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PF2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

dave2008

Legend
Really? Maybe you won't like it then.
I apologize because I feel like I am giving a negative impression that I don't think is justified. I have competing feelings about PF2 on paper, and I think I need to play to see if any of that really matters. I look at from a Designer, a DM, and a player perspective. On paper there a things in all three of those categories that look awesome and some that worry me, But that is true of most games. Personally, I tend to find the system doesn't matter as much as me, and I would think that would be the case for PF2 too.

I don't like making a two-weapon fighter and being the red-headed step-child to the two-hander fighter. I don't like archers being supreme damage dealers while ranged magic users are left with AoE damage. I don't much enjoy having to take the same feats or spells over and over again to be effective.
I think your definition of effective is different than mine (and a lot of other posters in these forums). But it does sound like you have an optimizer's perspective, which neither I nor my group is.

Given you don't have anyone playing paladins or like in your 5E game, I find your idea of optimization strange.
It is not just my 5e game, that includes my 1e and 4e games too. My players and I don't play D&D to optimize. We don't chase the best spell, equipment, feat, sub-class, race, strategy or synergy. We pick a character we want to play and play. It is that simple. If I can do that in PF2e, I', sure I'll be fine. Just don't expect me to contribute much in combat because I am terrible at tactics and synergy!
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I agree with you; however, it was real issue some people had with 4e powers too. Some players didn't want to do anything that wasn't in a power, even though 4e had a powerful improvisation engine built in. To break my players of their reliance on their "powers" I ran an adventure completely without powers and we did everything with improvised actions (even spells) and used DMG 42 to adjudicate it. So I get and agree with your point, but @CapnZapp has noted the it is a problem for him and it is likely a problem for others. Best to be aware of it and not just dismiss it, or you might not pick up on it when it is happening.

I've been DMing so long that it is natural for me to decide things. I can see how a newer DM might feel stuck at times if his players are questioning him or pestering him. A lack of clear rules might also make a DM feel unable to make a decision on what is and is not allowed. Thus it will usually come down to DM experience and confidence improvising.
 

dave2008

Legend
Because fun is the primary driver of the game. If I'm still having fun playing, then no reason to believe the balance is a problem. You can have fun playing PF2.
I agree 100% with that point, but I don't think to much balance as a detrimental effect on your fun, but it could on mine.

. Though I wouldn't focus too much on missed rules and just play to start with and learn as you go.
That is my plan.

.I'm coming from PF1, so learning a bunch of rules is ok for me. I committed most rules to memory in PF1 which had more. I'm doing the same in PF2. But if you're coming from 5E, then this is a big jump in the number of rules you need to memorize and the amount of reading you need to do. I think PF2 game designers are building this according to PF1 player wants and complaints than to take players from 5E.
I will probably be a pain in the ass because I am not really interested in learning rules. If I can just through play - great! If not, I am going be a drag on my poor DM :p

.PF2 addresses all of these concerns without losing the feel of a living, breathing world. That was what was important to me. If none of those areas concerned you, then PF2 is just another game with some interesting subsystems. PF2 took all the complaints from PF1 DMs and players, then produced PF2. I think they addressed most of the primary complaints I heard on the various forums without ruining the game. It doesn't sound to me like those complaints were anything you worried about.
Well, I never played 3e or PF1 so no those are not things I worried about! But they weren't issues for me in 1e, 4e, or 5e.
 

dave2008

Legend
I've been DMing so long that it is natural for me to decide things. I can see how a newer DM might feel stuck at times if his players are questioning him or pestering him. A lack of clear rules might also make a DM feel unable to make a decision on what is and is not allowed. Thus it will usually come down to DM experience and confidence improvising.
I think your just dismissing the issue again. Capnzapp is very experienced, and so are his players, and he sees it as an issue, and so did @FrozenNorth . Many of the people who made these complaints in 4e were experienced 3e DMs and players.

To be clear - it is not an issue for me, but I understand that it can be an issue for some. No game can be everything to every player - and that is OK.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I apologize because I feel like I am giving a negative impression that I don't think is justified. I have competing feelings about PF2 on paper, and I think I need to play to see if any of that really matters. I look at form a Designer, a DM, and a player. On paper there a things in all three of those categories that look awesome and some that worry me, But that is true of most games. Personally, I tend to find the system doesn't matter as much as me, and I would think that would be the case for PF2 too.

I think your definition of effective is different than mine (and a lot of other posters in these forums). But it does sound like you have an optimizer's perspective, which neither I nor my group is.

