Attack the Stat Block

Friday, May 18, 2018

In Monday's monster blog, Mark told you about some of the changes we made to monsters to make them more engaging and easy to run. So how did we turn all that into something you can use? Well, we put a lot of thought into making a new monster stat block that would be more concise, while remaining flexible enough that we can still keep a similar level of complexity for some of our most powerful and iconic monsters.

But let's start small. Well... big, but also small. You'll see.

So Now There's Ogres, Okay?

Oh no... what's that smell? It's like a gym bag ate roadkill!

Ogre Creature 3

Chaotic, Evil, Giant, Humanoid, Large

Perception +5, darkvision

Languages Giant

Skills +1; Acrobatics +4, Athletics +9

Str +5, Dex -1, Con +2, Int -2, Wis +0, Cha -2

Items hide armor, 6 javelins, ogre hook


AC 16, TAC 14; Fort +8, Ref +3, Will +5

HP 60


Speed 25 feet

[[A]] Melee ogre hook +10 (deadly 1d10, reach 10 feet, trip), Damage 1d10+7 piercing

[[A]] Ranged javelin +8 (thrown 30 feet), Damage 1d6+7

Ah, of course. It's an ogre! This is an example of one of the simplest stat blocks in the playtest. Ogres are big bruisers, and they don't have a whole lot of special actions to use. They play a role as big challenges for low-level groups and in groups as minions for higher-level threats, so having them be simple makes plenty of sense for how they're used in the game. You might notice that this stat block is shorter than a Pathfinder First Edition stat block. We think this will give us more room for other text in our bestiaries and adventures. Some elements went away because of rules simplifications, while other pieces of information, like organization and environment, will appear in the monster's text instead of in the stat block.

We don’t have art of ogres or redcaps yet, but check out this illustration by Wayne Reynolds of a bugbear!

Quick reminder: the [[A]] symbol is code for "action," and it will have a special icon in the actual Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook and other products. You'll also see an [[R]] later to represent a reaction.

You can see how a stat block leads off with the creature's name and level, followed by its traits. These traits include its alignment and size. The top section of the stat block continues with the first stats you'll typically use, since you'll be determining whether the PCs and monsters can see one another (requiring you to use Perception), or the party might start out with an interaction (meaning you'll use the monster's languages and skills). The skills entry first lists a number you can use (in addition to the relevant ability modifier) for any skills the monster doesn't have listed, followed by a list of all the skills the monster has a different modifier for. So if you needed to roll an Acrobatics check for the ogre, you'll roll 1d20 and add 4, which is much better than its base modifier plus its Dex modifier (a total of +0).

You'll also notice the monster gives just its ability score modifiers instead of scores. This lets you make calculations more quickly, and since monsters don't increase their scores the same way PCs do, listing those is unnecessary. Monsters with items also list those up top.

There's a line to show where the monster's defenses start. Our ogre's pretty straightforward, with just ACs, saves, and Hit Points.

The next line separates the statistics and actions the monster can use on its turn. Here, that's Speed and the ogre's Strikes: an ogre hook and javelins! Even though the ogre doesn't have any special actions, it does have some special options due to its ogre hook. In parentheses, you can see the ogre hook's traits: deadly 1d10 (making it deal 1d10 more damage on a critical hit—ow!), a reach of 10 feet (letting the ogre attack past the first space), and trip (which lets the ogre trip using its hook instead of its body). Just as in Pathfinder First Edition, the reach comes from the ogre's size—the hook itself isn't long enough to increase reach.

So you can see the stat block is organized so that you're looking at the middle section when it's not the monster's turn, and at the bottom section on its turn. We think that will make it easier to use at the table, but we'd love to hear your feedback as you run these monsters during the playtest!

Blood and Boots

So how about a stat block that has a bit more going on? Here's a redcap: the nasty, brutal little fey with oversized scythes. This is a moderately complex monster. We won't be showing you any liches or pit fiends today, but the redcap will demonstrate how we present a few special abilities.

Redcap Creature 5

Evil, Fey, Small

Perception +10, low-light vision

Languages Aklo, Common, Giant, Sylvan

Skills +5; Acrobatics +13, Athletics +13, Deception +13, Intimidation +11, Nature +11, Stealth +13

Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4, Int +3, Wis +1, Cha +2

Items red cap, expert Medium scythe, iron boots

Red Cap (arcane, necromancy) A redcap's shapeless woolen hat is dyed with the blood of its victims. If the redcap loses its cap, it no longer benefits from fast healing and takes a -4 conditional penalty to its damage rolls. It can create a new cap in 10 minutes, but that cap doesn't grant its powers until the redcap has turned it red with Blood Soak. A cap has no benefit for creatures other than redcaps.


AC 20, TAC 19; Fort +8, Ref +11, Will +9

HP 55, fast healing 10; Weaknesses cold iron 5, irreligious

Irreligious (emotion, fear, mental) If a redcap sees a creature brandish a holy symbol of a good deity or use one for the Material Casting of a divine spell, the redcap must attempt a DC 17 Will save. On a failure, the redcap is frightened 4 and fleeing for 1 round; on a success, it's frightened 2; on a critical success, it's unaffected. To brandish a holy symbol, a creature must Interact to brandish it for 1 round (similar to Raising a Shield). Once a redcap has to attempt a save against a brandished holy symbol, it is bolstered against brandished holy symbols for the next 10 minutes.


Speed 50 feet

[[A]] Melee scythe +13 (deadly 1d10, trip), Damage 2d10+4 slashing
boot +13 (agile, versatile B), Damage 2d4+8 piercing

[[A]] Blood Soak (manipulate) The redcap dips its cap in the blood of a slain foe. The foe must have died in the last minute, and the redcap must have helped kill it. The redcap gains a +4 conditional bonus on damage rolls for 1 minute.

