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PF2E Pathfinder 2e: Actual Play Experience

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I’m fortunate that my players aren’t really power gamers or optimizers, so not having any clearly better and worse options is not a problem (if anything, it’s a boon), but there are some areas that are pretty lacking.

I was talking to one of my players last night. He’s playing a sorcerer with a draconic bloodline. He likes to play gishes, so he wants to do stuff with his character’s dragon claws, but the options aren’t there. They don’t count as weapons, so he can’t just dip into a martial class. If he went monk/sorcerer, the monk’s unarmed attacks would be way better, and it’s basically end up a different character. Even Bespell Weapon doesn’t work (requires a weapon). I really hope the APG can fill in some of these gaps (since I run a homebrew setting and don’t use anything from the Lost Omens line).

More options should help.

In your case, I'd just write some house rules for the player. It doesn't seem to me that dragon claws would throw the game off. Dragon class seem kind of weak. You could boost the damage to 1d6 or 1d8 and likely be fine. Then I'd let him design some item similar to the monk item handwraps to allow him to make the claws more effective. Then I might design him some class feats to allow him to boost his claws.

Given the framework it would be easy to let him design some feats within the class framework to allow him to use dragon claws effectively. The options aren't there initially. The PF2 framework is pretty flexible for different aesthetics as long as you keep the power relative. In my opinion, the balance allows for a huge variation in aesthetic options that the player could write themselves within the class framework without breaking the game. It is one of the reasons why I say there is more variation for character concepts due to the balanced power, just not as much variation in power to make some players feel like they're superheroes like say PF1 or 5E. You can reskin almost any power to make it look and feel like you want it to feel and run it just fine.
 

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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
The spell literally says "you summon a creature to fight for you" (as do all of the other summoning spells).

If you are saying that it seems like an arbitrary restriction that the creature you summon will fight for you but that you cannot summon a creature because it has better senses, you want it to scout for you, trigger a trap, or any other reason, then we are in agreement.

However, from your comment, it seems that you are saying that because "you summon a creature to fight" seems like an arbitrary restriction, we should consider that it wasn't the developers' intention to impose that restriction.

I am skeptical about this second point, because the PF2 is littered with examples of arbitrary restrictions (for niche protection or other reasons):
  • like Making an Impression on more than one person without the Group Impression feat;
  • like the fact that a Heal spell does not remove the Wounded Condition but Treat Wounds does;
  • like the fact that you need a level 6 fighter feat to leave a dagger in an invisible opponent so others can target it;
  • like the fact that you need a level 2 wizard feat to make a Sleight of Hand and Deception check to obscure your spellcasting;
  • like the fact that to block with a Shield you need to spend an action to raise it;
  • like the fact that you can't use Performance to Create a Distraction.


No, I'm not forgetting anything. We are playing Fall of Plaguestone only, so no, there aren't higher level spells or rituals available.

None of those are facts. Because something is not spelled out does not mean it is not possible. They wrote up those rules to allow players to choose those options if they have a concept, but in no way does it constrain DMs from allowing such things if they so choose to do so. I think that is what some PF2 players/DMs at the moment seem to be focusing on when nowhere does it say that is the only way to accomplish those tasks.

Making an impression in dealing with a group doesn't require the feat save if the player wishes to tell the DM he is doing this for some purposeful tactic that he dreams up rather than a situation the DM sets up. It puts more player agency options for the player, while not limiting the DM.

Heal spells remove the Wounded condition after a player has been healed to full for 10 minutes without using treat wounds, but not if the player is still wounded.

The wizard feat allows you to do this for any spell and is a metamagic feat which involves completely manipulating the magic itself, which not every caster can do. It does not involve say using a Charm spell and not getting noticed, which a DM could allow if he wishes and is even an inherent part of the spell.

Spending an action raising a shield shows that it's like a weapon and requires effort to use, which real shields do require. So not sure why this is an issue.

Why can't you use Performance to create a distraction? Does it specifically state you can't?

This is something I don't get. Nowhere in the PF2 rules does it state this is the only way to do a thing nor does it greatly constrain the DM more than 5E or any version of the game ever. Unless you have players rules lawyering you, then I don't see the problem. If some player asked me if he could use Performance to create a distraction and conveyed to me how he would make it work, I would let him do it.

I have not read in PF2 where it says "This is the only way to do this." Most of the combat rules are there to provide balance. But that starting point of balance doesn't make it so a DM can't let someone do something in a different way. And if a player wanted to do it that way all the time, I'd literally write them a Skill Feat for it. Which this framework fits just fine. For example, if a player said, "Hey I want to use Performance for Creating a Distraction all the time instead of Deception." I'd say ok, "Write me up a skill feat and I'll let you take it." If they just want to do it on occasion when it fits, then I would allow that as well.

And the fighter stabbing the invisible guy. I let players reveal invisible folks in different ways all the time whether the common use of some substance like flour or soot, stabbing them and following the blood trail, or water or steam dispersion. All I see revealing stab doing is giving a player agency so he doesn't even have to ask the DM how to do it. It's his ability and he uses at will same as a wizard with see invisibility can use his abilities. No one complains that a wizard has to learn see invisibility to see invisible creatures and can't just come up with some made up magic to see invisible creatures. I don't think it is a bad thing to allow a fighter to have a martial form of group see invisibility or glitterdust equivalent.

