Pathfinder 2 - More on Dying, Resonance, & Much Math!

Also known as "Mark Seifter's daily math lecture", here's today's Pathfinder 2nd Edition news roundup! Today involves a lot of discussion about Resonance (explained here) and the Death/Dying rules. Plus math. Resonance is a controversial subject - this is the third day in a row it has dominated these new updates. In other news, GAMA trade show has now ended, so Paizo staff will be returning home. As always, this info gets added to the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Compiled Info Page!


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  • "RumpinRufus" notes a couple more details gleaned from the Glass Cannon Podacast demo:
    • Dex damage is confirmed to no longer be in the game (assumedly, this also means all other ability damage is also removed.)
    • Magic Missile does 1d4+1 for every action you use to cast it. For every two levels you enhance the spell, it gets twice as many missiles (not specified whether this uses "regular multiplication" to go 3-6-12 or "Pathfinder multiplication" to go 3-6-9.)
  • Mark Seifter clarifies the new death/dying rules -- "I think due to the lack of context from the GAMA game, there's some misunderstandings here. There's not a game term designation of "boss" or "mook" that changes anything about a creature. Rather, a powerful hard-hitting creature that's significantly higher level than you (aka, a boss unless your GM is particularly cruel) is going to make it harder to recover from dying than getting hit by a weakling. If a weakling with tepid attack hits you for 3 damage with a shuriken, it doesn't matter if the GM calls it a "boss," it's still going to be easier to recover than from a powerful creature. It's not a narrativist mechanic like a death card where the GM just decides to make it harder to recover; it's mathematical. Now it does end up having a beneficial side effect that you're much more likely to die to a boss fight than an easy random encounter with weak enemies, but that's not due to handwavium."
  • On not basing the death saves on damage dealt -- "I mean you can try to do it based on damage, but that scaling doesn't really work and takes a lot of math to be close to working. Even assuming you found a good multiplier on damage taken such that the dying save was something you had a chance to both recover or die more (beyond a natural 20 or 1 of course); let's pretend that was a DC 10 + 2/3 of the damage you took or something like that, you're still going to be in an impossible situation on any critical hit because it's going to double the damage. Let's see that in action: Suppose I have +20 to Fortitude saves and got hit for 30 damage. OK, that's a DC 30 (10 + 2/3 of 30) in this hypothetical system, and it looks great. These are even numbers you might roughly see in the game if the stars align. But if the same attack is a crit for 60? Now the DC is 50 (10 + 2/3 of 60), and I need a Natural 20 to succeed (it isn't even close; a Natural 20 is 10 below the DC!) You can try to get around this by making the DC based on the base damage before the crit, but then that defeats the purpose of using damage to determine the DC and you're moving towards having it based on the monster's stats anyways."
  • Seifter on whether a dedicated healer is needed in the absence of cheap CLW wands -- "Here's what my playtest groups have seen in terms of healers (I've run a lot of playtests at this point; we try to meet once a week if we can for a year and a half):
    • Alchemist: The alchemists so far were easily able to keep the group healed, and with the power of distributed processing in their action economy.
    • Barbarian: Surprisingly, when the barbarian was the group's main source of healing, they did fine. This was an unusual barbarian though with an unhealthy obsession with Gorum, and the ability to be main healer had little to do with the fact she was a barbarian.
    • Bard: A single bard turned out to easily handle all the healing the group needed assuming he was willing to make room for healing in his spells, which so far most bards have been in my playtest groups.
    • Cleric: Groups with clerics have tended to be super great on healing, especially if the cleric does a heal nova (you can guess what this is based only on released information about healing). The best part is the cleric didn't even have to lose her prepared spells like she might in PF1.
    • Druid: The playtest session that had the most trouble so far had two higher level druids who refused to prepare any heals and tried to make do with as many 1st-level heal wands, potions, and scrolls as humanly/gnomely possible to see if they would eventually run out of resonance. They still made it through three fights including a pretty nasty one, but they eventually ran out of resonance. Druids completely can take care of your healing (especially two in one group), but in my playtests, they have been less likely to feel like it than others have.
    • Fighter: The fighters, which I may have seen the most different characters because everyone seems to want to play one, have almost always brought some non-consumable healing to the table. Over time that adds up. I've never had one be the only source yet.
