(2) This is why I would love to see powers drastically scaled back in any case. I really dislike all the weak "fire a tiny energy blast" or "grow claws 3/day" powers. They're boring and not worth using, so you hunt for the 2 or 3 powers that are worth using and most of the options are useless filler. I'd much rather have a model in which class powers were much more limited and much more impactful—which would fit very well with the tightly limited Focus Point pool, but would be a *very* different class paradigm than Paizo has really ever done. Think about all the years we've been seeing power-heavy classes from Paizo. I'd love if that changed. But it would be a big change!
I've posted a fair amount on this thread so I'll try to make this my last one.
What problem are Focus Points trying to solve? Why do we NEED them in the game?
Pondering this question, I think these Focus Points might be trying to do two or three different things, mechanically/structurally, and that these roles are in tension as far as the cost/benefit they suggest for FP.
I kind of like FP as a cool hero point style thing of the heroic Moment. High cost, high benefit. But class powers are so deeply built into the structure of many PF clsasses, that seems to push toward low cost/low benefit structure, so it's weird to combine these in one pool. And then using FP as a gate or throttle on magic items that give pretty darn weak effects is an awkward high cost/low benefit (granted, situationally might be key).
(One last time, I really don't love how wands look here—if a lot of this started as a way to limit clw spam, treat wounds probably handles that just fine. So what's left for this to do? Why worry about wand spam, even?)
These all seem kind of in-tension with each other. I'd love to see this resolved in the direction of a consistently high cost/high benefit Wow Moment structure. You'd have to significantly pare back the prevalence of powers but I like that anyway. Real struggle would be to resist more ad hoc pools like Channel and Wild Shape.
So, watching with interest. Will now bow out of the thread
1) Add me to the list of people that hates Wands having so many separate things. I mentioned the idea of Wands being Staff Lite in the past, and I still favor that idea, especially with the new Staff rules because the new Staff rules are awesome.
Yeah, fully agree. I really dislike wands in this system. (On paper, haven't played with it yet, obviously!) Gotta track: (1) charges; (2) whether the wand has been used once today; (3) whether the wand has been "activated" with Focus so you can spend more charges. Imagine how you'd scribble on a character sheet to track that. No thanks.
We can spin out alternative models. E.g.,
(a) Wands work like potions: single-use, but can spend Focus to supercharge (in some fashion—one universal possibility would heighten +1 level if the spell has a heighten option)
(b) Wands work like a lot of the worn items: free use 1/d, can use beyond that at the cost of 1 FP/use
These aren't quite the same "spell battery" that wands are currently and have been in previous editions. But either of those models, in my opinion, works better here—less bookkeeping and more consistent with the way other items work so less to learn.
Though folks above point out that if it's pure single-shot, rather than a battery, it doesn't do anything unique compared to scrolls. So I tend to like the free spell each day model or something like it here.
Zi Mishkal wrote:
Dislike - staves need focus points to work. Sorry - the idea of staves needing this extra rare resource that is already over-stretched as their primary way of casting stuff is a huge step back. I saw the arguments of "but you can cast spells spontaneously!" Yeah, at spell level +1. That's no bargain and will mean that the ability will lay unused.
This is not quite accurate. You can cast a spell from a staff in two ways:
(1) Use a Focus Point; or
So hold a staff and you can all of a sudden spontaneously cast those spells using your spell slots, even if you never use Focus Points for the staff.
In kind of a weird quirk, each day when you prepare, you can also prepare 1 staff. This staff generates (i.e., creates itself, without using your resources) a single Focus Point of its own, which can only be used to cast a spell from the staff.
FWIW, I think this is cool but should probably be dropped. It's odd and creates one more little thing to keep track of. Did I charge a staff in my preparation? Which staff did I charge? My instinct (I place a very high value on simplified bookkeeping) is that this should be dropped altogether, and staves should either all auto-charge (rather than 1 character charging 1 staff**) or not auto-charge at all and only cast from wielder resources (spell slots or focus points).
** E.g., if I'm a caster who likes staves, I buy 4 staves, pass around to my teammates who aren't spending on staves, and say "everybody charge 1 so I can have them for the day." This is the kind of silly game dynamic that I think doesn't add to the fun, adds some tedious bookkeeping, and should generally be dropped.
Milo v3 wrote:
1) Is there a reason why you're going resonance points over just saying you can only gain the benefits from 10 worn magical items at once? Having it be a point system may give the appearance of having to track another points system when it's far simpler than that?
This is the kind of detail that will definitely have to be worked out. The main difference: in a "point" system, I can't just swap out my magic boots all day depending on the circumstances. Once you've invested in an item you've spent that quantum of magical energy for the day.
Now, maybe "benefit from 10 worn magical items at once" rule is what we want, but that is a different rule.
Related is the stylistic question from the blog:
Some of the terminology and presentation of the rules might change too. "Resonance Points" might make a little more sense if phrased in a different way, such as an interference field that builds up from 0 to a limit of 10 rather than points you spend from 10 down to 0—for the purposes of this Resonance Test, some of the wording was just kept intentionally close to the printed text so it's easier to understand and compare for readers who've been keeping up with the playtest from the start.
Here, I still like "points" just to keep it consistent with other game resource pools that function in the same way. The points part is just a game mechanic, and consistency between similar mechanics is good, rather than having many mechanics count down and another one count up even though it basically works the same.
And they're not invested, unlike before. So you can pass the staff around the party. Just a spontaneous-casting stick. I like it!
The Once and Future Kai wrote:
I disagree. "Resonance" works much better.
The best way to show this. In the old rules, you can only benefit from 2 magic rings and 1 magic amulet. Why, though? I'm perfectly capable of wearing 3 rings and 2 amulets. Why shouldn't I benefit from the extra rings and amulets?