Maybe it's how long I've been playing, but I don't feel constrained by a system because it provides more rules for more things. Nothing is absolute and I'm not going to limit creative player use of abilities because some rule provides player agency for an ability versus DM decision making for on the fly use of skills or abilities.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I’m not sure I agree with that take. The implication in the CRB is that what you do happens via actions and activities. The available skill actions are all enumerated, and they seem rather clear about how they work. If an action indicates it only works on one target, there’s no reason to believe it could be argued to work on multiple ones without something (such as a skill feat) that allows otherwise. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It reminds me of Apocalypse Engine games (you have to do it to do it), but it’s pretty unusual compared to PF2’s peers (and even PF1 to an extent).

In your case, I'd just write some house rules for the player. It doesn't seem to me that dragon claws would throw the game off. Dragon class seem kind of weak. You could boost the damage to 1d6 or 1d8 and likely be fine. Then I'd let him design some item similar to the monk item handwraps to allow him to make the claws more effective. Then I might design him some class feats to allow him to boost his claws.
Thank you for the suggestion, and I do appreciate it, but that’s not how I generally do things. That’s not to say I’m averse to doing homebrew — I’ve done some to support my setting; but I tend not to do it for just one character.

I think the gist of my complaint is unarmed attacks are in a weird place right now because they’re not really weapons, and the only class that can do much with them is monk. Paizo addressed that some in the errata, but they’re still in a weird place.

Anyway, it seems to be moot now. I talked some more with the player. The gist of the complaint seems to be that he feels the claws don’t really fit very well with the sorcerer’s toolkit, and there aren’t really any sorcerer-specific options available to boost them. The other options would work, but he’s more interested in the sorcerer feats.

Now the party just needs not to sell the next set of handwraps of mighty blows they find…. 😅
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I’m not sure I agree with that take. The implication in the CRB is that what you do happens via actions and activities. The available skill actions are all enumerated, and they seem rather clear about how they work. If an action indicates it only works on one target, there’s no reason to believe it could be argued to work on multiple ones without something (such as a skill feat) that allows otherwise. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It reminds me of Apocalypse Engine games (you have to do it to do it), but it’s pretty unusual compared to PF2’s peers (and even PF1 to an extent).

They design plenty of encounters for overcoming social interactions without using Diplomacy. For example, in a module in an AP you use skills like crafting to do the equivalent of Make an Impression. The idea being that in the given situation your expertise at crafting can substitute for Diplomacy for improving the social relationship with a given individual. This indicates to me that a DM or adventure creator can and should allow for alternative skill uses when it fits. You are not constrained by feats and the like to limit what can be done if an appropriate situation occurs.

Skill feats are more interested in player agency than DM limitations. As in a player who wants to be highly persuasive and Deceptive can build a character that can deal with practically any situation using Diplomacy or Deception. The DM cannot decide he can't. His player is built for it ensuring the player has some agency with a character build based on Deception and Diplomacy.

But a DM can also in a given situation allow a player to do something like Make an Impression or Create a Distraction using a different skill. If a player comes to him and says, "Can I do an extraordinary acting or comedy job that distracts the audience from paying attention while the rogue sneaks in the side door at a dinner party?" Does the DM say, "No. You don't have the right skill." I don't think that PF2 encourages the DM to do this. He might instead say this is an appropriate use of the skill given the environment, he would set a difficulty, then let the player do it. I have not read anywhere this is somehow against the rules.

And if a player says, "I want to be able to create a distraction with my performance skill all the time." The DM also has the skill feat framework to allow this as well. I'm pretty sure as they expand the skill feats you will see alternative uses of skills that allow players to maintain greater agency for skill use versus GM fiat.

So these attempts by certain people to make the rules seem like some absolute way to run the game are not supported in the adventures or in the rule book. It would be a choice by the DM to put those limitations in place, not something implied or written into the rule system.


Thank you for the suggestion, and I do appreciate it, but that’s not how I generally do things. That’s not to say I’m averse to doing homebrew — I’ve done some to support my setting; but I tend not to do it for just one character.

I think the gist of my complaint is unarmed attacks are in a weird place right now because they’re not really weapons, and the only class that can do much with them is monk. Paizo addressed that some in the errata, but they’re still in a weird place.

Anyway, it seems to be moot now. I talked some more with the player. The gist of the complaint seems to be that he feels the claws don’t really fit very well with the sorcerer’s toolkit, and there aren’t really any sorcerer-specific options available to boost them. The other options would work, but he’s more interested in the sorcerer feats.

