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Pathfinder 2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

CapnZapp

Legend
Honestly, if I had new players, running PF2 would be near the bottom of my list.

I consider the game suitable chiefly to players that:
a) have no particular attachment to PF1
b) are veteran D&D gamers that love the D&D way of playing ttrpgs. People living and breathing "dndisms".
c) that are specifically hungry for crunch

That is, people who really want a game with d20-like levels of customization and ability to fulfil power fantasy...

...but (even grudgingly) accept d20/PF1 is broken like frak, so another game is needed. Or, as in this case, players who still would LOVE to play d20 characters, but their dungeon master flatly refuse :LOL:

Players, who miss the days of poring over World of Warcraft forums for theorycrafting which talent best suit their character...

For everybody else, I am convinced 5E is the better game, unless you somehow think PF 1 is, in which case you should totally play that. :geek:

For newcomers to the hobby, 5E is so much more accommodating to beginners it isn't even funny to discuss PF2.

Finally, of course, there's the question: "but why play D&D at all?" I am secretly convinced there are at least two types of ttrpgers: those starting out with D&D, and those starting out with other games (be they Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, MERP, or Vampire doesn't matter much).


Edit: Somehow mobile emojis die in the desktop editor...
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Can't find the post right now, but I remember saying that with proficiency-without-level the level range should roughly double.

And lo and behold, I can now read in the GMG that instead of the encounter advice going from -4 to +4 it goes from -7 to +7 :)

(Previously the xp budget went from 40 XP at-level to 160 XP for a creature four levels above you. Now the xp budget goes from 40 XP still at-level to 160 XP for a creature seven levels above you. With the disclaimer that a monster more than four levels above you could possess high-level abilities your party just can't cope with)
 

dave2008

Legend
Can't find the post right now, but I remember saying that with proficiency-without-level the level range should roughly double.

And lo and behold, I can now read in the GMG that instead of the encounter advice going from -4 to +4 it goes from -7 to +7 :)

(Previously the xp budget went from 40 XP at-level to 160 XP for a creature four levels above you. Now the xp budget goes from 40 XP still at-level to 160 XP for a creature seven levels above you.)
Is the GMG out and I some how missed it?
 


CapnZapp

Legend
We discussed treasure briefly, and here's the GMG quote:

However, using this variant, the PCs might
defeat a creature 5 levels higher than they are, or even
more! Too many encounters with higher-level foes can
wind up giving the PCs more treasure than you expected,
or vice-versa if they’re fighting weaker foes that put up
more of a fight but still have poor treasure.

I really think this is worrying too much. First off, if you run a published adventure you simply will never encounter this "problem", full stop.

And if you run a home game, and still opt for this variant, I am confident you can handle it.

And then of course the elephant in the room: except for Striking runes PF2 treasure simply isn't all that powerful. So I really don't see why the GMG needs to work up its readers.

Just play the game as normal. Maybe divide the level difference by two so that any L+8 hoard still gives only L+4 treasure (but even as I'm writing that I'm overcome with weariness. Tresure simply isn't important enough to warrant such a "scientific" measure).

So how about we simply don't worry about it, just don't hand out four-dice striking runes when there are fighters in the party still at two-dice runes. Or, do that, just like the 5E DMG took the far preferable route of saying "even a 1st level party can come across a Ring of Invisibility without that dimming the popularity of the literature in question" :)
 


Nilbog

Snotling Herder
I'm running a homebrew adventure and the group is just hitting level 5, I've followed the guideline for encounter building (I've actually got a very useful app, Monster Lair, that helps) and the combats have worked out pretty much as would be expected, with only severe challenges troubling the group to the level of near TPK. The party does get frustrated in 'boss' fights as they (the boss) rarely misses, but the players have always overcome the challenge.
Could the problems folk have been experiencing been more due to the published adventures rather than the core game?

I have a few issues with the system, some of the rules aren't always explicitly clear (often requires following a breadcrumb trail to get the ruling), which can cause the game to stutter, and yes a lot of the conditions could be rolled together as there are too many where the only real variance is cosmetic.

