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Pathfinder 2E Regarding the complexity of Pathfinder 2


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Retreater

Legend
I, for one, would appreciate a good adventure template to see how to present encounters, what the expectations of play are, etc. Like if Paizo could hold up an example and say "this is a solid adventure - it contains what players should expect when using our system - GMs modelling their homebrew content with these guidelines will have a basic idea of challenge, risk, reward, etc."
Actual play reviews of AP modules, the demo adventure, and the shorter adventures (Plaguestone, The Slithering) seem to indicate that those haven't been published yet. Early reports are that the Beginner Box adventure is better at this, but I haven't seen that yet.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yes. But you seem unwilling to take even the most basic steps to do so.

I'll try again:

If moderate encounters are more dangerous than they appear to be intended to be, why are not a big percentage of people reporting that?

Until you can answer that question, the core of your argument appears to be based on sand and water.
So now you're saying our entire discussion is sand and water? Talk about resorting to scorched earth argumentation.

The only reason we're having this discussion is because Pathfinder 2 has proven itself significantly lethal: both in absolute terms and relative to the (by far) most likely comparison point (5E).

If you don't agree to that, why are you even here?

But it doesn't matter. Whether the phenomenon is large or small, it still isn't because AD&D writers couldn't figure out 3E, or some such.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The trouble with the idea that the APs are Paizo's greatest strength is that this was the case at the start of Paizo's run with PF. We are a lot of years past that, and Wizards are experimenting with other ways of presenting adventures which are not limited by the six-issue-subscription format.

Wizards have been experimenting with structure significantly, and dividing a campaign adventure into six parts necessarily limits it.

Of course, a significant part of the D&D community does not rely on the adventures published by Wizards (or Paizo).
I had hoped this was exactly what a reader would take away from me saying
I think a much more relevant problem is that WotC has upped the competition considerably since the 4E days.
:)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I, for one, would appreciate a good adventure template to see how to present encounters, what the expectations of play are, etc. Like if Paizo could hold up an example and say "this is a solid adventure - it contains what players should expect when using our system - GMs modelling their homebrew content with these guidelines will have a basic idea of challenge, risk, reward, etc."
Actual play reviews of AP modules, the demo adventure, and the shorter adventures (Plaguestone, The Slithering) seem to indicate that those haven't been published yet. Early reports are that the Beginner Box adventure is better at this, but I haven't seen that yet.
Paizo absolutely needs to acknowledge the potential pitfalls of their on-the-edge balancing, and discuss what to do and what to avoid in regards to making, combining and splitting encounters.

Their current stance, as exemplified by Mr Jacobs post linked earlier (I think in this thread, only 85% sure, maybe somebody can find the link) that basically amounts to "we can only provide a starting point; more advanced GMs can modify as they see fit" doesn't cut it. That's politician's talk.

Why?

Because, not in a system where you can't even smush together two moderate-difficulty encounters without creating a serious TPK risk, you don't! They need to stop pretending PF2 is like most other systems, and start discussing the nitty-gritty details (that both CRB and GMG glossed over), basically discussing ways to combine two encounters.

It's not that it can't be done. It's that thinking about encounter budgets, and the amount of monsters the heroes face in any given round, is mandatory, not optional, in this system. You absolutely can combine two encounters. The very short (incomplete, rough-around-the-edges, ...) answer is that you create the illusion of combining them, while in reality the heroes never face more than one encounter's worth of monster at any single given time.

But I don't want to be the one giving out sound GM advice. I want Paizo to do it. I want Paizo to implicitly admit PF2 is not like the other systems, where nothing bad happens if the squad of kobold guards were to run back to their bugbear commander for safety, and two rounds later, the heroes run into his room. In PF2, however, that scenario will likely mean the GM just killed at least one hero.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I, for one, would appreciate a good adventure template to see how to present encounters, what the expectations of play are, etc. Like if Paizo could hold up an example and say "this is a solid adventure - it contains what players should expect when using our system - GMs modelling their homebrew content with these guidelines will have a basic idea of challenge, risk, reward, etc."
Actual play reviews of AP modules, the demo adventure, and the shorter adventures (Plaguestone, The Slithering) seem to indicate that those haven't been published yet. Early reports are that the Beginner Box adventure is better at this, but I haven't seen that yet.
I can’t see that’s ever happening. An adventure with a good key is quite different from an adventure that’s a good read. Since more people apparently read than run the official adventures, making them exemplars of good adventure design would potentially alienate the reader audience, which would be bad for business.

