Sargogen, Lord of Coils

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Data Lore wrote:

Guys, I know that DD is meant for feedback on mechanics but, damn, Pale Mountain was a horrible, terrible slog. I can't imagine any game system making it an enjoyable experience.

Difficult terrain everywhere. Unfair hazards and traps. Two boring random number generator games (one for survival; one for knowledge skills). Enemies who cheat (manticore with its single action double shootiness; elementals with all their insanity, the ankhrav). A couple of these things in isolation is one thing but a glut of them over two sessions of play is just terrible.

Please, never release an actual module like this. Also, if later modules are this terrible, let people know so they can skip them.

Even watching the Glasscannon Podcast, you can tell those guys were struggling to get through Pale Mountain. And those guys usually make anything seem fun.

I have new players I met online and I am trying to sell them on PF2 as a system. I want to follow up Doomsday Dawn with my own campaign using the system (which I rather like). I am not going to be able to find players if such modules are their introduction to PF2.

Thankfully, I was able to convince my players to give part 3 a try. Thankfully, part 3 reads better and it looked fun on the GC Podcast. But I would have totally understood if these players would have walked away after part 2.

Just sounds like your players or their characters weren't built for adventuring that AP. When I ran it, the encounters were fun and challenging, but still able to be overcome. Some encounters I let them overcome with "diplomatic" means, others were won through sheer tactics, even if somewhat accidental (mostly the mummy fight), but the biggest thing was that they managed to stay on-mission and didn't fight everything that they saw or bothered with (and didn't need to, truthfully). The PCs beat the Night Heralds to the objective with a couple days to spare. They were optimized some, but not absolutely (especially the Cleric).

A good question on the Water Elemental. If it was just a random creature, I'd rule that inertia and such would take place (and probably require an Athletics check to resume swimming or drop as normal). But it has a Swim Speed and the Water trait, so I'd say it could just stop near the surface as a part of its movement. If a fish can do it, why can't a Water Elemental that looks like a fish do it?

While that makes sense, Diplomacy wasn't really required here. The Sorcerer attempted to do Diplomacy mid-combat, it didn't really convey anything to Mabar other than he wasn't hostile (and the party's actions further showed that), and that's only because he was rolling 20+ on the checks (even trying in different languages he knows!) and surpassing Mabar's Will DC.

Mabar is generally approachable if he is freed according to the book, and since the Sorcerer saved him and the Wizard can speak/understand Mabar, it became a simple translation sequence.

The Aid Another checks were helpful and certainly made a difference. It would have been really funny if the players tried for days to remove the dais from the tomb only to find it wasn't the dais at all and lose to the Night Heralds that way, but they were smart (and risky) enough to realize that wasn't the case. Even then, I don't think they could have done that short of a spell like Shrink Object (which I don't think exists in PF2 anymore!).

It was. I should have let them succeed on the action alone (rule of cool and all that), but I played it by the rules as the playtest required, and rolling a 2 (with all of the circumstance bonuses and aids in place) still made it a failure.

Thanks for reminding me that the Manticore Spikes pin creatures to the ground on a critical hit. I think I critically hit a couple people with those spikes during the encounter (namely the Sorcerer), but forgot to implement that rule. Whoops! I don't think the players were in any major trouble anyway, they had plenty of resources to deal with it.

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I was surprised when our GM expressed interest to other players who wanted to try out the second edition of Pathfinder that I (and three others who have never played) made new characters with the current Pathfinder rules updates to run a homebrew campaign (I believe it's based off of either a Dragonlance or Grey Skull adventure) to both have these players try out the new system and to get more accurate feedback by using players who have never played table top RPGs like PF2, and for us to try to see if using a more "homebrew" campaign was a viable avenue for PF2 gameplay.

While this thread does not really encompass the latter concept, it is all about the observations I noticed while I (whom has some experience and knowledge of the system) was leveling up, and the explanations I had to make in relation to what the other players noticed (we used printed off sheets of paper of the Rulebook PDF with only my current knowledge of the existing errata), and these are major concerns with how I thought they would perceive the system/gameplay.

This last Thursday, we all met in the evening at one player's house to go and create characters as a group (so if players had questions, other players could reference things or I could answer them). To keep things short and simple, I'll go with a list of common things I've noticed, following up with a couple specific things (most of which aren't very positive). While some of these issues have been brought up before, this post might serve more as a reinforcement of addressing these things as being issues. Furthermore, while we spent ~3 hours on this "session 0," we still had to spend about an hour or so during Session 1 to make character decisions that should have already been done prior to the session (even though we players had real life commitments, that is besides the point here).

1. The character creation rules aren't intuitive or simple to understand to new or uninformed players. When it came to starting out, one player who had the sheets printed out wasn't entirely sure where to start, and one player who hasn't had any chance to read the rules due to real life commitments, had absolutely no clue how to even create a character, with the book (or rather, the printed PDF pages) being a hassle to read through. In addition, from my perspective, having clashing information between the printed PDF rules and what's currently errata'd helped further create confusion in what players got for skills, options, abilities, and so on. It also made people trip up on what Signature Skills were when, in actuality, Signature Skills were no longer a thing, and with the different method of skill applications in effect, players (myself included) had no clue how to apply skills, since some players got skills automatically trained, others didn't, and so on. They also had no idea how calculating attributes worked, and for two of our players, were missing critical aspects of their attribute allocation (most notably, the 4 free +2 attributes at 1st level). This part in particular seems to be a common issue, as even in both of our Doomsday Dawn playtests, players did not do their attribute allocation correctly.

2. The character sheets are cluttered, mismatched, and seem backwards in design. When players were attempting to calculate their melee and ranged attacks, they looked at the dice symbols and the two separate sections and had no clue what they were for, and were getting frustrated by it. It took me explaining to them numerous times how that section of the character sheet functioned before they finally got it understood. While they aren't the smartest players, they have played numerous other board games with somewhat complex rules and understood them fairly easily, but appear to have been tripped up with the numerous symbols and their format (such as not knowing the dice symbol, or that it went from attack roll to damage roll). Similarly, people got hung up on how proficiency worked and was calculated (such as not knowing what TEML stood for), as well as on numerous sections of the character sheet, and our Cleric got frustrated with his spell points, both because he has two separate spell point pools (which the sheets didn't compensate for), and didn't have any area to write down a brief description of what the spell does. This was also apparent during gameplay on the weekend (expressed in another post to link to later) when every spellcaster had to double check their spell descriptions to determine what their spells actually did. Having even a basic description section for each spell slot entry (no, the "notes" section isn't big enough to explain how each spell works) would have saved us almost an hour's worth of looking up and verifying spell effects.

3. The formatting of several sections in the book need major revisions to be intuitive and easy to reference. When it came time for our players to try and purchase their gear (we are starting play at 4th level), they had to reference all kinds of entries in the book. Between the standardized adventuring gear, weapons, armor and shields (being in the same place), combined with the magic items, generalized treasure table, alchemical items (like poisons and potions), special materials, being in several separate places in the book, it became very difficult for players to keep track of what items they wanted in relation to where they were in the book, and crossreferencing what they can (or can't) purchase, and seeing if items are in one section of a book instead of another. This made the character creation time take longer than it should have, and even for as much experience as I've gotten with this system, I was still finding out about items that I never heard of before, or thought weren't available at the time with specialized benefits (such as realizing Expert Cold Iron weapons were a Level 2 item that players of 4th level could take as one of their 2nd level permanent items). While parts of this helped our PC optimization out, it still hurt the character creation process because it did create several levels of frustration for players (myself included). There were also similar complaints in relation to how Skill Feats and General feats are sorted, in that they aren't sorted by level, type, or pre-requisites. They are simply in a giant glob in alphabetical order, with the traits of the feats being easily missable (unless you reference the table, but even that received similar complaints), and not being intuitive to find what you want unless you know precisely what each feat does in relation to what you want out of a given feat.

4. Decision Paralysis is still in place, and adds a lot of time into character creation. One of our players who made a Rogue was having an especially difficult time trying to allocate his feats into stuff that is both cool and worthwhile. Having more Skill Feats than anyone else and access to the same amount of other feats as other classes merely increased the amount of times he had no idea what to spend feats on. He was also disappointed at how underwhelming numerous skill feats were, while at the same time baffled by how strong and/or useful other skill feats were. We ended up changing around several feats up until it was playtime this last weekend. I similarly had this problem as a Bard player with my skills, spell/cantrip selections, and feats.

5. Several core decisions are highly underwhelming and unfun in relation to certain players. I've experienced part of this issue with my character as well as with the player's Cleric. He effectively went on numerous tirades about how much the current gods "sucked so bad," and that he hated practically every god available. To elaborate, he felt like a lot of their Domain powers were "trash", hated several combinations (such as Gorum being a Negative Energy channeler, but using a powerful Greatsword, whereas a deity like Pharasma could use Positive Energy channelling, but had a crappy deity weapon and domain powers), and was severely disappointed with how there were no gods who utilized a Morningstar as a deity weapon (which was originally going to be his weapon of choice). I did explain to him that there will probably be more options to better suit his needs (and maybe some balancing between a Cleric's Channel Energy combined with his Domain Powers), which did keep a lid on his explosive attitude, but it did serve as a point of contention for his angst of the new system. I did feel the same way with all of my Halfling Ancestry feats, combined with several of the Rogue's Skill feats (as well as some of my own, but I did find some that were "passable" choices in relation to my builds).

6. The book not having errata information causes a clash of information that players may not be certain of which set of information is correct. While this was brought up in one of the previous points, I do want to bring this some extra attention, because nothing seems more foolish than bringing a character sheet to a GM that is riddled with misinformation due to the book not reflecting the current errata. In short, this may have caused a negative outlook on the player perspective, and it also increases character creation time due to referencing numerous PDF documents to determine what you actually have as a rule. I can understand that updating the Core Rulebook PDF to reflect these changes all the time is tedious and potentially frustrating, but hopefully after the Doomsday Dawn playtest, we can get an "updated" Core Rulebook playtest PDF with the reflecting errata derived from the playtest so that we don't have to reference numerous documents all the time (something which the current playtest is meant to cut down on, if not eliminate entirely, and so far doesn't appear to be doing that, even if somewhat understandbly).

There are other things that the players may have complained about (and some things that the players found neat or interesting, such as multiclassing and fleshing out future character concepts through certain character choices), as well as things I may not have observed, but these are some major things that I feel, if addressed, will greatly help with keeping both these players (and encouraging other new players) to stay awhile and continue playing, creating enjoyable experiences and having fun with the new system.

So here it is; the conclusion to the playtest adventure.

Picking up where we last left off, I noted that I screwed up the Arcane Evolution feat, which I compensated with resetting the Sorcerer player's HP to its previous value, and I adhoc'd a couple healing potions for the Sorcerer to use after the party received them from the Druid holding the shoddy fort of the lesser pack. It healed him approximately 8 HP for 2 Resonance points of his potential 8 (which put him at ~half of his 40 HP). The Cleric followed up with a Channel of his own on both the Sorcerer and Barbarian (putting him at 3 for the day) to max them out, and then everybody else used a potion to top off whatever little HP they had left.

From here, the players moved upward the trail from where Zakfah was stationed.

Secret Entrance:
The Electric Latch Trap. I was actually impressed with how this trap was placed and how I had to handle it based on the map design. When the players originally did Detect Magic and found some magic being detected, they simply thought the door was protected, and then they found a latch. There wasn't really any way to tell there was a trap on either one because of the range of Detect Magic at the time. Of course, because the players wanted to be extra sure, they spent a little more time (which amounted to a few more minutes examining the door and the latch) to figure out that there was a rune that could be scratched to ruin the magic. As such, the Cleric rocked his Perception check to notice the rune, and the Wizard crushed his Thievery check to carefully ruin the rune's image, thereby bypassing the trap. The players did joke about just triggering it, and I decided to do a "play roll" for the damage, with the actual trap being 3D12, for a total of 20 damage. The players were genuinely surprised at the amount of damage this trap could have done (as little as 3, but as high as 36 by basic math, with an average of 19.5 damage), so they were thankful for the Cleric's ability to see things and the Wizard's ability to disarm it.

With that out of the way, they safely utilize the latch and open the doors. The initial hallways are narrow and strangely drawn; it seemed weird to counteract the whole "half a square" thing, since most players and creatures can't just fit into a half-square. Would I have to use Squeezing rules for this or something? I wasn't quite sure, and if there were encounters that relied on fighting in these tight spaces, it could immensely change the feel and outcome of those combats. Compared to other hallways, this wasn't really helpful to adjudicate, so I just treated it as a normal 5 foot wide hallway.

The players were being very wise in travelling down the hallways. They were using Survival checks to track on a regular basis to see if anyone else [notably, the Night Heralds] were already in this tomb (with a critical success on the Cleric stating that the ground hasn't been disturbed for hundreds of years), as well as using Detect Magic (to determine if there were more traps and such in the area). Light spells were required for most players (except for the Goblin Paladin who had Darkvision already), but with at least 2 Light cantrips, vision wasn't particularly problematic for them short of the Cleric not being able to make very solid Perception checks down the halls.

In the split of the hallway they travel, the Paladin notes of a multi-fork section (the right section leading to the hallway detour of C3, the left section leading to C2, and the winding hallway leading to C4). The party decides to head down the section leading to C2.

Encounter 6:
The Earth and Water Elementals. The initiation to this was very interesting as the players were extremely cautious based on how I constructed the map. They made sure not to get into the water, and utilized some basic stones on the ground with Light to try and see other areas of the room (whereas the Goblin could see relatively clearly). The Goblin notes of something down in the southern section of the room (the hidden Stone Elemental). Throwing a couple stones down the way that have Light on them, they eventually see a statue of a jackal (again, the hidden Stone Elemental), and with nothing else being drawn to them, they head to that section by utilizing both Mage Hand (with the Sorcerer's Reach Spell version of it) and a rope tied with Grappling Hook to safely latch it onto a stalagmite (or stalagtite? Always confuse those) for the party to carry on and cross over. The Barbarian leads the charge, with the Wizard (who is trained in Athletics) and the Paladin in tow. The Sorcerer and Cleric, whom don't have great Athletics, stay on the stairwell keeping watch.

Once the Barbarian lands on the island the Stone Elemental is on, the "statue" comes to life, and combat is initiated. The potential stealth rules made the potential tactics (burrow, stealth, then unburrow and strike against flat-footed AC) very clunky and unviable until they were hit, and was actually surprisingly durable against the trio. (Unfortunately, since I do forget burrowing every now and then, the players have reminded me several times when they hit to ask if it burrows down again, so that's a fault on my part.)

After a couple rounds of combat between the party, and allowing a free Perception check to notice something out of the corner of the Cleric's eye (probably shouldn't have even did that, but due to the nature of the Water elemental approaching in relation to the "dead calm" of the water, it seemed appropriate, since even a Water Elemental would cause water to move). While the Cleric didn't succeed, he did notice that something is causing water to move, meaning something was in the water. At this point, the Water Elemental (which the players made me design to be a Large Mouth Seabass Catfish because -reasons-) jumps from the water to get an aerial tail slap to the Cleric (AKA its water thrust melee attack) and dive back down into the other side. I'm not sure if this is even technically possible by the rules, since doing another action, such as attack, while in the middle of another action, ends that previous action, but since it made the relevant Athletics and/or Acrobatics check with flying colors, I ruled it to have worked that way.

From here, the divisive battle became apparent. The Sorcerer, being smart and going invisible while walking towards the steps, avoids being a target in the following rounds (since the Elementals aren't particularly smart to try and find the Sorcerer when other threats are readily apparent); he does re-emerge with Magic Missiles. The Earth Elemental does some solid damage on the Wizard, with a little bit of damage on the Paladin. It actually eventually burrows underneath to get to the island the Sorcerer and Cleric are on, and threaten them in the same round the Water Elemental is slain, and as a result gets some Critical Hits on the Sorcerer (though he is still alive at the end, not dropping to 0 HP whatsoever).

The Water Elemental really focused on terrorizing people on-land with his knockback reach and splitting between the people he could affect on the stairwell and on the island they traveled to. The Barbarian actually had the guts to challenge the Water Elemental in its own terrain, and it actually almost did him in, but due to timely Cleric healing, the Barbarian persisted (which also gave us a clue on how underwater combat and "breathing" works, which is much more permissive in PF2 than in PF1; I didn't like how in PF1, underwater combats were basically impossible due to you needing to spend a Standard Action each round to avoid drowning). Here, you get a flat breath rate equal to Constitution, which drains down with each action you take, and the option to take a deep breath to double that time before you jump, which the Barbarian did).

In other unfortunate events, due to the Barbarian taking the fight to the Water Elemental and not having any reason to retreat or reposition, the Water Elemental didn't really get to utilize his Vortex ability or aura to keep the PC in his threatened range (because that's exactly where the Barbarian wanted to be). The Barbarian was smart enough to not utilize his Dragon Fire Rage benefits while underwater, so on that front he still contributed quite well, though Fatigue has usually led to him getting critically hit (and regularly hit on otherwise misses). However, the Water Elemental was pretty durable and did some damage (plus annoy players), not to mention had to deal with a summoned Water Mephit (which absorbed a couple secondary attacks that could have been directed at the Barbarian for potential hits/crits).

