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Gortle wrote:

Yep this is what an over concern with balance has done to the system.

Everyone is now the same. The stats are not really important any more. But stats were never a big part of D&D. May as well symplify things again and just get rid of them all together.

This is an interesting take. Ability scores matter way more than they used to, because you can't stack items and feats to a 100% chance of success anymore. Every point of ability score between you and someone else is a 5 percentage point difference in chance of success that usually can't be made up for another way. The person with the best bonus in a skill is very often the person with the highest relevant ability modifier, so long as it's trained. None of that is true in 1e. This is all true because of the "over concern with balance" you speak of.

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To me, the answer is that in this world of fantastic heroes, the power differential between individuals dwarfs the power differential between ancestries. When you see the difference in capability between a level 1 human and that same human at level 20, it makes a whole lot more sense why the difference between a level 1 human and level 1 halfing is a rounding error.

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If they have a workable algorithm and there is no reason they can't use it, why not just go ahead and tell them they succeed without the song and dance? The important part of the Detect Magic changes is that such an algorithm takes much more time so it's not viable in combat/under time pressure the way it was and that illusions aren't automatically seen through. Just saying "you take the next couple minutes to determine these two items are magical" seems like it should work great.

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vagabond_666 wrote:

It is, because most of the encumbrance issues are around the stuff you have in your backpack rather than "can I fight effectively while I'm holding onto an inconvenient beach ball"...

I get that people don't like the minutae of tracking the weight of everything, what I don't get is why they think a system that clearly doesn't do what it's supposed to is an improvement over what they had before, just because the maths involved in a system that doesn't work is easier.

That's not even remotely true. In this same thread, there's been discussion about characters who hit their light encumbrance limit with just their worn armor and weapons strapped around their body. There's also been discussion of carrying loads in your arms.

Even if that were true, you've still got a crazy unrealistic abstraction for your backpack capacity because volume is completely ignored. Items don't have listed volume, so you literally cannot track it. Because bulk can represent something light but large and unwieldy, it at least acknowledges this other axis.

You need to face the fact that your favored abstraction is also riddled with holes because it is a terribly simplistic abstraction. Just because you don't like the new abstraction as much doesn't mean it doesn't do what it's supposed to do and doesn't have areas it outperforms your favored abstraction.

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I don't get the argument that weight is more accurate for tracking carrying capacity. Tracking solely weight is just as much of an abstraction. It is much easier to carry X weight as a long rod than X weight as a long flat box. It takes vastly more strength to swing around a 15 lb greatsword than it does to carry a 100 lb backpack. The same object is usually vastly easier to carry with lifting straps than unassisted. Which muscle groups are having to take the weight and how long any lever arms involved are matter just as much as weight. Bulk is clearly an attempt to represent how much easier it is to carry a 100 lb backpack than a 100 lb beach ball. The fact that it's simpler and uses smaller, more easily managed numbers is just gravy.

And that's all assuming GMs can somewhat accurately guess weight for objects where it isn't predefined, which they can't. People are famously bad at estimating this.

0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:
On the other hand, I do like how merely investing sufficiently in a skill can create superhuman effects. A Bard with Legendary Perofrmance and all the feats, like Fascinating Performance becomes world famous (if he wants) and can fill stadiums with fans both rapt and malleable. It's extrememly powerful, but only as gonzo as something like Scare to Death, with similar Intimidation investment (Combining the two however...)

I don't know how you got anything anti-gonzo from my post. All I'm arguing against is that most skill feats should scale to a legendary effect, not that legendary effects shouldn't exist. I enjoy legendary/mythic abilities as well as the next guy in a campaign with the appropriate theme.

Captain Morgan wrote:

The thing is a feat doesn't have to actually scale at all 4 proficiency steps. It is cool if it does, but you don't need to fit stuff in just to check every box. Just generally increase the level of scaling.

You're right that it does encourage you to double down on investing in specific skills... but Pathfinder has always rewarded specialization and I am not sure that's a bad thing.

It doesn't have to, but the example being used as the platonic ideal skill feat, Cat Fall, does. If everything is like Cat Fall, the issue I'm pointing out is more likely to arise.

I think that skill feats with higher proficiency requirements being more powerful already encourages specialization plenty. What I'm referring to is the negative psychological effect of looking at a feat that I want but realizing that out of the described 2-4 effects/levels of effect for that feat, I'm only going to ever get one of them. Should I not spend that feat on something I get the full 2-4 effects from? This is as opposed to getting the full benefit of a feat as long as I qualify for it. You're less likely to ever dabble outside of your specialization if you're getting obviously, visibly far less bang for your buck when doing so.

In reality, I don't think this will be a problem as I think making most feats fit the Cat Fall mold is too clunky design-wise and isn't what Paizo did or will do for future feats. I'm just pushing back against the idea that Cat Fall should be our platonic ideal feat, and acknowledging some of the drawbacks of that design style.

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I think there actually is a problem if all skill feats scaled with proficiency. Since you can only advance a small handful of skills past trained, you'd feel like you were missing out on most of the effects of your feats if you if you didn't put all your skill feats into skills you advanced. If I get 5 effects from an Acrobatics skill feat because I'm legendary but only one effect from a Diplomacy skill feat, I'm less likely to consider the Diplomacy feat than I would without everything scaling.

There's also the problem that when a feat scales, it has to be split across the proficiency tiers. A feat that might have given benefit X that was reasonable as a Master-level feat may now have that effect as the Legendary effect because it was the best effect the designers came up with. You lose some design agility when there are several tiers that must be filled.

I fully support feats scaling when it feels like a natural progression and the end result is not so powerful that it pushes you to only invest in feats for skills you're advancing. I think Cat Fall does this well. I could see having a character with Legendary Acrobatics and not taking Cat Fall.

