Adventure Marches On

Monday, July 15, 2019

Wizard archetype. A dark-skinned man with a thin mustache holds his right hand out, casting an upside down teardrop-shaped glow of blue. In his left hand, he firmly holds a pointed staff upright. It stands taller than him and near the top it has a rectangular, almost hammer shaped section with a sitting green cat on the side. The man is dressed in pleated brown robes with wide complementary stripes, and wears steel shoes. A wide belt carries two buckled pouches on his left side, one smaller than the other. He wears a piece of shoulder armor secured by by a wide dark red sash with a silver disc attached to protect his joints and has a rolled headscarf that is topped by a conic, pointed hat with a green ball near the top of the point. He appears to be wearing a shoulder wrap that is white with pink flowers underneath his headscarf.

Illustration by Giorgio Baroni

You've created your character. You've tasted that first bite of toil and heroics, earned your first thousand Experience Points, and come back to town a hero. Is it time to hang up the sword, sidle into the local tavern, and get free drinks for years in return for spinning yarns of your youthful adventuring day?

Hell no. It's time to level up your character so you can do it all again!

This week we're going to examine how you advance your characters in Pathfinder. We are going to start with your young fighter who resists the urge to retire and sit on his laurels and instead decides that adventuring is his jam. Let's start by advancing the hero of our story—a human (skilled) fighter, with the nomad background. Let's call him Kaliban.

First Steps

Each time you gain a new level, there're a few things you're going to want to do first. First, you're going to increase your level by one and subtract 1,000 Experience Points (XP) for your XP total. Then you're going to increase your Hit Points by the amount determined by class and then add your Constitution modifier.

Kaliban is a fighter, so his Hit Points increase by 10 + his Constitution bonus (let's say he has Con 14) so his total Hit Points at 2nd level become 32.

Lastly, you're going to take a look at your class progression table and apply any class features that aren't feat choices, ability boosts, or skill increases. We'll take a closer look at that later, at 3rd level when Kaliban gains the bravery class feature, but at 2nd level, Kaliban gains a fighter feat and a skill feat as class features, so we are going to move on to the next step.

Table 3-12: FIGHTER ADVANCEMENT. Column 1: Your Level. Column 2: Class Features. 1 | Ancestry and background, initial proficiencies, attack of opportunity, fighter feat, shield block. 2 | Fighter feat, skill feat. 3| Bravery, general feat, skill increase.

Choose Your Feats

In terms of pure role and effectiveness oomph, choosing a new class feat is often the most exciting choice you can make when advancing your character. First off, let's assume that during character creation Kaliban had already taken Power Attack.

Power attack. Two actions. Feat 1. Fighter. Flourish. You unleash a particularly powerful attack that clobbers your foe but leaves you a bit unsteady. Make a melee Strike. This counts as two attacks when calculating your multiple attack penalty. If this Strike hits, you deal an extra die of weapon damage. If you’re at least 10th level, increase this to two extra dice, and if you’re at least 18th level, increase it to three extra dice.

Kaliban likes power. And Power Attack allows Kaliban to deal even more damage with his favorite weapon—a maul. At 2nd level, he could continue on this punishing path by taking the Brutish Shove fighter feat, which allows him to throw his enemies around the battlefield.

Brutish Shove. One action. Feat 2. Fighter. Press. Requirements: You are wielding a two-handed melee weapon.  Description: Throwing your weight behind your attack, you hit your opponent hard enough to make it stumble back. Make a Strike with a two-handed melee weapon. If you have a target that is your size or smaller, that creature is flat-footed until the end of your current turn, and you can automatically Shove it, with the same benefits as the Shove action (including the critical success effect, if your Strike was a critical hit). If you move to follow the target, your movement doesn’t trigger reactions.  This Strike has the following failure effect: The target becomes flat-footed until the end of your current turn.

