Pathfinder 2E Pathfinder 2e: is it RAW or RAI to always take 10 minutes and heal between encounters?

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
There's a high degree of variability in how any given encounter might play out based on decisions players make inside and outside of the encounter in PF2. That does not mean the game is deeply flawed, just not well suited to the types of games some GMs want to run. The sorts of changes @CapnZapp wants to see would result in a game I personally would no longer enjoy. Our vision for what makes a roleplaying game compelling is just not compatible.

I do not think the criticism is groundless. I just think at the end of the day designers have to make tradeoffs. The price for how dynamic and mechanically deep the game is includes a pretty big difference in performance from group to group. You can adjust down the difficulty of the modules (and they probably should), but that variability will still be there because it is necessary if you want skill at playing the game to matter as much it does in PF2. Some priorities are going to win out and others will lose out. We do not get to have it all. That's why we have different games.

It's also not helpful to say that people who have positive experiences are coping. This is not about being blind to obvious gaping flaws. It's disagreeing over what is a flaw and what is a feature.
 

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Retreater

Legend
I think one contributing question I can add to the discussion is to ask Retreater if there have been any common causes to TPKs or anything in particular that causes a ton of pain. I would also love to see any recollection of combat specifics, if they can be remembered.
Let's see what I remember.

Of course, the specifics of combats are going to have spoilers. I'll try to not link them to actual adventures so maybe it doesn't give away all the surprises.

(I will also add that at least a few of these are because of errors I made as a GM - but to be fair, the rules and guidelines aren't presented terribly clear. And one misstep can make a TPK.)

The first TPK was with an extreme encounter - a solo baddy (a bargeist at level 2 or something).

So he's in the center of a room. You can't pass into the rest of the dungeon without dealing with him. The group went in without a lot of preparation, being new to the system, new to the party configuration, and not having had tactic training like "you need to demoralize, trip, etc. to have a chance against an enemy several levels above you."

Once the unreasonably high checks to roleplay past the encounter obviously failed, his insane crit damage dropped the warrior-types almost instantly. He was getting - on average - two crits a turn (even with his multiattack penalty) because his attack bonus as a higher level was just so much better than the party's defenses.

The next TPK happened a couple sessions later. This was due to some lightning-dragons. Apparently I misread their abilities to do something like "draconic fury" and wasn't applying the multiattack penalty at the right stage in the attack. (Some creatures let you apply multiattack penalty after all the attacks are made, but these specific ones did not.) We had a TPK, but after the error was brought to my attention, we "rewound" the fight and did it again. [So much for campaign continuity and immersion, but I guess it's better than two TPKs in two sessions.]

The next TPK happened the next session. The party was going through a temple and opened a door that triggered a magical hazard. The saves were already high enough that it was regularly doing critical damage to them, blinding them and causing some big damage. The door that they opened led into a room with cultists, so they obviously took advantage of the situation and started attacking the characters - since the module specifically said the cultists couldn't be harmed by the magical trap. (This was proof that the system can't handle two encounters being added together.)

The next TPK happened the next session. It was another solo baddy - like the bargeist. This time it was a hellhound. His DCs were so high the party was regularly crit failing their saves against his fire breath.

I think in each case it was possible that the party could've left a character or two to die and not stayed to fight in an attempt to save them. But in my experience, players will rather die as a team than run away and leave another character to die.

And yes, the party "would've/should've/could've" performed more tactically, identifying creatures, demoralizing, tripping, getting into perfect positioning for every encounter. But I'd like you to consider the composition of my group:

1) My brother-in-law, just there for the fun and to play with his family. You pretty much had to make his character for him and give him suggestions of what to do.
2) My wife, though enjoying tactics, doesn't spend considerable time out of the game reading message boards, watching tutorials on YouTube, etc.
3) My best friend, a casual player, who just wants to see what PF2 is all about. He frequently confuses editions (PF1, 5e, PF2).
4) Two players who did read up and study the game but wanted to test out a lot of options and try some unique builds just to put PF2 through the full playtest.

Few of them would be regular posters on here or care enough about a hobby like TTRPGs to devote hours every day studying the meta behind a game system. Paizo's design is clear that they don't care about these types of casual or new players. If they did - it wouldn't be so brutal.

When people suggest perfect tactics to have a thrilling, winnable game, they are excluding probably the majority of gamers and the potential audience.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
Shrug.

Just because "many people" aren't having this issue does not mean it doesn't exist.

Perhaps you're talking to mostly experienced GMs. Just to take one example.

How about you we instead discuss what the rulebooks actually say or doesn't say?

Do you acknowledge that my description is fair and representative, or not? And if you don't, can I ask you to point to the passages you claim adequately explains how PF2 encounters work in practical play, and what to do and not do?

