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PF2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
My experience is the same, with the notable exception of 4E (for the reasons I've detailed upthread. Or was it a different thread? Lots of threads.)


Are you me? :)


I didn't DM PF1 because I had already given up on 3.5 - precisely for this exact reason.
Your games and mine sound similar. I play with video gamers and boardgame/magic players. Most of them spend a fair amount of time building a character like they're building a magic deck or looking at the maps imagining it as some board game. One of the guys is looser, but still finds ways to min-max certain things. He likes to play games like Civ where he calculates how to win the game managing resources. Groups would probably be easier to run if they were like Matt Mercer's group who thinks creatively with a stronger emphasis on story than mechanics.

I like to write. I play these games more for story. I like mechanics that are challenging because a story without real danger or a challenge isn't much of a story. I do like to apply the rules if they make sense, though I won't get caught up in them at the expense of narrative flow.
 

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Puggins

Explorer
Supporter
Thanks for the comparison, Retreater. I'm trying to try it out some more via virtual PaizoCon. I really like the 3 action economy, but the rest of your post has me squirming, and not in a good way.
I can tell you right now that the comparison to 4e is superficial at best, and highly misleading. The math between pf1e and pf2e is really comparable. Where things truly separate is the 4-degrees of success in combat.

in 3.5e/pf1, getting a critical hit relied solely on your equipment and maybe a feat. You were just as likely to crit a dragon as you were to crit a peasant (assuming you can hit the dragon at all).

in pf2, it is MUCH easier to crit a peasant than it is to crit a dragon. A 10th level fighter wading into a crowd of Orc brutes will be handing out critical hits round after round, while that same 10th level fighter would need a truly lucky roll to crit an ancient black dragon (natural 20, usually).

I know Retrater meant well when trying to compare skill feats to utility powers, but they are not at all comparable to me. Skill feats represent a significant amount of training and specialization beyond just being somewhat trained in a skill- sure, Joe the fighter might be in Acrobatics, but he can't hold a candle to Trey the rogue, who is not only trained in acrobatics, but also has practiced so thoroughly that he can roll to absorb falling damage much better than Joe (catfall feat) and can maneuver through tight spaces with nary a hindrance (quick squeeze feat). A couple skill feats give you action options, but these are generally improved versions of normal actions- the one he might be referencing is a feat called combat medic, which allows you to minister to an injured comrade far, far more quickly than if you were jsut trained in medicine. Think more Saving Private Ryan than anything else. It's a bit cinematic, but it isn't magic and doesn't feel like you're pressing a button to heal a fellow PC.

I've been very pleasantly surprised by PF2 after having played if for a few levels- it's a much more robust, consistent game than I was expecting.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I can tell you right now that the comparison to 4e is superficial at best, and highly misleading. The math between pf1e and pf2e is really comparable. Where things truly separate is the 4-degrees of success in combat.

in 3.5e/pf1, getting a critical hit relied solely on your equipment and maybe a feat. You were just as likely to crit a dragon as you were to crit a peasant (assuming you can hit the dragon at all).

in pf2, it is MUCH easier to crit a peasant than it is to crit a dragon. A 10th level fighter wading into a crowd of Orc brutes will be handing out critical hits round after round, while that same 10th level fighter would need a truly lucky roll to crit an ancient black dragon (natural 20, usually).

I know Retrater meant well when trying to compare skill feats to utility powers, but they are not at all comparable to me. Skill feats represent a significant amount of training and specialization beyond just being somewhat trained in a skill- sure, Joe the fighter might be in Acrobatics, but he can't hold a candle to Trey the rogue, who is not only trained in acrobatics, but also has practiced so thoroughly that he can roll to absorb falling damage much better than Joe (catfall feat) and can maneuver through tight spaces with nary a hindrance (quick squeeze feat). A couple skill feats give you action options, but these are generally improved versions of normal actions- the one he might be referencing is a feat called combat medic, which allows you to minister to an injured comrade far, far more quickly than if you were jsut trained in medicine. Think more Saving Private Ryan than anything else. It's a bit cinematic, but it isn't magic and doesn't feel like you're pressing a button to heal a fellow PC.

I've been very pleasantly surprised by PF2 after having played if for a few levels- it's a much more robust, consistent game than I was expecting.
Good observations. I played 4E. Besides the use of symbols, PF2 doesn't feel like 4E at all. Things feel far more realistic and fitting than 4E which felt very forced. The game elements fits far better into the narrative. I hated encounter powers in 4E. Made me want to rip my hair out when a player used an encounter power against something weak and I would ask, "Why did use that when it had 1 hit point left?" And the answer was, "Might as well. I have to use it up per encounter or it's wasted." Oh my goodness. DM narrative bane is forcing a player to use a power every encounter whether it was appropriate or not. PF2 had kept the PF1 paradigm which is use your powers when it is appropriate with no pressure and limited uses that make using a power seem spectacular rather than so common as it to use the power equally against a group of kobolds or a group of giants just because you had to use it every encounter.

