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PF2E Play report (Extinction Curse spoilers)

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
That's interesting. So basically the only constraint on how much the adventurers can do in a day is literally how much time it takes. That's actually kind of cool. At some point you need to sleep, I guess, before becoming exhausted.
I was wondering if this would bother me as we have a good medic able to get the party back to max hit points in about an hour as Capp stated with no magic. But when we ran into a lich. Wrecked the party. The in combat healing doesn't keep up with the damage output of the monsters at higher level. So you tend to stop adventuring when the cleric can no longer keep the party alive during a fight. So I was bothered less by the out of combat medicine work. Hit points are more about getting minor wounds cleaned up, resting, getting over shock, and the like than pure raw damage. The hits are so big in PF2 that you can go from fine to dead in two hits, sometimes an entire party can go from fine to near dead in one bad round of saves from a high level AoE spell.

I much prefer medicine for out of combat healing than the PF1 wands of cure light wounds and the like. It does the same thing at the end of it all, but having a very well trained medic working on everyone seems cooler than buying a bunch of cheap, throwaway wands.

The bottlenecks I have found to the adventuring day are:
1. In combat healing.
2. Caster slots for support and attack magic.

Once you run out of those or run low, you are a bad battle away from dead.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
That said, I still would have liked a D&D game that separated the warrior ability to soak damage from the warrior ability to deal damage.

That is, properly support the tank and damage-dealer roles.

If you can be taken from rosy to dying in just two hits, regardless of your build options, the game really don't support the tank concept. And that is just a missed opportunity if you ask me. Party composition just become so much more interesting if the concept of having a tank, and ways to make monsters attack that tank, is a viable option.

PF2 does not have anything that comes even close to the 5E Barbarian's ability to take half damage, which at least would make you take 4 hits instead of 2.

---

Plus, the fact a combat healer is all but mandatory in PF2 is not uncontroversial. In fact, many people love 5E precisely because it made in-combat healing entirely optional.
 


Celtavian

Dragon Lord
That said, I still would have liked a D&D game that separated the warrior ability to soak damage from the warrior ability to deal damage.

That is, properly support the tank and damage-dealer roles.

If you can be taken from rosy to dying in just two hits, regardless of your build options, the game really don't support the tank concept. And that is just a missed opportunity if you ask me. Party composition just become so much more interesting if the concept of having a tank, and ways to make monsters attack that tank, is a viable option.

PF2 does not have anything that comes even close to the 5E Barbarian's ability to take half damage, which at least would make you take 4 hits instead of 2.

---

Plus, the fact a combat healer is all but mandatory in PF2 is not uncontroversial. In fact, many people love 5E precisely because it made in-combat healing entirely optional.
Hmm. We didn't find that to be the case in 5E. Life without a cleric was tough in 5E, especially when AoE damage factored in. Are there a bunch of people running without combat healers in 5E? I only play with my group and we found having a combat healer necessary. I think the only version of D&D we didn't need a combat healer was 4E.

The champion appears to be the main class capable of tanking. No one has tried to build a tank fighter, but the champion can take more punishment than anyone. The champion is nearly always the last person standing in any battle besides perhaps the invisible cleric. The champion has proven to be a very effective tank. I thought that Champion's Reaction was pretty weak, but it isn't. It's surprisingly effective.

No one has built a monk yet either. I get the feeling you might be able to build a tank monk looking at the mechanics. Excellent saves. Really excellent defenses. Moderate damage. You can build towards some defensive moves like grappling to limit movement on the battlefield.

PF2 is new enough and not enough is clearly spelled out where you might be able to do some odd things to have certain classes in roles that are different than previous iterations of the game. I will have to test in time. So far the only class I know for sure is hard as hell to beat down is the Champion.

On paper barbarians look tough to beat down too, but they have a lower AC countered by more hit points. Low AC in this game is not great for you. They do seem to have a lot of attacks and feats that allow you to do more AoE physical damage than a lot of other classes. So they may be the more pure martial damage dealer than a tank. Sort of like a rogue in the martial damage department, but in a big, smash everything front of you kind of way.
 

