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That's another good idea, thanks! The dead NPC was a conjuration wizard (and the party's only arcane caster), so they went with getting him Reincarnated. With the PC paladin, the party's tolerance for Laori Vaus is pretty much zero anyway.

In fact, there may be a similar issue with even listening to Count Sial unless I make some tweaks there... maybe he should be a NE cleric of Nethys instead of Zon-Kuthon.

I agree with your take on Book Four and the likelihood of the players getting bored with all the reputation-building challenges, i.e., "faction reputation grinding" to use an MMO term. I'm considering options to trim that part down and streamline it, basically give them fewer hoops to jump through and hopefully link in some more PC-relevant* challenges.

Party makeup:
*Halfling slayer
*Gnome cleric/crafter of Brigh
*Elf bard
*Half-orc paladin of Sarenrae
*NPC human wizard (Conj)


Good ideas, folks. Thanks! I think I will do a spirit-vision message from Neolandus, courtesy of the Shoanti shaman Thousand Bones and/or Book 4's Harrow fortune-telling through Zellara's ghost. That seems the best way to bring them up to speed.

The Reincarnate for the dead NPC is already in the works (they really hit it off great with the Skull-Clan Shoanti), so that might factor in too--the recently reborn NPC could bring a Message from the Beyond or something.

Sadly, they won't have a choice of Zon-Kuthon sidekicks for Book 4 from the Brotherhood of Bones (Laori Vaus or Count Sial). In their initial encounter with Laori, the paladin (a half-orc who instantly recognized the holy symbol of Zon-Kuthon) did an immediate "Detect Evil and attack" response, scoring a critical and killing her within a single round.

I appreciate the suggestions!


Hey there, folks! My home group has been going through Book 3, "Escape from Old Korvosa." And true to form, they're doing things out of order. After a disastrous failed raid on the "Emperor of Old Korvosa's" amphitheater (NPC party member died), they've concluded that things are too dangerous for them in the city right now, and they need to clear out... maybe go ask the friendly Shoanti Skull Clan (from Book 1) for help and look into getting the NPC raised/reincarnated.

Now, that works perfectly for the overall campaign arc: Book 4 is about traveling among the Shoanti anyway, to recover important facts that only the Sun Clan know about the artifact hidden below Castle Korvosa. So we could just jump the story ahead. But since the PCs never went through House Arkona's wacky rotating dungeon to rescue Ex-Seneschal Neolandus, they don't have his vital plot point (i.e., knowing that the Queen found a strange crown she took to wearing, and that the Shoanti who used to live in the region might know something about it). They've abandoned the prior mission, so (since they agreed they want consequences for their decisions) Neolandus and Orsini are dead.

So now I'm looking for a way to take advantage of their spontaneous trip to the Shoanti and just move ahead to Book 4's content. But to do that, I need some alternate way to deliver Neolandus' intelligence to the PCs, so they'll have a reason to look for the Sun Clan and investigate this crown the queen's started wearing. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

The party has already left the city and reached the Skull Clan, with the dead party member's body in tow. Existing allies include:

  • *Trinia Sabor, artist/bard and falsely-accused assassin, currently hiding out with Orsini's friend Jasan at the nearby town of Harse
  • *Ex-Commander Cressida Croft of the Korvosan Guard, now trying to keep her head down in a city under martial law and save who she can
  • *Majenko the pseudo-dragon, currently disconnected from the dead NPC and living as a regular pseudo-dragon in the city
  • *Priest of Abadar Ishani Dhatri, acting head of the Temple/Bank of Abadar while the archbanker recovers from a curse (long story)
  • *Eries Yellow-Eyes, Old Korvosa fishmonger and secret wererat with many criminal contacts but no resources, in lockdown on the island
  • *New NPC Telestrie Arnholt, well-to-do opera singer and estranged daughter-in-law of Yellow-Eyes, currently caring for over a dozen orphaned kids
  • *Bishaar and Delinora, two friendly NPC elves affiliated with the elven embassy to Korvosa: an architect and an alchemist (note that the elven ambassador himself is NOT friendly)


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Boomerang Nebula wrote:
The simplest solution is to have monsters that don’t carry much loot.

I'm puzzled... what problem are you solving with this?


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This was said as a half-serious, half-joking comment in a recent session, to our charismatic bard/priest: "Will you quit trying to talk our way out of these encounters? It's costing us valuable treasure!"

Now, the players generally enjoy the priest's antics as he tries different RP approaches to charm, confuse, distract, barter with, or negotiate through various foes that the party runs into. And of course, the party gets full XP for 'defeating' any given encounter, whether it's through combat, stealth, deception, and so on.

But that's XP... and NOT treasure.

Despite some memorably funny encounter stories, the party is still progressing well in terms of level. But they're way, way behind on actual wealth, because the only way to get wealth is through murder-looting. Let's face it, a level 5 fighter who's accumulated less than 1000gp in the campaign is not going to be as effective as one with the standard murderhobo's bank account.

How do your groups deal with the wealth-by-level issue if/when PCs insist on thinking and talking their way past encounters too often, instead of stabbing and looting?


