Cayden Cailean

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Goblin Squad Member. Organized Play Member. 144 posts (214 including aliases). No reviews. 2 lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.


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I think these changes are heading towards a better and more engaging direction.

Magic Items having base effects, and using Points to boost their effects is something I've been calling for since Resonance was announced. Lessing the base effects compared to the older system and PF1 makes sense as well, so agreement there with that change.

I agree that Resonance is a good way to reign in the number wearable magic items, while removing the limits of the slot system, i.e. more freedom to choose which items they want and more freedom to create items that don't quite fit the old body slots of PF1. One example I keep going to is you can now create a Mandarin-type character with 10 magic rings. I'm quite happy to see the system changed this way.

However, I don't think having a flat pool of 10 RP is the way to go. I feel that a pool that scales with power/level would be more interesting. At every level up, you would feel more excited now that your RP pool increases, and you could look forward to acquiring new magic items in the future. It would limit low-level characters from being over-boosted with magical gear (which may be good for some groups, bad for others depending on how they like to play the game). Having the unchanging pool would feel like a boring part of your character, which grows and changes everywhere else.

In addition to that, you might be able to have different RP investment costs depending on how powerful the item is. It woudl give players some additional decision-making as to how they want to kit out their character. Invest in multiple, low-powered items, or go for a single big one? Another idea is that you could have magic item sets: a magic belt X and magic gauntlet Y each cost 2 RP to invest, but if you have both, reduce the total RP cost of them both together by 1.

I do hope non-Charisma based classes will have means of refreshing Focus points (as mentioned in the blog; actually, even Cha-based classes shoudl have refresh methods, just not as frequent). I also hope that the refresh method for each class is different and tailored to the flavor of the class. For example, in PF1, Grit can be renewed by delivering a critical hit on an enemy or downing an enemy, very appropriate for the Gunslinger. Panache can be renewed similar in concept with a critical hit with a light or one-handed piercing melee weapon. Although not the same thing, but similar, in Dreamscarred Press' Path of War, each initiator class has different ways to spend a turn to regain maneuvers (Stalker spends a full round to recover and move his speed with bonus to AC and next attack adds deadly strike; Warlord can perform a gambit action successfully to recover a maneuver). I feel it'll be important for characters to have some method of recovering Focus Points if they have to use them for both their powers and to activate magic items.

Anyways, those are my initial thoughts on the changes. Looking forward to testing them out.

When I ran this encounter for my group, I remember us being quite amused with trying to escape the quicksand. There was a lot of laughter was they lost their camels, failing to leap of their sinking camels, and failing to fish out their comrades. The Ankhrav was pretty much a non-factor as the barbarian with the +1 weapon and the shapeshifted druid took it down easily.

I agree that the wording for the quicksand's routine is imprecise. My group understood it as needing to take a Swim action, so they could attempt 3 times during their turn, but the wording makes it seem that you have to use your entire turn to make one skill check. It should have been written that the PC needs to use the Swim action (DC 18 Athletics) or something similar as by default that costs 1 action out of 3 per turn.

It should also be more explicit that once a PC is completely submerged, they don't keep going steps further down should they keep critically failing to swim out. I mean, my group understood that implicitly, but we did pause when that scenario came up.

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Joe M. wrote:
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.

This is what I've been saying ever since Resonance was first explained. It was a terrible idea to have all your magic items, one of the main rewards of the game, to stop working all together at any point in the game. Had resonance been released as it was, I would have have house ruled all magic items have a basic function, and you could spend resonance to charge it for additional effects.

Glad to see that resonance will be readjusted in this manner. Also glad to see resonance being removed from consumables. That didn't make sense either.

Treat Wounds is also a welcome addition, especially how healing seems a lot more limited in this edition. However, its importance will probably lessen if resonance is confirmed removed from consumables. Still, it's good to have the option there.

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I like having ability scores on monsters. For me, it helped define some of their character, and made them relatable to the PCs. A lot of the math of the game revolved around the ability scores (at least in PF1). And I'll need them when I want to apply PC classes or other features to them. In PF1, I really liked that monsters were built the same way as PCs, so I can build up a troll chieftain with levels in bloodrager, or a worg hunter, or a balor barbarian. You'd think living a few thousand years, a demon would pick up a few skills.

Overall, I plan on keeping ability scores, for both monsters and PCs. In addition, I plan on keeping them as a score, and not a modifier. I'm fine with odd-numbered scores, because I consider them to be another form of hit points. And numbers go 1-2-3-4, not 2-4-6-8. Of course, the odd numbers existed only to slow down ability score power increase. They tried to mitigate the uselessness by using odd ability scores as prerequisites.

Ability damage isn't much of a thing anymore in PF2, but I've always appreciated them as another venue of attack. I really liked the description of what happened when you reach 0 in a certain ability score. The threat of ability damage gave my PCs more of a fright.

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Ediwir wrote:

To be perfectly honest and truthful, if I were to write a GM's guide it would probably be a thick, heavy, leather-bound tome with gold edges and silver title plates, and a single written page that says "Just wing it."

Go with what feels right on the spot. If it's entertaining, it's the correct answer.

And you know what feels right on the spot? Playing in a world that is internally consistent, overcoming challenges with the tools at hand and not on a whim, and being clever and creative in the face of limitations.

Thanks, I just received the confirmation email. Looking forward to receiving my order!

Ediwir wrote:

I follow these guidelines:

-All Recall Knowledge can be used for any creatures.
-No skill is specific to creature type (but see later)
-All Hail 10.2, Master of Masters
-We use creature level to set the challenge level, and creature popularity to set the check difficulty

Then, I evaluate the skill used by my players. For each creature, independently, I determine which skill is most appropriate, which one is partially appropriate, and which are inappropriate.
For the partially appropriate skill, difficulty increases by 1 step. For inappropriate skills, the difficulty increases by 2 steps.
An appropriate Lore skill would have its difficulty reduced by 1 or 2 steps, depending on how narrow. Trivial checks get reduced by 2 levels if that is required.

Practical example:
The Vampire in Sombrefell Hall is a lv4 creature. Vampires are fairly common in folklore, so I assign it an Easy check. I then determine it fits most with Religion because of their many ties with holy lore, with Occult and Society being a good second choice due to the many legends and mysteries.
As such, these are the DCs:
Religion: DC17
Occult, Society: DC19
Arcane, Nature: DC20
Undead Lore: DC13
Vampire Lore: DC11

Note that most characters in Sombrefell have a +10/+12 at their knowledges, so that's pretty good.