The FAQ says that you'll be taking this opportunity to incorporate years of hindsight into the final product. I love the Spheres system and use the core book as is, but have found that while there's a lot of great content and ideas in the handbooks, they can be a little more hit and miss in terms of quality and balance. Is there going to be any kind of community feedback opportunity going into this, like the core book and handbooks had? Please know that I have nothing against the handbook authors, and that I understand those books couldn't have the resources the core book did.

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BryonD wrote:
People who didn't like it dropped out very quickly and many of them didn't even bother to complete the surveys. A great majority of them walked away.

Emphasis mine. Unless you are a multimillionaire who spent copious resources to do your own polling, you have literally no way to know this. You make claims that you have no ability to support, which makes your arguments not credible and shows your bias. You need to either argue solely from a stance of your opinion or you need to back up your claims.

Mathmuse wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Sigh, most of the text said, "Your maximum number of Spell Points is equal to your key ability modifier," as if key ability modifier was something variable, rather than fixed by the same class that gave the spell points
This is a bit of a snark against what is essentially nice future proofing language that lets them do things like change a classes key attribute (either through an errata that adds a choice like Ranger got or something like a class archetype) easily without also having to specifically declare all the various places that it changes within a class.

Seriously, would Paizo change the bard's or sorcerer's key ability to something besides Charisma, the cleric's or druid's key ability to something besides Wisdom, or the wizard's key ability to something besides Intelligence? The Playtest Rulebook needed only 5 months of future-proofing, and some changes, such as swapping a spellcasting key ability, would not happen in that time period.

I pointed out that the monk's ki could be thematically changed from Wisdom to Charisma, but the Ki Strike feat does not have the future-proofing language. It specifically calls out Wisdom, because the monk's key ability is Dexterity or Strength. Paladin also had their spell points directly linked to Charisma rather than key ability, because their key ability is Strength. Thus, this future-proofing is not universal. It applies only when the key ability was the spellcasting stat.

My snark was against an editing oddity that was not justified by future proofing.

They're not likely to change that wording for the final version, or really write intentionally temporary language at all. Why would you? In the final version, they very well may change key abilities. Sorcerers in PF1 famously let you switch to Int or Wis for certain bloodlines.

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One quick houserule makes the Unchained action system work vastly better for PF1: the first ex-swift action used per turn is a free action instead of 1 action. This prevents the many feats/classes that rely on being able to do a swift action in addition to everything else from being screwed. Examples include Maguses, Inquisitors, Arcane Armor Training, Arcane Strike, etc.

IMO spontaneous casters should have both more spell casts in a day and more spell versatility in a given day. Prepared casters are only stronger in their ability to change their spells every day. You could give spontaneous casters one more spell slot of each level and make their number of spells known equal to 1.5 * level + casting stat (or, more elegantly, start with 2 + casting stat and increase by 1 every even level and 2 every odd level).

You should also consider giving both spontaneous heightening of all spells. It's less frustrating to play and is far more helpful for spontaneous casters who can't change their repertoire constantly.

RazarTuk wrote:

If high-level casters are allowed to flagrantly break the laws of reality, while high-level martials aren't allowed to do anything that's remotely impossible in our world, then no casting system can solve or be blamed for caster-martial disparity.

And for clarity, I'm not talking things like magic missile. I'm comparing something like Wall of Force to, say, becoming such a good swimmer that you gain a burrow speed. (As in swimming through dirt)

This is a lesser cause of the disparity, though one I acknowledged. Being able to completely obsolete mundane abilities in a narrow area of specialization is far less problematic than being able to do it in nearly all non-combat situations.

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I think it's important for Pathfinder as a game to not have prepared casting, Arcanist-style or otherwise. It's the biggest contributor to the caster/martial disparity and causes other narrative and encounter design problems.

It turns out that when some characters can effectively switch out their entire ability set on a daily basis and other characters can't, those with the vast diversity can take over the game a bit. It's hard enough to make non-magical abilities feel valuable alongside magical ones without the magical options also being switched out daily to best suit the current situation. Abilities like Quick Preparation make this effect even worse: any problem that can wait 10 minutes can usually be solved with magic. Non-casters need not even pick up their character sheets.

The enormous nerfs to magic in the playtest were related to prepared casting, I think. Powerful magic abilities will often be disruptive in terms of adventure design. Flight spells mean that most movement-impairing hazards are obsolete. Teleportation renders travel time moot. Death Ward trivializes many forms of undead. These are effectively silver bullets. That isn't all bad; it makes player playing the spellcaster feel awesome and allows the party to easily solve certain types of problems they might not like dealing with. Picking spells like this allows you to choose which types of problems you will be best at solving. As long as there are other kind of problems, the spellcaster gets to have their time in the limelight and there are still other interesting obstacles for the party to be challenged by. The spellcaster can apply spells in creative ways to create partial solutions to some of these other challenges.

The problem with trading out abilities is that you can have disruptively powerful solutions to most types of problems, at which point little else can challenge the party and the spellcaster is doing far more than anyone else because they're hitting nearly every problem with silver bullets. Why go through hours of real-time effort when you can instead say "let the wizard prepare new spells and cast X" and solve the problem in 5 real-time minutes? The typical answer to that is time-pressure in the adventure, but that doesn't always hold up in practice and unnecessarily limits the kinds of stories that can be told, which is really suboptimal in a story-telling game. If you allow abilities like Quick Preparation, even time pressure won't work.

The power level of spells in the playtest is what happens when you try to make spells not so disruptive. All that versatility isn't a problem if the solutions aren't all that effective at solving problems. Turns out that feels really dissatisfying and they're rolling those changes back. If they end up with silver bullet spells again without removing prepared casting, we'll end up with all the same magic-related problems that PF1 had. Remove prepared spellcasting and you can get away with vastly more powerful magic and have a much more functional cooperative game, which is an enormous win-win in my book.

