You only have the option to make a second attack every other round at the best of times and that's literally all your actions, half of them completely dead. Then you need to pay feats so that you can actually do anything with those dead actions, including vital things like moving. Even then you only get one action yo can do while reloading, which often will not be useful. If that isn't bad, I don't know what is.
So yes, after you have paid the feat taxes, the crossbow Precision Ranger is "fine". But it doesn't ever get beyond "fine" and that is on a class that has actual support for reload weapons.
As for the flintlock pistol, no idea. You are right, there are quite a few of those around. The air repeater I've occasionally seen on characters that want a one-handed ranged weapon they don't need to reload and that don't want to pay for the repeating hand crossbow. Magi and Thaumaturges for example.
I've seen pre-salvo Triggerbrands in play and they seem pretty good as well, which again, makes sense, they hit like a Monk or Champion often do even when they're just in melee, and do even better when they're ranging which they want to do a bunch because they're the "favors guns class--" on the flipside a fighter using a Gunsword to beat people up in melee and pop the crit spec for extra damage is also pretty good.
That is kind of the problem. The Monk has one of the lowest damage outputs of any martial, but it also has tons of mobility, great defenses and a great action economy. You might not be the greatest damage dealer, but you'll do that damage all the time and your team doesn't have to worry about you, which frees up their actions. That raises the team's effectiveness in a way that you cannot directly see on the character sheet. The Champion achieves the same thing, but in different ways.
The Drifter has the same lacklustre damage, but nothing to make up for it. Same with the Triggerbrand. Replace it with a different class that fills the same role and you almost always have a more capable party afterwards.
I really hate that kind of innate replacability, hence my dissatisfaction. (Sub-)Classes aren't supposed to be straight downgrades, but sidegrades.
Otherwise Gunslingers function like Fighters, with all the excellence implied by a +2 to their main weapon group and good access to fatal and deadly. Someone mentioned them being balanced around rolling 15+ but that's not how damage is calculated, it's the frequency of the results that matters, and 15+ on a d20 is 1/4th of the time (taking for granted that's the fulcrum point) and the average damage numbers are based on that statistical curve.
A lot of the Fighter's power is in press actions and being able to somewhat reliably hit twice per round, so in practice I have found they function very differently. Crits are a bonus on most Fighter builds.
For the Gunslinger on the other hand, crits are vital. If you don't crit several times per fight, then you being a different dedicated ranged class/option instead would have been an objective upgrade for your team. The Gunslinger's hits are only marginally better than the rest's and you make fewer attacks. Having 1/4 of your attacks crit is not what you are looking for with this kind of pressure and 15+ was me being generous. Only 1 reliable crit is more accurate to what people will face, trending towards none when things actually get hairy.
What the theoretical damage statistic says doesn't really help you when you know this and haven't crit in three turns. I can tell from a lot of experience, it is really demoralizing and really common.
It's not that the Gunslinger is terrible and can't be fun, but again, replacability.
The Fighter is great against individuals of all difficulties, not just weaker ones. That is a critical difference. It is also much stronger even against groups, simply because its damage output is higher than the Gunslinger's and it has better CC abilities. I don't know about "most people" agreeing it's too good.
The Gunslinger exists because some people want to use guns and reload weapons are bad. That's literally all there is to it. We know that providing a fix to the perceived Fighter issue cannot be a reason, simply because to Paizo the Fighter is not an issue in the first place. And I'm with them on that one.
I do feel there is something to unpack around classes being considered "second class citizens" if they're better against crowds of weak enemies than individual strong ones, as I feel that also tends to feed into other discussions like casters versus martials. I don't think the Gunslinger is by any means designed to only work against chaff enemies, but I also think that, in an ideal world, there is nothing inherently better or worse about a class being made to excel more against armies of weak opponents than against solo bosses. That we consider the former "second-class citizens" to me indicates a perception skew where being able to take on a lone boss is considered more important than being able to handle an equally difficult encounter against lots of opponents, a skew that I think is worth challenging.
My previous comment was only meant to be in the context of being good against individuals, not groups. Because, lacking meaningful aoe abilities, that's all the Gunslinger can do. Compared to many extreme melee damage dealers, most Gunslinger builds cannot even reduce a larger number of weak enemies quickly (after about level 3-4), simply due to a lack of damage and actions. Their sweet spot is having a few PL-1 enemies, in my experience.
Being able to stop or at least massively hinder entire groups in a single turn is entirely different. Because that is vital. Not only against masses of chaff, but even just debuffing the hell out of a couple of stronger enemies swings fights. So does a good heal or buff at the right moment, for that matter. Especially at higher levels, where having more enemies is often actually more difficult than a single beefy one.
