A First Look at Pathfinder Second Edition

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Second Edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is set to launch on August 1st, and in anticipation, we thought it was time to take a look at the game and give you a sense of what you can expect from the new version of the rules! Starting with this blog and continuing every week until release, we are going to be looking at different aspects of the game, from a broad overview to some of the finer details of character generation and adventure design. Taken together, these blogs should give you a head-start on learning the game and bringing it to your table!

Illustration by Setiawan Lie

What is Pathfinder all about?

At its heart, Pathfinder Second Edition is the same type of game as first edition. You take on the role of a sword & sorcery adventurer of your own design, going on daring adventures for a chance at fame and fortune. One player takes on the role of Game Master, helping to adjudicate the actions of player characters, nonplayer characters, and monsters, weaving all of them together to form a compelling story—one that everyone at the table helped to create!

Of course, as a game, Pathfinder is a lot more than just telling stories. It is a system of rules that defines how the world works, and for Second Edition we wanted to make sure that this game “engine” was easy to understand and interpret, both for players and Game Masters! And while we made sure that creating and advancing your character was a clean and intuitive as it could be, we also ensured that the game allowed your choices—your vision for your character—to truly matter. The decisions you make in Pathfinder define your character, expressed not just in the story but in the rules as well.

Core Mechanic

Pathfinder is a narrative roleplaying game, meaning that you describe what your character is attempting to do while the Game Master describes how the story and world unfolds around you. Whenever there is doubt or uncertainty in actions, you will be called upon to make a check, which requires you to roll a d20 and add a modifier based on your character’s proficiency at that particular challenge. These checks come in many forms, from swinging a sword to climbing a cliff to dodging a roaring fireball. The result of your check, as interpreted by the GM, determines whether or not you succeed at your task, and might even decide whether or not your character survives!

In Pathfinder Second Edition, proficiency determines nearly every important statistic used by your character during play. How skilled are you with a longbow? How good are you at Stealth? What is your aptitude for casting illusion magic? All of these statistics, and many more, are defined by your proficiency in the statistic.

Proficiency is gained through the choices you make in building your character. If you are untrained, you get no bonus at all, but you can still add a modifier from a relevant ability score to represent your raw talent. If you are trained, you add your level plus 2, along with any other relevant modifiers. If you are an expert, you add 4 instead. Masters add 6, and characters with legendary proficiency add 8. This basic formula applies to nearly everything in Pathfinder Second Edition, making it easy for you to see where you stand and understand what your chances are at overcoming the challenges the game puts in front of you.

Facing Danger

The world of Pathfinder is a dangerous place. Vampires lurk in forgotten tombs, trolls prowl in the mountains, and deadly dragons await atop mounds of priceless treasure. These threats—and many more—await your character as they explore the story, and more often than not, such encounters will end with a thrilling combat.

Combat in Pathfinder is much more structured than the freeform narrative play of the rest of the game. During combat, participants take turns, during which the number of things that can be accomplished is limited. On your turn, your character will get to take three actions. Many of these will be what are called basic actions, like moving, drawing a weapon, opening a door, or making an attack. Some might be special actions that only your character can take, based on the choices you made during character creation. Casting spells, performing amazing martial stunts, or utilizing special class features like rage are all examples of special actions.

Just because your turn is over does not mean that you do not have an opportunity to participate in the combat. Some characters can take special reactions that allow them to interrupt the flow of play on other characters’ turns. You might dodge an incoming attack, block with your shield, or even attempt to counter an enemy’s spell. Each character can only take one reaction between turns though, so you have to make it count!

Combat continues until one side is defeated, gives up, or retreats, but these deadly encounters are just one way that you might resolve conflict. You might use skills or magic to sneak past foes, or you could try to talk your way out of a fight, relying on guile and charm to win the day. Ultimately, the way you approach danger in Pathfinder is up to you, and your chance at success depends on the choices you make for your character!

Illustration by Michele Esposito

Illustration by Alexander Nanitchkov

Illustration by Andrea Tentori Montalto

Creating Your Story

Pathfinder Second Edition empowers you to tell your own story, no matter what side of the table you occupy. Players have a wide variety of choices in making their character, giving them the tools to bring their idea to life. Your choice of ancestry, background, and class define the major parts of your character, but they are just the beginning. Your choice of skills, feats, and gear say a lot about the player character you are portraying and as you gain power, the new choices you get to make speak to your hero’s journey. You can come up with a plan for your character’s growth, or you can let their adventures influence your decisions. It’s up to you!