[[R]] Deadly Cleave

Trigger The redcap drops a creature to 0 Hit Points with a scythe Strike.

Effect The redcap makes another scythe Strike against a different creature, using the same multiple attack penalty as the scythe Strike that triggered this reaction. This counts toward its multiple attack penalty.

[[A]] Stomp The redcap Strides up to half its Speed and makes a boot Strike at any point during that movement. If the boot Strike hits a prone creature, it deals an extra 2d6 persistent bleed damage.

You can see here that the redcap has an ability to represent its blood-soaked hat, and that appears in the top section because it affects all of its statistics. You'll also notice the weakness to cold iron that comes from being a fey creature. One of the nice things about the new system of building monsters is that we can just give monsters the statistics we want them to have instead of sometimes building them in strange ways to get their statistics to be good. For instance, in Pathfinder First Edition, a fey might have had far more Hit Dice than expected to get its statistics high enough, which led to odd results from abilities that counted Hit Dice. Now, the redcap gets statistics that are suitable for its level and how it's used.

You can see the Irreligious ability is an example of a special ability that will come up when it's not the monster's turn. A redcap can be scared off by symbols of divinity!

In the bottom section, you see two special actions and a reaction. The reaction appears down here because the trigger is most likely to occur during the recap's own turn. You'll also see how some of the basic actions of the game end up being used in other actions. For instance, Stomp tells you that the redcap uses Stride and Strike. An ability like this lets you know any ways in which these actions operate differently than using them normally.

Spell It Out

How about just one more example for today? Let's look at how innate spells work. These are much like spell-like abilities from Pathfinder First Edition, but they function more like spells than they used to. The only difference between these and other spells is that the number of times the monster can cast them is based on the monster itself rather than on a spellcasting class. Innate spell entries look much like prepared spells, with a couple extra categories of usability. Here are some we stole from the efreeti:

Innate Arcane Spells DC 22, attack +17; Constant detect magic; 5th illusory object; 4th gaseous form, invisibility (×2); At Will plane shift (7th, to Elemental Planes, Astral Plane, or Material Plane only); Cantrips produce flame (4th)

The spell DC is listed right there, along with the attack bonus for touch attacks since the efreeti has produce flame. Illusory object is presented the same way a prepared 5th-level spell would be, as are gaseous form and the two spell slots of invisibility. Anything that doesn't come in a level entry is cast at its lowest level unless a level appears in parentheses. You can see that happening with the produce flame cantrip, which the efreeti casts as a 4th-level spell. Its detect magic is level 1, but that's a constant ability that functions all the time for the efreeti. The other special way a creature can use innate spells is with at-will spells. These are spells the monster can cast as many times as it wants even though they aren't normally cantrips. The efreeti can cast plane shift any number of times, but the parentheses tell you that it's the 7th-level version and that it can go only to certain planes.

What do you think of this take on monster presentation? Do you think it'll be easy to use these stat blocks in your game?

Logan Bonner
Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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3 people marked this as a favorite.
CraziFuzzy wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
I desperately wanted them to drop iterative penalties, but with the new 4-tiered success system, it seems like it will work.
People keep saying they don't like the iterative penalties. But they are the exact same penalties as PF1 for iteratives.
Something being in PF1 is not justification for it being a good mechanic. Frankly, if PF1 was the gold standard then why make PF2?

PF1 itself actually already had a better version of iterative attacks. You see it on monsters, though, not characters... But it's what they should bring forward to PF2 for everyone. And it would make weird rules text like you see on the Redcap's reaction unnecessary. It is:

Your first attack is at your full bonus. Every attack after the first is at your full bonus -5.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
CraziFuzzy wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
I desperately wanted them to drop iterative penalties, but with the new 4-tiered success system, it seems like it will work.
People keep saying they don't like the iterative penalties. But they are the exact same penalties as PF1 for iteratives.
Something being in PF1 is not justification for it being a good mechanic. Frankly, if PF1 was the gold standard then why make PF2?

The idea that nothing can be improved upon is a fallacy. Everything can be improved upon. In this case, PF1 had many failings, most of which were legacy language from 3.5 that did not get cleaned up or reorganized appropriately back in 2008/9.

But if you like PF1, and you've been playing it for 10 years, and you think its the Gold Standard...

Let me throw the question back at you...

If you liked PF1, why is there so much angst over a mechanic that adds up to the exact same math?

I have a theory, and its exactly the same reason why the resistance mechanic for monsters just "feels" better. The math works out pretty much the same way, but some monsters are given weaknesses instead of DR now, to reflect the fact they take more damage from some types of attacks. And the psychological feel of it at the table, instead of, "Crap, I don't have a slashing weapon so I'm going to be lucky to do any damage against this zombie because I'm using my club!" You get, "Woo Hoo! My scimitar does 5 more damage per hit! Yeah!" But they designed it so that essentially the math is the same.

For the case of iteratives, you complain about it, because you feel like you are getting a penalty for that second attack. The math is literally, not just essentially, but literally the exact same. In PF1, at 6th level, you get +6/+1. You are adding a second attack at -5 of the first attack. But you don't really see that, psychologically. You see, "Wow, I'm getting another attack at +1 to hit! Woo Hoo!" But in PF2, you get to try that 2nd, and even a 3rd (which you don't get the -10 third attack until 11th level in PF1, at +11/+6/+1) attack at 1st level if you want to. Its unlikely, at 1st level, that you'll hit at -10, but you can try it.

Perhaps the answer isn't to remove the penalties for iterative attacks. Because honestly, if you remove the penalties for extra attacks that you can get from 1st to 20th level, then you have to remove the attacks altogether. Otherwise the game becomes really unbalanced and it throws their new action system all out of wack. Perhaps the answer is to word it in such a way, that players think they are getting something added to their options, instead of getting a huge penalty.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Fuzzypaws wrote:
CraziFuzzy wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
I desperately wanted them to drop iterative penalties, but with the new 4-tiered success system, it seems like it will work.
People keep saying they don't like the iterative penalties. But they are the exact same penalties as PF1 for iteratives.
Something being in PF1 is not justification for it being a good mechanic. Frankly, if PF1 was the gold standard then why make PF2?