The Earth Elemental did something funny in this encounter before it consequently died; it emerged where the Cleric's Mace and Shield was (on the ground, as they were dropped). I ruled that as part of rising from the ground, it would grasp the mace and shield freely (because it didn't require any special effort on the Elemental whatsoever). It would then move up and smack the Cleric in the face, with his own weapon! Talk about insult to injury! Unfortunately, the Elemental rolls a 2 on his attack roll and misses, and even if grabbing the mace and shield freely wasn't possible by the rules, it could have just emerged, moved, and attacked as normal; I just wanted to make the encounter that much more enjoyable/funny.

With the defeat of the Elementals, the Cleric spends some Battlefield Medic to heal people up whatever HP they are down (with 2 Channel Energy uses left). The players spend an hour or two (they're about half-way through Day 5/6 right now) to search the chamber with no results other than the Elemental Gems they've acquired. A Critical Success from identifying them via the Wizard reveals that crushing the gem (thereby destroying it and costing 1 Resonance Point) summons the exact Elementals again for 1 minute, before they are returned to their own plane.

With the Elementals being in place, I wasn't sure if Detect Magic would work on them, as they aren't technically magic items. They might be supernatural creatures by nature, but I wasn't particularly sure if detecting magic would apply here, and as such I disallowed it, both to build suspension and to force the party to split some, thereby making the encounter more difficult as a result. Whether this was intended or not, I'm not sure, but I don't think it would have altered the raw outcome of the encounter, though it might have told players a little more about the Elementals than before; in fact, if I didn't blurt anything out by mistake, they would have assumed the Earth Elemental was a golem of some kind!

From there, the PCs head out of the hallway, continuing down the northern hall to C4, but at the first bend prior to C4, decide to head south to investigate the hallway with the turn-off to C3. When they see down that hallway, they notice a small "aura" of red-orange color appearing steadily moving in the doorway to their right. Approaching the doorway and peering down the stairs, the radiance of the hallway improves, and a critical success of Perception on the Goblin Paladin had him get the taste of soot and the smell of what would pass for a Pathfinder "cooking grill/smoker," which reveals to the players this might be a follow-up encounter to the previous room they were in. As such, they didn't want to go down that hallway, and proceeded from the southern entrance to C4. The enemies in C3 are not encountered in this adventure.

The Puzzle?:
I'm just going to point this out, but having the puzzle mostly be a very hard skill check (or rather, have players guess what sort of skill check they might need on certain things) with ways to tone the check down some doesn't really constitute a puzzle from a design perspective. If they approached a room without having certain tools available to progress, and they need to find those things, or have all of the relevant tools and the knowledge to put them together correctly (such as the elemental gems being required), then that would be more of a puzzle, because it gives players an incentive to try and find something (or strategize something) to solve it. A basic "What Am I?" riddle would have been more of a puzzle in my honest opinion.

Here, the players attempt to use their Assurance on Arcana (specifically, the Sorcerer) to try and get some basic information, but due to it simply being a 15 (and failing by 10), I falsely deduced to them that the dais of the room was actually the Countdown Clock (since the symbols were fluctuating and had dials to adjust it). However, with an aid from the Wizard on a following Assurance check (which he automatically assists with Assurance of his own), combined with the Goblin Paladin being the scribe and having a somewhat accurate description of what the Countdown Clock might look like, this concept was later debunked.

Here, the players further examined the dais (which had dials and such scattered to warrant utilizing their ANRO [Arcana, Nature, Religion, Occultism] skills), they attempted to make a check to understand the runes of the four circular indentations. With a miraculous, on-the-nose 25 Occultism check, the Wizard (who know the Ancient Osiriani language) deduced that each of the sigils in the indented circle patterns were actually part of an equation that, when matched, would align itself with the door and open it. If he was close, I would have ruled that he thought the equations to be incomplete and require either an additional component or slight alterations to match the equations in question (such as the Elemental Gems) to finish, since this would be a "pretty close, but not actually true" solution to the apparent puzzle. However, with that not being the case, he spends 4 full rounds touching the symbols in the correct order, thereby setting the circular indentations correctly and opening the door.

Encounter 7:
Here Come the Mummies to Mabar's Freedom. As the door opens, the players notice 4 immobile carcasses on the side walls, but at the angle they are coming from, don't notice Mabar immediately. The Sorcerer, being smart, takes a Torch from one of the sides via Mage Hand, and moves it further into the room without triggering the Mummies to gain vision, as well as a Hero Point for creativity of getting vision in the room (though they technically would have triggered here, a cursory reading would suggest that they couldn't actively move or do anything about the intruders because of them being shackled by Mabar's mask, so I made them "play dead" until Mabar's mask was freed). The players were cautious because they were afraid the corpses on the side would come to life and attack them if they went in, and also couldn't tell if the floating creature was hostile or not, so they stayed outside the doorway.

Making some Arcana checks and some Reach Detect Magic (to verify that the cone the floating guy is in detects as magical), the spellcasters deduce that the guy is floating through magical means and that the magic keeping him in place is weakened. A critical success the following turn also deduces that the mask itself is most likely the source of this magic. As such, the Wizard utilizes Telekinetic Projectile to knock the mask off of Mabar, which disables the magic (and thereby frees the Mummies. At this point, Initiative is rolled.

Mabar technically wins Initiative here, but considering the description stated in relation to his rescue, he was slow to get up, I didn't really have him act in the first round of combat, counting as Slowed 3 for this purpose (and taking 5 damage as a result). The Mummies won initiative, each of them swarming an available PC. Two of them hit for some solid damage, and cause both the Paladin and Wizard to fail their Saving Throws (though in this case Mummy Rot seemed way too weak). The players realize that the mummies are pretty brutal in melee combat, and need to bottleneck them so the players don't get torn apart simultaneously. From here, the Wizard follows up with Burning Hands to surprising effect, with a Critical Save from one mummy, a failure on the second mummy, and a critical failure on the third mummy so affected. The Barbarian following up with a Raging Red Dragon Fire Strike on said third mummy puts him down right quick (with me elaborating that the flames were catching on their bandages and thereby increasing the devastating effects of their fire attacks). At the start of the next round, Mabar stands up and turns invisible (he hears the Gnome saying something that sounds endearing and trustful, thereby sticking around to hopefully get the last blow in and engage in a dialogue).

The party retreats to the bottleneck southern hallway, with the Paladin holding point with his shield and the other party members running behind him to avoid getting swarmed. The mummies get numerous lucky hits in (with the Paladin getting either Cover or Shield Raise and the Mummies having less than stellar to-hit), but don't ever down the Paladin. The Cleric supports in the back with an AoE Channel, both healing the party and damaging the mummies for a minor amount of damage, the Barbarian hits with some Raging Fire attacks, and the Wizard contributes heavily with his Flaming Sphere (getting all Failures or Critical Failures, plus the Weakness 10 to Fire). The Paladin absorbs numerous attacks and manages to strike some enemies as well. If not for the bottleneck tactics, the damage would be more widespread (and probably more deadly, since the Paladin was sitting at an AC of 23 most of the fight), but once again, it seemed the right amount of deadly and surprising.

With the drop of the final mummy (before Mabar could try and punch it to death), Mabar emerges from Invisibility to thank his "rescuers," and offers his help. With the Wizard speaking Ancient Osiriani, and the Sorcerer having solid Diplomacy checks, they engage with dialogue and the Wizard is the middle-man. The sorcerer asks most every possible question, such as the layout of the tomb, where Tular Seft lays at rest, what his ambitions were, etc. The party feels the need to rest, so they all share some food and drink (Mabar making his own for his rescuers through his innate spells), and as such the end of Day 5 and the beginning of Day 6 begins.

The Resting Place:
When they investigated the tomb, they were extremely paranoid of numerous things, such as the books, the corpse on the chair being alive, and the mirror opposite being trapped. They had every right to be, since prior to their arrival here, enemies and dangers lurked at every corner, and in some cases they were actually correct.

The Cleric player, deciding to pull a prank on the Paladin, shoves him toward the mirror. When this happened, I actually added to the risk when the PCs asked what would happen if they jokingly shoved him in and to make a save, such as "Would this actually kill the PC?" And I said "It's possible." But it was equally funny when it was just a failure and I had the goblin pull this pose for the majority of the day in fear and insanity.

The players investigate the tomb, come across numerous texts which, with a successful Occultism check, resulted in the players acknowledging the texts being valuable to the Order of the Eye. They also realize the Mirror is worth a lot of money, and acquire the +2 Scimitar, Staff of Fire (which was given to either the Sorcerer or Wizard), and Scrolls of Stoneskin and Gust of Wind (the latter of which wasn't properly identified by the party, but by Mabar with a lucky roll). They also find the Countdown Clock, which they easily identify due to its powerful aura.

The PCs clear out the rest of the resting place (having Mabar carry the stuff since they are mostly full on their stuff), and originally intended to move down the right side, but statements from Mabar combined with their inability to open it due to lack of Expert Thievery, resulted in them unable to proceed down the hallway from C4. This was done largely as a deterrent from adventuring down that way as the adventure suggests, but if the PCs did find a way to open the door from Expert Thievery, I would have triggered the Night Heralds here, but with this being enough of a deterrent, and the Night Heralds being 2-3 days out yet, it didn't make sense for me to throw them here yet, even if the PCs had no clue when the Night Heralds would arrive.

With everything cleared out and their objective finished, the PCs exit out the way they came, trade the mirror to Zakfah on their way out to present to the Carrion King, and return to Kelmarane where they return the Countdown Clock to be in the Order's custody, receive their 50 gold reward (plus some extra gold for the basic things they find to sell, the sacred texts being traded, and other miscellaneous subjects).

The PCs stick around to help rebuild the town of Kelmarane, spending their newfound wealth on items (or for some of them, donating to the cause of Kelmarane; if this is done by some PCs, I will award a Hero Point for them), and continue to be indentured to the service of Kamisora Vord. In appearance, the adventure would be done at this point.

However, there are still several loopholes and plot points to cover within this adventure that, as written, the adventure wasn't meant to cover. What happened to Zakfah's troop? Did they just return to the Carrion King with a lousy (even if expensive) mirror, or did they get greedy, try to find more loot, and get caught by the Night Heralds? Furthermore, would the Night Heralds have encountered the Fire and Air Elementals in C3, acquired their Elemental Gems, and be able to utilize them in a future fight (such as in the fight against the PCs)? And lastly, would the Night Heralds have enough time and gumption to continue their quest by encountering Zakfah's troop, defeating them, interrogating them, followed by killing them and stealing whatever loot they had, and tracking the PCs back to Kelmarane, thereby triggering this encounter and putting their skills as new-founded Order of the Eye operatives to work?

All of these things are both possible avenues to explore within this playthrough that have lasting consequences on the plot as the players know it (since several Night Heralds have story-related knowledge they could spill to the players), and are well outside the scope of the main intent of the playtest, which is to determine whether the PCs would easily beat an opposing NPC party to their objective. In this playthrough, it's been shown that the PCs easily beat them to the objective and without very much risk to their lives. (Yes, there were a couple players downed, but were easily and quickly revived as a result.) This could be a result of very lucky rolling, taking big risks that pay off, as well as player/GM ingenuity in relation to the adventure at hand. I can easily see how this could have gone bad for the PCs, resulting in them either encountering or losing to the Night Heralds, such as by not having someone trained in Thievery or Survival, not avoiding a couple encounters, needing to rest more than usual, or just simply not having the healing that a Positive Energy Cleric could pump out. So many factors could have gone against the PCs, but in this playthrough they didn't.

However, I can say that depending on tomorrow's circumstances will determine if we follow through with the Night Herald combat or not. If we do, we can at least determine how deadly the Night Heralds (with a customized 5th party member!) would've panned out in a general scenario, and if we don't, then I can easily rule that Zakfah returned to the Carrion King with a precious mirror (worth over 1,000 gold, I might add), with the Night Heralds not being foolish enough to face them, and as such would retreat to their masters and suffer whatever consequences await them.

The adventure itself was fun for me to run, and I learned a lot about having a GM Poker Face in relation to events (mostly psyching players out of taking Strides V.S. Steps with looming and falsified Attacks of Opportunity threats). I still need to learn to not be such a helicopter GM though, since it felt like I may have made certain aspects of the adventure easier than it should have, but I'd rather be a more permissive GM and let players do things than a dismissive GM which denies players things (unless it makes sense to do so).

This coming Monday, we will either run a separate one-off board game to buy time for other players to prepare and come join in on the next adventure, or we will make a proper conclusion to this chapter with the Night Herald encounter and additional plot points being mentioned. I'll post an update on whatever happens, but for the most part, I can say that this goose is cooked, and the dinner was pretty delicious.

Mark Seifter wrote:

We're going to keep the surveys available for more than a month; don't worry! Lost Star is still available.

Also, I have to say I like your group's style. They had a lot of good backups and made use of several solid auxiliary strategies we built into the game that not everyone is using yet. Nice work, and thanks for the feedback!

Sorry for the late response, but thanks for keeping them out and for your compliments. I did fill in my fair share of the surveys (though I accidentally put down only one time of a player hitting 0 HP, when it was actually twice, I forgot the Manticore fight which dropped the Cleric), but it wasn't enough to warrant a PC death, thankfully.

Will be posting the actual conclusion (with a potential follow-up to the Night Herald encounter, which will be fully in-depth since it will be the primary focus of the possible final installment) later on today, so stay tuned for that if you want to see it. I would like some suggestions as to what to do for a "battle map" inside Kelmarane if we follow through (as this is easily a possible outcome for this adventure given the circumstances and write-up in the conclusion section of the Night Heralds entry); would it be more of an urban setting with numerous shoddy buildings that have window openings for available clear shots? Would the streets be potentially crowded with innocent people, or could I have them attack at night when the PCs are unaware and in their rooms (which is a severe disadvantage for them, I might add)? So much possibility with the world being my oyster here.

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Adam Smith wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Interesting post...

Thanks for sharing, it's great to be able to compare stories of how things played out--congrats on getting the clock! I hear you about going outside the scope of the playtest, this adventure was one that I'd love to revisit at some point. The labyrinth seemed like an awesome journey to create, with miles of passageways and traps.

Interesting about making friends with Zakfah, if you do play it out, that might make for a fun encounter in the streets of Kelmarane. In regard to that, I did like that the author gave us suggestions about languages, it was applicable in a few areas and had an impact on the gnoll camp encounter for us. I would have liked to run one last encounter where the PCs got to play a band of gnolls who ambushed the Night Heralds as they were recovering the clock from the elf's body. That final shot fired by Libar was quite a good distance out on Pale Mountain, and so it was safe to say that the Night Heralds would have to gather up and then work their way down to where the body was. In the meantime, perhaps a group of gnolls had taken notice of the skirmish...

Great times, and looking forward to the rest of the playtest!

I did say "make friends;" the quotes are important here. It mostly consisted of the Barbarian using his knowledge of Gnoll (which I think meant he had like 14 Intelligence or something) barking his dominance at the lesser pack to coerce them into a ceasefire, whereas the pack leader felt threatened (or in this case, slighted) and demanded proof of combat skill through a duel (that escalated into a brawl), though the PCs still actually spared them and vice-versa. While it did devolve into a more mutual aspect, the point here was that the players did it more aggressive than diplomatic (which is why I made it work; they are still Chaotic Evil), and the gnolls being canine in nature, it made the most sense. (This was also the PC's reasoning, which was in-line with how they viewed them.)

If you want to read a more in-depth analysis of our playthrough, you can read up on this thread I made. (I will also be posting the actual conclusion there shortly, as I haven't had time to do so during this previous week.)

I interpreted it as a simple "If X, then Y" routine at the time. That is, if the players actually bother to stealth, they will automatically bypass the Manticore encounter simply by taking the Sneaking tactic. Since the Manticore is usually flying or scaling rocks, he probably won't see them as a matter of principle and/or distance. In addition, it doesn't say that the players have to make a Stealth check, merely that they have to try sneaking around it.

However, I do believe the intent is that you still make a Stealth check for those involved by using a DC equal to 10 + the Manticore's Stealth modifier (which is what my players believed at the time, which is why they didn't bother trying to stealth past it; their Stealth was abysmal compared to the DC 20+ of the Manticore).

Maybe Mr. Seifter or some other developer can make a clarification here, as it is pretty important. In our group's case, simply taking the effort to do it (despite being the major underdogs in the skill) would have been enough to bypass the encounter entirely, and I probably would have awarded a Hero Point to each player for even risking trying to Stealth despite their major deficit instead of just trying to fight it head-on.

Interesting post.

Our group managed to beat the Night Heralds (whom actually has a 5th Monk member to compensate for a 5th player) there, with 2-3 days to spare thanks to utilizing the Camels for traversing the 80 mile long trek to the base of the mountain, and getting lucky on several checks that would normally take hours to remake (but didn't since they were successful the first time).

They didn't bother going down the tomb any further (I ruled that the locks on the doors down below were Expert tier quality, and nobody on the group was Expert in Theivery, so it was impossible to open that way). This made it so that the players couldn't open the doors down to the unexplained while also keeping true to the playtest that the Night Heralds wouldn't actually show up there in the time allotted from the adventure, though if they did manage to find a way to open it outside of Thievery, I would have probably had them show up when they succeeded, as the book suggested.

