Pathfinder 2: Fighters, Skills, & Counterspells

Today's Pathfinder 2nd Edition roundup is an eclectic collection of bits and pieces and little hints. A bit on the fighter, a bit on skills, and hints at a new Counterspell.

  • GeekDad has posted a "first impressions" article about Pathfinder 2nd Edition.
  • Courtesy of Jason Bulmahn -- "Just found the text for the very first 2nd edition adventure I wrote here in the office over a year ago. Too spoiler filled and out of date to share just yet... but there were some good times had in Etran's Folly".


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  • Jason Bulmahn on the fighter's focus on weapons -- "He does still have armor proficiency, and it does improve a bit for him, but for the fighter, we decided that weapons were his prime focus. This leaves a focus on armor for another class..."
    • Reactive Shield -- "It occurs to me that I forgot to include a mention of Reactive Shield in this blog, which is a bit of an oversight. The preview version we ran all weekend had this ability, which allows you to spend your reaction to raise your shield. You can't block with it if you use this ability (since you've already spent your reaction), unless you get the extra reaction to block. I may try and get an edit in there to add a note about this." (Bulmahn)
    • Determination -- "Determination... Your fighter training just lets you shrug off a spell or condition entirely." (Seifter)
    • Mark Seifter on Sudden Charge during a chase -- "We had a crazy chase/fight up a spiral staircase in my Shattered Star playtest game where the Sudden Charging fighter was chasing a rat-form wererat, kicking off the walls and over her ratty-form to block her off while the wererat would squeeze through the fighter and continue upward (the rat was faster but was slowed down by not always succeeding to squeeze through the fighter). They eventually dropped her low enough to cry mercy just at the top of the stairs. The fighter mentioned that it was one of the craziest and coolest action scenes he had seen in a long time, and I was thinking it seems like the kind of fight scene they would choreograph in a kung fu movie."
    • Fighter vs. flying foes -- "This particular aerial combo [jump up and smash flying oppo to the ground] is an ability available exclusively to fighters, and it is available in the level range of master (pre-legendary), but that doesn't mean you can have the whole thing going at a particular level. You'll at least get some anti-aerial options around the time the wizard is first able to fly." (Seifter)
    • How many skills does the fighter start with? "That hasn't been revealed yet. It will definitely be more than 2 trained skills at 1st level for pretty much any fighter you build, potentially quite a few more, and we have fewer overall skills (with Athletics covering Climb, Swim, Jumping, combat maneuvers, and more, for example) so that's worth even more than it seems." (Seifter)
    • Agile or powerful fighter? "You can make a character with lots of smaller but fairly accurate attacks (agile based), or a character with fewer enormous attacks (Power Attack), or something in between. I really like my agile build especially whenever I can get some haste, but I mostly just think it's cool that we can finally have something different but also cool for the lighter weapons to do that works out to good damage in a different way than the heavy ones do." (Seifter)
  • Bulmahn talks about the breadth of character options -- "One thing that I think we could explain a bit better is the fact that every character has a breadth of options open to them when it comes to social and out of combat abilities. Some come from classes whose theme and purpose aligns closely with those parts of the game. For those classes, they usually get some additional choices so that they do not feel that they are lacking in combat ability (sacrificing social for combat, or vice versa). That said, everyone has access to skills, skill feats, and general feats that allow you to tune your character to perform in the way that you want outside of combat (exploration mode and downtime mode). We will be looking at the modes of play on Friday and I am going to sneak in some information on this topic then to give you a sense of what's out there."
  • Bulmahn on design goals -- "As for the issues at hand, we have been working hard to shift some balances around a bit. Making an attack more accurate over the levels of play, while adding some variability and scaling to damage. This gives us more "levers" for design, and will result in a better play experience. The math of the old system, and the way some feats interacted with it caused serious balance issues over the life of the system. We hope to have corrected them, but only a full playtest will give us any indication as to whether or not we have succeeded. We hope you will hold off on judgement until then."
  • Attacks of Opportunity are more commonly triggered -- "In my playtests, I've found that both monsters and PCs trigger way more AoOs than before because they get down to the cost/benefit analysis of the action they really want to cast and sometimes decide "Well it might not have an AoO" or "Well it might miss me and I'll get my spell." In PF1, PCs always had AoOs, and martial PCs eventually pretty much always hit with them because they weren't at an iterative penalty, so you would cast on the defensive and auto-succeed (or nearly auto-succeed) at that check because it didn't scale quickly enough and there would be no AoO." (Seifter)
  • There's a new Counterspell -- "Yeah, counterspelling is weird in PF1. As you say, it's incredibly situational and overly complicated. On top of that, it feels really unexciting to do it too. But if you actually do it against an encounter where most of the challenge rests in a caster boss? You can wreck that encounter even without any feats or abilities taken to make counterspelling better, particularly if you have a caster level boost (karma prayer bead on my oracle, I'm looking at you; I accidentally turned one of the most notorious PFS scenarios into a cakewalk readying dispel over and over again). So it was the worst of several worlds: super situational, complicated, felt weak, and was actually too strong when its situation came up but in a boring way. Anyway, I can't wait until you guys can check out PF2's counterspell!" (Seifter)
  • How many skill ranks will a level 20 rogue have? "Oh, you can get 40-50 increases on the right rogue hellbent on getting skill rank increases instead of other skill options, not counting your starting trained skill picks. The range represents how increasingly unlikely you would be to put that many resources into it for diminishing returns on the sorts of skills you can pick. A more realistic rogue will be in the 30s at level 20 counting starting trained skill picks." (Seifter)