Taking on the role of Game Master brings a whole different kind of flexibility to your role at the table. As GM, you get to shape the overall narrative, defining the actions of villains, monsters, and all of the nonplayer characters that make up the world. You provide the adversaries that the PCs must face if they hope to succeed, and your narrative forms the backdrop that allows the characters to grow and triumph. Pathfinder provides a wide range of tools to help you in this vital task, from guidelines on how to build balanced encounters to narrative advice, and guidance on how to create a welcoming play environment. Within the pages of the Core Rulebook you will also find a wealth of treasure to award to your PCs when they succeed and a bunch of devious traps to guard the treasure. Most importantly, the Bestiary contains over 400 monsters waiting to face off against your PCs, from shambling undead to fiendish demons.

Illustration by Will O'Brien

What's Next

In the coming weeks, we are going to be looking at various aspects of Pathfinder Second Edition to give you a better idea about how each part of the game works. Next week, we are going to go over the steps you take when making and leveling up a character, but make sure to come back every week as we take a deep look at the new combat system, explore creating your own adventures, and provide a bunch of tips and tricks for using Pathfinder to tell your stories!

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

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Tags: Pathfinder Second Edition
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Captain Morgan wrote:
I think it is safe say PF3 is not going to switch to the sort of bounded accuracy you seem to be after, nor will any basic version of Pathfinder. (That is, not counting variant rules systems that might be suggested in something like the game mastery guide or an Unchained type supplement.) That's because Pathfinder has always been about making a system to tell a certain kind of story. You're supposed to be able to tell the same stories across different editions. And a big part of the stories of Golarion/Pathfinder is level scaling.

If you say so. I've not been concerned with trying to tell Paizo's story, so continuity with that line hasn't been important to me.

I do understand how folks can associate a mathematical range of values with a story. I'm guilty of doing it too from time to time, but I've also been able to take stories from other game systems and adapt them for use, so I also think its not entirely true. If anything, the change to characters from PF1 to PF2 feels to me more like an interruption to story continuity. But that's just me. Obviously, the majority thinks it is passable.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Franz Lunzer wrote:
Ngodrup wrote:
Amaranthine Witch wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Huh. Level +2 is just the trained bonus from 1E. Nice evolution there.
That's a really interesting insight, and potentially a good argument to explain the system to PF1 players.
Class skills in 1E give +3 though. Or is there some other bonus I'm not aware of?
Level 1 + 2 = 3

True.

But 1 (Skillpoint) + 3 (class skill bonus) = 4

Which is why I specifically mentioned the trained bonus and not the total bonus.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

The blog looks very much like a copy/paste of an intro to PF2 CRB. I too hope we will all learn a few things from later previews.

Trained is the equivalent to putting 1 skill point in the skill every level in PF1.

Expert is similar to taking Skill Focus, and Master is what you get from taking a +1 trait bonus in addition. And Legendary is half taking the feat that gives +2 to two skills.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I think it is safe say PF3 is not going to switch to the sort of bounded accuracy you seem to be after, nor will any basic version of Pathfinder. (That is, not counting variant rules systems that might be suggested in something like the game mastery guide or an Unchained type supplement.) That's because Pathfinder has always been about making a system to tell a certain kind of story. You're supposed to be able to tell the same stories across different editions. And a big part of the stories of Golarion/Pathfinder is level scaling.

If you say so. I've not been concerned with trying to tell Paizo's story, so continuity with that line hasn't been important to me.

I do understand how folks can associate a mathematical range of values with a story. I'm guilty of doing it too from time to time, but I've also been able to take stories from other game systems and adapt them for use, so I also think its not entirely true. If anything, the change to characters from PF1 to PF2 feels to me more like an interruption to story continuity. But that's just me. Obviously, the majority thinks it is passable.

The underlying maths absolutely alters what stories it is easy to tell. In a system were the maths says 200 commonners can kill a dragon then how dragons operate in the world is (or at least should probably) fundamentally different from a world in which heroes of a certain caliber are required to vanquish the beast. Both are valid worlds, but if you strive for any kind of consistency they arise from different mathematical assumptions.


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Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I think it is safe say PF3 is not going to switch to the sort of bounded accuracy you seem to be after, nor will any basic version of Pathfinder. (That is, not counting variant rules systems that might be suggested in something like the game mastery guide or an Unchained type supplement.) That's because Pathfinder has always been about making a system to tell a certain kind of story. You're supposed to be able to tell the same stories across different editions. And a big part of the stories of Golarion/Pathfinder is level scaling.
If you say so. I've not been concerned with trying to tell Paizo's story, so continuity with that line hasn't been important to me.

For the record, this isn't me saying so. This has been the company line for over a decade now. "4th Edition isn't working for the kinds of stories we want to tell" is why Paizo said they made Pathfinder and didn't make conversions for their APs to 4th Edition.

