So having been on both sides of this, the way you deal with "A Kineticist wants to prepare to resist a siege" the better standard than "what do the rules strictly allow" and more "how to thread the needle between making the kineticist player feel powerful, but also not trivialize the challenge."
I think this is the key question. Suppose your current adventure is about preparing for a siege. The enemy army is expected in the coming days and all the PCs have some time to do some preparations.
Now, you could get sidetracked into the exact crafting rules and spend some time researching how for your could fast-craft a ballista, and whether the formula would be available and all kinds of super detailed nitty gritty stuff. But that takes a lot of time, and will inevitably result in some people happening to be useless. And some other people happening to have something they can do every round that really adds up.
I think a better way is to treat this as a Victory Point system. Say that you can spend a four-hour block working on this or that activity to make useful preparations for the siege. Someone might be preparing buckets of arrows drenched in oil to shoot at the attacking army. Someone else might be coaching the local peasants to divert a river to create an improvised moat. And the kineticist is making a lot of trees to break easy cavalry charge lanes. The thing is, for every four-hour block, the GM has people roll an appropriate check and if they succeed, they earn points for the team. The more points the team has when the enemy arrives, the better their situation will be.
Then, a kineticist will definitely be contributing, and probably has an easier time finding ways in which they can so do. But they're still in the same ballpark as other people. Perhaps the fighter is using warfare lore to drill the local militia and the ranger is figuring out firing lines and where the cover spots will be.
It has nothing to do with holidays per se, but last year I ran Mark of the Mantis as a New Year's Eve game and it went down very nicely. It's about the length of a solid PFS scenario (4-5 hours) but a standalone story. Also, everyone gets to play the bad guys (Red Mantis assassin pregens).
I don't think we need to throw out everything, because that fundamental balancing of the numbers is super useful. But we should augment it with easy to understand guidelines to help design the most enjoyable encounters. Such as:
- How to see if a monster is a good boss monster?
I'm interested in dragons post-alignment-removal. Just because you're "noble" doesn't mean you're nice or that you're gonna take kindly to people asking for charity from your hoard.
Dragons have always been tied in to "maaaagic" so the tradition-aspected dragons and a dragon book seem like a cool combo. Maybe more dragon-related character build options too.
The encounter design tables work decently, but they try to capture a very complex mathematical phenomenon inside a simple model (those tables) that people can use even if math wasn't their favorite subject. But that does mean that around the edges, it's not gonna work so well. In particular I've noticed:
* Severe/Extreme encounters with single enemies tend to be Not Fun. Their really high defenses means most of peoples' "that was my big spell for today" will just bounce off. Even attempts to debuff them so someone else can try to land something big, will fail. Eventually the party might get through just by sheer amount of trying. But failing so many times doesn't feel like a heroic victory.
* Moderate and easier encounters against three or more enemies on the other hand, dilute the enemy oomph so much that they feel kinda lame.
* Simple hazards have to hit and damage that's higher than extreme for creatures, because they deliver it all in one activation. But that does mean that if you use a simple hazard that's higher than the party level, there's a real chance it'll suddenly out of nowhere kill a PC through massive damage. Which doesn't feel clever at all, just unlucky dice and you're dead. So, don't use these as standalone encounters.
* Mooks if they're not too low level are credible threats. Monsters by design have high to hit so even if they're a level below the PCs, they can still hit. And they can help the boss flank, which increases boss crits.
* Facing a crowd of mooks with area damage abilities can actually be really dangerous, those stack up quite fast. Facing these seems to be worse than facing single-target mooks of the same level.
So the design intent for magi seems to be that you don't force the same rotation (spellstrike) every turn. It would be cool though if there were more feats that made strong sense to use on "off" turns though. Something like a two-action activity involving a strike, something else useful, and recharging spellstrike.
Swallow Whole in general has a whole lot of these corner cases.
On the one hand, because characters who've been swallowed can be in mortal peril, it's important to keep a close eye on the rules. Nobody likes to see their character get killed because the GM was playing fast and loose.
