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!


  • "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)

log in or register to remove this ad


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).

Lord Shark's take on it was mine as well. Basically, no ability score damage in PF2 is the takeaway.

There hasn't been any talk that I've seen about dealing damage yet.

log in or register to remove this ad


Dusty Dragon
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).
Oooh... your reading is probably correct. I think we should keep an eye on it but it's probable that I misread the meaning.

I do agree that while stat damage is nice in theory, in practice it's a bit of a pain to manage.

Related Articles

Visit Our Sponsor

An Advertisement