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Chell Raighn wrote:

As for healing the simulacrum… nothing in the spell says to treat it as a construct. So yes, healing spells should work fine.

The spell very clearly states it takes 24 hours, a fully equipped laboratory, and 100 gp per hit point to repair a simulacrum, so no, healing spells won't work. (At least according to Archives, I don't have my corebook handy).

Hopefully quick question:

If I use simulacrum to create a "duplicate" of a known creature, like a fire giant for instance, does the duplicate I create retain the memories and knowledge of the original? The spell doesn't explicitly say, but there's logical arguments that it could. Ultimately I realize this might be up to my GM but just looking to see if there's any official rulings or clarifications on this.

Thanks in advance for any insight!

Champion may well be a good choice. Very tanky and can actually allow your party members to get closer. Can also do some decent healing with lay on hands. As a party you also want to look at getting battle medicine probably on at least two of the characters. Even better, may be if someone adds Medic archetype as that allows for slightly more and better battle medicine.

Thing to keep in mind is that every character has the ability to heal in PF2 through battle medicine and/or treat wounds. Someone should probably take a few of the medicine feats (continuous recovery, ward medic and battle medicine being the big 3). But yeah, literally everyone can take those.

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Demoralize comes to mind

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OsmoticFerocity wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

As said by others general archetype dedications existed before and in the same book that ancient elf came in. It isn't an oversight.

Interactions with stuff like Eldritch trickster however...

Oh no, don't start that up again!

Thanks folks! Appreciate your input! I'll see if the GM wants to relax it, as mentioned. In case anybody was curious, I'm afraid I'm not trying to do anything interesting (OP). It's just a matter of prerequisites not lining up and one of the APG archetypes has a lower prerequisite and offers the feats I was after.

Yeah definitely RAW I don't believe it was an oversight. If one of my players wanted to do it though, I'd likely allow it as long as it didn't seem to be overly cheesy. (Which is of course very subjective).

A lot of the buffing seems to have shifted to the bard (at least among the core book classes). Primal might have some too, but yeah the divine list definitely lost a lot of it's buffing power.

Edit: typo

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One of the Age of Ashes backgrounds gives it too I believe -- Dragon Scholar.

We do now have a cleric, (new to the party) so that helps there. The sorcerer also has stabilize (not as good as heal/soothe) but still a help. But yeah I do see your point. Toughness still feels as though it would be better though since it grants both hp and a bonus to the recovery check.

Both may still eventually be an option though considering how brutal, and easy to get, crits are. I've already been on the receiving end of several of those (including my first character that was insta-killed via massive damage -- admittedly no longer a concern).

Castilliano wrote:

Assurance (Athletics) is decent to counter MAP and get a trip in, which works best w/ melee allies when it's hard to flank or they have AoOs.

So likely not best from what you're saying.
Arguably it's also good as a Fortune effect to counter Misfortune effects if you really, really rely on Athletics (which doesn't sound like the case).

Toughness is an eventual must-have for most builds, w/ arguably Barbarians being the exception. I think when one has as many h.p. as a Barbarian that it's best to provide protection for those h.p. rather than simply more h.p. Make those h.p. worth more each.
A shield for AC is the simplest way, though Canny Acumen's a good investment too. More PF2 monsters have powers that require Reflex saves than previous editions. Remember +2 is akin to a +4 in previous editions, it's that significant. You may want to retrain out for a while until it gives Master, but IMO everybody should have it to patch their weakest save. Crit fails are too severe.

And if you are running solo up front, maybe Die Hard though gauge that by the amount of in-combat support you have when it's dire.
And I love Untrained Improvisation! Sure it's not much at 3rd, but you can bank it. To me it's on the must-have (eventually) list, at least if there are a lot of non-combat situations. Even if you're not the primary person, it makes you a backup longshot for most everything. If your party has double coverage across the board, maybe not so key.

Do not trade a General Feat for a Skill Feat.

Looking ahead, I'd recommend Dragon's Rage Breath over AoOs.

I've been getting some support up front from my allies, but I'm definitely the main melee guy. No AoO's in the group yet. I saw Die Hard but I think between the likelihood of help from my group (most of us have some investment in medicine now after a very rough start to the campaign) and the option of banking a Hero Point, I'm not too worried about that.

Untrained Improv isn't bad, but now that I look at it, I see I can snag Clever Improviser at 5th (admittedly an Ancestry Feat) but it does that much better. Acumen is growing on me though. Lots of good options at least and Assurance may well get there too.

I agree with Dragon's Breath, but I will likely try to get both. May depend on how things play out over the next few levels of course. But the RP aspect of Dragon's Breath is too good to completely pass up.

pauljathome wrote:

Its boring but hit points are your bread and butter so personally I'd probably take Toughness. At the very least, I'd need a strong and compelling case to take anything other than toughness.

It doesn't seem that you're finding any other feat compelling. Which means:

Toughness :-).

If you do continue down the healer route may I recommend:
Assurance Medicine, Godless Healing, Mortal Healing

All skill feats so not quite as bad as it looks. End result is pretty amazing. Possibly even amazing enough to spend "real" feats on :-).

Yeah the "boring" part of it doesn't concern me too much. The only real question is how much will it help overall? I figure it likely will usually amount to less than one hit in total, that might change at upper levels when I have access to resistance and the like. The biggest contender really I think is Incredible Initiative. Going early is rarely a bad thing for a frontliner and could pair well later on with Opportunity Attack.

The healing line of feats is definitely intriguing. Our group did add a cleric and we have an alchemist that is good at healing too, so I'll probably wait on the rest at first to see how it plays out, but healing is never frowned upon by the group.

Just looking for everyone's thoughts on good general feats for a 3rd level human draconic barbarian.

As the primary frontliner in an AP game (don't want to name the AP to avoid potential spoilers/metagaming) I'm mulling over the options for the 3rd level feat. My current feat selection is:

Sudden Charge
Raging Intimidation (ancestry feat)
Fleet (from human heritage)
Battle Medicine (from Field Medic background)
Medic Dedication
Continual Recovery

My initial thoughts are as follows (no particular order):

Incredible Initiative -- self explanatory
Canny Acumen -- Boosting Ref would be nice, but I also have plenty of HP.
Ancestral Paragon -- Humans have some nice feats to choose from, though would likely choose the skills to help round out the party.
Toughness -- Self explanatory but at this point 3 HP don't matter a lot.
Ward Medic -- Could be good for dungeon delves
Untrained Improvisation -- Would not be much help at this point.
Assurance Athletics -- Though currently at +11 in Athletics so will usually get better than the Assurance amount.