This seems like the obvious choice, but let's imagine Kaliban is not your typical fighter. He's a particularly smart fellow (Intelligence 14). Let's also imagine that during his first adventure, he came across a frightfully competent gnoll evoker who gave Kaliban and his companions a tough time of it. And during that encounter, while taking the abuse that gnoll was dishing out, Kaliban wondered what it would be like to mix martial prowess with that kind of arcane might. Lucky for Kaliban, once he reaches 2nd level, the fighter has the opportunity to grow in a different direction. He can choose to multiclass.

Wizard Dedication. Feat 2. Archetype. Dedication. Multiclass. Prerequisites: Intelligence 14. Description: You cast spells like a wizard, gaining a spell book with four common arcane cantrips of your choice. You gain the Cast a Spell activity. You can prepare two cantrips each day from your spell book. You’re trained in arcane spell attack rolls and spell DCs.Your key spell casting ability for wizard archetype spells is Int, and they are arcane wizard spells. You become trained in Arcana; if you were already trained in Arcana, you instead become trained in a skill of your choice. Special: You can’t select another dedication feat until you have gained two other feats from the wizard archetype.

It's not a bad deal. A spellbook with four cantrips, the ability to prepare two of them a day, and training in Arcana strikes the fighter as more promising than just pushing around his enemies. Some fighters might scoff at such dalliance, but Kaliban decides to go the fighter/wizard route. Taking a quick look at the arcane cantrips, he chooses to scribble daze, mage hand, shield, and telekinetic projectile in his spellbook. Most adventuring days, he typically leans on shield and telekinetic projectile as his prepared cantrips.

After picking his class feat, Kaliban picks a skill feat. He has training in the following skills: Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Crafting, Desert Lore, Intimidation, Nature, Society, Stealth, and Survival, so he has a lot of choices. But let's say Kaliban has become enamored with his brief magical studies and chooses Arcane Sense.

Arcane Sense. Feat 1. General. Skill. Prerequisites: trained in Arcana. Description: Your study of magic allows you to instinctively sense its presence. You can cast 1st-level *detect magic* at will as an arcane innate spell. If you’re a master in Arcana, the spell is heightened to 3rd level; if you’re legendary, it is heightened to 4th level.

This way Kaliban can always be on the lookout for more magic to supplement his spellbook, equipment, and his split aspirations.

With his skill feat chosen, all he has to do is adjust his various skills, attack rolls, and DCs to reflect his increased level and new bonuses, and he is done. He has everything he needs to continue adventuring with more than a few new tricks up his sleeve.

Each New Level, Repeat

Each time you gain a level, the method by which you increase your level stays the same. Only the details and choices change. To make it easy for you to remember what you need to do each level, there's a bullet-point list on page 31 of the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook. Follow those directions each level, and you'll be set.

Leveling-up Checklist. Every time you gain a level, make sure you do each of the following: 
- Increase your level by 1 and subtract 1,000 XP from your XP total.
- Increase your maximum Hit Points by the amount listed in your class entry in Chapter 3. 
Add class features from your class advancement table, including ability boosts and skill increases.
- Select feats as indicated on your class advancement table. For ancestry feats, see Chapter 2. For class feats, see your class entry in Chapter 3. For general feats and skill feats, see Chapter 5. 
- Add spells and spell slots if your class grants spell casting. See Chapter 7 for spells.
- Increase all of your proficiency bonuses by 1 from your new level, and make other increases to your proficiency bonuses as necessary from skill increases or other class features. 
- Increase any other statistics that changed as a result of ability boots or other abilities.
- Adjust bonuses from feats and other abilities that are based on your level.

When Kaliban reaches 3rd level, even though he's multiclassed into wizard, he is still primarily a fighter, and he is going to advance as a 3rd-level fighter. He'll gain 12 more Hit Points (bringing his total to 44) and get the bravery class feature, along with a general feat and a skill increase. First, let's take a look at bravery.

Bravery. 3rd.
Having faced countless foes and the chaos of battle, you have learned how to stand strong in the face of fear and keep on fighting. Your proficiency rank for Will saves increases to expert. When you roll a success at a Will save against a fear effect, you get a critical success instead.  In addition, any time you gain the frightened condition, reduce its value by 1.

