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Pathfinder 2E Regarding the complexity of Pathfinder 2

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Yes, the GM improvising Will saves when enemies are bloodied or lose numerical advantage etc is easy.
Will-based morale rules are flawed because they conflate how brave you are in the face of danger with how inclined you are to stay in a fight. Moreover, just because you retreat doesn’t mean you have panic and fled. I’ve had enemies make a fighting retreat when they failed their morale check because that was just appropriate to what they do.

I’ve recently started to consider a mildly Will-based alternative. Something like make a Will saving throw versus your Wisdom DC (with modifiers for how committed you are to the fight), but I haven’t gotten to the point of mathing it out to do what I want. My current system is just using morale from B/X unaltered (link is to OSE, but I was inspired by this post on the Alexandrian). I decide the creatures’ morale scores during the fight based on how committed I think they are to it.
 
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kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
How do you implement xp for gold, Kenada? Exactly, I mean. In PF2 you have a functioning magic item economy, and if you retain the standard xp system, you will quickly be able to gain a level just by selling a random loot drop.
I anticipated this response, which is why I disclaimed that you weren’t trading or selling things for gold, but I’ll elaborate a bit on what I have in mind. 🙂

First, I’d like to note again that actually selling loot or trading in treasure for XP is not the standard method in old-school D&D. It’s a popular variant (originating with Dave Arneson), but it wasn’t the standard method. I assume people like it as an alternative to stronghold building and magical research as a way to take money out of the economy and get people doing class-related stuff back in town (supporting their church as the cleric, carousing and causing trouble as the drunk barbarian, etc).

What I have in mind is something fairly simple (based on B/X, again linking OSE for reference).

Treasure that PCs bring back from an adventure is the primary means by which they gain XP—usually accounting for ¾ or more of the total XP earned.

Non-magical treasure: Characters gain 1 XP per 1 gold piece (gp) value of the treasure.
Magical treasure: Does not grant XP.

For PF2, I’d treat everything that’s not currency (money, gems, art objects, etc) as “non-magical treasure” and everything else as “magical treasure”. That’s so I can use table 10-9: Party Treasure by Level to adjust the required XP to level up.

Note that XP is gained for returning with treasure not for selling it. Selling the treasure to gain XP is not required or expected.

I also use a progressive XP system (based on next level × 200 XP), so this integrates pretty well with that (though I use a conversion factor of 1 XP per 1.6 gp to slightly reduce the affect of treasure on leveling). I’m not sure how well it would work or feel with the flat XP per level that PF2 does normally. You might have to adjust it or do a percentage-based approach.

In a percentage-based approach, you would figure out how much XP per level you wanted from treasure. For example, let’s say you want 400 out of every 1000 XP to be from treasure. When the party returns with treasure, you look at how much of that treasure (i.e., “currency”) they found and calculate the percentage based on the guidelines in table 10-9. For example, if a 2nd level party comes back with several statues and gems worth 20 gp, then they would receive 57 XP (= 20/70 × 200 XP).

I eschewed the above approach because my group has characters of mixed levels, and it gets super weird in that case. You’d probably want to calculate it based on the party’s level. I went with the other method because it integrates cleanly enough with my situation. Treasure ends up serving as a booster for lower level characters, so its XP would not be doubled (per the catch up rules in PF2).
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
Gotta ask, what were the rules? I played a bit of AD&D, but I was always with guys who had played it for years so I never actually looked too much at the rules.

Well, I'm speaking for OD&D here (by the time AD&D came along I'd bailed out of D&D), but there were some rules about taking corners and losing people; they pretty brute force, and didn't account for, well, much of anything other than in the broadest sense (the same problem the reaction rolls had; they didn't really care about the details of the situation, which made them produce kind of goofy results (some people defend it on "well it inspires creativity" but I'm not a fan of random numbers without context), but it did have the effect of providing an opportunity--in a dungeon--to successfully run if necessary when the most straightforward result would have been "the guys in plate are screwed".

As I said, the problem is, between the people who didn't notice and the people who found it too blunt-object, it was rarely used.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
Will-based morale rules are flaws because they conflate how brave you are in the face of danger with how inclined you are to stay in a fight. Moreover, just because you retreat doesn’t mean you have panic and fled. I’ve had enemies make a fighting retreat when they failed their morale check because that was just appropriate to what they do.

