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Similarities 4E PF2?

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Edit: This is not a troll thread. For the purposes of this thread, assume I am neutral towards 4th edition and that any similarities are neither bad not good. Thank you.

I've heard the sentiment "PF2 will be good because it's like D&D 4E" enough times now that I gotta ask:

What are the similarities between 4E and PF2? What could be the specific PF2 mechanics (and/or design assumptions) that makes anyone say this? And are these people the same ones that see similarities between 5E and 4E? (That is, are the alleged similarities between PF2 and 4E stronger or weaker than the ones between 5E and 4E?)

What (other than personal wish lists) could suggest PF2 will play like 4E and not like PF1 (and therefore 3.x?)

I am genuinely curious. Too many people here and at Reddit and elsewhere say this. No edition-bashing intended.
 

mewzard

Explorer
I find these kinds of topics amusing, because I think PF2e will be fantastic and I also really disliked my time with D&D 4th Edition.

Not denying there may be some shared elements somewhere in the system, but not to enough of a degree to remind me of the less than positive experience of 4E on my end. I was the first person in my group to push moving from 4E to Pathfinder, which worked out (haven't played since), and if Pathfinder Second Edition ends up half as good as I'm getting from various previews and such, I'd at least like to do one regular game of it, and see from there if it's worth a more complete transition.
 

Tony Vargas

Villager
Edit: This is not a troll thread.
Well, in the sense that flames won't stop it from regenerating... ;P

For the purposes of this thread, assume I am neutral towards 4th edition and that any similarities are neither bad not good. Thank you.
...we'll see...

(That is, are the alleged similarities between PF2 and 4E stronger or weaker than the ones between 5E and 4E?)
That's an interesting question. 5e has more than a few little details lifted straight from 4e, and more than a few more re-named, bowdlerized, or otherwise reduced to an acceptable post-edition-war level. The result is /both/ absolutely nothing like 4e, and very similar to 4e. So that complicates the issue.

I am genuinely curious. Too many people here and at Reddit and elsewhere say this. No edition-bashing intended.
I'm with you.
PF1 was born of an opportunity to pick up the torch of 3.5 D&D dropped by WotC in the form of the OGL/SRD, leverage their Dragon/Dungeon subscriber list, and sell to the winning side in the edition war.
There are no such opportunities, today. 5e has it's own OGL, 4e does not; Paizo has no existing relationship with past fans of 4e; and there's no anti-5e edition war.
There's no /reason/ for Paizo to in any way intentionally evoke 4e.


The only possible source of similarity might be in that with nothing else to leverage, Paizo might resort to merely trying to make PF2 a better game than PF1 in it's own right.
 

Jer

Explorer
The only possible source of similarity might be in that with nothing else to leverage, Paizo might resort to merely trying to make PF2 a better game than PF1 in it's own right.
I'm not sure if this is the same thing that you're saying or not, but...

My thought is that any "similarities" between PF2 and 4e arise because the developers of both are in similar headspaces - i.e. "the 3.5 D&D engine has certain balance issues that everyone knows about and make it hard to develop for - how can we fix the engine to make it more balanced so that it's easier to extend?" If you start from that and have certain things that you want to keep in the system, then it's kind of inevitable that you're going to end up with some similarities - they are fixing the same problem in the same way. For example, level based attack progression - the solution used in 4e is a natural extension to how 3e handled it - just give everyone the same progression and let something other than attack progression differentiate fighters from wizards. 3e already had the structure there to do this - adding feats to the game for fighters meant that you could do this by figuring how how to use feats to do that - but it wasn't done back in 2000 because the idea that different classes need different attack progression is something that was baked into D&D from the earliest editions. So it's natural that the PF developers would pick that up as a solution - it's not only the one that both 4e and 5e have adopted, it's an extension of 3e that seems reasonable if you want to make things simpler.

I don't think you're going to see PF devs intentionally lift things from 4e - it wouldn't make sense. Their player base exists because of people who didn't want to change from 3e to 4e - turning around and giving them a new 4e would just be stupid, and Paizo isn't stupid. But I wouldn't be surprised to see design choices that are similar to 4e because they're trying to solve the same problems that the 4e devs were trying to solve and they're trying to keep the same kind of feel that the 4e folks were trying to keep when they were trying to fix 3e. Fortunately for them they have another decade of game design under their belts and have the benefit of seeing how 4e went. I'm curious to see where they ended up with their final product in a few weeks.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
Both 4e and PF2 (or at least the playtest) have some class description, followed by a lot of rectangular boxes, and those boxes have small blocks of rules text organized by number.

I think this is a laughably small issue that will become magnified because aesthetics matter. To my mind, the greatest sin of 4e was presentation; the books were well done as a reference but felt sterile, only the actual reading content inspired the imagination. Obviously, the actual design of the core rulebook will be key, but I think this has a strong possibility of being a pain point for PF2.
 

