Freehold DM wrote:
You have intrigued me to the point that I am going to restart my vanilla battletech game today with a new campaign and see if I encounter any of the issues you are encountering. I have been playing BTA so long I may be missing issues with Vanilla.
I ran one a month or two ago (im back in MW5 now). I remember there is a bit of a curve where you think you are ready to move up a skull, and quickly find out, that you are in fact, not ready. Still love this game and its difficulty is one of the best parts.
One more thing I forgot, not all missions are meant to kill everything either. Recovery missions are a good way to make cash and get pilot experience. Just get the asset and GTFO. Assassination missions sometimes have a convenient bee line to the target. Kill and GTFO. Ambush convoy missions, well you get the idea kill and GTFO.
The heavy metal DLC makes the game a lot easier. In both weaponry and specialized mechs. Though, if you already dislike the base game not sure you want to put any more money towards it.
Couple things I've not seen mentioned, leveling your pilots is huge. They will get better at everything that matters in the game. Defense, offense, heat management, called shots, etc... Any particular mission can go up or down in difficulty, this is on purpose to add some variance to the missions in the game. The difficulty system is based on two factors. First is the skull challenge. This determines the size, + weaponry, and condition of the mechs you will face. The second is payout. The payout is based on what you will be facing in the missions. Pay attention to the comments by the intel officer. He can usually tip you off to suicide missions.
I hear you, but often these convoluted systems bring you to the same place and you might as well make it easier on yourself.
Right a few things seem to really drive the murderhobo elements of D&D/PF. First is awarding XP for killing stuff. I know, I know, its supposed to be for engaging and succeeding at the encounter, but its been ingrained in many in the gaming community that success is murder. Video games and their piles and piles of dead bodies help reinforce this. Also, magic stuff is often held by enemies and they are not likely to fork it over, "from my dead cold hands..." As mentioned, the rules cover combat in hundreds of pages and morale, fleeing, and surrender topics are not given much, if any, attention.
Lastly, the rules usually leave moral judgements completely up to the players. There is little discussion about repercussions for rampant murder in game settings and campaigns. Alignment has largely had its teeth removed from the game and is more of a passing notion these days. Maybe for the best since arguing about murder being good or not can get tedious. Especially, with gamers who try and logic puzzle everything into the good box.
Lot of folks have been developing convoluted systems to allow non-lethal combat and morale systems for fleeing and even fleeing systems themselves. I have come to the idea that the most expedient way to handle this is to just have folks reach a point they simple took too much damage to continue instead of death. Once a character hits that point, no magic can revive them until the encounter is over. This way you can just lay waste as best as your abilities allow and just enjoy combats as they were intended. You can deal with the unconscious defeated foes however afterwards.
I'm a Traveller fan. It is a skill based game that leads to more exploration based adventures. There is a basic combat system and death and killing are real possibilities. Unlike D&D type games though, most enemies are intelligent and don't "fight to the the death". Combat in my games so far is usually who gets the upper-hand and forces the other to surrender.
That self destruct bit was so great in MM.
I think this is cross posted from EN World, but my reply is largely the same. D&D is the John Wick of RPGs. Hundreds of pages to combat its totally expected. I'd branch out to other RPGs and players to see whats out there and set aside the murderhobo tendency of D&D/PF for awhile.
Check out the Systems are a journey, not the destination thread for inspiration!
I think it does make sense. I also applaud this effort because you have refrained from making judgements about play styles which is something you have done frequently in the past.
There are some things I think could strengthen this description of your desired system. The concept of skill play vs story now can help describe the desire for characters to experience the world in a less chess board fashion. Sometimes referred to as combat as war (OSR) vs combat as sport (modern). Also, rulings over rules is a common concept that folks understand means the rules are there to facilitate the game, but ultimately the GM is empowered to arbitrate situations when its called for.
These concepts might have more universal understanding and appeal than, "story milieu", "playing the game vs rules".
This is good advice. This spell has been the only thing consistently effective for my party's Wizard. The rest of the time things have like a 20-30% chance to fail saves and they never do. Wizard has been like nipples on breastplate for our party so far in AV AP.
I do like experimenting with different lengths of AP. I think that the 3 book, 10 level format is a pretty good one and should be part of what's produced. I would like to see those levels not always be 1-10 or 11-20, though. I'd like to see some come in at, say, 6-15 with no intention of being compatible to back to back with another 3 book AP.