Of course, the only reason I went the route I did was because of what the players did prior; they managed to make "Friends" with Zakfah and his pack, with Zakfah still looking for treasure in the area. The Night Heralds could have probably encountered them after realizing the PCs beat them there, interrogated them for information (one of them could probably speak Gnoll, going in-line with the adventure's suggested language selections), and manage to track the PCs back to the town of Kelmarane, thereby still allowing the encounter to take place (though I would have to effectively homebrew the battle map for which the encounter takes place, since there isn't really one there for that area).

Depending on what we do tomorrow, this encounter could still happen, but this would be well beyond the scope of the playtest's expectations, and as such, the adventurers we had killed the base adventure, as the Countdown Clock is already in the Order's custody by the time the Night Heralds would arrive.

Well, if Paizo tried too hard to be like D&D, they'd get sued and be out of business. So I say the less they are like D&D, the more likely they will have a clear identity in the gaming community. Being forever considered in D&D's shadow isn't exactly a great place for them right now.

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Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

Vancian all the way.

Some things are simply necessary for this to feel like D&D Pathfinder.

FTFY. D&D already has its game, if you want D&D, go play that instead, because Pathfinder isn't D&D, and as such the expectations should be different.

The PCs gave them food (they had extra rations stocked up), and gave them camels for transportation. Unless the gnolls craved camels, they probably wouldn't have eaten them.

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I have an update to our playtest, though unfortunately it comes with some unexpected bad news. Our Druid player got frustrated with how much Pathfinder was clashing with his current real life issues (he is constantly working and playing/preparing for Pathfinder took most of whatever free time he had left), and I believe he's expressed numerous complaints with the current iteration of both the rules and the playtest regime (such as having to make a character nearly every adventure, which takes upwards of 2 hours at a time), to where both us and he agreed to have him leave while we are conducting the playtest.

While we were able to get a replacement player to continue the playtest adventure (a fairly selfish CN Gnome Sorcerer with the Imperial Bloodline wanting to investigate a lead on one of his ancestors, which may happen to be Tular Seft), it does skew the playtest results some due to "interchangeable" party members thereby allowing a sort of "select which characters handle which encounters/challenges", and it created a obstacle as to how I would both "remove" the old PC and replace it with the new PC. However, as a GM I have to roll with the punches that come our way and come up with a solution palatable to everyone (including the playtest results).

I arbitrated that the Druid stayed behind to tend to the camels and the gnolls in their camp so that when the other players find and get to the Sergeant, the camp would be fortified enough for the Sergeant to come back to their remaining gnolls unharmed and alive (there are other beasties in the area, after all). On the trek up prior to the manticore fight, the remaining PCs spot the Gnome Sorcerer trying to scale up the mountain, converse with him, and come to an agreement of adventuring together to get what they both want out of it.

With that out of the way, and having a somewhat valid explanation for this in-game, let's get to the nitty-gritty of the encounters we completed.

Encounter 4:
The Manticore. This encounter was fun and just the right amount of deadly, but it did take a while due to the monster's attributes being higher than normal to compensate for the 5th player. About a half-dozen failures were because of the increased +2 (which could have cut the fight duration down by about an hour). If it was cut down, it would make for one of the better encounters.

The only other bad thing was that the directions for drawing the map wasn't clear on aspects other than what the PCs could travel. Outside of the 20 foot winding trail, I didn't know precisely what to make the sides out of, and for simplicity and tactical reasons I ruled that it was a concave "cliff" that the PCs could climb up with a DC 15 Athletics check (and they tried to utilize the Nimble feat to bypass that difficult terrain, which I disallowed due to it requiring an Athletics check; not sure if this was the right call or not).

I followed the Manticore's tactics down pretty well, sneaking up behind towards the Sorcerer and Cleric and utilizing its Double Spike attack numerous times, circling the PCs with their minor ranged comebacks (though a couple of them were painful due to some lucky rolls, such as by the Cleric Archer). The Barbarian got dangerously close to the Manticore and ran out of rage (becoming fatigued); the Manticore had an opportunity to strike and almost took down the Barbarian with two hits (one of them being a Critical Bite). The Barbarian had 4 HP left, but the Cleric with his channels was able to bring him back in the fight. Eventually, by being in melee, the Manticore took some significant damage, and I tried having it do some guerrilla tactics, by diving towards the cliffside and covering itself with the rocks there. Due to its extreme stealth score, the odds of the PCs finding it before it was too late was slim, but a Natural 1 at the worst possible time warranted a critical failure and exposed his position at a bad time, with him shouting some obscenities at stepping on a rock it didn't see, and taking 1D4 damage (houseruled, I know, but it didn't really impact tactics or the outcome any more than if I didn't have it work, and the whole hillside was technically houseruled anyway). The Sorcerer then followed up with a Web spell (which it couldn't break due to rolling a 3 and not being higher than a DC 18 result, making it extremely slow for a round), but due to the Cleric keeping everyone else alive, the Manticore had only one hope of defeating the players, which was by getting into the Cleric's face, thereby making it more difficult for the Cleric to hit back (he's using a Longbow), and also cut off their potential healing supply. While his divebomb was successful in dropping the Cleric to Dying 1, the Paladin managed to get in range, deliver a killing blow that brutally maimed the Manticore's skull (which plays a part later in the next encounter, as I ruled based on how well he rolled), and saved the Cleric's life with a timely Lay On Hands.

The Paladin didn't have much ranged options, and mostly tried to utilize his auxiliary tactics, such as Intimidate, to contribute when the Manticore wasn't down on the ground fighting. About his second intimidate check in, he critically failed and bolstered the Manticore to his checks, so the Paladin had to hand over his bow and arrows to someone else for contribution while he went on healing duty as well through the Channel Life feat while the Manticore was not in melee range. He is responsible for the killing blow thanks to his +1 Warhammer.

The Sorcerer had some interesting contributions because they were largely self-propelled (which was the player's playstyle). Initially, due to it getting slaughtered by the Manticore's Tail Spikes, it tried feigning allegiance. With a successful roll, I simply had the Manticore no longer treat the Sorcerer as a threat, since the Manticore was baffled by his Diplomacy request (initially trying to say it was on the Manticore's side). It also made use of Invisibility (which did save him from getting swiped up by the Manticore later in the fight), and contributed towards the end with Magic Missiles.

The Cleric was the MVP of this fight, due to his plentiful healing and ability to utilize numerous ranged attacks. Several of them were hits dealing significant damage (thanks to some lucky rolling of course), and anyone getting down could be saved with the two-action Channel. The Bless benefit at the start of the fight also guaranteed a few hits as well, though the fight did last longer than the duration of the spell due to the Manticore's tactics, and as such was able to contribute quite well.

The Wizard mostly utilized his cantrips. The Mirror Images were cast once, which made the Manticore not waste spikes on him until the very end (which I actually forgot the Wizard had Mirror Images active). Due to a Natural 20 and actually hitting the Wizard on a random die roll between it and the images, the Mirror Images really only delayed whatever pain the Manticore could deal. Realistically, the Images would have saved a few hits, but in this result of actual play, it really only altered the Manticore's tactics slightly, and didn't actually warrant being cast due to its lack of relevant results. The Wizard did all kinds of tactics, such as utilizing cantrips (Telekinetic Object, Ray of Frost, etc.), shooting with his Bow, and so on, and was successful more with his Cantrips than his bow. He did take the Fighter Dedication feat for proficiency, and did have some +1 Medium armor as a result.

The Barbarian was a wild card and did all kinds of things in the encounter. He would try Intimidation tactics, he would try throwing Javelins. He even brought a couple Magic Weapon Oils to utilize, this time with the Paladin's Bow (though it was wasted because of the Manticore tactics and obtuse rolling). We did have an issue as to how the Oil is applied to an object, though and it did slow down the game more than necessary. According to the rules, it takes two hands to put an oil onto an object, but I was under the impression that you could pour the oil with one hand and hold the object in the other, though it appears you have to have two hands free, holding nothing (other than the oil, obviously) to apply it. So it created an awkward situation where the Barbarian had to draw the oil, drop the weapon, apply the oil, then pick it back up, thereby wasting 2 actions (and/or a reaction, in hindsight). I rolled with it because the Barbarian wasn't in any apparent danger, but I think these rules need to be clarified and/or fixed for ease of play, because it was a bit of a headache and clunky, and since the Barbarian has one more that I expect him to utilize for the final fight on his Lance, getting this explained properly would help for the remainder of the playtest.

Overall, the players enjoyed the encounter other than the fight taking a little long due to tactics employed by the Manticore (and it having stronger than normal statistics), but it was the right amount of deadly and difficult, all things considered. The PCs take the head of the manticore off (as brutally maimed as it was with arrows and bludgeoning damage from rocks and danger

Encounter 5:
Zakfah's Troop. Originally, this was intended to not be an encounter, but certain results triggered a fight that escalated into something that was almost as deadly as the previous encounter. In addition, similar to the Manticore fight, this was practically extremely vague in terms of raw design on a gridmap. I basically eyeballed the B4/B5 appearance on the map (though the valley they fought on was a little bigger than it might have actually been), and rolled with it that way. Compared to the first 3 encounters, which had much more detail in map layout, these two encounters increased in terms of vague application. (The first one was a little confusing, but at least had enough detail to have a concept, whereas these ones had very little going for them, and the 2 before/after these encounters were written with plenty of detail.)

The PCs approach the encampment. One of the Gnoll Guards succeed at their Perception check to notice the PCs, so it goes to notify the Sergeant, and the gnolls proceeded to defensive positions. The Sergeant speaks in a semi-broken Common language (just because he knows it doesn't mean he's extremely fluent in it), telling the PCs to leave or they will fight. The Barbarian, holding the head of the Manticore (brutally damaged as it was), barks back in Gnoll (which gave him a +2 Circumstance bonus on his check) that they will let them pass if they know what's good for them, tossing the head at the Sergeant and making an Intimidate check. Rolling a 2 (and failing the check), the Sergeant proceeds to look at the head, rolling a Nature check, and fails the Nature check horribly to identify the Manticore, and a Perception check to determine if the PCs were capable of such a feat (which it didn't originally believe before due to the failed Nature check). Thinking it's being slighted, he proceeds to challenge the Barbarian to a duel to see if they truly were capable of defeating the Manticore. The Barbarian accepts; Zakfah then says that if any of the PCs interrupt the duel, his soldiers would get involved and fight back.

When the duel starts, both Zakfah and the Barbarian tie on Initiative, but due to current rules, Zakfah goes first, to the Barbarian's significant detriment. He moves into position, makes a swing with his Scimitar for a large amount of damage, and critically succeeds his Intimidate check to make the Barbarian run away. The Barbarian being forced to run away, triggers an attack of opportunity from Zakfah, and he trips the Barbarian, making it difficult for him to run away. At this time, neither the gnolls nor the PCs are interfering (though the Gnome is jonesing to do so).

At this point, Zakfah is laughing at the Barbarian, putting away his Scimitar, drawing his Bow, and shooting the Barbarian as a mockery to his combat prowess. The Barbarian stands up finally, with his Lance in hand, swings once, and misses horribly. He then tries to Intimidate, but due to an even worse roll (and not having benefits from Aid Another), Zakfah is bolstered by the Barbarian's Intimidate checks. Once again, the PCs and gnolls are not interfering. At this point, the Gnome decided to interfere with a cantrip (I believe) that lets him disarm Zakfah's weapon. The spell fails, but neither Zakfah nor the Guards notice the spell (or its effects) taking place through a bad Perception check, and as such, the Gnolls still aren't interfering

Zakfah puts away his bow, draws his scimitar again, and makes a swing, hitting the Barbarian again, putting him down to single digits in HP. The Barbarian is really in trouble and fighting an enemy beyond his apparent league.

The Barbarian decides to remove a grip on his lance (which provoked, but was missed), draw a potion, and drink it. (At the time, we didn't think dropping a hand off the Lance was a Reaction, and actually instead took an action to do. Oops on our part there.) With it returning only 7 HP on a D8 (a good roll), it was still fairly weak and a single hit would still drop him. The Gnome once again tries to interfere, but with a successful Perception check from Zakfah, he is discovered, and as such orders his minions to deal with the Gnome. The other PCs then follow suit and provide other forms of aid (the Cleric uses the last of his Channel Energy at this time to bring the Barbarian back to fighting spirits), and thus a brawl starts, as Zakfah barks to the gnolls to just stop them all. The Cleric summons an Earth Elemental which distracts Zakfah for a round, and gives the Barbarian some breathing room to recoup from Raging and enter the combat anew, whereas the Wizard creates a Flaming Sphere on Zakfah, but due to better than average rolling, Zakfah becomes unaffected by the spell, and as such really only served as a minor inconvenience to the overall encounter flow.

Zakfah's ability to spend one of his actions for a Step on his minions helped with their ability to press the offensive, with Intimidate being valid tactics in inhibiting the PC's ability to contribute. Unfortunately, with there being only 3 guards, and Zakfah being by himself, the odds of them benefitting from their Pack Attack feature was practically non-existent. Flanking, on the other hand, was prevalent on both sides of the encounter, and did result in some hits (and criticals as well, one of which dropping the Sorcerer).

With the encounter progressing, one of the Gnolls is dropped (but I did roll for stabilization checks, with it succeeding before its actual death, for storyline purposes), and with Zakfah approaching death, was planning to surrender on his initiative and concede their prowess. The Gnome Sorcerer, being revived through his Hero Points, and then Critically Intimidated, managed to utilize his Ray of Frost cantrip on his way back to bring down Zakfah. The remainder of the Gnolls retreat and yip in surrender. The party accepts their surrender, and returns Zakfah and the other Gnoll to consciousness. The Gnolls concede to their strength as most canines would in their primal paradigm (though disapprove of their less-than-direct methods), and finally believe that they were capable of defeating the Manticore. The PCs ask about whether they know of an entrance to a tomb, the gnolls aren't entirely sure of one, but tell them of the entrance to C1 as being possible, but aren't sure as to whether it can even be opened or not (as the adventure appears to describe). When the gnolls are told that they have survivors down the hillside, they yip in excitement, pack up their stuff, and proceed down from where the PCs went to meet up with the rest of their pack and continue their conquest to retrieve loot for the Carrion King (which the PCs aren't aware of in terms of their motives).

At this point, the PCs are out of Lay On Hands, Channels, and other several limited resources, so they rest for the day, and heal up, marking the end of Day 4 (or Day 5 if I went by the original travel rules, and so far it's looking like the PCs will beat the Night Heralds here within 2+ days, though with Zakfah and the others being alive, I may just allow the Night Heralds to track the PCs and make one final battle just to playtest the deadliness of the encounter, as well as reveal some further plot points that the relevant NPCs may have knowledge of).

With the Manticore fight weighing heavily on their resources, this was once again the right amount of deadly, and made for some interesting interactions that the encounter may not have intended. (The duel part was kind-of made up since there was botched Intimidate and Perception checks, but since it escalated into a brawl, it did allow for a semi-accurate playtest of both "diplomatic" and combat resolutions, so on that front I believe it went very well.)

In addition, this was where we screwed up the Arcane Evolution feat of Sorcerers, since I didn't notice the Arcane trait (and even if I did, had no idea what it would represent), and the feat only says "one scroll in your possession," thereby not marking what kind of spell it was (such as if it had to be an Arcane spell or not), meaning I initially allowed the Sorcerer with a Scroll of Heal (2nd level) to effectively heal himself and others with his slots while still being an Arcane spellcaster. I will be "retconning" this, since it's fairly fresh in our minds, and to make sure character features and abilities are enforced as they're intended.

As I've said above, due to the fourth encounter taking too long, we weren't able to get to the other stuff (we didn't start until 7:30 at night, and that fight took ~3.5 hours to complete), or even finish the adventure within 2 sessions. Unfortunately, I wasn't even able to input my (or our group's) findings to the online surveys due to these encounters and adventures taking way longer than when the surveys and such are available (I don't have links or the ability to apply my survey findings anymore now). In fact, the Lost Star took 2 long sessions and I had to input the surveys while we were still playing it, which spoiled a couple of things for me as a player, which I decided not to do for future playtest adventures so that the surveys I input are more accurate, so I think having those surveys available for at least one month when you initially air them would be acceptable so that those groups with longer playthroughs (or less frequent meeting times) can still get an opportunity to put in their feedback.

Tomorrow night, we plan on finally finishing this adventure, and hoping to at last bring in a result of how we felt about this adventure, about the party options, and other relevant statistics. One thing I can say for sure is that these adventures feel like they take longer to play than the window we have to input our feedback through the online surveys.

magnuskn wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Or maybe your definition of super heroes is different.

A level 20 Monk is someone who literally punches out dragons the size of palaces. I'm not sure how to categorize this as anything else than a superhero story.

Steve Geddes wrote:

This is certainly true for me (in ten years, we’ve never made it to level ten without a TPK). I’ve played low level, mythic PF1 (the mythic rules seemed to me to be pretty super heroey) but never high level stuff.

I wonder if trying to make high level play more palatable in PF2 for those who don’t like it in PF1 sets up an inevitable “conflict of expectations” with those that do?

I'm pretty sure it does, since the approach so far seems "make everything like the low levels", which plainly doesn't work for me.

