Pathfinder 2E Pathfinder 2e Newbie with questions.

Thomas Shey

Legend
I understand your concern, but this is a common misconception. It is not about limiting customization. It is about not letting customization negatively impact on-boarding (the new player experience). Setting these two in opposition is lose-lose for the game.

As you can see, I'm afraid I believe its just that. Can you point at an example of a game with decent, mechanically meaningful customization that does not have this problem? (I make no promises I'll agree with your characterization; note I carefully have inserted "mechanically meaningful" every time I've brought this up.)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Staffan

Legend
As you can see, I'm afraid I believe its just that. Can you point at an example of a game with decent, mechanically meaningful customization that does not have this problem? (I make no promises I'll agree with your characterization; note I carefully have inserted "mechanically meaningful" every time I've brought this up.)
The Troubleshooters produces mechanically distinct characters with significantly less crunch than PF2 does. Characters in the Troubleshooters are primarily mechanically distinguished by two things:
  • Skills. There's a list of 28 percentile-based skills. A character has 15 in skills they're unskilled in, the highest you can start with is 85, and the absolute max is 106 (although skills above 100 is mostly an academic matter given how modifiers work in the system). A character typically starts with 75 in one skill, 65 in four, and 45 in six.
  • Abilities. These are binary abilities, similar to feats, and usually tied to one or more skills. These provide differentiation between people with similar skills. Two characters might both have high Charm skills, but one might be Cheerful and have Empathy, and another might have a Pet and be an Animal Friend.
Note that the system don't have any direct analogue to traditional ability scores. Things like Strength or Agility are skills just like Melee or Vehicles, and there's no "flow" of ability from one to the other. You can be a huge circus strongman with great Strength and still leave your Melee skill at 15, or a tiny little judo master without any Strength skill at all but a very high Melee skill.

The game deals with onboarding by basically providing various tiers of complexity in character generation:
  1. The game comes with a set of seven pre-generated characters that are also included in demo materials.
  2. There are a number of templates that have most of the mechanical stuff done already and offer a limited list of options regarding abilities, gear, and so on.
  3. You can use a template as a starting point and modify it in various ways to match your particular vision of the character. For example, you might want to play a Student Athlete, so you start with the Elite Athlete template and swap out the Credit skill (you're on a scholarship, not a rich athlete with sponsorships) for Humanities (you need to keep your grades up, remember?).
  4. Finally you can build a character from scratch.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
But in practice, I think it is. Any customization with mechanical teeth is provide some degree of the two problems you mention, especially in the D&D-sphere. The only way to avoid it is to avoid there being any real decisions that matter.
The Beginner Box seems to do a decent job of narrowing the options without eliminating choice completely.

Basically, I'm not aware of a single game (in or out of the D&D sphere) with any degree of meaningful customization that doesn't create decision paralysis or some degree of attempt to cook the books. The first is most likely unavoidable, and the second is an intrinsic problem with some approaches to character creation. The only way to avoid them is to avoid any decisions that mean anything (or at least, to the degree you avoid them you reduce such meaningful decisions).
In our off weeks, my group plays an adventure board game called Middara. It has very crunchy character building. The way they handle onboarding is by starting you off with a set build depending on your character. After you graduate (quite literally in the story), you then get to rebuild your character how you’d like. That seems like a pretty decent approach. By the time we got to rebuild our characters, we had a feel for the system and how things worked. I think it would have been too intimidating if we were just dumped into all the options up front.

For Pathfinder 2e, one approach might be to start a new player off with a pregen then let them rebuild once they are comfortable with the system. You could tie to the completion of an adventure/milestone, but I don’t think that’s strictly necessary.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
The Beginner Box seems to do a decent job of narrowing the options without eliminating choice completely.

Note I never said it was all-or-nothing. Its absolutely a matter of degree.

But I don't think its that illogical to say the more you narrow the options you narrow the choices. Its pretty much a direct relationship.

In our off weeks, my group plays an adventure board game called Middara. It has very crunchy character building. The way they handle onboarding is by starting you off with a set build depending on your character. After you graduate (quite literally in the story), you then get to rebuild your character how you’d like. That seems like a pretty decent approach. By the time we got to rebuild our characters, we had a feel for the system and how things worked. I think it would have been too intimidating if we were just dumped into all the options up front.

For Pathfinder 2e, one approach might be to start a new player off with a pregen then let them rebuild once they are comfortable with the system. You could tie to the completion of an adventure/milestone, but I don’t think that’s strictly necessary.

That seems to be reasonable.

Edit: To add a specific comment, the virtue here is that you're not eternally stuck with a pregen structure just because it allowed initial buy-in to be easy. That's often a flaw in template and similar systems.
 
