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PF2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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?
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.

To tell you the truth. I've always wondered what percentage of DMs have players who min-max and really try to push the power game to the envelope versus players who enjoy a fun time with their friends, make some character concept they like based on a story or movie or some idea they dream up, and feel threatened when they see a bunch of zombies, or orcs and appreciate a +1 sword or a wand or a few potions.

Most of the people I see angry on forums are either DMs unhappy with some aspect of the game. I know in PF1 you would see these complaints from DMs about adventure design asking what was in summation, "Do you even understand what your players are doing? They will destroy this encounter. Are you adventure designers even trying to make the game challenging?" Also "Why is this room so small when you have a huge creature in it? Who designed this map where the players don't even have room to fight the creature or the creature doesn't have room to use its abilities?" Things like that.
 

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dave2008

Legend
To tell you the truth. I've always wondered what percentage of DMs have players who min-max and really try to push the power game to the envelope versus players who enjoy a fun time with their friends, make some character concept they like based on a story or movie or some idea they dream up, and feel threatened when they see a bunch of zombies, or orcs and appreciate a +1 sword or a wand or a few potions.
Me too, not that really matters to me or how I play, but it is interesting none the less.

I know in PF1 you would see these complaints from DMs about adventure design asking what was in summation, "Do you even understand what your players are doing? They will destroy this encounter. Are you adventure designers even trying to make the game challenging?" Also "Why is this room so small when you have a huge creature in it? Who designed this map where the players don't even have room to fight the creature or the creature doesn't have room to use its abilities?" Things like that.
Another issue I have avoided by not running published adventures. I tried a few back in my 1e (AD&D) days, but I could never understand them. I purchased a few more in 4e and 5e, but I have only ever used them to mine ideas for my own adventures. I have never run an AP.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
The story-telling bit caught my attention. Would you elaborate on that? Thanks

Some system changes I find enhance my ability to tell stories:
1. Skills: No longer does everyone roll with the skill or the wizard or intel-based player have the best chance with every knowledge skill. Now skill investment is important. I can better design encounters to allow a player with a different skill investment like Deception Master or Religion Master rather than the high Charisma paladin or high intelligence wizard have the best chance of making the skill roll with a minimal point investment.

Instead I can design the encounter to allow the cleric with an expert or master in religion standing out as he understands and uses rites taught only to those who study religion to an advanced level capable of exorcising a ghost or figuring out the religious rites to open the vault sealed by the dead god.

2. Precious materials: Before precious materials were nice to have at low levels for getting past DR, but eventually became pointless as damage scaled so high that can you blow past the DR to kill the creature. In PF2 creatures have weaknesses to cold iron or silver that make the material damage the creature more. It's nice to be able to describe a hit with a silver arrow as burning the creature and far more effective than a regular hit. It encourages the archer or player to pick up a weapon to be more effective against a given enemy in a way that is more fun to describe than slicing through it's DR. When a fiend gets hit by good damage, you can describe that as burning their unholy flesh rather than simply penetrating DR with the mechanics supporting that idea.

3. Some Fiend Weaknesses: Being able to damage a fiend by freeing a prisoner or resisting a succubus's advances is cool for story-telling. Monster weaknesses in general allow you to show within the story certain elements are more effective than others in a way that is more immersive than PF1 in my opinion.

4. Using the athletics skill to hold fliers in place or topple some totem trap is nice for story-telling as well. It allows a non-Thievery skill to accomplish something that is normally the area of the rogue. It made the champion feel pretty heroic to be able to do this.

5. Being able to explain in a way that enhances verisimilitude how a hazard is defeated or disarmed helps with story-telling. In PF1 you normally just said "Rogue made his check, Device is dsiabled", even if it made no sense. By the rules you just let it happen. Now Hazards are written with verisimilitude in mind including how to disable them.

6. 3 action system: This obviously lends itself well to story-telling allowing a DM to adjudicate player actions in a more realistic way that enhances immersion.

7. Feats and abilities feel more like learning fighting styles than using powers. Hunt Prey feels like the ranger is focusing on the target, learning how he moves, looking for weak points in their armor or defenses, and the like. Champions reaction feels like a holy warrior calling upon holy power to protect her allies in a way you can visualize and narrate. Same could be said of most of the archetypes with the sorcerer allowing some real interesting story choices.

8. Monster building feels very good. Lots of powers you can visualize and use in a way that feels very natural to the creature and worth well within the 3 action narrative.

