log in or register to remove this ad

 

Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Review

Hey howdy my friends, it’s time for yet another PAIZO REVIEW! Today we’re cracking into a very exciting new product for all you Pathfinder 2E fans: it’s the Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide! Stuffed to bursting with new ancestries, backgrounds, classes, archetypes, and more, this new supplement offers excited players a truly staggering number of customization options. Let’s dig in!

p2apg.jpg

One of the most interesting themes that you might find throughout the APG is that a lot of the new options presented here have the “uncommon” keyword. Nominally, this means that they’re only available to characters with certain prerequisites, but in most of these cases these options are character-generation choices. In this case, GMs will have to decide if the options are appropriate for their campaign.

Amusingly, there is a sidebar on the first page discussing this issue! Interestingly enough this sidebar mentions how some ancestries normally considered Common are only thus in certain areas of Golarion – the halfling and dwarf ancestries have an Uncommon keyword in Tian Xia, for example. That said, rarer toys are always more exciting – how soon do you think it’ll be before you’re in a group, organized play or not, where everyone at the table has an uncommon ancestry, background, or both?

Also the GM in me is eternally grateful to the writers for including a reminder to readers that while yes, your new and shiny character is unusual and outcast in the typical Pathfinder world, you still need to work together as a party. Honestly, some players need a little bit more reminder in that lane regardless!

Onto the ancestries! I won’t go into too much detail here – each of the ancestries and backgrounds are fairly well-balanced and usually have interesting and thematic ancestry feats, so I’ll be focusing mostly on what really sticks out to me. For example, catfolk (and who’s surprised that catfolk are the first new ancestry available, really?) have a few feats that functionally amount to “what do we say to the god of Death? mmmmmmeeeeeyooow!”

The Kobold ancestry provides an example of an interesting and exciting character option I want to see more of. One of their ancestry feats gives them critical success if they roll success on certain saves, but also critical failure if they roll a failure on the same saves. I love the risk-reward aspect to feats like this, and I want to see more of that going forward!

The APG also provides new options for the ancestry options in the Core Rulebook. Some of these options seem…more powerful than others? Dwarves, for example, have feats that let them either a) see in magical darkness or b) add a pretty consistent flat bonus to their melee strikes? One of these seems more useful than the other. Humans get access to a feat that just begs to be used for a “you and what army” scenario, and goblins continue to be my favorite thing in Pathfinder with the description they get for loud singing.

There’s also a whole new bevy of backgrounds to choose from, both Common and Rare to choose from. I have to admit I’m rather amused by the Barber and Cultist background from the Common section, and of course we have Amnesiac to complete the “OC do not steal” bingo board that the rest of the book fills out.

Let’s move on to the new class options! Investigators get a special shout-out from me because they are now officially the top dog when it comes to being the party skill monkey. They get a skill increase every level! Honestly, a lot of their kit seems like a big pile of GM-frustrating nonsense, and I can tell it will require more cooperation with said GM or else it will feel like a lot of your kit is less than useful.

The Oracle class is a perfect example of the risk-reward gameplay I was talking about earlier! In first edition, the oracle curse was a bit of a static partner that only got less and less present as you get more powerful. Here, the curse is the source of the oracle’s power AND the resource they spend to cast focus spells. More debilitating, yes, but also more powerful! Whoever was working on the Oracle was having a lot of fun and is doing some serious flexing as a game designer.

Here is also where we finally find the option for evil champions, or for those of us stuck in earlier editions, blackguards (or antipaladins). These guys are some pretty hard-line dudes, though, so I don’t see them sticking in anything other than an evil campaign.

Finally, the last layer of customization is Archetype, and the APG has plenty to choose from. Honestly, by the time we get to archetypes, I’m a little exhausted by the incredible diversity of options that come through combining this with the already-full Core Rulebook. That said I’m morbidly curious to see how ridiculous a campaign it would make to have a party that takes more than just one feat per customization option – like, several ancestry feats, class feats, archetype feats in addition to rather than instead of class feats, so on. That way lies madness. That way lies gestalt.

