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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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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Liberty's Edge

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First!
will add something meaningful later.

1) Weakness: it all depend on the creature, but for a 2 HD zombie, getting hit for an extra point of damage by a common kind of weapon seem excessive.
In AD&D 1st ed. the Juju Zombies halved all damage unless it was dealt by a cleaving weapon, i.e. a large or at least largish slashing weapons.
That included the bastard sword, 2 handed sword, axes, bardiche and a other few polearm. It would be a a more appropriate weakness. A kitchen knife shouldn't add 5 points of damage against a zombie, while a cleaver should do that. With the new weapon abilities adding an appropriate trait to some slashing weapon but not all that allow them to deal more damage against creatures with the appropriate weakness seem a good solution.

2) Constrict: if it still exist, please, make it so that it will not be possible to play the "grab with limb 1, constrict, release, now grab with limb 2, constrict, release, repeat again till you have done it with all limbs" that people love so much in the forum. Some creature get to deal a lot of extra damage that way (if the Gm allow it).

Silver Crusade

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Hmmm i approve of Resistance and Weakness. Also I see very diverse monsters popping out with this system but, taken a bit more care and work to create each one.


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Most of this sounds reasonable, but why does Weakness add a fixed amount? Scratch damage shouldn't get magnified so much.

(I'm not complaining about simpler math, but maybe a cap on bonus damage proportional to initial in some cases?)


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While interesting, this didn't get into the actual building of monsters that I was hoping for. Is this like Simplified Monster Creation from Pathfinder Unchained? Or is it closer to what we have now, or something else entirely? I just can't be sure at the moment.

Sovereign Court

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I really like the Dynamic Defenses section. I like the idea of using vulnerability rather than DR for certain creatures.

Liberty's Edge

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Sorry Mark, as soon as you mentioned that Tigers could wrestle foes all I could picture was tiger-themed Luchador wrestlers.

Liking what I see about multi-weapon enemies and especially vulnerabilities. Pathfinder has always encouraged preparation and it's good to see that theme continue.

Dark Archive

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Are those orcs walking like gorillas?


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To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

For comparisons sake is a 'level 0' bandit about 10-12 hp and no resistance?

Silver Crusade

Quote:
From animated objects to zombies, from the lowliest kobold to the mighty jabberwock, the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary includes over 250 different monsters

This is pretty exciting. For some reason I was expecting a much narrower Playtest Bestiary. Glad to hear we'll have a lot to play with.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

Can't really tell you why, but they just feel quite different; we've had that feedback from a large swath of playtesters (including fans who tried the game out at convention demos). Try it yourself in PF1 like the blog suggests and perhaps you'll see what I mean!


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The changes to DR/Resistance and vulnerabilities are awesome, really appreciate that simplification.


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Simple, sweet, yet effective. Keep up the good work Paizo. The Dynamic defense looks like it can definitely open up the avenue for a multitude of weapons in play in addition to the afformentioned weapons blog a while back!

Liberty's Edge

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I like it.

Combining Weaknesses and Resistances could also get you some very interesting effects I'm already considering. I love the new Pounce, Tigers with Sneak Attack, and the mutiattack stuff. All of that is very neat.

I'd also like to send the designers a huge 'thank you' for the specific choice of keeping the story/non combat abilities of monsters in mind even while simplifying their combat ability list. The lack of such story based powers on most monsters in D&D5E is the reason I simply can't bring myself to ever run that system (though I can manage as a player) and seeing some assurance here that this mistake will not be repeated is very comforting.


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Interesting to see that a simple Skeleton/Zombie is level 0, what exactly is a level 0 monster?

Silver Crusade

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I’m in love.


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Ooh, this is much better than I’d expected! More research and attention to animals’ hunting strategies? Abilities centered around ecology roles? Special multi-attacks? More balanced pouncing? Monster games sound like they’ll be pretty fun, too.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I like what we're seeing here - well done.


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Really like the sound of the Marilith's attack options. Hope to see a lot of that kind of choice in the 250(!) creature bestiary.

