Pathfinder 2E PF2: Second Attempt Post Mortem

The social engineering is what I miss. I prefer having a reward economy that nudges players towards the game’s themes and creative agenda. I want it to work like the fate point economy in Fate or the XP reward cycle in games like Blades in the Dark or Dungeon World. The way hero points in PF2 (and inspiration in 5e) work feels like rewarding players for doing something they were going to do anyway.

Another good example would be the Destiny Point system in FFG's Star Wars RPG. You generate a pool of light and dark side points, where the GM can use the dark side points and the players can use the light side points to get advantages or add parts to the narrative. However, whenever you use one you flip it to the other side, so there's some interesting push and pull, as well as a nice system that allows the GM to use fiat to make things more difficult while also giving the players a reward for it. It also plays into certain character powers.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Aldarc

Legend
@Retreater, not every game is for everyone and that's okay. Maybe it will be with time and you still have the books. Maybe it won't and your books will go to someone for whom this is the right game for them.

At the very least, you have learned more about your own personal preferences and what you want out of a game. Maybe the upcoming Level Up will be that game for you.
 

kenada

Legend
Yes, it is a good illustrative point of PF2s severely overengineered nature.

Can you ignore it? Yes. Simply give everyone more hero points at session's start and you're done. But why was it allowed to become so cludgey and overbearing in the first place?
It’s actually the opposite — hero points are under-engineered. They don’t tie into the core gameplay loop. It’s left entirely to fiat to make sure the GM gives them out at the intended rate. They’re just kind of feeble and timidly implemented (I’d say the same about inspiration in 5e).
 

kenada

Legend
Maybe it's time to give up on getting a system that can support the fiction of D&D and classic fantasy gaming with a more robust tactical element than 5e. Maybe Level Up will suit us better? Maybe we should look at going back to PF1?
I’m pretty sure I sound like a broke record at this point, but check out Worlds Without Number. It has a 3e-style action economy, but tactical play is afforded via action choice (e.g., how/when you decide to take your turn rather than by stacking up modifiers effectively). It also does customization (foci are feats, basically). The only bad part is it’s too verbose for its own good*. The core rules are only ~20 pages, but there are things scattered around other sections that are important too.



* I ended up putting together a guide for my group in the style of OSE (actually using the OSE Core Rules as a base). How do people do retroclones? It’s something I’d like to share with the WWN thread here, but I should like to make sure it’s not infringing on WWN.
 
Last edited:

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yes, it is a good illustrative point of PF2s severely overengineered nature.

I don't want to talk about individual trees. I want to talk about the forest.

Mod Note:

Coming into the Pathfinder forum, where people who like the game are busy discussing it, and putting forth relentless and unremittingly negative posts about the game is kind of like walking into an ice cream parlor, putting down a soapbox in the middle of the room, standing on it, and loudly haranguing customers about how ice cream sucks.

It is clear you don't like the game. That's fine. Leave spaces on the boards for people who do like it to discuss without your input, please and thanks.
 

The social engineering is what I miss. I prefer having a reward economy that nudges players towards the game’s themes and creative agenda. I want it to work like the fate point economy in Fate or the XP reward cycle in games like Blades in the Dark or Dungeon World. The way hero points in PF2 (and inspiration in 5e) work feels like rewarding players for doing something they were going to do anyway.

You're far from alone. I've just concluded after years of dealing with experience systems that do that, its not only not something I want to be doing, its not something I should be doing.

But my point was, there's no need to get into the weeds in that way for a hero point mechanic to work. You can simplify it immensely and it makes almost no practical difference in the actual purpose.
 

I am not criticizing Pathfinder 2 for providing "actual systems" to deal with regularly done task.

I am however repeatedly asking myself "did it really need to be this complicated and detailed?"

(And before you try saying "yes", no. Absolutely not. It definitely did not need to be this cluttery and fiddly.)

And here's a surprise that you clearly have trouble with CZ: Not everyone agrees with you. In some cases, to do the job right, I do, indeed think it needed to be that, and the fact you don't think so doesn't change that.

As an example, I can see exactly the problem the stealth and concealment system was designed to deal with, because its a set of problems that comes up with those area in every game that has to deal with them. You can either address them systematically or throw them into the GM's lap every time they come up. I don't consider the latter a virtue.