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Charlie Brooks wrote:
Among other things, I hope the Quiet Allies feat lets nearby allies act as trained in Stealth.

I hope it also allows you to spend an action to let an ally you can see roll a Stealth check with your proficiency modifier. The party rogue can then peak down the hallway, motioning for allies to cross when it's safest. I think the group checks problem is mostly a Stealth problem, and surely that can be solved more directly.

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Matthew Downie wrote:
I'm interested in this subject. I recently tried to make my own game system based on the idea that all characters should feel awesome, and I found it hard to decide what should be restricted to higher levels. If flight is going to be a thing the GM has to deal with, why not have it available from level 1 for someone who wants to specialise in that? If teleportation doesn't break high-level play, then it doesn't (necessarily) break low level play.

This is a huge part of why I like Spheres of Power so well. It removes most level gates. The reason it can do that is that you are not able to change your abilities from day to day (with a couple of very limited exceptions). You get abilities from level 1 that are capable of trivializing a specific kind of challenge, like surviving in the wilderness without water. Since you can't change your abilities, though, that's a fairly permanent part of your character. You can't decide to only trivialize need for water when you're in a desert. That means two things. One, one character can't trivialize most challenges. Two, a GM can reliably make a character have an opportunity to shine by providing a problem they are well-equipped for and can reliably challenge a character/party by ensuring there are problems for which the group does not have a silver bullet.

If you allow a character to have access to all abilities (even if not all on a given day), then you have to make sure no ability is overly disruptive. You have to pick between access to all abilities but none are powerful enough to be truly disruptive or access to only some abilities but they can be disruptive. High level Vancian magic is such a narrative problem because it gives complete access to an enormous list of highly disruptive abilities.

In case my conclusion isn't clear by this point, dynamically swappable abilities is the problem. Martial Flexibility, prepared Vancian spellcasters, etc are what need to go.

Mathmuse wrote:
The possibilites have another dimension in gameplay for my players: the players improve their tactics and make fewer rolls of that kind, the same number of rolls of that kind, or more rolls of that kind.

Absolutely. This is part of the difficulty that comes from finding better methods of solving problems. Leaning into your strengths and away from your weaknesses is a huge part of that. Your point that finding a new way to be effective when your normal tactics are countered is another source of difficulty is a good one too.

I appreciate the playtest's focus on choosing abilities for new things you can do rather than numerical advantages. A major reason for that is that optimizing for numerical effectiveness is a form of difficulty, but it mostly shifts that difficulty into character creation rather than actually playing the character. That might be appropriate when building a deck in a CCG or something, but I prefer use of a character in play to be more important than building them, and that only happens when you have a lot of different options for what you can do in play. It also means that when your favorite tactic is countered, you're more likely to have other options, as you said.

Martial characters are definitely a bit better in the playtest compared to PF1 in terms of the number of options they have during play, but I think they could still use some help. Casters have had the options I describe in previous editions, and martials tended to be built with care and then played in a single way. I don't think it's coincidence that martials had far more ways to optimize for numbers than casters did.

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But failure can certainly create difficulty.

A lower success rate on any d20 roll doesn't make succeeding on the check more difficult, it just makes success less likely. The distinction is that the player doesn't have any agency as part of the roll. Whether they are likely to succeed or unlikely to succeed, all they can do is make their roll and see what happens.

However, failing a roll does create difficulty in two ways. One source of difficulty is dealing with the consequences of a failed roll. A failed roll often results in a new problem (I slipped and am now at the bottom of the pit, I failed my save and now I can't hear what my allies are saying, etc) that requires a new solution. Having more problems to solve makes the game more difficult. The player/character has agency and shows skill by solving these new problems. The less likely a roll is to fail, the less likely it is to create difficulty. No chance of failure then means no chance of difficulty.

The other way failed rolls create difficulty is in the form of decisions and methods of achieving goals. A given problem often can be solved by many different methods that vary in how likely they are to succeed. A better plan should have a higher chance to succeed than a worse one (In PF1, for example, a plan that only required a minor request required a much lower Diplomacy DC than one that required a major request). Coming up with plans that are more likely to succeed is a form of difficulty, and deciding whether a given method of solving a problem is worth the risk is also a form of difficulty. A player/character has agency and shows skill by finding and choosing better methods that are more likely to succeed or have lower risk. If even a bad plan has no risk or chance of failure, then the quality of the method used to solve a problem doesn't matter and no difficulty is created.

As a character levels up, there are only three possibilities for their success rate relative to level-appropriate challenges: their success rate increases, decreases, or stays the same. A decreasing success rate relative to appropriate challenges feels pretty disheartening, so I think most agree that isn't a good idea. The two other possibilities imply different ways challenge can grow as a character levels.

If success rate stays the same, the number of challenges created by failure remains the same. It is likely that increasing difficulty will take the form of harder problems as consequences of a failure or increasing difficulty in finding low-risk solutions to problems.

If success rate grows higher, the number of challenges created by failures decreases. This usually means that an opponent's success rate has also increased, so the majority of challenges will be created by the opposition succeeding. When everyone has powerful abilities they usually succeed in using, rocket tag can result. However, I don't think it has to. What caused rocket tag in PF1 was that high level abilities didn't usually create new problems; they created endings. Dropping someone to -100 HP from full HP in a round isn't a problem that can usually be solved in combat. Failing a save against Phantasmal Killer, or worse, being hit with Power Word Death, wasn't solvable either. Baleful Polymorph having a permanent duration rendered it unsolvable. However, being polymorphed for a duration or being mind controlled were solvable problems (though possibly not solvable enough).

