Her Infernal Majestrix, Queen Abrogail II

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masda_gib wrote:

It's a cool rune for any martial MC caster. They have high weapon hit chance and mostly low-level spells anyway.

Also a nice spell to store is Ray of Enfeeblement. When you activate it on a crit, at least enfeebled 1 is guaranteed.

Right! Though the low save DC still holds it back at higher levels. (I really think it was a bad idea to have magic item DCs not scale. While many items stay useful throughout a character's career, others—which are usually been priced as comparably powerful to them when they first appear—are only functional in tiny periods of the game. They probably shouldn't have bothered even putting the vorpal rune in the game, for instance.)

FlashRebel wrote:
Spell-storing wrote:
A spell-storing rune creates a reservoir of eldritch energy within the etched weapon. A spellcaster can spend 1 minute to cast a spell of 3rd level or lower into the weapon.
Unless you have truly awesome low-level spells that don't need to be heightened beyond 3rd level to be worth the effort, this rune is worthless at the time it becomes available.

Did you read the examples I gave, or do you not think an automatic 8d12 electricity damage after a crit is worth the effort at 13th level?

FlashRebel wrote:
And I'm not even sure willingly lowering a focus spell's level instead of using it fully heightened is possible.

RAW, this is probably right, though.

Draco18s wrote:

Heck, why bother with crits? You could store basically any spell you want (e.g. shocking grasp) and after any successful hit you 3rd-action* spell attack that auto-hits.

Sure, the crit effect is amazing, but a nearly-free-spell-hit at the right moment can still be really strong.

*If you've only spent 1 so far, its your second, but you were going to use your second anyway, and that one's now your third.

Sure. Depending on the situation, I'd bet this is often the right idea.

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The spell-storing rune is easy to overlook. It's kind of awkward to use and scales badly: a 3rd-level, 30 DC spell seems like a questionable use of an action at 13th level and only gets worse from there. But notice:

Spell Storing wrote:
Activate Single Action command; Requirements On your previous action this turn, you hit and damaged a creature with this weapon; Effect You unleash the stored spell, which uses the target of the triggering attack as the target of the spell. This empties the spell from the weapon and allows a spell to be cast into it again. If the spell requires a spell attack roll, the result of your attack roll with the weapon determines the degree of success of the spell, and if the spell requires a saving throw, the DC is 30.

The bolded part is bolded because it means that if you're willing to wait for a critical hit with your weapon, you can immediately follow up with a guaranteed critical with your spell. As you might expect, this has predictably cool applications. For instance, with a 3rd-level slot shocking grasp does 8d12 damage and change, which for one action is incredible at 13th level and never gets worse than pretty good. The more situational, but still good, hydraulic push is 10d6 bludgeoning damage plus knockback. Telekinetic maneuver can be used to disarm, and is probably the most reliable way to do so in the game.

However, you do even better with focus spells. Since in many cases it's possible to refocus right after casting your spell into the weapon, using them is often free (and so your caster friends should be easier to talk in to doing it for you), and many have great effects when unleashed on crits:

--) Moonbeam dazzles its target for the rest of the encounter, giving its targets concealment against it if it relies on sight.
--) Call of the grave prevents at least two actions.
--) Finally, the unassuming hand of the apprentice just gives you another, non-MAP-increasing crit with the same weapon you just attacked with. The damage is comparable to or better than shocking grasp at 13th level--and unlike every other spell you can store in the weapon, it actually scales.

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georgedoors wrote:
This is something I thought of while reading through the playtest document. The swashbuckler can use acrobatics and one other skill to gain panache, with the second skill based on their swashbuckler's style. This feels quite limiting, since you can easily imagine a character that's good at both athletics and intimidation, and who uses both skills with flair and aplomb. But if you build that character, you'll only ever use of those skills in combat, since the other won't give you panache. I think it makes sense to scrap the three styles and let the swashbuckler use any of the listed skills be default.

I think this is a great point. The point of the swashbuckler is ostensibly to encourage creative use of non-Strike actions in combat, but this limitation hampers creativity rather than facilitates it. Swashbucklers would feel more spontaneous, and be more interesting, if players were free to figure out whichever skill worked best for a situation. (Players who wanted to specialize in one of these tactics would of course still be free to do so, by taking skills and feats that made them especially good at one.)

BellyBeard wrote:
It's to encourage build and action diversity among different swashbucklers. You can also easily imagine a Druid capable of doing all the druidic things a PF1 Druid could do, but a PF2 Druid now has to choose which of those things they want to focus in (or they can be a generalist, and not be as strong in a given specialty). I would be fine with a feat for a swashbuckler who wants to dip into another style for more versatile panache gain though, but I'd rather it not be the default.

That a given rule is one way to mechanically distinguish characters within a class doesn't entail that it's the only possible way, or a good way. The devs can find something else.

Mark Seifter wrote:

To add to Vlorax, if you trip someone so that they are only next to you when you have both Riposte and AoO available, you are giving them a really nasty tactical fork. Either they stand up and take a whack from you, or they stay down, they have to attack you at a -2 (and you may have better HP than some of the squishier targets they'd rather attack), and you have a better chance to Riposte.

