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Pathfinder 2E's New Death & Dying Rules; More on Resonance

It's another day, and that means another round of Pathfinder 2nd Edition News! Today's menu includes more discussion on resonance, followed by the main course -- the new rules for death & dying! All added, as ever, to the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Compiled Info Page!

It's another day, and that means another round of Pathfinder 2nd Edition News! Today's menu includes more discussion on resonance, followed by the main course -- the new rules for death & dying! All added, as ever, to the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Compiled Info Page!


Photo by Paizo

  • There are Pathfinder Playtest pro-order posters at the GAMA trade show. See above! And below...
  • Gnome Stew reported on the Future of Pathfinder seminar at Gary Con. Mainly stuff we've heard before, but there are some new tidbits:
    • Shadow of the Demon Lord, white-box D&D, Magic: the Gathering, Tales from the Loop, and Star Trek Adventures were all referenced during development.
    • The item (shield) damage system has a name -- it's called "dented".
    • Some "signature gear" can level up with your character.
    • "Background will grant a specific Lore, which is similar to a specialized knowledge skill, such as Lore—Alcohol being granted to a character with barkeep as a background".
  • Resonance proved divisive yesterday.
    • Jason Bulmahn weighed in on the heated discussion -- "Hey there all! Let's all just take a breath here before things get too heated. Resonance is a system that we knew was going to come with some controversy. It's really hard to give you a full sense of what the system allows us to do with the design space without going on a deep dive on magic items. This is a topic we are going to hit soon, so hang in there. I will say this before I go to run more demos at GAMA. Players have rarely run out of resonance in our games, and there is a lot more healing to go around than you might think."
    • Class features don't use Resonance -- "We avoided making class features that use Resonance Points unless they're directly tied to items. Resonance is a resource for items thematically and specifically. If you have abilities from a bloodline, you'll have to pay for those some other way..." (Bonner)
    • "...we've had some delightful occultist-based thought experiments based on some of these ideas as the "kings of resonance."[FONT=&amp] (Seifter)[/FONT]
    • Bulmahn commented -- "Hmm... I keep seeing posts that tracking one pool of points is too fiddly. It's odd, considering that it's meant to replace a system where everything had its own personal system of usage with times per day, total charges, and time based limits. Of course, I have plenty of reservations about this particular mechanic. We're definitely pushing the envelope here, but fiddly is not the complaint I expected to see so frequently."
  • New Dying Rules! "RumpinRufus" reported on how they worked in the live streamed game at the GAMA trade show:
    • There are no negative hit points - if you take damage equal or greater than your HP, you go down to 0 HP and get the Dying 1 condition.
    • If a crit knocks you to 0, you gain Dying 2 instead of Dying 1.
    • Each round, you must make a save to stabilize. The save DC is based off the enemy - a boss may have a higher death DC than a mook, so you are more likely to be killed by bosses.
    • If you reach Dying 4, then you are dead.
    • If you make the stabilize check, you gain a hit point, but are still Dying. If you make another save at 1 HP, you are no longer Dying, and you regain consciousness.
    • If an ally heals you while you are Dying, you still have the Dying condition, even though you have positive HP. You still need to make a stabilize check to regain consciousness. But, once your HP is positive, you are no longer at danger of death from failing your checks - failing a stabilize check just means you stay unconscious.
    • The Stabilize cantrip puts you at 1 HP.
    • Mark Seifter further added -- "If you get well and truly annihilated by an attack, you die instantly. Even a 1st PC could probably insta-kill a kobold grandmother, even if the GM chose for full tracking of unconscious and dying NPCs."
  • Erik Mona on monster books again, and how self-contained stat blocks will be -- "I don't think we've fully committed one way or the other yet. The playtest monster book is going to be mega stat block dump without a lot of description of what, say, a skeleton looks like or eats. :) As for special abilities and how they're formatted, while I know the design team has been hard at work on this stuff, I haven't interacted with it too much yet (I just finished going through magic items last night!)."
  • Both Erik Mona and James Jacobs feel strongly about the presence of more outsider types on the summoning lists -- "No, actually, James Jacobs and I also feel very strongly about this. Very strongly."
  • Logan Bonner comments on complexity, options, and the 'cognitive load' -- "We're keeping it in mind for sure. That's one reason we've rejiggered the number of bonus types, altered the action economy to make choice clearer, and (at least mostly) made it so you have options for static feats instead of only giving options to expand your list of actions. We'll see in the playtest whether that mix is right."
  • Logan Bonner informs us that coffee and tea have been added to the Playtest Rulebook.
  • Mark Seifter on how corruption could work "...gaining a corruption could unlock a new set of ancestry feats, as your fundamental nature has shifted."