    • Monk: In a very hard playtest, my monk sure was the one at full health while everyone else was dying (until my fellow PC, Jason's wizard, hit me with two spells anyway).
    • Paladin: Paladin as the group's only healer worked quite well, especially when the paladin specced for it.
    • Ranger: Rangers, like fighters, often did well with backup healing due to build choices not really related to their class.
    • Rogue: Like fighter and ranger, though for whatever reason they didn't do it as much despite having more chances to choose. Maybe this is also related to why the druids didn't cover heals as much even though they could?
    • Sorcerer: Surprisingly easy to heal the group with my sorcerer. Having so much resonance helped, of course.
    • Wizard: Wizards haven't really been helping with healing too much. They've had other things to do. I want to try an oddball build where I spec a wizard for healing like the barbarian did above, but haven't gotten a chance yet."
  • Removing conditions [like Mummy Rot] -- "Weirdly, we were just talking to editor James (not to be confused with Creative Director James) about an ability that does that without spells." (Seifter)
  • Wondering how Resonance will work out in play? "thflame" to the rescue! -- "Being a nerd, I decided to write a program that would run 1 million simulations of characters making Resonance Checks to see how many uses of magic items you can reasonably be expected to get after you run out of Resonance. My result was approximately 2.3 uses."
  • Seifter on the issues with the PF1 death and dying rules -- "Suppose your character has 200 Hit Points and is continually subjected to attacks that deal 16d6 damage. On average, after 4 such attacks, you've taken 224 damage, which in PF1 death and dying would put you at -24. But that's the average. What is the probability distribution of where your negative Hit Points will fall after the very first attack that drops you below 0 HP? Let's say you have 18 Constitution; what are the chances that you would survive using PF1's dying rules? For bonus points (and since these numbers are close to a local maximum of survivability such that lower or higher damage will change the results), try this with 18d6 damage and also with 13d6 damage"
    • Dasrak" ran the numbers and concluded that the chance of surviving the hit that takes you below 0 HP in PF1 is pretty low -- "I ran 1 million samples (evil pinky finger) of each. See the tabs at the bottom to toggle between the results. The 16d6 had a 27.8% chance of dropping between -1 and -17, the 13d6 had a 27.4% chance (must be an artifact of the damage averages making it more likely that it will knock you close to 0 on its second-to-last blow) and the 18d6 damage has gives you only 17.6% chance of survival. Oh dear. Not surprising, blowing right past the negative hit point threshold was a pretty common problem in higher-level Pathfinder."
    • Seifter confirmed -- "Your Monte Carlo simulations get similar results to my numbers (unsurprisingly). And yes, the 13d6 being unintuitively more deadly than the 16d6 is exactly because it has bad parity (it's more likely to knock you to about 18 HP and then kill you) and 16d6 has pretty good parity and might spare you on a below-average roll. And that low chance to get knocked out without an instakill didn't even include the possibility to get a crit that spikes you to double the damage! As you say, this is a good demonstration of why the PF1 death and dying system didn't really work if you played at high levels and didn't want huge lethality (and/or didn't carry tons of breaths of life everywhere)."
    • Even if you used double negative Con as a cushion -- "As you keep multiplying your Con, your cushion eventually becomes so close to the size of the chunks of damage you're taking (remember we cut out criticals here) that you basically can't die without being attacked after you're down at lower levels. You will still eventually hit a level where you're in really bad shape again even without crits, simply because damage scales a lot faster than 2*Con score, but it won't be until later than the 13d6 era, at least." (Seifter)
  • Critically failed attacks don't have fumble effects -- "There is normally no worse effect of critically failing with your weapon attack roll; you just miss, same as failing. It's not just attack rolls: when it didn't make sense or caused problems, there isn't always a separate critical failure effect (and not everything has a separate critical success effect if a success already gets you what you want from the action)." (Seifter)
    • Abilities based on fumbles -- "Basically your character might have an ability that allows you to capitalize on an enemy's critical failure in some way. You might also have an ability that gives partial effects on a failure (or when the enemy succeeds a save) and no effects at all on a critical failure (or an enemy critical success), in which case you also do care about failure vs critical failure but not because something laughable and bad happens to you." (Seifter)
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Barbarian can be a great healer? Huh.