While the third action is by no means the only way to get a critical failure, if a monster has an action left to make a third or later attack and it has few other options for that action, it'll usually attempt it rather than end its turn barring something like a Riposte reaction threatening it; and if a monster is worried about a Riposte and ends its turn instead of attacking, the Riposte has acted as a deterrent, which can be useful as well.

How often will a swashbuckler want to do this, though? I'd have thought that the swashbuckler's optimal last action against an enemy who's not adjacent to an ally is usually Tumble Through, since that way you simultaneously (a) have a good chance to regain your panache, and (b) force your enemy to waste an action closing the distance.

This actually relates to something else I've been wondering that I'd love to hear your take on. The swashbuckler seems designed to encourage moving around a lot—which I think is a neat idea! The problem is that moving around a lot seems like it would make Opportune Riposte less effective, since non-minions will only be likely to critically fail on their later attacks in a turn, and the more everyone's moving, the fewer of those later attacks will be made.

Mekkis wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Mekkis wrote:

Pathfinder, with it's inherent imbalance, requires a social contract between the GM and the players - the GM to use levers to maintain balance between PCs and their challenges, and the players to show a certain amount of maturity to ensure that they do not exceed the expected power levels of each other (and of the challenges the GM provides).
Thank you; that cogently expresses much of what about I valued about PF1 that feels not to be so present in PF2. Except that the buy-in I look for from my players isn't "keeping their power levels similar and appropriate" but "getting into the wider range of roleplaying options available with more randomised power levels."
That's basically a byproduct of the system's imbalance: when players realise that they shouldn't min-max everything, it opens up many combinations where suboptimal choices (both in character building, and roleplaying) are enabled by the presence of powerful options.

This is a really insightful exchange, I think.

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Nighthorror888 wrote:
Unfortunately 2nd Edition is just not for my group and I. It feels hauntingly similar to when D&D 4E tried to reinvent itself and lost its roots. I absolutely love my legacy Pathfinder books, and my group enjoys Starfinder. Good luck.

It really does feel hauntingly similar, but also tellingly different.

The key, I think, is that both PF2 and 4e freely and unapologetically sacrifice verisimilitude and internal logic for system math. Why can combat techniques for exploiting an opponent's fear make it harder to benefit from a scimitar's construction? Why does wearing magic bracers on your wrists limit you in using using your full natural agility to dodge? Why can't you demoralize someone more than once every ten minutes? The only explanations take you out of the game and into the metagame: it would (supposedly) be OP otherwise.

But here's the difference. When 4e takes you out of the game and into the metagame, you feel like it's doing this because 4e is your friend and wants you to be awesome. When PF2 takes you out of the game and into the metagame, you feel like it's doing this because PF2 is your elementary school teacher and wants to make sure you're being a good, manageable little kid at recess.

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Cantriped wrote:
Everything in PF2's Playtest is pretty underwhelming individually; it's an inevitable result of combining tight-math with choice-glut.

This is one of the sharpest one-sentence diagnoses I've seen.

It looks like vanguards can use polarity gauntlets to add additional shock damage to their entropic strikes. This would be an unusually efficient way for them to increase damage, and I wonder whether it's intentional.

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Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Gilver wrote:
These look sweet! Any chance of getting a Gunslinger style class in the future? Maybe something more space cowboy esque?
We try to never say never! But for the moment, we are definitely focusing on these new playtest classes.

see you space cowboy ...

Lightning Raven wrote:
I would rather have new names that are clear and very distinct. As some people already said in other treads, things like Feat Bonus, Alchemy Bonus, Spell Bonus, Class Bonus, Item Bonus, etc, would make it clearer and would allow for instantly recognizing if something does stack or not. Keeping the amount of bonuses is paramount, but having only two types is counterproductive for the developer's intentions of incentivizing teamwork over hyper specialization that trivializes a set of challenges while rendering others useless.

I'm certainly all in favor of relaxing the stacking limitations, though in this thread I just wanted to make the case for a small (but maybe not unimportant) stylistic point.

(My sense is that the devs are pretty committed to the two bonus types, and trying to talk them out of it is futile.)

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"Condition" can refer either to (a) a state some entity is in (as in "I stepped right in to see what condition my condition was in"), or to (b) a possibility that may or may not obtain (as in "under no condition whatever shall I marry you").

Crucially, note that in the (b) sense "condition" is largely synonymous with "circumstance." In PF2, however, "conditional" is used in contrast to "circumstance"—it is meant emphatically to connote the (a) sense. The problem is that in English, the word does the opposite. Rather than "of or relating to a state some entity is in," it almost always means "of or relating to a possibility that may or may not obtain" (as in "the terms of our agreement were conditional on your cooperation").

Because of this, the phrase "conditional" modifier is both confusing and vacuous. It just sounds like an arbitrary synonym for "circumstance modifier." To solve this problem, "conditional modifier" should simply become "condition modifier."

As a bonus, this will give the names matching grammars: either both names should be nouns ("condition" and "circumstance") or both adjectives ("conditional" and "circumstantial"). As any good editor will tell you, the mismatched language is sloppy.