If success rate is going to increase with level, then counterplay must exist and be suitably accessible, both in and out of combat. Higher level foes would have more abilities and more challenging abilities to counter, and higher level players would have more tools at their disposal to solve problems and create problems for the opponent. This creates a feeling of advancement and increasing difficulty even with gradually increasing rates of success. One caveat, though, is that skill rolls are much less frequently opposed and so increasing success rates can potentially make combat the only real source of challenge.

Neither of these two possibilities for rate of success and their accompanying methods of increasing difficulty are inherently better, nor are they entirely mutually exclusive. It just a matter of what kind of game the designers want to create. I would prefer either of these possibilities, though, to a game where increasing difficulty is supposed to come from the numbers.

My ultimate point of this very long post is that when discussing difficulty, the numbers are largely beside the point as long as there is a chance of failure. As playtesters, we should focus on making sure the tools needed to create and solve difficult situations are a part of this ruleset because the numbers cannot give difficulty or depth on their own. If success rates are to increase, we also need to make sure adequate counterplay exists so that high level play isn't plagued by rocket tag like in the previous edition.

This topic is only slightly adjacent to the existing +1/level discussions, so please keep discussion along those lines in those threads.

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The problem with alignment, IMO, is that people tend to find a way to attribute their values to the alignment they like most. When I see someone say that all of the values in the three Paladin codes are all LG, the law-chaos axis has lost its meaning. I'd prefer a more modular Paladin that builds a code from ideals directly. That would be more clear compared to a code derived from alignment, with it's endless arguments and ambiguity on what each alignment means.

graystone wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
One thing Paizo has done much better with in the playtest is not having unnecessary prerequisites.
I don't know about that: taking a combat style often requires a dedication feat and those require taking 2 more feats before taking another.

They've said their intent is to make thematically appropriate versions of combat styles for each class. While I'm not convinced that is tenable, I don't think calling multiclassing an unnecessary prerequisite is fair in light of that methodology.

graystone wrote:
In a lot of instances, it seems the amount of "unnecessary prerequisites" is larger and not smaller.

What other instances are there?

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I think there are four design flaws with feats that can cause a player to feel they don't have a meaningful choice.

1. I have to take a feat I don't want as a prerequisite for one I do want (feat tax).
2. I have to continually spend feats to keep an ability relevant.
3. A certain feat is so much more powerful than the other options that it eclipses them and I have to either take it or fall far under performance expectations for my class.
4. No feats available to fill a slot are at all interesting and so I try to pick the least bad one.

The playtest is pretty good at avoiding type 1, and I haven't noticed too many of type 3. (To clarify, there are feats that are better than others, but few that are so much better that they cause an inordinate amount of performance difference compared to all other options. Some examples of overbearing feats in PF1 are Leadership, Craft Wondrous Items, pre-nerf Divine Protection, and Spell Perfection.) I've seen many people complain of the type 4 issue when picking general and skill feats.

I think some classes do have serious problems with type 2 flaws. Animal companions have been mentioned in this thread. Anything that is so powerful that the devs feel it should require continued expenditure of feats to keep relevant should either be removed or made into a core class or class path ability that scales automatically. It feels bad psychologically to have "choice slots" picked for you, so it's better for such abilities to not interact with "choice slots."

Archery fighters also have a type 2 flaw with Doubleshot, Triple Shot, and Multishot Paragon. The bonuses keep getting better but that's largely to keep their much smaller ranged weapon dice relevant compared to other weapons. Other types of fighter can spend their feats on new capabilities instead of just keeping existing ones relevant. I'm not sure if this is just due to power like animal companions or a "felt thematically right and made the damage numbers work," but it ends of feeling the same way at the end of the day.

One thing Paizo has done much better with in the playtest is not having unnecessary prerequisites. I just looked over the shield and archery Fighter feats, and a higher level feat for a given style usually only requires the lower level feat when they're actually mechanically related. That's really important because it allows me to say "Nah, I don't like the level 12 feat, I'll pick something else" without cutting me out of the rest of the style's higher level feats.

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I like the new Paladin aesthetic. People wanted a Good-restricted alignment-focused class, and that's what they got. It's fitting that the Goodest Guy emphasizes defending allies and support, with murder ability a distant second. The implication that the Goodest Guy can be a wrathful violence-obsessed murder machine is pretty uncomfortable to me. I'm glad that's gone.

Also, let's not pretend that there isn't widespread precedent for a fantasy "Paladin" having a defense or support focus, and not just in those darned newfangled MMOs.

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Magic items having mostly irrelevant DCs is a problem that needs solved somehow. So many items in PF1 were cool in theory but just never worth using for that reason alone. The other obvious solution is the item's DC somehow depends on the character using it, but that feels pretty gamey to me.

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One glaring example of traditionalists being respected is Vancian spellcasting sticking around. I'll bet nearly anything that if the devs were making a game that didn't have a legacy of Vancian spellcasting, there's no chance they'd use it. Too complex, fiddly, and doesn't match broad fantasy tropes well. There's plenty being left in primarily to keep traditionalists being kept happy, they're just getting less attention because they're not being removed.

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The Raven Black wrote:
The suffering of those who lament the loss of the LG-specific Paladin is real. Belittling it and, even worse, implying that those people are some kind of tyrants is far from graceful on the part of those who feel like they have "won" here

I don't think it's reasonable to hold a position of "everyone must do things my way and only my way" and then expect sympathy when you don't get your way. That position inherently devalues the opinions of others, and it's far from surprising that some people aren't thrilled by it. Not everyone who liked that particular Paladin aesthetic held that position, but some very vocal people on this board did.

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And it's about dang time. Classes with narrow flavor don't belong in the core rulebook of a roleplaying game meant to work for multiple settings. The Paladin, as it has existed, belonged in some setting-specific splatbook. Hopefully this mistake won't be repeated and we'll get only generic, broad fantasy tropes for the hardcover line.

