You could get super minimalist, and have 3 classes (Warrior, Spell-caster, and Warrior-Spell-Caster). Or you could have every sub-class be its own class. Most D&D-based systems go somewhere in the middle, judging how much a character idea is worth to give an entire class write-up for.
Looking at the class mechanics, it feels like it's made to signal people who want to do fancy and impressive things during combat (trade barbs with foes, backflips over bannisters, etc.). Someone playing a Rogue could do all of this, but it empowers them to do it with mechanical rewards, and tells the GM that this is what the players wants to do. Allowing or not allowing the Swashbuckler gives the player a good idea of what kind of things you can do in a GM's game. GMs can screen out playstyles like the Investigator or Swashbuckler out easier when it's a multi-page write-up, as opposed to a feat on one page.
Felt I should talk about the adventure we're going to run for the playtest, to give people a better idea of how the classes performed. Just doing a homebrew means that Paizo and you wouldn't know all the variables in an encounter. By running FoP (which is an excellent module for the Investigator) by the book, others can look at the encounters I ran and judge for yourself how accurate our findings are.
I worked with the players to make the pre-gens, asking the non-Witch PCs to be made with Versatile Humans, and the Witch PC to be an Ancient Elf (I was going to let the Swashbuckler use a Frilled Lizardfolk when she wanted to be a Braggart, but she wanted to go Gymnast instead). Using Natural Ambition, I wanted the PCs to use as many feats as possible, to understand how class and general feats interact with each other, to make up for the low-levels being played.
We're going to speed-run through the campaign, to try and finish it in time. I'll update this thread when the group levels up, since the adventure nicely divides each level of adventure as a nice break in action. I'll include the side-quests in it, but not specifically call them out as such, and see where the players go with it.
Before the playtest, one of my players made a Wizard that acted a lot like an Investigator from an Agatha Christie novel. It's okay if you can take a concept and do it with several different classes, because classes can do more than one thing. It feels like the Investigator class is based on modern day CSI investigators, based on their subclass builds. You can make a Sherlock Holmes with them, but it definitely leans closer into what you see on Primetime crime shows.
Personally, I'd like the Investigator to be unique by doubling-down on effects like On The Scene, where you get clues w/o rolling for it. Basically, take the Gumshoe RPG and steal liberally. I wouldn't mind if the class was really only good in a mystery-based system (but was excellent for that), since it's an optional class for the game, and it would be one way of slowing down the feeling of splat fatigue.
No, that's *exactly* what happened here. The people who spent months of their lives playtesting the numbers and gameplay were ignored for the people who never wanted to try it because 'the feel' was wrong. Look at the time on the posts: critical at the beginning by the people who always come to the playtest forums, and later it's positive, from the people who only came back when they got what they wanted.
I'm profoundly disappointed in Paizo. I actually thought you wanted a playtest, that you wanted people to stress-test your unfinished ideas, instead of just being a teaser trailer for the final release. I thought the things you SAID you wanted, you actually wanted. But it turns out you were just trying to tell us what you thought we wanted to hear, and the only thing you want from a RPG is 'selling the most books'.
The difference between a Divine Necromancer's spells and an Arcane Necromancer's spells is largely a matter of flavour text and campaign expectations. Whatever source the rulesbook says their class' spells come from (bloodline, spellbooks, nature, deities) is 100% flavour text, and can be switched out as groups like it.
I mean, even the idea of "tanks" being low damage is a video game construct. The term "tank" comes from real life tanks, which while tough, are not low damage. They're high power death machines that draw attention precisely because of how dangerous they are. The idea that a tank should be little to no threat but you have to attack it anyway because game mechanics say so only...
Exactly. If a class was *actually* a tank, it would be clearly better than the other classes, and it would be explicitly said so in the rules.Calling a class "a tank" speaks to being a movable wall, something that can lead the way and survive the enemy's barrage.
I mean, "Wizard who has Hvy Armour Proficiency with the trade-off of a limited access to spells" already exists. It's The Cleric.
There's certainly a lot of class concepts that should be viable at level 1, because they're cool ideas. But once you get into specific mechanics and powers like teleporting, that feels expendable. I'd be happy with power/spells that encouraged mobility at low levels that moved up to teleportation at mid-levels.
Played as an Elf Monk for Arclord's Envy. My speed was so high, I felt very special. Played as a Half-Elf Paladin for Pale Mountain. Felt special how I held my ground against the toughest monsters and was able to lead the way for my party.
Watching my party play, I felt the level 1 Dwarf Fighter was pretty amazing how she held her ground against dozens of goblins. The spellcasters for Mirrored Moon made the victory possible, with some pretty impressive spell combos.
Well, Page 6 suggest being intolerant of intolerance, so it's not a literally "accept everything that happens at the table". It doesn't accept "I'm just playing my character" or "Don't be so offended" as acceptable excuses for someone being made uncomfortable. Paizo is willing to lose a few players who don't play well with others.
That being said, I'm a hardcore min-maxer, and definitely do all those things you mentioned. And frankly, I don't feel that PF2 is excluding me. So I don't think that Page 6 has any connection to how min-mixable the system is. Game preference is separate from playstyle.