I’m very impressed by the Advanced Player’s Guide. Paizo packs a lot into the 265 pages of content here and nearly everything in here sparks interest if not excitement for a new character or build. Definitely worth your time if you want to make a splash at your next table.
 
Ben Reece

Ben Reece

Retreater

Legend
I feel much the same way, though for me PF2 feeling more like 4e than 5e does isn't a good thing - mostly because 4e left me cold. But then things like the bounded accuracy and optionality of magic items in 5e were big selling points for me with 5e. They, among a few other things, are why 5e now slots higher on my list of favorite D&D editions than PF.
I get it, but I don't really feel a sense of advancement in 5e, and I think bounded accuracy is a part of that. Your attack bonus doesn't really change. Your Armor Class doesn't really change. The predominant currency of level in 5e is Hit Points, and it's not even really so much the damage you deal increases (unless you're a caster), just the ability to absorb damage until reaching 0 hp.
I'm really starting to come around to OSR for the selling points you mention for 5e, because at least those games are quick and simply. 5e is starting to feel too "middle of the road," and not really doing anything particularly well.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Teemu

Adventurer
My PF2 group consists mostly of 4E apologists who don't care for 5E. I think it's the level of crunch and tactical options that aren't in 5E. To me, PF2 feels more like 4E that 5E does (which isn't a bad thing). 5E feels like 2E to me.
I’m talking about things like skill check resolution. You try to find a hidden enemy? 4e and 5e, you roll the check and on success you know where the enemy is. PF2 it’s a secret check, and there’s 2 degrees of success. Want to let another PC know the location? In PF2 that’s a codified action, in 4e and 5e, eh, just wing it.

Conditions? PF2 has numerical values and keeps the 3e style penalties to specific ability checks from a particular condition. 4e and 5e are much simpler. Frightened? First, it has a value in PF2, then it will automatically decrease by 1 every turn. That’s much more complex than 4e or 5e. Blinded? Well, concealment is a different type of flat check in PF2 (like in 3e), and you’re also moving slower. 4e and 5e? Simpler and more abstract.

Mounted? Just move normally in 4e and 5e. PF2? Well, it’s a skill check to make the mount move... also, non-trained animals become frightened, and that doesn’t decrease like normal. And animals know specific tricks, which you have to make them do with checks, modified by their attitude. And feats to modify this. None of that in 4e and 5e.

Damaging items? Abstract in 4e and 5e (damage from monsters like rust monsters). PF2? Codified and part of every session with shields

Knowledge checks? Up to the DM in 5e, very simple in 4e. PF2 has a complex system where it’s a secret check, you spend an action, you can try again at a higher DC but only if you didn’t already fail, and the DC is modified by rarity—and what you know depends on degree of success.

This stuff extends to all systems in PF2 compared to 4e and 5e. I’m talking about the fundamental core systems. 4e and 5e are clearly from the same tree, whereas PF2 is from another one.
 

willrali

Explorer
I’m talking about things like skill check resolution. You try to find a hidden enemy? 4e and 5e, you roll the check and on success you know where the enemy is. PF2 it’s a secret check, and there’s 2 degrees of success. Want to let another PC know the location? In PF2 that’s a codified action, in 4e and 5e, eh, just wing it.

Conditions? PF2 has numerical values and keeps the 3e style penalties to specific ability checks from a particular condition. 4e and 5e are much simpler. Frightened? First, it has a value in PF2, then it will automatically decrease by 1 every turn. That’s much more complex than 4e or 5e. Blinded? Well, concealment is a different type of flat check in PF2 (like in 3e), and you’re also moving slower. 4e and 5e? Simpler and more abstract.

Mounted? Just move normally in 4e and 5e. PF2? Well, it’s a skill check to make the mount move... also, non-trained animals become frightened, and that doesn’t decrease like normal. And animals know specific tricks, which you have to make them do with checks, modified by their attitude. And feats to modify this. None of that in 4e and 5e.

Damaging items? Abstract in 4e and 5e (damage from monsters like rust monsters). PF2? Codified and part of every session with shields

Knowledge checks? Up to the DM in 5e, very simple in 4e. PF2 has a complex system where it’s a secret check, you spend an action, you can try again at a higher DC but only if you didn’t already fail, and the DC is modified by rarity—and what you know depends on degree of success.