The few complaints the players have had is that spells are under powered and a lack of magic items (which I'm sure will be remedied over time).

Other than that it plays well for us, I don't find it significantly more challenging to DM than 5e and the players like the extra lair of crunch that the characters have (although they are only just starting to grasp some of the actions they can take).

It will be interesting when the next campaign roles around whether we stick with PF2 or go back to 5e, as our group really like both
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
We discussed treasure briefly, and here's the GMG quote:

However, using this variant, the PCs might
defeat a creature 5 levels higher than they are, or even more! Too many encounters with higher-level foes can wind up giving the PCs more treasure than you expected, or vice-versa if they’re fighting weaker foes that put up more of a fight but still have poor treasure.

I really think this is worrying too much. First off, if you run a published adventure you simply will never encounter this "problem", full stop.

And if you run a home game, and still opt for this variant, I am confident you can handle it.

And then of course the elephant in the room: except for Striking runes PF2 treasure simply isn't all that powerful. So I really don't see why the GMG needs to work up its readers.

Just play the game as normal. Maybe divide the level difference by two so that any L+8 hoard still gives only L+4 treasure (but even as I'm writing that I'm overcome with weariness. Tresure simply isn't important enough to warrant such a "scientific" measure).

So how about we simply don't worry about it, just don't hand out four-dice striking runes when there are fighters in the party still at two-dice runes. Or, do that, just like the 5E DMG took the far preferable route of saying "even a 1st level party can come across a Ring of Invisibility without that dimming the popularity of the literature in question" :)
I thought that part was weird because the system gives almost no advice for handing out treasure except for guidelines on how much the PCs should have at each level. There seems to be an assumption you give out treasure based on the encounter’s level, but that’s not what the book says.

Oh how I long for a random treasure generator! 😐
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Could the problems folk have been experiencing been more due to the published adventures rather than the core game?
I’m running a homebrew sandbox hexcrawl. While the monster that TPK’d my group may have been a little overtuned (I need to review that), my players used disastrously bad tactics.

It was a gray ooze, which splits in two when it takes piercing or slashing damage. The monk not only charged straight in to slug it out with the ooze (effectively punching himself to death), the rogue used Twin Feint, which spawned two more oozes. The alchemist basically wasted his turn hanging back and doing nothing, afraid of getting one-shot by the monster. That was not unreasonable because an ooze blew up the rogue (did more than double the rogue’s max HP, so instadeath) right after that. They’d already killed one by kiting it, so 🤷🏻.

As an aside, while I don’t agree with CapnZapp completely on the issues with Recall Knowledge, I do agree there is a problem with how it works in combat. The alchemist had failed his Recall Knowledge on the gray ooze, so the PCs didn’t know anything about the acid damage, splitting, or constriction abilities. The way the DC scales doesn’t make sense (a level 3 DC for a 1st level character is pretty hard). I’m looking at homebrewing the DC to be based on a hierarchy of information modified by rarity, using simple DCs and going from more general to more specific.

When I ran the mock version using proficiency without level, the biggest improvements were being able to crit the ooze more easily and the save DCs of its effects were more makeable by the PCs. This resulted in the PCs killing the ooze more quickly and being able avoid some of the additional acid damage from hitting it or being constricted by it. And that’s in spite of my trying to use the same awful tactics.

I have a few issues with the system, some of the rules aren't always explicitly clear (often requires following a breadcrumb trail to get the ruling), which can cause the game to stutter, and yes a lot of the conditions could be rolled together as there are too many where the only real variance is cosmetic.
I agree they could have simplified conditions (though it’s not that bad, and I can see an argument for keeping the evocative names). The other thing still trips me up. I like how I don’t have to memorize exceptions for various things, but I sometimes forget a trait and make a ruling allowing something that shouldn’t be. The official GM screen could really do a better job of organizing the basic actions and including all the information one needs to make a ruling. It’s on my list of things I need to homebrew myself….
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
I thought that part was weird because the system gives almost no advice for handing out treasure except for guidelines on how much the PCs should have at each level. There seems to be an assumption you give out treasure based on the encounter’s level, but that’s not what the book says.
Again, not sure I follow?

