Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

CapnZapp

Hero
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.
Anyhoo...

We just got confirmation that the rules and guidelines for not adding your level to checks and DCs basically amount to...

Not adding your level to checks and DCs! ;)

From Paizo's forum:
TriOmegaZero said:
For the most part, that appears to be the case. Proficiency bonus just becomes a +2 per rank, then subtract the level of the subject from the stats you normally add proficiency to. There are some GM notes on adjusting encounter XP and treasure as well.
From Reddit:
The-Magic-Sword said:
They take up about a page, the basics are simple- just yank level out of all the stats that have level, it gives you a list in a paragraph. But they also provide a simple DC chart for no-level, and a new Creature exp chart along with an explanation of how it changes encounter building, there's also a warning about treasure since its much easier to defeat higher level foes so your party may get way more, it even suggests using another variant for automatic item bonus progression when using it.
I really don't have anything else to say. The main difference between 5E and PF2 (as regards "accuracy" and whether it is bounded or not) is that level is added to everything in one of those games, and now you can play PF2 without. (In fact, just as I suspected, you could do that all along, even without Paizo's written guidance.)

Provided, of course, you don't mind performing subtraction on-the-fly to almost every number in the game.

For some people, that's no bother. For others, nothing short of a reissued Bestiary with all those numbers already recalculated on the page will do.
 

BryonD

Adventurer
Anyhoo...

We just got confirmation that the rules and guidelines for not adding your level to checks and DCs basically amount to...

Not adding your level to checks and DCs! ;)
Well, I guess now we know.
I am kinda disappointed and kinda not surprised.
I really wanted to see something cool salvage this game for me. I tried myself and came up with nothing that was satisfactory. But I was holding out hope that they had some amazing insight.

I really don't have anything else to say. The main difference between 5E and PF2 (as regards "accuracy" and whether it is bounded or not) is that level is added to everything in one of those games, and now you can play PF2 without. (In fact, just as I suspected, you could do that all along, even without Paizo's written guidance.)

Provided, of course, you don't mind performing subtraction on-the-fly to almost every number in the game.

For some people, that's no bother. For others, nothing short of a reissued Bestiary with all those numbers already recalculated on the page will do.
Yeah, doesn't seem we are getting anywhere. 5E is intended to have goblins still have a chance to hit a high level character while still serving as fodder. PF2E is designed to make goblins completely mathematically obsolete. The fact that removing level gives the goblins a chance to hit doesn't mean that the system designed expecting them to be obsolete produces quality results.

I can do the math on the fly easily. But that just ain't the point. :)
I find it a bit surprising that the pervasive issue around that are not seen as obvious. But so it goes.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Now you have said it three times, but repeating it doesn't make it more true.

You need to provide examples, point to specific rules, if we are to believe your assertion that "bounded accuracy informs the design of 5E throughout, whereas it informs nothing in the design of PF2E".

Basically, what did you expect that you didn't get, @BryonD ?

Cheers
 

BryonD

Adventurer
For starters, the +/- 10 saves and the whole 4 tiers of success doesn't work nearly as well.
That is two which I did already say.
The way HP and damage dealing scales on both sides of the table is a bit different and again reflects a difference in design. In 5E goblins can hit a high level character and can be missed by the same, but they still serve as mooks within that assumption. PF2E assumes that the goblins are mathematically irrelevant, so they don't scale the same at all.
Armor class in 5E is set by the armor, whereas PF2E assume that level will put AC in the right range.

It has been more than six months. I'm sure I could come up with more if I went back to it like I did then.

Saying that water is wet doesn't make it true. But it still is. It is kinda surprising that it needs to be discussed.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
For starters, the +/- 10 saves and the whole 4 tiers of success doesn't work nearly as well.
That is two which I did already say.
The way HP and damage dealing scales on both sides of the table is a bit different and again reflects a difference in design. In 5E goblins can hit a high level character and can be missed by the same, but they still serve as mooks within that assumption. PF2E assumes that the goblins are mathematically irrelevant, so they don't scale the same at all.
Armor class in 5E is set by the armor, whereas PF2E assume that level will put AC in the right range.