For all of the positive innovations PF2e has brought to d20 tabletop gaming, I don't think Paizo has yet fully cracked how to smoothly run encounters with lots of enemies, which is why the solo boss, or the miniboss with only a handful of henchmen, is still generally considered the archetypal difficult encounter. This in turn affects classes whose specialty is meant to include AoE, as the reduced number of horde-style encounters needs to be factored in, and in my opinion hasn't always been in practice.
There is also the more reasonable perception in play that weaker enemies aren't all that dangerous, while higher difficulty enemies inherently are. So, when you inevitably meet the latter you want to be effective against them. Any class that cannot really handle more difficult enemies is therefore correctly viewed unfavourably. Not that casters actually fall into that category, even if they should be a bit better in that scenario.
As for the "encounters with lots of enemies" issue, I think they are getting pretty close. At least for the size of fights that we are actually intended to face. The only issue with more reasonable encounters my group has found is time. In our experience, a PL+1/+2 boss plus a bunch of weaker enemies works really well for important fights that aren't the "big" fight. But they take quite a bit of time, just like more normal fights with more enemies.
I think the only thing we are lacking is something like a minion rule. Troops kinda work for big groups, but not perfectly. They only target Reflex, so the beefier frontliners are all groaning while the backline and the DEX crowd become mostly immune to them by the mid levels.
Going back to the Gunslinger, though, I do feel that the class's flavor should lend itself to being able to take on lone enemies particularly well, as duels at high noon tend to be the crux of many iconic western movies. The main issue is that the Gunslinger is especially reliant on crits for damage by design, and lone, tougher enemies tend to be especially resistant to crits. In a different world of encounter design where enemies scaled in HP and actions rather than sheer defenses and to-hit bonuses, the Gunslinger would likely feel a lot better at what they're meant to do.
That's my thought as well. Fighting single targets and blowing big holes into them is the quintessential Gunslinger fantasy, so that should be the focus. I think the main takeaway here is that completely relying on crits was the wrong direction from the get-go.
Rolling them into the feat system wouldn't be a good idea. It just isn't suitable for that and already pretty loaded. If you were to actually do this, you'd have to make another silo of feats for this entire thing and then you are just exchanging one economy for another.
Players also like rewards and finding cool stuff. And if players would actually find cool stuff and not "math fixer 1" that becomes obsolete a few levels later, I think that would be enough of a change.
Reload weapons being bad isn't deliberate afaik, only them being hard to use is. Both because bows were designated as the "easy to use" ranged weapon and to make the Gunslinger's niche possible. Because that is the Gunslingers entire niche - being good with guns and crossbows. I don't exactly remember if it was the post-playtest blogpost for GnG or somewhere related to it, but I'm certain this was the official reasoning.
But yeah, what Teridax said is pretty much how it works out, intended or not. However, that isn't supposed to be the Gunslinger's niche. It is not even a niche in the first place, but something every halfway combat-capable build is good at. Plenty of classes are even great at it, including the Gunslinger's direct competition. The Flurry Ranger might hate chaff mobs because he constantly has to get Hunt Prey back up, but he is strong against them all the same.
Even if it was a niche, it would be the worst idea any designer ever had. Telling a player that they are only there for the enemies that don't matter, basically making them a second class citizen, is nobodies' idea of fun.
I want stuff to be mostly up to the character's skills, at least as far as your main thing goes. Playing with ABP for years has convinced me that it is just plain better than runes or built-in math enhancers.
Gear is fine as far as enabling some mechanics is concerned - consumables, jetpacks, vision devices,... etc. - and to enhance your gameplay with cool abilities you can use occasionally use. But tying basic usability of your character to paying vast quantities of money has always been a terrible idea. It causes so many completely avoidable problems and for what?
The problem is kind of that guns are about as strong as you can make them for single-shot weapons, which are supposed to be the "normal" level of tech. Bows are only great in comparison to reload weapons. In comparison to melee, they are pretty mid at best, needing a strong mechanical backing just like reload weapons. They rely either on some other source of damage (Magus, Precision Ranger, Eldritch Archer) or on a barrage of attacks (Fighter, Flurry Ranger). Otherwise they are more easily usable than reload weapons, but not effective either. All ranged weapons need to be heavily carried.
Back to the Gunslinger, I think an unchained version could do plenty.
1) Make an actual "brace of pistols" playstyle the standard for one-handed users. That is the fantasy for this era and the Gunner's Bandolier doesn't fulfill it even remotely. That would give flexibility and, with the right mechanical undercarriage, even allows you to treat your shots as an actual resource you can balance stuff around. I've bought AC4:Black Flag a few days ago and if they make it as cool as that, then we have no problem.
