What are the most compelling reasons to switch from PF 1 to PF 2?

vivsavage

Explorer
While I own PF2 and have read half of it, I have not yet played it. My gaming group has played it 3 times (I wasn't able to attend any of them). With that in mind, I'm feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the game. I do see some some improvements, especially in the way advancement feats are structured and the 3 action economy, but overall I don't see any compelling reason to change from PF 1. In asking my friends about their limited gameplay experience with it so far, they have expressed similar views. Yet I know there are a lot of people who are thrilled with it. If you have made the change from 1e to 2e, what are the biggest reasons for your moving to PF 2e?
 

Rhianni32

Explorer
Disclaimer: I am GMing my 1st PF2 session this Friday so have no actual gameplay experience.

that aside, as a GM with decades of experience this is the first time in about 15 years I have been this excited for a rule system. The ideas it brings up seem fun and interesting. Many of these could have and sometimes were homebrewed by me in the past but I prefer to spend my time and energy on the story vs rules so its nice when more of the work is done.

1: EXP rules for questing and milestones. nice that there are ways other than killing to get exp.

2: 3 action system. in 5ed I am so tired of the player vs GM discussion of if something a player wants to do is a bonus action or standard or movement because "its only a little bit more effort than a move but shouldn't be a full standard action." Yeah that's an interact action, 1 action. As a GM this is important for me because the players can read up on mechanics vs me needing to think about what precedence I am about to set by allowing X when sometime later someone will ask for X+1.

3: Character choices. For me, 5ed you pick your class, race, and subclass at lvl 2. then what you get is pretty much set in stone for the next 18 levels. When you get a new power or ability, its already determined on what you will get based upon a decision you made months ago.

Now I know the debate around here is that PF2 has too many choices and therefore each one is meaningless. I think that is a strength because now a player is more willing to spend a feat on something flavorful. In 5ed there is rarely a time you are giving up that Ability increase vs taking a Feat let alone something flavorful just for fun.

4: The skill system, and especially Lore, fixes the problem of players rolling to see if they get a 20 to recall some bit of knowledge because they might have heard stories during their travels.
In PF2 sometimes you need to have a specific amount of training say expert to even roll for a skill check. For lore and recall knowledge you might need a narrow level of lore. trained in religion isn't gonna cut it you need to be expert in undead lore to know about the demi-lich.

5: magic items are based on mechanics and not what traditionally they are supposed to be. lets take wands scrolls and staves.
Single use of a single spell: scroll.
Single use per day of a single spell: wand.
Single use per day of multiple spells: staff
Once I got away from grumbling about wands not being traditional fantasy wands and saw them for their purpose, I was ok with them.

6: magic items are toned down. As a GM it can be hard to balance out a combat when a PC has a wand of fireballs and can fire off half a dozen a day. PF2 items seem to offer 1 or 2 uses. Enough to be fun but not enough to be game breaking. And because its only 1 or 2 uses the players now need to have a real choice in when they use their resources. Other games its a "yeah of course I am firing off a fireball I'm never going to use them up before it recharges."

Again, I have yet to play so the actual rules in use might be completely different than what I am expecting. I haven't played PF1 since it released so I cannot speak about the difference between the 2 versions.
 
I hate flexing, so I'm just trying to show that I'm not a total newb when it comes to RPGs, but I have 2800 hours of experience DMing (mostly) and playing D&D 5e (and overall, 28 years of experience with tabletop RPGs, mostly D&D from 1e to 5e). I have played tons of D&D 3.5e as well, a couple of years of Pathfinder 1e, and a year of Starfinder. I have even dabbled in game design over the years.

I can speak from experience that while 5e is a great RPG that is simple on the surface, but can be complex during optimization, it has some complications and some greater imbalances, even in just the core rules, than PF2e. To name a few, multiclassing can still create broken combinations, paladin smites are too powerful when combined with multiclassing, some feats are really weak, Dexterity is too strong as an Ability Score, wand of fireballs at early levels breaks encounters, some class archetypes are very lacking, resting is too easy, some spells are downright broken, crafting is too vague, etc.

I have about 30 hours of experience playing PF2e and I'm going to DM my first game tomorrow night. 2e is hands down a much more balanced fantasy RPG experience so far. I've yet to see anything extraordinarily broken and nearly all of the classes, with the exception of the Alchemist, which seems underpowered at low levels, are pretty balanced. Of course, it's impossible at this point, without having played for a 1000 hours, to know it inside and out. It's not a perfect game; Primal school of magic seems underpowered, Ranger's Flurry seems too good, the spellcasting system seems less versatile, but compared to the early days of 5e, this game does a lot of things right, and about triples the choices that a player can make over the course of a character's advancement, providing a happy medium between 5e and PF1e's choices in my opinion.

