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PF2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

BryonD

Hero
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.
I 100% respect this.
But, you must admit that you are describing a player problem that you are using rules shackling to manage.
If one doesn't have this player problem, then not adding a shackle is, well, not adding a shackle.

I have several other issues with the PF2E math that create dissonance in the experience. So while not having this shackle on the players is a good thing, it is just on top of avoiding the other problems.

I don't think my opinions should be construed as meaning anything to you. But they are what they are.
I'm not trying to insult anyone either.

But, at the end of the day, it is not your opinion or mine that counts. It is how much does a given system appeal to a wide set of players. And, further, how sustainable is that appeal. I strongly believe that as months continue to go by, the constraints of the PF2E math will wear on some portion of those who are now playing it. Just as the 4E fanbase shrunk, I see PF2E shrinking. There will always be a devoted core who love it. And good for them. Though I think ti would be better for them if they could trade off a bit of the shackles for more of a playerbase.
 

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BryonD

Hero
I think you are underselling the choices because they aren't as obviously superior as they were in PF1 or 5E.
I think you have contradicted yourself in this one sentence.
If you concede that the difference is more in PF or 5E, then it is hard to declare that someone else is underselling the choices. By some measure they are "under" what other currently enjoy and prefer. I don't think anyone is claiming that there is ZERO difference. Yes, it is fair to call them "false choices" and still agree that the difference is not completely zero. It is a false choice if the difference is not enough to feel as fun as could otherwise be had.
 

Condiments

Explorer
It's definitely been interesting watching this thread unfold, and seeing everyone's perspective from those more steeped in the D&D 5e world than other RPG communities I usually travel in.

It's funny seeing modern tabletop RPGs from the perspective of "post 5e" world. To me, D&D 5e merely leaned into the over-arching trend of rules lite systems while still bowing to the sacred cows that it drags along like anchors. It's lightning in a bottle popularity is a mix of it being an accessible easy to grasp system, an iconic brand pushed by the corporate machine of Hasbro, and our generational need to get closer without technology. I was certainly part of that wave that surged back in 2014.

5e is a great system, but there are countless other rules lite modern alternatives that accomplish what 5e set out to do with more singular vision. 13th age, Shadow of the Demon Lord, Fantasy Age, Unity, Savage Worlds, Geneysis, Dungeon World, etc. 5e straddles the line between crunch and fluff, but I think is compromised by appeasing to so many audiences at once.

There is definitely a niche within the the RPG community for a game like Pathfinder 2e, which wasn't even on my gaming radar until recently. From what I've seen it tried to modernize the gonzo munchkin paradise of 3e/pathfinder, by keeping everything tightly balanced. This appeals to me as both a player and a DM who wouldn't touch p1/3e with a ten foot pole.

Seems like people in this thread are chafing at how tightly wound the system is, but consider the costs of the alternative. Picking through tons of options with pitfalls and traps sounds like catastrophe from a new player perspective, and wide spreads in player power sound like a nightmare to GM. After GMing my 5e campaign to 15th level with an optimized crew of a Sorcerer, Paladin, Ranger/Rogue, and Fighter I took a break from GMing for nearly 2 years. Just too much work to make the game interesting after a certain point. I expect the system to do most of the heavy lifting for me as I figure out what my group can and can't handle in combats. I expect to run monsters out of the book that can contend with players who have magic items. Anything else is just wasting my precious time that I can spending building interesting adventures.

Nothing wrong in realizing that a system isn't tailored to your preferences. That is why I don't GM 5e anymore, because to me it eventually becomes a boring slog. Paizo was smart in realizing they couldn't wrestle with 500 lb gorilla of 5e directly by imitating or iterating of their success. It'd be the WoW effect all over again, where the brand vortex just pulls everyone back. The smart thing is to carve a sustainable niche...time will tell if they can do it. However, they have won me as a customer with what they've created so far.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
I 100% respect this.
But, you must admit that you are describing a player problem that you are using rules shackling to manage.
If one doesn't have this player problem, then not adding a shackle is, well, not adding a shackle.
I would go even further. Sometimes adding a shackle to limit powergaming has the effect of reducing immersion among players who don’t powergame.

The net effect is something like: “You’re protecting me from something that isn’t an issue in my games, and detracting from my fun to do so!”.

Before rolling up my illusionist wizard, I was tempted to play a summoner/conjurer. I looked at the summon animals spell, and the first line is that it summons animals to fight for you. You can summon a rat to fight an iron golem, but he draws the line at fetching the dungeon key that is just out of your reach.
 

dave2008

Legend
I expect to run monsters out of the book that can contend with players who have magic items.
This is an interesting perspective. I am curious how would you propose to cover both ends of the spectrum?