Now the party just needs not to sell the next set of handwraps of mighty blows they find…. 😅

Yeah. That was the case in PF1 too. Those morph powers were never much used in PF1 either. It just never made sense for the +10 BAB class to enter melee combat when he had other far better options. It conceptually cool and might work with some hybrid fighter or druid sorcerer. It's never much been a good plan for a cloth caster with low hit points to get in melee. I can't even consider this a PF2 issue as it was an issue in PF1 as well. Morph traits are one of those concepts designers make that look cool in their mind, but are terribly implemented as anything other than a visual affectation.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
They design plenty of encounters for overcoming social interactions without using Diplomacy. For example, in a module in an AP you use skills like crafting to do the equivalent of Make an Impression. The idea being that in the given situation your expertise at crafting can substitute for Diplomacy for improving the social relationship with a given individual. This indicates to me that a DM or adventure creator can and should allow for alternative skill uses when it fits. You are not constrained by feats and the like to limit what can be done if an appropriate situation occurs.

Skill feats are more interested in player agency than DM limitations. As in a player who wants to be highly persuasive and Deceptive can build a character that can deal with practically any situation using Diplomacy or Deception. The DM cannot decide he can't. His player is built for it ensuring the player has some agency with a character build based on Deception and Diplomacy.

But a DM can also in a given situation allow a player to do something like Make an Impression or Create a Distraction using a different skill. If a player comes to him and says, "Can I do an extraordinary acting or comedy job that distracts the audience from paying attention while the rogue sneaks in the side door at a dinner party?" Does the DM say, "No. You don't have the right skill." I don't think that PF2 encourages the DM to do this. He might instead say this is an appropriate use of the skill given the environment, he would set a difficulty, then let the player do it. I have not read anywhere this is somehow against the rules.

And if a player says, "I want to be able to create a distraction with my performance skill all the time." The DM also has the skill feat framework to allow this as well. I'm pretty sure as they expand the skill feats you will see alternative uses of skills that allow players to maintain greater agency for skill use versus GM fiat.

So these attempts by certain people to make the rules seem like some absolute way to run the game are not supported in the adventures or in the rule book. It would be a choice by the DM to put those limitations in place, not something implied or written into the rule system.
It’s strongly implied in the GMing section of the CRB that you’re typically using skill actions to make skill checks, so I’d posit those restrictions should apply. Of course, when you’re not, there shouldn’t be overlap (e.g., gaining influence uses skill checks but functions separately from the action economy).

That they seemingly disregard this in published adventures is interesting, but I wonder if that was a mistake. Do they do that even in newer ones like Extinction Curse?

We had a similar situation when the PCs met a necromancer while exploring. I wanted them to be able to get information out of him, and the usual framework of Make an Impression then a request felt like a poor fit, so I improvised something using VP. Of course, only the face decided to participate, but it worked well.

The way I’d run that distraction is to have the performer just do it. If they’re a bard, they could even use that to buff the rogue’s attempt to infiltrate. Otherwise, it’s just part of the narrative framework that lets the rogue infiltrate.

Of course, there is also a VP system for infiltration, so now I wonder if the game has bifurcated its resolution options. You’ve got the very crunchy manifestation of the old way PF1 did it, but you’ve also got a free-form and more modern (à la clocks) approach as well.

I liked the way VP ran when I used it, but it exists mostly (if not completely) separately from skill actions/feats. This feels like a potential point of friction, but I wonder if the problem is really skill feats. I’d really like to hear from Paizo what their intent is because it feels currently like they’re sending mixed messages. On one hand, the rulebooks are saying you usually use skill actions, which are very prescriptive, but their adventures are doing something else.

Yeah. That was the case in PF1 too. Those morph powers were never much used in PF1 either. It just never made sense for the +10 BAB class to enter melee combat when he had other far better options. It conceptually cool and might work with some hybrid fighter or druid sorcerer. It's never much been a good plan for a cloth caster with low hit points to get in melee. I can't even consider this a PF2 issue as it was an issue in PF1 as well. Morph traits are one of those concepts designers make that look cool in their mind, but are terribly implemented as anything other than a visual affectation.
It affects other forms of unarmed attacks too. The lizardfolk ancestry can beef up its unarmed attacks, but if you try to make a lizardfolk fighter, a bunch of your class feats just won’t work with it. That’s presumably why they made the changes they did in the errata, since even the monk would work poorly with a lizardfolk’s natural attacks as the CRB was originally published.
 
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FrozenNorth

Adventurer
None of those are facts. Because something is not spelled out does not mean it is not possible. They wrote up those rules to allow players to choose those options if they have a concept, but in no way does it constrain DMs from allowing such things if they so choose to do so. I think that is what some PF2 players/DMs at the moment seem to be focusing on when nowhere does it say that is the only way to accomplish those tasks.

I'm not the DM. I'm a player. So, yes, I am constrained by the rules as written unless the DM chooses to modify them.

Moreover, the structure of skills and skill feats gives you an idea of how the designer intended them to be use. Each skill sets out actions you can take by using that skill. Some are further gated by proficiency. Skill feats either provides a slight benefit to an action you could do, or allows you to use a different skill to perform an action.

By implication, if a skill feat allows you to do something, you cannot do that if you don't have that skill feat. Otherwise, that skill feat is useless. By looking at the published skill feats, you can also get an idea of what sorts of things are considered by the designers to be worth a skill feat. "Natural Medicine" allows you to use Nature instead of Medicine for the Treat Wounds action? OK, the value of that change is worth one skill feat (see Bargain Hunter, Courtly Graces, Lie to Me and Impressive Performance).