I'm certainly open to other ideas as well. Obviously my Barb took a bit of a healing bent to help cover areas in our group (had no cleric for a bit) but we do now have a decent array of in combat healing. Still the only Continual recovery choice though. Using the human feat to gain more training could help with some Recall Knowledge checks, but it will be a while before he's particularly decent at them given that Wisdom was not high on the priority list initially. FWIW, I'll be expert in Athletics and Medicine, and will bump Intimidation to expert at 5. I could do Intimidation at 3 to set up for Intimidating Prowess but still not a great option yet given a 10 Cha. Figured it was better to at least be really good at Athletics (trips with the guisarme are nice), etc.

As always, thanks in advance for any insight!

pennywit wrote:
I'm doing Skull & Shackles now, and I can never get the maps to line up perfectly with the Roll20 grid. I finally went with a different solution ... I just turn off the Roll20 grid when I import a Paizo map and I tell my players "These squares are five feet." They can usually figure it out from there.

This. Near as I can figure, Paizo's maps utilize squares that are not of a consistent size with each other. In other words, I can get the map on roll 20 set up so that some of the squares align perfectly with the grid, but then other parts of the map will be very misaligned. So I did the same and turned off the grid when I imported the maps.

Personally, I misread the rule and started out just giving them whatever their roll would otherwise indicate (i.e. there was no failure per se). As it was, they had a number of lean months early on as the Treasurer couldn't roll above a 3 on the economy check. Its worked out fine (and that was with using the Venture Capital rules). HOWEVA, each group is different. My group, for instance, doesn't really like spending too much time at once on the kingdom side of things. They will usually go back to exploring after a couple of months of kingdom turns, even between books. They enjoy the idea of building the kingdom, etc., but they don't really want that to be "today's session" if you catch my drift.

You can always start off with RAW and see how it goes. If your party struggles too much you can then decide to house rule, or have someone offer an infusion of much needed capital (albeit with strings attached of course).

In general I wouldn't worry about it either. Moreso especially given that at least so far, PF2 seems to have a lot less in the way of overly powered stuff available to the PCs. So even that uncommon or rare ancestry isn't likely to break anything.

I suppose if they want to start pulling from enough rare or uncommon options (including feats, items, spells, etc.) you might need to step in or at least get an explanation, but shouldn't be a problem.

jdripley wrote:

I would say, rather than AC being important, damage mitigation is important.

The bad guys are going to be attacking, and sooner or later that will lead to injury. The idea is to kill them before they can injure you badly enough that you are in trouble.

AC is one way to slow down how fast you get hurt. The higher the better of course, but going for sky high AC is only one path.

Defensive spells, actions and alchemical is another. Striding away from a slow enemy is good. Taking an elixir of mist form is good, blocking with a sturdy shield is good. Having an ally who casts fear on a key enemy is good. Or Command. Or anything that debuffs the enemy. A champion's reaction is great.

Having one or more party members capable of healing during battle is another way. Anybody can drink a potion, Heal and Soothe are good, Battle Medicine is good.

What you will find is that as one of these three approaches is doubled down on, you need less of the other types.

So the 2-handed barbarian will need a strong in-combat healer, but a party with a Champion may not even need a “healer” in the party. A party with a strong control caster may do fine with a monk, rogue and ranger who skirmish and play keep away, and drink the odd potion when the enemy really connects.

Meanwhile a party with a shield champion, Shield monk and Shield fighter may actually need a cleric for healing because they tend to stand and deliver, but also kill slowly, so over time the hits add up.

Your need for max AC really depends on the party. One of PF2’s real triumphs is that battle tactics are so varied depending on party composition.

This is certainly true. AC is important in the sense that its a straightforward way to achieve damage mitigation that a PC can usually accomplish on her own (i.e. doesn't require the assistance/cooperation of other players). However, it is also important to be rounded. Merely being the super turtle that can't be hit or damaged, but who also can't do anything else, isn't going to be a huge help to the party. Killing said monster or rendering the monster otherwise unable to attack, etc. is another great way of mitigating damage. The trick of course comes in figuring out when to use which method.

I can honestly say that given the way crits work, AC is very important. An extra +1 or +2 may not keep you from getting hit, but it will certainly reduce the number of times you are crit. In a recent fight for instance, my barbarian had his weapon destroyed and then took a crit (2 crits plus a regular hit). 1 of the attacks on the weapon would have missed had my barbarian either a) not raged, or b) had a shield, and neither crit would have been a crit if I had a shield (though one would still have been a crit if not raging). Granted, the monster only needed a 4 to hit my level 2 barbarian when raging as it had +14 to hit, but reducing the crit percentage from 35% to 25% can be huge. Just as an example.

KrispyXIV wrote:

Though honestly, its not really come up a lot. Both my first two parties I ran for had Shield Champions, and were rarely in real danger.

I do think that this can have a lot to do with the experiences of different groups. Champions pretty clearly seem to be really good for a party. Not necessarily essential, but they do seem to greatly increase the party's survival rate.

Shields also seem pretty important because that +2 really does make a difference. The real problem that I've seen with some people is that they use the shield block option too much and then complain that their shield is worthless because it always breaks. As I understand it though, you can always just raise it to get the bonus to AC but then still take the hit if its going to break the shield (correct me if I'm wrong).

I do know that at least early on in Extinction Curse for example, that the crit range for monsters can be pretty high (often in the 20-35% range). That's something where there often just isn't a lot that the party can do about it. Shields of course will lower that by 10% though, so is certainly something to consider. But you still run into the problem of being hit by most attacks. A creature doing 3d6 + 4 damage and only needing a 5 to hit the barbarian (or 4 if raging) for instance is going to bring said PC down pretty quick. So I do see where the feeling of it being "overly difficult" comes in. Certainly, trying to stand toe to toe with the enemy and just trade punches won't go over very well. You really do need to work to get every advantage possible. Reach weapons, trips/grapples/shoves, flank, feint, etc. Use your actions wisely, etc. There definitely seems to be much less margin for error. On the flip side, going unconscious usually is not a huge deal as the initial recovery checks are fairly easy (50%) and even so there should be plenty of opportunity for the party to stabilize you if need be.

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Claxon wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
I'm not sure telling the OP to optimize their party and tactics is really helpful, or even necessarily a counterargument against implementing the kinds of houserules they're talking about. "Optimize or die" isn't as fun for some people as it is for a lot of us here.

