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

If one is already implementing house rules, then the occasional conflict with options (particularly new ones) doesn’t seem like it should be a problem in practice. Just change the conflicting option or ban it. That’s how things typically go once one starts making substantive changes to a game. That strikes me less as a problem and more working as intended.

Or at least an intrinsic necessity when you houserule a game that has ongoing mechanical development.
 

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JmanTheDM

Explorer
sorry about the heavy edits. I hope I maintained the intent of your question. Jason Bulmahn in one of his Gencon presentations - I think it was his "ask paizo anything" panel, found on Youtube. in it, he was asked why he creates such hard adventures. laughter ensues, evil laughter.. but in it he does mention that if you come at PF2 with a PF1 mindset, you will run into trouble. one concrete example he gives is in the expected healing between encounters. he was explicit in saying the system expects full healing between encounters. So, I'd say this is fully Rules as Intended, but maybe not as clearly expressed as need be.

Cheers,
J.
replying to my own thread... I'm such an uncouth barbarian.

I was wrong. the video is Paizo: Gen Con 2021 | Know Direction Interview: Jason Bulmahn
here's the exact link Default Assumptions: Video starts at 8:31, key line is at 8:53'ish. seems pretty clear.

Cheers,

J.
 


Thank you Jman. I know that all systems have unstated assumptions but this feels like one that should have been included in print, at-least in the Gamemastry Guide. But I'm loving that I have a source for this and can help mentally remind myself for if / when I run a PF 2e game.

Unfortunately, unstated assumptions are things that creep into every design, but I'm not going to argue that people shouldn't have to figure this out by looking at the Medicine rules (though I don't believe there was any deliberate attempt to slip one past PF1e fans.)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
No no no. You're mistaking my point. I'm not talking about dungeon attrition, but something more long-term. You're right that conditions can totally do that, but that's short-term stuff like Vitality. I'm not as interested in that stuff, to be honest.

What I'm talking about is stuff that would keep players in place and resting, giving them a reason to actually have downtime when they might not necessarily want to. Like, real healing time. Strain in Worlds Without Number nails exactly what I'm talking about: it puts a limit on healing by making it so that you get a pool of healing equal to your Constitution, and that it recovers only once a day (potentially). To me, that's the attrition I'm looking for: you can run into some real s**** and you're unlikely to use all your heals in a single day. However, it might get dicey to continue pushing too hard. It creates a limit on both medicine and stuff like Cure Wounds spam and forces the party to actually recuperate.

Does that clear up what I'm talking about a bit?
Not sure. Perhaps.

I can tell you PF2 is not a good game for groups interested in exploring the "do we dare go on?" conundrum.

You need games that don't harshly punish players for pressing on a bit too far. Games that let you recover from such mistakes.

Games balanced around the single encounter just don't have that.

You are far better off with games balanced around concepts like "a day" or "a chapter of the story". Multiple encounters, that is. Games where any given single encounter might not be challenging in isolation, but might well be challenging when evaluated as a series of encounters with limited recuperation in-between.

A primitive but to-the-point example might be the now-old Dungeons & Dragons Online game where the challenge was to complete a given dungeon with the resources at hand. If you used up too many resources too fast you might find yourself unable to proceed, so you would give up and restart.

There is no free healing: no "time passes" and you slowly or quickly heal back up, regain spell slots etc.

In such a game encountering a group of lowly Goblins is not a waste of time even though you KNOW you will win any combat that breaks out, since even winning while taking moderate damage could be seen as a loss.

Pathfinder 2 is pretty much the opposite of this; where the focus is almost entirely on making each combat encounter fun and exciting in isolation. There are very few published scenarios where the author even attempts to string multiple encounters together in a balanced fashion.

Instead the game just pretends it's like Pathfinder 1 where there's nothing unreasonable with, say, having a couple of wandering monsters turn up during a fight. (Don't believe me? Read all the GM guidance of the CRB and GMG and get back to me.)

Is that on topic? (your topic that is)
 

Not sure. Perhaps.

I can tell you PF2 is not a good game for groups interested in exploring the "do we dare go on?" conundrum.

You need games that don't harshly punish players for pressing on a bit too far. Games that let you recover from such mistakes.

Games balanced around the single encounter just don't have that.

You are far better off with games balanced around concepts like "a day" or "a chapter of the story". Multiple encounters, that is. Games where any given single encounter might not be challenging in isolation, but might well be challenging when evaluated as a series of encounters with limited recuperation in-between.