While Kaliban is trained in Will saving throws, during character creation he chose to boost Intelligence instead of Wisdom, so bravery is going to be a big help. At second level his Will saving throw was +4. Thanks to bravery it jumps up to a +7 while granting him some extra protection against fear effects.

The skill increase allows him to either become trained in a new skill or to become an expert in a skill he's already trained in. Kaliban has a pretty robust set of skills, especially for a fighter, so he is going to invest the skill increase in raising one of his skills to expert proficiency. Since he's been focusing many of his build resources into his magical training, this time he'll use his skill training to become an expert in Athletics.

What about that general feat? Well, it just so happens that Magical Crafting pops up at 2nd level, so maybe Kaliban can find a way to increase his power in the magical arts after all.

A female elf in studded dark red armor is shown in active battle in the woods, dark old trees looming in the background and thick vines up to her knees. She has long, flowing white hair and a dark green gem in the middle of her forehead. In her right hand she wields a dagger that looks deadly despite its ornate engraving on the blade, and in her left hand she is pointing a crooked short staff at her attacker and several glowing blue energy knives are bursting out of it from a circle of runes.

Illustration by Matteo Spirito

Only the Beginning

In the end, each level that you attain increases your ability to customize your character. We only completed two levels of Kaliban's advancement, and he has made many exciting and diverse choices, most of which were out of the ordinary. Not only does the fighter have an abundance of choice with just fighter class feats, but by taking dedication feats to multiclass or take on an archetype, the fighter increases the number and variety of choices available to him at each new level. Add to that further customization through skill advancement, general feats (skill and otherwise), and ancestry feats gained after 1st level, and at every level your adventurer becomes a unique legend sure to leave a mark on your campaign's story and the world of Pathfinder.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Senior Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition
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The number you need to level up being fixed and the number you receive from defeating enemies being variable isn't exactly an uncommon system. It's a little simpler from the GM's perspective and way simpler from the player's perspective (it's a lot easier to memorize that you always level up at 1k than it is to reference the chart every time).


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Joana wrote:
I would imagine the purpose is that you no longer need an XP chart to see when you level up. It makes the game slightly simpler, with one less chart to refer to.

I think that's all it is- the fewer charts you need to refer to regularly the better. Plus with a "you level up at 1000" it's extremely easy to see how close you are to a level at any time.

If XP only ever counts up (nothing changes the value save for gaining XP and leveling) then it just makes sense to track the most relevant number.

I mean, a really good reason to not do "you can spend XP on a variety of things" is that no matter how simple XP is, some groups are going to prefer doing milestone advancement.

Silver Crusade

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Joana's post pretty clearly indicates what they were going for, the same language was used in the playtest as was used in the post and the chart. Having participated in the playtest I (and a few others, I imagine) can confirm that there were no other expenditures of XP apart from using it to level up. I don't recall any survey questions about alternate uses of XP, and for the design team to go out of their way to change that with no support from surveys or other input from the playerbase would be a little odd, to say the least.


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I look forward to the party that has all fighters.standing in a circle around eninies and Brutishly shoving enemies to each other to move the enemy in range of the other characters lol


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TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
I look forward to the party that has all fighters.standing in a circle around eninies and Brutishly shoving enemies to each other to move the enemy in range of the other characters lol

Need to have a Bard performing nearby so it can be a proper mosh pit.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
I look forward to the party that has all fighters.standing in a circle around eninies and Brutishly shoving enemies to each other to move the enemy in range of the other characters lol

Awwwww yissss


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Voss wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
@Voss - Where are you getting that it’s a ‘currency’ from?

Because you spend 1000 to go up a level.

It just strikes me as a meaningless change if it doesn't have other uses. You could just as easily go from 0 to 20,000 XP as you level to 20.
---

@GG yes, it is a problematic concept (karma in early shadowrun comes to mind, saving it for rerolls rather than advancement was great for a short campaign but terrible for a long one). That's why I am asking.