Agree strongly here.

Parties have to be designed to cover the various roles and skills which means you can't always make your character exactly the way you want.

Very good point. PF2 does seem to really rely upon the party being able to cover a lot of different bases. The monsters definitely hit more frequently and harder than the PCs, but they tend to not have the same set of tactics available to them (though sometimes they have other abilities that PCs wish they had).

Just as an example, in my current party my barbarian was initially conceived as being a somewhat typical "angry" barbarian. Reach, Athletics and Intimidation were going to be the main schtick. The only real outlier was he had Battle Medicine from his background, though still was not particularly great at it (Wis of 12). Then our large party saw a couple of players leave, including the cleric. So, I decided to focus a bit more on the medicine aspect and take Medic Dedication. Obviously not an ideal choice as a barbarian, but it got my medicine skill up high enough at level 2 to not have to worry about crit failing (except on a nat 1) and still be good enough to almost always succeed. This also frees up the alchemist to be able to do a bit more in combat than just run around healing people.

Then some ugly demon decided it didn't like my polearm and completely destroyed it. (stupid demon). Unfortunately, still being level 2 I don't really have enough cash to buy a new polearm, but I do have a long sword I found and can afford to pick up a shield to increase AC. Not ideal, but its rolling with the punches until I get some more coin. Flexibility is king I think in PF2. This will also be handy as I am really the only true frontliner in the party at the moment. So the shield, while not ideal, will at least help me from getting hit as often (or at least fewer crits -- the party has nicknamed me the Crit Magnet).

As for the suggestion of No PC deaths by Puck, certainly different strokes for different folks can apply. I will say though, that a PC death doesn't, in and of itself, have to be the end of the story so to speak. My barbarian I mentioned above? Actually my second character in the campaign because my bard was crit by an acid arrow at level 1 for massive damage (just the start of the crit magnet). So I had my barbarian come from the same community as the bard. The barbarian had received a vision of the bard falling through space and took it as an ill omen. He set out in search of the bard only to arrive just a little late (the vision was several weeks prior). So now the barbarian has reason to suddenly be there and has some connection. There's also an NPC from the same quah in the campaign already, so there's plenty of connection and means to continue the story of sorts. Doesn't always work out that way of course, and certainly I can understand the desire to keep stories going. One thing to keep in mind for the GM of any game is that a failure by the party need not mean a tpk. Some enemies will want hostages, or captives to interrogate, or just to be left alone to continue there evil schemes, etc. Just because you can kill the party, doesn't mean you need to.

PF2 certainly has the potential to be really deadly. One thing for your party to consider though is that in and of itself, being low on hp is not nearly as concerning as in PF1. Outside of 1st level, you are unlikely to straight up die due to massive damage (though death effects are still a thing). Also, this isn't 5e where popping in and out of consciousness is a legit tactic. Preferably you should be trying to heal to keep everyone up, but once somebody does go down, it's probably best to simply stabilize them. It's less fun for the player in the moment, but it does a much better job of keeping the PC alive.

Yeah as others have indicated, a lot really depends on the rest of the party makeup. Playing a 20 speed character in a party full of 30+ speed characters will likely be painful for everyone. Either you fall way behind the rest of the party, or the party throws away that speed boost.

BUT, I feel like speed is not nearly as big a deal in 2e as it was in 1e. Very few enemies, relatively speaking, have AoO's for instance. That means its a lot easier to position yourself around the enemy since you can literally walk right past them. The flip side of that is having too much speed doesn't really help either. My 30 speed Barbarian with Sudden Charge for instance quickly learned that just because he can move 60 feet and attack in a round doesn't mean he should. Especially when the casters were moving at 25.

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If you go back and look at my posts what you'll see that my argument is simply that the rules here do not provide a clear cut answer. You claim that dedication feats are more specific than arcane trickster's dedication feat feature and the feature of ancient elf, yet your interpretation of how to come to that does not appear in the book. It simply says specific trumps general. It does not say determine it the way you do. Hence the reason there are a number of people on both sides of the issue.

These issues come up a lot in rpgs because the designers don't think of all possible outcomes or combinations and certainly don't describe specifically how to adjudicate all of those outcomes. On top of that, they then use language that doesn't always clear up the issues. Even "too good to be true" is far from clear because that's very much in the eye of the beholder.

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That's exactly my point though, I don't see the double dedication as increasing the power level very much. On their own, dedication feats offer a slight boost but not much. Certainly an extra feat at first level is noteworthy, but still not major given the limitations IMHO. As an example, it's not so powerful that everyone who wants an arcane trickster will also be an ancient elf and certainly not so powerful as to make every rogue a trickster or ancient elf, etc.

I still disagree with you on specific vs. general. Dedication feats limitations is a general rule but we'll have to agree to disagree. I would definitely agree with you if the wording on trickster was "gain a feat". That would be a general rule wherein the limitations of dedication feats would be more specific. But as I said we'll have to agree to disagree.

Regardless, as I said earlier, I agree with you on what the likely intent was, but as written it leaves ambiguity.

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thenobledrake wrote:

Dedication feats have a special clause, the spirit of which is that you can't have a 2nd dedication before you've invested more feats in your 1st.

Yup, a perfect example of a general rule since it applies to every single dedication feat.

By contrast, there's literally nothing general about either ancient elf or arcane trickster.

As for too good to be true, that's entirely a matter of opinion. I personally don't see it as a case of too good to be true, but of course YMMV.

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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Old folk are onery and set in their ways, which means they're unlikely to be tricksters anyhow. :P
I dunno man, my grandfather was a trickster until he died at the age of 84. :p
That is what you think. Reality is he is still alive and tricking you.

Man if only. :)

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Ravingdork wrote:
Old folk are onery and set in their ways, which means they're unlikely to be tricksters anyhow. :P

I dunno man, my grandfather was a trickster until he died at the age of 84. :p

The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
He would gain Dying 1, then dying would increase by an amount equal to his wounded value. The hero points can be spent when his dying value increases, ergo as the other have said he can spend his heropoint to stablize (remain unconscious). Of course this means they are in real danger of going down if anyone attacks them or an AoE goes off near by, heck even if an overly zealous alchemist throws a bomb and doesn't negate splash :P

Yeah, adventuring while wounded is not exactly a great decision. Even moreso when wounded 2 or 3.

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thenobledrake wrote:

As for the difference between "choice" and "granted" - this game is not written to be read in such a legalistic way, so whether you gain a feat by choosing it directly or by choosing a feature that includes it, you have still chosen.

