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Pathfinder 2E PF2: Second Attempt Post Mortem

payn

Hero
I appreciate the comments, particularly The-Magic-Sword, to help me work this out. I love Paizo adventures and so far the PF2 APs have not thematically spoken to me. Its just a matter of time until one does, and Id like to see if I can hack PF2 into an enjoyable system. Converting an AP back to PF1 seems like an extra burden I dont want to take.

I am thinking using the variants might help;
Auto-Bonus prog
Prof without level
Free Archetype

Im still dubious about skill point variant.
 

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Justice and Rule

Adventurer
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.

Yeah, I just don't see that with the numbers. Even by @Staffan 's numbers, you aren't completely ineffectual at Trained. There's risk, yes, and there should be! If it's an At-CR task, it should care some level of failure. But you are hardly ineffective, and it's on you to take steps to get bonuses to minimize your risk. Like @The-Magic-Sword says, items, bonuses, actions like Follow The Expert and other things can all be helpful here. No, just being trained in something won't knock something out of the park, even with an off-stat example there with the DC 24 and a +12/+13 isn't being useless. Rather, it means there's risk that you need to take into consideration.
 

I appreciate the comments, particularly The-Magic-Sword, to help me work this out. I love Paizo adventures and so far the PF2 APs have not thematically spoken to me. Its just a matter of time until one does, and Id like to see if I can hack PF2 into an enjoyable system. Converting an AP back to PF1 seems like an extra burden I dont want to take.

I am thinking using the variants might help;
Auto-Bonus prog
Prof without level
Free Archetype

Im still dubious about skill point variant.
We use Free Archetype, its just such a fun variant-- and it could help, I recently made a Wisdom oriented Magus who was trying to be an imitation rogue (since Int is surprisingly dumpable on them if you avoid certain options, and i already play too many Int characters), taking the Archaeologist with my Free Archetype feats earned me expert in Society and Thievery on top of my existing skill progression, bonuses to checks to find traps and not die to them, and other goodies the character really wanted, I also used Canny Acumen to shore up my Perception a little (since Magus's are two full steps behind Rogue, after taking the feat, I was only one.)

ABP also feels good, because the game's items have a lot else to offer, but sometimes it can feel bad to spend gold on the mandatory bonuses at the level they're supposed to come online. You still feel like gear is important, especially due to property runes and staves and such.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
I appreciate the comments, particularly The-Magic-Sword, to help me work this out. I love Paizo adventures and so far the PF2 APs have not thematically spoken to me. Its just a matter of time until one does, and Id like to see if I can hack PF2 into an enjoyable system. Converting an AP back to PF1 seems like an extra burden I dont want to take.

I am thinking using the variants might help;
Auto-Bonus prog
Prof without level
Free Archetype

Im still dubious about skill point variant.

Auto-Bonus and Free Archetype are like auto-takes for me. It's awesome to have a high-level character be insanely deadly with any weapon they pick up, and giving characters more Feats to pick up is also great.
 

payn

Hero
Auto-Bonus and Free Archetype are like auto-takes for me. It's awesome to have a high-level character be insanely deadly with any weapon they pick up, and giving characters more Feats to pick up is also great.
Im a little surprised folks wanted the +x items back, and annoyed that the designers put them into the system math. There is a legion of GMs out there that do not understand the expected nature of these items. Often, GMs see magic items as a cherry on the sundae and if they want to be stingy thats ok. Its not, particularly in 3E/PF1.

In our PF2 campaign, folks often got excited about potency and striking runes. I asked what they did, "give a +1". I understand thats a big deal in PF2 math, but god its a boring thing for magic items to do.
 

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.
Out of curiosity, what did you do for monsters in the Proficiency without level variant? Did you subtract on the fly each time? Update the numbers on the pdf or VTT? Print and correct?
 

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.