The old rules seemed to have an implicit idea of resonance embedded here and there, but only expressed awkwardly and unevenly, and implemented in a pretty nonsense "slot" system.
A full "resonance" system works much more elegantly to achieve the goal—limiting the number of worn items you can benefit from—while also handling this kind of thing.
(Contrast boots: obviously, absent some pretty creative cobblering, I can only wear one pair of boots. So slots kind of make sense. But even here Resonance is better: now we might imagine, e.g., a pair of boots specialty-crafted as magic insoles so you can wear two pairs of "boots"!)
Just much better all around.
I'm worried that making Powers use focus instead of spell points will have a strange effect on the game, especially if the powers are getting buffed, where you will either see casters who never really use interesting items, because items without focus point investment are (understandably) weakened, and they want to save their focus for their powers, or you'll see the opposite way around where maybe some item effect is stronger than their powers, and they never use their Powers. Is this necessarily bad? I don't know, but it does seem odd. At least for monks, this feels like a good change (except for the Cha base not necessarily gelling, but the meditating to recover focus does intrigue me), since I could see Ki powers tuned such that item benefits are less competitive, leading to a viable ascetic monk feel, but for other classes, I'm a bit worried.
Honestly I'd be thrilled if a system like this made it into the final game, as long as I could viably play:(1) a character with minimum (0 or 1) Focus;
(2) a character who never uses powers but only uses Focus to boost items;
(3) a character who only uses Focus for powers but never to boost items.
I don't typically love Power type stuff (I'm not sure I've used a Spell Point at any point in the Playtest?) and rarely-to-never play high-Cha characters. So I'd probably mostly want to play characters of the above types #1 and #2.
Basically, this is all cool for the folks who like this kind of thing if it's well tuned—but let me play my Cha-8, 0 Focus Dwarf Barbarian in peace! Let her be perfectly viable and not way behind the party or a non-contributor just because she hasn't invested in this stuff.
(One great thing here is that splitting Resonance from Focus allows that Barbarian to be much *more* viable than under the initial Resonance system, since Resonance—the part I'd want her to use—is now a flat 10, and the parts I'm not interested in are split off and she can just be weak in those respects.)
GM Eddv wrote:
I'm cautiously optimistic. I think separating Resonance (items-worn) and Focus (magical powers/boosts) helps a lot, conceptually, with the bookkeeping (at least for me).
I also think that combining spell points and resonance-for-use into Focus will help constrain bookkeeping. One pool, a list of abilities that you can use it to power.
(I also like this because it puts a lot of pressure to make the powers *powerful*, given the extremely limited pool. I've been kind of underwhelmed with the powers in the playtest rulebook. I've got cantrips for my all-days: if I use a power make it *punch*!)
Though not everything is tied to the one pool, I guess. There are still, at least for now, individual pools for things like Channel & Wild Shape. Though far less of all that than PF1.
Mark Seifter wrote:
We know it's confusing, so it should be in the FAQ in the official updates (one of the few entries).
Ah, I see it now. How annoying.
This is a good illustration of something I've been thinking for a couple weeks now: I think we've probably moved past the point where I'm able to adequately keep up with the playtest rules and rules updates. Nothing unusual: it's all pretty fiddly, there's a lot of it, it keeps changing, and I only have so much time in a week I can devote to the game.
So I'm not sure if I'll keep running playtest games for my group at this point. But there's a lot I'm really excited about in the system and I'm looking forward to the release of the full game.
Mark Seifter wrote:
Sick, like frightened, gives a penalty to all checks, which gives a penalty to all DCs (such as AC).
Yikes. I don't think anyone would pick that up from reading the rules (much less would many or most folks pick that up). I certainly didn't, and highly technical reading and writing are a big part of my profession.
So please, please, please clean this kind of thing up for the final rules.
I'm pretty sure, for example, that the idea that "AC is a kind of DC and so anything that affects your DCs affects your AC" just isn't in the Playtest Rulebook. The closest I can find is the statement on p. 9 that AC "typically serves as the Difficulty Class for hitting a creature with an attack" (see also p. 420). But of course, if we're doing technical reading, "serves as" is not at all a statement that it "is" a DC, and so this statement can't establish the idea. I think the update document may get closer to implying this but still doesn't establish the definitional equivalency.
EDIT — Ah, I did manage to find one definitional equivalency statement. p. 421 under "Difficulty Class": "Some DCs also go by other names, like Armor Class." But obviously that's at best a highly suboptimal way to present that definition. (In the back rather than in the front, under DC rather than under AC itself, etc etc)
Colette Brunel wrote:
While I appreciate removing the slowed condition from the dying rules, I cannot help but think that the wounded condition will make it even easier for a gang of determined enemies to beat down on a massively-AC-debuffed, dying PC in order to finish them off once and for all. That is a tactic I have been using in my playtest games to force TPKs, and the new wounded condition will make it even easier.
Colette Brunel wrote:
Gotta say, really not regretting my choice to unfollow your playtest threads.
## Finishing Ch. 2 ##
Quick update wrapping up Chapter 2.
Manticore. (Some observations I missed last time.) This turned out easier than I had feared. The party did well with ranged damage output. But what really clinched it was a good use of confusion by the Sorcerer. Manticore failed and the Paladin (rebuilt with a shield ally) delayed till right before the Manticore. Because the confused condition requires that the confused creature attack whoever last attacked it, this let the Paladin draw all of the Manticore's fire to her excellent defenses, while the rest of the party whaled on it the rest of the round.
I did have the confused Manticore charge into melee here. It was running low on spikes at that point, so since the confused says the creature doesn't have its wits about it, I figured a melee charge was appropriate here.