Actually, this is really a notable part of the problem with RPGs in general. The game designers are generally not lawyers, or often even particularly skilled in english/grammar. However, the term "rules lawyer" exists as much because of the fact that gamers, absolutely, will oft times twist the wording of the rules in such a way as to argue that they work the way the gamer wants them to.

In the instant case, you end up with a rule that reads as follows: "Choose a multiclass archetype that has a basic, expert, and master spellcasting feat. You gain that archetype's dedication feat as a bonus feat . . ." However, if the character is an Ancient Elf that has already chosen a dedication feat, you instead interpret the rule to read: "Choose a multiclass archetype that has a basic, expert, and master spellcasting feat. You don't actually gain that archetype's dedication feat as a bonus feat . . ." Essentially you have to decide that the phrase "gain that archetype's dedication feat" means "Do not, gain that archetype's dedication feat" in order to disallow the choice.

All that said, what I imagine really happened here is that for whatever reason, the designers just did not consider the possibility of somebody choosing Eldritch Trickster AND Ancient Elf (probably because in the current ruleset, this is literally the only way this question comes up). Unfortunately RPGs have long had instances of things like this happening where it was clear that the designers just had not considered something. WotC in particular was really bad about this back in 4th Ed (and yes, I realize Paizo is not WotC). All that said, my guess is that the intention was that you not be allowed to take two dedication feats at 1st level but rather, to provide another avenue to taking a dedication feat at first level.

But yes, a lot of players will try to twist the rules to read what they want them to. I saw a player recently try to argue that they could use their skill choices on armor proficiency to raise, for instance, their proficiency in unarmored from trained to expert at first level. The argument (which obviously I disagree with) was that armor proficiency has untrained, trained, expert, master, and legendary just like skills do, and therefor, armor proficiency is a skill. Hence, the player wanted to be a rogue because they could quickly raise their armor, weapon, perception and saves since they get skill increases every level. Nevermind the fact that armor, etc., is clearly not listed as one of the skills in the skills chapter. Ironically, that's not even the worst example I've seen of a player arguing a rule doesn't mean what the rule clearly states.

So as others have said, in combat healing is definitely nice to have in 2e, especially in the early levels where a character can drop quick. As an example, just had an encounter in Extinction Curse where both the barbarian and the alchemist went from full to dying before any of the PCs could act. That said, in combat healing can take many forms and does not need to come from a "dedicated healer". The alchemist can make elixirs on the fly for instance while also still doing other stuff. A character can take battle medicine for in combat healing (somewhat limited) and even healing potions are relatively cheap (though the economy in general is smaller than in PF1). There's also things like lay on hands, etc. Lots of options that don't require you to "just heal".

The APG now has the Medic Archetype too which you can take at 2nd level which gives some nice healing options but also boosts the amount of healing battle medicine does. You can snag nice bonuses even with just the dedication feat, meaning that even a martial character can take it and not really give up a whole lot. My barbarian in the above game is considering taking it just because he's currently the only character with Battle Medicine and the alchemist is the closest thing to a healer we have. Probably would be frowned upon on an Optimization board, but even without being the best choice naturally for Medicine, the Barb can get pretty decent at it pretty easily.

So really in terms of trying to figure out "what's fun" it just comes down to your personal play style, what you enjoy doing, etc. Also, to the extent your GM allows it, look at what the rest of the party is doing too. You probably don't want three players thinking "Hey, I really need to invest in a fair amount of in combat healing to make sure we have it covered." as you'll likely then find that as a party, while you don't go down easily, you are also lacking in other areas.

Ran the battle this weekend with the expanded numbers as indicated above.

Worked out pretty well. The different players had different ideas as to how they wanted to try to help prepare the town which was actually pretty good. The cleric summoned laborers to make traps, the mages cast walls of stone to help expedite the barricades. The fighter helped with the barricades figuring he could carry heavy stuff and give a few pointers to the defenders. The rogue scouted the woods and the helped select sniper positions in the trees. The Stryx monk flew aerial reconnaissance to look for the approaching army, etc.

In the end because of the early warning and some creative choices on the part of the party, I allowed them to make 5 preparations (barricades, snipers in trees, archers on bridge, traps, recruit wildlife), and the defenders ended up with slightly better stats than the attackers (1 higher in both OM and DV). First three rounds saw the defenders ahead 3-1 on VP and the party handled the trolls fairly well (with the exception of the wizard who took a full attack to the face and needed the cleric to use Breath of Life on her).

All in all it seemed to work well enough for the situation. The group felt as though they were able to contribute and given their positioning on the battlefield I was able to describe what different PCs were doing during the different stages of the battle and had the different PCs make different rolls, etc. Long-term, I'm not so sure how interesting the mass combat rules will be, but we will cross that bridge when the time comes.

Those are all pretty fairly hallmarks of the bard. You're going to have high charisma as a bard (should start at 18). From there, Performance, Diplomacy, and Deception are all pretty standard picks for skill choices, probably want to go ahead and take Intimidation as well because you'll be great at it.

Dex should also be fairly high for you since it will help with your otherwise paltry AC and relatively low HP and since you'll have a high Dex, no reason not to take Stealth. Pump Int a bit if you want even more skills, but do be wary of Con (especially) and to an extent Wisdom.

In other words, its pretty darn easy to accomplish all this as a bard. The spellcasting you get automatically too, so its just a question of what spells do you want.

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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

** spoiler omitted **...

I think different groups have different expectations and that might also be in play here. For instance,

your comment that "no group would really go into the outcropping" is very much at odds with the groups I've played with for 20 years. They always want to explore everything. To be fair, our encounter with the cockatrice didn't play out the way you list the book describing it. It actively attacked our group, charging in from afar, so the GM it sounds like changed it up a bit, but I've also never seen a group leave stones unturned unless it was at a convention where there was a time limit to keep things moving. To each his or her own of course.

The water mephits, we were told there was something in the woods down that way. Maybe that was GM ad libbing, maybe not. Regardless, you are correct that the mephits didn't pursue after the bard was insta killed. While the chance of a crit was only 15% on the bard, the average hit on a non crit would have still knocked him right at about unconscious before the persistent damage.

The bear there really wasn't any way to avoid though as mentioned, it stopped attacking quickly and wasn't much of a problem. The cockatrice we were told there was a body down that direction and the rest of the circus didn't feel safe going to bed until we had cleared it. Could well have been an ad-lib, but as I said, regardless every group I've seen would have fully explored that area anyway. All this was after the snakes in the circus show almost knocked one character unconscious and the rabble rousers knocked two others unconscious after failed attempts by two party members to calm them down. True, the fight became fairly easy once the party started to use deadly force, but it seems fair to expect the party to begin with non-deadly force.