Print 10.2 out and keep it on a small altar, I guess.

That seems to be a good set of guidelines. I guess you can easily set these up beforehand, since as the GM, you have an idea of what creatures the PCs will be facing. Then you can easily save what DCs you've set for future cases so as to be consistent. However, I can't imagine doing this one the fly without experiencing a break in the game.

I'm going to try this out. What I like is that it still rewards characters that specialize in a specific knowledge. I was worried with how vague the skill descriptions were that such specialization wouldn't matter as you could BS your way to justify using any skill to determine a monster's abilities, but I think your system neatly sidesteps that issue while still adhering to the intended flexibility that PF2 is aiming for.

The text on Recall Knowledge on page 338 kinda explains this as well, but in a vague fashion. I think it would behoove Paizo to provide GMs a more explicit, step-by-step guidelines such as yours. For example:
1. Determine creature level for base DC.
2. Determine creature rarity to determine difficulty.
3. Determine which skills can be used to identify creature.
4. Determine the level of closeness each skill related to the creature (appropriate/partial/inappropriate)
5. Adjust the difficulty of each based on its closeness level.

Hello Paizo,

I have yet to receive order 4898851. Going through my emails, I never received a shipping notice for it either. My last update was July 12th. Can you verify its status please?

Thank you.

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Vic Wertz wrote:
We definitely want feedback on whether people think there's not enough setting info, or too much, or just enough. Setting aside a chapter (like we did in the Starfinder Core Rulebook) is possible, but adding a LOT more would be difficult, as we can't let this become a 600-page book.

For ethnicities, I feel you have to commit either 0% or 100%, no in-between. And that would mean it should not have any place in the Core book, because there would be too much to fit in.

If your campaign is predominantly European-inspired, don't include more foreign ethnicities unless you are willing to commit to making them diverse and colourful as the main ones.

If you are going to add ethnicities to one race, commit to developing ethnicities for other playable races. Elves, dwarves, even goblins and orcs are people too, capable of different cultures and traditions. It'll only make your setting feel richer and realistic and less cartoony.

In any case, I feel that ethnicities are unnecessary in the Core rulebook. I don't think they add much to the rules, so the page would be better off being used for more crunch.

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Starfox wrote:
Tridus wrote:
Simply ignoring an encounter? No. You can do that (and sometimes you need to if you're low on resources or on a more pressing situation), but you don't get rewarded for it.

If ignoring an encounter in the manner of turning left instead of right willy-nilly, no xp. If following a plan and thus avoiding detours, at least some xp.

The Lost Star actually has good examples of this in the centipede room - the players have been told where the objective is likely to be, and that's not in the centipede room. Avoiding that room is certainly worth an award - but that might be a side quest award rather than the full fight award on GM whim.

This is why I don't use xp and instead give out levels at waypoints - I don't want my players to feel they have to examine every nook and cranny. They still do tough - but usually after finishing the main encounter.

This is EXACT scenario my playtest group encountered. They had a goblin PC in the group, so they knew that the centipede nest had no value at all. Luckily, since the playtest doesn't care about accumulating XP for future games, it didn't matter if they fought the centipedes or not.

Stuff like this is why, like you, I've switched over to leveling up at appropriate moments in the campaign instead of through XP tracking. PCs can feel free to choose to avoid/ignore encounters as how they pertain to their in-character motivations instead of metagame reasons.

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Xenocrat wrote:
It's a common complaint, there's no guidance on what skills apply to all monsters. Presumably this will be fixed in the final version. It might someday get an errata update during the playtest.

Yeah, it's pretty vague as is. Maybe they wanted GMs to be flexible? But for me, I appreciated the clear-cut way they assigned creature types to each knowledge in PF1. Easy to look up and remember to be consistent.

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Lyee wrote:

That was another of the great things about 1E skills. Nat 1 wasn't a failure, so I frequently didn't have to roll the dice. Beating a DC so hard I didn't have to roll usually felt better than a nat 20.

Of course, you're still making rolls since you can't have that bonus to every skill check at once. You just succeed at what you hyper focus on, and that's awesome.

I love when my level 13 PF1 dungeon has a few DC 8 Acrobatics checks, that the +3 Acrobatics Wizard is massively careful on, while the martials are dancing over it backwards. It made the character's strengths and weaknesses really stand out and be interesting.

I'm with you on that style of play. One thing I do appreciate about having high bonuses trivialize minor challenges is that it helps move the game along more quickly. Not only that saves time to not have to worry about minor challenges that would otherwise bog down play, as a GM, I can plan ahead better. If I know that a PC has a pretty strong lock on a social encounter, I can focus on planning on the expected outcome, instead of having to come up with 2 alternate paths depending on success or failure.

I feel my players also appreciate being able to trivialize challenges that they purposeful optimized for. Makes them feel validated and special in being the expert specialist for a particular situation.

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If Leadership is being removed, it absolutely needs to be replaced with a robust and fun system for players to recruit and form a loyal organization. Fortunately, some of the ground work for such a system has already been established (Downtime from Ultimate Campaign, Recruits from Ironfang Invasion). I also strongly recommend looking at Legendary Games Ultimate Factions for inspiration (built specifically to support Kingmaker and Ultimate Campaign).

My Kingmaker players are having a blast with Leadership. They're having a ton of fun with organizing their followers, seeing a select random few earn prominence throughout the campaign, and having them form the backbone of their respective organization (army, city guard, scouts, spies, business). However, if we had started after we had gotten our hands on UC, Ironfang Invasion, and Ultimate Factions, I would have opted for removing Leadership in exchange for a combination of those systems to recruit their followers in a more organic fashion, and get the players more involved in that process instead of their followers suddenly showing up.

Downtime as a concept is now built in to the core of PF2, so I think that area of the game should be far more developed than the couple of pages we currently have. I was sorely disappointed by how little gameplay was implemented in that section.

Singularity wrote:
I don't like the word "basic" in basic Reflex save. I'd use a more specific term like "damage Reflex save," or "basic damage Reflex save." Just using the term "basic" makes it sound like it is an unmodified saving throw, instead of a more specific damage-related saving throw.

Agreed. I like that idea of calling it a "damage Reflex save". It specifies which default ruling to fall on when it isn't listed in the individual spell.

Overall, I like the change to make things more efficient and move copied text into one area. Just need to make the reference to it unique and memorable for quick look up.

