PF2 You Have One Last Chance - Do You Try PF2?

Retreater

Adventurer
I've tried some experimentation in games, mostly to address desires of a few regular players. Someone wanted to try 4E (having missed that release); another wanted to play Savage Worlds; and another wanted to try Warhammer Fantasy. Now, I don't mind experimentation with other systems. However, for the past decade the only game that I've had success with running a long term campaign has been 5th edition D&D.

Trying to learn new systems has resulted in frustration across the board. We play a few sessions and move along. Some of the players have dropped out entirely, moved on to find a regular D&D game.

I have a suspicion that this might be my last shot at running. If it doesn't click, I might lose the rest of my players as well as my confidence in running games.

So I have one of the "experimental players" who wants me to run PF2. He has been running an offbeat game for a few sessions to give me time to prep and relax a bit, but the attendance has dropped to myself, my fiancée (who already lives where we play), and one other player.

I know I can get a few more players to join PF2 with the promise of a regular fantasy game. Whether or not they'll stick with it depends on the complexity of the system, the fun of the campaign, and the desire of the rest of the group to commit to it. (They would also go back to 5e.)

In my situation, do you risk PF2? Is it too much like 4E (too complex for newbies/casuals to understand)?

I would suggest running a one-shot, but I know that my players really want to get invested in a campaign from the get-go.
 

DWChancellor

Kobold Enthusiast
You have the love (or at least like) what you are running. If you don't, it doesn't matter what your players want to play or how "cool" your campaign idea is.

PF2 is a heavy ruleset compared to 5E and takes more time and attention. Do you actually want to use it? Would your players actually want to invest time in learning it?

Other systems like Savage Worlds and Warhammer Fantasy are so different in their mechanics from D&D that you almost have to relearn how to setup fun sessions. Don't be fooled: just because you have a reasonable "plot" doesn't mean that the mechanics will make it fun to run or play. Each system shines its best in its own way.

I'd suggest you run a very short and silly PF2 game with one or two players just to see if you can get on the wavelength of PF2 and have fun. If it doesn't spark for you drop it like the bad idea it is. If it does spark... keep going!

------------------------------------------------

One more thing, I get the sense (or made it up in my head) that you have relatively casual players and novelty hounds in your player mix. Here's the truth: casual players want a familiar and regular game loop. They like structure and cliches and sitting down and playing right away. Novelty hounds will always push you to new things whether you enjoy them or not. Letting novelty hounds push your group instead of running it yourself is super draining and sounds like how you are feeling.
 

DWChancellor

Kobold Enthusiast
One more thing: most players don't understand what they really want or like. Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do!

Good luck sir!
 

Retreater

Adventurer
Yeah. It's really hard to know without trying it. I'm going to try to get one of the casual players and novelty players come together for character creation and a short adventure before I introduce it to the whole group. Now I just need to find something good to run. Maybe a short PFS adventure?
Even if it turns out to be bad, I'd like to say I gave it a fair shake.
 

pcrotteau

Explorer
Even after getting discouraged with the playtest, I made the plunge into Pf2e. Having my son be enthusiastic helped.

I have run hundreds of hours of Pf1, and quite a few hours of 5e. Both had their good points and I felt it was how the group handled the game that made for a fun experience.

Even with the changes in the rules, Pf2e still runs smooth for our group. The differences aren't glaring and easy to pick up and move on with a session without disrupting play.

CHEAPEST route for Pf2e is a PDF of the core rules and a couple of the Pathfinder Society adventures. Use the Pregenerated characters for the first game. Use the first experience with them to give the players an idea of what actually works with the class they choose, then build characters and play another session.

Minimal investment.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
@pcrotteau , I'm glad you're having good luck with the system. I've already picked up the Core Rulebook and Bestiary, so no worries there about the expense. I'm honestly more concerned about the time investment - and asking the players to invest in a system that might not work for them.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
It's not a bad system.
The thing your players will notice most is the character creation system. Our group has described it as "slightly more complex than 5e."
After that on the players end (speaking as the player of a goblin sorcerer) it's just a bunch of page flipping as you get used to the changes.
The perception mod takes getting used to.
It's very important to remember the various +s the different prof lvs grant. As well as your lv adding to things prof wise. (I'm always forgetting that).

If your going to run it, use the PF2 bestiary.
I'd suggest getting the 1st module of the AP & running that.
If you do, make it plausible that the players WANT to help the npc hellknight. In my group Hellknights aren't traditional allies....