On the other hand, there are a whole lot of unexpected things players might do to improve their situation. If the GM keeps an open mind and handles creative solutions well, these could be the cool stories that your players talk about for years after.
I liked using divine lance on a magus to switch on good damage vs. fiends, I don't think that's possible now anymore. You'd be doing spirit damage, not sure you can also use arcane cascade to grab the secondary traits of the damage like holy. (Also, now you need a cleric dedication, instead of an adopted cantrip feat.)
Overall I think for magus it's a very small debuff. An extra damage die instead of ability bonus to damage is not so impactful, since intelligence wasn't your key stat. It makes poaching spells from other spell lists with ancestry cantrips and such actually slightly better.
But having fewer spell attack spells means relying more on expansive spellstrike. I feel like that feat should maybe be folded into the base class chassis at this point, unless they're going to write new spell attack cantrips.
I'd lean Dex more than Strength. Maybe grab a point of Strength here and there as a fourth attribute boost, but not focus on it. Strength overall adds just a small amount of extra damage to melee and Kinetic Weapon attacks. Nice, but something you can compromise on to make other parts of your build possible.
For knowledge, I'd go Wisdom focused: Nature is in-theme with kineticist, and Religion uses the same stat. Also, those two happen to cover a fair slice of the creatures that care about metal types (fey, fiends) and elemental damage types (elementals, flammable plants). And of course, Will saves aren't your forte to begin with so this helps a lot.
That means you don't get to do Int-based knowledges so much. I think that's okay - while you miss out on constructs and oozes, "you can't have everything" is just deeply baked into how the game is built. The game wants you to team up with people and split some responsibilities, including who knows about what.
Well, another thing is to go beyond weird metals and also pick up some other elements. Quite a lot of creatures are weak to fire. Sometimes slashing or piercing is good and sometimes you need bludgeoning. With versatile elements and kinetic weapon you can have better damage type coverage than almost any other class.
It could also be fun to do a team-up with for example a thaumaturge, where the thaumaturge does the super recall that they do, and you use the information.
I think it's fair that Magical Crafter makes things simpler for the group, so they might decide to learn it because it's useful. But it shouldn't be mandatory.
So an extra cost of 10% and maybe needing to wait a few more days for it to be done seems about right.
I wouldn't make too much of an issue about the town level. You don't really want to encourage them to go to Absalom because then you get awkward question like "why don't we just report this whole thing to the big city authorities to solve".
As a rule of thumb, if you run encounters close together so there's no time to heal up in between, you should estimate those later encounters to be a grade harder than they would normally be.
So a moderate encounters going quickly into a moderate encounter would be as difficult as a moderate and then a severe encounter
I think it's good to sometimes have encounters close together, because it can be exciting. But behind the scenes as GM, it means you have to be more careful with planning the difficulty.
For example, the party is raiding a gang hideout. There are sentries (one encounter), a bunch of gangsters in the main room (another encounter) and the boss in his room (a third encounter). Since enemies have plenty of HP, you don't expect the sentries to be taken out quietly so the middle encounter will probably be on guard. When the players encounter the middle encounter the boss decides to start burning papers with incriminating evidence, so the players have to go fast to make sure they put a stop to that.
Each of those is probably a moderate fight already, so that's quite hefty. The party's gonna run out of resources doing all those back to back. However, as a GM there are ways you can balance that out. Since we're talking raiding a gang hideout, the players might be part of a police force, they're essentially doing a SWAT job here. So the police could also supply them with extra consumable resources.
The police alchemist brews up a whole lot of healing elixirs. Those will expire the next day so the players know they're for using on this job, not hoarding for five levels. Also give the casters some scrolls with extra offensive spells, to balance out that they won't have time to regain focus spells. You can also give some buff spells scrolls, or have an NPC cast them. 10m buffs normally only work for one encounter because then you rest, but now they'll work for the whole raid because there's no resting.
So now the party is ready to do a bunch of encounters quickly after another. You had to give them extra consumables to compensate for the stuff they don't have time to recover if they had done the encounters at slow pace. So why go to all the trouble as GM? Because you get to run an exciting big showdown, and get to vary the pace of how your adventures go. That's a lot of fun for you and the players.
