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Pathfinder 2E PF2: Second Attempt Post Mortem

Retreater

Legend
I expect that once your wife establishes some baseline proficiency with carpentry, her skills will transfer over to new projects. The same is true of RPGs. You’ve run D&D and similar games before. Pathfinder 2e is just another D&D game. Your skills should transfer over. It’s not like it’s a PbtA or FitD game where those skills could get in your way of running the game properly.
Yes, I suppose I can build off my decades of GMing experience to figure out how to write an adventure and run a game using this 600+ page rulebook, but I struggle despite all that experience. I can't imagine how intimidating it would be to a new player or GM.
So I would want to see just a single solid adventure to show me what PF2 should look like in play. I didn't see it with the first two books of Age of Ashes, any of the three Abomination Vaults modules, Plaguestone, or the Slithering (or the other PDFs I got in the Humble Bundles).
Maybe the others will be better? Maybe the Beginner Box fixes the experience? But at this point, I've tried running three adventures with it, which is more of a chance than I'd give any other system. I don't know if the core experience is worth saving (for me).
Which this really is a shame. I loved parts of 4e, just wanted it scaled back a little closer to 3e, and obviously something in print. If they could've simplified PF2, streamlined it a bit, it would probably be my favorite system out there. And I guess that's why I gave it three tries.
I'm sure I could "fix" it - but at that point, we're not even playing PF2 anymore.
 

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It's true that high level 3E/PF1 gets wonky in which characters that don't have high ranks in skills will be terribly ineffective. Though, in PF2 I feel that way at 4th level...

Eh. I can see not loving the fumble chance, but a Trained skill is succeeding on a 13 at that level with no attribute behind it. That's probably as good as you're going to get out of that situation given a game that does weigh in attributes.

With D&D3/PF1e might have been a tiny bit better at the bottom, but if fell off pretty fast, to the point where if you actually wanted to use a skill at middle to upper levels at all, you really had to keep throwing skill points at it, and that was awfully damn limited at least for a fighter or paladin.
 
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payn

Hero
Eh. I can see not loving the fumble chance, but a Trained skill is succeeding on a 13 at that level with no attribute behind it. That's probably as good as you're going to get out of that situation given a game that does weigh in attributes.

With D&D3/PF1e might have been a tiny bit better at the bottom, but if fell off pretty fast, to the point where if you actually wanted to use a skill at middle to upper levels at all, you really had to keep throwing skill points at it, and that was awfully damn limited at least for a fighter or paladin.
Not in combat actions like recall knowledge, intimidate, stealth, etc... that 13 wont work.

In 3E you could at least put resources towards being good at a skill. You could get ahead of the curve through investment. In PF2 you have no choice but to keep up, or just give up.
 

My experience of the skills situation is that along with monsters, it benefits from taking the time to mentally reset your expectations in regard to how you set level. There are plenty of skillchecks a non-specialist can pass that are considered by the game rules to be viable content for your group, but if your reference point on DCs (or Paizo adventure writer's reference point, I would advocate homebrew anyway but hopefully we see their adventures continue to improve-- Malevolence seemed well tuned to me when I was running it) is level or above, you're more or less stacking the deck against them-- they're functionally 'boss' skill checks in terms of the way systemic math works. So if you do include 'lesser' checks, suddenly your players actual rate of success on checks overall will go up, and the hard ones won't feel so bad.

This dovetails with combat actions as well, its going to be harder to hit the dragon BBEG of the adventure four levels above you with demoralize than to hit the dude on your level, or the guy two levels below, and take it from me, a bunch of guys a level or two below the party still needs to be taken seriously when their exp total is still severe or extreme.
 