And the new skill system has really opened a lot of creative design for DMs to make PCs stand out. No more everyone gets to roll with the wizard being supreme due to high intelligence or another class due to a high stat. You have to have the right level of expertise reflecting deeper study to do certain things in the game. Many things are designed with a few skills in mind when dealing with them that a party should have access to. Skill feats reflect specialized training that is anything from realistic training in some aspect of athletics like jumping or swimming to wuxia martial arts like super leaping depending on your skill expertise rather than the raw skill number. Much improved variability creating a meaningful skill system that makes a class like the rogue or warrior stand out.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I can tell you right now that the comparison to 4e is superficial at best, and highly misleading. The math between pf1e and pf2e is really comparable. Where things truly separate is the 4-degrees of success in combat.



I've been very pleasantly surprised by PF2 after having played if for a few levels- it's a much more robust, consistent game than I was expecting.
I can't say I agree much with either of ya :)

The math of PF2 is much stricter and tighter than any other version of D&D (AD&D, d20, 5E) with the possible exception of 4E.

4E and PF2 does not play at all the same. Most importantly, PF2 combat feels much more like d20 or 5E combat than 4E combat.

Yet, I see clear similarities in design approach, especially in the areas I like the least about PF2:

* both games swim in an ocean of "feats" (or powers or whatever you want to call them). This locks down both games, since you are not encouraged to improvise or "say yes", you're encouraged to "take 16 levels of Barbarian" (or whatever prerequisite). It also represents a huge opportunity for the publisher to veritably SPAM the marketplace with gazillions of little tiny variations of essentially the same thing.
This does NOT mean I see any resemblance to the AEDU structure. Character abilities work much more like "normal" (where 4E is the odd duck out)

* PF2 offers much less character customization power than d20 or 5E. (Note I'm speaking about the actual power, or impact, of your build choices!) That might surprise those blinded by the sheer deluge of choices at every level. But I consider the wealth of choices here to be a smokescreen. That is, you're given a lot of choices, but each one ultimately doesn't change much. Worse, they don't matter much even taken as a whole. Essentially, you're given a very limited freedom to change the smallest things at the end, but nothing fundamental. Example: as a fighter you can pick a feat that lets you make a strike against both the monster in front of you and the monster behind you. But when you realize the other feats let you strike two characters standing beside each other, or give you a reduced power attack against a single monster, and so on, and so forth, you realize the devs all along wanted to give you an extra attack. But you don't just get the extra attack! You get it doled out as incrementally as anyone possibly could. The choice you get isn't to get the extra attack or to become awesome in some other respect - you only get to choose which specific configuration your extra attack can be used for. This is what I mean by "the smallest thing at the end", as opposed to "can I get better AC or higher Saves instead of Extra Attack" or something (that both d20 and 5E easily offers). Meanwhile, juicy stuff such as a second damage die comes "free" as soon as you loot a given monster (either for the Striking weapon or enough gold to buy one). The GMG allows you to make that bonus built in, but not as a choice where you could instead gain a significantly larger defense or many more hit points or whatever. And it's not that you could pick up a different magic item with your 100 gold that granted you those things. Nope - once you select your class at first level, your abilities are pretty much locked in, all the way up to level 20. You will get an extra attack exactly at this level. You will get Evasion or similar at that level. Your AC increases in exact lockstep, and so does each of your saves, with zero customization. You will get bonus damage dice at these levels (all you can do is change it up as minimally as possible, if you use the default system where damage dice - for some inexplicable reason, most likely because playtesters cried out like babies - are external to your character; perhaps getting it a level early or a level late). While I do appreciate balance, this is going way WAY too far for my liking.

* both games feature as restricted and narrowed-down magic items as the publisher possibly can. You don't get anything more than what the devs consider the minimum. Items are restricted in multiple ways - only specific character builds can use them, you need to remember specific restrictions unique to each item, and you can't simply use them at will, you must nearly always keep track of daily uses or similar. And then there's Talismans, who fill me with unholy rage.

* there are way too many way too fiddly subsystems. Recall Knowledge, Treat Wounds, Earn Income - they all represent complex and detailed rules for very little return over something much simpler.

* every edition of D&D has its clunkers, so that Alchemists, shields, Incapacitation effects and Crafting feel like red-headed stepchildren isn't much to dwell on. At least the hope lives on that these options will be fixed faster than Beastmaster Rangers of 5E... More worrying is that PF2's approach to actually fixing the caster-martial balance of d20 seems to have been actively impaired by too-traditional playtesters. Of what I've seen so far, 5E offers the by far more intelligent holistic approach. PF2 appears to pretty much just make most spells suck, as their solution. While it's nice to have an edition where martials rock, it is sad to see how the wizard must suffer to get there.

* This has nothing to do with 4E, but I need to give kudos to PF2 for one very important (but easily underestimated) step - the balance between melee and ranged fire. 5E went way too far in removing restrictions on ranged fire. If you don't remember 3E, you will be harshly reminded the second you try out a PF2 character with bow and arrow (or Fire Bolt cantrip)!
 
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Kaodi

Adventurer
As much as a like my bow cleric one thing I am finding in Age of Ashes is that most of the spells I prepared "in case we need them" have literally never been used for multiple levels.

I always prep only heal in my highest level slots (and I have max charisma bonus for a cleric) - and I have been pretty happy with that part. But since level 3 I have prepped disrupting weapons in case we run into undead, which we have not since level 2, though I am told we will at some point in the future, and magic weapon in case we need something else to be magical or we have our weapons taken away, which has also never happened though it came close at one point when we needed a "bigger weapon" to break something with hardness. The other one is bless, and okay, that one I have tried to use somewhat regularly even since the first really tough enemy where I did not have it prepped.