2) Split Pistolero into two Ways. The Ways are intentionally designed to support as many related loadouts as possible, but in this case I think that failed completely. Neither the single-gun setup nor the dual-wielder are properly supported. The advantage of having a free hand at range is minimal without innate caster support. Especially so when that hand being free is temporary with most weapons, as you need to reload. So the single-gun setup doesn't really do anything and pays with even lower damage to boot. Dual-wielding is probably the clunckiest officially supported playstyle in the game.
3) Take all the Way feats from level 6 and put them into level 1 or 2 at most. They are essential support for their Ways and none of them are so strong that they couldn't be at that level, when you take the weapon disadvantage into account.
4) More thematic feats in general, especially at low levels. And actually good ones for their level, not Warning Shot or Cauterize at level 6 (instead of level 1 or 2 like it should be). Like with all other ranged weapon setups in the game, you get one or maybe two cool feats at level 1/2 and then twiddle your thumbs until level 8-10, when you finally get the level of options your friends had for months.
5) Make special ammo (alchemcial/magical) actually usable. For being the dedicated reloader and actually getting native access to at least alchemical ammo, the Gunslinger really has strong anti-synergy with them.
6) Compensate the melee Ways for sending them into melee. Drifter gets legendary proficiency in a melee weapon of their choice. Vanguard gets 10HP/level, heavy armor proficiency and Trip added as an option to their reload. No idea what you could do for the Triggerbrand. My group plays with ABP, so combination weapons have never been relevant for us and the new swap option for Interact is only the final nail in that particular coffin.
7) Stop slapping misfire on feats that don't deserve it, especially not on a simple failure. None of Smoke Curtain, Alchemcial Shot and most of all Scatter Blast deserve what they got. Misfire should be reserved for extraordinarily powerful options, where the level of gambling is actually reflected in the outcome. And, please, something more interesting than Risky Reload. I'm really sick and tired of that feat by now.
8) Add feats that support the Way reloads. The class is build around reloading, so it is weird that you cannot actually enhance that part of your character if you play anything but a dual-wielder.
9) If the Gunslinger still has a problem after all that, we can consider adding a class feature at level 7 that gives additional flat damage on hits, but not crits. That's about the point where reload weapons start getting outscaled.
That's only what I can think of off of the top of my head. I'm sure the actual professionals can come up with much more and better things, so I'm not concerned.
At this point, I would love an unchained version of the Gunslinger. I have a lot of faith in Paizo's magic of accomplishing much with very small changes, see the focus changes, the swap "action" and the "new" cleric for example. If they manage it, great.
But the Gunslinger looks like it needs a major rework to get to the point I want it to. And that is too big an ask for a book that they don't plan on remastering. So a new paid product would be fine by me, even if it's just a dev's personal PF Infinite thing or something.
Dubious Scholar wrote:
This is why my sniper for PFS is a sprite - cover's everywhere when you're tiny!
Player B wanted to play a halfling even before looking at the Gunslinger, so Distracting Shadow was a nice surprise for both of us ^^. The Sniper really does get far smoother to play with the right ancestry.
Singular Expertise isn't meant to be a trade-off, the two parts are entirely unrelated. It presumably just wasn't worth having two features. The proficiency restriction is due to the Gunslinger having two weapon types on the fast track already, which is even more than the Fighter. And the Fighter is supposed to be the "I am good at weapons" class, so that stepped on toes. What people did in the playtest was take archetypes to get the better melee proficiency. Paizo wanted to prevent that, hence this feature. The +1 was from a completely separate feat that everybody in the playtest felt like it was a mandatory pick at 1st level. It was rolled into the chassis to ease things a little and free up that feat slot for other things.
Do I agree with the decision to restrict the Gunslinger's proficiency? Absolutely not. The reasoning doesn't make sense, because nobody actively uses both crossbows and guns. For all intents and purposes, a Gunslinger has one legendary proficiency, just like the Fighter. Stepping on the Fighter's toes via archetypes isn't a problem either - the Fighter still has more freedom anyway via feats that actually support those weapons. And if people feel like they need an archetype to make a subclass work, then that subclass should be looked at first and second, everything else a distant third.
Unfortunately, both I and likely a lot of other people didn't fully understand how this class would work out in the longer run, so our feedback was less helpful than it could have been. It's basically another APG situation.
After helping another two players with their Gunslinger characters in our games, I feel compelled to add to my previous thoughts. Player A is mostly a roleplayer and doesn't care too much about mechanics, as long as his character is useful in the ways he envisioned and the mechanics work with his vision. Player B is a veteran who cares about mechanics, but doesn't go as far as optimizing until the bitter end.
