Pathfinder 2E PF2: Second Attempt Post Mortem

CapnZapp

Legend
I guess my "bad mark against it" might originate from my DM/GM ego. I'm very confident in my ability to run a solid D&D-style TTRPG, and I'm aware that's also one of my limitations. I've been running these types of games since the late 1980s, and very familiar with the d20 system since its creation in the early 2000s with 3.0. When a system crashes and burns for a couple of groups that I've GMed for as spectacularly as PF2 has - under a variety of circumstances - I look for a common denominator.
It's true that I am a common denominator. Maybe I'm just not good at running PF2, but I'm fine at running 3.x, D&D 4e, 5e, 13th Age, PF1, etc. I wanted the Abomination Vaults campaign I ran to be proof that I could challenge myself to run a good PF2 game. So I have to look at a) maybe I'm a bad GM; b) maybe the adventure was set up to be not good; or c) there is a flaw in the system.
So when I analyze the end of the campaign (which I do at the end of every campaign), I'm left wondering if you take a GM who wants something to work, really reads and tries to understand the rules and the adventure, has decades of experience running this time of game, with a group of players who actually want it to succeed and are competent/experienced players - with all these factors considered - if the game still doesn't work, where is the issue? If you have a group who likes heroic fantasy in the style of PF/D&D and the game still doesn't work, where is the issue? If you have an adventure written a year after the main rules were made available, by one of the core designers of the system, can it be the fault of the adventure?
These are all questions I'm asking.
You don't have to beat yourself up.

PF2 is a very particular iteration of D&D, that focuses on doing a few things well, and other things... well, horrendously complicated and still rather poorly, is one way of putting it.
 

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prosfilaes

Adventurer
Correct. Which means if you're going to claim something toward one end or the other, you need to support it or its just a blind claim.

False; if you're going to make any claims, not just "toward one end or the other", you need to support it. I didn't claim anything besides "most" is a possibility, which you can't exclude if you don't know anything.

If you select from things that are potentially producing garbage results because you're ignoring context, I don't feel a need to call them anything but potentially producing garbage. If that's frustrating to you, so be it.

For one, you're dismissing things without even looking at them. Everything potentially produces garbage, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look at the numbers. Secondly,

(And that's not even getting into the question of what is being compared to: if its 5e or PF1e, that tells you not much of anything since the former drowns the whole rest of the hobby, and the latter was able to take advantage of a particular period and situation that never will occur again to a non-WOTC company most likely).
You get all defensive and explaining why we shouldn't compare it to 5E or PF1e, but you don't mention that it's a follow up release to the one-time best selling RPG by the second-largest RPG company in the industry, a game with promise of extensive support at launch, and that most people wouldn't be playing it without that, and that, by the same argument, it has an unfair lead over just about any other game in the industry.

If you don't care, don't care. But don't act like you don't care and tear down the results before they even get produced.

The Orr Group Industry Report Q1 2021 · Roll20 Blog is interesting; less than half as many people are playing Pathfinder 2 as are playing Pathfinder 1, and while D&D 5 is managing a 2.23% increase (which is amazing starting at 50%+ of the share), neither edition of Pathfinder gets even that.
 

False; if you're going to make any claims, not just "toward one end or the other", you need to support it. I didn't claim anything besides "most" is a possibility, which you can't exclude if you don't know anything.

No. In a lot of cases, a claim like "some people aren't going to like what this system does" is completely non-controversial; its sufficiently self-evident to the majority of observers nothing more is needed.

But once you get into numeric extremes, progessively more support is needed. If I say "No one plays DragonQuest anymore" that's a strong claim that requires strong support (and is almost certainly going to be shot down, since it literally needs only one person to say they are to make it into hyperbole at best and a vast over extension at worst). Similarly "most" or "few" are going to require more support than "some".

For one, you're dismissing things without even looking at them. Everything potentially produces garbage
but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look at the numbers. Secondly,

I have not problem looking at the numbers. However when someone goes in with the clear view that flawed numbers prove or even strongly indicate something, I also have no problem calling that out right at the start.