Got it. Thanks!


VoodistMonk wrote:

I wasn't sure if Armor/Weapon Training were introduced in a different book, or not. That's why I asked.

Is the end result what you are after, or does the majority of the AC bonus have to come from the armor, itself? A build based on Dex could achieve a high AC number, although it is lost when flat-footed.

To what extent are you dedicated to armor class? Are you willing to sacrifice offense just to "tank"?

I'm not too worried about damage output; the rest of the party is all squishies and damage-dealers, they mainly need someone to take hits. I've tried the barbarian low-AC/high-HP route, but in practice there's no amount of HP that can keep up with the damage.


VoodistMonk wrote:

Dodge + heavy shield + heavy armor...

Have a decent Dex to start, and keep it high enough to max out whatever Dex bonus you are allowed with your armor.

Do you get Armor Training with CRB-only Fighter?

Yes, armor training is part of the base class features.


Hi, all. I'm looking for tips to get a strong fighter AC for a CORE game--using the Pathfinder Core Rulebook only.

This means no archetypes, no non-Core Races, no splatbook feats or Advanced Player's Guide options, nothing from Ultimate Combat or Armor Master's Handbook, etc., etc. Just stuff in the Core Rulebook.

Assume a single-classed half-orc fighter at level 7, with PFS-standard wealth: 23,500gp. How can we get him the best armor class, using Core book rules?


DeathlessOne wrote:

A Druid in a Core Game only is pretty much on par with being one of the most powerful classes (by versatility alone), even if they can't summon creatures. Don't worry about it at all.

Play an Elf, build towards Dex (Wis>Dex>Con>Str>Int>Cha), pick up a bow and the relevant feats for it. Deviate slightly from the archer build to pick up Weapon Finesse and Natural spell. Pick up metamagic feats or spell focus feats after you've gotten the archery feats. Enjoy being able to use ranged attacks, switching to spells to buff/support the party, and shifting into an animal form with pounce, and then charging in to save the rogue or the arcane squishy when they've attracted too much attention.

You'll be just fine.

Sounds reasonable... thanks!


IluzryMage wrote:
What do you mean by a core game? Only using the like phb?

Built with the Core Rulebook only. No Advanced Player's Guide options, no Ultimate Magic or Ultimate Combat, etc.

And I'm okay with summoning critters for non-combat, utility purposes (scouting, special movement, etc.). We just hate the slowdown effect they have on combat.


Our group is starting up a Core game with 9th level characters, and I'm considering a caster-focused druid. However, I (and everyone else in the group) really hate dealing with summoned creatures. They drastically slow things down and complicate the combats, dragging things out much longer than we like. The faster we can wrap up a fight, the better*.

*And no amount of "but summons DO help end a fight faster" arguments will change our minds on that point: that's not our experience. Maybe I can clarify what I mean by 'faster.' I don't mean how many rounds a combat lasts, so much as how long each round, and each player's turn, takes up in real-world play time. Ideally, a good combat round for us means each PC takes one action and makes one roll, moving on to the next player, bam-bam-bam. So we hate dealing with summons, period.

So, is it feasible to play a caster-centric druid who doesn't focus on Summoning? If so, any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!


The GM has been very clear in ruling that "being able to target a square is NOT the same as having line of sight. You still can't charge." So no amount of smoke, flour, or scent will help.

And to answer how often we're facing invisible enemies: pretty much every third encounter. A homebrewed version of Jade Regent, stuffed full of ninjas, ice monsters and aberrations with natural invisibility, shamans with Greater Invis, etc.

What I'm seeing is a great big hole in Ultimate Equipment where the Potion of See Invisibility should be. (And of course, it can't be there because See Invis. can't be a potion.)


We've got a cavalier who needs to be able to charge enemies, which in turn requires "line of sight." At the current level (6), more and more of his enemies have invisibility, and there's no way for a cavalier to acquire the ability to see them.

The Blind-Fighting feat won't help, the GM has already stated; that just removes concealment penalties and miss chances, rather than giving you the needed 'line of sight.'

So, how can he get it?

"Make friends with someone who can cast Glitterdust." Ha ha, yes, very funny. "Buy this magic item that costs 40,000 gp." HA. HA. Level 6, remember? His most prized possessions are his +1 breastplate and +1 lance.


Glad to hear it. Thanks for clarifying.


I'm looking for the rules on how a Small-sized cavalier stays on a Medium-sized mount when it's using a special movement type such as Swim or Climb. Is there a mount Strength requirement, a special type of saddle, a move-action Ride or Handle Animal check, etc.?

In this specific case, it's a halfling cavalier whose mount is a "giant" gecko (size Medium), but I'd like to find the general rules for any rider of any mount when the mount is climbing, jumping, swimming, and so forth.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Spoiler:
Finally, the PCs know all of the powers and abilities of both the Amatatsu Seal and its warding box

Ahh, that could be the problem. You see, the GM took this part literally too, so he gave us the writeup of the magic item in question. And as a result, in the brief in-character discussion that followed....