Lightning Raven wrote:

Take a hard look at the types of bonuses. They're conflicting directly with what seems like the game is pushing through, which is teamwork. But the severe lack of different bonuses, along with the current terrible names, just hinder everything.

You want the PC's to rely more on teamwork and strategy. Then allow them to do so. No point in making every buff overlap with each other, specially with CORE CLASS FEATURES (Rage + Inspire Courage comes to mind instantly).

I was actually really on the fence about whether to pick this as my plea!

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Have players choose fewer but better feats.

Class feats should feel meaty and exciting. Small situational bonuses should be the exception, not the rule. Selecting the right feat for a given build should not require algebra. A feat every level is too much; four feat categories is too much. There is no excuse for having even a single trap or dominant option in the core rules.

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tl; dr: PF2's much-maligned low success rate for level-appropriate challenges is a direct consequence of the action economy as it applies to multiple attacks. Therefore, raising success rates to a healthy 75-80% would require extensively reworking fundamental aspects of the system. This is an important conversation, because player success rates are crucial to the experience of this kind of game. As they revise PF2 after the playtest, the devs need to know what we as players want, and what's required to give us what we want.


Most special combat options in the playtest rules are balanced around the assumption that in challenging encounters, the player's third and subsequent attacks will not have more than a 10-15% chance to hit in the absence of special circumstances. This is why it makes sense to spend actions on activating Rage or Hunt Target, raising a shield (or why it would make sense to do this, if shields were better), or multiple-action attacks. Otherwise, the opportunity cost of using these options would be too high. It would be better to ignore them and spend the actions you save just making more attacks.

However, if the player's third and subsequent attacks can't have more than a 10-15% success rate, and the multiple attack penalty is –5, then their best attacks can't have more than a 60-65% success rate. As many people have observed (and complained about), this is indeed how things are. And since PF2 is designed for attacks, defenses, saving throws, and skills to all use the same scale (so that it's possible to make a skill check against a target's AC or Will save, for instance), this requires defenses, saving throws, and skills to optimally succeed at the same rate. And again, as many people have observed (and complained about), this is indeed how things are.

Like the many people who complain about this, I think this is too low. Speaking for myself, I think it's too low by about 15%. In challenging encounters, I like to have a 75-80% chance of hitting with my best attack or making my best save. This hits the sweet spot for me. If the odds were better, challenging encounters wouldn't feel risky or therefore exciting enough. But if the odds were worse, I would too often feel like I didn't get to do anything with my turn, or that my choice to emphasize one type of saving throw over another wasn't meaningful. Plus, I wouldn't feel like the character I was playing was a gifted and heroic person, which is key for me in this kind of game. Frankly, my experiences with PF2 thus far confirms this to me. For the success rates to stay where they are would be a dealbreaker. If I wanted to feel like I'm constantly fighting an uphill battle, I'd just play Warhammer FRP or the like. That way, my frequent failures and ostensibly superior opponents would at least feel thematic.

The many, many forum posts about overturned monsters, excessive skill check DCs, etc., strongly suggest my preferences are common. My point in this post is just that because low player success rates are tightly intertwined with basic features of the game, the devs will not be able to fix this problem simply by tweaking some numbers. Again, because most special combat options always trade off against extra attacks, the player's extra attacks need to be relatively ineffective for these special options to be worth using. And because other abilities are designed to interact with attacks in a way that requires them to have similar numbers, the resulting low success rates for attacks extends to and infects the whole system.

So, raising success rates in combat would require either (a) significantly improving most special combat options (so that they were worth using even if you had a substantial chance to hit when attacking at a –10 MAP), (b) substantially increasing the MAP, or (c) fundamentally reworking the action economy (perhaps by capping the number of attacks players could normally make in a round). Personally, I think (c) is probably going to be the best bet, but I care more about getting clear about the problem than about pushing any given solution.

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TheFlyingPhoton wrote:
You have three Proficiencies: Proficiency A means a 5 or higher on the d20 is a success, Proficiency B means a 10 or higher on the d20 is a success, and Proficiency C means a 15 or higher is a success.

The only problem is that the differences are too noticeable, and it doesn't account for the all-important treadmill.

Switch the numbers to 9/11/13, plus or minus level difference if you're dealing with other creatures, and you've got an accurate sans-pretense translation of the math.

Mathmuse wrote:
As for The FlyingPhoton's system, +1 does not make a difference in that. It is purely by class. Paladins could dump strength and dexterity and still get the same rate of hitting.

Easy. Cut ability scores. After all, the design strongly encourages, and largely assumes, very little ability score variation where it matters.

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Colette Brunel wrote:
I have thought about this long and hard. I just do not have any motivation to write up session reports. They are long, boring to type up, and generally useless due to all of the updates this game has received so far. The playtest has been moving far too swiftly, and it has been overwhelming.

Thanks for this post. You're doing valuable uncompensated work for Paizo, for which they should be grateful.

One question, though: do you think your players' tactics have, consistently, been informed and efficient? If not, your results may reflect a mismatch between the GM and the players more than a problem with the rules.