And one of the fundamental goals of PF2 is that you can use it to tell those same kind of stories they were telling in PF1. Now, obviously you can use the system to tell other kinds of stories, but at its heart the game is best suited for what it is designed for.

But one of the other fundamental goals of PF2 is that it is going to be much easier to tweak and house rule without breaking everything. So while you shouldn't hold your breath that bounded accuracy is ever going to become mainstream Pathfinder, Paizo is making it easy for you to make it happen for your table.

Silver Crusade

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The character illustrations:

1. Liberator of Calistria. He's going to whip Asmodeans pink, and loving it.

2. Sorcerer. She looks fly, as sorcerers should and she's in the middle of casting Mirror Image.

3. Monk. She's a badass monk. "So, it comes to this. A pity. Prepare yourself."


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thaX wrote:

To me, having to have everyone deal Non-Lethal and the mage to hold up on his spells is... lacking.

Have to wait to see if there is any other way to knock out a combatant other than the hamstrung Non-Lethal damage, as it is almost to the point of being Non-Existent.

I made a new thread for discussing this...

Everyone: To KO someone you just need to go Nonlethal once they're looking bad to make sure that you can knock them out safely, and mind that you don't land that finishing blow with a spell unless it's Nonlethal.

thaX: so, if you want to knock someone out you have to have everyone only use Nonlethal damage and the mage has to hold up on his spells.

I'm not sure why we're starting a new thread for this when you're already ignoring the answers being given in this one...


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Honestly i think an official rules option to remove level from all the equations, be it to hit, skills, saves, dcs or whatever, is gonna be presented in the GMG.

Not that it can't be done without, but it seems to me that so many people would prefer to run the game with, let's call it, a kind of bounded accuracy, that it would help a lot with edge cases, and most character-creating software would then probably be updated to be compatible with that possible choice.

Since one of the goals of 2e seems to be to "leave no man behind", it looks to me like a small and effective contribution to acknowledging the number of players who would prefer level wasn't added to the proficiency rank.

By the same reasoning, I would also expect a variant for adding your level to Untrained. A lot of people seemed to grok that in the PT.

It's all optional rules, and Paizo would profit to cater to the various playing styles preferred by various groups. It could even convince someone who otherwise wouldn't play 2e to instead give it a try.


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I'm still kind of puzzled why people used to PF1, where the range of of modifiers for rolls was something like -2 to +98, think PF2 having the range be something like -1 to 30 is bad.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I actually do not mind the Champion getting Legendary in heavy armor. Fits the whole protection vibe. As far as adding level that has been hashed out a great deal before. I like it better than the old progression tracks of PF1/3.5. Which by the way good progression was level. 5e does the same thing kind of with bonuses only it is not level based. You are either proficient in something and add a bonus or not.

Dataphiles

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The three portraits are Bard, Bard, and Bard.

Dark Archive

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Roswynn wrote:

Honestly i think an official rules option to remove level from all the equations, be it to hit, skills, saves, dcs or whatever, is gonna be presented in the GMG.

Not that it can't be done without, but it seems to me that so many people would prefer to run the game with, let's call it, a kind of bounded accuracy, that it would help a lot with edge cases, and most character-creating software would then probably be updated to be compatible with that possible choice.

Since one of the goals of 2e seems to be to "leave no man behind", it looks to me like a small and effective contribution to acknowledging the number of players who would prefer level wasn't added to the proficiency rank.

By the same reasoning, I would also expect a variant for adding your level to Untrained. A lot of people seemed to grok that in the PT.

It's all optional rules, and Paizo would profit to cater to the various playing styles preferred by various groups. It could even convince someone who otherwise wouldn't play 2e to instead give it a try.

Yes, yes, and yes - preach the gospel sister. One basket all eggs is not the approach best suited to getting fence sitters in the game.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Having played the Beta, I have learned nothing from this post. Well not nothing but, not what i wanted to know. Namely what changes happened between the beta and release.

Dam this morphine drip of a marketing system.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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Hey there folks,

I think it is important for folks to understand that we have a lot of different messages and information that needs to get out to a very diverse audience with widely different levels of engagement and experience with the game.

I decided that the best way to approach that is to go back to square one and talk to everyone about what Pathfinder 2nd Edition is all about. In the coming weeks, you will be seeing additional details about the game, but for those of you who have been paying very close attention to everything we have been putting out there (across many different mediums), you will find that you already know much about how the final game will play out.

These blogs are a chance for us to consolidate information into one easily referenced location, while also trying to get out more details about the game before its release.