The CRB is quite specific on how much loot the game expects you the GM to hand out over a given level. I mean, down to specific numbers: such as "two level 7 permanent items, two level 8 consumables, 140 gold to each hero" (a made-up example)

What it doesn't say is when, during this level, you hand it out. That is because it doesn't matter, and because different GMs and different stories want to do things differently.

(I mean that whether you find your shiny magic weapon in the Dragon's hoard or whether a random beggar just gives it to you free of charge when you leave town doesn't ultimately matter)

So no, the assumption isn't that the level 10 monster has a level 10 hoard or something like that. The level 10 monster might have a sizeable quantity of the loot your level 7 party is expected to get, though. But that's up to the adventure writer (which might be you). :)
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Oh how I long for a random treasure generator! 😐
I can definitely agree to that.

Ideally one that tracks the loot over a given level (since that's how PF2 works).

Meaning that you can specify, say, a large or small hoard for a given level, and that the generator tells you what percentage the generated list constitutes.

So maybe I tell it to generate three small hoards, then a large hoard. The first hoard is 12% of the level's worth, the second is 4%, the third is 15% so the total jumps to 31%. Then the large hoard is 38% so the total becomes 69%.

I can keep generating and placing hoards into my adventure, and once I reach approx 90-110% I just stop.
 

zztong

Explorer
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 ...

That's pretty close to what my group experienced. We played the entire playtest, post-playtest for months, then bailed.

Monsters acting on the same initiative, or not, really didn't influence our opinion. We tried both. The heart of our complaints related character generation and progression.

Having distance from the system has allowed me time for reflection. I used to count the three-action economy as a plus for 2e, but these days I think a two-action version would be better as it would interleave the actions of all combatants more. I also don't care for how frequently 2e's criticals happen.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Again, not sure I follow?

The CRB is quite specific on how much loot the game expects you the GM to hand out over a given level. I mean, down to specific numbers: such as "two level 7 permanent items, two level 8 consumables, 140 gold to each hero" (a made-up example)

What it doesn't say is when, during this level, you hand it out. That is because it doesn't matter, and because different GMs and different stories want to do things differently.

(I mean that whether you find your shiny magic weapon in the Dragon's hoard or whether a random beggar just gives it to you free of charge when you leave town doesn't ultimately matter)

So no, the assumption isn't that the level 10 monster has a level 10 hoard or something like that. The level 10 monster might have a sizeable quantity of the loot your level 7 party is expected to get, though. But that's up to the adventure writer (which might be you). :)
I think we’re in agreement. The CRB says you should get this much loot per level (including how many items, as you note), but it doesn’t prescribe how to distribute it. However, the quote from the GMG you shared is written like the GM is tying loot to encounters, but if you’re following the CRB’s guidelines, you’re already being mindful of how much loot you’re awarding and adjusting accordingly.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I can definitely agree to that.

Ideally one that tracks the loot over a given level (since that's how PF2 works).

Meaning that you can specify, say, a large or small hoard for a given level, and that the generator tells you what percentage the generated list constitutes.

So maybe I tell it to generate three small hoards, then a large hoard. The first hoard is 12% of the level's worth, the second is 4%, the third is 15% so the total jumps to 31%. Then the large hoard is 38% so the total becomes 69%.

I can keep generating and placing hoards into my adventure, and once I reach approx 90-110% I just stop.
What I’ve done is break treasure into parcels using the recommended loot per level table to establish a per-parcel value (e.g., 10% of the total value for that level). I then have small, medium, and large parcels that are 1x, 3x, and 8x the size of the base parcel. This works okay for stocking dungeons, but it feels weird for individual monsters. It also doesn’t have any randomization behind it.

