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

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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Thebazilly wrote:


In the blood soak ability, it lists that the damage bonus lasts for 1 minute. So it would be no hat (-4), hat (0), recently soaked hat (+4).

This is some information that would be nice to have directly in the stat block, the "no hat (-4 dam), hat (+0 dam), recently soaked hat (+4 dam)"

Makes it easy to understand and apply.


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To those wanting AC, Touch AC, attack rolls, skill bonuses and saving throws to make sense: Stop bothering. They won't make sense. Reading between the lines of what Jason said, but also drawing upon what's previously been said about PF2e and how Pathfinder Unchained and Starfinder work: the numbers are going to be completely arbitrary and be there purely for balancing purposes rather than trying to (or pretending to as the devs say what happened in PF1e) mimic an in-world reality.

To be honest it makes some degree of sense. What BAB a monster had was arbitrary. So was any natural armor bonus. Saving throws can be argued as being arbitrary as well. But I do expect a large contingent of fans to be unsatisfied (including my table) which is why I'll be arguing for less arbitrary numbers. But I do see Paizo's point of view on the issue.

On the upside, for those wanting to double check Paizo's math: You can't. Because there is no math. It's all arbitrary. Whatever Paizo says the numbers are, those numbers are correct.


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:

I understand that folks want to see exactly how a thing was put together, to have a better understanding of how to tinker with that monster. I would rather reach you what the monster needs to look like to be balanced and have you adjust it to that goal than to force you to apply formulas that are trying to do the same thing, but have little flexibility in their outcome without significant modification.

I understand this thinking. But I really do want more nuts and bots of putting monsters together.

I think the biggest mystery for me at the moment is how proficiency works for monsters. Maybe it is irrelevant, and you just give them the bonuses you think they should have.

The saves for both monsters do not seem to make much sense at the moment. Maybe in the fullness of time they will.


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Rikkan wrote:
Quote:
Trigger The redcap drops a creature to 0 Hit Points with a scythe Strike.
Does this mean that if a redcap picks up a different weapon, it can never use its reaction?

What armor a monster is wearing is essentially a special effect (if I understand the new rules right). What I mean by special effect is that it has no impact on the numbers because the numbers are not representing an in game reality. Likewise I expect that unless explicitly called out, a monster will not be able to be disarmed of their weapon, or if they are disarmed then a GM will be encouraged to simply improvise a way for the monster to still get it's attacks off with roughly the same numbers being used. Because again the weapon is simply a special effect.

Based on past experiences the above is going to be very unsatisfactory for certain players in my group. It's more of a gamification of the rules then they're comfortable with. They specifically rejected more "gamier" rulesets in favour of Pathfinder 1e and I expect I'll see much the same reaction for PF2e if the above is how things actually work in PF2e.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Ecidon wrote:

Looking at these statblocks, along with the claim that they're "More concise" and "Easier to run", we should look at empirical evidence.

The Ogre: 12 lines, 458 characters.
This compares to the Pathfinder Ogre at 24 lines, 649 characters. Half the lines, maybe 80% of the characters. But wait: it's also omitting titles such as "Offense", "Defense", as well as the XP value (which has probably been removed). It also omits the Ecology section, the Environment section, its Organization, and its treasure. Once we discount them it stands at 15 lines, 446 characters. So it's more text to read.

Let's now look at a "moderately complex" monster, the Redcap:
43 lines (at 80-column width) 2339 characters.

Compared to the Pathfinder Redcap at 47 lines, 2178 characters. And this includes the Ecology, Environment, Organization and Treasure.

In volume alone, I'm not sure how this makes it "simplified" or "easier to read".

It seems like you are looking for evidence that would be of interest to a book publisher or perhaps an editor, when they are considering how many pages are supposed to be in a book for a given print run.

Here are the quotes that you seem to be quoting from (my emphasis):
"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."

"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!"

My sense is that the reason for wanting the stat block to be more concise is so that it is easier to use during play.

During play, I am not worried about lines of text, nor pages in a book. What matters is, do I have the info I need for actual play. I am not reading the whole stat block everytime I am rolling its initiative. I am not reading the whole stat block everytime I am rolling a skill. Etc. etc. When I need a particular thing in play, is it where I need it, and have enough (but not too much) that I need for that time in play? That is the type of evidence we need to decide if it is easier in actual play.


