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First Playtest

Alpha Release 1 General Discussion

Last night we played D0 - Hollow's Last Hope using Pathfinder. We had a dwarven fighter, a human cleric, a halfling rogue, and an elven wizard. I DM'd and I didn't really do any work on converting monsters to Pathfinder (though they didn't really encounter that much.)

For those unfamiliar with the adventure, the first half is a wilderness romp followed by a pretty classic dungeon crawl. We got through the first half last night. There are a number of skill-based challenges (convincing people to give you information, making your way through a forest in the correct direction, seeing hidden things).

The skill system as it stands doesn't seem to work right. If someone had the appropriate skill, then they were super experts and could beat the DC easily, but if the skill wasn't one they had picked, then they would try it untrained, in which case the DC was pretty challenging. If it was a skill that couldn't be used untrained, they'd shrug and just do without.

One of my players was running the fighter and cleric and decided to make them both dumb as rocks. That meant they got one skill choice each (-1 Int modifier). The fighter took Survival, and the cleric took Heal. Survival was great for some things, but without any Knowledge (nature) he just didn't even know what some things were. So, for instance, they found some Glow Moss on some rocks. No one had Knowledge (nature) so they had no idea what it was, but the fighter very easily got it off the rock and wrapped it in a damp cloth.

We ran 4 combat encounters, and only one seemed to put the players in any kind of jeopardy. They went up against the Tatzlwyrm which is a CR2 monster and the only reason it even did damage to anyone was because it surprised them and won initiative, so it got two attacks (one of which failed) before they could even react. They then beat it dead in another round (it would have been a single round, but the fighter missed the first time).

There's a pretty deadly feat combo with Power Attack and Overhand Chop at least at 1st level. The fighter's first attack was a full Power Attack and an Overhand Chop. If it hit, it would do 20+ damage and pretty much kill whatever he was aiming at. The Overhand Chop makes you do one attack as a full round action, but if you're 1st level and only have one attack, it's not really a sacrifice.

A question came up over whether the rogue could sneak attack an animated cauldron. Constructs are no longer immune to sneak attacks so it came down to whether or not the rogue could see a "weak spot." The player was arguing that there certainly are weak spots on cauldrons-- you could potentially see a crack, or where one of the feet joins the actual bowl. I ruled that the cauldron was homogeneous, and he couldn't see a weak spot, but I think this change will make for many arguments around many tables.

The interesting thing is I ran this same adventure a week ago with straight 3.5 rules, and in every one of these encounters there was a great sense of jeopardy and use of skills throughout the module. Yes, the wizard spent most of his time unconscious, and the rogue couldn't hit to save his life (literally), but those were sources of entertainment for the group. With Pathfinder it felt more like 3rd level characters were waltzing through a 1st level adventure and just laying waste to it without paying too much attention.

For our next session I'm going to beef up the monsters so they might provide a bit of a challenge.

1)I would agree with your ruling that the cauldron would not be subject to sneak attacks, it is an animated object, so what if he smashes a foot off it, or busts a hole in it. A construct on the other hand would probably have moving parts and weak points.

2) The power attack and overhand chop for a first level fighter seems fair to me. It is a full round action, so any more than a 5 foot step ruins it and the minus to hit is a pretty big influence.

* A first level character with a great sword and 18 strength has +5 to hit and does 2d6+6 (avg 13) with a normal attack.
* With power attack he has +1 to hit and does 2d6+14 (avg 21).
* With overhand chop and power attack this damage increases to 2d6+16 (avg 23), so an extra 2 damage for a full round action.
* With just overhand chop it is back to +5 to hit and 2d6+8 (avg 15).

* Under 3.5 rules with power attack and the same stats he would have +4 to hit and do 2d6+8, so only plus one less to hit than overhand chop on its own.

The large minus to hit is a big factor in my opinion, unless the target has very poor AC then it is going to be missed a lot more, but boy will he feel it when he gets hit. At first level, very few creatures are going to survive a normal hit, so the power attack is over kill.

3) The "dumb as a rock" crops up a lot in my campaigns, with 7 players one of them is always going to sacrifice intelligence for another stat. I am still on the fence with regards to the skills system not having skill points.

I am starting to see a slight bias towards not missing skill checks, not just in my playtesting but in the playtests that I've read. In my campaign, the bone creature necromancer that I made up at 5th level never really had to worry about missing his casting defensive roll.

On the other hand, by 3rd level, the half elf bard actually had a lower bonus for his diplomacy than he used to when he rebuilt him under these rules.

That having been said, the CR assumption from the Running Pathfinder section seemed to be dead on, since the bone creature dropped one player, almost dropped another, and enfeebled the paladin so badly she was a non issue in the fight.

I could just be that any two times you run the same adventure, you might get wildly different results, especially in a 1st level adventure.

Cool to hear about the playtest, and looking forward to hearing more from you.

Dark Archive

I'd definitely want to see Power Attack and Expertise become Combat Feats, because IMO it feels like you should not be able to combine them with any other feat (or with each other, for that matter -- how can you Power Attack "defensively"?). Still, I have to reserve my final judgement on this issue until we've playtested the rules properly (in the beginning of June).

I am currently running my first playtest of Pathfinder Alpha 1 using Hollow's Last Hope and Crown of the Kobold King combined. I reserve judgement on most of it so far as we've only had two sessions.

But one thing of note. Fighters are very beefed up and cream all first level opponents (even though I've toughened them up). I have six players: 1 wizard, 1 rogue, 1 cleric and 3 fighters. One fighter in particular used the +2 to any ability score to gain a 19 strength. The free weapon training for proficiency in any type was used on a spiked chain (exotic weapon) and feats chosen include combat reflexes and overhand chop.

What we have here is a first level character with +6 to hit and +8 to damage using a 10ft reach with multiple attacks of opportunity to be spent on all enemies that attempt to close in for melee.

At first level this is a might too much perhaps? I think at the very least the weapons training should be removed from 1st level fighters.

edit: spelling. doh!

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