Frankly, this wouldn't surprise me. In a turn-based game, it's much easier for a group to function cohesively if it's controlled by one person than four or five, and there are so many natural sources for player error that don't generalize to a smart, prepared GM. In the last PF game I was in (wherein all but one of us had or were pursuing PhDs) our tactics were incredibly sloppy, and had our GM wanted to she could easily have ended most encounters in TPKs.

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RazarTuk wrote:
double slice plus two weapon flurry and agile grace to get a second strike with each shortsword at MAP -6

Two-weapon flurry and agile grace? But:

Two-Weapon Flurry wrote:
Requirements You are wielding two weapons, each in a different hand. Your multiple attack penalty with both weapons is –8 or worse.

Has this been changed?

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Swashbuckler. It's 2018. Dex fighter support from Day One should be obligatory.

Apart from this, it's a little surprising how much the existing rules should cover. A fighter with Monk Dedication makes a great brawler; a wizard with Magical Striker makes a tolerable magus. Most of the largest omissions remaining (for me, the investigator and the witch) clearly need to be their own classes.

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Soliciting these is a great idea. Making mine reminded me how many of PF2's fundamental ideas are really good. The devs could certainly fix everything on my hate list; the question is whether they want to.

1. Streamlined, more transparent, and less abusable math.
2. Multiclassing as class feats.
3. Action economy.

1. The hyper-situational, arbitrarily restrictive, and often punitive feel of much of the design.
2. The lack of space for player characters to feel varied, exceptional, and organic.
3. The pervasive and jarringly gamist treadmills.

1. +level/2 replaces +level.
2. The stacking limitations are slightly relaxed. Numerous class-based conditional bonuses (e.g. the barbarian's and paladin's damage bonuses, the monk's speed bonus) become "class" bonuses. The "shield" bonus type is reintroduced, to cover parrying and the like as well as shields. Some circumstance bonuses (like the damage bonuses from certain weapon traits) become untyped.
3. Expert, master, and legendary proficiency ranks have double the effect on skills (nothing else).

Here's a simple way of providing built-in additional weapon damage dice that, as a bonus, makes proficiency matter without substantially changing the math (and hence, I hope, without unbalancing the game):

If you're at least 3rd level, you can deal extra dice of damage with that weapon on a hit. You get +1 die at 3rd, and an additional die at 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th levels. (This matches the expected magic item progression. Magic weapons would still provide item bonuses to attack rolls and support property runes, and hence remain important to character progression.)

However, in order to get the extra damage dice, you need meet certain skill or item requirements, as follows:

--) You don't get any extra damage dice if you're untrained in the weapon, regardless of its quality.
--) In order to get +1 damage die (3rd level), you need to either have expert proficiency or be wielding an expert-quality weapon.
--) In order to get +2 damage dice (7th level), you need to either have master proficiency or be wielding a master-quality weapon.
--) In order to get +4 damage dice (15th level), you need to you need to either have legendary proficiency or be wielding a legendary-quality weapon.

The intent of this restriction is prevent the IMO unrealistic consequence of characters with middling combat training doing increasingly massive damage with their attacks as they become more experienced. Normally, extraordinary effectiveness requires extraordinary gear. However, unusually high proficiency lets you override this restriction. Apart from special cases in which the party loses access to their equipment, this should have the effect of underwriting the fighter's fantasy as the master of weapons: fighters can pick up a fallen enemy's weapon after being disarmed, or carry a small armory of inexpensive weapons suited to different situations, without losing virtually the entirety of their combat effectiveness.

Dire Ursus wrote:
I'm still unsure if Double Slice works with Natural Attacks. Paizo should really state outright if Natural Attacks/fists can count as "weapons".

I'd also add that if Double Slice DOES only work with manufactured weapons, you can still exploit Perfected Form with Flurry of Blows -> Strike -> Ghost Strike, usually yielding three guaranteed hits against equal-level opponents. The Void property rune can also work well for this purpose.

Note that one reason why this is interesting, apart seeing how high the numbers can get, is that it's yet another indicator of how tight PF2's design assumes the math to be.

On its own, Perfected Form is neat-but-not-incredible capstone. But if you can push it past the narrow boundaries of its expected functionality, it blows the roof right open, damage-wise.

Ludovicus wrote:

Unassisted, this sequence averages 135.3 DPR. But with flanking, the number jumps to 213.5; buffed with a critically successful Inspire Heroics, it becomes 308.4. A pit fiend has 300 hit points.

I'm now very curious if there's a way to top this.

update: There is.

Xenocrat wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:

Hmm... If this is correct it's a fair bit lower than expected. Though Part of the plan was to benefit from having a more magical weapon than normally possible with magical striker, but since +5 is what we have we lose out on that.
Is there a reason to think that Magical Striker can't push a weapon to be an effective +6?

By RAW, none that I can see.

I've been playing around with melee theorycrafting lately. In general, the highest DPR build that's actually practical seems to be a fighter who uses Certain Strike and Desperate Finisher to make lots of attacks with a forceful weapon. However, I am pretty sure the highest DPR available in the Pathfinder Playtest is via a 20th-level monk who's flanking.