The original poster makes the point that compensating for super swingy design by introducing a bunch of safety net feats and abilities is not really all that much fun. I agree. Show me what I can do, not how to avoid critical failure. I want a game where I can race towards it and if I do fail I want to fail big and meaningful! On the very cusp of glory! I want a game where I can fail forward.
Your desire to 'fail big' may not be shared by your fellow players. They might actually want to succeed.
Agreed. Some of my favourite 'flawed' characters are ones that could actually do a task and succeed at it, but chose not to do it or sabotaged themselves. To me, THAT's roleplaying, in that the roleplaying itself was what made the problem, not the game's mechanical limitations the player choose to inflict on the PC.
Still puttering through the playtest, *trying* to get a game together. All this stalling is helping us ponder some of the build options for higher-level PCs, specifically multi-class feats. Cherry-picking tasty choices from other classes has some potential, although most feats seem to enhance class features, making it less valuable to multi-class into them.
However, we realized that there's an easy way to get from the Dedication feats to Advanced Dogma/Arcana. To get to Advanced Dogma/Arcana, you have to go through Basic Dogma/Arcana (or whatever the class' equivalent is). What we realized is that there's a lot of similar feats at low-levels, where two similar class would probably take that feat anyways if it wasn't multi-classing. Familiar feats, metamagic feats, etc. Taking a 1st-level feat when you could have taken a 4th-level feat may not be optimal, but as a stepping stone, it might encourage people to make a deeper plunge into multi-classing beyond Dedication.
Nothing earth-shattering, just an observation.
There are people, such as myself, who enjoy being the big burly in the group who can take a hit and stand toe-to-toe with the biggest monster in the dungeon. That's a playstyle that I think should be facilitated. I'm open to hearing how a Fighter's damage could be boosted slightly without stepping on what the Barbarian is good at (High DPS Fighter w/good armour vs. High DPS Barbarian w/poor armour).
Right from the top, the adventure was very good at pointing out possible inconsistencies. Why the Society didn't know where the safehouse was, why the Pathfinders were working behind the backs of the Church of Iomedae, and why higher-level Pathfinders weren't being sent on the mission. Explaining the quest and explaining why the PCs were the people right for the job felt natural. My group is fairly good at suspending disbelief, but I liked not having to lean in on that. Allowing for PCs to "bluff" during the challenge at the minotaur camp is a good sign that the module author understands common responses from players.
The Cleric, while not a Cleric of Iomedae, was opposed to lying to another church, and told her other Pathfinders that if she had a chance, she would return the MacGuffin directly to the Church of Iomedae. The other players assured Ambrus that she was also opposed to stealing, so there was nothing to worry about. "I'm more worried the goblin will melt it down with his acid" I quipped back as Ambrus, to which Fumbus responded "I don't even know how to make acid!"
The structure of this section was very different from the other playtest adventures, and everyone got to do something useful. Seoni and Fumbus found the likely direction of the caravan their missing Pathfinder was on, and Valeros and Kyra chatted up the locals to learn about the minotaur and harpy threats they could find out in the wild. Everyone got to use different skills, and the adventure not blocking things from happening allowed the players to be more 'playful' in their roleplaying.
Not wanting to wander around in the dark in an unfamiliar area, the PCs rested and set out the next day for the safehouse. When they got there, they were told the message the minotaur victim told his healer, and left. None of the players thought to heal the wounded NPCs, but not out of a lack of caring (I think). Maybe I just didn't point out how badly hurt they were, or they just thought everyone in the world healed as well as allies of a Cleric do.
The adventure introduced a new rule, that being awake for 16 hours would make the PCs fatigued. AFAIK that's not something in the rules, so I just assumed that it was a module-specific ruling that didn't have to apply to other adventures. I like it, but I like my personal interpretation that you need only have to rest every 24 hours.
Exploration mode for the adventure:
- Valeros: Defending
When the group got to the ambush, Kyra and Fumbus CSIed the scene with Perception (which I used for their Initiative) and in recreating where the minotaurs must have sprung their ambush from, caught sight of two minotaurs hiding in the same ambush site! The PCs who beat the minotaurs on initiative decided to delay their turns until they engaged with them, not wanting to split the party across the stream. Fumbus and Kyra took a solid hit each, but managed to respond well. Fumbus critically hit one with his dogslicer, giving it flat-footed, which allowed Kyra to get another critical hit on it! Seoni was dogged by the other minotaur, but without AoO, she was able to regroup next to Valeros, who quickly finished off the flat-footed Minotaur and held off the second minotaur.
When the surviving minotaur surrendered, Seoni wanted to intimidate the minotaur to get out of here. I explained that it doesn't speak common, so she just pointed to the woods and grunted. I had the Minotaur run away (not back to the camp, as I felt it had been shamed too badly to return). Examining the dead minotaur, Seoni critically failed her Religion check on the evidence of Baphomet, and I told her that these minotaurs are dumb and prone to pointless violence.
Party manages to follow tracks of minotaurs back to their camp, but because an extra day had passed, they found Inisa bound before the assembled minotaurs. Seoni, believing she was performing the correct greeting, rushed in staff raised in a threatening fashion towards the priestess. I rolled a Perception check for Mildora to understand this was a misunderstanding of etiquette, not a typical adventurer introduction. Everyone at the table understood the absurdity of the situation, and I allowed it to play out for fun and laughs.
