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Pathfinder 2E Regarding the complexity of Pathfinder 2

dave2008

Legend
I have no doubt you can. Whether that favors some classes and types is a different argument though (and barring other rules I think it absolutely favors spellcasters).
I guess. We don't play with a lot of magic users either. Didn't make any difference in 4e that is for sure (the edition we had the most magic users).
I suspect to one degree or another you do and don't even realize it. Every D&D GM I ever saw in my life did. Its just part of the basic thought process of putting things together.

I mean, let me ask a simple question: do you have a setup where first level characters are liable to run without warning into an old Red Dragon or a high level demon? If not, that's balancing encounters. Past that, everything is simply a matter of how much effort and to what degree you do so.
I make the world and then let the group explores it. Now I do sometimes give clues. cues. or hints, but if it doesn't work, well... My group once went off task in a swamp and ran into an ancient black dragon (4e - level 26 solo I think) that they new nothing about, when they were level 5 +/-. So, not exactly 1st level, but pretty close.

Now the thing I do more to accommodate our style is everything is basically weak - more game of thrones than Forgotten Realms. Magic items, magic users, and powerful magic monsters are rare.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
You asked me where I'm drawing this from. I explained.
You're essentially arguing the reason the early game is hard is because you think the devs are stuck in a PF1 mindset, using what to support your position?

In contrast, I'm reading the actual CRB; observing that the writers accurately follow it, and do so repeatedly;, concluding the culprit is how the CRB offers the same guidelines to all levels.

Case closed.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
If they didn't intend people to run their game "by the book," maybe releasing a highly codified 600+ page Core Rulebook wasn't the right way to go with it? As was pointed out above, no one would mistake a game like Old School Essentials to be a "by the book" kind of game (except, perhaps, my current GM). That game also isn't presented as a mammoth tome of character options.
My point with OSE is that it’s up front about what it is. We ran Winter’s Daughter tonight, and it’s the same way. It says it’s not balanced around the PCs, and it means it (the first encounter is with 4* HD cultists, or level 5 cultists in my PF2 conversion). PF2 feels like it wants to be the game for adventure paths, but it doesn’t want to limit its market to just that, so it ends up kind of muddled. Moreover, it suffers from not doing enough to teach you how to run it.

Look at our discussions where we suggest ways to handle problems, and CapnZapp rightly responds asking where the book says to do that. In that case, we’re both right. The things we suggest would help deal with the problems, and CapnZapp is right that the system doesn’t tell you to do those things. There are a lot of things an experienced GM can do to make PF2 work pretty well in practice, but a naïve approach might result in the game being way too difficult (especially if the group doesn’t grasp how important group tactics are).

My feelings after today’s session is that I really wish I ran that module in OSE. My players really enjoyed it, and while PF2 worked fine, I really chafed at some of the conversion work I had to do. I think I’ve pretty much cemented myself as having very mixed feelings on PF2. On one hand, there are a number of elements I like. On the other, there’s some stuff that’s just a pain that I’d rather not be there. I also kind of get the criticism of rotations.

One of my players chose the swashbuckler pregen, and that character was always having to do something to generate panache. It just felt kind of rote. Oh, it’s time to do a fascinating performance, so you can power up your things. Yeah, you can do other things to do that. Using your style thing is the most obvious, so every fight started out the same way. I don’t think the player really cared, but I can see someone’s being bored with that. I saw some similar stuff in the magus playtest (where you had to play a certain way to get the most out of Striking Spell).

I’m not going to claim that’s an illusion of choice because I think there are more choices than just (and more choices that matter outside of) what you do in combat or when building characters, but it made combat feel kind of bleh. There was an investigator, and it was the same way. Devise a Strategem, do a thing (or not do a thing when you roll a natural 1). I need still to process my thoughts, so I’m not entirely sure what to make of that feeling right now.
 

Retreater

Legend
My point with OSE is that it’s up front about what it is. We ran Winter’s Daughter tonight, and it’s the same way.
So you ran Winter's Daughter in PF2? That's pretty cool.

I guess. We don't play with a lot of magic users either. Didn't make any difference in 4e that is for sure (the edition we had the most magic users).
4e had that optional rule to give flat bonuses instead of magic items. Maybe something like that would work for PF2?

