• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

Pathfinder 2E PF2: Second Attempt Post Mortem

I have the opposite issue generally, I have to try not to destroy my PCs in 5e. If I used the epic encounter guidelines with my current group it would be a TPK every time. No effort for me with great payoff.

So, just curious, what is so difficult about throwing a monster that is 6-10 CR above your groups level? How did that not work for you? What didn't pay off? What are is the pay off you are looking for?

PS It sounds like you left 5e, but did you get a chance to use any Mythic monsters. I really nice wrinkle to add to solo monsters.

I can't really speak to that to much. Though I have built many a monster to defeat optimized PCs, and I have been told they work well, my players are not optimizers, nor to we have a lot of magic items.

I much prefer the solo tools in 5e (legendary actions & resistances, lair actions, mythic trait) conceptually to what PF2e offers (higher level). But everyone has different desires and wants. I personally feel I have a lot more freedom to make the monsters I want in 5e, but to be honest it has been a long time since I tried to make a PF2 monster.
Monsters 6 to 10 CR above my groups level got stomped pretty hard, its the optimization thing, essentially. We have some very hardcore optimizers in that group.

I stopped before the Mythic stuff came out, literally the day pf2e dropped.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


dave2008

Legend
Monsters 6 to 10 CR above my groups level got stomped pretty hard, its the optimization thing, essentially. We have some very hardcore optimizers in that group.
That is what I love about 5e, the same monsters would absolutely destroy my group. There are of course easy fixes for optimizers (I mean it is basically what PF2 does), but it doesn't sound like your interested so no need to get into the weeds there. PF2 is a great game, just enjoy what you have!
I stopped before the Mythic stuff came out, literally the day pf2e dropped.
I thought as much. What I like about Mythic (and I liked about 4e monsters) is that it grows the monsters laterally. You have a monster of the same CR that is significantly tougher (2x actually), but has the same to hit and chance to be hit.

As a fan of monster making I just prefer all the options that 5e has out of the box.
 

payn

Hero
Fair I guess, though I can't imagine what a good boss encounter would look like outside of this dynamic.
Rarely any solos, interesting environments, faster combat, your top options not shut off like every severe/extreme encounter has legendary resistance from 5E, waves of enemies, etc... Not having to kill 90% of your spell list to find the right trick combo and keep everyone on their feet while you plink away slowly at the boss.

I get why people like the raid approach. It forces teamwork, the enemy feels dangerous, and when you dont work together well you fail. I just dont go to the table for that drawn out experience. Its repetitive with diminishing returns, which is why I dont MMO anymore. Nothing wrong with it, like before, its just preference.
 

Rarely any solos, interesting environments, faster combat, your top options not shut off like every severe/extreme encounter has legendary resistance from 5E, waves of enemies, etc... Not having to kill 90% of your spell list to find the right trick combo and keep everyone on their feet while you plink away slowly at the boss.
I just want to second the interesting environments point. It is a fantasy world, so there is a lot of scope to create absolutely memorable environments that are as much a character as the boss.
 

Rarely any solos, interesting environments, faster combat, your top options not shut off like every severe/extreme encounter has legendary resistance from 5E, waves of enemies, etc... Not having to kill 90% of your spell list to find the right trick combo and keep everyone on their feet while you plink away slowly at the boss.

I get why people like the raid approach. It forces teamwork, the enemy feels dangerous, and when you dont work together well you fail. I just dont go to the table for that drawn out experience. Its repetitive with diminishing returns, which is why I dont MMO anymore. Nothing wrong with it, like before, its just preference.
While those things sound good, and I've used them, sometimes you just want the party to fight a large terrifying creature like a Dragon, and it feels like PF2e gives me that: I ran a brutal encounter where swarms of shadows and greater shadows surrounded the players at an ancient shrine found in a cave at the bottom of a mysterious well, I ran another encounter where the boss was a graveknight near the player's level standing across the bridge at the gates of one of the player's family castle with Gashadokuro lining the bridge to either side as undead siege weapons.

But even though encounters like that can be fun, it feels like something's missing if it feels like the solo encounters aren't an option because they don't work. That same campaign capped off with a warm up against a handful of scaled up Grave Knights, followed by a drag out fight against a lich who took on her true form as an elite Ravener while a last grave knight held onto the macguffin crown in the back of the room, I gave the Ravener access to Massacre so you better believe it was a tense and exciting battle-- they actually ended up dominating her pretty thoroughly despite the level difference, since she ended up slowed, frightened and flatfooted, which resulted in some big crits, especially from the paladin.

I def think boss fatigue is a thing though, I tend to fight the kind of drawn out thing by making sure when these fights happen they're not too frequent, they're definitely a sometimes food, and overusing them warps the meta to favor certain combos over other things too much.
 

payn

Hero
Yeah, being over fatigued by boss encounters might be what I'm experiencing from my recent foray into PF2. I do wonder how waves of enemies can or cant work in PF2. Also, how to spice up environments more, maybe have some hazards on the battlefield something to spice it up?
 