Seoni: "Alright you primitive screwheads, listen up! You see this staff? This... is my BOOMSTICK!"
Mildora: "We don't do that here."
The party is surprisingly chill with parleying with the minotaurs, especially when they are told of the troubles Ryolle is causing. Kyra even suggested they could all become Pathfinders, just like how goblins like Fumbus did. All the friendliness was fortunate. It suggests that if the minotaurs are provoked to attack, they will stand down if (2) minotaurs are killed, but doesn't specify how many minotaurs would be attacking the PCs each round. The PCs take the combat challenge: Kyra and Valeros were quickly eliminated, but Seoni and Fumbus unleashed their toughest spells and won the game for their side. But since Mildora offered to let them sleep the night there, the lost HP and spells were really inconsequential. Even the night rest was very forgiving, and helped the party breeze through the rest of the module. I guess the module assumed that players would have some qualms about sleeping amongst minotaurs?
The next day, the party marched towards Ryolle in their standard manner. (In the rush to adventure, no-one actually asked Mildora to release Inisa). Rolling for their checks, I gave them cryptic clues to the ghasts' presence: clawmarks across trees, and a lack of birds and wildlife in the area. The Ghasts beat everyone with their Stealth initiative, so I decided to have them strike after Valeros passed them. I placed their miniatures where each ghast could get a handle on a PC, and each attacked PC got sick from the Ghast's aura. (Seoni and Kyra contracted Ghast Fever, but I didn't bother resolving that, since the adventure didn't last that long).
Fumbus got the worst of it: being paralyzed, he couldn't even retch up to overcome the sickness! He just made some Lore checks that told him information about ghasts they were already demonstrating to him! Kyra unleashed a 3-action Heal, which worked perfectly given that she was in the center of the march. We checked the rules for auras, and were unsure if she could heal herself with an aura based on the wording on Page 299. I ruled that it did not, since there were some harmful auras that would needlessly hurt the caster if it included them in it. Seoni and Valeros worked on focusing fire on one ghast at a time, to lessen the sickness and chance of paralysis. When Valeros rushed in to fight his first ghoul, he had forgotten about the stench aura. Fortunately, the Fighter made the Fortitude save. On the second round, Valeros dealt exactly enough damage to kill off the ghast on Fumbus, then Sudden Charged to the one on Kyra and critically hit it! Once the last Ghast was dropped, the still-sick adventurers took a moment to retch the sickness out of them. Not a pleasant visual.
Given there was one encounter left and no PC had used a magic item yet in this adventure designed to test the Resonance rules, I asked the players to try and use some of the magic items. I explained to Kyra's player how to use "Treat Wounds" with Medicine, which she used to top off Seoni and Fumbus for their remaining damage. Unfortunately, that meant they didn't need their newly found healing potions. Still, Kyra retrieved her scroll of Heroism, ready to cast it on Valeros. Seoni retrieved her Scroll of Acid Arrow. Valeros leads the way with his Viper Arrow notched into his bow. Without a shield ready, he tries to Sneak into Ryolle's lair, obvious failing of course.
The PCs saw and were seen by the enchanted guards, but still tried to get the jump on them when they closed in. The Guard rolled a natural 1 for Perception, but Seoni rolled a 13 for Stealth, matching their Perception! We had a discussion on who was beating who here: did the guards reach the DC for Seoni's Stealth, or did Seoni meet the DC for the guard's Perception? We never had any problem before resolving a skill roll with Stealth and Perception, but for some reason rolling initiative with these skills (being opposed as they are) really threw us. Eventually, we realized that Initiative works different from skill checks: Initiative is ranked, whereas skills are compared to a Difficult Class. And since PCs lose ties to enemies, I had Seoni lose initiative to someone who rolled a natural one.
Not wanting to play Ryolle too dumb, I decided he would end his turn in the air, flying down to strike and then come back. When Fumbus finally got free, he threw two Alchemist's Fire Flasks at Ryolle. He missed both times, but still got him with the splash damage. As Ryolle was directly above them all, they asked me if the splash damage would rain down on them as well. I couldn't think of a precedence for how splash damage would work if it fell straight down. So I ruled that the splash would no longer be damage after it travelled 5 feet, landing as harmless cinders.
Ryolle got into "retreat mode" on his turn from Valeros' Attack of Opportunity, so he began to fly away. I made sure to make that point clear to the party, so they wouldn't wait on the ground with readied actions if it was clear he was bolting. Valeros dropped his melee weapon, jumped towards his bow, and took a shot with the Viper Arrow at the retreating Harpy. Even with a penalty, he managed to hit! But when we looked up at what Viper Arrow did, and how it wouldn't affect Ryolle at all, we were all underwhelmed. Fortunately, Seoni managed to finish the Harpy with a Lightning Bolt, even though he made his saving throw.
The ending was a happy one. Kyra was pleased that the Pathfinders decided to work with the Church of Iomedae, and that the minotaur tribe was willing to parley with the Pathfinders. And I think someone (maybe Mildora) returned Inisa to safety.
