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PF2E Regarding the complexity of Pathfinder 2

Lefi2017

Explorer
You say that, but I don't know anybody who runs any system 100% by raw, even 5e :p

Joking aside, I don't really see big deal with grips and door opening? I mean, yeah, one of my players started to troll me about two handed weapon casting fiend until we noticed that you can actually cast somatic spells while having two handed weapon. Its kinda weird, but it seems to be mostly to give reason for "one hand free" character types to exist(such as saving hand free for shoving or tripping while having rapier)

But yeah, I... Don't really get what you mean with the middle sentence besides that its your personal opinions and I personally disagree with it and I've felt much more freedom playing and running 2e than running 1e?
Isn't 5e a system to be easy made to be easily moded and subject to rulings by design after all ruling over rules is a core component

Can you say the same about pathfinder 2e ? that house rule do not invalidate feats or mechanics?
 

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MaskedGuy

Explorer
Isn't 5e a system to be easy made to be easily moded and subject to rulings by design after all ruling over rules is a core component

Can you say the same about pathfinder 2e ? that house rule do not invalidate feats or mechanics?
Thing is though, I disagree with all examples of "2e feats that allow you to do things that gm used to allow me to do!" I've seen so far and with most examples in 1e actually.

Like, I'd never have allowed someone to automatically(as in make it permanent feature of the skill itself) make creature friendly with deception, you'd still need diplomacy for that. At most I'd give you bonuses on diplomacy or lower dc due to creature believing that you truly do believe yourself to be their long lost relative :p (at least in case of random npcs, of course if character is searching for their long lost relative and you convincingly give them good story that fits the facts, that is the different case. Like completely depends context of the situation. Gang member to whom you successfully lie about being member to replace them on guard shift wouldn't have reason to assume you are random delusional person and if they knew shift roster by heart you couldn't roll it in first place since no lie would convince them :p)

Oh wait got sidetracked there, you are asking why I don't feel free in 5e?

That is mostly because 5e is weird mix of freeform without explicitly telling you it is freeform like cypher system does, 5e also has weird inconsistency of having exact rules for some things while not having rules for other similar things making it really annoying as gm who runs things by the book figure out which things have rules and which don't. I also feel as gm often as if I'm being arbitrary like "Uh, I guess I allow any roll that is above 20 or 17 to be success in this situation since I don't have idea what dc this would be or how hard it should be but I guess it should be pretty hard." As player I feel like I don't have enough customization options and that all my pcs of different classes feel similar, as gm I feel like I don't have interesting mechanics or monsters to play with. Like cypher system's freeform? The monsters don't basically have "list" of what they can do, they have EXAMPLES of what they can do. They have amount of damage they do, but you can pretty much describe the damage as part of any kind of scene you imagine. Meanwhile in 5e's freeform? Well lot of monsters have... Basically just multiattack and nothing else. I guess they could shove someone out of the way like pcs could but uh yeah.

...Anyway, I got side on side rant :p I guess better way to say it "5e is too boring for me and I don't like idea of system requiring house rules to be interesting". Like sure I have lot of house rules for 1e, but that is because 1e is broken system, its not boring one ;P
 
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FrozenNorth

Adventurer
These last few posts got me thinking more about why I view simplicity the way I do. Well, I have a computer science background and work as a software engineer. Taking small things and building bigger things out of them is just what I do. 😃

So traits and stuff like that appeals to me because they are like little boxes that I can combine into bigger effects. With free-style rules, you’ve got to infer intent and hope that your overall understanding of the system is enough that you don’t accidentally break things. With a trait, you should just need to reason about the effect it will have on things with that trait (which are all conveniently identified because that’s how traits work).

Interesting. I have developed in the opposite manner. IRL (and in the game-o-sphere), I have to deal with enough people who act like the letter of the law must prevail over both the spirit of the law and common sense. As such, I am happy when the system demonstrates that it trusts GMs to make the judgment calls that they will make anyway.