(This doesn't mean I don't think in the case of some areas it couldn't be presented more clearly, but that's a different question.)
 

Maybe it's time to give up on getting a system that can support the fiction of D&D and classic fantasy gaming with a more robust tactical element than 5e. Maybe Level Up will suit us better? Maybe we should look at going back to PF1?
But seems pretty clear that for some of us there's just no getting PF2 to where we want. And after some substantial time and financial investment (at least on my part), that's a shame. There's also the baked-in disappointment that it's from a company I used to support and now my interest in their products will be waning.
I'm some ways it feels like a breakup from a relationship where two partners want different things. Maybe that's why we see so much passion in these threads?

Here's the difference: while I think you sometimes overstate some things, its clear that some things are simply a case you have different expectations and needs than what PF2e is trying to serve, and don't want to try and hammer PF2e in it because (as I mentioned in regard to the other poster), why should you? Trying to use the proper tool for the job is a virtue; as Keneda has mentioned, its better than the situation with some 5e fans who have a "when you have a big hammer" approach.

The problem with CZ is that he is apparently incapable of accepting that anyone can have a view different from his on the problems he sees with PF2e and come by them legitimately. So he massively begs the question, and outright accuses people who don't accept that of arguing in bad faith. That's not a feeling I get from any other PF2e critic around here.

(And that doesn't even getting into the question about whether hopping into every thread about a game you dislike to let everyone know it. FATE and PbtA games don't work for me, and I'll sometimes mention that and why if it comes up, but I don't usually post in threads here or elsewhere that are dedicated to those systems or individual games based on them, because people have a right to like what they like and that they don't suit me doesn't change that.)
 


Awesome. Ever since I was a kid I've daydreamed of being a fairly effective wizard in a land of high adventure.

source.gif
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
FATE and PbtA games don't work for me, and I'll sometimes mention that and why if it comes up, but I don't usually post in threads here or elsewhere that are dedicated to those systems or individual games based on them, because people have a right to like what they like and that they don't suit me doesn't change that.)

Except that you weren't happy with FATE with a subscription of support material when they changed to a new system, and you aren't half-way through an adventure path in FATE2e with your friends that means you're likely to be running FATE2e for the rest of the year. It's not really comparable to what I'm dealing with, or what any Pathfinder player who doesn't like PF2 and would just like things to go back to the way they were is dealing with.
 

Except that you weren't happy with FATE with a subscription of support material when they changed to a new system, and you aren't half-way through an adventure path in FATE2e with your friends that means you're likely to be running FATE2e for the rest of the year. It's not really comparable to what I'm dealing with, or what any Pathfinder player who doesn't like PF2 and would just like things to go back to the way they were is dealing with.

Cancel your subscription and change games. Just because you have a prior investment still does not give someone a right to incessant negativity, especially when its abundantly clear at this point that bitching about it is all they're going to get out of it. Walk away.

I've absolutely had games I liked in the past that changed in ways that were unacceptable. I didn't like it either but I let it go.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Cancel your subscription and change games. Just because you have a prior investment still does not give someone a right to incessant negativity, especially when its abundantly clear at this point that bitching about it is all they're going to get out of it. Walk away.

I've absolutely had games I liked in the past that changed in ways that were unacceptable. I didn't like it either but I let it go.
Don't complicate things with your obvious solutions!
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
There are so many games out there, that anyone can find one that suits their own particular predilections.

If some folks prefer DD5, more power to 'em! I understand there are also new modmods arriving on the scene that take DD5 to a new level. That's great!

Some folks like the old DD3.5 vibe, or the spin that PF1 put onto it (sometimes refered to as DD3.75). That's great too! There is so much PF1 material out there that you can play PF1 for years and years without ever running out, not to mention homebrew games.