You get all defensive and explaining why we shouldn't compare it to 5E or PF1e, but you don't mention that it's a follow up release to the one-time best selling RPG by the second-largest RPG company in the industry, a game with promise of extensive support at launch, and that most people wouldn't be playing it without that, and that, by the same argument, it has an unfair lead over just about any other game in the industry.

Which is why I've said repeatedly that it was not going to compare to original PF1e.

Because nothing could.

PF1e, like D&D at the start, had a particular advantage in time, space and other events (the backlash against D&D 4e) that is functionally unduplicable. PF2e could be the best designed game that ever came along, all things to all people, and it would be unlikely to make the numbers of its two predecessors.

If you don't care, don't care. But don't act like you don't care and tear down the results before they even get produced.

I believe I've got the right to object to a flawed methodology. In fact, before they get produced is exactly the time to do that.
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
But once you get into numeric extremes, progessively more support is needed. If I say "No one plays DragonQuest anymore" that's a strong claim that requires strong support (and is almost certainly going to be shot down, since it literally needs only one person to say they are to make it into hyperbole at best and a vast over extension at worst). Similarly "most" or "few" are going to require more support than "some".

What do you mean by numeric extremes? Claiming that 25%-75% of the people like it requires the same support as saying 50%-100% of the people like it. If by "some" you mean something vacuous, then no, it doesn't need much support, but it doesn't really need saying, either.

Which is why I've said repeatedly that it was not going to compare to original PF1e.

Because nothing could.

PF1e, like D&D at the start, had a particular advantage in time, space and other events (the backlash against D&D 4e) that is functionally unduplicable. PF2e could be the best designed game that ever came along, all things to all people, and it would be unlikely to make the numbers of its two predecessors.

PF1 had a particular advantage at the start. Today, it's just another obsolete D&D edition well-supported in its day. So PF2, the best designed game of all time, all things to all people, could be released with excellent support (as it was), and twice as many people could be playing PF1 as are playing PF2 after two years? I cry naughty word.

I believe I've got the right to object to a flawed methodology. In fact, before they get produced is exactly the time to do that.
Is that how you object to games? Complain based on the briefest description, before anyone has any real examples to show you? You don't know anything about the methodology, you're just trying to shut down the comparisons before anyone does them.
 

What do you mean by numeric extremes?

I just explained what. If you didn't understand it, I don't see how my going over it again is going to make ti better.

PF1 had a particular advantage at the start. Today, it's just another obsolete D&D edition well-supported in its day. So PF2, the best designed game of all time, all things to all people, could be released with excellent support (as it was), and twice as many people could be playing PF1 as are playing PF2 after two years? I cry naughty word.

Given the number of people who jumped on PF1e were people who were happy with and unwilling to leave D&D 3e, I don't see any reason they'd suddenly change their minds now, especially given the sunk cost in materials.

Is that how you object to games? Complain based on the briefest description, before anyone has any real examples to show you? You don't know anything about the methodology, you're just trying to shut down the comparisons before anyone does them.

This is not the first time people have brought up the sources you reference in this sort of discussion, so, yes, actually, I do.
 



prosfilaes

Adventurer
Given the number of people who jumped on PF1e were people who were happy with and unwilling to leave D&D 3e, I don't see any reason they'd suddenly change their minds now, especially given the sunk cost in materials.
So they changed their minds from D&D 3e, despite the sunk cost in materials, but they won't change their minds from PF1e given the sunk cost in materials, even if PF2e was manifestly better in every way. Or maybe they looked at it, played it a little, and decided they didn't like it?
 

So they changed their minds from D&D 3e, despite the sunk cost in materials, but they won't change their minds from PF1e given the sunk cost in materials, even if PF2e was manifestly better in every way. Or maybe they looked at it, played it a little, and decided they didn't like it?

The kicker is that they really didn't change their minds with PF1e; PF1e was viewed by a great many people as an iteration off 3e, just as 3.5e was. That was most of PF1e's initial market. They could port over characters and campaigns with little fuss or muss, and not even necessarily need to change any numbers in many cases.

No one has ever said PF2e is in the same bucket. But it how much of that has anything to do with quality or design and how much of it has to do with the fact that PF1e was already serving their needs well enough is another question, and is impossible to determine at a distance.