I am currently playing a battlemaster fighter in 5e. There's "soft tanking" going on. If opponents hit someone other than me, when I'm in reach, I get to hit them as a reaction. Last battle we fought a smart opponent with a reach weapon. He could hit someone else and prevent me from counterattacking.
 

dave2008

Legend
Hmm. We didn't find that to be the case in 5E. Life without a cleric was tough in 5E, especially when AoE damage factored in.
Neither of my 5e groups had/has a cleric or paladin. One did have a druid. I don't know if it is "tough," but it encourages a less cavalier style of play.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Maybe I am used to ruthless DMing. Even in 5E no healing was not going to work. We heard people running 5E with no healers, but were surprised. In general, I play monsters to kill the party. That means leveraging every ability whether mobility, lair actions, or legendary actions to take the party out while limiting the party's ability to attack. If a creature has flying, it is moving around taking cover, keeping it's distance, and blasting one character over and over again until they are dead unless he does AoE damage to spread around.

I do play with another DM who plays a lot softer than I do. We got away with far less healing at times, though even with him we had a few nasty fights in 5E that hammered us pretty good, mostly with a flight of dragons lighting us up with breath weapons. Then again that was our first campaign. After we learned all the ways to maximize our power in 5E, we cake-walked in future campaigns he DMed. And Archery is sick in 5E with Sharpshooter.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Maybe I am used to ruthless DMing.
Maybe you're using your own adventures/encounters?

I'm talking about the profound difference between running, say Out of the Abyss in 5E as written, and running Extinction Curse in PF2 as written.

In the first case, our random heroes need no Cleric, and are seldom seriously threatened.

In the second case, only GM intervention prevented a TPK in the very first encounter (Ringmaster's Wagon), and the presence of a combat healer (= the fact the two-action Heal spell gets +8 per spell level, to be precise) has saved the bacon of pretty much every hero at least once (and they're only level 7 still).

In the first case, I had to basically throw out the listed encounters once the heroes progressed to the second half of the module (after the audience with King Bruenor) since they were laughable compared to the fully decked out party.

In the second case, I have given up all pretense of following the official guidelines (where a party of five should face 20% extra monsters), and they sometimes need to take a full hour's downtime between every encounter (levels 1, 3, and 6 has been particularly rough. Levels 2 and 5 were surprisingly easy)

This has little to do with my GM or DM style. It has everything to do with running published modules. :)

(When I started GMing Pathfinder 2, I made my own encounters. They felt dangerous and challenging, much more so than 5E, but not actively harrowing since I could not even fathom the difficulty Paizo has selected for their adventure! Just saying that any GM worth their salt can make PF2 play somewhat like how they ran 5E as the DM)
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Maybe you're using your own adventures/encounters?

I'm talking about the profound difference between running, say Out of the Abyss in 5E as written, and running Extinction Curse in PF2 as written.

In the first case, our random heroes need no Cleric, and are seldom seriously threatened.

In the second case, only GM intervention prevented a TPK in the very first encounter (Ringmaster's Wagon), and the presence of a combat healer (= the fact the two-action Heal spell gets +8 per spell level, to be precise) has saved the bacon of pretty much every hero at least once (and they're only level 7 still).

In the first case, I had to basically throw out the listed encounters once the heroes progressed to the second half of the module (after the audience with King Bruenor) since they were laughable compared to the fully decked out party.

In the second case, I have given up all pretense of following the official guidelines (where a party of five should face 20% extra monsters), and they sometimes need to take a full hour's downtime between every encounter (levels 1, 3, and 6 has been particularly rough. Levels 2 and 5 were surprisingly easy)

This has little to do with my GM or DM style. It has everything to do with running published modules. :)

(When I started GMing Pathfinder 2, I made my own encounters. They felt dangerous and challenging, much more so than 5E, but not actively harrowing since I could not even fathom the difficulty Paizo has selected for their adventure! Just saying that any GM worth their salt can make PF2 play somewhat like how they ran 5E as the DM)
I did run Out of the Abyss. I quit running it because it became too easy and bored me. It started off ok, then ended up a complete sham. Sharpshooter archer and paladin smiting ended the creatures quickly, even the demon lords. It was sad. I think I was doubling Demon Lord hit points at a minimum for a six person party. I don't know how you make a module with Demon Lords and make them so weak and boring that a party can easily beat them with very basic tactics. It was very disappointing.

I'm about to start Extinction Curse. I can see some tough battles in it.