Spoiler:

Party: "So, does Minkai need Ameiko to return there and claim the throne?"
Ameiko: "Well, I could, I suppose... but there are four other houses with Seals of their own."
PC1: "But we know the other houses have all died out."
PC2: "Not a problem. Because we know that the Seals can create new heirs as needed from any nearby people."
GM/Ameiko: "...Wait, what?"
PC3: "Hey, that's right. It's right there in the writeup for the Amatatsu Seal: 'Should no Amatatsus of pure blood be able to take up that charge, however, the Amatatsu Seal can invest the right to rule as an Amatatsu in any number of living humanoid hosts'."
Other PCs: "Hey, yeah! So Minkai's really got no problems after all; the remaining Seals can pick out any number of suitable candidates without us. We're all set. Off to Kalsgard! Let's go get that sword!"
GM: (silently cursing and weeping)

This wasn't done maliciously; we honestly expected the Kalsgard chapter to provide us with the reason to go on to Minkai.


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Yeah, we were kinda hoping that investigations in Kalsgard would lead us to a trip to Minkai. Maybe these surprisingly well funded and well-organized "Frozen Shadows" are up to something that points in that direction, or maybe if someone asked us to rescue a missing guide who knew something about a problem in Minkai it could suggest a trip there. We're more than willing to go there, we just need a reason.

The GM's concern is that apparently a bunch of plot points require our PCs to already want to go to Minkai before he can give them to us, and we're trying to figure out how to link up what's already happened to making that a thing. As it is, our PCs are wandering the streets of Kalsgard, being hunted by mystery assassins while we try to identify them and track down a stolen magic sword, and the plot requires us to stop suddenly, smack ourselves in the forehead, and announce, "Of course! What we really need to do right now is (choose one):

a) "Take a cruise to Japan!"
b) "Enroll in an alchemical college!"
c) "Take up country line-dancing!"

We COULD do any one of those things, but how do they apply to our situation? The story hasn't taken us there.


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Peg'giz wrote:

For our group it was very simple:

Ameiko, now aware of her family legacy, wants to get to Tian to claim her throne. And as we are her friends and are looking for an adventure (something EVERY character should do!!!!), it was no question that we help her achieving this.

Ah, but that's the problem. She doesn't want to do this. We all saw the same vision she did--weird and tragic family history, desperate need to sell a family treasure to somebody in Kalsgard. And her conclusion was not "I need to travel across the world to Minkai!" It was "Dammit, I want my family's sword back, and there's a chance that this merchant in Kalsgard still has it."

We're 100% on Ameiko's side. We're glad to help her get that sword. And as adventurers, if a random stranger in Kalsgard comes running up to us, panting "Help, help! My friend (who happens to be an experienced guide across arctic terrain) has gone missing!" we'll gladly help rescue him, too. But the PCs still aren't planning a trek to Tian Xia, because literally nothing in the story has suggested the idea.

The players know we need to go there, and we want our PCs to get there--quite looking forward to it, in fact! (That's the main reason we decided on this AP.) We just haven't found the in-game reason for the PCs to actually hit on the idea, and we thought the story had offered one that we'd missed.


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(Do we really need spoiler tags by this date?)

Our group successfully got through Brinewall Castle to recover Ameiko's family seal, cure her magical coma, see a nifty historical vision about her family's arrival in Avistan, etc. She expressed an interest in traveling to Kalsgard to recover their ancestral sword, sold to a merchant up there many years back. No problem, we chorused; Ameiko's our friend, we got a caravan here, sounds like a fun trip!

Now we're most of the way through Book 2 (Night of Frozen Shadows), and the GM's getting nervous. Why? Because apparently a LOT of the story depends on the PCs looking for a guide to take them across the Crown of the World to Minkai. Only... we're not looking for such a guide. Because it's never occurred to us to make such a trip. Why would we?

Seriously, we must have missed something here. Why are the PCs supposed to be interested in traveling to Tian Xia at this stage of the story? Sure, there's a crazily well-funded and well-organized thieves' guild trying to stop us from recovering Ameiko's family sword, and we're happily doing all we can to put a stop to that. But we're not lifting a finger to find any 'missing guide,' because we don't know he exists and we don't know that we should be looking for one.

Now, maybe it will turn out that these Frozen Shadows are part of a larger organization with all sorts of schemes that involve Minkai, and we'll eventually want to go there.... But at this exact moment, the GM is saying the story is stalled because we don't want to go there already. And until we start hunting down a guide for a trip none of us have even considered taking, the plot can't advance.

What's up, folks? Are the PCs supposed to start Book 2 already eager for a trip to Tian Xia? If so, where does the idea come from? None of the NPCs have mentioned it to us, and we've gone back and double-checked with everyone we can think of to see if we missed something.

Addendum: As players, we're not trying to be difficult. We know the Adventure Path is supposed to go there. And we're trying our best to find some reason, some clue or hint SOMEWHERE, that will suggest to our PCs that a tip to Minkai might be a good idea. But so far, we haven't found any.