But it's not out of nowhere- its a deliberate change to how XP functions, and if it was done without purpose, its just baffling.

I can imagine that the design process maybe went something like this.

"We'll change it to 1,000xp per level. This makes it easier to track progress and hand out appropriate ad-hoc rewards."

"That sounds good."

"Quick maths someone, what level am I at 13,700xp?"

"Level 13?"

"Wrong! I start at level 1 with 0xp. At 1,000xp I've just hit level 2, so at 13,700xp I'm level 14, and closing on level 15."

"Ooh yeah. That means you typically cap out level 20 at 19,000xp too."

"That is sort of awkward, the numbers don't map intuitively."

"What about starting with 1,000xp? That can represent your Background since we added that as a formal mechanic."

"There is merit to that, but we're also pretty cost-benefit mindful of changing long-standing norms and giving some people cold feet. Starting level 1 with 0xp has lasted since the very beginning. Any alternatives?"

"What if we don't track career xp, and just track xp to next level? We already reduced the huge numbers wow-factor of handing out piles of xp for high-level encounters. People also normally refer to a character's progress by their level, not their xp total. The latter's become a bit redundant, and isn't as strongly-ingrained as ability scores vs. mods."

"So it's not 'total xp' so much as 'xp toward next level'? That might work, get something mocked up for next meeting."


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Wow, Artificial 20, you just completely sold me on the concept compared to the alternatives. Well put.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
Voss wrote:
I'd rather not move it to another thread. I'd rather get clarification on the blog in the blog thread.

IIRC, there was a blog post either at the time of the playtest or the preview blogs that led to the playtest where one of the devs (Mark Seifter I believe) explained the reasons behind this change.

I think one of the big advantages mentioned was not having to explain why going up a level needed ever greater amounts of XP. The thing about easily adjusting the tracks' speed was also a valued benefit.

I think it was this blog post :

https://paizo.com/community/blog/v5748dyo5lklr?Leveling-Up#1


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Cashing in XP to Level Up.

In addition to Artificial 20's idea above, the concept of "cashing in" could put another tool into the DM's hand as regards gaining levels.

Something like "Once you have accumulated 1000 xp, you may spend x days of downtime to level up according to these prescriptions...(gameworld stuff)...to emerge as a higher level character."

For DMs who want either more "realism" or "immersion" or "control" or whatnot.


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Asgetrion wrote:
I definitely do not want to return to days of rolling ability scores, that often resulted in bitterness when one of the guys rolled up an "elven hero" and the rest were playing farmboys with pitchforks.

My players would likely rise in revolt if there is not an option for getting exactly that result, because making characters of that sort of different level of capacity work well together is a large part of the fun for us.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
I definitely do not want to return to days of rolling ability scores, that often resulted in bitterness when one of the guys rolled up an "elven hero" and the rest were playing farmboys with pitchforks.
My players would likely rise in revolt if there is not an option for getting exactly that result, because making characters of that sort of different level of capacity work well together is a large part of the fun for us.

Rolling stats is still an option just not the baseline method for generating stats.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
I definitely do not want to return to days of rolling ability scores, that often resulted in bitterness when one of the guys rolled up an "elven hero" and the rest were playing farmboys with pitchforks.
My players would likely rise in revolt if there is not an option for getting exactly that result, because making characters of that sort of different level of capacity work well together is a large part of the fun for us.

Your players are in luck.

Have them roll 3d6 down the line. This averages to 10.5 for each ability score.

Then apply your ABCs. Cap starting stats at 18. Maybe decide upon a minimum value too.

Voila.


rainzax wrote:


Your players are in luck.

Have them roll 3d6 down the line. This averages to 10.5 for each ability score.

Then apply your ABCs. Cap starting stats at 18. Maybe decide upon a minimum value too.

Voila.

No need. Alternative rules for rolling are in the CRB, just like in the playtest.


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lordcirth wrote:
rainzax wrote:


Your players are in luck.

Have them roll 3d6 down the line. This averages to 10.5 for each ability score.

Then apply your ABCs. Cap starting stats at 18. Maybe decide upon a minimum value too.