Personally, I really prefer PF2. After years of playing DD3.5 and then PF1, PF2 comes along and solves many of the gripes I had with PF1. Sure, it's not perfect. Sure, there are problems with many of the published APs, which have pre-programmed challenges that are on the cutting edge of TPK territory. But a clever DM can adapt those edgy situation, or simply run homebrew campaigns like I do, and the game systems works really well, giving more power to martials and reining in the worst excesses of the power of PF1/DD3.5 spellcasters. You can say what you want about the way PF2 has taken a nerfbat to spellcasters of all stripes, but I see it as a much-needed and long-overdue solution to a known problem.

I love our shared RPG hobby, and it pains me to see folks badmouthing any game, especially PF2, which is my current favorite, until something else new and shiny comes along. So play whatever game fills your RPG void, and let's talk constructively about the features of the game this forum is dedicated to, rather than focusing on the warts and blemishes that any game is likely to suffer from.

FWIW, there's a whole lot of new and cool content coming out of Paizo these days. The big Mwangi book was awe-inspiring in depth, and the recently released Secrets of Magic book was simply brilliant. We're still waiting on Guns and Gears, the Grand Bazaar, and the big Absalom book (which appears to have been further delayed) so there is no shortage of new and intriguing material coming out.
 

!DWolf

Adventurer
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.
There are more possibilities: perhaps you are using the wrong gamemaster “tools”/skillset with pathfinder 2e? If other dnd derived games may be successful run with skillsets A, B, and C and Pf2e may be successful run with skillsets B, C, and D, you may have trouble running pf2e despite being a very good gm if you primarily use skillset A (or think that you should be using skillset A instead of a more appropriate skillset).

To further elaborate:
Based on your postings (and these things can be very hard to judge without having session recordings available), you seem to run a pf2e “game loop” similar to:
  1. The party enters the room
  2. Combat
  3. Loot, heal, refocus, and otherwise reset for combat
  4. Find the next room
  5. Repeat from 1
With the main emphasis being on step number 2. Thus your games are basically endless streams of combats with any plot, story, roleplay, etc. that would take place out of combat squeezed into step 4 because you want to make more time for step 2. In other words (from my perspective at least) you are running (as FrozenNorth said) exploration as a mini-game with combat as the main game.

In contrast: most horror rpgs will use a different loop (because combat is usually EXTREMELY deadly). The loop varies by game of course but an example (and specifically the structure I use) is:
  1. Declaration: everyone declares what they are doing.
  2. Resolution: the actions of each character or groups of characters are resolved either offscreen (you do that) or as a scene (which of course has its own declarations and resolutions). Combat may occur here. Some game masters can get a lot of mileage out of cutting from one group to another to maintain tension (see Seth Skorkowski’s video here at 10:00 in for an example) but I use dramatic cuts rarely.
  3. Update World: the state of the world changes in response to the players. This is done somewhat in tandem with 2 but this is the step where NPCs move around, time based events process, etc. Sometimes this triggers events in the narration (they hear the monster moving for instance).
  4. Repeat from 1.
And I have found that this exact same structure also works excellently for running pf2e “out of the box” because it is explicitly supported (and this is in fact why I like the game so much: it’s a hybrid of everything I like about horror game structure with high fantasy action).

So you may be having problems with a sort of tunnel vision: you may be locked on to the “correct way” to play based on a) what works for you in other dnd derived high fantasy games, b) what you are expecting the core loop to be based on what you have read on the internet, c) what your previous players wanted out of the game, or d) a combination of all three. But that way maybe serving you poorly with pf2e which is a bit of a departure from the mold.

So, my advice if you do want to run a pf2e game successfully, as someone who has run it successfully and reflects a lot on what makes their game work, is to: a) record your session and then listen to them to figure out what exactly is going on and b) find and run/play/at-least-listen-to a bunch of preferably non-fantasy horror/investigation games that speak to you and pay attention to how they work and why you like them (from a game perspective of course), then come back in a few years and use that knowledge to try and run pf2e again.
 

dave2008

Legend
  1. Declaration: everyone declares what they are doing.
  2. Resolution: the actions of each character or groups of characters are resolved either offscreen (you do that) or as a scene (which of course has its own declarations and resolutions). Combat may occur here. Some game masters can get a lot of mileage out of cutting from one group to another to maintain tension (see Seth Skorkowski’s video here at 10:00 in for an example) but I use dramatic cuts rarely.
  3. Update World: the state of the world changes in response to the players. This is done somewhat in tandem with 2 but this is the step where NPCs move around, time based events process, etc. Sometimes this triggers events in the narration (they hear the monster moving for instance).
  4. Repeat from 1.
Isn't that how all D&D / PF type games are run? I mean that is what I have been doing with every edition of D&D since 1e / BECMI. I guess everyone does it differently, but that seems like RPG 101 to me.
 

