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PF2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

dave2008

Legend
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.
That is what I would like to avoid. A narrow range of automatic solos and mooks.

If you take the +level out of PF2e, but you want a tough solo that is the party's level or 1-3 above the party, how do you do it. You could have separate monsters (like 4e's elite & solo) or a simple template that adjust the dials. I like both ideas really and wish PF2e and 5e had implemented some version of those concepts.
 

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kenada

Adventurer
If you take the +level out of PF2e, but you want a tough solo that is the party's level or 1-3 above the party, how do you do it. You could have separate monsters (like 4e's elite & solo) or a simple template that adjust the dials. I like both ideas really and wish PF2e and 5e had implemented some version of those concepts.
I’m trying to understand this, but I can’t. If you have a creature that’s several levels higher, but not high enough to be a boss, and you want to make it into a “boss” creature, then you just boost its stats until it is in that range. The creature building guidelines make this very simple. You just use the stats from the higher levels instead of the current one. Even if you apply some template to make it ‘legendary’, you still end up with an effectively higher level version.

Level means a lot in PF2, but it also doesn’t mean much of anything. What I mean by that is level matters a lot for encounter building and creature creation, but it doesn’t directly determine statistics. Even if you build an NPC like a PC, you still need to make sure it has appropriate stats for its level (as a creature rather than its class).

I don’t think PF2 needs the distinction between types of creatures. Like CapnZapp said, you’d use creatures of different levels for that. PF2 makes that work due to the way crits work. It’s how a higher level creature can be a boss for one party and a minion for a different (higher level than it) party.

Edit: There a few places where level does matter. It affects the DCs to Recall Knowledge to identify a creature (bleh), and the Incapacitation trait is based on whether the target is higher level than you.
 
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dave2008

Legend
I’m trying to understand this, but I can’t. If you have a creature that’s several levels higher, but not high enough to be a boss, and you want to make it into a “boss” creature, then you just boost its stats until it is in that range. The creature building guidelines make this very simple. You just use the stats from the higher levels instead of the current one. Even if you apply some template to make it ‘legendary’, you still end up with an effectively higher level version.

Level means a lot in PF2, but it also doesn’t mean much of anything. What I mean by that is level matters a lot for encounter building and creature creation, but it doesn’t directly determine statistics. Even if you build an NPC like a PC, you still need to make sure it has appropriate stats for its level (as a creature rather than its class).

I don’t think PF2 needs the distinction between types of creatures. Like CapnZapp said, you’d use creatures of different levels for that. PF2 makes that work due to the way crits work. It’s how a higher level creature can be a boss for one party and a minion for a different (higher level than it) party.

Edit: There a few places where level does matter. It affects the DCs to Recall Knowledge to identify a creature (bleh), and the Incapacitation trait is based on whether the target is higher level than you.
Before I try to explain anything, are you familiar at all with D&D 4e and their monster design?
 

kenada

Adventurer
Before I try to explain anything, are you familiar at all with D&D 4e and their monster design?
Yes, but PF2 is not 4e. My understanding of 4e is higher level creatures don’t work very well as solo encounters in 4e for various reasons (poor action economy, too many hit points especially pre-MM3)—hence the need for solo (and elite) versions. Higher level creatures in PF2 don’t share those problems.

You suggest giving creatures more stats and advantages, but they already have that. Crit provides a dynamic scaling factor. Higher level creatures naturally do more damage to lower level ones. They are also harder to hit and harder to incapacitate (due to the Incapacitation trait).

It’s not clear at this point that PF2 shares the problems 4e has with using creatures of different (particularly higher) levels to build encounters, so I’m having trouble understanding why prefer an ad hoc scaling factor to using the tools already built into the system.
 

dave2008

Legend
Yes, but PF2 is not 4e. My understanding of 4e is higher level creatures don’t work very well as solo encounters in 4e for various reasons (poor action economy, too many hit points especially pre-MM3)—hence the need for solo (and elite) versions. Higher level creatures in PF2 don’t share those problems.

You suggest giving creatures more stats and advantages, but they already have that. Crit provides a dynamic scaling factor. Higher level creatures naturally do more damage to lower level ones. They are also harder to hit and harder to incapacitate (due to the Incapacitation trait).