Voila.

No need. Alternative rules for rolling are in the CRB, just like in the playtest.

Sure.

But I'm positive that "3d6 down" will have special appeal to fans of earliest editions, and is incredibly compatible with the ABC character creation algorithm.

Grand Lodge

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We just need to have a good chance of your new character dying during the creation process to appease the true grognards.

SM


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I can proudly say I once died during character creation. :D

...Although it was in Paranoia, where such an event is even less unexpected. :P


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
rainzax wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
I definitely do not want to return to days of rolling ability scores, that often resulted in bitterness when one of the guys rolled up an "elven hero" and the rest were playing farmboys with pitchforks.
My players would likely rise in revolt if there is not an option for getting exactly that result, because making characters of that sort of different level of capacity work well together is a large part of the fun for us.

Your players are in luck.

Have them roll 3d6 down the line. This averages to 10.5 for each ability score.

Then apply your ABCs. Cap starting stats at 18. Maybe decide upon a minimum value too.

Voila.

I am very tempted to try this with my group. I’d devised a way of randomizing boosts that gives results pretty similar to doing your ABCs manually, but this has a nice, old-school feel to it.

Grand Lodge

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MaxAstro wrote:

I can proudly say I once died during character creation. :D

...Although it was in Paranoia, where such an event is even less unexpected. :P

Traveller got me so many times I just gave them placeholder names until they actually made it through the system.

SM


lordredraven wrote:
So if I grok the meaning of power attack, since it is two attacks, if it's your first attack it's most likely at -5 to hit in exchange for an extra die? Extra die is good but in a system where -5 real drops your crit burst damage not sure it is a fair trade off

no it counts as two for the penalty so if it's your first attack it'd be at no penalty but your next attack would be at -10


Warning! random thoughts ahead:

Hmm I'm not sure about power attack. So if your weapon does a d12 it will add a d12 but a second attack would add a d12 +str and other bonuses but be at -5. If I'm not mistaken a d12 is as big as it gets to right? nothing like enlarge or monkey grip or anything like that would ever increase the die size it would most likely just give you a flat damage bonus. However I guess it does count as one action instead of 2 so maybe if you are doing other things then attacking and making just one attack its gonna be a solid option. Would have to go over the math that we don't have yet to really figure it out also maybe their are more feats to improve it?


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I think the thing about power attack is that you're much more likely to crit with a 0 MAP than a -5, or a -5 than a -10, in which case you're rolling 4d12+2xStr.


Its a good point. I'm no good at doing the DPR additions I've seen others do that factor in attacks hit chances etc. It could be awesome I imagine they did the math so I will trust!

Paizo Employee Designer

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Don't forget that there are ways to get benefits on a particular (or on your next) attack. Our multiclass buddy might take Enspell Weapon and true strike for a really vicious single attack that rolls twice for an extremely high hit chance and solid crit chance, plus damage!


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I’m glad True Strike is going to be useful in this edition. I'm so use it being a trap option in 5e. It’s funny that it effectively does the same thing in both editions but the fact it takes your entire action in 5e makes it a waste of a turn while PF2e it only using one of your 3 actions means you can line it up with Enspell Weapon or Power Attack for a big hit. In 5e it’s actually a cantrip but never worth casting unless planning an ambush.


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Power Attack is also a good feat when used with backup weapons. If you for some reason need to use a weapon that has a lower potency than level appropriate (say the backup adamtium axe for that golem), power attack can add up the same number of weapon dice as attacking twice.
Extreme example: a 18th level fighter attacking twice with a nonmagical greatsword does 2x 1d12+static bonus, with power attack 4d12+static bonus.


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You need to accumulate 1000 xp, every level, every time. I’m not even able to understand how that could be complicated, and I’m the obtuse one.

I’m even grokking Power Attack, though the nuances of why and when you might choose to use it on your first or second strike have not cascaded about me with radiant elucidation just yet....

