Pathfinder 2E Problems with percieved overpowered encounters in Pathfinder 1e+2e?

Ulfgeir

Hero
Tried Pathfinder 2e yesterday (have played quite a lot more of 1e, and tons of other games since 1984), and was wondering about what I percieved as being overpowered encounters. Have now experience it in at least 2 different scenarios. One, which we tested yesterday (don't know the name of it, but it is supposedly one that is highly recommended. The characters are supposed to investigate an alleged haunted house in a Celiax province), and the other one being a campaign in 1e where the rules clearly didn't seem to work (the Cthulhu-inspired camapign, that I don't know the names of)

It might be that the GM didn't know the rules properly (and yesterday was just to test 2e out, and he did say that we appearently went up against the 2 toughest encounters in the adventure)... 4 characters at lvl 3 (2 champions, 1 ranger, and one rogue), and both encounters definitively had the chance for TPKs.

The first was a Gibbering mouther, where 2 characters got confused and started attacking each others, and doing lots of damage (only reason noone got killed form that was they both rolled rather badly), one of the champions got grappled and was down to 1 hp, just as the other champion snapped out of his confusion and could heal him. And the opponent had more HP's than the whole group total... The second was we went up against a hazard which should have ended with 3 dead characters in 2 rounds, and with my character (the ranger), being sickened (2), frightened (2), and down 1/3rd of my hp.. The GM was kind when letting me get the other out and stabilize them so they would not die form bleeding damages. In both of these encounters, the Save-DC's were high enough that we basically had to roll like 18+ or to succeed with the saves. It feels way to OSR-like to have effects that statistically will take out half the party in 1 or 2 rounds..

In the 1e-campaign, it was way too easy for the characters to become insane, and you had basically no way of curing it. Meaning that very large risk that the characters would not be able to finish the campaign.

What is the experience of you guys from these? it feels that either the scenarios arent playtested enough before publication, or the DM did something seriously wrong. Normally we are 1 dm + 7 players, so I know that encounters need to be upped there to handle the action-economy, but I don't think he did that yesterday.
 

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Retreater

Legend
A 5th level Gibbering Mouther is a "Moderate" challenging encounter for 4 3rd-level characters. A moderate encounter should feel challenging, and isn't a "breeze" like it is in 5e. In the case that you might have people who don't know their characters' abilities yet (inexperienced in 2e), a party configuration that seems suboptimal for the situation, I'm not 100% surprised.

I'd really recommend when you're learning a system to do a few encounters at 1st level. And do them at creatures your level (or lower) instead of higher levelled monsters that are basically like solo boss fights. For the love of all that is holy, while you're learning the system, try Low encounters with creatures/hazards lower than the party level. Your past experience with other editions of the game is probably doing more harm than good.

It's similar to saying, "we'll we've played lots of D&D - so let's jump into Call of Cthulhu. Our tactics and knowledge of D&D will make us awesome at killing Cthulhu and taking his loot."
 

Ulfgeir

Hero
A 5th level Gibbering Mouther is a "Moderate" challenging encounter for 4 3rd-level characters. A moderate encounter should feel challenging, and isn't a "breeze" like it is in 5e. In the case that you might have people who don't know their characters' abilities yet (inexperienced in 2e), a party configuration that seems suboptimal for the situation, I'm not 100% surprised.
I have no complaint about the HP of the creature as such, but combine that with the high saves of area-effects that can take out a whole party. I am not saying that we should easily succeed, but it feels this was harder than it should.. But yeah, starring with easier critters would have been better. ;)

This test was never expected to be anything other than an one-shot. Not intended to be a f campaign, and thus it makes sense to not start at lvl 1.
 

Retreater

Legend
I have no complaint about the HP of the creature as such, but combine that with the high saves of area-effects that can take out a whole party.
That's exactly what makes higher-level enemies a challenge. You're going to miss them more because they're AC is higher. Their attacks are higher so you're more likely to be hit (and critted). Their Save DCs are likewise higher so you're more likely to fail and critically fail their special attacks.
That's where the higher level challenge is in PF2 - it's not just stacking more HP like 5e does. It's not based off bounded accuracy.
 

AvtrSpirit

Villager
Yeah, 2e encounters are hard. However, there are tactics to make them easier survivable. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that combat is only 50% about using your "best" abilities and the rest 50% is working with the rest of the team to make combat easier. Three pieces of broad tactical advice:
  • Look for ways to make your bonuses go higher (spells, magic weapon, inspire courage etc.)
  • Look for ways to make enemy's number go lower (flanking, demoralize with frightened, other conditions. Many of these also reduce the monster's DC)
  • If facing one (or two) stronger enemies, look for ways to deny them actions or take away their actions (drop prone, grab, "Slow" spell)
All of this will tilt the math in your party's favour, taking the party survival chance from 65% in really difficult fights to 80-85% (numbers made up, but roughly correspond to the increase in attack probability).