PF1 itself actually already had a better version of iterative attacks. You see it on monsters, though, not characters... But it's what they should bring forward to PF2 for everyone. And it would make weird rules text like you see on the Redcap's reaction unnecessary. It is:

Your first attack is at your full bonus. Every attack after the first is at your full bonus -5.

PF1 iterative attacks math was 100% exactly the same as PF2. And PCs got iterative attacks. What do you think the 16th level +16/+11/+6/+1 was? That's literally the progression that coined the term, "iterative attack."


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't think iteratives are inherently bad. I do think they're potentially confusing when someone is running multiple creatures, and that the math can be redone for monsters using simplified NPC rules (in both Starfinder and Unchained, the damage a creature does with their attack is semi-arbitrary rather than tied to their weapon) to make multiple creatures easier to run. Iteratives are fine for PCs! Even BBEGs, who are probably built on PC rules and where the DM only has a few creatures to concentrate on. But for mooks, I don't think iteratives add enough depth to be worth the annoyance.

I also felt this way in PF1, and since we're all here to improve on PF1 as we move into PF2, I felt it was a topic worth discussing.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
CraziFuzzy wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
I desperately wanted them to drop iterative penalties, but with the new 4-tiered success system, it seems like it will work.
People keep saying they don't like the iterative penalties. But they are the exact same penalties as PF1 for iteratives.
Something being in PF1 is not justification for it being a good mechanic. Frankly, if PF1 was the gold standard then why make PF2?

PF1 itself actually already had a better version of iterative attacks. You see it on monsters, though, not characters... But it's what they should bring forward to PF2 for everyone. And it would make weird rules text like you see on the Redcap's reaction unnecessary. It is:

Your first attack is at your full bonus. Every attack after the first is at your full bonus -5.

Monsters never had "iterative" attacks, they had unique full attack rules for natural attacks, which designated some as primary, some as secondary, and imposed the -5 on secondary attacks used in a full attack (or -2 if they had the Multiattack feat).

PF2 is getting rid of those 5+ natural attack combos at two different attack bonuses, and replacing them with a simplified multiattack that costs 2-3 actions but only one attack and damage roll. It's better.

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.
AnimatedPaper wrote:

I don't think iteratives are inherently bad. I do think they're potentially confusing when someone is running multiple creatures, and that the math can be redone for monsters using simplified NPC rules (in both Starfinder and Unchained, the damage a creature does with their attack is semi-arbitrary rather than tied to their weapon) to make multiple creatures easier to run. Iteratives are fine for PCs! Even BBEGs, who are probably built on PC rules and where the DM only has a few creatures to concentrate on. But for mooks, I don't think iteratives add enough depth to be worth the annoyance.

I also felt this way in PF1, and since we're all here to improve on PF1 as we move into PF2, I felt it was a topic worth discussing.

Is subtracting 5 or 10 really that difficult? Even for multiple creatures?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tallow wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:

I don't think iteratives are inherently bad. I do think they're potentially confusing when someone is running multiple creatures, and that the math can be redone for monsters using simplified NPC rules (in both Starfinder and Unchained, the damage a creature does with their attack is semi-arbitrary rather than tied to their weapon) to make multiple creatures easier to run. Iteratives are fine for PCs! Even BBEGs, who are probably built on PC rules and where the DM only has a few creatures to concentrate on. But for mooks, I don't think iteratives add enough depth to be worth the annoyance.

I also felt this way in PF1, and since we're all here to improve on PF1 as we move into PF2, I felt it was a topic worth discussing.

Is subtracting 5 or 10 really that difficult? Even for multiple creatures?

When you're keeping track of 6 or so creatures, and so somewhere between 10-18 attack rolls a round? Yeah it can be.

We all know people that lose track of what bonuses only apply to their first hit, what applies to every hit, and "Oh, wait, I needed to roll a 1d10, not 1d12, let me reroll." Usually that isn't the DM (or they quickly stop being the DM), but it does add one more thing the most overworked person at the table needs to keep track of when they're trying to move things along.

Heck, look at 5E, which doens't use iteratives. As long as the game math is built to accommodate it, it works just as well as using them, with a bit fewer on-the-fly calculations.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Tallow wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:

I don't think iteratives are inherently bad. I do think they're potentially confusing when someone is running multiple creatures, and that the math can be redone for monsters using simplified NPC rules (in both Starfinder and Unchained, the damage a creature does with their attack is semi-arbitrary rather than tied to their weapon) to make multiple creatures easier to run. Iteratives are fine for PCs! Even BBEGs, who are probably built on PC rules and where the DM only has a few creatures to concentrate on. But for mooks, I don't think iteratives add enough depth to be worth the annoyance.

I also felt this way in PF1, and since we're all here to improve on PF1 as we move into PF2, I felt it was a topic worth discussing.

Is subtracting 5 or 10 really that difficult? Even for multiple creatures?

When you're keeping track of 6 or so creatures, and so somewhere between 10-18 attack rolls a round? Yeah it can be.

Unless you are repeatedly delaying actions halfway through your turn (is this even possible) the amount of creatures makes no difference in the cognitive load of iterative attacks, as the actions of the other creatures has no bearing on the current creatures iterative penalty. Whether you have 1, 5, 20 or infinite moving parts they are all only self referential.