Level 20 Monks punching out Dragons with ease just means the Dragons are being played poorly, because no smart Dragon would fall for that scheme. At best, you can say Zen Archer Monks shoot Dragons out of the sky, but even then the most calculating and powerful of Dragons will have measures in place to circumvent this from being done so easily.

I do agree the higher level options seem very bland and uninspired at the moment. I'm not really seeing much change from how the lower levels play out compared to the higher levels from current experience, assuming a same-party composition for each level. On top of that, numerous tactics that were once viable are just too bad or too clunky to work with unless you take feat taxes, and even then some don't even have that workaround; with the game making that assumption of having/spending those options just to be able to do X is absolutely lame.

Draco18s wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
To put it simply, while wielding a two-handed weapon, you must spend 1 action to remove grip on it...
He said that in reference to the bolded point, and I said that I think it is currently the bolded part thanks to errata.

I've got the errata right here.


In Basic Actions, in Drop, at the end of the first

sentence before the period, add “or release your grip from
one hand while continuing to hold it in the other”.

'Drop' is a reaction that triggers "at the start of your turn, end of your turn, or as you start another action."

Also, because it's relevant:


In Warded Touch feat, just before the final

period, add, “, and you can cast it and deliver your touch
with a hand holding a weapon or shield”.

Oh, it's a reaction now? That's almost as bad as it costing an action, since that means you can't ready or utilize Retributive Strike (or even Attack of Opportunity if you decide to take the feat). That's still absolutely clunky and screws you out of numerous other actions, and also means you can't spend an action to regrip your weapon back to make attacks. And in order to circumvent that, you need to spend a feat tax, which just seems silly to me in relation to things that once didn't require a feat or something to do, and last I checked, one of the design goals of this game was to cut out feat taxing. Did I also mention you'll likely get attacked for trying to do this?

So, in other words, Zorro as the quintessential Paladin playstyle it is.

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-3 Action System. Very intuitive once you figure out how everything works and what you can all do. On top of that, helps reign in C/MD, and makes players consider strategy and different tactics more.

-Four Tiers of Results. In PF1, I hated how certain Saving Throw spells didn't get effects based on an extremely bad saving throw (i.e. Fireball), which were really only solvable through Houserules. Similarly, Save or Suck/Die didn't create very fun situations (unless the effect for such built up to it), so this creates a medium between these two that, with some more tweaking, can be a wonderful system.

-Weapons are now more diversified and have niches for each manner of combat. If the Armors are made equally diverse (plus have more to them), and the balance between everything is made fine and dandy, this makes for an amazing revolution to equipment. No more "Everyone and their Grandma has Composite Longbows," no more "Longswords Galore," weapons now actually have purpose between them.


-Rarity. This just throws a giant wrench into how characters acquire certain things. PF1 already had this in place based on in-universe design. Everybody knows certain options are rare or unique based on its availability or amounts of existence. Needing a codified mechanic just gives GMs a reason to deny players things just for the point of denying players things, and rarity inadvertently varies heavily based on your level. At 1st level, finding standard scimitars is very commonplace, whereas finding +2 scimitars with special abilities is practically unheard of. Fastforward several levels, and now we have +2 scimitars being common, with standard scimitars being more rare, and now +4 scimitars are rare (whereas before they were practically non-existent).

-Monsters V.S. PCs. While I understand that GMs do finagle creature stats here and there, I don't like how the rules basically allow a GM to throw downright impossible encounters at their players, and to get away with it. In addition, the creature math V.S. the PC options is way too stringent and makes assumptions that shouldn't be made in most every situation; if the creatures are made more lax and have less assumptions of optimization on PC options, then it can still work. As it stands, players are dying very easily.

-The "Tim/Jim" paradigm. TL;DR, certain classes (read: Cleric) are being made mandatory, and as such the game assumes you can and will always have those classes in the party, meaning players are shoehorned to play something they may very well not want to play. I made a thread questioning why we have numerous different classes if the game assumes you have (or makes) certain classes (mandatory) anyway, thereby defeating the point of having numerous classes, and I haven't really gotten a fair answer at it yet outside of "The game doesn't actually assume you need such classes," which is the equivalent of the developers saying the C/MD issue didn't exist until they decided to address it in this game.

-Honorable Mention: Resonance. It's still bad. It's going to continue to be bad. It's so counterintuitive that I'm glad it's apparently going to be revised heavily, but I'm of the opinion that it solves nothing and just creates things it's meant to solve (but actually doesn't).


(The Bonus Round is for 3 things that I'm just absolutely baffled by its inclusion or implementation)

-Requiring 3-5 checks of a very difficult DC to open a lock when PF1 only required 1 check of a difficult DC to open a lock, and you now break picks when failing/critically failing. Lockpicking just went from a relevant obstacle to just plain annoying and being more likely to fail/backfire on you. I seriously don't understand the point of this change other than to reward players by finding ways to get through locked things besides unlocking it.

-Half-Elf and Half-Orc Ancestry being locked to humans seems pointless and to some would make for Elf+/Orc+ characters instead, thereby defeating the point of having the Elf and (eventually) Orc races. Similar to the above, I don't understand why we had to gate these races (which have already been fleshed out to have their own culture and identity in PF1) behind another race for no particular reason other than to do so.

-Hero Point Acquisition. Who thought putting in a sub-game of "Kiss the GM's you-know-what" was a good or fair idea?

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Azih wrote:

Uh, pretty much everything I wanted to communicate is in the subject.

To elaborate a little bit.

There's of course going to be ways to build a character in a game like pathfinder that is terribly unoptimized. Like a Barbarian that puts all their boosts into mental stats or an alchemist that doesn't boost int for whatever reason...

What makes the Monk a little different is that it's pretty MAD. It benefits from Str, Dex, Con, and Wis and it is very easy for someone to think that they should be able to mix and match these according to their character concepts.

Except that you can't make a slow bruiser that focuses Str and Con or a hard hitting mystic that boosts Str and Wis and leaves Dex behind as Dex is the ONLY way that I have found that can boost the monk's AC to an acceptable level for a melee martial class. It has to get at least three boosts in charater creation, if not four.

I don't know if this would be considered a problem or not but it does feel limiting.

I think a class feature that allows a Monk to replace Dex to AC with Wis to AC would allow for at least a somewhat greater variety of builds?

Str, Con would still be a problem though. I guess that idea overlaps too much with how Barbarians work though.

It's only a trap if you try and do everything all at once. That being said, certain ways to build monks are indeed traps (such as having a Wisdom score at or above 14). A Monk with 18 Dexterity and 16 Strength and not worrying about anything else being absolutely mandatory (12 in Constitution, and 12 in either Wisdom or Charisma is passable) is probably the best way to build them in terms of combat, since you'll have 16 AC, have +5 to-hit (only one behind Fighter), and deal 1D6+3 damage. This doesn't include Style options (which can further increase AC or increase damage dice), and is honestly not that bad. (Our fighter in Lost Star actually only had 15 AC, so it's less than what's provided here.) The Monk's AC will only scale higher than normal through Crane Style choices (not really required here), Bracers of Armor, and Dexterity increases (though this only occurs 3 times, once at 10, again at 14, and one last time at 20 if starting at 18). The fun part is if you decide to spend a General feat on Shield Proficiency and thereby benefit even further than Shields (remember, the Monk Style feats only require you to not have Armor on, didn't say anything about shields). The downside to this is that this isn't really an option until the higher levels due to it requiring the Light Armor proficiency tax (which is also a feat), so it's problematic to say the least, but does serve as another outlet for Monk survivability.

Another crazy option (until they nerf Fighter Dedication) is to be an "Armored Monk," taking Fighter Dedication at 2nd level (having an 18 Strength and only 12 Dexterity, thereby possibly allowing a higher Wisdom and/or Constitution), and going from there. You can wear armor at 1st level, you just suffer a -2 penalty for it (so a Monk in Breastplate gains only 2 AC [and no TAC]); difficult, but workable at 1st level. Unfortunately, the problem here now becomes "Why didn't I just play a Fighter?" Because there isn't any major incentive to be a Monk other than to just say you're a Monk, so it really harms your class identity. But at the very least, it's an option.

I do agree that Monks do need better build paths to work with. I wouldn't mind if Monks had a class feat called "Ki Armor," which lets them add their Wisdom modifier as an Item Bonus to AC (this way it doesn't stack with wearing any actual armor or from Bracers of Armor). This way, a Monk who decides to have less Dexterity to benefit from their Wisdom for Ki options isn't an absolutely easy target, and we know that a Monk can't have higher than 16 Wisdom at the most, so compared to a Dexterity Monk, they lose out on AC, Reflex Saves, and other Dexterity-based goodies to gain their Wisdom goodies on a reduced basis.

Draco18s wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
citricking wrote:
Removing your grip is a free action. You could also drop your shield with a free action.
I believe they changed this in the errata to now requiring an action if done with a two-handed weapon (it requires one for re-gripping)

He said "removing your grip" is a free action, which it is.

You said "regripping costs an action," which it does.

These two statements are not in conflict.

You're strawmanning me.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
To put it simply, while wielding a two-handed weapon, you must spend 1 action to remove grip on it...

He said that in reference to the bolded point, and I said that I think it is currently the bolded part thanks to errata.

Either way, it still provokes an attack of opportunity, which can easily make a Paladin waste actions for no reason (because 3 actions for a heal spell for yourself or an ally while giving an enemy a free attack is not really worth it when you could have spent 2 actions going in and striking the bad guy).

Even if it is still a feat tax, that's a feat that could have instead went to something else to make the Paladin better at his duty, and I thought this edition was meant to eliminate the idea of feat taxing, which this basically is.

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citricking wrote:
Removing your grip is a free action. You could also drop your shield with a free action.

I believe they changed this in the errata to now requiring an action if done with a two-handed weapon (it requires one for re-gripping), so for a two-handed weapon, it's still not possible. (Even without that, it still provokes.)

@ Joey Cote: My fear now isn't that the feat is useless, more that the feat is practically required. While a Paladin can select it as their first level feat, having to take it just for using a Shield (their based design), or a two-handed weapon (which was originally possible in PF1), instead of being Zorro, seems silly.

Mark Seifter wrote:
There's a few other numbers things in there that seem a bit off (for example the HP seems like it should be one higher), but only one that is probably important enough to mention directly to make sure your fighter can fix it when you play Midnight Mirror if he's going to bring back that character: The stats are missing a +2 somewhere, so the dwarf gets a free extra stat boost.

HP would be higher as you say, though not in a way that it matters. (He still died at the end of the adventure, and his HP being lower than Level 0s wasn't part of my claim.)

I think he may have had 14 Wisdom instead of 12 (and he could have had 18 Strength, but still doesn't mean much for comparison purposes), but I know that he had at least 16 Strength and 12 Charisma since it was a contentious point for our group wondering why he had the Charisma boost and why he didn't have 18 Strength (or a higher Dexterity, or a Shield, but that's beside the point). He was largely inoptimal, but I have a feeling that even if he was optimal, he still would have died.

Mark Seifter wrote:
I don't want to give big spoilers for Lost Star here, but having checked the survey results, I wouldn't discount the danger of failed Fortitude saves. When Logan ran for the design team and Cosmo, our group actually didn't encounter the things where it would matter by circumstance, but a lot of other groups did and had quite a scare.

That's the biggest thing there; every Fortitude Saving Throw in that adventure can be easily avoided if the players are smart enough and approach the relevant encounters the right way, and our group of adventurers were capable of doing that in that playtest. Honestly, if our group didn't encounter those things the way they did, I would agree that this adventure would have most likely resulted in an actual TPK. The only times Fortitude Saving Throws were required in our playthrough were when PCs got dropped, and by that point the Save DC was so high we still needed a miraculous roll (or Hero Points) to make it out, and the new dying rules haven't changed this. Every single one of our PCs (except I think the Alchemist) had to use Hero Points to stave off death and didn't have any Hero Points left at the end of the adventure; the Alchemist and the Sorcerer were the only ones left due to Pharasma's divine interference of making them both roll back-to-back 20s on their attacks, rolling very high on their damage rolls, and finishing off the final boss in an ironic twist of fate, but that was only after 3 of the 5 PCs got slaughtered one-by-one. While not an actual TPK, I can say that for the continuation of that adventure, we can't really expect to play that group again unless the GM allows new characters or deus ex machina's the other characters to technically not have died (we did screw up a couple of the dying rules, so maybe they could have survived if they played it correctly, but until we get to that sequel adventure, we'll have to wait and see).

In short, the way the continuity of that adventure went assumed no player deaths and no significant drawbacks to their result. When those are factored in, the processions seemed very awkward and difficult to build continuity off-of when such events occur; half the party was dead, and some of them were good friends of one another. I'm not certain that, of those that survived, they would have the heart to continue their "quest," and would perhaps instead pawn the responsibility onto someone else (meaning whole new characters altogether), becoming the quest giver instead of the questee.

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EberronHoward wrote:
And if I wanted to play a Fighter that wanted to be more smart and/or endearing to others?

Play a Bard or Paladin that takes the Fighter Archetype at level 2?

More constructively, just take training in the skills you want to be good at. The difference for a Society check between an INT 10 Fighter and an INT 18 Wizard is +4 (or 20%) if they're both trained in it. Failing 20% more often than Wizards at skill checks seems like less of a penalty than decreasing your Initiative, HP, or saving throws by 1. You don't gain much for maxxing out INT or CHA by itself, unless you're also getting class features out of it.

Not the same thing, nor is it comparable. I also wonder how this option makes me "more smart." I suppose you could do the same for Wizard or Alchemist, but what if I don't want someone who can cast spells primarily, or brew potions? Conversely, what if I didn't want him to revere some sort of "muse," or adhere to some strict code of conduct or deity worship? What if I just wanted a "leader"-type fighter who excels in tactical decisions and rallying the people, building himself up to be a future king (because he wants to make a "positive' difference in the world), having the attributes and other character choices backing up and leading to that point in his story?

I'll tell you what happens when I build characters like that in PF1; they suck nuts. They put the largest of squirrels to shame in that regard. And I can safely say that design aspect has not really changed in PF2, because building a Fighter, even with just 14 Intelligence and Charisma, is extremely crippling to his overall success, and he gains nothing out of it except what, background/flavor justification, the ability to use a few more magic items, a couple more trained skills, and to be slightly better at skills possessing the relevant modifier? (Oh, and gaining a language to speak, but let's be realistic here, that's just a waste of design space for how little impact that really has.)

On top of that, considering how extremely OP the Fighter multiclass is, I'm absolutely surprised they haven't nerfed it to "You increase the amount of proficiencies you have in weapons and armor by one step (from simple, to martial, to a single exotic of your choice for weapons, and from light, to medium, to heavy for armor" yet. It's seriously beyond broken.

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Ed Reppert wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ed Reppert wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
The problem is, this can't happen when you're level 1. There's no CR minus two.
"Level 0 creatures are weaker than normal, counting as a “party level – 2” creature for a 1st-level party" -- Playtest Bestiary, page 21, last paragraph under "Choosing Creatures".

If by "weaker than normal," you mean "have the same to-hit, AC, and have higher saves and skills than an 18 Strength Fighter," then sure, I suppose that entry in the Beastiary is correct. Literally the only drawback a Level 0 Monster has compared to a Level 1 PC is having only starting hit dice + Con Modifier in HP. But when you throw a 12 HP creature with some astronomical constitution (such as a baby dragon, perhaps?), that weakness goes away quite quickly.

Of course, I'm of the opinion that creatures who are supposed to be lower level than you should be weaker than you overall, and not be a glass cannon, but apparently HP is the measuring point of CR, and not any other attribute or feature that matters a whole lot more.

Shoot the messenger, why don't you? I didn't mean anything by "weaker than normal". I just quoted the book. And I was responding to "there's no CR minus two" for a first level party. There is, as the quote shows.

When the message is misleading and outright false, I have every right to shoot both the message, and the person (figuratively, of course) who attempted to use said message as a genuine means of argument, because it's an extremely ridiculous method of debate.

This is like me saying that, because something says the earth is flat, this means the earth is actually flat. It's not. Same concept here; because something says Level 0 creatures are equivalent to PL - 2, doesn't mean that Level 0 creatures are actually on the same level as PL - 2, meaning any text that tries to tell you it is, is flat-out incorrect, and as such should be labeled that way.

As the title.

One thing I have observed is that a Paladin's ability to use Lay On Hands requires a hand to use. This means a Paladin using sword and shield is out (including Light Shield, since in PF1, it only let you hold stuff in there, not do anything else with that hand, per RAW), which meant unorthodox ways of combat (such as a two-hander or just using a single weapon) was required to make use of this ability during combat for yourself or someone else.

With the current rules, even two-handing is now impossible. To put it simply, while wielding a two-handed weapon, you must spend 1 action to remove grip on it, spend another action for your Lay On Hands (to yourself or an adjacent ally), then spend your last action re-gripping your two-handed weapon. Did I also mention you provoke Attacks of Opportunity the moment you let go of your weapon? Which means against enemies that have them, using Lay On Hands is just giving your enemies free reign to attack you without (much) penalty. It's extremely clunky and extremely punishing for no apparent reason. After all, you can't just heal yourself automatically, or just give your ally a poke with your weapon, or the GM might have to rule you deal damage to yourself or the ally, at the very least, if not outright say "You can't do that." The feat that removes the manipulate trait really only makes Lay On Hands no longer provoke, but that's circumvented when a player removes his grip on his weapon (which provokes), making it a very moot point. You still need a free hand (which takes actions and/or losing equipment to rectify at the least), and you still provoke at the part where it is most critical for it to not occur.