I mostly run published modules I modify. I don't have the time I once I had for adventure creation.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yeah, well, my point @Celtavian was that I would differentiate my critique if I were you. Some of your points relate to the systems, others to the adventure. Conflating the two does noone any favors :)

Especially when you say you find 5E easy/boring as a response to Dave stating he has no problems challenging his players.

You might be both right. Yes, most (all?) adventures become child's play IMO at higher levels (when the players spend time minmaxing all the toys given to them, that 5E doesn't give to the monsters). No, I'm still easily capable of TPK:ing even the most blinged out party, regardless of edition, options, or variants. :devilish: :p

At the same time, yes, I've found PF2 fiendishly difficult at times. But that relates to official adventures. If I created that encounter myself, I have only myself to blame.

I could obviously run a campaign where heroes never face monsters of their own level, let alone higher levels. That experience I'm sure would feel much more like default 5E. (Not identical, mind you. Just "more like")

Cheerio

tl;dr: I guess 5E adventures take an easy system and make it easier, while PF2 scenarios takes a hard system and make it harder. So if PF2 comes across as more challenging, whose "fault" is that? ;)
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Yeah, well, my point @Celtavian was that I would differentiate my critique if I were you. Some of your points relate to the systems, others to the adventure. Conflating the two does noone any favors :)

Especially when you say you find 5E easy/boring as a response to Dave stating he has no problems challenging his players.

You might be both right. Yes, most (all?) adventures become child's play IMO at higher levels (when the players spend time minmaxing all the toys given to them, that 5E doesn't give to the monsters). No, I'm still easily capable of TPK:ing even the most blinged out party, regardless of edition, options, or variants. :devilish: :p

At the same time, yes, I've found PF2 fiendishly difficult at times. But that relates to official adventures. If I created that encounter myself, I have only myself to blame.

I could obviously run a campaign where heroes never face monsters of their own level, let alone higher levels. That experience I'm sure would feel much more like default 5E. (Not identical, mind you. Just "more like")

Cheerio

tl;dr: I guess 5E adventures take an easy system and make it easier, while PF2 scenarios takes a hard system and make it harder. So if PF2 comes across as more challenging, whose "fault" is that? ;)
I'm sure Dave2008 can challenge his players when we wants to. Heck, the PF1 system was way worse than 5E when it comes to weak monsters against the PCs. Main reason I found it more interesting is the monsters had a lot more options to build them including being full casters, summoning lots of helpful minions, and the like. 5E monsters were pretty simple and combat focused with an occasional spell here and there, but nothing you could really build a caster strategy around. I could spend the time to build them up, but with mechanics like concentration and limited magic the means to buff a monster against a PC group was very weak. In PF1 if I wanted to make a monster tough, you often supported it with a caster that buffed the enemy to the gills or used a lot of spells to manipulate the battlefield in useful and challenging ways. You could really only have one spell up per caster in 5E and enemy casters were even bigger weaklings in 5E than they are in PF2. In PF2 the incapacitation mechanic really hurts PF2 casters, in 5E the concentration mechanic took the air out of caster enemies big time. I've been playing these games for so long, if I don't have some complex options for strategizing I get pretty bored.
 

dave2008

Legend
Heck, the PF1 system was way worse than 5E when it comes to weak monsters against the PCs. Main reason I found it more interesting is the monsters had a lot more options to build them including being full casters, summoning lots of helpful minions, and the like.
Just wasn't sure you realized you can give PC classes to monsters in 5e. The very simple guidelines are in the MM. I don't do that, but it is a suggestion in the MM. It can make the monsters much stronger (try adding a class to a dragon per the guidelines and you will see what I mean).

Hmm. I just might post some dragons with classes in the 5e forum now.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Just wasn't sure you realized you can give PC classes to monsters in 5e. The very simple guidelines are in the MM. I don't do that, but it is a suggestion in the MM. It can make the monsters much stronger (try adding a class to a dragon per the guidelines and you will see what I mean).

Hmm. I just might post some dragons with classes in the 5e forum now.
Concentration along with other measures to reduce the power of magic made casters unable to challenge a group like they did in PF/3E. Magic was the huge fulcrum around which challenges were built as you gained levels. One well-built caster could support a group of enemies in a way that doesn't exist in 5E or PF2. It was a lot like a chess match of move-countermove in PF/3E with magic that you can't capture in the new weaker magic systems. It's not quite as bad in PF2 as 5E as the concentration mechanic is more limited than PF2 sustain mechanic, but even PF2 casters are weaker though can do some nasty damage to my surprise.