Also, it's not so much that -5 and -10 are hard, but when sometimes it is -4 and -8 it can get tricky, and that's before you layer in any other buffs. From what I have seen, PF2 is trying to shift away from things which buff to hit to things which penalize AC (new flanking rules) so hopefully this will be less of an issue. But to use a PF1 RAE example, the -5 isn't inherently an issue for an archer. It is when that -5 is getting thrown on top of a -2 from rapid shot, a +1 from point blank shot, a +1 from Bless, and a - 4 from deadly aim.

Now, usually monsters don't have quite that many variables going on, but I will say I'm pretty sick of having to calculate power attack for them.

Anywho, Kongofanything makes me think iterative attacks probably aren't worth their space now. But that doesn't mean it isn't a potential issue. Hopefully PF2's more streamlined bonus types solves it.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Malk_Content wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Tallow wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:

I don't think iteratives are inherently bad. I do think they're potentially confusing when someone is running multiple creatures, and that the math can be redone for monsters using simplified NPC rules (in both Starfinder and Unchained, the damage a creature does with their attack is semi-arbitrary rather than tied to their weapon) to make multiple creatures easier to run. Iteratives are fine for PCs! Even BBEGs, who are probably built on PC rules and where the DM only has a few creatures to concentrate on. But for mooks, I don't think iteratives add enough depth to be worth the annoyance.

I also felt this way in PF1, and since we're all here to improve on PF1 as we move into PF2, I felt it was a topic worth discussing.

Is subtracting 5 or 10 really that difficult? Even for multiple creatures?

When you're keeping track of 6 or so creatures, and so somewhere between 10-18 attack rolls a round? Yeah it can be.

Unless you are repeatedly delaying actions halfway through your turn (is this even possible) the amount of creatures makes no difference in the cognitive load of iterative attacks, as the actions of the other creatures has no bearing on the current creatures iterative penalty. Whether you have 1, 5, 20 or infinite moving parts they are all only self referential.

It's still extra information to keep track of. When making the rolls on Skeleton Steve, Skeleton Bob's rolls have no bearing, that's true, but having rolled Skeleton Bob, Mary, and Fat Arbukle's second and third attacks that round might make me lose track of which of Steve's roll I'm on, especially if my players are talking and I'm rolling damage in between each of these strikes.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Tallow wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:

I don't think iteratives are inherently bad. I do think they're potentially confusing when someone is running multiple creatures, and that the math can be redone for monsters using simplified NPC rules (in both Starfinder and Unchained, the damage a creature does with their attack is semi-arbitrary rather than tied to their weapon) to make multiple creatures easier to run. Iteratives are fine for PCs! Even BBEGs, who are probably built on PC rules and where the DM only has a few creatures to concentrate on. But for mooks, I don't think iteratives add enough depth to be worth the annoyance.

I also felt this way in PF1, and since we're all here to improve on PF1 as we move into PF2, I felt it was a topic worth discussing.

Is subtracting 5 or 10 really that difficult? Even for multiple creatures?

When you're keeping track of 6 or so creatures, and so somewhere between 10-18 attack rolls a round? Yeah it can be.

Unless you are repeatedly delaying actions halfway through your turn (is this even possible) the amount of creatures makes no difference in the cognitive load of iterative attacks, as the actions of the other creatures has no bearing on the current creatures iterative penalty. Whether you have 1, 5, 20 or infinite moving parts they are all only self referential.
It's still extra information to keep track of. When making the rolls on Skeleton Steve, Skeleton Bob's rolls have no bearing, that's true, but having rolled Skeleton Bob, Mary, and Fat Arbukle's second and third attacks that round might make me lose track of which of Steve's roll I'm on, especially if my players are talking and I'm rolling damage in between each of these strikes.

Losing track of which roll your on would be the exact same issue in PF1 though. There are tricks to make this easier as a GM at the table. But ultimately, if you are prone to lose track of numbers or which attack is being made, then, in my experience, no amount of "brain-fart proofing" in stat blocks is going to fix that.

Circumstantial changes to the bonuses and/or penalties are always going to be an issue, regardless which type of stat block or action economy system is used. Sure, adding one more modifier that must be calculated could be an added complication. But 5 or 10 are really easy modifiers to make, especially if you figure out what your base number is with all other modifiers first and write it down on scratch paper, your combat board, the printed out stat block, etc.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Even easier to not have to bother with it at all.

Edit: Actually, let me ask you a question. What does iterative attacks on mook level monsters add to the game from your perspective? Steven Geddes made a good point upthread, that iterative penalties incentivize different action types on monsters, and that's definitely something to keep in mind for major, or even just one-off, NPCs. But for the ones that are going to get at best one or two rounds before the Wizard or Cleric blasts them or the fighter sweeping strikes them all to their deity of choice? I don't see calculating the attack at different attack bonuses every round as worth the bother.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

If you have that degree of trouble keeping track of what you've done so far with one creature I think you would require visual aides in general. I mean if you can't remember how many attacks you've done, you'll be frequently forgetting how many actions you've done. I'd recommend having three of those little glass beads folks use as tokens for MTG and the like. Do an action, move a bead. If you lose track look at how many beads you have left.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Three d20s: black, gray, and white. Roll 'em all at once. The lighter the die's color, the lighter the hit.


Spreadsheets. Know them, use them, permit them in organized play, problems solved.


QuidEst wrote:
Three d20s: black, gray, and white. Roll 'em all at once. The lighter the die's color, the lighter the hit.

*yoinks* :D


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
AnimatedPaper wrote:


Edit: Actually, let me ask you a question. What does iterative attacks on mook level monsters add to the game from your perspective? Steven Geddes made a good point upthread, that iterative penalties incentivize different action types on monsters, and that's definitely something to keep in mind for major, or even just one-off, NPCs. But for the ones that are going to get at best one or two rounds before the Wizard or Cleric blasts them or the fighter sweeping strikes them all to their deity of choice? I don't see calculating the attack at different attack bonuses every round as worth the bother.