It has been more than six months. I'm sure I could come up with more if I went back to it like I did then.

Saying that water is wet doesn't make it true. But it still is. It is kinda surprising that it needs to be discussed.
If you have discussed this previously, maybe you could link to your earlier posts?

What about the +/- 10 saves and the whole 4 tiers of success works less well when you take level out of the equation? It would make BBEGs crit you less often, and thus be less overwhelmingly dangerous, but that's the point, innit? Making PF2 play more like 5E, where heroes can eat a single monster five levels higher than the party for lunch?

HP and damage dealing - now there's a point. 5E offers big bags of hit points to account for the fact heroes just keep hitting. But removing level from proficiency doesn't change the fact the baseline accuracy is easily 3 or 4 steps easier in 5E (if you have a 65% chance of hitting in 5E, all things equal, you have only 50% or even 45% in PF2).

In 5E goblins can hit a high level character and can be missed by the same, but they still serve as mooks within that assumption. PF2E assumes that the goblins are mathematically irrelevant, so they don't scale the same at all.
Sorry I don't understand what you're talking about here. What property of a 5E goblin does a PF2 goblin lack, once you remove the 5 points from a level five hero (the level where I'd say a goblin becomes "irrelevant")?

Armor class in 5E is set by the armor, whereas PF2E assume that level will put AC in the right range.
Are you saying the range between low and high AC is somehow different? Or that PF2 armor "needs" level to be "right"?

I would have thought a high-Dex character in light armor and a low-Dex character in heavy armor would work out about the same in both games, once neither game adds level to AC, just proficiency?

I might be missing something. You sure sound sure.

But I'm still waiting for you to commit to real examples that makes me understand your take.

You sure you're not just taking things for granted here? It really isn't a case of water being wet, you know. Your first clue is me questioning your assertion - I truly don't see what's so obvious about it.

That doesn't mean you don't have a point. Just that you need to be able to explain it, or there's a possibility it really does needs discussing, but not for the reasons you think.

Cheers
 
Anyhoo...

We just got confirmation that the rules and guidelines for not adding your level to checks and DCs basically amount to...

Not adding your level to checks and DCs! ;)

From Paizo's forum:


From Reddit:


I really don't have anything else to say. The main difference between 5E and PF2 (as regards "accuracy" and whether it is bounded or not) is that level is added to everything in one of those games, and now you can play PF2 without. (In fact, just as I suspected, you could do that all along, even without Paizo's written guidance.)

Provided, of course, you don't mind performing subtraction on-the-fly to almost every number in the game.

For some people, that's no bother. For others, nothing short of a reissued Bestiary with all those numbers already recalculated on the page will do.
One note, as the person you quoted there from Reddit ; )

It would also probably be pretty easy for tools like Pathbuilder (Character Builder) and Easytool (Monsters and Stuff) to have toggles to subtract the level number from all the stats, more so than allowing 5e to function with level added to the numbers.

But yeah, the entirely intentional effect of adding level is to add something that creates an inherent imbalance between things of different levels, its why bosses don't need stuff in this game to compensate for action economy, they take a fraction of the damage in the same number of attacks as at-level targets and deal multiple at-level actions worth of damage with their attacks.
 

dave2008

Legend
One note, as the person you quoted there from Reddit ; )

It would also probably be pretty easy for tools like Pathbuilder (Character Builder) and Easytool (Monsters and Stuff) to have toggles to subtract the level number from all the stats, more so than allowing 5e to function with level added to the numbers.

But yeah, the entirely intentional effect of adding level is to add something that creates an inherent imbalance between things of different levels, its why bosses don't need stuff in this game to compensate for action economy, they take a fraction of the damage in the same number of attacks as at-level targets and deal multiple at-level actions worth of damage with their attacks.
Actually, your post made me think that the way to do that in 5e is not to add a flat bonus.
Instead I think something like this would work (for 5e):
  1. Creatures five or more levels above the part have legendary might (or whatever level difference and name you feel is better for you).
  2. Creature with legendary might have legendary advantage: They have advantage on all of their attacks and saves and you have disadvantage on your attacks and saves. This stacks with normal advantage/disadvantage.
  3. Creatures with legendary might are empowered: Their attacks do double damage (or max damage - whatever floats your boat).
I think that would about do it. Now to go post this idea in the D&D forum and maybe get @CapnZapp 's thoughts!
 