Retreater

Legend
Yeah, being over fatigued by boss encounters might be what I'm experiencing from my recent foray into PF2. I do wonder how waves of enemies can or cant work in PF2. Also, how to spice up environments more, maybe have some hazards on the battlefield something to spice it up?
For waves, I think you'd have to plan for them in your encounter budget. The thing I've noticed is that if they are low enough in level to use a lot of them, then they just aren't a threat at all to the players - so it's just a time waster. (There are some sort of mob rules - nothing to do with Black Sabbath - in the Bestiary 3, but I haven't looked into them.) But basically, if the party doesn't get enough rest time between fights, then it's considered a part of the same battle.
And hazards added to a battle can be very deadly (as I discovered in my Age of Ashes game). They would also need to be deducted from the encounter budget. And again, you have the issue of anything you add has to be weak enough to not overwhelm the party, and therefore, not really challenging.
 

So lets say the party is a party of 6 level 8s (which was my party when I ran this encounter, IIRC)

A severe encounter of their level has an adjusted (for their size) budget of 180 exp, Shadows are level - 4 for them (level 4), so they're worth 10 exp each, not much at all, in theory you could throw 18 Shadows at them for a severe encounter, but obviously, AOE could make short work of them (although in this case the party was lured in and surrounded, so it would have been a little harder.)

I wanted Greater Shadows in there too, to really help the feel of this being a nest of Shadows, so those are level 7, level -1 for our party, and therefore worth 30 exp each, IIRC I shelled out exp for three Greater Shadows (90 exp) and then made the rest Shadows (90 exp) to hit the 180 total, I mightve slapped a few extra shadows on for good measure, since there's some wiggle room before the encounter passes into extreme territory and I figured AOE would level the playing field.

The battlefield was this one I THINK, either that or I made another one and had this one saved for some other reason (attached to this post, if i did it right), credit to wherever I got it from, but I don't recall, it was a long time ago now. The encounter triggered when the players investigated the altar of the shrine with shadows appearing from all the corners of the room, surrounding the party, the greater shadows distributed to the corners, with shadows forming a ring around the party. The water and altar itself was difficult terrain, but it was mainly hard because the encircling made it hard to AOE them.

In practice that many low end Shadows weren't individually threats, but the party took a lot of chip damage since they were each making 2 attacks, so you figure 10 of them are putting out 20 rolls, some are def landing hits and crits, and the enfeebled condition they can inflict is nasty. The greater shadows added a little more substance and were more dangerous since they weren't likely to drop as fast to AOE, and could take advantage of the chip damage with more solid hits to put the players into threatened territory. The encounter could even get worse due to steal shadow, and i'm sure at least one or two shadows were stolen from the aggregated enfeebled.

It was a little harder than it should have been due to a missing player (it went up to extreme, though I may have yeeted the extra shadows i'd added above the original severe budget, I don't remember) but it was a lot of fun, very touch and go for the players, and it very much wasn't a solo encounter, I totally recommend the bottom of the well as a slottable encounter if your players can handle it.
 

Attachments

  • 1631211085223.png
    1631211085223.png
    2.1 MB · Views: 13

That's what I mean though, take your level 8 example, your 45-50% chance is against a level 8 DC, but not all the DCs you face at that level should be level 8 or above, some should be as far down as level 4 or 5, which you have a much better shot at passing (DC 20 at 5, DC 22 at 6, DC 23 at 7.) A 50/50 shot for an at level skill check sounds about right to me if you aren't specializing it, it leaves room for the specialists to have a good chance of succeeding, but still have a chance of failure.
But I'm still worse at on-level challenges than I was at 1st level, except in those two areas I specialize in. I'm being funneled into being good at a small number of things. At 1st level, I was broadly competent, and at 8th level I'm less so.

And I like my characters to be competent. 60% is a pretty good baseline for something that's moderately challenging, that I know some stuff about but isn't my specialty. In my specialty, I should be above 80% at mid levels.

Legendary Resistance is just terrible, but it's reflective of how "Save vs. Suck" works in 5E. It's certainly better than other editions, but at the same time they did not find the sweet spot and thus there's a really unsatisfying band-aid put on it. I've seen people complain about Incapacitation as a concept, but I think it ends up working better by comparison. At the least, with the gradated results you were more likely to get something out of it.
I think the best solution is the one that's used in some spells in 3e and 5e, but only used in a wider context in 13th age: hit point limits. Hit points are supposed to be your plot armor anyway, so it makes sense that incapacitating spells only work on enemies that are either weak to begin with or that you've beaten up first. It also lets you be more granular – for example, both confusion and hold monster are 3rd level daily wizard spells, but confusion affects a target with up to 100 hp and hold monster up to 60 hp. Since hold monster is a stronger effect, the targets it can affect are more limited. 13th age also has the escalation die mechanic, where PCs add a stacking +1 bonus to their attacks (and since it uses the 4e method where spells use attack rolls vs various defenses instead of having the defender roll a save, that's effectively the same as +1 to save DCs as well) for each round after the first. This gives you an incentive to hold back your more powerful abilities until later, when they are more likely to hit.
 

