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It is the general problem PF 2 (and other systems) have that try to use a static place for anything.

There is magic that makes these storytelling tools obsolete.
Either start writing with these in mind (kinda hard, and not to my liking with higher levels) or find other solutions ("ok all i know you can just tp in and fly away but...just try to follow the map so we can play what I prepared ok?")

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I think the primary problem with "Cheliax ramps up shipbuilding" is that their neighbor and rival to the east outstrips Cheliax massively in terms of "supply of tinder" and somewhat in terms of "shipbuilding capability."

So if Cheliax were to engage in a massive effort to rebuild the Navy, that would provoke Andoran into building even more ships.


Here's what a more real geopolitics comes into play: Nirmathas. They are in the path of Tar Baphon and will need help, have trees to exchange.

If not, Cheliax is looking south to Garundi, but they just lost Sargava.
Interesting nuances to include.

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1. Cheliax as a functional nation.
- WHY are people choosing to stay in Cheliax (e.g. protection in cities from iron fist law, protection from the outside by strong organisation/armies?)
- HOW are people kept from moving to andoran. Is it necessary, is there resent, is there support?
- The identity of their people and being proud of being from a particular locale. Example, Westcrowni in CoT.

2. Hellknights as a tangible force. What is going on, they feel like they should have nuance yet they are most rage armour saturday cartoon villains. An AP of Hellknights would go a long way (3 books). Nuance in the Law vs Chaos, and the trade offs of chaotic societies and why dedication to order is successful in Cheliax.

3. Cheliax as a functional geopolitical entity. Actual leverage with neighbours. Respect by surrounding nations to not tread too hard on Cheliax toes as the riposte is deadly (and also the degradation of these boundaries). Hand in hand with a "Wars in Europe" sort of setting where all the countries behave more like medieval/romance ones where being at war with each other is common whilst still trading, or only in certain parts, or far away conflicts.

4. Cheliax acting as a deterrent and shield against the hordes of the undead T-B. A nation dedicated to war and order (and politicking), with a veteran army and (part of) a navy, they are still against the undead. Other nations begrudgingly work with Cheliax in those frontiers and their soldiers and agents, despite ruthless and controversial, are effective and well received when in these situations.

In general: Nuance, How it actually is supposed to work, Order vs Chaos in practice and less philosophy.

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Very underwhelmed with their implementation. Barely noticably different than any other ranged weapon. Mechanically probably blandly balanced with other options. A gunslinger will get the required mileage out of them.

Pathfinder 2 has so much design space, and they show it with other stuff, yet for guns it just isnt there. And crossbows and bows, similarly. With the 3 actions economy we could have seen an interesting system instead.

In fact, the mechanics of bows, crossbows and guns are not good representations of how they work, or the fantasy around them, it is often talked about in threads that try to homebrew a better system. Even if we take this as a non simulation game, the differences are bland.

Guns (early) - powerful, surprising, loud, long to reload, low rate of fire, easy to shoot, difficult to obtain / make / mantain/ rare, unreliable/quirky, short range or longer range at other costs, needs no physical stats

Bows (shorter) - Fast rate of fire, difficult to master, traditional weapon of many cultures/fantasy tropes, medium power, requires mostly dexterity (but strength/recurve/build affects) and long to master.

Bows (longer) - Fast rate of fire, less than shorter. Requires huge strength for higher damage (but mechanical/recurve/build affects). Takes a lifetime to master, the weapon of elves in fantasy etc.

Crossbows (simple) - Slow rate of fire, easy to operate and learn, powerful, less mobile than bows. Heavy. Preloaded.

Crossbows (heavy) - massively powerful, slow rate of fire, requires strength or mechanical advantage (pulleys, cranks etc). Very heavy. Preloaded.

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Similar treatment to Mwange Expanse book -BEFORE- the AP. If they are going the route of copying existing civilisations, then including more than the chinese/japanese/mongols.

It is fine to do a similar copy of real world / fantasy version of, if done properly.

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Strength of Thousands. Hopefully with the same quality as Pillars of Eternity 2, when handling culture.

First of all, thanks for the feedback and taking the time!

Before I go on, yeah a wall of text, you've made me rethink some stuff, and perhaps there are a couple of simpler solutions that mesh with the concept. However, this is a weapon that only ever gets shot 1 time a round, to keep in mind when comparing it to anything else.

Thinking about it all in context:
I am not married to specific numbers, the flavour of text/name too much, nor the combining ready action portion of the AIM trait, if it makes it complicated. I think however sacrificing an action and reaction is alright for a rather powerful effect. Otherwise, you can use Fulminating shot if you have it, they are not exclusive, or shoot normaly.

What I want to conserve is:
1. shooting once (achieved through long reloads),
2. powerful single shot that trails close to bow use,
3. the weapon itself is powerful with position and preparedness being key (and easy to shoot, but mediocre if not dedicated)
4. easy to reference all components: can slap a trait or two that already exist so someone at my table can look it up (and here perhaps dropping the reaction from Aim is best and calling it just power attack, or use fulminating instead for simplicity, but worse scalability)

Point by point:
On why Power Attack: it already exists, it recreates a sort of vital strike in pathfinder 2, and like you mention the MAP is nor here nor there so essentially it is just the damage. It is too much damage for ranged single action, so I do think 1 action alone is too little.
Didnt know about fulminating shot, or I must've glossed over it being in spellshot. It is also a good tool for this, so thanks! perhaps a better one and easy to change the numbers in it. However it also, for a spellshot, doesnt cost any MAP vs the fighter's massive power attack MAP cost.

Lack of scaling: Power attack scales, but indeed might not be enough (it is not a great feat as it is). Then again, power budget seems to be a concern at the same time? I think price is a good gatekeeper for not worrying of access at early levels. I'll have a look at some later level damage when I have some time. Propulsive is in part in built scaling too.

