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Pathfinder Beginner Box Review

Hello buckaroos! We return once again from the feet of the golem with a new PAIZO PRODUCT REVIEW! Today we’re looking at the new Pathfinder Beginner Box, Paizo’s latest in a hugely successful line of products for newcomers to our hobby. Spoiler alert: they’ve got another success on their hands. Let’s get into it!

PZO2106 PF2 Beginner Box 1200x675.jpg

First Impressions​

We start off this box review with an initial impression, and the initial impression is good! Bright, colorful, cheerful lettering, and a good heft—all things that say “good RPG thing must buy” to my primal dicegoblin brain. Upon first opening, we see a bag of dice, a bag of token bases, and a handful of small inserts culminating in a page that says READ THIS FIRST.

Of course I do not READ THAT FIRST! I huck the token bases to the side and take a gander at the dice. One each of d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20, each in strong, single colors with clear lettering. I’m of mixed mind on these dice. On one hand, I appreciate a grab-bag approach to starter dice: my first starter set in a beginner box had mixed colors, and non-uniform dice to me makes them easier to share. That said, the bright primary colors evoke a handful of crayons, and while beginner boxes are in part meant to accommodate a younger audience and get them excited, I think the color-scheme may be skewing a bit young. The Crayola colors are easily forgiven as soon as you dig past the READ THIS FIRST page and you see the character sheets with delightful reference images for each of the dice—but we’ll get to the character sheets in a bit. I only have a few minor issues left with the dice. This is a bit snobbish, but I consider any dice set that doesn’t have two d10 and four d6 to be incomplete. Also, I’d prefer a resealable dice bag over the disposable one: my first set of dice from my beginner box is down to just five dice from the original ten because they spent their lives rattling around loose in their box.

Now, the inserts! A little postcard lets you know that there’s a custom Syrinscape playlist for the adventure contained within. Neat! The other postcards are player reference cards, which are about the best attempt at getting new players over the fairly steep Pathfinder learning curve I’ve seen yet. That said, there is a bit of a shock when you turn them over and are greeted with a wall of text. Finally, the READ THIS FIRST page is short, sweet, and to the point, laying out how to approach the Box as a solo player or with a group of players.

Character Sheets​

Below the READ THIS FIRST we have the character sheets, and here’s where the Box starts to show its hand a bit. You’re clearly meant to use this with a group of players, as it’s those pregenerated character folios which appear before the Hero’s Handbook which contains the solo adventure. That said, I have quite a lot of good things to say about these character sheets. Cover page features a name, a class, a huge splash art of the character’s portrait, and a quick description to help potential newcomers choose their playstyle.

Like the reference cards, the meat and potatoes of the character sheets can seem like an overwhelming barrage of information, but thankfully a solid half of that text is dedicated to explaining and leading a new player through the rather complicated process of understanding a Pathfinder character sheet. Truly excellent layout design is on display here—little coordinating lettered yellow circles lead the reader easily from explanation to relevant box, and the most-used sections of the sheet (AC, hit points, so on) are boxed out in red to stand out from the regular black. As I said before, there’s a handsome little sidebar displaying each of the dice available and their abbreviations—excellent! Also, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this on a Pathfinder character sheet before, but these now have a space for personal pronouns! Finally, the layout artist gets a cheeky point from me for putting a few characters of character history on the back page of the folio—literal backstory.

As an aside: Wayne Reynolds' art maintains his high level of technical excellence, but there’s something repetitive about the characters' poses. This all stands in contrast to the cover art for the Hero’s Handbook, done by Ekaterina Burmak. The character posing here helps focus the eye on defining aspects of each character: Kyra’s pose pulls back and up into her holy symbol, shining forth with protecting energy against the lightning blast of the dragon. Valeros pushes forward into his shield, taking the brunt of the blast, emphasizing his role on the front line and the use of his shield in his playstyle. And then, off to the side, we see Merisiel darting in, lines almost blurred with speed, unseen by the dragon, dagger darting forward to the exposed neck. Sure, Wayne’s art is technically more accurate to the adventure—the dragon is green, and on top of one of the massive mushrooms in its cavern—but I definitely like Ekaterina’s art more.