I don't think they're entirely unrelated. Honestly, the kind of tactical retreat you're talking about shouldn't require a roll; that's just the opposition assessing things and assuming its the better tactic.

Once you are doing a roll, I can't help but think to one degree or another that's representing a morale failure, and that's no more inappropriate that all kinds of things that get tossed into Will saves. At the end of the day, unless you're going to propagate resistance rolls out indefinitely, sooner or later you're lumping things together that from some angles will look like they don't belong together.

(I'm not conceptually based to a different morale roll basis as long as it actually factors in both the participants and the situation, but there's no question when you go down that road you're dropping well into special-casing, and D&D derivatives are already too prone to that IMO).
 

That’d be good for handling a dynamic response to the PCs presence in the dungeon, but I wouldn’t use only that. There’s also wandering monsters (as already noted). If you give the PCs tools to control their engagement in encounters, then the guidelines for encounter building become a bit more advisory because the PCs can pull back and retreat if two encounters combine into something particularly dangerous.

Of course, the real struggle will be training players to stop assuming that the PCs should expect to win every fight, and that they have to engage smartly if they want to survive. 😑
Yeah, one risk with players today, from what I can tell, is that you run the risk of them 'dead fishing' the responsibility back onto the GM, you can find a lot written about how a 'TPK represents a failure on the part of the GM' and rationalizations about how players are almost always justified in expecting to never have to run away, and other such things. If they decide not to run, and lose, and are mad about it (even in the politest terms) it can create a lot of pressure for the GM to 'correct' their own behavior.

Part of why I tend to think of it more as a hybrid model is actually for the reason you mention. This model might involve combining and splitting encounters, but goes out of its way to mitigate the presence of encounters that are too much for the party to handle from a 'combat as sport' framework if they do mess up. The encounter itself might be a bit of a nail biter, or be more resource consuming than the players would prefer from a strategic point of view-- but it won't kill them unless they follow up their earlier mistakes with bad tactics and dice rolls, whereas the pure old school approach would center the necessity of retreat, and accept the character death as par for the course.

I imagine Wandering Monsters fitting in as one of the 'encounters' loaded into the location the players are adventuring in. I've been developing a framework for thinking about 'adventuring locations' that are like 'adventures' but instead of being a chain of events that must happen, its a physical space that contains content, any given example of which the players may or may not interact with, stumble into, or have stumble into them.

So lets say I develop 8 low-trivial-medium encounters out of my adversary roster, I'd key 6 of those into my dungeon map, in certain spots, with notes on how they might possibly combine into severe, or at most, barely extreme, encounters (you would never want even a combined encounter to cross the latter threshold, so you would design around that expectation to keep them firmly separated.) The remaining couple, I might treat as Wandering Monsters (they might be a single monster, or a few creatures.)

This model rewards good explorative play with easier encounters, but allows for the joy of outplaying a dangerous challenge in a fight-- it might be the sort of game someone interested in old school adventure dynamics could enjoy, without completely alienating the new school mentality of characters being empowered in and of themselves.

For context, I intend to combine this model with a decentralized approach to adventuring, where the emphasis is less on save-the-world plots and more on themes like 'adventuring as archaelogy' 'adventuring slice of life' and 'what segments of the location will we explore this time?' in a nautical west marches, where you have to get the treasure safely back to port. Treasure Hunting is central to the game I'm planning, though I don't think I'll be using any treasure as exp variants (I'm going to be using ABP, and want them to be able to exceed the wealth curve, or fail to meet it, based off their wits and abilities.)
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
I don't think they're entirely unrelated. Honestly, the kind of tactical retreat you're talking about shouldn't require a roll; that's just the opposition assessing things and assuming its the better tactic.
It doesn’t require a roll. The morale check is a reminder to retreat, disengage, or flee. Otherwise, you’re relying on the GM to decide to have enemies flee&c, which I expect is not very often.