Deadly Aim: I dont like penalties to hit when you're shooting once per round, personally (flavourwise this one makes absolutely no sense. Accurate aim name, hitting less often..this, fatal aim, propulsive..there are a lot of traits that describe poorly what they actually do).

Fatal Aim: I didnt like Fatal Aim either. And also not very effective, a 2hander crossbow we'd be shooting doublegripped always. But close in what it tries to do, can drop deadly and slap this on, then it is just deadly vs fatal. I honestly am not very happy with the powder weapon design in Pathfinder 2 all in all.

Kickback vs propulsive: Propulsive scales, also ties it to a balanced str/dex build. Crossbows never had much kickback compared to guns. Reflavouring the name and trait is fine, I just want stuff that can be referenced.

I disagree a bit about power budgets. This is a weapon that gets shot once per round, no way around it, so it has to be higher than something worth shooting twice/thrice, we unfortunately did not get such a weapon in the Guns and Gears otherwise we'd have an example...probably because this whole concept doesnt play well with this system (consider how direct damage spells are generally the subpar option). I still think a composite longbow in the hands of a ranger build is a superior weapon (but, have to calculate this properly.)

PS. I like your work on your crossbows and I think that they have a place in Pathfinder 2, and the designers have just chosen not to give base crossbows a simple non-power budget. However on the comparison of this vs say the Arbalest, I'd pick the Arbalest of your doccument, power wise. Makes the existing builds better. My intent is to pigeon hole this crossbow to a single shot.

PS 2. There is a doccument another user posted about decoding weapon attribute power budgets. I use it for melee weapons, and works well. I'll see if I can dig it out.

PS3. On using feats, rather than items, I think I'd just give Power Attack for ranged characters and call it a day, the 2 MAP is enough to deter more shots. However, then I'd put a juicy unique crossbow, or have to use your Arbalest, to consider it.

Thanks for going through your thought process. I like the strength investment, it forces balanced attribute spreads and helps out switch hitters.
I do like that Propulsive is a direct gradient reward to strength investment, but Strongarm does a good job in visualising that you need power to reload a crossbow without machine leverage.

See, I've been muling over this too, and recently made a couple of threads on it. First is my version of an arbalest
Essentially Propulsive + a single shot damage trade off, but always staying above 2 reload. A little different in concept as I didnt design it to direclty compete with bows/guns, but still playing with similar levers to you, Str and reload.

Then here's a thread about making a switch hitter crossbow build, got some good answers on what people have been playing:

Have you thought of what would be a fun magical version of the Pavise?

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Here4daFreeSwag wrote:
Good to have some free home-brewed Crossbow stuff out there for PF2e, VictorThell. ;)

Is this..are you..a bot? Going through the post history is interesting.

Cool stuff VictorThell. As the above...enthusiast...says, it is good to have more options. I like your version of the Pavise.

However, on the crossbow department, it seems that if you do meet the prerequisites of Strongarm, you just get a better crossbow? From a Crossbow 1d8 simple, to an Arbalest 1d10 deadly d6, at the same reload.
Have you tested any of these? I wonder how much they improve crossbow builds in relation to bows and guns.

For anyone looking into crossbow design, use and history, I strongly reccomend "Book of the Crossbow" by Ralph Payne Gallwey.
Also this thread about 1500s or so crossbows 1c12&t=7516&pp=30
And also looking through some of the museum collections, like the Brussels Crossbow museums.
Finally, youtube and Tod's Workshop offers good demonstrations of power, penetration and time reloading.
I made a thread asking for advice on how to make crossbows work after your suggestions, and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised with the answers. Like you state Cpt Morgan, it works within specific niches. I am looking forward to trying some of it out!
However what I see is that the Heavy crossbow is rather forsaken, a reload of 2 is too heavy in actions, and most advice is to avoid it.

Voideternal: Indeed that extra die at low level is large, however very much under melee still, and not so far from hitting twice with a longbow. Also, I gave Aim a Power Attack, so it will scale somewhat with level (and gravity bow and so on). Power Attack itself has its problems where it isnt worth it (in melee) in comparison to many options, unless high resistances or vs high AC. I think it fits the Heavy Warbow precisely for this reason. ( lysis_exacting_strike_vs/)
I think one way of gating it away from 1st level is simply with price. Then if the PCs do have access to it, it is through GM fiat, and at that point balance is not important.
On the reaction, it is indeed a problem, but the option to shoot normaly exists, and it is still a decent option. (in the ranger's case I didnt find anything in their feat selection that competed with it.)

My conclusion is that the niche of a heavy, slow reload crossbow like an arbalest is still very much unfulfilled. The crossbow of choice is the standard simple crossbow of 1 action. By making the Reload 2 crossbow a little more powerful we make it a bit more competitive, but still behind multiple shots a round. I think I am not off the mark, mechanically wise.

There definitely is, for me and it seems others, a design issue in representation between bows, crossbows and guns, that hasnt really been addressed well in PF2.
On the game design aspect it is tempting to not tie Xbows with strength, and be full dex. However, this encourages dex stacking which was a problem in PF1...static bonuses might be wiser (and we do see this in game with crossbow ace). I also imagine carrying a big arbalest to take some strength, specially adventuring, lugging that much wood isnt wieldy and you're not going to be the nimble shooter, so Str requirement makes some sense. On the pulley/cranequinn, it requires effort to load it, and doing it in combat requires strength and technique, perhaps tying it thus to strength. It isnt perfect, but for that I'd design all of the weapons from scratch. STR serves the purpose of limiting dex stacking, allowing switch hitting, and making it obvious that carrying and using an arbalest on the run is not for weak characters. It serves to balance between dex/str mechanically.
Ideally if designed from scratch, crossbows would have their own damage attached to weight loading (pounds, or rather kilos, I still resent the lack of metricness in this media..), but this is again beyond the scope of a simple tag rule.

Adding some descriptions.

War Crossbow
1d8. Reload 2. 120ft range. Propulsive. Aim. Expensive (15gp).
This large cross is powerful, but heavy and unwieldy. Usually loaded with a lever or foot claw.