PF2 feels like it wants to be the game for adventure paths, but it doesn’t want to limit its market to just that, so it ends up kind of muddled. Moreover, it suffers from not doing enough to teach you how to run it.
I'm really tempted to try to create an adventure
that would do this.

Some of us talking on the Paizo boards are considering starting an online "training arena" to learn best practices. I'm kinda exciting about that.
 

One of my players chose the swashbuckler pregen, and that character was always having to do something to generate panache. It just felt kind of rote. Oh, it’s time to do a fascinating performance, so you can power up your things. Yeah, you can do other things to do that. Using your style thing is the most obvious, so every fight started out the same way. I don’t think the player really cared, but I can see someone’s being bored with that. I saw some similar stuff in the magus playtest (where you had to play a certain way to get the most out of Striking Spell).

I’m not going to claim that’s an illusion of choice because I think there are more choices than just (and more choices that matter outside of) what you do in combat or when building characters, but it made combat feel kind of bleh. There was an investigator, and it was the same way. Devise a Strategem, do a thing (or not do a thing when you roll a natural 1). I need still to process my thoughts, so I’m not entirely sure what to make of that feeling right now.

This is kind of interesting to me. I do wonder if PF2 demands more varied encounter-building and set-pieces, where someone can use all the bells and whistles they potentially have access to in a way similar to 4E.

Like for the Swashbuckler, potentially they can gain panache through daring actions... but if the environment doesn't really give you that, it's hard to use. I also wonder if there is specialization tunnel vision, where people focus on their specialization rather than other possible options they might have: if you're a charisma Swashbuckler, you can potentially use things like Feint and Demoralize... but you might not because, as a Battledancer, you're focused on using your Fascinating Peformance to get panache.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
So you ran Winter's Daughter in PF2? That's pretty cool.
Yeah. After talking to my players about systems, they were willing to give OSE a try, but they felt like it would be too deadly for a campaign. I decided to take go ahead and convert it as a way to explore some stuff in PF2 (including with 17s due to random stat generation).

The funny thing is I think it would have been even better in OSE. I didn’t change how it handled balance, so most encounters will still destroy the PCs if they’re stupid enough to pick a fight (or take them head-on). I was super impressed when they discussed turning one of the items they found into a super weapon. That’s the kind of combat-as-war thinking I want to see. 😁

However, the combats we did have felt like they dragged, and the conversion work was a hassle. We didn’t finish tonight, but everyone really wanted to finish the adventure, so we’ll finish it next session. That’ll give me a chance to fix the maps I couldn’t do in Dungeondraft. Afterward, I’d really like to reopen the conversation about trying something in OSE proper.

4e had that optional rule to give flat bonuses instead of magic items. Maybe something like that would work for PF2?
There’s one in the GMG.

I'm really tempted to try to create an adventure that would do this.

Some of us talking on the Paizo boards are considering starting an online "training arena" to learn best practices. I'm kinda exciting about that.
Having adventures written with best practices would help a lot. I ran Winter’s Daughter without doing any prep to the key. It still flowed amazingly at the table. I’ve never been able to do that with a Pathfinder adventure. I always needed some notes to organize the information or stay on top of things. Alas, adventures are written to be read rather than run, and GM-focused keys don’t make for exciting reading.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
This is kind of interesting to me. I do wonder if PF2 demands more varied encounter-building and set-pieces, where someone can use all the bells and whistles they potentially have access to in a way similar to 4E.
That’s possible. I admittedly lack enthusiasm for that approach, but that’s entirely a style thing.

Like for the Swashbuckler, potentially they can gain panache through daring actions... but if the environment doesn't really give you that, it's hard to use. I also wonder if there is specialization tunnel vision, where people focus on their specialization rather than other possible options they might have: if you're a charisma Swashbuckler, you can potentially use things like Feint and Demoralize... but you might not because, as a Battledancer, you're focused on using your Fascinating Peformance to get panache.
It reminds me of stunting in Exalted. You need to do stuff to regen mana, but if the player not creative, nothing’s going to help with that. Additionally, having an explicit “get panache” button is easy, so it takes extra effort on the player’s part to generate panache other ways.
 
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That’s possible. I admittedly lack enthusiasm for that approach, but that’s entirely a style thing.

I mean,I also don't know the module so it could be that it's an OSE thing and not really developed with those ideas in mind. I did a lot of PF1 to 5E converting and converting of any kind can be taxing on you, especially if the systems are very different.