Making an impression in dealing with a group doesn't require the feat save if the player wishes to tell the DM he is doing this for some purposeful tactic that he dreams up rather than a situation the DM sets up. It puts more player agency options for the player, while not limiting the DM.

Group Impression (requires Trained in Diplomacy) - When you Make an Impression, you can compare your Diplomacy check result to the Will DCs of two targets instead of one. It's possible to get a different degree of success for each target. The number of targets increases to four if you're an Expert, 10 if you're a Master, and 25 if you're Legendary.

Heal spells remove the Wounded condition after a player has been healed to full for 10 minutes without using treat wounds, but not if the player is still wounded.

My point was that the distinction between Treat Wounds and healing magic was arbitrary. From a design perspective, it appears that the rule was included to prevent pop-up healing. From an in-game perspective, no justification is given as to why being healed to full hp does not affect your Wounded status unless you take 10 minutes.

The wizard feat allows you to do this for any spell and is a metamagic feat which involves completely manipulating the magic itself, which not every caster can do. It does not involve say using a Charm spell and not getting noticed, which a DM could allow if he wishes and is even an inherent part of the spell.

A DM could decide that any spellcaster can Conceal their Spellcasting by making a Deception + a Sleight of Hand check. Of course, there would be no need for a Conceal Spell in those cases, so the implication by the designers is that unless you take the Conceal Spell feat, your spellcasting is visible.

BTW, you are wrong about Charm. Charm always has visible effect: on a success, the target still sees the spell but thinks that your spell was something harmless (and not trying to influence them). Plus, in all cases, the effects of the Charm spell are visible to other people present.

Why can't you use Performance to create a distraction? Does it specifically state you can't?

Create a Distraction is a Deception(Charisma) check. The book indicates (again, see Bargain Hunter, Courtly Graces, Lie to Me and Impressive Performance), that using Performance to Create a Distraction costs a skill feat.

This is something I don't get. Nowhere in the PF2 rules does it state this is the only way to do a thing nor does it greatly constrain the DM more than 5E or any version of the game ever. Unless you have players rules lawyering you, then I don't see the problem. If some player asked me if he could use Performance to create a distraction and conveyed to me how he would make it work, I would let him do it.

I have not read in PF2 where it says "This is the only way to do this." Most of the combat rules are there to provide balance. But that starting point of balance doesn't make it so a DM can't let someone do something in a different way. And if a player wanted to do it that way all the time, I'd literally write them a Skill Feat for it. Which this framework fits just fine. For example, if a player said, "Hey I want to use Performance for Creating a Distraction all the time instead of Deception." I'd say ok, "Write me up a skill feat and I'll let you take it." If they just want to do it on occasion when it fits, then I would allow that as well.

Why would the player take the skill feat if you allow them to use Performance to Create a Distraction when it was relevant to do so? Why would a player attempt to use Performance to Create a Distraction in situations where it wasn't relevant to do so?

You seem to be running the skill feats in the same manner that I would if I were DMing PF2. Of course, as I DM, I don't really need Make a Request actions, or Make an Impression actions, or Create a Diversion actions, and skill feats that allow you to substitute Society for Diplomacy in Making an Impression. You could rip those skill feats out of the game, but even before that, the CRB skill feats include a bunch of skills that aren't really supported by skill feats, and taking out those skill feats makes things worse.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
It’s strongly implied in the GMing section of the CRB that you’re typically using skill actions to make skill checks, so I’d posit those restrictions should apply. Of course, when you’re not, there shouldn’t be overlap (e.g., gaining influence uses skill checks but functions separately from the action economy).

That they seemingly disregard this in published adventures is interesting, but I wonder if that was a mistake. Do they do that even in newer ones like Extinction Curse?

We had a similar situation when the PCs met a necromancer while exploring. I wanted them to be able to get information out of him, and the usual framework of Make an Impression then a request felt like a poor fit, so I improvised something using VP. Of course, only the face decided to participate, but it worked well.

The way I’d run that distraction is to have the performer just do it. If they’re a bard, they could even use that to buff the rogue’s attempt to infiltrate. Otherwise, it’s just part of the narrative framework that lets the rogue infiltrate.

Of course, there is also a VP system for infiltration, so now I wonder if the game has bifurcated its resolution options. You’ve got the very crunchy manifestation of the old way PF1 did it, but you’ve also got a free-form and more modern (à la clocks) approach as well.

I liked the way VP ran when I used it, but it exists mostly (if not completely) separately from skill actions/feats. This feels like a potential point of friction, but I wonder if the problem is really skill feats. I’d really like to hear from Paizo what their intent is because it feels currently like they’re sending mixed messages. On one hand, the rulebooks are saying you usually use skill actions, which are very prescriptive, but their adventures are doing something else.

They do it in Age of Ashes during the most important social interaction of the fourth module. They've done it other areas here and there. The new APs seem to focus on allowing multiple skills to do things in slightly different ways that ultimately accomplish the same thing whether it's allowing Athletics or Thievery to disarm a hazard or using crafting or diplomacy to influence a leader. That's why I don't think it was intended like PF1 to make skills so limited.