A primitive but to-the-point example might be the now-old Dungeons & Dragons Online game where the challenge was to complete a given dungeon with the resources at hand. If you used up too many resources too fast you might find yourself unable to proceed, so you would give up and restart.

There is no free healing: no "time passes" and you slowly or quickly heal back up, regain spell slots etc.

In such a game encountering a group of lowly Goblins is not a waste of time even though you KNOW you will win any combat that breaks out, since even winning while taking moderate damage could be seen as a loss.

Pathfinder 2 is pretty much the opposite of this; where the focus is almost entirely on making each combat encounter fun and exciting in isolation. There are very few published scenarios where the author even attempts to string multiple encounters together in a balanced fashion.

Instead the game just pretends it's like Pathfinder 1 where there's nothing unreasonable with, say, having a couple of wandering monsters turn up during a fight. (Don't believe me? Read all the GM guidance of the CRB and GMG and get back to me.)

Is that on topic? (your topic that is)

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I mean, first off I disagree with what you are saying: you can totally do that in PF2, but the CHALLENGE RATING is specifically balanced off being fresh. So yes, you can totally do that sort of stuff, but if you take into account the idea that the players may attempt to do a whole dungeon in a day, you have to take that into account. To me, that's fine: I can more easily eyeball those things when there are clear expectations given around what CR is meant to be, compared to the nonsense of 5E where the adventuring day is nonsense and the CRs just not good. And even with that I can still (kind of) run that sort of game in 5E.

But you're still not really getting what I'm talking about and I'm not sure how to make it clearer. Like, what I'm talking about is that there is cost to continuing on in that you are spending a resource that will require multiple days to recover and will possibly impede you going forward. This is what Strain is: you can use it almost all up and totally do a bunch of things in a single day... but because it recovers at a pace of 1 a day, you could potentially be down a week or more if you want to safely continue adventuring. With that system in place, it doesn't matter how much healing you have, it doesn't work if you don't have enough strain to actually use it.

Maybe giving an example will make this clearer: so we have a party of 4 players: Khargin Orcslayer (Con 18), Nia Leaftree (Con 14), Wilbo the Burgler (Con 10), and Sister Hamza (Con 12). Each player has a Strain equal to that of their Constitution.

These players get into a fight and it's not terribly bad. To get their HP back up, Khargin heals up 3 times, Nia 4 times, Wilbo 2 times, and Hamza 2 times.

So now their Strain is at 15 for Khargin, 10 for Nia, 8 for Wilbo, and 10 for Hamza. That's the total amount of times they can be healed at all at this point. Even if Hamza uses lay on hands and refocuses, even if Nia uses Medicine repeatedly, they have a limited amount of times they can actually get life back. Right now they are at a fairly safe level, so they push on.

Now they get into a rough one. At the end, Khargin needs 7 heals, Nia needs 4, Wilbo needs 5, and Hamza needs 4. So now Khargin can be healed 8 times, Nia 4 times, Hamza 6 times, and Wilbo 3 times. So if Wilbo needs to be healed more than 3 times, he can't be no matter what. They can still continue on, but it's likely to be the last time they do for a while, and if Wilbo gets really beaten up, it could be bad. Remember, you only get 1 Strain back a day, so if you use it all up, it'll restrict your ability to heal for a while. They might well want to hang back and build a nice buffer.

To me, that idea sounds awesome. Suddenly the adventurers might take two or three days of rest (even in the wilderness) because they want to have enough healing to make it through a bad encounter. Healing from resting (which I'd say doesn't use Strain) suddenly becomes an option because your party might actually need it or opt to use it instead of healing up quickly. It completely changes the nature of the game in exactly the way I want it to.

Plus you can toss on a bunch of limiting factors: are you wounded? Well, you need to remove that Wounded condition before you can get back Strain. Fatigued? Same deal. As a resource pool, I think it works fantastically and can link back to a bunch of different things. Really just talking about this makes me want to just write this all out because I think it's fantastically cool.

So yeah, hopefully that outlines what I'm talking about.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
I now understand enough to say that when I responded to you in the first place, I was talking about what Pathfinder 2 offers. I now realize you mentioned this "strain" thing already back then, but I didn't intend to reply to that part. I replied to the audience - what Pathfinder 2 offers in terms of longer-term attrition than the single encounter, is conditions. Cheers

My point was to make clear that the traditional approach, to shave off a couple of hit points to make the next fight more exciting doesn't work in this game. You gotta go conditions. It's the only tool Paizo provides for attrition that keeps the combat reasonably well calibrated. (And no, the gamesmaster advice does not tell you this in a clear and direct way. I just did, though.)