Even if they overcame that issue, I’m not sure Paizo’s adventures should occupy that role. They place way too much emphasis on fighting, and they’re too linear. Even if the execution is often flawed or poor, the official 5e adventures at least try new things. I can’t see Paizo’s ever doing a sandbox like* the opening of Rime of the Frostmaiden or a heist or anything like that.

--
* This is going by what I’ve read about it on the Alexandrian. Essentially, the PCs start out being able to go from town to town solving problems how they wish, and their progression is tied to solving problems rather than killing monsters or advancing through the plot. That’s what I can’t see Paizo’s doing.
 
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Retreater

Legend
I can’t see that’s ever happening. An adventure with a good key is quite different from an adventure that’s a good read. Since more people apparently read than run the official adventures, making them exemplars of good adventure design would potentially alienate the reader audience, which would be bad for business.

Even if they overcame that issue, I’m not sure Paizo’s adventures should occupy that role. They place way too much emphasis on fighting, and they’re too linear. Even if the execution is often flawed or poor, the official 5e adventures at least try new things. I can’t see Paizo’s ever doing a sandbox like the opening of Rime of the Frostmaiden or a heist or anything like that.
That's why I said I think the AP Format is bad for Paizo. It really limits what they can do. Sure, they might be the company's best sellers, but variety will help them in the long run.
The few people who read the adventure books for fun wouldn't compare to an active, engaged fanbase. Producing an awesome intro adventure like Phandelver or something like Curse of Strahd would help engage fans who buy core rulebooks, splats, etc.
As it is now, their appeal seems mostly to whiteboard theory GMs and people who aren't actually playing the game, just reading the books and making practice character builds.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
That's why I said I think the AP Format is bad for Paizo. It really limits what they can do. Sure, they might be the company's best sellers, but variety will help them in the long run.
The few people who read the adventure books for fun wouldn't compare to an active, engaged fanbase. Producing an awesome intro adventure like Phandelver or something like Curse of Strahd would help engage fans who buy core rulebooks, splats, etc.
As it is now, their appeal seems mostly to whiteboard theory GMs and people who aren't actually playing the game, just reading the books and making practice character builds.
There are two issues at play here. The first is that Paizo derives most of its AP revenue from people who don’t run them. They’ve said this in the past (around the time PF1 was at its peak IIRC), so making adventures more functional is a non-starter. I expect this is also why we’re seeing weirder and weirder themes (to keep things fresh for the readers). I think game sales at its peek did eventually outclass AP sales, but I assume Paizo isn’t willing to jeopardize that revenue stream while PF2 growth is very slow.

The other issue is the OSR passed right on by Pathfinder. We see some old-school type elements in PF2. It does acknowledge exploration as an actual thing, but the implementation is still in service of story-driven adventurers (there are no procedures for exploration as its own goal). PCs are presumed to be heroes that become super heroes, and the system’s progression is designed with that in mind (higher level characters/creatures destroy lower level ones without breaking a sweat). Fights need to be balanced because they serve a dramatic role. You don’t just fight something because you got in trouble, it’s part of the narrative progression.

Of course, you can ignore some of those things. I ignored balance when I converted Winter’s Daughter, and it went fight. Fighting there is really more of a failure state than a form of narrative progression. You can do open-ended exploration if you import a procedure from somewhere else. I did, and the system works fine for that (although I’ve started the conversation about switching to something else, I wouldn’t suggest taking that as an indictment of the system).