I know in PF1 certain skills did things and that was it. PF2 seems to be like a blend of 5E and 4E with it's own additions to make skills more interesting and varied in their uses.


It affects other forms of unarmed attacks too. The lizardfolk ancestry can beef up its unarmed attacks, but if you try to make a lizardfolk fighter, a bunch of your class feats just won’t work with it. That’s presumably why they made the changes they did in the errata, since even the monk would work poorly with a lizardfolk’s natural attacks as the CRB was originally published.

I noticed that some when I read you can't use magic fang on animal companions. One of the first house rules we made was writing "magic fang works on animal companions." It must have been an omission hopefully they clarify soon for those who really like to adhere exactly to the rules like if you're playing in PFS.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I'm not the DM. I'm a player. So, yes, I am constrained by the rules as written unless the DM chooses to modify them.

Moreover, the structure of skills and skill feats gives you an idea of how the designer intended them to be use. Each skill sets out actions you can take by using that skill. Some are further gated by proficiency. Skill feats either provides a slight benefit to an action you could do, or allows you to use a different skill to perform an action.

By implication, if a skill feat allows you to do something, you cannot do that if you don't have that skill feat. Otherwise, that skill feat is useless. By looking at the published skill feats, you can also get an idea of what sorts of things are considered by the designers to be worth a skill feat. "Natural Medicine" allows you to use Nature instead of Medicine for the Treat Wounds action? OK, the value of that change is worth one skill feat (see Bargain Hunter, Courtly Graces, Lie to Me and Impressive Performance).



Group Impression (requires Trained in Diplomacy) - When you Make an Impression, you can compare your Diplomacy check result to the Will DCs of two targets instead of one. It's possible to get a different degree of success for each target. The number of targets increases to four if you're an Expert, 10 if you're a Master, and 25 if you're Legendary.



My point was that the distinction between Treat Wounds and healing magic was arbitrary. From a design perspective, it appears that the rule was included to prevent pop-up healing. From an in-game perspective, no justification is given as to why being healed to full hp does not affect your Wounded status unless you take 10 minutes.



A DM could decide that any spellcaster can Conceal their Spellcasting by making a Deception + a Sleight of Hand check. Of course, there would be no need for a Conceal Spell in those cases, so the implication by the designers is that unless you take the Conceal Spell feat, your spellcasting is visible.

BTW, you are wrong about Charm. Charm always has visible effect: on a success, the target still sees the spell but thinks that your spell was something harmless (and not trying to influence them). Plus, in all cases, the effects of the Charm spell are visible to other people present.



Create a Distraction is a Deception(Charisma) check. The book indicates (again, see Bargain Hunter, Courtly Graces, Lie to Me and Impressive Performance), that using Performance to Create a Distraction costs a skill feat.



Why would the player take the skill feat if you allow them to use Performance to Create a Distraction when it was relevant to do so? Why would a player attempt to use Performance to Create a Distraction in situations where it wasn't relevant to do so?

You seem to be running the skill feats in the same manner that I would if I were DMing PF2. Of course, as I DM, I don't really need Make a Request actions, or Make an Impression actions, or Create a Diversion actions, and skill feats that allow you to substitute Society for Diplomacy in Making an Impression. You could rip those skill feats out of the game, but even before that, the CRB skill feats include a bunch of skills that aren't really supported by skill feats, and taking out those skill feats makes things worse.

Your DM is being hard on you. That sucks. Hopefully he or she will loosen up some once they see that small allowances won't break the game, unless you're playing PFS of course. Then you gotta roll with it until some modifications come out.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
As far as adding some play experience info, watch out for the Purple Worm. This creature can be a TPK machine if you play it too ruthlessly. It's ability to attack, grab, and swallow all in the same round with a high level of success is nasty. This thing would literally in two rounds rise up, swallow a PC, then disappear into the earth to digest. You'll never see that PC again.
 

dave2008

Legend
As far as adding some play experience info, watch out for the Purple Worm. This creature can be a TPK machine if you play it too ruthlessly. It's ability to attack, grab, and swallow all in the same round with a high level of success is nasty. This thing would literally in two rounds rise up, swallow a PC, then disappear into the earth to digest. You'll never see that PC again.
One of my favorite aspects of the 5e version too, though I little higher burrow speed would make it even more deadly.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
They do it in Age of Ashes during the most important social interaction of the fourth module. They've done it other areas here and there. The new APs seem to focus on allowing multiple skills to do things in slightly different ways that ultimately accomplish the same thing whether it's allowing Athletics or Thievery to disarm a hazard or using crafting or diplomacy to influence a leader. That's why I don't think it was intended like PF1 to make skills so limited.
That sounds like the influence stuff I mentioned. This discussion has prompted me to dig back into the rules in the skills chapter, and the more I do, the more it feels like there are two subsystems competing for the same space. On the one hand, you have skill actions which are implied not to be freely usable with different skills (unless they’re general skill actions), but then you have stuff (like the VP subsystem, or disabling hazards) that uses skill checks more freely.