It is not just my 5e game, that includes my 1e and 4e games too. My players and I don't play D&D to optimize. We don't chase the best spell, equipment, feat, sub-class, race, strategy or synergy. We pick a character we want to play and play. It is that simple. If I can do that in PF2e, I', sure I'll be fine. Just don't expect me to contribute much in combat because I am terrible at tactics and synergy!

This what I don't understand. Why would you want a game with choices that so clearly outclass other choices if you don't play that way? Why would you want them to exist?

Let's talk within the context of the game it sounds like you play right now.

Say a guy wants to make a two-weapon wielder in 5E. He makes a regular fighter. Buys the two-weapon feat that let's him at least use two equal sized weapons. He gets to use his bonus action to attack with two-longswords for 1d8+strength each. With bless he gets the same +1d4 as the rest of the party. He hits twice a round averaging 1d8+4 per attack for 17 points of damage per round.

Here comes Mr. Two-hander paladin with Great Weapon Master. He's using a two-handed sword with bless. This reduces his negative attack roll by an average of 2. So when he uses GWM, he is -5/+10 damage. His average hit is 1d12+14. Every time he hits he does 20 points of damage not including smites with a -3 to hit absent advantage.

This means each hit from the GWM is more valuable than two strikes from the two-hander fighter for a slight reduction to hit. This gap just increases if you add in smites and critical hits. So it is better for the party to focus on getting the GWM fighter more hits than the two-weapon fighter in every single situation.

That is optimization. So the player playing a two-weapon fighter is suddenly a chump who made bad choices as a player because they are bad choices to be made. In fact, the only good choice is the GWM two-hander fighter, every other choice is basically a bad choice. To some this is building a great character, but to me it means there are more sub-optimal choices in the game than optimal choices. It's not even about optimal choices for what you want to do like say two-weapon fighting. It's more that there is only one type of fighting that is optimal and if you're not doing it, then you're not competitive. I think that type of game design is poor. I find it limits character variability and punishes players who may want to play a two-weapon fighter because they liked Mad Martigan in Willow or Drizz't Do'urden in The Forgotten Realms or some sword and shield using knight in Arthurian legend. It's basically saying only Conan or some big two-hander guy is truly powerful within the context of the world and everyone else is some chump.

I don't like that type of game design. I much prefer a type of game design where you can pick a fighting style or character type that is a relative power level where you do things differently, but not sub-optimally. If the two-weapon fighter and the two-hander fighter do roughly the same amount of damage with maybe the two-hander guy getting a higher weapon die while two-weapon guy gets an additional attack, then we have much closer balance and less of a feeling of the two-weapon guy being mathematically less valuable than the two-hander guy in nearly every circumstance.

Players aren't dumb. They know when they're numbers are a good deal lower than another player's numbers. It ruins many player's enjoyment of the game and makes them feel like a less valuable contributor to the most important parts of the games: battles against the BBEG. It also decreases character choice by making the same choices optimal over and over again and forcing players to fit character concepts to powerful mechanics rather than the mechanics supporting whatever character concept they want today. I don't get why some want that in the game.

I played with this type of play for all of 3E. I didn't mind it at first because in 2E two-weapon fighters were supreme, so it was a refreshing change to see two-hander fighters being on top. Now I've seen that for ten plus years. Now I'd like see all fighting styles relatively balanced, so people can play what they want and not have to watch someone else double their numbers or more. I'm happy to see the fighting styles much tighter now and less encouraging of optimal playstyles.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I think your just dismissing the issue again. Capnzapp is very experienced, and so are his players, and he sees it as an issue, and so did @FrozenNorth . Many of the people who made these complaints in 4e were experienced 3e DMs and players.

To be clear - it is not an issue for me, but I understand that it can be an issue for some. No game can be everything to every player - and that is OK.

And if that is an issue hurting the game for them, their options are house rules or different game. I'm just saying that they are only as problematic as you make them. At some point, you have to decide if the other elements of the game are desirable and you can house rule the parts you don't like in such a way to make them palatable.

We know by this point they are not going to rewrite the game to change these things. So house rules is the only method for dealing with them or just doing things the way you want to do them. If you're playing PFS, then you're at the mercy of their rule decisions. If you're playing pick up games, then you let the players know your house rules and they decide if they want to play with you.

The design for PF2 is pretty much done and decided. Options for official adjustments are likely not coming. DMs gotta do what they gotta do at this point to make things work.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Given you don't have anyone playing paladins or like in your 5E game, I find your idea of optimization strange. The paladin two-weapon user with Greater Weapon Master is vastly superior to any of the other martials. If no one is making them in your game, how would you even know if something is sup-optimal. Just like if no one in your group is making a hand crossbow wielding sharpshooter, how do you even know they are making suboptimal choies? Or a sorlock? Or using a bard with bless? The way you describe your group is they don't make any of the optimal choices, but you want the game to allow optimal choices? Hard to understand where you're coming from.
We get it. You and your group are obsessed with optimisation. Not every group is, and you don't need to repeat it every two posts.
 