Thanks

First you have to demonstrate what you're pointing out is in any particularly meaningful way relevant to your claim. You haven't done that.

Ask yourself the following question and answer it: "If you ignore the encounter balancing tool completely, how is it any harder to do sprawling overlapping encounters without it going badly?" If you can't answer that (beyond claims that PF2e is somehow intrinsically harder than prior editions, rather than the aimed difficulty being harder, which becomes irrelevant as soon as you ignore the encounter balance tools (unless that is, you buy into the 3e/PF1e era ability to cook the books on a character so thoroughly that no even vaguely reasonable looking encounter was genuinely a challenge)) then perhaps you have an argument. I haven't seen you do so.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I question the assumption that newbies or casual players are just going to walk straight into combat without trying to play their characters and that it’s somehow an advanced practice to do so. I’d expect if one set the scene as has been described, players would interact with it accordingly: a player with a sneaky character should want to sneak, party members will act according to their idioms, etc.

It seems like where Pathfinder 2e falls apart is when you don’t engage with all its systems. If you just fight things, it can go badly. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: that’s nothing new. Old-school D&D is the exact same way. A low-level party can no more take on a room with two guard patrols in classic D&D than they can in Pathfinder 2e.

Where PF2 falls short is in not giving enough advice for running encounters (to be fair, neither does 5e). Consider the example above of parlay with the ghouls or even having cultists take the PCs prisoner instead of just murdering them outright. That’s all useful GM advice, but games do an awful job of teaching you how to run them (system matters).
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Combat as War vs Combat as Sport has two sides of the coin. The first is playstyle, and the second is system. Playstyle can be adapted to any game to make it play like war and less like sport. System, however, is going to limit the ability for a true war like experience because it can bind the game into a sport like experience.

The designers have indicated that having encounter powers and healing topped off is expected. As GM, you can chain encounters and prevent the PCs from resting, but forcing a fight or flight decision matrix alone, does not a combat as war game make. If you want to move away from the design expectations you need a good grasp of the rule system and how to make it work that way. Of course, you can always give the players rope and let them hang themselves if they choose to. Though, not having a good grasp on how the system works is also problematic for players.

PF2 uses a level band to determine encounters. Easy/Moderate/Severe/Extreme/Impossible. Depending on where the PCs land on the chart is going to impact their ability to fight like a war. The higher up the band, the less effective maneuvers, spells, and attacks will be. There is nothing outside leveling that can change that. Any particular combatant is going to be effected by the degrees of success in a particular band. Crit fail/Fail, Fail/Save, Save/Crit save. Players can get items, use spells, and tactics that can give them much better chance within the degree of success band, but nothing that will allow them to change position within the band itself. Again, only leveling will move a character in the degrees of success band. Bounded Accuracy, for example, allows players at any level to apply environment, items, spells, maneuvers, tactics, etc.. and be potentially successful. Fights are difficult, nearly impossible, but still possible that are not remotely possible in PF2.

There is a poster I think that goes by MagicSword that wrote a great guide about how to run combat as sport systems in a combat as war playstyle. I'll try and find it. That is certainly up my alley. I believe it was Justice and Rule that asked me what I wanted to achieve.
The type of PF2 game that !DWolf is certainly one I want to achieve. Though, I still understand that PF2 is designed with combat as sport as a tenet from a system perspective.

EDIT: Here is the link for The-Magic-Sword's write up.
 
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Few of them would be regular posters on here or care enough about a hobby like TTRPGs to devote hours every day studying the meta behind a game system. Paizo's design is clear that they don't care about these types of casual or new players. If they did - it wouldn't be so brutal.

When people suggest perfect tactics to have a thrilling, winnable game, they are excluding probably the majority of gamers and the potential audience.
There were also two fights in AV (both solos) that probably would have resulted in multiple casualties if the monsters hadn’t (i) inexplicably decided not to focus fire; and (ii) decided not to pursue the fleeing party.

In both cases, these were higher level fights that also had resistances to the damage types used by the party while having vulnerabilities to damage types we couldn’t easily use.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
It strikes me as reasonable for monsters not to fight optimally necessarily. The same goes for fleeing. I’d expect it more likely that the average monster just wants the intruders out of its lair. Otherwise, a party could exploit that by luring the monster out and stealing all of its stuff while it’s gone.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
There were also two fights in AV (both solos) that probably would have resulted in multiple casualties if the monsters hadn’t (i) inexplicably decided not to focus fire; and (ii) decided not to pursue the fleeing party.

In both cases, these were higher level fights that also had resistances to the damage types used by the party while having vulnerabilities to damage types we couldn’t easily use.
One of the biggest bummers was finding our an enemy was weak against fire, but all your daily spells were useless and your best bet was spamming cantrips.
 

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