Hazards are particularly interesting because there is a skill action to disable them, but there are also many hazards that aren’t disabled by Thievery or can be disabled with other skills. Because there aren’t skill actions for those other skills, it’s not actually clear what the cost should be if someone tries that method to disable a hazard during combat. I guess those methods just aren’t meant to be used in encounter mode?

My takeaway is if we’re in a fight, I’ll be sticking pretty closely to the prescribed list of skill actions. That makes sense since they have the costs and consequences enumerated right there, and I won’t accidentally intrude on someone’s niche if they’ve built into it. In exploration mode and non-combat encounter mode, I should be considering the other tools that are available. I’m a fan of the VP stuff in the GM, and I feel like a lot of the skill activities could better be replaced with VP. Tracking, for example, is boring.

You roll once an hour, so if it the tracks go on for a while, you’re bound to lose the trail. That’s rolling to failure. However, you could instead run it using VP. There might be a few things you need to discover, and the party can work together as they accumulate VP towards each discovery. That’s certainly bound to be less boring than everyone’s sitting there while the ranger or druid rolls Survival checks until they let the party down. (Of course, if the trail is short, just use Track.)

Thanks. You’ve given me a new perspective on how the skill system can work in PF2. :)
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
That sounds like the influence stuff I mentioned. This discussion has prompted me to dig back into the rules in the skills chapter, and the more I do, the more it feels like there are two subsystems competing for the same space. On the one hand, you have skill actions which are implied not to be freely usable with different skills (unless they’re general skill actions), but then you have stuff (like the VP subsystem, or disabling hazards) that uses skill checks more freely.

Hazards are particularly interesting because there is a skill action to disable them, but there are also many hazards that aren’t disabled by Thievery or can be disabled with other skills. Because there aren’t skill actions for those other skills, it’s not actually clear what the cost should be if someone tries that method to disable a hazard during combat. I guess those methods just aren’t meant to be used in encounter mode?

My takeaway is if we’re in a fight, I’ll be sticking pretty closely to the prescribed list of skill actions. That makes sense since they have the costs and consequences enumerated right there, and I won’t accidentally intrude on someone’s niche if they’ve built into it. In exploration mode and non-combat encounter mode, I should be considering the other tools that are available. I’m a fan of the VP stuff in the GM, and I feel like a lot of the skill activities could better be replaced with VP. Tracking, for example, is boring.

You roll once an hour, so if it the tracks go on for a while, you’re bound to lose the trail. That’s rolling to failure. However, you could instead run it using VP. There might be a few things you need to discover, and the party can work together as they accumulate VP towards each discovery. That’s certainly bound to be less boring than everyone’s sitting there while the ranger or druid rolls Survival checks until they let the party down. (Of course, if the trail is short, just use Track.)

Thanks. You’ve given me a new perspective on how the skill system can work in PF2. :)

Np. That is a good way to look at it. In combat, skill feats are there to provide player agency in power choice. I would cleave pretty closely to skills as intended in combat as that shows a degree of training and rewards choices that a player makes other than everyone picking Acrobatics for Cat's Fall. It gives the player the ability to say "Hey DM, I have this ability. I want to use it." As an example right now the goblin has that Deception ability where he gets to create a distraction and hide. He tells me when he gets to use it, I don't tell him. It's his power and he gets to use it. All I have to do is come up with some zany visual for how it works. It's his schtick.

Now outside of combat you have more leeway for thinking outside the box for how a skill might interact with a given scenario to allow the players to overcome it. You can have some fun with it letting players get creative.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
This week my party was questioning whether a wizard would be useful at higher level. AoE damage would have really helped take down some of these high level multi-enemy encounters with fairly tough creatures. Some of these high level creatures when used in multiples can really dish a lot of damage. And AoE spell attacks would greatly accelerate their demise. Wizards seem the one class that can focus very strongly on offense whereas a cleric is usually healing and a bard is often using cantrips to boost the party, where the wizard would be unloading damage, often AoE damage, on the targets.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
This week my party was questioning whether a wizard would be useful at higher level. AoE damage would have really helped take down some of these high level multi-enemy encounters with fairly tough creatures. Some of these high level creatures when used in multiples can really dish a lot of damage. And AoE spell attacks would greatly accelerate their demise. Wizards seem the one class that can focus very strongly on offense whereas a cleric is usually healing and a bard is often using cantrips to boost the party, where the wizard would be unloading damage, often AoE damage, on the targets.
I too seriously hope the Wizard will come into its own at double-digit levels.

(At low levels the Wizard class just doesn't contribute enough damage to justify including such a fragile class. And at low level the classic mage tricks that really provide quality of life improvements - teleportation, flight, or whatnot - just aren't present yet)
 

dave2008

Legend
On the one hand, you have skill actions which are implied not to be freely usable with different skills (unless they’re general skill actions), but then you have stuff (like the VP subsystem, or disabling hazards) that uses skill checks more freely.
What is the VP subsystem?
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
What is the VP subsystem?
The GMG introduces a Victory Points subsystem that it uses to build several other subsystems (influence, research, chases, infiltration, reputation). It’s kind of like a form of progress clocks.

