Building Monsters

Monday, May 14, 2018

We've talked in depth about many of the systematic changes and PC options in the blogs so far, but what about monsters? From animated objects to zombies, from the lowliest kobold to the mighty jabberwock, the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary includes over 250 different monsters and other adversaries built specifically for the playtest. But what makes these monsters tick? We've worked to bring you many of your favorite Pathfinder monsters with their familiar feel and niche in the world, but with updated mechanics to make your encounters even more memorable!

Signature Abilities

One of the monster innovations I—a computer science student at the time—appreciated most in Pathfinder First Edition was the idea of the Universal Monster Rule. It follows one of the most important principles of programming: modularity, which is to say, don't reinvent the wheel. One side effect of Universal Monster Rules having been a new concept in Pathfinder First Edition, however, is that many less fantastic creatures, especially animals, had a similar suite of Universal Monster Rules. For example, owlbears are iconic and memorable creatures, but as far as their statistics, if you look at the CR 4 owlbear and the CR 4 tiger side by side, the owlbear doesn't really have anything different to use during the encounter that the tiger doesn't.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

In the playtest version, those two monsters have some significantly different abilities. The tiger still has grab, allowing it to grapple a creature it hits with its jaws or claw attack, and the pounce action, allowing it to Stride and then Strike. Based on its real-world fighting style, it now also has wrestle, allowing it to claw a creature it's grabbed and knock it prone, and sneak attack, granting it extra damage against flat-footed creatures (typically ambushed via Stealth or those prone from its wrestle). Meanwhile, the owlbear also still has grab, but once it has you grabbed, it can gnaw on you, hoping to disembowel you so it can devour your guts and later regurgitate them to feed its young—and potentially making you sick from the disgusting sight. It can also unleash a blood-curdling screech as it advances into the fight to frighten you.

In general, giving interesting new abilities to real-world animals like the tiger allowed us to do some fun research into the animals' habits and design from there. Animals that hunt in packs sometimes have abilities to deal extra damage in groups, ambush predators use sneak attack and various sneaky tactics, and so on.

Dynamic Defenses

In Pathfinder First Edition, damage reduction (DR) and energy resistance both reduce damage by a set amount, the rarer vulnerability multiplies damage by 1.5, and immunity flat-out prevents certain abilities from functioning. Taken as a whole, monster defenses generally penalize you for using the wrong thing; you can deal your normal damage only by correctly bypassing DR, resistance, and immunities, and monsters rarely have a vulnerability. But in stories, we often imagine fey as being burned by cold iron or werewolves being poisoned by silver, and the reality of DR is that they just take the same damage from those as they do from cold, electricity, or fire. To fit those stories and to vary things up, we've combined DR and energy resistance into resistance, which reduces damage by a set amount, and we've changed vulnerability into a more common element called weakness, which increases damage by a set amount.

Two great examples of how this can dramatically change the feel of monsters are skeletons and zombies. A level 0 skeleton has 14 AC, 6 HP, and since it's made of bone, resistance 5 to slashing and piercing damage. A level 0 zombie, on the other hand, has 11 AC, 20 HP, and weakness 5 to slashing damage. The zombie takes 5 extra damage every time it's hit by a slashing weapon—that's an extremely high weakness! This means the fights feel very different, even though the creatures both take about the same number of swings to bring down. You can test this out for yourself in Pathfinder First Edition right now: consider giving zombies some extra HP and changing their DR into a weakness instead and see how the feel of the fight shifts!

Sweet Suites

Some monsters in Pathfinder First Edition have a large suite of abilities (typically from long lists of spell-like abilities), which vary between key iconic abilities, story abilities that influence what the monster can do in the narrative, and other abilities that are niche, redundant, or sometimes much weaker than their other attacks. For instance, it's pretty unlikely a nalfeshnee's call lightning is a good idea for a CR 14 monster to use in combat, and it doesn't have much of a noncombat application, either. In Pathfinder Second Edition, we tried to keep a monster's iconic abilities and story abilities while removing redundant or niche abilities, and then adding something new that fits the monster's ecology. For instance, barbed devils don't have the equivalent of order's wrath or unholy blight, but they have a special power called Warden of Erebus that lets them create extremely versatile glyphs of warding, cementing their role as, well, wardens of Erebus. For all such monsters, the goal is to make the monster's suite of abilities much easier to use and more memorable without oversimplifying the monsters, following our overall goal of adding as much depth to the game as possible while minimizing the cost in complexity.