The Hero's Handbook​

The Hero's Handbook kicks off with a solo adventure, a delightful little romp through a quick little cavern with a few nasties and quite a bit of treasure. My advice for those taking their own crack at it? Fortune favors the bold. The rest of the Hero’s Handbook concerns itself with expertly navigating a new player through the process of making a new character, complete with the colorful lettered circles that connect to spaces on the provided empty character sheets. Also, the Hero’s Handbook FINALLY does away with the difference between ability scores and ability modifiers—thank goodness.

The Game Master's Guide​

Like the Hero’s Handbook, the Game Master’s Guide kicks off with an adventure. As a GM and as an adventure designer, I do appreciate the way the adventure designers generally nail one-page sections for each room or encounter. Like with the solo adventure, there’s excellent escalation of challenges: first simple combat, then a combat with some saving throws, then skill checks, puzzles, persistent damage, and some undead to let the cleric shine in an offensive moment. Other nice spots of design include magical boon rewards and defending monsters getting some home turf advantages. Also, it must be said: this features a dragon in a dungeon. Points again!

My only real issues with the adventure was the tired artifact of XP—if we’re going to be doing away with ability scores and modifiers, just take the leap to milestone XP, especially if the Game Master’s Guide later insists all players advance equally anyway—and the climactic encounters seem a little lackluster. Perhaps it’s just a glut of excellent encounter design I’ve seen from other places lately, but I tend to expect a little more action from the environment. That said, this is an introductory adventure, and I wouldn’t want to throw a new GM too far into the deep end.

The rest of the Game Master’s Guide is simply excellent material for a new GM learning the ropes, and indeed is a fantastic refresher for experienced GMs wanting a straightforward and concise presentation of the fundamentals of running tabletop games in general and Pathfinder 2E in specific. My only issue with this section is that there's more ogre art in line with their supposed foul and flabby nature. I can tell this was a deliberate choice because much of the rest of the monster art, specifically that of the orcs, is lifted directly from the Bestiary. I will keep my ogres beautiful and beefy, thank you very much.

The Rest​

What’s left? Well, we have the fold-out maps, which are excellent and which absolutely require a full table to use properly. There are tokens for every monster that appears in the Game Master’s Guide, and even tokens for every ancestry/gender/class combination possible with the limited options available in the Hero’s Handbook. Also, some tokens with action and reaction symbols on them for use with the relevant spaces on the included character sheets.

In summary, the Pathfinder Beginner Box is an excellent introduction to the game for new solo players and new groups, and an excellent reintroduction for veterans looking for a refresh on the game’s core identity. Well worth the investment and guaranteed to be a hit at your table.
 
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Ben Reece

Ben Reece

Really? I mostly only run homebrew and haven't run into that at all, I'm not saying I disbelieve you though, given how some of the debates hinge on some users overemphasizing the APs. The only thing I feel isn't super well represented on any community right now (and part of why I do come here actually) is the new-old-school style of play, which I specifically find weird because of how well designed the system actually is for it, while maintaining the modern sensibility towards character building.
What is this “new-old school style of play”? I’m intrigued. Like Kenada, I’ve mainly moved to OSE for my gaming fix as I’m falling in love more and more with the assumptions of OSR gaming. Whenever I get the urge for something crunchy, I’ve jettisoned 5e for pf2 for my more “modern” gaming.
 

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kenada

Hero
Supporter
What is this “new-old school style of play”? I’m intrigued. Like Kenada, I’ve mainly moved to OSE for my gaming fix as I’m falling in love more and more with the assumptions of OSR gaming. Whenever I get the urge for something crunchy, I’ve jettisoned 5e for pf2 for my more “modern” gaming.
When I use it, I’m talking about running exploration-based games in PF2. Exploration mode is analogous to OSE’s exploration procedure. There are gaps, but it’s a decent framework for running that kind of game.

Edit: To elaborate a bit more. There’s not a lot of discussion around that style of play. There are a few of us here, and you sometimes see it mentioned in other places. It’s just not very visible, so if one doesn’t already have those sensibilities, then it may not be obvious that PF2 can be run that way. The same could be said about 5e (or any game), but exploration mode provides a firmer basis than the exploration pillar.
 