Perfected Form opens interesting possibilities. While it's normally only possible to hit level-appropriate enemies on a 10 when you're not suffering from the MAP, the fighter's Agile Grace feat and other conditional or circumstance modifiers can combine to make guaranteed hits on multiple attacks viable in the right situation. This can yield Kenshiro-level fun. Here's a sample build.

The Build
Necessary Feats: Wolf Stance, Ki Strike, Fighter Dedication, Basic Maneuvers (Double Slice), Stance Savant, Diamond Fists, Advanced Maneuvers (agile grace)
Important Assumptions: Diamond Mind's circumstance bonus for already-forceful weapons stacks with forceful's (inconsistent with RAW, obviously RAI); Double Slice can be used with unarmed attacks (debatable for both RAW and RAI).

Assume a hasted 20th level monk optimized for damage: 24 Str, +5 handwraps of mighty fists with keen and 2d6 energy damage worth of property runes. This monk is attacking with wolf jaw, a 1d8 agile piercing unarmed attack that gets forceful if they're flanking. Assuming they are, that's 6d8+2d6+7 damage on the first attack, with a +9 circumstance bonus to damage on their second and a +17 on their third, for averages of 41, 50, and 58 respectively.

Unassisted, they hit AC 44 on a 10 or better with their best attack, down to 14/18 from the MAP on agile unarmed attacks. Agile Grace takes this to 13/16. But let's assume the monk is indeed flanking, taking this down to 11/14, and--finally--that they're willing to blow through their SP for a ki strike nova, the +1 conditional bonus takes you to 10/13: enough to guarantee a hit on their second attack! They thus do the following:

--) Strike (extra action from quick): 49.2 (1.3 x 41) expected damage.
--) Double Slice (attacking twice at -3): 118.8 (1.15 x 50 + 1.15 x 58) expected damage.
--) Flurry of Blows (attacking twice at -6): 61 (0.5 x 58 + 0.5 x 58, plus 0.25 x 12 from the chance at extra damage from the monk's Fierce Flurry) expected damage.

In total, that's 229 DPR: more than a fighter can do with Desperate Finisher, and unlike with Desperate Finisher, it doesn't eat up your reaction.

However, it's possible to do better. An 8th-level Heroism replaces your one-round ki strike nova with a nice steady 10-minute +3 conditional bonus, bringing you just one measly point away from guaranteed hits on ALL your attacks. And there are lots of ways to make up that deficit: one of your allies can assist you or make your target sluggish. If you can do that, the same sequence reaches an eye-watering 325.85 DPR. Since that's around the maximum hit points that 20th-level enemies have, and every attack is an automatic hit, this will virtually guarantee a kill.

(For even more damage, you could take Ranger Dedication, Basic Hunter's Trick (Twin Takedown), and Targeted Hunter to get six hits after the first round. However, this is probably useless in practice: no target with an AC low enough for this tactic to work will have enough HP to survive more than one round of it.)

Ludovicus wrote:
For the record, however, I should note that were I a GM, I would rule that unarmed strikes definitely do not count as wielded weapons for purposes of Two-Weapon Flurry, since the above build uses Two-Weapon Flurry essentially as a loophole to get around Flurry of Blow's once-per-round limitation. Presumably, that limitation was intended precisely to preclude shenanigans like this.

Finally, note that even without Two-Weapon Flurry, Wolf Jaw still appears to be the best melee attack available if you're flanking.

As far as I can tell, the next-best alternative is a build that takes Certain Strike and Agile Grace in place of Two-Weapon Flurry, for:

Flurry of Blows -> Certain Strike -> Certain Strike -> Strike -> Certain Strike

For this, I'm getting 205.85 damage if you're flanking, and 297.4 for a critically successful inspire heroics.

Upshot: damagewise, the fighter/monk is the build to beat in PF2.

Okay, the OP was wrong.

Or at least, it was wrong if unarmed strikes count as wielded weapons.* Wolf Jaw is a d8 agile attack that gets forceful when you're flanking the target, which makes multiple attacks with it extremely powerful at relatively high accuracy (which the fighter provides). Thus, take an optimized fighter with Monk Dedication, Basic Kata (wolf stance), Desperate Finisher, Monk's Flurry, Stance Savant, and Two-Weapon Flurry. (If you really wanted to, you could eke out a bit more damage by taking Rogue Dedication and Sneak Attacker, but I haven't included this in the numbers.) This enables:

Flurry of Blows -> Two-Weapon Flurry -> Two-Weapon Flurry -> Strike -> Two-Weapon Flurry

Unassisted, this sequence averages 135.3 DPR. But with flanking, the number jumps to 213.5; buffed with a critically successful Inspire Heroics, it becomes 308.4. A pit fiend has 300 hit points.

I'm now very curious if there's a way to top this.

* I take the rules to be ambiguous on this point. For the record, however, I should note that were I a GM, I would rule that unarmed strikes definitely do not count as wielded weapons for purposes of Two-Weapon Flurry, since the above build uses Two-Weapon Flurry essentially as a loophole to get around Flurry of Blow's once-per-round limitation. Presumably, that limitation was intended precisely to preclude shenanigans like this.