My experience of the skills situation is that along with monsters, it benefits from taking the time to mentally reset your expectations in regard to how you set level. There are plenty of skillchecks a non-specialist can pass that are considered by the game rules to be viable content for your group, but if your reference point on DCs (or Paizo adventure writer's reference point, I would advocate homebrew anyway but hopefully we see their adventures continue to improve-- Malevolence seemed well tuned to me when I was running it) is level or above, you're more or less stacking the deck against them-- they're functionally 'boss' skill checks in terms of the way systemic math works. So if you do include 'lesser' checks, suddenly your players actual rate of success on checks overall will go up, and the hard ones won't feel so bad.
The problem I mainly have is with the "funneling" of skill competency. Take a ranger, for example. A 1st level ranger is trained in 7 skills + Int modifier, plus a lore from their background. Assuming a +1 Int modifier, that's 8 skills, or fully half the skill list, where my skill modifier is in the +3 to +7 range, and an on-level/"mini-boss" skill challenge is DC 15. All in all, I feel reasonably competent. A wall? Yeah, I feel good about climbing it. No rations? I'll hunt for my dinner. A wild animal? I can probably figure out what's going on with it. A guard? I might be able to sneak by them, and I can probably tell by their uniform who they're working for.

Now move up to level 8. At this point I probably have one skill at Expert (+12+stat), one at Master (+14+stat), and the rest at Trained (+10+stat). I figure it's likely that my Expert and Master skills probably use my better stats, so I'm going to assume either a +4 stat or a +3 stat aided by +1 item, so call them +16 and +18. My trained skills are a bit more spread around but likely not a 0, so they're maybe +11 to +14. But now the challenge that's supposedly the same, relative to me, is DC 24. With my best skill, I'm better off than at level 1 (I'm assuming it was a +7 then) – I've moved from 65% to 75%. With my second-best skill, I'm in roughly the same spot (say it was a +6 and now +16), I've moved from 60% to 65%. But all my other skills have fallen behind. My average skill had a 55% chance (+5 vs 15), and now my average skill has a 45-50% chance (+12 or +13 vs 24). Did I put my increases in Nature and Survival? Well, then I can forget about sneaking past a level-appropriate foe (because monster Perception goes up even faster than normal DCs). What's up with those giants? I don't know, I'm not good enough at Society to know.

I'm considering adding a general feat that can upgrade a skill to Expert and possibly Master. That would allow for a way to expand your competence without multiclassing into rogue, and would also provide a neat thing to do with general feats which is otherwise something of an afterthought – it would be nice to have something other than Fleet, Toughness, or Canny Acumen as "power" options.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Yes, I suppose I can build off my decades of GMing experience to figure out how to write an adventure and run a game using this 600+ page rulebook, but I struggle despite all that experience.
Take Winter’s Daughter, swap out the monsters for PF2 equivalents, build hazards and traps per the GMG, and run it the exact same way you would run it in OSE or 5e. The game won’t break or have problems, and everyone can have the crunchy PF2 stuff they (presumably) like.

What I’m saying is that if you are already comfortable putting together something for other D&D games, you can do basically the same thing in PF2. If you write an OSR-style adventure, you can’t just murderhobo everything, but you couldn’t do that in OSR games either. If it’s something more trad, then at least you have tools that actually work.

If you want to learn from official adventures, the I agree the situation kind of sucks. Some will tell me I’m wrong, but I’ve always felt like they were overtuned a bit (assuming a party built with the standard point buy in PF1, which is only 15 points). They also have way too much combat.

I can't imagine how intimidating it would be to a new player or GM.
From what I’ve read, new players have an easier time picking up PF2 than experienced ones do. I think they aren’t as prone to making tactical decisions that work other games but can be unhelpful in PF2 (or something like that). I don’t know about new GMs. I agree the size of the CRB seems like it would be intimidating, and Paizo doesn’t do enough to teach you how to run the game, but PF2 isn’t alone in that.
 

The problem I mainly have is with the "funneling" of skill competency. Take a ranger, for example. A 1st level ranger is trained in 7 skills + Int modifier, plus a lore from their background. Assuming a +1 Int modifier, that's 8 skills, or fully half the skill list, where my skill modifier is in the +3 to +7 range, and an on-level/"mini-boss" skill challenge is DC 15. All in all, I feel reasonably competent. A wall? Yeah, I feel good about climbing it. No rations? I'll hunt for my dinner. A wild animal? I can probably figure out what's going on with it. A guard? I might be able to sneak by them, and I can probably tell by their uniform who they're working for.