For me, I typical run a low magic campaign and I like that 5e assumes no magic items and the monsters are attuned to that. Conversely, if the game assumed magic items, I would have to work to nerf them or change how i like to play. Personally it makes sense to me to start low and add to make things tougher as needed. But I guess the opposite is equally valid. However, I don't know how to make magic items special and account for them in the basic math and account for them not being present too.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I 100% respect this.
But, you must admit that you are describing a player problem that you are using rules shackling to manage.
If one doesn't have this player problem, then not adding a shackle is, well, not adding a shackle.

I have several other issues with the PF2E math that create dissonance in the experience. So while not having this shackle on the players is a good thing, it is just on top of avoiding the other problems.

I don't think my opinions should be construed as meaning anything to you. But they are what they are.
I'm not trying to insult anyone either.

But, at the end of the day, it is not your opinion or mine that counts. It is how much does a given system appeal to a wide set of players. And, further, how sustainable is that appeal. I strongly believe that as months continue to go by, the constraints of the PF2E math will wear on some portion of those who are now playing it. Just as the 4E fanbase shrunk, I see PF2E shrinking. There will always be a devoted core who love it. And good for them. Though I think ti would be better for them if they could trade off a bit of the shackles for more of a playerbase.
We shall see.

I think there is a lot of appeal in a game where the players get to play level 1 to 20 and feel challenged. DMs can run an entire adventure path without much modification. That a DM doesn't feel like he has to spend a week or more preparing his enemies only to see them decimated in 10 minutes with a few bad saves or just weak design.

And not just to focus on the negative, I have a lot of fun playing PF2 characters.
1. The goblin alchemist likes that he can modify his bombs. He even came up with names for his bombs. He generally tries to stack persistent damage on creatures. He even came up with a bomb he calls a Hot Sasha that he creates a fire bomb with an even higher amount of persistent damage. He likes being able to make cheetah elixirs and goldenmist elixirs for defense and mobility. He is now testing his disguise elixir with his high Deception skill to engage in infiltration and spying.

The goblin alchemist also likes using his Deception skill to create a diversion and disappear into the fog of battle when he draws aggro. I as a DM find it amusing to find ways which he does that like pretending he disappeared under his cape or hiding behind some other character's leg or yelling giant while looking behind the person, then scampering behind some corner.

2. The Champion enjoys being able to use intimidation and athletics in unique ways. She is a master at athletics with a high strength. She knock back most enemies from doors, drive in while raising her shield to defend herself, and generally physically manhandle enemies she deals with including grabbing flying enemies to hold them in place and jumping up walls to go over enemies to get behind them so they can't run.

She intimidates mooks to make them run to prevent herself from getting flanked or ganged up on when she is engaged with the BBEG.

3. The ranger archer alternates the types of shots he uses depending on the AC of the targets he is facing. It seems to give him the feel of an expert archer. He is able to provide his ranger bonuses to allies to boost their damage. Which gives the ranger some nice support abilities.

4. The bard has all kinds of interesting things to do. He mostly sings and harmonizes blending together effective offense and defense. But sometimes switch to a fearful dirge and unleashes some nasty magic like phantasmal calamity and phantasmal killer. He is a master crafter that can make items and repair shields with extreme alacrity.

5. The rogue is super stealthy, hits hard, can climb faster, move better, and is generally an all around skill badass.

6. The cleric healer is a master medic with a lot of healing magic and get out of death spells. Not much different from previous healer clerics.

So the game is still fun to play. I believe the more people that truly play it will find it far more fun to play than they expected. I know my group did. I've stated it many times, but PF2 plays better than it reads. It gets more interesting as you level and learn to accept that it isn't PF1 or 5E, but something new and unique that is better built for long-term play than past editions of D&D including PF1.

I think the more people that try it will find it an enjoyable game that you can play much longer than other editions of D&D and of course PF1 in a challenging and interesting way. It's not like 4E. It's not like PF1. It's closer to 5E, but still not like that game either.

I think the main thing that will hold back PF2 from growing is the initial fear of the rule book and the boring reading. It's a big rule book with a lot of rules in it. Some of them could be condensed as Captain Zapp has stated. It will take more time to memorize and fully understand than a game like 5E. It's less complicated than PF1, but definitely a rules heavy game. And much of what you read looks boring compared to 5E or PF1. But when you actually play the game and see how the rules operate together, you find it lends itself very well to story-telling and does provide quite a number of interesting choices and abilities that are more powerful than they seem on paper.