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Russ Morrissey

Comments

Kobold Boots

Villager
New counterspell. I'm rather happy about that. Until I see it.. then I might not be happy.. dunno which to be.. (gronk plays PF2)
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
New counterspell. I'm rather happy about that. Until I see it.. then I might not be happy.. dunno which to be.. (gronk plays PF2)
I just hope it's nothing like 5E counterspell, which uses up a spell slot and a reaction from both the target and the caster before allowing the original spell to go through unimpeded.
 

EthanSental

Explorer
The math of the old system, and the way some feats interacted with it caused serious balance issues over the life of the system.

Above red copied from the article - so the way some feats or maybe half of the 2K plus that were in the game cause serious balance issues. How can any game balance how 2000 feats might interact? Keep the number of feats in check in PF2 and I'll check it out, but if paizo plans on mass producing feats like they did in PF, I'm hesitant to invest cause I know I'll lose interest 2 years in in trying to keep up.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Above red copied from the article - so the way some feats or maybe half of the 2K plus that were in the game cause serious balance issues. How can any game balance how 2000 feats might interact? Keep the music,her of feats in check in PF2 and I'll check it out, but if paizo plans on mass producing feats like they did in PF, I'm hesitant to invest cause I know I'll lose interest 2 years in in trying to keep up.
I share your concern. But I think it’s safe to assume that the core books won’t contain 2000 feats, and that the feats they do include in the core rules will be at least reasonably balanced against each other. So, worst comes to worst, folks like us can run “core books only” games. That’s how I tend to run most games anyway, no matter the system - the core rules are all fair game, anything from outside the core is off-limits unless otherwise specified. Then I’ll tailor what outside sources I allow to suit the specific campaign.
 

CubicsRube

Explorer
I just hope it's nothing like 5E counterspell, which uses up a spell slot and a reaction from both the target and the caster before allowing the original spell to go through unimpeded.
Counterspell doesnt use up a reaction from the target. Not sure where you've read that.

I personally would prefer it to be a class ability that wizards get as distinct from sorcerors. While sorcers gain innate talent, wizards, who study the process and flow of casting spells are able to distrupt this process in others ×/day based on etc etc
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Counterspell doesnt use up a reaction from the target. Not sure where you've read that.
Here's how Counterspell works in 5E, in practice:
1) The enemy casts a spell
2) The PC wizard spends their reaction and a spell slot to counter that spell
3) The enemy spends their reaction and a spell slot to counter that counter

The end result is that the spell goes through as normal and the PC wizard loses a spell slot. It's a strictly worse situation than if Counterspell had never existed in the first place.
 

CubicsRube

Explorer
If we're assuming that the opposing spellcaster has counterspell, yes.

I would prefer counter spell to be more like an ability check only certain casters can do (this imo would differentiate wizards from other arcane casters).

In the situation there are 2 counterspellers, this could be resolved in an opppsesd check, aka wizard duel
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
If we're assuming that the opposing spellcaster has counterspell, yes.
I can't imagine not taking it, if it was an option. After all, not taking counterspell means you can't actually cast your own spell, since the enemy will obviously counter it, since it's just a reaction and they don't have to ready an action or anything.

And if you have it, but the enemy doesn't, then they aren't going to waste their action to cast a spell because there's no reason for you to not counter them.

If countering in Pathfinder is so obtuse as to be unusable, then 5E represents the opposite extreme, where it's so trivial as to become meaningless. In both cases, the game is improved by simply ignoring those rules.
 