It was necessary to bring magic down to earth, but it has definitely changed the encounter building mechanics from PF1. You can't just build a powerful wizard who can buff himself with ten different defensive spells any longer as well as casting strong offense. Magic is more like a martial attack than a game changing, overwhelming force now.
 


Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I skipped 3e / PF1 so I can't really compare my games to ones from that edition.
You are lucky. The feel of going from a PF1/3E caster to a 5E/PF2 caster would be like going from being Superman to Robin the Boy Wonder. PF1/3E casters eventually became god-like instruments of destruction that could practically run an adventure alone. Then again martials used to be able to deal enough damage to kill an ancient dragon in a 6 second round. PF2 and 5E greatly reduced the power to more manageable levels. As a player it's a big drop in power and that vicarious thrill of being a super-hero like wizard or magic user.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'm sure Dave2008 can challenge his players when we wants to. Heck, the PF1 system was way worse than 5E when it comes to weak monsters against the PCs. Main reason I found it more interesting is the monsters had a lot more options to build them including being full casters, summoning lots of helpful minions, and the like. 5E monsters were pretty simple and combat focused with an occasional spell here and there, but nothing you could really build a caster strategy around. I could spend the time to build them up, but with mechanics like concentration and limited magic the means to buff a monster against a PC group was very weak. In PF1 if I wanted to make a monster tough, you often supported it with a caster that buffed the enemy to the gills or used a lot of spells to manipulate the battlefield in useful and challenging ways. You could really only have one spell up per caster in 5E and enemy casters were even bigger weaklings in 5E than they are in PF2. In PF2 the incapacitation mechanic really hurts PF2 casters, in 5E the concentration mechanic took the air out of caster enemies big time. I've been playing these games for so long, if I don't have some complex options for strategizing I get pretty bored.
But you see the point I was making?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You are lucky. The feel of going from a PF1/3E caster to a 5E/PF2 caster would be like going from being Superman to Robin the Boy Wonder. PF1/3E casters eventually became god-like instruments of destruction that could practically run an adventure alone. Then again martials used to be able to deal enough damage to kill an ancient dragon in a 6 second round. PF2 and 5E greatly reduced the power to more manageable levels. As a player it's a big drop in power and that vicarious thrill of being a super-hero like wizard or magic user.
I would phrase the characterization a tad differently... ;)

In 3E/PF1 there is no balance. It's the entitled munchkin's paradise. It is also the harried DM's worst nightmare.

In other to challenge the players you have zero shortcuts. You must spend hours building NPCs and perfecting their strategies, or you will get steamrolled by the players (4 brains vs 1 brain).

All for what? So the players can loot the monsters (killing the monsters you spent hours on in seconds) and become even more unbalancingly over-powerful. Thus begins a new cycle...


5E did miracles to the brand of D&D. (4E might or might not do some of these things too; since it threw out the baby with the bathwater I care little for it)

First and foremost, it freed DMs from having to play by the PC building rules. (PF2 wisely does this too) No longer is a monster required to have a specific class level or feat in order to pull of some ability. It needn't have any lootable items - it can simply have the stats it needs to do its job (challenging and amusing the players).

Secondly - and this is seldom appreciated enough - it revamps the casting rules in surprisingly insightful ways. 5E casting is seriously and meaningfully reined in compared to d20, but casters and spells still feel awesome (which I'm not sure I can say of PF2, though its early days), and of course, the less is said about the 4E AEDU nonsense the better. Every detail about the d20 spellcasting model has been examined. There are lots and lots of changes that most players probably aren't consciously aware of even after years of playing.

Sure 5E screams for an "advanced" module to make high-level play more interesting and complex, but that does not take away the most basic fact: I am convinced a lot of 5E's success comes from the incredible feat of pulling off both these accomplishments, all while retaining the "feel" of D&D: build choices and items are allowed to be awesome (sadly much unlike PF2 which offers some truly heinous item mechanics)

Of course, the biggest factor in 5E's success is its simplicity - with a lot of D&D crud getting swept under the rug; advantage, and the like. (Too much IMHO; such as checks on ranged damage, low-light vision, and advantage-for-everything.) I and Celtavian might be prepared for the niggly clutter of PF2, but I am convinced Paizo went the wrong way if they wanted a repeat of their huge PF1 success. In the post-5E era, such complexity simply doesn't cut it anymore.