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Based on what they've said, that you can use the classes to build NPCs that will come very close to the benchmarks they use for monsters, I think people might be overstating this concern.

I suspect, if we have a good chart for monster creation, this means we'll be able to reverse-engineer the monsters into a 'hit die' system in an afternoon. Not the special abilities, but those were never part of the equation. And I'd also be surprised if a 3rd party didn't release a system to build monsters to the appropriate numbers, whether via 'natural armor' or actual armor, fairly quickly.


From some attempts at deciphering the given stat blocks;

- Monsters in general have very free leeway with master/legendary proficiency.
- Ogres have master level Perception, Acrobatics, and Will saves. ACROBATICS. And WILL. Duh.
- Not surprising on the ogres' supposed legendary Fort saves though.
- Ogres deal an extra +2 damage in addition to their STR bonus.
- Redcaps have an unusual -1 penalty in total to their Fort saves. No idea how is this possible.

That's it for now...

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

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Not a fan of removal of ability scores for monsters, and only including their bonuses. Either the ability scores can matter in the game, such as using the Str score to determine carrying capacity, or they have no impact on the game, in which case PCs shouldn't need them anymore either.

I know ability score damage/drain isn't supposed to be part of PF2, but not as sure about how other affects interact with ability scores. Does a belt of giant strength or a wish give the ability to increase ability scores? Do you still need a Str or Int of 13 to select particular feats?

If so, then monsters should have them. By not including them in stat blocks, it sounds like PF2 is stating that ability scores will have zero impact on the game, now and with all future supplements. If that's the case, then just get rid of them and convert the whole system to modifiers.

The redcaps's deadly cleave sounds an awful lot like a feat. Why not just make this a feat which anyone can take, and have redcaps have it? Monsters having unique abilities are great, but not when those abilities are just a fighting technique anyone should be able to learn. Even if this isn't a feat in Core, it's likely that some similar feat would be introduced at some point, so why have it as a special ability?

I'm also not a fan of not having the breakdown of AC listed anymore. It makes it much harder to apply effects to a monster if you don't know what can stack.

For the ogre hook having 10' reach - that's very misleading when it actually comes from the monster being large. If I were to want to make another ogre, either armed with another weapon, or an advanced one, or with fighter levels, I don't know what's from it's equipment and what's actually from its abilities. Much more confusing to know how Lunge feat would work with it, or how a weapon with actual reach would interact with it.

Finally, with up to 4 result states for special ability, embedding those in the text of an ability makes picking out the result much more difficult in play. I'd much prefer syntax that makes it easier to pick out the results of a critical success, success, failure, and critical failure, instead of trying to find that in the text of each unique ability (as well as feats, spells, etc.)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Benjamin Medrano wrote:

Based on what they've said, that you can use the classes to build NPCs that will come very close to the benchmarks they use for monsters, I think people might be overstating this concern.

I suspect, if we have a good chart for monster creation, this means we'll be able to reverse-engineer the monsters into a 'hit die' system in an afternoon. Not the special abilities, but those were never part of the equation. And I'd also be surprised if a 3rd party didn't release a system to build monsters to the appropriate numbers, whether via 'natural armor' or actual armor, fairly quickly.

It's two sides of a coin:

In PF1, you had a system for building monsters that wasn't much like building PCs but sort of looked close enough in some ways to seem parallel if you didn't look closely enough, and it generated results that were drastically different than what PCs were actually like (PF1 monsters, as levels increased, tended to have vastly more HP than all but the most unusually Con-heavy PCs and way lower DCs, for instance, to name just a few low-hanging fruit).

In PF2, the monster system does not attempt to appear similar to how a player builds a character on the surface of how it's done, but in exchange, you actually get results that are much more parallel to the statistics of PCs than the PF1 monsters ever were (Jason alludes to this in the first sentence of his post). You don't have a creature ostensibly at the same CR as a PC's level but with twice as many HD as the PC has levels (which then led to double the skill ranks, double the feats, and so on).

