PF2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

Porridge

Villager
Barbarians and Champions can also get attacks of opportunity, although (like Rangers) they have to spend a feat to get it, and it’s not available until later (6th level).
 

Malkinban

The Torn
We recently got a group together to play PF2 at our local store, which I have stated in another thread is not carrying PF2 products. We have five players and our GM, with one guy driving 45 minutes in from the city to play a weekly game of PF2. We had our first session last night, and beside some normal rule look ups due to our unfamiliarity with the system the session seemed to go well.

I have been playing in a semi-regular PF2 game (two sessions so far), so I had a general idea of play, and so did the player driving in. The rest of the players were completely new to PF2, two having started RPGs with 5E and the last being an old hand at D&D in general. I would say what really helped make it go so smoothly is the fact that our GM already has a solid understanding of the rules himself.

All in all, the game has an A+ rating from me, but if two or three of the other players decide it isn't for them then that will be the end of the PF2 experiment at that store. The store is heavily dominated by 5E and Magic: The Gathering with a healthy stock of board games and a smattering of Warhammer 40k players. New players won't be exposed to PF2 if it isn't on the shelves, so I fear we will be an island of PF2 amidst the sea of 5E.
 

Malkinban

The Torn
Or, if you guys are having fun and ask the store to purchase PF2 materials, and others are enthused by your enthusiasm - maybe the presence will grow!
That's the plan, for sure, but it will certainly be an uphill battle as 5E is still much easier to introduce to new players (especially new RPG players) than PF2. We will be fighting the good fight, but 5E's brand power is hard to get passed at this point as people tend to want to play what is popular.
 

Malkinban

The Torn
Don't be coy, what did you like?
Hehe, OK. :)

So far, I like the following:
  • The Three-Action Economy
  • Proficiency Bonuses
  • Massive Feat Choice
  • Half-Orcs/Half-Elves rolled in as, essentially, variant Humans.
Things I’m not sold on:
  • Ancestry Feats: I don’t know what it is, but they just don’t gel for me yet.
  • Critical Hits/Misses Based on the -10/+10 threshold: I think it slows down the game and makes things too swingy.
What I don’t like:
  • The size of the core book: Dear Lord, I was hoping they would have made it the size of the 5E Player’s Handbook. I understand why it is the size it is, but it still makes it difficult to read.
  • Lack of a GM Guide for such a long period of time after launch.
  • Lack of visibility in games stores: Even stores that stock it don’t tend to buy much because of Paizo’s subscription model.
  • PFS isn’t pushed harder to garner store interest: Paizo could do incentives similar to WotC with Magic.
  • Lack of popularity: I’m an honest sort, I DO wish that PF2 was gaining more popularity than it is. I think it might gain some converts from 5E but it is NOT a beginner friendly game at all which may limit it’s growth potential.
So, not too much about the actual system that I dislike, but I fear that I may be forced to abandon it despite that fact if it doesn’t capture more tables (read: potential groups/players) in my area.
 
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First Age

Villager
So a mixed play experience so far?

I'm concerned about the experience of the casual players that you mentioned. If I were to hypothetically run PF2E in the future, the ease of introducing new players to the game would be my major concern.
I picked Pathfinder 2e for a few games with the family over Christmas. Basically three players (14, 21, er prime of beauteous life) and a 21 5e player.

Long story short, they all took to the game with ease. 2nd level characters, mage, sorcerer, druid, monk. It was my first to e GMing this game but I'm a long experienced RPGer.

It was a breeze to run as well. There were a couple of rulings that I needed to check on after the game but nothing major.

We loved it, even with a character sheet that looks like a tax return. Much excitement and more games as a family coming this year.

I'm now planning a game set in Midgard.

I'll post some more when I have time. Theory be damned, this is a great game.
 
Monks get a variant on AOO as well, called "Stand Still" it has a slightly different trigger that makes it slightly worse than the fighter version, but not by much. It is a class feat however.
 

FrozenNorth

Explorer
I have three 3-hour sessions under my belt (excluding Character Creation which was done separately). I came from 5e, but I have a long experience with RPGs, beginning with the Rules Cyclopedia. I will try to limit my comments to what I have actually experienced (except for a bit at the end).

Our group is running Fall of Plaguestone. We have 4 characters: elf wizard (my character), half-orc paladin, halfling rogue and elf alchemist.

Overall, the system works pretty well. Combat seems to go pretty smoothly. The half-orc paladin and elf alchemist seem to be working as intended.

Like a couple of others have posted, the wizard is underpowered. To compare with 5e (I am also running a 5e game), at the same level, the bard feels like an integrated member of the party even when he does little damage. I can see his cantrips making the monsters miss, and his spells buffing his allies or debuffing his foes. My wizard cantrips are doing scratch damage each turn, and so far, not a single spell I have cast has had much of an effect. Plus, I feel I am locked out of the 3-action system since each one of my spells takes 2-actions to cast.