It’s not clear at this point that PF2 shares the problems 4e has with using creatures of different (particularly higher) levels to build encounters, so I’m having trouble understanding why prefer an ad hoc scaling factor to using the tools already built into the system.
OK, you have a fundamental ignorance or misunderstanding of what I am talking about. I, personally, like the idea that monsters can vary in strength across two axis. The level-axis (let's all it the X-axis) is what everyone is familiar with: as a monster goes up in level (CR or HD on other editions) the monster get's tougher. That difference can be dialed up or down, it can use increasing bonus, or hit points or both. Both PF2e & 5e do this in different ways. What 4e did, and what I would like PF2e and 5e to do, was to introduce the Y-axis. So in PF2e is case, a monster along the Y-axis would get tougher or weaker, but share the same basic math as the standard monster. Let's look at an example: the Ogre
The lvl 3 Ogre Warrior has an AC 17, HP 50, +12 to hit, 12 avg damage; the lvl 7 Ogre Boss has AC 25, HP 130, +19 to hit, 16 dmg.

That's great, the Boss is a lot tougher. I have no issue with that. However, what I like about 4e is you could also have the lvl 3 Ogre Elite Warrior: AC 17, HP 100; +12 to hit; 16 dmg (or whatever). Basically the Ogre is tougher, but primarily on the damage and HP scale. The elite tag lets me know at glance, this monster is with about 2x the non-elite version and it provides an option that isn't reliant on hitting, missing, and criticals.

Look, I have no issue with the PF2e approach. It is tried and true, I just like more options and the 4e approach could get you the best of both worlds. You can keep your deadly +4 lvl Boss, and have slightly tougher +0 lvl (but more XP) elites. Basically, level becomes and indicator of hit and be hit probability and only part of the overall difficulty equation. It just has more flexibility which I like, with a bit more complexity which I find acceptable, YMMV.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Just to add: while stock PF2 does have the built-in Elite/Solo upgrade, all that's gone when you take level out of proficiency.

And it is, or at least was, proficiency without level we were discussing :)
 

kenada

Adventurer
It should be sufficient to ignore the first set of changes (attack, saves, etc) when using the weak and elite adjustments. The other ones aren’t dependent on proficiency.

OK, you have a fundamental ignorance or misunderstanding of what I am talking about.
You’re right, I did; though I did preface my response by saying I was having trouble understanding. :p

I think I understand what you’re saying now. You want to assess damage and toughness separately from attack and defense. Given that encounter budgeting is built around the idea that two monsters are equivalent to one monster of their level + 2, you could probably just double the hit points, apply the elite adjustment modulo proficiency-related changes (attack, defense, etc), and call it a day. Tag it as “elite” and double the XP value for budgeting purposes.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
It should be sufficient to ignore the first set of changes (attack, saves, etc) when using the weak and elite adjustments. The other ones aren’t dependent on proficiency.
Sorry what? (Is this a reply to me?)

There's no reason to meddle with the weak/elite package just because you take level out of proficiency. The +2 to attacks etc can simply be called upgrading the proficiency rank.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Sorry what? (Is this a reply to me?)
Er, yeah. Sorry, didn’t think I needed to quote right after your post.

There's no reason to meddle with the weak/elite package just because you take level out of proficiency. The +2 to attacks etc can simply be called upgrading the proficiency rank.
You could do that, but it seems like it would be a bigger increase than just a single level. Without level to proficiency, the creature building guidelines in the GMG suggest +2 is typically a 4–5 level increase, assuming you want the creature to remain in the same scales (a moderate attack remains a moderate attack, etc). If changing scales is okay, then that might be fine, but I’d be concerned I just threw my monster’s balance out of wack.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I was just talking in general. Adding +2 can't be a big deal when the original rules would routinely add +1 to +4 just because the monster was higher level than you.
 

After running three sessions of PF2 and having time to mull over the experience, I have to say at this stage I don't think it's going to last with my group. Combats have already grown long and frustrating. (They're only 2nd level.) A four monster combat with the 3 action economy means a devastating barrage of 12 attacks, which have an increased risk of critical hits in the new system.
Players are puzzled when trying to make characters. The player who took an alchemist already abandoned the character because he felt worthless.
42 different conditions (many of which have several rankings to keep up with) are doled out with abandon. It hasn't been unusual for a character to have 3 conditions at the same time during a fight.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
After running three sessions of PF2 and having time to mull over the experience, I have to say at this stage I don't think it's going to last with my group. Combats have already grown long and frustrating. (They're only 2nd level.) A four monster combat with the 3 action economy means a devastating barrage of 12 attacks, which have an increased risk of critical hits in the new system.
Players are puzzled when trying to make characters. The player who took an alchemist already abandoned the character because he felt worthless.
42 different conditions (many of which have several rankings to keep up with) are doled out with abandon. It hasn't been unusual for a character to have 3 conditions at the same time during a fight.
Yes, PF2 requires a high degree of player investment and skill.
 

kenada

Adventurer
I was just talking in general. Adding +2 can't be a big deal when the original rules would routinely add +1 to +4 just because the monster was higher level than you.
I’m not sure what you mean. Higher level monsters naturally have higher stats (in the core rules, ignoring proficiency without level). Where did the original rules say to routinely add +1 to +4 just because the monster was higher level than you? I ask because I wasn’t aware that was a thing in the rules as written.