Plain dice-max HP, plus Con, every level? Yes please. Been playing since ADnD 1e. Rolling for hit points is a randomness I could do without. There are enough ways for the DM to kill y....um...the game to be difficult, challenges increased, rolls to go badly etc each and every time you roll them - no sense on being crippled by low HP right off the bat...


CorvusMask wrote:

Hmm, abilities that allow for teamwork with other party members are nice to be honest.

Like I think people often focus on "one vs one" scenarios, but it does kinda suck when character's only good utility is dealing as much damage as possible.

I mean, death is the best CC after all.


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Only once dead. We all know that full or 1hp is functionally the same. Something on par with you is not likely to be one shot in this system.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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Removed a few posts. Personal attacks are not conducive to a healthy discussion, and they aren't welcome here. Find a way to disagree in a civil manner, and don't take shots at other users who may have frustrated you.

Dark Archive

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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
I definitely do not want to return to days of rolling ability scores, that often resulted in bitterness when one of the guys rolled up an "elven hero" and the rest were playing farmboys with pitchforks.
My players would likely rise in revolt if there is not an option for getting exactly that result, because making characters of that sort of different level of capacity work well together is a large part of the fun for us.

I guess it's different strokes for different people, and that's just fine. :)

I generally don't like playing "sidekicks" to heroes anymore, and I think it's also harder for the GM to design encounters that challenge everyone but don't end up killing the "less capable" PCs. Naturally you want and need your PCs to cooperate in most campaigns, but it's tough when there is disparity in their abilities. For example, in that Undermountain campaign I mentioned before my elven magic-user/thief had AC 5 and the "elven hero" fighter had AC -4. That campaign ended when my PC and another roguish elf died in combat, but the "hero" survived, I think? And my first new 3.0 PC was an elf ranger with Str 12, Dex 15 and Con 13... and the "alpha" PC in our group had 14 in his *lowest* stat. That campaign wasn't really fun either, and I think it ended at level 3 or something?


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sherlock1701 wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

Hmm, abilities that allow for teamwork with other party members are nice to be honest.

Like I think people often focus on "one vs one" scenarios, but it does kinda suck when character's only good utility is dealing as much damage as possible.

I mean, death is the best CC after all.

I think a Lich would be willing to debate that point.


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Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
rainzax wrote:
Vlorax wrote:
Reckless wrote:
lordredraven wrote:
So if I grok the meaning of power attack, since it is two attacks, if it's your first attack it's most likely at -5 to hit in exchange for an extra die? Extra die is good but in a system where -5 real drops your crit burst damage not sure it is a fair trade off

I'm pretty sure it's only 1 strike, which is 2 actions and counts as 2 attacks for your multiattack penalty. Meaning that if it's your first attack, it's at full value, but your next one is at -10. If it's your second strike, it would be at -5.

this is also how I understood it to be.
I see. Kind of like 1E the Vital Strike feat.
Very much, yes. That has been a vocal complaint about the naming of the feat as well; but it works virtually like an evolving Vital Strike.

People say it should be called Vital Strike because that's how it worked in PF1, but Vital Strike never really made much sense as a name. It isn't like your targeting the creature's vitals with extra precision damage. You were just making one big powerful swing. A powerful attack, if you will.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

...Wait, isn't the damage added by Vital Strike precision damage? I thought it was.

Liberty's Edge

MaxAstro wrote:
...Wait, isn't the damage added by Vital Strike precision damage? I thought it was.

It is not. The name's just a bit odd.


Rek Rollington wrote:
I’m glad True Strike is going to be useful in this edition. I'm so use it being a trap option in 5e. It’s funny that it effectively does the same thing in both editions but the fact it takes your entire action in 5e makes it a waste of a turn while PF2e it only using one of your 3 actions means you can line it up with Enspell Weapon or Power Attack for a big hit. In 5e it’s actually a cantrip but never worth casting unless planning an ambush.

A Wizard/Fighter using True Strike was one of the builds I tinkered with in the playtest before our group fell apart, it was pretty good then and I can see it being even better now.