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When Ancestry feats were first introduced, it was described by Paizo as "making my elf more elf-y" as they grew. I thought that this was a neat idea! I can easily see my character put in work to improve his racial abilities, or discover new ways of using them, or pick up some optional cultural skills related to my ancestry.

Instead, what we got was that Paizo chopped up all the basic racial abilities, and having you pick and choose which ones you wanted, sprinkled very sparingly over 20 levels (I had also expected for Ancestry feats to be selected much more frequently over a character's growth, instead of a meager 5 opportunities...).

What it should have been was that each ancestry had a number of distinct features that very much distinguished each one from the other, and Ancestry feats would be similar to PF1 Racial feats: feats that improve base ancestry features, or unlock new abilities stemming from them.

thflame wrote:

I definitely want a non-good Paladin-esque class/variant for people who want to play the divinely enhanced warrior archetype.

Heck, just ban it from PFS and make it an optional class/archetype if you are worried about "cannon".

I'd also like Paladins that resemble Paladins, but that's PF2 for ya.

For my PF1 game, I've been trying to build an alternate class to the Paladin tentatively called "Champion", which would be a divine martial class that zealously ties to a code of conduct of a higher power or cause that don't necessarily have to be LG. Like other alternate classes, they would have some similar powers to the Paladin, but other different abilities to differentiate them.

I'd like for future editions to continue to have that one "absolutely good guy" class that the traditional LG Paladin provides. But I think another, less restrictive, divine warrior archetype is possible without needing to replace paladins.

I feel that the new XP system's only purpose is only to design encounters at difficulties relative to your party's level.

Because of how flexible and customizable it is, I can't see myself using it as a way to track the party's level progress, because it's pretty much dependent on how you feel how fast or slow you want your group to level. At that point, you might as well just focus on leveling your group based on story progression, instead of spending time and effort tracking and calculating numbers.

However, I can see myself using the new XP system to calculate how many creatures I want in an encounter based on how difficult I want it to be relative to my group's party level. Or at least, it would give me a good guideline.

If I want an encounter at X difficulty, then I have Y amount of XP to assemble a group of creatures Z-level difference to my party. I think it'll serve as a good metric to lean on. Seems more straightforward than relying on CR in the past. This is of course assuming that creature levels have been appropriately set by Paizo in the Bestiary...

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Arachnofiend wrote:
I don't particularly care either way as a player, but as a GM this rule would really annoy me. The GM already has plenty of stuff to keep track of without also needing to reference the skill modifiers of four or more characters. It's simply more convenient to have the players keep track of their own modifiers and tell me what they roll.

Agreed 100%. After running 1 session with having to roll Stealth checks for all my players, I was thoroughly annoyed. GMs have enough stuff on their plate, don't add more!

I'm also in the camp that prefers to roll openly as much as possible. I honestly don't think that there is much that the GM has to hide from their players. If players are metagaming a lot, then that's an issue stemming from being bad players.

The only times I think GMs should amke secret rolls is when the players absolutely has no ability to affect the outcome, which are thankfully few and far between. Spells like teleport and augury come to mind, and seem appropriate.

Interesting way of handling multiclassing this way. This may scratch that itch for other class abilities better than previous implementations. Looking forward to testing this method out.

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As I mentioned in the previous blog post, my main issue with Resonance that I hate with a passion is the concept of a failure chance when trying to use them. Potions and other consumables especially should never be "wasted". I believe it would be better if the Resonance system instead had that all magic items had a minimal/trivial function when used with 0 RP. At least then player would not feel like their item isn't wasted.

We could then allow the Resonance system to play along with magic weapons. Invest in them like armor, and spend points to activate awesome abilities at key moments in the fight. It seems silly that Resonance works with everything else that is magical, including armor, but not weapons, where it could be argued is where we would see the most use out of the system. Maybe include in the Resonance system the ability to spend more points for additional effects.

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At present, I am not a fan of the Resonance system. To be more accurate, what I really despise is the existence of a failure chance to use magic items, especially consumables. I don't think that's fair to the player who invested in getting these items, and who would be using them in desperate situations. We never had this before as a standard rule for magic items in the past, and I do not want to see it built in at all.

However, I do think a Resonance can be a fun mechanic. Using your RP to get activate more abilities or potency from your item can allow for a wide range of fun possibilities. I would suggest that you remove the failure chance, and instead have all magic items have a very minimal magical ability when used without RP, especially potions and other consumables. RP can be used to bring out the maximum magical potency from the item, or activate new abilities, but you should never feel that your item is "wasted" when you run out of RP.

I also like the idea that the magic item itself does not have a use limit, so it can now be shared between characters who have RP. I kinda agree that it would be better to shift focus towards acquiring RP-efficient items as opposed to gp-efficient, but I feel that wealth as a mechanic is not a bad thing, and it's fine for a game to have gp-efficiency integral in its mechanics.

I'm also fine with the Resonance system removing the item slot limits. We got multiple fingers, why can't I wear 10 magical rings? In old AD&D 2nd Ed, Drizzt wore his bracers of speed as anklets. Great story idea, illegal in the game. But with Resonance, we could possible allow that! This also allows non-humanoid creatures more freedom in what magical items they can equip.

To sum up, I'll be happy with Resonance based on 2 things:
1) Remove failure chance when out of RP, replace with very minimal abilities. Magic items should never feel wasted.
2) A wide variety of benefits of spending Resonance Points that feel fun and wonderful.

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The PF2 wizard preview is shaping up pretty much how I expected, based on all the info already shown so far. I'm liking what I see here. As the PF2 wizard class eatures haven't changed too much from PF1, the part I'm looking most foward to is seeing what new feats were developed for this new version of the class.

I'd like to reiterate that I'm really liking the level of customization with spells: adding components, heightening spell level, and different levels of success/failures. I like that spellcasters have a lot of options and can see a variety of effects with their spells.

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I'm not particularly impressed by the new stat block. Most of the info I would need to run a monster is there, and I do appreciate the need to streamline and reduce noise of the old stat block. But some reason, I feel like I'm missing out on something.

Please do not use custom art for [[A]] and [[R]]. I know it might look nice, but they won't do any favors when you need to copy the stat block. You just added more things to format. And even if you do have the icon art, are you really going to repeatedly embed an image in it when you put up the stat block online? Please find some text-based abbreviation to denote actions and reactions. Maybe a capital bold "A|<action name>".