So in PF2, monsters may not be built in the same way a PC builds a character (and they weren't really in PF1 either), but they share more similarities with the PCs in terms of their actual values than before.


Mark Seifter wrote:


It's two sides of a coin:

<snip>

So in PF2, monsters may not be built in the same way a PC builds a character (and they weren't really in PF1 either), but they share more similarities with the PCs in terms of their actual values than before.

Oh, I'm entirely understand that. I personally love decoupling the enemies from hit dice. I once was trying to build a fey-based troll, and it was... obnoxious, trying to get it to where I wanted it.

I'm just saying I suspect we can reverse-engineer a 'monster level' system that will help the people who want more nuts and bolts to the system relatively easily. We'll see in the end, but that's more my point of view.

Paizo Employee Designer

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JoelF847 wrote:
The redcaps's deadly cleave sounds an awful lot like a feat. Why not just make this a feat which anyone can take, and have redcaps have it? Monsters having unique abilities are great, but not when those abilities are just a fighting technique anyone should be able to learn. Even if this isn't a feat in Core, it's likely that some similar feat would be introduced at some point, so why have it as a special ability?.

Some monsters do have actions or activities that are the same as those a PC can gain via a feat. The monster will include the action's text for ease of use (or for some common abilities like Attack of Opportunity, they might be in the universal monster abilities list), but that doesn't mean nobody else can ever have the ability.

Liberty's Edge

Meophist wrote:

Ogre has +1 skills for being level 3, which implies being untrained by default, which makes sense.

Redcap on the other hand has +5 for being level 5, which implies being trained in everything? Feels a bit odd.

As I noted in my first post, the Redcap seems to be built as a Level 7 creature specifically for skills. This is a reasonable cap for specifically skilled monsters, IMO. That's what their trained skill bonuses indicate as well as their untrained one.

It doesn't explain their Deception modifier being so high, though.


Man, I hope we aint hanging onto stats over mods because of rolling...

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Shorter statblocks, yay!


First, that Bugbear is so freaking awesome!
Second, I notice that the redcap only has "Evil" listed as his alignment (redcaps are NE in 1st edition). Is that an indication that the only time Neutral would be mentioned is if the creature is True Neutral? In that case a LN creature would only be listed as Lawful, a LG creature would be Lawful, Good; While a NG creature would simply be Good.
EDIT: Third, are preferred tactics only going to be for NPCs in modules/APs?

NielsenE wrote:
Logan Bonner wrote:
NielsenE wrote:
Is "bolstered" the new term of art for "immune to effect for the next 24 hours"?
You guessed it!
Can you talk about why you choose that word? "immune to ..." sounded unambiguous, while bolstered to me sounds more like "gets a bonus on future checks". It doesn't seem to be saving word count (since you still are calling out the duration of the effect.)

Most likely to differentiate it from actual Immunities.


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This has probably been asked but can we Counter Spell these non Spell Like Abilities?


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
It doesn't explain their Deception modifier being so high, though.

In PF1e the devs would have had "+2 racial bonus to Deception" which is as arbitrary as saying "Redcap's have a +13 deception bonus because I said so".


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
It doesn't explain their Deception modifier being so high, though.
In PF1e the devs would have had "+2 racial bonus to Deception" which is as arbitrary as saying "Redcap's have a +13 deception bonus because I said so".

Or a feat that says "+2 on Deception Rolls"

Speaking of, I noticed neither entry had any listed feats. What's up with that.

Liberty's Edge

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Mark Seifter wrote:
In PF2, the monster system does not attempt to appear similar to how a player builds a character on the surface of how it's done, but in exchange, you actually get results that are much more parallel to the statistics of PCs than the PF1 monsters ever were (Jason alludes to this in the first sentence of his post). You don't have a creature ostensibly at the same CR as a PC's level but with twice as many HD as the PC has levels (which then led to double the skill ranks, double the feats, and so on).

This is great, but sorta why I'm worried about the Redcap's high skills. Deception in particular is substantially higher than a 5th level PC with anything less than maxed Charisma can even theoretically have, and that's the kind of issue high skill points result in that this system is supposed to eliminate, right?