I'd argue you can't help but diversify your stats in Pf2e. Those two four-step adds are going to go somewhere, and Its not self-evident that hitting something that will support your skill choices is automatically better than dumping things into Wisdom or Dex again just to up your saves a toggle. Outside your core stats I'm not even sure its worth chasing the main ones once you hit the point you're going to need two advances to make a difference. I did that with the Strength and Charisma on my Champion/Bard, but I'm really unsold I'd have missed it if I put them somewhere else instead.
 

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.

Yeah, Payn and some others seem to assume the only DCs you're ever going to be dealing with are at-level or higher, which certainly hasn't been my experience, and that's even in an AP.
 

Green Onceler

Explorer
I love Paizo adventures and so far the PF2 APs have not thematically spoken to me.

I used to love Paizo adventures too. However, I haven't been interested in running/playing one of their adventures since Ruins of Azlant in 2017. None of the recent Pathfinder releases appeal and, sadly, I do not feel compelled to purchase any of the Starfinder adventures either. Something about their recent adventures seems to consistently miss the mark for me but I cannot place my finger on what exactly.
 

payn

Hero
I used to love Paizo adventures too. However, I haven't been interested in running/playing one of their adventures since Ruins of Azlant in 2017. None of the recent Pathfinder releases appeal and, sadly, I do not feel compelled to purchase any of the Starfinder adventures either. Something about their recent adventures seems to consistently miss the mark for me but I cannot place my finger on what exactly.
I go through times where I'm just not interested in the theme. Im ok with this because I realize there are themes I do like that other folks probably dont. War for the Crown is the last AP I really wanted to play in. So far PF2 has had "join the circus" and "lets be cops" which dont really appeal to me. Abomination Vaults didnt either, but it was a good AP to kick the tires with.

I dont do Starfinder because I dont like fantasy in my Sci-Fi. I cant speak to their themes.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I appreciate the comments, particularly The-Magic-Sword, to help me work this out. I love Paizo adventures and so far the PF2 APs have not thematically spoken to me. Its just a matter of time until one does, and Id like to see if I can hack PF2 into an enjoyable system. Converting an AP back to PF1 seems like an extra burden I dont want to take.

I am thinking using the variants might help;
Auto-Bonus prog
Prof without level
Free Archetype

Im still dubious about skill point variant.
Skill Point variant may not be worth it for most groups. I have a player who really likes them though.

We also used the Gradual Ability Boosts variant. It helped give my players a sense of progression when using Proficiency Without Level.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Out of curiosity, what did you do for monsters in the Proficiency without level variant? Did you subtract on the fly each time? Update the numbers on the pdf or VTT? Print and correct?
There is a PF2E Toolbox mod for Foundry that adds a checkbox to remove level from the stats. I checked the checkbox and tweaked anything that didn’t adjust but should have. On roll20, I made copies of the creatures in the compendium and updated them manually.

When we ran in-person, I think I just did the mental math. The timing was such that I didn’t have to do that for long. Hero Lab Online also supports toggling level to proficiency, but it was broken in various ways at the time.
 

When we ran in-person, I think I just did the mental math. The timing was such that I didn’t have to do that for long. Hero Lab Online also supports toggling level to proficiency, but it was broken in various ways at the time.

Its--better--but they still suffer from the fact they're constantly playing catch-up with the new material Paizo drops, so the manpower to really go over some extent problems is never there.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
Im a little surprised folks wanted the +x items back, and annoyed that the designers put them into the system math. There is a legion of GMs out there that do not understand the expected nature of these items. Often, GMs see magic items as a cherry on the sundae and if they want to be stingy thats ok. Its not, particularly in 3E/PF1.

In our PF2 campaign, folks often got excited about potency and striking runes. I asked what they did, "give a +1". I understand thats a big deal in PF2 math, but god its a boring thing for magic items to do.

I'm absolutely with you on the Potency Runes. Though Striking Runes are a big improvement, as an inherent character thing they are way cooler and they should have gone with ABP as standard. I like high level characters being able to turn any weapon into something incredibly deadly and is the exact sort of change martials have needed to balance things out (even though it technically applies to everyone).