Those are some I feel run well for story-telling.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Being able to damage a fiend by freeing a prisoner or resisting a succubus's advances is cool for story-telling.
Indeed

Then finally everybody succeeded in their plans to turn the audience against her, and she flopped to the ground, dead from massive amounts of mental damage, reverting to her natural form of the "sexy librarian" Balenni (with wings) to the oohs and aahs of the excited audience :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
That said, some things are still wonky. Now I'm not generally talking about rules that break and can't be used - it's more like "hmmm, what if Paizo had had time for one more editing pass?"

1. The most wonky thing about skills is of course that the default system gives you a +0 modifier to your untrained skills. Once you've left the low levels, there's no point in even picking up the dice.
Skill specifics are WAY too cluttery.
Lore skills cost the same as other skills, yet are much more narrow. Strange, given how Paizo in almost every other area makes sure benefit is commensurate with cost.
Medicine allows cheap fast healing that I can't imagine being without.
Without Thievery you simply can't disable most traps (they require "expert" or "master" etc).
Society might feel useless at first, and depending on GM and adventure it either is or isn't.

2. Silver/mithral and cold iron are cool, absolutely. Unfortunately there's plenty of precious materials that are dead weight, basically. They cost fortunes but do very little. (Not a huge problem since you basically never purchase poor stuff at the Magic Shoppe)

3. Yep, all good!

4. Athletic is a very good skill for martials to have. Just make sure you mind those hands. That's right, hand use rules are alive and kicking! (Even 5E for all its friendliness still has those damn hand-use rules :confused:). For example, in PF2 a greatweapon wielder needs to remember that anytime she has used her hand for something else (such as holding onto an edge or monster) it costs an action to re-wield her weapon (and you can't do attacks of opportunity until such time). Dual-wielders are even more hosed (they need to drop one of their weapons). Sword and boarders can basically forget about it.
I will pop the champagne when an official big-time publisher issues a version of the game where the rules basically say "everything a barbarian can do, she can do with a big-ass axe in her hands; everything a ranger can do, he can do with both hands holding wicked blades" etc.

5. Some traps can be disabled by other skills than Thievery, but it doesn't say how a player is supposed to figure that out. I can't figure out how to convey the idea without just saying it out loud "you're supposed to discuss theurgy with the angry spirits, make a Religion check" - but that's gamey and artificial as hell. I get the feeling they only got half-way there with this idea.

6. Well, I wouldn't go that far. The three-action system works better than I feared, but I can't say there is a single heroic action I couldn't adjudicate in a simple one-action system...

7. You have something of a point here. Especially monsters, how they require "handling their action budget".

8. I would still have wanted a more prescriptive monster-build system. (The current system is after all "just make shit up, here are the boundaries you should stay inside") I would especially have liked that Paizo generalized and externalized their thinking as to which monster gets what ability. Honestly, there's very little in the monster-building guidelines that I can't more easily glean from the Bestiary. The creativity and inspiration is all in the Bestiary, none in the guideline.

I hope you see I'm not contradicting or arguing against you here, Celt. I just felt I had to provide some nuance to your excellent sales pitch ;)
 


Celtavian

Dragon Lord
That said, some things are still wonky. Now I'm not generally talking about rules that break and can't be used - it's more like "hmmm, what if Paizo had had time for one more editing pass?"


4. Athletic is a very good skill for martials to have. Just make sure you mind those hands. That's right, hand use rules are alive and kicking! (Even 5E for all its friendliness still has those damn hand-use rules :confused:). For example, in PF2 a greatweapon wielder needs to remember that anytime she has used her hand for something else (such as holding onto an edge or monster) it costs an action to re-wield her weapon (and you can't do attacks of opportunity until such time). Dual-wielders are even more hosed (they need to drop one of their weapons). Sword and boarders can basically forget about it.
I will pop the champagne when an official big-time publisher issues a version of the game where the rules basically say "everything a barbarian can do, she can do with a big-ass axe in her hands; everything a ranger can do, he can do with both hands holding wicked blades" etc.

My players have gotten used to it and can manage hands quite quickly, though they don't like some of it. I like the verisimilitude of managing hands for quite a few things, but not for others. Switching hands from one to two-handed weapon I may get rid of, but I do like having to use extra actions to shed a shield as having used a shield it is harder to get off than dropping a weapon if you're using it properly.

5. Some traps can be disabled by other skills than Thievery, but it doesn't say how a player is supposed to figure that out. I can't figure out how to convey the idea without just saying it out loud "you're supposed to discuss theurgy with the angry spirits, make a Religion check" - but that's gamey and artificial as hell. I get the feeling they only got half-way there with this idea.