I tend to prefer using the same term between editions where possible. Any reason for the shift from "vulnerability" to "weakness"?


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I really like combining DR and Resistance. They're two similar mechanically to justify being different. Not sure how I feel about the Weakness. Adding 5, regardless of whether you're a trained assassin with a rapier or a beggar with a dagger, feels off.

Overall though, I love the mindset of making monsters more unique and memorable while also simplifying the system. Very excited to try some of these out. And why did I never think to give ambush predators sneak attack damage??

Liberty's Edge

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

Can't really tell you why, but they just feel quite different; we've had that feedback from a large swath of playtesters (including fans who tried the game out at convention demos). Try it yourself in PF1 like the blog suggests and perhaps you'll see what I mean!

Actually, there are some rather large objective/math implications too. Just off the top of my head:

1. The skeleton is almost immune to lots of small hits. You need one big one to take it out. Contrariwise, lots of small hits are a great strategy on the zombie, with two 5 point hits of Slashing damage killing it dead, while a single 10 point hit would not.

2. Assuming no other resistances Zombies would be much more resistant to elemental effects. Now, we know from the Glass Cannon Podcast that skeletons have got some elemental resistances, but still. Assuming both are equally vulnerable to Positive Energy, though, it makes skeletons way more vulnerable to that. And the vulnerable/tough vs. elemental effects thing definitely applies to other creatures as well.

3. As a corrolary if #1, Skeletons are much more vulnerable to crits than zombies. A Sword that crits for 12 damage will kill a skeleton despite its DR, it will not kill a zombie despite triggering its weakness.

One isn't really better than the other but they actually are mechanically different and that difference will matter.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I appreciate the research that went into Signature Abilities. Thanks for differentiating animals more.


Interesting overview. I look forward to seeing what you've done with the rest of the critters.


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Hmm was hoping for lair actions or multiple round initiatives for big solos. This is a good start though.


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This is really cool. I like that care is being given to both in-combat and out-of-combat uses for creatures. I like that signature abilities can make different creatures play dramatically different from other creatures. I'm really curious to see how the 4 degrees of success interact with some monsters that tend to be really ineffective, like the Gibbering Mouther's ability to gibber - I've never seen it actually do anything in practice since everyone always saves it seems.

The functionality of multi-attack looks awesome, and is basically exactly what I'd hoped it would be!

I also like that the distinction between resistance and weakness is being more fully explored, and it opens up some interesting combinations for some of the specialty kill monsters like vampire and werewolves and fey. Thinking back to the way the Regenerate spell now works with its interactions with the dying condition, this all looks like it's going to make for some even cooler and more dynamic monsters. I can't wait to see some stat blocks!


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One of my biggest desires from the monsters in 2e is better representation of animals, and I am ecstatic that it sounds like you're going that direction. Just because animals are in the real world in no way means they should be unexciting or not dangerous. I'm also very excited to see how druid mechanics interact with these animals. Maybe the animal companion "class" will have its own set of unique options?


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As someone with experience creating monster statblocks for both systems*, I look forward to seeing how the actual numbers are generated - I know it won't resemble PF1 monster creation all that closely, but I'm curious how much like Starfinder monster creation* it'll be. ^_^

*Full disclosure: I worked only with prerelease materials for Starfinder, and it's possible things have changed significantly since then.

Liberty's Edge

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Planpanther wrote:
Hmm was hoping for lair actions or multiple round initiatives for big solos. This is a good start though.

In fairness, we have confirmation that monsters can have custom action types that mess with action economy to effectively give them more actions (the Marlith's ability to attack a whole party and the Tiger's Stride+Strike as a single action).

You don't really need the artificiality of multiple initiatives if you can take two turns worth of actions just via special actions with better action economy. As an added bonus, the PCs don't feel cheated by this since some such actions are available to them as well (Sudden Charge is an action economy enhancer, for example).

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Does this count as a hint as to how TWF will work? :)


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edduardco wrote:
Interesting to see that a simple Skeleton/Zombie is level 0, what exactly is a level 0 monster?