It doesn't have the magic words "push" or "pull" so it's up to the GM to decide if this particular forced movement can put an enemy into a dangerous spot.
If you compare this to other kinds of forced movements, the "muscling around" part does sound quite close to pushing & pulling, so personally I'd probably rule yes.
On the one hand you have the fantasy of the wizard who's eagerly collecting more spells, struggling sometimes, sometimes having to make sketchy deals to get a particularly rare spell. That's cool.
That's good for some campaigns. Probably good in a campaign like Kingmaker where there's a lot of free time for side adventures.
And then you have other campaigns where it's basically a roller-coaster that doesn't stop until you're done in book six, and barely two months have passed in game time. For those campaigns, a minimum amount of spells learned per level, with no checks or chance of failure, is the way to go. This campaign isn't about side treks.
Point being: different campaigns want different things. The class sets a floor (2 auto spells per level) but not much beyond that. But the GM should actually thing about that "beyond that" and what is the right way for that particular campaign. If you're gonna be saving the world in three months, then maybe just raise the auto spells per level number to 5 instead of 2. If there's years of freetime, instead spend some time coming up with a cool downtime mechanic for hobnobbing in wizard dining clubs to get access to more spells.
So the GM should have a more active view on this.
I think the ability of wizards to break adventures with just the right spell is dramatically overestimated in this edition.
Spells that compete with a skill check generally end up rolling against more or less the same AC with more or less similar bonus. That's just a different way of doing things, not completely breaking things.
"Silver bullets" against enemies still need to hit / they still need to fail their saving throws. Which if they're boss monsters is not guaranteed.
I think being at least in the "that's a good spell for that situation" ballpark is actually needed for spellcasting to feel as good as just weapon violence.
It seems that 12 mile hexes have been traditional in D&D for decades. The Alexandrian suggests this has to do with how far you can see in normal terrain. It's roughly far away enough that you can't really see details in the next hex, but kinda have an idea what terrain type it might be.
(That site by the way has way more material on hexcrawling than Paizo ever published. But with different opinions about it. Quite interesting for perspective.)
Looking at the examples you've given, yeah, those are pretty problematic traps. The darkside mirrors specify nothing about range, and for a regular hazard with a level to just blithely specify that it can't be damaged by anything or anyone as long as a duplicate is somewhere around - it doesn't read to me like a well-tested thing. More like someone showing off creativity, but not really doing the finishing-up stress testing. The poisoned dart gallery is also weird in that the only way of disabling it is to run through it and make it far enough to switch it off.
Setting aside these particularly problematic traps, my general take on hazards is as follows:
* Simple hazards have super-super-super inflated numbers because they have to pack all the punch of an encounter into one action. This means that if you take a simple hazard of higher level than the PCs, there's a real chance of killing with massive damage on a high roll. Conclusion: don't use them that way. Instead, add lower level versions of them as adds to an encounter. For example, if you have a boss and you want the fight to feel like a solo boss, but for difficulty reasons you don't want to use a creature that has many more levels than the PCs, give the boss some traps. It steel feels like you're fighting one creature "that has a face", but mathematically you're fighting multiple things.
* When using the Searching exploration tactic, you get a chance to detect a hazard before stepping into the trigger or effect area, whichever would happen first.
* You can disable most hazards without automatically activating them, just by standing on the edge. However, because you're sorta leaning in, on a critical failure it can affect you even if you're strictly speaking just out of range.
The notes in the Invisibility and Stealth rules are linked to those in the Imprecise Senses rules:
Imprecise Senses wrote:
Hearing is an imprecise sense—it cannot detect the full range of detail that a precise sense can. You can usually sense a creature automatically with an imprecise sense, but it has the hidden condition instead of the observed condition. It might be undetected by you if it’s using Stealth or is in an environment that distorts the sense, such as a noisy room in the case of hearing. In those cases, you have to use the Seek basic action to detect the creature. At best, an imprecise sense can be used to make an undetected creature (or one you didn’t even know was there) merely hidden—it can’t make the creature observed.