Heavy War Crossbow (strength requirement added)
1d10. Reload 2. 150ft range. Martial. Propulsive. Aim. Deadly. Requirement 14 strength. Expensive (25gp).
This is a heavy arbalest with power to rival longbows, at a lower rate of fire. Usually loaded with a lever or foot claw.

Cranequin/Pulleys (Expensive, avoids early level issues)
These set of pulleys or cranks allow anyone to load the war crossbows, at the cost of more time, regardless of strength.

If I try these, I'll come back with some feedback, but I suspect it wont be anything too surprising or game changing apart from enabling a bit more the switch hitting or mobility shooting with a crossbow.
In the case of the very niche ranger build, which is probably the most successful out of all, it'll make it more dedicated, but still require investment. With the advice, I'll make a long bow ranger and a crossbow ranger and look at the numbers more in depth.

Edit: I'd design a Pavise shield at some point too, perhaps as a magical item to avoid base design.

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Thank you very much for great advice. I am glad to see that there is some support for crossbows, albeit locked in a handful of class archetypes (ranger, slinger and monk to some degree, and eldritch builds).
Honorable mention to dealing with a live snake after getting shot, would def ruin my day :P

Also, seems like the heavy crossbow is in disfavour, with a reload of 2 it is too much of a tax, although with running reload it can be aleviated somewhat.

Repeating crossbows and such are a different play style, I think those are in a better position with cartridges, and if it is a home game I am sure a GM can change capacity there somewhat, in my case.

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W E Ray wrote:

...In the 90s especially, one could play this game practically without dice. Just roleplay. For the past 20 years, players don't even need to attempt an investment in the story; they can just about what they're going to add to their character sheet next level -- and then the level after that.

Heck, groups even make game decisions based on Levelling-up! They decide to go into the woods to find a random encounter so they can make 6th Level before going back to the dungeon and fighting the Vampire.

It sounds to me that you'd better be served with a different, less crunchy system. Pathfinder, and Dnd for many years, have been about being rules heavy and tactical.

Also, that last part, it sounds to me more like 80s dnd than current. The typical next level of the dungeon is too high so we need to go somewhere else to get something/buy something/level up.

I do agree that character death could be more normalised. I remember when I was young my elder friend telling me about how his dwarf fighter had died defending a bridge, with an arrow shot by an orc through his visor! We do play without ressurection at my table: but this is the key. Take out what you dont like.

Dont like the DC skill checks for diplomacy? Roleplay them. This system is as rules heavy as you make it be. However, it is going to be represented in APs as rule heavy, because that is what the product is.

Just chiming in with the rest that most combats I've come accross 2e APs have been much better tuned and less of a mess than 1e! Plus points there.

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Yeah on top of tasks, the APs should try to exploit the action system of Pathfinder 2.
I want to see challenges where it takes several actions to do something, whilst something else is happening.
Example: A tree branch has fallen on the road and the cart cant make it through. It takes 7 actions of athletics, divided between any members, to remove the branch. Meanwhile, there's an ambush going, or part of a chase.

This is a game with Free Archetype indeed, though it has to be one that isnt one of a base class (i.e. no rogue free archetype on top of fighter, but mantis assassin works).

So the heavy crossbow is not worth it because of the reload length of 2 rounds?

Edit: 2 actions, not 2 rounds indeed.

Hey all,

I would like to build a character that uses a Crossbow as their main weapon, preferably focusing on single shot rounds, mobility and/or siege/sniping. I mostly GM nowadays so I'm a little unversed in player options.

Is there any other options apart from Ranger or Gunslinger?

Stuff that I'd pick up if Ranger or Gunslinger:
Weapon: Heavy Crossbow
Running reload, crossbow ace, penetrating shot

Have you managed to play a crossbow character? I feel since I asked the question about crossbows just as Pathfinder 2 came out we have a lot more options.
In Pathfinder 1 there were some funky options for this out there, such as inquisitors, investigators, magus. Any such in Pathfinder 2?

This will likely be an NPC, probably a villain. When I next have a chance to play in a game I'd like to try this out though.

I must be out of the loop with crossbows. Countless searches in the forums and the prd have left me without good answers as to how.

Is there any difference between doing those shots with a crossbow than a bow, except 1 single die bump up and crossbow ace? In exchange for 3 shots a round? Is the shoot and run tactic competitive? Wouldnt a bow user do the same, but better? What about the massive feat tax required for them to even do similar to bows?
If the answer is "they are fine as simple weapons" I agree. However, it is not what these rules were about. They were to look for a different playstyle with a dedicated weapon, not a secondary ranged option.
I havent changed anything in simple crossbows as I also believe they do well in their simplicity, but are they really used as main choices?

Not trying to be combative, I am trying to understand. Because from my experience (as GM), and the narrative in all these threads is not great for crossbows, and now I am getting answers that they are powerful.
I would appreciate examples, if anything to use them myself.

Some references on previous topics:

Quote from Mark Seifer, from the following thread ay#1

"Just for any simple weapon in general, rather than crossbows in particular, they are not going to be as powerful as a martial weapon. If they were, what's the point of having simple and martial weapons as a distinguishing feature between characters? When comparing them to bows, as in the OP, they are supposed to be weaker on the net; they are a category down. Now in PF1, due to the action economy, they were pretty terrible even when compared to other simple weapons. In PF2, they're quite solid for a simple weapon, which means worse than a martial."

Thread in which you also chime in, Cpt Morgan, about how subpar crossbows are, in exchange for doubtful versatility (last post you actually counter one of them yourself, but you also point out other versatility qualities):

Hey welcome, thanks for the feedback.