Hope that helps

Jason


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Jason Bulmahn: I can understand why you'd do it and It's not a bad blog: It's just not the blog I was hoping for. ;)

As far as "consolidate information into one easily referenced location", I'm all for it as a lot of the mediums you've used to date I don't use so I've been getting second hand reports. Getting to 'from the horses mouth' is always the best.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am just curious for those that say they do not want proficiency added to level. If not that then what? If you are advocating a straight proficiency model such as 5e then what would you want the proficiency to be capped at. 6 is 5e which uses a bounded accuracy model and they also indicated they wanted the attribute bonus to matter more. The math and allot of adjustments would have to be done for that to work now. As I have said I actually like adding proficiency to level for the range it provides.


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Bardarok wrote:
So it begins...

There is a hole in your mind...


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I'm still kind of puzzled why people used to PF1, where the range of of modifiers for rolls was something like -2 to +98, think PF2 having the range be something like -1 to 30 is bad.

I'm still kind of puzzled why people reading about PF2, where the range of of modifiers for rolls is something like -1 to +30, think PF1 having the range something like -2 to 98 was bad.


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Anguish wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I'm still kind of puzzled why people used to PF1, where the range of of modifiers for rolls was something like -2 to +98, think PF2 having the range be something like -1 to 30 is bad.
I'm still kind of puzzled why people reading about PF2, where the range of of modifiers for rolls is something like -1 to +30, think PF1 having the range something like -2 to 98 was bad.

Well, the basic reason for tightening the band somewhat is that in PF1 you can't set a DC for a skill check which will challenge an optimized specialist that's even possible for anyone else. Or alternatively that every check appropriate for a "normal" character is an autopass for a specialist. Like setting a DC at 35 means the best specialist *could* fail, but someone with a +22 has a chance.

What I don't get is why anyone wants the band so tight that a large enough pack of level 1 ghouls poses a threat to level 18 PCs.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I'm still kind of puzzled why people used to PF1, where the range of of modifiers for rolls was something like -2 to +98, think PF2 having the range be something like -1 to 30 is bad.

Because I do not like the reduction in granularity.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I'm still kind of puzzled why people used to PF1, where the range of of modifiers for rolls was something like -2 to +98, think PF2 having the range be something like -1 to 30 is bad.
Because I do not like the reduction in granularity.

Specifically I was addressing the people who don't want to add level to things so the range would be like -1 to +12. I personally think that would be terrible.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cyrad wrote:
Shame I didn't get any 2nd Edition GM slots for Gen Con.

That would have been difficult given you only asked for 1E on the questionnaire :-D


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Quote:
Pathfinder is a narrative roleplaying game

John Cena: Are you sure about that ?


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
What I don't get is why anyone wants the band so tight that a large enough pack of level 1 ghouls poses a threat to level 18 PCs.
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Specifically I was addressing the people who don't want to add level to things so the range would be like -1 to +12. I personally think that would be terrible.

That's fair. Each person has their own tastes.

I don't personally find adventures where the characters are near-deity super-fantastic entities to be very interesting. Generally speaking, the last two or three books of any Paizo AP are torture. They're so far beyond the common man that the immersion is lost. The upper level creatures feel like bizarre abstractions of Earthly lore.

It's also fair for folks to conclude Pathfinder just isn't the game for me. I'm at that point, frankly, but if the system (and supporting automation) will support alternatives/house rules then Paizo can enjoy a wider appeal and maybe I can stick around.


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Well in the flat system the problem is that those higher level creatures are just pathetic shadows of what they could have been. 5e dragons are not very impressive (having lost their casting) and demons and other outsiders are even worse. They are basically adventurers with big sacks of hps. Not terribly fun to play against because they don’t have outerworldly abilities.

Now for myself I do have one concern about the level bonus. That being the fairly narrow range it forces on me for enemies for encounter building. Now you can get around that with making a monster weak or elite but I’d prefer not to. Anyway in the playtest the sweet spot for using monsters was +/- 2 levels. I’d still like a +4 monster to be beatable and a -4 monster to be a threat. I’ve read this is a bit better now but not really sure yet. I have considered just moving to a lvl/2 system provided that isn’t too hard to do on the fly.

So in that I agree with you that customization is good. I have seen where flat goes to with 5e and have no desire to emulate that experience.

Dark Archive

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Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
What I don't get is why anyone wants the band so tight that a large enough pack of level 1 ghouls poses a threat to level 18 PCs.
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Specifically I was addressing the people who don't want to add level to things so the range would be like -1 to +12. I personally think that would be terrible.

That's fair. Each person has their own tastes.