After running three sessions of PF2 and having time to mull over the experience, I have to say at this stage I don't think it's going to last with my group. Combats have already grown long and frustrating. (They're only 2nd level.) A four monster combat with the 3 action economy means a devastating barrage of 12 attacks, which have an increased risk of critical hits in the new system.
Are you running all monsters on the same initiative? I used to do that too, but Paizo recommends against doing that when you can. It confers an advantage to the monsters, and it adds a big period of dead time when the PCs aren’t doing something (while you resolve the monsters’ turns).

Players are puzzled when trying to make characters. The player who took an alchemist already abandoned the character because he felt worthless.
This seems like the real killer. If players aren’t interested in or are put off by the character building aspects, PF2 is not going to be very fun for them.

42 different conditions (many of which have several rankings to keep up with) are doled out with abandon. It hasn't been unusual for a character to have 3 conditions at the same time during a fight.
Nine of those (dying and disposition conditions) aren’t in play most of the time, and the detection conditions are situational. I’m curious how your PCs have been getting 3 conditions at a time, since that hasn’t been our experience.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I’m not sure what you mean. Higher level monsters naturally have higher stats (in the core rules, ignoring proficiency without level). Where did the original rules say to routinely add +1 to +4 just because the monster was higher level than you? I ask because I wasn’t aware that was a thing in the rules as written.
Using the standard rules, a level 10 PC gets +10 to "everything" while a level 12 monster gets +12.

This effect is very similar if not identical to a level 10 monster getting the elite treatment. After all, 12-10=2.

Since fighting monsters two levels above yourself isn't a problem in the RAW, I really don't see how fighting an elite monster while using the proficiency without level variant can be a problem.

(Obviously the elite modifications used to equal about a single level's worth of upgrade. Now that same modifications equal more than that. This is a given, since level means less. After all, we removed level from proficiency, so I wouldn't expect anything else)
 

Are you running all monsters on the same initiative? I used to do that too, but Paizo recommends against doing that when you can. It confers an advantage to the monsters, and it adds a big period of dead time when the PCs aren’t doing something (while you resolve the monsters’ turns).
No. I didn't know that was a recommendation. I can look into it. It's an added level of one more thing to keep up with for the GM, but if it makes a better game, I guess that's okay. Is there an official announcement or errata about it I can read for more information?

This seems like the real killer. If players aren’t interested in or are put off by the character building aspects, PF2 is not going to be very fun for them.
Yeah. We have 2 players who are into the crunch, 2 who are new and just don't get it, 1 who doesn't really want to put in the effort, and 1 other who is opposed to learning because PF1 is clearly the bestest version of any game ever. Haha.

Nine of those (dying and disposition conditions) aren’t in play most of the time, and the detection conditions are situational. I’m curious how your PCs have been getting 3 conditions at a time, since that hasn’t been our experience.
I'm running the Age of Ashes AP, and I'll give you a specific example, marked in Spoiler tags....
The Hellcrowns were causing persistent bleed damage, enfeebling, and frightening the characters. When characters dropped, they had the dying condition - and later the wounded condition.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yeah. We have 2 players who are into the crunch, 2 who are new and just don't get it, 1 who doesn't really want to put in the effort, and 1 other who is opposed to learning because PF1 is clearly the bestest version of any game ever. Haha.

I'm running the Age of Ashes AP, and I'll give you a specific example, marked in Spoiler tags....
The Hellcrowns were causing persistent bleed damage, enfeebling, and frightening the characters. When characters dropped, they had the dying condition - and later the wounded condition.
Yes, Paizo have designed an uncompromising game which is incredibly easy for 5th Edition gamers to hate because it's absolutely jam-packed with little cluttery modifications and for Pathfinder 1 gamers to hate because it is utterly different in almost every aspect.

My best advice is to simply play it with people who actually enjoy it. You have 2 players already, just need to find two more... :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I’m curious how your PCs have been getting 3 conditions at a time, since that hasn’t been our experience.
Believe me, it happens. Easily. It's not like Paizo have asked their writers to go easy on gamers for the first few levels. Almost every low-level module so far has featured fights on a complexity similar to Retreater's example. They also sport incredibly lethal fights right out the gate.