The people saying that there should be only one divinely-powered full martial class and it should be restricted to a single alignment boggle my mind. Your aesthetic preferences are not gospel, and other people should be allowed to play and enjoy things outside your personal preferences. It is because of this mentality that I am so pleased to see the LG restriction going away. I hate to see that mentality concerning a cooperative, shared experience.

I also appreciate how the Paladin specializations all emphasize different ways of doing good deeds. I've always found it weird that so much of the Paladin flavor was doing violence to evil. The Goodest Guy should focus on helping people first and killing people when necessary, not the other way around.

I like the class specializations too. Gives the core book more character diversity and scratches a little bit of that class archetype itch. Also front loads abilities a little more so that players have more to do at level 1.

The lead designer, Jason Buhlman, said on a Twitch stream that if you don't have enough time, play chapters 1, 4, and 7. He also pleaded with people to do the resonance rework test, since that test is less visible and they really need feedback on that one.

Just popping in to say, once again, that you probably won't get anything resembling Smite for the PF2 Paladin. Smite was a bit of an ugly duckling design-wise in PF1. "Do the most damage, but only against certain enemies" breaks down when "certain enemies" is most genre-appropriate antagonists. No Smite you'll see in PF2 will be nearly as big a damage boost, because Smite was too big a boost before. The glory days of the alpha strike murderhobo Paladin are over.

Weighed against the math of the playtest, RS is extremely good when it goes off. Adding a Step makes it go off regularly. You won't get an ability that does more damage than RS, I don't think.

It makes sense for a cleric of Lamashtu to be able to heal her monsters. It makes less sense for them to be smiting undead or evil outsiders, the only uses for Channel Smite with positive energy. I don't think there's necessarily a problem here.

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Generally lackluster abilities
Feats, class features, and spells tend to be minor improvements or rarely useful. I love the amount of customization in the playtest, but I have to care about what those abilities do for it to be worth the effort. I need to have a hard time deciding which one I like best, not picking out which one seems least bad. This issue determines whether I play PF2 or not.

Success rates and specialization
While attack rolls might be able to use a small bump, this applies mostly to skills. Items shouldn't be required to be competent in a skill. You should be able to be competent, numerically, in a skill without having the highest possible proficiency and without having an maxed out ability modifier. Being Trained in many skills feels lackluster because failure is so high for all but your absolute best.

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There are innumerable environment factors, but I don't see that as a reason to not comprehensively handle the two locating senses that PCs are guaranteed to have and then handle exceptions from there. Something like
"It is often not possible to Sense a creature who is both invisible and silent, but environmental factors like footprints, displaced water, or being covered in flour may allow the creature to still be Sensed."

The problem with the rules as they are is that they mandate that a creature who takes any action other than Hide or Sneak will always be Sensed, even when no environmental factors provide a reason for that. You can end up stuck between following the rules and the game world being consistent and intuitive. If you assume that invisible, silent creature cannot be Sensed unless an appropriate environmental factor is present, environmental factors still work like they should but you don't end up in that situation with rules with no in-world explanation.

This approach would not require covering each possible interaction. What I wrote above is probably close to sufficient. However, some common cases like incorporeal creatures should probably be covered so that we know what the dev's intent was when building those creatures. The poltergeist from the playtest is what caused me to make this thread.

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Anyway, I'm done with this thread. It has become clear to me that my biggest problem is the interaction of the Stealth rules, invisibility, and silence effects and I've opened a different thread here to discuss that. I think the poltergeist, based on its abilities, suffers from these issues enough to try to get some dev attention for it, which was the purpose of this thread. With how this thread has devolved, there's little chance a dev will read it and I'm bored of being told how I'm not bending over backwards far enough to make nonsense rules make sense.

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

If your story involves a poltergeist, and doesn't involve cold spots, weird flickering lights, having a spooky feeling or unusual electrical discharges then I'd say that narratively you're already using GM Fiat.

I gave you a half-a-dozen narrative explanations that use the fiction and lore of poltergeists to explain how the creature becomes "sensed", which still grants the creature a 50% miss chance, and it's incorporeality will protect it from most attacks.

Fine, I'll reply to your ideas individually to make extra clear the problem I have with them, although I already said this. My annotations in bold.


Cold spots in the room, Wouldn't give you a location unless you were very near
Hairs standing up on the back of your neck, Doesn't give you a direction
Magic or alchemical items with electricity descriptors spark, Doesn't give you a direction
the ambient light level of the spot dims, This effectively just makes the creature's appearance that of a dim spot; it is no longer invisible
your sunrod or light spell suddenly brightens or flickers, Doesn't give you a direction
Holy water starts to boil, Doesn't give you a direction
Animal companion or familiar starts growling at a seemingly empty spot in the air, So your dog gets the arbitrary ghost-sense instead of you. Better hope you have an animal along.
You suspect there's something strange in the neighbourhood (of the sensed square) . You're adding a sense, that isn't mentioned anywhere, for sensing one specific creature so the rules make sense. This is the literal definition of fiat: purely arbitrary and at a whim. If this is how it should work, put that in the monster's entry.

I'm talking about how functional this monster is, in terms of understanding how to play it and ensuring that the rules represent a somewhat intuitive and consistent world. I don't watch horror. At all. I don't know what is tropy for a poltergeist, and my point is that I shouldn't need to. If this monster relies on some sense beyond vision and hearing to work (which, to reiterate, are the only senses humans can use to pinpoint anything at a distance and are the only ones assumed to be available to PCs), the rules should tell me that.

I agree that if you're displacing some visible while invisible, like with footprints, water, being covered in flour, etc, it makes sense to be able to sense you. The problem is there are so many environments and situations where that isn't a viable explanation as to why you're immediately sensed when you take most actions.