So imprecise senses are good enough to pinpoint location. Unless there's interference, or someone is trying to avoid that sense.
If someone is invisible, vision isn't helping, so you fall back to hearing, which is usually imprecise. So if someone makes sound you hear where they are and they become hidden.
If they stay quite still (= not taking actions other than Hide, Sneak, Step) then you don't get a chance to hear them. If the room is super noisy, you also don't get a chance to hear them.
On the other hand, if they start walking around without Sneaking, they're not actually trying to move quietly and you can hear where they're going.
Right now we have the Core Rulebook (CRB), and the Gamemaster Guide (GMG). The CRB actually covers a lot of GM-relevant material like how to build encounters. But the GMG goes further into how to build monsters/NPCs.
In the remaster, some material from the CRB is gonna be moved together with the material from the GMG so that the new Player Core is really player-facing, and the GM core is one single book that has all the GM stuff in it.
So the total topics covered don't wildly change, but they're split differently across two books.
By variant magic items, do you mean automatic bonus progression? There's a fair group of people who use it, overall I think the opinion is that it works very well for martial characters, but it offers a bit less to spellcasters. They don't care that much for weapon runes but they'd end up with less staves and such.
People have used it for various reasons, but the main ones I think are:
As for long side shopping trips - do the players enjoy them? Sometimes it feels like GMs dislike getting into detail with treasure but players like it.
You could also just say "well, this is a level 10 town so common items up to level 10 can be bought here. Next game session, you should have figured out what you want to buy." It doesn't require you to supervise it all in detail.
The UDT zones idea isn't really new, I've heard variants of it over the last twenty years. It's not a bad idea in itself, but I'm not sure it really is a great fit with Pathfinder. PF2 is built with a lot of focus on tactical movement, flanking, reactions to movement, reach weapons, area spells and so forth. It's quite intricate. It's mainly designed for a square grid, although it'll also work on a hexagonal grid. But the UDT zones would negate a lot of what makes PF2 a tactically clever game, I think. And a lot of class abilities wouldn't really work that well with it.
So I guess the question would be, what problem are you trying to solve with it, and is that more important than the new problems you get by using it?
If I look in the current CRB in the introduction, there's a series of steps to build a character.
Page 22: pick a concept
So you've already had a moment to see ancestries and classes together, along with ability modifiers for both of them. So first you review the ABCs, then you actually pick your ABCs.
So for anyone who actually reads all that, they get everything you're asking for. You're worrying about strict handholding the people who didn't read the initial handholding.
Orto the Lizardman wrote:
This is wrong. Thrown weapons use dex to hit. You might be thinking of Starfinder?
(I actually like the Starfinder rule because it helps strength-oriented martials find a ranged option.)
Alchemists, we've been breaking some pretty clear Rules, and it's worth rabble-rousing to get it fixed.
So after thinking about it, I think Trip has a bit of a point, although I don't agree entirely.
1. The rules aim to be easy to understand. The rules for explaining why which thing the alchemist does lasts for how long is NOT easy to understand.
2. For something made from reagents at breakfast, the intent is that it doesn't last beyond the day, unless it's some suuuuuper long acting poison.
3. This seems to be inherited by quick alchemy, but then last for only one round. But not 100%;
- if you make a bomb with quick alchemy, you have to use it immediately, that's clear
4. If you made a poison with quick alchemy you would expect that you need to apply it to a weapon that round, but that then you'd have some time to actually land a hit. You could also pre-apply poisons on your allies' weapons pre-battle, which is fine and balanced because you have only so many reagents.
5. Perpetual Infusions is supposed to give you unlimited amounts of stuff that's a couple of levels below your normal level, so not that powerful. This works fine for bombs and such. At level 11, having unlimited level 5 bombs is not unbalancing. They don't last long enough to hand out heaps of them to everyone pre-combat.
6. Using perpetual infusions to make lots of normal poisons with their normal listed DC and applying them all to weapons pre-combat should maybe work? But the DC of say, a level 5 poison at level 11 is so low, it's basically pointless.