I do think that GM-facing material could do a better job of teaching people how to GM in a fun and exciting way.

I also find that technical writing obscures this ideal in a couple of ways. First, the standard of technical writing means more specificity and more detail than “natural language” writing. Paradoxically, this also means that that it is easier to honestly misinterpret the text (because you are trying to absorb more information) and also, because no one is perfect, also introduces loopholes. Second, I find that technical writing tends to obscure the DM’s role in adjudication.

But I can respect that in other people technical writing can aid in information processing and retention.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Thing is though, I disagree with all examples of "2e feats that allow you to do things that gm used to allow me to do!" I've seen so far and with most examples in 1e actually.

Can’t speak for you personally, but here are some examples that bother me:
  • as a DM, I would probably allow an Athletics check to climb faster or swim further;
  • as a DM, I would probably let a climbing character try to hold on with 1 hand and fight creatures off with the other (probably at a penalty ) and let them make an Athletics check at the end of their turn to avoid falling;
  • I would probably allow a character to impress multiple characters at the same time;
  • I would allow a character a roll (with a penalty) to impress a person in a short period of time;
  • In certain circumstances, I would allow a character to play an instrument to impress an NPC. In others, I wouldn’t allow a character to do this even if the character were a famous musician.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I think one of the reasons why PF2 might feel more smooth (and possibly you @kenada ) to me personally is that one of the lead designers is actually a very well trained Computer Scientist. Before joining Paizo Mark Seifter was working on his PhD at MIT. I think that's way there is such a strong like modular and object oriented approach to systems design. Also probably why it sometimes shows too much of its guts.
I got those same vibes too. The system strikes me as very SOLID. I’ve had to restrain myself from making an analogy to Progressive Disclosure (but that’s sort of where I was going in my discussion of simplicity and traits).
 

MaskedGuy

Explorer
Can’t speak for you personally, but here are some examples that bother me:
  • as a DM, I would probably allow an Athletics check to climb faster or swim further;
  • as a DM, I would probably let a climbing character try to hold on with 1 hand and fight creatures off with the other (probably at a penalty ) and let them make an Athletics check at the end of their turn to avoid falling;
  • I would probably allow a character to impress multiple characters at the same time;
  • I would allow a character a roll (with a penalty) to impress a person in a short period of time;
  • In certain circumstances, I would allow a character to play an instrument to impress an NPC. In others, I wouldn’t allow a character to do this even if the character were a famous musician.
I'm mostly responding this to demonstrate how I think:
  • That first one is kinda like saying "with good athletics roll I allow you to run faster without needing feat feat to increase movement speech." And even if you do something like "okay, you can try to climb faster but dc is uh... Let's say higher by five or ten" the feat would still be useful for climbing at faster speed with regular dc or EVEN faster with house ruled higher dc.
  • Second one is one of those "I don't see how feat's existence makes that impossible since feat just removes flat penalty and says you can hold on with one arm". Heck you can actually hold on the thing you are climbing with one hand already, the combat climber more permisses you to continue climbing with only one hand.
  • Third is one of those grey situations. I'm willing to consider "crowd" a single target when doing oratory speech, but when you are trying to convince something like four council representatives, you usually would have to convince them separately yeah.
  • Fourth is one of those "well gm tells you to roll first impression check" situations where you can't assume as player you can always do so, unless you have the said feat.
  • Fifth is again one of those "well this isn't feature of the skill but something gm allows me to do in this scene" things.

Like, I'm not opposed of gm allowing stuff like "Well in this situation you can make impression on character using arcana to impress them with your knowledge!" I'm against someone saying "This feat allows me to do something I was already allowed to do!" when in fact most examples I've seen are kinda like versatile performance for bards in 1e: aka using skill in way you wouldn't use them normally :p I can say that I'm not normally more friendly to skilled musicians. Like, if you can always for free use performance to make impression and request actions without feat, why would you ever take diplomacy profiency? You wouldn't, just like how I never had skill ranks in skills I had versatile performance for
 

Campbell

Legend
Isn't 5e a system to be easy made to be easily moded and subject to rulings by design after all ruling over rules is a core component

Can you say the same about pathfinder 2e ? that house rule do not invalidate feats or mechanics?