A is part of my TTRPG group, B I just helped and watched play for a few times (and more often listened to his retellings). The characters were played in different parties. Both in custom campaigns that were somewhat more reasonably paced and balanced than your average AP.
A wanted to be a pirate-type character, so we naturally settled on a Drifter with a shortsword and a slide pistol (adjusted to 1 bulk and reflavoured as a larger pepperbox). In the beginning he was fairly happy, but his fun dimmed considerably when he was constantly overshadowed by literally every other martial in the group. Given that he is functionally a melee character (or close enough) and there were no dedicated ranged martials, he reasonably compared himself to the other melees and came up considerably short in every aspect that wasn't Fake Out. They had better damage, better survivability and had more options and cooler options than him. In detail, the others were a Scoundrel (who didn't even go into Opportune Backstab) and an open-hand/fightended build Fighter (me).
He also didn't feel like his playstyle had sufficient support, even with ABP.
Sword and Pistol - the only feat that made the reduced melee proficiency somewhat manageable for him - has strong anti-synergy with teamplay. If you are a good teamplayer and make the effort to help your friends with flanking, your feat effectively becomes useless. Not to mention that you only get the AoO protection on the attack, not the reload. That bit was only a problem once, but he really didn't like that. We found it unfair as well, so we ruled against the RAW here.
After level 1, he didn't feel like he really had any good piratey picks, so we went with the usual Fake Out and Running Reload until level 6. Drifter's Juke fit and he liked it in play, he just whished it did a little more. That might have been the Fighter getting Shatter Defenses in particular. Not the best move on my part in hindsight, because that also meant that his Sword and Pistol was even less useful.
When he found out that normally, he would also have to spend a bunch of money on doubling rings, he was very surprised. The sword already felt bad to him without that, so he couldn't understand why anyone would pay on top of that.
Overall, he had very mixed feelings, trending towards negative. That he didn't have very good luck while rolling his pistol attacks certainly didn't help.
When we built the character together, we immediately ran into the old problem - there is no straightforward "gun" Gunslinger. Just a dude with a rifle who does rifle stuff. As most people, we picked the Sniper as the next best thing. His Free Archetype is
The next problem - feats. The playstyle has literally nothing particularly useful before level 6. He cannot even use Fake Out effectively. Everything that would be halfway decent has even further extreme gambling in the form of misfire, which he didn't like at all. So I gave him the idea to try what I've done in the past - play a Boomslinger.
Level 1 Munitions Crafter for some nice bottled lightnings and Quick Draw at level 2 to yeet them. Also, reload shenanigans to make it work with an arquebus. It takes a bit to build up enough bombs to last the day, but ABP (and a generous GM) helps with being able to buy/get extras. FYI, they (just like my group) allow the attack potency bonus to apply to bombs, which is makes this playstyle somewhat stronger than probably intended.
He is currently level 4 - he took Running Reload, but considered Alchemical Shot (his need to throw bombs won out ^^) and is quite happy. Certainly much happier than A, despite B's party featuring a polearm bully Fighter and a polearm Magus, so a much more competitive environment in terms of damage. The occasional extra damage and off-guard from his bombs really helped the group, so they accepted the gift of backfire mantles gladly ^^. It probably helps that he doesn't have a Snagging Strike spamming Fighter to steal his thunder... *nervous chuckling*. And it certainly doesn't hurt that he often has amazing luck with his rolls.
Here we see good examples of what I think are the Gunslinger's two main problems - average effectiveness and lack of playstyle support.
For the first, the Gunslinger is almost entirely build around its maximum potential and gives basically no consideration to what happens if you don't roll 15+ on every single attack. Not that it's maximum potential is really exceptional, more than a few other options blow it completely out of the water (looks at Magus and Fighter in particular). Hell, we have only a single Way that is even damage-focused, despite that being the thing that new people expect from the class. That leads to a lot of people being disappointed and a few GMs who don't understand, because their Gunslinger is killing it.
As for the second, look at player A. He way trying to make the exact thing the Drifter is made for and even then he was having trouble finding exciting stuff to pick.
He also found out the hard way - with zero hints on my part - why I think the Drifter is poorly designed in general. You can't throw a ranged character into melee and then still treat them completely like a ranged character. Same with the two other melee-heavy Ways - if you do that, you have to compensate them. If you don't, you have the current dilemma of them being constantly outdone by both other melees and ranged characters.
Not that the ranged Ways don't also suffer that problem. Player B found no interesting picks in anything his Way should be good in for months, so he played something completely different. To be fair, he also wanted to play something more direct, but still. And beyond those two's experience, I don't think the Pistolero makes either of it's playstyles particularly exciting. Or even non-clunky in case of dual-wielding. Spellshot has become a lot more attractive with the RK change, but the adjustments still make it a non-starter without a nice GM and it doesn't really have anything before level 6 either.