Earth & Water. This fight didn't feel like it went off the way it was "supposed" to. The party walked down the steps and I had them roll Perception against the elementals' Stealth. At least one PC spotted the elementals, and so we used those numbers for initiative.
Rogue hopped out onto the first island and fired at the water elementall (which I had toward the north but not all the way around the corner). Water elemental charged, attacked, and pushed to Rogue back into the water between that first island and the steps. Earth elemental glided through the wall to the steps and started attacking. Then it basically turned into melee on the "landing" of the steps, without really engaging with the water and islands as terrain obstacles. It made sense at the table but I worry that this wasn't what was intended for the encounter.
Generally speaking, the water elemental hit hard but the party was smart about focusing fire and put down one, then the other. They healed up, ID'd the elemental gems, and continued.
Air & Fire. This was almost a TPK, and would have been if I hadn't offered the party a helpful reminder when things got really bad. (My players aren't much for running away and trying later, especially when on a time crunch adventure like here!)
Again, I wasn't entirely sure how the terrain obstacles we're supposed to play here. The air elemental flew close, and the party dispatched it pretty quickly with some focused fire.
The fire elemental was much more deadly. It stood back from the ledge and attacked with it's reach. Sorcerer enlarged Paladin to hit back and Rogue scrambled down to engage in melee. Alchemist and Sorcerer attacked from a distance.
Two problems for the party. (1) After one player tried to recall knowledge on the fire elemental and failed, nobody else tried. So the party didn't learn about, and didn't think about, the elemental's weaknesses.
(2) That persistent fire damage is deadly! I had the fire elemental spread its attacks to everyone it could reach on the theory it would like to spread fire around. Soon 3 of the 4 PCs were taking 2d4 tire at the end of each turn. This added up quickly. Especially tough is that the party didn't have much to help counteract the fire. I let them douse themselves with water from waterskins, but that's 2 actions to draw and use, and I figured each waterskins could only do that once. And that only reduced the DC to 15, and nobody successfully extinguished the fire. So that kept going throughout.
So with all that going on, the fire elemental was dishing out significant melee damage. Eventually the Rogue and Paladin each dropped, one was healed back up but only a little, and it looked like a TPK was imminent.
That's when I, *cough cough*, reminded the players that fire might not like water and they happened to have this handy water elemental gems right here. Water elemental comes out, and given the fire elemental's weakness to water the combat was quickly over. (I think the players had put on about 40-50 damage at that point, out of the elemental's 80 hp.)
Remainder. The rest of the dungeon was quite easy. The puzzle was solved quickly enough between everyone working together and the Rogue doing great sabotaging and knowing things. The mummies were barely a threat (seriously, did I miss something there?). It was late in the evening when we finished so we didn't have any more time to play, and the party was either one or two days ahead of the Night Heralds' arrival (I had lost track between sessions), so we went ahead and skipped that encounter.
(Phone post, please excuse typos etc.)
Dante Doom wrote:
I saw a post from Mark Seifter that said that the target also takes the splashing damage
For reference, here:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Enhancements are negated if the attack deals 0 damage. Large or Medium or any other size, you add the splash damage from a hit to the normal hit damage. This gets very nice with the 4th level alch feat that the bomber might have had to increase splash to Int modifier.
Mark Seifter wrote:
I think the update indicates that the splash + hit damage is combined into one, but not 100% sure that it does. Regardless, that's the intent.
These are rough notes. Check the stream for what was actually said! The rules discussion starts about HERE, when Jason joins.
This is the big update. This is the one you want to grab.
New update will be 13 pages of *new* material
Rogues: instead of just Finesse Striker, you can choose one of three different paths (finesse, brute, feinter)
Ranger: double slice is dropped for 2 feats: one makes you better with two weapon fighting, one makes you better with ranged (fire twice, if both hit add together)
Proficiency: untrained is now (lvl - 4). Also, skill DCs are adjusted, and lowered overall. Net result: as you get better and better you get more and more certain of success. Every skill DC in Doomsday Dawn updated to reflect
Death and dying: getting much more deadly. New condition, “wounded,” you acquire when you are healed back up from 0 hp. Next time you drop to 0, your wounded value is added on to your dying value. And since you die at dying 4 ... this can mean insta-death if you’re doing too much up-and-down.
Mundane Healing: Medicine gets a new function: Treat Wounds. This removes Wounded and also heals damage. Cures (healer’s lvl) * (your con mod) hp. Makes out-of-combat mundane healing very possible, making magical healing more for in-combat, mundane healing for out-of-combat.
Shields: no multiple dents. One dent and then the rest of the damage goes to you.
Identifying magic items: doesn’t take as long. I wasn’t clear on how long it will take in new rules, but works with someone else using Medicine to heal everyone.
ALL 12 MULTICLASS ARCHETYPES. Goal: you can do this class thing, but you can’t just be a better Barbarian than the Barbarian herself. The 4 we have are rebalanced. Biggest change to Fighter, which a *lot* of folks had been grabbing for armor proficiency. Now it will just step up your armor prof to the next level. (If you want more armor proficiency from archetype, try Paladin ... if you meet those restrictions.) They will keep a close eye on this. This is a separate pdf to put all multiclass together, easier to reference.
The Monday blog will have more details.
### RESONANCE ###
Resonance shifting to just a system to manage permanent magic items, replace slot system. “The moment we tried to tie it to consumable usage and things like that, that’s when we started to have problems. Because those two things were competing with one another in a way that was unsatisfactory.” So resonance will just fix the slot system, which was a big problem. Worn items resonate with each other and don’t work together if you wear too many.
But something else to manage how you use magic items. “But we don’t want that system to be one that cuts you off from magic.” That wasn’t fun. Looking at ways for characters to focus on magic. Stuff about some default baseline and then, if you focus on things, getting more above-and-beyond benefits. (This is kind of unclear to me.) “I want to stress ... that we’re still in the design phase” on this.