Since 5th level I have prepared restoration and resist energy also neither of which has ever been used, though there were a could of times when I came close with resist energy. Once we hit 9 or if we get a second cleric in the party (which we might next week) I may start prepping a 4th level restoration for its ability to reduce the uniquely awful doom, but once again I am worried it will be a dead spell most of the time. I also prepped augury, which I have used once so far, and I prepped restore senses for a bit after one nasty fight but no other fight needed it so I stopped.

At 7th I started prepping neutralize poison and I expect that will be useful at some point but it has not seen use so far and we just hit level 8. I also prepped one heroism every day but maybe I would just be better off prepping ALL heroism in my 3rd level slots.

Anyway - my point is that I almost feel like I would be better off just preparing a lower level heal in place of almost every utility spell I have picked because they could be consistently useful in a way those other spells have not been. I have gotten use out of comprehend languages a couple of times, both when we level up because our DM allows me to "spontaneously prepare" when I get a new spell slot. And maybe when we hit 9th level a 4th level comprehend languages would see consistent enough use to be merited. Some of this is also my own issue because I have a lower Wis so prepping offensive spells is not as good an idea (though I think this issue is mitigated now that I have expert divine spellcasting), but still: lower level heals feel like it could have more utility than most of the alternatives. A level 1 heal is probably more useful against a horde of undead minions than disrupting weapons anyway, though less good against bigger undead. And 2nd level and up heals are okay to use for their one action versions when the 2 action high level heal still needs to be supplemented a bit more.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I can't say I agree much with either of ya :)

The math of PF2 is much stricter and tighter than any other version of D&D (AD&D, d20, 5E) with the possible exception of 4E.

4E and PF2 does not play at all the same. Most importantly, PF2 combat feels much more like d20 or 5E combat than 4E combat.

Yet, I see clear similarities in design approach, especially in the areas I like the least about PF2:

* both games swim in an ocean of "feats" (or powers or whatever you want to call them). This locks down both games, since you are not encouraged to improvise or "say yes", you're encouraged to "take 16 levels of Barbarian" (or whatever prerequisite). It also represents a huge opportunity for the publisher to veritably SPAM the marketplace with gazillions of little tiny variations of essentially the same thing.
This does NOT mean I see any resemblance to the AEDU structure. Character abilities work much more like "normal" (where 4E is the odd duck out)

* PF2 offers much less character customization power than d20 or 5E. (Note I'm speaking about the actual power, or impact, of your build choices!) That might surprise those blinded by the sheer deluge of choices at every level. But I consider the wealth of choices here to be a smokescreen. That is, you're given a lot of choices, but each one ultimately doesn't change much. Worse, they don't matter much even taken as a whole. Essentially, you're given a very limited freedom to change the smallest things at the end, but nothing fundamental. Example: as a fighter you can pick a feat that lets you make a strike against both the monster in front of you and the monster behind you. But when you realize the other feats let you strike two characters standing beside each other, or give you a reduced power attack against a single monster, and so on, and so forth, you realize the devs all along wanted to give you an extra attack. But you don't just get the extra attack! You get it doled out as incrementally as anyone possibly could. The choice you get isn't to get the extra attack or to become awesome in some other respect - you only get to choose which specific configuration your extra attack can be used for. This is what I mean by "the smallest thing at the end", as opposed to "can I get better AC or higher Saves instead of Extra Attack" or something (that both d20 and 5E easily offers). Meanwhile, juicy stuff such as a second damage die comes "free" as soon as you loot a given monster (either for the Striking weapon or enough gold to buy one). The GMG allows you to make that bonus built in, but not as a choice where you could instead gain a significantly larger defense or many more hit points or whatever. And it's not that you could pick up a different magic item with your 100 gold that granted you those things. Nope - once you select your class at first level, your abilities are pretty much locked in, all the way up to level 20. You will get an extra attack exactly at this level. You will get Evasion or similar at that level. Your AC increases in exact lockstep, and so does each of your saves, with zero customization. You will get bonus damage dice at these levels (all you can do is change it up as minimally as possible, if you use the default system where damage dice - for some inexplicable reason, most likely because playtesters cried out like babies - are external to your character; perhaps getting it a level early or a level late). While I do appreciate balance, this is going way WAY too far for my liking.

* both games feature as restricted and narrowed-down magic items as the publisher possibly can. You don't get anything more than what the devs consider the minimum. Items are restricted in multiple ways - only specific character builds can use them, you need to remember specific restrictions unique to each item, and you can't simply use them at will, you must nearly always keep track of daily uses or similar. And then there's Talismans, who fill me with unholy rage.

* there are way too many way too fiddly subsystems. Recall Knowledge, Treat Wounds, Earn Income - they all represent complex and detailed rules for very little return over something much simpler.

* every edition of D&D has its clunkers, so that Alchemists, shields, Incapacitation effects and Crafting feel like red-headed stepchildren isn't much to dwell on. At least the hope lives on that these options will be fixed faster than Beastmaster Rangers of 5E... More worrying is that PF2's approach to actually fixing the caster-martial balance of d20 seems to have been actively impaired by too-traditional playtesters. Of what I've seen so far, 5E offers the by far more intelligent holistic approach. PF2 appears to pretty much just make most spells suck, as their solution. While it's nice to have an edition where martials rock, it is sad to see how the wizard must suffer to get there.