I Have Multiattack

To close off, many people have been wondering how in the world we handle creatures with many heads, like the hydra, or arms, like the marilith or hekatonkheires, in the 3-action system. Such creatures have unique abilities to use their attacks in tandem in different ways. For instance, a marilith has three options for her six blades. She can make a focused assault on one enemy, which can deal a massive amount of damage on a hit, and deals damage for a single longsword even on a failure (but not a critical failure). Alternatively, she can spin about like a whirlwind of blades, attacking up to six different creatures with her swords. Finally, she can just attack twice and use the other blades to parry, giving her a killer AC for 1 round.

That's it for monsters for today; tune in on Friday as Logan goes through an example monster in detail and shows how we made the statblock easier to reference!

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hello golf bag of weapons my old friend

Hello golf bag of fighting styles. You're new around here but you look pretty good too


Very much dig the merging of DR and Resistance (5th Ed did the same), I had been away from 3rd Ed/PF1 for awhile, and when I came back to it, the DR/Resistance separation caused me to query it.

I like adding special attacks to represent real world animals (again, 5th Ed has done this, wolves can freely bonus trip on attacks, lions can pounce, knock people prone, and get a bonus attack when you're downed).

I like cutting back on excessive monster spell lists, but I do not want them to delete all non-direct combat spells. Sometimes its's nice to know what a monster can do outside of combat and off-screen.

As for the Marilith, I really like it, and as for the 6-attack routine, I think each attack will be at the same bonus, but each attack must target a different creature. Only if it takes the attack twice, and parry, or attack 3 times, will it take the -5, -10.


Catharsis wrote:
As for the «poor Wizard», remember they can deal slashing damage if they use Telekinetic Projectile with a pouch full of glass shards.

So that's a Wizard spell now? As when I looked it up to see what you were talking about, I get the Occult classes.

Silver Crusade

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Smite Makes Right wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Smite Makes Right wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Plus touch attacks against zombies tend to crit those guys for even more damage!
Wow. You can crit against undead without a feat now?
Huh? I am like 95% sure you could already crit against undead and you never needed a feat to do so in pathfinder.
You are correct according to the SRD. I was not aware that had changed from 3.5.

It’s been 10 years and this still keeps happening.

Not calling anybody out, just shows the sheer complexity of the first edition rules set, and that it’s relatively conservative design from 3.5 often lead to confusion.

Liberty's Edge

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Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Beforehand, most monsters at lower level are going to have limited resistances. Energy attacks were a reliable way to bypass most DR and Magic Missile, while dealing less damage, dealt force damage that bypassed nearly everything.

Okay, I'm with you so far.

Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Now, Magic Missile will bypass nothing and any low level monster with any amount of DR will laugh at spells like Magic Missile, which already do less damage than a fighter or barbarian swinging a two-handed sword.

Wait, what? That's almost literally the opposite of what was said. The skeleton specifically seems to have some elemental Resistance (though explicitly none to force damage), but those have (per the blog) gotten rarer rather than more common.

Volkard Abendroth wrote:
And unlike the fighter or barbarian, the wizard won't be dealing double damage dice because he has a magic weapon and he won't be getting quality bonuses for his spells.

No, but he will be getting to attack Touch AC and, given that cantrips scale, will likely be mutiplying his cantrip damage due to that (and will eventually have much more potent high level spells).


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JoelF847 wrote:
I hope with the new weaknesses that +3 weapons don't count as cold iron or silver, etc.

One of the adventages of this system is that you don't "need" to have the correct weapon to function. +3 weapon counted as cold iron because if you face a high DR /cold iron monster without one, you feel useless. With this system, your silver weapon works fine vs a fey. But if it is cold iron, then it is extra nice

Liberty's Edge

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Weather Report wrote:
I like cutting back on excessive monster spell lists, but I do not want them to delete all non-direct combat spells. Sometimes its's nice to know what a monster can do outside of combat and off-screen.

You might want to reread that section. My favorite thing about this Blog is them specifically stating they aren't doing this. To quote:

Building Monsters wrote:
Some monsters in Pathfinder First Edition have a large suite of abilities (typically from long lists of spell-like abilities), which vary between key iconic abilities, story abilities that influence what the monster can do in the narrative, and other abilities that are niche, redundant, or sometimes much weaker than their other attacks. For instance, it's pretty unlikely a nalfeshnee's call lightning is a good idea for a CR 14 monster to use in combat, and it doesn't have much of a noncombat application, either. In Pathfinder Second Edition, we tried to keep a monster's iconic abilities and story abilities while removing redundant or niche abilities, and then adding something new that fits the monster's ecology.