What I would like to do is build something on top of this where if you just randomly generate all treasure for a level, then PCs will end up with about the right amount of treasure assuming a standard rate of progression. Ideally, you should be able to tweak parcel size or some parameter to accommodate different rates of progression. I’d also like that it not be tied to party level since the challenges in my sandbox hexcrawl are not necessarily tied to party level (e.g., old school dungeons where lower levels had stronger monsters and more valuable treasure).
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
I think we’re in agreement. The CRB says you should get this much loot per level (including how many items, as you note), but it doesn’t prescribe how to distribute it. However, the quote from the GMG you shared is written like the GM is tying loot to encounters, but if you’re following the CRB’s guidelines, you’re already being mindful of how much loot you’re awarding and adjusting accordingly.
Oh, I see now. Okay, yes, that's a point:

"Just because you defeat that L+5 monster doesn't mean you get L+5 loot, not by the RAW and not by this variant"
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
What I’ve done is break treasure into parcels using the recommended loot per level table to establish a per-parcel value. I then have small, medium, and large parcels that are 1x, 3x, and 8x the size of the base parcel.
"Treasure parcels" is a 4E thing, right?

In order to get a feeling of how much loot an 8x parcel is, how much is a x1 parcel expressed as a share of the whole level's loot? That is, how many parcels are there?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I’d also like that it not be tied to party level since the challenges in my sandbox hexcrawl are not necessarily tied to party level (e.g., old school dungeons where lower levels had stronger monsters and more valuable treasure).
Since we're talking about imaginary technology, how about I magically erase the words "party level" and write in "monster level" instead; everything else stays the same...?
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
"Treasure parcels" is a 4E thing, right?
Yeah, the idea comes from 4e, though the implementation is different.

In order to get a feeling of how much loot an 8x parcel is, how much is a x1 parcel expressed as a share of the whole level's loot? That is, how many parcels are there?
I thought I was using 10% of the party treasure value, but after checking my notes, I think I am using party currency in sp instead. That’d yield 43.75 parcels at 1st level. Also checking my notes, these are the guidelines I have. Note that you can combine parcels (e.g., a dragon’s hoard would be multiple major parcels).
  • Minor parcel (1×base): items carried by a creature
  • Moderate parcel (3×base): found in a chest or cache
  • Major parcel (8×base): small treasure hoard
So maybe I’m okay creature-wise, but it felt funky at the table last session. I need to reflect on that and maybe play with some examples more.

One thing I noticed is the party treasure table converts two lower level items to one higher level one. One possibly might be to assume a base of 6 permanent and 7 consumable items then roll randomly to split or merge those into lower and higher level draws from the other levels’ item tables (something like: roll for items, 2-in-6 chance to roll for two items on the lower item table instead of one for your current level).

Unfortunately, it will be a few weeks before I have time to really play with this. I need to rework Champion for my game because they work differently in my setting (someone wants to roll one up next session).
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Since we're talking about imaginary technology, how about I magically erase the words "party level" and write in "monster level" instead; everything else stays the same...?
I was thinking dungeon level, but yeah. Even though I’ve accepted that will happen some due to running a sandbox, I’d still want to make sure I wasn’t going too far from the system’s expectations.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
That’d yield 43.75 parcels at 1st level.
😮

The single official example I have (Extinction Curse) places each level's treasure at maybe a dozen locations, tops.

If the application we're dreaming about would just create a standard bag of parcels that would more than suffice for my needs:
1 "BBEG" parcel
2 large parcels
3 medium parcels
6 small parcels

As you can see, that's twelve parcels of varying size. I wouldn't recommend doling out the treasure in smaller drips than that.

If each parcel size is half the preceding one we get a parcel size of 1/28th:
1 octo-parcel (containing 28 gold on average for a level worth 100 gold)
2 quad parcels (each one containing 14 gold on average)
3 double parcels (each one containing 7 gold on average)
6 parcels (each one containing 36 silver on average)

28+14x2+7x3+6x3,6 ≈ 100
 

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