* This has nothing to do with 4E, but I need to give kudos to PF2 for one very important (but easily underestimated) step - the balance between melee and ranged fire. 5E went way too far in removing restrictions on ranged fire. If you don't remember 3E, you will be harshly reminded the second you try out a PF2 character with bow and arrow (or Fire Bolt cantrip)!
2. I agree the power level does not differ. For me that is ok. I didn't like having super optimal choices to boost power. It made my players pick those same things over and over again. If you wanted to compete, everyone else that played that same class did the same thing. It ruined variation in character building and focused too much on power optimizing.

Now the DM can tell the guy who wants to play a two-weapon fighter or dagger thrower that , yeah, you might not do optimal damage, but you'll be highly effective playing one of those concepts.

Whereas in PF1 and 5E with feats, a melee was a two-handed weapon guy or he was a chump. Archers were amazing in PF1 or 5E with sharpshooter. Nearly every other type of martial was inferior to those two.

The same could be said of caster choices in PF1 and 5E. In PF2 you can pretty much make whatever concept you want and you will be effective and only marginally less effective than some other slightly optimized choice. That means more character variability without being punished for sub-optimal choices like the power-gaming in PF1 and 5E.

3. I don't much remember 4E magic items. PF2 magic items are pretty simple, but provide useful bonuses. They aren't as good as some of 5Es great items. Then again handing out those 5E items definitely shifted the balance substantially. But even so a melee martial with a belt of giant strength versus a sharpshooter archer was a sad comparison against a mobile creature. With 5Es move and attack with no limit, the premium on mobility was high. A jerk DM could make a melee martial feel pathetic having some fast moving dragon or flying creature rip him apart while he is stuck on the ground. That's why I used to build switch hitters in 5E. Some kind of martial sorlock or an archer because mobile creatures just ate parties without mobility alive, yet died like cream puffs if you had a battery of ranged attackers.

4. Not having any trouble using Treat Wounds, Crafting, or Recall Knowledge. In fact, they seem easier than PF1 and more useful than 5E. Useful subsystems that aren't too hard to adjudicate seem good to me.

5. Alchemist bombers are nasty. Incapacitation effects suck, but are understandable with not wanting to short circuit main encounters. Shields need some work. Sturdy Shield is an ok fix, but shields still need some work.

Caster-Wizard/Sorcerer balance is a problem. I want more information and time to see what people come up with before I address it, but I can see it in game right now. It's not super fun.

I can say Cleric, Bard, and Druid are fine. I didn't think the druid would be fine until I saw one in action. Druid is just fine. Maybe more than fine. They have plenty of one action options that are effective. Sorcerer and Wizard not so much.

6. I agree. You could really say all forms of fighting are fairly balanced except maybe the monk who might be a little weak. I will have to see. But the monk's defenses seem really good.

Game needs more time out at the moment with more people playing to higher levels figuring out how things work. Old way of playing PF1 is not how you play PF2. I'm learning that as I go along.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
As much as a like my bow cleric one thing I am finding in Age of Ashes is that most of the spells I prepared "in case we need them" have literally never been used for multiple levels.

I always prep only heal in my highest level slots (and I have max charisma bonus for a cleric) - and I have been pretty happy with that part. But since level 3 I have prepped disrupting weapons in case we run into undead, which we have not since level 2, though I am told we will at some point in the future, and magic weapon in case we need something else to be magical or we have our weapons taken away, which has also never happened though it came close at one point when we needed a "bigger weapon" to break something with hardness. The other one is bless, and okay, that one I have tried to use somewhat regularly even since the first really tough enemy where I did not have it prepped.

Since 5th level I have prepared restoration and resist energy also neither of which has ever been used, though there were a could of times when I came close with resist energy. Once we hit 9 or if we get a second cleric in the party (which we might next week) I may start prepping a 4th level restoration for its ability to reduce the uniquely awful doom, but once again I am worried it will be a dead spell most of the time. I also prepped augury, which I have used once so far, and I prepped restore senses for a bit after one nasty fight but no other fight needed it so I stopped.

At 7th I started prepping neutralize poison and I expect that will be useful at some point but it has not seen use so far and we just hit level 8. I also prepped one heroism every day but maybe I would just be better off prepping ALL heroism in my 3rd level slots.

Anyway - my point is that I almost feel like I would be better off just preparing a lower level heal in place of almost every utility spell I have picked because they could be consistently useful in a way those other spells have not been. I have gotten use out of comprehend languages a couple of times, both when we level up because our DM allows me to "spontaneously prepare" when I get a new spell slot. And maybe when we hit 9th level a 4th level comprehend languages would see consistent enough use to be merited. Some of this is also my own issue because I have a lower Wis so prepping offensive spells is not as good an idea (though I think this issue is mitigated now that I have expert divine spellcasting), but still: lower level heals feel like it could have more utility than most of the alternatives. A level 1 heal is probably more useful against a horde of undead minions than disrupting weapons anyway, though less good against bigger undead. And 2nd level and up heals are okay to use for their one action versions when the 2 action high level heal still needs to be supplemented a bit more.
This is why I prefer the 5E way of preparation. This advanced preparation in a game of already weakened magic is too restricting on casters. I'd rather let them prepare level plus appropriate stat number of spells whatever varying levels they want and cast what they need. That is one aspect of 5E I vastly prefer. It punishes preparation casters less and allows classes like clerics to decide between a few useful options with their spell slots while having things like neutralize poison prepared. After some time, I think I'm going to move my PF2 group to 5E casting memorization. I think that would go a long way to fix the caster-wizard balance.
 