All in all, the Gunslinger still needs stuff that make the player feel cool and effective, not just some stuff that somewhat counteracts how awful guns are. Especially feats before level 6 that aren't exacerbating the class' issues (misfire) and aren't extremely niche.
developing that mod I tested out using weapon proficiency + con, and I found that the fighter level proficiency on area weapons was kinda busted at early levels (moreso, I think, than legendary at higher levels would be). Enemies were failing a LOT, and even critically failing a fair amount. That said, fighters are in a different game, so how important that is is up for debate.
I'd say that is fine in regards to the Fighter. When converting it to SF2, you could just give the strong recommendation to exclude area weapons from the higher proficiency.
Any possible legendary weapon progression native to SF2 would probably have a limited selection like the Gunslinger anyway. If not, you should exclude area weapons just like on the Fighter.
In terms of being fun to play, weapon proficiency + CON would be massively preferable. Moderate saves are the equivalent to high AC, so the norm for a martial. But enemies having a good Reflex save is common, so far more than any other martial, you will often effectively target the extreme AC and beyond. It's much like using troops against a DEX-heavy party on higher levels - you're not going to do anything. Having your progression delayed by 2 or even more levels on top of that is going to feel even worse, so I'd be great if we could avoid that.
I mean, Sneak Attack in and of itself is completely artificial nonsense, even in-universe. Your enemy not seeing the attack coming matters only for hitting, it has nothing to do with the damage you cause. Weakpoints are already represented by AC and critical hits.
Neither has the enemy being off-guard necessarily have anything to do with sneaking, as the system frequently demonstrates.
Therefore, what we allow or don't allow is almost completely arbitrary. It doesn't have to be a "sneaky" weapon as such. Every Rogue can sneak attack with a backpack ballista and could even do so with a cannon, if those made attack rolls. The iconic rapier is anything but subtle either. With a polearm, you can at least pose as a guard or something.
Milo v3 wrote:
Exactly. If you change the boundaries of the core math, the games wouldn't be compatible.
You could actually argue that applying the weapon potency modifier to the class DC already does that, but I don't see that continuing to other areas.
In fact, I am saying the complete opposite. There were tons of complaints about this during the early days of PF2 and, more anecdotally, not a single person I've directly spoken to about PF2 hasn't found that part weird.
Are advanced weapons implemented poorly? Yes. Does that mean the concept of weapon categories is itself flawed? No.
A system like it currently exists allows you much creative freedom than a simpler system. Simpler doesn't automatically mean better. In this case it just means worse.
For one, if you just make every weapon equal, all you have done is create a smaller pool of weapons people actually take. In a normalized system, there is no space for people wanting to invest in a much different or better weapon. Traits are very much not created equal. Neither is there space for designers wanting to restrict the "good" weapons to the classes that are actually supposed to be trained with those weapons. It goes from a choice between four options to a completely binary one.
Same with armor, though there it is even easier. There the class fantasy actually comes into play. A "normal" Ranger isn't supposed to run around in plate armor. In contrast, the Champion is usually envisioned with heavy armor. Many casters, for imo silly legacy reasons, are commonly seen as not wearing armor.
If you were to abandon armor categories, you would either have to make leather as good as plate armor or everyone who doesn't care too much about movement - ranged characters and casters mostly - would do the logical thing and grab plate every time. Neither of those are good outcomes.
The whole "x is harder to use than y" thing as a justification for simple/martial/advanced/whatever has always been almost completely arbitrary. PF2 tries to go a little more into the civilian weapon (simple) vs dedicated warrior weapon (martial + advanced) direction, but even that is a blurry distinction at best. Judging the merits of the system from either of those angles is pointless, as that is not its real job.
That would be a complete disaster. In PF2, the actual point of weapon categories is being a balance tool. Everything else is a sideshow at most. A frying pan and a portable puckle gun (barricade buster) simply don't have the same power budget and I highly doubt people would like it if they did. Just as an example, how many people don't find it weird that a fist does the same damage as a dagger or a gun? By normalizing equipment, the main thing you would achieve is less variety and more nonesense like that.
And if a player can just pick, they would heavily tend towards the weapons that are simply better than the others. That's also why the system won't go away without a complete reimagining of the whole caster/martial distinction.
Two of the biggest misses in the pre-core MC archetypes is that MCing gives you the full power version of both Flurry of Blows and the Champion's Reaction. Here's hoping Player Core 2 fixes that.