Fifth Edition is not really modular in any kind of meaningful way. Subsystems are intertwined. There are exceptions all over the place including a massive number of passive effects layered on top. From a technical standpoint there is no real modularity. Like the call feats and multiclassing modular, but they have massive implications that have far reaching implications for the rest of the game. If 5e were an application it would be spaghetti code with instructions to write new code and not worry about it.

PF2 is modular in like a technical sense. Every element of the game is written to be as isolated and modular as possible. Interactions between elements are managed with consistent interfaces that are extendable. It is extremely easy to see dependencies.

In the Game Mastery Guide they pretty much lay out all their design tech for you and it's pretty much what designers actually use to design content.
 

MaskedGuy

Explorer
Fifth Edition is not really modular in any kind of meaningful way. Subsystems are intertwined. There are exceptions all over the place including a massive number of passive effects layered on top. From a technical standpoint there is no real modularity. Like the call feats and multiclassing modular, but they have massive implications that have far reaching implications for the rest of the game. If 5e were an application it would be spaghetti code with instructions to write new code and not worry about it.

PF2 is modular in like a technical sense. Every element of the game is written to be as isolated and modular as possible. Interactions between elements are managed with consistent interfaces that are extendable. It is extremely easy to see dependencies.

In the Game Mastery Guide they pretty much lay out all their design tech for you and it's pretty much what designers actually use to design content.

Yeah I got too distracted with ranting on freedom aspect to actually comment on that fact. In 5e its only modular in sense of "its easy homebrew new subclasses and races because mechanically they follow simple but strict formula", but that doesn't help with balancing it at all.
 


kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Interesting. I have developed in the opposite manner. IRL (and in the game-o-sphere), I have to deal with enough people who act like the letter of the law must prevail over both the spirit of the law and common sense. As such, I am happy when the system demonstrates that it trusts GMs to make the judgment calls that they will make anyway.

I do think that GM-facing material could do a better job of teaching people how to GM in a fun and exciting way.
This is going to be an “out-there” analogy, so just roll with me for a moment.

I practice GTD. When I first met my wife, she commented about how I was capturing everything I might want to do. She saw that as my constraining myself. How could I live in the moment if I had a list of all my to-dos? I told her I do it for exactly the opposite reason.

By having that list, I can make an intentioned decision about what I am doing. Many times, what I do isn’t even on that list, but because I have it there, I can trust that it will surface important things when they are important. I can e.g., go visit someone for a week and never be worried that I forgot something at work.

That’s how I view having a good framework in a game. That’s why I call it empowering rather than constraining. Because of that framework, I can fit improvised actions into the game’s action economy and have things key off of them where it makes sense. Because I can reason about the game, I can tweak things with an understanding of the implications.

For example, if you want to let people use a skill action in a way that’s not written, just let them do it at a −2 penalty. A skill feat at best (or worst, depending on one’s perspective) will let you just do it, so you haven’t stepped on any of the game’s niche-protection toes. If it seems extra hard, allow it at a −4 penalty instead. No, that’s not RAW, but the game’s framework allows me to conclude that should be a pretty fair approach.