Campbell

Legend
It is what it is. If you are looking for a game where the rules of the game fade into the background you probably should not be playing either edition of Pathfinder. Pathfinder Second Edition wants you to be actively engaged with the rules. It defines what a character is capable of both in combat and out of combat. That allows them to build in meaningful progression of noncombat prowess (that is not just numbers). It also means that when I am running a game I get to be meaningfully surprised by how things go.

Of course if you are not really interested in a game that has a say about dungeon exploration, carrying stuff, stealth, how traps work, athletic prowess, and social interaction work it's probably not the best fit for you. For me it is a breath of fresh air to see so much consideration given to the other pillars of play. I love that high level characters feel like they can do suitably high level things. I love that the game gives the GM plenty of tools to handle things.

Personally when running a game like 5e I often feel like I am doing all the heavy lifting - that the game is providing no actual value outside of combat.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I must say I had the same feeling. For me personally, who hasn't been a PC in about 25 years, it is very overwhelming and has lessened my desire to play.
My point is that I don't think it is reasonable to let Paizo off the hook here.

In a post-4E world, such a table-and-feat-heavy design might come off as understandable - expected even: "It's like 4E but with the bits y'all didn't like fixed". (Just like Pathfinder 1 was sold as fixing 3rd Edition, but really didn't)

But we don't live in a post-4E world, and we didn't live in it when Paizo first started designing PF2.

We live in a post-5E world, and Paizo should be held to account for sticking so close to a 4E-like presentation in my opinion.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Not so much defending it as understanding it- in a class-based system there have to be distinctions. The logical question then becomes- Why make a class-based system at all? Which is a very valid question. But we're not discussing that, so class-based system it is, and it has to lock in some differences.
Absolutely.

But 3E and 5E managed to offer strong class identity while avoiding this feeling of rigid unchangeable class fundamenta.

So... no, "it has to lock in some differences" doesn't cut it. You can definitely make a class smell and look "fightery" (or "druidery" etc) without being so overly controlling imo.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
There is definitely enough design space to sacrifice enough to make a save a "good" save too- it just hasn't been implemented yet.
Thank you.

I'm sure you'll forgive me for not holding off criticism just because it might be implemented down the line... ;)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Ah, ok, you're talking the difference between a rule-lite approach, ala 13a and Shadows of the Demon Lord (naming two of my favorite rules-medium/lite games), which is what 5e embraced, for the most part, and rules-heavy approach, which has been Pathfinder's wheelhouse.

I definitely don't mind rules-lite games. In fact, I prefer them, especially when they have include substantial character customization options. 5e, which I think is my favorite version of D&D, doesn't fall in that category. Sure, there are dials you can crank to change effectiveness, but those dials are few in number, and the effect is too radical for my taste- it makes certain builds the "right" build and the whole host of others the "wrong" build.

You are absolutely correct in criticizing PF2 from a rules-lite perspective- it isn't rules-lite. But it wasn't ever intended to be, so there really isn't much point in continuing this part of the discussion- you're right, it's not rules-lite, which is as intended- a good chunk of people like to have definitive rules on crawling, which opens up space for feats that modify it.
I really don't think "it's not rules-lite it's rules-heavy" is enough to let Paizo off the hook here.

PF2 isn't just rules-heavy. It's supertanker heavy. It's black hole heavy.

I think the question "was it really wise to make it THAT rules heavy" merits asking, and that "it was never meant to be rules light, so you might look elsewhere" is not enough of an answer.

Why? Because the contrast between 4E and 5E provides a blindingly obvious hint of what games masters need and most importantly doesn't need.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
There were powers and abilities that were clearly better than other ones.
Sure.

But let's not reduce the argument to "the ideally balanced game does not contain any choices better than others" because that's simply not at all what you should strive for.

There should absolutely be ways to make your character better than other characters of the same general build at certain aspects, ideally at the expense of other equally desirable aspects.

If there isn't, your choices doesn't matter, and that's not a good thing, that's a bad thing.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
You should be ok. Nice thing about PF2 is you can't really make any mistakes. Even in 4E you could make mistakes choosing inferior powers.
I think this line is what I will end up having repeated the most often during these discussions...:

If everybody's special noone is.