Emphasis mine.


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
Volkard Abendroth wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Quote:
Two great examples of how this can dramatically change the feel of monsters are skeletons and zombies. A level 0 skeleton has 14 AC, 6 HP, and since it's made of bone, resistance 5 to slashing and piercing damage. A level 0 zombie, on the other hand, has 11 AC, 20 HP, and weakness 5 to slashing damage. The zombie takes 5 extra damage every time it's hit by a slashing weapon—that's an extremely high weakness! This means the fights feel very different, even though the creatures both take about the same number of swings to bring down. You can test this out for yourself in Pathfinder First Edition right now: consider giving zombies some extra HP and changing their DR into a weakness instead and see how the feel of the fight shifts!

Congradulations, you've just taken my level 1 wizard and effectively told him to pound sand.

In PF1 he could Magic Missile or Disrupt Undead with meaningful results. Now, only half as effective. You've doubled the hit points and while nearly all of my wizard's spells would have bypassed DR, they now deal a far smaller percentage of the zombies total hp in damage.

In exchange, many more monsters will have weakness to your elemental damage.

I suppose it would suck if your campaign is about a zombie apocalypse, but otherwise it should be fine.

Beforehand, most monsters at lower level are going to have limited resistances. Energy attacks were a reliable way to bypass most DR and Magic Missile, while dealing less damage, dealt force damage that bypassed nearly everything.

Now, Magic Missile[i] will bypass nothing and any low level monster with any amount of DR will laugh at spells like [i]Magic Missile, which already do less damage than a fighter or barbarian swinging a two-handed sword.

And unlike the fighter or barbarian, the wizard won't be dealing double damage dice because he has a magic weapon and he won't be[/i][/i]

...

While magic missile might not bypass anything, you should understand that magic missile will do the same amount of damage to both the skeleton and the zombie, where as a fighter with a sword is hindered against a skeleton and amazing against a zombie. Your magic missile will be constant. Oh the fighter didn’t do enough to the skeleton because of the sword here let me finish it off with magic missile. Oh the zombie only has a few points left because the fighter took most of it in one hit, here let me finish it off with magic missile.

EDIT: let me clarify this by saying that the skeleton and the zombie most likely do NOT have magical resistances. Since it’s not DR but resistance now, if magic missile bypassed the DR of the zombie and the skeleton in PF1e then I guarantee it bypasses them in this edition too.

Scarab Sages

MerlinCross wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
As for the «poor Wizard», remember they can deal slashing damage if they use Telekinetic Projectile with a pouch full of glass shards.
So that's a Wizard spell now? As when I looked it up to see what you were talking about, I get the Occult classes.

Mark did mention it in the comments to the spells blog post, so I‘m assuming it‘s part of the core game, which AFAIK doesn‘t include occult classes. Arcane magic would seem like best fit.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
I like cutting back on excessive monster spell lists, but I do not want them to delete all non-direct combat spells. Sometimes its's nice to know what a monster can do outside of combat and off-screen.

You might want to reread that section. My favorite thing about this Blog is them specifically stating they aren't doing this. To quote:

Building Monsters wrote:
Some monsters in Pathfinder First Edition have a large suite of abilities (typically from long lists of spell-like abilities), which vary between key iconic abilities, story abilities that influence what the monster can do in the narrative, and other abilities that are niche, redundant, or sometimes much weaker than their other attacks. For instance, it's pretty unlikely a nalfeshnee's call lightning is a good idea for a CR 14 monster to use in combat, and it doesn't have much of a noncombat application, either. In Pathfinder Second Edition, we tried to keep a monster's iconic abilities and story abilities while removing redundant or niche abilities, and then adding something new that fits the monster's ecology.
Emphasis mine.

Right on, only read it once, have not had tea or coffee yet! I am all for cutting the chaff abilities/spells, again, 5th Ed tried this, though I think they went too far.


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To save even more space, you might want a Resistance to Physical as a shorthand for Resistance to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing (since Damage Resistance that didn't care which type of damage you were doing is really common in Pathfinder 1st Edition).

Liberty's Edge

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Weather Report wrote:
Right on, only read it once, have not had tea or coffee yet! I am all for cutting the chaff abilities/spells, again, 5th Ed tried this, though I think they went too far.

My single largest issue with D&D5E (and why I can't GM it) is that they cut so many essential 'story abilities' (by the above definition) from almost every single monster. I'm quite pleased that PF2 is specifically trying to avoid this issue.