Aside from the fact that I always like even mooks doing actions that aren't just keep hitting (which if you remove IA will be the go to) removing iteratives will make mooks BETTER than your impressive big monster. If your Big Monster attacks for +18, +13 and +8 but your minions hit for +14, +14, +14 the minions will be far better at hitting reliably.

The other big one is that players have the option of picking up reactions/abilities that punish enemies for Critically Failing against them. These will be most useful against the mooks (they have lower To Hit scores) and removing iteratives from them makes those abilities far far worse.

Also how do you determine what is a mook and what isn't without getting overly gamey? CR -4? -5? Seperate entries for Ogre as big monster and Ogre as mook?


Malk_Content wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:


Edit: Actually, let me ask you a question. What does iterative attacks on mook level monsters add to the game from your perspective? Steven Geddes made a good point upthread, that iterative penalties incentivize different action types on monsters, and that's definitely something to keep in mind for major, or even just one-off, NPCs. But for the ones that are going to get at best one or two rounds before the Wizard or Cleric blasts them or the fighter sweeping strikes them all to their deity of choice? I don't see calculating the attack at different attack bonuses every round as worth the bother.

Aside from the fact that I always like even mooks doing actions that aren't just keep hitting (which if you remove IA will be the go to) removing iteratives will make mooks BETTER than your impressive big monster. If your Big Monster attacks for +18, +13 and +8 but your minions hit for +14, +14, +14 the minions will be far better at hitting reliably.

The other big one is that players have the option of picking up reactions/abilities that punish enemies for Critically Failing against them. These will be most useful against the mooks (they have lower To Hit scores) and removing iteratives from them makes those abilities far far worse.

Also how do you determine what is a mook and what isn't without getting overly gamey? CR -4? -5? Seperate entries for Ogre as big monster and Ogre as mook?

Whatever threshold there is at which point one ceases to earn XP for whacking them in combat.

Scarab Sages

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AnimatedPaper wrote:

Even easier to not have to bother with it at all.

Edit: Actually, let me ask you a question. What does iterative attacks on mook level monsters add to the game from your perspective? Steven Geddes made a good point upthread, that iterative penalties incentivize different action types on monsters, and that's definitely something to keep in mind for major, or even just one-off, NPCs. But for the ones that are going to get at best one or two rounds before the Wizard or Cleric blasts them or the fighter sweeping strikes them all to their deity of choice? I don't see calculating the attack at different attack bonuses every round as worth the bother.

At low levels? Not much. The monsters will have as much of a hard time doing the additional attacks as PCs will, due to having such a low to hit number vs. the AC. But because iterative attacks are baked into the combat system, rather than BAB, it becomes an option, as a GM, you can choose to use or not.

At high levels? A bunch. If, as we see from the two stat block examples above, most monsters will have a high enough number to hit, that it will be as likely to hit on the 1st attack as a PC would, then the iteratives become just as interesting as they would for a PC. And it increases their action economy for attacking, putting a lower number of mooks on a similar level of action economy as the PCs would have.

The point is, this system is baked into the combat system, rather than the monster simply gets what's on their stat block.

And if you are calculating their attack bonus every single round, then you are doing it wrong. Unless something changes with some bonus or penalty modifier, then you only have to calculate their attack bonus once. Write a note somewhere about what it is, then every subsequent round it should be the exact same barring any further modifiers.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tallow wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:

I don't think iteratives are inherently bad. I do think they're potentially confusing when someone is running multiple creatures, and that the math can be redone for monsters using simplified NPC rules (in both Starfinder and Unchained, the damage a creature does with their attack is semi-arbitrary rather than tied to their weapon) to make multiple creatures easier to run. Iteratives are fine for PCs! Even BBEGs, who are probably built on PC rules and where the DM only has a few creatures to concentrate on. But for mooks, I don't think iteratives add enough depth to be worth the annoyance.

I also felt this way in PF1, and since we're all here to improve on PF1 as we move into PF2, I felt it was a topic worth discussing.

Is subtracting 5 or 10 really that difficult? Even for multiple creatures?

For me, yes (if it's not from a multiple of 5 or a single-digit number). But then, I'm pretty sure I have some form of dyscalculia.

And sure, people can make notes and whatnot, but I wouldn't think a couple extra numbers would clutter the stat block much, and having that info at a glance would be helpful, in my opinion.


As a GM, I am of two minds about the complexity of dealing with the redcap's iterative attacks and monster's like them. On the one hand, I feel like it may be hard to build encounters on the fly and then run those monsters well.

On the other hand, I am enjoying running through my mind how to run a monster like the redcap efficiently. I like the idea of this little jerk darting across the field and kicking them in the shins with their weird pointy boots, tripping them with their scythes, and then kicking at them again. It has a fun kit of evocative abilities as well as a really interesting weakness: the fact that you can steal its dumb red hat. If I am thumbing through the MM, I will read a monster like this and want to build a fight around it.

However, if I just need a random encounter or need to make an encounter in reaction, this kind of monster seems like a real pain in my ass.

I guess I want a chart that lists a bunch of easy-to-run monsters by CR.

I guess that is what I am realizing.


Fuzzypaws wrote:

{. . .}

Your first attack is at your full bonus. Every attack after the first is at your full bonus -5.

That's actually what Kirthfinder does, except that Fighters don't take the -5. Problem is that everybody's combat power (especially that of Fighters) jumps a huge amount when their BAB passes a multiple of 5 (same problem as with martials getting more attacks in D&D 1st Edition Unearthed Arcana, except there the upgrades were by fiat instead of tied to the forerunner of BAB, and the number of attacks went up by increments of 1/2 instead of 1).


Tallow wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:

You know what might be cool? Just ditching the iterative penalty altogether for NPCs and monsters. Rebalance the damage so that it's calculated as if every strike is done at the monster's full attack bonus. This "bonus" would only apply if they're built using NPC rules. If built using PC rules, then regular damage and iterative attack penalties would be applied.

