Pathfinder 2 and the game Paizo should have made

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Instead of trying talk in the two active threads at once, let me say it here instead! :)

Disclaimer and trigger warning: I have strong opinions on the various D&D editions. Discussing PF2 becomes watered down and meaningless if I can't say what I really think. So let me state right off the bat that if you like monsters in 5E, class balance in Pathfinder or much of anything in 4E I would ask you to please find a different thread. Or at least keep in mind that an attack on your favorite game or mechanism is not an attack on you. Thank you.

My core irk with Pathfinder 2 is - who was this game made for?

It clearly improves upon 5E in many regards. Chiefly monsters and encounters are revitalized and again dangerous and exciting. And of course it clearly intends to offer much more choice for players. Robust support for a magic item economy (as opposed to how gold is worthless in 5E). Like 5E (and very much unlike 3E) it tries to make life easier by not forcing Dungeon/Game Masters create monsters using PC rules, and it also attempts to balance martial and spellcasting classes.

In other regards it comes across as completely clueless of 5E's success or even existence. It is very rules heavy. I do not think anyone would say I am unfair if I characterize it as "a wall of feats". It gorges itself on the littlest +1's and -1's. There are literally dozens of conditions. In other words, it utterly lacks 5E's newbie friendliness (no matter how much its defenders try telling you everything is "organized"; the game still is way crunchier than anyone needed or wanted).

So the legions of new ttrpg recruits will likely not be able to handle PF2, or even want to.

At the same time, it is 100% incompatible with Pathfinder 1. You simply cannot recreate the same characters - class abilities, feats and even numbers are entirely different. (Obviously, that there isn't yet support for a gazillion prestige classes is not a dig against the system).

And the thing about player choices... well, it turns out much of it is is just window-dressing, I'm afraid. Chargen is curiously inflexible, yet very fiddly. You can't impact the fundamentals - your attack bonus, AC and saves are locked in by your level 1 choice of class. Yet you are asked to a swim in a sea of feat choices.

Most (though not all) feats change very little about your character, and thus is of no help anchoring your characterization or portrayal. In short, you're asked to make choices which ultimately doesn't change anything; they just shifting the numbers to where they should have been in the first place. One way of this is to call it "balanced" and "you can't make a wrong choice". Another is "your choices don't matter".

Finally, in some regards it doubles down on the things we stopped playing 4E for. To some extent WotC is also guilty of this. It is easy to spam backgrounds and subclasses that mostly just rearrange the same old class abilities around. You can put an intern on the job; no real dev experience needed. But mostly I would have hoped it was a bad memory from the 4E era. Not so - this obnoxious design philosophy is alive and well in PF2.

Do you really need to put a name on each every combination of two feats? Not to mention how instead of having one feat that says "you can use your good skill for this action" Pathfinder 2 clearly intends to have individual feats for each and every skill-action combo. What this is? Spam. Nothing more, nothing less. It's like eating diet candy bars instead of the real thing: actual new rules crunch with new rules mechanisms.

Same with magic items, which are way too similar to the bland and boring magic item design of 4E. 3E and 5E does magic items right - both editions sport magic items that really have impact, the way magic should work. In PF2 probably the worst example would be Talismans, which are among the most petty and miserly item designs I have ever seen: for a far too high cost and much too much prep you get the tiniest bonus for the shortest time possible. Just blergh.

So, who was this game made for?

As far as I can see, it was made for... dunno? People that like restricted and fiddly characters with verbose names for the littlest things, 4E style, but with d20 variety in monsters...? Pathfinder and 3E holdouts that finally get to break LFQW (Linear Fighter Quadratic Wizard)...? But if you still play those games, you are likely not bothered by how multiclassed spellcasters rule the world! And what do the huge 5E crowds get? Not.... much of anything at all?

---

I for one cannot fathom why Paizo did not create a game that caters to 5E sensibilities but "gives more". More player-side charbuild crunch. Better monster support for the DM.