Puggins

Explorer
Supporter
I think that there is enough space here for no one to be wrong. So, continuing the discussion on that note...

I can't say I agree much with either of ya :)

The math of PF2 is much stricter and tighter than any other version of D&D (AD&D, d20, 5E) with the possible exception of 4E.
I'd like to know your frame of reference here.

Armor classes don't vary very significantly, frankly. The source of bonuses differ (pf1 = magic christmas tree, pf2 = level), but the overall effect is the same. A CR16 Ancient Black Dragon has AC39 in PF1. A CR16 Ancient Black Dragon has AC38 in PF2. A fairly well-euipped 5th level fighter in full plate +2 has AC ~24, a fairly well equipped fighter in full plate +1 in PF2 has AC ~24. You don't get that much variation, frankly.

Attack bonus is tricky- it has indeed been toned down, but the four-level result system means smaller variations have much more significant impacts. A 5th level fighter wielding a long sword +1 has an attack bonus of +14 or so. a 5th level cleric of Iomdae, same strength, has an attack bonus of +12. In PF1 the fighter will have something like a +11 or +12 while a cleric will have a +8 or +9, assuming similar strength. The +2 difference in pf2 will have a lot more effect than a +2 difference in pf1. at 6th level the fighter gets an extra attack, which shifts things around for sure.

Bottom line- the math is different- more streamlined, certainly- but I don't see it as that much "tighter" in terms of effect. A 7th level fighter will humiliate a 7th level cleric in melee, certainly.

* both games swim in an ocean of "feats" (or powers or whatever you want to call them). This locks down both games, since you are not encouraged to improvise or "say yes", you're encouraged to "take 16 levels of Barbarian" (or whatever prerequisite). It also represents a huge opportunity for the publisher to veritably SPAM the marketplace with gazillions of little tiny variations of essentially the same thing.
This does NOT mean I see any resemblance to the AEDU structure. Character abilities work much more like "normal" (where 4E is the odd duck out)
You've said this before, but can you give a concrete example? Not saying you're wrong, but the skill feats you take give you abilities that are clearly abilities that are distinctive, and usually shouldn't be used consistently.

For example, take acrobatics- someone with acrobatics (or even someone without acrobatics) can say "I jump off the balcony, try to grab the chandelier, swing over until I'm over the table and try to jump off and land on the table!"

the DM could call for an acrobatics check at 15 or 20. Someone with trained acrobatics has a much better chance to succeed than someone without acrobatics. They can still take a little bit of damage from falling 10', unless they have the catfall feet, in which case they're good. Nothing is precluded, but the catfall feat makes things a little easier for you.

I honestly can't think of something that is out and out removed from play as a possibility because it's now a class feature.

I do agree that there are much more elegant ways of handling things like backgrounds (I'm a fan of 13th age's background system myself), but I'm pleasantly surprised how few "filler" feats there are. In contrast, at least half of the feats in the 3.5/4e PHB were complete trash.

* PF2 offers much less character customization power than d20 or 5E. (Note I'm speaking about the actual power, or impact, of your build choices!) That might surprise those blinded by the sheer deluge of choices at every level. But I consider the wealth of choices here to be a smokescreen. That is, you're given a lot of choices, but each one ultimately doesn't change much. Worse, they don't matter much even taken as a whole. Essentially, you're given a very limited freedom to change the smallest things at the end, but nothing fundamental. Example: as a fighter you can pick a feat that lets you make a strike against both the monster in front of you and the monster behind you. But when you realize the other feats let you strike two characters standing beside each other, or give you a reduced power attack against a single monster, and so on, and so forth, you realize the devs all along wanted to give you an extra attack. But you don't just get the extra attack! You get it doled out as incrementally as anyone possibly could.
This I can't agree with. Those feats promote very different styles of fighters- something the pf1 feat tree very rarely did.

Sure, you can give a guy a "free" second attack, but then everyone would take that action (and ONLY that action). Instead you get a choice of ways to get bonuses, some of which can be combined.

And it appears to me that pf2 concentrates on breadth of customization, rather than power. Another way of stating the above is that pf2 rewards system mastery to a much lesser degree than pf1, which I think is a definite win, even if it means that Golarion blacksmiths need to learn to make something other than falchions.


The choice you get isn't to get the extra attack or to become awesome in some other respect - you only get to choose which specific configuration your extra attack can be used for. This is what I mean by "the smallest thing at the end", as opposed to "can I get better AC or higher Saves instead of Extra Attack" or something (that both d20 and 5E easily offers).
You definitely have a choice. Dueling Parry, Intimidating Strike, Aggressive block, snagging strike- none of these give you two attacks, all of them give you benefits that are competitive against a second strike, and some are definitely defensive in nature.