Now move up to level 8. At this point I probably have one skill at Expert (+12+stat), one at Master (+14+stat), and the rest at Trained (+10+stat). I figure it's likely that my Expert and Master skills probably use my better stats, so I'm going to assume either a +4 stat or a +3 stat aided by +1 item, so call them +16 and +18. My trained skills are a bit more spread around but likely not a 0, so they're maybe +11 to +14. But now the challenge that's supposedly the same, relative to me, is DC 24. With my best skill, I'm better off than at level 1 (I'm assuming it was a +7 then) – I've moved from 65% to 75%. With my second-best skill, I'm in roughly the same spot (say it was a +6 and now +16), I've moved from 60% to 65%. But all my other skills have fallen behind. My average skill had a 55% chance (+5 vs 15), and now my average skill has a 45-50% chance (+12 or +13 vs 24). Did I put my increases in Nature and Survival? Well, then I can forget about sneaking past a level-appropriate foe (because monster Perception goes up even faster than normal DCs). What's up with those giants? I don't know, I'm not good enough at Society to know.

I'm considering adding a general feat that can upgrade a skill to Expert and possibly Master. That would allow for a way to expand your competence without multiclassing into rogue, and would also provide a neat thing to do with general feats which is otherwise something of an afterthought – it would be nice to have something other than Fleet, Toughness, or Canny Acumen as "power" options.
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.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
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.

Along with this, don't forget that there are things like equipment bonuses and ASIs that will further boost the character a bit. Even skills you don't care too much about will get a boost from an ASI. Though if one wanted to give more skill boosts, you might just adapt the Skill Potency idea from Automatic Progression Bonus.
 


payn

Hero
Along with this, don't forget that there are things like equipment bonuses and ASIs that will further boost the character a bit. Even skills you don't care too much about will get a boost from an ASI. Though if one wanted to give more skill boosts, you might just adapt the Skill Potency idea from Automatic Progression Bonus.
The ASI's just keep up with the +/lvl treadmill math. They dont get you ahead or even back in the game really. Just make sure you keep being good at 1-2 things.

I thought they were trying to move away from +x items? If you are expected to twink out in gear that improves your +s, that might explain why my experience sucked so bad.
 


Not in combat actions like recall knowledge, intimidate, stealth, etc... that 13 wont work.

I'm not primarily talking about those, though I've gotten use out of Intimidate even though I don't invest in it.

In 3E you could at least put resources towards being good at a skill. You could get ahead of the curve through investment. In PF2 you have no choice but to keep up, or just give up.

I assume you most be talking about things other than just the skill rank, because you sure couldn't with just it. And if you were a Fighter, you weren't going to have more than two skills, tops, unless you'd invested in Int, and it wasn't like most Fighters could afford to do that.
 

Retreater

Legend
This discussion of skill DCs makes me glad I used the Proficiency Without Level variant with the Skill Points variant. At-level DCs still go up, but they never become impossible. Skill points give allow you to trade off for more proficiencies if you want them, which is viable because DCs don’t become impossible.
That's way too much fiddling behind the screen for me. There's no way I would be able to apply that consistently.
 

payn

Hero
I'm not primarily talking about those, though I've gotten use out of Intimidate even though I don't invest in it.



I assume you most be talking about things other than just the skill rank, because you sure couldn't with just it. And if you were a Fighter, you weren't going to have more than two skills, tops, unless you'd invested in Int, and it wasn't like most Fighters could afford to do that.
Yeah, Fighters, sorcs, and clerics got a raw deal in 3E. PF1 gives some help with human and favored class. I also choose to up those classes to 4+int and take the wiz down to 2+int but thats house rules.

A fighter could go the combat expertise route and needs 13 int anyways. Gets you another rank to allow you to invest. They can spend ASI to get better stats to help out. They can take feats to help them out. They can get stat boosting items to help them out. They can use spells to buff to help them out.

Point is in the past there was choices you could make to invest in skills. Thats gone and you aint gonna diversify your stats in PF2, it would suicide to do so. So you're stuck taking one of a couple different stat arrays, 1-3 different class paths, and then a small list of skills you can take along as you level up. Somethings might help like multiclassing or free archetype, but its still limited and forces you out of your class temporarily. Kind of stifling.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
The ASI's just keep up with the +/lvl treadmill math. They dont get you ahead or even back in the game really. Just make sure you keep being good at 1-2 things.

I thought they were trying to move away from +x items? If you are expected to twink out in gear that improves your +s, that might explain why my experience sucked so bad.