Alric Rahl wrote:


While magic missile might not bypass anything, you should understand that magic missile will do the same amount of damage to both the skeleton and the zombie, where as a fighter with a sword is hindered against a skeleton and amazing against a zombie. Your magic missile will be constant. Oh the fighter didn’t do enough to the skeleton because of the sword here let me finish it off with magic missile. Oh the zombie only has a few points left because the fighter took most of it in one hit, here let me finish it off with magic missile

also, magic missile probably won't pick a lot of weaknesses because I asume most monsters won't have weakness (force) -or resistance -, but burning hands will probably pick a bit more damage a few times (ice mephit?) while doing less VS certain other (imp?) and none VS other (fire elemental?)


UnArcaneElection wrote:

To save even more space, you might want a Resistance to Physical as a shorthand for Resistance to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing (since Damage Resistance that didn't care which type of damage you were doing is really common in Pathfinder 1st Edition).

I would not be surprised if resistance to all three is now rare.


^I would be surprised if things like the various Outsiders DIDN'T have resistance to all types of mechanical damage -- are Demons and Devils going to become like Skeletons and Zombies, or something like that?


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Haven't bothered to read the thread, but the blog seems pretty interesting. I like everything I've seen so far. What I really wonder about is if the numbers for different monsters will feel more natural than Starfinder monster building, where it's just 'it's got the numbers because it needs them'. I hope we can get something that builds them in reverse from the necessary numbers, so their stats keep some verisimilitude.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Right on, only read it once, have not had tea or coffee yet! I am all for cutting the chaff abilities/spells, again, 5th Ed tried this, though I think they went too far.
My single largest issue with D&D5E (and why I can't GM it) is that they cut so many essential 'story abilities' (by the above definition) from almost every single monster. I'm quite pleased that PF2 is specifically trying to avoid this issue.

Total, they also went too far in cutting combat spells, no blade barrier for the Marilith?! In fact, they pretty much took all casting away from fiends.


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Shadrayl of the Mountain wrote:
Haven't bothered to read the thread, but the blog seems pretty interesting. I like everything I've seen so far. What I really wonder about is if the numbers for different monsters will feel more natural than Starfinder monster building, where it's just 'it's got the numbers because it needs them'.

That can be a problem, as 4th Ed illustrates. AC should not be tied to level for every monster, etc.

Scarab Sages

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

^I would be surprised if things like the various Outsiders DIDN'T have resistance to all types of mechanical damage -- are Demons and Devils going to become like Skeletons and Zombies, or something like that?

Weakness to Good damage would be very thematic for outsiders, e.g. a mere splash of holy water causing lots of hissy, smoky damage.


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ENHenry wrote:
Voss wrote:
Knowing most players, 'Ooh neat' is going to be replaced by grumbling about getting their backup weapon out of the golf bag by the next session.

Honestly, despite hearing this very thing for years on these forums and others, in actual practice I have NEVER seen it happen. Not among three different Pathfinder groups I’ve played with, and not at conventions. Most players are loath to carry more than one backup weapon, if at all, and usually most are unwilling to deal with the encumbrance or feat penalties of doing so. I’ve seen more tables that are sticklers for encumbrance than I’ve seen tables with warriors with arrays of iron/silver/slashing/piercing/blundgeoning weapons.

At most, they’re carrying a few weapon blanches for their missile weapons!

It used to be a thing in 3.0 and everybody was happy when it was changed in later editions.

Nowadays I am also annoyed how higher enhancement bonus weapons just cut through most DR (because it makes DR mostly irrelevant at higher levels), but I am unsure on how to resolve the issue without returning to the golfbag full of weapons syndrome of early 3.X.


Catharsis wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

^I would be surprised if things like the various Outsiders DIDN'T have resistance to all types of mechanical damage -- are Demons and Devils going to become like Skeletons and Zombies, or something like that?

Weakness to Good damage would be very thematic for outsiders, e.g. a mere splash of holy water causing lots of hissy, smoky damage.

Yes, and as it looks like Evil is a damage and spell tag, Good should be one as well. Now, how about a Law and Chaos tag?


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I would think (hope maybe?) if good and evil ave one law and chaos would too.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

In 3.5 critting against undead didn't normally work. In Pathfinder this was changed and you became able to do so, but some people never noticed.

For the record, in PF1, undead and constructs are both susceptible to crits. Pretty much only elementals and oozes are not (well, and incorporeal stuff if you lack ghost touch).

EDIT: Ninja'd. Ah, well.

I was just thinking... there could be critical resistance now instead of or in addition to critical immunity.