Many martial classes have class feats available that mimic the fighter's built-in ability to make attacks of opportunity:

Monk 4 - Stand Still
Ranger 4 - Disrupt Prey
Barbarian 6 - Attack of Opp
Champion 6 - Attack of Opp

These are presented as feats, making them optional choices rather than inherent features of the class... but are they? Is the ability to make AOOs so important that every martial character should always take it?


Magnus Arcanus wrote:


Are you sure this is a different GM (rhetorical question)?

There is nothing so rigid in an Adventure Path as you are describing above. While I can't claim to have run Agents of Edgewatch, I am running Age of Ashes, there has never been any "boxed text" that says the players get no experience if they fail to solve an encounter as it is "written." Air quotes are intentional on that last part because often there is nothing specifically written about how an encounter is to be solved; instead the GM is given a set up, and is really up to the GM and the PCs to figure what happens next. Experience from such encounters should be awarded if the PCs defeat or neutralize the encounter.

Same group of players, but a different person has taken over the GM chair for this AP.

Edgewatch may be a poor example, though, because the players have rejected the shakedown-and-extort model of behavior the AP recommends for much of the treasure. (Being as we're supposed to be law enforcement and all.) I believe there are already several discussions about that aspect of the AP's treasure model. So the PCs in that game are very poorly equipped indeed.


Unicore wrote:
Having everyone square up against their own enemy is a really dangerous approach in PF2. Against a party of 4 NPCs, that pretty much makes the fight a 50/50% chance of TPK.

Which matches up with the results we're getting! (grin)


Ruzza wrote:
You're back! And you're now either trolling or your GM not playing correctly. Remember this chestnut? You then went to make three more threads stirring the pot when everything boiled down to - your GM is cheating/your GM doesn't know the rules.

Yes, thanks for your helpful input about our Age of Ashes game. This is about a different AP with a different GM, but many of the exact same problems... which suggests there's more going on than just one GM not knowing all the rules.


Michael Sayre wrote:

Some general tactical tips-

Chip away at your enemy's action economy. If the enemy doesn't have more reach than you, don't use your third action to attack or even to Raise a Shield; use it to Step back. This has the potential to deny an enemy the use of any three-action abilities they might have and reduce their damage output more than a Shield Block might accomplish.

Remember that every small bonus counts. It's never a bad idea to Demoralize, Raise a Shield, Take Cover, or use spells like fear and inspire courage.

Use the terrain when you can. If an enemy is in the middle of an area with uneven terrain, rooftops, cliff ledges, etc., spread out and fight from the high ground. Obi Wan wasn't wrong about everything and forcing an enemy to use actions that aren't part of its ideal routine is another good way to mitigate damage and increase your longevity in a fight. Luis, Linda, and I once took out a very powerful boss in a heavily tuned encounter by having Linda's barbarian provide us with backup while Luis's fighter fought a slow retreat and my monk moved in and out of combat using his superior speed and the balconies around the room to Leap out of combat and then Flying Kick back into advantageous positions to drop some damage and then spring into position for the maneuver. Watch what your teammates are doing and do things that compliment that.

Check for weaknesses and then hit them. Even a below-level alchemical item can hit like a truck if you strike a target's weakness, and oftentimes it's worth doing the thing you're second or even third best at if that happens to be the thing the opponent is most vulnerable to.

You don't need an in-combat healer, but the more your team is struggling, the more useful having one is. Clerics in particular can drop huge amounts of healing very quickly and completely reverse the flow of a fight that's going poorly.

Carry a diverse array of situational items. Talismans, alchemical items, potions, etc. are easy to overlook but it's always...

Thank you! These are all good tips.


Watery Soup wrote:

On that note, there's always plenty of room for "Stride up to your problem and Strike it with a greataxe." That's also a great solution a lot of the time - a plurality for sure, and maybe even a majority. But if it should be used 50% of the time and it's used 90% of the time, it's overused, and people need to think about that 40% of the time that they're taking an inferior action and not taking the superior action.

I think I posted this gripe in another thread, but here goes again: a shocking number of players really don't need to see the map. Regardless of the terrain around them or who's attacking or the circumstances, they Stride towards the nearest enemy and Strike. On their second turn, regardless of what happened to them or their teammates or the enemies, they continue Striking. That's the exact opposite of situational awareness - they may be doing what they're best at doing, but they're not necessarily doing what's best to be done.

And here you're describing what our group does not just half the time, but ALL the time. What we've always done. (And for the paladin, it works!) We need to find out what other options exist, and in more than just abstract terms.


Pixel Popper wrote:
Calybos1 wrote:
. . . "I spend an action to Trip him" is a bad idea because it's a straight tradeoff. PC spends an action to trip, enemy spends an action to stand up again, no net beneift.

Incorrect.

Net Benefits: 1.) Until he spends an action to stand up, he has a -2 status penalty to attacks and is flat-footed (-2 status penalty to AC and is vulnerable to sneak attack).

2.) The move action "Stand" triggers Attack of Opportunity, Disrupt Prey, and Stand Still. So, on his turn, one or more of your party can effectively gain a Free Attack (in exchange for a reaction) b/c someone spent an action to Trip.