It reminds me of stunting in Exalted. You need to do stuff to regen mana, but if the player not created, nothing’s going to help with that. Additionally, having an explicit “get panache” button is easy, so it takes extra effort on the player’s part to generate panache other ways.

This is true: you're style is basically the easiest way since it focuses on an opponent and gains you a distinct advantage compared to Tumble. Though dashing stuff isn't necessarily an opposed check, which could be useful. I do think there is a bit of system mastery that needs to play here; I've not yet done a test game for it, but all the non-Wit, Charisma-focused Swashbuckler styles do have a really good use for Bon Mot as a way of softening up a target and getting them to potentially waste an action. Gives you a lot more potential options, especially if you are more broadly spec'd in the Charisma skills, where you can Demoralize, Feint, and Out-Wit your opponents to debuff them.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
I guess. We don't play with a lot of magic users either. Didn't make any difference in 4e that is for sure (the edition we had the most magic users).

Also the edition where there was the least intrinsic difference between spellcasters and non-spellcasters.

I make the world and then let the group explores it. Now I do sometimes give clues. cues. or hints, but if it doesn't work, well... My group once went off task in a swamp and ran into an ancient black dragon (4e - level 26 solo I think) that they new nothing about, when they were level 5 +/-. So, not exactly 1st level, but pretty close.

I'll bet they had to work to do that, however, or you'd have been going through them like slaw. I don't mean to be offensive, but even OD&D GMs running primarily outdoor adventures always seemed to set things so that you had to work to run into something significantly over their head. If that's not you, you're an incredible outlier.

Now the thing I do more to accommodate our style is everything is basically weak - more game of thrones than Forgotten Realms. Magic items, magic users, and powerful magic monsters are rare.

Well, obviously, if you compress things then there's less need to do deliberate balance because there's less gap in the first place.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
You're essentially arguing the reason the early game is hard is because you think the devs are stuck in a PF1 mindset, using what to support your position?

That the last two D&D editions had the same exact problem for much the same reason? Basically, why would the Pathfinder people be immune to a problem that's common to the D&D end of the hobby?

In contrast, I'm reading the actual CRB; observing that the writers accurately follow it, and do so repeatedly;, concluding the culprit is how the CRB offers the same guidelines to all levels.

Case closed.

No, really not. Especially since some of the problems are things that are not about the CRB.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
However, the combats we did have felt like they dragged, and the conversion work was a hassle. We didn’t finish tonight, but everyone really wanted to finish the adventure, so we’ll finish it next session. That’ll give me a chance to fix the maps I couldn’t do in Dungeondraft. Afterward, I’d really like to reopen the conversation about trying something in OSE proper.

With no offense intended, can I mention how boggled I am at the thought of a PF2e combat feeling like it dragged. But then, I don't know anything about Old School Essentials, so if its a really stripped down combat system (which the name might imply) it may be that our expectations are just vastly different here.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I mean,I also don't know the module so it could be that it's an OSE thing and not really developed with those ideas in mind. I did a lot of PF1 to 5E converting and converting of any kind can be taxing on you, especially if the systems are very different.
I was speaking more about my GMing style. It’s not really the kind of game I run, but I wanted to acknowledge that it could be something PF2 needs to sing.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
With no offense intended, can I mention how boggled I am at the thought of a PF2e combat feeling like it dragged. But then, I don't know anything about Old School Essentials, so if its a really stripped down combat system (which the name might imply) it may be that our expectations are just vastly different here.
OSE is a B/X retroclone. It’s something I keep wanting to run with my group, but my players always worry about dying all the time, so we balk at it. This is the closest we’ve come.

Honestly, thinking about it, only one fight that really stuck out as slow, and it was still only a couple of rounds long. Everyone rolled like garbage the first round, and players weren’t doing a good job of using their abilities. I wouldn’t call it a systemic issue. Things just felt kind of off at the time.
 

dave2008

Legend
Also the edition where there was the least intrinsic difference between spellcasters and non-spellcasters.
Yep. I think PF2 is similar in this regard?
I'll bet they had to work to do that, however, or you'd have been going through them like slaw. I don't mean to be offensive, but even OD&D GMs running primarily outdoor adventures always seemed to set things so that you had to work to run into something significantly over their head. If that's not you, you're an incredible outlier.
I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but they essentially went left instead of going right. That was the extent of them having to "work" to get into that encounter. Though they did disregard some hints that there was something powerful in the swamp. Of course, I always prefer to be an outlier ;)
Well, obviously, if you compress things then there's less need to do deliberate balance because there's less gap in the first place.
Yep. However, it makes the unknown dragon really dangerous!
 