Only time will tell if it succeeds in the market. I can see one reason why Paizo did it. If PF2 succeeds, it makes their APs more valuable. One of the other complaints about APs was them stopping at 12 to 15 or so. Now they can build APs from 1 to 20 and always let the players build a max-level character that let's them experience the high level game. I think quite a few players will enjoy that, while DMs won't have to commit so much time to building high level encounters.
 

BryonD

Hero
We shall see.

I think there is a lot of appeal in a game where the players get to play level 1 to 20 and feel challenged. DMs can run an entire adventure path without much modification. That a DM doesn't feel like he has to spend a week or more preparing his enemies only to see them decimated in 10 minutes with a few bad saves or just weak design.
Ah, yes. Apple pie = good. We love mom.

You seem to be implying that PF2E is the one and only game which finally brought this to your personal table.
If you are not saying that, then I don't see much point to your proclamations of otherwise obvious statements. Please clarify.
If you are saying that, then I'd say "bummer" because I think there are a lot of great games on the market right now.

And not just to focus on the negative, I have a lot of fun playing PF2 characters.
Right. I don't doubt any of your examples. I don't see how abstract idealistic descriptions make one mechanical framework better than another.
But I'm sure you are having fun.
If you go back and read my threads you will see me saying OVER AND OVER that there are people in the niche for whom PF2E will be awesome.
Waving your hand in the air and saying you are one example is a non sequitur to my position.

So the game is still fun to play. I believe the more people that truly play it will find it far more fun to play than they expected. I know my group did. I've stated it many times, but PF2 plays better than it reads. It gets more interesting as you level and learn to accept that it isn't PF1 or 5E, but something new and unique that is better built for long-term play than past editions of D&D including PF1.
Ok. I don't think enough people will agree with you in the long run.

I think the main thing that will hold back PF2 from growing is the initial fear of the rule book and the boring reading. It's a big rule book with a lot of rules in it. Some of them could be condensed as Captain Zapp has stated. It will take more time to memorize and fully understand than a game like 5E. It's less complicated than PF1, but definitely a rules heavy game. And much of what you read looks boring compared to 5E or PF1. But when you actually play the game and see how the rules operate together, you find it lends itself very well to story-telling and does provide quite a number of interesting choices and abilities that are more powerful than they seem on paper.
This is just an insult to people who don't like PF2E.

Seriously, I don't know anyone who has stated that they didn't choose PF2E because they are afraid of the rulebook. If you try just a little, you can find a lot of people listing a lot of legitimate reasons for being dissatisfied. The PF2E fanbase would better served attempting to address those concerns than simply trying to disparage those who simply don't agree with them.

Only time will tell if it succeeds in the market. I can see one reason why Paizo did it. If PF2 succeeds, it makes their APs more valuable. One of the other complaints about APs was them stopping at 12 to 15 or so. Now they can build APs from 1 to 20 and always let the players build a max-level character that let's them experience the high level game. I think quite a few players will enjoy that, while DMs won't have to commit so much time to building high level encounters.
I think there is one good reason they did it: PF was DONE. I love PF, but as a game that is really on the edge of 20 years old, a lot of innovation is missing. The remaining fanbase was saturated in content and 5E was crushing it both in sales and in marketplace control.

You have repeated praise on simplicity in several places. I'll just throw in that, to me, that is on the list of poison pills within the mechanics. It is simple. And the next time it will be a slightly different version of the same simple. Yes, if you ignore all other games you can go on and on about how this fighter option is completely different than that fighter option. And how each class is different. And you will be telling the truth at every step. But the game is not in a vacuum. It has to compare to other games and it has to contrast itself to itself as the months roll by. PF2E is not nearly as popular as 4E was after 9 months out. But 4E saw a steady burnout as the downside of not expecting player investment shows itself. I expect that to repeat.

And, as you are already hinting here, the refrain will become the bad bad people who feared the new game and refused to accept change are the reasons why. There ain't no fear, and 5E has shown us that GOOD change is embraced with joy. Which, again, is not to say that the change isn't good for YOU. But you need to step back and look at WHY the larger response is what it is. Or rather, you don't NEED to do anything you don't want to. But if you want to understand what is happening around you, looking past you own personal taste and anecdotes will be necessary.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I would go even further. Sometimes adding a shackle to limit powergaming has the effect of reducing immersion among players who don’t powergame.