Pramxnim wrote:
There are several nitpicks I have with the calculations, but I think the idea is sound.

I'm somehow getting slightly lower numbers: the vanilla fighter averages 138.05 DPR unassisted against AC 44. I think my math is consistent with everything you point out about certain strike and crit percentages; hmm.

Chess Pwn wrote:
Ludovicus wrote:
Your falchion averages 61 expected damage on a hit (6d10 + 2d6 + 7 str + 14 conditional),
How are you getting 14 conditional damage? the rage is only giving you 8 conditional. And the non-giant would only have a +4 conditional.

Ack, because I don't read carefully enough! I totally missed this:

Barbarian Dedication wrote:
For the purposes of the temporary Hit Points and damage bonus from Rage, your barbarian level is equal to half your level.

This lowers the non-giant-totem fighter/barbarian's mean DPR to 149.72. NemisCassander was right; giant totem remains a trap option. (Its mean DPR is 139.18, below the vanilla fighter.)

This also means that barbarian dedication is not worth it in practice, unless you are taking it for the feats. There are other things you can do with the feats, and the combined AC penalties from rage itself and the inability to take advantage of the fighter's master heavy armor proficiency are not justified by the marginal DPR increase.

master_marshmallow wrote:

Fighter with rogue dedication going Dread Striker -> double slice.

Max bluff, hope for the best. Having a 15-20 crit chance is the best you'll get on an appropriate challenge.

I'm curious. Run some numbers?

NemisCassander wrote:

I'd have to see some _very_ detailed math regarding the OP before I believe that this is optimal. I'm pretty sure that Giant Totem barbarian is a complete trap, so it's a bit odd to see it in an optimal DPR build.

My simulation models show that -1 to hit is certainly not worth the damage increase of even Giant Totem. I haven't updated those in a while, though.

I haven't run the math myself, but as a general point I'd bet you're right. But to paraphrase George Lucas, Certain Strike is the key to all of this.

Though your question was already answered, here's the detailed math. (Actually I did oversell it a bit: the OP numbers mistakenly ran the calculations against AC 43, not 44.)

Start with the assumptions in the OP: optimized 20th level fighter attacking AC 44. Your falchion averages 61 expected damage on a hit (6d10 + 2d6 + 7 str + 14 conditional), increasing to 67 on the second attack and 73 afterwards. On a failure, you do 35 damage from Certain Strike (6 + 2 + 7 + 14 + 6) on your second attack and 41 afterward.

So, here's the routine ([Q] abbreviates the extra action from quick):

Round One
[A] Rage
[Q] Strike at -0: 0.65 expected hits (0.55 hit, 0.1 crit) for 39.65 expected damage.
[A] Certain Strike at -5: 0.4 expected hits (0.3 hit, 0.4 crit) + 0.5 expected failures for a total of 44.3 expected damage (26.8 + 17.5).
[A] Certain Strike at -10: 0.1 expected hits (0.05 hit, 0.05 crit) + 0.5 expected failures for a total of 27.8 expected damage (7.3 + 20.5).
[R] Certain Strike at -10: 0.1 expected hits (0.05 hit, 0.05 crit) + 0.5 expected failures for a total of 27.8 expected damage (7.3 + 20.5).

total: 139.55 expected damage

Rounds Two & Three
[Q] Strike at -0: 0.65 expected hits (0.55 hit, 0.1 crit) for 39.65 expected damage.
[A] Certain Strike at -5: 0.4 expected hits (0.3 hit, 0.4 crit) + 0.5 expected failures for a total of 44.3 expected damage (26.8 + 17.5).
[A] Certain Strike at -10: 0.1 expected hits (0.05 hit, 0.05 crit) + 0.5 expected failures for a total of 27.8 expected damage (7.3 + 20.5).
[A] Certain Strike at -10: 0.1 expected hits (0.05 hit, 0.05 crit) + 0.5 expected failures for a total of 27.8 expected damage (7.3 + 20.5).
[R] Certain Strike at -10: 0.1 expected hits (0.05 hit, 0.05 crit) + 0.5 expected failures for a total of 27.8 expected damage (7.3 + 20.5).

total: 167.35 expected damage

Over the three rounds, the mean DPR is thus 158.08. By comparison, a vanilla fighter has a DPR of 143.15 when attacking this way; a fighter/barbarian without giant totem has a mean DPR of 151.75. In fact this scenario is actually abnormally bad for the giant totem barbarian, since sluggish 1 means they'll only hit on a natural 20 on their MAP - 10 attacks, negating the benefit of an expanded threat range. With a higher or lower baseline chance to hit, the giant totem's marginal advantage will be greater.

edit: this raises interesting issues that deserve its own post. In this one, I'm more interested in DPR theorycrafting.

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Ring_of_Gyges wrote:

In theory, the DC chart is supposed to tell me how hard a task is for PCs of a given level given designer's estimates of what PC bonuses might be.