Well if you take the healer feat, anyone can be a decent healer in 5e, but it sounds like it's "more" than that... rather curious.


The no dex to damage was interesting (lessening dex's supremacy as a stat) but if NO ability boost damage...
 



houser2112

Explorer
Barbarian can be a great healer? Huh.

Well if you take the healer feat, anyone can be a decent healer in 5e, but it sounds like it's "more" than that... rather curious.


The no dex to damage was interesting (lessening dex's supremacy as a stat) but if NO ability boost damage...

It's been a while since I've played Pathfinder, but I don't think there is a common way to add Dex to damage (like there is in 5E), so saying "Dex damage is confirmed to no longer be in the game (assumedly, this also means all other ability damage is also removed.)" would suggest it's talking about damage to ability scores, not damage calculated using ability scores. The wording is unclear, admittedly.

I haven't been following closely, but can someone give me the TL;DR explanation of what resonance is and roughly how it works?

Resonance is a system that limits how many times you can make use of magic items. It has been said it came about to address the "problem" (YMMV on how much of a problem it is) of spamming the use of wands of CLW. Details are sketchy, but it's somehow based on Charisma.
 

dave2008

Legend
Resonance is a system that limits how many times you can make use of magic items. It has been said it came about to address the "problem" (YMMV on how much of a problem it is) of spamming the use of wands of CLW. Details are sketchy, but it's somehow based on Charisma.

I keep forgetting the bold part. It seems CON would be a better fit to me
 

Lord Shark

Explorer
Barbarian can be a great healer? Huh.

Well if you take the healer feat, anyone can be a decent healer in 5e, but it sounds like it's "more" than that... rather curious.


The no dex to damage was interesting (lessening dex's supremacy as a stat) but if NO ability boost damage...

I think it's not "no DEX to damage," it's "no DEX damage" -- i.e. no damage that reduces your ability scores. Which I'm totally okay with, since ability score damage just makes it a pain to recalculate your sheet in mid-play. To say nothing of giving casters another easy way to do an end run around monster HP and defenses (see: Shivering Touch).
 


I keep forgetting the bold part. It seems CON would be a better fit to me

Maybe if magic item use was vampiric (sucked the life force out of you)....although I think that would be several steps too far for most PF players. Still I could see it working with the old school magic idea that you had to sacrifice something to make it work (don't watch the wizard making a potion or you will have to see him/her cut open his/her finger and drop some blood into it to make it work).

I think this is more like sorcerers forcing magic into something by force of will (and likely a bone thrown to sorcerer players in the foolish hope that they will now stop complaining about the wizard, because the sorcerer is better than the wizard at using magic items).
 

evildmguy

Explorer
Overall, I have liked what I read about PF2. My reaction to resonance has been a bit different.

First, it seems to affect fluff. Nothing wrong with this but in games where potions always work, or wands always work, now that the user has to "align his magical energies with the item to use it" seems like a bigger change to the world. It's not bad and I don't mind it but it does seem to make how magic works more specific than I usually see. Obviously, won't know until the playtest and final come out.

Two, I think I'm the only one that doesn't like that the players in playtests rarely ran out of resonance. It sounds like they have changed a lot about how healing and items work already, including my above point about using an item, such that perhaps "wand spamming" wasn't as much of an issue anymore. While I like the idea of this being a limit of the number of items they can use, regardless of type, if they never ran out of resonance, then it seemed like an extra mechanic to track that doesn't do much? Again, I'm assuming a lot! Further, I would rather, in a system where a person can only use so many magic items due to resonance, have them be limiited and have to make a tough choice (but I'm usually a DM and I know that's not fun for players) than it not really being an issue. Is it not possible to have more items than resonance? Or can you go beyond that limit and start getting some strange results from the interaction and play of the magic items? Imagine a character having that third ring at odds with the other two, such that his "aura" shows sparks and flashes of color. Or the rings don't like the sword because the rings are Abjuration and the sword is Necrotic, so again some weird interactions with them. Of course, this probably just complicates things more and might be best left to the group (or 3pp) to develop and I wouldn't mind seeing that as a possibility.

Again, I don't know that my speculation is true. I'm merely pondering if there is a missed opporunity for more interesting choices, with optional ideas for different style of campaigns?
 



Eirikrautha

First Post
I don't want this to sound personal, as I've never met Mr. Seifter and he seems like a great person and a careful designer, but the math focus of much of his commentary makes me uncomfortable. Before becoming a designer for Paizo, Mr. Seifter was very active on the message boards, and much of his commentary was similar in it's focus on the mathematical roots of PF rules and feats. I think this focus is an example of an overemphasis on the math, at the expense of the "feel" of the play.

Two caveats: as I said above, it's not about Mr. Seifter, but about the role math plays in the design process. Also, I am very aware that the math plays a vital role in balancing the game, as well as determining the viability of different actions. My problem lies in the assumption that math can be an accurate prediction of play.

For example, the various formulas (and computer simulation) of survivability to different dice rolls of damage is very clinical in nature, and doesn't represent what usually happens at the table. If a character is taking 13d6 from the BBG only, from full health, you might be able to say that certain outcomes are more likely than others. But when does this actually happen that way? What about the character that starts the fight down 7 hp (because it's close enough to full that he doesn't want to spend another spell/charge and waste the excess)? What about the minions that add 4d6 or 3d8 damage occasionally to the total? The antiseptic mathematical calculations can't account for that, or for the night you roll ten times under 10 on your d20 in a row.