PF2 comes across as an impressive game - if viewed as a post 4E-game. Sadly we live in a post-5E game (and did so during the entire PF2 development time, he added pointedly), and 5E is undoubtedly, unquestionably, indubitably even, the better game for the vast majority of players (me and Celt not included). In 2019 PF2 comes across as shockingly clueless about what makes a game successful - it seems to have learned none of the lessons 5E teach.

I remain convinced that Paizo could only have retained their greatness as a satellite around the 500 pound gorilla of D&D, that their strive for independence is just corporate ego nonsense, and that every single "high fantasy" publisher that moves outside D&Ds orbit ends up as an obscure little-known item of curio.

I also remain convinced that if Paizo instead published an "Advanced Manual (to the world's greatest roleplaying game)" that would not only have been great for me personally, but for Paizo Corp too. A rpg product that transforms 5E into a deeper, more complex game, with (much) more interesting monsters, with fixed subclasses and spells; yet retains full compatibility: meaning a player could still use a PHB class, even if it comes across as slighly less powerful (much like playing a Champion in a game with Battle Masters and Eldritch Knights) while a DM could still run a WotC adventure, possibly with monster stats switched out for the "advanced" versions.

Yes, I know Paizo feels burned by WotCs actions (Dragon magazine; 4E OGL) but the bitter truth is they can either play in WotC's garden or they can play with the ghosts (Castles & Crusades, 13th Age, Fantasy Age, HARP, Labyrinth Lord, Numenera, Runequest, Palladium, SoDM, Torchbearer, Tunnels & Trolls, 5 Torches Deep, or the literally other hundreds of D&D pretender games that some might play but none spend serious money on).

Now back to your regular Extinction Curse play report... ;)
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
But you see the point I was making?
Yes. I see the point. Hopefully it is understood that this is my personal opinion on 5E and PF2 and how it meshes with my preferences. I think 5E is a good game that has revived the hobby for a generation of players. I see lots of young players getting into D&D again in even greater numbers than when I first got the little red basic book on Christmas when I was a youngster. That's good for everyone. More people playing Pen and Paper RPGs whether 5E or PF2 is a good thing for the overall hobby and the imagination of mankind.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I would phrase the characterization a tad differently... ;)

In 3E/PF1 there is no balance. It's the entitled munchkin's paradise. It is also the harried DM's worst nightmare.

In other to challenge the players you have zero shortcuts. You must spend hours building NPCs and perfecting their strategies, or you will get steamrolled by the players (4 brains vs 1 brain).

All for what? So the players can loot the monsters (killing the monsters you spent hours on in seconds) and become even more unbalancingly over-powerful. Thus begins a new cycle...


5E did miracles to the brand of D&D. (4E might or might not do some of these things too; since it threw out the baby with the bathwater I care little for it)

First and foremost, it freed DMs from having to play by the PC building rules. (PF2 wisely does this too) No longer is a monster required to have a specific class level or feat in order to pull of some ability. It needn't have any lootable items - it can simply have the stats it needs to do its job (challenging and amusing the players).

Secondly - and this is seldom appreciated enough - it revamps the casting rules in surprisingly insightful ways. 5E casting is seriously and meaningfully reined in compared to d20, but casters and spells still feel awesome (which I'm not sure I can say of PF2, though its early days), and of course, the less is said about the 4E AEDU nonsense the better. Every detail about the d20 spellcasting model has been examined. There are lots and lots of changes that most players probably aren't consciously aware of even after years of playing.

Sure 5E screams for an "advanced" module to make high-level play more interesting and complex, but that does not take away the most basic fact: I am convinced a lot of 5E's success comes from the incredible feat of pulling off both these accomplishments, all while retaining the "feel" of D&D: build choices and items are allowed to be awesome (sadly much unlike PF2 which offers some truly heinous item mechanics)

Of course, the biggest factor in 5E's success is its simplicity - with a lot of D&D crud getting swept under the rug; advantage, and the like. (Too much IMHO; such as checks on ranged damage, low-light vision, and advantage-for-everything.) I and Celtavian might be prepared for the niggly clutter of PF2, but I am convinced Paizo went the wrong way if they wanted a repeat of their huge PF1 success. In the post-5E era, such complexity simply doesn't cut it anymore.