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Campbell

Legend
For what it's worth the way that I ran (and will run in the future) Pathfinder Second Edition is somewhat based on the design of games like Darksouls, Bloodborne, and Middle Earth : Shadow of War. It's not one big sandbox, but a series of smaller sandboxes deliberately constructed to fit the narrative demands of the game, but played relatively straight. Most of the things players will encounter fit within the band of stuff players can interact with in interesting ways.

I don't decide what sort of encounters players will face. That's up to how they play the game, but most things are within striking range if players play skillfully. I also make sure the immediate environment is as dynamic as possible usually with internal conflicts within factions players can exploit.

This is my preferred way to run games with a high skill component like Exalted Third Edition and the new Legend of the Five Rings as well.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
Basically, as Kenada said, it has a number of qualities that are reminiscent of and supportive of an OSR style of game. My primary touchstone for that culture is 'The Alexandrian' so that colors my viewpoint, but the game really has a lot of the 'procedures' being discussed on that blog deliberately built into them, ranging from exploration and downtime modes, to the victory point subsystems for tracking infiltration and such.

The way the encounter guidelines work, you can break them into pieces, or combine those pieces to move between difficulty categories, and those fights on the higher end will be meaningful enough to facilitate a 'combat as war' framework where the party is looking for ways to make the encounters easier through their exploration-- e.g. you want to cut off enemies from being joined by other enemies because the resulting encounter would potentially bring it to severe or extreme.

The only trick to this is deliberately not loading encounters up to heavily to leave room for combination, I use adversary rosters and 'enemy groups' that I treat like lego bricks depending on the situation to build out the encounters the players actually face, e.g. this low encounter group, and a moderate encounter group might combine if not handled carefully into a severe encounter- which is risky, but not unwinnable by any means.

Treasure can easily be made flexible, while still being very desirable, which rewards a material motivation to adventure and complex environments to adventure through. I'm reminded of the dungeon complexes of yesteryear, or of the concept of Jaquaying the Dungeon.

In fact, the game almost demands it-- like it works just fine with the more plotted modern campaign scheme, but its notable that a lot of options in character building fall to the wayside if you do so, feats that help navigation, that help you with traversal, that help you with environmental effects, that help you with crafting, that help you with self-determined approaches to social problems (influence rumor anyone?) and so forth that you really only reach the full potential of the rules in a somewhat sandboxy experience of the kind you can see Campbell discussing above.

But the 'new' part lies with the third and fourth edition character building sensibility, where you have a great deal of power to customize your characters abilities, players are empowered to get a-hold of Magic Items they would like, and combats are primarily 'combat as sport' in their execution, your actual moment to moment tactics are still very influential. The game treats rolling as a variant rule, and players are still quite powerful relative to encounters, especially if they know what they're doing.

Pathfinder 2e combines these ideas to create a game where I believe its full potential, is predicated on full use of its procedures to explore a world (rather than a plotted sequence of scenes) with interesting dungeon complexes and other environments, where the players determine their own approach with differing consequences for those approaches, while retaining the tactical mentality, character customization, and player empowerment of more modern systems. It even seems to best retain exp based leveling, utilizing a mixture of combat and accomplishments to level within an internally coherent, if somewhat gamist, simulation.
 

Cendragon

Explorer
I don't understand how a Climber's Kit, which contains 50 feet of rope plus other items costs 5sp and 50 feet of rope cost 5sp. Why would anyone just buy the rope only?
 

When I use it, I’m talking about running exploration-based games in PF2. Exploration mode is analogous to OSE’s exploration procedure. There are gaps, but it’s a decent framework for running that kind of game.

Edit: To elaborate a bit more. There’s not a lot of discussion around that style of play. There are a few of us here, and you sometimes see it mentioned in other places. It’s just not very visible, so if one doesn’t already have those sensibilities, then it may not be obvious that PF2 can be run that way. The same could be said about 5e (or any game), but exploration mode provides a firmer basis than the exploration pillar.
Ok, I must have glossed over this when I read the through the rulebook. In what way would you say exploration mode provides a stronger basis than the exploration pillar in 5e? They basically say, when you’re not in combat in the dungeon, you can explore and look around and I was like, yeah that’s what you do...