They want to thoroughly test by rewriting the PFS module Raiders of the Shrieking Peak as a specific test of this. “This might take us 3 or 4 weeks to get ready.” Still in the process of designing the system, then probably some internal testing.
New character sheet. Minor adjustments, including senses line.
Update 1.2, p. 3 wrote:
If your dying value reaches 4 or greater, you die. You lose the dying condition upon returning to 1 or more Hit Points. When you lose the dying condition, you regain consciousness, but are slowed for 1 round. Your slowed value is equal to the dying value you had when you were healed (so if you were dying 2, you are slowed 2 for 1 round).
Since you can lose the dying condition via recovery saves, you can recover directly to consciousness. Now, there's a good case to be made that what the designers *meant* to say is, "when you lose the dying condition in this manner ..." or something. But that's not what it says.
2. Interesting that the reach Paladin did so well. I played a reach Paladin for the first half of Ch. 2 and was very dissatisfied with it. I wonder if part of that was that lvl 4 without a magic weapon is an especially awkward spot for that build? (I've been playing a shield Paladin for the back half of the chapter and have felt very effective and useful.)
3. My understanding of the blade ally language is that you choose the property at the start of each day and it's set for the day. But any way about it the language could use some clarification. For reference:
Select one weapon each morning when you make your daily preparations. In your hands, the weapon gains your choice of
4. This is definitely in need of clarification. The potent magic item quality (p. 345) would suggest that you should get a skill but not a language:
When a character invests an item with this trait, it improves one of that character’s ability scores, either increasing it to 18 or increasing it by 2, whichever grants the higher ability score. This ability score increase grants all the benefits of the new ability score. Increasing Intelligence lets the owner become trained in an additional skill, increasing Charisma adds to her Resonance Points, increasing Constitution gives her more Hit Points, and so on. These benefits go away once the investiture runs out.
Re: shields, the summary here isn't quite accurate. Primary sources, people! Let's not play telephone more than we have to. I posted about it here.
Joe M. wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
That's not exactly right. That poster was posting from notes/memories, so lost some details. Here's the timestamped link and a quick transcript:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Yeah, Shield Paladin is great for this. Was playing a level-4 with an expert heavy steel shield in Doomsday Dawn last night. Hardness 8, breaks at 4 Dents, very easy to patch up with Quick Repair (I think the DC was 10-12 range?) = 32 temp hp per combat on top of 56 base hp.
(Could have had 40 temp hp if I went with the study expert light wooden shield instead but I wanted the higher AC boost, which did pay off.)
Mark Seifter wrote:
Enhancements are negated if the attack deals 0 damage. Large or Medium or any other size, you add the splash damage from a hit to the normal hit damage. This gets very nice with the 4th level alch feat that the bomber might have had to increase splash to Int modifier.
On the splash (for reference) I was misled by the language in p. 359:
Most bombs also have the splash trait. When you use a thrown weapon with the splash trait, you don’t add your Strength modifier to the damage roll. If an attack with a splash weapon fails, succeeds, or critically succeeds, all creatures within 5 feet of the target take the listed amount of splash damage. On a failure (but not a critical failure), the target of the attack also takes the splash damage. You don’t multiply splash damage on a critical hit.
If splash is discussed elsewhere I couldn't find it in the moment at the table.
# THE CONFUSING STUFF #
Group stealth? How does that work? The group tried to sneak past the gnoll camp in Ch. 2 thanks to the prompting of the adventure, and I wasn't sure how to handle that. All PCs roll and every enemy rolls? (Not good chances for the PCs!) All PCs roll and use the highest enemy Perception? If there's guidance in the book I couldn't find it when this came up at the table.
Grabbed by a creature with reach. One character ended up grabbed by a giant scorpion with reach. Is he held 10 ft. away, so he can't attack the scorpion? Is he pulled next to the enemy?
Splash damage on a Large creature. Does the Large creature take splash damage from a splash weapon that hits it (because it "splashes" the 3 squares the creature occupies that weren't targeted)? If we have a Large creature with several creatures all around it, do they *all* get splashed? I.e., does the splash weapon now suddenly splash over more squares just because the target is large? That seems to be the rule—which I'm fine with (I don't care about "realism" in my fantasy games, I want rules that are fun and play smoothly so this seems like the better way to do it), but it is a little counterintuitive so I figured I'd ask.
# THE BAD STUFF #
Blade-ally Paladin. As a GM PC for our first session of Ch. 2, I ran a blade-ally Paladin. I just grabbed everything that looked like an offense boost and put the character together very quickly. And I felt useless!
So between sessions I went through and looked at it and I've gotta say blade ally looks pretty purely like a trap option unless it's as a second ally at higher levels. The shield is over here giving you +2 Hardness and +2 Dents, for approx. 16 hp extra that you can shield-block each combat (assuming Quick Repair between combats and a sturdy light or expert heavy shield as an early purchase). Meanwhile, the blade ally gives you critical specialization effects and some magic abilities that don't increase damage or accuracy. The magical abilities are situationally useful, but rarely. And critical specialization effects will only rarely trigger (because the Paladin doesn't get any accuracy boosts, the numbers look like for the most part you'll only be critting on 20s and maybe a 19 every now and then) and aren't always the most useful even when they do go off.
I rebuilt as a shield paladin and absolutely loved the way the character played when she got back into action with the new build. Really fun. But I didn't have fun with the blade and I felt pretty crummy that I grabbed one of the 4 Core "I'm a warrior!" classes, picked the obvious "I'm a warrior!" option, grabbed a greatsword, and ... ended up feeling highly ineffective. That's not great!