The net effect is something like: “You’re protecting me from something that isn’t an issue in my games, and detracting from my fun to do so!”.

Before rolling up my illusionist wizard, I was tempted to play a summoner/conjurer. I looked at the summon animals spell, and the first line is that it summons animals to fight for you. You can summon a rat to fight an iron golem, but he draws the line at fetching the dungeon key that is just out of your reach.
The summoned creature does what you tell it to do as far as I know. I can't imagine a DM would not let you to do this.

And you seem to forget that you can summon creatures for longer durations and to do more things with rituals.

Which is what I've been trying to convey. There is more to the some single spell you are unhappy with. One of the more surprising examples was Smite Evil. It looks not so great doing Charisma good damage. Looks small compared to PF1 paladins or even 5E smiting paladins. Then you read a demon and see it has weakness good 10. Suddenly that smite evil ability is crushing fiends.

That's the same thing for someone who wants to Conjure. The conjuration spells might create some quick combat minion for battle. But maybe you decide to make a master conjurer spending your skill ups on Expert or better in Arcana, Nature, and Religion picking up the Planar Ally, Primal Call, and Planar Binding. So you can call many different types of servants to do things for you spending your gold and time on callings prior to adventures. There are other ways to do things in PF2 than you commonly did them in PF1 that should be explored before writing off a concept.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
You seem to be implying that PF2E is the one and only game which finally brought this to your personal table.
If you are not saying that, then I don't see much point to your proclamations of otherwise obvious statements. Please clarify.
If you are saying that, then I'd say "bummer" because I think there are a lot of great games on the market right now.
I am saying PF2 is the first game to bring 1 to 20 to my table with minimal modification of the APs. I ran high level characters, but it took tons of time to create encounters capable of challenging high level characters. There certainly weren't PF1 APs that challenged PCs as written.


Ok. I don't think enough people will agree with you in the long run.
I'm well aware you don't think that. That is why only time will tell.


This is just an insult to people who don't like PF2E.

Seriously, I don't know anyone who has stated that they didn't choose PF2E because they are afraid of the rulebook. If you try just a little, you can find a lot of people listing a lot of legitimate reasons for being dissatisfied. The PF2E fanbase would better served attempting to address those concerns than simply trying to disparage those who simply don't agree with them.
I know plenty of people who turn away or don't even try games because they look overly complicated. I couldn't convince more than one player in my gaming group to try GURPS due the rules complexity and I really liked GURPS. The advantage PF1 had was that it was attracting an audience of players coming from 3rd edition. They were very familiar with the 3rd edition system and at the time they were starting, PF1 was going to directly compete with 4th edition D&D, a very different game.

Now PF2 has to compete with 5E, a much simpler rule book. I think given the state of the current market and competition, it is very relevant to note that PF2 is a big, intimidating rule book for someone coming from 5E. It's a different market now. And it will take some time to see if PF1 players adopt PF2. I think DMs will have a huge influence on PF2 adoption just as they always do.

If DMs take up PF2 and find they like it more than PF1 or 5E and take their players along because that is what they feel like running, then it will find a market. I know I'm not alone in that as a primary DM, I have a huge influence in what game my group takes up because so few of them want to put the work into running the game.


You have repeated praise on simplicity in several places. I'll just throw in that, to me, that is on the list of poison pills within the mechanics. It is simple. And the next time it will be a slightly different version of the same simple. Yes, if you ignore all other games you can go on and on about how this fighter option is completely different than that fighter option. And how each class is different. And you will be telling the truth at every step. But the game is not in a vacuum. It has to compare to other games and it has to contrast itself to itself as the months roll by. PF2E is not nearly as popular as 4E was after 9 months out. But 4E saw a steady burnout as the downside of not expecting player investment shows itself. I expect that to repeat.
PF2 and 4E are not alike no matter how many people try to make it seem so. I played 4E. I did not like it. PF2 is nothing like that game. Plays nothing like that game. And isn't 4E or even close to it. If it played like 4E, I would think I would have had the same reaction I had to 4E which would have made me quit.

And, as you are already hinting here, the refrain will become the bad bad people who feared the new game and refused to accept change are the reasons why. There ain't no fear, and 5E has shown us that GOOD change is embraced with joy. Which, again, is not to say that the change isn't good for YOU. But you need to step back and look at WHY the larger response is what it is. Or rather, you don't NEED to do anything you don't want to. But if you want to understand what is happening around you, looking past you own personal taste and anecdotes will be necessary.
I am not hinting at anything. You are putting your own spin on things.