Meanwhile, juicy stuff such as a second damage die comes "free" as soon as you loot a given monster (either for the Striking weapon or enough gold to buy one). The GMG allows you to make that bonus built in, but not as a choice where you could instead gain a significantly larger defense or many more hit points or whatever. And it's not that you could pick up a different magic item with your 100 gold that granted you those things. Nope - once you select your class at first level, your abilities are pretty much locked in, all the way up to level 20. You will get an extra attack exactly at this level. You will get Evasion or similar at that level. Your AC increases in exact lockstep, and so does each of your saves, with zero customization. You will get bonus damage dice at these levels (all you can do is change it up as minimally as possible, if you use the default system where damage dice - for some inexplicable reason, most likely because playtesters cried out like babies - are external to your character; perhaps getting it a level early or a level late). While I do appreciate balance, this is going way WAY too far for my liking.
Can't disagree here, but I have yet to really see a game where the choices you want to have are really choices- most of the time you can boil a choice down to raw numbers there's going to be a definite winner and a "right" choice. in PF1 it was offense- most guides just came out and said that you shouldn't worry too much about AC, since it becomes irrelevant as you go higher in level. That wasn't strictly true, but it wasn't wrong either.

I do agree that nailing down the progression in such a strict manner is restrictive. On the other hand, classes do need some way to start distinctive. Still, I can see Archetypes in the future that can mix things up.

* both games feature as restricted and narrowed-down magic items as the publisher possibly can. You don't get anything more than what the devs consider the minimum. Items are restricted in multiple ways - only specific character builds can use them, you need to remember specific restrictions unique to each item, and you can't simply use them at will, you must nearly always keep track of daily uses or similar. And then there's Talismans, who fill me with unholy rage.
I don't have too much to comment on here, other than the fact that 3.5e and PF1 had the same issues, where stats were king and every amulet/belt without stats might as well not exist.

* there are way too many way too fiddly subsystems. Recall Knowledge, Treat Wounds, Earn Income - they all represent complex and detailed rules for very little return over something much simpler.
[/QUOTE[

Lore is a big old failure- I'm honestly considering bringing 13a's background system to replace it.

Treat wounds and earn income I can appreciate- neither are all that complicated and both make the world a bit more grounded.
 

MaskedGuy

Explorer
As much as a like my bow cleric one thing I am finding in Age of Ashes is that most of the spells I prepared "in case we need them" have literally never been used for multiple levels.
Even in 1e, its usually better to leave few spellslots empty so you can prepare utility spells in case you happen to run into situation where they would be useful rather than prepping utility spell just in case you get to use them.
 

MaskedGuy

Explorer
On sidenote, bit confused by CaptainZapp's hatred of talisman since isn't their whole point to just be "category of consumables that aren't potions or alchemical items"? Like I don't really see point in hating them specifically unless you just don't like consumables at all.

On other side note, I think the devs are considering stuff like class specific "archetypes"(I'm not sure what is the word they are using) that switch out stuff like whether you get x at level y and such. But I'm not sure if your problem was that same class always get same upgrade at same level or that all classes get upgrades at specific levels?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
On sidenote, bit confused by CaptainZapp's hatred of talisman since isn't their whole point to just be "category of consumables that aren't potions or alchemical items"? Like I don't really see point in hating them specifically unless you just don't like consumables at all.
First off, if you're talking as somebody aware of how D&D works in general your confusion is understandable.

You really need to understand how PF2 talismans work in detail. Then, have you read my actual criticism?

But Talismans as written? You could easily just ignore all of them and not even realize you missed out.

Because, oh boy, you aren't missing out!

Spending time to write down their names and what they do, and then select which one to affix, and remembering to use it at the exact time... For what? The tiniest shittiest pathetic little one-time bonus? With a real risk of frustration over not spotting the perfect time to use it, or finding out you affixed the wrong one and just waited in vain the whole fight, or simply by realizing you JUST missed your shot at getting good use out of the annoying little bonus there was!

No, I am personally offended by the very thought anyone is expected to bother with a single Talisman, at all.

To me the designer is giving me a giant F U sign. I hate the design with every fiber of my being.

Especially since there was no reason to create them in that way, and every reason to not create anything that whiffs of 4th edition! I truly am flabbergasted anyone at Paizo thought the implementation to be a good idea.
If you still have any questions after this, I'm happy to answer :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I think that there is enough space here for no one to be wrong. So, continuing the discussion on that note...



I'd like to know your frame of reference here.

Armor classes don't vary very significantly, frankly. The source of bonuses differ (pf1 = magic christmas tree, pf2 = level), but the overall effect is the same. A CR16 Ancient Black Dragon has AC39 in PF1. A CR16 Ancient Black Dragon has AC38 in PF2. A fairly well-euipped 5th level fighter in full plate +2 has AC ~24, a fairly well equipped fighter in full plate +1 in PF2 has AC ~24. You don't get that much variation, frankly.

Attack bonus is tricky- it has indeed been toned down, but the four-level result system means smaller variations have much more significant impacts. A 5th level fighter wielding a long sword +1 has an attack bonus of +14 or so. a 5th level cleric of Iomdae, same strength, has an attack bonus of +12. In PF1 the fighter will have something like a +11 or +12 while a cleric will have a +8 or +9, assuming similar strength. The +2 difference in pf2 will have a lot more effect than a +2 difference in pf1. at 6th level the fighter gets an extra attack, which shifts things around for sure.