As to the AP Discussion, I've been kind of interested in their most recent stuff, but haven't looked at the reviews yet for the Martial Arts tourney or the start of the Magical Mwangi School Tour. I am interested in the Night of the Gray Death from the standpoint that I'm interested to see what the hell they do with Galt, the red-headed stepchild of Avistan.
 

Retreater

Legend
Yeah, Payn and some others seem to assume the only DCs you're ever going to be dealing with are at-level or higher, which certainly hasn't been my experience, and that's even in an AP.
Maybe Abomination Vaults and Age of Ashes are just exceptionally brutal, but when you're expected to make DCs against a 7th level challenge at 4th level, that's pretty tough. Even a simple task like high jumping onto a table during a combat is impossibly difficult using the DCs from the CRB.

My experience is that it's far more common to be making checks against higher DCs than lower or at-level DCs. Like 50% are higher, 25% are lower, 25% are at-level.

But the thing is that it should be the exception. Even if 25% of checks were 3+levels over your level, it would be too much. The cost of failing (or especially crit failing) a higher level check is so much worse than what you gain by passing (or crit succeeding) an at-level or lower level check. If you crit fail a higher level DC against a big level fireball, you're taking double damage from an already more powerful spell than you should be facing at your level. The crit fail condition exacerbates that. So you have 90-point damage fireballs. You have 14 points of persistent piercing damage (which happened to my player in Abomination Vaults).

I (and I hate to say this) - I don't think Paizo understands this.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Its--better--but they still suffer from the fact they're constantly playing catch-up with the new material Paizo drops, so the manpower to really go over some extent problems is never there.
They did a decent job keeping up with PF1. They apparently got screwed with HLO when the dev who first worked on it put in a bad architecture, and the they had to replace that dev and spend quite a bit of time rewriting it. However, the biggest shame is the terrible support for homebrew. It’s a shell of what it once was.

We did use the campaign theater thing for a bit before we switched to Foundry. It took too many clicks to do things, but it worked really well. I actually liked it more than the PF2 experience in Foundry, but I didn’t want to have to maintain a HLO sub and ask my players to do likewise (to share materials).
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
Maybe Abomination Vaults and Age of Ashes are just exceptionally brutal, but when you're expected to make DCs against a 7th level challenge at 4th level, that's pretty tough. Even a simple task like high jumping onto a table during a combat is impossibly difficult using the DCs from the CRB.

... How tall are your tables? Like, by taking the Leap action you get 3' vertically and 5' horizontally with no check. Not to really defend the High Jump check in general because that DC seems unnecessarily high anyways. Then again, a situation where you have to jump something instead of clamber onto it is such a weird corner case that I have trouble actually thinking of one at moment.

Also a 7th level challenge at 4th level would be the combat equivalent severe solo boss or extreme-level threat. Without looking at the AP, if I were using that it would be something that would tell the players they aren't able to advance this way currently unless someone was really specialized, and even then they might well not want to figure out what's behind that kind of check.

My experience is that it's far more common to be making checks against higher DCs than lower or at-level DCs. Like 50% are higher, 25% are lower, 25% are at-level.

Yeah, maybe it's just the APs. For me, I take a more naturalistic approach; so having a skill allows you to carry out crazier and crazier plans, rather than being hard-limited by something. For example, being a legendary climber who can nail a DC40 Athletics check to climb a castle tower directly is not something that should be required by a game, but rather an option opened up by having the skill. Instead of taking a more complicated route, that specific character can circumvent it with their amazing skills. Maybe that's the disconnect here.

But the thing is that it should be the exception. Even if 25% of checks were 3+levels over your level, it would be too much. The cost of failing (or especially crit failing) a higher level check is so much worse than what you gain by passing (or crit succeeding) an at-level or lower level check. If you crit fail a higher level DC against a big level fireball, you're taking double damage from an already more powerful spell than you should be facing at your level. The crit fail condition exacerbates that. So you have 90-point damage fireballs. You have 14 points of persistent piercing damage (which happened to my player in Abomination Vaults).

I (and I hate to say this) - I don't think Paizo understands this.