I'm fine for aiming towards a redcued, streamlined stat block, but I hope we get a robust monster-building system along with when PF2 releases. Because alone, the new stat block is very unsatisfying, along with this statement:

One of the nice things about the new system of building monsters is that we can just give monsters the statistics we want them to have instead of sometimes building them in strange ways to get their statistics to be good. For instance, in Pathfinder First Edition, a fey might have had far more Hit Dice than expected to get its statistics high enough, which led to odd results from abilities that counted Hit Dice. Now, the redcap gets statistics that are suitable for its level and how it's used.

Seems to me that the solution would have been to fix those abilities to scale differently instead of dropping the main measurement to judge the relative power between a PC and a class-less monster.

What kind of guidelines will be provided to build or modify monsters this way? Because this new design approach requires you to know the balancing levels of each individual part of the creature and they also balance each other out. If I want a creature to have high attack, and low health, how do I measure what numbers to arbitrarily put in those stats to be weak/challenging/overpowering for PCs of X level? It seems to me that you'd be doing more balance testing on an individual monster basis, as opposed to balance testing a creation system which can be applied to all monsters, and that seems very inefficient to me.

The PF1 monster building may not have been perfect, but at least it was parallel to how to build a PC was built, so you had a decent estimate to how they'd match up. In the above example of the so-called "problem" in PF1 with the high-HD fey, maybe you should have developed fey-specific abilities so that you could have a low-HD fey with abilities that scaled high to be the strong iconic abilities for the monster without the other stats based on HD being over the intended goal. In other words, HD was the spine of the monster, and the abilities are the flexible parts that you can scale however you need.

In PF2, I can easily see a monster creation system similar to how PCs are build. Translate the PF1 creature types into ancestries, monster roles into classes, and the theme of the monster can be its background. Instead of monster HD from PF1, in PF2 it would simply be a monster level. Since these monster ancestries/classes/background are intended for monsters and not PCs, they can have access to both monster-specific and PC feats, and the modifiers can exceed what is intended for PCs. For example, a theoretical "giant" ancestry could offer a +8 bonus Strength, an "Awesome Blow" class feat from a theoretical "combat role" class, and a "Troll Regeneration" feat from a theoreritcal "troll" background.

This way, a GM could easily add or substract to get stronger or weaker versions of the same monster.

In fact, whether we get a monster building system or not with PF2, I think this would be a fun project to work on. To translate monster abilities into a PC-style monster building and progression system.

Signature Abilities wrote:
One of the monster innovations I—a computer science student at the time—appreciated most in Pathfinder First Edition was the idea of the Universal Monster Rule. It follows one of the most important principles of programming: modularity, which is to say, don't reinvent the wheel.

I like that Universal Monster Rules are still there, but that we'll be getting more customized/tweaked abilities to fit different more mundane monsters. I like the continued theme of making different things actually feel different. I'm looking forward to reading how the details change between monsters with similar abilities.

Dynamic Defenses wrote:
To fit those stories and to vary things up, we've combined DR and energy resistance into resistance, which reduces damage by a set amount, and we've changed vulnerability into a more common element called weakness, which increases damage by a set amount.

This is some nice streamlining. As mentioned by some people above, I imagine the feel for dealing damage feels more engaging, even though mechanically it hasn't really changed from the current edition.

Sweet Suites wrote:
Some monsters in Pathfinder First Edition have a large suite of abilities (typically from long lists of spell-like abilities), which vary between key iconic abilities, story abilities that influence what the monster can do in the narrative, and other abilities that are niche, redundant, or sometimes much weaker than their other attacks.

I wish we had more examples and details on what this entails, but at the very least, entering a new edition does give us a chance to remake monster to have a better set of abilities that better fit their flavor.

I Have Multiattack wrote:
To close off, many people have been wondering how in the world we handle creatures with many heads, like the hydra, or arms, like the marilith or hekatonkheires, in the 3-action system. Such creatures have unique abilities to use their attacks in tandem in different ways.

I think this has me the most excited out of this blog! With monsters stuck in the same 3-action economy as PCs, I expect that we'll be seeing a lo of exciting and creative attacks that uses multiple limbs and fit in 3 actions. The marilith examples in the blog are the kind of things I'm looking for. Those types of special attacks will certainly make each monster exciting to fight!

I'm liking what I'm seeing here. I'm also really appreciating how generous PF2 is going to allow players to tailor their stats to the character they want to be. The extra stats, feats, and skill proficiencies from backgrounds, on top of ancestries and class all feel like bonuses to me, and that makes me a happy camper.

Backgrounds are mechanically pretty straightforward that as a GM, I can invent them on the fly, and players can easily propose their own that I don't think it'll break anything.

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I understand that the Paladin is very contentious among a lot of people, but I for one am glad and relieved that the LG Paladin retains its core place in PF2. I've always found Paladins to be simultaneously both simple and complicated to play.

Simple in the fact that the Paladin is the ultimate good guy, so their goals are fairly straightfoward. Sometimes all it takes is to not be a dick or an ass. Just be nice. I've always played my Pallysas people always striving to be living embodiments of the seven virtues. For my players who play Paladins, I measure their actions and decisions in how they embody those seven virtues.

On the other hand, paladins are complicated because life isn't fair, and the universe cares not for your simple morals. As flawed mortals, it is understood that they won't always fulfill the goal of embodying the virtues, but as long as they sincerely try to and exhaust all their options, it's not the end of the world for the paladin. What I find fun with playing with paladins in no-win scenarios is being forced to come up with backup plans, contingencies should I ever find myself in a situation where I might violate my oath. That's where the complicated part comes in. Paladins need to be thoughtful and shrewd if they want to have a long career without dying or falling; they should know that not everyone lives to the paladin standards, so Paladins should anticipate the worse actions the bad guys can do, and prepare for them. Not an easy task.

In the example above regarding revealing witnesses, if I was the paladin in that scenario, I would be trying to find ways to provide protection to those witnesses, or find a way to foil the villains plans, usually by recruiting help. You see a lot of those types of dilemmas in crime drama on TV or in books, so there's a lot of inspiration to take from. And if push comes to shove, I believe a paladin should be willing accept the consequences of breaking the law and possible violating their oath to follow which good they believe in (either lie/refuse testimony, or allow harm to come to innocents).