This stuff extends to all systems in PF2 compared to 4e and 5e. I’m talking about the fundamental core systems. 4e and 5e are clearly from the same tree, whereas PF2 is from another one.

Definitely more to track — P2 needs a knowledgeable DM. Worth it in my opinion, for flavor, spice, and excitement.
 


Campbell

Legend
Pretty much every version of D&D is pretty damn prescriptive when it comes to combat. Pathfinder Second Edition stands pretty much alone among d20 games in the level of detail it provides for the other stuff that happens while adventuring. Skill feats are part of this.

The Pathfinder Second Edition handles skillls is almost the opposite to 4e's broad closed scene resolution mechanics (skill challenges). Its clearly defined skills with specific and explicit uses are about as far away from 4e's approach as you can get in a d20 game.

It obviously is not Blades in the Dark. It's not 5e either. It's still nothing like 4e in this department.

This cross edition comparison stuff really does us no good because we end discussing the veracity of the comparison rather than its content.

I personally find value in having a game that treats exploration and to a lesser extent social conflicts with mechanical rigor that makes high level characters feel sufficiently high level.
 

willrali

Explorer
I personally find value in having a game that treats exploration and to a lesser extent social conflicts with mechanical rigor that makes high level characters feel sufficiently high level.

This. And the system of critical success makes high level characters feel truly fearsome, which is something I deeply agree with.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
How do you know that the PF2 archetype/multiclass model is inteded to protect players from bad decisions? Did Paizo make an announcement during development somewhere.
FWIW, I don’t think it was an explicit design decision to protect players from bad decisions.

I do think that once you commit to 4-degrees of success (with +-10) AND to increasing all (trained) skills each time you level, you really have no choice but to keep character bonuses in a tight band (both above and below) if you don’t want the system to break.
 

Campbell

Legend
Level by level multiclassing constrains design so you cannot frontload a class. This means each level becomes a separate design task.

This is about having more freedom to design classes (especially martial ones) with exciting features from the get go. In a level by level game you would not get at will Rage at first level or have Fighters start with Expert proficiency in all weapons.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Level by level multiclassing constrains design so you cannot frontload a class. This means each level becomes a separate design task.

This is about having more freedom to design classes (especially martial ones) with exciting features from the get go. In a level by level game you would not get at will Rage at first level or have Fighters start with Expert proficiency in all weapons.
It's perfectly possible to do level by level multiclassing without that necessarily handing out all the front-loaded stuff.

Maybe not for a game of 5E's complexity level, but certainly for a game of PF2's.

There are many ways of accomplishing this. Just to mention one (with a simple 5E example):

5E Fighter level 2:
Prerequisite: a number of Fighter levels equal to a third of your character level (round down).
You gain Action Surge.

So a Paladin 7 would not gain Action surge by taking only two levels of Fighter, since at that time, the level 9 character needs 9/3=3 levels of Fighter. A Paladin 5, however, would - since a level 7 character needs only 7/3=2 levels of Fighter.
 

Rhianni32

Adventurer
Level by level multiclassing constrains design so you cannot frontload a class. This means each level becomes a separate design task.

This is about having more freedom to design classes (especially martial ones) with exciting features from the get go. In a level by level game you would not get at will Rage at first level or have Fighters start with Expert proficiency in all weapons.

yeah level by level games you would sometimes have that wasted dead level trying to get something interesting. It was boring.
 

Trastone

Villager
It's not overpowering core stuff as far as I can see. It's more there are a lot of cool options for players who want something 'out there'. Some people love non-demihuman ancestry options, and the APG has bird-people, cat-people, rat-people, orcs, and kobolds. The classes--Oracle, Investigator, Swashbuckler--are also definitively 'pathfinder' and less 'D&D' (the traditional classes are in the corebook).

The options for core classes more resemble what we see in the Xanathar and Mordenkainen books, though again, P2 has comparatively a lot of knobs and buttons to play with.