I don't personally find adventures where the characters are near-deity super-fantastic entities to be very interesting. Generally speaking, the last two or three books of any Paizo AP are torture. They're so far beyond the common man that the immersion is lost. The upper level creatures feel like bizarre abstractions of Earthly lore.

It's also fair for folks to conclude Pathfinder just isn't the game for me. I'm at that point, frankly, but if the system (and supporting automation) will support alternatives/house rules then Paizo can enjoy a wider appeal and maybe I can stick around.

Agreed, what some may enjoy is very thing that others find detestable and that's A-Okay - par for the course when attempting to negotiate reality and the people within it. If it adds to the success of the game by broadening its appeal to others, inclusion of alternate features as optional rules benefits everyone. The modularity of PF2 is its strength. Adding options plays to that strength; there's no talk of taking anything away someone likes. I really don't need to understand why someone likes apples, but I prefer oranges, to see the benefit of a grocery store offering both.

Dark Archive

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Isn't that more of case of you just straight up preferring to low fantasy to high fantasy? Or is the problem more that you think at level 20 fight agaisnt a balor should take multiple minutes?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

By design groups such as a part can cause problems for solo monsters due to bounded accuracy. 10-15 Hill Giants can be problem for higher level parties. Bounded accuracy shifts things from not being hit to how to mitigate damage. So groups can always be problem and in some cases more of problem than single solo monster. So a challenging encounter could be 10-15 hill giants and the red dragon.

I do not think that will be the case in Pathfinder 2. This is due to the ranges. Also the critical rules can come into play. So solo monster can still be quite challenging.

As far as adding level verses good, moderate and bad progression tracks. Level is a better design choice for me. I also like the 2/4/6/8 and 0 model for proficiency. I like the 10 +armor bonus+ stat+ proficiency mod for AC. It adds an element of skill.

Sovereign Court

I think the "must have big/small numbers to tell our stories" thing is a poor argument for/against bounded accuracy.

200 villagers might be able to kill a dragon in 5E, but 75% of them will die doing it. That is why they hire a band of specialist badasses to do it for them. It feels pretty awesome to be a specialist badass.

You can still have 20 ghouls be a threat to high level players in PF2, you just need to use a troop/swarm type of template to adjust for gonzo level #s. Surviving a few ghouls is scary at low level, why cant surviving a ghoul army be scary at high level?

IMO, you can tell any story you want with or without BA using mechanical workarounds. A savvy designer should account for this, but not all cases can be at launch.

There is a bit more nuance to PF2 skill system than simply making +lvl to everything. There is also proficiency gating and skill feats. These features are a bit of a departure from PF1. That doesn't mean its bad, but you sure as hell better explain how it makes sense to a PF1 fan. I suppose you can say, "forget those idiots" if they cant grok it, but that sounds like a method to throw away potential players for no good reason.

I do think some of the expert level skill holder can pass along their bonus to the rest of the party (I forget what this is called) is an excellent development. This allows folks to remain meaningful specialists while also solving the party cant sneak without +lvl to skills problem. Once again, mechanics can help explain a story element without having to be all or nothing.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

From what we’ve seen, I suspect E6 games (cap at sixth level with some fat progression after) will be popular for lower fantasy games. The only class to get Master in anything at all is Fighter, making them truly exemplary warriors, and skills are (generally) in the realm of the humanly possible.


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My personal preference for "how many level 1 ghouls is it going to take to threaten a well equipped band of 18th level PCs" is "well, we're going to need the mass combat rules here".

If you want ghouls to be scary to people near the apex of their power just get scarier ghouls.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I don't really want palette swapped elite ghouls however.


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Arakasius wrote:
Well in the flat system the problem is that those higher level creatures are just pathetic shadows of what they could have been. 5e dragons are not very impressive (having lost their casting) and demons and other outsiders are even worse. They are basically adventurers with big sacks of hps. Not terribly fun to play against because they don’t have outerworldly abilities.

To be fair, that feels like it is conflating numeric and esoteric ability. 5e may have bounded accuracy and no interesting abilities for monsters, but I don't actually see why you couldn't have bounded accuracy with interesting abilities or +level with no interesting abilities. In other words, that feels like a failing for 5e rather than bounded accuracy.

Arakasius wrote:


Now for myself I do have one concern about the level bonus. That being the fairly narrow range it forces on me for enemies for encounter building. Now you can get around that with making a monster weak or elite but I’d prefer not to. Anyway in the playtest the sweet spot for using monsters was +/- 2 levels. I’d still like a +4 monster to be beatable and a -4 monster to be a threat.