What irks me when I hear about paladin horror stories: both players and GM try playing the paladin in a moral straightjacket. Instead, I feel it should be path that the paladin sometimes stray from, but can return. LG Paladin players should understand what the intent of their code should be, understand why their decisions may violate it and fall, and be willing to find a way to atone for it. A good guy can perform a horrible act when left with no choice, but because they are good, they would feel guilty and try to make up for what they did, even if they might never end up doing so in their lifetime (which makes for a great tragic story!).

GMs should be aware of the dilemma they put their paladins through, and prepare for possible falling. As long as the PC paladin is sincere, GMs should make it clear that they can atone for their misdeeds and return to the light. If you're a god or some cosmic arbiter of morality that guides paladins, then mercy and forgiveness should be a big thing for you. Angelic visions should be appearing to the fallen paladin, guiding them back onto the path of goodness. And GMs should make it fun and rewarding! I feel that the roleplaying experience can be extremely engaging. And I just love a good redemption arc.

Regarding poisons, that's one of the few things I disagreed with from previous editions. Poisons are a tool; intent is the key factor. Paladins should not have to worry about using poisons when their use could reduce the amount of harm and save lives (sleep/knockout poisons would be super useful for pallys).

On another note, I think a class that fills the role of deity/philisophical champion would be a great addition to the game, but just don't call it paladin.

Paladin Features wrote:
As many of you guessed when Jason mentioned it, paladin was the mystery class that gains the highest heavy armor proficiency, eventually reaching legendary proficiency in armor and master proficiency in weapons, as opposed to fighters, who gain the reverse.

Paladins having their role officially defined as the party's tank/defender sounds good to me. It fits with their flavor as a defender of justice and everything that's good.

Paladin Feats wrote:
In addition to the oath feats I mentioned when talking about the code, paladins have feats customized to work with the various righteous ally options, like Second Ally, a level 8 feat that lets you gain a second righteous ally.

Looking forward to reading more oath and other feats. Sounds like Paladins will have many areas to progress in (aura, smites, martial abilities, and so on).

Litanies wrote:
Following their mold from Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat, litanies are single-action Verbal Casting spells that last 1 round and create various effects.

I liked these in UC, so I'm glad they're back!

I see no mention of paladins casting spells. Has this been removed? No big loss, especially if litanies and smite powers are plentiful. And Lay on Hands and its feats would be far better than the cure spells the old paladin was saddled with.

Can't wait to get my hands on this class that has long fascinated me!

Don Your Armor! wrote:
In Pathfinder First Edition, many types of armor were effectively obsolete because you could just buy a better type, but for Pathfinder Second Edition, we’ve made a few new adjustments to make each type a little different.

I'm glad to see that the design philosophy of making equipment not obsoleting each other carried over from the weapons onto armors. I like it when each equipment option presents reasons for picking one over the other beyond the concept of "they cost most because they are just better". I can't wait to see what other traits were developed for armors and how they'll affect my choices.

I also like the new naming convention for magically enhancing armor. Calling armor enhancements "potency runes" might be a minor thing int he grand scheme of things, but the wording does invoke a nice image.

Shield Yourself! wrote:
Shields don’t have potency runes. Instead, you might pick up a shield made of a durable material like adamantine or craft a magic shield that catches arrows, reflects a spell back at its caster, or bites your enemies!

I didnt' realize it before until mentioned here, but since shields can't have potency runes, but can be magical, I guess this means that magical enhancements from PF1 have been split between one type that is solely for numerical bonuses (aka the potency runes) and another type that provides other magical effects? Will we be getting more info on magical effects and magic item crafting any time soon for more explanation?

Fill Your Backpack! wrote:
Now what if you get stuck without your tools and need to improvise? Well, if you can scrabble something together, you’ve created a poor-quality set of tools, which gives you a –2 item penalty (much like the penalty for having an proficiency rank of untrained in a task). The same thing might happen if you had to turn vines into improvised rope or use an empty chest as a drum for an improvised musical instrument!

Another minor thing that was already well understood in PF1, but nice to see explicit in PF2 is that the item quality mechanic makes it easy to determine the effects of an improvised use of an item for reasons beyond its normal purpose.

Take a Load Off! wrote:
Not everything you can purchase is adventuring gear. Cinco de Cuatro wouldn’t be complete without some luxuries like a bottle of fine wine or renting an extravagant suite! You might even rent an animal to ride about town. Of course, an extravagant lifestyle can have a high cost, and the chapter includes costs of living per week, month, or year so you can accurately budget your lifestyle decisions.

I greatly appreciated details on non-adventuring items in PF1. Having trade goods and services statted out helped made it easy to quickly provide costs to my players when they went on to do non-adventuring stuff. I hope they'll still be just as detailed in PF2 as they were in PF1. Have you come up with any new ideas for these types of items in PF2?

Switch It Up! wrote:

[[A]] Interact

You use your hand or hands to manipulate an object or the terrain. You grab an unattended or stored object, open a door, or do some similar action. You may have to attempt a skill check to determine if your Interact action was successful.

Nice to see this explicitly stated. Now what other actions are coming forth?

I hope Bulk is (somehow) better handled in PF2 than it was in Starfinder. I'm on the fence on the concept. On the one hand, I can appreciate it's more easier to group items in weight classes and count them up that way. On the other hand, I feel a Bulk number doesn't clearly portray mass and volume of an object; the number feels vague and arbitrary that doesn't immediately conceptualized based off a real life framework. If you told me that a bedroll weighs 5 lbs., I can immediately understand how my character would feel carrying it because I can go and carry something that weighs 5 lbs in real life, but if you told me a bedroll is 2 bulk, I don't immediately get that feel of how cumbersome this item is. In Starfinder, there were weapons (certain rifles) that had different bulk values that I would have thought would've been the same, so I could never get a sense of what Bulk represents. I am also sadden at losing a bit of the simulationist side of the game over something that I felt never was a problem in the first place.

I also hope "L" is replaced with "0.1". I'm already adding up numbers, don't bring letters into it. 10 L = 1 bulk anyways, so why not just label those items as "0.1" bulk and keep it consistent? It's an unnecessary mental conversion.

What's Your Weapon? wrote:

In Pathfinder Second Edition, we have a different way of talking about whether a weapon is likely to be found in a particular region, and so a weapon's type instead describes a weapon's mix of power and flexibility. Simple weapons usually have a smaller damage die than similar martial weapons (d6 rather than d8, for instance), and exotic weapons usually use the same damage die as a martial weapon but include additional abilities that make the weapon more complex.