Its notable, however, that virtually any RPG that has a significant redesign between editions loses at least some of its prior player base; usually over time they make up the difference, but as I noted, PF1e was an aberration in that it vacuumed up an inordinate number of D&D3 players, so that was always going to be exceedingly unlikely with 2e no matter what PF2e did if there was any redesign at all.
 


I was part of @Retreater ’s group, and I just thought that I would give my two copper.

PF2 has a lot of fiddly subsystems that are designed to bite hard if you don’t care about them.*

Don’t care about the exploration subsystem? Your rogue is denied sneak attack of each first round of combat.
Don’t care about the treasure subsystem? Waiting an extra level or two until a striking rune drops hits your martial’s effectiveness hard.
Don’t care about the char gen minigame? What is the life expectancy of a low-level 12 Dex wizard against a +1 enemy?
Don’t care about sneak mini-game? Tough to avoid if enemies ambush or use invisibilty.
Don’t care (or have trouble) managing the Hero Point mini-game)? The team is that much more fragile.
Don’t care for the healing mini-game? Sorry, you are out of luck!
Item-crafting/fixing mini-game? This one you can avoid…unless you are a sword and board fighter.

So, you either force yourself to interact with a mini-game you don’t particularly enjoy (unless everyone BOTH agrees to ignore it and AND groks the system enough to compensate for its absence) or you just suffer the effects of ignoring it.

*Caveat: I’m aware that the GMG contains variants to some of these systems. Some of those variants mean more work for the GM and eschewing tools available online. Also, it requires the group both agreeing on a diagnosis and implementing the change. Finally, if you have torn out all of the subsystems and replaced them with variants, at what point aren’t you just better changing to a different game altogether?
 
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kenada

Legend
Supporter
Finally, if you have torn out all of the subsystems and replaced them with variants, at what point aren’t you just better changing to a different game altogether?
There’s usually some bit people still like, or they have an emotional attachment to the game. I’m reminded of some fabulously splendid discussions I’ve had with 5e’ers who seemed offended that I didn’t want to homebrew it into whatever. 😒
 

There’s usually some bit people still like, or they have an emotional attachment to the game. I’m reminded of some fabulously splendid discussions I’ve had with 5e’ers who seemed offended that I didn’t want to homebrew it into whatever. 😒
True, but I would imagine that sort of attachment is more likely to form when someone has used a system for a long time, rather than with a relatively new system.
 

I was part of @Retreater ’s group, and I just thought that I would give my two copper.

PF2 has a lot of fiddly subsystems that are designed to bite hard if you don’t care about them.*

Don’t care about the exploration subsystem? Your rogue is denied sneak attack of each first round of combat.

Tumble Through.

Don’t care about the treasure subsystem? Waiting an extra level or two until a striking rune drops hits your martial’s effectiveness hard.
Don’t care about the char gen minigame? What is the life expectancy of a low-level 12 Dex wizard against a +1 enemy?

In my observation, depends what he does with the bonuses instead.

Don’t care about sneak mini-game? Tough to avoid if enemies ambush or use invisibilty.

Well, yes, if you don't use the system for stealth, stealth isn't going to work.

Don’t care (or have trouble) managing the Hero Point mini-game)? The team is that much more fragile.

Minigame? The Hero Point system is a minigame to you?

Don’t care for the healing mini-game? Sorry, you are out of luck!

Is there some incarnation of D&D that not engaging with the healing methodologies goes well?
 

There’s usually some bit people still like, or they have an emotional attachment to the game. I’m reminded of some fabulously splendid discussions I’ve had with 5e’ers who seemed offended that I didn’t want to homebrew it into whatever. 😒

Yup. Happens with a lot of games.

Much as I kind of blinked at FrozenNorth above, he's right about that, though; if you don't really like the majority of elements of a game's structure, trying to hammer it into what you do like is kind of an idiot's game.
 