Now, all that said, I'm not suggesting that the system is broken. Certainly it appears as though Plaguestone is particularly difficult from descriptions here and is probably a bad outlier (something that can happen with an early adventure in a new system). I'm also very cognizant of the fact that all of these encounters in EC are at 1st level when PCs are, of course, going to be especially fragile and susceptible to a crit.

I also think that its entirely possible different groups have had different bouts of luck, especially early on. The fighter makes just one of his fort saves against the cockatrice? No problem, everyone comes home. The mephit hits the 35% miss chance on the bard? Great! The rest of the encounter probably goes smoothly. Either of the two characters who tried to talk the rabble rousers down succeeds? Excellent! Snake misses the bard so he doesn't have to use up both first level spells in the first encounter just to stay upright? Yeah, things go a lot smoother.

The take away for me so far though has certainly been that things hit harder and more often than in PF1 or D&D. As such, it is absolutely going to require a different approach. Maybe the new norm is to not explore everything. That's fine, though some of our players will have to change their up to 40 years or so of experience in that case. I also agree that once you get a level or two under your belt, things will likely go smoother simply because you have more margin for error. I don't think you necessarily need to min/max in PF2, but I do think you need to be a lot more careful in your build and approach than in PF1 from what I've seen.

The most important thing though is that we've still had plenty of fun. At the end of the day, that's all that really matters.

I like it! These are some good mash ups so to speak of the original material that still stays true to the AP. I'll admit that I really like VV, but I can see where running it for a group that is already somewhat familiar with it could be problematic.

The only thing I might caution you about is essentially waiting until Book 3 to find out if the group is interested in a Game of Thrones style game. I say that only because that might be a little late to really start twisting the narratives of the houses around each other. I would probably start teasing it earlier, maybe even incorporate it a bit into a prologue session (i.e. have the PCs interact with the Swordlords or one of the houses in order to get their initial charter rather than just starting out as the AP suggests). It could be something as simple as "As you know, House Lebeda never fails to repay a favor . . ." or something along those lines. (Overly obvious example but you get the idea).

Just out of curiosity. Do you have any plans for Skywatch? Personally I thought that was one of the most interesting mysteries of the AP . . . only to never have it mentioned again. Sadly, I've hinted at things being tied to Skywatch, but my players haven't taken the bait, or even considered it really, as of yet. (which of course is perfectly fine, but I digress). That certainly seems like an area that could be expanded upon in order to make the game a bit different from previous campaigns.

thenobledrake wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
Actually, as a long time DM/GM, I would argue that this is precisely the GM's job. Not every group consists entirely of players that want to optimize. Some groups, do. Many groups have a mix. Some players/groups just want to play a certain type of character, even if that character is not only "not optimized" but maybe even below average. The GM's job is to provide the players with fun, challenging encounters and to create a fun setting for the group. Not to just "run the standard encounters". Sometimes that means that the GM has to make encounters "more difficult" because her players have made a group that works very well together. Sometimes, you have to tone things down though.

I absolutely agree with you.

I said what I said because I've had people call me a "crap GM" and a "kitten" (replace those with the vulgar versions it's against the rules for me to actually type, though) for my stance that the GM shouldn't be, to use a fun example, running a group of giant rats like a SWAT team.

Yup, I get it. Was more just me giving ya support. I will admit, that one of the things I often have to check myself on is the level of intelligence of a given enemy. I've run groups where most of the players were highly optimized and sometimes would find myself playing the monsters just a bit too smart. ;) Usually worked out well enough simply because the group was highly optimized, but its a great case in point. To use the extreme example, the mindless zombie is most likely just going to beat on whatever is in front of it, not run around the champion to get to the back line where the squishy elven bard is.

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thenobledrake wrote:

But then, there's also the GM side of the equation. A GM can create a wide range of difficulty within the same encounter parameters simply by making different choices. I think a lot of GMs are going as difficult as they can all the time and not realizing that being a little less optimal with many of their encounters would smooth out the experience for their players (which I know reading that a number of GMs are going to accuse me of suggesting they "pull punches" - which, sure, that's technically true; but it can also be phrased as "adjusting difficulty to suit your players" if the reason they are having such a hard time is because they can't execute perfect teamwork but their enemies always do).

Actually, as a long time DM/GM, I would argue that this is precisely the GM's job. Not every group consists entirely of players that want to optimize. Some groups, do. Many groups have a mix. Some players/groups just want to play a certain type of character, even if that character is not only "not optimized" but maybe even below average. The GM's job is to provide the players with fun, challenging encounters and to create a fun setting for the group. Not to just "run the standard encounters". Sometimes that means that the GM has to make encounters "more difficult" because her players have made a group that works very well together. Sometimes, you have to tone things down though.

thenobledrake wrote:

I think there might be a vocabulary issue going on here... because it seems like some people are saying "I thought the game was lethal" and are mentioning getting "dropped," while other people are saying "not many characters have died" but are also talking about characters getting "dropped." So it seems like some are treating dropped and died as the same thing.

A quick count of what I can remember, I have seen a PC hit 0 HP around 15 times in the time I've played PF2 so far - but I have only seen 3 PCs actually die. So I would say that the game is clearly "lethal" because a combo of a few bad choices and/or bad rolls can easily result in a character lying on the ground with the Dying condition, though it is also fairly easy to stop death from actually happening (which is, in my opinion, the difference between a game that is lethal and fair like PF2, and a game that is unfairly lethal like PF1 or AD&D)

Certainly that's a fair distinction. Particularly since being on low hit points in PF2 is not as serious as in PF1 since you had a much better chance to go straight to dead in PF1/3.x. The issue comes in though with how quickly things can go sideways -- particularly when a PC goes unconscious or a player makes a bad decision. So far, in my limited experience, PF2 has actually felt notably more lethal than PF1/3.x even with the cushion you get from the dying condition versus -Con in PF1. But certainly being unconscious, but not dead yet, in PF2 may make it feel more lethal to PF1 vets who did everything they could to avoid getting close to unconscious.

That said, it does feel as though PF1, to me at least, was largely more forgiving in that bad tactics or a bad decision or two didn't seem to cripple the party nearly as badly. However, it likely will become easier for most groups once they get a handle on tactics and get a better feel for the system as a whole.

