Pathfinder 2E PF2E Gurus teach me! +

darjr

I crit!
Basically what would you say to someone looking to give it a wirl?

What pitfalls, what works, what are some of the best interpretations, what is a good intro adventure.

How do I navigate the web for more? Like what’s the paces at Paizo, what are the good 3pp places.

I ask a lot because am ignorant.

Thanks!

Plus thread whatchamacalit.
 

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JThursby

Adventurer
The best, free resource is going to be Archives of Nethys, which I've linked here to go to the on boarding introduction section. It is the free rules repository, officially sanctioned by Paizo. Highly useful in general. It's going to be your best source while Paizo is recovering from the hug of death the internet is giving their store.

The best introduction adventure is going to be the Beginner Box. The physical box is quite good, but so is the Foundry VTT module. You will hear Foundry VTT recommended a lot. The PF2e implementation is extremely powerful, automating many features like vision, flanking, resistances and weaknesses, and it has all the book content up to date.

The best adventure is generally considered to be Abomination Vaults, which is convenient because it takes place in the same town as the Beginner Box. Do not let the tagline "enter the megadungeon" fool you; it would not be the most popular 2e AP if it was merely a combat slog. The Foundry VTT version of it is also phenomenal.

Pathfinder has it's own version of DM's Guild, called Pathfinder Infinite. The real 3pp powerhouse is Roll for Combat though, whose main designer is Mark Seifter, one of the lead designers on 2e itself (you're probably familar with them by now lol). It is the closest you will get to first party quality so far.

Common pitfalls:
-Because +10 past a DC causes a critical in either direction, +/- 1's and 2s are both common and undervalued by new players. Causing a -2 to Will Saves with a skill might not sound very exciting, but in general that means a +20% impact for damaging abilities that target Will, not +10%, since it has converted successes to criticals at the same time it converts failures to successes. It also means auxiliary effects on criticals become more frequent, which can sometimes be devastating and change the whole nature of a fight. By the same token, let your defenses lag and you stand to get obliterated by frequent crits on your AC or Saves.
-Out of combat recovery is not only useful, it's expected. Spending the time to get focus points back and recovery HP is considered a normal part of the game. Multiple combats without any form of recovery are rare and highly difficult.
-The wealth per level guidelines, and the item system in general, is not optional. It's part of the math of the game. The same goes with the encounter guidelines. It is not like most D&D editions where you can just ignore item and CR recommendations. Mark put a lot of effort to make the math of the game work when you just follow the guidelines, so I would tell any new 2e GM to consider those guidelines sacred until they understand why they are the way they are. All the APs already do that for you.
-Sometimes, characters with action efficient classes neglect to find a use for their third action. This is a mistake. Every player should have something to do with that third action, be that raise a shield, cast shield, recall knowledge, or ready to Aid another player.
 


niklinna

Legend
I gave Pathfinder 2 a brief whirl during the first year of the pandemic, joining Age of Ashes around level 7. I don't recommend Age of Ashes. Although it might have been the group: Tight teamwork is important in Pathfinder 2, especially in Age of Ashes, and this group did not exhibit it. But Age of Ashes had its share of critics, as I recall.

As for the rules, I found the presentation of all the class feats rather overwhelming, so I started making charts, and even though I didn't continue playing, I did keep the charts reasonably up to date. Maybe these will help you & your tablemates.

Pathfinder 2 Class Feat Charts

Two thumbs up for Archives of Nethys! And a pro tip: Do a google/duckduckgo search for "nethys search_term", it's much faster than the website's own search.

EDIT: Clarified that it's Age of Ashes I don't recommend, rather than Pathfinder 2!
 
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FitzTheRuke

Legend
I can only hope that it gets better with player experience, but the "three action economy" that looks so wonderful on paper can actually be very frustrating with players who constantly try to either do FOUR actions on their turn, or (just as bad) only TWO. The arguments/discussions that can result can really bog the game down.

Make sure you and your group get that under control early. I honestly think it's a great mechanic, but I've seen games grind under it.
 

Would plug the Foundry VTT as well. PF2e in general is pretty fiddly. Foundry does a great job of helping players and DMs manage that fiddliness.

Also would plug the Pathbuilder application for character creation and generally urge teaching/learning character creation on a 'one level at a time' basis rather than trying to fully understand 'builds'. There are a million feats a player might choose in total and it can be a bit overwhelming to try and take it all in, but there only a fewish at each level, so it's not so bad in play.