Maybe it will get better as we level up, but Plaguestone only goes up to level 4, and frankly, if by level 4, my wizard doesn't feel more effective, I will probably drop the character, if not the game.

The other thing that I hate (but kicks in more at higher levels) is the skill system. When I DM, I like to throw my characters curveballs in the form of skill checks they are not trained in. I find it is neither realistic nor particularly fun for the barbarian that dumped Charisma to be able to avoid Charisma checks for the entire campaign.

This doesn't work in Pathfinder 2. By level 5, an on-level DC is pretty much impossible unless you're trained in the skill. If I use the Simple DCs instead, the trained DC is ludicrously easy if you are trained.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
and frankly, if by level 4, my wizard doesn't feel more effective, I will probably drop the character, if not the game.
Don't expect Wizards to contribute much before "Fireball level", level 5.

Nothing of consequence happens at level 4.

In this way PF2 is unapologetically old school.

Time will tell how much power you will gain at high level (the traditional reason why anyone would play such a weak character at low level).
 
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CapnZapp

Hero
The other thing that I hate (but kicks in more at higher levels) is the skill system. When I DM, I like to throw my characters curveballs in the form of skill checks they are not trained in. I find it is neither realistic nor particularly fun for the barbarian that dumped Charisma to be able to avoid Charisma checks for the entire campaign.

This doesn't work in Pathfinder 2. By level 5, an on-level DC is pretty much impossible unless you're trained in the skill.
You sound like you take 5E's bounded accuracy for granted, but you also say you have played D&D for many editions.

Maybe time to remind everyone the described circumstances aren't unique to PF2 - the same extreme reliance on level was also present in PF1 and the whole of 3E?

On the bright side, it would be relatively (but not trivially) easy to play without level to proficiency:

Try subtracting you level from each and every check, attack and save you make (including AC, Perception and static skill DCs).

The result should resemble 5E quite a bit, seeing that without level the proficiency bonus ranges from +2 to +8, quite similar to how it goes from +2 to +6 in 5E.

(Official rules for a "proficiency without level" variant is promised for this month's release of the Gamesmastery Guide)
 

BryonD

Adventurer
On the bright side, it would be relatively (but not trivially) easy to play without level to proficiency:

Try subtracting you level from each and every check, attack and save you make (including AC, Perception and static skill DCs).
Mathematically this is true. Producing a quality gaming result is another matter altogether.
PF2E is designed from the ground up with the presumption of this +level factor built in. Yes, you get D20+X compared to DC = Y and you can do the math. But (IMO) a good storytelling mechanical foundation should make sense in terms of how various checks compare to each other. As written PF2E modifiers are frequently on the order of 50% dominated by level (at least after the first few levels). Backing that out across the board from a system which relied on the presumption of +level creates a semi-random outcome.

The whole four tiers (+/- 10) feature gets particularly wacky. But that is not the only concern.

And I'm sure someone will ignore this and quote me wildly out of context, but if someone doesn't care a hill of beans about how the mechanics are self consistent in this way, then my comments won't apply to them.

The result should resemble 5E quite a bit, seeing that without level the proficiency bonus ranges from +2 to +8, quite similar to how it goes from +2 to +6 in 5E.
I don't think this is at all true beyond the most trivial of elements. Just as PF2E was designed with +level as a fundamental presumption, 5E was designed knowing that bounded accuracy was its foundation. The huge distinction is baked in throughout little details of everything.

Obviously I can't comment on what Paizo is going to publish. But it will need to be a really sophisticated retooling to be a solid alternative.

The standard for a really good TTRPG is very high. People have a lot of choices and fans with different preferences can be choose a game that caters to them. As lot of companies have demonstrated, simply publishing a game that "works" is easy. That doesn't go very far.

There are a lot of PF2E fans who love the +level system. It seems reasonable to assume that most of them want to keep +level and won't see this alternative as an improvement. Why should they? It is removing a feature.

By the same token, it will be hard to sell someone who doesn't like +level on a +level system with that feature backed out when they have great alternatives which are not based in any way on +level.

Again, no idea what Paizo is doing. We shall see.
But as to simply taking the game "as is" and backing out level, this does not produce something comparable to 5E.
 

FrozenNorth

Explorer
You sound like you take 5E's bounded accuracy for granted, but you also say you have played D&D for many editions.

Maybe time to remind everyone the described circumstances aren't unique to PF2 - the same extreme reliance on level was also present in PF1 and the whole of 3E?
I wouldn’t say that I take it for granted: rather that I am comparing two systems I am currently playing.

