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PF2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
That is what an optimizer would say.

My players are intelligent well educated people (mostly masters and some PHDs), yet they almost never take the "stupidly obviously better" option. They simply don't look at things that way. I feel like it is really hard for optimizers to understand the non-optimizer mindset (and probably vice versa).
To paraphrase a different quote
“The difference is that non-optimisers understand optimizers. Optimizers only think they understand non-optimizers.”
 

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dave2008

Legend
I don't understand why, in game design, my style choice necessitates me being less effective than another person's style choice.

That is a legit question whether one cares about this sort of thing or not.
None of my players feel less effective - that is what you don't understand.

We have a sword & board, a GWF, and a dual-wielder. None of them feels like they are more or less effective. Heck, magic items make more of a difference than their fighting style. That is were I get the most flak as a DM.
 

Eric V

Hero
None of my players feel less effective - that is what you don't understand.

We have a sword & board, a GWF, and a dual-wielder. None of them feels like they are more or less effective. Heck, magic items make more of a difference than their fighting style. That is were I get the most flak as a DM.

So they just ignore math? Ok.
 

dave2008

Legend
So they just ignore math? Ok.
No, the actual play experience doesn't present enough of a difference to notice. My players don't track the damage other players are doing anyway.

I guess they do ignore the math at character creation / modification in that they don't pick a class/subclass/or feat based on the math - they don't even check that.

EDIT: In 30 yrs of playing I have never had a player plan out their choices based on the math
 
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BryonD

Hero
Happily I am not providing such a weak analysis :)

I have quite emphatically stated that PF2 is not 4E and does not play like 4E.

I have also said I see clear design similarities between PF2 and 4E, and I have detailed in which specific areas my comparison applies.

I therefore trust you weren't talking about me even though it was me you quoted :cool:
No no no :)
I was not at all saying you were. I was PURELY stressing that I also was not making that claim.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
No, the actual play experience doesn't present enough of a difference to notice. My players don't track the damage other players are doing anyway.
I agree. The most effective player in my last session? The one who came up with the plan to break into the jail during a public execution, when guard presence was minimal. Second most effective? The player who realized that the person they were looking for was being kept in the jail and correctly deduced the right cell.
 

BryonD

Hero
I think there are 2 things that are true in relation to this statement.

1) The market as a whole is moving steadily away from "character building as a method of demonstrating/utliizing system mastery" and towards "character building as expression of style and aesthetic."
Is this part true?
I think I very much agree with the first part. But, as I see it, "the market" is growing toward "don't worry about it, its just a casual past-time". Which is completely cool. I'm not knocking it in the least. But I think that even within the relatively niche population of "people who play TTRPGs", the subgroup of "People who create and use accounts on TTRPG websites" is distinct and not terribly representative.
To use WOW as a rough example, it was common to have people who tended to prefer playing a Mage and people who tended to prefer playing a Warrior, and yet these same people would openly mock "RP" servers and have zero interest in character-acting tabletop RPG experiences.

I believe that the BOOM 5E is seeing is somewhere in between WOW and an ENWORLDer. They want the aesthetic of their character for sure. But only in a very casual sense. I don't think "building" is the right word. I'm not saying the people you describe don't exist. A lot of them exist. But they have existed for some time. I don't get the sense that there has been any shift there. I think system mastery is stable to slightly decreasing. I think character creation aesthetic is flat. And I think casual "I'm the wizard, let's go" is growing big time.

Your comment does make me think of the old 4E quote from Andy Collins:
"In a lot of editions of the game, classes compared to new classes were designed by [first] imagining what could exist in the D&D world, and now I assign the mechanics that make that feel realistic and then I’m done. Well the problem with that is, that you get an interesting simulation of a D&D world but not necessarily a compelling game play experience. A lot of the classes designed in the last 30 years are not interesting, are not compelling either in a fight or maybe out of a fight, but just pale compared to other characters on the table top.
...
So whenever we were approaching a new class we had to home in on what makes this guy special and unique within in the game - not just in the world of D&D but, since we’re playing a game, why is this game piece different than another game piece and why do I want to play it instead another game piece."