I agree that ideally, invisibility would only affect vision-based stealth factors. That's why I was suggesting that invisibility's stealth advantage, whether that is an automatic result or a flat bonus, only applies to Hide against creatures using visual senses. It already satisfies Sneak's requirement for concealment or cover, which is also good. If you're Sneaking, which is mostly auditory, invisibility wouldn't help you make Stealth checks, and if a creature is using a nonvisual sense to Seek you, it would do nothing. I think that both models what is happening in the world better and adds some badly needed counterplay against invisibility.

Invisibility providing an automatic 20 on a Stealth check but not increasing your Stealth DC by 10 (which does effectively the same thing) is a bad thing in my book. I want rolling a Perception check against a Stealth DC and rolling a Stealth check against a Perception DC to mean the same thing. Otherwise, it becomes confusing what each actually represents, and you end up with players begging to do/not do the roll, depending on which gives them an advantage.

At the end of the day, this whole Stealth/invisibility/silence issue comes down to game design philosophy. Invisibility and silence would render a human unable to pinpoint a creature in most circumstances. If everything needs to have accessible counterplay, then that is a bad thing, and either more counterplay needs to be added or those effects should be removed. If less common or no counterplay (such as needing a spell from a small list to counter something) is acceptable, then silence and invisibility should render you effectively undetectable. Right now we're in this weird place where the action limits of Sneak ensure there is always accessibly counterplay, but that counterplay doesn't have a basis in the game's world once a few spells are added in. It'd be better to remove the effects that demand that counterplay, invisibility etc, than to leave something so deeply unintuitive and immersion-breaking in the rules.

Fine, GM fiat doesn't apply to the narrative, only to mechanics, apparently.

The mechanics make no sense. Humans, and by extension most races in this game, have only 2 senses capable of evenly vaguely pinpointing someone at range: sight and hearing. If you've got neither, you can't pinpoint someone. All but two of your suggestions completely miss that. The remaining two effectively reverse the creature's natural invisibility, at which point I'm back to asking, why have it?

A human being able to pinpoint a silent, invisible creature when it performs an action that has nothing to do with its location is gamey. I don't like how that word tends to be used, so I rarely do, but in this case it is the literal definition. This mechanic is completely divorced from any story explanation. Either the mechanic needs changed to make sense, or the monster needs to be changed to make sense with the mechanics. As a GM, I don't want to have to come up with tortured reasons why the mechanics make a lick of sense. A good game doesn't require that, which is why I'm suggesting a change.

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Pandora's wrote:

The Seek action is what I'm saying makes no sense. How is it being Sensed? I understand what the rules allow, I don't understand how the rules make any sense on this point.

The poltergeist's basic attack is magical in nature but not a spell. If it's meant to be one, that needs to be made clear somehow.

I strongly disagree with you on the tactics, at least in this case. If a creature with natural invisibility is only visible when they choose to be, they're generally not going to choose to be. I'm not going to have them be so incredibly stupid to not use their primary defense. A vermin's instincts could manage that, much less a sapient enemy with a -1 int mod. If a monster requires being played with the tactical acumen of a stone to be reasonable, then the monster needs changed.

The poltergeist being sensed via the Seek action is pretty easy to narrate really:

Cold spots in the room,
Hairs standing up on the back of your neck,
Magic or alchemical items with electricity descriptors spark,
the ambient light level of the spot dims,
your sunrod or light spell suddenly brightens or flickers,
Holy water starts to boil,
Animal companion or familiar starts growling at a seemingly empty spot in the air,
You suspect there's something strange in the neighbourhood (of the sensed square) .

That comes across to me as "come up with whatever you need to justify incomplete monsters." If there's no obvious reason why you would be able to notice a monster with a natural invisibility ability, provide one. Don't rely on GM fiat to finish the monster.

The Seek action is what I'm saying makes no sense. How is it being Sensed? I understand what the rules allow, I don't understand how the rules make any sense on this point.

The poltergeist's basic attack is magical in nature but not a spell. If it's meant to be one, that needs to be made clear somehow.

I strongly disagree with you on the tactics, at least in this case. If a creature with natural invisibility is only visible when they choose to be, they're generally not going to choose to be. I'm not going to have them be so incredibly stupid to not use their primary defense. A vermin's instincts could manage that, much less a sapient enemy with a -1 int mod. If a monster requires being played with the tactical acumen of a stone to be reasonable, then the monster needs changed.

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The Sneak action says that invisible creatures become Sensed when they perform any action that isn't Hide or Sneak. That makes enough sense assuming they are still making an appreciable amount of sound. However, the silence spell causes you to create no sound. If a creature is invisible and silent while taking an action to pull something out of a pack, what is giving them away to make them Sensed? This is assuming the opposing creature has no special senses, like blindsense, tremorsense, or scent. If this interaction between invisibility and silence is too powerful, that's fine, make it somehow incompatible. The current interaction doesn't make sense.

Also, with the changes to the Sneak action, Sneak is pretty clearly about moving without being heard. If you stay out of cover/concealment for long enough (past the end of a Sneak action, normally) you are spotted, but you always must make a Stealth roll, even when cover/concealment haven't yet come into the equation. Why is it, then, that invisibility gives a natural 20 on Stealth checks (which once again allows a low level spell to mostly replace a skill; it'd be better for it to be removed entirely if there's no better alternative) and Silence gives no explicit benefit to Sneak? I think it'd be better if invisibility gave a bonus/automatic result on Hide and removed the need for cover/concealment from Sneak, and Silence gave the bonus/automatic result on Sneak.