But a game that is fundamentally more like easy 5E than byzantine d20. And certainly a game that actually tries hard to NOT look like 4E.

Why, Paizo. Why?
 

Retreater

Adventurer
While Pathfinder 2 isn't for me, I think I can tell you who it is for. It's for Paizo's fans who participated in the playtest and enjoyed it. It's for the focus groups they interviewed who told them the kind of experience they wanted.
However, it's not for fans of 4E, 5E, or PF1. They already have the games they want.
That said, this rules add-on you describe (more character options, beefier/more interesting monsters, a magic item economy) sounds like a wonderful option for 5E. I'd be happy to help design something if someone would like to pull together a team.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Instead of trying talk in the two active threads at once, let me say it here instead! :)

Disclaimer and trigger warning: I have strong opinions on the various D&D editions. Discussing PF2 becomes watered down and meaningless if I can't say what I really think. So let me state right off the bat that if you like monsters in 5E, class balance in Pathfinder or much of anything in 4E I would ask you to please find a different thread. Or at least keep in mind that an attack on your favorite game or mechanism is not an attack on you. Thank you.

My core irk with Pathfinder 2 is - who was this game made for?

It clearly improves upon 5E in many regards. Chiefly monsters and encounters are revitalized and again dangerous and exciting. And of course it clearly intends to offer much more choice for players. Robust support for a magic item economy (as opposed to how gold is worthless in 5E). Like 5E (and very much unlike 3E) it tries to make life easier by not forcing Dungeon/Game Masters create monsters using PC rules, and it also attempts to balance martial and spellcasting classes.

In other regards it comes across as completely clueless of 5E's success or even existence. It is very rules heavy. I do not think anyone would say I am unfair if I characterize it as "a wall of feats". It gorges itself on the littlest +1's and -1's. There are literally dozens of conditions. In other words, it utterly lacks 5E's newbie friendliness (no matter how much its defenders try telling you everything is "organized"; the game still is way crunchier than anyone needed or wanted).

So the legions of new ttrpg recruits will likely not be able to handle PF2, or even want to.

At the same time, it is 100% incompatible with Pathfinder 1. You simply cannot recreate the same characters - class abilities, feats and even numbers are entirely different. (Obviously, that there isn't yet support for a gazillion prestige classes is not a dig against the system).

And the thing about player choices... well, it turns out much of it is is just window-dressing, I'm afraid. Chargen is curiously inflexible, yet very fiddly. You can't impact the fundamentals - your attack bonus, AC and saves are locked in by your level 1 choice of class. Yet you are asked to a swim in a sea of feat choices.

Most (though not all) feats change very little about your character, and thus is of no help anchoring your characterization or portrayal. In short, you're asked to make choices which ultimately doesn't change anything; they just shifting the numbers to where they should have been in the first place. One way of this is to call it "balanced" and "you can't make a wrong choice". Another is "your choices don't matter".

Finally, in some regards it doubles down on the things we stopped playing 4E for. To some extent WotC is also guilty of this. It is easy to spam backgrounds and subclasses that mostly just rearrange the same old class abilities around. You can put an intern on the job; no real dev experience needed. But mostly I would have hoped it was a bad memory from the 4E era. Not so - this obnoxious design philosophy is alive and well in PF2.

Do you really need to put a name on each every combination of two feats? Not to mention how instead of having one feat that says "you can use your good skill for this action" Pathfinder 2 clearly intends to have individual feats for each and every skill-action combo. What this is? Spam. Nothing more, nothing less. It's like eating diet candy bars instead of the real thing: actual new rules crunch with new rules mechanisms.

Same with magic items, which are way too similar to the bland and boring magic item design of 4E. 3E and 5E does magic items right - both editions sport magic items that really have impact, the way magic should work. In PF2 probably the worst example would be Talismans, which are among the most petty and miserly item designs I have ever seen: for a far too high cost and much too much prep you get the tiniest bonus for the shortest time possible. Just blergh.

So, who was this game made for?