Not a significant change, but a welcome one. A much better distinction between weapon types.

Weapon Traits wrote:

Whatever your weapon proficiencies, you'll want to choose a weapon with useful traits that match your taste and play style. Even among martial weapons that use two hands, a bo staff, a greatsword, and a glaive all feel very different.

I like that different weapons will have more distinct features beyond weapon damage. I like it when there are gameplay reasons to use different weapons and that they feel different in use.

Question, though: what do Exotic weapons have that make them distinct from Martial? The examples mentioned so far seem like all weapon types have traits, but I don't see an example of what a proper Exotic weapon can do.

Critical Specialization and Weapon Groups wrote:

Traits give us some really cool ways to distinguish weapons, but we decided to throw one more customization factor into the mix, this time for similar groups of weapons: critical specialization effects.

Very cool additions, can't wait to read how they work in detail. More different effects lead to each weapon feeling more unique.

I'm really liking how the new critical system and action economy is integrated so far, not just with the weapons.

Weapon Quality wrote:

Weapons, as well as other non-weapon items (but come on, those aren't as cool as weapons, right?), can be poor quality, standard quality, expert quality, master quality, or legendary quality.

Very much reminds of item qualities now used in MMOs, which I imagine is where the idea came from. But that's fine with me; I feel it's now a familiar concept, and gives room for more sense of progression, and more reward for higher crafting skill.

Overall, weapons are looking pretty good for PF2!

Sorry to hear that. Thanks for all the work you've put in, GM.

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Some interesting new info here. A lot of teases, but not enough detail for me to form any judgement on the new cleric so far. I'll need to see the spells and feats and domain powers.

Cleric Class Preview wrote:

Clerics' key ability score is Wisdom. This means that they get an ability boost to Wisdom at 1st level, increasing their Wisdom score by 2.

Did I somehow miss this mentioned in the other class previews? Or is this our first mention of the class granting an ability score boost? I can see the reasoning in doing so, and it'll make players feel more comfortable in picking varied ancestry/class combos. Seems like a good idea I look forward to seeing action.

Cleric Class Preview wrote:

A cleric's deity also imposes some restrictions on her, collectively called anathema, representing acts that go against her deity's will and teachings or violate their alignment requirements.

This could be contentious. I'd like to see some examples. I need to see how these can be interpreted, and how easily they can be adapted to gods of other official or homebrewed settings.

Cleric Class Preview wrote:

As you go up in level, you'll increase your proficiency rank with divine spells to expert at 12th level, master at 16th level, and legendary at 19th level.

At higher levels, you gain new cleric feats at every even level, except levels 12 and 16, when you increase your spell DCs instead.

Those seem like odd levels to place those bumps. They're concentrated on the higher level side of progression, instead of being more evenly spread out. Any reason for this?

Cleric Class Preview wrote:

We made your number of spells more straightforward by eliminating Pathfinder First Edition's bonus spells granted for having a high ability score.

No more bonus spells from high ability scores. Kinda sad at their loss, they were a nice bonus to have, but I don't think it's a crippling loss. In exchange, we have to rely on other powers. I hope there will be enough of them to compensate. However, that means there are no more classes that have a 0 listed on their spell progression, like Rangers and Paladins, right? Those were always dumb.

Cleric Class Preview wrote:

You can activate a metamagic feat when you cast a spell. This increases the number of actions required to cast the spell and modifies the spell in some way.

This seems a like a nice way of handling metamagic with the new action economy. However, this means that metamagic can't be applied to spells that require 3 actions. I believe it' expected that those spells are to be few and far between. Will those spells be complete enough that applying metamagic would have less use anyways? And I guess this also means that the intent is limit only one metamagic effect to most spells, since most of them were said to require 2 actions?

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gwynfrid wrote:
graystone wrote:
It really isn't as I have to look at the weight either way: having it be 'light' [or 1/10th a bulk] or looking up the weight in pounds is STILL looking up a number and adding it. The fact one is variable is the only difference but that doesn't remove the fact that you had to look for either one.

I don't think so. A system that reduces the variability of weight will naturally require less looking up into tables. Whole classes of items can now have the same weight, where "light" replaces everything between 1/2 lb and 2 lbs (for example), and it's going to be much easier to guess that an item falls in this category, in most of those cases. Potentially, the designers can decide that light weapons all are 1 bulk, medium weapons 2 bulk etc. This greatly facilitates the creation of a level 1 character. The developers have mentioned lowering the barrier of entry for first-time players as a big design goal, and I couldn't agree more.

Moreover, this immediately does away with the problem for Small characters where we had to remember to divide the weight by 2. Instead, bulk is the same, it just fits automatically with character size.

For me, looking up 20+ items for every character has always been the worst chore, an entry tax before I get to play. I'm happy to see that go. Plus, on the personal side, I get a side benefit: This removes one Imperial unit, at least, from the list of things I have to live with in order to play. A minor, but appreciable bonus.

This is off-topic for the blog post, but since the topic was brought up, I just wanted to say that I've been on the fence whether or not to adopt bulk vs. weight.

What you say makes a lot of sense, and does seem to be an improvement. However, that's only if they implement it consistently across all types of objects, which isn't what I've experienced in Starfinder so far. You've got some rifles at 1 bulk, other rifles at 2 bulk, and even others at 3. Because of this, you're never 100% sure, and you end up looking up the chart anyways. I don't know why they didn't just do as you suggested: all pistol-like weapons are 1 bulk, all rifles at 2, all heavy/sniper at 3.

If bulk is to be used, there also needs to be better explanation of how that bulk number can be translated into what it actually means. For instance, the Medical Lab is 50 bulk, and the Regeneration Table is 20 bulk. I have no frame of reference as to what this actually means. Ok, I can somewhat imagine what a table looks like, but what's the Medical Lab having bulk when it's an actual room? At least when using weight and volume I have a frame of reference to understand and visualize what I'm dealing with. I've found having actual weights involved gave me a better idea of how characters of certain strength can interact with other physical objects in the world, stuff that isn't listed in the rules but that I can look up in real life for comparison.

So for me, I can live with the bulk system, but it needs to be hell of a lot better implemented than it was in Starfinder, because in that system, I saw absolutely no improvement in actual use over using actual weight. I find that I'm still regularly looking up what things weigh/bulk and still having to count and add up just as much as I was doing with actual weights.

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I like that there is now more separation between potions and elixirs. I can't really judge how good the changes to the poison mechanics will be from this one example, but I hope they'll be more streamlined and clearer than before.

