So I Played Pathfinder 2nd Edition! Plus UKGE Back To #3!

This past weekend I was at UK Games Expo in Birmingham. The main reason for my visit was to try out this newfangled Pathfinder 2 thing... and I'm glad I did! Here's my report!

IMG_3618.JPG

The Paizo stand


UK Games Expo seemed to me to be much larger than it was last year. Two trade halls teeming with people on a hot, muggy afternoon with little to no air conditioning made for an uncomfortable experience, but we adventurers brush aside such minor inconveniences. The convention also boasted multiple open play areas, seminar rooms, and more. Last year, UKGE had a turnstile attendance of 31,000 (16,500 uniques), briefly putting it as the third largest dedicated tabletop RPG convention in the world before Origins reclaimed third place shortly thereafter; this year was higher with 39,000 turnstile and 21,700 uniques. That puts UKGE back in third place for dedicated tabletop gaming conventions, at least until Origins in two weeks!*


ConventionUnique AttendeesTurnstileExhibitors
Gen Con 201760,819201,852500+
Essen Spiel 2017unknown174,000900+
UK Games Expo 201821,70039,000400+
Origins Game Fair 201717,00158,595200+



IMG_3617.JPG

One of the two trade halls

The Paizo stand (in the UK they're called stands; in the US they're called booths) was easy to spot. Its distinctive black and purple checked carpet will be familiar to anybody who has seen Paizo at other conventions. As you can see from the image above, it was packed with folks playing Starfinder and Pathfinder 2 demos.

I signed up for my 1.30pm slot and then wandered the trade hall some more, saying hello to a few people I knew as I randomly bumped into them. I considered lunch, but the queues for food were pretty insane, so I settled for a Twix and an orange juice from a newsagent in the N.E.C.

1.30pm came around, and I returned to the Paizo booth. I want to say that the Paizo staff are super warm and friendly. Speaking with them has always been a pleasure. I was assigned a seat at a table in the corner with a group of four friends, and a GM whose name I sadly forgot to note! He was great, though, and quickly introduced himself, and went round the table breaking the ice quickly and with ease. He asked whether we'd played Pathfinder before, and what games we'd played (the four gamers I was seated with had come from D&D 5E; I think only one had played Pathfinder before, but I'm not sure). We then rolled off for choice of characters; I ended up with Valeros, the fighter.

And then off we went! The GM introduced a short encounter about kidnappers and a bandit encampment in the woods, and we began the adventure (it was only an hour demo, including introductions and explanations, etc.) at the edge of a small clearing in which we could see four cloaked figures around a campfire.

I won't go into the rules here, as I've covered Paizo's previews of Pathfinder 2 in so much detail over the past weeks. There were no surprises - if you've been following the previews, you pretty much know everything I noticed. If there were any major differences, they didn't jump out at me. I'll give my overall impression though.

First, and probably the most important, it still really feels like Pathfinder. While the details may have changed, the overall picture is still the same. If you're a Pathfinder 1st Edition fan and are worried about the changes, I would suggest that it's still the same experience. It looks like Pathfinder, feels like Pathfinder, smells like .... no, that was just the lack of air conditioning. Pathfinder feels different to, say, D&D 5E.

This encounter was basically a fight with two skeletons and two zombies, plus what I assume was a cleric who came out of a nearby cave after the first round. It was an easy fight, although our rogue was knocked unconscious (and we saw how the death/dying rules worked in play - four stages, when you reach stage 4 you're dead; no negative HP - you stop at zero; though we were told these rules were still in flux). The new initiative system, which has been covered before, seemed to work well - two characters rolled stealth, while the others rolled perception.

No pictures were allowed, and I only really saw the fighter's character sheet in detail. The wizard took out the cleric with three magic missiles; the rogue felt very roguey when she rolled a zillion damage dice for a flanking sneak attack; the goblin alchemy threw alchemist's fire and acid, and wielded a dog-slicer. As the fighter, I charged into combat (double move and attack for the cost of two actions) and raised my shield as my third (which you have to do to gain its AC bonus), and used a reaction to absorb 5 points of damage with my shield at a cost of one of its two "dent" points.

It was fun. In the hour we only played three rounds of combat (which was the entire combat), but the fight didn't start till at least 20 minutes in after introductions and character selections and things, and we stopped frequently for explanations of Pathfinder 2, and so on. I'd say it felt faster than Pathfinder 1, but it's hard to tell, and 1st-level characters aren't really the best tools to judge that sort of thing. I'd be intrigued to see how it flows at higher levels.

I can't speak for anybody else, but I last played Pathfinder a couple of years ago. I've since run Curse of Strahd for 5E, played a bunch of Call of Cthulhu, and some of my own game. So I'm a couple of years out of practice on Pathfinder, but it felt easy to get back into. The game is pitched at about the complexity level I like, I think. Again, hard to tell with an hour's demo of 1st-level characters, but Pathfinder 1st Edition did feel too voluminous to me after years of new hardcover rulebooks, so I have hopes that this will hit my sweet spot. I feel like it will be somewhere in between Pathfinder 1st Edition and D&D 5th Edition in terms of complexity. Time will tell -- I have the playtest hardcover on pre-order, and I'll be picking up the final rules for sure.

From a "reporting" perspective, this launch feels a lot like 1999 running up to the launch of D&D 3E. I'm feeling that sense of anticipation again. C'mon August!