7. Toxicologist breaks this idea a bit, because they hike the save DC for low level poisons to still be relevant. And many poisons cause status effects that remain significant even if the poison damage is poor. If at level 11 you can make lots of hunting spider venom (a level 5 poison), it still causes flat-footed and clumsy, which is always a nice debuff. So unlike the low level bombs, perpetual poisons with hiked DCs can be pretty strong.
So it's a bit under/over: either it's too bad, or it's maybe a bit too good.
Alchemists, we've been breaking some pretty clear Rules, and it's worth rabble-rousing to get it fixed.
Just as an aside; Clown Monarch poison isn't just restricted from use in perpetual infusions. It's "Restricted" which is PFS speak for banned entirely.
Basically, when PFS got the book and went through it they saw that as a level 5 poison it was waaaaay stronger than other level 5 poisons and said "this has got to be wrong, we're not allowing this, let's see if it gets fixed the next time they reprint Treasure Vault".
So I wouldn't try to evaluate a main class feature based on whether it would work badly with a specific option that's clear broken itself.
The remaster preview lists Tailwind as the replacement for Longstrider, and it has the air trait. So that's a spell that an air kineticist could use with kinetic activation. I pretty often pick up the wand of Longstrider level 2 for my casters, so this is an obvious pick.
Aside from that I actually don't use wands very much; wands of lower-level (damaging) spells quickly become less relevant when you level up. I think wands are only good for spells that you expect to keep casting nearly daily for a long time.
Wands/scrolls/staff if using Kinetic Activation feat
The usual nice magic items that are good for anyone (boots of bounding, rings of energy resistance etc.)
I guess you could get a magic weapon but they'd be for pretty specific use cases (ghost touch, swallowed whole)?
The outsider's viewpoint can seldom tell the difference between a prepared and a spontaneous caster.
Well.. if you're fighting an NPC caster and they just used a spell that absolutely wrecked your party, it's gonna be quite relevant. Because the spontaneous caster can just keep hammering you with the same thing over an over if they found your problem spot.
Whereas with a prepared caster it might be "okay, we figured out he's a wizard, and he's just used a lightning bolt... well we could try really hard not to stand in a line, but odds are that the next thing is gonna have a different AoE shape"
Yeah to talk about "the prepared wizard can solve anything"... no.
Even if you let the wizard player read the whole adventure and decide spell selection beforehand, they still wouldn't dominate. Nor could any class.
That silver bullet spell you prepared against the boss? His save is good enough that he might just ignore it entirely. Maybe he'll fail and it'll be glorious. But his odds of a success are always gonna be good enough that you can't count on it.
That utility spell that's supposed to solve an entire hazard? Maybe, just maybe. But most of the time, nope, you might get to Counteract it instead of someone else making Disable Device checks. But the DC is gonna be roughly the same and your bonus is gonna be roughly the same.
The silver bullets in this game are made of low-grade silver and we shouldn't budget classes like they're auto-win.
I think it's an interesting analysis. He certainly has a point about perception of power on "obvious" classes like fighter (to hit) and thaumaturge (high single hit damage) versus more subtle ones (monk, bard).
But where I'm not sure I follow is in how it still seems like wizards are singled out for "rebalancing" compared to other casters.
Is the arcane list really better than the occult or primal list? Do wizards really get that much more magic per day? I don't see it. So then why do they need to be saddled with bad armor, bad saves, bad hit points and bad feats even in comparison to cleric, bard and druid?
3-Body Problem wrote:
No, you really can't. Then you're just nerfing based on jealousy.
3-Body Problem wrote:
I haven't actually seen that happen, either in PFS or APs. I see a lot more diversity in fighter builds than that.
Unfun play experiences are generally being in a party playing another martial class whem their is a fighter in the party and the stakes are high.
Hasn't been my experience. I've played most of PFS and played Age of Ashes and Agents of Edgewatch in parties where I'm not the fighter, and I haven't been miserable.
In Age of Ashes the fighter was sorta middling optimized sword and shield build that was the bulwark enemies would crash against, while the rogue ripped them apart with massive damage and the monk would hunt down any enemies that tried to maneuver. I archer-clericked in the background and laid down area effects to suppress crowds so they became easy targets for them.