For example, in B/X, you have the codified turns and actions that consume turns with the ticking pressure of the wandering monster checks. With the blistering fast combats, that’s a feasible thing. I couldn’t imagine that in pf2 as the combats are wonderfully detailed, but I imagine wandering monsters would just make it a non stop combat slog.

So when I was reading pf2, I was envisioning more of a 4e style approach in that you have fewer, key encounters rather than fighting trash mobs.
 

Basically, as Kenada said, it has a number of qualities that are reminiscent of and supportive of an OSR style of game. My primary touchstone for that culture is 'The Alexandrian' so that colors my viewpoint, but the game really has a lot of the 'procedures' being discussed on that blog deliberately built into them, ranging from exploration and downtime modes, to the victory point subsystems for tracking infiltration and such.

The way the encounter guidelines work, you can break them into pieces, or combine those pieces to move between difficulty categories, and those fights on the higher end will be meaningful enough to facilitate a 'combat as war' framework where the party is looking for ways to make the encounters easier through their exploration-- e.g. you want to cut off enemies from being joined by other enemies because the resulting encounter would potentially bring it to severe or extreme.

The only trick to this is deliberately not loading encounters up to heavily to leave room for combination, I use adversary rosters and 'enemy groups' that I treat like lego bricks depending on the situation to build out the encounters the players actually face, e.g. this low encounter group, and a moderate encounter group might combine if not handled carefully into a severe encounter- which is risky, but not unwinnable by any means.

Treasure can easily be made flexible, while still being very desirable, which rewards a material motivation to adventure and complex environments to adventure through. I'm reminded of the dungeon complexes of yesteryear, or of the concept of Jaquaying the Dungeon.

In fact, the game almost demands it-- like it works just fine with the more plotted modern campaign scheme, but its notable that a lot of options in character building fall to the wayside if you do so, feats that help navigation, that help you with traversal, that help you with environmental effects, that help you with crafting, that help you with self-determined approaches to social problems (influence rumor anyone?) and so forth that you really only reach the full potential of the rules in a somewhat sandboxy experience of the kind you can see Campbell discussing above.

But the 'new' part lies with the third and fourth edition character building sensibility, where you have a great deal of power to customize your characters abilities, players are empowered to get a-hold of Magic Items they would like, and combats are primarily 'combat as sport' in their execution, your actual moment to moment tactics are still very influential. The game treats rolling as a variant rule, and players are still quite powerful relative to encounters, especially if they know what they're doing.

Pathfinder 2e combines these ideas to create a game where I believe its full potential, is predicated on full use of its procedures to explore a world (rather than a plotted sequence of scenes) with interesting dungeon complexes and other environments, where the players determine their own approach with differing consequences for those approaches, while retaining the tactical mentality, character customization, and player empowerment of more modern systems. It even seems to best retain exp based leveling, utilizing a mixture of combat and accomplishments to level within an internally coherent, if somewhat gamist, simulation.
Ok, but how does pf2 specifically enable this as a rule set compared to say 5e? I genuinely seemed to have missed this possibility from my reading of the rules.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
Ok, but how does pf2 specifically enable this as a rule set compared to say 5e? I genuinely seemed to have missed this possibility from my reading of the rules.
Basically, 5e doesn't do much of anything to enable them, Pathfinder 2e gives you actual rules for conducting them-- like 'Exploration Activities' or 'Downtime Activities' for instance. 5e gives a little advice for it but basically leaves it to the GM to adjudicate how they will, whereas Pathfinder 2e codifies it and adds to it extensively with its lists of options. Like, you can obviously wander a dungeon in 5e, making skill checks and such but PF2e codifies a system of exploration activities that each party member is doing on an ongoing basis, designating roles in the marching order and defining the increment of passing time as 10 minutes at least in duration. It basically does more to make the activity less of a liminal space in the game rules, and more of a defined, codified space the way encounters are.

Because of that, the system can hang more on those areas of the game-- more player abilities and unique perks, more opportunities for real game play. Ditto for downtime's codification.
 

Basically, 5e doesn't do much of anything to enable them, Pathfinder 2e gives you actual rules for conducting them-- like 'Exploration Activities' or 'Downtime Activities' for instance. 5e gives a little advice for it but basically leaves it to the GM to adjudicate how they will, whereas Pathfinder 2e codifies it and adds to it extensively with its lists of options. Like, you can obviously wander a dungeon in 5e, making skill checks and such but PF2e codifies a system of exploration activities that each party member is doing on an ongoing basis, designating roles in the marching order and defining the increment of passing time as 10 minutes at least in duration. It basically does more to make the activity less of a liminal space in the game rules, and more of a defined, codified space the way encounters are.