I mean, if the Redcap is as optimized in Deception as a level 5 monster could possibly be, that'd be one thing...but it has mediocre Charisma and is not thematically tied to ridiculously high Deception (it has a +13 in PF1, but that meant a lot less in that edition), so it's just weird that it's so good at it compared to PCs in the same range.

John Lynch 106 wrote:
In PF1e the devs would have had "+2 racial bonus to Deception" which is as arbitrary as saying "Redcap's have a +13 deception bonus because I said so".

My issue is not really with it being arbitrary, but with it being the following:

1. It's higher than it seemingly should be given the Redcap's thematic role (this is my big issue).
2. It is not correlated with it's Charisma score (this is a side issue).

I guess the latter is sort of an issue with it being arbitrary but not directly so.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Mark Seifter wrote:
JoelF847 wrote:
The redcaps's deadly cleave sounds an awful lot like a feat. Why not just make this a feat which anyone can take, and have redcaps have it? Monsters having unique abilities are great, but not when those abilities are just a fighting technique anyone should be able to learn. Even if this isn't a feat in Core, it's likely that some similar feat would be introduced at some point, so why have it as a special ability?.
Some monsters do have actions or activities that are the same as those a PC can gain via a feat. The monster will include the action's text for ease of use (or for some common abilities like Attack of Opportunity, they might be in the universal monster abilities list), but that doesn't mean nobody else can ever have the ability.

So if deadly cleave is a feat essentially, does the ability always have the same name as the feat? This would make it much easier to add class levels to monsters, and know that if the redcap already has the deadly cleave feat, don't take that feat if it takes 3 levels of fighter. If the feat is called something different, along with monsters with the same ability having different names for it, that makes it much harder to say, "this redcap fighter already has deadly cleave, so I'll pick something else for his fighter feats."

Contributor

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Logan Bonner wrote:
Alexander Augunas wrote:
1) Why aren't any of the custom abilities listing extraordinary / spell-like / supernatural as tags? Seems weird to me to not know what powers different effects.
Anything that's magical would have traits like "arcane" or "evocation" appearing in parentheses. See "Red Cap."

Isn't that even more confusing for new GMs, who now need to know that a bonus versus magical effects applies to everything that lists a magic tradition or a school of magic?


GentleGiant wrote:
I notice that the redcap only has "Evil" listed as his alignment (redcaps are NE in 1st edition). Is that an indication that the only time Neutral would be mentioned is if the creature is True Neutral? In that case a LN creature would only be listed as Lawful, a LG creature would be Lawful, Good; While a NG creature would simply be Good.

I don't think the keywords are specifically designed to emulate their alignment (although it effectively does if you just infer Neutral to anyone who is missing either a law/chaos keyword or a good/evil keyword). The reason evil, good, law, chaos are listed is because there are rule elements that trigger on those keywords. Nothing triggers on the Neutral keyword so there's no game reason to include that keyword.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

2. It is not correlated with it's Charisma score (this is a side issue).

I guess the latter is sort of an issue with it being arbitrary but not directly so.

The +2 racial bonus on Deception would deal with #2 (not #1 though). Also if you look at the skills I think we can infer that CR 3 creatures will have +11 on average skills, +13 on good skills and +??? on all other skills. I suspect the fact the ability scores appear to help match up with the skill bonus is purely coincidental.


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I don't really like how just having an alignment now seems to give you them as descriptors. Makes it seem like alignments on creatures are more rigid, and means you'd need to add in an extra special descriptor for each alignment to say "this individual member of the species isn't just evil, the whole species is physically evil".


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
In PF2, the monster system does not attempt to appear similar to how a player builds a character on the surface of how it's done, but in exchange, you actually get results that are much more parallel to the statistics of PCs than the PF1 monsters ever were (Jason alludes to this in the first sentence of his post). You don't have a creature ostensibly at the same CR as a PC's level but with twice as many HD as the PC has levels (which then led to double the skill ranks, double the feats, and so on).

This is great, but sorta why I'm worried about the Redcap's high skills. Deception in particular is substantially higher than a 5th level PC with anything less than maxed Charisma can even theoretically have, and that's the kind of issue high skill points result in that this system is supposed to eliminate, right?