I also find that technical writing obscures this ideal in a couple of ways. First, the standard of technical writing means more specificity and more detail than “natural language” writing. Paradoxically, this also means that that it is easier to honestly misinterpret the text (because you are trying to absorb more information) and also, because no one is perfect, also introduces loopholes. Second, I find that technical writing tends to obscure the DM’s role in adjudication.
Writing is hard, and technical writing is extra hard. Well-written technical writing should make it clear what the GM’s role is and how the GM should use the tools in the game to adjudicate it. I would actually offer Apocalypse World as an example of strong technical writing. The tone is very casual, but it’s very exact in what you should be doing and how you use the system.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
That's pretty much the Fourth Edition model. It definitely can work well, but also usually comes with other ways in which adversaries and player characters are treated differently in regards to the rules. I really appreciate how level being a fairly consistent measurement of power has allowed for a smooth play experience. Spells can just refer to level. You can build NPCs like PCs and have the encounter building guidelines work pretty well. I do think a better label for moderate should have been chosen, Maybe something like how Blades in the Dark calls its baseline Risky to let players know it's still fairly dangerous. Maybe Tough Threat or something like that. Words are hard.
4e came to mind when I was writing that (since IIRC the baseline was four creatures of your level), but your point about losing the consistent meaning of level makes me thing what I suggested is actually a terrible idea. That consistency is one of PF2’s biggest strengths. I wouldn’t want to lose that. Otherwise, I think we agree that a better label would have been preferable.

I do think Paizo has made a fairly conscious marketing decision to try to be the Dark Souls to Fifth Edition's Mass Effect. It honestly plays to their strengths as a company. From the beginning when they were publishing Dungeon magazine Paizo adventures have always focused on going deep into the lore of the game and being like pretty damn difficult. I think the game was pretty designed with that approach in mind. It is very modular and can be played at a less highly tuned level, but it was absolutely designed with that sort of material in mind. For instance, the level scaling was definitely put in place largely to make boss monsters more threatening in like an aggressive Dark Souls way where Legendary Monsters in 5e feel more like the Reaper fight or a World of Warcraft raid encounter (not meant negatively).
I’d love to see a post mortem of PF2 and hear all the reasoning that went into how things were designed. I think it’s just as possible that Paizo wanted to solve the problem D&D-likes have with solo boss fights. PF2 lets you take a higher-level creature and just use it as a boss, which has never worked particularly well in other systems even though it’s probably the first thing everyone tries.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
What I'm telling you is that the complexity quickly - too quickly - snowballs to ridiculous extremes. To me, Pathfinder 2 comes across not only as a game where the dev team is fighting to rein in system complexity but lost control - but as a game where the dev team is completely oblivious as to the negatives of system complexity, and in fact is pushing hard to exploit every single little design nook or rules cranny.
The main party is at 5th level going on 6th. We have a side party that’s just hit 2nd level. We’re over twenty sessions into the campaign. None of the things you cite as problematic have been particularly problematic in the year+ we’ve been playing PF2.

I would have hoped that the dozen examples already posted would be enough to convince you but maybe I have to go deeper into the scary rabbit hole that is PF2 rules exceptions and things that should work identically but merely works similarly.
What dozen examples? You keep harping on Craft and Treat Wounds. You said something about class feats and offered a couple of examples, but they’re designed the way they are for understandable reasons. Is it that Recall Knowledge for monster identification kind of sucks? Or that skill feats muddle adjudication?

I’m willing to recognize problems where I think there are problems. I’ve even discussed them here as well as possible ways to mitigate them or address them. If you’re trying to get me to concede that ‘5e gets it; PF2 does not’, then I’m never going to do that. I’m not interested in your edition war.
 
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FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Writing is hard, and technical writing is extra hard. Well-written technical writing should make it clear what the GM’s role is and how the GM should use the tools in the game to adjudicate it.
No disagreement from me on this point, and I didn’t intend to suggest otherwise (just in case you thought that was implied in my post 😃)
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Had Paizo been able to resist cluttering this down to the point where this clean design is entirely obscured by fiddly exceptions I would agreed. Now I merely see myself some 15-20 levels ago, before I got disillusioned.
I don’t consider the stuff built on top of the framework clutter. That’s the point of having a framework. It’s for building things on top of it.