This means a Paladin, if he wants to make effective use of his Lay On Hands, has to use a single weapon (with no shield!), meaning a "swashbuckler" style of combat is required for this feature to have its use. Last I checked, every Paladin should not have to use a Zorro/duelist fighting art to be good at their class features; it's unfairly limiting and just doesn't make sense except for the most stringent and unique of characters. I should be able to play a Paladin, two-handed or sword-and-shield, and be able to make fair use of my class features. Telling me I have to throw away either my shield or my sword to heal others (or even myself!) can actually be grounds for anathema depending on Paladin codes, because it can also mean you're discarding your ability to fight Evil or protect innocents who may need it. Which is either silly, setting myself up for failure, or outright unplayable. (P.S., can we expect to get those deity-specific codes fleshed out? I seriously wonder if a Paladin of X deity can do Y action and have it not go against its code, but I can't know that for sure until it's released, and this isn't really something that requires much developer thought, since it's more of world-building rule than a mechanical one.)

Something like this needs to be fixed if I even want to consider playing a Paladin as a PC. As it stands, unless I want to play Zorro (which meshes poorly with the rest of the Paladin's schtick I might add), I'm not seeing how a Paladin's mechanics really sit together with the current rules set, making it both extremely limiting and unnecessarily clunky.

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ed Reppert wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
The problem is, this can't happen when you're level 1. There's no CR minus two.
"Level 0 creatures are weaker than normal, counting as a “party level – 2” creature for a 1st-level party" -- Playtest Bestiary, page 21, last paragraph under "Choosing Creatures".
If by "weaker than normal," you mean "have the same to-hit, AC, and have higher saves and skills than an 18 Strength Fighter," then sure, I suppose that entry in the Beastiary is correct.

I'm curious, which level 0 monster is hitting same AC and better saves and skills than a fighter? As I've mentioned in other threads, level 0s do have intentionally increased accuracy and very low damage, but the other stats shouldn't be lining up like that, and if that's what you're seeing, the specific monster you're looking at might have problems. I opened up to the giant rat, and I'm seeing 13 AC, Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +1 (skills of Athletics +2 (+5 Climb or Swim), Acrobatics and Stealth +4).

To be low enough to tie those defensive values, the 18 Strength fighter would need to have 10 Wisdom, 12 Dex and Con, and be wearing only leather or padded armor (14 Dex and no armor would hit the AC but would give +4 Ref; both of these are lower than a fighter with those Dex scores would usually opt to have). To be worse on saves would be even tougher. I guess the fighter probably has 16 Cha or Int to be that low in the other stats. He has +5 Athletics if trained, and then if he has 16 Cha, I guess he's trained in Intimidation, Diplomacy, Deception, and so on with a +4 for each.

In our Lost Star playtest, our Dwarf Fighter (who shored up his Resonance for whatever reason) only had 16 Strength, 12 Charisma, 14 Constitution, 12 Dexterity, 10 Intelligence, and 12 Wisdom. He had 21 HP and wielded a Maul (no shield). It's not optimal, but it should still be a playable character by most standards in comparison to PF1, especially since just by using that weapon alone he trivialized at least two encounters (though he still died at the end through sheer bad rolling streaks). This puts him at +5 to-hit (less than every creature imaginable), 14 AC/12 TAC (same as fighting Goblins, since he spent money on having multiple weapons), had skills ranging from -1 to +4 (which is comparable to several level 0 creatures), and has 4 Fortitude, 2 Will, and 2 Reflex. While he has a better array of saves, at least one of those saving throws (usually his best one) will be equivalent to an enemy's best saving throw, and a creature's secondary saving throw is usually equivalent to a Fighter's secondary saving throw; it's usually only the tertiary saving throw where PCs shine, but the odds of that making the difference in the early levels is few and far between (unless it's Will or Reflex; almost nothing is Fortitude-based, which is what the Fighter specializes in, making them more crippled in comparison).

And if I wanted to play a Fighter that wanted to be more smart and/or endearing to others? I'd have to tank my secondary/tertiary stats, which means in other aspects I should be passable in, I flunk horribly (whereas Monsters have flat numbers to their attributes, half of which are simply made up or just plain don't make sense, both mechanically and flavorfully), just to make a more fleshed-out character. Conversely, if I wanted to make a character with flaws, all I'm doing is simply making my character a liability, or playing the game on Hard Mode (as if we aren't doing that already?) just to play the game on Hard Mode. This isn't some 90's Konami video game that required you to play the hardest mode to get the most relevant ending, either, so you don't get anything out of it.

I would seriously consider adding in a CR 1/2 for some of those "tougher" creatures (where they may actually deserve a +6 to hit), and make CR 0 actually be CR 0, instead of "CR 1-1/2: Glass Cannon Edition" like they are now. Making a second subdivision of CR 0 shouldn't be that difficult to do or explain to players, and it helps balance things better around Level 1, which is generally where rocket tag actually starts. [Random Great Axe/Scythe Critical goes here.]

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Ed Reppert wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
The problem is, this can't happen when you're level 1. There's no CR minus two.
"Level 0 creatures are weaker than normal, counting as a “party level – 2” creature for a 1st-level party" -- Playtest Bestiary, page 21, last paragraph under "Choosing Creatures".

If by "weaker than normal," you mean "have the same to-hit, AC, and have higher saves and skills than an 18 Strength Fighter," then sure, I suppose that entry in the Beastiary is correct. Literally the only drawback a Level 0 Monster has compared to a Level 1 PC is having only starting hit dice + Con Modifier in HP. But when you throw a 12 HP creature with some astronomical constitution (such as a baby dragon, perhaps?), that weakness goes away quite quickly.

Of course, I'm of the opinion that creatures who are supposed to be lower level than you should be weaker than you overall, and not be a glass cannon, but apparently HP is the measuring point of CR, and not any other attribute or feature that matters a whole lot more.

Laik wrote:

Planetouched (aasimar/tiefling)

Would also prefer planetouched to be the +Cha race, with goblins becoming +Dex +Con race.

Feels wrong for me seeing all those ubiquitous goblin paladins now, along with goblins becoming party faces in many groups.

People playing Goblin Paladins are as metagame as it gets.

When Antipaladins finally become a thing, I'm sure we'll be seeing more Goblin Antipaladins than Goblin Paladins.

I know, this seems like a silly question when we consider what game we're talking about, but I'm talking about something very specific here, and this serves more as both an examination of design choices as well as a thought experiment.

As most people might be aware of, Adventure Paths in PF1 are balanced around a Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, and Rogue party paradigm. One Martial, One Skill Monkey, One Full Divine Spellcaster, and One Full Arcane Spellcaster. This means any other unorthodox group, such as, say, Paladin, Bard, Barbarian, and Magus, will either underperform in some aspects (such as the spellcasting issues), but well outperform in other aspects (such as having knowledges and other skills at superior levels, plus a heavy increase in martial capability). So, this means that by design, the second party will be heavily imbalanced towards the options the Adventure Path lays out for them, and that they are actually more unlikely to properly finish the adventure (or break certain adventure interactions) than if they were the standard class makeup.

Based on numerous developer comments, this paradigm has not changed. Wizards aren't as powerful, but still have some utility to bring to the party. Rogues are the gods of skills (having twice as many trained and potential Legendary skills, plus twice the skill feats). Fighters are extremely capable of going toe-to-toe in physical combat, and Clerics are absolutely mandatory for properly fulfilling an adventuring day without it resulting in a TPK through their outrageous healing capabilities.

So, if the game (and by relation, the adventures) still always assume that a Cleric, Wizard, Fighter, and Rogue are being played, then why on earth do classes like Bards, Sorcerers, Barbarians, Alchemists, Paladins, etc. still exist if they are not something the game assumes players have? The game is busted and doesn't really function well if we go outside of the assumed design paradigm, and it's not like the adventure path assumptions have changed much in regards to class interactions (other than Clerics being the new God class now, but that's beside the point). Why do we have all of these other unnecessary classes for which the game, in my experience, actually goes out of its way to assume you don't have/use them?

This has been an issue since PF1 in relation to Favored Enemy. It wasn't a great feature because it required metagaming knowledge (or building a specific kind of character if the player makes a happy-accident combination) or some other schtick (such as the Instant Enemy spell) to make it worthwhile, and when it was, it was extremely powerful. In my opinion, having less of that makes the game have less trap options or swingy math as a result.

That being said, Undead are very common enemies, whereas Dragons aren't as much (but would more than likely be the deciding factor in terms of bonus impactment). In fact, I think every Doomsday Dawn adventure features Undead in some form, whereas I think it features Dragons in maybe one of them, for a more practical comparison.

Also remember that you can still use your higher level feats to select lower level feat options if you really want them, and that retraining is a thing, so if you don't like having options, you can (almost) always change it with downtime, which is perhaps the only absolute way a player can reliably use their downtime. Doing anything else during downtime is complete GM FIAT and most likely not worth doing.

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Yolande d'Bar wrote:

Not even a tiny advantage for dumpstatting anything (no a 10 is not a low score, in my opinion), and in fact we're kind of warned against having any low scores at all--despite the fact that exploring the world with a 4 STR or 7 INT character is actually a fun role-playing challenge

• PCs and NPCs use different dying rules; the revised rules apparently make PC death almost impossible, since a monster can repeatedly stab a dying PC in the face without advancing his dying condition in any meaningful way. What is actually happening in the world? I can't possibly imagine the reality of the situation.

• coup-de-grace has been removed because someone decided that wasn't fun so now it's impossible in the game world

• Sundering has been removed because someone decided that wasn't fun so now it's impossible in the game world. Except shields. No equipment can ever be damaged except those 12 shields you're carrying around. They will last about 12 seconds each.

• +1/level (the worst part of this game, IMO) makes it impossible for your character not to be able to do everything. Nope, your character has to know how to swim, how to play the lute, has researched enough arcana that they can identify some monsters. Oh, and that skinny old coughing wizard? Not really any worse at fighting than the barbarian. HELICOPTER GM says YOU WILL SUCCEED IN MY GAME

• Paralysis doesn't really make you all that vulnerable in any way, because apparently somebody decided that wouldn't be fun either

• Energy drain, not that scary anymore

• Wizard grappled by a kraken? more of an inconvenience really

• Hero Points. I loved the first edition system, because they were hard to come by and precious. In my home game, they directly represent slight divine intervention on your character's behalf. They really meant something when they were used.

But the new system? Just one point to remove the dying condition? And everyone gets that point just for showing up as a breathing body at the table?

Oh, and don't forget the GM can award another point for doing favors. At all of the playtest games I've played in, we've had never-ending sycophancy while players race to look up something for the GM first, to get a Hero Point, or share M&Ms with the GM, to get a Hero Point. Order food, to get a Hero Point, tell the GM they like his pants, to get a Hero Point, etc. etc. etc.

The dumpstats are a double-edged sword. While it promoted minmaxers, there are still numerous other aspects of minmaxing that players can exploit to break the game, with the attributes being only a minor influence on certain things. That being said, since the math is tighter and less skewed one way or the other (at least in some respects), the game assuming that players can only ever be so strong at any given point (and actually checks them at this highest point with most Skill DCs, enemy stats, and so on, meaning it's required to be that good or you die) means you won't have a game spiral out of control due to a major discrepancy between characters.

The PCs and NPCs only use different rules on a general scale. Certain monsters (such as BBEGs, or other creatures with natural means of revival, like Trolls perhaps), or other creatures the GM deems fit, still follow the same rules as PCs for dying. (I've actually considered allowing Anti-Hero Points for BBEGs to use, but that's houseruling at this point.) The biggest cripple here is that creatures don't generally outright slaughter a downed creature most of the time, both because the enemy has more important threats to deal with, but also because most enemies aren't meant to be played that rough. A simple change in playstyle fixes this issue entirely. Coup de grace is removed because it's an outdated action. It's the same reason why options like Charge or Two-Weapon Fighting were similarly removed.

To be fair, Sunder was universally unfun and not worth doing except in the most extreme of circumstances. Seriously, unless you were a Spell Sunder Barbarian, or were required to outright destroy some bad items that nobody on the party can utilize, and is the BBEG's Macguffin, you ended up hurting yourself (and your party) by destroying your potential future loot. Bad guys not having this option hurts, but to be honest not many players or people were familiar with the rules for how Sundering or Destroying Objects worked. Furthermore, it required houseruling to make it not so detrimental to your party (which is what PFS did if I remember correctly). Combined with object-like monsters and how they interact with these rules, and you have a big mess of things that are confusing, counterintuitive, and just wasted time for doing the same thing: Giving an Object the "Dead" (read: destroyed) condition. Wow, am I glad I don't have to sit there and calculate how much Hardness and HP a weapon has for an attack or two that probably won't change the outcome of the weapon's effectiveness.

The idea of +1/level is that characters get more experienced in anything they attempt to do based on what they've encountered and witnessed amongst their adventures. Obviously, based on how a character levels (and utilizes their skills from leveling) determines what it excels at, but that doesn't mean it can't do things it's witnessed or had to deal with dozens of times in their adventuring career. It makes a lot of sense that a Level 20 Wizard can outfight a Level 4 Barbarian in melee combat, because that Wizard has seen and dealt with some of the baddest creatures known to Golarion, knowing the sorts of physical prowess they possess, whereas the Barbarian has faced creatures that the Wizard could trounce with a 1st level spell (including said Barbarian). (Assuming PF1 standards, but that's beside the point.)

Being Paralyzed means you can only take mental actions and count as flat-footed. That's an extremely debilitating condition, almost as bad as the PF1's Nauseated condition. Not as brutal as PF1's Paralysis condition, but that's primarily because Coup de Grace is no longer a thing.

A significant penalty to all proficiency-based attributes (meaning you could be considered a level 0 creature) is a huge detriment, and makes the difference between the four tiers of results. It can turn Critical Hits into Hits, Failures into Critical Failures, and outright decimate enemies. It doesn't have the "you're dead if you have 0 levels" clause, but I'm sure that might return with certain creature mechanics, which seems appropriate.

Monster attributes are going to be pretty high (especially against a Kraken, which is basically a Grapple god), unless that Wizard has Legendary Athletics with a 20+ Strength, he doesn't stand a reasonable chance. Even if he is, I can assume with that amount of Strength he's using some heavier armor, which means that will also impact their skill check result too.

Hero Points being designed the way they are is perhaps the only thing I can say I agree with out of your list. I'm not saying that it can't or shouldn't be there or work the way it works for some tables, but if it promotes people trying to be a suck-up just to get an edge in the game (and for no other reason, such as being a good person or player at the table), I'd rather not use that as an incentive to award Hero Points, as it can both skew playtest results, and give people an edge where some people outright cannot get it, which just isn't fair for everyone involved. (In fact, the only reason I'd award them at my table would be for in-game activities. What happens in the game, stays in the game, and I'd prefer it stay that way.)

I'm actually surprised you didn't bring up the other hot button topics, like Resonance.

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master_marshmallow wrote:

Gamism superseded Simulationism for this edition.

It takes me out of the game knowing that it's a game first and a story/world second always.

In my opinion, having it be a game first is a good thing. Generally, having it be primarily a dissociation from reality wasn't conveyed properly with it not being a game first, and there are several historical precedents supporting this, and any of you gamers of old most likely know what I'm referring to.

I'm not saying having simulationism is badwrongfun or anything like that (the game still certainly has some of that aspect to it if done right), more that, from an objective standpoint, gamism makes for a more socially-progressive environment for players to feel comfortable playing in. That's something which makes players more inclined to join a table and have fun, and that's always a welcome sign in my eyes.

Tiona Daughtry wrote:
Stop, take a step back, and try to listen. In a good role playing game, a significant part of the actual role playing, is determining *how* the characters approach a given obstacle. By strongly limiting the character variation, you are, also, in fact, sorely limiting the direction any obstacle can be approached from.

I find this is more of a personal limitation than a matter of failing to execute more often than not, as I've let players succeed at an encounter through unorthodox ways within the PF2 gameset (though I will say in this instance, it was through a very lucky roll, as I probably would have not let them succeed in this manner with a regular success), and to quote Mr. Seifter, "allowing for creative solutions and diplomacy/intimidation is definitely in the spirit of the playtest where we included details on NPC motivations that would allow you as the GM to determine what the NPCs really want." So there you have it; if you feel, as a GM, that there is a conceivable way for NPCs to be diplomacied or intimidated into a more "peaceful" resolution to the encounter, then it should be possible and permitted by the GM.

While the encounter itself where this occurred may not have been intuitive to determine whether they could be solved through diplomacy or intimidation, I examined the adventure as a whole to piece certain parts together, and with the way the adventure was set up, the solution the PCs proposed made sense with what happened up to the point they are at now (which a TL;DR version of it is a temporary camp set up after being separated from their troop by a powerful creature when traversing its territory), so I adjudicated that it was an appropriate tactic, especially since they didn't approach their defined territory so intrusively at first (thereby making the NPCs feel threatened and feeling like they had to fight back and fend them off their land).