Now that alchemy is now a major feature of the game, I can't wait to see what will be done with it. I've always found alchemy a great way to emulate science-fantasy ideas, going the route of 'mad science' as mentioned before.

One concern I've always had was that I found alchemical items to quickly become obsolete very early on as DCs and effects remain static. I had to develop some additional house rules to allow creation of alchemical items with increased effects at higher cost. The blog mentions examples of the Alchemist able to increase the effects of alchemical items, but are there any plans to keep alchemical items useful for other classes at higher levels?

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Have not gone through all the responses yet, but here are my thoughts.

Overall, I'm liking what I see here. I really like how spells have a lot of variability now, from using a different number of actions, heightening the spell, and critical damage/fumble. Would it be accurate to say that it will be easy for GMs to customize spells further just by changing the number of actions or altering how the spell is heightened? We now have several established vectors where we can alter spells and how they scale.

I like ritual spells, and glad they are now part of Core. I hope we see more effects and variety!

So 10th-level spells are just a new level to better slot those 9th-level spells that were more powerful than the norm? Fair enough. Excited to see what new spells will be created for that new level.

Cantrips are automatically heightened to max level makes sense. Will there be more cantrip spells? Will their heightened modifications be varied?

Spell Point pool seems to follow the same design philosophy as the new action economy. Now players will have the choice to use certain powers more per day depending on their needs than they could in PF1. Sounds good to me.

Magical Tradition paragraph seems vague, but I'm glad to see it addressed. I hope there will be some game mechanic to along with that fluff description of the difference between arcane and divine.

Thanks for the blog post! I'm really looking forward to seeing all these changes in action.

I like what I'm seeing so far! Good idea on removing damage die size differences for the sling, and maybe other weapons? I don't know why it didn't occur to me before to do so. I may look to doing the same in my current PF1 campaign, for weapons that realistically don't need to be scaled down in size for small creatures to wield.

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I like the alchemist, so I'm looking forward to seeing its update in PF2. However, this blog post didn't have much to be excited about. Glad to see its features still there in PF2, but without details, I can't get really hyped. Also very few details about what alchemical items that can be crafted, so can't even get excited about the classes ability to create lots of them. Same goes for poisons and potions. I don't know how these work in PF2, so what am I supposed to get hype about?

Looking good for elves and dwarves. Surprised to know that most races are going to 25 ft. move speed! I guess it makes sense; a full move will be 75 ft. now.

Heritage feats make their return, now as a subset of ancestry feats limited to being taken at level 1. I wonder what the breadth of those options will be.

I really want to see the full list of ancestry feats.

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Dasrak wrote:
I do dislike how the mental stat bonuses and penalties typecast many races. Elves never truly excel as Clerics, while Dwarves never truly excel as Wizards. You certainly can play with those race/class combos, but it inherently put you at a disadvantage because your racial bonuses don't align with the needs of your class. Tieflings and Aasimar had some cool variants that let you work around this and that would potentially be a model for PF2 to allow more diversity from each ancestry. I'm not for or against the +2/+2/-2 standard, and I don't think I'd be upset if it stayed or disappeared. I just hope races aren't quite as strongly typecast this time around.

You could say the same with physical stat bonuses/penalties. Elves will never excel as Barbarians, halflings never excel at melee Fighters.

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself how different do you want your races to be from one another. Are they a truly different, alien species to baseline humans? "In this world, elves are just frailer than other races, but they're very smart. That's something they have to deal with and that's how they evolved to compensate."

You could do away with all racial ability score modifiers, or allow every race to pick and choose their bonus/penalty; there would still be other racial abilities to differentiate them, but you could also argue that this is another form of typecasting, and you would edge closer and closer to the concept that "all races are just human with different looks".

It all really depends on how you view different races/ancestries in your campaign.

Goblins were already an allowable PC race in my homebrew campaign setting, so I'm looking forward to applying the PF2 goblin options in my game. I like the floating ability score boost. That's pretty unique!

I like having varied outcomes beyond simply success/fail. Can't wait to read what will be available.

In my current game, I implemented a house rule where for every 10 that your attack beats the target's AC, you can increase your damage by another weapon damage roll (we also called this 'degrees of success'). So I think my group and I will easily get use to this new degrees of success/failures system.

KahnyaGnorc wrote:

Dex to attack as a feature of finesse-able weapons, Dex to Damage as a feat (either general, or class for certain martial classes), available at 1st level (or 1st level for certain martial classes, higher for others). Requires some commitment, but not too much.

This is how my thinking lines up, and how I run it in my game as well.

I vote to keep material component, cheap or expensive.

The cheap ones is a resource that can be taken away to disarm spellcasters casters if they need to be captured. It also provides some flavor.

The expensive ones are a resource cost that PCs need to keep aware of, and can serve as a goal to an adventure.

I would like to see more system support for material components. I like the concept of Esoteric Components from PF Unchained and Talismanic Components from Ultimate Campaign. I hate that these two subsystems were developed separately, and I would like to see a more unified and elaborate system where unique material components can be found or harvested from creatures, and they can be used to affect spellcasting or magic item crafting. This would allow material components to be more present in treasure hordes, and make monster killing more profitable.

Absolutely agreed! I really wanted to use this subtype for zombie hordes and had a difficult time making it balanced.

Troop subtype really make it easier to portray small group of PCs squaring off against an army of minions.

I like firearms in my game, so I would definitely like to see them implemented in PF2. But I agree they should not be in the Core, and should show up in an optional book. Hopefully that way, the concept can be more fully developed than they were in Ultimate Combat.

I would really like to see additional options revolving around firearms that take into account that they exist in a magical fantasy world, and how the world would evolve with their presence. Since we're dealing with fantasy creatures that have tenous ties to reality to varying degrees, we can play fast and loose with the effectiveness of firearms against non-mundane creatures.

I was disappointed by the lack of magical options to enhance firearms and defend against them, like an enchantment to truly silence a firearm, shields that reflect bullets, ability to curve bullets like Wanted, and so on. In my home campaign, I used alchemy as a form of magical chemistry to justify the creation of alchemical ballistic fiber padding that could be added to armor at a cost and increased armor check penalty to make them effective against firearms.

I realized that stuff like that would really take a lot fo people out of the more classical fantasy setting, which is why they should totally be in a separate book where rules and options can be fully developed for a fantasy setting that assumes the existence of firearms.