I desperately wanted them to drop iterative penalties, but with the new 4-tiered success system, it seems like it will work.
People keep saying they don't like the iterative penalties. But they are the exact same penalties as PF1 for iteratives.

Exactly, and I have not dug them since August 2000, I prefer pretty much every other edition/version of D&D's take on iterative/extra attacks.


Xenocrat wrote:
PF2 is getting rid of those 5+ natural attack combos at two different attack bonuses, and replacing them with a simplified multiattack that costs 2-3 actions but only one attack and damage roll. It's better.

But it looks like the Marilith has an option to make 6 separate attack rolls, each against a different target, or is it one attack roll, compared to 6 target's AC?

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Weather Report wrote:
But it looks like the Marilith has an option to make 6 separate attack rolls, each against a different target, or is it one attack roll, compared to 6 target's AC?

We don't know for sure, but I'd bet on one roll vs. everyone. Even if it doesn't work that way, it's simpler by virtue of having the same bonus on all the attacks.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
But it looks like the Marilith has an option to make 6 separate attack rolls, each against a different target, or is it one attack roll, compared to 6 target's AC?
We don't know for sure, but I'd bet on one roll vs. everyone. Even if it doesn't work that way, it's simpler by virtue of having the same bonus on all the attacks.

Yeah, now that I think about it, I can see them leaning towards the latter (may cause some chagrin).

Total, they also mentioned that one fat ability (2 or 3 actions) to smack one target with all its demonic flurry..

Liberty's Edge

Weather Report wrote:
Total, they also mentioned that one fat ability (2 or 3 actions) to smack one target with all its demonic flurry..

Yes, but we know that's rolled as one attack, which does heaps of damage if it hits and normal longsword damage on a miss (no damage at all on a critical failure).


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Total, they also mentioned that one fat ability (2 or 3 actions) to smack one target with all its demonic flurry..
Yes, but we know that's rolled as one attack, which does heaps of damage if it hits and normal longsword damage on a miss (no damage at all on a critical failure).

Yeah, but we don't know if the six-armed attack is not; I am most interested to see how monster attacks interact with the 3-action system.


Weather Report wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Total, they also mentioned that one fat ability (2 or 3 actions) to smack one target with all its demonic flurry..
Yes, but we know that's rolled as one attack, which does heaps of damage if it hits and normal longsword damage on a miss (no damage at all on a critical failure).
Yeah, but we don't know if the six-armed attack is not; I am most interested to see how monster attacks interact with the 3-action system.

One roll vs. all PCs in area might be too swingy re: critting, though I think in most cases she'll focus on one target anyway.

A Paizo dev mentioned that a Marilith would not be doing her special attacks twice per round, so yes they likely take two actions to perform. Her third action is likely for closing into combat, spells, attacking with her tail, or maintaining a grapple w/ her tail (unless perhaps her tail is tied to a reaction ability instead).

Two- or three-action actions (yea, we need to work on the vocabulary here) seem like they'll give some pretty good thematic & cinematic effects w/o worrying about spamming. I can imagine the tougher giants sweeping through groups of smaller foes.
I have to wonder how game-changing Slow will be (not that it didn't already neutralize monsters that relied on many attacks).


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Malk_Content wrote:
Also how do you determine what is a mook and what isn't without getting overly gamey? CR -4? -5? Seperate entries for Ogre as big monster and Ogre as mook?

Going to depend on how the math works out in play, but generally yeah, CR -4 or so. And no, I wouldn't want to have two versions of every monster, since that would more than defeat the point, which is "make this easier and faster."

Also, I think you might have the wrong end of the stick with why I was arguing for this. I'm perfectly able to handle iterative attacks. I am also able to walk the four miles to my Dr's office every time I have an appointment. Just because I'm able to do something doesn't mean I can't spot where there might be an easier way of going about it.

But okay. If this is really something that adds to the game for you all, I'll mostly keep my peace. It doesn't for me though.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Castilliano wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Total, they also mentioned that one fat ability (2 or 3 actions) to smack one target with all its demonic flurry..
Yes, but we know that's rolled as one attack, which does heaps of damage if it hits and normal longsword damage on a miss (no damage at all on a critical failure).
Yeah, but we don't know if the six-armed attack is not; I am most interested to see how monster attacks interact with the 3-action system.

One roll vs. all PCs in area might be too swingy re: critting, though I think in most cases she'll focus on one target anyway.

A Paizo dev mentioned that a Marilith would not be doing her special attacks twice per round, so yes they likely take two actions to perform. Her third action is likely for closing into combat, spells, attacking with her tail, or maintaining a grapple w/ her tail (unless perhaps her tail is tied to a reaction ability instead).

Two- or three-action actions (yea, we need to work on the vocabulary here) seem like they'll give some pretty good thematic & cinematic effects w/o worrying about spamming. I can imagine the tougher giants sweeping through groups of smaller foes.
I have to wonder how game-changing Slow will be (not that it didn't already neutralize monsters that relied on many attacks).

Degrees of Success in getting a Crit make using one roll a tad bit less swingy, since it's more on the targets' AC.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Also how do you determine what is a mook and what isn't without getting overly gamey? CR -4? -5? Seperate entries for Ogre as big monster and Ogre as mook?

Going to depend on how the math works out in play, but generally yeah, CR -4 or so. And no, I wouldn't want to have two versions of every monster, since that would more than defeat the point, which is "make this easier and faster."

Also, I think you might have the wrong end of the stick with why I was arguing for this. I'm perfectly able to handle iterative attacks. I am also able to walk the four miles to my Dr's office every time I have an appointment. Just because I'm able to do something doesn't mean I can't spot where there might be an easier way of going about it.

But okay. If this is really something that adds to the game for you all, I'll mostly keep my peace. It doesn't for me though.