Thoughts: This has been my favourite module for the playtest so far. The skill DCs have been reasonable, and more importantly, the difficulty of the adventure was just average. My players were expecting another meatgrinder, and were surprised at how easy it was. For sure, they felt threatened at several parts, but unlike other modules, they weren't having their HP and spells being widdled away by tough encounter after tough encounter. It definitely felt like a more average RPG game, with more joking and roleplaying going on. Unfortunately, the lowered difficult meant that the PCs didn't need to use the magic items as much as they did in other adventures. The magic items were okay, but I honestly didn't need to reference the new rules, because each PC maybe used one magic item in the entire adventure.
Also, every PC seemed balanced against each other. It was a lot like "In Pale Mountain's Shadow", where the casters didn't feel brittle or the martials too limited. Casters generally ran out of their non-cantrips around the same time the martials ran out of HP. It may be the case that PF2 has its sweet spot around Level 4-7. In any case, every PC did well, and the players were satisfied with what they did in the adventure.
- Seoni had the most spotlight on her, but she was also the Charisma PC as well. She never needed to use Ancestral Surge, as there was always something else more important (like moving away from a foe she was in melee with).
- Kyra managed to keep everyone healed without exhausting her Channel Energy reserves; she never needed to cast Fire Ray once, since she was always in melee.
- Valeros dealt a surprising amount of damage and his AC helped him avoid a lot of hits, even without a shield raised.
- Fumbus' player was pleased that he could play the Alchemist like a Rogue, leading with his dogslicer and falling back on his Alchemy if he needed it.
@ graystone: I think there are enough customization points in PF2. Ancestry feats, skill feats, class feats, and general feats are gained on different tracks, and don't compete with each other. There isn't a loss of choices, just a name different from 'archetypes'. A 7th level Paladin will choose 11 different feats amongst these tracks! The only difference is that a PC can't hyper-specialize in just one track.
That's a fundemental change on what they are going for, but may be necessary to fix up the two inherent problems previously mentioned... lack of customizationand lack of ability to be great at anything. Otherwise by not adding a chance of something accidentally being broken (hey, there's always errata); you've eliminated any chance for Roleplayers to "think outside the box".
I do think that is a fundamental change in what the playtest is going for. In PF1, "thinking outside of the box" was done during CharOp, and if you built an one-trick pony or someone who was unbeatable at one thing, you did that thing exclusively. In PF2, "thinking outside of the box" happens during play, because everyone is average (as Thalin said), every solution isn't a nail to a hammer.
Anathema: I like a lot of the Cleric, Druid, and Barbarian ones. But the Paladin ones... need work. They "feel" right for an abstract concept of a Paladin, but I felt that for a Paladin who works as an adventurer, it needs to be suited to the PF playstyle. First off, the term 'murder' needs to be differentiated from what a Paladin does with her big sharp sword, because I'm assuming that the average dungeoncrawl of slaying orcs and owlbears isn't going to make the Paladin fall. Second, the whole "ignore lower tenets in pursuit of higher tenets" is a good thing which makes the class more flexible, but it also makes the Paladin important in adventure design or choice. A LG Paladin could lie to avoid torturing someone or letting an innocent die, but couldn't if the party was trying to take a shortcut through the bad part of town.
It feels like the Paladin Code should either be ignored altogether by the group, or it should be made flexible enough to allow Paladins to play in an average adventure module, one not designed to provoke them, without falling.
Agreed. The GM still has to make the call if a skill roll is needed, or possible. A PC shouldn't be asked to roll for mundane tasks like breaking an ordinary nut, nor should they be allowed to roll to open the world's greatest vault at level 1. Skills like Athletics or Diplomacy give very precise measurements for success (how far they can jump, how much it takes to bring an unfriendly NPC to friendly, etc.), but the same principle should be applied to the other skills. Let players roll for skills that they can succeed at between 10% and 90% of the time: anything higher or lower than that, the GM should just say "It happens" or "You can't do it".
My thoughts on the adventure: I didn't like it. At all. It was two incredible difficult encounters scaffolded by a lot of rolling against high DCs to find anything to do. Spells were absolutely necessary to finish this adventure (the players did it in 27 days), and it was one of the few occasions that I wish we had 8 people at the table with different classes. A Druid could have ended the Roc encounter without bloodshed, a Bard/Sorcerer could have convinced Tuleath to join them without going through nearly every stage of disposition beforehand, and casters with more varied spells would have been decent enough to take on the dragon.
I'll admit that my playstyle influenced how the players took in this adventure. I don't like throwing PCs into unwinnable situations, but if they're there, I will play a monster to its hilt. Fliers like Rocs have an amazing advantage of not only being able to fly away from melee PCs, but using falling damage as their attack (each move action upwards deals another 30 damage from falling damage). And I wasn't interested in letting the PCs win the final encounter just because they were PCs. They stepped up to my challenges, and acted admirably. However, some of them had more effect on the adventure.
Wizard: Did everything a mid-level magic-user with unlimited time to prepare can do. Even with a limited amount of arcane spells, his diverse spellbook, his use of Quick Preparation (which was still a class feat when we played), ability to make scrolls, and Drain Arcane Focus with Focus Conservation made him the MVP. He got the party moving faster with Phantom Steed, used Sending to communicate over far distances, used Fireball to reach enemies before they got too close to him, and used Fly and Feather Fall to save people's lives against the Rocs. Creative timing with Drain Arcane Focus would allow the Wizard to chain certain combos (recast a 5th level Fireball, then re-cast a spent Invisibility the next turn). Pretty much anything useful the party did in the adventure, the Wizard was a part of it. Quite a different story than his early defeat at the end of "The Lost Star".