Unicore wrote:

I think it definitely gets better as you keep gaining levels, but players will definitely fall unconscious in PF2. I don't know that qualifies characters as glass cannons exactly, but not even champions seem to last on their own up against powerful melee monsters for very long.

I consider this a feature of the game, as tactical play is really important, and that usually coincides with playing enough encounters with the same characters and players to get those characters to level up several times.

Yeah it basically sounds as though the issue is you need solid tactical play. Some groups will naturally grasp that quicker than others. Also explains why it gets better as you get higher in level. Not only do you have more margin for error, but you've also had the opportunity to play as a group longer and thus work on tactics together.

Vali Nepjarson wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
@Vali: probably by critting with the Acid Arrow, which would do 6d6 damage for a maximum of 36.
Yup, totally missed that on the list of things the Water Mephit could do.

Yeah 6d8 is going to mess up any 1st level PC's day. Even the aforementioned Dwarven Barbarian will be at Dying 2 from an average damage roll and then still have persistent damage coming. FWIW, the bard in question had 14 hit points (Elf Bard and had boosted Con once in creation).

As I stated earlier, I'm not prepared to say that the maths are messed up, etc., but it is very different from PF1 and even D&D in terms of how important both build and tactics are. Defense needs to definitely be a concern for the PCs from what I've seen. At low level, that only makes it harder. While its true that potions are cheap, etc., its still not like the party is going to be overflowing with them at level 1, especially if people purchased healer's tools as well. The change to crits, couple with monster attack bonuses, is a big one too, again especially at low levels. The mephit for instance, IIRC, had a 15% chance to crit the bard. Obviously, its still likely that it won't crit, but its very likely that it will hit (and an average hit on Acid Arrow would have left the bard at .5 HP before the persistent damage).

I think one of the big takeaways is that things can spiral out of control real quick in PF2. As Aratorin states, the beginning of EC is a huge slog. Our group had I believe 8 encounters that first day, with possibly a 9th that we avoided (some sort of dust or cloud coming from a wagon). The bard had to use both 1st level spells after the first encounter in order to stay up. The wizard, knowing that the AP was starting with a circus performance, prepared for social encounters for the first day, and thus, had mostly non-combat spells prepared in his 1st level slots. Toss in a couple of bad rolls and a less than ideal decision or two and it quickly makes for a very long day. Add in that you have 1st level characters and players learning the system and yeah, it can be a real slog.

Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean its a bad design. It certainly doesn't mean that the system in the main is bad. Its just different, so its not surprising that players new to the system might struggle a bit. It requires a much different outlook and analysis in my opinion. That's not bad per se, just different. Just as an example, one of the players that I have played with for years now likes to play arcane casters. He rarely, if ever, bothered with AC in PF1 because as he said "Everything's going to hit me anyway." But that's a recipe for disaster in PF2 because of how crits work. Add in that monsters tend to have better AC and To Hit than most PCs (fighter level AC/To Hit being "normal") and odds are the PCs are going to get hit more and crit more. That is balanced by action economy of course, but the PCs still need to be mindful of that.

I think a fair question to ask is "just how tactically sound should the system assume the players are?" Personally, I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy looking for the advantages and building PCs that can take advantage of them. But I also know that there are a lot of players that just like to be able to show up, throw some dice, and know they have a good chance of surviving without having to understand the system forward and backward. Neither style is inherently wrong, but it does feel like the more casual approach is likely to cause you a lot more problems than in PF1/D&D.

In sum, its good to know that things will iron out a bit at higher levels, which makes sense as there's usually more margin for error there. But yeah, learning the system at low levels could very well lead to a hard time.

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Watery Soup wrote:

You guys realize you have taken a thread entitled "Probabilities and dice rolls" and somehow made it nittier and more pedantic than the nitty, pedantic thread I was expecting based on the title?

I expected high pedantry, but this is above average!

But is "above average" moderate or high or extreme? ;)

NielsenE wrote:

At 1st level, one crit away from a boss monster, maybe. But even that that seems exaggerated.

Can confirm that a water mephit (early encounter in Extinction Curse) can insta kill (massive damage) a PC with a crit. Granted, it was a bard, but still very doable.

That said, I think you and Salamileg have it right. A lot depends on tactics and good decisions. The medicine skill is a must have for a party (preferably on multiple characters to be safe) and at least one PC (again preferably more) should have Battle Medicine. Now, an argument could be made that if these are essentially mandatory in parties then there is perhaps an issue, but that's a different argument. I will say also that I was surprised at how cheap potions were. That's something that needs to be remembered by the party too.

The big thing I've noticed is that things can go sideways in a hurry and the tactics are definitely different than in PF1. Try not to think in terms of PF1 as that will get you in trouble. Reach weapons are huge. Especially if you have an AoO. Not all monsters get AoOs either.

There's a definite learning curve. Our group in Extinction Curse (very early on) is made up of PF1 vets, but we've really had to adjust our thinking. In the first day alone, the group experienced: 1 insta death (poor bard), 1 character turned to stone, two characters knocked out in one fight, 1 character almost knocked out by snakes (requiring the use of both 1st level spells to stay upright), and 1 character at 1 HP. Certainly there has been some bad luck in there, but some of it was also bad tactics. Make sure you are making use of things like Demoralize and combat maneuvers. Don't just stand there next to the enemy, step away and make him use an action to get to you. In particular, if you have two melee characters, if both step away, they should be able to do so in such a way that it will only be able to attack one PC even if it knocks one out. Try to heal up to full between fights, etc.

tonyz wrote:
Note that PCs who get used to steamrolling 1/day encounters can have real difficulties adapting to some of the really nasty lairs, particularly Vordakai’s or the Stag Lord.

Very true. One of the better suggestions I saw somewhere on these boards was to look at some of the "random" or even planned encounters as a series of encounters. Turn them into a mini dungeon just so the players don't start thinking everything is going to be one fight a day.

My group is going to be doing the Battle of Tatzylford next session. I too had to make some changes since, as mentioned, the army as described in the book is quite pitiful. My players would have probably just attacked the army themselves. Lucky for me, my players decided to go out looking for loot (literally how the fighter described it) and decided to wander into Drelev's demesne. In an effort to plant the hook, I had them come across the army (from a bit afar) as they were wandering in Drelev's area. I described the army as "at least 100 barbarians plus 6 trolls". The party's initial reaction was to attack, figuring a couple of fireballs would take out the humans and then they could focus on the trolls.