Because of that, the system can hang more on those areas of the game-- more player abilities and unique perks, more opportunities for real game play. Ditto for downtime's codification.
Right yeah, I get it. The ten minute activities here are good indicators for resource consumption and that mirrors b/x.
 

kenada

Hero
Supporter
Ok, I must have glossed over this when I read the through the rulebook. In what way would you say exploration mode provides a stronger basis than the exploration pillar in 5e? They basically say, when you’re not in combat in the dungeon, you can explore and look around and I was like, yeah that’s what you do...

For example, in B/X, you have the codified turns and actions that consume turns with the ticking pressure of the wandering monster checks. With the blistering fast combats, that’s a feasible thing. I couldn’t imagine that in pf2 as the combats are wonderfully detailed, but I imagine wandering monsters would just make it a non stop combat slog.

So when I was reading pf2, I was envisioning more of a 4e style approach in that you have fewer, key encounters rather than fighting trash mobs.
Exploration activities generally take at least ten minutes. It’s the same timescale as a turn in B/X. PCs describe what they are doing, which determines their activities, and then the GM describes what happens. You can use that back and forth to create an experience similar to B/X. 5e doesn’t have the breadth of activities codified that PF2 does. Where you run into limitations is the gaps.

For a B/X style approach, the biggest things that PF2 lacks are morale and a robust encounter procedure. In particular, the latter lets PCs control their engagement. It’s just assumed that an encounter means a fight unless it has been signposted otherwise. With a B/C-style encounter procedure, PCs would first decide what they do (fight, parlay, escape, etc), and then you would procede.

When I ran, I used morale rolls from B/X. You could also do something like have creatures make Will saving throws versus their Wisdom DCs. I had reaction rolls, but I never used them. Now that I’m giving OSE a try, I’d also use its encounter procedure. If not ever encounter is a fight, then wandering monsters don’t risk turning dungeons into a slog. For an escape procedure, I’d build off the chase subsystem in the GMG.

Speaking of wandering monsters, I rolled them every other “turn” just like B/X. The default assumption that exploration activities take at least ten minutes makes it easy to bring over the B/X approach. I didn’t make every encounter a fight, but in retrospect, I wish I had brought over the full encounter procedure from B/X.

The reason why I’m not still doing this comes down to other issues, mostly of taste. As I’ve tun, I’ve come to the conclusion that what I want in a system is at odds with how modern D&Ds are designed (this includes 5e).
 

kenada

Hero
Supporter
I don't understand how a Climber's Kit, which contains 50 feet of rope plus other items costs 5sp and 50 feet of rope cost 5sp. Why would anyone just buy the rope only?
That looks like a mistake, but it’s also that way in core. The Climbing Kit should probably cost closer to 10 sp. As written, it doesn’t make sense to buy the rope on its own.
 


GreyLord

Hero
Steel, just pack it up man. You are legitimately wasting your time here. These guys have an axe to grind with Paizo and Pathfinder and there's nothing that you can show or tell them that will promote a civil discourse on this topic. Considering that the thread is ABOUT the BB theyre just going to keep moving the goal posts to prove you wrong and them right.

I've been running a PF2 game for months now and have never, NOT ONCE had the massive damage rules apply.
Hell, I ran a 10 year Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign and only had massive damage rules apply TWICE that I can remember. And in both of those cases it was the PC's that Insta-killed their foes.
Just as a reply to clarify (as for the most part I've said my part in this thread and am on to other things).

I DID NOT have an axe to grind with Pathfinder or Paizo.

In reply to certain hostility recently towards new players in general (or...new players that at least GAVE PF2e and the BB a try), so not you specifically, but some other more recent responses...

I DO think I may be the only actual beginner that tried the BB in this thread and gave a review accordingly (edit: actually, having read a little further, it appears there may be one other here now). I have gathered from this thread that a majority (not all) Pathfinder players do not want new players trying the game and are hostile to beginners (at least if this thread is any indicator) and do not want to grow the PF2e audience. I have seen a few that are welcoming, but the hostility towards new players and what went on with the game...well.