FrozenNorth

Explorer
That doesn't mean you don't have a point. Just that you need to be able to explain it, or there's a possibility it really does needs discussing, but not for the reasons you think.
This is an interesting discussion. I don’t see a problem with combat, but there is a potential problem with skills: the skill DCs don’t just increase with level, they get an additional boost on certain levels to reflect the jumps to Expert, Master and Legendary proficiencies as well as a +1 boost to your stats. This may not map appropriately if you get rid of level boosts.

I haven’t done a detailed analysis of this, just something that csme to my mind unbidden.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I see no reason why it wont.?

Edit: I don't think your concern is warranted, FrozenNorth. Yes it is true that while the level 1 DC is 15 and the level 2 DC is 16, the level 3 DC is 18, not 17.

But the timings of when you gain Expertise etc remains the same.

A level 3 monster previously sported DC 18 to account for it having attained Expert proficiency. The 1st level character only attains +7 to hit at best (+4 ability modifier +2 Trained +1 level), so she would need to roll an 11, a 50% chance compared to the 65% of reaching the level 1 DC (15).

But guess what? Nothing (much) changes if we remove level from proficiency!

Now the level 1 DC is 14 and the level 2 DC is also 14, because level no longer plays a part, and we haven't yet increased our proficiency rank (or our ability score). But the level 3 DC is still not the same - it is 18-3=15, not 14.

The level 3 monster's DC used to be 18. Now it's 15.

The first level attacker used to have +7. Now she has +6. She would need to roll a 9, a 60% chance. This is higher. Against a level 1 threat she has a 65% chance (same as before). The "bump" for proficiency rank is still there.

All the variant does is compress probabilities. Instead of having a very large chance against low-level critters and a very small chance against high-level bosses, level without proficiency gives you pretty much the same chance against all of them. Just like in 5E other factors have to take up the slack; significantly: hit points. But proficiency ranks (and ability modifier increases) still play their part.
 
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CapnZapp

Hero
One note, as the person you quoted there from Reddit ; )

It would also probably be pretty easy for tools like Pathbuilder (Character Builder) and Easytool (Monsters and Stuff) to have toggles to subtract the level number from all the stats, more so than allowing 5e to function with level added to the numbers.

But yeah, the entirely intentional effect of adding level is to add something that creates an inherent imbalance between things of different levels, its why bosses don't need stuff in this game to compensate for action economy, they take a fraction of the damage in the same number of attacks as at-level targets and deal multiple at-level actions worth of damage with their attacks.
Well, without level to proficiency, you would have to increase the level gap between a "boss" and a party, much like you do in 5E.

A Vampire Count, for instance, is a pretty common choice for a "boss monster". If we look at select abilities, we have:

Armor Class 27
Melee Claw +18
Dominate DC 26

Without level to profiency, the monster is brought down to earth, as it were (it's level 9)
Armor Class 18
Melee Claw +9
Dominate DC 17

Does this mean it is now suitable for low-level heroes? Well, no, since it still got 110 hit points with fast healing 10 and resistance 10 (against weapon attacks from low-level heroes). This is still insurmountable.

Very very roughly I would say the variant doubles the level range. If an encounter previously was deemed of "severe" difficulty when it was three levels over the party level, I would now deem an encounter six levels over the party as severe.



So yes, the dynamic changes. Single powerful creatures lose some of their edge. On the other hand, large numbers of previously trivially easy foes gain some edge.

I really don't see any game-breaking issues here (and I certainly don't see any magical hidden properties of the game that simply doesn't work without level to proficiency), but again, I haven't tried the variant.

I do see adventure-path-breaking issues, however. It isn't as simple as "previously hard BBEG fights now become easy" and "previously easy mook fights now become hard", since that would imply the overall challenge hasn't changed and therefore that you don't really need to modify published APs.