Propulsive describes stored energy in drawing back the string pushing forward the msisle, which is done by either an arm, crank, lever or a pulley. It doesnt matter, the result is the same. The use of the word propulsive is misused in game, I would say rather than it not applying to crossbows. It does boil down to semantics, but I get what you mean. I did it to add as few things as possible and I could indeed add a bunch of new traits. Was I designing from scratch Id also not use a ranged power attack.
I still prefer using already written things, makes it easier to compare mechanically and nummerically.

It is interesting that so far the answers are about bows being misrepresented, I really like where that conversation goes. I could imagine redoing bows/xbow/guns design from the bottom up in a new campaign, but my group is not very invested in tinkering and appreciate stuff that they can look up in the rules. Also good to know there could be some confusion in how people view the traits.

My main concerns are design wise. Does this do what I intend it to do?
I.e. Longer Reload, Single Shot a round and remaining viable, promoting a different style of ranged combat, making it interesting?

How would you make bows different than they are currently? Adding more strength? What would the difference be between recurves, composites, short/long?
Is dex to damage more for crossbows? Or guns? PF has avoided dex to ranged damage, probably with good reason. Could gun's chemical energy be better described by extra dice or static bonuses? How do we make crossbows and guns different, when they share a lot of the practical uses and limitations?

At the least, I can see that I probably need to assume the Heavy Warcrossbow is reloaded without need for strength otherwise it locks a lot of classes out of its benefits. Or having the cranequinn as purchasable but not increasing reload by 1.

I see what you mean that bows need to the ones fixed, and I agree, however xbows would need some compensation because they are not good numerically. The whole ranged fantasy in Pathfinder 2 has been one of the few misses this system has had.

The ranger in our party started with a shortbow..but after a few sessions came to me to ask if he could change some things to have a composite longbow and some stat changes, since his damage was pretty terrible. Since then, the propulsive is helping some. All bows should have this trait, and there should be a little more choice in types of bows too. Ah well.

Edit 2.
Instead of penalising for str requirements, a good option is to say that if you can reload the crossbow manually without the pulley/cranequinn, then you can reduce the reload time by 1. I'd have to run some numbers for that though to see where it lands. It still means Shoot Reload Shoot - Reload Shoot Reload. Which isnt too fantastic, not overshadowing bows.
Noticed I misread Brutal, it affects the attack roll not the damage. So pretty good for javelins or similar.

A lot of what you say makes sense. However, my goal here is to touch as little as possible and come up with as few new mechanics as possible. Keep it simple, easy to use, introduce, and elegant whilst having most gameplay effect. Im focusing on heavy crossbows in general first.

I disagree that they work well as is. They are a sub par weapon, and are only used because they have the lowest entry tag (simple), or on some very niche rangers (running reloads). I am happy to be wrong, and I wouldnt mind seeing builds that use them, differently than archers. I'm glad that you do think they work well though, gives me some more to think about.

As to their effectiveness, in history, I strongly reccomend Tod Workshop's videos and research into this together with Joe Gibbs. Example windlass crossbow vs bow:
There is a lot of misunderstanding about crossbows and bows that come from decades of fantasy media portraying legolas as the only valid option. They were both terrific weapons, and had their separate niches.
Example: A longbow man, whilst having a longer rate of fire, wouldnt be able to shoot very heavy bows for a long time. They'd get tired, worn or injured. Crossbows can shoot all day from a parapet with time.
However, this being fantasy afterall, we dont have to follow history exactly, but we can defintely attempt to make space for crossbows.

My train of thought is that loading a crossbow by hand requires strength, with a foot hook or not. Here propulsive is warranted.
The pulleys/cranquinns mimick pure strength with mechanical advantages. So I dont think it is so far fetched.
The only other STR to ranged trait available in PF2 is Brutal. Which I may also consider.

I definitely see where you come from saying that strength is for archers. Then again the more advanced a bow is (recurve, composite, pulleys) the more mechanical it becomes. I thought about Dex for damage, but I didnt want to encourage single stat building, and also believe that to differentiate Xbows/Bows/Guns, Xbows should get damage from static traits to symbolise their mechanical prowess.
Perhaps Str for bows, Dex for xbows and Traits/static/Damaged die for guns would work best?

Thanks for the answer, cant wait to hear more.

I have been unsatisfied in how Pathfinder 2 (and 1) have dealt with crossbows. Or anything that is not a bow. I wish they had made them distinct choices.

Perhaps it isnt necessary, but I like having meaningful differences in ranged weapon that dictate gameplay not just damage output.
I havent come accross any suggestions that solidified a different niche for crossbows, and I waited til Guns and Gears was out to think about it. I know we have dabbled in rulings for pathfinder 1, but often were too clunky. So here's a Pathfinder 2 proposed house rule for heavier crossbows to simulate arbalests, and I'd like to hear your suggestions.

Explanations and goals
Crossbows are subpar and not different enough from bows. They should have a niche just like they did in history, and were effective weapons that saw hundreds of years of combat.
- Easy to use and train to a low standard
- Can hold the shot
- Good power
- Power not always depending on user (i.e. reload cranequins, pulleys, etc)

New Trait: AIM
When shooting a loaded crossbow you take aim and choose the opportune moment to shoot.
Spend a Single Action + Reaction, crossbow gains a ranged version of Power Attack (+one die damage, counts as 2 MAP attacks). This shot can be taken during your round, or as a reaction.

War Crossbow
1d8. Reload 2. 120ft range. Propulsive. Aim.

Heavy War Crossbow
1d10. Reload 2. 150ft range. Martial. Propulsive. Aim. Deadly.

Mechanical contraption that aids in reloading a crossbow, allowing you to benefit from propulsive despite not meeting the strength requirements. Increases reload time by 1.

The idea is to get crossbows to be slower to reload, but be able compete with a bow build, and offer a different play style, opening options towards Running Reload, or having a reloaded crossbow as a starter, or sniper gameplay, or siege defense.
The Aim trait adds power attack at range, adding an extra damage dice. This is strong since these crossbows can only reliably shoot once per round already, but it does come at the penalty of shooting once per round and consuming a reaction (open to action economy suggestions here). Perhaps the Deadly trait is debatable, I personally would like to put it to Fatal but I havent run proper numbers to warrant this.