Anselyn

Explorer
I can't imagine not taking it, if it was an option. After all, not taking counterspell means you can't actually cast your own spell, since the enemy will obviously counter it, since it's just a reaction and they don't have to ready an action or anything.

And if you have it, but the enemy doesn't, then they aren't going to waste their action to cast a spell because there's no reason for you to not counter them.

If countering in Pathfinder is so obtuse as to be unusable, then 5E represents the opposite extreme, where it's so trivial as to become meaningless. In both cases, the game is improved by simply ignoring those rules.
But if you are the fighter, you've just been made more important as the spellcasters rapidly attrit their resources. That may a desirable outcome for the non casters and the game.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
I can't imagine not taking it, if it was an option. After all, not taking counterspell means you can't actually cast your own spell, since the enemy will obviously counter it, since it's just a reaction and they don't have to ready an action or anything.

And if you have it, but the enemy doesn't, then they aren't going to waste their action to cast a spell because there's no reason for you to not counter them.

If countering in Pathfinder is so obtuse as to be unusable, then 5E represents the opposite extreme, where it's so trivial as to become meaningless. In both cases, the game is improved by simply ignoring those rules.
A few points:
1) You’ve just made your enemy use two spells to cast one spell, and you’ve used only one, pretty good trade-off in my opinion, especially at mid-levels (5th through 10th). Plus if they’re not using their higher level slots, it’s not a sure thing. You want to use two fifth level slots to get your cone of cold off? Be my guest!
2) You assume the enemy knows you have counterspell. Until you cast it the first time, they don’t.
3) Not every caster will have counterspell - I wouldn’t run it that way if I were DMing, because that’s way too much metagaming. It presumes the caster will always have access to the spell, and an NPC caster may not.
4) It presumes the caster will want to take up that prep spell with counterspell instead of something more useful like more damage and utility spells, and the caster only has so many prep slots. Or a caster might not have the foresight to prep it on a given day (intelligence does not imply wisdom, and all that).
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I note that they say they are changing counterspell... but to what? "This is being changed, it's going to be awesome!" is pretty thin!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I note that they say they are changing counterspell... but to what? "This is being changed, it's going to be awesome!" is pretty thin!
They can't tell you *everything* all at once! )

I"m sure they'll get to that in due course.
 

Kobold Boots

Villager
The math of the old system, and the way some feats interacted with it caused serious balance issues over the life of the system.

Above red copied from the article - so the way some feats or maybe half of the 2K plus that were in the game cause serious balance issues. How can any game balance how 2000 feats might interact? Keep the number of feats in check in PF2 and I'll check it out, but if paizo plans on mass producing feats like they did in PF, I'm hesitant to invest cause I know I'll lose interest 2 years in in trying to keep up.
If I was to try to do this, I'd be using machine learning to accomplish it. When you think about it, the number of possible combinations of character builds is too high to human test everything, and the number of different types of encounter are likely similar when you talk about different types of monsters and terrain, and well stuff.

It'd be a monstrously large task to get the data collected if someone didn't think of doing it at the onset of game development, but not impossible.

Fundamentally, the core question that needs to be answered is. "What is considered broken from a maths perspective?" Once that's figured out then you cut down half the broken from the onset. However, you're not going to be able to phase out literacy challenged folks, inexperienced or just poor games masters that create the other half of the problem.

KB

After thought: The basic axiom of like bonuses don't stack would probably fix a lot of stupid if applied differently.

Rule 0: Anything in the rules can be overruled or house ruled for any given table.
Rule 1: Any maths that creates a bonus greater than X for any given roll on any task is capped at X, with X increasing as characters level.
Rule 2: Challenges are scaled such that characters meeting challenges at their level or higher are appropriately challenged and if you take on lower level challenges, you pretty much stomp all over them.

So if +2 is the highest modifier you can execute on at 1st level on any roll and you have bonuses that would take you to +3, then the final modifier is +2. Choose how you want to get there based on your build.

Then it doesn't matter how broken the feats are over time. You've maintained the integrity of the bell curve by level. The only thing you'd need to worry about is watching the action economy, which would be easier to do if you weren't also worried about the maths.