Yeah, without being able to check it, what you are describing is pretty problematic. I don't think PF2 really requires that sort of play, and I would personally avoid it myself.
 

Retreater

Legend
... How tall are your tables? Like, by taking the Leap action you get 3' vertically and 5' horizontally with no check. Not to really defend the High Jump check in general because that DC seems unnecessarily high anyways. Then again, a situation where you have to jump something instead of clamber onto it is such a weird corner case that I have trouble actually thinking of one at moment.
I was going by what I could find on Archives of Nethys, and it wasn't clear that there were two different actions (Leap and High Jump). Again ... why? This is definitely the case of too much complexity. During the game, as I'm scrambling to run an encounter and keep the game flowing with 5 players and 5 monsters I'm running, I'm supposed to keep up with two different actions to do the same thing (jump high)? WTH not just have one action and increase the DC to make a higher jump? Because what I was reading was a DC 30 Athletics to jump 5 feet.

Also a 7th level challenge at 4th level would be the combat equivalent severe solo boss or extreme-level threat. Without looking at the AP, if I were using that it would be something that would tell the players they aren't able to advance this way currently unless someone was really specialized, and even then they might well not want to figure out what's behind that kind of check.
Kind of a random creature behind a random door. He wasn't of key importance to the story (for what story there was in Abomination Vaults), but the party really didn't know anything about him, anything about his powers, anything about the area he was guarding or if it was of vital importance to get past him.

You see, Recall Knowledge is pretty difficult to pull off. It was a DC 23 Occult check to learn what the creature was and like one power. DC 33 (critical success) is needed to learn like two powers and a weakness. That's just not going to happen often, and certainly often enough to rely on it every battle.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
I was going by what I could find on Archives of Nethys, and it wasn't clear that there were two different actions (Leap and High Jump). Again ... why? This is definitely the case of too much complexity. During the game, as I'm scrambling to run an encounter and keep the game flowing with 5 players and 5 monsters I'm running, I'm supposed to keep up with two different actions to do the same thing (jump high)? WTH not just have one action and increase the DC to make a higher jump? Because what I was reading was a DC 30 Athletics to jump 5 feet.

I suppose I don't associate "jumping" with getting over stuff most of the time. It took me a second, but one of the few things I can think of where it matters would be like trying to grasp something that is hanging where there's no obvious way to get up to it, but generally speaking a high jump is just not something I think to use very often.

I can't deny that it's added complexity, but it's also largely an edge case that I don't need to think about often. Probably could be simplified, though. <Shrug>

Kind of a random creature behind a random door. He wasn't of key importance to the story (for what story there was in Abomination Vaults), but the party really didn't know anything about him, anything about his powers, anything about the area he was guarding or if it was of vital importance to get past him.

You see, Recall Knowledge is pretty difficult to pull off. It was a DC 23 Occult check to learn what the creature was and like one power. DC 33 (critical success) is needed to learn like two powers and a weakness. That's just not going to happen often, and certainly often enough to rely on it every battle.

I... hm. I'd need more information to make a judgement call on that because I could go both ways on it.
 

My group can pretty consistently take on higher level foes in encounters, the reason its ok to take so much damage from that fireball spell is because that's already 2 of Team Monster's 3 actions (and I say 3 actions because if its a higher level enough to be facing that kind of power, the encounter budget won't give it friends) so then the players have a full round to patch themselves up, and fight back-- my players tend to prefer a dedicated healer for this reason although I suspect it could be handled otherwise, since they face harder encounters on average (since they also optimize pretty heavily and our adventuring days go to about 3 actual fights most of the time, in addition to 'other stuff' plus they're kinda slow so I tend to use a single conflict with a big group of mooks, rather than lots of little mook encounters to speed things up.)

We actually really love the feel level creates, my players love the feeling of meaningful progression as they move from a monster being difficult to being easy on a per monster basis, and I love how it creates meaningful and desperate solo encounters. Its also easy to tune to taste, by either offsetting the party's level by +1 or +2, or simply staying away from the higher end of the budget.
 

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