Tony Vargas

Villager
Both 4e and PF2 (or at least the playtest) have some class description, followed by a lot of rectangular boxes, and those boxes have small blocks of rules text organized by number.

I think this is a laughably small issue that will become magnified because aesthetics matter.
Did you notice the remarkable visual similarity between 4e & PF1 monster stat blocks? With the shading and all? Most obvious difference was purple instead of green.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Okay, so I'm not seeing any replies from people that actually share the sentiment asked about; just speculation on what they might say. Carry on...
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Well, in the sense that flames won't stop it from regenerating... ;P

...we'll see...

That's an interesting question. 5e has more than a few little details lifted straight from 4e, and more than a few more re-named, bowdlerized, or otherwise reduced to an acceptable post-edition-war level. The result is /both/ absolutely nothing like 4e, and very similar to 4e. So that complicates the issue.

I'm with you.
PF1 was born of an opportunity to pick up the torch of 3.5 D&D dropped by WotC in the form of the OGL/SRD, leverage their Dragon/Dungeon subscriber list, and sell to the winning side in the edition war.
There are no such opportunities, today. 5e has it's own OGL, 4e does not; Paizo has no existing relationship with past fans of 4e; and there's no anti-5e edition war.
There's no /reason/ for Paizo to in any way intentionally evoke 4e.


The only possible source of similarity might be in that with nothing else to leverage, Paizo might resort to merely trying to make PF2 a better game than PF1 in it's own right.
It's worth noting that a lot of people who have been working on PF2 were working at WotC eleven years ago, working on 4E. It's not just an unrelated group who might come to similar solutions, it's the same people approaching problems they worked on before.

As to your question, [MENTION=12731]CapnZapp[/MENTION] in terms of what people are gesturing towards as re.inding them of 4E (good or bad, fairly or unfairly) compared to PF1, I would point to:

1. The action economy, which is a major shift from 3.X ways of doing things, and obviously pretty core to the play experience.

2. The per level addition to all checks, which takes 4E's approach but with even bigger numbers. This is in addition to a 5E style multitiered proficiency system, which has apparently gotten bigger numbers since the playtest.

3. The Feat-a-Palooza approach to PC building within a Class framework bears more than a superficial resemblance to the 4E power catalogs (though the stylistic resemblance is potent).
 

Jer

Explorer
1. The action economy, which is a major shift from 3.X ways of doing things, and obviously pretty core to the play experience.
But it's nothing like 4e, which kept 3e's action economy intact.

3. The Feat-a-Palooza approach to PC building within a Class framework bears more than a superficial resemblance to the 4E power catalogs (though the stylistic resemblance is potent).
Funny, I feel it's the exact opposite of 4e's approach. Making everything a feat feels very much like a 3e way of approaching game design to me.
 
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Saelorn

Explorer
The biggest similarity, at least from my perspective, is their approach to the basic math. It certainly appears as though they're trying to keep more control of which specific numbers will be necessary to hit, in order to guarantee that you have an interesting fight against monsters of your own level. Fourth Edition is unique, in that it assumed you would only be fighting things within a very narrow band of levels, because each encounter was intended to stand on its own, and you were guaranteed a fairly hard reset between fights. That's a stark contrast to 5E design philosophy, where they intended for you to often fight lower-level enemies; and to 3E, where they really didn't care.

Strong control over the math implies (to me) that they are again looking to balance the game at the encounter level, rather than across an entire day (or an entire adventure).
 

Jer

Explorer
Strong control over the math implies (to me) that they are again looking to balance the game at the encounter level, rather than across an entire day (or an entire adventure).
Mathematical game balance can only be achieved at the encounter level. Because in order to be able to come up with metrics you can "balance" you need to be able to know the resources available to the players when they come into an encounter. The more variable the possible resources they have as they enter the encounter, the harder it is going to be to reliably determine encounter balance.

In 3e they thought they could balance encounters across the entire day and came up with the whole CR measure to do it. They were wrong - CR never worked the way it was supposed to for a whole lot of reasons. In 4e they moved to have player resources be somewhat predictable per encounter rather than per day and that worked - you could actually balance encounters in 4e mathematically (and once you fixed the damage and hp math for monsters, the combats were even exciting).

But people didn't like it, so for 5e they've gone back to the AD&D approach to balance - handwave it and count on DMs to figure out how to make it work. They threw in some encounter balancing tables as a nod to 3e fans expecting that guidance, but imo they're as related to encounter balance as using HD to determine threat danger in AD&D was - a good rule of thumb as a starting point, but don't be surprised if it actually turns out to be a tpk or a cakewalk.