This confounded me a bit at first too. Then I decided to tell them what to use to get the players used to the new paradigm. Part of what is holding them back is they are thinking of how things are done in PF1 and 5E. So you have to tell them they can do this assuming their cleric would know how to deal with a haunt or an arcane caster would know how to use arcana on an arcane trap or puzzle, same as a rogue knows how to use Thievery or a healer medicine. Once they get used to the new rule they will start to use it on their own without prompting.

6. Well, I wouldn't go that far. The three-action system works better than I feared, but I can't say there is a single heroic action I couldn't adjudicate in a simple one-action system...

I've had plenty I couldn't adjudicate with the one-action system. Like a druid casting electric arc then shooting off her bow or commanding her animal. Recalling knowledge and then using that knowledge in the same round by casting a spell to counter or making an appropriate attack. Knocking over a totem, then moving and attacking a creature after doing so. You could modify the one action system to make it happen by making something a move action. It's natural to the PF2 system to do the above with the 3 action system. It breaks nothing, requires no modification, and narrates well in my experience.

8. I would still have wanted a more prescriptive monster-build system. (The current system is after all "just make shit up, here are the boundaries you should stay inside") I would especially have liked that Paizo generalized and externalized their thinking as to which monster gets what ability. Honestly, there's very little in the monster-building guidelines that I can't more easily glean from the Bestiary. The creativity and inspiration is all in the Bestiary, none in the guideline.

I feel the same way about monster creation in PF2 as I did in 5E. The action system is a framework that I don't feel constrained by. If I think it looks cool. I write it up as I visualize it and assign actions. I might even add lair actions in as well at some point. PF2 and 5E both have that very naturalistic monster creation feel with PF2 providing more rules crunch for common monster abilities.

I hope you see I'm not contradicting or arguing against you here, Celt. I just felt I had to provide some nuance to your excellent sales pitch ;)

I always like to hear other's thoughts on things. We all seem to play this game a little differently and do things differently.

I'm finding the barbarian has some big weaknesses. They can hit like a truck, but man, they go down pretty fast due to low AC and when they are knocked unconscious they lose their rage. No rage really turns them into a weak fighter. I hope they get better as they level up. Right now my barbarian is getting beat up and losing his rage a lot.

And the druid is a badass. Good spell list. Good feats. Decent armor. Decent weapon choice. rogue hit points. Personal healing. Druid has a lot to do with their abilities. Druid feels like a very strong and versatile class in PF2.
 
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dave2008

Legend
It's natural to the PF2 system to do the above with the 3 action system. It breaks nothing, requires no modification, and narrates well in my experience.
I'm personally undecided about the three action system. I have a couple of minor things I'm not sure about, but the big issue for me is that it doesn't include reactions. To me that breaks the narration/simulation of a supposedly all encompassing action economy. If you can only take 3 actions, how come sometimes you can take a fourth action (reactions). Were does the extra action come from? Why can't I always take 4 actions? That is why I have advocated a 6 action economy in other threads. This way you could include minor actions and reactions into it. Maybe in PF3e!
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I'm personally undecided about the three action system. I have a couple of minor things I'm not sure about, but the big issue for me is that it doesn't include reactions. To me that breaks the narration/simulation of a supposedly all encompassing action economy. If you can only take 3 actions, how come sometimes you can take a fourth action (reactions). Were does the extra action come from? Why can't I always take 4 actions? That is why I have advocated a 6 action economy in other threads. This way you could include minor actions and reactions into it. Maybe in PF3e!

Oh. I thought you knew there were reactions in the game. Some spells are reactions. Some abilities like AoOs are reactions. Some monster abilities are reactions. There are reactions. Each character has one reaction a turn with some abilities offering additional reactions based on what they do like shield blocking or AoOs. Or something like snap shot.

I didn't mention them because 5E has them and PF1 called them immediate actions. They are common in game systems now.
 

dave2008

Legend
Oh. I thought you knew there were reactions in the game. Some spells are reactions. Some abilities like AoOs are reactions. Some monster abilities are reactions. There are reactions. Each character has one reaction a turn with some abilities offering additional reactions based on what they do like shield blocking or AoOs. Or something like snap shot.
No, I know there are reactions, you miss understood or I was unclear. What I don't like is they (reactions) are not part of the 3 action system. They are separate. The beauty of the 3 action system is that it encompasses all actions. However, in PF2e it doesn't included reactions, the are a separate action outside of the 3 action system. I don't like this. It conceptually breaks the narrative immersion for me.