Cleric: A close second for MVP, since her divination combos helped the party get where they needed to. The one encounter per day situation of this module meant that in-combat healing didn't need to be as plentiful as most adventures would need it to be. But her use of Augury and Read Omens is the reason the party wasn't wandering in the middle of nowhere when the Mu Spore was unleashed.
Fighter: Third place, only because he actually did things, just not of great consequence. He dealt the killing blow to the Roc, and got some good shots on Hidimi, but getting blinded in the final battle (failing a Fort Save) didn't feel right for a Fighter to have happen to him. He didn't contribute much to the adventure. Being a shield did barely anything to an enemy who just flew over him, and then flew out of his reach. Leaving behind the mount he took a feat for was fairly demoralizing as well.
Rogue: Might as well not have been there at all. Took turns talking to Tulaeth because they had similar Diplomacy bonuses, but wasn't necessary. The only thing he did was find the gnome settlement, and damage the Roc a bit. I don't think there was anything in this module where a Rogue was useful. I'm surprised that scouting Ramlock's Tower didn't give players an opportunity to infiltrate or sneak around the cultists, or give them a chance to open a locked chest, somewhere. If he didn't die from the Phantasmal killer, he might have avoided all the reflex save spells, and dealt some damage. But overall, wasn't able to use any of his skill feats or skill training.
(Sorry for the delays.)
The Cleric once again used the Augury/Read Omens combo, using information given to them by the Gnomes and Keleri to find their next best target. They investigated the rumours of the dragon and lake monster, but I highly discouraged that with "Woe" results from Augury and with Read Omens results (since the party's spellcasters relied too heavily on fire spells for their offense). When they asked about the Fey in the Forest, I painted a big fat 'X' for the dryad with the divination results.
A few days later, the party was wandering through the right hexmap and encounter Tulaeth. The Rogue and the Cleric took turns trying to persuade the dryad, taking different tracks. The Cleric attempted to sweet talk the Dryad, telling her that they came to her because she is the rightful ruler of the Thicketfell, and that she should be told of the danger coming. The Rogue talked about the danger of the cultists, and how she would lose her forest if she didn't march her people against them.
The DCs being so high, there was a lot of back-and-forth in the status of the Dryad's attitude toward the PCs. The Rogue brought her up to Friendly, then the Cleric rolled a '1' and sent it back to indifferent. Rogue also rolled a '1' to make her unfriendly. Cleric (with aid from Wizard) got it back up to indifferent. Rogue got a Diplomacy check that beat the Dryad's Will Defense by 10, finally getting her up to helpful. I ruled that soliciting aid from the Dryad was a reasonable request, and based on how the battle would be fought, wouldn't result in an expense of quality of life (quite the opposite, if the Mu Spore never reaches the forest).
With the high DCs and high stakes in the adventure so far, the party was quite keen on doing as little adventuring as possible. Thus, once they secured the Dryad's assistance, they used their divinations to ask if it was enough. Or in game:
"Should we ask about marching on the Cultists with the Gnomes and Fey?"
The Wizard sent a Sending to the Gnomes to tell them where to go, and led Tulaeth back with them, who gave word to her Treants to prepare for war.
Returning to the camp for the first time, I reminded the players that they could purchase items or do activities similar to what they could do in town. The Wizard wanted to scribe some "Fireball" scrolls. I was confused for a while, thinking he needed Craft skill to make scrolls, but then the Wizard player reminded me he could use Arcana to make it. We all had a heck of a time finding the exact DC for crafting a scroll. With the help of Ageless Patience, the Wizard managed to make (4) Fireball scrolls, which didn't take up too much time given how long the gnomes took to reach the camp. When they got there, the Wizard asked to share arcane spells with the gnomes. Due to their prohibition against fire, all he could get was "Earthbind".
Using their divination and knowledge from the locals, the PCs discovered where the Moonmere was, and started marching on it. Using the Phantom Steed spell, the PCs moved in earlier to scout the area. The players didn't like the lack of random encounters when they performed their first overland journey, and doing a march into enemy territory with an unwieldy army with no consequences didn't feel right to them. Getting there early, they made Perception checks to scout the area out. With such high DCs, only the Fighter made it, and only because I allowed her to use Stonecunning as part of it (since the Tower had underground components).
With 4 Ally Points and 2 Research Points, the PCs wouldn't have to worry about the Giants, and the pre-combat spells were reduced by 1 minute before engagement. Before the session, I check through the spell list to see which ones would be useless... and the answer was "darn near all of them." For the PCs, everything except for "Status". For the enemies, the only ones they could use were Heroism, See Invisibility, and Humanoid Form.
Before combat, the Cleric cast Heightened Status on the other PCs, the top 3 mercenaries, the top 3 gnomes, and 1 treant. The hope was that knowing their location and condition of the leaders would give the party an idea of how the battle was going (and help find each other if they got separated). One of the most memorable moments in this adventure was when I had the Brain Collector use Humanoid Form on itself in order to be a legal target for Heroism (humanoid only). Since Humanoid Form doesn't grant clothes, and neither the Brain Collector or its allies seemed sane enough to care for decorum, the PCs encountered the mummy, two cultists... and a naked man.