But you say you've got your GF, +2 others? Maybe another regular?
Do they generally enjoy your DMing?
I think your good as far as # of players. Just concentrate on them & you all work together to pick what systems to run.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
But you say you've got your GF, +2 others? Maybe another regular?
Do they generally enjoy your DMing?
I think your good as far as # of players. Just concentrate on them & you all work together to pick what systems to run.
My GF, +3 and maybe a fourth player who wants to try out PF2. 3 of the total like my DMing. The others haven't played with me much.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
My GF, +3 and maybe a fourth player who wants to try out PF2. 3 of the total like my DMing. The others haven't played with me much.
Well if you've got the confidence of 3/4, then what's this worry about it possibly being your last shot at DMing?

This stuff isn't about each game/campaign being the most fantastic thing ever. Sure, it's nice when that happens. And it's always the goal. But it's just not possible to always nail (for any # of reasons, even within the most stable groups)
But as long as you've achieved 4-5 people (including yourself in that count!) having some fun hanging out, generally having a good time killing/looting monsters & aiming to come back next time ?
Mission accomplished for the week.



That 4th person though.... You might have a serious discussion about what they want, what YOU want, what the others want & see if you can improve things.
And if you ultimately lose them? While regrettable, 3/3 + happy DM can also make for decent games.

If you're worried about quality of game? Then keep the # of players for the first volume of the PF2 AP small - 3-4 players. And (if possible), not those who're already unhappy with your DMing. Because for a bit it'll be a little choppy as you all learn the new rules. Errors will be made. And you don't need a bunch of grief about style, presentation, judgement calls, etc while ironing things out mechanicly. Bring those people in for the second module.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I've tried some experimentation in games, mostly to address desires of a few regular players. Someone wanted to try 4E (having missed that release); another wanted to play Savage Worlds; and another wanted to try Warhammer Fantasy. Now, I don't mind experimentation with other systems. However, for the past decade the only game that I've had success with running a long term campaign has been 5th edition D&D.

Trying to learn new systems has resulted in frustration across the board. We play a few sessions and move along. Some of the players have dropped out entirely, moved on to find a regular D&D game.

I have a suspicion that this might be my last shot at running. If it doesn't click, I might lose the rest of my players as well as my confidence in running games.
You really should explain more on why you think your campaign-starts have petered out?

Is it because the players don't have enough free time? Or because they aren't interested in learning new rules? Maybe they don't have time or energy, with life and all?

I'm asking because Savage Worlds, AFAIK, is a rather inviting simple game. Warhammer Fantasy 1E and 2E are too. You wouldn't expect such a game to flounder on basis of rules complexity.

(If you attempted to run WFRP4, on the other hand, you have my sympathies - that game is in my opinion a trainwreck of epic proportions. I even think PF2 is easier to learn and teach, which really is saying something)

Of course, there might be other reasons. Chiefly what DWChancellor says - if you don't like a system as a Games Master, nothing will help. But of course, there might be other issues - such as creating characters that doesn't gel with the story, or the chosen campaign story not engaging the players, etc.

Anyway, you asked about Pathfinder 2. I would say it sets a very high bar for beginners. It is very complex to master, and not a suitable intro game at all.

If you just want to play the game casual, well, you can't. Unless you engage with the myriad (very) small things, I would assume the game loses most of its raison d'etre.

Everything is codified and given specific parameters in this game. As a GM, any time you try to be generous and "just say yes" you will likely have wrecked a feat that gives a character the power you just handed out for free. Basically, your players need to love finding +1 bonuses. I would guess most 5E players would be intensely turned off by the idea their characters should make an effort just to gain a "measly" +1 bonus here or there, but that's considered very valuable and attractive by PF2.

On one hand, PF2 should attract gamers dissatisfied with the relative dearth of build option (crunch) in 5th Edition. On the other, the game unfortunately went in a locked-down direction which does share a certain resemblance to D&D 4. This can be very frustrating for players accustomed to the wonderful freedom of D&D 3 and Pathfinder 1. (A freedom that also led to fantastically broken combos, of course).
 
Last edited:

Retreater

Adventurer
You really should explain more on why you think your campaign-starts have petered out?

Is it because the players don't have enough free time? Or because they aren't interested in learning new rules? Maybe they don't have time or energy, with life and all?