But at level isnt really a constant, youre doing objectively harder things, and you never got that level of skill, its like grade level, just because you did well with addition and subtraction (at level math for kindergarten) doesnt mean you will automatically do well with Algebra 2 (at level math for a 10th grader) theyre different tasks, the numerical increase in difficulty is a simulation not an illusion.
 

But at level isnt really a constant, youre doing objectively harder things, and you never got that level of skill, its like grade level, just because you did well with addition and subtraction (at level math for kindergarten) doesnt mean you will automatically do well with Algebra 2 (at level math for a 10th grader) theyre different tasks, the numerical increase in difficulty is a simulation not an illusion.
And that might be realistic, but it's not fun.

If I'm facing a level 1 foe at level 1, I have many ways of dealing with them. I can try to outrun them (Athletics). I can try to turn them to my side (Diplomacy). I can try to coerce them (Intimidate). I can try to fool them (Deception). I can try to understand them (whatever knowledge skill is appropriate).

But at level 8, or even higher, facing an 8th level foe, some of those avenues will be harder than they were at level 1 against the level 1 foe. My competence, relative to the challenges I'm facing, have narrowed.

It doesn't matter that I'm much better at dealing with, say, a level 4 foe at 8th level even in my weaker areas, because the chances of a 4th level thing being a narratively meaningful challenge are nil.
 

And that might be realistic, but it's not fun.

If I'm facing a level 1 foe at level 1, I have many ways of dealing with them. I can try to outrun them (Athletics). I can try to turn them to my side (Diplomacy). I can try to coerce them (Intimidate). I can try to fool them (Deception). I can try to understand them (whatever knowledge skill is appropriate).

But at level 8, or even higher, facing an 8th level foe, some of those avenues will be harder than they were at level 1 against the level 1 foe. My competence, relative to the challenges I'm facing, have narrowed.

It doesn't matter that I'm much better at dealing with, say, a level 4 foe at 8th level even in my weaker areas, because the chances of a 4th level thing being a narratively meaningful challenge are nil.
Disagree with the bolded assertion of it not being fun, we're objectively having a great time ; )

But quips aside, I think your standards for competence are too high for this kind of game and i disagree about lower level things not being meaningful, they certainly can be-- the king you're convincing doesn't have to be your level to have political influence you need, unlocking a door in the middle of a fight you cant win to facilitate a retreat in the right direction doesnt have to be a high level lock.

Spell effects dont have to be higher level than you to be worth dispelling and athletics checks will often deal with things that have no buiness being assigned arbitrarily high levels.
 


Uni-the-Unicorn!

Adventurer
Disagree with the bolded assertion of it not being fun, we're objectively having a great time ; )

But quips aside, I think your standards for competence are too high for this kind of game and i disagree about lower level things not being meaningful, they certainly can be-- the king you're convincing doesn't have to be your level to have political influence you need, unlocking a door in the middle of a fight you cant win to facilitate a retreat in the right direction doesnt have to be a high level lock.

Spell effects dont have to be higher level than you to be worth dispelling and athletics checks will often deal with things that have no buiness being assigned arbitrarily high levels.
How is this handled in published adventures? My understanding was that PF2 adventures did in fact follow the treadmill @Staffan describes, but I have not looked myself.
 



CapnZapp

Legend
You can absolutely do waves in Pathfinder 2.

You're getting exactly zero help from the guidelines, but you can do it.

What overwhelms a party is when they're asked to handle "too many" monsters at the same time (where the value of "too many" differs between different party and monster compositions).

In other words, you can exceed the encounter budgets quite spectacularly, if you only give heroes some "breathing space" - monsters aren't arriving faster than they can be killed off and/or the constant pressure (attacks, damage, penalties) is manageable.

Even as little as splitting apart a great monster force in two groups with as little as a round or two delaying the second half from reinforcing the first can make a huge difference in the resulting challenge and encounter difficulty.

I mean this quite literally. Take a group of six monsters that makes up a Severe encounter. Split these in half and have the second half arrive one round later than the first half. Your encounter could go from Severe all the way down to Trivial!

---

So you'll just have to experiment. At one end of the scale, a party can handle a near-infinite stream of sufficiently low-level foes.

But you should be able to observe how many foes your party can dispatch, on average, every round (without novaing, i e. at a somewhat sustainable rate).

This gives you an idea of how fast reinforcements can arrive "safely".

Just to make up an example: one level - 3 critter arrive every round (on average) and one level ± 0 lieutenant arrives every three rounds (on average).

Of course depending on the abilities and defenses of said critters...

That's low level figures. At level 15 or 20 you can increase that pretty significantly.
 
Last edited:



Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top