Retreater

Legend
Tumble Through.
That can work sometimes to get into position, but it's far from a sure thing. If you don't have Acrobatics absolutely maxxed out, you won't have a chance of getting through Reflex DCs. (And even if you do max it out, it's unlikely to work.) In this case it's usually a better idea just to walk around your opponents to get into flanking position - because almost no one has AoOs anymore.

Well, yes, if you don't use the system for stealth, stealth isn't going to work.
It's a pretty vital component of a game to not use, but they have something like 5 conditions to describe different types of hiding. It could easily be a binary thing: Do they know you're there or not? Instead you have concealed, hidden, invisible, undetected, unnoticed. Don't you think that could've been simplified a little?

Minigame? The Hero Point system is a minigame to you?
As @FrozenNorth 's GM, I had to keep a notebook to remind me to give a Hero Point every hour, and to mark down who gets one to spread them out over the sessions. And do you spend it on a re-roll, keep it to auto-stabilize? It's certainly an optional rule that isn't really optional, unless you want a TPK.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I was part of @Retreater ’s group, and I just thought that I would give my two copper.

PF2 has a lot of fiddly subsystems that are designed to bite hard if you don’t care about them.*

Don’t care about the exploration subsystem? Your rogue is denied sneak attack of each first round of combat.
Don’t care about the treasure subsystem? Waiting an extra level or two until a striking rune drops hits your martial’s effectiveness hard.
Don’t care about the char gen minigame? What is the life expectancy of a low-level 12 Dex wizard against a +1 enemy?
Don’t care about sneak mini-game? Tough to avoid if enemies ambush or use invisibilty.
Don’t care (or have trouble) managing the Hero Point mini-game)? The team is that much more fragile.
Don’t care for the healing mini-game? Sorry, you are out of luck!
Item-crafting/fixing mini-game? This one you can avoid…unless you are a sword and board fighter.

So, you either force yourself to interact with a mini-game you don’t particularly enjoy (unless everyone BOTH agrees to ignore it and AND groks the system enough to compensate for its absence) or you just suffer the effects of ignoring it.

*Caveat: I’m aware that the GMG contains variants to some of these systems. Some of those variants mean more work for the GM and eschewing tools available online. Also, it requires the group both agreeing on a diagnosis and implementing the change. Finally, if you have torn out all of the subsystems and replaced them with variants, at what point aren’t you just better changing to a different game altogether?
Very good points.

People saying "but there are solutions to this" all miss "why does it have to be a problem in the first place"

Like I said, the game just is super inflexible and focused, and getting tossed crumbs in the form of "optional variants" does not change this.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Here's one attempt to boil down the problem with PF2:

They assume people need balance so badly they will put up with a shipload of restrictive detailed nonsense.

The game is written from the perspective of "if even one thing ends up slightly better than projected everything's a failure"

So, any time you veer off the game's expected play style, you end up with a ship load of cruft but not the balance it was so painfully designed to uphold.
 

That can work sometimes to get into position, but it's far from a sure thing. If you don't have Acrobatics absolutely maxxed out, you won't have a chance of getting through Reflex DCs. (And even if you do max it out, it's unlikely to work.) In this case it's usually a better idea just to walk around your opponents to get into flanking position - because almost no one has AoOs anymore.

I don't know what her particular rank is at, but I watch my wife's rogue do that multiple times a fight literally every game. So your characterization of that is clearly incorrect and/or based on some set of assumptions not self-evident.

(And no, she doesn't have hot dice; if anything she runs to the contrary).

It's a pretty vital component of a game to not use, but they have something like 5 conditions to describe different types of hiding. It could easily be a binary thing: Do they know you're there or not? Instead you have concealed, hidden, invisible, undetected, unnoticed. Don't you think that could've been simplified a little?

Could have? Absolutely. Should have? Not necessarily (and I don't think invisible is a condition in and of itself).

As @FrozenNorth 's GM, I had to keep a notebook to remind me to give a Hero Point every hour, and to mark down who gets one to spread them out over the sessions. And do you spend it on a re-roll, keep it to auto-stabilize? It's certainly an optional rule that isn't really optional, unless you want a TPK.

Our GM's just given us three up front at the start of a session normally, and I don't recall anything particularly untoward happening. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone need to use one to auto-stabilize.
 


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