While the overall challenge might not change on average, the extremes disappear*: When the easy and hard fights disappear, fun loses out. So you do need to modify published APs.
*) mostly; there might be previously hard fights against lots of mooks that now become impossible
 
Well, without level to proficiency, you would have to increase the level gap between a "boss" and a party, much like you do in 5E.

A Vampire Count, for instance, is a pretty common choice for a "boss monster". If we look at select abilities, we have:

Armor Class 27
Melee Claw +18
Dominate DC 26

Without level to profiency, the monster is brought down to earth, as it were (it's level 9)
Armor Class 18
Melee Claw +9
Dominate DC 17

Does this mean it is now suitable for low-level heroes? Well, no, since it still got 110 hit points with fast healing 10 and resistance 10 (against weapon attacks from low-level heroes). This is still insurmountable.

Very very roughly I would say the variant doubles the level range. If an encounter previously was deemed of "severe" difficulty when it was three levels over the party level, I would now deem an encounter six levels over the party as severe.



So yes, the dynamic changes. Single powerful creatures lose some of their edge. On the other hand, large numbers of previously trivially easy foes gain some edge.

I really don't see any game-breaking issues here (and I certainly don't see any magical hidden properties of the game that simply doesn't work without level to proficiency), but again, I haven't tried the variant.

I do see adventure-path-breaking issues, however. It isn't as simple as "previously hard BBEG fights now become easy" and "previously easy mook fights now become hard", since that would imply the overall challenge hasn't changed and therefore that you don't really need to modify published APs.

While the overall challenge might not change on average, the extremes disappear*: When the easy and hard fights disappear, fun loses out. So you do need to modify published APs.
*) mostly; there might be previously hard fights against lots of mooks that now become impossible
So, the game breaking issue is basically what it was in 5e (of which I played since 2015-2016 right up until the release of PF 2e, so this comes from extensive personal experiences with the system) is that the HP and stuff isn't really enough to make the solo boss a threat unless the level gap is absolutely massive, or you use legendary actions + resistances to emulate the differences provided by level in systems with +level, i.e. spells and other control effects are generally less likely to take hold, the boss can do way more damage.

Level 9-11 parties should not be able to take down Solo Balors, but in 5e, with a reasonably optimized party, thats not even really much of a challenge. Its theoretically possible to balance a bounded accuracy, no +level experience such that it doesn't have that flaw, but 5e doesn't quite have the numbers tuned for that, and it does create a scenario where solo's have to be specially crafted with a band aid fix to their math.
 

dave2008

Legend
Level 9-11 parties should not be able to take down Solo Balors, but in 5e, with a reasonably optimized party, thats not even really much of a challenge. Its theoretically possible to balance a bounded accuracy, no +level experience such that it doesn't have that flaw, but 5e doesn't quite have the numbers tuned for that, and it does create a scenario where solo's have to be specially crafted with a band aid fix to their math.
Actually, it is incredibly easy to solve this issue in 5e. The exact numbers vary of course based on party dynamics and environment, but simply increase AC and damage and 5e monsters can be terrifying. Personally I recommend +1 to AC per tier and doubling damage, but that is to much for some. I would go ahead and add the bonus to all saves too.

Also, why shouldn't a level 9-11 party not be able to take down a balor? I ran just such a battle in 4e and it was great. 6 lvl 10 PCs in a climatic battle against balor. It was awesome. I actually liked that battle so much I tried something similar in 5e; however, it resulted in a TPK. So maybe a lvl 10 party can do it in 5e, but mine couldn't!
 

CapnZapp

Hero
So, the game breaking issue is basically what it was in 5e (of which I played since 2015-2016 right up until the release of PF 2e, so this comes from extensive personal experiences with the system) is that the HP and stuff isn't really enough to make the solo boss a threat unless the level gap is absolutely massive, or you use legendary actions + resistances to emulate the differences provided by level in systems with +level, i.e. spells and other control effects are generally less likely to take hold, the boss can do way more damage.