PF2 comes across as an impressive game - if viewed as a post 4E-game. Sadly we live in a post-5E game (and did so during the entire PF2 development time, he added pointedly), and 5E is undoubtedly, unquestionably, indubitably even, the better game for the vast majority of players (me and Celt not included). In 2019 PF2 comes across as shockingly clueless about what makes a game successful - it seems to have learned none of the lessons 5E teach.

I remain convinced that Paizo could only have retained their greatness as a satellite around the 500 pound gorilla of D&D, that their strive for independence is just corporate ego nonsense, and that every single "high fantasy" publisher that moves outside D&Ds orbit ends up as an obscure little-known item of curio.

I also remain convinced that if Paizo instead published an "Advanced Manual (to the world's greatest roleplaying game)" that would not only have been great for me personally, but for Paizo Corp too. A rpg product that transforms 5E into a deeper, more complex game, with (much) more interesting monsters, with fixed subclasses and spells; yet retains full compatibility: meaning a player could still use a PHB class, even if it comes across as slighly less powerful (much like playing a Champion in a game with Battle Masters and Eldritch Knights) while a DM could still run a WotC adventure, possibly with monster stats switched out for the "advanced" versions.

Yes, I know Paizo feels burned by WotCs actions (Dragon magazine; 4E OGL) but the bitter truth is they can either play in WotC's garden or they can play with the ghosts (Castles & Crusades, 13th Age, Fantasy Age, HARP, Labyrinth Lord, Numenera, Runequest, Palladium, SoDM, Torchbearer, Tunnels & Trolls, 5 Torches Deep, or the literally other hundreds of D&D pretender games that some might play but none spend serious money on).

Now back to your regular Extinction Curse play report... ;)
Interesting view. We will see if it goes that way in time. It really comes down to how many old PF1 players buy into PF2 and whether 5E players eventually want more crunch in their game. If 5E never moves out of the very basic game they've made, then PF2 may well be there for those looking for a good mix of balance and crunch. What PF2 lacks is the brand name. D&D finally went mainstream with celebrities playing D&D and the wildly popular Critical Role really taking 5E to a much wider audience. It really helped build up 5E D&D in a way I've never seen. That is what PF2 needs is some popular group to take up their game and sell to a wider audience. The biggest coup of 5E is not their game, but their marketing. No one has ever marketed D&D as well as D&D marketed 5E. They got real lucky with Matt Mercer and his crew taking up 5E to make the game seem cool for everyone, guys and girls including mainstream celebrities.

I can't say as I agree about magic items. I felt 5E magic items were about on par with PF2. I'm not sure what 5E magic items do that you see as vastly better than PF2 magic items. I thought the Cloak and Boots of Elevenkind was very reminiscent of what a cloak and boots of elvenkind can do. The Cape of the Mountebank is quite cool. Ring of Lies is pretty neat and useful. Dragonslayer Shield fits what it is supposed to do. The magic items in the various APs seem cool. Have you read some of the magic items in Age of Ashes? They are quite nifty.

I like that they made crafting magic items very useful including some very nice alchemical items you can craft without being an alchemist like goldenmist elixir or the various poisons and healing elixirs.

Can you perhaps specify an exact magical item comparison so I can understand the difference between a 5E item and a PF2 item? So far my players like PF2 items. They like that they changed magic weapons from a flat bonus to damage and hit to the potency and striking runes. They like how holy items tend to do more damage against fiends. Really makes it seem like a holy sword. They also like you can cast a spell from a magic item and not have it take your concentration slot like 5E. There seems to be a lot more variability, strategy, and usefulness with PF2 items.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
First off, Celtavian, do you see (and agree) to the notion "PF2 is much much more cluttery than 5E"?

Assuming you're on board this, you should have no trouble agreeing with me when I say "PF2 will never be near as successful as 5E regardless of advertising".

In other words, it isn't the lack of branding or advertising dollars that is missing. What's missing is an accessible game. That is, if the competition were 4E or PF1, then yes, PF2 can be viewed as an improvement.

But the competition isn't 4E or PF1.

tl;dr: The success of 5E might involve luck or marketing, but let's not forget that all this is enabled by 5E shedding a lot of D&D crud accumulated since 1E. (And I'm saying this as someone who LIKES crud ;) )
 

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