The best part of it is that, with their solution, I can still input other aspects of important playtest data (such as by having the creatures still end up fighting them depending on what the PCs do, and potentially making for a more difficult encounter later down the road), as well as explore other conceivable options (such as the BBEGs coming in, torturing/interrogating the NPCs they negotiated with, thereby still encountering the BBEGs even well after they've completed their task, thereby still gauging the potential difficulty of the hypothetical encounter).

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Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:

I see post after post in the feedback about people having total party kills.

I'm wondering how many of the party deaths are from people making PF1 assumptions in their PF2 game.
When I ran part 1 of Doomsday Dawn, I lost count of how many times the players started to move their character's mini, then stopped and said, "Oh, wait... is that gonna incur an attack of opportunity?"
So, basically, they were doing or not doing things based on their perception of what would or wouldn't happen, because of what they were used to from the old rules.
I wonder if a fresh, clean slate of rules understanding would provide different outcomes?

Our party has ran the entirety of the first part and are half-way through the second part.

In the first part, while we've had some devastating encounters, and had a HTPK (half total party kill), this was largely due to not resting, not having a Cleric to heal (a test to see if other "healer" characters were viable), and having some of the worst rolling streaks of our lives. Can you imagine going 8 turns of doing nothing but rolling lower than 10 on your dice, not contributing to combat whatsoever, and watching the BBEG cut down your allies right in front of you, while you appear helpless to stop it? That's basically how that encounter went down, and only through the divine will of Pharasma herself did the remainder of the party defeat the BBEG.

In the second part, having much more healing power between a Leaf Druid, a Paladin with Channel Life, and a hardly-optimized Cleric, I've actually had to force the party to rest due to the day being too long and taking a physical tax on their bodies (i.e. I'd incur the ex-Fatigued condition if they didn't rest, when they were perfectly capable of moving on resource-wise).

While I'm not ready to make any solid claims yet, I can say that, so far, having characters more healing-inclined will greatly increase the chances of them surviving encounters with little permanent damage, while those with less healing-inclination will be more likely to lose/die to encounters, and with the current set of healing distribution being largely tied to only a handful of classes (Clerics being the biggest oppressors of this for obvious reasons). I can also say that the healing options starting out are way too weak in comparison to the healing options that characters in the higher levels have access to, meaning that perhaps the baseline should be bumped up a bit in terms of survivability.

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Tiona Daughtry wrote:

From what I've seen of the playtest pdf, it seems likely that it would be better described as the latter, rather than the former. But I would, personally, like your opinion on the matter, because that does, in fact, dictate whether I will follow the matter any further. Do you want to focus on mechanics to the exclusion meaningful choices beyond race and class, or do you want to create a game that elicits a shared storytelling experience between creative dms and players? Making that decision clear will also make it far easier to tell what you need to do to make the game fit your vision. Partially, at least, because it will allow you to focus on players who would be interested in your product, rather than those who have vastly different interests. The choice is yours, and I'd like to see what choice you make. It will, in turn, decide my next steps.

I say "Why not both?"

People saying roleplaying and rollplaying are mutually exclusive are, similarly, people who cannot, and will not, accept a compromise between both aspects, when reasonable people have been able to, which means by relation other people should be able to as well. To which point I would suggest finding a game that better suits the aspect you value more, and avoid games which even barely hint at the other aspect, if such a compromise can't ever be reached. (And yes, this compromise differs between tables, but let's be realistic here; that's bound to happen with any given game at any given table at any given time.)

Stormwind Fallacy banality aside, the roleplaying aspect of this game has changed very little, except for a different codification of certain mechanics (such as determining how well your ability to Deceive or Diplomacy others is). The rest of it? Hasn't changed probably since 1st Edition D&D, back when Gary Gygax (rest in peace) first conceived of the idea.

Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:
As far as not wanting to burn precious spell slots because you're not sure if combat is starting, that's what the cantrips are for. Is so the sorceror can always do something, and still save his bang for when it counts.

I did mistype that, as I meant to say spell points in relation to a Bloodline Power (take notes Paizo, people confusing spell points and spell slots, even unintentionally, can happen with this similar terminology).

I suppose with how short the adventuring days were, it might have been prudent to ignore the whole "I might need them later" aspect of it, since we didn't have more than 4 combats in a given day, but the factor that it still clashed heavily against other important actions to take, as well as still caused a potential pause in character decisions for their turn (I would have much rather been able to apply the benefits of this bloodline power to someone else, which could have saved several hits and by relation, HP). That's what I have a Shield cantrip for, and with it requiring half the actions for half the benefit, it still proved valuable in avoiding hits (a couple from the Mephit demon, one of which I blocked and negated the damage entirely), while still allowing me to contribute to combat.

I'll also say that I kind-of botched the Produce Flame damage (which was originally only D4 with the Persistent Burn on a critical effect, instead of just a D8 with double-damage critical), but considering it was an ancestry cantrip, and Ray of Frost does exactly the same thing I was describing, which I also had access to, and that there were no apparent enemies with resistance or weakness to cold or fire damage, that the mishap wasn't something that could have skewed the playtest results very much if it was changed to the appropriate option with the results displayed here.

Thanks for the encouragement, Mr. Seifter; it helps when developers give some input as to their opinion on a playtest, so now I don't feel so silly about the Gnoll encounter being played out the way it did. (Still bummed on the Ankhrav, but I'll chalk that up as a learning experience in better examining creature abilities and how they interact with the environment.) I'm actually interested in how the PCs could "diplomacy" the manticore, such as by allowing safe passage or something; maybe have the party defeat the gnolls, or give it some treasure? Could make for some interesting roleplaying interactions with the party and see what actions they take. I atleast know that the Manticore will try and weaken the PCs with his tail barbs before dive-bombing them in melee combat (though the Manticore will be spending an action each turn to maintain his flight, he can at-least move somewhat freely), so that part of the playtest should be mostly accurate in its execution.

In the 5th adventure, I plan to stress-test the entire "Anti-Magic/No Resonance" theme (assuming it's possible, I haven't read if we make new characters for that yet) by making a Dwarf Superstition Barbarian, with 8 Charisma, the Ancient's Blood ancestry feat, and almost anything else that either cuts down on magic or Resonance entirely. The idea is to see if, in the higher levels, it's possible to survive with very little magic and see if a "non-magical" character is possible to play. (I'd prefer a 1-20 approach for more accuracy, but just for a higher-level concept, it's worth trying out at a given level just to see if it's worth attempting.)

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I'm really curious how Resonance can be changed to be a more intuitive and fun mechanic, because as it stands, I'm not seeing how that's possible, considering how much of a flop Resonance was originally.

1. Resonance being a solution to low level adventuring items compared to high level adventuring items doesn't do much when A. you already have a solution with the current "WBL" rules, and B. players should have more freedom in the things they want or need to buy. Buying the lower level items should be punishing enough by simply being weaker compared to buying a higher level item that can, and should, accomplish more. Balancing the existing options will solve this problem in-time, something that Resonance doesn't even need to have a hand in, really.

2. Resonance being a solution to the Christmas Tree effect doesn't really apply here when you still use rules that still have limitations like "item slots." The only difference between how PF2 handles it in relation to PF1 is that now I can have numerous Rings and Amulets, whereas I still can't have multiple boots or hats or what have you because of some arbitrary limitation (AKA GM FIAT). A slightly different codification of PF1 rules (which is actually broken, since this means I have no reason to adhere to items that aren't Rings or Amulets simply due to these not having any notable limitation) is not a fair or proper solution for Resonance to apply, and I don't think we ever will be truly rid of things like item slots, since we need something codified here to help balance people from getting all kinds of crazy.

3. Resonance doesn't "eliminate or severely limit bookkeeping" when I still have to mark charges off of wands, mark off potions being used, mark off certain items still being usable for certain amounts of time/uses per day, etc. This is because Resonance is a linear solution to a quadratic problem, and also because items like Potions and Trinkets are designed for the sole purpose of being looted and used (which marks them on and off a given sheet); balancing the almost limitless potential and disposable design of magic items with the linear scaling expectation of Resonance is like solving Calculus with only the four major operations of beginner math. It's just not gonna happen unless you want your equations' solutions to be completely wrong or outright make no sense.

I'm not really sure Resonance as a mechanic should continue to exist, even if it's tweaked to absolute perfection, simply because there's no way for it, as a mechanic, to compete with all of the radical designs of the other aspects it relates to.

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Our group is running through the "In Pale Moon's Shadow" playtest currently with new characters (as the module required), and while we haven't completed it yet, I can make an update for the rest of the game in a follow-up post. For this, I am the one GMing (another player will be GMing the next part, "Affair at Sombrefell Hall" after this, which we already have the basis for before we start, and seems to primarily function as a "healing stress-test" adventure).

Party Composition:
For having 5 players, the encounters were adjusted as discussed in this thread here. We have a Goblin Paladin of Torag (silly, I know), Gnome Leaf Druid (not the iconic), Elf Evocation Wizard, Human Barbarian with Dragon Totem, and I believe a Human Cleric of Erastil with only 14 Wisdom. They have plenty of healing power between the Paladin (who took the Channel Life feat), the Leaf Druid with the Goodberry spell, and the Human Cleric for the obviously broken Channel Energy. The Barbarian has Gnoll as an additional language, and the Wizard chose Ancient Osirian as his bonus language, both of which were permitted by the adventure path.

Many of the players were borderline over-bulked, which means a lot of the potential treasure they can or will find won't be available for them to loot, largely due to the treasure being heavy. This can work in their favor if the players are smart enough, but it ultimately depends on their future actions.

The players were introduced to the main NPC, and asked only a couple questions related to the NPC's available information, such as who the other party is (which I only told them about the organization working against them), and what sort of object they're looking for. The most important question they kept asking was "How many days do we have to get this done?" I never told them, both because there was no notes on the NPC knowing, but also to help push the urgency of beating the other party there, which may be for naught depending on what the players do, as described in the module. It also lets me throw in the other party when I want if I really want to just challenge the players, since the book tells me I can throw them in effectively when I want, though I will notify otherwise of the actual results.

The players did opt for the Camels and the map provided. The magic items received were identified (even if barely), which was a Scroll of Fly (which the Wizard possesses), and a +1 Warhammer (a random +1 melee weapon rolled between the Paladin and Barbarian, which happened to land on the Paladin's designated number).

The Long Journey:
The "long journey" of 80 miles from the PC's destination to their own wasn't particularly long, considering the Night Heralds would not arrive for over 9 days; especially when the players were on Camels travelling 35 speed per action, or 28 miles per day, assuming breaks and such were made. Unfortunately, converting that between the rules of the AP and the book were troublesome, since it did not result in an even number. The first roll, a failure, resulted in only 24 miles gained. A success on the second roll put them back on track, and a critical success on the third roll evened out their initial folly, putting them done towards the tail end of 3 days. Unfortunately, in the actual game I did the math incorrectly, and thought that it was 4 hours worth of lost time instead of simply 4 miles distance, so I ended up getting them to their destination in 2.5 days instead. Not a big deal in the long run, since this was only 1/3 of the time they needed; if the time differential starts making enough of a difference, I will calculate it in relation to when the other party arrives, since the players still are unaware of the other party's progress or time of estimated arrival.

Encounter 1:
The Feral Hyena Pack. As the players approached the briar-thorned part of the trail, they hopped off their camels and the Druid (followed by the Cleric) attempted to perceive the hyenas in the briarthorns. Initially, they failed, but as they got a little closer, they noticed some of the paws and fur (and drool), at which point Initiative was rolled (the Hyenas also being aware of their prey). I split their initiative into 3 separate parts, one for each set of 2 Hyenas, and one for the Hyaenodon. The party was assaulted towards the front, and the standard Hyenas began chewing on both the Cleric and its camel. The paladin moved dealt a significant blow to one of the Hyenas on the Cleric (whom was hit for some minor damage and dragged) with the Retributive Strike reaction. The camels, being untrained in combat, did nothing but self-defend themselves (which proved futile towards the Hyenas' ability to drag and knockdown). The big Hyaenodon moved and managed to hit the Paladin with a fairly significant 23 AC (needing a 14 or higher to hit the Paladin on its first attack), knocking him prone (from the successful bite) and dragging him 10 feet towards the briarthorns. Then more Hyenas came out from the sides and assaulted the party even more, pulling yet another camel out (though the Wizard with Fighter Dedication managed to escape the Hyena's attack). Finally, the rest of the party acts. The Wizard utilizes Telekinetic Object to launch a large rock (I ruled they were close enough to some larger rocks to throw at a creature) to no avail. The Cleric manages to stand up and make a shot on one of the hyenas on his Camel, but misses through sheer bad rolling. The Druid utilizes Produce Flame, but fails. Lastly, the Barbarian attempts to move forward and strikes one of the hyenas for weak damage. The difficult terrain outside of the listed trail areas proved difficult for maneuverability for the players (I ruled that the hyenas weren't affected for playtest and logical reasons).

On the next turn, the hyenas keep assaulting the party (the camels having only 13 AC made them easy prey for the Hyenas to pull them into the briarthorns and just slaughter them), though no party members were hurt; the Hyaenodon misses the Paladin with both attacks, and the Paladin managed to stand up and deal a significant blow with his new +1 Warhammer, amounting to ~13 damage on the attack. With his default 21 AC, he raises his Shield for 23 AC. The Wizard utilizes Telekinetic Object once more without result, and the Druid strikes with a Produce Flame for 5 damage on a fresh hyena. The Cleric makes a shot on the Hyaenodon with no effect, and the Barbarian manages to move and slay the already wounded Hyena with his Lance.

On the Hyaenodon's next turn, he strikes the Paladin for 8 damage. The Paladin uses his Shield Block reaction to only take 1 damage from this attack and suffer a shield dent (of which it could handle 4 before being broken), after which it pulls him closer to the briarthorns. At this stage, the Hyenas have pulled the Cleric's camel into the briarthorn and basically have it dead. The Barbarian later attempts to save it, but fails. Another camel (the Druid's) is being pulled to the side of the briarthorns, later being critically hit by the Barbarian for over 30 damage while Raging. The other hyenas were taken down by the Wizard, Druid, and Cleric. The Paladin beating on the Hyaenodon with some significant strikes from the +1 hammer made quick work of it, but not without taking significant damage from some nice rolling (and some briarthorn D4 damage). Thankfully, with some Druid healing and Channel Energy magic, the party is mostly unscathed, the remaining Camels are healed up, and the party makes a compromise to compensate for the lost camel.

All-in-all, I think this encounter played the way I wanted it to. The added hyenas weren't overwhelming, but still enough of a nuisance to divert the players' attention between them all (and warrant some losses). The Paladin was threatened by the Hyaenodon significantly, but in the end managed to prevail and survive, having 3 dents in his shield after taking 2 from a particularly devastating blow, and with enough healing power to spare and continue for one more encounter to finish the night. (The Paladin's shield was repaired fully with a lucky critical success from the Barbarian who had a repair kit on him.)

Encounter 2:
The Elite Ankhrav. The PCs approach the Quicksand trap, and managed to spot it with some really lucky rolls. Since the rules called for Initiative, I had them roll Initiative and go in order in relation to the trap. I disliked this mechanic because this effectively tipped them off that something else was there, and with meta-game knowledge they knew it. I might have had them roll Initiative if somebody were caught by the trap unsuspectingly, but it felt way out of place here. In short, after some Survival and Perception checks were made, they deduced that there was a secondary pit of moving sand past the Quicksand trap, and that it was probably the result of an underground creature. They try to avoid the encounter entirely, but with the Ankhrav's Survival skill being high and tracking where they went, I eventually had it charge the PCs when they tried to do a wide sweep-out of the trap.

When it popped, it initially spit some acid at the Barbarian (the closest target). Afterward, it proceeded to use a Breath Weapon on the party; the Goblin was wise enough to ready a Move Action to move out of the Breath Weapon's direction, though it still managed to hit several PCs (not the Cleric due to his range) and the Camels (which took some persistent acid damage over the course). It later tried to crunch down on the Paladin's Armor, but due to some bad rolls, failed horribly. Due to the lack of action economy and varied threats, the party didn't have much difficult in taking it down. The Druid doing its Survival check find the half-digested body containing 375 gold, 3 healing potions, and the Expert Thief's Tools (which went to the Wizard, the one who is at least Trained in Thievery).

In hindsight, I really played this creature dumb; I completely forgot it has a burrow speed, so I could have did some hit-and-run tactics (though it probably wouldn't have been fair if I did it most of the time); I could have at least had it burrow underground, pop up some distance a round or 2 later, and pew-pew some acid at the PCs, but it never occurred to me at the time, since I was mostly wanting it to try and dent the Paladin's armor and fail horribly. I'll chalk this one up to poor tactics on my behalf just to try and ruin the Paladin's day, but at least the breath weapon made them sweat a bit. After putting out the persistent acid, the Cleric expends their Channel Energy and since it was towards the end of the day, the party rests at the bottom of the river the travelled forward to. (They probably could have carried on if they wanted, but I ruled that they were pretty tired and should rest.)