Also, weakness against critical.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
I would think (hope maybe?) if good and evil ave one law and chaos would too.

Me too, and this is a significant change from Evil/Good aligned weapons of PF1 (for bypassing DR); PF2 has actual Evil damage.


Jabberwock weakness against having its head cut off >.> you might say well that is like everything else ever and then you get attacked by a hydra!


Leyren wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

In 3.5 critting against undead didn't normally work. In Pathfinder this was changed and you became able to do so, but some people never noticed.

For the record, in PF1, undead and constructs are both susceptible to crits. Pretty much only elementals and oozes are not (well, and incorporeal stuff if you lack ghost touch).

EDIT: Ninja'd. Ah, well.

I was just thinking... there could be critical resistance now instead of or in addition to critical immunity.

Also, weakness against critical.

Yes, that was something I wanted them to get more into with 5th Ed, some monsters deal additional damage on a crit, or have a wider crit range, but I would like to see monsters with a vulnerability to critical hits trait.

Like maybe when you score a crit on a zombie, you take its head out (either blow/punch a hole through it with piercing, or bash its skull in with bludgeoning, or cleave if off with slashing).


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
Jabberwock weakness against having its head cut off >.> you might say well that is like everything else ever and then you get attacked by a hydra!

Ha, but is that not also the origin of the vorpal blade?


Weather Report wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Jabberwock weakness against having its head cut off >.> you might say well that is like everything else ever and then you get attacked by a hydra!
Ha, but is that not also the origin of the vorpal blade?

It is. Also never use a vorpal blade on a hydra. It will not go well for you.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

The 3 action system could add interesting layers to creature special attacks like breath weapons.

1 action- a weak touch attack can be done up to three times.
2 actions- weaker version of the breath weapon.
3 actions- full power breath weapon.


I love to read that monsters get more unique abilities and less spell-list stuff. Butttt, I'm not hooked on the Owlbear example... I mean, grab and eat? That can be on any beast, and screech, that is so D&Dish... Give that thing an aura of silence, or some silence ability that makes it impossible to hear an owlbear approach, as owls are silent hunters, this makes sense, and it is a much more unique ability than just a tear or screech.

Also, I'm rather disappointed real-world animals found their way YET again in a MONSTER Manual/Bestiary... That would be like 200 monsters and 50 non-monsters. I wish you would at least do it like D&D 5th edition, just put the animals in the back, and I'm not talking about Worgs, Axe Beaks, Dinosaurs, Winter Wolves, Blink Dogs, and Prehistoric Mammals. Just the Tiger, Horse and Dogs.

I like that you at least added Jabberwock and Hekantoncheires in the examples, so that gives me hope that not only the D&D usuals are in this 200 list of monsters. (leaving the 50 off as I don't count foxes, ravens, and bears as monsters sorry)

I hope we get a pathfinder-special creature Friday, and not a D&D usual as an example. Can't wait for either way.


Cyouni wrote:
thflame wrote:

Question: Does a mob of level 1 alchemists with fire bombs just win against anything weak to fire?

You are pretty much guaranteed 1 point of splash damage, a feat grants you + INT (which will almost certainly be +4) and the extra weakness looks to be an additional +5. That's 10 damage per alchemist that can get into throwing range of a frost giant...or a white dragon. (more if the get a nat 20!)

If this is the case, that seems like an oversight.

Given that feat requires level 4, that's not happening. Still, 6 damage to a single frost giant per throw isn't horrible, but you also have to consider how many of those alchemists are going to die in the process. Same thing for the white dragon. The frost giant/dragon is very likely to crit on each attack, killing any alchemist they hit.

Also, speaking to the whole, “monsters have more signature abilities now” thing, i’m Guessing most giants are going to have some type of “weapon sweep” attack against smaller creatures (because that just sounds very appropriate for a giant), meaning those goblin alchemists better be able to get the heck out of range fast in between attacks. :)


I really can't wait to find out what all these signature moves are going to be! I hope much like the Mythic Monsters special abilities! Medusa animate statues, Fire Giants lighting swords on fire and Hezrou summoning underlings from their thick dirty toad-like skins.

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Volkard Abendroth wrote:

Now, Magic Missile[i] will bypass nothing and any low level monster with any amount of DR will laugh at spells like [i]Magic Missile, which already do less damage than a fighter or barbarian swinging a two-handed sword.

And unlike the fighter or barbarian, the wizard won't be dealing double damage dice because he has a magic weapon and he won't be getting quality bonuses for his spells.