That is, if you can't make any wrong choices, you can't make any right choices either, which dampens the very important part of many D&D players' enjoyment - the charbuilding phase.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Not really a problem in my opinion. The feats you suggest make those abilities automatic and unquestioned. Whereas the DM can certainly allow a player to use a skill in an outside the box way for a specific thing without having to apply a condition to it. For example, if a player wants to conceal a spellcasting, he doesn't have the metamagic feat for it to alter the spell component itself. So he would have to say use his napkin to hide his mouth requiring a deception, perhaps one more difficult than normal if insufficient props.

Or he doesn't need to fascinate or impress the group. He can instead convince them or distract them for a few rounds if appropriate. No in game feat needed. He does what he needs to do. It doesn't have a condition.

The feats you noted have specific game rules that can be applied in any situation. The player has control over them due to his expertise rather than the DM controlling the situation allowing something specific to occur. A Fascinating Performance doesn't care if you're using it on an orc or a nymph, the player gets to use it. Whereas the DM can still say the nymph is responsive to beautiful music, so if you give a good enough performance you can convince her to do do such and such or delay combat. The DM can still allow people with skills to use them to resolve issues in a creative fashion, but the player also has control over the use of his skills to use them in a tactical manner. It seems this system allows you to do either.

Not sure why DMs are thinking the rules somehow override their ability as DM to allow players to creatively use their abilities. I know I have had zero trouble allowing player creativity same as any edition. More feats that allow for player agency do not disallow the DM from allowing creative use of abilities.
I am a bit disappointed you so easily brush aside maybe the core complaint about this particular style of design.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I agree with you; however, it was real issue some people had with 4e powers too. Some players didn't want to do anything that wasn't in a power, even though 4e had a powerful improvisation engine built in. To break my players of their reliance on their "powers" I ran an adventure completely without powers and we did everything with improvised actions (even spells) and used DMG 42 to adjudicate it. So I get and agree with your point, but @CapnZapp has noted the it is a problem for him and it is likely a problem for others. Best to be aware of it and not just dismiss it, or you might not pick up on it when it is happening.
Yep.

In short, either the game offers improvisation, in which case it's crucial it doesn't also offer a controlling detailistic framework (CDF).

Or it offers a CDF with the assumption that is meant to be enough for the GM and players.

Offering a CDF and then saying "if you don't like it you can always improvise" is an unacceptable cop-out, since it means the devs doesn't have to take responsibility for things that doesn't work in the CDF.

Offering a CDF with the express notion of "only use the parts you like" is even worse: the entire point of a CDF is that you either use it in full, or not at all. As soon as you skip one part of it, you introduce a metal-level of minmaxing where players will want to use the bonuses but avoid the costs/penalties.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I know the biggest complaints about PF1 that I saw were:
1. Game Balance: Game balance was terrible past lvl 7 or so. And non-existent at higher levels. PCs were superheroes disguised as fantasy characters easily able to hit for hundreds of points of damage per round per character or cast spells that ended battles with a single missed save often forcing enemies to save multiple times against the same spell. Or they just made it so the enemy couldn't fight back making it just a beatdown fest for the PCs.

2. Ease of Preparation: PF1 required an immense amount of preparation and understanding of the game rules to know how to counter high level PCs. It required hours of preparation and planning for encounters that often lasted anywhere from a few rounds to 10 or 15 rounds depending on rolls.

3. Martial-Caster Balance: Martials did the most damage. But who cares, casters had all the real power. Casters were god-like and their weapons were limited by what spells could do, which wasn't much of a limit.

PF2 addresses all of these concerns without losing the feel of a living, breathing world. That was what was important to me. If none of those areas concerned you, then PF2 is just another game with some interesting subsystems. PF2 took all the complaints from PF1 DMs and players, then produced PF2. I think they addressed most of the primary complaints I heard on the various forums without ruining the game. It doesn't sound to me like those complaints were anything you worried about.
Absolutely.

I remain convinced that an "Advanced 5th Edition" would suit me better, however. That would come much closer to throwing out the bathwater without losing the baby.

The baby being "playing D&D in the 3rd edition style but with #1 balance, #2 DM prep and #3 LFQW comprehensively fixed".

The question remains: while PF2 might fix these problems, does it only do it at the expense of creating a too-different too-controlling game?

My point being: 5E meanwhile fixed the problems at the cost of ending up a tad too simplistic.

Isn't simplicity a much easier thing to solve?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I've been DMing so long that it is natural for me to decide things. I can see how a newer DM might feel stuck at times if his players are questioning him or pestering him. A lack of clear rules might also make a DM feel unable to make a decision on what is and is not allowed. Thus it will usually come down to DM experience and confidence improvising.
Well, I am neither an inexperienced nor insecure GM. So...
 

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