As far as I can see, it was made for... dunno? People that like restricted and fiddly characters with verbose names for the littlest things, 4E style, but with d20 variety in monsters...? Pathfinder and 3E holdouts that finally get to break LFQW (Linear Fighter Quadratic Wizard)...? But if you still play those games, you are likely not bothered by how multiclassed spellcasters rule the world! And what do the huge 5E crowds get? Not.... much of anything at all?

---

I for one cannot fathom why Paizo did not create a game that caters to 5E sensibilities but "gives more". More player-side charbuild crunch. Better monster support for the DM.

But a game that is fundamentally more like easy 5E than byzantine d20. And certainly a game that actually tries hard to NOT look like 4E.

Why, Paizo. Why?
Frankly, you and I frequently disagree.

However, on the core of this we tend to agree more than not, I feel.

I too cannot see the audience PF2 seeks. It's not "for fans of 5e who want more crunch" (a path I would have not recommended but expected.) Its not "fans of PF1 wanting an upgrade and compilation." Its maybe but not quite "fans of PF1 seeking their "doomsday rulebook.""

No idea.
 

Arilyn

Adventurer
First of all, although I played PF1 for many years, I fell in love with 13th Age, so I am not here as a biased fan of PF.

I just popped over to the Paizo forums, which are humming along, as per usual. There are unhappy fans, if course. This is normal for a new edition. There is a lot of skeptical fans, however, who gave the game a try, and had a blast. I have been noticing comments like this elsewhere. People assuming the game is awkward, or too rules heavy, or too much like D&D 4e, discovering it runs quite smoothly, and most of all, is fun.

So the game might have a hurdle of skepticism to get over, and certainly it can't compete with 5e. Paizo has always been a smartly run company, so if there are storms ahead, hopefully they can weather them.

I have had fun with PF2 so far. It really isn't all that complicated or dense. I don't like everything about the game, but I don't think Paizo majorly dropped the ball or anything. Feels like PF, which seems like a reasonable goal for a second edition.
 

pcrotteau

Explorer
I respect your position on your perception of Pf2. There are a LOT of fiddly little bits that don't add up to much over the long haul.

I have played most of the iterations of D&D (though ironically not any 3e) and a ton of Pf1. For me the switch is more about a reset of base and options than it is about "fixing" something. I look forward to GMing a table where I can understand the mechanics of the characters across from me without a half hour explanation. Hopefully the growth of options will be a bit slowed this time around.

I don't know who the audience for this new edition is looking for. For 5e, it was quite easy. Gamers that were looking for a quick, uncomplicated doorway back into the worlds that they loved so much (at least in our small community). We saw quite a few people getting into roleplaying or back into the game at its release. Some of us played both at the same time.
 

ninjayeti

Explorer
The fact is PF2 meaningfully simplified the game in a number of significant ways. Could they have gone further? Sure - every time I see a situational +1 bonus I want to tear my hair out. But ultimately PF2 is a game I would (and have) played which is something that has not been true of PF1 for a long time.

Its also objectively more crunchy than 5E. I really like that tactical combat is a core part of the game and the designers are not so afraid of players doing basic arithmetic that it dumbs everything down to "roll one die or two." I like having character options - especially because they are not the naked "power ups" that contributed to the power creep in PF1.

Who is PF2 for? Given that 5E and PF are far and away the two most popular RPGs out there I think it is safe to say there is a market segment somewhere between the two even if you personally are not part of it.

I for one cannot fathom why Paizo did not create a game that caters to 5E sensibilities but "gives more". More player-side charbuild crunch. Better monster support for the DM.

But a game that is fundamentally more like easy 5E than byzantine d20. And certainly a game that actually tries hard to NOT look like 4E.
So your complaint is that they should have created a game just like 5E....except for the parts of 5E that you don't like. Because they didn't it's a game no one could like?