Photo by Paizo

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Dusty Dragon
I do have to say that having a "two steps" mechanism to revive - you need positive HP AND you need a save/spell/something to lose the dying condition... that may be a good thing. I'm not sure I like the 5e "go down, pop up again" results...


Frankly, I'll likely just ignore Resonance altogether (how easy/difficult that will be depends, I suspect, mostly on how integrated it is in the rules overall). Much like I completely ignore Attunement in 5e. I find the concept for "typical" magic items absurd. Relics/artifacts...now that is where it works for me. Relics/artifacts tend to be sentient or near sentient...or more basically have a "sense" for whomever tries to use them. For those I can absolutely see a "getting to know you" period of adjustment. For non-artifact magic....no.

Personally, I find the level of useful/enjoyable/whatever complexity depends on where it is. Outside of the game session, for example during character creation and leveling, a lot of complexity is a good thing. In play when deciding what to do, you really want far less complexity but a little is nice (and where I can see PF2 and 5e playstyles serving different audiences nicely).

The biggest problem comes up in complexity of a particular action. Once I decide I want to do something, there should be very little complexity at all since that’s where the game bogs down. 5e went spretty extreme here with just advantage/disadvantage and trying to eliminate every floating bonus they could since 3.x and PF1 could easily get overwhelmed with +1 for this , +2 for that (but does it stack?), since you did that it’s a -1, etc. Complexity in that area of the game is rarely fun and worth it.

Sounds like they are going in the right direction of decreasing complexity within actions but preserving or even increasing complexity outside of play.

I think increasing meaningful choice is the area complexity pays off.

I really like the 3 action ideea of pf2 and i think it has the potential to be a great mechanic. It gives a very wide range of options that a player needs to decide on and it makes the game tactical and interesting. Plus class feats and interaction with the 3 action economy really increases the scope of different characters to play different in combat.

The dying rules are ok at the moment, but also seem to have too much complexity for not a lot of good gain. Deeath savees depending on the monster that took you to 0? I dont see the value in that as it doesnt give any interesting choice or even feel thematic. It just creates another number to keep track of. Thats what even many pathfinder fans already complain of, so i think theyd do well to be mindful of that


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
For a company that claims they are not inspired by 5e, pf2 sure have a lot of mechanics that sounds very 5e...

13th Age is a d20 OGL that was out in playtest before D&D Next, (and in production before 5e). 5e shares a lot of concepts with it. This isn't because 5e copied them from 13th Age, but because there were ideas in the industry, and problems that needed to be solved. That PF, another d20 OGL, encountered the same sort of problems and similar types of answers can easily be explained by parallel evolution.

For example, let's look at "Christmas tree of magic items" that gamers were not fond of.

13th Age gave every item a quirk, and if you have more items then levels (it's only a 10 level game), the quirks take over. All consumables are one-shots, there are no 50 charge wands.

5e made some items attunement, and you only have 3 attunement slots. Plus daily usable charges on consumables was greatly reduced.

Pathfinder has resonance points, where your permanent magic items eat up a chunk per day, and that's also the resource used to activate consumables.

Three solutions that are close, because all three are solving the same problem.



I actually thought the resonance system seemed rather intuitive, not fiddly. Still people will complain about everything.

The death rules seem rather fiddly and I'm not wholly clear on if say, you hit Dying 2, and then save, you're still Dying 2 but unconscious, or if you're Dying 1, or some other kind of "dying", the use of lower-case seems to imply you no longer have the condition?


For example, let's look at "Christmas tree of magic items" that gamers were not fond of.

I have a question here, because I have been wondering if this is actually a problem in Pathfinder or not. Are people actually complaining about the Christmas Tree effect in Pathfinder? Or is this a perceived problem that is being carried over from other d20 games and there's an assumption that there's a problem?

I ask because I can't believe that gamers are uniform in their hatred of the 3e Magical Item Christmas Tree effect. There have to be a portion of gamers who actually like it because there isn't anything in D&D that gets 100% uniformity of opinion. Maybe they're a tiny group, but I expect them to exist.

And if they exist I'd expect that they might have migrated to Pathfinder. Because that's the system that supports that style of play. So I'd be curious to know if it's actually perceived as a problem at the table for Pathfinder groups, or if it's a feature, or if it's not something anyone thinks about because it's just "how the game is played" and they work around it.

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