Since players add their level to almost everything, I wonder if monsters work similarly where this is an easy way to scale monsters.

Silver Crusade

Blog wrote:
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.

Question: What are the action costs for these options? Do they all use all 3 actions?

Maybe I'm missing it, but it really isn't obvious to me from the text. Which left me with the weird feeling that the blog doesn't answer the very question it sets up here (i.e., 'how in the world we handle [multiattack] in the 3-action system').


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james014Aura wrote:
Most of this sounds reasonable, but why does Weakness add a fixed amount? Scratch damage shouldn't get magnified so much.

I agree: have it do X extra damage or an amount equal to the attack, whichever is less.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

Can't really tell you why, but they just feel quite different; we've had that feedback from a large swath of playtesters (including fans who tried the game out at convention demos). Try it yourself in PF1 like the blog suggests and perhaps you'll see what I mean!

Actually, there are some rather large objective/math implications too. Just off the top of my head:

1. The skeleton is almost immune to lots of small hits. You need one big one to take it out. Contrariwise, lots of small hits are a great strategy on the zombie, with two 5 point hits of Slashing damage killing it dead, while a single 10 point hit would not.

2. Assuming no other resistances Zombies would be much more resistant to elemental effects. Now, we know from the Glass Cannon Podcast that skeletons have got some elemental resistances, but still. Assuming both are equally vulnerable to Positive Energy, though, it makes skeletons way more vulnerable to that. And the vulnerable/tough vs. elemental effects thing definitely applies to other creatures as well.

3. As a corrolary if #1, Skeletons are much more vulnerable to crits than zombies. A Sword that crits for 12 damage will kill a skeleton despite its DR, it will not kill a zombie despite triggering its weakness.

One isn't really better than the other but they actually are mechanically different and that difference will matter.

All very true, and those are things that you and I can appreciate about the incentives (just the fact that there are some monsters out there that are awesome for lots of smaller attack characters instead of one big attack characters is a huge and important step in distinguishing combat styles, and having some monsters weak to physical damage is important for martial characters, who used to always do either regular or reduced damage). That plus this new paradigm is useful for blaster mages, as we can deemphasize heavy elemental resist monsters and sprinkle in more weaknesses, so they can expect to do more damage overall simply because of that change.

But for people who weren't looking at a deep dive, they still thought the fights felt different.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Planpanther wrote:
Hmm was hoping for lair actions or multiple round initiatives for big solos. This is a good start though.

In fairness, we have confirmation that monsters can have custom action types that mess with action economy to effectively give them more actions (the Marlith's ability to attack a whole party and the Tiger's Stride+Strike as a single action).

You don't really need the artificiality of multiple initiatives if you can take two turns worth of actions just via special actions with better action economy. As an added bonus, the PCs don't feel cheated by this since some such actions are available to them as well (Sudden Charge is an action economy enhancer, for example).

No, doing a bunch of stuff in one turn isnt the same as a bunch of stuff at different initiatives. Its like having 5 orcs all go at once. I know for GM convenience that makes sense, but I would like a big solo to break that dynamic up. Make some fights just a little bit different.

I get that this is supposed to be super simple the RPG, but a little variety would go a long ways to keeping it interesting.

Liberty's Edge

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Skills: in PF1 the animals have very few skills and make up for that with racial bonuses. But those don't scale up when the HD increase, so higher HD animals often are weaker in the key abilities of the specie.
It is possible to avoid limiting the number of skills animals have and instead giving them different level of mastery in them?

Usability of more than a small number of monsters: one of the things I miss in the 3.x D&D/PF1 line of games is the large group of weak monsters. Generally large numbers of NPCs are such a pain to manage that we will not see them in most adventures, while they were a thing in the older versions of the game.
Large numbers of weak enemies are a very different kind of challenge, so I would like seeing them back.
That could be done through simplified statblocks for mook monsters or other methods, but they would be a useful addition to a GM arsenal.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

Can't really tell you why, but they just feel quite different; we've had that feedback from a large swath of playtesters (including fans who tried the game out at convention demos). Try it yourself in PF1 like the blog suggests and perhaps you'll see what I mean!