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OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:
I’m even grokking Power Attack, though the nuances of why and when you might choose to use it on your first or second strike have not cascaded about me with radiant elucidation just yet....

You would generally want to use it as 1st attack, since it would be big damage on high attack bonus. But you might have some other ability that REQUIRES being used first, in which case it isn't your choice, but you still can use Power Attack after the 1st attack. And it's not really that bad as 2nd attack, since it's still big damage at -4/-5 and a 3rd normal attack at -10 would be very unlikely to hit most enemies.

I think the point is that different characters will have different options, so trying to make a 'universal' rule for using Power Attack isn't going to be productive. That it's not always clear cut is actually a feature of system IMHO, in that the game is making sure to keep subtle distinctions relevant. If it wasn't somewhat subtle like that, there wouldn't really be any debate about using it or not, meaning it isn't a real choice.

Subtler distinctions of power also seem to bolster the system to future updates AKA splat, if that wasn't the case then future splat would either tend to break the game OR be much more constrained as to what it can do. Ideally, NOT choosing to learn Power Attack should be reasonably valid build as well, and for some builds whose abilities/actions might not ideally coexist with Power Attack, that might be the norm, which is fine.


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I really like the idea of opening with a regular attack or some other strike and then using power attack as a second attack to get almost three attacks worth of damage but only two attacks worth of penalties.

If I had one problem that came to mind, it's more thematic. Since PA gives you two attacks worth of dice but only one attack's worth of Strength, it's going to be better on characters with less Str than on characters with a lot of it. A fighter with a curve blade isn't going to care as much about losing the Str mod to damage that you'd otherwise get from a second attack if their strength is lower to begin with. Even a fighter who uses Str for rolls but has a lower stat for whatever reason might appreciate being able to 'concentrate' two attacks worth of damage when their secondary or tertiary rolls might be really low.

Mechanically that's fine, but thematically having 'Power Attack' be more valuable the weaker you are ones feels a little odd.


Squiggit wrote:

I really like the idea of opening with a regular attack or some other strike and then using power attack as a second attack to get almost three attacks worth of damage but only two attacks worth of penalties.

If I had one problem that came to mind, it's more thematic. Since PA gives you two attacks worth of dice but only one attack's worth of Strength, it's going to be better on characters with less Str than on characters with a lot of it. A fighter with a curve blade isn't going to care as much about losing the Str mod to damage that you'd otherwise get from a second attack if their strength is lower to begin with. Even a fighter who uses Str for rolls but has a lower stat for whatever reason might appreciate being able to 'concentrate' two attacks worth of damage when their secondary or tertiary rolls might be really low.

Mechanically that's fine, but thematically having 'Power Attack' be more valuable the weaker you are ones feels a little odd.

It's very die based though. PA is best with a d12 weapon which are all Str based to hit. If you are using a d8 curved blade it is less useful.


Bardarok wrote:
Squiggit wrote:

I really like the idea of opening with a regular attack or some other strike and then using power attack as a second attack to get almost three attacks worth of damage but only two attacks worth of penalties.

If I had one problem that came to mind, it's more thematic. Since PA gives you two attacks worth of dice but only one attack's worth of Strength, it's going to be better on characters with less Str than on characters with a lot of it. A fighter with a curve blade isn't going to care as much about losing the Str mod to damage that you'd otherwise get from a second attack if their strength is lower to begin with. Even a fighter who uses Str for rolls but has a lower stat for whatever reason might appreciate being able to 'concentrate' two attacks worth of damage when their secondary or tertiary rolls might be really low.

Mechanically that's fine, but thematically having 'Power Attack' be more valuable the weaker you are ones feels a little odd.

It's very die based though. PA is best with a d12 weapon which are all Str based to hit. If you are using a d8 curved blade it is less useful.

The curved blade has forceful so the there is going to be less of a difference for dice.


Bardarok wrote:
It's very die based though. PA is best with a d12 weapon which are all Str based to hit. If you are using a d8 curved blade it is less useful.

To an extent, but even if you are strength based it's going to be more valuable to characters who didn't cap their strength than characters who did.

