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PF2 Pathfinder Second Edition: I hear it's bad - Why Bad, How Bad?

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
The threat of TPKs makes one feel alive: alternatively, people have beaten the Half-Dragon Champion near the beginning of HotDQ, which is thrilling. It's like gambling, but way dorkier.
lol. Death ends up becoming the House, though, as a campaign just has too many encounters to beat the odds every time. 5e may get ribbed for being 'too easy,' but it takes very little per-encounter mathematical risk to add up to a very dicey campaign, overall.

I think 5E does manage to make mundane skills relevant at high levels, though part of that is definitely going to be DM dependent: criticals are not part of the Skill system, so there are tasks that only high level folks with a maxed out attribute (or Rogues & Bards) can even attempt, and 5E like 4E retains the ability to keep the math the same, while upping the narrative ante. The DMG has some advise about this, like making a game wuxia simply by changing how Skill checks are narrated.
A side effect of BA is that a check only the best character can make is often a check that a much lower level character can also get lucky and make - it's kinda the point, to avoid the problem 3e had with divergent class vs cross-class ranks at high level - but it's an issue. Expertise opens that gap up more than a little, though.
The real trick, though is for the DM to confidently narrate failure for lesser mortals attempting the really epic checks - but when The Master (I should say Expert) steps up to do it, needn't set the DC insanely high, because the play loop lets the DM be the gatekeeper, in stead of the DC.
 

FowlJ

Villager
plus level *and* a multitiered Proficiency per Skill (-2, 2, 4, 6, 8 IIRC for Untrained to Legendary Ina given Skill)
Not that it necessarily makes a difference with regards to not wanting the numbers to get too high, but adding level to untrained skills was axed after the playtest. Your untrained proficiency is just +0 now, though there are options to get around that (notably, you can follow the lead of a more experienced party member to get your level + a circumstance bonus when doing things like sneaking or other group checks).
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
lol. Death ends up becoming the House, though, as a campaign just has too many encounters to beat the odds every time. 5e may get ribbed for being 'too easy,' but it takes very little per-encounter mathematical risk to add up to a very dicey campaign, overall.

A side effect of BA is that a check only the best character can make is often a check that a much lower level character can also get lucky and make - it's kinda the point, to avoid the problem 3e had with divergent class vs cross-class ranks at high level - but it's an issue. Expertise opens that gap up more than a little, though.
The real trick, though is for the DM to confidently narrate failure for lesser mortals attempting the really epic checks - but when The Master (I should say Expert) steps up to do it, needn't set the DC insanely high, because the play loop lets the DM be the gatekeeper, in stead of the DC.
Actually, in 5E, the player characters are the house: the math is weighed in the players favor, fairly heavily. Doesn't mean anything is guaranteed, though, failure is an option.

The DMG does recommend gating skill checks at the DMs discretion, for even allowing checks. A Level 3 PC with 14 in the relevant Attribute (well above normal) and Proficiency will not be able to make a 25 DC: and with an Attribute of 9 and no Proficiency cannot even succeed a DC 20 at any Level. The curve is relatively small, from 5-30, and the boni involved few and small, but the curve is about right for narrative feel, and the limited range and few variables makes it intuitive to make up on the fly.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Not that it necessarily makes a difference with regards to not wanting the numbers to get too high, but adding level to untrained skills was axed after the playtest. Your untrained proficiency is just +0 now, though there are options to get around that (notably, you can follow the lead of a more experienced party member to get your level + a circumstance bonus when doing things like sneaking or other group checks).
That is good to hear, actually: an improvement on what I read in the playtest, and good to know that they were willing to change a core part of Skills math, though I'm still not a big fan of the number curve at play.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
More of the first than the second; it's like when some video games have characters that end up with 1500 hit points and do 100 damage a shot against enemies that have 10,000 hit points, when scaling everything down by a factor or ten or twenty would have the same effect - but to people, the first just sounds cooler. When you're working with pen and paper, larger and larger numbers become a bit superfluous.

However, the relevance of lower-powered enemies in campaigns is something my group didn't expect out of 5e, and they seem to like it a lot. When they approach a large group of enemies of lower caliber, they have begun to take them more seriously (especially after one particular near-TPK against their five level 3 characters vs. a bunch of CR 1/4s and 1/2s). By comparison in the PF Playtest, if you faced enemies more than three or four levels below or above you, combat was either a foregone conclusion, or a hopeless fight, respectively. I know the designers said they were loosening that up a bit, so apparently a lot of people had a similar issue on that.
I don't necessarily need the 5E balance, and I don't particularly mind that kobolds and rats quickly become irrelevant.

My concern, however, is if you can't have encounters outside your level band. If [party level]+10 is hopeless/suicidal that's okay, expected even, and not an issue since you instinctively can tell a level 4 and a level 14 apart.