Also, and the goes without saying, my playstyle has changed over the years. For the better, of course.
 

zztong

Explorer
Like a couple of others have posted, the wizard is underpowered.
I don't remember concluding the Wizard was weak, but of the several Wizards I played, they all multi-classed. Mix in some Fighter and you can wear armor and swing a two-handed sword. During the weak and moderate challenge fights, you can go knock heads and save your spells. Not your character conception? I feel your pain.

The other thing that I hate (but kicks in more at higher levels) is the skill system.
Yeh, the skill system and I didn't get along either. I think it probably shines in a Pathfinder Society event where the DM doesn't know what the PCs will be, but it didn't match my style or goals.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
But it will need to be a really sophisticated retooling to be a solid alternative.
My concern is that Paizo will publish a long list of tweaks they recommend in order to play the game without level to proficiency, because if they do, that likely means noone will bother.

Nobody's interested in having to rewrite the game rules and/or remember complicated steps in order to play. If you can't apply the tweaks on the fly as you play, the variant isn't really workable. That would just confirm you can't easily take out levels, and that if you want to play with Bounded Accuracy, PF2 isn't for you.

(We can argue what or if more needs to be done than just subtract level later, once we see Paizo's finalized rule.)
 

FrozenNorth

Explorer
I don't remember concluding the Wizard was weak, but of the several Wizards I played, they all multi-classed. Mix in some Fighter and you can wear armor and swing a two-handed sword. During the weak and moderate challenge fights, you can go knock heads and save your spells. Not your character conception? I feel your pain.
This is it on the nose. The concept for the character was Fey magic-user, a concept that does not leave a lot of room for weapon and armor proficiencies.

Ironically, I considered playing an actual Fey sorcerer, but the class doesn’t do a good job of matching the archetype (though I may multiclass into it in the future).
 

BryonD

Adventurer
If you can't apply the tweaks on the fly as you play, the variant isn't really workable. That would just confirm you can't easily take out levels, and that if you want to play with Bounded Accuracy, PF2 isn't for you.
I agree with you.

But I also strongly believe that it isn't as simple as saying "bounded accuracy".
I don't think anyone would describe PF2E RAW as bounded accuracy. Taking a game that isn't bounded accuracy and simply subtracting a factor across the board doesn't make it one. It may make the basic mechanism of establishing the D20 modifier superficially appear similar. But bounded accuracy informs the design of 5E throughout, whereas it informs nothing in the design of PF2E.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
Thats where I see the issue for me. Level 5 characters have a ridiculous amount of stuff going on the character sheets. I see that killing any hopes for anything but a diversion
For reference, here is my level 5 character sheet: http://willsfamily.org/files/rpg/misc/Magog _5.pdf

Magog is a cleric who multi classed sorcerer and took feats to learn sorcerer spells. I think he's probably on the upper end of complexity. If you take out the irrelevant stuff (like the feats with effects already rolled in) and the long equipment list, it fits on one page, which is how I configure herolab when I play him.

If anyone is feeling masochistic, I could post the PDF for my 21st level 4E character ...
 

zztong

Explorer
This is it on the nose. The concept for the character was Fey magic-user, a concept that does not leave a lot of room for weapon and armor proficiencies.

Ironically, I considered playing an actual Fey sorcerer, but the class doesn’t do a good job of matching the archetype (though I may multiclass into it in the future).
I like the concept. A friend and I were recently talking about Merlin. I was suggesting that in lore he was a Druid. And we were lamenting that the DnD culture has gone with a much more modern druidism view which neither of us thought fit the genre. Not that there couldn't be beastmasters, folks who turned into totem creatures, plant fanatics, but that we didn't connect those with being a Druid. We eventually wandered into discussion of if Druids might better be considered arcane casters. The trouble would be the spell lists are full of spells that don't fit the concept.

None of that conversation pertained to PF2. He was talking in terms of a retro-clone that he develops (shameless plug for the Ice Kingdoms) and I was thinking to PF1. But it does hearken back to my past experiences with PF2 in that I had trouble getting the game to match/support my character conceptions. In every case I ended up picking between options that were unrelated or supported some kind of advantage that I hadn't envisioned but offered some sort of practical choice. When I attempted to develop a Shadow Weaver concept (a Rogue who augments his stealth by manipulating light and darkness, plus some deception through illusion) the DM concluded that I managed to make a worthless PF2 character. (In practice, it's actually easy to make a weak PF2 character if you try, but I was trying to be effective.) Admittedly, the concept has problems in PF1 as well, mostly because its hard to find a spell list that is going the same direction and spells that fit the conception.

I guess that's a long way of saying I'm looking forward to D&D 8e or PF5 when somebody offers a nice build your own class system and spells are broken into a number of different lists, perhaps with a build your own spell system.
 

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