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Many undead currently have a quality called negative healing that is not defined in the playtest rulebook, as has been pointed out elsewhere. More problematically, most but not all undead have the ability. Mummies, ghasts, and wights all have it, so I figured that the accidentally-omitted ability must be what makes undead heal from negative damage and be damaged by positive. When I got to the poltergeist in the playtest, I thus thought that it must not take damage from channel energy, because every other undead so far had that quality. This ended up badly derailing my playtest session. It turns out that that healing information is actually in the undead trait, when most of the traits are purely descriptive flavor text. If the negative healing quality is meant to be a reminder about the interaction with positive and negative energy, please make sure it is on every undead for clarity. Currently at least the poltergeist, shadows, and ghouls are missing it (despite ghasts having it, somehow).

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The Sneak action says that invisible creatures become Sensed when they perform any action that isn't Hide or Sneak. That makes sense in most cases for corporeal creatures. However for an incorporeal creature that cannot physically interact with most objects, it makes little sense. Makes even less for a poltergeist. It attacks with telekinetic projectiles that are presumably taken from the environment. What part of telekinetically picking up an object at range while invisible gives away the location of your square? Is there some sound effect that plays from the creature's space?

Either I play the creature in a bogglingly nonsensical way or I slaughter the PCs with an unbeatable god-assassin that can't be found unless they happen to be packing See Invisibility that day. I think that for this reason, it may be a bad idea to make naturally invisible incorporeal creatures.

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Speaking directly to the topic of this thread, I think this playtest is actually far worse for expected items than 1st edition because of item bonuses to skills. In PF1, it was very possible to have adequately large skill bonuses, even to the point of a powerful specialization, without having a skill bonus from an item. In fact, items were often overkill unless used for a skill that wasn't a class skill or that your ability modifier was very poor for. In PF2, you're expected to have an item bonus to skills or you fall behind. The "big 6" is now "big 3 + the number of skills I want to be competent in." Poor Rogue doesn't stand a chance.

Item bonuses to skills being so important has also impacted the magic item list immensely. Being a playtest, the list is sparse anyway, but how many non-consumable items don't provide an item bonus? They're almost all item bonuses. You also can't get the whole spread of +1 to +5 in almost any skill. You currently have to wait until level 11ish to get a generic Athletics bonus. That may be fixed by more items, but I don't want an item for each bonus between 1 and 5 for each of the 17 skills. Ideally, item bonuses to skills would be smaller (+2 max?) but not assumed by the base math so they boost your actual success chance relative to tasks of your level. Failing that, each skill booster item needs to run the full 1-5 progression so we don't end up with nothing but skill booster items and we can leave these awkward dead levels for some skills behind.

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
The enhancement bonuses are built to counteract the factor that creatures at higher levels have much more HP and a multitude of defensive capabilities.

Both the monster DCs and table 10-2 with the skill DCs strongly disagree with you. The item bonuses are transparently designed to counteract DCs increases at an approximately 1:1 ratio. This is what people keep telling you. The game assumes that all characters who interact with those DCs will need these items, period. Later in your post you talk about meaningful choice being a core design principle of this edition, somehow missing the fact that upgrading weapons is literally not intended to be a decision. A meaningful choice is one with both pros and cons. Keeping up with weapon bonuses is designed to be always the right choice.

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BryonD wrote:
Charlie Brooks wrote:
This means that somebody who is untrained at something but has an 18 in the relevant ability score is still worse roll-wise than a character who is trained at something with an average ability modifier. That shifts things back toward a 1st edition skill paradigm, where training was more important than raw talent.

10 ATR, trained, level 1 :: 0 + 0 +1 = +1

18 ATR, untrained, level 1 :: 4 - 4 +1 = +1

10 ability score is not average for a PC in the playtest. In fact, outside of racial flaw, it's the floor. Max stat untrained is the same bonus as trained with the lowest possible ability score? That seems reasonable to me.

Frozen Yakman wrote:
Pandora's wrote:

Do you have a problem with only Rogues getting Rogue Talents or only Barbarians getting Rage Powers? If not, how is this different? Is it just combat styles that you care about so much with how they're siloed?

I actually do have a problem with this. Barbarians would be much better designed if you changed the Rage powers into feats with the (Rage) or (Totem) keyword (and any other appropriate keyword) on them and they got bonus feats with the Rage or Totem keyword. Same with Rogue Talents, Ninja Tricks, Alchemist Discoveries, et al.

Give us a spellcasting system that works with multiclassing and it'd be damn near perfect.

I agree that this is an attractive idea, but the only way you'll see this in Pathfinder, or any kind of D&D, is homebrew. Recognizing that, I want class siloing to be done in a way that makes meaningful differentiation.

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MerlinCross wrote:

Well for one, I don't min max. I try to be effective in combat, traveling, social, etc. But I don't go out of my way to push the number as far as it can go. So if you look at my character sheets you'll probably see a bad pick or a trap option when it comes to feats, skills, or even items. I mean heck, I picked up Craft Construct as a feat on my current character in PF1, but the community seems to consider that a trap, not worth it, what are you doing, unless you're using it to make a crafting army you are doing it wrong. Don't care, I have a little junk golem that follows me around and helps out.

As a GM though, and I admit this isn't in the rules, or for new GMs I guess, I'll give you the same as when I explained Appraise to someone else; To me there's no Trap option. There are harder options yes, but I try to make sure players are able to use the skills, feats, and items they pick up. It might require a bit more work, but I like sitting down with a player and trying to help them build what they want and then make it work. I might have to bend the rules or even ignore them at times, but I play for story and character, not the math. And if it is truly, truly trapish or Taxish... well I just remove those.