I mean, if the Redcap is as optimized in Deception as a level 5 monster could possibly be, that'd be one thing...but it has mediocre Charisma and is not thematically tied to ridiculously high Deception (it has a +13 in PF1, but that meant a lot less in that edition), so it's just weird that it's so good at it compared to PCs in the same range.

John Lynch 106 wrote:
In PF1e the devs would have had "+2 racial bonus to Deception" which is as arbitrary as saying "Redcap's have a +13 deception bonus because I said so".

My issue is not really with it being arbitrary, but with it being the following:

1. It's higher than it seemingly should be given the Redcap's thematic role (this is my big issue).
2. It is not correlated with it's Charisma score (this is a side issue).

I guess the latter is sort of an issue with it being arbitrary but not directly so.

Higher deception might be something inherent to the fey creature type (a group well known for being tricksy and mischievous). Also, we don't know all of what deception does, it may be more fitting for Redcaps now.


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Not bad in general, but it does need the info for when creatures that use equipment don't have that equipment¹. At the least we would need to easily determine AC without armour &c., what their unarmed attacks are and what weapons are adding to as a base.

I do share the concern WRT alignment being stuck into the subtypes. This would be even more important in my games due to the house rule I use for Detect (Alignment) effects, (I use a calculated value rather than the table).

1: Almost all of the people I have played with have had no qualms about attacking monsters while they are taking a bath and I have no qualms with having "I did not need to think about that," being a player reaction to what they encountered sneaking in a window.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
In PF2, the monster system does not attempt to appear similar to how a player builds a character on the surface of how it's done, but in exchange, you actually get results that are much more parallel to the statistics of PCs than the PF1 monsters ever were (Jason alludes to this in the first sentence of his post). You don't have a creature ostensibly at the same CR as a PC's level but with twice as many HD as the PC has levels (which then led to double the skill ranks, double the feats, and so on).

This is great, but sorta why I'm worried about the Redcap's high skills. Deception in particular is substantially higher than a 5th level PC with anything less than maxed Charisma can even theoretically have, and that's the kind of issue high skill points result in that this system is supposed to eliminate, right?

It turned out that the Redcap, which used to have a CR of 6 in PF1, had all its non-default listed skills 1 point too high. The Playtest Bestiary ship hasn't sailed yet, so I've fixed it there. It now has 12s and 10s. Incidentally, redcaps aren't world-class deceivers for their levels like doppelgangers or succubi, but we have still them specced as being pretty darn good at it. You will rarely see monsters with higher Deception than that at level 5.


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I like the consolidation of abilities by when they'd fall in the encounter.

That said, the main thing I'm taking away from the statblocks is that the new action names do look ridiculous in context. I assume going for things like Stride and Strike instead of move and attack is to prevent confusion, but honestly it - and I hate to say this because it gets bandied around so much here for ridiculous reasons - feels deeply gamey and immersion-breaking. I don't think it would be that much harder to process just marking in the action rules that an attack is always one action except when described otherwise, and then just have the action count in parentheses for things like Power Attack. Same for movement. "I move twice, to here, and then attack once" just flows better, IMO. (Also now that I'm looking at it, there's still room for confusion in the Stride/Strike setup, because the Redcap's entry describes it Striding half its speed, which means the Stride action is not always moving up to your speed, so there's absolutely no reason to give it a special name.)

I also have a minor quibble about the spells re: "Anything that doesn't come in a level entry is cast at its lowest level unless a level appears in parentheses." It might be helpful to list the base spell level in addition to the upcast level, if any, just to reduce the amount of spell list searching GMs have to do for creatures with unfamiliar spells. (Also, does this mean that spells are at the same level on every spell list now?)


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Please add base DC to identify or a trait explaining the rarity of the monster in the traits bar. Sometimes it's hard to judge from text what the Knowledge DC should be.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

First, love that Bugbear art. Again anything that makes goblinoids look more like one ancestry with different evolutionary divergences is cool by me.

Second, new stat blocks are going to take some getting used to, just as learning the PF1E stat block took some getting used to.

I don’t particularly need a breakdown of AC if flat-footed, sundered or the like are status effects, and for description I’ll make those decisions based on art/description.

Customizablilty is important to me, but I don’t particularly feel like I need to do it from the back-end. So long as the monster/NPC building/advancement tables are clear on what number ranges are needed for a monster of x level.