I agree, but the Monk archetype is rather hard to fix. Champion is easy because getting Lay on Hands, Divine Ally and the armor (for shorter campaigns) already feels like you are getting a lot. The Monk on the other hand has basically nothing in its chassis that you can safely poach. Powerful fist, a movement speed bonus most characters cannot use and a bit of save stuff are it.
The Rogue was already a better unarmed combatant than the Monk before the Remaster, at least as far as the offense is concerned. Just like the Fighter, some Champions, the Barbarian, Magus, and maybe even the Ranger and Thaumaturge. I mean, at this point this isn't even a substantial change.
I mean, very few skills actually have more than a couple (if any) skill feats that you really want to take in the first place. Most skill feats don't really do much, they are more in the vein of mechanically supporting RP or covering niche situations. Unless SF2 changes this drastically, I don't think we have to worry about this.
If you make skill feats as actual class feats and not like archetype skill feats, then they will inevitably have to be far more broad and stronger than skill feats. Otherwise nobody will take them or you will get buyer's remorse when they sound coll, but are actually bad. You don't want to create a bunch of the next Warning Shot.
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
They can also use advanced d6 weapons for what it's worth.
But really, how are they getting shafted when this is just a straight buff compared to before? There aren't a lot of additional weapons that are worth taking (it's pretty much asp coil and breaching pike for that 1h reach), but still.
Eric Clingenpeel wrote:
So, just checking my reading, but now a ruffian rogue can sneak attack with bombs as long as the damage die is d6, correct? What if its 2d6? Seems like it should as the die size is still d6... My ruffian was looking at multi-classing to fighter or something to be able to throw dread ampules if needed.
Correct. All the ability cares about is die size (d6 maximum), the number of dice or added damage are completely irrelevant.
Something I'm really hoping for, but am not sure we'll see, is the birth of the class-feat-as-skill-feat paradigm with the operative. Your chosen superskill gives you access to some real potent skill feats that push the bounds of what skill feats normally do. That might push the power curve a bit too much though, I'm not sure.
I'm not sure what you mean exactly, but class feats that heavily involve a skill and have a strong in-combat and/or out-of-combat application are totally what I'm expecting to see as options. It's not even all that new, the Gunslinger, Rogue and Swashbuckler all have feats that heavily modify the Feint action far beyond any skill feat for example.
Or do you mean that the class feat provides access to stronger skill feats and you still take those as skill feats? Because that one I don't see happening.
How are they thinking of making the operative more of a specialist them skill monkey? Both the current envoy and operative have the same number of skills and ways to specialize in skills.
As far as we know, Operatives and Envoys will no longer receive the same number of skills (or skill increases).
The Operative will instead be really strong with a single skill. So presumably they will be a standard 10 skill increase class, hopefully with your main skill scaling automatically as well.
The Envoy will be the one to receive all of the skills, so they will certainly be a 20 skill increase class.
As for additional skill increases, they are usually done via archetypes so far, but I'd definitely agree that it would be great for a general feat to cover this as well. You get them at the exact right levels to progress, even.
I imagine we'll see some chopping down and narrowing of the operative concept in this edition for that reason. SF operative kinda eats everyone else's lunch, at least when it comes to skills.
That's pretty much guaranteed to be the main reason for the skill monkey -> skill specialist change, yeah.
Another way to look at the operative is what is your example from a movie or book of a sci-fi operative, and how would that fit into Starfinder?
Yeah, that makes sense ^^. The devs certainly do that, as people tend to take inspiration from other pieces of media.
This gets a bit more complicated as from what I gather the Envoy and Operative have some conceptual overlap. The vibe I get is that the Envoy covers the more public and leadership-oriented aspects, while the Operative is more about getting his own hands dirty or at least acting in a less overt manner. The "lone wolf" angle is pretty popular for the latter, but is not strictly necessary.
But boy, I haven't consumed all that much scifi in the last like 10 years. It's been rather heavy on fantasy. Many of the few characters I remember would mean nothing to pretty much anyone either XD. But I'll try.
For well-rounded Operatives, I'm thinking about a lot of the main cast of Rogue One. Each one is somewhat specialised in a skill or two, but (nearly) all can handle it when things go sideways. Except Donnie Yen (I can never remember that character's name) and his friend, they are pretty obviously a Monk and a Soldier ^^. Jyn has an Envoy moment later on, but I think she still counts.
I'm not sure what category cyberpunk protagonists/enemies would fall into, but they usually see more combat. Adam Jensen from the Deus Ex series is a prime candidate for an Operative. V from 2077 could be. The Fixers from 2077 come to mind as well.
If the Operative does indeed absorb some of the more regular soldier angle, I could somewhat see the protagonists of Edge of Tomorrow. But most prominently I would see the Stargate teams here, except usually the team leader (O'Neill in particular).