In theory, the same task should have the same DC regardless of who attempts it. Picking the lock on Lord Gyr's bedroom door should be the same if a 5th level rogue tries or a 15th. Lord Gyr is the 13th level lord of a prosperous city, maybe he has a level 13 lock with a DC around 30.

In practice, I don't think it will get used that way. Without developing new habits (be it habits for home GMs or editorial oversight for publishers) we run the risk of a treadmill where the DCs make no sense in the setting and undermine the coherence of the setting.

Spoilers for some problematic DCs and situation from The Frozen Oath:
** spoiler omitted **...

I love this post, but it makes me feel like a broken record: "Change base proficiency to level/2! Change base proficiency to level/2! Change base proficiency to level/2!"

afaict, the optimal melee attack sequence in PF2 is much as it was in PF1: rage, full attack with a falchion, and use Power Attack. Of course, in PF2-ese, "Power Attack" means "Vital Strike" and "be a giant totem barbarian" means "Power Attack."

That is, here's the best I can come up with. You (a) play a fighter, (b) take Barbarian Dedication (giant totem), Rager, Totem, Certain Strike, and Desperate Finisher, (c) wield a weapon with the forceful trait, and (d) be quick (via e.g. haste, Weapon Supremacy, or a speed weapon).

Then you do the following:

--) round 1: Rage -> Strike (extra action from quick) -> Certain Strike -> Certain Strike -> Certain Strike (reaction from Desperate Finisher)
--) rounds 2-3: Strike (extra action from quick) -> Certain Strike -> Certain Strike -> Certain Strike -> Certain Strike (reaction from Desperate Finisher)

The point is to maximize your flat damage bonuses, and hence maximize the effects of Certain Strike. It's super effective but super boring. The dice barely matter.

Overall DPR: 183.95 vs. AC 44 at 20th level (assuming Str 24, +5 falchion, crit on 19 or 20, +2d6 damage from property runes). An equivalent vanilla fighter gets 159.35 DPR with this tactic vs. the same AC, given that they're not sluggish and not spending an action to rage. So the fighter/barbarian breaks even in round 1 and pulls ahead afterwards.

Edge93 wrote:
The ridiculously long attack sequence that probably actually sucks because over 75% of the attacks have a stupidly large penalty. XD

Perhaps surprisingly, it's pretty good! With a pair of sawtooth sabres, it doesn't quite beat the Optimal Fighter Attack Routine (wielding a falchion, Strike, then Certain Strike four times) on a baseline 65% chance to hit pre-MAP, but it comes close.

Themetricsystem wrote:


Seriously, what justification is there for making Fighters better at Unarmed Strikes than a Monk?

Right off the starting Line Fighters are ALREADY at Expert where Monk is only Trained.. **baffled look**

Is there some reason that Monks should be more inaccurate with their primary attacks than a bare-fisted Fighter with no special training or unarmed focus at all?

This makes no sense, can we please get a Dev to chime in as to if this was an oversight or intentional.

Makes sense to me.

Think of the fighter/monk as a (pretty good, imo) equivalent to the PF1 brawler. The fighter/monk masters martial arts for the sake of pounding people into paste. The monk masters martial arts for the sake of enlightenment.

DM_Blake wrote:

Of course monks (martial artists) can never be legendary. That's why there are no real world legendary fighters like Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris or Jean-Claude Van Damme or Morihei Ueshiba or...

Oh, yeah, right. There are.


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This is a BIG step in the right direction. Kudos for smart responses to community feedback!

Dasrak wrote:
I would disagree that the rules on page 291 constitute a cap. If that's the intent, the phrasing needs to be made explicit.

I agree. I always just interpreted as "conditional bonuses generally range from +1 to +4."

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Themetricsystem wrote:
Cheap unlimited healing for everyone is going away, and it needs to

citation needed.

Mark Seifter wrote:
I agree with Rysky on all three of these; we should say the number of weapon damage dice every time though to be clear, let us know if you find any that don't say weapon.

This might be important to disambiguate on Certain Strike, where I assume (but am not completely sure) that the intent is that you deal minimum damage on all dice on a miss.

Mathmuse wrote:
I thought of that problem and I have been experimenting with a solution.

You recognize, right, that this proposal would require rebalancing every class in the game? That you're describing a system in which fighters have a +3 bonus to attack rolls over barbarians at 6th level, increasing to +8 by 20th?

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The Agile Grace feat lowers your multiple attack penalty with agile weapons and agile unarmed attacks to –3 and –6. However, there are circumstances in which fighters may wish to accept the larger penalty (namely, if they wish to gain the failure effect of an action with the Press trait, or to use the Two-Weapon Flurry feat). It would be good if the designers clarified whether their intent was indeed for this feat to be incompatible with these options.

If so, the feat should at least be rewritten so that fighters have the option not to use it. I suggest:

Agile Grace wrote:
Your graceful moves with agile weapons are almost superhuman. Prior to making an attack roll with an agile weapon or agile unarmed attack, you may choose for your multiple attack penalty to be –3 after the first attack and –6 after the second, rather than –4 and –8, respectively.