Actually, there are some rather large objective/math implications too. Just off the top of my head:

1. The skeleton is almost immune to lots of small hits. You need one big one to take it out. Contrariwise, lots of small hits are a great strategy on the zombie, with two 5 point hits of Slashing damage killing it dead, while a single 10 point hit would not.

2. Assuming no other resistances Zombies would be much more resistant to elemental effects. Now, we know from the Glass Cannon Podcast that skeletons have got some elemental resistances, but still. Assuming both are equally vulnerable to Positive Energy, though, it makes skeletons way more vulnerable to that. And the vulnerable/tough vs. elemental effects thing definitely applies to other creatures as well.

3. As a corrolary if #1, Skeletons are much more vulnerable to crits than zombies. A Sword that crits for 12 damage will kill a skeleton despite its DR, it will not kill a zombie despite triggering its weakness.

One isn't really better than the other but they actually are mechanically different and that difference will matter.

While a lot of this stuff is a great mix of having mechanics reflect flavor and our ideas of these creatures operate outside of the game, this bit in particular tickles me. A skeleton is a creature animated almost entirely by negative energy. A zombie may not breath anymore, but it still has muscles to actually move it around. If you short circuit the negative energy holding a skeleton together it just straight up falls apart.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Joe M. wrote:
Blog wrote:
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.

Question: What are the action costs for these options? Do they all use all 3 actions?

Maybe I'm missing it, but it really isn't obvious to me from the text. Which left me with the weird feeling that the blog doesn't answer the very question it sets up here (i.e., 'how in the world we handle [multiattack] in the 3-action system').

They are activities that use enough of her actions that she can only pick one to perform.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Diego Rossi wrote:
A kitchen knife shouldn't add 5 points of damage against a zombie, while a cleaver should do that. With the new weapon abilities adding an appropriate trait to some slashing weapon but not all that allow them to deal more damage against creatures with the appropriate weakness seem a good solution.

Or it might be possible to just put in a basic rule that weakness can't more than double the regular damage.


I like what I see.

I'm really, really looking forward to kicking some monster ass during the play test.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

Can't really tell you why, but they just feel quite different; we've had that feedback from a large swath of playtesters (including fans who tried the game out at convention demos). Try it yourself in PF1 like the blog suggests and perhaps you'll see what I mean!

For a simple way to think about it, imagine a rogue with a 1d4 slashing sickle and a fighter with a 1d12 piercing great pick in each of these situations. Much of the experience of a monster changes for each individual in the group.


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Please tell me you are planning to include more monsters in the vein of Drakainia! (Best known as 'how to fix the falling birthrates and ageing populations of Golarion' ^_^)


Good stuff.

I remember when I first started playing 1E that I thought it was weird Skelletons were resistant to Slashing, but didn't take extra damage from blunt.

Paizo Employee Designer

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edduardco wrote:
Interesting to see that a simple Skeleton/Zombie is level 0, what exactly is a level 0 monster?

Level 0 is the category that replaces CR 1/2, 1/3, etc. They're close enough in numbers are are a pretty minor threat, so we've just used one category for them.

Scarab Sages

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

Can't really tell you why, but they just feel quite different; we've had that feedback from a large swath of playtesters (including fans who tried the game out at convention demos). Try it yourself in PF1 like the blog suggests and perhaps you'll see what I mean!

I guess the difference is this:

Player: I hit the skeleton for 7 damage!
DM: Your sword skips off the sheer bones, only chipping them a bit.
Player: Aw.

Player: I draw my dagger and slash at the the zombie... oh, only 3 damage.
DM: As you nick the zombie's bloated belly, it splits open, and masses of rotted flesh press forth through the gash. It takes 8 points of damage.
Player: Whoa!

I hope weaknesses are more common than resistances...

Paizo Employee Designer

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Catharsis wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

Can't really tell you why, but they just feel quite different; we've had that feedback from a large swath of playtesters (including fans who tried the game out at convention demos). Try it yourself in PF1 like the blog suggests and perhaps you'll see what I mean!