I'm asking because Savage Worlds, AFAIK, is a rather inviting simple game. Warhammer Fantasy 1E and 2E are too. You wouldn't expect such a game to flounder on basis of rules complexity.

(If you attempted to run WFRP4, on the other hand, you have my sympathies - that game is in my opinion a trainwreck of epic proportions. I even think PF2 is easier to learn and teach, which really is saying something)

Of course, there might be other reasons. Chiefly what DWChancellor says - if you don't like a system as a Games Master, nothing will help. But of course, there might be other issues - such as creating characters that doesn't gel with the story, or the chosen campaign story not engaging the players, etc.

Anyway, you asked about Pathfinder 2. I would say it sets a very high bar for beginners. It is very complex to master, and not a suitable intro game at all.

If you just want to play the game casual, well, you can't. Unless you engage with the myriad (very) small things, I would assume the game loses most of its raison d'etre.

Everything is codified and given specific parameters in this game. As a GM, any time you try to be generous and "just say yes" you will likely have wrecked a feat that gives a character the power you just handed out for free. Basically, your players need to love finding +1 bonuses. I would guess most 5E players would be intensely turned off by the idea their characters should make an effort just to gain a "measly" +1 bonus here or there, but that's considered very valuable and attractive by PF2.

On one hand, PF2 should attract gamers dissatisfied with the relative dearth of build option (crunch) in 5th Edition. On the other, the game unfortunately went in a locked-down direction which does share a certain resemblance to D&D 4. This can be very frustrating for players accustomed to the wonderful freedom of D&D 3 and Pathfinder 1. (A freedom that also led to fantastically broken combos, of course).
There are multiple reasons why campaigns have fizzled over the years, but let's look at the most recent few months so I can focus on more specific issues.

Two players were very interested in going back to 4e D&D for nostalgic reasons. The other players weren't against trying it. So I decided to run it with a focus on roleplaying, story, politics, and investigation to show that 4e isn't all combat. At first, I had the buy-in from all the players and had quite a large group. Then gradually people left. One player left because of his work schedule. Another left for child care reasons. Another just flaked out and stopped coming (even though she promised she still wanted to play and was "very interested in the story.")

By that point, we were down to 3 regular players (and the occasional 4th and 5th sometimes flaked out). Then I shifted the game to Savage Worlds (at the suggestion of "the regular player who likes to switch systems"). Since we didn't have regular attendance, we thought playing a classless system would be better than 4e that had very defined roles - and some sessions we could be missing a defender or striker - or both. We converted the setting and characters into Savage Worlds.

And then I had the issue of not really knowing how to convert to Savage Worlds. We had a couple rough sessions, and maybe people were getting frustrated that the plot wasn't moving quickly enough. One of the regular players said he was leaving to find a "regular 5th edition game."

I begged the players to come to one last session to wrap up the campaign, built a huge 3D castle, spent days on everything. 2 players came. Because of the bad attendance the campaign ended in a TPK. I guess I was happy to be done with it.

I had been running Savage Rifts on another night. Two players "got too busy" to play and stopped coming. Since the core group wasn't around, we decided to try out the Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer 4e with the remaining players. Then, after one session, one of those players had to move to a different city for work. The 3 remaining players decided it wasn't worth continuing.
 

pcrotteau

Explorer
There are as many reasons to drop out of a campaign or set of regular sessions as there are character builds. Real life is always a valid reason.

The most successful run I've had with groups was with Pathfinder Society play over the course of 4 to 5 years. Many of the players would change out and we had new GM'S surface, but we had a once weekly session that sometimes got up to 3 tables (7 people at each) for stretches.

Any 5e games that we had would swap out players more frequently and never got that huge.

Using the organized play format allows for sporadic attendance while rewarding consistent play. Plus the adventure prep is mostly complete, freeing the GM up to concentrate on producing a quality session for the players.
Most of the players appreciate that format because they don't need permission to play certain options, the overarching format shows what is available.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
Maybe a ‘long campaign’ isn’t in the cards. You can convert to simply ‘game night’ and run shorter arcs. Play board games if people arent feeling an RPG that night.

PF2 would not be my choice for the situation you’re describing
 

Retreater

Adventurer
Maybe a ‘long campaign’ isn’t in the cards. You can convert to simply ‘game night’ and run shorter arcs. Play board games if people arent feeling an RPG that night.