It may be helpful to check if you are reading the change correctly. Skeletons have resistance to slashing and resistance to piercing. This is the same as damage reduction bypassed by bashing. It doesn't apply to magic missile. Magic missile will only be diminished by resistance or immunity to force, which will likely be very rare. I am not sure how spell resistance will work, if it is present.

When the fighter or barbarian have magic weapons, we do not know what the options for the wizard are, but they will surely have higher levels spells if magic missile does scale when heightened. Also, it's not clear how different levels of spellcasting proficiency will impact spells cast.

Does that help to alleviate your concerns for now?

Silver Crusade

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Smite Makes Right wrote:


Does that help to alleviate your concerns for now?

Given that Volkard's actual concern is that PF2 exists and the only way to alleviate it is for Paizo to quit making a new edition, continue with the old one and likely apologise to him for even trying, I wouldn't count my chances.


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The blog does make me a little nervous about animal companions. In PF1, they were pretty biased towards big cats, and that tiger sounds brutal if it's in a situation where it reliably gets flanking- plus, pounce is a big deal when they've only got two actions.

That said, it makes me very excited for summons! It'll be very cool to get a chance to use some of these monster abilities.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

^I would be surprised if things like the various Outsiders DIDN'T have resistance to all types of mechanical damage -- are Demons and Devils going to become like Skeletons and Zombies, or something like that?

I think outsiders may have high AC and numerous HP, but have vulnerability to their bane element.

As Catharsis said, they may also have vulnerability to alignment based attacks.

Maybe we will see on Saturday (Friday for you people living in the past).

Silver Crusade

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*scratches chin*

Hmm, could those be Ogres or Trolls in the pic?

Scarab Sages

Grab & Gnaw looks pretty horrifying and distinct from Grab & Swallow. I guess it‘s Fort save or nauseated & bleeding or something of the like. Screech also fits well.

Magical silence, on the other hand, rather sounds like something for a psychopomp or so, certainly not a simple Large Angry Animal.


Vulnerabilities to Good might be an interesting reverse mechanic smite evil.


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So, not getting into whether this is a good or bad change. Just a question:

How would attacks that hit multiple weaknesses work?

Take a hypothetical "cyborg zombie". Instead of magic, the alchemist that animated it has extremely volatile liquid running through it. Weakness fire 5, weakness slashing 5. What happens when a hypothetical Flame Blade (dealing slashing & fire damage) hits it? Does it deal +5 or +10 damage?

Silver Crusade

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Wayne's Facebook page seems to confirm that these are, indeed, orcs.

Silver Crusade

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I'm gonna say +10

Silver Crusade

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Gorbacz wrote:
Wayne's Facebook page seems to confirm that these are, indeed, orcs.

Huh, interesting.

Liberty's Edge

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Gorbacz wrote:
Wayne's Facebook page seems to confirm that these are, indeed, orcs.

Interesting. Orcs being more ape-like in appearance (to the extent of walking on their knuckles at times) will definitely distinguish them from the presumably more human half orcs, and it fits the 'primitive and brutal' aesthetic fairly well, I suppose.

Still, I'm not sure I like that particular artistic direction. I'll have to think about it.


Mark Seifter wrote:
James Krolak wrote:
Personally, I don't like the fact that monsters will be built using a different approach/mechanics/rules than PCs. That's one of the things I liked about 3rd edition and Pathfinder: the monsters followed the same rules as the PCs. Starfinder adopted this approach that the enemies follow different rules and I hate that.
To be fair, 3.0/3.5/PF1 monsters don't follow the same rules as PCs; they just provide the illusion that they do when not viewed closely (the main issue is they just get arbitrary amounts of HD to hit the numbers you want, and a PC definitely can't gain arbitrary amounts of levels, even if HD and levels seem mathematically parallel, and PF1 monsters often have to get whatever ability score is necessary to make the math work, whereas PCs can't just do that).

At some point in PF2 development did you guys considered going in the other direction and make monsters actually use the same rules as PC? Something like all monsters were races with level adjustments + NPC classes (ditching racial HD), with the option of simplified fast creation rules like templates do in PF1?


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edduardco wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
James Krolak wrote:
Personally, I don't like the fact that monsters will be built using a different approach/mechanics/rules than PCs. That's one of the things I liked about 3rd edition and Pathfinder: the monsters followed the same rules as the PCs. Starfinder adopted this approach that the enemies follow different rules and I hate that.
To be fair, 3.0/3.5/PF1 monsters don't follow the same rules as PCs; they just provide the illusion that they do when not viewed closely (the main issue is they just get arbitrary amounts of HD to hit the numbers you want, and a PC definitely can't gain arbitrary amounts of levels, even if HD and levels seem mathematically parallel, and PF1 monsters often have to get whatever ability score is necessary to make the math work, whereas PCs can't just do that).
At some point in PF2 development did you guys considered going in the other direction and make monsters actually use the same rules as PC? Something like all monsters were races with level adjustments + NPC classes (ditching racial HD), with the option of simplified fast creation rules like templates do in PF1?