Encounter 3:
The Gnoll Encampment. I made an allusion to this being a potential encounter prior to the party sleeping since they made nice Survival and Perception checks finding a safe place to rest, with them waking up and heading to the designated spot. The players were on the opposite side of a river valley of the gnoll encampment, with the gnolls just waking up and sitting by the small bonfire (the scorpion inside the tent of course). The party was devising an attack strategy, and for taking too long in their decision I gave the gnolls an additional perception check to see them across the way (they were distracted complaining to each other and such), and they see them across the way discussing ranged combat strategy.

I was actually genuinely surprised that the players attempted a more "diplomatic" approach. The reason why I say "diplomatic" is because when the Gnolls (whom had their axes out at the time) put their equipment away and drew bows, yipping about enemies approaching and to ready fire, the Barbarian, who had the Gnoll language, had the gall to utilize Intimidate to make the Gnolls cease their assault and "surrender." With a miraculous roll, he critically succeeds, and the Gnolls were coerced into a ceasefire, thereby stopping the encounter entirely. The gnolls were too afraid to fight the dominating Barbarian, and as such went with a parley. The party gave them access to a couple camels (that they no longer can ride across the river with), provided food and water to the gnolls, as well as some currency. In exchange, they accommodated his party with directions up the mountains (thereby ignoring any Athletics checks), warned of a ferocious beast up the mountain that tore apart their entourage, and let them by without a fight. They also let them know of their leader, Zakfah, and to gain his respect by presenting the head of said beast to him.

Once again, I appear to flop as a GM. I probably should have just let the encounter happen, and have the players fight just to see how it went for proper playtest data, but I honestly believe this presents a unique opportunity for me to progress the story in a way that nobody could see coming (and thereby make it much more interesting).

Depending on how the Zakfah "encounter" goes, I may just have them all show up at once (due to Zakfah's goals of wanting the loot as a tribute to the Carrion King) and challenge the PCs for their loot (they are Chaotic Evil after all, and could have simply used the PCs to do the dirty work for them). If the PCs let them have some of the loot (or all of it, considering how heavy some of it is), I could have the Night Heralds track them, defeat them, and interrogate where the party is, thereby allowing the Night Herald fight even well after the players succeed in beating them there.

Towards the end of the session, I let the players move forward to the next encounter, and they successfully identify what the creature is prior to the encounter with the appropriate checks. At the start of the next session, I will prepare the fight and doubly research the tactics on creatures so that A. I don't play them so recklessly or callously, and B. I don't flop playtest data results that should be triggering.

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Danbala wrote:

One issue that has come I my group's playtest: clerics are perceived as "mandatory."

The feeling is that the swingy combat from high crits necessitates the ability for significant in combat healing and post fight recovery In current playtest. The perception from my players is that only clerics seem to be well suited for that job because of their ability to use a special resource (channel) to heal. This has resulted in a certain "sameness" of their party composition.

I would propose that Paizo consider adding a "healing spec" to other classes by adding a channel-ilkei ability based on Charisma. For example, the Bard Maestro muse spec, the Druid Leaf order and the Angelic bloodline for sorcerer all seem uniquely well suited for this. Perhaps the alchemist could be granted an option for channel like healing from elixirs?

Obviously, these would not be true channeling -- that power should be reserved to clerics. But Leaf Druids, for example, could have to ability to a plant based healing a number times a day equal to their charisma modifier. (perhaps by generating healing spores). Like a maestro bard could perform a healing performance a certain number of times per day, etc

My feeling is that spreading out the Channel style healing will improve party variety and not force every cleric into the heal role

Well, the original PF1 (and 3.X) group paradigm has always been Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric, and the game has always been balanced around this set-up. I'm disappointed to see this hasn't changed, except instead of Wizards being the God class, it's now Clerics; CoDZilla is at an all-time high, and quite frankly, I'm not a fan of how Channel Energy is handled, simply because it breaks the standard rules of Spell Points, where people have only one pool to utilize all of their class abilities (which cost spell points of course). The factor it's basically Spell Points+ with such power added to it really makes Clerics that much more stronger than any other class, straight out of the gate. Even if a Cleric decides to go Negative Energy Channeling, they are much more devastating a foe in melee combat when they so choose. Ever been hit with 3D8+12 in the same round at 1st level, on touch attacks, without multi-attack penalties? Me neither. But I'm fairly certain that, unless they're a Dwarf Barbarian with 14 Constitution, they're gonna be dying on an average roll. And an optimized Cleric (18 Wisdom, 16 Charisma) can do this upwards of twice per day, trivializing extremely difficult encounters.

Several classes already have "heal specs," they just aren't anywhere near as powerful. Divine Sorcerers with the Divine Evolution feat only get to do what Clerics do once per day, which is objectively worse than what anything Clerics get as their standard class, whereas Divine Sorcerers have to spend a feat just to do it once a day. If that's not broken bias, then I don't know what is. Paladins are actually better than Divine Sorcerers with their Channel Vigor feat, which is again, just plain bad. Druids with Leaf can get Goodberry as a power (usually 4/day), which gives some healing and has survival capabilities. Not as strong as Cleric Channel of course. Alchemists can make Elixirs of Life for healing. Except they cost him (and the drinker if it is not the Alchemist) Resonance to craft and use, and they don't have anywhere near the healing scale of even just plain consumable potions. Talk about a trap option if I've ever seen one. Bards don't get any sort of help, making them the absolute worst (though their buffs via cantrips could save hits, which is "healing" by PF1's standards).

But seriously, the sole reason a Cleric is broken compared to every other class is because of Channel Energy being so strong and having so much power to it. I'd consider having it be up to their Charisma modifier, flat, for starters (can't be any higher than 3). I'd also consider it costing Resonance for the Cleric to use as yet another balance point, but I'd like to see some playtesting with just the flat Charisma modifier first to see if it does enough, but then you have the whole Domain stuff too (which can bridge that gap even further with Healing domains and stuff), as well as shoring up other class options (like Bards and Sorcerers especially) so that they aren't as objectively bad. The other big thing is balancing encounters to where some of these common heal aspects between all of the classes exist.

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ChibiNyan wrote:
Yeah, if anything that is TOO SOON to release since it means they start writing the final version in just a couple of months. The playtest is gonna end up being pretty short and we are unlikely to see "round 2"/

I honestly hope we do get a round two, because I want to see if any of the changes they implement with round two are solid via playtesting as well.

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Matthew Downie wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
When a level 2 creature does 11D6 damage on a swing, or when a level 7 creature can cast Time Stop as an Innate ability, are they really errors, or are they just modifications that the developers made solely for this creature?
How would you know in PF1 if a creature with unusually large damage dice for its natural attacks, or Time Stop as a spell-like ability, was a mistake?

For the former, I could check other creatures of its level to compare typos, which might technically be possible in PF2, but since we are required to playtest things as-is, I couldn't change it, even if it was an error. (If it has a separate Adventure Path entry, I could at least see if there is a discrepancy.) For the latter, even in PF1 I couldn't necessarily tell. There might be a description that limits it to maybe 1D2 rounds or so, or be some crazy artifact thing that it possesses. Heck, it could just pull some Za Warudo shenanigans for all I know.

In PF2, I couldn't even say for sure whether these are intended or not simply because it requires a design philosophy that I'm not familiar with, or even understand. (Maybe the creature wasn't intended to be encountered by the PCs whatsoever, and was made this deadly just to prove that point?) Nobody would know for sure except for the person that designed it, and when players call BS, and the only thing I have to rebuttal with is "I'm the GM, and it says X, so it's X," players won't like it and leave the table because of it for the simple fact that they dislike the game balance and could be of the opinion that the GM is a cheat. (Even if I bother to show them what the book actually says.)

I'm not saying GMs can't change monster values, but what I'm saying is that it should be more apparent to the PCs (and the GM) as to how those changes come to be, and it should have as little arbitrary application as possible. A creature with higher AC? Probably just got its Natural Armor boosted through a template. A creature with high attributes all around? Probably received the Advanced (or in PF2, Elite) template. A creature that's weaker? Probably has numerous conditions and such (or a template) that reduce its overall effectiveness.

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Lyee wrote:

Oh joy, a ranting thread!

I love Pathfinder, and I'm already homebrewing a ton for 2E, I'm really invested in it.

But the current state, I don't feel I can recommend.

  • Make race meaningful. I love that races have the 'free boost' mechanic, since it lets almost any race do well at any class. But the combination of very few racial traits inherent to the race, and racial feats being so spread out (and lacking true high level options) feels terrible.

  • Fix the adventuring day. CLW wands might have seemed silly, but the actual gameplay that resulted was good, at least compared to most TTRPGs. Parties cared about taking damage a little, because charges, but pushed themselves quite hard, meaning you didn't have the awkward situation of leaving a 'dungeon'/etc to prepare, restock, or actually flee, which often messed up gameplay, preperation, &/or verisimilitude. The current PF2 healing economy and adventuring day is abyssmal.

  • Allow variety of character concepts. This issues arises because of things like Fighters getting heavy-armor only things, but most importantly: Signiture Skills. In PF1 this was easily fixed with traits. In PF2 some concepts don't work because of it. Kill sig skills, give options for the restrictive class features.

  • Amount of content. Big thing I love about PF1 is the pure amount of content for it. This is a freebie to Paizo that will come with time, but it does negatively affect the system until then.

  • Lower level monsters. I don't know if they need 'level 0.5' or 'level -1', but when level 0 is the minimum, everything with stats must be at least 75% the strength of a level 1 PC, such that a 3-person party cannot confidently fight 4 of anything, according to XP budget. This fixes itself as you level, but I've made creatures definitely weaker than this, and I want to categorize them better.

I'm sure there's a lot more, but those come to mind, and they all feel pretty achievable?

I do agree that Ancestries need a buff as a whole. I literally only look at them to see what boosts in attributes I get, and the one or two Ancestry feats that I want, and I ignore it otherwise. I might consider Languages if I'm a Wizard, Alchemist, or decide to boost my Intelligence because of Multiclass reasons, but short of that, it's just words on a piece of paper to me. If Ancestries are meant to be a defining thing for my character choice, then I shouldn't be treating it for granted as I am currently.

To add on to the adventuring day issue, CLW Wands were really the only culprit to extending the adventuring day more than it should with little compromise. The concept that well-placed spells and other things meant the adventuring day being only over by HP suggests that CLW Wands were a necessary evil so that parties had many good reasons to consider resting (no HP, no power, no way to safely progress, etc). Balancing the game to not require CLW Wands, and by relation changing how Wands work (so CLW Wands are no longer a thing), would have solved this problem better than what the current "solution" is.

100% agree on character concept variety. Signature Skills shoehorns things instead of simply being a boon (as I've said before, make it so you're automatically trained in those skills is fair). Other things that might help would be to make numerous feats that are class-specific more general so that characters of other classes can get them. I think it's silly that feats like Quick Draw, Power Attack, Sudden Charge, etc. which were once general feats in PF1 (except Sudden Charge, but beside the point) are now class-specific and you can't take them unless you invest in at least 2 of your Class feats into Multiclassing (with stringent requirements of its own) or actually be that class in order to have those feats.

The content will come with time. This isn't even a finished Core Rulebook, and there are quite a few options yet. As long as these options are extremely well balanced and are expanded from what we have (they say the Core Rulebook in PF2 will be as big if not bigger than PF1's Core Rulebook), I have no problem with testing what's here to help achieve that goal.

Monsters (and by relation monster design) is broken and needs an overhaul, fast. Level 0 creatures being as effective as the most powerful of Level 1 PCs with the only reason being so is "Because the GM made it that way" means the game might be better balanced at sending Level - 1 creatures to PCs as the norm, which makes no sense IMO. In all honesty, there are numerous Level 1 PCs that can be made quite inoptimally, and I'd prefer if those characters were the norm to be tested on so that optimization actually has a reward. Here, people are going to feel like optimization is required when, in PF1, optimization was done to have fun and feel like you're actually excelling at something, compared to non-optimization, which may have been done to have fun with a particular concept. In short, these extremely powerful monsters make the game more gritty and more difficult. Which isn't bad to some, but I'm of the opinion that Pathfinder isn't a game whose genre is defined as being gritty and difficult. It's meant to be fantastical, flexible, and wondrous, whereas here my only "wonderous" ideal is in relation to the OPness of Monsters and NPCs.

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:



  • Take 10 & Take 20 - There should be a universal method of quickly adjudicating skill checks especially when characters aren't pressured by time.
  • Proactive abilities for the Paladin, being best at shields, Lay on Hands and Retributive Strike are all reactive abilities.
  • Methods to add more signature (class) skills so characters can have better differentiation.
  • Animate Dead - Please let Necromancers have their skelemans.
  • Witches, Gunslingers and Kineticists: I just think they're neat.

Agree 100% on the Take 10 rules. They might actually make the current lockpick rules doable, since my current issue is that they are way too prone for failure, especially in the lower levels with breaking picks (, thereby if I wanted a door or chest particularly difficult to open, also reinforced with making it a strong metal, such as a Master Steel door/chest with a Legendary lock). Assurance is just plain bad as far as spending one of your precious Skill/General feats are concerned.

Paladins having reactive abilities is nice to have, even when the proactive abilities don't cover you all the way. I can agree that there should be more (if not earlier-accessible) proactive abilities for Paladins to get, but saying Lay On Hands is a reactive ability is a misnomer when it actually costs an action (and not a reaction) to use. Similarly for simply raising a shield (blocking does cost the reaction though). I wouldn't mind seeing Lay On Hands provide Temporary HP for 1 minute, so that the Paladin has at-least some proactive option for it, but that's about as far as I think it should go.

I'd rather they just do away with Signature Skills altogether, but if we had to keep them in, make it so that Signature Skills means the character is always considered trained in those skills (but isn't required for Master/Legendary proficiency; in real life, some of the best of their fields weren't necessarily schooled as to how they do their schtick), or even better, make Intelligence give you additional Signature Skills up to your modifier (and no, a negative modifier doesn't subtract a signature skill you'd get).

Considering how Summon Monster works, I'd rather it be as simple as having one "effect" of the spell you control with the Concentrate action (or they do nothing more than simply follow you around awaiting orders) than having it be limited to a single creature such as the current Summon Monster, similar to several PF1 illusion spells. I do agree that having spells which control/create numerous minions are nice and thematic, and curtailing it by its raw power level (such as summoning only a certain level of skeletons) is a more valid approach. On top of that, a simple "Reduce the amount of actions required to control a creature by 1 for every 2 levels it is lower than you, and creatures require an additional action for every 2 levels it is higher than you" clause goes a long way. This means characters can control numerous weak minions if they so choose while maintaining the current concept of current-tiered monsters requiring concentration to control, plus having potential stronger-tiered monsters being controllable, but requiring more effort on the spellcaster's part to maintain. (The tradeoff for comparison is having them significantly weaker than what they should be, whereas if characters have the option to control more powerful creatures, it becomes more taxing on their other abilities to do so).

As much as I want to see other classes enter the fray, it is too soon to say this is something that should be Core. Core just provides a solid framework. Put too much work (and by relation, time and money) into the frame, and you won't have enough of a budget to actually purchase the piece you want to frame and hang.

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dragonhunterq wrote:

Monsters have never really followed the same rules as PCs except in a token manner. If you needed a monster of a certain level to have two extra points of AC it got a boost to natural armour or a template or you gave it +4 dex and made some other adjustments to bring the consequences of that change back in line - just being able to go "this needs to have AC24 - done!" is simpler and in some respects more honest. (There is only 1 thing I would like to see broken down some - I'd like some indication of how much armour is hard armour and how much dodge/deflection, but even that isn't really needed. I can't think of anything else I need broken down)

As to changing monsters now it's as easy as it has always been - remove the effect of one feat and add the effect of another feat. Reduce it's HP by it's level and give +5' speed - it's not rocket science. Once you have an idea of the range of numbers required for a particular level you can tweak any critter to your hearts content.

I disagree 100%. When I call out to see if an attack number hits, and the players think it's extremely high for the level, they're going to call me on it and make sure I'm not adding stuff I shouldn't be adding, and it's a valid concern; sometimes GMs add things they shouldn't and can alter the result of the roll. One precise example from PF1 was when I had two of the 3 BBEGs charge and outright kill a player (he was the closest to the bad guys within range and was supposed to be the tank) with him calling me out on how I got my math. With the PF1 rules, I was able to calmly and collectively explain how I reached the numbers, so he settled down and accepted what happened. (Yes, I did allow him to come back in the fight through some shenanigans, but that's beside the point.) If I couldn't do that, I was certain the other players would have chimed in and booted me from the GM slot (if not from the table).

All this does is give the GMs a right to say "He has +50 because I said he has +50." WHich is both absurd in this game (does anything have +50? Maybe some Rare/Unique tier Monsters, perhaps, and those bonuses were rare even in PF1,) and prone to drive players away because they're convinced their GM is a complete and utter cheat who flies off the handles with the rules. (Which they may actually be right, but for those cases where it's not, congratulations, the rules that let me make whatever the hell I wanted caused players to shirk away from the game; guess I'll report that to Paizo and see what they and others have to say on the matter.)