Some basic numbers, just weapon damage, traits and strength:
Damage potential for a Heavy Crossbow single strike with Striking rune, strength of 18, is around 13 average (1d10 + 1d10 striking + 2 propulsive). Shooting with Aim, 18.5 average (3d10+2). A crit, if Deadly is applied, would be 42.5.

Same 18 strength shooter with a composite longbow striking would do in a single shot 1d8 + 1d8 striking + 2 propulsive, average 11 or so. But with reload 0, they can shoot two more times..the dpr calculation would have to include %hit and all that stuff.

A striking greatsword 18 strength does easily 23.5 damage average in a single hit, higher upper numbers too. A powerattack crit averages 47.

Obs. Numbers are approximations, no complex formulas used. Feel free to point any mistakes out.

I'd be happy to get some feedback, I GM mostly so I am not very versed in player feat/options that could interact with all of this. Overall I think it is lightweight and does not require a lot of tinkering and remembering, which is something I prioritise when bringing a new rule to the table.
At some point I'd like to get to guns. The ones I've introduced at our table have their own rules as a unique item, but that is for another thread.

Ghouls! Very much into their society, as I understand, they can have one. Either way, the stance of all undead are evil in Golarion might get a look over, so at least some more info that way.

I like using undead enemies, so a lot more monsters and stat blocks are always welcomed.

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Hey Rysky perhaps you dont know the future has no space for niceties, it is all a stark competition and the Roleplaying point score is everything :P

I'd think, OP, you'd garner a lot more curiosity from people from a more moderate stance that didnt include assuring us what the founders of the game would jam to, decades after their deaths. I think you have something that is definitely interesting for some niche applications, such as university clubs, or game shop run events, but you'd need to change a bit how you interact with people if you want some attention, more so for collaboration.

Here is an idea to play test these kind of things though: Have each party controlled by a single person. If you have a group of very dedicated players, that'd make for an easier test run, 3-4, perhaps with some simplifications.

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Roleplaying games are intrinsicly collaborative. No one wins the Pathfinder 2 or the DND game. That you consider it to "be the future" well, it's what many would consider a hot take. Which is cool, and as a mode of play, more the merrier.
However as a blanket statement? Good luck with the wolves :P

I'll throw a question out for a thought process. How is this remotely competitive when comparing different GMs? If the competitiveness stops the moment table variation occurs, it isnt a very solid framework.

As for the map and tech it is always cool to see more interactiveness. What is developed for one game mode surely can be used for another, for example for kingdom managing and such. Good luck.

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Squeakmaan wrote:
The only one I am familiar with a potential non-violent resolution is Ironfang Invasion. But there's a significant amount of violence between the beginning and that potential resolution.

" Ironfang Invasion: Hobgoblins commit warcrimes against you and your loved ones! You commit warcrimes in return! Commit warcrimes agaisnt fey as they also massacre and torture everyone! Everything in the campaign is about further warcriming!

Resolve with sudden change of heart and good will at the point of a sword, it is TOTALLY valid! "

Yeah, not a fan of a lot of elements in that AP and I dont think it counts as a proper non violent solution, considering it is under the guise of "We just killed all your generals, will kill the rest, and you, unless you stop ok? We friends".

I'd consider Strength of Thousands a better candidate, it has baked in a lot of dialogue options and leans into the teacher-student dynamics.

Skull and Shackles, surprisingly, has many non violent solutions, but you will encounter a lot of humanoid on humanoid violence regardless. It is a rather easy campaign to coat with nonviolence/lethality if you focus on the pirate theatrics more.

I'd also suggest a different roleplaying system altogether that is not focused on +1 to attack, especially with a younger audience.
I do find the exercise interesting nontheless and there is definitely space in PF2 for non violent solutions, and should be more included (again, +1 to strength of thousands' approach)

As inspiration: the modules of Agents of Edgewatch, the casino adventure. And perhaps something from War for the Crown, but I am not well acquaintanced with it.

The mass of books ultimately is to break with sheer weight the prison of the Terrasque!

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It's kinda breakneck pace and I'm very quickly reaching the point where I dont want to bother to buy books, two more come out before I've read the previous one, and havent even gotten my head around half of the classes...

Edit. I'm really already there. I know PF2 had massive content gap with PF1. However, it should be looked at perhaps vs Dnd5 instead. Setting aside concerns for what this publishing speed means for the people writing them, Unsure what it'll do for the health of the game. I understand that selling books makes the company survive, and Paizo has done very well to make enough content fast to have great variety in games.

Then again, I am liking the Lost Omens setting books. I am buying those more often than the class/crunchy ones, perhaps because I feel they bring something new, whilst any class books feels like a revisit of Ultimate series or ofther PF1 books.

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Salamileg wrote:
Other than what's presented in Lost Omens World Guide. Considering running a homebrew campaign there, but the wiki isn't very helpful. Doesn't even have the current Hurricane King on it.

Tessa is the Hurricane Queen, as per Lost Omens guide, and we know little else. Thing is the Isles of the Shackles, as one of the best books in PF1, already had so much information that it might require a new book in turn for that detail.

The Mwange Expanse book has some tidbits about the pirates too.

If you ran S/S as a campaign it makes it obvious how your setting has changed, but if not: I would say nothing much has changed and you can use Isles of the Shackles as is, nothing too interesting.
Perhaps consider the massive defeat the Shackles dealt to Chelliax as a possibility to expand horizons.

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I am also enjoying gming pf2e, I think at the table I am the one that notices most the change of system. Players might notice more or less (different, really) choices and flow, but on the gm's side of things it has become such a difference. PF1 was a tremendous burden, and PF2e has done a good job of lessening it.

silversarcasm wrote:

The terwa lords stuff in this volume is really bothering me. Like, they're violent expansionist ethnonationalists who you're expected to sit and have a nice chat with while they spread their propaganda?