Train your players to dial back expectations on character survivability, and understand the benefits of teamwork. Damage is swingy, crits are impactful and can be manufactured.
 

I can only hope that it gets better with player experience, but the "three action economy" that looks so wonderful on paper can actually be very frustrating with players who constantly try to either do FOUR actions on their turn, or (just as bad) only TWO. The arguments/discussions that can result can really bog the game down.

Make sure you and your group get that under control early. I honestly think it's a great mechanic, but I've seen games grind under it.
Could be table variation. Our group found the way the game notation indicates action costs very intuitive.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Could be table variation. Our group found the way the game notation indicates action costs very intuitive.

I played PF2 with quite a few different tables, but only early on. (Playtest, and initial release - all at my comic/game store). Like I said, I like to think it gets better with player experience. I didn't bother introducing it to my personal group, because I knew (after playing it with customers) that a few of my friends would have been terrible at it. (Some players are slow to grasp that kind of thing, and I have a few of them).

I think if you either have a group that are all very mechanics-forward players, or if you work hard to teach anyone who's not that way, combined with some time, it should work itself out.

I was just really surprised by the issue, because I absolutely loved the 3 action economy on paper. I didn't expect to have as much trouble with it in play as I did. (Not myself, mind, but with my players).
 

I played PF2 with quite a few different tables, but only early on. (Playtest, and initial release - all at my comic/game store). Like I said, I like to think it gets better with player experience. I didn't bother introducing it to my personal group, because I knew (after playing it with customers) that a few of my friends would have been terrible at it. (Some players are slow to grasp that kind of thing, and I have a few of them).

I think if you either have a group that are all very mechanics-forward players, or if you work hard to teach anyone who's not that way, combined with some time, it should work itself out.

I was just really surprised by the issue, because I absolutely loved the 3 action economy on paper. I didn't expect to have as much trouble with it in play as I did. (Not myself, mind, but with my players).
Gotcha. Wasn't meaning to imply that you were wrong as much as to indicate that my experience was different.

For us, we still get tripped up by things like nested conditions, and it took us a bit to get the hang of the ways all the bonuses and penalties hang together (some better than others), but we all pretty much had the three action system squared away by the end of the first session.
 

payn

Legend
My GMing advice is to pay very close attention to the CR system. It means business! In the beginning, lean on moderate or easier encounters until players get their feet under them. Then, sparsely add in severe and extreme fights. The system gives a huge advantage to the enemies for level that is easier to overcome in both PF1 and 5E.
 

Porridge

Explorer
JThursby's answer to this question is pretty much a perfect answer, IMO. Building on that, two further comments:

-The wealth per level guidelines, and the item system in general, is not optional. It's part of the math of the game. The same goes with the encounter guidelines. It is not like most D&D editions where you can just ignore item and CR recommendations. Mark put a lot of effort to make the math of the game work when you just follow the guidelines, so I would tell any new 2e GM to consider those guidelines sacred until they understand why they are the way they are. All the APs already do that for you.

1. If you want to avoid the headache of tracking this, you can just use the (very popular) Automatic Bonus Progression optional rules in the Gamemastery Guide. This is, IMO, a big quality of life bump -- you don't have to worry about gear at all, and can just hand out magic items whenever it feels fun/flavorful to do so.

2. It's often said that it's impossible to build a bad character in PF2 if you follow a few guidelines, and that's basically true. But it's nice going in to know what those guidelines are!
  1. You want your main attribute to be 16+.
  2. You want your (AC bonus from armor)+(Dex modifier) to be 4+.
  3. (This one is often omitted, and IMO pretty much the only real trap of character creation): You want to build your character to have at least a couple effective third action options.
To expound on #3 a bit: When you're building a character, you want to be thinking about what you’ll generally be doing with your third action. With a -10 MAP (Multiple Attack Penalty) it’s generally not worth attacking a third time. So you want something else effective you can do, or else you’re effectively throwing away a third of your actions. There are lots of options, but most will require some mechanical investment on your part to do well. For example:
  • Raise Shield is a great option. But that means you’ll want a shield, a free hand, and probably the Shield Block feat.
  • Casting the Shield cantrip (or some other good 1-action spell like Guidance) is good. But that means you need to make sure you know that cantrip.
  • Demoralize (using Intimidation), Bon Mot (using Diplomacy), or other social attacks: fantastic choices. But these require an investment in Intimidate or Diplomacy skills, and a decent Cha.
  • Recall Knowledge: This can be very useful, but it requires an investment in knowledge skills, and a decent Int.
  • Moving like a skirmisher in range to attack, and then back out of range again. But if you want to make your enemy spend more actions moving than you do, you'll want a high speed - to pick up the Fleet feat, or go for an ancestry with a movement bonus (Elf) or ancestry feats which grant movement bonuses, have a class bonus to movement speed, look into styles which help with this like Tiger Stance, etc.
And so on. Ideally you want at least a couple good third action options to choose between. But that requires choosing these options ahead of time, and building to make them effective.
 