Intra-chapter navigation in the rulebook. I discussed this above but I want to repeat myself because it's become more and more annoying as I've used the physical books more. Help me find my way around within a chapter, please! This is mostly a problem for the classes & the treasure chapters, since they're quite long and divided into subsections without giving cues to help you find your way to the specific element you're looking for once you've flipped open to the chapter. It's been really tough to use the physical book at the table without some kind of intra-chapter navigation aid for these two chapters in particular.
Treasure tables. Please add more detail to the treasure tables in the treasure chapter. When creating characters for Ch. 2, my group didn't realize that, say, an expert-quality weapon is a 2nd level item and they could grab that with one of their granted items. Who would think to flip between the treasure tables here and the three or four spots in the equipment chapter where higher-level items are slipped in? Generally, including this info and special material options, etc, would make everything a lot easier for both players making higher-level characters and GMs picking treasure to hand out.
What save is that? It's been a bit of a stumbling block to have lost the saving throw from each spell's header information, to have to dig through the text block to find the save. (This is of course tougher when it's a system that's new to everyone and where the spellcaster players aren't the best at keeping track of all of their character rules. So on balance it may well be the right decision. But finding a way to highlight that important info might be helpful.)
How many actions per spell? My spellcaster players were initially taken aback by the fact that casting a spell took more than 1 action ("I thought everything was 1 action!") and didn't like having to hunt down each spell to see how many actions it would take before planning their turn. (This will likely be alleviated as they learn the system. I think there's space on the character sheet to note number of actions?)
# THE GOOD STUFF #
Action system. Everyone has loved the 3-action setup. It's been very satisfying and much nicer than PF1.
Reactions. Everyone has loved reactions. Less mental effort to track, streamlines play considerably, etc. Between this, and the above, it's fair to say that my group has really enjoyed the fundamentals of PF2 combat play. (This is separate from any concerns about particular character options.)
Dying rules. Although the dying rules are in flux (and I still have some questions about how the new rules work!), I think my players have generally enjoyed how the new systems have played. They certainly like it a lot more than negative hp in PF1, especially how the new systems have let players get back into the action much more easily with much less "well I'm down, guess I'll sit out for the next 20 minutes of play." (I think this is a happy combination of: (i) any healing puts you right back in play; (ii) significantly fewer AOOs/reactions to disrupt healing attempts; (iii) the three-action system and the number of flexible basic healing options make it a lot easier to heal unconscious allies.)
Healing resources absent piles of wands of cure light wounds. We're still trying to get used to the dynamics of healing in the new edition but I can tentatively say that we're enjoying the challenge of having to think about it and plan a bit more carefully rather than just "bloop! everyone's back to full!" after every combat that PF1 could feel like.
## CH. 1: THE LOST STAR ##
Life got busy and I lost track of this, but my group has continued to work through Doomsday Dawn. We're moving quite slowly since we only have 2–3 hours to play each week and the players are all fairly inexperienced, so we've only gotten as far as the tomb entrance in Ch. 2. So rather than try to recreate everything, here are a few a quick summary posts highlighting the main things that stand out from my notes.
The Party (Ch. 1): Fighter (Half-Orc, sword & board); Druid (Gnome, wild order); Bard (Human); Ranger (Halfling, archer + bear)
The Party (Ch. 2): Alchemist (Elf); Paladin (Half-Elf, greatsword rebuilt to sword & board halfway through); Sorcerer (Human, aberrant bloodline); Rogue (I forget the ancestry)
Hmmm. Yeah. I really don't have the best feel for the dynamics of the playtest rules yet. I liked the starknife idea on paper but I can see how the actual date might not stack up. Another disappointment for the blade ally.
Yeah, I should add that I'm open to the idea that my "basic test" might not be the best one. My husband was suggesting that the much more role-defined classes setup is very MMO/computer game in flavor. Maybe that's fine! But my 3.X background says to me I should be able to grab any decent martial weapon with any mainline martial class and have it work without much tinkering.
Speaking of the starknife, though, that's also a tempting returning Paladin build. (Basically returning looks like the only useful build baseline from blade ally, so any thrown weapon you can build around.)
Thanks for the thoughts, folks. These are some good suggestions. I like the returning hammer idea.
I continue to think that the blade ally is a trap option (as your first ally/for the first 10 levels).
My basic take is that I should be able to roll any of the mainline martial classes (Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger) with a greatsword, pick all of the obvious "this is for melee" options, and do fine. Right now, I think the Ranger and the Paladin fail that test. That's my worry.
Yeah, that's something. But is it worth all that much? (At least compared to the shield ally.)
Even if critical effects are really great, my instinct is that without much in the way of accuracy boosts, the Paladin won't end up critting all that often so specialization boosts won't make a huge difference.
If my quick eyeballing of the numbers is correct, the Paladin will only really ever crit a standard enemy on a 19 or 20 without additional attack boosts or AC penalties (this is using: the average numbers spreadsheet somebody put together; the standard challenge of lvl-1 specified in the Bestiary; the treasure tables assuming highest level item is invested in a weapon).
So, what, knocking an enemy prone 5-10% of the time as opposed to with a shield ally being able to prevent 30+ damage each fight? That doesn't sound like a great tradeoff to me.
I don't have time for a very thorough look at things right now so I hope some other folks can double-check my numbers.
But I just watched a blade-ally Paladin struggle to contribute to melee in Doomsday Dawn Ch. 2, and I wondered why one of the core martial classes built with the "melee damage" looking option and putting all options toward melee damage ... wasn't putting out much melee damage. After looking through the book for a bit, my take for the moment is that if I play a Paladin I can't see myself ever selecting blade ally unless it's via the Second Ally feat.
Suggestion for the treasure tables starting on p. 349:
Please include higher-level mundane items, like higher-quality weapons or tools or armor (p. 190).