Isn't this the basis for how unchained and starfinder monster creation work, with more rigidity? You have "classes" that define the approximate stat values a creature should have as a member of that "class", filling it out with special abilities that fit the creature instead of feats and class abilities.


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I'm very much in favor of vulnerability causing a flat bonus to damage, as opposed to a +50% like we had in PF1. The 50% was not always very significant, especially at low levels when it was just a couple of extra points of damage. Sometimes enough to drop the monster, but often not, or the monster would have died from the regular damage anyway.

In PF2, we'll get to see very cinematic battles where zombies spill their guts on the floor from a simple thrown dagger, or get big damage from walking on caltrops, but continue fighting anyway, due to their big hp. I don't see a problem if the frost giant or ice elemental gets beaten by a gang of citizens defending their village with thrown torches and flaming arrows, in fact I see it as an improvement over PF1. Unexpected underdog heroics are part and parcel of the genre. Besides, the frost giant knows its own weakness and presumably can take steps for protection (such as - don't attack human settlements, send your ogre underlings to do it for you instead; ban the use of fire in lands you dominate; only attack when it's raining; etc).

This change fosters great potential for new, interesting stories of legendary battles. Bring it on!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Disclaimer: I have not read much of the thread so if I repeat or overlook something said I apologize.

I like overall the direction this is going, even if I have some concerns.

I especially personally like the options for multiattack--creating different forms of attacks. Having just come off running a PBP fight where a monster had 4 natural attacks with a negative status effect where I had to roll, check for hit, then check for saving throw, then roll damage, etc. four times the idea of having more streamlined approach is very appealing for me.

As someone who has been frequently on the record about hating DR, I on one hand like that the resistance and weakness mechanics have been folded into a simpler universal system. But I'm not sure the new system addresses some problems I've had with DR:
- Either it can make fights too long/too tough when PCs don't have the right materials to bypass the resistance(or add damage via the weakness), or it is irrelevant/makes fights too easy because PCs figure out how bypassing DR changes a fight and learns to have something for every DR occasion. I've seen low level lycanthrope fights nearly TPK due to lack of silver and lousy damage rolls (when the CR was such that it shouldn't have been that threatening), and higher level outsider fights where the seemingly invincible fiend gets ripped through because the PCs easily had the DR-bypassing weapons required (and as higher level PCs did not have to go out of their way or be cheaty to get those things). It is either a horrifying menace, or an entirely pointless feature that does nothing for the monster. If weaknesses become more common, it may even make the dreaded "golf bag'o'weapons" feel even more prerequisite.
- It is often hard to remember, especially with more complex monsters that have a billion stats you are trying to track (something that appears may not improve with the new system, where everyone appears to be getting unique signature skills a GM is going to have to learn on top of all the universal systems). Yes, I am that flake of a GM who will run three rounds of a fight before I remember, "oh yeah, he has DR, sorry the monster isn't dead anymore." Having more weaknesses instead of resistances I actually like flavor wise, but I will also be that flake of a GM that goes, "oh wait, he has a weakness to peanut butter flavored weapons, he was dead two rounds ago. Uh, good job, Reese's PCs." I am a fan of supporting the imperfect GM where possible.
- It makes calculating damage more complicated, which slows combat. People with multiple attacks (or taking multiple attack actions in the new system) often roll all the attack dice and then all the damage and adds it, which pulls everything together. You've got to pause and do more math if you combine hits--it's doable, it just often stops people a little more. It's annoying for PCs with DR, especially if they're small ones, e.g., having to subtract 1 from every damage roll for someone in adamantine armor gets old and boring even if it doesn't slow you down per se. This is by far the least problem with it (and nitpickers, if you pull this out of my whole quote to argue with it about how people should just git gud at math, you're missing the point and I will ignore you; focus on the big picture here and stop taking things out of context); I am just noting it because practical experience has shown me it can slow things down.

Generally I'd rather have monsters be tougher via hp and AC bonuses and saving throws. I do like the flavor of weaknesses but they need to be balanced/occur uncommonly enough that the golf-bag isn't an issue.

Not sure how accomplishable that is while maintaining the creature flavor in the system.