I have nothing to add when you start talking about "challenge ratings". It's a D&D term not part of Pathfinder 2.

I know Paizo sells this game as "just another D&D game" (with the implication you can use it for all sorts of game styles, much like how 5E or OSR or AD&D can lend itself to other playing styles)... buuut hard nope - that's just not the case at all. PF2 is spectacularly inflexible in a surprising number of regards. Any time you need something significantly different than the house "combat as sports" dungeons of the APs, that is, gameplay focused around strings of individually challenging combat encounters, I think you are MUCH better off using a different game as your starting point. There are just way too many game choices (like feats) that get invalidated (sometimes with you not realizing it until much later) as soon as you try to play it significantly differently.
 


Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Me experience differs. I actually think PF2 is not particularly well suited to the sort of set piece combat encounters we often see in the APs. My best experiences with the game come from leaning into things like exploration mode, like managed recovery, monsters that make use of long term afflictions, etc. When you embrace the entire game it plays much better in my experience.
 

Retreater

Legend
Me experience differs. I actually think PF2 is not particularly well suited to the sort of set piece combat encounters we often see in the APs. My best experiences with the game come from leaning into things like exploration mode, like managed recovery, monsters that make use of long term afflictions, etc. When you embrace the entire game it plays much better in my experience.
Having only the APs and individual modules to go on as examples, I'm curious about your experiences. What do you mean by managed recovery? What are some monsters that have long term afflictions?
 

Teemu

Adventurer
Using officially published rules, you could get a daily attrition through stamina (because of resolve points), which you could adjust by reducing resolve recovery to 1 per day, for example. If that feels too punishing maybe the PCs have double the resolve, but still only recover 1 per day. Or you add Con mod to your pool of resolve. So on and so on.

Also, it’s not really true that there’s 0 attrition in the default rules. Casters do run out of spell slots, which are a daily resource. Battle medicine can be a daily resource. If you have 0 heal spells or no battle medicine targets available, that severe encounter could prove pretty tough
 


JThursby

Explorer
Me experience differs. I actually think PF2 is not particularly well suited to the sort of set piece combat encounters we often see in the APs. My best experiences with the game come from leaning into things like exploration mode, like managed recovery, monsters that make use of long term afflictions, etc. When you embrace the entire game it plays much better in my experience.
I lean towards the same line of thinking. I don't think it's a coincidence that the most popular AP (now sold out, being reprinted as a hardcover) is Abomination Vaults, which essentially uses these systems more by just being a traditional dungeon that players take at their own pace.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Me experience differs. I actually think PF2 is not particularly well suited to the sort of set piece combat encounters we often see in the APs. My best experiences with the game come from leaning into things like exploration mode, like managed recovery, monsters that make use of long term afflictions, etc. When you embrace the entire game it plays much better in my experience.
That might well be true.

Still, a publisher not showcasing its game's true strengths is far from ideal.

The gamesmaster advice sure doesn't say much about this.
 

JThursby

Explorer
That might well be true.

Still, a publisher not showcasing its game's true strengths is far from ideal.

The gamesmaster advice sure doesn't say much about this.
It’s typical for a new system. I remember how lack luster the early 5e adventures were, they got better as the writers (well, mostly Chris Perkins tbh) grew more comfortable within the system. The first adventure paths paizo released were made for a system that was effectively 7 years old and played and understood by everyone in the industry, so their initial quality is aberrant. I imagine that as pf2e is more understood as a system the quality of adventures will rise. They should also get James Jacobs to be more active in AP development in general, I’ve always found he knows how to utilize the systems and narrative tools of the game and setting to their fullest, both in 1e and 2e.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
No that won't do.

Gamesmastering 5E is easy and straight-forward.

Gamesmastering PF2 is full with hidden holes you can easily fall into.

Good GM advice is much more needed in PF2. But the actual advice Paizo gives is much less relevant for the game at hand. The CRB and GMG both reads as if written for a game like 3E/PF1 (or even 5E), than the game actually offered; PF2.

This is not something we should relativize as "both games started out rough but became better after time."
 

Gamesmastering 5E is easy and straight-forward.

Gamesmastering PF2 is full with hidden holes you can easily fall into.