PF2 would not be my choice for the situation you’re describing
Yeah. I feel like I'm in a no-win situation. I have players who dropped out (I'm thinking) because there wasn't enough consistency in the games, and my fiancée (one of the regular players) desperately wants to play a longer term campaign (as opposed to an episodic campaign or board games). But then I don't have enough regular players to keep a campaign together.
I'm hoping that "if I build it, they will come." If I start a solid campaign, I can add players as I continue. But that's why so much is riding on this campaign to work.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
Yeah. I feel like I'm in a no-win situation. I have players who dropped out (I'm thinking) because there wasn't enough consistency in the games, and my fiancée (one of the regular players) desperately wants to play a longer term campaign (as opposed to an episodic campaign or board games). But then I don't have enough regular players to keep a campaign together.
I'm hoping that "if I build it, they will come." If I start a solid campaign, I can add players as I continue. But that's why so much is riding on this campaign to work.
Putting too much pressure on yourself man. It’s going to negatively affect whatever you do.
Put together a game, keep it short.. with the understanding that it can continue if people want.
Don’t let the campaigns ‘success or failure’ weigh on you.
 

pogre

Adventurer
TLDR: Focus on making a great campaign experience for your fiancee and do not worry about numbers.

Yeah. I feel like I'm in a no-win situation. I have players who dropped out (I'm thinking) because there wasn't enough consistency in the games, and my fiancée (one of the regular players) desperately wants to play a longer term campaign (as opposed to an episodic campaign or board games). But then I don't have enough regular players to keep a campaign together.
I'm hoping that "if I build it, they will come." If I start a solid campaign, I can add players as I continue. But that's why so much is riding on this campaign to work.
When I started my current 5e campaign a couple of years ago it was really to run for my sons. My two remaining children at home had not really experienced a long term campaign that I used to always run. My teenage sons were very excited about playing.

I decided I was going to run weekly at the same time every week barring an Act of God event.

I invited a couple of local guys to play and then I invited five guys from my old game group. I did not expect any of my old game group to play - they had moved to various parts of the state. Once they refused I had another pool of players set to invite.

I made it clear that I was running every week at the same time and if they could make it great, but if not, I understood. I figured I would always have my boys at the table. So, I invited nine people to play - two of which I knew would make every session.

The remarkable thing was all nine said they wanted to play. Even a couple of players who live a few hours away.

In the past couple of year I have only had one session with just three players and the average attendance is six. Amazingly, the guy that lives the furthest away makes it pretty much every week except when we have snow storms.

Over the last year plus we have had 60+ four hours plus gaming sessions.

I tailor my encounters for variable encounters where the number of players = X. So the PCs might face X orcs or X/2 Hook Horrors. I set up treasure in a similar way. It's not perfect, but it has worked pretty well.

My suggestion is run the campaign your fiancee wants. If it is just the two of you at a session - run anyway. Invite more people as necessary and keep the campaign going. Focus on giving your fiancee a great campaign and the rest will work out.
 

JeffB

Hero
Why does it have to be a long campaign?

I would simply run some 1/2/3-shots and see if the system/s you want to check out clicks with you and your group. Pick up a starter kit/fastplay with some pre-gens and have at it. Many are free and/or minimally priced or have a SRD.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
Why does it have to be a long campaign?

I would simply run some 1/2/3-shots and see if the system/s you want to check out clicks with you and your group. Pick up a starter kit/fastplay with some pre-gens and have at it. Many are free and/or minimally priced or have a SRD.
We've been doing that for the past few months, and the few consistent players left are getting tired of it. I think that the switching from system to system has, in part, contributed to the drop off in attendance.
We haven't had a long term kind of campaign in about 2 years.
 

DWChancellor

Kobold Enthusiast
This sounds like way too much change way too often. I wonder if some of the players don't like playing with each other and are being too lame to actually tell you (see: all the ghosting).

Here's something to think about: if you're worrying so much about creating different "lengths" of games you're not letting the games and groups organically come together (or not). Long-campaigns work because players get invested, not because they were planned as long campaigns. No shame in ditching something people aren't in tune with.

Your description of what your players have been telling you sounds pretty dang suspicious to me. I sense you're letting your players tell you what to do too often too. Just my six cents here.
 

JeffB

Hero
We've been doing that for the past few months, and the few consistent players left are getting tired of it. I think that the switching from system to system has, in part, contributed to the drop off in attendance.
We haven't had a long term kind of campaign in about 2 years.
Ok. Understood. Ignore my advice :)
 

Advertisement

Top