In Agents of Edgewatch I played magus alongside the fighter. Although I started as Starlit I multiclassed into monk for flurry, while the fighter picked up paladin for the reaction. He'd be busy pinning down casters with disruptive stance and combat grab (which is seriously mean) while I kept the mooks from swarming to the casters. He'd do more damage per single hit usually, but I was much better at triggering any possible weakness to anything enemies might have, moving ridiculously fast and attacking five times per round. It really felt pretty balanced between us two. The swashbuckler on the other hand was really struggling.
Hard and severe encounters are the ones that matter. Hordes of weaker opponents are less a threat than thwy are time consuming and generally easily defeated with some basic tactics that any martial can excel at with a minor amount of support but hard and severe enemies get to be the domain of the fighter with other classes mostly relegated to enabling the fighter.
Thing is, mooks still benefit from PF2 monster design which gives them high to-hit compared to PCs of that level. So even mooks can still hit and flank. And it gets really rough when they all start spamming area effects at higher levels. Compared to PF1, I'm actually finding that mopping up the mooks first can be better than focus firing on the boss.
Got a heroism buff, its better on the fighter than any other martial.
It actually isn't, the opposite in fact. The fighter doesn't get all that much out of a bit of extra accuracy. If you compare increasing a fighter's to hit to other increasing that of other martials:* Fighters and barbarians Strike roughly equally as often, but when the barbarian hits, the damage is higher. So boosting accuracy is better for the barbarian. Same with rogues and thaumaturges.
* Fighters hit for almost the same damage as monks or rangers, but those attack more often. A boost to accuracy on every strike will end up boosting more strikes with those classes.
I don't agree that the math shows that, because you haven't actually shown that and I've given an argument why the opposite is true.
Most of fighter feats rely on hitting enemies, and without the high accuracy wouldn't actually work all that well.
Deriven Firelion wrote:
My view of the martial classes I have experience playing or running as a DM and tracking effectiveness:
Yeah I'd make more or less the same list. I'd add in Thaumaturge at the top tier though. It overcomes a lot of pain points from other classes.
* They hit nearly as hard as a barbarian with about the same relative fragility. But they end up with more skill support.
* They do the one handed vibe much more easily than the swashbuckler. Compared to Panache, bosses with high DCs are not so likely to prevent you from getting Exploit Weakness going, since you still get some on a failure.
* They work particularly well against single enemies (Exploit Weakness), but if you have to fight a bag of mixed nuts you still have Implement's Empowerment. Compared to Hunt Prey that gives you more choice on whether you really really need to set up new targets all the time.
I'd also rate champions in top tier. As long as they have someone else to work together with in the front line they prevent a lot of damage while weakening enemies. Offense is middling but the efficient staying power is huge.
So yeah, pretty crowded top tier, which I think shows the health of the game.
Isn't that what Snagging Strike, Combat Grab, Knockdown and Intimidating Strike are? All of them make enemies easier for your teammates to hit.
In tougher fights I often see the fighter as the can-opener that uses their high to-hit to actually land a debuff on a boss so that the rest of the party has a better time landing their tricks.
Cylar Nann wrote:
I am a huge Kineticist fan but don't really see the point in this... Why make Kineticist feats that are extremely limited.
I think you've hit it on its head.
Three-element impulses are more limited than two-element impulses, because only characters with those three elements can use them. Four-element impulses are available to even fewer characters. Six-element impulses are basically a high level vanity project.
So while a three-element impulse could exist, it would need to be something really awesome to justify writing something that exclusive. If you could tweak it a little to require one less element, it would be better because more people could use it.
I mean, it clearly is more complex than having only prepared or only spontaneous casting.
It's not impossibly hard on its own, but it's one more thing to keep track of.
The question for me is: what is the upside of having this complexity? Does it actually add something cool to the experience of playing the class? If the class had been pure prepared or pure spontaneous, would it be less fun?
Most of the time PF2 does a good job of spending it's "complexity budget" where gives the biggest returns in terms of play experience. Are we getting a good return on investment here?