I've always found a this idea hard to justify in practice. Enemies at level -4 can still be used as part of an encounter. They are weaker than individual PCs, but you throw enough of them at the party and they will start to get some natural 20s and get some damage in. They also make for a fun change of pace when the party can score crits like crazy and feel like badasses. Especially when these same enemy's nearly killed one of them a couple levels ago. Not all fights should be the same difficulty.

Level+3 makes for a helluva boss fight. The only thing I'd actually hesitate to use is level+4 as that seems VERY lethal, but for an appropriately climatic final boss that the party can prepare extremely well for, it could be used. That's basically what it comes down to. A Creatures have like a 9 level range they can be used for, but the role they are best suited for shifts within that range.

And a creature's level can be adjusted easily enough though-- even without official guidance, a fan made a spreadsheet that does it for you automatically based on the average values of the playtest bestiary. So if you're not happy with the role the current party level lends itself to, you can adjust it to taste.

Pan wrote:

I think the "must have big/small numbers to tell our stories" thing is a poor argument for/against bounded accuracy.

200 villagers might be able to kill a dragon in 5E, but 75% of them will die doing it. That is why they hire a band of specialist badasses to do it for them. It feels pretty awesome to be a specialist badass.

Yes, the village is likely to hire the adventurers either way, because Pyrrhic victories are no bueno. I think the big difference is from the perspective of the dragon: it winds up dead either way. With bounded accuracy, this means it is unwise to directly attack the village. Without BA, the dragon can destroy the village entirely with little danger to itself.

To go back to my previous example, in PF1/PF2 a stone giant shows up and trounces an ogre tribe so thoroughly that they swear fealty to him after he kills their leader and many warriors without taking a scratch. Under bounded accuracy, at least one of those warriors probably managed to draw blood on the stone giant before being cut down, and that could be all the motivation the rest of the tribe needs to keep fighting and overwhelm the stone giant.

Now, how this sort of monster psychology works is pretty fungible, I'll admit. You could easily say the ogres are too cowardly to keep fighting when it seems like many will die even if they win. (Though in that case, they won't make for very compelling fodder for the party to fight if they give up the second the odds turn against them.) Nevertheless, I think +level makes it easier to justify clear hierarchies of power like this, and how you wind up with guys like Karzoug or Razmir as god kings. (Yeah, I am sure 5e has its god kings too, and they are more powerful than lower level creatures. But our 5th level party wound up fighting Strahd Von Zarovich once for some reason and we were able to actually inflict meaningful damage on him. And I'm not gonna lie, it made him less scary.

Pan wrote:
You can still have 20 ghouls be a threat to high level players in PF2, you just need to use a troop/swarm type of template to adjust for gonzo level #s. Surviving a few ghouls is scary at low level, why cant surviving a ghoul army be scary at high level?

I'm actually very pro-troop template, which I'll admit has some cognitive dissonance with not liking bounded accuracy. I think one thing that might be worth noting is that troops seemed to be fairly rare and mostly reserved for monsters that work extremely well together, like morlocks or trained hobgoblin soldiers. And even then they still feel constrained by the abilities of their individual members.

To use a real example: Ironfang Invasion book 3, which has the PCs spend most of the book between levels 8-10, involves fighting increasingly well trained and equipped hobgoblins. The "basic" soldiers range about 4-6. The best hobgoblin troop in the adventure is level 10. The level 10 troop is actually a pretty OK abstraction of a bunch of level 4-6 individual creatures swinging and rolling for natural 20s.

But the troop doesn't seem to be able to rise above this level without having access to a higher grade of soldier, based on the numbers of hobgoblins involved in some of the battles. Against level 15+ heroes these troops won't be worth much.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
I don't really want palette swapped elite ghouls however.

Well, the spiders from Leng get all over, so why not the ghouls?


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I mean ghouls already have mechanics for evolved forms: Ghoul, Ghast, and Dread Ghast. And Dread Ghasts are retain their abilities from life, so they can be amped up the same as any other PC/NPC.


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CorvusMask wrote:
Isn't that more of case of you just straight up preferring to low fantasy to high fantasy?

I seems that way to me. Myself i prefer my fantasy games to be... well fantastic: ie "remote from reality". If the game is bound by what a normal person can do, it's more like I'm watching a larp instead of a tabletop RPG. I don't want normal cats being a melee threat to my 18th level character, no matter how many there are.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
graystone wrote:
I don't want normal cats being a melee threat to my 18th level character, no matter how many there are.

You must have had a hard time playing PF1 then, because with 20 auto-hitting a herd of common cats will take down your 18th level char, it's just a matter of time. How verisimilitude-breaking! :)


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Arakasius wrote:
Well in the flat system the problem is that those higher level creatures are just pathetic shadows of what they could have been. 5e dragons are not very impressive (having lost their casting) and demons and other outsiders are even worse. They are basically adventurers with big sacks of hps. Not terribly fun to play against because they don’t have outerworldly abilities.