Frankly, it's a lot for GMs to know. But as a GM, I'm in the business of empowering my players, and I love the richness and texture it brings.

Edit: forgot the half-vampires. That got a lot more interest than I’d anticipated.

I’ll rely on my players to know how to play their characters- if something seems broken I’ll check, but as long as everyone is having fun I don’t care!!
 

qbalrog

Villager
Having not seen the core or this, is the change due to a few things out shining or overpowering the core stuff or just the appeal of something new?

I think it is because APG really fleshes the game out. It's sort of the best hits from 1E APG and 1E ARG. Most folks who like Pathfinder seem to like the customization and 2E APG really broadens the options. As an example, the archetypes before APG were of more limited appeal. APG has many to choose from, ranging from higher level prestige-class type (and being named for prestige classes of yore) and others are lower level customization options.

Honestly, while I have always liked the idea of 2E, I didn't jump into it because the core rules, while they introduced great concepts, didn't really offer anything neat to the mature 1E customization options. What first tipped me into starting earlier this year was the Lost Omen books which, while they only added so much, did at least flesh things out a bit more.

Even so, my current campaign was always setup as a "let's learn the new system game" and then restart in a year or so once more material comes out. The players consciously picked classes to try out things- like the druid trying out shapeshifting and the ranger trying out animal companions, something that in the past never really got lot of play in my groups (and we got back to OD&D). I personally want to try out the new familiars. They've done a good job making just about everything viable.
 

The archetypes from the APG have really been a huge breath of fresh air because they really work to let you move into whatever combat style you want. For instance, if you want your champion or monk to fight with two weapons, you can just dip into dual weapon warrior and can pick up feat support to do that, and they'll still feel different in play because of their differing base chassis-- the monk will be better at using Dual Weapon Blitz for instance, because of their higher base speed.

This ironically runs counter to the point some posters have tried to make in this thread: rather than simply being an avenue for shovelfuls of options to sell, PF2e has made it a point to introduce a system that will cut down on the eventual feat support certain concepts would need to function-- rather than have class specific options that have to be designed and sold separately, classes can share many of the options that support similar concepts.

Want a Paladin that fights as a duelist? No problem. Want a Barbarian that does? Still no problem, look for feats in the same place. The system has the side effect that even if you do use the same archetype to achieve the similar concept (Duelist of whatever class, Dual Weapon Warrior of whatever class), you may wind up taking very different feats from it.

This combined with the decision to place the bulk of power budget and power progression in the base class chassis gives us a lot of interesting character building decisions, with a controlled but still present variation in power between builds. You can do interesting things with system mastery in this game, but it won't let you wreck the game or leave your friends behind (provided they know not to dump their primary stat.)

While I wouldn't say it's necessary to use the system well, my group has, with the release of the APG, instituted Free Archetype to really leverage the archetype system to do interesting things. It makes some of the more niche archetypes more palatable in games that aren't entirely focused on making them useful (e.g. the Dandy Archetype that is more appropriate for a highly social game, is something my Sorcerer can take, without compromising on combat in my game, which features a lot of combat in the first place.)

The classes are really neat too, I knew I was going to love the Witch (and its going to be a vehicle for me to bring back a character I've been bringing back for the better part of a decade now) but I'm realizing how well the investigator fits me in both personality and play style, and its always a joy when that happens.
 

glass

(he, him)
My PF2 group consists mostly of 4E apologists who don't care for 5E. I think it's the level of crunch and tactical options that aren't in 5E.
"4E apologists'? For crying out loud, D&D 4e was an edition of an RPG, not a war crime. It doesn't have apologists, it has fans.

Anyway the reviewer expresses incredulity that Investigators get a skill increase every level, despite the fact that core Rogues already got this, so by itself it hardly makes the investigator "official top dog". I am sure I had other comments to make, but I can't remember them now (all the edition warring in the thread was kinda distracting).

_
glass.
 
Last edited:

marv

Explorer
What I appreciate about PF2 is that combats feel varied with plenty of meaningful choices for both players and GMs. And let’s not forget the superior campaign setting, which I prefer to use even when I run 5E.
 



Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement1

Latest threads

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top