I don't think that a sandbox is inappropriate for PF2 so long as the respective threat level of an area or region is appropriately "telegraphed" for players.
Thanks. That's the kind of information I was hoping to get.It wasn’t an accident. Paizo wants high-level adventurers to be super heroes compared to their lower-level foes. If a 10th level swordsman is waylaid by a group of 1st level bandits, they should stand absolutely no chance. It’s the aesthetic they want for their adventures. You’re not supposed to be fighting those weaker creatures. You’re supposed to be taking on even bigger threats as you advance in level (with destroying the occasional mob of lower-level enemies being a reminder of how strong you are now).
Proficiency without Level flattens that curve. Lower-level enemies stay threats for longer. That was the “problem” in the link shared above. In core, a wizard could obliterate a group of lower-level creatures with a fireball, but Proficiency without Level helped make them a little more likely to survive.
The reality is that PF2 isn’t designed for sandbox play out of the box. If you look at what Paizo writes about in the CRB and the GMG, there’s an assumption that you’re doing story-based campaigns. Even when you’re hexploring, there’s still an underlying story. You’ve got your encounters, and what the GMG calls a “sandbox” is just letting the PCs decide how they go about doing them. If you want to do a traditional sandbox (where PCs have agency, and you have the world react to their exercising it), then you’ll need to make some adjustments and be mindful of what the system assumes.
Here are some things that come to mind:
Admittedly, the last idea (level cap unlocks) is a bit game-y and has metaphysical implications for a setting. It could also start feeling rote if the PCs have to do it several times over the course of a campaign (like climbing towers to survey an area in an open world video game), so maybe only do it once or twice (if at all).
- Proficiency without Level helps tamp down the power curve.
- Consider having multiple characters per player or multiple parties. That allows lower-level characters to continue delving into those Swamps of Doom while higher-level ones push into new frontiers.
- Have new problems crop up when the PCs aren’t around for a while. If there’s no one there to rein in the goblins, maybe they eventually band together and procure combat ogres, so now you need those higher-level PCs back to deal with the problem.
- Allow areas to be depleted or cleared. @!DWolf discusses this a bit in the exploration thread linked above with his island-based exploration game.
- Adjust the XP curve. I increased the XP it took to gain levels at higher levels, so PCs naturally slowed down advancement.
- Impose a level cap. You could do this across your setting (like I did). You could also impose a cap that PCs can break through by accomplishing or finding something in a given region.
Well, in my experience there are a couple problems:Enough to turn a battle heavily especially with lower level low-hit point opponents. And it wasn't like outdoor encounters tended to happen at dungeon encounter pace mostly.
If you mean a classic "old school" valley with goblins there, an umber hulk there, and always a small chance of the soaring dragon spotting you, then yeah, no. Then you need at the very least to use the proficiency without level optional variant. Out of the box, the game doesn't do uncalibrated encounters without careful thought to balance.I own PF2E and reading it, there's a lot there I think is interesting and I want to give running it a go. Generally speaking though, I don't care for Adventure Path style campaigns. I am okay with adventures that can be inserted into an ongoing game, specifically an "open world" sandbox campaign.
Since in my head Pathfinder is synonymous with Adventure Path, I am worried that PF2E is not going to work for an open world game.
Is that true? If not, tell me about sandboxing in Pathfinder.
Except possibly for high-level spellcasters, you really can't "nova" in PF2.Generally speaking, I think the cracks really show -- in any edition or variant -- when it is trivial to rest to regain limited use abilities (which in most editions is "magical stuff" whether spells or ki or whatever). If resting is trivial then characters always nova and anything that resembled balance is tossed out the window.
But, this has probably moved too far afield of the subject.