Bottom line- the math is different- more streamlined, certainly- but I don't see it as that much "tighter" in terms of effect. A 7th level fighter will humiliate a 7th level cleric in melee, certainly.
A huge post. I realized my reply were become nearly as huge so I'm chopping it up.

As I read you, you are defending Paizo's decisions to lock in the exact improvements in a class' fundamental bonuses (to hit, AC, saves).

But then you argue the difference isn't that great anyway. Doesn't this mean you're on my side - there was no reason to lock it down, there was no reason to deny the player the satisfaction of making his or her own choices?

In 3E it is the multiclassing mechanism that provides the player control over his fundamentals. It is in this light PF2 comes across as weirdly - almost paranoiacally - locked down. There isn't even a token ability to switch around your saves (as in 5E, where you could take a feat to boost a given save, but since you have six of them, you basically chose your most important one and that was it).

Being able to juggle around your save proficiencies just like you're allowed to select skill proficiencies would have destroyed nothing, made the game slightly more fun, but most importantly, blunted the impression the game knows better than you, and makes the decisions for you!
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You've said this before, but can you give a concrete example? Not saying you're wrong, but the skill feats you take give you abilities that are clearly abilities that are distinctive, and usually shouldn't be used consistently.

For example, take acrobatics- someone with acrobatics (or even someone without acrobatics) can say "I jump off the balcony, try to grab the chandelier, swing over until I'm over the table and try to jump off and land on the table!"

the DM could call for an acrobatics check at 15 or 20. Someone with trained acrobatics has a much better chance to succeed than someone without acrobatics. They can still take a little bit of damage from falling 10', unless they have the catfall feet, in which case they're good. Nothing is precluded, but the catfall feat makes things a little easier for you.

I honestly can't think of something that is out and out removed from play as a possibility because it's now a class feature.

I do agree that there are much more elegant ways of handling things like backgrounds (I'm a fan of 13th age's background system myself), but I'm pleasantly surprised how few "filler" feats there are. In contrast, at least half of the feats in the 3.5/4e PHB were complete trash.
Regarding skill feats, apologies if I'm wrong, but you come off as someone talking in general as opposed to making a PF2 specific example.

Okay so let's talk Acrobatics and its skill feats.

tells me I shouldn't say yes and let someone quickly squeeze through because that sounds reasonable - why then ever take this feat?

Many players get disappointed you crawl so very slowly in this game - you must spend an entire action just to move a single square (which isn't enough if you just crawled out of a monster's square). This feat tells me I shouldn't say yes and let someone quickly roll away because that sounds reasonable - why then ever take this feat?

I could go on but won't.

The various books contains multitudes of "traps" like this, that basically paralyze your ability to use the game rules loosely and generously. You are basically told to use the rules as written, the full and complete rules - with every little restriction in place - since Paizo has taken the right to sell you a supplement book where that restriction can be mitigated or removed by taking a very special feat. You can never be sure you aren't invalidating a game choice by adopting a "house style" where some actions are just less clunky than in the RAW.

Contrast this to a feat such as
This feat doesn't "retroactively" shut down me being generous. It just provides bonuses to actions. Therefore, this feat isn't a problem feat.


Hope you see the difference and the point I'm making - let's not forget, I brought this up as one of the biggest similarities to 4E I'm seeing in PF2.
 

MaskedGuy

Explorer
shrugs I mean yeah, potency crystal is most commonly used ones, rest of them tend to be more like "Oh, neat, found this, I guess I might as well use it or never bother(puts it into same pile as 50+ cure moderate wounds potions)"(I'm not joking about that, we had hundreds of cure moderate wounds at high level 1e pathfinder just from enemy equipment). Which is my usual experience with consumables in first place, people only buy them if they are bored of saving money or do specifically know they need it or know what kind of success they want to maximize :p
 

MaskedGuy

Explorer
Regarding skill feats, apologies if I'm wrong, but you come off as someone talking in general as opposed to making a PF2 specific example.

Okay so let's talk Acrobatics and its skill feats.

tells me I shouldn't say yes and let someone quickly squeeze through because that sounds reasonable - why then ever take this feat?

Many players get disappointed you crawl so very slowly in this game - you must spend an entire action just to move a single square (which isn't enough if you just crawled out of a monster's square). This feat tells me I shouldn't say yes and let someone quickly roll away because that sounds reasonable - why then ever take this feat?

I could go on but won't.

The various books contains multitudes of "traps" like this, that basically paralyze your ability to use the game rules loosely and generously. You are basically told to use the rules as written, the full and complete rules - with every little restriction in place - since Paizo has taken the right to sell you a supplement book where that restriction can be mitigated or removed by taking a very special feat. You can never be sure you aren't invalidating a game choice by adopting a "house style" where some actions are just less clunky than in the RAW.

Contrast this to a feat such as
This feat doesn't "retroactively" shut down me being generous. It just provides bonuses to actions. Therefore, this feat isn't a problem feat.