Once you are doing a roll, I can't help but think to one degree or another that's representing a morale failure, and that's no more inappropriate that all kinds of things that get tossed into Will saves. At the end of the day, unless you're going to propagate resistance rolls out indefinitely, sooner or later you're lumping things together that from some angles will look like they don't belong together.
Like I said, I’ve considered a Will-based alternative, so I’m not completely against it. I like having it separate and feel like it better models the situation, but one could conceive of a system of modifiers to do the same thing. I certainly wouldn’t use a fixed target if I did use a Will-based variant. The reason for suggesting a Will saving throw versus your Wisdom DC is it models the effect of training and other factors while keeping the chance of success independent of level.

Once you have a system of modifiers for handling various situations, I feel like you’re not really gaining much over just picking a score that feels right and rolling 2d6 to check morale. That’s why I never looked more deeply at the above approach. It didn’t feel worth the effort.
 
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Thomas Shey

Adventurer
Yeah, one risk with players today, from what I can tell, is that you run the risk of them 'dead fishing' the responsibility back onto the GM, you can find a lot written about how a 'TPK represents a failure on the part of the GM' and rationalizations about how players are almost always justified in expecting to never have to run away, and other such things. If they decide not to run, and lose, and are mad about it (even in the politest terms) it can create a lot of pressure for the GM to 'correct' their own behavior.

Well, as I noted, part of that is that, over and above the people who feel that running away is unheroic, the vast majority of people don't expect it to work, at least in total (and are unwilling to abandon fellow PCs). As long as that combination is true, a TPK is often going to feel like a "gotcha" on the part of a GM. That's why I think if you want people to accept retreating as a valid option you have to make it clear up front, and make sure to point out mechanisms that make it practical--because its not likely to be what they're used to, either in expectation or process.

And understand that depending on the dynamic of the group, if one PC goes down but is not dead, if they can't retrieve them they may well choose to die to a man and still consider that your doing.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
Once you have a system of modifiers for handling various situations, I feel like you’re not really gaining much over just picking a score that feels right and rolling 2d6 to check morale. That’s why I never looked more deeply at the above approach. It didn’t feel worth the effort.

It depends on whether you want it to depend in part of the traits of the NPCs, and if the system you're using goes into enough detail to display those traits; with a modern design that has relatively detailed opponent traits like PF2e, I'd expect that save value to factor in in some way, but obviously if you're dealing with the sometimes extremely schematic enemy listings of some old D&D derivatives and others, probably just eyeballing modifiers would do as well as anything.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
It depends on whether you want it to depend in part of the traits of the NPCs, and if the system you're using goes into enough detail to display those traits; with a modern design that has relatively detailed opponent traits like PF2e, I'd expect that save value to factor in in some way, but obviously if you're dealing with the sometimes extremely schematic enemy listings of some old D&D derivatives and others, probably just eyeballing modifiers would do as well as anything.
Honestly, that’s not very important to me (versus being quick and simple to use). Just sort of correlating with those traits is good enough.

For GMs who find that important and want to tie it to traits or use the creature’s Will saving throw, my recommendation is to use circumstance modifiers as appropriate. I looked at Wisdom DC versus level-based DC a little bit, and the former probably doesn’t break morale enough. Level-based is probably the way to go, but it’s one more thing to look up during combat (or reference if it’s on your GM screen).
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Looking back at this thread now that people have started discussing unrelated games, I cannot say it has been an unqualified success.

I intended it to be a public service announcement stating that not only is Pathfinder 2 complex, it is much more complex than Paizo would have you believe, and perhaps more importantly, it is far too complex for its own good. Pathfinder 2 is still playable and fun - it's just painfully obvious it could have been more accessible, easier, faster, and... just better... if it had dared shed a mountain of clutter.

However, when I browse through its pages I see I have made many many points that those that refuse to believe this have... downplayed, ridiculed or simply ignored. I did my best to nail them to their incomplete, misguided or just plain wrong beliefs, but it is all too easy to just evade having to back up your claims. In here, just as in contemporary politics.

Still, all in all, a qualified success, since there can be no doubt to those of you who have read it all the way through, that Pathfinder 2 - while good in places - have been written by people entirely unable to kill their darlings, and wholly incapable of "reading the room" meaning that we're living in the age of 5th Edition where the minutiae of games like 3E and 4E comes across as... peculiar at best.

Merry Christmas to all those of you who have liked my posts! The steady trickle of appreciation for what I have tried to do here have kept me going on more than one occasion. Again thanks, Zapp
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
You’re framing this like you’re doing us a favor, and you’ve chastised us for being obstinate. Do you think a “public service announcement” is going to be uncritically received in a forum for that game? What kind of reaction did you expect?