That certainly suggest 4E didn't lean into the aesthetic side of things. Not sure if that is really relevant to today's conversation. But the parallel (with kinda reverse polarity) of your comment drew that old item to my mind quickly. I guess I digress..

2) The Pathfinder player base has a disproportionate amount of the players who do favor character building as its own subgame, and that remnant is still large enough to be worth targeting.
I think this part is true.

I think PF2 might have tried to split the difference and ended up not squarely hitting the target for either camp.
There seems to be a death of a thousands cuts. You can talk to 5 people who decided they didn't like PF2E and get 6 different reasons why not.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
...was @Celtavian not comparing two-hander style vs. two-weapon style vs. sword-and-shield?

That's what I was responding to.
Celtavian was saying he couldn’t conceive someone playing a two-weapon fighter because the two-handed fighter was obviously, clearly superior to the two-weapon fighter.

I pointed out that this is only the case if your criteria for “obviously superior” is “does more damage in combat under certain specific circumstances”.
 

dave2008

Legend
I must say as this thread is about actual play experience, I haven't heard from many people you have actually played* the game and didn't like it. That should be a good sign.

*By this I mean a min. levels 1-10, preferably up to 20.
 
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BryonD

Hero
I must say as this thread is about actual play experience, I haven't heard from many people you have actually played* the game and didn't like it. That should be a good sign.

*By this I mean a min. levels 1-10, preferably up to 20.
I think qualifies as creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are a lot of great games out there. If you are not enjoying one game, it is trivial to move on to another. Demanding that someone invest that much time (ten levels, much less 20) before their opinion becomes valid is completely unreasonable. Plus, it doesn't matter because not playing the game is not playing the game.

I don't think anyone is disputing that it most certainly does have a niche of popularity. The Venn diagram of people who play 10+ levels and the people within that niche would just be a circle.

You could pick any politician and then say that only someone who has attended 10 of their rallies knows them well enough to judge them. And you would find that this politician is quite awesome based on those you have qualified to pass judgment. :)

As someone who has been playing RPGs for over 40 years, I know what I like and what I don't. I'm not going to tell other people that they don't know their own tastes. If I tell you I don't like coconut, it isn't helpful for you to tell me that I simply haven't tried your personal coconut creme pie yet. Even worse, if I gave in and tried a few bites and didn't like it, don't tell me I didn't eat enough.....
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
You could pick any politician and then say that only someone who has attended 10 of their rallies knows them well enough to judge them. And you would find that this politician is quite awesome based on those you have qualified to pass judgment. :)
This is completely orthogonal to the current discussion, but quoted for truth. I watched the first season of Sherlock, hated it, but nothing set my teeth on edge more than “well, it only hits its stride by the middle of Season 2”. Sorry, I’m not going to devote 10 hours of my life to something that may eventually be enjoyable.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
First, I want to make it clear I'm not looking to insult anyone or decide which way to play is better or any of that arbitrary subjective opinion. I am merely illustrating my experience with power gaming over the decades in every edition of D&D/PF1 and many other games. I know some of you who have played with power-gamers, optimizers, or the like will understand it and some who never have won't. I'm not going to respond to each post. I will express my experience and why I like the math of PF2 so much comparatively.

Power gamers/min-maxers/optimizers, whatever you want to call them rely on game rules and math to create the characters they create. If the math wasn't capable of being min-maxed, their strategy wouldn't work. Optimization comes down to manipulation of the game rules and math for the maximum possible outcome and the most value in defeating combat challenges, the primary driver of experience in the game and thus power. If you're not playing with players doing the math and rules-lawyering at least a bit, you're not playing with optimizers and power gamers. And that's fine. More power to you. Your games must be far easier to run than mine.