If there were mistakes with the rules, instead of blaming the new players, perhaps analyze why such rules would have been interpreted WRONGLY from how beginners read the box..

Or, you can continue to tell any new players that they are bad/wrong and it is there fault rather than anything else...as that seems par for the course.

There are those that have been more welcoming in this thread, but they seem to be the minority (Edit: though the past page which I read after I posted this, seems to have a nicer conversation going on rather than the pile on the new player thing that went on at first, so perhaps there are a few more welcoming players out there than this thread make sit appear early on). In addition, the rabid pathfinder fan in our group is actually quite a nice individual. This thread indicates these do not represent most PF2e players today (edit: with the exception of this last page which is much more calm). That is unfortunate as it has only confirmed my thoughts that PF2e is not for me.

To appease the PF fan of our group we continue to play a Shattered Star Campaign with them with PF1e rules (still not my favorite, but we didn't have the difficulties with it we ran into with PF2e. 5e is still my favored RPG of the modern current RPG offerings these days) and are having fun with PF, just not 2e currently. This means we are still supporting Paizo and Pathfinder (we have even gotten some of their paperback rules for PF1e that are in print).

I DID NOTICE something though, that could be of use for those who are Beginners (like we were) and are not dissuaded by the adventure in the box (perhaps they read this thread and rule interpretations are done differently in their group and they continue to play for example). Our over anxious Pathfinder friend who led us on in this, also had pre-ordered the Otari module before they knew what our reaction would be to the BB. I will note that the adventure has an appendix which allows for characters to level up to 4th level in the box. I feel this should have been included in the box or put up as a free download, BUT...as it is not, it IS still available if one orders the "Troubles in Otari" module from Paizo for PF2e.
 
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Just as a reply to clarify (as for the most part I've said my part in this thread and am on to other things).

I DID NOT have an axe to grind with Pathfinder or Paizo.

In reply to certain hostility recently towards new players in general (or...new players that at least GAVE PF2e and the BB a try), so not you specifically, but some other more recent responses...

I DO think I may be the only actual beginner that tried the BB in this thread and gave a review accordingly (edit: actually, having read a little further, it appears there may be one other here now). I have gathered from this thread that a majority (not all) Pathfinder players do not want new players trying the game and are hostile to beginners (at least if this thread is any indicator) and do not want to grow the PF2e audience. I have seen a few that are welcoming, but the hostility towards new players and what went on with the game...well.

If there were mistakes with the rules, instead of blaming the new players, perhaps analyze why such rules would have been interpreted WRONGLY from how beginners read the box..

Or, you can continue to tell any new players that they are bad/wrong and it is there fault rather than anything else...as that seems par for the course.

There are those that have been more welcoming in this thread, but they seem to be the minority (Edit: though the past page which I read after I posted this, seems to have a nicer conversation going on rather than the pile on the new player thing that went on at first, so perhaps there are a few more welcoming players out there than this thread make sit appear early on). In addition, the rabid pathfinder fan in our group is actually quite a nice individual. This thread indicates these do not represent most PF2e players today (edit: with the exception of this last page which is much more calm). That is unfortunate as it has only confirmed my thoughts that PF2e is not for me.

To appease the PF fan of our group we continue to play a Shattered Star Campaign with them with PF1e rules (still not my favorite, but we didn't have the difficulties with it we ran into with PF2e. 5e is still my favored RPG of the modern current RPG offerings these days) and are having fun with PF, just not 2e currently. This means we are still supporting Paizo and Pathfinder (we have even gotten some of their paperback rules for PF1e that are in print).

I DID NOTICE something though, that could be of use for those who are Beginners (like we were) and are not dissuaded by the adventure in the box (perhaps they read this thread and rule interpretations are done differently in their group and they continue to play for example). Our over anxious Pathfinder friend who led us on in this, also had pre-ordered the Otari module before they knew what our reaction would be to the BB. I will note that the adventure has an appendix which allows for characters to level up to 4th level in the box. I feel this should have been included in the box or put up as a free download, BUT...as it is not, it IS still available if one orders the "Troubles in Otari" module from Paizo for PF2e.
Hold on here. I don’t think you are being very fair. No one piled on to any new players. No one has shown any hostility to any new players In this thread. What I did see here though was your repeated claims of this when others were trying to help you out.