I dig this because feats would then contribute to character potential and that potential would come to fruition as they train and level, showing that they've gotten better over time. While that would mean that players may have situations where they could potentially have +10 or higher in certain circumstances, only when the experience of the character or the situation itself merits using +10 would it actually happen.
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
1) You’ve just made your enemy use two spells to cast one spell, and you’ve used only one, pretty good trade-off in my opinion, especially at mid-levels (5th through 10th). Plus if they’re not using their higher level slots, it’s not a sure thing. You want to use two fifth level slots to get your cone of cold off? Be my guest!
Enemy spellcasters almost always have far more spell slots than an adventuring wizard, and are at zero risk of running out. They only have 2-3 rounds of combat per day, at most. You have five more encounters to get through today.
2) You assume the enemy knows you have counterspell. Until you cast it the first time, they don’t.
If you're dressed like a wizard, in this world where classes are very strongly codified and wizards have a distinct appearance, then it's a fairly safe assumption. You're the one who isn't wearing armor, and also isn't doing kung fu. Maybe you can try to fake them out, by pretending that you know it if you don't, but that just means their spell goes through unimpeded without them needing to spend their reaction, and they can counter anything you cast with impunity.
3) Not every caster will have counterspell - I wouldn’t run it that way if I were DMing, because that’s way too much metagaming. It presumes the caster will always have access to the spell, and an NPC caster may not.
It's not meta-gaming if the world actually works that way. It's not like you need to find spells before you can learn them. This isn't AD&D world.
4) It presumes the caster will want to take up that prep spell with counterspell instead of something more useful like more damage and utility spells, and the caster only has so many prep slots. Or a caster might not have the foresight to prep it on a given day (intelligence does not imply wisdom, and all that).
Honestly, I seriously can't imagine a professional smart person being that foolish. Maybe if they're just a sorcerer, and they've just gained access to third-level spells. Otherwise, it's absolutely mandatory if you want to fight with spells in a world where countering spells is so trivial.

A spellcaster who doesn't have counterspell will be completely useless against an enemy who does, and spellcasters on both sides should be entirely aware of this fact.
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
But if you are the fighter, you've just been made more important as the spellcasters rapidly attrit their resources. That may a desirable outcome for the non casters and the game.
As a PC who is a fighter, the spell slots of the wizard in your party are valuable to you, since they can make your job easier by controlling/weakening enemies. There's no benefit from the wizard on your team running out of spells.

And the enemy wizard isn't going to run out of spells, either way, because they have their entire daily allotment to spend during this one fight. It's not like a drow stronghold will ever need to fend off more than one adventuring party per day. (I mean, maybe, but it's fairly unlikely; and it's fairly unlikely that the exact same drow wizard would be responding to both incidents, especially since they probably died if you survived the first encounter.)

As for the game, if you want spellcasters to have fewer spells per day, then you can just design them to have fewer spell slots. Adding in a pointless counterspell mechanic in the hopes of siphoning off spell slots would be like giving Cure spells a 30% fail rate.
 

Anselyn

Explorer
As for the game, if you want spellcasters to have fewer spells per day, then you can just design them to have fewer spell slots. Adding in a pointless counterspell mechanic in the hopes of siphoning off spell slots would be like giving Cure spells a 30% fail rate.
They're very good points. You are right.
 

unknowable

Explorer
Here's how Counterspell works in 5E, in practice:
1) The enemy casts a spell
2) The PC wizard spends their reaction and a spell slot to counter that spell
3) The enemy spends their reaction and a spell slot to counter that counter

The end result is that the spell goes through as normal and the PC wizard loses a spell slot. It's a strictly worse situation than if Counterspell had never existed in the first place.
Remembering that as of xanathars you can only identify a spell being cast with a reaction, meaning you cast counterspell before knowing what level the spell is or whether it is one you wish to counter or not.
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
Remembering that as of xanathars you can only identify a spell being cast with a reaction, meaning you cast counterspell before knowing what level the spell is or whether it is one you wish to counter or not.
Your optional rule supplement has zero impact on the core rules being used at any other table. The procedure for identifying a spell being cast, or even just its level, is entirely a matter for the DM to decide. (If the DM owns that book, then they may well decide to use those rules, but it is still their decision whether or not to do so; I imagine many would not use those rules, since they are notoriously counter-intuitive.)

It's also largely irrelevant, though. The enemy doesn't need to know what spell you're casting in order for them to counter it. If you want to waste your turn in order to cast a weak spell, in the hopes that they will try to counter it and you won't bother countering that counter, then the enemy has still succeeded in their goal of preventing you from casting a useful spell. If your DM chooses to hide the spell level, then that introduces inefficiencies due to random guessing, which still benefit the NPC since they have more spell slots to burn during this encounter.
 

Shasarak

Villager
I had a quick look at the GeekDad article but it was sometimes hard to tell which bits were his opinion and which were quotes from Paizo.
 

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