However, that’s beside the point, which is the official adventures. Paizo is stuck in 3e-era adventure design. The encounter-driven linear narrative format has served them well, and I don’t see any (internal or external) pressure on them to change what obviously works. The issues with balance can be tweaked. They’ll eventually find a sweet spot in the guidelines, or their audience will self-select or adapt to fit what Paizo offers. (They could just lean on adventure readers, but I think Paizo wants people to play their games regardless of how many people like to read but never run the adventures.)
 

nevin

Adventurer
In my experience most of the pathfinder players like the tactical focus of the game and want it to be nitty gritty and deadly. I think that has become the pathfinder niche. people that just want a difficult and deadly dungeon crawl.
 

Retreater

Legend
In my experience most of the pathfinder players like the tactical focus of the game and want it to be nitty gritty and deadly. I think that has become the pathfinder niche. people that just want a difficult and deadly dungeon crawl.
And I can totally appreciate that game style. I'm running Barrowmaze currently, and OSR or 5e works great for the dungeon crawl. However, I'd argue that a campaign that requires a linear, in-depth story progression between 6 books, from 1-15+ levels is not well suited for a gritty and deadly rules set. That's the disconnect I feel from the Pathfinder APs.
 

nevin

Adventurer
I'm not saying I think Pathfinder's niche involves any campaign style. Most of the pathfinder players I meet get together and play a module or a DM generated dungeon crawl. they don't really play campains. They have what resembles a video game. They go to the dungeon do thier thing, go to town spend thier money and then rinse repeat, or in some cases don't even do the town thing. They just kill things and solve puzzles every week. For them it's a board game with some roleplaying tacked on.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
So now you're saying our entire discussion is sand and water? Talk about resorting to scorched earth argumentation.

The only reason we're having this discussion is because Pathfinder 2 has proven itself significantly lethal: both in absolute terms and relative to the (by far) most likely comparison point (5E).

If you don't agree to that, why are you even here?

Because you don't own the discussion and get to beg the question and require people to accept your premises in whole. But its now extremely obvious that's exactly what you expect people to do.
 

Retreater

Legend
I'm not saying I think Pathfinder's niche involves any campaign style. Most of the pathfinder players I meet get together and play a module or a DM generated dungeon crawl. they don't really play campains. They have what resembles a video game. They go to the dungeon do thier thing, go to town spend thier money and then rinse repeat, or in some cases don't even do the town thing. They just kill things and solve puzzles every week. For them it's a board game with some roleplaying tacked on.
I'm sure there are some groups who do that. I would like to see more content from Paizo (or other publishers) to support that style of game. This is one of the reasons I'm pumped about their forthcoming Abomination Vaults dungeon campaign.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
The other issue is the OSR passed right on by Pathfinder. We see some old-school type elements in PF2. It does acknowledge exploration as an actual thing, but the implementation is still in service of story-driven adventurers (there are no procedures for exploration as its own goal). PCs are presumed to be heroes that become super heroes, and the system’s progression is designed with that in mind (higher level characters/creatures destroy lower level ones without breaking a sweat). Fights need to be balanced because they serve a dramatic role. You don’t just fight something because you got in trouble, it’s part of the narrative progression.

Of course, you can ignore some of those things. I ignored balance when I converted Winter’s Daughter, and it went fight. Fighting there is really more of a failure state than a form of narrative progression. You can do open-ended exploration if you import a procedure from somewhere else. I did, and the system works fine for that (although I’ve started the conversation about switching to something else, I wouldn’t suggest taking that as an indictment of the system).

Yeah, I think at worst you have to make the distinction between "Currently PF2e doesn't support some styles very well" (which I'd generally agree with) and "PF2e can't support those styles". As I've noted, there are things you aren't going to do with it the way you can some other D&D incarnations--but that's been true of every edition and variation from 3e on, its just a question of which ones--like randomly dropping in more opponents and such without some thought, but a lot of the other style things can be done, they just require some additional subsystems or thinking through how they should work in the context of the system.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
I'm sure there are some groups who do that. I would like to see more content from Paizo (or other publishers) to support that style of game. This is one of the reasons I'm pumped about their forthcoming Abomination Vaults dungeon campaign.