When creating fourth-level characters, my group missed the possibility of using our 2nd-level item "slots" to purchase expert-quality weapons or armor, which contributed to a feeling of "I don't have a lot I can actually get with these items."
Including higher-quality items etc. would also help gamemasters picking treasure to hand out to players. So it would save both players and GMs from having to cross reference to the equipment chapter to remember where high quality goods fall.
And it wouldn't add a lot of space to the table, I don't think.
All around it seems like an improvement to me.
Does sneak attack damage multiply on a critical hit? Unlike PF1, I can't find any rule that says it does not multiply, so I'm posting here to check whether I've missed something.
The question comes up because my group is in the middle of Doomsday Dawn Ch. 2 and the party's level 4 Rogue got a +1 rapier and is murdering everything with his sneak attack crit of 6d6+1d8+4 damage (avg. 29.5).
(He's gotten lucky on some rolls and has a party that's been very helpful in inflicting flat-footed to get the sneak attack—but even against an AC 18, pretty standard for level 4, he crits 20% of the time if his target is flat-footed.)
The way I read p. 175 is that it's a remnant of an earlier version of the rules in which: (1) shield block could result in multiple dents; and/or (2) sunder rules of some sort we're still in the game.
Alternatively, that it's just a mistake or a bad example.
Shield block itself seems clear to me, and to be the more fun rule. So that's what I'm going with for now and (cautiously) what I'd expect the eventual clarification to reflect.
But who knows.
I have important feedback: the errata documents need to highlight or otherwise mark new changes from the last version. They're long documents, and asking us to read every single one through completely to find the new changes over the old is excessive.
Update 1.2 wrote:
Updates that are new to this document have their page references marked with bold text.
That's definitely one possibility for the designers' intent. I'm hoping the ambiguity resolves the other way, however, since this would mean that you could never roll your way to consciousness. Not only does that remove that avenue for getting back in the fight that was available under the first set of dying rules (and that my players really appreciated), but that would seem to contradict the stated design goal of wanting to get players back in the fight more reliably.
I think this is one where we just have to wait for an update on the update. As the preface says, this is just a draft...
Two big questions here. Just reading on my phone so I may have missed some things ... Help!
Dying (Rules, not the condition) wrote:
When you lose the dying condition, you regain consciousness
When you’re unconscious and at 0 HP but no longer dying, you naturally return to 1 HP and awaken after sufficient time passes. The GM determines how long you remain unconscious, from at least 10 minutes to several hours.
The target loses the dying condition, though it remains unconscious at 0 Hit Points.
Administer First Aid wrote:
The creature at 0 Hit Points loses the dying condition (but remains unconscious)
(1) The dying rules say that when you lose the dying condition you wake up. But (2) the dying condition itself doesn't say that. And (3) stabilize and first aid see the contemplate a PC losing the dying condition but remaining unconscious. And (4) the unconscious condition also contemplates that.
But then you have the odd circumstance of being able to "roll to consciousness" via recovery saves if you're dying but not if you're stable. So what, you yell at the Cleric "don't stabilize my fighter! I want to wake up!" That's confusing!
Now, that reading see to undercut the stated goal of getting PCs back in the action more reliably. So I would have thought it an oversight. But the stabilize rules explicitly call it out! So how's all this supposed to work?
A separate confusion is that if you roll to consciousness you're awake and acting at 0hp, which under these rules seems to mean that you're invincible, since dying only triggers when you're "reduced to" 0 hp or take damage while unconscious. So *definitely* don't heal that fighter!
## CHARACTER CREATION: CLASSES & MARTIAL STYLES ##
Splitting this off into a new post. A lot of folks have said it but it's still worth talking about: the classes felt very restrictive to me. Especially so if I'm looking ahead to the character's build into the future. For example, for this game I waited till everyone had picked and it looked like an archer would round out the group. We already had a Fighter, so I was looking at Ranger or Paladin. The Ranger didn't have much for archery (I ended up with an animal companion despite not really wanting one, because the other options were worse for me—Monster Hunter looks very weak, and the crossbow feat really shows how silly it can be to class-lock everything: 1 of my 4 choices is there only because the iconic was painted with a crossbow 10 years ago? And why can't anyone else use crossbows well?)
But even if Ranger doesn't feel great as an archer (we'll see how it plays over time), the Paladin is much worse for it. All of your fixed class talents (that you're stuck with, since you can't trade out a la PF1 archetypes) are toward sword & board melee—good luck playing a Paladin of Abadar or Erastil using your god's favored weapon. Maybe you could multiclass into Fighter for a few basic archery feats, but then: (1) the dedication feat is just a pure tax for you, since you already have (almost?) everything it gives you; and much more importantly (2) you're still stuck with the inflexible spine of the Paladin class that just doesn't work with archery.
I really don't like feeling like you just *can't* build a warrior who fights a certain way unless you pick a certain class. This is mostly a problem for martials. A spellcaster can always just change their spell selection to get a character who feels and plays differently. But if you're a martial character, you're stuck with the very limited number of styles that your class will support. Even the Fighter, the most flexible, doesn't support a light-armor concept.
This is the area that I'm most skeptical of the playtest class structure. I don't know if this is something that I'll end up getting used to, but I worry about it because a lot of it doesn't look like it can be easily addressed if it's built into the core of the new rule system. Adding more class feats for each martial class: (1) doesn't do anything about your fixed list of class talents, which are pretty restrictive; (2) will be pretty space intensive just to print, say, a set of archery feats, a set of sword & board feats, a set of two-weapon feats for each martial class. Maybe there are benefits to the more restrictive class system that will outweigh these downsides, but if so I'm not seeing them right now, so I'm skeptical. I'm curious to see how higher level play feels when we get there.