As for the signature abilities... I like this and I don't at the same time. I agree that if two seemingly very different monsters have almost the same stats, that's problematic---moreover, where this might occur, one should just have one stat block for a thing and say, "you can also use these stats for an x, y, and z by simply changing a, b, or c." Making monsters that are statted up more identifiably unique are a good thing--and in addition to encounters will also make familiars/animal companions feel less cookiecutter as well. However, this creates a challenge for future Bestiary creation... I'm not sure if this is really the case, but if everything has a "signature" ability, that's a lot to try to keep coming up for creatures down the line. I remember designing my monster for Superstar, where a "unique ability" was a required element, and realizing how impossible it was to be sure my creature's ability truly was unique, given I only had a few days to design which is not enough time to reread every entry in every Bestiary published. That was a pain (and I'm not sure some "unique abilities" come up with were really worth it). Also, being keen on Universal Monster Rules (glad they are staying) I think you can certainly create a unique-feeling monster with the right *combination* of existing rules--the creativity is in how the monster's stats come together as a whole, not whether you've seen the ability before. Indeed, I'd say a monster using well-applied universal monster rules in an interesting way is better than a monster with a really random or weak "signature ability" that feels tacked on because the design protocols demanded it. Maybe I am however not properly interpreting the situation here?

I do like absolutely the idea of ensuring all statblocks stand out as their own thing, and making sure one monster isn't another with a new coat of fur.

What I really want is monsters to be easy to run from a GM's perspective, and especially for the sake of new GMs, which hopefully we can recruit with a new edition. Streamlined defenses and attacks may absolutely accomplish this. But not if they overcomplicate a monster and learning/remembering how it works.


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DeathQuaker wrote:

Disclaimer: I have not read much of the thread so if I repeat or overlook something said I apologize.

I like overall the direction this is going, even if I have some concerns.

I especially personally like the options for multiattack--creating different forms of attacks. Having just come off running a PBP fight where a monster had 4 natural attacks with a negative status effect where I had to roll, check for hit, then check for saving throw, then roll damage, etc. four times the idea of having more streamlined approach is very appealing for me.

As someone who has been frequently on the record about hating DR, I on one hand like that the resistance and weakness mechanics have been folded into a simpler universal system. But I'm not sure the new system addresses some problems I've had with DR:
- Either it can make fights too long/too tough when PCs don't have the right materials to bypass the resistance(or add damage via the weakness), or it is irrelevant/makes fights too easy because PCs figure out how bypassing DR changes a fight and learns to have something for every DR occasion. I've seen low level lycanthrope fights nearly TPK due to lack of silver and lousy damage rolls (when the CR was such that it shouldn't have been that threatening), and higher level outsider fights where the seemingly invincible fiend gets ripped through because the PCs easily had the DR-bypassing weapons required (and as higher level PCs did not have to go out of their way or be cheaty to get those things). It is either a horrifying menace, or an entirely pointless feature that does nothing for the monster. If weaknesses become more common, it may even make the dreaded "golf bag'o'weapons" feel even more prerequisite.
- It is often hard to remember, especially with more complex monsters that have a billion stats you are trying to track (something that appears may not improve with the new system, where everyone appears to be getting unique signature skills a GM is going to have to learn on top of all the universal...

To be fair, I think a lot of stuff is going to streamline stat blocks. Creatures won't need to be given a set number of feats you have to look up just because they are high level. Things like CMB and CMD are going to be absorbed into existing skill and reflex values, respectively. Weakness and resistance sounds like a pretty easy trade off.

One thing that I think may be worth doing: reduce "universal" monster abilities. There are so many of these, and they are usually denoted by a single word or two buried in a stat block. This has two big disadvantages: they are easy to overlook, and if you do notice them you usually have to look them up.

Shifting the focus onto unique, specialized abilities actually spelled out in the stat block will make my life much easier. I'm sure there will still be some short hand employed, but I hope it isn't over utilized. Sneak attack is probably OK as a short hand, and grab may be common enough to get away with. But stuff like Malevolence or Unnatural Aura is just asking to be overlooked.


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Now, this might be a non-issue when we get to see a statblock on Friday, but one thing that might be beneficial to monster stats could be a small box listing a monster's strengths and weaknesses. Things that, as evident by several posts here, could easily be overlooked during a fight.
Sort of like a CliffsNotes/Post-it reminder or summary.
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* Strengths: Darkvision; Resistance: Fire; Stomp Attack........ *
* Weakness: Vulnerability: Piercing; Slow Movement Speed *
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