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PF2E 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

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
First of all, thank you [MENTION=1]Morrus[/MENTION] for the report!

.... But did you also get to test the new warhammer fantasy rpg?
 

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Winghorn

Explorer
I also got a chance to play through the demo over the weekend - actually went through it twice with different groups.

Gut response is that it still feels like Pathfinder.

It's been streamlined, but even at 1st level it felt as though there were more options and intricacies than D&D 5E - both for better and for worse. My wife has only ever really played 5E and was feeling fairly confident with her Rogue by the end of the hour, though for someone used to advantage/disadvantage she found adding and subtracting various circumstantial modifiers kind of annoying.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the three action system. I was worried that it would end up with everyone just sitting in place, firing off as many attacks as possible, but once you get to the table you start to realise that moving into a better position for your party, or raising a shield, is a much better idea than swinging for the fences with a -10. The lack of opportunity attacks from the vast majority of creatures also made things feel nice and fluid.

As far as concerns... well, there are some things I may have misunderstood or that will get expanded upon as the full rules are released, but I did raise an eyebrow a couple of times.

For one thing, persistent damage (from firebombs, acid flasks, etc) seems incredibly hard to shake off, requiring a natural 20 at the end of your turn. This is less of an issue when the damage is just 1/turn, but if more powerful abilities start to stack this up I can see weird situations where the fighter slowly melts to death after a string of unlucky rolls.

The second thing is the shields, which have been discussed above. It's not hard for a shield to get ruined after just a handful of attacks. The GM suggested that they are intended to be somewhat disposable, but lugging around a dozen heavy shields for a long-ish dungeon run just seems weird.

Again, both of these may have been misunderstandings. I look forward to getting another shot at it when Paizocon UK rolls around next month!
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
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.
I don't think it's not durability. The shield doesn't fall apart after taking two hits. It's a special ability (of the shield) that absorbs damage and it only works twice a day (for that shield).
 



Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The word DENT does not mean an actual dent. It's just like any weird martial maneuver that for some reason can only be done once per day. (4th edition had this everywhere.)
Hmm. Our GM said otherwise - two dents then a third and it's broken. But it's a playtest, so I imagine things are in flux.
 

Winghorn

Explorer
Hmm. Our GM said otherwise - two dents then a third and it's broken. But it's a playtest, so I imagine things are in flux.
Same here.

It would certainly feel a little weird if the shield had an arbitrary limit on how often it can be used. Perhaps there is an implication that you take some of your downtime in the evening to smooth out any damage?
 



jmucchiello

Adventurer
Hmm. Our GM said otherwise - two dents then a third and it's broken. But it's a playtest, so I imagine things are in flux.
Seriously? Then I agree with houser2112, why would anyone use a shield if you have to keep buying new ones? Too much simulation.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Seriously? Then I agree with houser2112, why would anyone use a shield if you have to keep buying new ones? Too much simulation.
He said you could repair dents; I think me mentioned the crafting skill, but I could be misremembering.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
Too much detail. Do arrow users have to repair the fletching on their arrows (with a crafting roll) if they try to retrieve fired arrows? Why don't swords get dents? Can axe handles break from nicks in them after a mighty blow? Why track damage to shields and nothing else?

Giving it the benefit of the doubt for now. Rules can still change.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
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.
As I understand it from previous previews, shield use comes in two parts.

1. As an action, you can raise your shield giving you an AC bonus until your next turn.

2. If you have raised your shield, you can use your reaction to block an attack that does hit, reducing the damage of the attack but at the cost of some shield durability.

So you can use the AC boost all day long (as long as you spend one of your three actions per round on it), but the damage reduction is limited. That might also be one area where magic shields have their benefit (since they're apparently not giving additional AC bonuses) - a magic shield could absorb more damage, do it more times, and/or both.
 

houser2112

Explorer
As I understand it from previous previews, shield use comes in two parts.

1. As an action, you can raise your shield giving you an AC bonus until your next turn.

2. If you have raised your shield, you can use your reaction to block an attack that does hit, reducing the damage of the attack but at the cost of some shield durability.

So you can use the AC boost all day long (as long as you spend one of your three actions per round on it), but the damage reduction is limited. That might also be one area where magic shields have their benefit (since they're apparently not giving additional AC bonuses) - a magic shield could absorb more damage, do it more times, and/or both.
I mistyped that; I knew it was an action, but I typed "reaction". I don't have a problem with having to spend an action to get the AC bonus, nor with having to spend a reaction to absorb the damage. It's the arbitrary limit on how often that reaction can be taken that I have a problem with; it's just too much.
 

John R Davis

Explorer
I too played at Expo. My cleric rolled no higher than a 7 so i achieved nothing; the rogue rolled 3 or 4 20's and achieved lots

conclusion, rolling rubbish still sucks!

I thought the intitiative would be better governed by a stat based on what you are about to do, rather than what you are doing. Even in the brief time it felt people where artificially doing something to get a good initiative rather than it being based on perception, which seemed lower for most people

PCs are very robust, and the shield action/reaction discussed above worked well

Had PF2 come out before 5th ed and Starfinder I would have found it quite innovative.....now, not so much

I will try the fuller playtest in august
 

rmcoen

First Post
I totally get "use shield for AC all day long" + "let the bad guy hammer directly into your shield = broken shield" (with different shields able to take more hits). Not hard to understand. As for "why don't we track durability on all other equipment"... I have certainly seen other systems that allow "damage-reducing parry" with weapons doing the exact same things (Mythras, for example). This would also be a nice distinction for "why buy the metal shield for three times as much, when the wooden shield gives the same AC? -- Oh, the metal shield can block 7 damage, 3 times; the wooden can only block 5 damage twice!" (But wait, i am a carpenter/woodcrafter... I can repair my wooden shield, and I can't repair the metal one.... Hmm....)

Thanks for the quick review of the quick gameplay!
 

Emerikol

First Post
As long as the fighter isn't healing himself, I'm going to like it a lot better. Not loving skills getting better with level but that is a very easy thing to house rule. I love all the options. I think the action system definitely has potential.
 

Saelorn

Hero
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.
I just don't like the bookkeeping aspect. It's the same reason why I don't play archers, in most games. Any sort of hard limit on activations is going to throw off my cost-benefit analysis.
 

Redthistle

Explorer
Dog slicer? Really?

:heh: I was just re-reading an Iron Druid short story by Kevin Hearne. Now I've got Oberon, Pathfinder goblins, and hot dogs/sausages all mixed up. The fact the the dog slicer pictured is labeled "Dog Dicer" doesn't help, wrapping right back around into the RPG. Strange ironies ...
 

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