Archetypes, perhaps? I think the easiest fix to all of this might be to bring back PF1-style archetypes. Right now the biggest problem I'm having with the system could be addressed if classes had more flexibility to trade out the fixed list of class abilities. There are downsides to PF1-style archetypes, of course. And if you add back PF1-archetypes it probably messes up the feat-based multiclassing ("Now I can't multiclass into that Fighter archetype?"). So maybe some other fix would be better. But I'm convinced that something is needed to give classes, especially martial classes, some more flexibility in terms of that fixed spine of class talents that you can't customize. That's what makes the Paladin so restrictive in terms of build, and I've been pretty frustrated with it and worried about what that will mean for the system and its future if it stays like this.
(That's it for now. I'll come back later today or tomorrow to write up our experience playing The Lost Star. Preview: We really enjoyed it! The system ran very smoothly in play and was for the most part a lot of fun. I remain very optimistic about a lot of the fundamentals of the playtest rules.)
## THE LOST STAR: CHARACTER CREATION ##
It took my group about 3 hours to create characters for The Lost Star. Here are my thoughts and the reactions from my group. (This ends up being fairly long, and covers a lot of ground that's been heavily discussed on the forums—apologies for that.)
Should've used pregens for new players. In retrospect, I think a better approach to a first session for a new player would have been to use pregenerated characters (whether the PFS pregens or GM-created) and just run a few encounters to get a feel for the rules before asking new players to make their own characters. That would get them into the game without the barrier of the 3-hour somewhat frustrating time-sink of character creation, and then they'd have the benefit of that context when they have to make choices in building their characters. (This might be especially useful regarding classes, since classes are pretty restrictive in the playtest rules.) If I were to do it over, or to start a new game with new players, I might run the PFS Quests or convert some straightforward level 1 scenario from PF1 and let them pick between pregens. If I were adding a new player to an existing game, I'd also start that player with a pregen. Starting a new group with new players and doing character creation before play just ended up being a barrier to fun. (I noticed the PF1 Beginner's Box on my shelf last night, and recall that that also provided pregens to let folks dive into the action. It's a good idea!)
Choice structure. Generally speaking, my players enjoyed the choice structure and felt a lot better about it than they did about character creation in PF1. They commented that it didn't feel overwhelming, like PF1 can feel—they appreciated the different buckets each with its own, more comprehensible menu of options to focus on and choose from. (They also seemed to appreciate that they didn't have to worry about the tradeoff between one kind of feat and another—e.g., skill feat, class feat.)
Character creation guidance. That said, the players felt that they could have used more guidance in the rulebook regarding the different choices. As mentioned in my introductory post I'm taking a pretty hands-off approach to advice & guidance. My players ended up a little lost when it came to making some choices in character creation. For example, one player wanted to play a druid who would shapeshift and wade into melee—great!—but he got the message that Wisdom is the key stat for druids so ended up with an 18 Wisdom ... and a 10 Strength. That's probably not going to support his character concept too well. Given the restrictive nature of playtest classes and the fact that each class seems built to support only certain specific concepts, a little more guidance in the class section would be helpful (e.g., "If you play a Wild Order Druid, you might consider a higher Strength score. This will allow you to ..."). This goes to the suggestion below to reorder the presentation of character creation to class-first. If class comes first and if classes give a little more guidance about different builds or paths, new players might be a little better oriented when it comes to making choices like ability score generation. (I do think the goal here is that new players should be able to easily make functional characters on their own, just from the book, without requiring an experienced player or GM to hold their hand through the process.)
Character creation instructions. Players got turned around here and there and felt that clearer step-by-step instructions—maybe even a checklist—would have helped them put their characters together. The "creating your character" instructions in the rulebook didn't do the job for them (at least when encountering the system for the first time).
Ability score generation. For example, two out of the three players missed the four ability boost top-off. They followed the ABC and saw the ability boosts there, but when they got to step 5, "Finalize Your Ability Scores," they missed the cross-reference to a separate section discussing ability scores and didn't realize they got the top-off boosts. I also noticed that they kept losing track of their ability boosts when creating a character and trying to decide between all of the options. I think this was especially bad with the Background ability boost. I ended up having to walk each player through a sketched grid (attribute rows, character creation step columns, total column at the end) to clearly track their stat choices so they could see if they wanted to go back and pick a different A or B to hit the stat totals needed for their concept under the C.
Character creation "flow"; Backgrounds. This touches on some issues I've noted with the "flow" of character creation. While the "ABC" list sounds great in theory, in a system where your class determines so much more about the shape of your character than in PF1, it's only really once you've thought through your choice of class and your class-related character options that you know enough about the character you're going to build (based on the options available to that class) that you have the information needed to select the ancestry and background to support that concept and to give you the ability boosts that you need to make your build. So while "ABC" is how character creation is presented, in reality it ended up being "ABC—oh wait!, AB again." (And then at that point the players had lost track of their ability boosts at each step and had to recalculate.)
One of my big takeaways from this is that I don't actually like the Background system in practice. While I thought it sounded cool from the previews, in practice it hasn't seemed to have any "weight" in character creation or character concept—while players had pretty strong visions of their character's Ancestry and picked that more for flavor than for mechanical reasons, the Backgrounds ended up feeling like nothing more than a purely-mechanical selection—how do I get the right set of boosts?—, a chore that didn't add anything. They weren't especially fun and caused the issues with character creation flow discussed above. (I guess Traits in PF1 ended up with a similar fate.)
My main thought on how to address all of this is to change the order in which character creation is presented. CAB instead of ABC. I'm not sure about bigger changes to backgrounds (I wonder if figuring out a way to take the flexible boost out of the background step might help make it feel more tightly themed and like more of a real choice?)