All I am saying is after being skeptical of PF2, avoiding trying it for months because it looked lame, and burning out on 5E, I am finding PF2 to be far more fun to play than read. The more I fiddle with it, the more I find I can do with it. The game interacts in interesting ways that are surprisingly good for story-telling. I don't feel locked in like some others seem to feel. I can only encourage people to give it a shot, run it to higher level, let your players fiddle with it, don't get too hung on following every little rule, and see if you can tell the types of stories you want to tell with the system. They might like it.

As far as your predictions versus what I'd like to see happen, only time will tell. I think those that give it a try will find it is more fun to play the more you play it and learn how it works. But I also acknowledge it's a big crunchy book that won't appeal in the same way 5E does with its simplicity, which may slow down its adoption as it tries finds a market. Whether or not it will be successful is a matter of time to tell.

The nice thing about these types of things is that talk is cheap, sales and adoption measured in sales of supplements and engagement will decide things. All I can say is I hope people give PF2 a good run. It's surprisingly fun in my opinion. Though it isn't perfect. My players at this point are missing the big, obviously powerful stat enhancing items of PF1 and are trying to get used to the small bonuses of PF2 magic items and one-shot wands that don't allow constant buff stacking they used to buy and accumulate. As a DM I don't miss tracking the ten buffs and magic item christmas trees you had to build each enemy with to challenge them. So they're going to have to get used to it as I have no intention of going back to PF1 or 5E as a DM.
 
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dave2008

Legend
I think quite a few players will enjoy that, while DMs won't have to commit so much time to building high level encounters.
I find this an interesting statement I have heard many times, but don't quite understand. I spend or spent no more time in my 4e and 5e high level encounters (up to 30 in 4e and currently at 15 in 5e) than I did at low level. In fact, probably less. My it is the great value of having players that are not power gamers!
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I find this an interesting statement I have heard many times, but don't quite understand. I spend or spent no more time in my 4e and 5e high level encounters (up to 30 in 4e and currently at 15 in 5e) than I did at low level. In fact, probably less. My it is the great value of having players that are not power gamers!
May be differing ideas of what we feel is challenging as well. Only way we would be able to tell is to play at the other's table, see what differs. I hate short combats for BBEG encounters. If the party wins in less than 10 plus rounds of play, then I haven't done my job to challenge them as a DM. I like lots of moving parts and tactics. I really want the players to feel they might die including requiring combat healing. A worthy victory requires a worthy enemy. If the enemy can't challenge a party in a long combat, it's not much of a challenge. I gotta have that feel in BBEG combats like it's a real knock down, drag out, back and forth to the death battle against some evil or opposing group who really wants to win as badly as the PCs. I gotta have that feel.
 

BryonD

Hero
I am saying PF2 is the first game to bring 1 to 20 to my table with minimal modification of the APs. I ran high level characters, but it took tons of time to create encounters capable of challenging high level characters. There certainly weren't PF1 APs that challenged PCs as written.
bummer

I know plenty of people who turn away or don't even try games because they look overly complicated. I couldn't convince more than one player in my gaming group to try GURPS due the rules complexity and I really liked GURPS. The advantage PF1 had was that it was attracting an audience of players coming from 3rd edition. They were very familiar with the 3rd edition system and at the time they were starting, PF1 was going to directly compete with 4th edition D&D, a very different game.

Now PF2 has to compete with 5E, a much simpler rule book. I think given the state of the current market and competition, it is very relevant to note that PF2 is a big, intimidating rule book for someone coming from 5E. It's a different market now. And it will take some time to see if PF1 players adopt PF2. I think DMs will have a huge influence on PF2 adoption just as they always do.
Again, there are a lot of real complaints about PF2E. Go digging through this forum and find me three quotes of people saying that is their problem with the game.
Please address the actual complaints. Or, as I said before just don't. But this repeated strawman argument is pointless. You keep pointing at Jack and Suzy over there and claiming they are afraid fo the game. Jack and Suzy beg to differ. And it is insulting to impose that on people with honest opinions which are not aligned with yours.


PF2 and 4E are not alike no matter how many people try to make it seem so. I played 4E. It was a terrible game. PF2 is nothing like that game. Plays nothing like that game. And isn't 4E or even close to it.
I'm not saying the game are the same. I'm saying the marketplace reactions are following a somewhat similar path.

I am not hinting at anything. You are putting your own spin on things.
Don't talk about "spin" when you keep putting the "fear" word in other people's mouths.