There's only no net benefit to Trip if no one in the party is taking advantage of the situation. That's on the party; not the system.

That's the point I needed someone to make; thank you. So what we need is for someone to give an enemy a disadvantage, and then someone else to capitalize on it. Which is not something our group has done until now. (In general, everyone faces off with a separate opponent and pursues their own sequence of maneuvers/actions/whatever unless the caster still has an AOE available.) And I can see how it would make a difference.

Now let me go look up what Disrupt Prey and Stand Still might be... I know about Attack of Opportunity, it's something fighters have and we don't have a fighter.... (mumble, mumble)


Castilliano wrote:

So despite asking for tactics, you don't want people to suggest tactics?

If your group doesn't want combat, then don't fight. Seriously. The game can do all the stuff you've listed as enjoyable w/o resorting to combat.

If using published adventure, you could narrate results and implications based on the severity of the encounter then move on. Done. Maybe roll some dice to get a random result of how well it went. There are several GMs on these forums that simply ignore side battles* and only run the ones with story significance.

*Those would be ones which seem included for attrition, XP, or such, or could be overcome w/ little loss of resources other than time for Medicine.

And of course if using homebrew stuff, it's even simpler to not include those "extra encounters to begin with.

In other words, talk to your GM so that you're all playing the game the way y'all want to play the game. PF2's flexible enough for that.

Since I like combats yet understand they drain time, I've made a point of rushing battles. A lot. I've found PF2 one of the best systems for speedy battles for what it's worth.

This has promise. Our current GM (for Edgewatch) is a bit more open to skipping over boring content for the sake of group enjoyment.


Pixel Popper wrote:

My table's experience, coming from nearly 10 years of Pathfinder 1e AP's, has not nearly as punishing with DCs too high to bother with Deception, Intimidation, Recall Knowledge, etc like you describe.

Are you running AP's or Homebrew?

Some things we have discovered:

(a.) Charismatic characters that train diplomacy, and are willing to take the skill feat, should Bon Mot tougher enemies. The debuffs to Will and Perception make a real difference.

(b.) Athletic characters ought to Trip fairly often, even if nobody has Attack of Opportunity. Prone targets are flat-footed and have a circumstance penalty to attack rolls. Fighters with Knockdown can trip after a strike with no multiple attack penalty.

Prone targets either suffer the attack and AC penalties, and face further abuse for being flat-footed, or they burn an action to stand, triggering attacks of opportunity, Disrupt Prey, and Stand Still.

(c.) Find ways to make enemies frightened (e.g. Fighter Intimidating Strike, Dread Ampoule), or sickened.

(d.) Find other ways to make opponents flat-footed. Flanking is great, but not always feasible. If you have other ways to make opponents flat-footed it makes a difference.

(e.) Look for other ways to land circumstance bonuses like Catfolk...

Excellent suggestions, exactly what I was looking for. Not all are available to us, since we're working from the Core Rulebook only (we're running AP stories), but much appreciated!


Mathmuse wrote:
Ah, avoiding unnecessary combat is another favorite of my players, though it is a strategy rather than a tactic. They interacting with NPCs, explore unknown enemy territory, and gather information from factions to learn the lay of the land before they approach combat. And often they decide that they can skip that combat. They would be low on experience from skipping so many encounters, except that due to their mastery of tactics I beef up the encounters that they do face, and they earn extra experience from the bigger battles.

Ahh, that's a good point. Our group is very fond of coming up with creative, offbeat, or (at times) downright crazy ideas for finagling encounters and challenges to bypass combat rather than fight. We love outwitting a situation or trying unexpected approaches. And the GM (not the same as the Age of Ashes GM, by the way) appreciates it... but then he unhappily informs us that, per the box text, our PCs therefore get no XP for the encounter, and certainly no treasure. And worse yet, we often fail to obtain the vital plot point needed to progress to the next stage of the story.

So maybe we need to discuss with him some greater flexibility on 'not sticking with the story sequence as written.'


Ruzza wrote:
You're back! And you're now either trolling or your GM not playing correctly. Remember this chestnut? You then went to make three more threads stirring the pot when everything boiled down to - your GM is cheating/your GM doesn't know the rules.

Because I'm still looking for specifics instead of people just saying "use better tactics." For the record, the GM's using as-published Adventure Paths and we're making characters from the Core Rulebook. And if the GM is getting some things wrong, that still doesn't explain all the trouble we're having with simple same-level fights.

Example: Our Agents of Edgewatch party is at level 12. And the average damage we deal per hit is still around 12-14 hp (18 attack stat, +1 striking weapon). That can't be right, can it? Surely there's some other way to increase your damage output with level. At that level, it takes forever to bring down a level 12 enemy warrior or assassin.

My thanks to the other posters for more constructive suggestions, including moving away from standard APs and into more customized stories.


Unicore wrote:

You are asking for people to provide you concrete specifics of winning tactics, but the problem with people trying to do that is that if you are trying to turn these examples into a repeatable list of "play the game this way" it is going to work sometimes, and fail miserably sometimes, which is probably the case with the tactics you are already using in combats and you wont feel like you are any better off.