ALSO monsters not listing ability scores is great, and so far I haven’t seen any way for PCs to get odd ability scores; sooooo can there be a variant rule in the book to allow players to use modifiers only!

Finally, I’d like to echo concerns that visually impaired players may have trouble with symbols. I hope there is a solution to keep the game inclusive for all gamers.


So what are these guys' reaction abilities?


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I'm not particularly impressed by the new stat block. Most of the info I would need to run a monster is there, and I do appreciate the need to streamline and reduce noise of the old stat block. But some reason, I feel like I'm missing out on something.

Please do not use custom art for [[A]] and [[R]]. I know it might look nice, but they won't do any favors when you need to copy the stat block. You just added more things to format. And even if you do have the icon art, are you really going to repeatedly embed an image in it when you put up the stat block online? Please find some text-based abbreviation to denote actions and reactions. Maybe a capital bold "A|<action name>".

I'm fine for aiming towards a redcued, streamlined stat block, but I hope we get a robust monster-building system along with when PF2 releases. Because alone, the new stat block is very unsatisfying, along with this statement:

Quote:
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.

Seems to me that the solution would have been to fix those abilities to scale differently instead of dropping the main measurement to judge the relative power between a PC and a class-less monster.

What kind of guidelines will be provided to build or modify monsters this way? Because this new design approach requires you to know the balancing levels of each individual part of the creature and they also balance each other out. If I want a creature to have high attack, and low health, how do I measure what numbers to arbitrarily put in those stats to be weak/challenging/overpowering for PCs of X level? It seems to me that you'd be doing more balance testing on an individual monster basis, as opposed to balance testing a creation system which can be applied to all monsters, and that seems very inefficient to me.

The PF1 monster building may not have been perfect, but at least it was parallel to how to build a PC was built, so you had a decent estimate to how they'd match up. In the above example of the so-called "problem" in PF1 with the high-HD fey, maybe you should have developed fey-specific abilities so that you could have a low-HD fey with abilities that scaled high to be the strong iconic abilities for the monster without the other stats based on HD being over the intended goal. In other words, HD was the spine of the monster, and the abilities are the flexible parts that you can scale however you need.

In PF2, I can easily see a monster creation system similar to how PCs are build. Translate the PF1 creature types into ancestries, monster roles into classes, and the theme of the monster can be its background. Instead of monster HD from PF1, in PF2 it would simply be a monster level. Since these monster ancestries/classes/background are intended for monsters and not PCs, they can have access to both monster-specific and PC feats, and the modifiers can exceed what is intended for PCs. For example, a theoretical "giant" ancestry could offer a +8 bonus Strength, an "Awesome Blow" class feat from a theoretical "combat role" class, and a "Troll Regeneration" feat from a theoreritcal "troll" background.

This way, a GM could easily add or substract to get stronger or weaker versions of the same monster.

In fact, whether we get a monster building system or not with PF2, I think this would be a fun project to work on. To translate monster abilities into a PC-style monster building and progression system.


For my observations:

I like that get are weak to cold iron, rather than resistant to anything else. Makes more sense to me.

I still hope Icons are distinct and don't rely on color much
because over-reliance on color (particularly red/green for me) makes icons a lot less useful for me, being partially colorblind.

Also, I doubt this is new news, but I'm glad to learn there is an offensive fire cantrip in PF2. That it is Produce Flame is even better (always preferred that kind of fireball to the typical rays or AoEs).

Liberty's Edge

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John Lynch 106 wrote:
The +2 racial bonus on Deception would deal with #2 (not #1 though). Also if you look at the skills I think we can infer that CR 3 creatures will have +11 on average skills, +13 on good skills and +??? on all other skills. I suspect the fact the ability scores appear to help match up with the skill bonus is purely coincidental.

You mean Level 5, right?

Though it'd actually be level 7 (actually 6 per Mark's post), since that's what they seem to have as a prosthetic level for skills (which I'm fine with, by the way, as long as it doesn't go more than two levels up).