My most vivid connection would ofc be 40K's Officio Assassinorum "employees". Besides the callidus assassins, who spec heavily into skills, they are like a poster child for what the new Operative tries to do. One strong skill and beyond that they are really good at killing. The most extreme example being the vindicare, who has maxed out Stealth and on-hit damage XD. The stories around individual assassins are some of the most crazy stuff I've ever seen. If I get something like that, I'm more than happy! Maybe without the built-in bionuke for my favourites, though ^^
It would certainly mean that the character is largely incapable of using activities with the gun. Given how many abilities end up as activities, I'd expect that to sharply reduce their available options.
I suppose you could use the gun as a one-off at the start and continue with a different weapon. But I'm not sure that that is what you have in mind?
Also, since this is a wishlist thread, one thing I'm kind of hoping for is that operatives have two subclasses. The first being focused around the skill they use in all of their operations in inventive ways, and the second being the kind of fighting style they employ when those operations invariably go sideways and firefights break out.
I would love that ^^. While they will probably go for something more straightforward like the Rogue approach in the core, I hope that the lego approach to class building of the newer classes in PF2 will continue. Where it makes sense ofc, the Soldier doesn't need that. And this one is hardly that complex, so maybe we have a chance :D
Put in a bunch of feats that let you specialise in either direction (or mix and match) on top of that and we are cooking with fire!
I can see some combat-oriented operatives but hope there is still room for a rouge-deep-faked safety inspector spy operative too. I hope there is at least one skill monkey in SF2e. Skill monkeys are how you make characters other classes don't cover. The other reason it's good to have one skill monkey class, they are great at making a small-party or single-player game work, by being able to cover more skills, helps if they have some good combat options too, like the current operative.
The Envoy was confirmed as SF2's skill monkey, so that should be the first stop. But even on someone who isn't a skill monkey, you should be able to run that concept fairly well. A decent CHA/INT investment, skill increases in Intimidate/Deception, a few disguise skill feats to make it work better and whatever skill computers/hacking end up being. Maybe an Additional Lore or two, possibly from an archetype. That's manageable.
I'm guessing that "party face" style Operatives won't be a thing anymore in 2e, with that skillset going to Envoys, or perhaps Mystics. Which, to be honest, I'm fine with. If the 2e Operative really is just "Killing You Guy" then a high-Cha, skillsy Face build does seem a bit at odds with that.
I mean, "party face" doesn't necessarily involve a wide skillset. From what I know, it only refers to being good at CHA skills, usually Diplomacy. And I'm certain that at going heavy into CHA will still be an option. And if Free Archetype is still an option, you can even easily go the skill monkey route as well ^^
The first field report blog post had the following in the initial Operative introduction:
"The operative focuses on using guns and taking an aim action to get extra precision damage. Jessica’s operative for this playtest was built to be a sniper (as opposed to our iconic, who is more focused on using pistols at close range)."
That's all the info I have, sorry ^^
Yeah, I don't see SF2 classes with PF2 reload weapons working out very well. But you could just reflavour many SF2 guns as some weird mechanical/magical offshoots of traditional firearms. Spark guns but actually good before level 16 ^^. Depending on how the balance works out, I can see that being pretty popular.
I would also like to add that people very much grumble about the Gunslinger itself as well ^^
What we know:
Since we probably won't learn too much about the Operative in the next three months - the next Field Test is in January and that is about ancestries - and we demonstrably know very little in the first place, we might as well make a wish ^^
I'd like it if the Operative shifted tone a bit from "space Rogue" and became something similar to what the Fighter is in PF2. Not in mechanics, but in terms of the general concept. A general combat class that has a lot of their playstyle choices tied to their weapon loadout, if more tricksy than the average Fighter battering ram. This specialisation should be achieved by subclasses comparable to the Rogue, rather than only proficiency and feat trees. The key attribute would remain DEX, but some subclasses should be able to pick STR as well.
It shouldn't go so far as to offer anything like a defense-focused playstyle as the Fighter does and heavy armor should be extremely restricted (if available at all). Non-agile/finesse/ranged weapons should also not be the norm. AoE weapons that are encouraged should be limited to grenades. But other than that its fair game. I would like it to be able to cover everything from the usual assassin/infiltrator/kleptomaniac/politician to something like a hard-boiled merc from a light infantry regiment.
Subclasses should be themed and generally created with a loadout in mind, but shouldn't be too narrow for the most part. For example, I would prefer it if a subclass that enables melee could do melee-only and mixed melee/ranged.