It is also possible that PF2 will just always be a frustrating system for you if part of your fun of playing an RPG is trying to find the winning combo that always breaks the luck in your favor. PF2 is carefully and specifically designed to not have those options in it.

We're not trying to "win the game," because combat isn't the game. We're trying to minimize the play time wasted on combat so we can focus on the parts we actually enjoy: interacting with NPCs, negotiating with factions, investigating mysteries, exploring unknown territories, making bad jokes, discovering clues, coming up with clever ideas, and roleplaying. Combat is getting in the way of that, and we want it to stop taking up so much of our game time.

We don't want to enroll in a military academy and become combat specialists; we want to make combat go away faster.


Taja the Barbarian wrote:
Action Denial is a great tactic when you outnumber your foe.....

Okay... but what is it? Please give some specific examples.

"Spend an action to make an enemy lose an action" can't be it; for example, "I spend an action to Trip him" is a bad idea because it's a straight tradeoff. PC spends an action to trip, enemy spends an action to stand up again, no net beneift.


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Our group—fairly experienced tabletop RPG players—is having great difficulty surviving any combats in 2E. We listen to each other, stay out of each other’s way, support each other when possible, etc., but the monsters regularly stomp all over us and the GM has to keep scaling down every encounter just to keep the game alive… and that’s after bumping us up a level above norm. (This is across several games, with several sets of different PCs.) Combats take forever, and no one’s having any fun because most of each session is wasted on boring, endless combats instead of an actual story.

When we look around for suggestions, we keep hearing “2E is a more tactical game.” “You need better tactics.” “Focus on your combat tactics and teamwork instead of just mindlessly pounding away.”

Okay; fine. But WHAT tactics?! We need some specifics here. We don’t want to become combat experts here (far from it--the last thing we want is to spend even more time on combat!), but we’re looking for more than just vague terms like “action denial.”

So let’s set some baseline rules to operate from.

Rule 1: 2E monsters hit much harder and more effectively than the PCs. They have better AC and hit points, too. In the long run, blow for blow, the monsters will win.

Rule 2: Action economy matters. Denying a monster an action is great, unless it costs you the same number of actions (or more, in the case of spellcasters). Losing an attack to deny the monster an attack is a bad bargain because it just prolongs the fight… and in the long run, the monsters will win.

So for a suggested tactic like "Just keep focusing on in-combat healing," we refer back to Rule 1. In the long run, that favors the monsters. And for suggestions like "Cast a spell to Daze somebody," we point to Rule 2; this is a bad tradeoff that just prolongs the fight.

Here are our group’s already known and practiced tactics:

  • *Stay out of each other’s AOE spells.
  • *Provide flanking when possible.
  • *If someone has a simple or repeatable buff effect (such as Inspire Courage or Bless), cast it.

And our corresponding hard-earned lessons learned:

  • *Don’t expect enemies to fail saves.
  • *Don’t waste time on knowledge, deception, or Seek checks; the DCs are too high.
  • *Everyone needs the Medicine skill for Battle Medicine.
  • *Aid Another is a trap.
  • *Don’t bother with actions like Intimidate; the DCs are too high and they do nothing.

So: Can anyone give examples of specific actions in combat beyond the basic attacks that will help a group survive, and even win occasionally, in a 2E fight? I know it’s easiest to give advice for a specific party composition, but this seems to happen with any party we play, regardless of makeup or level.


TomParker wrote:
Salamileg wrote:

Well, just had my first character deaths of the game in the fight with Belmazog. That skull is absolutely brutal....

Didn't help that the two characters who went down were both the characters with healing (occult witch and cosmos oracle). They both went down to crits from the skull and failed their first recovery check, and the monk tried to stabilize the witch but ended up killing her with a crit fail while the oracle failed her last recovery check.
That's rough. None of these characters had any hero points left?

That is one point worth mentioning for our group. The GM had pre-emptively ruled before our first session that hero points did not exist and would not be used because they were 'way too cheesy.'


We have a dedicated tripper. We know the value of tripping; it costs the enemy an action while he gets back up, so he makes one less attack. In another game we have two PCs with shields, so we've seen the value of shields (i.e., not much). We've tried sneaking, but that's never worked in any edition because only one PC is ever trained in it. For what it's worth, the fighter has Attack of Opportunity and he makes the most of it.

We've tried spells like Grease (can't be used on held weapons any more), Resist Energy (too weak now), Blindness (no duration), Haste (too limited), Fear (save DCs are too low/monster bonuses too high), etc., etc. Nothing works.

I'm sorry, but there's something I'm not getting here. Everyone's shouting 'tactics' but that doesn't make the problem go away until I see something that actually works.


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Ruzza wrote:

If the AoA thread is any indication, level 8 versus a level 9 boss, which should put his DC at 26 and the bosses saves between 18 and 16. Very far from "bosses don't fail saves."

If this is about a certain book 1 encounter, that's a whole 'nother story that has nothing to do with wizards and everything to do with the wonkiness of that encounter.