But if [party level]+2 were to be borderline impossible that would make sandboxes entirely unfeasible, and it would only work as a videogame where you have the level 5-8 "zone" where you're assured of not stumbling across anything level 9 (and the likely TPK).


So, yeah, also hoping they saw reason there...
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
I should say that none of it is yet making me not look forward to playing some PF2 — but unless it’s been dramatically streamlined somehow from what I saw with the playtest, I doubt it’ll be my go-to game. However, just hearing someone say, “does this action have the manipulate trait?” during a recent Glass Cannon Podcast makes me think this won’t be the case... 3 actions per turn and only three or four action types, good. Tons of keywords and conditions that won’t fit on one page of a cheat sheet, not so good (for me at least)...
 

zztong

Explorer
I got a chance to leaf through a friend's copy of the books last night. I only had about 10 minutes. It didn't seem to be very different from the Playtest, but the devil is in the details. He's planning to run whatever the adventure was that came with the package. I gather its a levels 1-4 wilderness adventure. We'll use that to evaluate the game.

I did wish the book's layout included an indicator of where you were in the book. Yeh, I know I'm in the "Classes" part, but _which_ class? Is Ranger forward or back from here? But that's a book. The Playtest Hero Lab Online deal means I should still have 6 months of access and the core sources.

The DM was trying to figure out the new Resonance rules. He was having a hard time figuring out what items had to be attuned and which didn't. We found armor did, but apparently weapons don't?
 

mewzard

Explorer
I don't necessarily need the 5E balance, and I don't particularly mind that kobolds and rats quickly become irrelevant.

My concern, however, is if you can't have encounters outside your level band. If [party level]+10 is hopeless/suicidal that's okay, expected even, and not an issue since you instinctively can tell a level 4 and a level 14 apart.

But if [party level]+2 were to be borderline impossible that would make sandboxes entirely unfeasible, and it would only work as a videogame where you have the level 5-8 "zone" where you're assured of not stumbling across anything level 9 (and the likely TPK).


So, yeah, also hoping they saw reason there...
I mean, two levels over you would only be +2 more (bar anything higher in proficiencies). Certainly more of a challenge (harder to hit, more accurate), but not necessarily impossible.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
I should say that none of it is yet making me not look forward to playing some PF2 — but unless it’s been dramatically streamlined somehow from what I saw with the playtest, I doubt it’ll be my go-to game. However, just hearing someone say, “does this action have the manipulate trait?” during a recent Glass Cannon Podcast makes me think this won’t be the case... 3 actions per turn and only three or four action types, good. Tons of keywords and conditions that won’t fit on one page of a cheat sheet, not so good (for me at least)...
IME, these terms offer a higher entry point for learning the system, but become fairly second nature after a few sessions of use.

But if [party level]+2 were to be borderline impossible that would make sandboxes entirely unfeasible, and it would only work as a videogame where you have the level 5-8 "zone" where you're assured of not stumbling across anything level 9 (and the likely TPK).
IMHO what makes a sandbox feasible is (1) the party has a rough idea of the relative power level of certain threats so they can make decisions accordingly about what they choose to engage in the world, and (2) that there are repercussions in the world for decisions made and decisions not made. It's this last point that is where you can still have a sandbox for a system like PF2. The world does not sit and wait on the PCs before progressing.

If the PCs ignore an expedition to Candy Mountain in favor of dealing with an orc outpost, then that expedition will accidentally awaken an ancient dragon. If they deal with the expedition to Candy Mountain, then the orcs will continue pouring into the region unimpeded. Your success can also usher in new game states. You wipe out the bandits, but something worse takes over their old lair and uses it as a base. The BBEG may even move there and find something nefarious there that the PCs didn't uncover when they went through. A sandbox is a call and response of changing game states in the world. It does not require moving from one region to another.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Yes. Thank you.

I meant that I want to populate my sandbox with various foes. Of varying levels.

If I could only choose PL+1 (and not PL+5, say) it would quicky become absurd.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
I should say that none of it is yet making me not look forward to playing some PF2 — but unless it’s been dramatically streamlined somehow from what I saw with the playtest, I doubt it’ll be my go-to game. However, just hearing someone say, “does this action have the manipulate trait?” during a recent Glass Cannon Podcast makes me think this won’t be the case... 3 actions per turn and only three or four action types, good. Tons of keywords and conditions that won’t fit on one page of a cheat sheet, not so good (for me at least)...
What threw me was looking at some monster stats and finding that "Catch Rock" was a keyworded ability.

Keywords work best when they turn up ALL THE TIME, so I can remember them. Having to go to the appendix for an obscure ability doesn't thrill me.

Cheers!
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
What threw me was looking at some monster stats and finding that "Catch Rock" was a keyworded ability.

Keywords work best when they turn up ALL THE TIME, so I can remember them. Having to go to the appendix for an obscure ability doesn't thrill me.

Cheers!
The density and volume of keyworded jargon is not promising: too arcane for me.
 