The issue is that at only CR-4, removing the iterative penalites will likely make that monster punch way above the level of challenge that CR is meant to represent. Afterall on their second attack they'll be as good or better than an CR monster and on the third attack they will be way better. Even worse their any critical success bonuses they have will go off way more often and any critical failure punishing rules a player has will go off way less. You get a bizzare outcome where you'd rather face a CR -3, -2 or -1 than a CR -4

And sorry, I assumed you personally had issues as you used "me" a lot in your example.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Castilliano wrote:


Two- or three-action actions (yea, we need to work on the vocabulary here)

I just want to point out that they've used a separate term from action for these multi action abilities in posts, though I haven't seen it in the blogs. They're calling them "activities" which clearly differentiates them from actions, but still feels a little weird using it in the context of a fight.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I think calling them "complex actions" like in Unchained has the potential to alleviate a lot of the confusion about multiple action actions. Anything which requires one to use more than one of its actions to complete it is a complex action.

Hypothetical table exchange:
New Player: "Er, I want to do this 'sudden charge' thingy. That's an action, right?"

GM: "No. If you look closely you'll see that it's a Complex Action, which means it takes more than just one of your actions to complete. In this case it takes two of your actions, but it allows you to do something that would have taken all three of your actions to complete without it."

New Player: "So I spent two of my actions to do the sudden charge on the ogre because it's a complex action. Does that mean I can still do something else as well with the third action?"

GM: "Yep, as long as whatever it is isn't also a complex action, because you only have the one action left to spend."

New Player: "I see. What do you think, guys? Should I hit it again or raise my shield?"

Player 2: "Definitely hit it again. If you finish it off it can't hurt you in case it goes next."

Player 3: "I dunno, ogres tend to be a big bag of HP. I wouldn't bet on finishing it off with one more swing and raise your shield."

GM: "What'll it be?"

New Player: "I'll play it safe and raise my shield."


So, I am late coming to this party and only read page one and this last page of comments, but I noticed a couple things that bother me about the new stats. 1) I understand the idea of making things easier, but, in doing so, you are making it much harder for any changes from the norm. There are already complaints from the forums at large that they cannot understand how the monster rates a specific entry and on top of that change we are implementing pre-kitted creatures with specific equipment that they may not have in every situation. This method works really well for published adventures and what not because the monster is going to have a narrow focus based on the narrative, but in the bestiary, that same creature can be used over and over in other narratives and likely with different equipment. My contention here is the bestiary needs to be the basis for all modifications and any other published adventuring material can then be stated out with truncated stat blocks because they have already been selected for their role and kitted out for it. 2) moving information in the stat block because it flows better is again something that sounds like an improvement, but will become a detriment. Allow me to explain. As a DM, I go through creatures (my characters) just about every combat. They are basically one and done. Now, what really saves me time after I have done my read through prep is that I know what general part of a stat block to look at to find specific information when it escapes my memory. Moving the information around based on context, ease of read, or expected flow where something fits does not fix that information to the same spot every time and now I am losing time rereading where it ended up for this one creature should I need to reference it.
I do have one question though, neither of these example monsters have a level of mastery in any skills, does that mean creatures do not at all? Or is it that these two just do not?


Can't remember if somebody mentioned this already, but I wonder if you will be able to span a Complex Action across a Round boundary (like do something that takes 2 actions in the last 3rd of round 1 and the 1st 3rd of round 2).

Liberty's Edge

UnArcaneElection wrote:
Can't remember if somebody mentioned this already, but I wonder if you will be able to span a Complex Action across a Round boundary (like do something that takes 2 actions in the last 3rd of round 1 and the 1st 3rd of round 2).

I believe it's been specified that you can't, though I'd have to look up the source and I'm a bit tired for that tonight.


Castilliano wrote:
A Paizo dev mentioned that a Marilith would not be doing her special attacks twice per round, so yes they likely take two actions to perform. Her third action is likely for closing into combat, spells, attacking with her tail, or maintaining a grapple w/ her tail (unless perhaps her tail is tied to a reaction ability instead).

Total, and maintaining a grapple costs 2 actions in the Revised Action Economy (Unchained), I wonder if it will cost the same in PF2.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Can't remember if somebody mentioned this already, but I wonder if you will be able to span a Complex Action across a Round boundary (like do something that takes 2 actions in the last 3rd of round 1 and the 1st 3rd of round 2).
I believe it's been specified that you can't, though I'd have to look up the source and I'm a bit tired for that tonight.

Aw, that's kind of a bummer, in the RAE you can cast a full-round spell (3 actions) over 2 rounds, as long as the actions are consecutive.


Weather Report wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Can't remember if somebody mentioned this already, but I wonder if you will be able to span a Complex Action across a Round boundary (like do something that takes 2 actions in the last 3rd of round 1 and the 1st 3rd of round 2).
I believe it's been specified that you can't, though I'd have to look up the source and I'm a bit tired for that tonight.
Aw, that's kind of a bummer, in the RAE you can cast a full-round spell (3 actions) over 2 rounds, as long as the actions are consecutive.

I think the risk there would be that metamagic, which adds actions. A concealed Dominate might take four actions (and thus normally not allowed), but if you can split that across two rounds, you can potentially cast it in social situations where that extra round doesn’t hurt at all. Also, you could stack lots of metamagic together while invisible, adding somatic components and leaving the verbal component to the very end. (That one depends on manifestation/Invisibility rules.)


QuidEst wrote:
A concealed Dominate might take four actions (and thus normally not allowed), but if you can split that across two rounds, you can potentially cast it in social situations where that extra round doesn’t hurt at all.

You're probably not counting time in rounds in such a situation anyway.


Khudzlin wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
A concealed Dominate might take four actions (and thus normally not allowed), but if you can split that across two rounds, you can potentially cast it in social situations where that extra round doesn’t hurt at all.
You're probably not counting time in rounds in such a situation anyway.