All that said, death is still very much on the table with 2e encounters. At that point, you have to pray to the dice gods. Though 2e has never felt (to me) to be so unfair that a single die roll kills a PC or decides a battle. It is usually a string of bad dice rolls that leads to catastrophe.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
In both of these encounters, the Save-DC's were high enough that we basically had to roll like 18+ or to succeed with the saves. It feels way to OSR-like to have effects that statistically will take out half the party in 1 or 2 rounds..
Obviously, I can't speak to the stats the DM had behind the screen, but the SRD puts the gibbering mouther's confusing babble DC at 19. While that's substantial, both of the champions and the rogue are expert at Will saves. And if I understand things correctly, that means they're +7 on the Will save with just their level-based bonus, so even if they have 10 on their Wisdoms, their base roll to save is a 12.
Is the DM using values pulled from somewhere other than the Bestiaries?
 

Ulfgeir

Hero
Obviously, I can't speak to the stats the DM had behind the screen, but the SRD puts the gibbering mouther's confusing babble DC at 19. While that's substantial, both of the champions and the rogue are expert at Will saves. And if I understand things correctly, that means they're +7 on the Will save with just their level-based bonus, so even if they have 10 on their Wisdoms, their base roll to save is a 12.
Is the DM using values pulled from somewhere other than the Bestiaries?

I think he took them directly from the adventure. And as far as I remember, all saves where effectively in the 20-25 range... We definetly needed to roll high even with the save-bonuses.
 

Staffan

Legend
Generally speaking, I think numbers might escalate a little faster in PF2 than the encounter guidelines account for. A "moderate" encounter can be either two same-level creatures or one level+2 creature, and the level+2 creature definitely feels more dangerous. You won't be able to use Incapacitation effects on it, it'll save against your spells most of the time and even has a fair chance of critting on their save negating the spell entirely. And in reverse, it will score critical hits on you, which when combined with having higher base damage might very well knock you out entirely in a single hit.

There are also a number of discontinuities here and there. Generally speaking, creature power increases at a fairly steady rate, at +3 to about all numbers per 2 levels. But PCs don't advance like that. They might average out to that, but they get proficiency increases, item bonuses, and stat increases here and there. At level 5, most PCs get a pretty big boost. They get stat boosts that will likely help out everything except their primary stat (because it's going from 18 to 19). Martial characters get a proficiency increase in their weapon proficiencies. Casters get 3rd level spells which are generally a significant step up from 2nd. Martial characters also generally get Striking runes at about level 4, which will increase their damage by ~50% (from 1 die plus stat bonus to 2 dice plus stat bonus). That boils down to a 3rd level character being much weaker than a 5th level creature, moreso than the rules suggest.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
PF1 classic and PF2 are very different beasts. In PF1, the players can usually punch above their weight with some planning, optimization, and strategy. Its far more inconsistent based on groups and CR challenges. Wild west I guess you can call it. PF2 is designed to be more consistent. A CR challenge is a CR challenge regardless of party. Tactics matter more than optimization and strategy.

7 players is very difficult to account for in any system, IME. It's likely the adjustments the GM had to make were off or there was little guidance for that size of party. Paizo material usually assumes a 4 player party.
 

Kichwas

Half-breed, still living despite WotC racism
I have no complaint about the HP of the creature as such, but combine that with the high saves of area-effects that can take out a whole party. I am not saying that we should easily succeed, but it feels this was harder than it should.. But yeah, starring with easier critters would have been better. ;)
Single boss fights in PF2E actually feel like boss fights.

A moderate encounter for a group of 4 PCs has an XP budget of 80. This means a single enemy will be PC level +2. If you were fighting a pack of creatures you might be looking at 2 NPCs of your level, or 4 level 1 NPCs, or 2 level 2 NPCs and 1 level 1. Or perhaps 8 'lackeys'.

As a single boss, being 2 above you is a big deal in this system. On average every modifier it has is 2 better than you, and in this system that amounts to something like 30% lower DPS for your side over time, 20% harder success chances on everything, and more.

This is something GMs should not use against you casually:

You guys essentially loaded into a mid-level MMO dungeon as your very first log in, and started at the door to the first boss of the dungeon, skipping all the trash pulls and all the new player tutorials to go kill 5 squirrels and talk to 3 catgirls about how to swing a sword... It should have gone worse than it did. Next time listen to the guy at the loading screen that asks you to go fetch 5 squirrels first. ;)

If you're all new to the system, it's not just the players that need to 'go fight 5 squirrels' first, but also the GM. The GM needs to know what PCs can face and how to run encounters before throwing them at a mini-boss, just as much as the players do.


Moderate-threat encounters are a serious challenge to the characters, though unlikely to overpower them completely. Characters usually need to use sound tactics and manage their resources wisely to come out of a moderate-threat encounter ready to continue on and face a harder challenge without resting.
- Using sound tactics and managing your resources is a bit hard when it's the very first encounter you ever face in a new system.

This test was never expected to be anything other than an one-shot. Not intended to be a f campaign, and thus it makes sense to not start at lvl 1.
I'm not sure I understand this? If I read that as I read it, it appears you feel that because it was a one-shot your group should have started at level 1 and not 3. That is probably the opposite of your intended statement.

BUT... For a first experience with the system one shot or not, I would recommend level 1 just to get yourself eased in to the mechanics. However level 1 is typically the deadliest level at least in the low range.
 
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