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Staffan

Legend
I think the biggest difficulty issue with Pathfinder at "run-time" has to do with conditions and the way they interact. For instance, let's say we're fighting something relatively tough so we're piling on all we can, and the poor bastard's been hit with:
  • Clumsy 2 from a poison, giving a -2 status penalty to basically everything Dexterity-related,
  • Frightened 1 from the paladin Demoralizing the foe, which get them a -1 status penalty to all checks and DCs.
  • Flatfooted because I and my buddy are flanking them, for a -2 circumstance penalty to AC.
Since the status penalties don't stack, the enemy has a net -4 to AC. And when listed like that, that seems kind of obvious, but in actual play it's fairly easy to forget what's a status bonus and what's a circumstance bonus.
 

Staffan

Legend
You want your (AC bonus from armor)+(Dex modifier) to be 4+.
Note that all armors in the none, light, and medium categories have item bonuses and max dex bonus that sum up to 5, and the heavy armors sum up to 6. In addition, the higher the armor's item bonus is, the higher its Strength requirement is (which lets you ignore the armor's check penalty as well as reduce its speed penalty by 5 ft). So basically, the point of medium armor is to let melee-focused characters get an appropriate AC without needing both Strength and Dexterity.

Edit: This is why it was a Big Deal when errata gave Medium armor proficiency to alchemists. It made mutagenists who focus on Strength and mutagen-powered unarmed attacks viable, not just Dexterity-focused bomb throwers.
 
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niklinna

Legend
I can only hope that it gets better with player experience, but the "three action economy" that looks so wonderful on paper can actually be very frustrating with players who constantly try to either do FOUR actions on their turn, or (just as bad) only TWO. The arguments/discussions that can result can really bog the game down.

Make sure you and your group get that under control early. I honestly think it's a great mechanic, but I've seen games grind under it.
One thing about the three action economy I'd recommend to GMs is to be clear with spellcasters that most spells cost 2 actions to cast, and some cost three. It doesn't feel the same as using a regular action vs. a bonus action. Spellcasters who go for an animal companion or other action-using feature may be frustrated at bumping into that three action limit, which initially promised to be so versatile and freeing. It actually is, of course, but having your core schtick often chewing up 2/3 of your versatility feels, well, not so versatile!
 


Scribe

Legend
-The wealth per level guidelines, and the item system in general, is not optional. It's part of the math of the game. The same goes with the encounter guidelines. It is not like most D&D editions where you can just ignore item and CR recommendations. Mark put a lot of effort to make the math of the game work when you just follow the guidelines, so I would tell any new 2e GM to consider those guidelines sacred until they understand why they are the way they are.

Apologies if this is clearly defined in the core books, but, is this defined in the core books? Is the math more open/explained?
 

JThursby

Adventurer
Apologies if this is clearly defined in the core books, but, is this defined in the core books? Is the math more open/explained?
It's somewhat explained.

The basic idea is this: a single creature of the players level + 2 is just as threatening to a party of four as two creatures of the players level, despite having half the actions. This is accomplished by having bonuses on a track: a +1 item bonus to hit is expected by the end of Level 2 of play, an extra die of weapon damage by the end of level 4, and so on. All of these assumptions are baked into the monster math, the monster building rules, and the DC-by-level chart.
 

Is there a cheat sheet/guide for helping folks to translate between 5e terms and PF2? I've only glanced at PF2.

I feel such a thing must exist, I'll go looking...
I'd recommend checking out some of the Rules Lawyer and Knights of Last Call youtube videos. They have some good run-throughs of game mechanics to help illustrate how certain of the PF2e elements work together.

Translation between 5e and PF2e is kind of tricky outside of conceptual similarities. It definitely helps to see how similar elements between the two systems behave in-play, as there can be wide disparities in effectiveness that could easily get missed in a reference document.
 

An additional general tip, specific to going from 5e to PF2e, the spellcasters will feel a looooott less powerful and martials will feel a looooott stronger, especially at early levels.

The balance they've struck is very very good, but players coming in with a 5e spellcaster mentality will be in for a bit of a shock.
 

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