Utterly unlike 5E the game is not about "having a good time" and "don't worry, you can mess up and still win encounters handily".

You need to avoid mistakes to survive. Each and every +1 modifier needs to be applied for maximum effect. You have three actions each turn, and you need to learn how to use them. Offense, defense, positioning; everything matters.

When the game was released last August I started out with a small homebrew campaign. The players started muttering how difficult everything was, and I tried telling them I just tried to adhere to the encounter guidelines as I learned the ropes. They didn't quite believe me. Heck, I didn't believe me - thinking I might have made mistakes whenever fights came close to TPK's. I started to ease up on the difficulty.

Now we've started playing Extinction Curse, an official Adventure Path, and boom! the very first serious encounter almost TPK:d them. Three unconscious heroes out of five after the monster's second turn. The monster itself was unharmed. That's a "Moderate" encounter to you! (In 5E parlance I would call that triple ultra deadly with extra on top... :cool:)

Clearly me going soft on them hadn't prepared them for official level 1 play! Okay, so they healed up. Then the unrelenting string of difficult encounters asked of them with no time for recuperation ground them right back down. I gave them NPCs to help them out against the final fight of the chapter/level. It was either that, or start over.

Now they believe me.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Since fighting monsters two levels above yourself isn't a problem in the RAW, I really don't see how fighting an elite monster while using the proficiency without level variant can be a problem.

(Obviously the elite modifications used to equal about a single level's worth of upgrade. Now that same modifications equal more than that. This is a given, since level means less. After all, we removed level from proficiency, so I wouldn't expect anything else)
Okay, I see your logic. Thanks for the explanation.


No. I didn't know that was a recommendation. I can look into it. It's an added level of one more thing to keep up with for the GM, but if it makes a better game, I guess that's okay. Is there an official announcement or errata about it I can read for more information?
It’s mentioned in the “Encounter Mode” section of the “Playing the Game” chapter of the CRB (emphasis mine).

Core Rulebook; “Playing The Game”. p. 468 said:
The GM rolls initiative for anyone other than the player characters in the encounter. If these include a number of identical creatures, the GM could roll once for the group as a whole and have them take their turns within the group in any order. However, this can make battles less predictable and more dangerous, so the GM might want to roll initiative for some or all creatures individually unless it’s too much of a burden.
I probably read that and didn’t process they really meant you shouldn’t use group initiative until I saw someone mention it on the official forums. The GMG is more explicit about it in the “Running Encounters” section of the “Gamemastery Basics” chapter (again emphasis mine).

Gamemastery Guide; “Chapter 1: Gamemastery Basics”. p. 12 said:
Batch Initiative
If you have multiple enemies of the same type, such as four goblin warriors, you might want to have them act on the same initiative for simplicity. If you do, you can roll just one initiative check for all of them. They still take individual turns and can still individually change their initiative by Delaying. Note that a lucky initiative check could mean the batched creatures can easily gang up on the PCs, and a terrible roll could mean they all get struck down before they can do anything, so use this technique only when necessary to keep the game moving.
Yeah. We have 2 players who are into the crunch, 2 who are new and just don't get it, 1 who doesn't really want to put in the effort, and 1 other who is opposed to learning because PF1 is clearly the bestest version of any game ever. Haha.
Is it possible to get the two who are into the crunch to help the newbies? From what I’ve read, PF2 new players are supposed to have an easier time learning PF2 (due to not having to unlearn old habits), but they’ve still got to get to the starting line. To help my players learn the new system, I printed off copies of the quick reference from the Torment and Legacy demo adventure.

I'm running the Age of Ashes AP, and I'll give you a specific example, marked in Spoiler tags....
The Hellcrowns were causing persistent bleed damage, enfeebling, and frightening the characters. When characters dropped, they had the dying condition - and later the wounded condition.
That’s rough. I looked up the creature on the PRD, and it seems designed to inflict all the things on PCs. There are multiple saves to avoid the effects, and you can remove the nails, but that’s still a lot of stuff to track at the table.
 

Is it possible to get the two who are into the crunch to help the newbies? From what I’ve read, PF2 new players are supposed to have an easier time learning PF2 (due to not having to unlearn old habits), but they’ve still got to get to the starting line. To help my players learn the new system, I printed off copies of the quick reference from the Torment and Legacy demo adventure.
They're not exactly the best teachers and come across a little snarky and judgmental.
 

kenada

Adventurer
They're not exactly the best teachers and come across a little snarky and judgmental.
That’s totally a fair take. I hesitated suggesting it because crunch friendly players can sometimes end up being unhelpful when trying to ‘help’ new players.
 

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