I suspect that the PF dev's are still in the place where they think they can achieve mathematical balance. But they still have a lot of per day resources in ther, so I'm curious to see how the encounter building part goes over the long term. If they figured out how to crack that nut I'll be impressed.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
But it's nothing like 4e, which kept 3e's action economy intact.



Funny, I feel it's the exact opposite of 4e's approach. Making everything a feat feels very much like a 3e way of approaching game design to me.
The action economy "feeling like 4E" is what I've heard: can't speak to it directly. Feel can be a tricky thing, slippery and hard to pin down.

Feats are very 3.x, but forcing everything in PC progression into a Feat, such as AoO...that starts feeling like the AEDU powers wall of text.
 

Tony Vargas

Villager
Mathematical game balance can only be achieved at the encounter level. Because in order to be able to come up with metrics you can "balance" you need to be able to know the resources available to the players when they come into an encounter. The more variable the possible resources they have as they enter the encounter, the harder it is going to be to reliably determine encounter balance.
"Balanced at the Encounter" just means "pacing doesn't matter." Even 4e didn't go there, though the closely-related 7th ed of Gamma World did, and it worked pretty well, actually.

Any indication PF2 wants to go there?
 

Jer

Explorer
Feats are very 3.x, but forcing everything in PC progression into a Feat, such as AoO...that starts feeling like the AEDU powers wall of text.
I guess like you say "feel can be a tricky thing". To me the brilliance of the power approach was how it standardized the mechanics while making sure each class has a distinct feel. Pathfinder 2 feats still look like the jumbled mess of mechanics I expect from 3e feats without the elegance of the powers framework :)

"Balanced at the Encounter" just means "pacing doesn't matter." Even 4e didn't go there, though the closely-related 7th ed of Gamma World did, and it worked pretty well, actually.

Any indication PF2 wants to go there?
GW 7e remains one of my favorite implementations of a class/level system. If 13th Age didn't exist, I would likely have reskinned it into the lightweight version of 4e I was wanting by the end of 4e's shelf life.

And I may be wrong but from what I've seen so far, PF2 is still very much aligned with 3e views of game balance.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
"Balanced at the Encounter" just means "pacing doesn't matter."
The worst of all worlds is when the ruleset pretends it offers challenge and therefore excitement, when in reality it gives the players a thousand and one tools to completely control the frequency of recharging* and therefore the level of challenge, with just a single exception: time constraints.
*) simplistic naive countermeasures such as wandering monsters are so pathetically easy to get around it isn't even funny. Discussions on Rope Trick and how to defeat it just make me nauseous - I'm not playing D&D to have the PCs get stupidly-powerful resting tools, and then focus on how to make them NOT stupidly powerful. That's like handing out Hats of Mind-Blank to evil NPCs because Detect Evil was too good. It's cretinous and I have no patience for it.

In other words, as soon as you tire of the very tired "the princess will be eaten in three days, please hurry" trope, you're sold out of luck.

Competent players quickly learn to use the vast arsenal given to player characters to make sure they get to decide when to take rests, and no native and simplistic adventure design can stop them.

In fact, when veteran players realize that the time pressure is a sham in 9 out of 10 official modules (many of which does not even bother to detail what happens if the heroes actually arrive too late), they can completely chicken race the story: "I bet the bad guys will not even heat the kettle until we come a-knocking, so let's hang back in town so we're super fresh before we head out. And if I'm wrong, so what? There will be more princesses to save. Point is the game is at its most fun when we're fully recharged, so let's refuse to get rushed into combat early".

In other words, any attempt at balancing the game on a large scale than the individual encounter absolutely must control healing and other recharging. (Examples: you can't rest until you've completed N encounters; or simply you can't rest at all except using a magic mana font) Since that's apparently completely unacceptable to the D&D community, the conclusion is inescapable:

"Balanced at the Encounter" is the only balancing that actually works.

It doesn't mean "pacing doesn't matter" in the sense "pacing isn't important" or "pacing is unsupported". It means it in the sense pacing is unrelated to encounter balance, which is the correct approach.

It still allows DMs to create strings of easy encounters when they want them. It still allows the PCs to rest, only it gives the DM the tools to create an encounter that will be challenging (and therefore fun) despite any efforts of veteran players to wriggle out of that challenge.
 
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Aldarc

Explorer
[MENTION=12731]CapnZapp[/MENTION], that's certainly true, which is one reason why many other RPGs out there are more conscientious about time pressure mechanics. E.g., running out of light/torches in Torchbearer, countdown clocks in Blades in the Dark, and randomized countdown rolls in Index Card RPG.