Last edited:

Thomas Shey

Legend
The Troubleshooters produces mechanically distinct characters with significantly less crunch than PF2 does. Characters in the Troubleshooters are primarily mechanically distinguished by two things:
  • Skills. There's a list of 28 percentile-based skills. A character has 15 in skills they're unskilled in, the highest you can start with is 85, and the absolute max is 106 (although skills above 100 is mostly an academic matter given how modifiers work in the system). A character typically starts with 75 in one skill, 65 in four, and 45 in six.
  • Abilities. These are binary abilities, similar to feats, and usually tied to one or more skills. These provide differentiation between people with similar skills. Two characters might both have high Charm skills, but one might be Cheerful and have Empathy, and another might have a Pet and be an Animal Friend.
Note that the system don't have any direct analogue to traditional ability scores. Things like Strength or Agility are skills just like Melee or Vehicles, and there's no "flow" of ability from one to the other. You can be a huge circus strongman with great Strength and still leave your Melee skill at 15, or a tiny little judo master without any Strength skill at all but a very high Melee skill.

I've encountered other systems that take that approach; most of the Third Eye Games take that tact.

In regard to the rest of this--again, I'm not suggesting this is a binary all-or-nothing--but the structure you describe does, to my view, provide less ability to distinguish characters than one that has more options. As I said, my position is that there's no level of customization you can't cut back and make for less design paralysis. But you won't eliminate it. Its simply a question of how much you're willing to sacrifice to reduce it how far.

I just place a great degree of value in customization, so I'm very aware of how these lines go, and its become very clear it really comes down to cost-to-value.

The game deals with onboarding by basically providing various tiers of complexity in character generation:
  1. The game comes with a set of seven pre-generated characters that are also included in demo materials.
  2. There are a number of templates that have most of the mechanical stuff done already and offer a limited list of options regarding abilities, gear, and so on.
  3. You can use a template as a starting point and modify it in various ways to match your particular vision of the character. For example, you might want to play a Student Athlete, so you start with the Elite Athlete template and swap out the Credit skill (you're on a scholarship, not a rich athlete with sponsorships) for Humanities (you need to keep your grades up, remember?).
  4. Finally you can build a character from scratch.

As I said to Keneda, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with any of that--but note that as you go up this list, the easier it is to onboard, the less options you've given them.
 

fjw70

Adventurer
I have been watching some PF2 videos on YouTube and it seems way more complicated than it need to be. For example, do we really need separate terminology for unnoticed and undetected?
 

I have been watching some PF2 videos on YouTube and it seems way more complicated than it need to be. For example, do we really need separate terminology for unnoticed and undetected?

They are two very different states, the problem is that there isn't really a good terminology to distinguish them. Unnoticed is that no one suspects anyone is there. Undetected is that you know something is there, but you have no clue where it is. Hidden is that you have a rough idea of where something is, and observed is that you know where it is.

Unnoticed: "I'm alone in the room."

Undetected: "I am not alone in the room."

Hidden: "There is someone behind the boxes over there."

Observed: "I can see someone behind the blue box over there."
 
Last edited:

fjw70

Adventurer
They are two very different states, the problem is that there isn't really a good terminology to distinguish them. Unnoticed is that no one suspects anyone is there. Undetected is that you know something is there, but you have no clue where it is. Hidden is that you have a rough idea of where something is, and observed is that you know where it is.

Unnoticed: "I'm alone in the room."

Undetected: "I am not alone in the room."

Hidden: "There is someone behind the boxes over there."

Observed: "I can see someone behind the blue box over there."
I wouldn’t say they are very different but there is a difference there. I am just not sure there needs to be a game terminology for both of them. The circumstances are going to distinguish them.

Are there any game mechanics that key off these two differently?
 

I wouldn’t say they are very different but there is a difference there. I am just not sure there needs to be a game terminology for both of them. The circumstances are going to distinguish them.

Are there any game mechanics that key off these two differently?

I mean, when you know an invisible person is in the room versus when you don't is the obvious one. Otherwise it acts as an intermediate step between "Guard doesn't know you are there" and "Guard has an idea of where you are". It's a useful step because when you mess up, unless you critically fail you have a chance to distract or simply avoid the guard rather than the guard immediately zeroing in on you.

So it's sort of like ablative stealth armor for players, giving them a chance to do something instead of getting immediately hemmed in. I've seen this happen in other games because there's no real guidance as to what to do on a stealth failure, and people instantly default "They know where you are" or "They have a good idea of where you are".
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Yeah, the answer is "We either have separate terms for the situations, or we just clumsily describe them". Both (and even to some extent all three) are not exactly uncommon situations. Its unfortunate that the terms are a little ambiguous, but language options are what they are.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top