I wanted to use this high Stealth Initiative to determine how the battlemap was set up. Since the PCs got better Perception than the cultists and brain collector, I allowed them to get within 30 ft. of them, then have Hidimi ambush them from behind. That was a bit more difficult due to her stench aura, so I had to place her in an out-of-the-way-cranny 30 ft. away from the path the PCs entered, so her "ambush" was very ineffective, given that she needed to spend two move actions to get in range of the PCs.
In the first round of combat, the Brain Collector cast Phantasmal Killer on the Rogue, who unexpectedly failed all his saving throws and died before taking one action. His player was not pleased. The rest of the players were happy that Aberrant Whispers bolstered targets against itself, as it was a very strong effect against spellcasters.
The Fighter, seeing the Cleric getting worked over by Hidimi, decided to focus fire on the Mummy. That kind of attention got Hidimi to unleash her Sandstorm, not only on the PCs, but on her allies as well! The Wizard critically failed his saving throw and was brought down from full health to 6 HP! On his turn, he cast Dimension Door and hid amidst the rubble of the battle (Stealth 28). Looking at death, the Cleric and Fighter pressed on to kill Hidimi, hoping that her death would at least make some impact on the ritual. They weren't able to kill her on their turn, so I had Hidimi move towards her allies, who stepped up to create a physcial line against the PCs.
Unfortunately for them, the Wizard's turn came up, and had Fireball ready. Hidimi died from that, and the previous Sandstorm meant that most of the enemies were close to death themselves. Each cultist cast "Blindness" on a PC respectively, and moved with the Brain Collector to close the gap with the Wizard. The Fighter critically failed, and was permanently blinded! The Cleric charged after the cultists, with the Fighter blindly leaping towards the Wizard's location (reasoning that being blind made the ground difficult terrain, but didn't stop him from jumping). The enemies couldn't close the gap in one round, so the Wizard dropped another Fireball, killing a cultist and bringing the remaining enemies near death.
At that point, I decided that the cultists would retreat. I had them cast Invisibility on themselves and flee, each one moving in an opposite direction. We checked the rules for Perception, and I told the Wizard he was too far away to Seek them. The Fighter and Cleric are closer, and attempt to search for them, to no avail. Worried about the Rogue's body, they move back towards his corpse. The Wizard moves closer to the action, and makes two Seek actions, one to his left, and one to his right. He located two beings who weren't visible. The Fighter is useless here, but the Cleric tracks the cultist, following the fleeing cultist, and "catching" him in a cone, which was wide enough for the Wizard to drop a Fireball to kill him off.
No sign of the naked man was found (which flew away while invisible). In past campaigns, my players have joked that my high-level enemies wear less armour and use less weapons than lower-level enemies, and that the less clothes they have, the more powerful they are. So the Rogue being killed off by a naked man (the transformed Brain Collector) who went invisible and was untrackable really played into their suspicion that he was someone very important: Ramlock, the mastermind behind the cult, or the final boss. This interest was the best part of the adventure, so I didn't stifle it. It was ironic, given that these players had already fought a Brain Collector in DDD, but because the Brain Collector from "Affair at Sombrefell Hall" had a different array of spell-like abilities, the players didn't recognize the transformed Brain Collector for what it was. Ruling that the Brain Collector wouldn't have the initiative or wherewithal to complete the ritual, the PCs had prevented the ritual from occurring (and added another Rogue Brain Collector out there).
Strength is a bit better when Bulk is being strictly checked. It becomes like Charisma and Resonance, in that it determines how many 'tools' you can have on you, and how much treasure your party can remove from dungeons.
INT could be improved by being more generous with languages (1 language per +1 to INT) and making Lore explicit in its usefulness. Take the Rogue's Battle Assessment class feat and make that possible for any Lore check. It also helps out WIS, but all the background Lores can come in as well ("Roll a Circus Lore check to determine the Killer Clown's weakness.")
As long as the Paladin is making foes perform sub-optimal choices based on RS, it's working. Whether the Paladin is making an extra attack each turn by foes ignoring them, encouraging foes to attack the person with heavy armour instead of light armour, or having foes waste a move action (which could have been used for an attack action) to get out of the Paladin's RS.
If it does go off now and again, the game designers should know roughly how often. Say, once per combat. If they haven't thought about it, then they should because it's a pretty big deal for the rest of the class's design.
When I played a Paladin, my GM never risked a RS and always attacked me. As a GM, I'll probably trigger the RS just for the heck of it. RS is always going to useful; how often RS deals damage is up to the GM.
I'd go with the Rogue. They get skill feats at each level, not every second level, as well as getting more opportunities to boost their skills to expert and master. The Rogue can be a great Intimidator without sacrificing the chance to take another interesting skill feat. Also, taking the Scoundrel's Feint means that the Rogue can use its high CHA in combat.
Any and all of the Intimidation feats are great, especially Quick Intimidation. For class feats, I'd take "You're Next" and "Battle Assessment" in early levels (the latter to determine if a target has a high or low Will Save).
If a Wizard keeps casting Fireball into enemies and allies alike, that does not make Fireball bad. If a Cleric kept using the 3-action Heal amidst living enemies and healing them, that does not make 3-action Heal bad. And if a foe uses its second action to walk past the Fighter after its first move action was disrupted, then that doesn't mean the Attack of Opportunity feature is bad.