I think this is definitely one of those where the medium of text only has led to mis interpretation of meaning. Certainly so if you have read hostility from any of my posts to you.

Instead, what I have seen reading this thread, and what I feel I have contributed, is people that are passionate about the product and are disappointed for you that you did not have a good experience. That is what is described as going wrong. Not that you have had bad wrong fun, but that you didn’t have the intended experience and then people offered ways to help.
”These might be some reasons why your experienced sucked and here’s what you could do differently to help” is not attacking you. It’s people trying to help, not criticise.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
I don't think anyone should be attacked for their views. I also don't think debating the validity (the property of an argument consisting in the fact that the truth of the premises logically guarantees the truth of the conclusion) or soundness (a sound argument is an argument that is both valid, and all of whose premises are true) of someone's view is an attack.

There's this kind of whip crack technique, that I feel your post is a reasonable example of (intentionally or not) that's become common in the discourse that asserts that any-given-experience is self-justifying to the point that any mitigation of the assertions derived from experiences is combative and exclusionary. In contrast, I find learning curves to be a necessary evil of the hobby, not just in rules, but in technique (after all, any given system is more of a Game Engine, than a game in and of itself, so a lot of the actual design power is awarded to the players by means of the GM, even down to the moment to moment presentation.)

So the quality of the experience is an intersection of multiple factors that are interdependent of one another-- the material reality of the system is one dimension, the GM's design and presentation is another, the players decision making in play is yet another, there's an affective element (everyone's attitudes toward what they're doing and mood), and finally the intersection of how the material reality of the system interacts with each of these things.

So you might have a bad experience, but if we adjust some of these other factors with advice, you might be able to have a very positive experience without the system itself changing at all without any meaningful burden on your part going forward. Similarly, some of the affective elements of your play might be heavily conditioned by a set of expectations created by other games, preconceived notions of this game, and so forth and that can be important to diagnosing your paint points as well. I've never met a system that doesn't have to be 'massaged' in this way to be fun for a pretty significant portion of it's player base.
 

ShinHakkaider

Adventurer
Hold on here. I don’t think you are being very fair. No one piled on to any new players. No one has shown any hostility to any new players In this thread. What I did see here though was your repeated claims of this when others were trying to help you out.

I think this is definitely one of those where the medium of text only has led to mis interpretation of meaning. Certainly so if you have read hostility from any of my posts to you.

Instead, what I have seen reading this thread, and what I feel I have contributed, is people that are passionate about the product and are disappointed for you that you did not have a good experience. That is what is described as going wrong. Not that you have had bad wrong fun, but that you didn’t have the intended experience and then people offered ways to help.
”These might be some reasons why your experienced sucked and here’s what you could do differently to help” is not attacking you. It’s people trying to help, not criticise.
Yeah I'm not sure what he's on about. I know that I wasn't attacking or piling on newbie players. As a long time GM, Newbies are my FAVORITE type of player.
 

willrali

Explorer
I’ve bought it and it looks fine. The art is very bland (disappointing) but the pawns are nice. The adventure is a bit meh. At best it should be easy to spice up without much tinkering.

What I like most is the distillation of character creation and the distillation of the rules. These are great. It’s reasonable to expect someone to read through 72 small pages in a few days.

Though one of the most powerful and flexible things about Pf2 is the social skill debuff stuff in combination with attacking... and the book doesn’t really get into that sort of thinking.

I’m going to recommend the PDF to new players to prepare. Let’s see how it does.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Long post, sorry for it.

Seconded. It is just weird to me that people who applaud PF2’s greater customization (and are right to do so!), immediately turn around to say that creating a character “doesn’t really take more time in PF2”.
And I don't see that much customization. There are a lot of options yes, but all of them only let you color within the lines. Want a different weapon? well, you can't use a different weapon, you should have picked a different class/race -sorry ancestry-. Want to divest from combat? you can't.

PF2 lacks the deep feat chains (and taxes) of PF1. There are still some chains, but you can make obvious choices without looking ahead and still have a character that works fine. Additionally, retraining is core, so if you do make a mistake, it’s easily fixed with a bit of downtime.