Level 7, spell DC 25. I know everyone keeps saying, "the math is very tightly tuned," but around what value? If a caster targets a spell at the boss's worst save, the odds of beating him should be around 75%, not 50/50.

Getting everything exactly right with all factors in my favor shouldn't be the expected bare-minimum break-even point; it's a a rare and lucky occurrence that should result in extremely high likelihood of success.


Alchemic_Genius wrote:

From a tactics standpoint; your bard is helping, but not nearly as powerfully as they could. That said, you don't need to play 2e optimally to have a good time or beat encounters.

From all of my experience in quality control and troubleshooting, I would advise against speculation about a problem before getting all the info. It is tempting to wonder if the person dropping buff then hiding isn't pulling their weight, but there's a lot to consider if you keep getting wiped:

-Are the encounters level appropriate?
-Is the terrain providing extra challenge that the DM did not factor in?
-Is the party as a whole using good tactics?
-Do you have an abnormal party composition? If so, are you playing to your strengths? Is your DM designing encouters with your abilities in mind, or trying to fit a square peg in a round hole?

It's an Adventure Path, the Gm is using the standard 4-party encounters against a 6-person party most times when he doesn't take extra steps to scale it down further.

Good tactics? The frontliners block for the others; the skirmisher grabs and trips; the bard Inspires Courage; the dedicated healer heals; the arcane caster blasts. And it doesn't do a blessed bit of good, the PCs get steamrolled time and time again.


Salamileg wrote:
For a party of six, someone else is going to have to either dish out some healing or damage prevention.

That would be... armor class. Unless you're aware of something else?


Thunder999 wrote:

In 2e the enemy will generally hit harder than you, more often than you, outdamage your healing and succeed at their saves, you can't actually just stand and fight, you should be making one or two attacks then moving away, perhaps even make one attack, then use your last two action to ready an action to move away (so that you can provide flanking if there's not some other source of flat footed active).

Healing is a fine use of the cleric's actions, there's not many spells that'll do more than a heal after all.

?confused? But most attacks miss, so the only way to make up for that is to deliver as many attacks as possible and pray for crits. Since the monsters have higher defenses and higher attack (and damage) bonuses, they get crits more often and we die faster than they do. It's not working.

Our group is very puzzled and very frustrated. Current group discussion is about forming a new party with all warriors + all healers, and not bothering with any other classes or roles.


Unicore wrote:
In the party I play in we have a cleric, a champion, a rogue and a wizard. The Champion is the only front liner, and regularly takes more damage in a round than I would be able to heal with even a 2 action heal spell.

I am very confused. This part of your post, I understood. As you noted, that sounds exactly like the situation our own cleric is facing.

Unicore wrote:
Instead of using cantrips for attacking, my cleric uses a bow (Ketephys deity) and does a lot of spell casting to mitigate damage, while the champion carries a shield and can self heal.

But how is this an answer? It sounds like you just said "So we let the champion solo everything while we hide." I hadn't noticed that champions are indestructible; we have one in another game, and he's neither bulletproof nor an endless reservoir of HP.

Unicore wrote:
does a lot of spellcasting to mitigate damage

??? I understand all those words individually, but not in that order. What on earth are you talking about? Nobody has Stoneskin.

Unicore wrote:
Preventing incoming damage is a very big part of running an effective party.

Umm... huh? Say what now? For example?


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Alchemic_Genius wrote:
Cast slow on the bbeg and get back to me on how much wizards suck in 2e

Already tried, several times in several different fights. Not just successful saves, but critical successes, are commonplace when this wizard throws out attack spells. This is part of what led to the conclusion "bosses don't fail saves."

As Thunder points out, even if you do have a good guess of the boss's weakness and have the right type of spell to target it, that still gives you a very slim chance of weakening him. A bit.

With AOEs, most of the enemies make their saves and take half damage. So the wizard has blown one of her three precious top-level spell slots for the entire day to do maybe half as much damage to 2-3 foes as the warrior does in a single swing. And there are probably several more fights today. Not looking good for resources.

The party IS failing, quite often, over and over.


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Fumarole wrote:

A level 10 dragon wouldn't have been a helpful ally? Was this a roleplaying decision by the GM? Yes he's wounded, but one more ally means fewer attacks/spells directed at the party and better action economy.

The skull can be disabled with thievery. Did the rogue critically fail a knowledge check or was the DC too high?

Did the party's arcane casters not think to switch to spells that don't require a save? Buffing the party or casting dispel magic on the skull are great options here.

The hook for entering the next gate is in the start of book 3, did your GM not read ahead? Some people think it's not a great hook, but it is indeed there.

I agree with the last part; if your party isn't the kind that would naturally want to investigate the mysterious gates in the basement of their new home, you're probably better off playing another AP.

According to the GM:

*The dragon was at very low HP and had a single attack, which all the enemy priests were immune to anyway.
*The skull was not a trap, so Thievery wouldn't work on it.
*Dispel Magic would have required a check against a DC that the wizard couldn't beat.


graystone wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
and the arcane caster (some of the best spells on that list are big damage AOEs, use them!) sound like much bigger concerns.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the arcane caster might be using incapacitation spells and targeting higher level targets if the spells keep failing.