I tried to understand the core of the argument, but that got no traction. We’ve instead gone around and around in circles over minutia. Moreover, when a particular issue affects only a certain style, we get reminded that what you actually mean is a very narrow style of play: a kick-in-the-door campaign running official adventures running everything 100% by the book. If you mean that, then you should say that instead of keeping it in reserve as a way to move the goalposts when someone offers a counter-point or argument.

I’m flabbergasted. This is a farce. You are literally saying we are wrong in our beliefs about a game. For what? Because we view it differently, enjoy it differently, or don’t consider the things you identify as problems as actual problems or even consider them desirable traits or virtues? Poor us. Having our bad wrong fun because we just don’t understand how much better that thing we’re doing could have been.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
I intended it to be a public service announcement stating that not only is Pathfinder 2 complex, it is much more complex than Paizo would have you believe, and perhaps more importantly, it is far too complex for its own good. Pathfinder 2 is still playable and fun - it's just painfully obvious it could have been more accessible, easier, faster, and... just better... if it had dared shed a mountain of clutter.

However, when I browse through its pages I see I have made many many points that those that refuse to believe this have... downplayed, ridiculed or simply ignored. I did my best to nail them to their incomplete, misguided or just plain wrong beliefs, but it is all too easy to just evade having to back up your claims. In here, just as in contemporary politics.

This certainly could be the case. I understand you believe that if PF2 had been more of a 5E clone it would have been better in some sense. But for a lot of people, they play PF2 because it is different from 5E. I certainly do!

Given that most people appear to disagree with you, and that you have had no success “nailing people”, might I suggest that you simply find the game you want to play, and play it, and stop trying to convince people who enjoy PF2 that they are stupid for doing so? I really think you’ve done a great job at detailing all the things you hate about PF2; I think I’m pretty clear about them. So we are at the stage where, as you state, you have presented all the info, and it has been rejected by the majority. I’m not sure your crusade has anywhere left to go.

I’ve read and thought about your complaints, and I partially agree with many of them, and they have made me think about character choices and ways of GMing, so don’t feel you haven’t had an impact. But rather than make me feel bad about playing a tragically flawed system, it’s just made me concentrate more on the good parts, let me know that I should be really carefully in AoA encounters, and allowed me not to worry about poorly designed bits of the system. So thanks for bringing them up. I don’t agree with your conclusion, but it has been helpful getting a view on what you believe are the weakest points of what I consider a solid, fun, playable system
 

CapnZapp

Legend
This certainly could be the case. I understand you believe that if PF2 had been more of a 5E clone it would have been better in some sense. But for a lot of people, they play PF2 because it is different from 5E. I certainly do!
I do too.

Given that most people appear to disagree with you
No they aren't.
, and that you have had no success “nailing people”
Qualified success.

, might I suggest that you simply find the game you want to play, and play it, and stop trying to convince people who enjoy PF2 that they are stupid for doing so?
Why are you drawing these conclusions? I play PF2 myself. I am not calling myself or anyone else stupid. I just clearly see the game falls short from what it could easily have been.

I really think you’ve done a great job at detailing all the things you hate about PF2; I think I’m pretty clear about them. So we are at the stage where, as you state, you have presented all the info, and it has been rejected by the majority. I’m not sure your crusade has anywhere left to go.
Hate? Rejection? Crusade?

I’ve read and thought about your complaints, and I partially agree with many of them, and they have made me think about character choices and ways of GMing, so don’t feel you haven’t had an impact. But rather than make me feel bad about playing a tragically flawed system, it’s just made me concentrate more on the good parts, let me know that I should be really carefully in AoA encounters, and allowed me not to worry about poorly designed bits of the system. So thanks for bringing them up. I don’t agree with your conclusion, but it has been helpful getting a view on what you believe are the weakest points of what I consider a solid, fun, playable system
You're welcome. :)

Just like you I too concentrate more on the good parts and try not to worry about poorly designed bits of the system rather than feeling bad about playing a tragically flawed system. This thread has been quite cathartic in this regard.

I too consider PF2 solid, fun, playable. Just with many very disconcerting weakest points.

Merry Christmas!
 



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