Level 9-11 parties should not be able to take down Solo Balors, but in 5e, with a reasonably optimized party, thats not even really much of a challenge. Its theoretically possible to balance a bounded accuracy, no +level experience such that it doesn't have that flaw, but 5e doesn't quite have the numbers tuned for that, and it does create a scenario where solo's have to be specially crafted with a band aid fix to their math.
Sorry, could you summarize your position? Feels like you're vaguely ranting against 5E... I thought we were discussing level without proficiency in PF2?
 

kenada

Adventurer
I got the PDF for my subscription last week. We’re evaluating whether to adopt the “proficiency without level” variant for my hexcrawl sandbox campaign. We’ll know for sure in a few weeks at our next session when we roll up characters and go adventuring. (We’ll also be using point buy ability score variant with 25 instead of 15 flexible points, but that only has a slight impact on your starting scores and shouldn’t matter for seeing how “proficiency without level” feels at the table.)

Before suggesting to my group we switch, I looked at the numbers. Using the expected rate of progression for skill increases, you stay right around 50~60% (for the most part) chance of success assuming a +3 in the associated skill. The same goes for attack rolls against the AC guidelines from the monster creation chapter. I didn’t look at save DCs, but them to follow the same trend. I ran a mock combat using the party that TPK’d against the monster that TPK’d it, and it felt like it was more solidly a moderate encounter (versus the nearly severe encounter it was before).

So, the game breaking issue is basically what it was in 5e (of which I played since 2015-2016 right up until the release of PF 2e, so this comes from extensive personal experiences with the system) is that the HP and stuff isn't really enough to make the solo boss a threat unless the level gap is absolutely massive, or you use legendary actions + resistances to emulate the differences provided by level in systems with +level, i.e. spells and other control effects are generally less likely to take hold, the boss can do way more damage.

Level 9-11 parties should not be able to take down Solo Balors, but in 5e, with a reasonably optimized party, thats not even really much of a challenge. Its theoretically possible to balance a bounded accuracy, no +level experience such that it doesn't have that flaw, but 5e doesn't quite have the numbers tuned for that, and it does create a scenario where solo's have to be specially crafted with a band aid fix to their math.
Surely that’s working as intended rather than game-breaking? Paizo provides a replacement table (4-18: Creature XP [No Level]) for encounter budgeting. It’s absolutely expected that you need higher-level monsters to provide an equivalent challenge. That’s the point. You adopt this variant because you want lower-level creatures to be more dangerous to higher level ones (both lower-level ones to PCs and PCs to higher-level ones). If you don’t want that, then it doesn’t make any sense to use this variant.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Actually, it is incredibly easy to solve this issue in 5e. The exact numbers vary of course based on party dynamics and environment, but simply increase AC and damage and 5e monsters can be terrifying. Personally I recommend +1 to AC per tier and doubling damage, but that is to much for some. I would go ahead and add the bonus to all saves too.

Also, why shouldn't a level 9-11 party not be able to take down a balor? I ran just such a battle in 4e and it was great. 6 lvl 10 PCs in a climatic battle against balor. It was awesome. I actually liked that battle so much I tried something similar in 5e; however, it resulted in a TPK. So maybe a lvl 10 party can do it in 5e, but mine couldn't!
With love and respect to Dave, please disregard this advice entirely ;)

I mean, if you desire "proficiency without level" (or "bounded accuracy" or whatevs), you probably do so because you want to tell different stories than ones where a BBEG can single-handedly toss around the heroes.

You want to tell more grounded stories.

Stories where the evil necromancer goes down like a wimp if you can reach him, but if you can't he's incredibly terrifying because of the sheer numbers of undead servants that stand between you and him. (The spellcaster is individually less frightening; endless hordes of low-level skeletons are more frightening.) Stories where heroes remain in touch with the common man for much longer. Stories where heroes indeed become heroic, but not because they're insulated by game mechanics, more because they simply choose to risk their lives. Stories maybe based on Icelandic sagas, where individual courage gets you very far... but not quite all they way; where a single high-level hero previously could mow his way through the entire army and then kill the throne pretender, now he courageously stands alone, kills a dozen enemy champions, but then goes down after a thousand wounds, only to have songs written about him, respected even by his most bitter enemies.