Not that I've noticed. Most common choices are Fear, Lightning Bolt, Confusion, Paralyze, and the auto-leveling Electric Arc or TK Projectile cantrips. They all fail (aside from the occasionally lucky attack roll on TK Projectile). But again--that's for the wizard topic.


Our dedicated party healer's strategy is to hang back and use Electric Arc on lower-level foes until someone's badly hurt. Then she moves forward to bring her main abilities to bear, putting the frontliners back in action with the appropriate single- or multi-action heal effect (and often getting blasted herself in the process).

But she can't keep pace with the damage the frontliners are taking, even though she's taken every Cleric feat, spell, and feature she can find that seems to support healing (including Battle Medicine and all the related Medic archetype stuff). And it's not just the frontliners; AOEs are destroying this level 7 party on a regular basis too. Any suggestions?


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I'm puzzled by these references to debuffs. None of the conditions (prone, frightened, dazed, etc.) have any effect on saves, right? And even if they did, the maximum effect is -1 since they don't stack. Spending two rounds to work up an attack combo with a -1 save penalty seems like a lot of effort that's still likely to fail. Debuff spells have the same problem already mentioned: they allow a save (low and fixed DC), and therefore don't work.

I recognize that it's best to target different spells to different save types, but Knowledges are gone too, so we don't know what an enemy's weakness might be unless we waste a round trying to figure it out (and usually failing, according to the DCs).

The wizard in our group spends every combat doing the same thing; two actions to cast an attack spell that fails, then third action to move or cast Shield (which is a pointless gesture, since +1 AC never matters to the enemy's overwhelming attack bonuses). She almost never takes down an enemy apart from the occasional low-level goon who's already weakened by the party's actual combatants (the warrior classes). It's kinda frustrating.


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Compared to 1st edition, what is a good focus for a 2E wizard in an adventuring party? Taking on bosses is out, because range is gone and bosses don't fail saves any more. Defensive and offensive buffs have largely disappeared or dwindled in duration to nearly zero. More types of enemies are vulnerable to more types of spell effects (enchantment, mental, etc.), but the fact that save DCs remain fixed means you're still not going to have an impact using offensive spells in combat.

"Battlefield control" doesn't seem to exist any more, and summoning is still more of a headache than it's worth. Maybe AOEs vs. large numbers of low-level thugs could still be an option? It seems kind of dull to just load up on Fireballs and Magic Missiles every day, though. Former transport and utility winners like Teleport and Invisibility aren't reliable either. I'm kind of stumped for a good, fun niche for a 2E wizard to occupy.


The bard's player says that he's chosen this as his 'most optimal combat tactic for a 2E bard.' His only complaint is that he's bored because it never varies.

As for the other PCs... those are for other topics.


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This past weekend, our group failed the end-boss fight against Belmazog & Kyrion and failed hard... so hard they decided to drop the Adventure Path entirely.

We sent in the rogue to try to free the captive dragon, who wasted time determining that freeing the dragon was impossible because there were no locks. He studied the magic-blasting skull, too, but concluded that there was no chance of disabling it, either. Wasted turns on a potential ally that (as it turns out) wouldn't have been much help anyway.

The enemy priests all opened with multiple Fireballs affecting the whole party, four in sequence. (Gotta love that huge radius!) Two PCs dropped before getting a single action. The enemy priests then followed with cones of fire breath for their second actions, further toasting the entire party; the healer had no chance of keeping up with that damage output, especially on top of the dragon-skull's blasts.

The melee warriors got a few bad rolls, and the arcane caster's spells all failed (which we're used to; no enemy in Book 2, where "every fight's a boss fight," has failed a save that we've seen). Belmazog didn't really have to do anything.

Afterward, the GM filled us in on the storyline conclusion of what would have happened if we'd won:

GM: "So in looting the place, you find this starknife that looks super-special. In fact, after a bunch of Arcana checks you somehow determine that it's the key to one of the other elfgates."
Players: "Umm... okay? But we weren't looking for another key to begin with."
GM: "Yeah. Still, there it is."
Players: "... Right. Uhh, guess we take it along. And then go home. Because we're not seized with a mad desire to test out every gate. We took down the Cult of Dahak, yay, curse on the valley's broken, we win, we go home to Breachhill."
GM: "Yeah, I get ya. Not really sure how this is supposed to lead anywhere else...."

Group is now deciding what to play next. We're definitely looking for something with a lot more story/RP and lot less combat.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Calybos1 wrote:

The issue is that our group gets wiped a LOT. Despite having 6 PCs going up against encounters set up for four players, we can never bring down enemies.

The bard never deals any damage; the healer never deals any damage. The skirmisher only uses trip maneuvers; the arcane caster throws out attack spells that always fail. And that leaves two melee warriors hoping for lots of crits. End result is we can't deal enough damage to bring anybody down.

How can your group be getting wiped if one of you never takes damage?

Once 2-3 PCs are dead, the others run.

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