Exaggerated statement aside, another thing this doesn't help on is determining whether a stat block is accurate or not. With the PF1 rules, we could confirm whether or not their statblocks were calculated correctly or not, as well as determine if they followed the rules correctly (or to see what is and isn't a modification). Here, we don't get that luxury. When a level 2 creature does 11D6 damage on a swing, or when a level 7 creature can cast Time Stop as an Innate ability, are they really errors, or are they just modifications that the developers made solely for this creature? And nobody will know until we talk to the developers, which will probably never come up with them being at the grindstone as it is.

Scythia wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Scythia wrote:
I like the new crafting system, because you can make nearly anything in about a week, opposed to the year or so it took to make some items in PF1.

In what universe could you make stuff in a week? The prices on items scale so drastically that you can't realistically expect standard (or higher) level items finished, much less succeeded (the checks compared to your check modifiers are difficult to say the least for items worth crafting), much less started (Do you have the recipe for X item? Then you can't make it, and there are no rules to determine how you get the recipe for X item). I'd end up houseruling stuff back to PF1 just so I can avoid the definitive insanity that is crafting, or just ban crafting from my games altogether (which a lot of PF1 players did for their own reasons).

In PF2, you can craft an item of your level in 4 days if you're willing to pay full price. After those four days every extra day just reduces the price, to a minimum of half. The recipe bit can be kind of wonky, agreed, but I prefer this to PF1's crafting where the most optimized armorsmith inhumanely possible (getting a total of 90 on every craft check) couldn't make a suit of mithril full plate in four months of continuous work.

No. But a spellcaster with the Fabricate spell and a modest amount of itemization could make it in less than 6 seconds. Funny thing, that PF1 spellcasting.

So I'm trying to understand how Hazards work, and there are some things that are bugging me in how to operate them; clarification on what I might be missing is appreciated, as I'll be expected to know these rules for our playtest session tomorrow.

1. How does one find a Hazard? Most specifically, Complex Hazards. All I've seen under the Traits of a given Hazard is a "Stealth +X [Prof.] or Y" entry, but I have no clue what this is for. Do I make an opposed roll using that modifier for players actively looking for the hazard, or is that Hazard undetected until creatures trigger the Hazard and thereby start Initiative? I've seen mention of a "Stealth DC," but this doesn't tell me anything, unless the "Stealth DC" is the assumption of 10 + Stealth score, in which case I seriously wonder how they got to that conclusion.

2. Complex Hazards seem to be ran like a creature would and gets actions. One such Hazard is Quicksand. Does it get 3 Actions like a creature does, and can just outright pull a creature down under in 6 seconds? That just seems outright cruel to say the least.

That's just a problem with the encounter designs; numbers are thrown around just to be thrown around, and without some sort of hard-coding (such as just having a base modifier, which the GM can add more onto with his houseruling as needed), these numbers become skeptical as to whether they are accurate enough.

One example is how Zakfah, a Gnoll Sergeant, gets more bonuses to hit with a Scimitar and Shortbow (and deal an extra dice of damage) without any effects (such as magical weapons or actions) or abilities (such as Power Attack) that reflect them, compared to his Bite attack, which has much less damage and bonuses. Because it's a playtest, we can't just change the numbers to suit the players' needs because it's more important to demonstrate to Paizo why certain things are bad or need to be changed for the sake of player enjoyment.

I think I actually remember somebody from Paizo saying that the playtesting doesn't have "fun" as a primary goal. (That isn't to say they won't consider it, just that they understand there will have to be sacrifices like "fun" made for the sake of accurate playtest data to help grant and promote a "fun" game.)

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Scythia wrote:

I like the new crafting system, because you can make nearly anything in about a week, opposed to the year or so it took to make some items in PF1. That aside...

1. Different degrees of combat ability by class. Paizo has put effort into class role protection in abilities, but completely ignored that combat capability is also a part of class role. Everyone getting +Level to hit and bonuses being both rare and small means there's precious little difference between the hit chance of a Fighter and any other class.

2. Passive bonuses. Seems like some things that used to be passive bonuses are now either activated powers or worse, reactions. A good example is Divine Grace from Paladin. From a passive bonus to saves to a reaction. Reactions are the new swift action bottleneck. A Paladin already had smite replaced by a reaction, and might have shield block as a reaction, so they don't really have room to spare for a reaction that used to be a passive.

3. Meaningful bonuses. In PF2, nearly everything is either +1 or +2, and it it not only feels underwhelming, but the numerical results are also not impressive. Most attacks feel as though they could as easily be resolved via a coin flip, and even first attacks have a decent chance to miss (against level appropriate opponents). Don't be afraid of letting a player get a good number, it helps them feel like their character has grown and become powerful. Being stuck at the low number just feels like the character never develops much competence.

4. In a related note: Ways to improve combat capability. Sure, Weapon Focus wasn't an exciting feat, but it had practical benefit. As is, only a handful of classes/feats ever improve combat proficiency degree. Given how rare and low combat bonuses are, this is pretty limiting. A reversioning of Weapon Focus that increases proficiency degree with weapons of a single group would be a welcome addition.

5. Freeform non-combat. Exploration mode feels like a solution in search of a problem. It reads like...

In what universe could you make stuff in a week? The prices on items scale so drastically that you can't realistically expect standard (or higher) level items finished, much less succeeded (the checks compared to your check modifiers are difficult to say the least for items worth crafting), much less started (Do you have the recipe for X item? Then you can't make it, and there are no rules to determine how you get the recipe for X item). I'd end up houseruling stuff back to PF1 just so I can avoid the definitive insanity that is crafting, or just ban crafting from my games altogether (which a lot of PF1 players did for their own reasons).

1. I do agree there could be better ways to help with class identity, since minor bonuses and Proficiencies are really the only telling ways that a Fighter is better than, say, a Sorcerer in combat. (There are some higher level feats, but that requires actually selecting them, and not every Fighter will take X feat because [reasons], and also means they won't kick off until they are that level, which means the lower levels have less of an identity.) Similarly, there's not much in the way of features for classes like Sorcerers to be vastly different from Fighters in the way they contribute. They have spells, but depending on what spells you take, and between how limiting low level spells are compared to just lobbing a cantrip, it's problematic to say the least.

2. Again, I agree, and I very much considered adding "Spells" to my list of 5 things to change back from PF1. Having used a Bless spell that only gives a very minor bonus, which requires burning one of your actions each turn to maintain, which already has a set duration on how long you can maintain the effect, just seems counterintuitive and defeats the point of having both set durations and concentration effects. PF1 established the whole "Concentration" duration with illusions, which made sense. It also had Concentration with certain spells like "Wall of Fire," but also had a flat duration if Concentration is broken or dismissed; why don't we have spells like that for PF2? We already have this severe debilitation when it comes to Summon Monster (which does at least have some inherent benefits), we don't need it for spells like Bless, which were mostly "Fire and Forget" style of spells that were meant to augment you for a short duration.

3. It's not so much the bonuses aren't meaningful, but some of them certainly require you to go out of your way to get them. One such example, Bless, requires burning my entire turn just to apply the benefits to my teammates, when I could be spending that turn lobbing cantrips at the baddie, dealing damage, and bringing the encounter that much closer to an end. Compared to the "Take Cover" general action, which makes ranged combat more difficult and promotes tactical movement, is a very rewarding and progressive thing for creatures and players to do, compared to activities like Bless, or moving into Flanking range (which has its own problems thanks to every notable monster and its grandma having Attacks of Opportunity compared to everyone else that doesn't).

4. I honestly think having a Weapon Focus feat that improved a choice of weapons from Trained to Expert, and Expert to Master (but not Master to Legendary, gotta make those Fighters special somehow in the endgame) would really make the game more interesting and help make spellcasters more martially inclined. But if this was really to kick off proficiencies mattering, I'm of the opinion that having General "Weapon" feats (AKA feats that let you do cool things with weapons) with proficiency as a requirement barrier for certain feats would be a great way to make Proficiency be more than a simple "at-level" or modifier bonus to your attack rolls (which is, IMO, the most boring part about proficiencies as they stand).

5. 100% agree on freeform Exploration Mode, and I'd like to see it similarly extend to Downtime Mode, since some players, instead of crafting, working a profession, or retraining, might instead want to gather information on where to go next, and some of the adventures might actually be based on whether players bother to do this or not. But the rules don't let my players do that because that's not what Downtime Mode is for; having the game tell me what the modes are for isn't great game design for a game that's meant to be as freeform and customizable as possible.

Steelfiredragon wrote:

restoration of the pf1 paladin abilities or restoration of the paladin class.....

ok someone had to say it

That's fine. But what are your 4 other things to change?

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If you were asked by Paizo to bring back/restore up to 5 rules elements from PF1 to be put into PF2 (which range from something as simple as a minor change in an existing rule that PF1 had, to removing an existing PF2 rule, to something as complex as an entire rules subset that PF1 endorsed), what would you suggest, and why? (Do note that they don't have to be in any particular order, just your choice of 5 articles of rules to alter/revise/reinstate.)

Lockpicking Rules. When I playtested the lockpick rules in PF2, I absolutely despised what they did with it because they made it pointlessly difficult and tedious when, in PF1, there was a more fair risk/reward ratio, players had more instantaneous gratification on whether they succeeded or failed (horribly), and it didn't turn into a comedy game of "Who's Thief's Tools are These, Anyway?" (The game show where all of the DCs are made up and the checks don't matter.) Jokes aside, I'd much rather go back to PF1's standard of resolving lock picks, as well as better finetuning the DCs relative to the player's expected skills (which can be true for all skills, but that's beside the point here).

Resonance. I don't like this as a rule for numerous reasons. For starters, when my fellow players first encountered the Resonance rules, they found it to be an absolutely stupid and absurd mechanic. (Not to mention, they keep calling it Renaissance or Reconnaissance points instead of Resonance points, but that's a nitpick.) In a 1st level Doomsday Dawn playtest, a Sorcerer with 5 Resonance points did not have any reason (or any item) to spend Resonance on. Not. A. Single. Point/Item. Whereas other characters (such as the Fighter for Healing Potions) are the ones who need the Resonance the most and are the least likely to have enough for day-to-day survival. It also doesn't fix a lot of the issues it says it's supposed to fix, such as cutting down on tracking magic items when there are still use/day items/properties, and allowing cool options to shine, instead being replaced with "How many times can I magically heal with consumables today?" Following that, it also makes using consumables even more risky than they should be, especially when the risk should primarily be "Is this the right time to use it?" While it's still primary, it contends with other risks that it didn't in PF1, and it also further reinforces Decision Paralysis between consumables. I'd much rather this whole subsystem be gone, going back to the way PF1 handled magic items, and any of the "issues" Resonance tries to fix be solved in a whole other way, most notably with the base systems that are problematic (such as Wand rules).

Rarity. While I can understand the point of this existing as a new GM, or a GM imposing unorthodox rules (such as making Katanas common weapons and Scimitars uncommon weapons), the problem I have with this is that it removes the idea of the GM making this stuff or allowing it and instead falls into the rules. Sure, the rules are more ironclad, but it's a double-edged sword, where it serves as both a boon (for GM reinforcement) and a curse (for GM flexibility). Instead of the GM being able to bend the rules to suit his needs and create his own world, his players can (and probably will) view it as the GM "cheating" the game standard, and this is doubly present when Golarion is hard-baked into the rules, meaning doing something outside of what Golarion (and by relation, Paizo) has set up is going to be met with interrogations of why the GM is imposing X restriction or lifting Y restriction on Z option. Not to mention it puts a lot of unnecessary barriers up for objects that, in PF1, would have been fair game, and now you're all-of-a-sudden locked out of those options. Why? Because Paizo said so, that's why. I'd rather this serve as a form of guideline for fresh GMs or optional rule for experienced GMs, instead of being an ironclad rule that the game enforces, because there are other ways to enforce tje concept of "rarity" without having to refer to restrictive rules to do so. PF1 did this quite effectively, and also allowed GMs to create custom items to suit their games, thereby subconsciously applying this "rarity" concept.

Monster Rules. How they can be changed to suit your adventuring needs is nice, and much like the Rarity argument above (making it a guideline), is a benefit to the overall game. The expected power levels that Paizo currently assumes the monsters to be as is not. I looked over a couple stat blocks in the PF2 Playtest AP, and I got absolutely confused how certain creatures got certain bonuses when nothing in the math or rules would promote that result. One such example is a Gnoll who has more bonuses to hit and damage with a manufactured weapon than a natural weapon, but has nothing to suggest the increase in benefits. No proficiency increase, no weapon increase, nothing. When I look at the perspective that the numbers were just thrown there just to be thrown there, it makes sense. When I look at the perspective that the numbers are symbolized through the creature's attributes, I get lost and confused as to how those results are even possible. It also possibly promotes the likelihood of falsified or wrong statblocks. Can you imagine a Gnoll dealing 11D6 damage with a Scimitar just because somebody typed the number 1 one too many times at that juncture? But because the game lets me do whatever I want with my monsters, that's totally okay to let happen and run as-is, and because the game says I can do that (and with a playtest, I have to run stuff as-is), it creates a problematic paradigm, especially in comparison to character options.

"Modes" of Gameplay. There really isn't much of a point to this other than to try and codify something that didn't really need to be codified in the first place. The rules for these (outside of Encounter Mode, but even then the transitions between the other modes to Encounter Mode) are extremely clunky, fairly confusing, and can break immersion, plus is something that doesn't exactly need to be codified. PF1's freeform style for this sort of thing allows the GM and players much more liberty and options at their disposal for them to codify as the GM sees fit. Here, it's a straight-jacket. Surprise rounds no longer being a thing means initiating Encounter Mode becomes janky and at points outright impossible to handle. Exploration Mode is limiting, too, in the things that you can do, and as such players don't have the ability to explore the way they could in PF1. (By the rules, I can't use a Grappling Hook to ascend something because I don't have anything in the Exploration Mode rules that let me do that!) Downtime Mode is hardly inclusive in the things you can and can't do, and invites decision paralysis for the things you as a player are actually aware of, because you're effectively trying to get the most out of the free time you have before adventuring time begins again. Do I work a profession to gain coin? Do I craft items? Do I retrain? Do I try and manage all of these things? What things might I need to cut out in the short time I have before the next Big Bad shows their ugly face and I have to go stomp it into the dust? So many unknowns and so little solid answers that help me decide what is worth my downtime that I seriously consider never participate in it in whatever games I'm at, and I seriously consider whether I should allow downtime for my players as they might be in the same boat.

Honorable Mention:
(because I don't feel like deleting this to fit the 5 things): Crafting rules. They are very confusing to understand and largely pointless compared to their PF1 counterpart. If I understand it correctly (which I highly doubt I do), I have to first spend multiple feats just to create on-level items or lower (of which I won't have access to if they're Uncommon or higher because of Rarity rules), then I have to have recipes for these items (which costs gold, downtime, requires access that a GM can just say no to, and so on), then I have to make checks and spend downtime and half the item's value just to see if I actually make the item, then I have to pay the other half of the item's value to actually have it (or spend incredible amounts of downtime to get it without paying a copper more). Yes, some of the most powerful weapons aren't made over night, but I'm not really seeing the point of taking or expanding upon this option when spending feats to be better at adventuring and getting the item(s) you want that way, all without burning up your precious silver/gold, too. Or, you can just invest in a skill that gives you access to someone who can do this, no questions asked, and get a cheaper-than-usual price on it. Needless to say, crafting, much like numerous certain PF1 options, just becamse an NPC endeavor.

There is more that I can add to the list, but given I limited the parameters to 5 things, this is perhaps the most prominent of things I want to have changed (back) in PF2. What are others' 5 things they want to bring from PF1 over to replace/reinstate for PF2?

**EDIT** Added band-aids for my wall-of-text syndrome. Should be easier to read now.

In PF1, you made a check, and after some time passes (usually a full round, or even a minute on more complex locks), you unlock the door, easy peasy, and the GM can still throw in the whole "you feel the tumblers move into place, unlocking the door" descriptive text. Bad rolls happened (and there were still rules for breaking lockpicks), and in PF1 there wasn't really anything you could do short of just busting down the door. But if it's some crazy Mithril or Adamantine door (which is probably worth a lot of money, by the way!), good luck with that option.

In PF2, this goes from 1 check to a minimum of 3, to a maximum of 5. That means you are 3 to 5 times more likely to fail at least once than in PF1, where it just checked once for a success or failure. Numerous times means numerous errors which means numerous possibilities to not go the way you can or want to go, and the GM having to make the descriptive text more tedious (and potentially more repetitive) kills immersion that way too.

Lock Picking is much more of a hassle then it was in PF1 with that comparison, and that's because Paizo didn't take into consideration one of the fundamental laws of Math, most specifically probability: The more experiments you make, the more likely the number of a specific result reaches 1.

In short, the more checks you have to make, the more likely a failure occurs, and you break your Thief's Tools. (Yes, I call it Thief's Tools. Not Thieves' Tools. Unless those Tools belong to numerous Thieves at once, they are not the Thieves' Tools, they are the Thief's Tools. /endtangentialrant) Broken Thief's Tools = Party can't progress = no plot to continue with = unhappy players, and all the new Lock Picking rules do is increase the likelihood for the sequential equation above to occur, which only promotes players being unhappy.

I'll also point out that the point of this game was supposed to streamline rules to make them more intuitive and fun. Making numerous checks at significantly difficult DCs (while having other hidden opportunities at lower DCs that aren't as likely to be encountered) does nothing to achieve that goal whatsoever.

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