I don't want my players to miss out on the new spells and opportunities here but I can't in good faith run this as written.

Perhaps the child of the scout leader could have been the only survivor of the fight and the party can help them to recover and join the magaambya and get them into an environment where they can get away from Terwa influence?

Would appreciate any input from other people.

I made them part of a group that is being encroached upon: they have the real decision between moving somewhere else or joining the Terwa lords, understanding that they'd never be very high up but Ssraku's daughter might.

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Famous battles and battlefield hazards are a great thought!
As for mass combat - looking at what MCDM has gone through with Kingdoms and Warfare, I'd rather use an agnostic system like that and plug it to Pathfinder 2. It requires a dedicated product, and honestly the group is here for RPG not wargaming.

Focus on troops, and perhaps a smaller unit in a Squad could be fun. It could also help with the eternal "what do NPCs do", but that's secondary at best.

Very cool, excellent use of 3d printing.
How many hours to print.....?

Interestingly I also ran into some off the rails Opera adventures! It has been many years, so itll be a bit vague, but I'll try to recount and see if it inspires something, even if youve run it already:

The players went to Hellharbour, also looking to figure out what is going on. I wanted to feature the Opera. I had Longbeard take them in under his wing - seeing their star rise he's happy to invite them over to Endymion's opera and play some politics.
Whilst the party agrees, 2 of them break off before entering. They seek a backdoor entrance to the play.

As the rest of the party get good seats from above to see the play, they notice their usual skulkers are missing. Longbeard is being a good patron and indulging them in what they want, whilst skirting around their questions of politics and allegiances (some social skill roles that answered some of the deals with Arronax). All goes well until the second act of the Opera - the actor troope on stage (the actual hired propaganda assasins..the ghost, the berserker and the other one, who were from the next book in this particular case) is joined by 2 figures they recognise instantly. The party skulkers, having gone backstage, found their way to the troope's quarters and found some incriminating stuff..but got found by the Berserker who gave chase. They all Entered Stage Left, and the play became about trying to survive being chased by a berserker several levels above them, and the rather bored rabble of Hellharbour having a rowdy good time at the chaos happening on stage. Even the wannabe posh of the place were enjoying it, what with them being pirates.
It was frantic, the main party had to excuse themselves to try and head down to the backstage to salvage the situation and create an escape for the 2 others (who luckily were very good at acrobatics and stealth), and regroup.

They'd face the troope later on, having a better idea what they had stumbled on.

Arronax asks around about who disturbed the Opera, and at least he knows who they are. Having a connection is important...even if one that has ruined one of his favourite hobbies. It helped play that they had to win him over as one of the more powerful pirates.

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Lost Omens: Armies of Golarion

A breakdown of different organised forces in Golarion. Who are they under, what hierarchies they have, what titles they use, how do they operate and why, who are they are odds with or in active conflict.
Emphasis on:
- NPC stat blocks for Recruit, Soldier, Veteran, Officer, Etc. Casters and beasts sprinkled in.
- Troops! Perfect place for this.
- Beasts of war.
- Counter measures to usual war tactics. I.e. what are these guys doing about a guy that has a fireball scroll from far away. Just some cool tactics, not covering every detail.
- Equipment they use and are known for.
- Terrains they operate in and how they are adapted to it. Nirmathan rangers, Dwarfs in mountains, with subparagraph on Mbeke dwarfs with drakes (mwange), also Drow in the underdark, elves in kyonin, hobgoblins in Oprak, Runelord forces, Taldorian Houses troops, Molthunian army, Andorans many to pick.
- Who is behind these forces? A bit like the Legends book but couple steps down.

I think a book like this would give a lot of shape to Golarion and help GMs with a bunch of tools to throw into sandboxy games or setting specifics. For players, potentially associating with these.


Lost Omens: Mercenaries of Golarion

Similar vein, focusing on mercenary companies. Also a subsystem on running a mercenary company setting.


And totally one they probably shouldnt make but would fill me with so much joy:
Lost Omens: Seas and Navies.

Wish I had some good advice for self publishing.

However, I am interested in your product. I ran S&Shackles some time ago, was active in the forums, homebrewing the ship stats, battles and the sort. Most of my campaigns are maritime (currently running one that ties in to 10 years down the line from the S&Ss we did).

Similarly, I'm happy to help where I can if you'd like some reviewing/testing of something.
Best of luck.

ps. sent you a pm

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I imagine the editors are in charge of making sure some lines are not overstepped, but that is an inmense job in volume alone (thanks for bringing up the PFS scenenario Oragnejedi42, great example of mishandling the topic), and a mistake (that shouldve been addressed and corrected) is likely to happen at some point.

Golarion has a lot of lack of creative writing, perhaps from a necessity to fill in space fast? They are doing a decent job lately, if the Mwange Expanse is an indication, in making the knock-offness interesting and respectful.
Most times I've come accross slavery in PF it hasnt been problematic to tell that it was an evil deed. Perhaps the grayest one I found was in the Shackles AP.

I think painting in general strokes will bring along criticism too. The tendency we expect in society is that when something like slavery is mentioned, it is also followed by a condemnation of it, which if describing 24 nations in 3 short paragraphs, is bound to not happen sometimes. The customer's expectations are perhaps what needs a hard look :P

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My group just found out that one of the antagonists they have finally gotten to is an ex-member of the Order of the Coil. Not because he stepped out, but because the Order got beaten. They enjoyed bringing him and his operation down.

A game without organised evil erm, organisations, would give us the only alternative of fighting faceless evils. If this game is about fighting, because if it isnt, then design it differently.
Often mangas/younger audience cartoons depict these blob / demon / energy evils that can be fought at no moral discussion. It is really dull and repetitive.