Scythia wrote:
What I read it as is that it is treated as a martial weapon, which means it advances proficiency more quickly like other martial weapons. (If you notice, exotic normally lag a category behind.) The "become trained" part probably is leftover from an earlier draft though.

I also assumed this is the intent. It should certainly be disambiguated in the next errata, either by removing the word "trained" or by removing the reference to proficiency altogether.

Skeld wrote:
I have no interest in following peoples' twitter accounts or any of the office drama, especially if it's from a former dev that has a bad habit lately of sticking their foot in their mouth and getting fired.

Hah! That's some quality shade.

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Leedwashere wrote:
1) Less rounding. I know 1/2 a trivial thing to round up or down, but the number of times you have to round anything can get annoying after a while. With 1/2 progression you now have to round your AC, your saves, your attack rolls, your skills, bleurgh. It's not hard, but it's not fun either.

I dunno about you, but I never did any rounding when I increased my BAB in a 1/2 or 3/4 class. I just increased a whole number by 1 on some levels, but not others.

Leedwashere wrote:
2) Have you ever played a half-BAB character at levels 5 or 7 or any prime number level? You get nothing to your BAB or your saves. Sure, you're getting a new spell level (unless you were a spontaneous d6 class, in which case you could stick it), but none of your key numbers went up. It feels like a stagnant level (even though it really isn't).
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, one of the big problems with .5/level is that half the time when you level up you don't really get better.

I think this is an important point! Speaking purely for myself here, it wouldn't bother me so much if my character's numbers went up every odd level, so whenever this didn't happen I got to pick a class feat. That's the kind of thing I really look forward to--I anticipate my build falling more into place--so as long as I always either got that or bigger numbers whenever I leveled, leveling would always give me that nice dopamine rush.

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dragonhunterq wrote:
Ludovicus wrote:

--) Each monster would remain a relevant challenge for longer.
--) High-level PCs would not have to routinely face immersion-breakingly fantastical tasks in order for skill tests to be meaningful.

--)So low level monsters become as irrelevant as they should be.

--)So I can accomplish fantastic tasks.

There is a well loved and popular RPG which gives players monsters that stay relevant and tightly bound skills, I'd like PF to be different. I want heroic fantasy.

Again. I agree.

For the reasons you gave, PF should have a much steeper rate of advancement than 5e. But it still would.

Under the current system, an optimized PF2 character's bonus increases from +6 (+4 ability modifier, +1 expert proficiency, +1 level) at 1st level, to +20 (+5 ability, +2 master proficiency, +10 level, +3 item) at 10th and +35 (+7 ability, +3 legendary proficiency, +20 level, +5 item) at 20th. At the reduced rate, the improvement would instead be to +15 at 10th level and +25 at 20th. That's still a huge difference! Basically, a 10th level character succeeds whenever their first-level counterpart would fail, and critically succeeds whenever their counterpart would succeed; a 20th-level character can always succeed at a task a 1st-level character never could have. (It's also more than twice the rate 5e, wherein a 1st-level fighter probably has a +6 attack bonus (+4 ability, +2 proficiency) that increases to +14 (+5 ability, +6 proficiency, +3 item) at 20th level.)

Or, more concretely: I think a good DC for a truly fantastic task (opening the hardest lock in the world, impressing Shelyn and her entourage with a musical performance) is 35. At +1/2 levels, that's something a 1st-level character could never dream of, a 10th-level character could do on a natural 20, and a 20th-level character could do on a 10 or better. Doesn't that seem about right to you?

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I like "high level characters are not threatened by low level monsters" (and vice versa- no plausible number of commoners pose a real threat to an ancient read dragon). Aesthetically, this is the kind of fantasy game I prefer.

I agree that this is the aesthetic PF2 should be aiming for. However, I haven't yet been given a reason to think the +1/level rate is necessary for that aesthetic.

Let's take the example you gave. An ancient red dragon has an AC of 42. On the alternative proposal, this would be reduced to 32. So, commoners would be no more threatening to the dragon than they are on the present system: in both cases, the commoner would hit the dragon only on a natural 20. On the other hand, a party of PCs would be able to face that dragon earlier than they could otherwise, though not without a ton of cleverness, luck, and/or expense. I think this is a big advantage.

Do you disagree? If not, do you have another example that clearly shows the importance of bigger numbers?

PossibleCabbage wrote:

Don't we already effectively have this? Like you need to be trained in thievery to pick locks, you need to be trained in Arcana to identify a spell, you need to be trained in athletics to disarm, etc. It's not a matter of "you get a penalty" it's a "you can't attempt this without training."

So your level 20 character with high Str, Dex, and Int can't do any of these things no matter how high their modifiers are. Plenty of actions are gated by skill proficiency to the level where you cannot attempt them untrained.

I imagine in the final game there may be skill uses which cannot be attempted with proficiency short of expert, master, or perhaps even legendary.

Well, there's a difference between not being able to attempt a task and not being able to add your level.

A high-level character who doesn't know how to swim should still be able to make a Strength check to stay above water, or thrash their way back to the boat. However, they shouldn't be able to swim against a rushing current or dive to the bottom of a flooded cave more reliably than a trained swimmer.

Isn't that what people are objecting to?

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