If Paladins are not near to allies, or their allies put themselves in bad positions, then of course RS will be trash. Anything more complicated than a melee attack can become problematic or useless if the player doesn't play in a way that supports it. As a player of a Paladin, leveraging RS was more difficult than AoO or some Smite effect, but it had a bigger pay-off. RS inflicts enfeeblement on a foe, can disrupt an attack if RS kills the foe first, and can be used for as many rounds as the Paladin stays in melee reach.
RS will certainly suffer in a group who don't act like a cohesive unit, but like my previous 3 examples, most character options will suffer if the party doesn't coordinate their actions.
Igor Horvat wrote:
If ranged attackers have melee foes just waltzing up to them, then they're being punished for bad positioning. The difference is, as Dire Ursus said, ranged attackers can't ever get out of AoO purgatory by disengaging.
@ Nettah: I kind of feel that a light-armoured ranged weapon divine warrior should be its own class. The kind of class feats required to make a Paladin like that work would have little overlap with the typical Paladin and vice-versa, even worse than the Fighter's Ranged class feats. I can't imagine a character build that could make cherry-picking heavy armour and big weapon feats alongside light armour and ranged weapon feats profitable. Might as well separate them if they're never going to interact.
But the damage dealt by RS isn't the point of RS. It's to influence who and how enemies attack. It's not meant to be a replacement to a heavy-damaging class feature but can compliment a Paladin build that wants to deal a lot of damage.
I wouldn't mind a multiclassing feat growing by itself like how Catfall does. Just take one feat, and it gradually grants class features as you level up. With that amount of generosity, I'd probably limiting multi-classing to one other class, ever.
Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
But at that point, PF2 might as well not have classes at all, if there are that many work-arounds for the class system. That's not a bad thing, but creating that many exceptions become the norm.
I wouldn't say Paladin shouldn't be offensive, but as they are already a class with access to strong weapons, strong armour, and healing, throwing "lots of damage" into the mix has the potential of becoming OP, if the Paladin can deal as much damage as classes with weak weapons, weak armour, and no healing.
The Warforged would be empirically better than other races on paper, but I'm not sure how actionable those advantages would be in an average campaign. If the party are homeless vagabonds, not having to eat or sleep would be a major advantage. But in an average adventure, being immune to the Sleep spell and attacks from poisonous creatures would be the extent of the advantages.
I'm not sure how balanced it would be, but perhaps you can just short the Warforged on its ancestry feats. They get none, or the ones available are very dull and situational.
Changeling being a Human ancestry is better than low-light vision, but only if the PC is good at Deception. As I see it, being a Changeling would only replace a Disguise Kit and shorten Impersonate checks to 1 action, not give any bonuses to Deception.
The inability to block or even disincentive enemies from just strolling past the front line to get at the squishies in the back has been really frustrating to my group.
The opposite of this is that, with older AoO, squishies can't safely escape from enemies. If the PCs enforced AoO, then the enemy was locked in and it was good, but if the enemy enforced AoO on them, the PCs were locked in, and it was bad.
With the new AoO rules, the squishies can escape from those enemies and find a place that might be more defensible (hopefully with the Fighter defending them from there), and as a corrolary, the PCs can do this as well! Walk up to the evil Wizard and apply Leng's Sting to them. Just a different paradigm for combat.
The newbie was confused by the cleric receiving spell slots of cleric and domain spells, spell points for domain powers, energy points for channeling the Heal spell, and resonance points for magic items.
I've mentioned before that I think there's too many 'power silos' in the Cleric class. And it's odd because the other spellcasting classes create manageable silos for additions to the class' spell power sources. You have the minimal additions of the Bards and Druids at level 1, and you have Wizards and Sorcerers adding spells slowly over each caster level. Then you have Clerics which give out several significant pools of spells and spell points at level 1.
I mean, just from an available design space niche, imagining the Paladin as the defensive/protective class opens up a lot more room than imagining the Paladin as a "seriously mess up one particular kind of thing" class.
Speaking more broadly, pretty much any class can be defined by how it deals damage (Fighters with weapons, Wizards with prepared spells, Cleric with anti-undead/evil outsiders), but that creates a same-iness to them all. If you step back and ask "What does this class do other than damage?", you can create options that truly make them different (PF2 Paladins are very different from PF2 weapon-focused Clerics).
Page 91 would suggest you do. Start with Powerful Fist, then add Deadly Simplicity to up it by one. Even if you started with Deadly Simplicity and then added Powerful Fist, I believe you'd get a d8 as well, since DS just increases whatever the base damage dice is, but PF sets up a higher baseline damage dice (from d4 to d6).
But as I also said, having pregen characters that people choose from would have helped speed things along nicely as well.
This. I see the benefit of experiencing PF2 how it would be played naturally, with one PC levelling up through many different adventures. That would give a lot of good feedback for the 'feel' of the game. But having built a dozen different pre-gens for my players, I feel like I have a better understanding of the breadth of play, of how different classes and builds affect gameplay (The LG Paladin is a better 'bodyguard', standing next to their ally and waiting for enemies to come to them; while the Fighter is a better 'beachhead', moving into the fray to clear a path and hold a foe in place). Knowing how my Elf Monk or Half-Elf Paladin played over several levels would allow me give good emotional feedback, but a wide swath of PCs allows me to give a better empirical feedback.