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edduardco wrote:
Kain Gallant wrote:

I think this comes down to poor wording in Sneak Attack's description. Sneak attack shouldn't be described as striking a vital spot (in combat, you are ALWAYS trying to hit a vital spot). Instead, I believe the intent is that sneak attack deals an unexpected attack that the enemy is completely unprepared for, which is why it causes so much more damage to their ability to keep fighting. Compare your ability to stay standing from receiving a punch that you are ready for vs. a surprise hit sucker punch.

This is why flanking allows for sneak attack. Your ally is distracting the opponent enough that you the rogue can deliver a surprise hit the opponent is unprepared for that can potentially take them out. Same logic applies to Feint (distract and misdirection) and attacking flat-footed opponent (not ready to defend themselves).

Agree, that explanation makes more sense to explain Sneak Attack mechanics, although in that case it should not count as precision damage.

True. This would have to be house-ruled out to be normal damage, which honestly, I don't think would break things. It would be a minor buff to the rogue that I would probably be fine with as a GM.

Not too much to add to this topic, but I just wanted to voice my opinion that I've never had a problem with wands of CLW. As a GM, I'm fine with players paying or creating resources for themselves to stay alive. It never really broke immersion to me either because I had already accepted their existence and place in the context of my campaign world. Healing up after a fight was reduced to a quick process, and keeping track of wand charges was on the same level of keeping track of ammunition.

I don't think Resonance to be an innovative or fun idea, so I don't see it solving anything. Then again, I'm also the GM that implemented the Recharge Magic rules from 3.5 Unearthed Arcana into the campaign, so my tastes veer toward magic-popular campaign.

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Micheal Smith wrote:

While I enjoyed this post. I feel they didn't even come close to getting the Rogue right.

I like the concept of sneak attack. But I am sorry you have failed to grasp the concept of hitting a vital spot. WHY MUST I BE FLANKING TO HIT A VITAL SPOT? Seriously, this is a stupid concept. If SOMEONE is trained to hit vital spots then they SHOULDN'T rely on a friend to do so. Starfinder was on the right path with the Trick Attack. I as a rogue should have the following ways for a Trick Attack:
1. Perception to notice weakness in the creature you are fighting, or in armor.
2. Knowledge check to recall information about known weakness of creatures etc.

I hate you make the ROGUE BE SO RELIANT on another creature.

I think this comes down to poor wording in Sneak Attack's description. Sneak attack shouldn't be described as striking a vital spot (in combat, you are ALWAYS trying to hit a vital spot). Instead, I believe the intent is that sneak attack deals an unexpected attack that the enemy is completely unprepared for, which is why it causes so much more damage to their ability to keep fighting. Compare your ability to stay standing from receiving a punch that you are ready for vs. a surprise hit sucker punch.

This is why flanking allows for sneak attack. Your ally is distracting the opponent enough that you the rogue can deliver a surprise hit the opponent is unprepared for that can potentially take them out. Same logic applies to Feint (distract and misdirection) and attacking flat-footed opponent (not ready to defend themselves).

I will say that Feinting in PF1 was a chore. It should've been a move action by default instead of a standard. However in PF2, this wouldn't be a problem because there's no distinction in actions anymore (assuming feinting works in a similar way).

Overall, the rogue design seem to follow what I expect and want, so pleasantly no big changes there. Rogue feats sound neat, but I'll need to see the actual rules for them.

My personal preference for rogue effectiveness in combat is default lower damage threshold compared to fighter, but able to dish out far superior damage in specific circumstances (flat-footed, flanking, feint and so on). This would allow them to contribute in combat, but also make them play differently than a fighter; they have to use their agility and smarts to deliver their powerful attacks. I also feel that the rogue should be the best class to debuff the opponents through trickery, throwing them off-balance to allow the fighter to maximize his attack.

I like Dex-to-damage, but not for free. It should cost a feat or require a class ability. I really like the Unchained Rogue's ability Finesse Training, which grants Dex-to-damage, but only for a specific weapon. I also like the Deadly Agility feat from Dreamscarred Press' Path of War, which grants Dex-to-damage for only Weapon Finesse weapons at the cost of a feat.

I don't have much to say about this feature. I'm going to need to see some concrete rules as to what players can do and how they can affect the game in each of these modes. From what I've read so far, our group have already mostly been playing along these lines in PF1, so I'm not seeing a whole lot of innovative changes for the new edition.

The sole exception is the idea of setting things up in Exploration Mode to affect any challenges met. I like it, but I really need to see what we can do and how they can affect the encounter. I'm already on board with the idea since the PF1 Downtime rules offered the option to prepare for an upcoming adventure.

I hope we won't have long to wait for the PF2 system for Downtime activities (beyond what'll be in the Core), like establishing buildings and organizations and businesses. Those are seeing a lot of action in my Kingmaker campaign.

Glad to see the Fighter get much love from the design team. Looks very interesting, and can't wait to play with it.

Not sure that I like having Attack of Opportunities locked away as a feat. Instead, I would have liked to see it available to everyone, and the Fighter able to do it better than the rest.

Same with Power Attack. I feel that should be a combat option available to everyone, and that the Fighter is able to do it better than the rest. Much like how Fighter gets Sudden Charge that is better than move-move-strike that everyone else can do.

Quick Reversal looks fun. Glad to see shields being used more actively. Finally sword-and-board can be fun. Good to hear plenty of ranged options will be available so that the Fighter isn't just a melee class. Sounds like there will be plenty of different styles the Fighter can focus on.

Sad to hear that the Fighter won't also be the armor specialist of the group. I feel he ought to be up there. Hopefully there will still be just as many armor-boosting options as his other options.

Honestly, I think both styles are flawed, but if I had to make the choice, I'd go with the PF1-style. I hate the -4 penalty and I could use less tracking, although the nonlethal damage tracking has been pretty easy thus far. I think it does disallow a realistic scenario of killing an opponent filled with nonlethal damage with a single lethal hit.

I guess the major point is that both game styles already make the assumption that players are going for lethal hits, so I want to make things a bit easier for that player who wants to keep people alive. Then afterwards, the party can debate to kill them or not (as opposed to potentially creating conflict already in the middle of combat). Killing an enemy is a decision that can be done after the fight. The same cannot be said for keeping them alive.

I think I would just house rule the removal of the -4 penalty, and come up with a special attack that players would have to explicitely call out to deliver a potentially killing blow on a foe weakend by nonlethal damage.

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