Hope you see the difference and the point I'm making - let's not forget, I brought this up as one of the biggest similarities to 4E I'm seeing in PF2.
Umm, I really don't agree with either of your examples. I mean, first one is because normally squeezing takes minutes

"Critical Success You squeeze through the tight space in 1 minute per 10 feet of squeezing.
Success You squeeze through in 1 minute per 5 feet."

The latter is just about house ruling :p If you want everyone to be able to crawl faster, then you can just remove feat or make it freebie.

Like your latter complain isn't about "I think it sucks there is feat to let you crawl faster" its "I think it sucks that crawling speed is low"?

Though yeah I do understand the design logic of "allows you to do more with your actions" vs "allows you to do thing better", but I don't really see it as problematic in these examples. Like I can understand it about some examples with 1e feats...
 

CapnZapp

Legend
This I can't agree with. Those feats promote very different styles of fighters- something the pf1 feat tree very rarely did.

Sure, you can give a guy a "free" second attack, but then everyone would take that action (and ONLY that action). Instead you get a choice of ways to get bonuses, some of which can be combined.

And it appears to me that pf2 concentrates on breadth of customization, rather than power. Another way of stating the above is that pf2 rewards system mastery to a much lesser degree than pf1, which I think is a definite win, even if it means that Golarion blacksmiths need to learn to make something other than falchions.
I can't make you agree with me. As long as you understand my point, you're free to disagree.

I just feel Paizo is doling out gifts as incrementally and specifically as possible. It's like being spoon-fed, never getting slightly more food, never getting slightly less.

I dislike the feeling of being completely controlled - yes, I can make a fighter with this highly specific maneuver here at the cost of not being able to make that maneuver there.

That feels unnatural and gamist. I prefer a slightly looser game framework where the player and GM is given at least minimal trust, minimal latitude to work it out for themselves.

It makes everything look and feel so very complicated. And you always feel at the mercy of the publisher.

Yes, some might like it. But remember it makes the CRB read like a purchasing catalog rather than a living breathing rulebook. It's likely one of the biggest barriers to entry from new customers, especially given the competition. I had hoped this format died out with 4E.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The latter is just about house ruling :p If you want everyone to be able to crawl faster, then you can just remove feat or make it freebie.
Yeah good luck with that.

I couldn't get three sessions into the game before I was completely stopped in my tracks by the cascading number of highly specific feats I was trampling all over.

So I gave up and started to gamesmaster the game like a good little well-adjusted GM that trusts Paizo to improvise better than myself... (yes, that's theatrical bitterness)
 

MaskedGuy

Explorer
You do kinda confuse me there bit since you are using very subjective experiences and terms there. Like "Living breathing rulebook" doesn't really say much to me, I definitely didn't feel like 1e rulebook was like that.

That said, I think I can understand your preferences about flexibility maybe? Not completely, but the way I understood it, you don't like that 2e character building is more about versatility than specialty?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Lore is a big old failure- I'm honestly considering bringing 13a's background system to replace it.

Treat wounds and earn income I can appreciate- neither are all that complicated and both make the world a bit more grounded.
I guess you're right about Lore. Not to miffed about it. Once you realize you basically choose a lore as a ribbon ability you can then forget about them.

---

I severely dislike the way Treat Wounds turn downtime into a minigame. I want rules that basically lets you get on with it!

Not asking players to make a lot of decisions - should I go for DC 15 or hope for DC 20? Should I use Assurance or make a roll?

...and forcing them to remember cruft like who has done Battle Medicine? Who has given me Battle Medicine? Have you gotten magical healing today?

Making everything have cooldowns of 10 minutes, 1 hour and one day makes it much messier than it ever needed to be.

It might have been created with the best of intentions, but it's far too complicated when it basically amounts to "you're back to full health after a short rest" ANYWAY. Which would have been MUCH MUCH simpler faster and better. But that's PF2 for you - always taking the most cluttery path possible.

I took a stab at making that second design pass that Paizo never got to make (but should have), significantly simplifying this mess, here:

I can't say I was entirely successful, but it serves as an illustration of how overwrought the existing system really is.

---

Since Earn Income gives you a pittance (relative to your level) why all the details, why the detailed table? And why the daily breakdown instead of "you gain X gold per week"?

I'm getting the definite impression the main reason is to make Earn Income much much more important than it ever is in practice.

Looking at the table on page 236 I'm itching to just erase all the checks, modifiers, tables, rolls and malarkey and just say

A character can spend a downtime week Earning Income. You earn your level squared in gold per week.
(Yes that single line of text is really everything you need)

You don't need to take into account that a high-level character uses an untrained skill. It's okay to just assume characters aren't idiots, and that they will always find a task for a skill they're actually good at.

What I'm doing here is what a good designer would have done. Killing off the crud. Yes, some players aren't able to see beyond the shining surface where everything looks so important and impressive. But I expect more of paid professionals.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You do kinda confuse me there bit since you are using very subjective experiences and terms there.
The 4E and PF2 rulebooks are basically only long long lists of choices (powers and feats, respectively).

The 5E rulebook is much more like a general textbook, and like other rpg rulebooks. It contains more text (prose) than tables.

You can't get a sense of what a "fighter" or "ranger" is by just looking at an easy overview. The games are "buried" in lists. I might be able to move past that, but I'm not so sure about many newcomers to the hobby.

Apologies for not being precise.
 

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