The problem is that at level 1, you're mostly interacting with the core framework, easily compartmentalizing the odd feat rule, dismissing the weirdly limited skill rule as "we're just level 1" and probably not interacting with magic items at all. At this point I would not recommend making predictions about your future experience, at level 11 or 19... Just sayin'
This really comes across as gatekeeping.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Not to sling mud on your house rules, but that would limit bows to only encounters where you know things are about to get real. I'm assuming we are in agreement this rule would be a poor fit as a general CRB rule, given the propensity for AP encounters to just begin with "the Ogre wins initiative, it charges forward and sinks its Club into your face!"
It doesn’t need to be a general rule because I can use the framework to adjudicate what happens in that situation.

It's not a poor rule, I mean, just one that caters to a subset of campaigns (more realistic ones).
It’s a concrete example of how I use the game’s framework to adjudicate a situation, and how that framework empowers me to do so while keeping the result within the game’s structures. I figured it was a better one than something hypothetical about doing a thing with your hands, so that has [Manipulate], and someone can then use their Attack of Opportunity as a reaction. That it’s particular to my campaign is irrelevant.
 

wakedown

Explorer
I haven't jumped in on PF2 threads in some time since the game failed to win over the group and we've reverted back to 3e/PF1 or 5e in the cases where we wish to scratch rules-heavy itches vs "just sit down and game" itches.

PF2 is definitely regarded by our group as "rules play" - great if you want to sit alone and just look at rules and think about rules and think about rules interactions or roleplay as a game designer. I could imagine the trajectory being in PF3 something along the lines of "Now 4 actions per round! More fun!" And "now 6 degrees of success!". And "+2 to level on trained checked vs +1 to level on untrained". This is a bit tongue in cheek but hopefully illustrates the slippery slope.

Maybe your gaming group all command rules mastery but having to go back a round because "oh crap I missed that was a critical success or failure" is painful. Or the "wait, you have 1 more action this round". Gameplay we spend a lot more time talking about rules than using our imaginations about what is going on in the room we're in and trying to knock over tables or cut down chandeliers

It's been a while but I can cite one example where there was an NPC interaction and the group was trying to fib to the NPC, "oh yeah we're in favor of Duke so-and-so taking charge too". A totally valid thing we'd all do at a neighborhood BBQ to try to bond with a neighbor, "oh yeah I'm totally voting for the same president as you are". But the rules suggest that this won't improve that NPCs attitude towards you for successfully delivering that fib. Instead there's a feat, "Charming Liar" which lets you accomplish what Diplomacy would in terms of attitude adjustment, but only a critical success. Imagine having to explain this to my grade school son and shut down what for him is a brilliant epiphany on social interaction by explaining he should have run across this feat and planned it in advance?

The TLDR is that feat heavy systems, especially if they want to get you to purchase a dozen books over the years, will inevitably end up gating good ideas and if there's a person at the table with disparate rules mastery, they'll potentially call out the rule(s) that were applicable. It's fine with a home group of friends because your DM can handwave it as long as everyone shares roughly the same philosophies of rules-getting-in-the-way. I think in our limited play of PF2, the gentleman's agreements ended up just imagining every PC had over a dozen or so feats we encountered would've gated play - "just imagine anyone creatively problem-solving can use this rule or a rough approximation of it". Of course then that leads to character building questions, "can I just assume we'll all have this feat in play so I don't have to take it?". If I were to be in charge of PF3, I'd take maybe one third of the feats and put them in a GM Advice Guide (which I know would be a bummer for revenue vs sprinkling them out over a dozen supplements players building PCs could buy to get power) as "suggestions to adjudicate creative player ideas". Or, just trickle the feats-as-advice out via free blog posts to encourage DM creativity.

There's plenty of DM's who will take on PF2's rules mastery challenge and try to commit it all to memory but if you are new to the hobby it's daunting with just a handful of supplements, especially as PF2 has tended to attract the players who crave rulesplay away from the table and will bring that rules mastery into a session and battle it with the DM over small nits.
 

wakedown

Explorer
Ugh, double post.