I'm not sure how important it was to have people make their own PCs, however. I feel like one person in the office could have spent a week pumping out pre-gens: one for each class, with one version for each level of play. Their hard work could have made the playtest more accessible.
“Split Up to Cover More Ground”: Affair at Sombrefell Hall (session 3) blow-by-blow report, 1.5 rules.
Yolande d'Bar wrote:
Switch "feats" with "spells", and you pretty much have the 1.6 Wizard with its built-in Quick Preparation. Heck, just the average Cleric or Druid with instant-access-to-all-spells-ever-printed fall into the same problems you describe.
OP: Good observations, ones I've found similar results with. What the PCs do during Exploration defines the terms of engagement come initiative. I've interpreted exploration rolls and initiative rolls before drawing the battlemap, and it's created some interesting scenarios. In "The Mirrored Moon", the party snuck up on the BBEG's minions, but became flanked from behind by the BBEG, who beat everyone else with Perception. The BBEG wasn't delaying her turn proper (she had the ability to attack the PCs at anytime), but she "started the encounter" when she jumped out from her hiding hole.
A contest of Perception checks simply determines how far away the winners catch sight of the other sight, similar to how engagement worked for random encounters in D&D 1st edition. If you win at Perception, it just means that you can plan a way to engage the enemy profitably, but winning a Perception check doesn't automatically get you into striking range of an enemy. If you can sense a foe, they can probably sense you, and if the highest rolling foe is close to your group's roll, both side will be sensed before fruitful engagement can begin. In my example, the BBEG sensed the approaching PCs, so she moved out of sight and waited for them.
Stealth OTOH allows a high roller to start combat wherever they want to begin. They can move away and pepper them with longbows and Acid Arrows, or get closer if melee weapons and Burning Hands are their thing.
The party managed to reach Area K without encountering the Rocs. The PCs eventually found the abandoned treasure and I explained to them that they earned a Research Point. RAW, a "research point" only lasts a week, as I assume that the info becomes out-of-date over turn. However, this specific situation didn't seem right to put a week's timeline on it. You'd have to find the research one week before the attack, and based on how they died, the Rocs would have had to have killed them one week before, and the PCs find it between then and the attack. That seemed far too limited, so I ignored the time limits for this Research.
Travelling back to the Roc's area, the PCs plan to wait for the Rocs to leave in the morning, and wait for them in their aerie and attack them as they returned. They didn't rush into it. They spent a day searching for the aerie, rested in the Rope Trick, spent a day while the Rocs were out scouting the area for hiding places, retreat locations, and best way to climb to the aerie. This was supplemented by the Wizard's Locate spell. The PCs marked the general time the Rocs left and returned to their aerie.
The next day, the PCs used Fly and Air Walk to get up on the Aerie and waited for the Rocs. They were somewhat disappointed that the pair didn't have any young or eggs. As an extra precaution, the Wizard cast Rope Trick up there as a fall-back. I rolled to see if the Rocs returned near sunset, which might affect the PCs' ability to see the Rocs returning from the west (they returned before that). The Wizard, having held the same reaction for hours, unleashed his first 5th level Fireball.
I kept the Rocs coming (more motivated to protect their own home), and the Wizard kept unleashing Fireballs, using Arcane Drain to keep the best Fireballs coming. While he was doing that, the Cleric cast Air Walk on the Martials, and they moved forward to slow them down. Then the Cleric got her Flame Strike ready to hit the injured Roc, but the Fireball damage was so high, I had the injured Roc break-off to hide while its mate kept flying towards the PC. Not having a giant map of the area, I rolled to see if there was an area where the Roc could get total cover from the PCs in the aerie, and I got a positive response. The Roc they've been working over had escaped, and the other one was still coming!
The Cleric climbed up the Rope Trick, the Wizard cast Invisibility on himself and Feather-Falled to the ground, and the Martials went after the wounded Roc. In the heat of play, I played a lot looser with the Air Walk spell, allowing the Fighter to move directly down to reach the Roc, and the Rogue using Catfall to freefall the remaining distance needed to get into melee with it. The two of them finished off the Roc thanks to a successful attack of opportunity. Meanwhile, the healthy Roc tried to claw at the rope on the Rope Trick, but decided it wouldn't understand how Rope Trick worked, and would have it chase after the Martials. Using the fall-back plans they prepared for, the PCs disappeared into caves and hiding holes to avoid the seeking Roc.
The PCs eventually regrouped, but had to wait a few days to confirm they were successful. I rolled a d4 to see how many days the Roc would mourn before leaving this region. The Wizard sent a Sending spell to the Mayor of Korlabablin to let them know they were successful. They returned to the Gnomes to great applause. During the celebration, the Wizard and Rogue performed a re-telling of the great history of Ancient Osirion (although the Goblin added a bit more slapstick to the epic tales). The Fighter was sad that the gnomes weren't as enthusiastic about her tales of Magnimar.
To Be Continued
I'll chime in and agree. PF2 intrigues me in ways that PF1 and 5ed did not. My hope is that the final system will keep the best parts of the playtest (including bulk, rarity, and Practise a Trade) and that the Core Books will be robust enough to sustain year-long campaigns even without Paizo's published adventures.