All I am saying is after being skeptical of PF2, avoiding trying it for months because it looked lame, and burning out on 5E, I am finding PF2 to be far more fun to play than read. The more I fiddle with it, the more I find I can do with it. The game interacts in interesting ways that are surprisingly good for story-telling. I don't feel locked in like some others seem to feel. I can only encourage people to give it a shot, run it to higher level, let your players fiddle with it, don't get too hung on following every little rule, and see if you can tell the types of stories you want to tell with the system. They might like it.
I don't doubt it.
But the problem is your assessment of the wide audience is reached by assuming you can extrapolate entirely from your own taste.
My assessment is based on what other people are saying and looking at the world around me.
Seriously, my personal issues with PF2E don't even seems to be in the majority camp of reasons why people are not adopting.

As far as your predictions versus what I'd like to see happen, only time will tell. I think those that give it a try will find it is more fun to play the more you play it and learn how it works. But I also acknowledge it's a big crunchy book that won't appeal in the same way 5E does with its simplicity, which may slow down its adoption as it tries finds a market. Whether or not it will be successful is a matter of time to tell.
Time will tell, but I think it is safe to say that false claims of fear and imposing your personal tastes onto the market at large are both flawed assessments.

And, again, there you go with the "ooh its soo big" thing. You are literally talking about how to you the simplicity is a saving grace compared to PF. And yet you are fixated on PF fans being intimidated. It is nonsense.

The nice thing about these types of things is that talk is cheap, sales and adoption measured in sales of supplements and engagement will decide things. All I can say is I hope people give PF2 a good run. It's surprisingly fun in my opinion. Though it isn't perfect. My players at this point are missing the big, obviously powerful stat enhancing items of PF1 and are trying to get used to the small bonuses of PF2 magic items and one-shot wands that don't allow constant buff stacking they used to buy and accumulate. As a DM I don't miss tracking the ten buffs and magic item christmas trees you had to build each enemy with to challenge them. So they're going to have to get used to it as I have no intention of going back to PF1 or 5E as a DM.
Again, regardless of how different 4E and PF2E are, it is correct to point out that 4E was way more popular at this point. And the trends look similar.

You can close out with slams against PF all you want. Unlike you, I'm totally comfortable with the fact that different games appeal to different people and I don't mind people disliking PF for reasons that make total sense to them. As I already said, if you say PF2E is awesome for you, then I take that at face value. But slamming a nearly 20 year old game won't do anything to make PF2E more popular.
 

Condiments

Explorer
This is an interesting perspective. I am curious how would you propose to cover both ends of the spectrum?

For me, I typical run a low magic campaign and I like that 5e assumes no magic items and the monsters are attuned to that. Conversely, if the game assumed magic items, I would have to work to nerf them or change how i like to play. Personally it makes sense to me to start low and add to make things tougher as needed. But I guess the opposite is equally valid. However, I don't know how to make magic items special and account for them in the basic math and account for them not being present too.
For me, I would rather play a game where the core assumptions line up with my sensibilities rather than re-working it to try and fit them. I think of the strength of 5e's design is that it can appeal to so many different types of game tables, but any game can only stretch so far. I am glad that the design of magic items appeals to your table's needs. However, at my table, we all really enjoy a pretty steady flow of magic items that can liven up and change the gameplay.

The advantage of 5e's magic item system is how novel and fun some of the items are. The decanter of endless water ended up becoming a campaign defining magic item, that I randomly rolled on a magic item table for. The player who used it originally thought it would be useless, but ended up using it in all sorts of situations to get himself out of jams. The flip-side is that giving players powerful battle oriented magic items can quickly break the game's balance for the worse. Towards the end, I was balancing fights at a baseline of deadly, and would often double or triple that to get things really dicey.

I find this an interesting statement I have heard many times, but don't quite understand. I spend or spent no more time in my 4e and 5e high level encounters (up to 30 in 4e and currently at 15 in 5e) than I did at low level. In fact, probably less. My it is the great value of having players that are not power gamers!
I'm glad for you that you can functionally DM at level 15 in 5e without issues. When I was running it...man it was brutal. Adventuring days just felt way too long trying to wear down player resources, and the sorcerer was very good at shutting down encounters entirely with spells like slow, hypnotic pattern, polymorph and banish. The fighter started multi-classing into barbarian and was a wrecking ball that was very difficult to take down, and could consistently dish out obscene amounts of damage. Our range/rogue pumped out consistent high damage from the back lines, and was nearly impossible to pin down. The last player was a druid(who died), but could easily trivialize any travel challenges I could set out with spells like wind walk. Seriously...screw wind walk! Too many spells came online that wipe away what I put before them.