The countdown clocks in Blades, in particular, is pretty genius. Everytime the PCs go into downtime mode to recover, the countdown clocks for their surrounding factions will continue ticking. Not just one, but all of them. Eventually they will trigger, with or without the PCs addressing it, changing the game states. The world around the players advances regardless of their resting. Ignore these things at your own peril, and the situation will boil.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
I guess like you say "feel can be a tricky thing". To me the brilliance of the power approach was how it standardized the mechanics while making sure each class has a distinct feel. Pathfinder 2 feats still look like the jumbled mess of mechanics I expect from 3e feats without the elegance of the powers framework :)
Granted that the PF2 system might not work as well mathematically as the 4E approach, I would describe the powers set-up as aesthetically a "jumbled mess of mechanics," with page upon page of redundant and bland abilities: much like my read of the PF2 playtest book. I was interested in the PC generation based on their early descriptions, but found the approach in the playtest to be extremely tedious in practice.
 

Tony Vargas

Villager
Granted that the PF2 system might not work as well mathematically as the 4E approach, I would describe the powers set-up as aesthetically a "jumbled mess of mechanics,"
Odd, why would you describe something as the exact opposite of what it was? Powers were very structured in presentation, and the mechanics had fairly clear/exact jargon definitions. Anything but jumbled or messy. Indeed, the aesthetic, if it could even be called that, was more 'technical manual' than anything else - which is great for understanding or looking up what you need, but less than inspiring.

my read of the PF2 playtest book. I was interested in the PC generation based on their early descriptions, but found the approach in the playtest to be extremely tedious in practice. page upon page of redundant and bland abilities
Well, it was a playtest document, I'd expect the final version will be winnowed of redundancy, and or spiced up quite a bit.

Also, redundancy might not be fair. It's not necessary redundant to have two classes both have an option that, say deals 1d12 damage, just because they use the same die. Even if the /flavor/ is quite different, it's not redundant. (Though, if there's no flavor text, as 'bland' implies...)
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Odd, why would you describe something as the exact opposite of what it was? Powers were very structured in presentation, and the mechanics had fairly clear/exact jargon definitions. Anything but jumbled or messy. Indeed, the aesthetic, if it could even be called that, was more 'technical manual' than anything else - which is great for understanding or looking up what you need, but less than inspiring.

Well, it was a playtest document, I'd expect the final version will be winnowed of redundancy, and or spiced up quite a bit.

Also, redundancy might not be fair. It's not necessary redundant to have two classes both have an option that, say deals 1d12 damage, just because they use the same die. Even if the /flavor/ is quite different, it's not redundant. (Though, if there's no flavor text, as 'bland' implies...)
Well, I don't really read technical manuals for any reason at all, and definitely not for fun (poetry or philosophical treatises are more my jam). Presentation and aesthetics matter: the 5E spell system is not neccessarily less complex than the 4E powers system, and is probably more complicated in certain key ways. However, the way the information is presented in 5E allows for me to keep most of it in my head without referencing anything, through the power of natural language rather than jargon, no matter how consistent or accurate the jargon may be. The power of abstraction, such as Sorcerers and Wizards using the same fireball, also rewards memorization, knowing that it will be applicable in other cases. The smorgasbord of PF2 Feats (Skill Feats, General Feats, Ancestry Feats, Class Feats...dear God, y'all) are not as redundant, but the large array of small possibilities is a bit much.

PF2, similar to 4E, uses a consistent keyword based jargon, and presents the information in a similar technical manual fashion (we now have leaks that confirm this has not changed in the final product). This does not float my boat, but YMMV.
 
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Tony Vargas

Villager
Well, I don't really read technical manuals for any reason at all, and definitely not for fun (poetry or philosophical treatises are more my jam). Presentation and aesthetics matter
Yep, understandable. Storyteller sold a /lot/ of books in the 90s, and they were, especially for rulebooks, pretty good cover-to-cover reads, but good luck finding a specific thing you vaguely remembered reading in one of them. Serious point-build systems, Hero, GURPS, could sometimes go the exact opposite, especially in presenting their core mechanics, very dry stuff.

the 5E spell system is not neccessarily less complex than the 4E powers system, and is probably more complicated in certain key ways
Both more complex and presented in a less clear way, yes. But the less clear way is /natural language/, which is more comfortable to read, even if, having read it two or three times, you're still not clear on the intent. ;) It was a design decision made up-front and shared from the Next playtest on - and generally well-received.

Which just shows to go you, human nature. ;)

Maybe PF2 will manage /both/ form & function, both comfortable/entertaining presentation /and/ clarity/precision, organization & a good index.

PF2, similar to 4E, uses a consistent keyword based jargon, and presents the information in a similar technical manual fashion (we now have leaks that confirm this has not changed in the final product). This does not float my boat, but YMMV.
I prefer my rules in clear, concise, efficient presentation that's easy to find & understand the thing I need at the moment, yeah, sounds good.
I'd like the setting information that makes a good cover-to-cover read in an entirely separate book, thanks.

IMX, though, I need entirely separate /games/ to get both. ;(
 

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