You can't make this statement when 5E's CR system is a complete mess and the system barely gives guidance or systems for things like skills. 5E's "ease of play" comes from people having years of DMing under their belt, not from what is actually in the game: if you have no experience in actually DMing, you won't have the instinct to know what a monster can actually do compared to what they say it will, and I know this because I've had to help people unfamiliar with roleplaying on how to DM a game in the system. And that's before we have to get to the player management side of GMing, given that there's wide variances in how well classes and subclasses can perform in the system.

What makes 5E "easy" is largely having years of instinct of how to do things in RPGs. The problem is that you need to have that because the system itself does not do a good job of giving an accurate picture of things like monster difficulties.
 

!DWolf

Adventurer
Me experience differs. I actually think PF2 is not particularly well suited to the sort of set piece combat encounters we often see in the APs. My best experiences with the game come from leaning into things like exploration mode, like managed recovery, monsters that make use of long term afflictions, etc. When you embrace the entire game it plays much better in my experience.
I disagree slightly. I have run a fair number of set-pieces and I think PF2e is excellent at running them (especially compared with my experiences with 1e).

Speaking of styles/types of play and what the game is good at, though. Here is a rundown of the ways I have played Pathfinder 2e and how I would rate them. The rating is completely subjective and based on how much fun I had running that style of game in Pathfinder 2e.



1. Dark Souls– I take a map of a fairly large area/structure, print it out at scale and seed it with plots, interesting NPCs, secrets, shops, etc. for the characters to discover. Think the tabletop version of a dark souls or bloodborne game with much less combat: usually the only combat is what the character's decisions lead too and combat is avoidable.

Rating: 10/10. This style works fabulously, I just sit back and the game practically runs itself as the players explore.



2. Urban Occult/Investigation– I take a city-scale map, divide it into districts, create a random encounter table for each district, and then place a node based mystery/investigation scenario (or two, or three) on top of it (such as Carrion Hill which if you like Actual Play podcasts, do yourself a favor and check out the Swords of Nerdom's fantastic play through of it). Because the players are split-up most of the time, combat is either encounters that can be resolved quickly or elaborate set-pieces (for example the Vat works in Carrion Hill) that the players need to discover and reunite to tackle.

Rating: 9/10. This style works fantastically once it is prepped. The only problem is the prep time: because it is non-linear all the nodes have to be prepped before starting and elaborate combat set-pieces need a fair chunk of time to design and prep. It is far faster to prep than pf1e though: in pf1e I would have to do multiple test runs/revisions over a couple days to make sure the results were somewhat reasonable while in pf2e I can get superior results in a couple of hours.



3. Hex-based Survival – This was survival on an island. I used hardcore survival rules (tracking food, water, disease exposure) calibrated to be unwinnable without exploration. The island was a small-area hex map with lots of keyed locations for the characters to discover and explore and a static monster population so that over time the island got less dangerous. Random encounters were used to foreshadow dangers, indicate nearby places of interest, and simulate monsters wandering away from their lairs. Keyed location set-pieces were ran on maps while other encounters were ran theater of the mind.

Rating: 9/10. Fantastically fun. Would run again, though it suffers from the same prep problem as the Urban Occult/Investigation scenario.



4. "Old-School" Dungeon Crawling – I take an old-school dungeon, shrinking it down in both scale and by removing/rearranging things to make them more compact and less linear. I then run it totally theater of the mind with emphasis on out of combat-decision making and environmental exploration and manipulation. To keep up the pacing I use lots of simple to run combats: one or two unique creatures or up to four of the same creatures (I use troops if there are more than that) with a bimodal difficulty distribution, either easy/trivial or severe. I don't use random encounters as I found that shrinking down the scale and running the dungeon dynamically (creatures move around) gets similar results with less mental overhead on my part and makes attrition a feasible strategy.

Rating: 8/10. These are fantastically fun to run and the conversion is extremely simple. I gave it an extra rating point from the sense of nostalgia I got when running them.



5. "Modern" Dungeon Crawling – This is what you find in new adventures/APs like Abomination Vaults. If in doubt look at consecutive encounters: if the authors are deliberately switching types (say social, combat, puzzle, stealth, social->combat) then it is probably what I would classify as a modern style dungeon. These also tend to have player-facing maps and more/more elaborate set-piece combats than most old-school dungeons. I have found that I need less prep for these than old-school dungeons, mostly just increasing foreshadowing/verisimilitude slightly and making a GM copy of maps with lairs and starting monster locations indicated.