Compared to PF1e, PF2e is a very different game, and in my opinion, closer to an amalgamation between 5e, PF1e, and Starfinder. The 3 action economy, however, is the best system out of all of these RPGs in my opinion due to its versatility. Exploration and Encounters modes are clearly defined, crafting seems easy to understand and accomplish, items have clearly defined levels, and overall, mechanics just make sense without becoming "mathfinder"-ish.

The post above by Rhianni32 hits many valid points, so not going to repeat them here (well done).

Try it for a session or two with a good DM. Forget what you know about PF1e. You might like it.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
While I own PF2 and have read half of it, I have not yet played it. My gaming group has played it 3 times (I wasn't able to attend any of them). With that in mind, I'm feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the game. I do see some some improvements, especially in the way advancement feats are structured and the 3 action economy, but overall I don't see any compelling reason to change from PF 1. In asking my friends about their limited gameplay experience with it so far, they have expressed similar views. Yet I know there are a lot of people who are thrilled with it. If you have made the change from 1e to 2e, what are the biggest reasons for your moving to PF 2e?
I’d say don’t, then. Play what you like!

I like PF2 just fine, but there’s a game for everyone.
 

zztong

Explorer
PF2 is a decent and playable game. The compelling reasons that I see are:

  • If you're into Golarion, you can continue to enjoy new Paizo APs without having to convert them.
  • The action economy is expressed a little clearer and has a couple more options that you might use.
  • You get better balanced classes and more predictable mathematical ranges.

After that, I think it becomes more a matter of taste and harder to get a consensus of opinions. You may find a slightly smaller skill list appealing, for instance, but not everyone does.

Locally speaking...

One of my groups stayed with PF1 didn't even consider PF2. That game has lots of continuity. Reading the playtest rules was enough to tell us we would have had a lot of material and characters to convert. We're content with PF1.

My other group bailed on PF2 for 5e, and is still very much searching for an easier system for our newer less-mechanically oriented players. After about a 15-18 months of PF2 (including the playtest), folks weren't happy for reasons of taste and not because the system was unplayable.

My suggestion is give PF2 a try with some free resources or a limited investment. Even if you choose to stick with PF1, I think you might still find a few mechanics that you liked and its possible that those mechanics appeared as options in PF1 so you can bring them back.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I guess the question is, rather than us trying to give you reasons to do a thing you don’t want to do, is ask “why am I looking for reasons to do this?”

Is it that you are worried that the game you’re not liking is something you will like, but you fear you’ve missed the thing about it that will change that?

Or is it more a vague sense of being left behind?
 
While I agree with Morrus in principal, that you may want to confront the reason you're asking the question, I'll give you the reasons im so down with it.

  • The game is well balanced with lots of customization and interesting things to do in combat for all classes, we love that every class is a build-a-class of feats, we love that spellcasters aren't on a whole other level of power.
  • The game has an excellent set of exploration rules, which is perfect for how i'm trying to push the envelope on what you can do with exploration in my own game.
  • I enjoy following and anticipating new releases from an active game.
  • Coming from 5e, and before that 4e, this take on vancian casting feels like it distinguishes the casters much better than previous games I've played.
  • I prefer this take on multiclassing, where you keep your full base progression intact.
  • It feels like you can use the game to be very "anime" which my group loves.
 

jsaving

Adventurer
Our group has now played PF2e for about six weeks. Key reasons to switch:

1) You don't like 3e-style flexible multiclassing and think characters should be more rigorously defined by the class choice they make at 1st level.

2) You don't like choosing from large lists when granted a class feat and would prefer a small but carefully curated list to choose from.

3) You find skill points needlessly granular and think that it makes sense for adventurers to begin life 2/5 to 3/5 of the way toward maxing their skills.

4) You don't like animal companions and summons eating up game time through their independent actions, either because you struggle to keep track of them or because you think each player should be "in the spotlight" for a roughly equal amount of time.

Key reasons not to switch:

1) You read somewhere that PF2e combines the best of PF1e and 5e. Our group thinks PF2e draws much more heavily from 4e than 5e, though it is still a recognizably Pathfinder game.