Perhaps it is more clear with an example of an idea I have had.
The 6 action economy:

Move: 1 action (distance varies)
Standard Melee Actions: 3 actions (some class features reduce this cost)
Standard Ranged Actions: 4 Actions (some class features reduce this cost)*
Spells: 3 actions + 1 per spell level, cantrips = level 0 (some class features reduce this cost)
Bonus Action: 2 actions
Object Interaction: 1 action
Reaction: 1 action (maybe 2, or dependent on action type - undecided)

This just an example, you could obviously change the action costs, but what I like is that includes all actions. If you want to spend all 6 actions on your turn, then you have no actions available for a reaction off-turn.

*This could be weapon based too, but I made it different because I want to reduce range attack effective some
 
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Numidius

Explorer
Haven't played yet, but Reactions sound more "realistic" to me as separate from the main action turns. Instead a complete compartmentalization of PC/monsters turns, kind of breaks immersion for me.
 
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Nilbog

Snotling Herder
For me three actions and one reaction is the sweet spot, it's enough to translate cool narration into a workable mechanic, but not too much to slow down players turns and make combat feel too unrealistic
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
No, I know there are reactions, you miss understood or I was unclear. What I don't like is they (reactions) are not part of the 3 action system. They are separate. The beauty of the 3 action system is that it encompasses all actions. However, in PF2e it doesn't included reactions, the are a separate action outside of the 3 action system. I don't like this. It conceptually breaks the narrative immersion for me.

Perhaps it is more clear with an example of an idea I have had.
The 6 action economy:

Move: 1 action (distance varies)
Standard Melee Actions: 3 actions (some class features reduce this cost)
Standard Ranged Actions: 4 Actions (some class features reduce this cost)*
Spells: 3 actions + 1 per spell level, cantrips = level 0 (some class features reduce this cost)
Bonus Action: 2 actions
Object Interaction: 1 action
Reaction: 1 action (maybe 2, or dependent on action type - undecided)

So... what's going on here aside from adding more complexity and (maybe) lengthening turns (I can't really tell)? 3 Actions + reaction vs 5ish + reaction? I'm not seeing the need, point, nor how it would be less likely to break narrative immersion. Is it because you're explicitly mentioning a reaction (which may or may not occur) where referring to PF2's current as 3 actions doesn't?
 

dave2008

Legend
So... what's going on here aside from adding more complexity and (maybe) lengthening turns (I can't really tell)? 3 Actions + reaction vs 5ish + reaction? I'm not seeing the need, point, nor how it would be less likely to break narrative immersion. Is it because you're explicitly mentioning a reaction (which may or may not occur) where referring to PF2's current as 3 actions doesn't?
I'm not discussing the 5e, 4e, 3e, PF1, 2e, or 1e action economy. I am specifically discussing the PF2e action economy. I am not comparing it to other systems. So within the PF2 action economy, I think reactions are a weak link in the elegance of the 3-action system. They don't fit conceptually within the constraints of the 3-action system. To clarify, this bothers me on a design level, not on a game play level (I haven't played yet so I can't tell).
 

Reynard

Legend
I'm not discussing the 5e, 4e, 3e, PF1, 2e, or 1e action economy. I am specifically discussing the PF2e action economy. I am not comparing it to other systems. So within the PF2 action economy, I think reactions are a weak link in the elegance of the 3-action system. They don't fit conceptually within the constraints of the 3-action system. To clarify, this bothers me on a design level, not on a game play level (I haven't played yet so I can't tell).
Just so I undersatnd, you want reactions to come out of your pool of actions for your turn? So, for example, if you had 5 actions total and two different enemies provoked an opportunity attack, you would want to be able to burn two of those 5 to take them, or not and still have 5 left when your initiative comes up?
 

So technically you can use two actions to set up a reaction at anytime with a ready. So for things you aren't as good at you can prepare one. Otherwise, I think of reactions as things you are so good at that with the proper trigger you can do it without spending an action.
 

dave2008

Legend
Just so I undersatnd, you want reactions to come out of your pool of actions for your turn? So, for example, if you had 5 actions total and two different enemies provoked an opportunity attack, you would want to be able to burn two of those 5 to take them, or not and still have 5 left when your initiative comes up?
Basically yes. What I envision is a pool of actions you have for a round. You can use them on your turn or not. But once they are gone, those are all the action you can do that round.
 


dave2008

Legend
That could get chaotic quickly.
Maybe, I don't know why it would be any more chaotic than the current system. This is not my ideal, but lets just say we keep the 3-action system and we only change reactions. So now, a reaction cost 1 action. If you use all 3 actions on your turn, you can't use a reaction to make the OA or cast counterspell (I assume it is a reaction in PF2e). Now there is a solid reason to hold onto an action.
 
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