Rating: 7/10. They are pretty fun and run well.



6. Closed Location Based Horror – I build an interesting environment such as a small town or haunted house, make a horrifying overwhelming monster that can't be fought directly (very easy with pathfinder 2e), and let the characters explore an environment while being stalked by the monster.

Rating: 6/10. Pathfinder 2e's system makes it possible to easily run this type of game (as opposed to every other version of D&D which fails hard at it), though I only really run them as one-shots because bad choices easily lead to PC death and, if I am going to be running a one-shot there are more appropriate systems out there. Still, I had a lot of fun running them (and am going to be running another one for Halloween this year if things go as planned).



7. Wilderness Travel – This is travel to distant places along a predetermined, but flexible route. To make it interesting I use expeditions with a morale/intraparty conflict system and lots of encounters and hazards that the characters get to decide how to engage with/avoid.

Rating: 6/10. The system works pretty well but too much travel gets a bit monotonous and the characters ability to explore is too limited for my taste. I found that breaking the travel up with other types of play (they get to a village that has an investigation/mystery in it for instance) for a session or two makes it work a bit better. Still pretty fun to run.



8. Railroad Wilderness Travel – I am currently running this. Basically travel along a fixed route, with no deviation possible. Combat is set pieces that are encountered along the railroad. I am trying to maintain player engagement with intraparty conflict (which my players have been extremely good at shutting down so far), persistent enemies that stalk the players over long periods of time that degrade moral leading to more intraparty conflict, and a mystery as to what exactly happened to previous groups traveling down the river.

Rating: 4/10. I find it very difficult to give my players interesting decisions with this style of play and I'm not very happy with the way it is going from a player engagement perspective. It is still fun though, I just find myself quickly exhausted trying to keep player engagement and energy up. I am probably going to experiment with how I run the morale system to try and make it a bit harder for players to keep on top of morale. Maybe stress ratings for each NPC and then having set-piece events with stress rating results baked in based on the decisions that the characters take.



9. Speed Dungeoneering — this is a style of game session I used in PF1e. I would take a dungeon, create printouts for all the encounters, grab a large chessex battle map (partially predrawn) and we would blitz through an entire dungeon in a single session. The dungeon was run statically. Out of combat one player would determine the groups actions (after a quick discussion if it wasn’t obvious). It worked because most of the dungeons had very little of interest besides encounters and very linear structures (perhaps a single A/B choice to proceed). Additionally, with PF1e everyone had solved the combats before it started and they were just executing predetermined actions, so combat was incredibly fast (unless I spent an incredible amount of effort designing them). With a couple of surprises, traps, and twists sprinkled in here and there, these were engaging and fun to run, though I was exhausted by the end of them from keeping the pace fast enough and the energy up.

Rating: 1/10. This was fun in PF1e, I couldn’t even begin to get this to work in PF2e.
 

payn

Legend
You can't make this statement when 5E's CR system is a complete mess and the system barely gives guidance or systems for things like skills. 5E's "ease of play" comes from people having years of DMing under their belt, not from what is actually in the game: if you have no experience in actually DMing, you won't have the instinct to know what a monster can actually do compared to what they say it will, and I know this because I've had to help people unfamiliar with roleplaying on how to DM a game in the system. And that's before we have to get to the player management side of GMing, given that there's wide variances in how well classes and subclasses can perform in the system.

What makes 5E "easy" is largely having years of instinct of how to do things in RPGs. The problem is that you need to have that because the system itself does not do a good job of giving an accurate picture of things like monster difficulties.
It's true that 5E and PF1 have variable difficulty that the CR systems dont capture accurately. This can be very difficult for new GMs and players and cause a bit of frustration. For the experienced though, it can be interesting from a game perspective since fights can often be unpredictable.

In PF2, I know exactly how every +3/4 level fight is going to go. Its very predictable and reliable, but if that's fun or not depends if you like that set up.
 

JThursby

Explorer
In PF2, I know exactly how every +3/4 level fight is going to go. Its very predictable and reliable, but if that's fun or not depends if you like that set up.
Personally I find predictable to be antithetical to fun, and it’s something that poses a bit of a challenge within 2es encounter rules. Making a balanced encounter the players can win if they are paying attention is rather easy, but overused it makes encounters incredibly boring. I’d rather give some slightly too easy encounters mixed with slightly too hard ones and let the players be responsible for setting the pace of exploration (with an incentive to not overly rest recovery of course.)
 

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