I understand your disappointment. PF2 is not the exact game I hoped it would be either. But looking past that it IS a game feels playable - even at higher levels - and one with enough distinguishing features from 5E to make if feel like a refreshing change of pace.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Having multiple meaningful decision points is fundamentally incompatible with having a balanced game. In order to fix the balance problems of PF1, they reduced the impact of each choice until it was negligible, which... is probably better than not addressing the balance at all.

Honestly, the better solution would be to reduce and consolidate options until each one was still meaningful, but reducing options would never fly with their perceived audience. PF1 fans, by and large, enjoy having lots of options. I guess Paizo thought that their intended audience cared more about having options present, than about having those options actually do anything.
 

RoastCabose

Villager
I gotta say, I intensely disagree with the notion that PF2 has no audience. Much of the original Pathfinder audience will no doubt find PF2 satisfactory, and that number will increase with time as more options become available, and people finish old campaigns and transition to new content.

And then there is the group that was interested in a crunchier, more detailed game than 5e, but found PF1 clunky, inconsistent, and at times intimidating. How is it not a good options for a more considered complex option than 5e?

More than that, I find you incredibly disingenuous, CapnZapp. I find PF2 as a rules engine to be genuinely better written then 5e, with a few exceptions that don't noticeably detract from the whole, imo. You state that

You can't impact the fundamentals - your attack bonus, AC and saves are locked in by your level 1 choice of class.
Which is not only false, but is actually more true of 5e!

You talk a ton of shit on PF2 with little proof to back it up. To say that Chargen is inflexible, especially when compared to the likes of 5e, is laughable at best, and slander at worst. Your class has a lot of identity, but that identity is incredibly flexible and allows for quite a lot of variation, even at level 1. With the exception of the Alchemist, which they kind of bungled imo, most of your feat choices matter and give you wider breadth of abilities, or improve in areas on which you want to focus. Not window dressing in the slightest, but build choices of which there are not clear best choices. Induvidually, they offer smaller but important bonuses or abilities that add up to make your character far more distinct from each other than 5e could ever even dream of.

I'd like to cover your points bit by bit, but I'm at work and don't have the time to do so, but rest assured I find your criticism against the feats and "fiddly bits" to be shallow and unsubstantive, and misleading to any souls who wonder onto this topic.

It sounds like you either never looked at the rules in-depth, or are intentionally misrepresenting the rules because you have a clear bone to pick with PF2 not just being 5.5e. 5e has many problems, and after DMing it for basically the whole time it's been available, they are grinding on me, and I find the system uninspiring, at this point.
 
I gotta say, I intensely disagree with the notion that PF2 has no audience. Much of the original Pathfinder audience will no doubt find PF2 satisfactory, and that number will increase with time as more options become available, and people finish old campaigns and transition to new content.

And then there is the group that was interested in a crunchier, more detailed game than 5e, but found PF1 clunky, inconsistent, and at times intimidating. How is it not a good options for a more considered complex option than 5e?

More than that, I find you incredibly disingenuous, CapnZapp. I find PF2 as a rules engine to be genuinely better written then 5e, with a few exceptions that don't noticeably detract from the whole, imo. You state that



Which is not only false, but is actually more true of 5e!

You talk a ton of shit on PF2 with little proof to back it up. To say that Chargen is inflexible, especially when compared to the likes of 5e, is laughable at best, and slander at worst. Your class has a lot of identity, but that identity is incredibly flexible and allows for quite a lot of variation, even at level 1. With the exception of the Alchemist, which they kind of bungled imo, most of your feat choices matter and give you wider breadth of abilities, or improve in areas on which you want to focus. Not window dressing in the slightest, but build choices of which there are not clear best choices. Induvidually, they offer smaller but important bonuses or abilities that add up to make your character far more distinct from each other than 5e could ever even dream of.

I'd like to cover your points bit by bit, but I'm at work and don't have the time to do so, but rest assured I find your criticism against the feats and "fiddly bits" to be shallow and unsubstantive, and misleading to any souls who wonder onto this topic.