And that actually doesn't make sense with the Ogre stat block at all. There'd need to be at least three 'levels' of skills (which based on extrapolation would be +7/+10/+12 for Level 6 or +4/+7/+9 for level 3...the Ogre happens not ho have any mid level ones and the Redcap no low level ones).

Now those three levels are certainly possible, I was just hopeful that having the highest level of skill would have some correlation to having a good rating in the stat.

But however the skills are determined, my real worry is that the Redcap isn't maxed for level 5, because that means monsters can exceed optimized PCs of their level by a fair bit if true (the Redcap is already at the point where a PC needs gear to equal it, assuming such gear is even available for Deception).

If the Redcap is maxed out, I think that's an odd and perhaps improper choice if going for a straight conversion, but it's a minor issue with one creature. If it isn't maxed then there's seemingly a skill disparity between PCs and NPCs in the favor of the NPCs. Which is potentially a serious problem.

EDIT:
Numbers changed above to reflect the following:

Mark Seifter wrote:
It turned out that the Redcap, which used to have a CR of 6 in PF1, had all its non-default listed skills 1 point too high. The Playtest Bestiary ship hasn't sailed yet, so I've fixed it there. It now has 12s and 10s. Incidentally, redcaps aren't world-class deceivers for their levels like doppelgangers or succubi, but we have still them specced as being pretty darn good at it. You will rarely see monsters with higher Deception than that at level 5.

Okay, cool. That actually makes me feel quite a lot better. Thank you so much, Mark.


I'm not a fan of the oversimplification of the monster stats but I can live with it

IF the monster creation rules are better than what you gave us in Starfinder and if there is something better for when I need to create a complex NPC like The Evil Wizard at the bottom of the dungeon.

A BBEG who recycles 3-5 attack abilities round after round is boring.

how about showing us what Karzoug would look like under the new edition?

Liberty's Edge

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Greylurker wrote:

I'm not a fan of the oversimplification of the monster stats but I can live with it

IF the monster creation rules are better than what you gave us in Starfinder and if there is something better for when I need to create a complex NPC like The Evil Wizard at the bottom of the dungeon.

A BBEG who recycles 3-5 attack abilities round after round is boring.

how about showing us what Karzoug would look like under the new edition?

They've explicitly stated that the PC Rules can be used for NPCs and they'll be an appropriate challenge. So Karzoug would probably still be a 20th level Wizard built with the PC rules.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
I notice that the redcap only has "Evil" listed as his alignment (redcaps are NE in 1st edition). Is that an indication that the only time Neutral would be mentioned is if the creature is True Neutral? In that case a LN creature would only be listed as Lawful, a LG creature would be Lawful, Good; While a NG creature would simply be Good.
I don't think the keywords are specifically designed to emulate their alignment (although it effectively does if you just infer Neutral to anyone who is missing either a law/chaos keyword or a good/evil keyword). The reason evil, good, law, chaos are listed is because there are rule elements that trigger on those keywords. Nothing triggers on the Neutral keyword so there's no game reason to include that keyword.

My guess is that it's both. Neutral is the default, so no need to mention it (nor does any other abilities seem to trigger off of it) and any creature also possesses the traits corresponding to its alignment.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Greylurker wrote:

I'm not a fan of the oversimplification of the monster stats but I can live with it

IF the monster creation rules are better than what you gave us in Starfinder and if there is something better for when I need to create a complex NPC like The Evil Wizard at the bottom of the dungeon.

A BBEG who recycles 3-5 attack abilities round after round is boring.

how about showing us what Karzoug would look like under the new edition?

They've explicitly stated that the PC Rules can be used for NPCs and they'll be an appropriate challenge. So Karzoug would probably still be a 20th level Wizard built with the PC rules.

Yep, as long as you're willing to spend the additional time investment and drop PC-esque levels of wealth on that NPC, which Karzoug most certainly does.


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Kain Gallant wrote:
The PF1 monster building may not have been perfect, but at least it was parallel to how to build a PC was built, so you had a decent estimate to how they'd match up. In the above example of the so-called "problem" in PF1 with the high-HD fey, maybe you should have developed fey-specific abilities so that you could have a low-HD fey with abilities that scaled high to be the strong iconic abilities for the monster without the other stats based on HD being over the intended goal. In other words, HD was the spine of the monster, and the abilities are the flexible parts that you can scale however you need.