Even in 5E, my players did the math to figure out the maximum value per hit and then built parties to improve that metric. They did not do this in the manner I'm speaking as they don't communicate in that manner, but that is what they did by simply doing the simplistic game math in every single RPG to obtain the best possible outcome as a group. Then creating group elements to accomplish this task. Questions around my table, "Who is playing the martial?" Which would always be a two-hander martial or sharpshooter archer in 5E and PF1. "Who is playing the bard and what level will he get bless?" Bless for 5E and inspire courage in PF1. Someone always ended up with a multiclass paladin or two in 5E. There was no party without bless in 5E. No party without GWM in 5E. No party without Sharpshooter in 5E. And in PF1 there was always some min-maxed caster with maximized DCs picking up Archmage at the appropriate level and taking every feat to maximize their spell strategy and DCs.

In game group terms for 5E as an example, that means the GWM 2-hander guy in a group is doing far more damage per hit and crit. So the group works to put him in the position to hit things. And they don't put the 2-weapon guy into position to hit things because it slows down the outcome they want: a combat victory. They focus heavily only on those outcomes which specifically maximize their chance of victory in combat building their characters and groups for this objective.

This was even worse in PF1 when you get things like beast totem barbarian building to use come and get me, extend his reach, maximize his AoOs, with the widest crit, highest average damage weapon he could get backed up by caster buffs with superstition to ensure no nasty enemy caster short circuits his insane rage with a spell.

I am sure all of you that deal with min-maxers, optimizesrs, power-gamers or whatever you want to refer to them as can come up with lists of abused powers and abilities in each edition of D&D/PF1 or whatever game you like including GURPS that were used to make DMing hard. That was life for me as a DM. It required a tremendous amount of work to counter and deal with as the levels progressed. A few of my other buddies DMed, they often resorted to making things up to challenge the party that were way more powerful than anything in the rules or just flat out gave up running the game.

And that is why I much prefer PF2 math where they have painstakingly worked to ensure the math is very tight. The rules very clear and mostly controlled. Classes are very balanced. And challenges are difficult for their level. If this wasn't what you were dealing with at your table, then I can see why maybe you don't share the same appreciation for the PF2 math.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.

What are right choices? You can't for example make a ranger archer and expect to be as good as another ranger archer picking the two-weapon feats while the other guy is going all in on archery feats. You won't be as good at both as the guy who focuses on one. Or if you decide to mix up two-hander feats versus sword and shield feats. You still have to make the right choices to be good at your chosen fighting style or strategy.

The main difference is one fighting style isn't vastly superior to another due to rule choices by the game designers. I think you understand this. I don't see that as a choice between making awesome characters and no real customization. I see it as allowing players to play more varied character concepts without having to choose an inferior combat option to do so. It means that if you do spend feats on a fighting style like sword and board, two-hander, two-weapon, or archery, you won't be obviously superior by virtue of the innate rule advantages of the fighting style. You'll instead be good at the fighting style you chose so that someone else can't do what you do. Which is still clearly variation and choice, just not power optimization.

And there are even ways to make yourself better at saves, but no one has yet focused on that. I could see a few ways like making a monk, then perhaps multiclassing into Champion or Rogue to pick up some defensive feats.

We're still early in the PF2 cycle. I 'm sure players will figure out ways to maximize defensive and offensive builds within the framework of the PF2 rules to make awesome characters.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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?

That is up to you decide. I'm mostly happy with PF2.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
That's reductive, Celt, and you know it.

No, this isn't about choosing "would you like +10 damage or pink fingernails".

It's a question about who gets to build the character. The player or the game.

In PF2 you easily get the impression the game is building your character for you, when you aren't allowed many (any?) choices that really matter.

We should be able to discuss why the player isn't trusted enough to choose which save to maximize, for instance, (or whether to focus on saves or AC, to take another example) without that being characterized as "you want choices that clearly outclass others".