2) You initially fled D&D to escape what you saw as an overly standardized 4e ruleset that puts too much emphasis on protecting players from themselves. "Guard rails" on what in inexperienced hands could be subpar player choices are visible throughout PF2e, which some players may welcome but others will find off-putting.

3) You like flexible multiclassing and don't mind consulting multiple class tables to calculate attack bonus, saves, skill points, etc.

Key material to "borrow" from PF2e if you stick with PF1e:

1) Primal, divine, and occult versions of the sorcerer. You can finally play a spontaneous divine caster without the off-putting idiosyncrasies of the oracle.

2) The updated bard, which has a clearer identity and can now hold its own in spellcasting rather than struggling with overly low DCs.
 

kenada

Explorer
I think the most compelling reasons come down to why one is dissatisfied with PF1.

We dropped mainly because I got tired running it. It’s too much work prepping NPCs and customizing monsters. I just one day said I’m done. We played other games (Open Legend, 5e) for a while before switching to PF2.

PF2 appealed to my players because they like building characters but don’t like worrying about optimization. PF2 lets them pick things without having to worry they accidentally made an awful character.

For me, I felt like it would be a better fit than 5e for my sandbox hexcrawl, and that has turned out to be more true than I had expected. As a benefit, the system is very consistent and easy to adjudicate compared to PF1, or even 5e in some ways, even though there is a bit of a learning curve with traits and degrees of success.
 

vivsavage

Explorer
I guess the question is, rather than us trying to give you reasons to do a thing you don’t want to do, is ask “why am I looking for reasons to do this?”

Is it that you are worried that the game you’re not liking is something you will like, but you fear you’ve missed the thing about it that will change that?

Or is it more a vague sense of being left behind?
Sorry, I should have been more specific in my original post. To answer your questions, none of the above. We're deciding on what Adventure Path to play next: either one of the many PF1 APs, or the current PF2 AP. Given that it will take us close to a year to complete, it's a fairly big decision as to whether to play PF1 or PF2. I love giving new systems a try, but so far I don't really see the "hook" of PF2. I'm not really even certain what its design goals are. But, as I will be the GM for the campaign, I'm interested in knowing how well it plays versus PF1, which I find tends to fall apart after 10th level (crazy high skill bonuses, colossal amounts of feats & special abilities to track, etc.). I don't see that as having changed in PF2, but I could well be wrong; the core book doesn't go into NPC design (that's going to wait until the GM Guide I believe), so dealing with major NPCs could be better than in PF1. Basically, I'm interested in how the game plays versus its predecessor, especially from a GM standpoint. Thanks!
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
"What are the most compelling reasons to switch from PF 1 to PF 2?"


One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do

So there's that! Wait ... then again,

Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one.

Oh well, whatever, nevermind.
 

zztong

Explorer
Given that it will take us close to a year to complete, it's a fairly big decision as to whether to play PF1 or PF2.
You could perhaps run the Plaguestone adventure to get a taste without committing to a full AP. That's levels 1-4. Its an okay module and you'll see the system.

PF1, which I find tends to fall apart after 10th level (crazy high skill bonuses, colossal amounts of feats & special abilities to track, etc.).
The math in PF2 is tighter so you're less likely to see it fall apart. Getting into matters of taste, some of our crowd thought the math was too tight and didn't let characters become distinct.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I do see some some improvements, especially in the way advancement feats are structured and the 3 action economy, but overall I don't see any compelling reason to change from PF 1.
If you decide not to change from PF1, remember that the 3-action economy was originally presented as a variant rule for that game in Pathfinder Unchained. You can find the rules for it over here.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
As a GM the way it embraces exercising focused GM judgement while providing plentiful guidance and tools to help make the right calls. I also like how it calls back to Classic Dungeons and Dragons through more modern takes on encumbrance, long term consequences, and the 10 minute exploration turn. It hits me in Moldvay feels. It's a seriously good dungeon crawler. Also the monsters are really fun.

I am also a really big fan of how rarity helps a GM to customize the game to fit the experience they are looking to provide. The recently released Monster and NPC Creation rules also allow you to design just the NPC you want to build in an extremely flexible way. They basically gave us their internal design guidelines. The game is extremely modular and the Gamemastery Guide is going to basically be a Hacker's Guide with creature and hazard design guidance, magic item design guidance, a whole chapter devoted to altering the underlying game engine, and guidance for designing your own subsystems.