Building adventures against that team was a very humbling lesson in the limitations of my tactical acumen. I also stopped having fun and was getting burn out. I would have probably had way more fun playing 5e if I didn't have power gamers for players, or was more tactically gifted. I just felt the monsters in 5e didn't give me a helping hand with that and were too simple. I'm currently DMing a 13th age campaign that is at 4th level, and I can consistently frighten my players by turning a few knobs. It's like night and day to me and is way less stressful.

Pathfinder 2e appeals to me because of what I've been hearing. A balanced system that can operate it's whole level range that allows you to run monsters out of the box. It's simply music to my ears as DM who has experienced a lot of problems with systems that have wobbly math and balance.
 
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dave2008

Legend
May be differing ideas of what we feel is challenging as well. Only way we would be able to tell is to play at the other's table, see what differs. I hate short combats for BBEG encounters. If the party wins in less than 10 plus rounds of play, then I haven't done my job to challenge them as a DM. I like lots of moving parts and tactics. I really want the players to feel they might die including requiring combat healing. A worthy victory requires a worthy enemy. If the enemy can't challenge a party in a long combat, it's not much of a challenge. I gotta have that feel in BBEG combats like it's a real knock down, drag out, back and forth to the death battle against some evil or opposing group who really wants to win as badly as the PCs. I gotta have that feel.
I agree completely. Probably our most epic battle in 4e was with the players at lvl 30 against Tiamat. By the end, the Party of 6 PCs had used all there HD and limited resources (encounter and daily) and all of them were dead except one., who was at 10 HP. If it had gone one more round it would have been a TPK. I can't be sure, but I think it went close to 20 rounds.
 

dave2008

Legend
For me, I would rather play a game where the core assumptions line up with my sensibilities rather than re-working it to try and fit them.
I agree. The issue I have is that no D&D game (PF included) lines up with my sensibilities, so I always end up re-working them. I just need to do less with 5e. Not sure yet about PF2e.

I'm glad for you that you can functionally DM at level 15 in 5e without issues. When I was running it...man it was brutal. Adventuring days just felt way too long trying to wear down player resources, ...
We tend to have short adventuring days, 2-3 combats. Occasionally more and sometimes less.

Building adventures against that team was a very humbling lesson in the limitations of my tactical acumen. I also stopped having fun and was getting burn out. I would have probably had way more fun playing 5e if I didn't have power gamers for players, or was more tactically gifted. I just felt the monsters in 5e didn't give me a helping hand with that and were too simple. I'm currently DMing a 13th age campaign that is at 4th level, and I can consistently frighten my players by turning a few knobs. It's like night and day to me and is way less stressful.
Glad you found something that works for you. My group is definitely not power gamers. Based on this forum I think that makes a big difference.

Pathfinder 2e appeals to me because of what I've been hearing. A balanced system that can operate it's whole level range that allows you to run monsters out of the box. It's simply music to my ears as DM who has experienced a lot of problems with systems that have wobbly math and balance.
Give it a try, I find it interesting too and hope I can give it a try once this covid-19 thing dies down.
 

Numidius

Explorer
The more I fiddle with it, the more I find I can do with it. The game interacts in interesting ways that are surprisingly good for story-telling. I don't feel locked in like some others seem to feel.
The story-telling bit caught my attention. Would you elaborate on that? Thanks
 

CapnZapp

Legend
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.
Not picking on you personally Dave, but yours was the latest posting bringing up what basically amounts to an argument I don't understand.

My counterargument is that a game can either be balanced or not balanced.
If you don't "chase numbers" both games work equally well.
But if you do mind balance, only one works.

Ergo games should be balanced. Especially games with a significant contingent of balance-minded players. Especially games that are combat-centered. Games like D&D.

In other words, the fact that your players (as well as other voices here in the thread) don't mind or care for or even recognize imbalance is a poor argument for why we should give WotC a pass.

Celtavian is right - properly minmaxed, the -5/+10 mechanism creates a gulf between those characters who has it (and uses it properly) and those who don't or don't. There's no point in me trying to convince you it makes a huge difference; either you care enough for optimization and you see it, or you're not and you don't.

You might be able to enjoy 5E despite this. Celtavian clearly doesn't. I'm asking y'all to accept that, and especially, that you don't dismiss it by "I don't see it".

tl;dr: just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there
 

nevin

Villager
Not picking on you personally Dave, but yours was the latest posting bringing up what basically amounts to an argument I don't understand.