In particular I'd like:
All subclasses should mainly modify the Aim action to suit their playstyle. For example, the sniper should be able to avoid at least lesser cover on their aimed shot and the sneaky one should have a choice of Deception actions (Feint, Create a Diversion) and Hide/Sneak as part of Aim. The Eversor could have some enemy-proximity bonuses and a built-in Stride or Trip/Shove/Reposition/Disarm.
The Aim action
This is probably the thing I'm most afraid of going wrong.
In my experience with the system, classes that are forced to frequently spend additional actions for their feature(s) to work are facing an uphill battle when it comes to both effectiveness and enjoyment. The Investigator is only the most illustrative example. The Gunslinger has probably upgraded to "second most complained about class" after the Remaster gave some love to the Warpriest. The Swashbuckler has come increasingly under fire as well. Ranger has some serious grumbling, but nothing too serious. Thaumaturge and Magus are afaik widely regarded as working well on the other hand.
I'm sure the devs know this well enough, but stuff like this can very easily make a class feel highly repetitive. So please, please, please avoid that in any way you can.
Built-in actions or action compression have worked well, but need to be versatile and have options. Otherwise they just get repetitive slightly slower and regularly leave you with a "no good options" scenario, which just makes things worse. Looking at you Swashbuckler and Gunslinger.
Another thing that helps is the repetitive action being an "enabler" for extraordinarily strong single-action abilities.
A combination is the best. The "enabler" action should not be a waste on its own and it should have a strong follow-up to make limiting your options like this satisfying and worth it. The Envoy in the stream was going in this direction and it worked well.
If we can avoid this pitfall, then I think we are in for a great time ^^
We can be certain that, at the very least, the NPC's numbers as such will not be different. So the GM Core numbers will still be valid. Maybe not the area damage table, but that is a very uncertain maybe. What will be different is some of the distribution and the advice related to it, e.g. ranged attacks not having the low damage roll but maybe the moderate. And that most enemies will have some kind of ranged attack in the first place ofc.
But most stuff will be identical to PF2. The different meta states shouldn't substantially affect things on this level.
Oh yeah, sorry, I was referring to the series of youtube videos. If it was in the FAQ/errata section, it would be fine ^^
So as far as making INT useful what if Arcane Cascade added half or full INT mod at base and then +1 at Weapon Specialization and +2 at Greater?
If there is one thing the Magus has more than enough of it is damage, especially with the refocus changes. I would much prefer it if INT was channeled into something else.
Also what if the initial target of Expansive Spellstrike had one degree of success lower?
Not sure, honestly. If anything, that might actually be stronger than what I said. After all, if you actually build INT, the Magus' DC isn't that terrible.
It would make some sense from a story perspective, but I think even the influence that gear has on your basic stats in PF2 is way too high. Adding even more to that isn't a good idea.
It would also (slightly) increase the complexity unnecessarily, because you would have an additional factor in your HP calculation, but only on some classes. Then there is the issue that it only solves half the problem, doing nothing about armor proficiency. Lastly, there are the uncomfortable questions that the GM will have to answer. I can practically hear the "why does he get the cool thing and not me" asked by a player with an 8HP class who doesn't care what PF2 does.
In short, I don't think that's a good idea, SF2 itself comes before interoperability. The latter can be achieved simply by giving a short paragraph about it being advised to adjust HP and armor proficiencies when using the class in a different system.
While I generally agree, Sanityfaerie, I can think of at least three aspects that they have pretty significant room for deviation without affecting the PC/NPC power dynamic too heavily.
If you raise the survivability floor a bit - as has happened in the Mystic FT - then the encounter balance still works, as it makes no assumptions about what specific class you are playing.
2) Ranged damage
So long as your general output doesn't exceed that of melee martials, you can adjust it upwards quite a bit.
3) Better ranged abilities
PF2 ranged abilities are often weaker, more expensive or just not available compared to their melee counterparts. Since SF2 doesn't have the "ranged characters are safer, so they have to pay for that" principle, stuff like ranged knockdowns, aoe blasts and so on are possible.
So in all, some classes or rather general categories of classes can be stronger in SF2 than in PF2.
You know what would be really cool? Allowing the baseline Spellstrike to work with harmful save spells. The Strike hitting would mean a failed save, with a crit meaning a crit fail. They would still only affect the target you hit. Expansive Spellstrike would be purely for AoE purposes.
This wasn't done originally, presumably because of the added complexity and the progression difference between targeting saves and AC. I think this decision is worth revisiting to give the Magus more variety. The added complexity is pretty minor and given the class' limited spell resources, the potential fallout is manageable.
Huh, I thought it was just Howl and the Tian Xia stuff that was delayed for a few months. Welp, not a great time to be a SF1 fan then :/ . Could have been a lot worse, though.
Those are made by completely different people, are they not? Why would the Remaster affect them?