Like I said, hardly the end of the world, just something that struck me as a little odd in terms of ability flavor.


Forceful makes the curve blade as good as a d10 on secondary strikes. Still not as good as a d12 weapon. It's not bad for a d8 weapon person but it's best for someone using a d12 weapon and that means str based.

@Squiggit that makes sense. The more static bonus damage you have the is less net benefit PA has over two attacks.


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Bardarok wrote:
Forceful makes the curve blade as good as a d10 on secondary strikes. Still not as good as a d12 weapon. It's not bad for a d8 weapon person but it's best for someone using a d12 weapon and that means str based.

I don't disagree, but for a weapon you can use dex to hit with, that's darn good.


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I kind of like how power attack is no longer optimal on literally every weapon. It was always kind of silly when people were using it with whips, and rapiers, and starknives and the like.

Liberty's Edge

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Quandary wrote:
You would generally want to use it as 1st attack, since it would be big damage on high attack bonus. But you might have some other ability that REQUIRES being used first, in which case it isn't your choice, but you still can use Power Attack after the 1st attack. And it's not really that bad as 2nd attack, since it's still big damage at -4/-5 and a 3rd normal attack at -10 would be very unlikely to hit most enemies.

Mathematically, if using three actions to attack, you're better off going normal attack then Power Attack than you are going Power Attack then normal attack.

Going +0/-5 is just better than +0/-10, even with the extra damage going on the second rather than the first.

Both are slightly better than just attacking three times (at least at 1st level). Barring buffs specifically to one attack, Power Attack and two normal attacks are actually about equal, DPR-wise, at low levels (assuming you use the third action to move or something). At higher levels, this will become less true, but it's always solid mathematically as your second attack.

All this assumes d12 weapons, of course.


If you're using a 2-handed weapon that isn't a d12, that weapon almost certainly has a property on it that already makes you not want to use Power Attack. A flail user is trying to perform combat maneuvers, for example, and trying to fit in Power Attack will make it complicated to do that.


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@Thanks for the notes on Power Attack Quandary. I’m piecing it all together bit by bit, though actual play will help me get used to the options and their relative strengths and weaknesses...


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Arachnofiend wrote:
If you're using a 2-handed weapon that isn't a d12, that weapon almost certainly has a property on it that already makes you not want to use Power Attack. A flail user is trying to perform combat maneuvers, for example, and trying to fit in Power Attack will make it complicated to do that.

With MAP confirmed as applying to combat maneuvers which have critical failure conditions? I really wouldn't advise it, unless you have Assurance.

(Guess what one of my first house rules will be.)


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Asgetrion wrote:


I generally don't like playing "sidekicks" to heroes anymore, and I think it's also harder for the GM to design encounters that challenge everyone but don't end up killing the "less capable" PCs. Naturally you want and need your PCs to cooperate in most campaigns, but it's tough when there is disparity in their abilities. For example, in that Undermountain campaign I mentioned before my elven magic-user/thief had AC 5 and the "elven hero" fighter had AC -4. That campaign ended when my PC and another roguish elf died in combat, but the "hero" survived, I think? And my first new 3.0 PC was an elf ranger with Str 12, Dex 15 and Con 13... and the "alpha" PC in our group had 14 in his *lowest* stat. That campaign wasn't really fun either, and I think it ended at level 3 or something?

That sounds a lot more combat-focused than the games I tend to run, which I can quite see making a difference; if your focus is social intrigue, I see no reason for those two characters not to be equally capable. Then again, if a magic-user/thief with AC like that is in frontline combat at all, it would seem to me that something's gone off the rails on a tactical level.

I love playing competent logistical support. One of my life goals is to take a character from 1 to 20 without ever doing a single point of damage directly.


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So, multiclassing into a spellcasting class is still a bad thing. Well, there go a lot of play styles. I was hoping the "you get two zero level spells to cast per day and have to burn another feat to get a first level spell" was a bad idea that would get tweaked. If you didn't want people to multiclass, why even give the option?

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