Any - ANY thing that makes someone take weapons carries with it the reality that it has potential to hurt people, physically and psychologically. So it is a bit daft in my opinion trying to sanitise everything. I believe that it should depend on the table. If you are playing Pathfinder say, with your kids, and they are happy whacking oozes, or goblins (and they run away scared rather than die) that's fine. When the players have the capacity to start asking increasingly complex questions then it is the moment the world becomes more complex.

Roleplaying games has a strong societal component, and a lot of that is founded in open discussion, inclusivity and understanding. Close off your topics and you'll have a lot less to discuss.

Also, evil governments and evil organisations in games - even when you play as them in video games - just allows the player to know they are explicitely evil. Our lifes are complex enough and being able to denote something in an obvious way helps us deal with it, and feel safe in knowing what it is. (and why it is wrong, but that's something you've got to learn from your fellow humans at some point in your life).

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In Baldur's Gate 2 one of the first things you do at the Copper Coronet Inn Tavern is bust a slaving operation. It feels good.
We have slavery in our setting, as a thing that happens the same as other horrible stuff happens, and they are happy to kick in doors and free slaves - it is afterall one of the most virtuos actions in history that any human should be proud of; working towards the abolition of slavery.

Personally, I would prefer a close to history portrayal of the setting.

However Paizo's problem here is that they have no way to control that outcome, neither to make sure they arent providing a platform for those unwanted fantasies. So they just ignore it, less pr problems.

Now for the critique part.
It feels dumb that in a setting with mind bending magic, horrors provided by savage gods like Lamashtu, war torn sceneries, public executions like Mzali, literal piracy nations, and much more, the problem is that you wrote slavery somewhere. Over-reaction, but also a product of the society we live in where some horrible things are more taboo than others.
Total War / Warhammer video game, when you play as the Dark Elves your economy revolves around capturing slaves - and it contrasts well with Game Workshop's later statements that they broker no tolerance to any form of discrimination. A mature stance. But not everyone wants to deal with the PR, so fine.

And for a bit of a jump...American (USA) media is more sensitive to this than others, or/and perhaps more scrutinised too. RPG (at least Pathfinder folk) seem even more so.

PS. And now we end up debating slavery - which is perhaps exactly what they do not want. But a world without discussion so we can understand why they are wrongs, not just what they are, is absolutely necessary, and ignoring it completely is not constructive. However it is also not their responsibility for humankind to not be complete idiots, so they took the easy road this time.

Advancing in level is one of those skills that develop as you GM. Depending on the camapaign, the Gm and the players. I imagine some people prefer to do the mechanical thing of xp.

But story gives XP. How is that measured? Is it always tied to the creatures/hazards involved? Any way I see it, it is an extremely crude way to measure advancement exactly.
Unless you're playing dungeon simulator. Which, yeah sure, then it works.

Still think PF2 is probably doing it better, from what I've seen the encounters are like. Until the OP didnt bring up the fact that there is perhaps too much variety in enemies, I hadnt thought about that I am not dealing with the usual hordes of low level blandness.

Few things kill my mood to play in a game more than the GM saying "we do XP and if you miss a session you get half XP" or something along those lines.

I put time in, I get enjoyment through the session, I may get some big milestone (gear/level) but otherwise perhaps advanced story, character portrayal, or similar. I understand some people need the constant affirmation that they are getting something tangible.
XP is for me, either a hardwired thing that people just got used to, or the sign of someone in a control spectrum that I want nothing to do with. However, I play home games and with people I choose to play with.
As a system for tabula-rasa situations like PFS it is a logical tool, however I'd debate there are better ones like each module awarding so many points depending on module level and then advancing that way.

Overall, it ends up being an imposition rather than a tool, causing the APs devolve in XP packing monsters like a cheap buffet, instead of better garnishing the good parts. Guidelines are fine, but must-fill arbitrary quotas dont make a better result.


On the newer APs, I have been enjoying much of the setting. The Agents of Edgewatch has 2 modules I really want to rip and put into my game (Casino and the Prison!), I have used several Age of Ashes parts (the travelling to Mwange helped me populate a "escape the jungles" start to a campaign), Strength of Thousands was a welcome change of tonality even if it is for variety.
I miss some gritty, war torn landscapes and real politik NPCs in action that would make me actually believe that these are real nations we deal with rather than a campaign setting (a little bit of Avistan doing the European wars of - war here but not there but sprinkle armed conflict over here and the navy just took that port, guess we'll cede a city in apology-). I think PF1 had slightly more of it but it was very crude, and the writing has in general moved to more aware narratives.

The sudden changes from simple adventuring to high fantasy world hopping are jarring - but on a power curve like Pathfinder's it is bound to happen. I would be much happier playing fewer levels and more to the point APs (3 volumes is great) if they stick with a natural theme.

My biggest concern with APs that neither PF1 nor PF2 solve is that as the stories are told we'll get more "Players cant teleport because this forest is magical" "Players cant use scrying because the magic here is warped" "the Whatever Crystal of Offuscation impedes your meta-plot spells" "Flying is not legal here since the pigeon hit the Drake last year at the airfield".
Teleport, Scry, Fly - the most jarring tools to any story telling - or the most important, are extremely poorly handled with few exceptions, and doing a 1-6 volume adventure will only exarbecate this.

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On the encounter variety / dungeon galore section, this is a general problem, and a AP/Module format problem. Lack of space, small maps, and budget xps (i dislike this last one so much).

I posted a question to the Strength of Thousands AP which has gotten no response (I miss the days of a more engaged AP forum discussion..I think we lost something transitioning -disclaimer I am in love with PF2).

"I am wondering how people's groups are holding up after going through:
7 Brutes, 4 Jailers, 1 Priest, 1 Warden, 1 cyclop bbeg, 1 golgopo, 1 great cyclops, 3 cyclop brutes, and a gogieth, in a single connected dungeon."
The potential of running this as written and it ending up alright is unlikely, in a tight, confined space. In this case the monsters are rather similar and they do a good job of making sense in the context they are found. An experienced DM can definitely bring some order to it and make the tunels longer, that sort of thing.