Well, honestly, its the style that least requires outside support; its pretty trivial to do in any edition/variation of D&D once you understand how the pieces fit together, which is why its where low-effort DIYers in the hobby have always lived (and that sounds more critical than its intended; its the place I pretty much lived for my first few years in the hobby).
 

Porridge

Explorer
They place way too much emphasis on fighting, and they’re too linear. Even if the execution is often flawed or poor, the official 5e adventures at least try new things.
I'll confess I'm a bit surprised to hear the sentiment that Paizo doesn't try new things. Although Paizo tries to stagger their more experimental APs with "standard fare" APs to appeal to multiple kinds of players, it seems to me like the experimental APs are trying new things all the time.
I can’t see Paizo’s ever doing a sandbox like* the opening of Rime of the Frostmaiden or a heist or anything like that.
FWIW, the second chapter of All or Nothing (book 3 of Paizo's current AP) is a heist. And it's done in a free-form sandbox style. The general floor plan and main characters are presented, a bunch of possible avenues of investigation and infiltration are discussed (along with encouragement to roll with other approaches players think up), but then the PCs are left to try to pull it off in any way they like.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
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.
You referenced this in the other thread, so I gave it a second look.

Pathfinder 2 is certainly not the game were you go for the high swing in round 1, forcing the opponent to parry; while in the next round you feint and stab.

Each round, yes, you do have a couple of feats granting you class-flavored special attacks, but there's generally no continuous selection process. You go for the mathematically optimal one.

There's some mixup in that you could go for something that slaps a condition (like flatfooted or prone) that can be more worthwhile in certain situations than in others (no need to flatfoot somebody when your buddy is already standing on the other side of the monster flanking).

You're basically given HUGE choice with very little mechanical effect. Of course some like how this means "there's no wrong choices" or even go "the game is won on the battlemat, not during charbuild".

But yeah, your choice mostly boils down to not doing the stupid thing like running into a room full of monsters just before all of them take their turn.

D&D has always been "I go you go" meaning "I stab you stab" with no meaningful need to explain or embellish what "stab" means.

I guess you can draw the conclusion "if it's all the same to you, I rather play a fine-page retroclone".

Personally however, I didn't get a "meh" out of PF2 combat. Most everything else, sure, maybe - but not combat.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I'll confess I'm a bit surprised to hear the sentiment that Paizo doesn't try new things. Although Paizo tries to stagger their more experimental APs with "standard fare" APs to appeal to multiple kinds of players, it seems to me like the experimental APs are trying new things all the time.
I admit my experience is with PF1 APs (Rise of the Runelords, Council of Thieves, Kingmaker, and Shattered Star), so maybe PF2 is different. Kingmaker may have looked like a hexcrawl, but it too was still just an encounter-driven, linear story. It’s just that instead of a normal dungeon, the wilderness was the dungeon.

FWIW, the second chapter of All or Nothing (book 3 of Paizo's current AP) is a heist. And it's done in a free-form sandbox style. The general floor plan and main characters are presented, a bunch of possible avenues of investigation and infiltration are discussed (along with encouragement to roll with other approaches players think up), but then the PCs are left to try to pull it off in any way they like.
Neat. I assume it uses the infiltration subsystem from the GMG?
 
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kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I guess you can draw the conclusion "if it's all the same to you, I rather play a fine-page retroclone".
It’s more like: given game A that can be made to do what I want and game B that does what I want, and also that game A ends up clashing with how I want to run and having elements I find I don’t like, then I’m inclined to switch to game B.

Personally however, I didn't get a "meh" out of PF2 combat. Most everything else, sure, maybe - but not combat.
We never really saw the purportedly amazing combats manifest at the table. It could be because of that style thing I mentioned earlier. Fights happen when they happen rather than as part of something planned and orchestrated as a set piece battle.
 

We never really saw the purportedly amazing combats manifest at the table. It could be because of that style thing I mentioned earlier. Fights happen when they happen rather than as part of something planned and orchestrated as a set piece battle.

Yeah, I think you're clashing with more modern design sensibilities. Not that it's wrong or anything, but there's definitely been a move towards more planned combats than random/naturalistic encounters.
 

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