It doesn't have the feat chains, but due to the way it is made, you are forced to spend feats and resources a certain way or you just grow ineffective over time. This shouldn't be a problem, but it is for me. You see, I can't optimize my way out of a paper bag even when I'm trying (I've been kicked out of games because of it). The least forgiving the math is, the harder and less fun this is for me.

I think that’s a fair point. In my limited experience with my group, all of my players spend way too much time window shopping before making a choice. However, I’m not sure how much that is due to worries about viability versus looking at the cool things they get at higher levels. I think if they started from a concept (versus browsing for inspiration), character creation would go more quickly for them.
And this goes specially hard for me. I tend to lock onto concepts, but they are rarely within what is stereotypical. For a game that advertises itself on its customization, PF2 is too limiting and limited, to the point it overprescribes playstyle. Want to use a certain weapon? you need to pick class based on that. Want to use weapons instead of cantrips? you can't without actively hurting the party. You just can't choose to play outside the prescribed playstyle, let alone play against type. In fact, at times you can't even play at type, because your vision of the type is just not approved by god.

And it's a game with loads and LOADS of little pesky modifiers, often conditional ones with easily forgotten criteria. If you can't do numbers like 3d12+1d6+1d6+18+7+15-10-5=? in your head quickly and effortlessly, even hours into a play session, don't bother. And no, that wasn't some extremely niche corner case either. I'm saying that 3d12+1d6+1d6+18+7+15-10-5= can and will happen a dozen times each and every combat round (at high levels), maybe not in every combat, but likely some combats of every play session. And that's after hitting, which might involve d20+27+2-1-1+1-4 this attack, but d20+27-1-1+1 the previous attack. Every time you roll the dice, something will have changed, so you can never precalculate what you will be adding to the d20 or the 3d12.

This is also a problem, PF2 has just too much math for me. I can do some quick and even complex calculations in my head, but I don't have the working memory needed to pull of the long calculations that PF2 demands. There is also too much to keep track of. How are you supposed to play without some automatic tool carrying all of that load?

Really, Enworld doesn't have much of a PF2e community, there's a few people on here, but its mainly people who want to push their narratives about it failing out of some weird desire for vindication about their beliefs concerning the hobby, or to spin their own experiences as a revelation about some kind of objective flaw.
Only speaking about myself. I was exited about PF2, but given the way things turned out, it is definitely not for me. I just can't handle the cognitive load needed to play it, I suck at tactical combat and I don't find the customization meaningful and flexible enough. There are a lot of ideas I love in PF2, but they aren't enough to justify everything else.
 

willrali

Explorer
There are a lot of options yes, but all of them only let you color within the lines

This is true for all but the lightest of games. Within its paradigm, P2 gives tremendous customizing options. And using one or two of the rules variants in the GMG expands this still further.

The benefit of this approach is that these customization decisions then become more than just ‘flavor’ on an otherwise basic toon. They have meaningful impact on the world and on dramatic outcomes.

But sure. If someone wants to cook up ‘whatever I’m imagining’ in five minutes without needing to spend time reading rules or picking feats, then P2 is very much the wrong game.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
This is true for all but the lightest of games. Within its paradigm, P2 gives tremendous customizing options. And using one or two of the rules variants in the GMG expands this still further.

The benefit of this approach is that these customization decisions then become more than just ‘flavor’ on an otherwise basic toon. They have meaningful impact on the world and on dramatic outcomes.

But sure. If someone wants to cook up ‘whatever I’m imagining’ in five minutes without needing to spend time reading rules or picking feats, then P2 is very much the wrong game.
Something as simple as a sorceress using a polearm or halberd becomes a huge resource drain, you can't just use some feat to gain proficiency, you need to devote a lot of resources to it instead. All so it just falls short one or two points from what you could do with a spear, which is still strictly inferior to what the game expects you to be able to do with a cantrip. And these points end up mattering a lot because of the way the math works.

And the same with a lot of abilities that used to be reliable. These now are riders on skill checks, and you'd rather devote resources to max these skills because otherwise you can't do a thing with that ability. I already find 5e restrictive, but it is a lot more flexible and forgiving for my tastes.
 

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