I guess the difference is this:

Player: I hit the skeleton for 7 damage!
DM: Your sword skips off the sheer bones, only chipping them a bit.
Player: Aw.

Player: I draw my dagger and slash at the the zombie... oh, only 3 damage.
DM: As you nick the zombie's bloated belly, it splits open, and masses of rotted flesh press forth through the gash. It takes 8 points of damage.
Player: Whoa!

I hope weaknesses are more common than resistances...

That's a huge part of it. People's eyes go wide when they find out that they did more damage than they rolled, especially when they didn't realize that was possible, double especially those trained from PF1 that they will do normal damage or less than that. Now you guys know all about this, so you'll be less surprised, but even still!


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Logan Bonner wrote:
edduardco wrote:
Interesting to see that a simple Skeleton/Zombie is level 0, what exactly is a level 0 monster?
Level 0 is the category that replaces CR 1/2, 1/3, etc. They're close enough in numbers are are a pretty minor threat, so we've just used one category for them.

Thanks for answering, that makes sense, another welcome simplification


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Logan Bonner wrote:
edduardco wrote:
Interesting to see that a simple Skeleton/Zombie is level 0, what exactly is a level 0 monster?
Level 0 is the category that replaces CR 1/2, 1/3, etc. They're close enough in numbers are are a pretty minor threat, so we've just used one category for them.

No more throwing CR 1/64 hemidemisemichallenges at my players, then?

Paizo Employee Designer

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Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits.

Just noticed this mentioned hits when I said swings: It's also worth noting that when I said "Same number of swings." it's not quite the same as "hits." The zombie will probably take around one more hit to kill than the skeleton, but its AC is really bad and the skeleton's is quite good for a level 0. That means you also get to crit the zombie a lot, which fits zombie stories really well as you describe the crit lopping off part of the zombie or the like.


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Before the critiques get started, I want to say I'm looking very forward to revision of monster rules as the standard. Out of the things I disliked about D&D4, one of the things I really enjoyed was the simplification of monster design, to where the monsters each still felt quite different to the players, but on the back end it was obscenely easy to keep track of the math for each foe.

Scarab Sages

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Mark Seifter wrote:
That plus this new paradigm is useful for blaster mages, as we can deemphasize heavy elemental resist monsters and sprinkle in more weaknesses, so they can expect to do more damage overall simply because of that change.

<orphan voice>Please, good Sir, might we have more on the blaster mages?</orphan voice> :puppyeyes:

Silver Crusade

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Voss wrote:

To some with a decent weapon and damage bonus, skeletons and zombies are going to feel exactly the same: about two hits and done.

I'm unclear how the fights would 'feel different,' when even your post flat out says they'll take roughly the same amount of hits. Fewer hp but resistance and more hp but weakness is mathematically the same thing, unless one or more of those numbers are wildly out of scale.

Can't really tell you why, but they just feel quite different; we've had that feedback from a large swath of playtesters (including fans who tried the game out at convention demos). Try it yourself in PF1 like the blog suggests and perhaps you'll see what I mean!

I guess the difference is this:

Player: I hit the skeleton for 7 damage!
DM: Your sword skips off the sheer bones, only chipping them a bit.
Player: Aw.

Player: I draw my dagger and slash at the the zombie... oh, only 3 damage.
DM: As you nick the zombie's bloated belly, it splits open, and masses of rotted flesh press forth through the gash. It takes 8 points of damage.
Player: Whoa!

I hope weaknesses are more common than resistances...

That's a huge part of it. People's eyes go wide when they find out that they did more damage than they rolled, especially when they didn't realize that was possible, double especially those trained from PF1 that they will do normal damage or less than that. Now you guys know all about this, so you'll be less surprised, but even still!

That’s basically how I handled the first fights in my current campaign. A bunch of Skum Zombies overran a ship the PCs were on and I maxed their HP. I had fun going into exquisite detail of all the damage the PCs attacks did to the zombies :3

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