Picking spells. The issues with character creation flow touches on a bigger issue my players had when learning the rules while trying to create characters: they just kept getting lost and frustrated with the heavily cross-referenced process. This was particularly bad when it came to picking spells. Unlike martial classes, a lot of the important choices in making a spellcaster are not right there in the classes chapter. You've got to go look up spells and powers in a separate chapter. And they hated trying to pick their starting spells: they had to keep open for reference (1) the class section and (2) the spell list and then go flipping through (3) the spell descriptions to learn what each spell does. Players were annoyed with the problem created between the spell lists not offering much hint what each spell did and then each spell not listing what list it was on, so they had to keep both pages for reference. As a result, spell selection was a pretty big speedbump in character creation for my players.
Equipment selection. But maybe the biggest speedbump in character creation was equipment selection. Once players had gone through and made all of these character choices, they didn't mind picking a weapon and armor. But they just gave up when it came to adventuring gear. And really, who wants to think about rope and lamps at that point? They took one look at that list and said, can we just skip this? So we did. Please, please, please add some prebuilt gear bundles in the future so that players can just grab a bundle and move on to the fun part—playing the game!—rather than feeling pressure to get bogged down in a la carte gear selection before they can roll their first d20. If the goal is to get folks playing, this was by far the biggest "ugh" moment of character creation.
Character sheet. Players noticed the issues other folks have noticed with the character sheet: no place for senses like darkvision in the "senses" section; no place to specify Lore; the weird arrangement of the ability scores.
Lore. Related to backgrounds, the Lore skill has felt too narrow. Thinking ahead to character level-up, you only get a small number of skill increases past Trained—why would anyone really spend those on Lore?
Physical Book. Two things about the physical book. (1) The table's immediate reaction to the book was, "oh my gosh that's beautiful." Everyone here is a big fan of the aesthetics. (2) We've all been having a problem navigating within each chapter. The chapter sidebar is very useful, but each of us has had the problem of flipping into the relevant chapter and then not knowing where we are and where we need to go within that chapter. This is especially bad with treasure, where you have multiple alphabetic-order lists with nothing really telling you which list you're in. So a player flipped to treasure to look up alchemist's fire and then couldn't find it ... because he was looking in the magic items not the alchemical items. Some indicator at the top or bottom of the page flagging which section within the chapter that page is might be helpful.
## INTRODUCTION ##
Ahoy, fellow Pathfinders! Here's a thread to collect my playtest thoughts and impressions. While I've chimed in here or there on the forums, now that I have a group running through Doomsday Dawn I thought it might be useful to have one location to keep track of everything that comes up in play. We just finished Chapter 1 last night, and will kick off Chapter 2 next week (though we may end up spending our time next week creating characters without getting into the adventure).
Background. I've played a fair amount of PF1, including a lot of PFS play. I was active on the forums for a while, but when I moved to a new state in 2016 I never found a regular gaming group in the new place. So I wasn't playing much Pathfinder and was off the forums for as well. I've been back online following the news since the playtest was announced, and I'm looking forward to playtesting the new system.
My group. I'm starting Doomsday Dawn with a group of 3 players (I'm running a fourth character to round out the party). All of them have some experience with PF1 but not all that much. They are not especially optimizing or strategic players. I'm taking a pretty hands-off approach in that regard, since I imagine feedback from the perspective of more-casual players can be helpful for the playtest and that it's more helpful to get everyone's honest experience with the rules themselves rather than distort it through heavy-handed GM advice. After each session, I've been asking them for their thoughts on what they enjoyed and did not enjoy so much, and I'll be posting those here along with my own thoughts as we go through the adventure. I will also encourage my players to fill out the surveys when we finish each chapter of Doomsday Dawn.
Approach. Much to my dismay, my order of the playtest books was affected by the difficulties at launch. (Ultimately, I had to cancel my order with Paizo and pick up the books from another retailer.) This meant that my first pass with the full ruleset was trying to learn it from the pdf, which I found to be a very frustrating experience. So rather than trying to learn the rules in advance, I did an initial skim to try to situate myself and then have been learning in play, looking up each rule or system in more detail as we encounter it. My players are also "learning by doing," and are generally less familiar with the rules than I am. They also got annoyed trying to learn the rules from a pdf, so we all said, let's just create characters and figure it out as we go. (This got a lot easier once we had a couple physical books, which I picked up after our initial character creation session.)
The upshot of this learn-by-doing approach, of course, is that issues that arise in play could be issues with the ruleset itself or just issues that come up because we don't understand the rules or missed the relevant rule somewhere. Whenever a question comes up at the table I'll spend a minute looking through the book and index to see if I can figure it out and if not just rule and move on. So if anything comes up where it looks like I've mistaken the rule, please let me know. As part of my feedback here I'll be noting questions about the rules that stopped play at the table and especially questions that ultimately stumped us, where we couldn't find an answer or were confused about what we found.
That's it for an introduction! In the next few posts I'll work through our experience with the Lost Star.
The other significant announcement was that they're working on an update to "significantly" loosen the restriction embodied in signature skills. Alas, it didn't sound like they're planning to do away with them entirely yet (yet!), and it was left deliberately unclear what "significantly", ahem, signifies here—but still a step forward imo. Mark also mentioned that this was a lot harder to update than death & dying, since more feats and other parts of the system interact with it (e.g., if the supposed value-add of a feat was in part that it granted a new sig skill, then what will it give you when they loosen the system?).
I also enjoyed the discussion of death & dying rules. Mark said they literally had three or four different systems in the playtest rules until the moment they had to pick one to send to the printer, and that they've continued to debate it internally since—so it was definitely on their list of issues that needed work and they've heard the playtest feedback so we're getting something Monday after this one.
(phone post, disclaimers for autocorrect and typos)