Alternatively, HD could have just been based on the monster's role in combat. There's zero reason for all "Fey" to be built with wizard hit dice other than "3.5 did it, and it didn't work very well there either".


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Finally, I’d like to echo concerns that visually impaired players may have trouble with symbols. I hope there is a solution to keep the game inclusive for all gamers.

I'm concerned about this too. It was a bit worrisome to see another blog post hyping up those icons. I might be remembering wrong (can't seem to find the posts), but wasn't this issue first brought up (and addressed positively by the devs) a few weeks ago?


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
JoelF847 wrote:
Not a fan of removal of ability scores for monsters, and only including their bonuses. Either the ability scores can matter in the game, such as using the Str score to determine carrying capacity, or they have no impact on the game, in which case PCs shouldn't need them anymore either.

So, either you show ability scores, or ability scores don't matter? Hunh? Not sure I get that.

That aside, are you figuring out carrying capacity during combat with an ogre? (I would think this would be fairly rare) But let's say you are, than the Str +5 would translate as either a 20 or a 21 Str and you go from there.

It is a matter of convenience. How often, during combat/encounter, do you need the ability modifier vs. knowing the actual ability score at a quick glance? I know for myself, it is the former the overwhelming majority of the time.

If you are creating a custom ogre character, then you are likely doing that ahead of the session, in which case translating +5 into Str. 20/21 seems doable as part of prep time.

Maybe this is all alluding to using stat blocks in different ways - during the session, and session prep.

Anyway, was just a little baffled at this response. I suppose we'll be able to suss it out in the playtest!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Is there an icon or other easy way to know how many actions things take? I’m thinking casting spells, in particular. I’d really like that to be included in the statblock. It seems to me it could be as easy as colouring the action symbol green if it takes one action, yellow if two and red if three (or even the text of the ability directly: black-blue-red or something).


It looks like the innate spells entry could use some line breaks. I feel the information density is too high for one line. It will be interesting to see it in practice.

I would also like to echo the idea to put the normal identification DC in the stat block.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
You mean Level 5, right?

Yes. Got mixed up between levels of the monsters for Ogre and Redcap.


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Ok here is a simple question that will come up in game

"We loot the dead Ogre how much do we get when we sell his weapons and armor?"


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Instead of using a fancy icon, can you just use a circled 1, 2 or 3 for things that take 1, 2 or 3 actions, and a circled R for things that use a reaction? It'd be more intuitive than a glyph, and it should be visible to a screen-reader for the visually impaired.

EDIT: Unicode even already did the work for you. Just print them at a larger size than will be displayed here in the forum: ① ② ③ Ⓡ

Liberty's Edge

Greylurker wrote:

Ok here is a simple question that will come up in game

"We loot the dead Ogre how much do we get when we sell his weapons and armor?"

Uh...they list his weapons and armor.


Greylurker wrote:

Ok here is a simple question that will come up in game

"We loot the dead Ogre how much do we get when we sell his weapons and armor?"

The weapon and armor is listed, so you'll get however much the equipment section says you get?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

My response as GM: Who in their right mind would want to buy Ogre gear?

Seriously, I've said that before to my players. I add other treasure to beef things up in other ways, but giant-sized equipment is not resell-able in my campaigns.


Likes: Short, easy to understand statblocks (makes it easier to run monsters without reviewing their abilities before the game); throwing out reams of irrelevant feats that never mattered to the monster in question anyway.

Dislikes: Size listed as part of the tag cloud (put it by Speed maybe?); stats for monster items not listed properly if a player decides to pick it up (red cap doesn't function obvs, but Ogre Hook? No reason a player can't at least try, even if it's unwieldy).


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Is there an icon or other easy way to know how many actions things take? I’m thinking casting spells, in particular. I’d really like that to be included in the statblock. It seems to me it could be as easy as colouring the action symbol green if it takes one action, yellow if two and red if three (or even the text of the ability directly: black-blue-red or something).

Considering some posters have mentioned having trouble with colorblindness, I'd prefer if an action requiring two actions just had two of the action icons side-by-side. Same thing with something needing three actions just having the action icon three times.

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