But like @The-Magic-Sword says, you won't be hitting maximum level DCs at everything. The whole point is that most DCs won't be at that because otherwise you'd be dunking the party repeatedly. For lower DCs in different tasks, having those skills matters even if you don't specialize. You will not be an expert at everything, but there's no need to force everyone to be. The point is to have real strengths and weaknesses so that you have to approach problems in interesting ways rather than being able to blunt force it with weight of rolls.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Im curious about this, however, doesnt it math out the same anyways?
In the sense that trained skills get worse against at-level DCs, yes. The spread is smaller though, so things shouldn’t ever get to be impossible. Admittedly, that matters more for mixing differently leveled challenges rather than just focusing on at-level ones.

Edit: My preference is for flat DCs, but that’s not really germane to the discussion.
 

The ASI's just keep up with the +/lvl treadmill math. They dont get you ahead or even back in the game really. Just make sure you keep being good at 1-2 things.

I thought they were trying to move away from +x items? If you are expected to twink out in gear that improves your +s, that might explain why my experience sucked so bad.
The game rules do state that players are expected to get Potency and Striking on their Weapons at certain levels, and Potency and Resilience on their armor at certain levels to keep up with the monsters.

Take a look at the chart in the Automatic Bonus Progression variant for an at a glance of what built-in bonuses need to be covered in an itemless game (its also listed in the text of the treasure section of the core rulebook, but in less detail). This was the result of playtest feedback indicating people wanted items to be required part of progression, so the linear math was actually just offset at certain levels to provide that requirement.

Interestingly, it includes the skill item bonuses certain items have, and the Apex Items that boost ability scores at high levels.
 

payn

Hero
But like @The-Magic-Sword says, you won't be hitting maximum level DCs at everything. The whole point is that most DCs won't be at that because otherwise you'd be dunking the party repeatedly. For lower DCs in different tasks, having those skills matters even if you don't specialize. You will not be an expert at everything, but there's no need to force everyone to be. The point is to have real strengths and weaknesses so that you have to approach problems in interesting ways rather than being able to blunt force it with weight of rolls.
Problem is you have a strength, maybe a second one, and then a huge pile of weaknesses. You don't get a whole lot of choice in what those are either.

I get that the ability to make a variety of characters in any class in 3E could be a problem. Some folks could abuse the system to auto win at 1-2 things and suck at everything else. Paizo made this worse with all the supplements introducing "use X stat instead of Y stat" which allowed half the classes to go god stat. The point is they seemed to force everyone into a specialization and killed the general and flexible options of the past. Judging by late PF1 design, and the folks they brought on for PF2, its no mystery the direction they went. Clearly a matter of taste.
 

payn

Hero
The game rules do state that players are expected to get Potency and Striking on their Weapons at certain levels, and Potency and Resilience on their armor at certain levels to keep up with the monsters.

Take a look at the chart in the Automatic Bonus Progression variant for an at a glance of what built-in bonuses need to be covered in an itemless game (its also listed in the text of the treasure section of the core rulebook, but in less detail). This was the result of playtest feedback indicating people wanted items to be required part of progression, so the linear math was actually just offset at certain levels to provide that requirement.

Interestingly, it includes the skill item bonuses certain items have, and the Apex Items that boost ability scores at high levels.
Yeah I was on the wrong side (again) of the playtest on that one.
 

I haven't had too many problems feeling flexible in pf2e myself, part of it is that I don't consider the things my character isn't good at 'weaknesses' I consider them 'other people's job' but I also feel like the game gives you tools that can help you be pretty versatile in practice, Canny Acumen can boost perception, various archetypes and ancestry feats and such can help your skills, Lore skills can reduce the DC and the 'Additional Lore' feat auto scales in proficiency. This is all on top of the fact that you do have a decent percentage chunk of success for skills that fall behind a little, even against at-level DCs, the game also has Aiding and feats for doing that better, and it also has Follow the Expert, and the ASI's are distributed to make characters naturally well rounded.

Edit: Also the way Exploration activities work incentivizes doubling up with a specialist, since the whole party can't fling rolls at something until it works-- even if you have a lower bonus, your roll has a chance of being insurance if say, your perception specialist happens to roll low on their secret search check, your own secret search check might roll high and save the party taking a trap or missing a secret chamber or something.
 

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