly the same. I believe the book predates the GMG, and if it doesn't the GMG was certainly not published while the book was being written. The system works like this, bullet-pointed:
  • The guard captain (whom you are trying to persuade) starts with 5 Resistance Points. The PCs' job is to reduce this to 0.
  • On their turn, the PCs can try to sway the captain by rolling Diplomacy, Deception, or a relevant Lore. A success removes 1 RP, a crit 2, and a critical failure adds 1. Using particular arguments gets you a lower DC.
  • They can also try to support another person's arguments using the same skills. On a success, that person gets +1, and on a crit you also remove 1 RP. A crit fail gives -1.
  • Once during the debate a PC can demonstrate their talents for entertainment and roll Performance (or possibly another skill). Success removes 1 RP, crit also allows for one more attempt. A crit fail adds 1 RP.
  • The PCs can also try to discredit their rival using Circus Lore or Society. A success lowers their rival's success on their next roll by one level, but a crit fail instead improves their result.
  • Meanwhile, there's a rival also taking a turn who is countering the PCs' arguments. This automatically adds 1 RP, +1 or 2 if they succeed on a Diplomacy or Deception roll (needing 6+ to succeed). A crit fail removes 1 RP.
  • The debate is finished when the captain reaches 0 or 10 resistance. 0 is a success for the PCs, which gives them favorable terms and 80 XP. 10 is a failure, which gives them bad terms and no XP.
 

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