VP can be used and accumulated in a couple of ways. For something like Reputation, it’s accumulated and tracked over time. Its purpose is to show the standing of the PCs with a faction, so it’s a bit more passive than other VP-based subsystems. For the other ones in the GMG, it’s accumulated over the course of an activity to track the PCs’ progress towards a goal — usually as the result of a successful skill check. The key is that there needs to be a way for the activity to fail. If the PCs can succeed eventually no matter what, then VP isn’t a good fit for that situation.

For example, the PCs accumulate Infiltration Points* to track their progress overcoming obstacles while they infiltrate an area. If they overcome all of the obstacles, the infiltration is successful. Think of an obstacle as a form of milestone on the overall IP track. However, they also accumulate Awareness Points the longer the take and as they draw attention to themselves (by failing their checks to overcome obstacles, doing something that would draw attention, etc). If they reach an AP milestone, there will be a complication in the infiltration they have to handle. If they accumulate too many AP, then they’re found out and have to deal with the consequences.

I’ve used VP in my game to handle a conversation between the party and a necromancer they met. They wanted to get information on where they were exploring from him, but he wasn’t necessarily going to give that up. I’m also planning to use Reputation to handle their relationships with the factions in town, and I’ve been considering doing something VP-based for clearing hexes (since one of the PCs wants to fortify their base camp).

--
* You’re encouraged to rename VP to something more evocative for your activity.
 

What is the VP subsystem?
Victory Points, the idea is that for complex challenges
The GMG introduces a Victory Points subsystem that it uses to build several other subsystems (influence, research, chases, infiltration, reputation). It’s kind of like a form of progress clocks.

VP can be used and accumulated in a couple of ways. For something like Reputation, it’s accumulated and tracked over time. Its purpose is to show the standing of the PCs with a faction, so it’s a bit more passive than other VP-based subsystems. For the other ones in the GMG, it’s accumulated over the course of an activity to track the PCs’ progress towards a goal — usually as the result of a successful skill check. The key is that there needs to be a way for the activity to fail. If the PCs can succeed eventually no matter what, then VP isn’t a good fit for that situation.

For example, the PCs accumulate Infiltration Points* to track their progress overcoming obstacles while they infiltrate an area. If they overcome all of the obstacles, the infiltration is successful. Think of an obstacle as a form of milestone on the overall IP track. However, they also accumulate Awareness Points the longer the take and as they draw attention to themselves (by failing their checks to overcome obstacles, doing something that would draw attention, etc). If they reach an AP milestone, there will be a complication in the infiltration they have to handle. If they accumulate too many AP, then they’re found out and have to deal with the consequences.

I’ve used VP in my game to handle a conversation between the party and a necromancer they met. They wanted to get information on where they were exploring from him, but he wasn’t necessarily going to give that up. I’m also planning to use Reputation to handle their relationships with the factions in town, and I’ve been considering doing something VP-based for clearing hexes (since one of the PCs wants to fortify their base camp).

--
* You’re encouraged to rename VP to something more evocative for your activity.
I did one with Investigation Points, where the party was investigating a village for clues. The nice thing is you can do something like the chase rules where each specific thing they investigate needs a certain number of points to discover, and then the number of points they accumulate over the entire investigation determines what level of detail for what they were investigating do they discover.
 

dave2008

Legend
The GMG introduces a Victory Points subsystem that it uses to build several other subsystems (influence, research, chases, infiltration, reputation). It’s kind of like a form of progress clocks.

VP can be used and accumulated in a couple of ways. For something like Reputation, it’s accumulated and tracked over time. Its purpose is to show the standing of the PCs with a faction, so it’s a bit more passive than other VP-based subsystems. For the other ones in the GMG, it’s accumulated over the course of an activity to track the PCs’ progress towards a goal — usually as the result of a successful skill check. The key is that there needs to be a way for the activity to fail. If the PCs can succeed eventually no matter what, then VP isn’t a good fit for that situation.

For example, the PCs accumulate Infiltration Points* to track their progress overcoming obstacles while they infiltrate an area. If they overcome all of the obstacles, the infiltration is successful. Think of an obstacle as a form of milestone on the overall IP track. However, they also accumulate Awareness Points the longer the take and as they draw attention to themselves (by failing their checks to overcome obstacles, doing something that would draw attention, etc). If they reach an AP milestone, there will be a complication in the infiltration they have to handle. If they accumulate too many AP, then they’re found out and have to deal with the consequences.

I’ve used VP in my game to handle a conversation between the party and a necromancer they met. They wanted to get information on where they were exploring from him, but he wasn’t necessarily going to give that up. I’m also planning to use Reputation to handle their relationships with the factions in town, and I’ve been considering doing something VP-based for clearing hexes (since one of the PCs wants to fortify their base camp).