That's not a problem with bounded accuracy, however. That's a problem with boring monster design.

I run 5e, and I'll readily admit that monster design is one of the game's weak points. I think it was an overreaction to the hyper-complex 4e monsters, where almost all the humanoid monsters came in half a dozen different varieties loaded with special abilities for different roles, which placed quite a cognitive load on running fights. But there's nothing that says you can't have monsters with exciting special abilities together with bounded accuracy.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
graystone wrote:
I don't want normal cats being a melee threat to my 18th level character, no matter how many there are.
You must have had a hard time playing PF1 then, because with 20 auto-hitting a herd of common cats will take down your 18th level char, it's just a matter of time. How verisimilitude-breaking! :)

To be fair, the 18th level character only needs adamantine full plate (or to be a barbarian) to avoid this.


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I recall an encounter in the Age of Worms where the main opponent had a number of Liches as minions and that our party effectively dealt with the Liches in a round or two before focusing on the boss du jour. This was disappointing and serves as an example of how I think the combination of character progression and the bestiary make Paizo stories jump the shark.


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Gorbacz wrote:
graystone wrote:
I don't want normal cats being a melee threat to my 18th level character, no matter how many there are.
You must have had a hard time playing PF1 then, because with 20 auto-hitting a herd of common cats will take down your 18th level char, it's just a matter of time. How verisimilitude-breaking! :)

Very, very, very unlikely without an infinite number of cats. The fact the damage is non-lethal, tiny creatures provoking to attack, items an 18 level character has... The 18th level is in no real danger when a simple 5000gp item [and quite a few more] makes you immune to their attacks.

MaxAstro: or a 1/2 orc fighter [they can gain dr nonlethal], or any 1/2 orc with Pain Tolerance, or any wyrwood, anyone that took the right alchemist discovery, ... Heck, a background gives you DR 1/cold iron so, yeah.


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Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
I recall an encounter in the Age of Worms where the main opponent had a number of Liches as minions and that our party effectively dealt with the Liches in a round or two before focusing on the boss du jour. This was disappointing and serves as an example of how I think the combination of character progression and the bestiary make Paizo stories jump the shark.

If anything that's the fault of the Bestiary for making "standard lich" a CR12 monster- a high level party should be able to wipe the floor with a bunch of those. If it were a different CR12 creature, like a bunch of Great Cyclopes, or Purple Worms, or Ropers, or whatever CR12 evil outsider you like the best I'm not sure it would have invited comment.

But when our WotR party murked Baphomet in a single round (nothing survives contact with the cave druid wild shaped into a carnivorous crystalline ooze with mythic vital strike),the consensus was "that was awesome, let's go hunt down some more demon lords."


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Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
I recall an encounter in the Age of Worms where the main opponent had a number of Liches as minions and that our party effectively dealt with the Liches in a round or two before focusing on the boss du jour. This was disappointing and serves as an example of how I think the combination of character progression and the bestiary make Paizo stories jump the shark.

I mean, I feel like no small part of that is that liches in 3.X are mostly just a template, and the stock lich is not actually very powerful. Bounded accuracy would make stomping a bunch of liches less of a thing, but if liches were only CR 12 in 5e (as opposed to CR 21, or 22 if encountered in their lair) then a high level party could definitely take a few of them at once.


Captain Morgan wrote:
I mean ghouls already have mechanics for evolved forms: Ghoul, Ghast, and Dread Ghast. And Dread Ghasts are retain their abilities from life, so they can be amped up the same as any other PC/NPC.

I thought monsters aint built like PCs anymore?


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Planpanther wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I mean ghouls already have mechanics for evolved forms: Ghoul, Ghast, and Dread Ghast. And Dread Ghasts are retain their abilities from life, so they can be amped up the same as any other PC/NPC.
I thought monsters aint built like PCs anymore?

In theory you can build NPCs like PCs, but we're unlikely to get a ghoul ancestry or otyugh ancestry any time soon. What you can do, however, if you want a tougher version of a specific monster is- increase its level. One of the benefits of having proficiency be universal and level based is that this will have the effect of increasing its AC, saves, DCs, attack bonus, etc. In effect, increasing the level by 1 is exactly the same as applying the "Advanced" template in PF1, except that we can apply it as many times as we want.

It's probably unsatisfying to span levels 1-20 with one ghoul which has different numbers, which is why it's good we have more than one kind of thing in the bestiary (the scarier ones should have special abilities the others don't), but if you want an extra tough ghoul or an extra wimpy dread ghast the tools are available and easy to use.