It sounds like you either never looked at the rules in-depth, or are intentionally misrepresenting the rules because you have a clear bone to pick with PF2 not just being 5.5e. 5e has many problems, and after DMing it for basically the whole time it's been available, they are grinding on me, and I find the system uninspiring, at this point.
Well it sounds like you are seriously biased against 5e because it doesn't work for you. This doesn't help your argument for PF2E; how does attacking 5e in your response above help in any way? A poster has stated his issues with PF2E; can they not be addressed without dragging in adversarial views on 5e? Addressing someone else's opinions by shit talking another game they play and you don't like? Really?

Honestly, why can't people make their points about one game without resorting to attacking/denigrating another?
 

MockingBird

Explorer
The OP clearly gave a trigger warning in their post. Didnt take long for someone to totally ignore it haha.


To the OP. I agree with you mostly. I dont see who PF2e is for. The exclusion of some form of easy backwards compatibility blew my mind. That is a huge gamble for Paizo to make. Years of building a fan base and you make a newer version of your game that nullifies all your back catalog. I dont get it Big Dan.

I agree that Paizo seemed to ignore the success of 5e. Another mind blower in my opinion. Honestly I was hoping they would produce a crunchy 5e. I believe the two could have coexisted perfectly. 5e introduces new players, new players move on to PF2e. I dunno, maybe they just made a game they wanted and didnt really care what came of it? I doubt that but the choices made are mind boggling.
 

Xenonnonex

Adventurer
I'd definitely be up for some PF2 & 5e dual-statted hardbacks of stuff like Reign of Winter! I've seen some poor PF APs in recent years (Giantslayer #5 was a personal nadir), but they have a ton of good ones especially from the first 5 years or so.
Selfishly I just want the 5e conversions. Our group does not play 5e but they will not play PF2.

If they could open it up to a vote that would be best. But surely they know about which ones are hits and which ones are duds comparatively. Yeah also did not like Giantslayer. But APs like Rise of the Runelords, Strange Aeons, Reign of Winter, Serpent Skull, and some others would be quite good.
 

Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
It would be interesting to see how popular the 5e conversion of Kingmaker would be. And if it would mean Paizo might need to devote some time for 5e.
We'll see. But not sure the data paizo will end up with will be representative for the true 5e interest. The buy in for the 5e version is much higher than for the PF2 version, possibly making it seem 5e interest is much lower than it really is. For "true" data, they should have offered a hardcover 5e version at the same cost as the PF2 version (and maybe let someone who does proper conversions - that is, not Legendary Games - do the work).
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
Honestly I was hoping they would produce a crunchy 5e. I believe the two could have coexisted perfectly. 5e introduces new players, new players move on to PF2e. I dunno, maybe they just made a game they wanted and didnt really care what came of it? I doubt that but the choices made are mind boggling.
That's exactly what I was hoping for too, a crunchier version of 5e that I could switch over to. But no, that's not happening, I've played PF2 and it doesn't appeal to me.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Warning, this post is less about PF2 than broader rpg patterns. It just fits in this thread to me.

Traditionally, accessible game hits big and you always have a quick push for a more crunch version. They usually do ok. There's always a faction who wsbpnr more cruch or even "we scratch the itches that big boy left" follow-up.

But as I looked at PF2 and sawxegst it was (which is a right fine system) it occured to me that the "hit big" from 5e was more bringing new folks in. A lot of folks are now being drawn in by stream, youtube, etc.

So it occurs to me that the "hook the 5e hoard" direction to go might actually be a less-crunch, more stream-story friendly, quick start-up style game. Maybe borrow some easier to traxk-by-descriptives mechanics like damage saves vs HP, maybe more stunt driven active play than chargen build system, much more "language" than "njmbers" at the heart of its play.

I think if things I borrow from other games in my own play like "put an adjective to plusses" so that say every ability score above 13 on a character gets an adjective that plays into descriptions, above 15 two, etc.

Just pondering.

Obvioudly PF2 did not go this way, which is not a slam on it. It was designed another way to fit other goals.
 

Advertisement

Top