--
* You’re encouraged to rename VP to something more evocative for your activity.
OK I have the GMG, but I haven't gone through it in depth. I will have to check that out.
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
PF2e GM here, reporting back after 2 more sessions under my belt - now at 5, every-other-week 4 hour sessions into Fall of Plaguestone using the official module on Roll20. I apparently run slow games - we're only at the 1/2 way point in chapter 2. we average 1.5 combats/session. Combats are taking on average 2 hours to run. Lots of RP, world building, discovery, and personalization / customization of the core module to make it our own.

thoughts since posting a few weeks ago:
  • as a brand new PF GM and player (of any edition), but having hundreds of sessions of D&D 5e, the math is still taking some effort to get my head around. Level 1 and 2 D&D, typical bonuses are like +4, +5. PF2e PC's seem to be closer to +7's and monsters have been consistently in the +9-+11 range. numbers aren't bad, calibrating my brain and intuitively understanding what is a challenge or reasonable is still taking some efforts.
  • oh god the conditions and traits are still really challenging. there's just so many of them! here is where I'm struggling the most.
  • Encounters are hard. part of this is my fault, as in a typical D&D game, I add substantially more difficulty in any encounter (Eg. more monsters, higher HP, environmental challenges). with 5 players in my group, the module designed for 4, and the very first encounter in this module being a pretty easy romp, I started ramping up other encounters. This has made for extremely challenging encounters that I'm now regretting. nobody has died, but boy, have the PC's been dropping a LOT. there have been 2 times now that a PC or animal companion has reached death 3 and it was only a miracle that they didn't die. Great drama - but I don't think it's good for EVERY. SINGLE. FIGHT.
  • Encounters are Deadly. with a level 1 or level 2 encounter with +11 to-hit, there are a LOT of crits. the last encounter I had had a [redacted] attack a group. 2 hits, 2 critical's, 2 PC's dropped. the party cleric commented "boy, I sure feel important in Pathfinder". he loves how important his battle medicine an healing is, but the others - not so sure...
  • my poor player playing a sorcerer - can't hit a damn thing. I think there have been 2 sessions, 8 hours of play, when not casting a magic missile spell is just getting frustrated with his failure to hit, and the monster's saves at everything else. The Ranger faced this as well this week - but has been a bit more effective overall. I don't know how to fix this right now. but who want's to play a PC that's consistently under-performing?
  • we all love how spell casting works. in fact, we all would have LOVED to have all spells follow the More Actions = Different effects model you see with Magic Missiles and heal as examples. IMO, this is as great a mechanic as the 3-action mechanic is, and I'd LOVE to see PF lean into this more!
  • we all love the 3-action system. the battlefields feel super dynamic. I don't normally see a fighter-type retreat off of the front line to go to the Cleric to get healing. normally I see a call for help for the Cleric go to the front line. Last session, the Monk got beat-up a bit, retreated back to the cleric, did a ranged attack, and waited. basically because with 3-actions, he felt confident that he could disengage, get help, and re-engage without sacrificing 2 turns or other actions.
  • Lots of rules are being missed. this is just mastery and the fact that I'm playing D&D and PF2e, and well, they are close enough that there is a lot of bleed from one system to another. Thank god for a couple of online sites where quick rule lookups can be made. the CRB is really good, but not good for quick checks - as there are so many if/then conditions that require referencing multiple sections to get the entire interaction.
  • Persistent damage is HARD. the Battle with [redacted], causes Bleed damage that accumulates. needing to succeed at a Flat DC 15 check = 75% chance of failure = HP's were draining really fast. and there's not a lot that can be done to mitigate this during combat. Sure, the cleric can Medicine skill but that only triggers a new check with a 75% chance of failure. Granted, 2 checks/turn is better than 1, but those are still tough odds! :)
  • we play pretty loose in Encounter mode and outside of combat for what Skills resolve and what you can do. I also play VERY loose with the Initiative rules. I literally had someone roll initiative using an attack roll because that PC was "Defending" before the encounter started. I'm trying very hard to be as flexible and creative here for PC's who come up with interesting tasks between encounters to reward their creativity but also really lean into a differentiation between systems. We've earned income using Religion to give sermons. we've used a background to also earn income. I know that this is not RAW, and kind of leans into House rule territory, but my instincts are telling me that the skills system is a framework for creativity and to reward the use of skills in non standard ways. doesn't this intrude on Feats? I have no idea. I guess I look at it this way. if you are someone good at driving, you may get lucky from time to time to swerve out of the way. if you are a trained stunt-driver, your training kicks in to swerve and it's a technique that you can recall. the difference is the difference between instinct and luck vs. training and knowing where best to apply your training. Can someone find a "loophole" to exploit a skill in lieu of investing in a feat? Sure! will they have fun and feel awesome? likely? will it break the game? I really don't think so. and for my home game, my only measure of success is for the players to leave the table at the end of a night happy, having had fun, and feeling like they accomplished something.

tl;dr: it remains a VERY fun to play and run system. there is general agreement that PF2e is very good. between sessions talk is turning more towards how to level and what to build - which is different/strange from a D&D perspective. combats are very tough - too tough the way I'm building them - and I need to make a few less challenging. what started as a potential 1-shot not knowing my players appetite for PF, has tuned into a group of 6 (myself included) non-PF players who are very engaged with this story and want to see it through, and is digressing into talking about what comes next, after Plaguestone ends. so, a win!

Cheers,

J.
 

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