Retreater

Legend
So, my advice if you do want to run a pf2e game successfully, as someone who has run it successfully and reflects a lot on what makes their game work, is to: a) record your session and then listen to them to figure out what exactly is going on and b) find and run/play/at-least-listen-to a bunch of preferably non-fantasy horror/investigation games that speak to you and pay attention to how they work and why you like them (from a game perspective of course), then come back in a few years and use that knowledge to try and run pf2e again.
I think part of my disconnect with PF2 has been the APs. They feel like a straightjacket in a lot of ways (so do some of the 5e mega-campaigns to me too). I do better running my own material that I can tailor to my players' interest in a dynamic, living world. With PF2 I feel it's a new system that relies on balance. My safeguard against messing it up is to use the official adventures, and I don't like straying from the specific tracks placed by the designers because that defeats the point of using them and gives me just another way of messing it up.
I've run successful Call of Cthulhu campaigns, as well as adventures in OSR systems that require a lot of exploration to survive.
The Pathfinder 2E APs that I've seen so far (Age of Ashes and Abomination Vaults) just don't utilize that exploration pillar well enough.
 

kenada

Legend
The safeguard against messing things up in PF2 is the system’s structures for that. The encounter-building guidelines work. Once you understand where your players fall (e.g., mine suck at tactics, so I have to keep things down a notch), you can rely on them to tell you whether things are getting too dangerous and if you need to signal accordingly.

For example, if the PCs are fighting a group, and they flee, you can look at the consequences should they return with help. Maybe it will be an extreme-threat (or worse) encounter, which will almost certainly kill the party. Describe what the PCs hear as the enemy forces approach, and be frank with them: you can stay, but it will be really nasty. If they want to do that, set up racing clocks a VP subsystem thing for them to make ready against the reinforcements. This is all just taking advantage of the tools the game provides to improvise once a situation goes sideways.

I haven’t run PF2 APs, but I’ve run several PF1 ones. Setting aside growing pains with a new system (e.g., possibly wonky Fall of Plaguestone and Age of Ashes tuning), Paizo is pretty consistent with their adventures (for good and ill), so I expect my experience is still applicable. APs are tools. Running them by the book is a style, but that’s not the only way to get value out of them. If they help you save on one of the harder parts of adventure design (such as coming up with ideas and putting those ideas to paper), then that seems like great value to me.
 

Personally, I tend to heavily mod any AP (in both 5e and PF2) that I run. I generally feel that by doing so, I get the most value of the AP for myself and my group. I also feel that I still get value for money notwithstanding the changes to the AP (on occasion, it has its guts completely ripped out until just the skeleton remains).

That being said, I understand/agree with @Retreater . There are many entirely legitimate reasons why you may have to/prefer to run APs as is, including:
  • not feeling confident enough in the system at the time you play it to heavily mod it;
  • not having time to mod it because other obligations/running other games;
  • not enjoying modding adventures;
  • finding the tools to mod adventures unhelpful/annoying/complicated to use/more trouble than they’re worth.
 

payn

Legend
Folks sometimes think the APs run themselves, and that is certainly not the case. There is a time investment into understanding the material to be able to bring it to life. If Golarion isnt interesting to you, particularly the adventure the AP centers on, you are going to have a hard time making it a specific run of the mill dungeon romp or whatever your conventional RPG intentions are. That obviously is going to limit their value to certain GMs.

The Paizo sub-forums for the APs are a wealth of info and advice on running them. At least during the PF1 era, the forums over at Paizo seemed to be on life support now (everybody on reddit, discord, etc..?). Anyways, I always made sure to frequent them while running an AP to get ideas to incorporate into my campaign and to look out for any potential pitfalls in the material. Its a time consuming task to make an AP sing, but its labor of love for me. I can see it being a chore for others.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top