Luckily they decided to wait til morning (given in part that they were not technically in their own region and the army was thus, not actually obviously hostile yet). In the morning they started to head toward the army to talk to them (cooler heads starting to prevail) when they were stopped by a rear guard patrol of four visible barbarians. (4 more hiding in trees). PCs attacked (for some reason) and while they made fairly short work of the barbarians, they did learn that they were not total pushovers (I used the Tiger Lord NPC stats). This ultimately lead to me lifting the hood on the mass combat mechanics for this adventure (i.e. the condensed version). Essentially they realized that it would be difficult for the PCs to take on the army by themselves (assuming all the barbarians had 50ish HP) but were likewise concerned that the army would steamroll anything they had.

So in short, I'm compromising a bit. Telling the players that in general, PCs can't do a lot to affect an army in mass combat. Maybe not the most elegant solution, but one that works for now. The actual battle will be run fairly similarly as to how its printed, just that everything is bigger (bigger invading army, bigger town, bigger defending army, etc.). The players are discussing what measures to take and I'm leaving some of the options open for discussion as for instance, one player has already asked about using Wall of Stone to help build up the wall quickly. Essentially giving them back some agency in terms of tactics, etc. I'll update after we run the battle (on the 25th hopefully).

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Draco18s wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
<stuff I can't adequately trim down to a concise point without inadvertently misrepresenting, but which boils down to "some bad luck, several times">

Yeah sorry about that. In part I was trying to be vague so as not to get too spoilery and in part I don't have all the stats (intentionally not looking things up after the fact since I am a player, not the GM). Some of the figures we were able to extract though as a result of playing on Roll 20.

I think the bottom line is that we certainly ran into a combination of bad luck and bad tactics, but also, there's certainly a fairly high chance of PC fatality. The water mephit example, the average roll on the acid arrow would leave the bard at .5 HP as a result of being an elf and a bard (even with spending a boost on Con) then would have persistent damage coming on top of that. The "problem" there is that "tactics" can't really avoid that. But throw bad tactics into the equation as players learn the system and you get more problems.

That said, I think the more poignant question you raise is "How difficult should the game be?" Personally, I do think that a realistic chance of PC death is a good thing for the game. One of the things I disliked about 4ed for instance was that it was near impossible for a PC to die. 3.x/PF1 on the other hand made it so that PC death became quite a bit more likely at higher levels by virtue of PCs on low hit points being very susceptible to one hit taking them straight to dead. That was mitigated by fairly easy access to resurrection effects after the first few levels.

As for PF2, even though our group has struggled early on, I actually feel like it may end up ok in the long run. Bad luck will happen regardless, and few systems can entirely eliminate it. But, with proper tactics PF2 does feel like it can bring a nice blend. Low hit points do not necessarily imperil you anymore. However, the wounded mechanic does make it so you still have to be careful and you can't play the unconscious yo-yo that 5ed sees. The key for all groups will be figuring out the right tactics for their group.

Setting aside the chosen nomenclature, the better question I guess would be how easy is it for a typical PC to hit an equal level fighter? (Since that is where your typical monster will be) Also, how easy is it for the typical fighter to hit an equal level PC?

Answering those questions and then placing them in context of action economy will go a long way toward figuring out if the system feels "right". I will agree that giving slightly higher values to the monster (compared to the typical PC) can be fine given the action economy (PCs don't need to hit as often as the monster because the PCs get more attacks/actions). But, in doing that, you also have to balance the damage and hit points. Obviously all the other abilities have to be considered too, but you get the gist. I won't pretend to have the answers to those questions yet though since I don't have enough miles in the system yet.

As to the feelings of the game being overly hard, I do have to admit that one of the bigger issues is simply that PF2 is much different than PF1 in terms of what is expected of the PCs/players. You need different tactics both in and out of combat. That's not an inherently bad thing, but it is the kind of thing that will create a learning curve after so many years of PF1 experience.

As a player in Extinction Curse, still very early on, I would say that my experience has been a bit mixed. The bard was insta-killed by the water mephit due to massive damage. Sure, it was a lucky crit, though there was a 15% chance to crit. Even a non crit on Acid Arrow though would, on average have put the bard the verge of unconscious with the average persistent damage knocking him out if not healed before it. Likewise, the cockatrice stoned the fighter. Some bad luck on the fighter's part as the fighter had a 45% chance to make the save each time. Other party members would have had an even lower chance. The ruffians in the first show knocked two PCs out as well. Again, there was some bad luck in there as diplomacy and demoralize rolls both failed (in order) and then there were some misses as the party was trying to do non-lethal. The first mini boss (druid I'm guessing?) had an incredibly high (by comparison) Will save which hurt the spellcasters, though she went down fairly easily to melee attacks. Granted, spell casters should be prepared to target all the defenses, but that's a lot harder to do at level 1.

All that said, there were also definitely some bad tactical choices made and certainly some bad die rolls as well. That happens. The druid was actually one of the easiest encounters because she did go down easy to melee attacks. The snakes were largely easy to deal with, though their poison did cause the bard problems (requiring the use of both of his 1st level spells to stay upright). I don't necessarily believe that the system is too difficult, but it does require a much different approach. That's not bad, but it will create problems early on for a lot of players. Just as an example, the fighter wanted to just swing three times in combat because he could! The idea of tripping or demoralizing never crossed his mind because of PF1 thinking where if you weren't really specced for it, you probably weren't going to do well AND you might take an AoO for your trouble. That's something you learn quickly of course, but early on it can create issues. Not the system's fault per se, but rewiring the brain after over a decade of PF1 does take some time.

Claxon wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Sounds to me like some errata is in order.

I hate to say that about changing monsters, but it feels necessary.

1 or 2 points of AC is significant in PF2, and if the average (mean/mode) is above the published guidelines for what should be "average" for the CR then it feels like it's wrong.

And I already had problems with to-hit in PF2, and this is just sort of further proof about why it's a problem.

The further we explore the system the less and less I like tying critical success/failure to the DC +/- 10 system.

I definitely prefer Starfinders flat system of nat 20/1 rolls only as crit failure/success with almost no ways to expand the crit range (I only know of one thing and doesn't make it a real crit, just allows you to apply critical effects but doesn't give double damage).