I disagree. I think the choices do matter.

Some examples: The ranger archer often chooses between Hunted Shot, Deadly Aim, and Hunter's Aim depending on the circumstances. Hunted Shot when dealing with damage resistance. Deadly Aim against soft target mooks. Or Hunter's Aim against high AC mooks.

The champion chooses between using his shield to boost his AC, intimidation to make people run, or going all out offense with smite evil to boost his damage.

The rogue pretty much hits things and decides whether to do extra damage or apply a negative modifier via debilitation with feats that improve both.

So I don't agree with you that there are no choices. I think you are underselling the choices because they aren't as obviously superior as they were in PF1 or 5E. But they are still useful improvements and choices the character makes that improve their chances in the game of being successful at what they are trying to do well.
 

Numidius

Explorer
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?



If you still have any questions after this, I'm happy to answer :)

What if talismans were used/spent AFTER a roll?
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Here’s something funny. I played 8 levels as a sword and board Dex-based Eldritch Knight. I never felt sub-optimal (and I had several utility spells).

Same group, PF2, I was begging my DM to allow my wizard to retrain out of Ray of Frost for Electric Arc after 3 sessions. When I took Ray of Frost I didn’t think it would bother me that it was sub-optimal but it did.

So what was the difference? In PF2, I didn’t just feel sub-optimal, I felt useless. The other characters were dealing 10+ per hit, and regularly hitting twice in a round, whereas I was doing 7 points of damage (with a high of 9).

When I first started PF2, I was concerned that that I had 3 AC less than the champion, because I was afraid that a monster would sidestep the champion and drop me in one turn. This fear was overblown, because it simply wasn’t worth the monster’s action to move around the champion and drop me.

Wizards have a problem, at least at low level. I quit my wizard as well. Someone went way overboard nerfing wizards. I will have to work on this likely in the future. Wizards are one of the few classes along with possibly sorcerers where Paizo swung and missed in PF2. So not even going to try to convince you wizards are ok. They aren't. They have problems.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I've seen people run the numbers for 5e and clearly outclass is an exaggeration. IMO, every build in 5e is effective. Some do more damage, but the difference is, IMO, minimal. But to be honest, my players don't look at that stuff or seem to care. We have 2 fighters in my current group and only one chose GWM and they are thinking about retraining that feat because with the -5 they miss to often.

However, that is not really what I am talking about. If each feat was just as effective as the next, that would be fine. It doesn't matter to me or our group one way or the other.

Also, to be honest, 5e is to balanced for me too. I would prefer unbalanced races.

A bunch of us on the D&D forums already hashed out the numbers ages ago for GWM and Sharpshooter. Might even be able to find old threads on it. GWM and Sharpshooter are obviously and vastly superior to any other fighting style in 5E than a Sorlock by a very large margin. And only become more so as you level and minimize the -5 penalty with advantage, bless, and magic items while adding in the occasional bonus action extra attack for bringing someone down and the range and movement with sharpshooter while completely eliminating DM means to counter like cover. I'm glad your group doesn't seem to focus on maximizing those two feats. Makes your life as a DM easier.

Tell the GWM in your group to have someone cast bless and help him get advantage. Then we'll see how he feels. And also have fly available for those pesky battles when he can't reach the target. If the group isn't helping him much and he's swinging on his own, the -5 penalty will hurt him at early levels without a magic item. He'll love it later with a magic item and the group buffing him.
 

dave2008

Legend
A bunch of us on the D&D forums already hashed out the numbers ages ago for GWM and Sharpshooter. Might even be able to find old threads on it.
I know I have seen them. However, the difference is not as great as you state, IMO, and even less so in actual play. Also, my players don't go on forums and don't run the numbers. Again, if your not chasing numbers these things simply don't matter.
Tell the GWM in your group to have someone cast bless and help him get advantage.
We don't have anyone who can cast bless.
 

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