But I'll use the opportunity to cite another example from gameplay. Party is facing an enemy wizard and throws silence on the frontline fighter who rushes up to corner the wizard.

The wizard, panicked just as much by the warrior in his face as the delivery of the silence effect thwarting his magic - from within the silence, shouts "Fall back!" to his allies.

Enter tabletop rules conversation about whether anyone sitting has noticed the "Read Lips" feat and if this is a good application of the rules. Do the wizard's allies have the "Read Lips" feat? In attempting to understand what is happening are they fascinated/flat-footed since they are trying to understand what the wizard is communicating, regardless of the outcome of a requisite Society check? I doubt this was the intent of printing the Read Lips feat.
 
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kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I would be interested in your help coming up with more compelling examples. For starters: What about my examples aren't compelling?
I’m not saying you’re wrong for doing the things you do in your game, but your examples just don’t resonate with me. It’s the kind of thing I’d never allow a check to attempt, and it’s something I’ve never seen done at any of the tables where I’ve played in the last twenty years. It strikes me as an unidiomatic way to use skill checks, even in a system like 5e that tries to avoid being prescriptive about how skill checks are used.

With that said, and having reflected on it some, I think one solution would just be to allow anything with a penalty (either to the roll or as a boost to the DC). That avoids stepping on the toes of skill feats, and it represents that what the PC wants to do is a bit unusual. How big of a penalty you want that to be is going to depend on the extent to which you want to discourage or encourage it.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
On sidenote, why do you keep posting multiple posts in row instead of either putting everything in single post or just focusing on single issue at time? I notice that multiple posters in thread do that, so is that just common practice on this site?
I’ve been doing it because that’s what other people were doing. 😂
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Full disclosure: I have a hard time believing anyone who likes the rule actually runs their game RAW.
My house rules are available here.
  • I build on top of exploration mode with my own exploration procedure. For dungeons, that’s basically codifying a 10-minute turn and regular checks for wandering monsters.
  • I change advancement speed because I want higher levels to take longer to gain than lower ones, but I also one early levels to go faster. There’s actually a level 12 cap, but that’s not documented.
  • I add a couple of hero point variants. The second one is very popular. The first one has never been used (even though I’ve suggested using it to spend banked skill points during a session to train a skill when you need it).
  • I use morale because constant fights to the death are boring. Rather than decide by fiat, I roll against a value I pick that determines how committed the creature is to staying.
  • Rarity changes are there to support a setting where bringing people back to life is just not a thing.
  • I’ve never actually used the reaction table, but it’s there just in case I need it.
  • We use Proficiency Without Level, and I tweaked Assurance and the simple DC chart to better work with it. I don’t use the simple DC chart in the GMG because it’s too harsh. 5th level characters were regularly failing expert DCs, which is not very fun or intuitive.
I also exclusively use homebrew ancestries and a heavily customized champion class. Since this discussion hasn’t revolved around those in the concrete, I don’t think that matters, but I’m putting it out there in the spirit of probity.

Morale is really the only house rule that dramatically changes the way the system works. We’ve had combats where it’s not a factor, so that alone shouldn’t invalid my perspective on combat or difficulty. That shouldn’t matter regardless because I’ve not been assuming my house rules in this discussion (except where I discuss what I do in my game).

On one hand I am struggling to see how you could use all the rules and not come away frustrated and emasculated (as a GM, as a player).

On the other, I can easily see the game engine humming if you just plain ignore every niggling exception and limitation. Of course it works then. But in that case, defending Paizo's CRB would in my mind be disingenuous, since what you're really selling is "Bob's Pathfinder 2" or "Sue Cherry-Picking What She Likes About The CRB".
Rule #1 of Pathfinder 2e is that you can change the game and make it yours. The game entreats you to change it. Refusing to change it would not be running the game as RAW.

Frankly, this is just stinks of more gatekeeping by trying to invalidate experiences that don’t match your narrative. Also, “emasculated” is uninclusive language. Is it really necessary?
 

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