I think uncovering what exactly the various best practices are for Pathfinder 2e (what kind of games best leverage the system, specifically not the only way to run a fun pathfinder 2e game) is probably still ahead of us, I've been thinking for a while that we're due for some cultural change in how these games are played, with the resurgence in old school interest-- but ambivalence to everything that comes with.

I suspect its a 'hybrid' between the old school and new school: high character customization, surprising lethality, reintroduction of proper procedures for exploration and such, characters are still very competent.

That could just be my bubble though, either way, I think its a play style Pathfinder 2e heavily supports and might very well take hold, I'm actually very interested in the dungeon centric adventures (Dead God's Hand, Abomination Vaults) coming up for this reason.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
That the last two D&D editions had the same exact problem for much the same reason? Basically, why would the Pathfinder people be immune to a problem that's common to the D&D end of the hobby?
"D&D heroes are more frail at the lowest levels" is a truism and I'm not discussing that. Saying the last two D&D editions had this exact problem is grossly relativizing. I'm discussing the specific extra deadly nature of PF2, especially at early levels.

At this point I think I'm done discussing this with you.
 

nevin

Adventurer
I think uncovering what exactly the various best practices are for Pathfinder 2e (what kind of games best leverage the system, specifically not the only way to run a fun pathfinder 2e game) is probably still ahead of us, I've been thinking for a while that we're due for some cultural change in how these games are played, with the resurgence in old school interest-- but ambivalence to everything that comes with.

I suspect its a 'hybrid' between the old school and new school: high character customization, surprising lethality, reintroduction of proper procedures for exploration and such, characters are still very competent.

That could just be my bubble though, either way, I think its a play style Pathfinder 2e heavily supports and might very well take hold, I'm actually very interested in the dungeon centric adventures (Dead God's Hand, Abomination Vaults) coming up for this reason.
I think it's always been a big minority of Pathfinder players. The ones that like the Tactical focus of the game. I don't think it will ever be a mainstream playstyle or ever threaten "Old school" , or "New School" . I think it'll be like shadow run or gurps a solid niche fixture in the eco system
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
Yep. I think PF2 is similar in this regard?

No. There are some elements of how spellcasting works that have been tuned up some (particularly how it interacts with the three action system, and how spells deal with levels) but otherwise its not vastly different from PF1e or D&D3 in overall shape. You still have a lot of resource management that isn't generally present with non-spellcasters, and there's still a limited amount that magic items will do for you as a spellcaster in terms of direct spell effectiveness boosts (not none, but not nearly the difference it is for fighting types). Probably the most directly impactful are wands and things which give, effectively, another spell slot of various sorts.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but they essentially went left instead of going right. That was the extent of them having to "work" to get into that encounter. Though they did disregard some hints that there was something powerful in the swamp. Of course, I always prefer to be an outlier ;)

The "disregarding hints" part is what I was referring to.

Yep. However, it makes the unknown dragon really dangerous!

It depends. Is he compressed too?

(This was an issue people sometimes don't get about really old school D&D; while you didn't want to do the equivalent of the old-red-dragon-versus-first-levellers thing I mentioned (because it was entirely possible if they didn't see that coming for everyone to be in a breath weapon and therefor dead right in the first round, and even if they didn't it was unlikely there was much they could do unless they ran immediately and the dragon didn't decide to pursue), the gap between higher level monsters and lower level PCs was not as profound as it was by at least the D&D3 era.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
"D&D heroes are more frail at the lowest levels" is a truism and I'm not discussing that. Saying the last two D&D editions had this exact problem is grossly relativizing. I'm discussing the specific extra deadly nature of PF2, especially at early levels.

At this point I think I'm done discussing this with you.

That's your business. My point was that there are reasons to believe that the first two APs suffered from exactly the same problems the earliest 3e and 4e D&D adventures did, and that none of the three did to the same degree later. So I consider drawing much conclusion from those two APs extremely dubious. If the same problem is still occurring in the most recent two, that's a useful data point; the other isn't.
 

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