MockingBird

Explorer
I guess there wasnt much Paizo could learn from launching PF. It was an already tried and tested edition that was very popular. Paizo will learn a lot from this edition. How jargon should be embedded and how much shouldn't will be one I hope. Tomorrow is the big day and I'm excited to read some reviews. The lack of backwards compatibility is worrisome but PF3e will definitely be. Here's hoping for a successful launch.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I know, and my post was speaking to that point.
Well, sure. But you focused on story - I had mechanics in mind. I wanted to ask if it really is true you're only expected to fight critters in a narrow level band in Pathfinder 2.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
How do you flag meta information like that. How do you convey information like "The Ogre you've heard of is likely 4 or more levels above you, so you need to stay well clear".

A sandbox kind of relies on the game allowing you to live long enough to learn from your mistakes. A level 5 party in 5th Edition, for example, could likely stumble across even a CR12 monster and live to tell the tale. (If they don't outright kill it, at least most of them would be able to decide to retreat before being dead or critically injured)

A sandbox relies on rules that doesn't enforce a World of Warcraft strict level band. (Any random critter five levels higher than your party in WoW would kill half your party and send the rest scattering. On the other hand, you would only find it if you enter a zone you're clearly not supposed to).

At least the kind of ttrpg sandbox I want to run, where frivolous exploration is encouraged.
 
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amethal

Explorer
How do you flag meta information like that. How do you convey information like "The Ogre you've heard of is likely 4 or more levels above you, so you need to stay well clear".
"Ah yes, we call that ogre the Butcher of Barrow Hill. He'd killed a few farmers, ate a few cows, so the Reeve hired a bunch of likely lads to deal with the problem. (You remind me a bit of those guys, actually.) Anyway, none of the poor sods came back. The Baron took a personal interest at this point. He's killed a few ogres in his time, so he gathered his men-at-arms and they headed up to Barrow Hill. They came back in a grim mood, and won't speak of what they found, but as far as I know the ogre's still there and the Baron's declared the entire area to be off limits."

Or you could just have the region around the lair littered with the bodies of dead dire wolves, each one with its skull crushed.
 

zztong

Explorer
"Ah yes, we call that ogre the Butcher of Barrow Hill. He'd killed a few farmers, ate a few cows, so the Reeve hired a bunch of likely lads to deal with the problem. (You remind me a bit of those guys, actually.) Anyway, none of the poor sods came back. The Baron took a personal interest at this point. He's killed a few ogres in his time, so he gathered his men-at-arms and they headed up to Barrow Hill. They came back in a grim mood, and won't speak of what they found, but as far as I know the ogre's still there and the Baron's declared the entire area to be off limits."

Or you could just have the region around the lair littered with the bodies of dead dire wolves, each one with its skull crushed.
Sometimes that works. Sometimes that adds to the hype and compels the PCs to engage. At some point the DM has to consider if the players will be upset with a defeat, or if the story would suffer. If so, then the DM either has to just narrate the encounter such that the Ogre runs off the PCs or just say "that's content planned for later." But, if you've got a game where the players are okay with getting clobbered, then do the butcher's work, with care. You still want a good story.
 
Sometimes that works. Sometimes that adds to the hype and compels the PCs to engage. At some point the DM has to consider if the players will be upset with a defeat, or if the story would suffer. If so, then the DM either has to just narrate the encounter such that the Ogre runs off the PCs or just say "that's content planned for later." But, if you've got a game where the players are okay with getting clobbered, then do the butcher's work, with care. You still want a good story.
YMMV and all, but I find the DM who likes "true" sandbox settings usually have no problem with mounds of dead PCs and the occasional TPK restart.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
YMMV and all, but I find the DM who likes "true" sandbox settings usually have no problem with mounds of dead PCs and the occasional TPK restart.
That's usually how sandboxes work.

How do you flag meta information like that. How do you convey information like "The Ogre you've heard of is likely 4 or more levels above you, so you need to stay well clear".

A sandbox kind of relies on the game allowing you to live long enough to learn from your mistakes. A level 5 party in 5th Edition, for example, could likely stumble across even a CR12 monster and live to tell the tale. (If they don't outright kill it, at least most of them would be able to decide to retreat before being dead or critically injured)

A sandbox relies on rules that doesn't enforce a World of Warcraft strict level band. (Any random critter five levels higher than your party in WoW would kill half your party and send the rest scattering. On the other hand, you would only find it if you enter a zone you're clearly not supposed to).

At least the kind of ttrpg sandbox I want to run, where frivolous exploration is encouraged.
Here is advice for running one variety of sandbox game: West Marches. In general, the further out you go from the safety of town, the more dangerous it becomes. I think it's safe to point out certain things in the map and say, "The BBEG Lich lives here. There is an ancient dragon here. Orcs are amassing here." These are things that people in the area likely know.
 

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