Still beats the 17 unchallenging encounters before 2-3 main ones of PF1 just to get XP-budgets. All the same 2d4 standard enemies repeated for many rooms.

I would prefer dungeons to make more sense, and be less...dungeony. I am just not a fan of dungeons for every AP module. Dungeons are not what I struggle with as a DM, as they are dead easy, and always let me feeling I bought a filler instead of a real adventure. This is however, what I prefer as a DM/player.

Takeaway: Give me an interesting scenario, with 2-3 good fights, well described hazards and interactable environment, motivations and possibilities. Then slap a sidebar with "If you feel you need more enemies here's a list of possibilities and couple suggestions how to plug them in".

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Slighty tangential to Pathfinder 2:

They should have made the Wrath of the Righteous computer game in Pathfinder 2 rues. A waste to not have a bunch of players learn the system through crpgs (as many might have done with dnd/Baldurs Gate/NWN). Hope the next is.

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Per Astra wrote:

4) Centrality of Strength to dealing melee damage--it feels weird that even with a weapon like the rapier that Strength is how you get your basic damage bonuses.

I sometimes wonder what it'd be if it was the weapon alone that did damage, and then the proficiency on top of that in lieu of strength.

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- Guns are terribly uninspired, mechanically too similar to crossbows. They couldve brought something mechanically unique and more evocative, but no, same old blandness. (and crossbows by extension, it is so bland to choose a ranged weapon).

- Recall Knowledge is too expensive, too likely to fail, and there is very little support to improve it outside from very niche class options. Had it been expensive but able to be upgraded in different ways from ancestry, skill or general feats it wouldve been ok. Goes agaisnt design philosophy. of PF2e.

- Shields. Broken, Destroyed..yeah just get rid of one of these. Also, most shields are useless as written, they are stat/trick sticks rather than shields, in the face of Sturdy.

- Surprise Rounds/Lack of surprise rounds has not been very elegantly handled. There should be some bonus for the ones initiating if the others are unaware. Flat footed if not acted has gone too.

- CRB structure, mentioned above by Tarik Blackshands. What an absolute pain of a book to find stuff in.

- A couple of well done FLOW CHARTS for example for stealth and perception.

- Bigger difference in proficiencies, front and centre. Whilst the tight math does convince me, I somehow wish that proficiencies was one of the main difference makers (and without level to stats I am afraid itll become too much like 5e..but I yet have to try it).

- Not enought sacred cows slaughtered when it came to Vancian casting. Still a mess.

- Crafting rules make me rather want to hand wave everything just not to deal with it.

- TELEPORT FLY and similar effects that have the potential to totally eliminate many story telling aspects should have gotten a tag (unique/story/whatever), or there been something explaining just what it means to have them in play. I am so fed up of reading APs where they make lazy excuses to shut these down because EVEN THEIR OWN WRITERS DONT KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THESE. Address the problem and tell 3e grognards to suck it.

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I am wondering how people's groups are holding up after going through:
7 Brutes, 4 Jailers, 1 Priest, 1 Warden, 1 cyclop bbeg, 1 golgopo, 1 great cyclops, 3 cyclop brutes, and a gogieth, in a single connected dungeon.

PCs should be level 10 by then, how are their resources doing after a few fights? Do the spellcasters save their spells? I was just adapting part of this dungeon to my own adventure (as I often do with APs) and perhaps I dont have a good gauge of PF2 yet, but it seemed quite a steep amount of enemies, especially if they are intelligent and can call each other.

The Raven Black wrote:
SOLDIER-1st wrote:
Funny thing is that I love Greek mythology and it is the exact reason I also am not really interested in this. I do not want Diet Ancient Mythic Greece.

100% this. Bland and semi there. If they make something unique with a touch here and there, sure...

But I'll be honest, (mostly american) produced theme park aproximations of cultures are plentiful, I'm sure we dont need one more.

But perhaps it is a biased opinion; I thoroughly enjoyed Mwangi expanse and it could be a similar dynamic, and I am just ignorant of parts of other cultures. So maybe it is just the perfect product. (although mythical greece with golden armour has been done to death)

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Ezekieru wrote:
A high-level 3-part AP either in the Darklands or as a Planar AP would be amazing. Honestly, I know for most groups the 3-part Level 1-10 APs will be more appropriate, and Paizo is probably gonna make more APs on that end of the spectrum. But Fist of the Ruby Phoenix is SO good BECAUSE it's high level 11-20. And I wanna see what adventures we can do to when the expected level is high to begin with!

Darklands AP would be amazing that explores it a little bit more than the railroad scenarios.

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I'd like an AP where the tensions between countries are tested. I feel that an Ap that challenges the status quo of nations in the way european conflicts in the 1500-1700 did would be a good brush for Golarion, where a country is simultaneously attacking an enclave of another whilst trading with it in a different place.

Perhaps a bit of a complex idea to simulate, but a mercenary AP could do well here, travelling and taking different contracts for barons, princes, lords and common populace that's banded together to pay a sum.

Exploring how Golarion countries treat each other: Escorting delegations, hampering tax collections in contested territory, blockading a harbour, dealing with corsairs with a letter of marque from a rival country, dealing with monsters in the country side, facing off armies at some point, etc.

How do factions that span all countries fit into all of this?
The wilderness is tough, I always portray Golarion living in a more city state mode and everything in the inmediate surrounding is sort of safe but elsewhere it is tenuous.

Thinking more about it, a wandering mercenary company with a fame subsystem (ala shackles but more robust) could be a fantastic trip, hopefully with the mature and complex writing that some APs have demonstrated with dealing with complicated topics like politics.

Indeed I wish mwange expanse lost omens had been released when I ran our skull and shackles campgain. Great for Bloodcove and Senghor alone, and gives such a great atmosphere to the surroundings.

When you find that, we can go look for the Paracounts and other Para-stuffs.

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