At the very least, I would say that more care may need to be taken by GMs when designing encounters. The examples given are obviously for higher level content (which may well deserve to have a wider range for a variety of reasons) but if it turns out (as is likely) that this problem persists throughout the entire level range, then its a bigger problem and makes you wonder why it wasn't discovered during playtesting. Now the flip side of the coin is to also look at expectant to hit bonuses per level as well. If, for instance, monsters have higher AC than anticipated, but also lower to hit, then the issue may well cancel out to an extent -- though at the cost of longer, more drawn out battles. If the to hit is also high though then it really is setting the PCs up to fail AND more or less requiring that they min/max just to stay viable.

Now, that said, part of the underlying assumptions may well be that it is presumed that many battles will feature multiple, lower level, enemies rather than just a single enemy. That too would change the math somewhat. Less effective monsters being balanced by having more actions per round, more attacks, and presumably more HP too (in total, maybe). But, if that's the case, then it should be made more explicitly clear. Don't get me wrong, as a player I don't mind the game being difficult per se. That brings its own sense of accomplishment. But if the stated expectations of difficulty (i.e. Defenses/to-hit/etc) are not accurate then its going to be a problem for a lot of groups as I would imagine most GMs would assume a given monster is appropriate for its level.

Draco18s wrote:

I will note that most enemies (of ALL levels) have High AC, not moderate. Its very very close to 2/3rds are High, a couple have extreme, and the rest are scattered at Moderate, Low, and Even Somehow Worse.

Of the 8 level 16 critters in Bestiary 1, five of them have an AC of 39. Only one has 38 and the other two are 37 (I don't have a convenient way of searching Nethys for Bestiary 2 critters of a particular level).

Interesting, thanks for sharing.

Ubertron_X wrote:

Well the thing is that any religion that only has one true power is rather bland for roleplaying purposes. That is unless that power *is* the relevant factor in the respective universe.

What makes the Norse, Egyptian and Greek pantheons great RPG pantheons is that those gods are explicitly not the overbearing, flawless one entity but different gods with different portfolios in additions to having individual strengths and flaws like any mortal, and their distinctive relationship to each other.

Exactly. Its about giving the players choice. A single deity setting might be great for your home campaign, but when trying to mass market it, you run into the problems of "Why pretend to be a follower of Jesus when I already am?" Its the same reason that a number of the players I know never play humans. They play the game to do something "different" and to be something "different". They already are humans so they see playing one to be boring in contrast.

With a single deity setting, you would really pigeon hole, in many respects, your clerics and champions (plus any other classes that are divine based) AND you also take away potential story ideas for campaigns. (Hard to have a campaign centered around God A trying to grab extra power when there only is God A).

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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

I am far happier with diverse foes than sticking to anglo centric mythos only.

More to the point, why should anglo centric mythos be exempted from protection? Or conversely, wouldn't a system designed entirely around anglo-centric mythos, at the exclusion of all others, be equally racist?

"Sorry Bob, you can't play an assassin, people might take that the wrong way."

"No, you can't play a spirit shaman type either, sounds too much like someone else's culture."

"No, please don't flavor your cleric to be akin to a buddhist/native american shaman/imam/etc. Please, still to caucasian priest."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that people shouldn't be respectful, especially when gaming with people of different backgrounds, but as pointed out, it can very easily and quickly get out of hand. Rather, I would say that if you do intend to use something inspired by a particular culture, do some research and truly learn about it. Learn about it so that you can portray it as accurately as possible. Who knows, you just might learn something and enjoy the process.

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Saedar wrote:
Salamileg wrote:
Yeah I should have clarified, "highest AC I can afford". We're still kind of low level and the first couple chapters of Extinction Curse seem to be a little tight on cash.

My group just finished book 1 of Extinction Curse. We struggled real hard to get it into our heads how important tactics are. Some of the fights in that first book are rough if you just kind of...walk in.

My group: Bard, Druid (Animal), Fighter (One-handed), Fighter (Unarmed)

So, we aren't the tankiest of groups. I suspect that changing how your group approaches fights would go a long way to increasing your survivability. AC is important, but it isn't the end-all. Trip, Demoralize, and Grapple are all incredibly useful tools in your survival.

Yeah my group is in the early stages of Book 1 and dang if that wasn't a really long first day, lol.

But yes, the point being that PF2 is very much a highly tactical game. Small bonuses and penalties are actually a fairly big deal.

jdripley wrote:

I feel like of all the classes, Barbarian cares least what weapon it uses. Your typical Barbarian at level 1 has 4 bonus damage from STR and somewhere between 2 and 4 more bonus damage from rage. So let's just say that's 7 bonus damage on each hit. That's a good hit no matter what, and any old fighter (crits aside) would be happy to deal that much damage WITH their weapon die.

So, right out of the gate, you're hitting hard, and your choice of weapon only sweetens the deal, it isn't the deal to begin with.

Personally I feel like a sword & board barbarian has just as much potential as your old standard 2h barbarian.

You can also put me in the camp of "if the choice is between a d12 weapon and a d10 weapon that also has a trait that I really like, I'm taking the d10 weapon every time."

It all just depends on what you want to be good at aside from smashing stuff (which you will be great at by default on account of "barbarian").

Excellent point. Just as an example, my level 1 Dragon Barbarian has a static damage of 8 + weapon die (obviously there's the potential issue of resistances). Compared to the fighter that would only have 4 static damage. I decided to start with a Guisarme, but might look for a meteor hammer down the road.

And thanks for the discussion, it really helped to see the pros and cons. Its easy to focus on just the obvious surface level stuff ("I barbarian. I smash!") but particularly in PF2 you have to look at the rest too since even a barbarian can go down really quick if you are not careful.

I tend to agree with the others. You're going to have a hard time without adding a shield to your repertoire. Things just hit way more often than in PF1. You did right by trying to go with a reach weapon and using trip, but if the rest of the party isn't going to help with the tanking, then you are probably best off going full on defense. Toughness and the like are only going to go so far, and crits are going to happen more often too given how they work now. With that party set up, you probably should still be taking the majority of the hits, but the monk at the very least should be stepping up a bit and the summoned critters should help some.

I get it though, changing your character around to fit the party can be annoying (and the meteor hammer is just all around cool).

Edit to add: Also, the group should really be looking into Battle Medicine if you haven't already. Granted, this will only help you once per day, but the difference can be huge. Nothing like having someone come up to you, slap a bandage on ya, and heal ya for 2d8-4d8 HP (depending on crit). Finally, keep in mind too that PF2 is largely built on the assumption that the party is at full HP for each encounter, so stringing encounters together isn't always ideal either. Bandoliers and potions are pretty cheap now as well, so don't be afraid to use those, especially since attacking as a third action is rarely a great idea.

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