*Conventions which don't focus exclusively on tabletop games tend to be bigger, especially those which include comic books (Italy's Lucca Comics & Games dwarfs all of these).
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

Henry

Autoexreginated
Thanks for the report, man! I think the most impact thing anyone can do lately is give their actual play impressions; in one sense, the preview rule snippets are starting to hurt Paizo rather than help, because some things are getting miscommunicated (like the agile weapon penalty in one noted example), and also people are starting to extrapolate on some of the maths (quite incorrectly) and making all kinds of speculations that turn out to be flat wrong.

At this point I’m getting tired of preview tidbits and am about to crack while waiting to get the darned thing in 8 weeks!!!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Thanks for the report, man! I think the most impact thing anyone can do lately is give their actual play impressions; in one sense, the preview rule snippets are starting to hurt Paizo rather than help, because some things are getting miscommunicated (like the agile weapon penalty in one noted example), and also people are starting to extrapolate on some of the maths (quite incorrectly) and making all kinds of speculations that turn out to be flat wrong.

At this point I’m getting tired of preview tidbits and am about to crack while waiting to get the darned thing in 8 weeks!!!
C'mon August!
 

Melkor

Explorer
Thanks for the write up.

I think the two parts of the article I am most excited about are:

1) "and raised my shield as my third (which you have to do to gain its AC bonus), and used a reaction to absorb 5 points of damage with my shield at a cost of one of its two "dent" points."

2) " I feel like it will be somewhere in between Pathfinder 1st Edition and D&D 5th Edition in terms of complexity."
 

Feeroper

Villager
I like this kind of preview where you are talking about how it felt given that it was a 1 hour low level demo. Feeling is everything and first impressions matter, so it’s nice to see an honest expression of the experience. The rules previews are nice and all, but it doesn’t convey how it feels. Can’t wait for August. Actually, can’t wait for next week since I’ll be at origins and am signed up to play PF2e at the 1 hour demo and the rose street full scenario!
 

houser2112

Explorer
As the fighter, I charged into combat (double move and attack for the cost of two actions) and raised my shield as my third (which you have to do to gain its AC bonus), and used a reaction to absorb 5 points of damage with my shield at a cost of one of its two "dent" points.
I'm willing to submit to having to use a reaction to gain an AC bonus with a shield. However, that last part sounds like they're introducing durability to equipment, and even though I tend to be a simulationist in my preferences, this is a bridge too far.
 

EthanSental

Explorer
So was this many moving parts, mutlple actions and reactions and such seem like a lot for new players? Still seems complex looking at just your fighter in combat in my eyes.
 

AmerginLiath

Villager
The obvious answer to “no photos allowed”? Get a courtroom sketch artist to tag along and depict things!

Count me as someone else interested in the complexity question. I got away from 3.5 and never lasted more than a few sessions of Pathfinder simply because there are so many metaphorical dials to turn every round. I’m curious if the three-action system makes tracking everything easier or just adds more math (having to stop and think which combinations of 2-action and 1-action things you want to do in that round, for example, like trying to fill up a grocery bag with attacks).

Mind you, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with such a system, just that I’ve become turned by the over-complexity of such (despite there being a lot in PF that I think is awesome and hearing a lot about PF2 that sounds cool), so I’m curious if the new forms of complexity are more streamlined or not.

But seriously, courtroom sketch artists... ;)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'm willing to submit to having to use a reaction to gain an AC bonus with a shield. However, that last part sounds like they're introducing durability to equipment, and even though I tend to be a simulationist in my preferences, this is a bridge too far.
I *think* it's literally just shields -- a limitation on the number of times you can use its special ability to soak up damage.
 

tarrasque246

Villager
i played the rogue, it was pretty nice - there is no charge action, but I could move, move and attack - getting a much better starting position in the fight without pesky AOO's or having to go in a straight line. Flatfooted is a condition, and the enemies had it, so i got to use sneak, and critted - doing 4d6+8+1d8 (double the weapon & static bonus, double sneak attack dice, and a d8 from the weapons 'deadly' quality crti rider). overall i really enjoyed it and it definitely had that pathfinder feel
 

R_Chance

Explorer
Well, you succeeded in raising my hopes for PF2 again. They were flagging a bit. I think I'll still prefer to run 5E (or 2E) though.
 

Rils

Villager
...I am most excited about are:

1) "and raised my shield as my third (which you have to do to gain its AC bonus), and used a reaction to absorb 5 points of damage with my shield at a cost of one of its two "dent" points."...
See, when I read this, it immediately turned me off as needlessly complex. Perfect example of why I'm glad there's different games for different people's tastes!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
See, when I read this, it immediately turned me off as needlessly complex. Perfect example of why I'm glad there's different games for different people's tastes!
The way I see it, it's just a choice to go full offensive (3 attacks) or a bit defensive (2 attacks and your shield).
 

ajevans

Explorer
I got to play in a demo of this as well.

Brief history: Played a bit of Pathfinder, attended PaizoCon etc, but moved to D&D 5e when that came out.

So, curious about what's happened to Pathfinder I signed up for a demo.

And, I really enjoyed it. Combat felt far more fluid than 1e or D&D 5e with some more interesting decisions. Looking forward to August and seeing whether it can usurp D&D in my group.
 

houser2112

Explorer
I *think* it's literally just shields -- a limitation on the number of times you can use its special ability to soak up damage.
That it only applies to shields doesn't really address my complaint much, it just makes me less likely to roll up a shield-using character. It's either over-simulationist (shields have durability) or over-gamist (an arbitrary limit on how often you can use a mundane ability), and neither of those are acceptable to me.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That it only applies to shields doesn't really address my complaint much, it just makes me less likely to roll up a shield-using character. It's either over-simulationist (shields have durability) or over-gamist (an arbitrary limit on how often you can use a mundane ability), and neither of those are acceptable to me.
Well, OK then. :)
 

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