I don't either min max either, not that that playstyle is inherently wrong for the groups that enjoy it. My desire is that every option should be good enough at what it does that it makes a noticeable difference and fulfills the fantasy. If my Rogue fancies himself an unseeable assassin but fails Stealth on an 18 and sneak attacks for an extra 1d2 damage, then being an assassin is just as much a fantasy for my character as it is for me. I want my fantasy to be the character's reality, and that means they need to be able to mechanically achieve what their flavor suggests. If your rust golem was a useful helper during your adventures, then I think that's a fine feat. The feat told you "you can make golems," you made one, and it did useful things for you.

So to be clear, when I say trap option, I don't mean "not-perfectly-optimal option". I mean "doesn't fulfill fantasy by feeling effective." A Wizard with a bow will usually fit that category. If I were to go to the devs and say "Is it reasonable to expect that my Wizard will be good with a bow?" and they said "No, the Wizard really has a different focus.", then my followup question shouldn't be "Then why do I have all these bow options?" At that point, Wizards with bows is a designed trap; the devs know I shouldn't do it. Design-wise, there's a big difference between a feat that isn't meant to be useful to you and a feat that may be hard to get much value out of but wasn't designed that way (such as Craft Golem.)

GM filtering is nice. I do that for my players. I help them optimize enough to feel effective. That doesn't help new GMs, and would be unnecessary if the system didn't have unmarked but intentional traps.

MerlinCross wrote:

They should matter and play differently. I don't think class X should have a monopoly on a play-style though. Or at the very least, Combat Style. I want to make a TWF guy that uses knives..., well I would just make him Rogue(Gasp) or maybe Ranger, maybe a few other classes. NOW I have to make him Ranger or Fighter.

PF1 might have been bad. I went out of my way to do different things. However I'm looking at PF2, and with people already making the true build paths, I ask; How is PF2 going to be any different? The math is going to get figured out, the guides are going to go up and you'll see the same character again and again. There might be more paths in PF2, but how sure are we that the community isn't just going to go down the same one like before?

I don't think we're seeing classes have monopolies on combat styles. The devs have openly admitted some classes were missing some styles that are an expected part of that class's fantasy and they're working on those. Wizards being great at TWF isn't really a reasonable or common fantasy IMO, so I'm fine if they need to multiclass into fighter (which doesn't wreck their character now!) to get that fantasy.

As I implied above, I don't care if people are finding the One True Optimal build path. I care that characters have options that are Effective Enough for Fantasy (TM) and that those options have meaningful variety (in role or function, as I explained in another post). If the devs create different ways each class functions with, say, archery, then I absolutely think we're at least getting something that is a step up from PF1, even if it isn't perfect.

Vic Ferrari wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
Classes need to be different in either role, function, or both.
Different from what, other classes? Also, what are these roles and functions?

Right, other classes. If you're not going to have differences between classes, just cut out the middleman and go classless. If you can't sufficiently differentiate a new class from existing ones, that new class is unnecessary.

What roles are functions exist are dependent on the game and the creativity of the designers. In RTS games, such as Starcraft, you often have worker units, combat units, and utility units; each does something totally different. In MMOs, you tend to have tank/dps/healer. Those are examples of roles.

In a class based shooter, such as Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch, you'll have some classes with the same function: kill the enemy. It's really all they do. Some kill the enemy with speed and close-ranged/melee weaponry, others do it from long range with fast-firing, accurate weapons. The role is the same, but they go about it in different ways and are very different to play.

If you're asking me what roles and functions should exist in a tabletop RPG, I'll tell you that I have my tastes, I'm sure you have yours, and I don't think there is any one right answer.

Vic Ferrari wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
If you're going to have classes, they should matter and play differently.
Absolutely, but at the same time you don't want to be pigeonholed into a specific role, style. You also want to avoid homogeneity and 15 versions of fireball or what-have-you.

Classes need to be different in either role, function, or both. Role is what they do, function is how they do it. If you choose function, that function has to be tangibly different. To hit and damage bonuses with different flavor aren't tangibly different in function.

Avoid homogeneity, yes. I'm fine with 15 versions of Fireball if they're tangibly different in their function. I have no idea how you would create so many that are, but if it was accomplished, I'd have no issue with it.

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John Lynch 106 wrote:

1) I haven't addressed it because it's an argument I haven't made and so is completely offtopic. Furthermore the fact you are making it in this way suggests a lack of understanding of 4th ed and the criticisms against it and feels like you think you have found a "gotcha" argument that your going to spring on me rather than try to engage in a good faith discussion of the issue.

Given you won't let it go I will address it at the end of this post.

Seriously? So sameness wasn't the reason you had an issue with 4e. It is relevant because over and over and over in this thread, rather than actually explaining why a mechanic is bad or not to your tastes, you say that it's like 4e and that's how we know it is bad. That's nonsense. If you have a problem, articulate it. Edition warring shows an aversion to change with an absence of reason.

John Lynch 106 wrote:
2) My problem with unique feats for the classes is it means only those classes can get those elements of the game. It means Paizo gives us some prepackaged boxes and very few pieces we can fill in with those boxes.

Do you have a problem with only Rogues getting Rogue Talents or only Barbarians getting Rage Powers? If not, how is this different? Is it just combat styles that you care about so much with how they're siloed?

You complain about few pieces to put in those boxes, and then later caution against how many class powers 4e ended up with for each class. Which is the problem?

John Lynch 106 wrote:
Whereas in Pf1e by not restricting such feats to class only you have a much wider array of characters that can be built. A cleric can take step up if they so desire instead of only fighters getting that feat.

Much wider array of characters in name only. PF1 martial characters are defined by their weapon combat style. You end up with each of the, what, 30-odd? martial classes all taking the same feats to fight the same way, with each class adding slightly different numerical bonuses on top. The difference between a Raging Barbarian's hit and damage bonus and a Fighter's hit and damage bonus is riveting, really. In my book, not every class having access to Step Up is a worthwhile trade for having more than 6ish effective build paths across dozens of classes.

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