If you go to the Paizo forums, you can find page after page of calculations of bonuses, damage, to hit, etc., all centered around the viability of this or that feat because it produces 12.3 points of damage per round compared to another that produces 12.4 ppr. I don't begrudge anyone their interests in these kinds of topics, especially since PF and its mechanics tend to exacerbate the math and synergies of the rules. But I don't think it necessarily describes what actually happens at an actual table. And I feel like Paizo has gotten a little to caught up in "what does the math say," as opposed to "how is it likely to manifest itself in play." The second is much harder (if not impossible) to predict, which explains the focus on the next best thing: the math.

I understand that, because of unintended synergies, the math on PF has to be tight. Balance is important when the numbers can get out of hand very quickly. And there are groups of players who look very carefully for these kinds of synergies to exploit them. But I don't believe that even the most perfectly balance has more than a tangential effect on the "fun" of the game. Nor is the "average" a good predictor of what the mechanics are going to feel like at the table. I just don't find "look at the numbers" to be a persuasive argument when it comes to rules decisions, unless it is to show how incredibly out of expectation the results are. I'd rather hear "it plays very well"...
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
What is Resonance?

It’s a new mechanic they’ve previewed to fix the wand of CLW spam problem and streamline all the magic item charge tracking. Instead of magic items like wands each having their own limited number of uses, each character has a limited number of times they can use the activated abilities of magic items in one day. This limit is called Resonance. Your Resonance score is equal to your level + your charisma modifier. Every time you drink a magic potion, or activate a wand, etc. you have to spend a point of Resonance. Once you are out of Resonance, you can still attempt to use magic items and potions, but every time you do you have to make a d20 roll (straight up, no modifiers) with a DC equal to 10 + the number of magic items you’ve already used in excess of your Resonance that day. On a success, the item works. On a failure, it doesn’t work. On a failure by 10 or more, it doesn’t work and you can’t use magic items for the rest of the day.

It’s unclear how this affects passive or triggered magical effects. It has been mentioned that you need to “invest” in your worn magic items like cloaks, rings, etc., spending a Resonance once at the beginning of the day to make them work for the rest of the day. It was also pointed out that wielded magic items, like magic weapons, don’t need to have Resonance invested in them to work. But it was also mentioned that if you have, say, a sword that you can spend an action to shoot a ray of fire out of, shooting that ray of fire would cost a Resonance.
 
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S

Sunseeker

Guest
You know what I find most interesting about reading this? MATH NERDS.

No really. I recall some of the 5E playtest and it was very, wordy. There didn't seem to be a lot of talk about crunch, there was a lot of talk about fluff and flavor and the "feel" of the game. This still talks about the "feel" of the game, but in a much more "we've done the math to arrive at a specific outcome" than "lets talk about your feelings".

Which honestly, I appreciate since good, solid rules are first and foremost what I'm looking for in a game.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
You know what I fing most interesting about reading this? MATH NERDS.

No really. I recall some of the 5E playtest and it was very, wordy. There didn't seem to be a lot of talk about crunch, there was a lot of talk about fluff and flavor and the "feel" of the game. This still talks about the "feel" of the game, but in a much more "we've done the math to arrive at a specific outcome" than "lets talk about your feelings".
Not only that, but any time someone tried to bring up the math in discussion, it was met with protestations of “They’ll work out the math later.” Even by WotC.
 

Arilyn

Hero
I agree that players endlessly calculating numbers to get the best build is annoying. Math, however, is absolutely needed in game design. Designers have to run the calculations to make sure their game works. Ignoring this will give you headaches later, and cause cracks in the design.
 


dave2008

Legend
CON is already a good stat to pump up. Tying magic item usage to it would likely make it too good.

I was just interested in what made more sense, less concerned about ability score balance. I do see an argument for force of Will, i.e. Charisma though as @ MechaTarrasque pointed out in post #9
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
What is Resonance?

Third-hand, Resonance seems to be a resource that characters get daily. Worn (all permanent?) magical items must be Invested (Imbued?) in the morning to work, and during the day Resonance is spent to trigger magic items. This replaces charges or uses per day for items.

The stated goals are to reduce magic item abuse like high level parties using cheap wands of Cure Light Wounds a lot to heal up, and to replace tracking each item for it's own usage limits. The start-of-day spend would also seem to help with the "Christmas tree" effect of having lots and lots of items, but if they said that is also a goal of it I missed it.
 

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