Captain Morgan wrote:
To be fair, that feels like it is conflating numeric and esoteric ability. 5e may have bounded accuracy and no interesting abilities for monsters, but I don't actually see why you couldn't have bounded accuracy with interesting abilities or +level with no interesting abilities. In other words, that feels like a failing for 5e rather than bounded accuracy.

I don’t know. In one way I agree with you but another part of me thinks that a monster being higher level in PF is two things. One is raw stats (which bounded accuracy kills) and the other is abilities. If you took some high level PF1 monsters and have them 5e style stat boosts over the players they’d still destroy the PCs because some of the higher level abilities are still so strong. 5e does neither well and ends up making higher level monsters harder by just scaling health.

Captain Morgan wrote:

I've always found a this idea hard to justify in practice. Enemies at level -4 can still be used as part of an encounter. They are weaker than individual PCs, but you throw enough of them at the party and they will start to get some natural 20s and get some damage in. They also make for a fun change of pace when the party can score crits like crazy and feel like badasses. Especially when these same enemy's nearly killed one of them a couple levels ago. Not all fights should be the same difficulty.

Level+3 makes for a helluva boss fight. The only thing I'd actually hesitate to use is level+4 as that seems VERY lethal, but for an appropriately climatic final boss that the party can prepare extremely well for, it could be used. That's basically what it comes down to. A Creatures have like a 9 level range they can be used for, but the role...

Well my experience with DMing is a 2.5 year campaign with the same party. I think we just had session 62. We did about the first 45 sessions in PF1 and the last with playtest rules (some modifications added but the math the same, the rules were mostly adding Oracle revelations for one player)

I found that in PF1 that -4 monsters could still threaten and the party was capable of defeating monsters between 4-6 CR above them. In PF2 I just tried a +3 and it almost wiped them. I’ve tried -4 and it was hopeless, the -8 to hit meant that you were just fishing for nat 20s. Also PF1 had some monsters who were super accurate or attacked touch. Similarly they had monsters who had had high AC but low touch AC or saves. That meant even a higher level monster could be beat. The new crit rules is making everything more bounded in that +/- 2 level range and I feel level/2 would work better in letting it be a +/- 4 level range.


Playing a little with the numbers using the Alchemical Golem that is a lvl 9 creature against a lvl 13 PC.

The PC have around 35AC, 10 + 4 (dex) + 13 (lvl) + 6 (master) + 2 (leather armor).

The alchemical golem have +22 to hit, meaning that he will manage to hit in a 13, 11 if have another golem/creature flanking the adversary.

Not really bad odds considering that this is without the gimmicks that monsters usually have when they hit like one certain teeth that gives bleeding. Golem however have na interesting one that activates when they get an critical hit, meaning that being lower level they will get a lot of these.

Liberty's Edge

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Planpanther wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I mean ghouls already have mechanics for evolved forms: Ghoul, Ghast, and Dread Ghast. And Dread Ghasts are retain their abilities from life, so they can be amped up the same as any other PC/NPC.
I thought monsters aint built like PCs anymore?

By default they are not (though you can build enemies with the PC rules, too).

However, due to everything having levels in exactly the same way, it's ridiculously easy to just add PC levels onto monsters in PF2 if you have a mind to do so.


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Kyrone wrote:

Playing a little with the numbers using the Alchemical Golem that is a lvl 9 creature against a lvl 13 PC.

The PC have around 35AC, 10 + 4 (dex) + 13 (lvl) + 6 (master) + 2 (leather armor).

Mastery in armor at level 13 seems a little optimistic (unless I've missed something from the previews). In the playtest, fighters got Expert at level 11 and Master at 17. Monks get Master at 13, but only in Unarmored. Paladins get Expert at 7 and Master at 13 - in the playtest, that's only heavy armor, but the devs have said paladins and fighters will have equal proficiency in lighter armors as well. No other classes, as far as I can tell, get armor proficiency beyond trained (at least not as default, could be hidden in class feats or the like).

On the other hand, you don't have any magic included in that calculation, so it probably evens out.

Liberty's Edge

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Staffan Johansson wrote:
Mastery in armor at level 13 seems a little optimistic (unless I've missed something from the previews).

Well, all items have gone down from a max of +5 to a max of +3, and this is made up for primarily by increased upgrades in Proficiency. So a lot more people seem likely to get increased Proficiency in all categories over the course of their career (everyone including Wizards gets Expert in at least some weapons, for examples).

This is not to say that everyone is gonna get Master, or even that I think Fighter is gonna get any higher than that (I doubt they are), but it seems likely to be a tad more common, and come at lower levels.

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