No, but the rules might still cap you at three actions per spell.


Even in Pathfinder 1st Edition, a few spells take longer than 1 round to cast, but still a short enough time that it is conceivable that you could use them in combat in a really desperate situation.


This is a problem with metamagic taking more actions rather then using higher spell slots. Either spells are going to radically change in how they go off (making it feel more gamey IMO) or we're going to have silly situations where there is no meaningful cost to applying metamagic effects to spells.


We haven't seen enough metamagic to know what the cost is for all of it. Some of it might require extra actions; some of it might require higher spell levels; some of it might require something else.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

We haven't seen enough metamagic to know what the cost is for all of it. Some of it might require extra actions; some of it might require higher spell levels; some of it might require something else.

One Cleric capstone allows applying one metamagic to a casting of cure/inflict without increasing casting actions. Given that’s competing with Miracle 1/day, I’m going to jump to two conclusions: metamagic always costs one extra action (although it may have additional costs in some cases), and the ability to apply metamagic to a three-action spell is a restricted ability (turning single target buff/debuffs into AoE buff/debuffs).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Quicken (if it is still around) might still use a similar approach as in PF1E, in that you have to cast it using a higher spell level slot, to reduce the number of actions the spell needs.

I haven't seen a mention of quicken though, yet.


We have only seen a handful of examples of metamagic -- far short of the profusion found in Pathfinder 1st Edition or D&D 3.x.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Forgive me if this was addressed elsewhere in the comments.

THIS IS HOW I REBUILD AND USE THE STAT BLOCKS FOR MONSTERS AND NPCS IN PATHFINDER AND EVERY RPG I RUN.

I've played and GMed Fantasy RPGs for 20 years now. But for some reason even though the designers and writers of RPGs are playing and GMing as well, no one builds the stat blocks how we all use them the majority of the time in RPG games ... combat stats and special abilities at the top, skills in the middle, treasure and equipment at the bottom. I know some GMs run more role-play heavy games BUT when combat actually breaks out the stats we actually need fast should be at the top, front and center.

My thinking and use is based on how combat encounters typically play out.
1. Does either side perceive/notice the other side first? Or does either side get the drop on the other?
2. How quickly can the NPCs/monsters engage, regroup or retreat in a combat encounter.
3. What is the number AC/Target Number/Defense Score that the PCs and NPCs/monsters are trying to roll to meet or beat?
4. How much damage can the NPCs/monsters take?
5. What kind of damage and how much damage are the NPCs/monsters going to inflict on PCs.

I prefer all Ability Score/Racial/Feat/Skill/Magic modifiers be built into defense and offense scores as a single number and already active/activated/cast. It's a time saver for me as a GM and helps speed up combat. Yes, I know in real time NPCs/monsters should be activating/casting buffs/defenses/offenses, BUT it cuts into and takes away from the fun/action when combat actually occurs.

I put the size, creature type, alignment, skills, languages, special qualities at the bottom because in role-play situations I have more time to pause and consider the NPCs/monsters communication, conversation and reactions.

....

REDCAP CREATURE 5
Perception +10, low-light vision
Speed 50
AC 20, TAC 19
HP 55, fast healing 10; Weaknesses cold iron 5, irreligious
Fort +8, Ref +11, Will +9
[[A]] Melee scythe +13 (deadly 1d10, trip), Damage 2d10+4 slashing
[[A]] Melee boot +13 (agile, versatile B), Damage 2d4+8 piercing

Irreligious (emotion, fear, mental) If a redcap sees a creature brandish a holy symbol of a good deity or use one for the Material Casting of a divine spell, the redcap must attempt a DC 17 Will save. On a failure, the redcap is frightened 4 and fleeing for 1 round; on a success, it's frightened 2; on a critical success, it's unaffected. To brandish a holy symbol, a creature must Interact to brandish it for 1 round (similar to Raising a Shield). Once a redcap has to attempt a save against a brandished holy symbol, it is bolstered against brandished holy symbols for the next 10 minutes.

[[A]] Blood Soak (manipulate) The redcap dips its cap in the blood of a slain foe. The foe must have died in the last minute, and the redcap must have helped kill it. The redcap gains a +4 conditional bonus on damage rolls for 1 minute.

[[R]] Deadly Cleave
Trigger The redcap drops a creature to 0 Hit Points with a scythe Strike.
Effect The redcap makes another scythe Strike against a different creature, using the same multiple attack penalty as the scythe Strike that triggered this reaction. This counts toward its multiple attack penalty.

[[A]] Stomp The redcap Strides up to half its Speed and makes a boot Strike at any point during that movement. If the boot Strike hits a prone creature, it deals an extra 2d6 persistent bleed damage.

Evil, Fey, Small
Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4, Int +3, Wis +1, Cha +2
Skills +5; Acrobatics +13, Athletics +13, Deception +13, Intimidation +11, Nature +11, Stealth +13
Languages Aklo, Common, Giant, Sylvan

Items red cap, expert Medium scythe, iron boots

Red Cap (arcane, necromancy) A redcap's shapeless woolen hat is dyed with the blood of its victims. If the redcap loses its cap, it no longer benefits from fast healing and takes a -4 conditional penalty to its damage rolls. It can create a new cap in 10 minutes, but that cap doesn't grant its powers until the redcap has turned it red with Blood Soak. A cap has no benefit for creatures other than redcaps.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Please can someone clarify if it takes one action to use both the Redcaps scythe and its boot attacks, or if they are two separate actions?
I've read through 599 comments on this blog post trying to find the answer to this and despite being asked multiple times by various people it doesn't seem to have been addressed by anyone from Paizo!
(Apologies if it has been addressed and I just missed it, which is very possible - I am quite tired and there are a lot of comments here)

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