My counterargument is that a game can either be balanced or not balanced.
If you don't "chase numbers" both games work equally well.
But if you do mind balance, only one works.

Ergo games should be balanced. Especially games with a significant contingent of balance-minded players. Especially games that are combat-centered. Games like D&D.

In other words, the fact that your players (as well as other voices here in the thread) don't mind or care for or even recognize imbalance is a poor argument for why we should give WotC a pass.

Celtavian is right - properly minmaxed, the -5/+10 mechanism creates a gulf between those characters who has it (and uses it properly) and those who don't or don't. There's no point in me trying to convince you it makes a huge difference; either you care enough for optimization and you see it, or you're not and you don't.

You might be able to enjoy 5E despite this. Celtavian clearly doesn't. I'm asking y'all to accept that, and especially, that you don't dismiss it by "I don't see it".

tl;dr: just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there
This in my opinion is what will limit pathfinder's appeal. In any game with a DM controlling encounters and rewards the only actual chance of balance is the DM.
The idea that any one can pick up any game system and run low level and high level encounters with equal effort and balance is just silly.

High level characters have more resources and can do more powerful things, the balance is either the enemies can do those things too or the challenges become complex and multifaceted. If you don't like that don't run high level games. Don't take options away from me because you don't like them.

Pathfinder has tried to balance their game for Society Play where players know what module they are going to play, what monsters they are going to fight and they want to make sure they can't sit at home and plan out the perfect tactic to bomb the dungeon crawl when they know exactly what is coming. that's why the pathfinder devs hate casters. A caster that knows what's coming and can prepare the magic for it is at thier most powerful. Take away that foreknowledge and the mage if far less effective.

In a regular at home game where the players don't know what is coming that isn't an issue, assuming the DM knows the rules and lets the bad guys have access to the same levels of power or higher that the good guys do.

I tried to like pathfinder 2e. I love the 3 action economy. But the game feels like my 10th grade math teacher is looking over my shoulder in an attempt to make me behave and follow the school code of conduct. I never liked the overly complex tactical focus in pathfinder. Simplifying it was genius. 1e edition drove me crazy with the arbitrary nonsensical limits that seem to be designed by people who don't trust their players or their DM's to be able to run or a play a game, but 2E just doubled down on that and pretended it was in the name of balance.

Short version. Trying to Balance a Role playing game via anything but the DM is counterproductive.
 

nevin

Villager
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.
I think most of the players you are talking about do society play where the mages read the module before the game and get to prepare their spell list for the monsters they'll be facing. That is why pathfinder fights optimizers because they've stopped worrying about the regular at home games and only focus on how things affect society play. Thus the mindbending arguments between home players and society players. It's why home players don't understand why mages who never seem to have the spells they need memorized are so powerful and the society player who never sees a mage not have the spells he needs memorized cant believe they don't think mages aren't overpowered.

My opinion is the Pathfinder Society focus will kill pathfinder eventually. Society Play is the opposite of Role playing. But it seems to be the only thing they care about.
 

dave2008

Legend
Not picking on you personally Dave, but yours was the latest posting bringing up what basically amounts to an argument I don't understand.

My counterargument is that a game can either be balanced or not balanced.
If you don't "chase numbers" both games work equally well.
But if you do mind balance, only one works.

Ergo games should be balanced. Especially games with a significant contingent of balance-minded players. Especially games that are combat-centered. Games like D&D.

In other words, the fact that your players (as well as other voices here in the thread) don't mind or care for or even recognize imbalance is a poor argument for why we should give WotC a pass.
I generally agree, a game should be balanced. I have mentioned several times how PF2e is very close to what I had considered the ideal design concept some time ago. However, I am having doubts, mostly based on your posts (and others). For example, you have mention that PF2e drowns you in a bunch of small choices that don't matter or shackles you in the math. Well, they did this to achieve the ideal balance they have. So I guess, what I am curious about is how to retain the balance and also remove the shakles? I don't really know. Which is more important: balance or freedom? Can we have both?
You might be able to enjoy 5E despite this. Celtavian clearly doesn't. I'm asking y'all to accept that, and especially, that you don't dismiss it by "I don't see it".

tl;dr: just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there
Again, I agree. And I do accept it that it doesn't work for him and many like him. Similarly, I would prefer people in a similar situation to @Celtavian and yourself understand that things do work for those who play differently. Which I assume they do, but some post make me wonder.
 

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