As a player so far I am finding it really easy to design the sorts of characters I want to play without resorting to system kludges and having to take on abilities I do not want to take. I am really enjoying how modular character creation is. I think this is the best incarnation of the skill system in Modern Dungeons and Dragons. I can build Fighters that are believable fully formed knights, bounty hunters, and assassins. My Dragon Instinct Barbarian who is a displaced Chellaxian Noble has the social skills and predilection for Arcana to fully back up the character I envisioned with no need to resort to multi classing.

As a player I have also been really happy with how exploration plays out. There has been a lot of love and attention paid to how noncombat works and making skills feel relevant.
 

mewzard

Explorer
Aside from some of the obvious stuff like the action economy, I'm really partial to how skills work and the feat system in general. No more deciding if I want to dedicate feats to make myself a better skill character or if my build requires these specific combat feats to work so I get no skill love, both have their time to shine.

Some of these skill feats (on top of some fantastic class feats) also help Martials do more truly heroic things. You can keep your Wizard's Flight magic to fight the Dragon, my Monk will quite literally leap up into his face 100 feet up, put a boot upside his head, and enjoy the ride back down damage free. It gets into your face? Maybe toss said Dragon 30-40 feet away into the nearby rocks, or literally scare it to death with an intimidation roll.

The ability to be a solid healer with the Medicine skill is also something I love. It's a lot easier to do in 2E than in 1E, that's for sure.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
Based on the ongoing campaign I am playing in, I'd say the top reasons I prefer PF2 to PF1 are:
  • Three action economy is complete win; more tactical options are available AND it runs faster.
  • Exceeding target by 20 => critical hit (and similar for fails) makes for more fun and varied combats, and rewards teamwork and clever thinking; you spend more time thinking "how can I get an extra advantage to have a good critical chance" and also "how can I make sure the big solo doesn't crit me on a 14"
  • Character leveling. The balance of options versus complexity is great -- I don't feel snowed under (as PF1 / 4E made me feel) or locked into few choices (5E)
  • Ancestry feats make me excited about my race and background; it's not just a set of stat bonuses. I loved the race-based options in 4E and these feel pretty close.
  • Reactions. I think reaction actions are necessary for tactical combat, but allowing many of them makes the game tiresome. One reaction, with rules for using if for feats (e.g. Nimble Dodge), shield usage -- the rules just work well. A minor but cool example is that when you ready an action, it gives you the readied action as a reaction -- no need to change initiative order, nor conflict with other reactions (because you can only do one) -- it makes GM and player lives simpler without removing a fun thing to do.
  • Spellcasting -- Tying actions to the VSM aspect is genius, with heal/harm and magic missile great examples of how to make variant spells for this. Having spell meta magic (reach, silent, widen) often take extra actions rather than change spell levels is another simple effective rule. I find the changes here very cool.
 

dave2008

Hero
Based on the ongoing campaign I am playing in, I'd say the top reasons I prefer PF2 to PF1 are:
All of these sound great, except this one:

  • Exceeding target by 20 => critical hit (and similar for fails) makes for more fun and varied combats, and rewards teamwork and clever thinking; you spend more time thinking "how can I get an extra advantage to have a good critical chance" and also "how can I make sure the big solo doesn't crit me on a 14"
I don't want to spend (and I don't want my players spending) any more time thinking how can get every possible + to get a better critical.
 

ikos

Villager
A draw for some is that PF2 is far less abusable than it’s predecessor. If you’re tired of cheesy build-based shenanigans, and gentleman agreements being the only thing keeping the game from exploding, the sequel ( while maybe not as exciting or sexy as it’s progenitor) is much more even-keeled, a return to an older styles of play rather the 3x mini-game of finding the exploit combos. I’m terribly pleased they formally dismounted; that horse was dead.
 

Shroomy

Adventurer
A draw for some is that PF2 is far less abusable than it’s predecessor. If you’re tired of cheesy build-based shenanigans, and gentleman agreements being the only thing keeping the game from exploding, the sequel ( while maybe not as exciting or sexy as it’s progenitor) is much more even-keeled, a return to an older styles of play rather the 3x mini-game of finding the exploit combos. I’m terribly pleased they formally dismounted; that horse was dead.
Though I would say that some of those problems are going to emerge over time given the amount of content that is likely going to be released, a problem shared with 3e, 4e, and PF 1e. Will it be as bad as it's predecessor? Probably not unless Paizo loses its mind and introduces stuff like new bonus types or monkeys too much with the action economy.
 

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