So the solution is to simply treat it as a solution rather than a problem :)

In other, and shorter, words:

Surely that’s working as intended rather than game-breaking?
 
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CapnZapp

Hero
Personally I recommend +1 to AC per tier and doubling damage, but that is to much for some. I would go ahead and add the bonus to all saves too.
I trust you realize how close this is to Paizo's implementation of "unbounded accuracy" in PF2? :)

"Give the monster +4", say, is, after all, just a simpler way of saying "the heroes add +10 for being level 10 but the monster adds +14 for being level 14".

Doubling damage; well, since a PF2 BBEG can often hit with all three actions, which no hero PC can expect to do... Add the PF2 rules for critical damage, and I'd say you're nearly there!
 

dave2008

Legend
I trust you realize how close this is to Paizo's implementation of "unbounded accuracy" in PF2? :)

"Give the monster +4", say, is, after all, just a simpler way of saying "the heroes add +10 for being level 10 but the monster adds +14 for being level 14".

Doubling damage; well, since a PF2 BBEG can often hit with all three actions, which no hero PC can expect to do... Add the PF2 rules for critical damage, and I'd say you're nearly there!
Well, the intent would be to use it just for certain monsters, probably "solo" types. Not a general rule for all monsters. That is why I called it "Legendary Might" in the 5e thread.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Well, the intent would be to use it just for certain monsters, probably "solo" types. Not a general rule for all monsters. That is why I called it "Legendary Might" in the 5e thread.
In practice, PF2 does use it "only" for "certain monsters".

At least, in that just about any monster becomes a fearsome solo if used when 3 or 4 levels above the party level.

Its actions become "legendary" by default, simply by (nearly) always succeeding, coupled with PF2's implementation of criticals. And you can call it a "solo", because you can never use more than one - two L+4 monsters would TPK every party every time, or close to it.

So the decision is left up to each adventure writer.

As a random example, if one campaign features an alghollthu master when the heroes are level 4 and a veiled master when the heroes are level 10, then aboleths are fearsome masterminds (solo creatures) in that campaign. Another campaign might feature alghollthu masters when the heroes are level 9 and veiled masters at level 16-18. In that campaign, aboleths are more like the hired goons to the real villain.

No stats are changed. The only difference is the timing of the monster's introduction.
 
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dave2008

Legend
In practice, PF2 does use it "only" for "certain monsters".

At least, in that just about any monster becomes a fearsome solo if used when 3 or 4 levels above the party level.

Its actions become "legendary" by default, simply by (nearly) always succeeding, coupled with PF2's implementation of criticals. And you can call it a "solo", because you can never use more than one - two L+4 monsters would TPK every party every time, or close to it.

So the decision is left up to each adventure writer.

As a random example, if one campaign features an alghollthu master when the heroes are level 4 and a veiled master when the heroes are level 10, then aboleths are fearsome masterminds (solo creatures) in that campaign. Another campaign might feature alghollthu masters when the heroes are level 9 and veiled masters at level 16-18. In that campaign, aboleths are more like the hired goons to the real villain.

No stats are changed. The only difference is the timing of the monster's introduction.
Yes, that is what I would prefer to avoid. I would rather a set of dials I can tune the monster than have to tune the adventure. Similar to how 4e had the swarm/minion/standard/elite/solo sliding scale. The idea of the "legendary monster" template (I know bad name because of 5e) would be you can chose to use it or not. It is purposefully not backed in.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Yes, that is what I would prefer to avoid. I would rather a set of dials I can tune the monster than have to tune the adventure.
Not sure what you want to avoid?

You would never pitch a level 10 party against a level 8 "legendary aboleth" anyway? Since such a low-level creature would never come across as especially legendary, I mean.

Maybe you meant to say "as the game's creator I want to be able to decide which monsters get to have legendary versions; the adventure writers shouldn't get to influence this"?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying that Paizo's approach comes cost free. (I mean, I actually like bounded accurac!) The cost of having a ruleset that "autosoloifies" (first time I've used that adverb ever, honest!) high-level monsters is of course that it "automookifies" low-level monsters to the point of utterly trivializing them in a very short while.
 

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