I wouldnt hold my breath for this anymore than a 3 module level 1-5 setup.
You'd be surprised. Some folks can blast through a 6 part AP in like 90 days. I dont know how they do it, but its not uncommon.
I took me two years with bi-weekly game sessions to complete each of the 3 APs I GM'd.
I dont care how they did it in the old days (I was there) im not going to be satisfied with three levels in a year at the table. I also dont have a problem with gaining three levels in a week game time if it fits the story.
I do think 3AP wrap ups have a ton of potential. Often, as mentioned, there is a module or two that feels either filler or out of place. I think the concentration on knocking out a good 1-10 level story is perfect.
Theres no need to have an open discussion, we already had it. We dont like the short rest mechanics in PF2. We feel its too tedious to deal with all the time. Also, we feel like its necessary because fights are not something to enter at half HP in PF2. We would like to skip this monotonous "lunch break" process entirely.
We want resource attrition in our games, which I know modern games have been moving away from. It feels like some of this lunch break weirdness is because the designers were too afraid to just call focus abilities encounter powers. Even 4E had healing surges that gave you a good attrition pace mechanic. We are trying to find it in PF2. If the answer is PF2 is desperately trying to do away with that, then we will move on. We just love Paizo and want to give PF2 an honest go. We did that, now we are in tweak it to work mode, because there are many things we do like.
The AP encounters are always a crapshoot. Sometimes the author gets cute and sets up something that seems cool, but doesn't match up well at the table. Thats why I think the AP specific forums are such a great thing to have. Checking for hotspots and cool variants that people come up with is part of my AP prep. It's also not unusual for adventure writers to have some awkwardness in the beginning as they learn to write for a new system. Usually the first adventures out tend to be the worst ones mechanically and narratively on the table.
Thanks, I was looking at the achieves and couldn't find it for the life of me!
I hear you, im trying to make PF2 work for me and I think I can with a handful of variant rules. I got a nice band of players I've been with for a long time, we know what we like.
What seemed like a narrative play for you, has felt like the 15 lunch break adventuring day to us. So naturally, if I go with a 4X short rest per day thats also going to have to calculate into my GM design. If it ends up like a 15 min adventuring day, thats ok, id prefer to how PF2 shakes out now.
I would need to do this all the time every time to get it to play like I'd like. With some type of mechanic, I could have the option of time constraints or waves of enemies along with other types too.
I've been thinking about trying to split the middle. Put some type of limit on short rests per day. You can only do it 4X and every time you just heal up to full. After that, you have to rely on your resources to keep you upright. Not sure if it will work as intended, but I'd love to get back to resource attrition style gaming and bust up the 15 lunch break adventuring day of PF2.
TTRPGs always seem to be a crapshoot when it comes to expectations. No two players and/or groups play the same. Some folks think the game is played together, and others think its just a game every one plays individually together. Rulebooks seldom give insight to the design process on how the game plays best. Folks are often left out to sea with no compass.
The best way to manage, IMO, is to discuss this during session zero (or in the case of organized play briefly before a scenario). Tell folks you are not just a wizard, but a blasting wizard. You are not just a ranger, but a bow using ranger. Etc. Also, consider that just because you are a blaster who could end a fight in 2 rounds instead of 5, doesn't mean thats always better. The fighter types might enjoy getting a few hits in. Its a give and take, too much push in a certain direction can feel like everybody is your assistant instead of an equal team member.
What if the campaign is a sandbox?
My list is real similar, but im not that picky about dungeon ecology. From my PF1 AP experience (pretty extensive) I found most of the first to third books fit the bill. The latter books are more like megadungeons which do have extensively written ecologies (so maybe those would be to the OP's liking?) and less fiction, detailed NPC communities, and social encounters. Those, I dont much care for.
I'm just starting to get my feet wet with PF2, so im not sure if the PF1 experience will hold or break.
I disagree. I keep adding level numbers, but they keep giving me the same chances. The only thing making me feel more powerful is additional HP and newly gained abilities. I will say we dont go back and mop the floor with goblins, so I guess yeah if we did that it would feel more powerful; I suppose.
Captain Morgan wrote:
I like those sub-systems alot too, but I also like to keep them under the hood. I had too many players passing on cool things to do in favor of what they assume/know to be better value things for better scores.
I think some of your AP milestone XP experiences were because of how the APs develop. The earliest books are always the best. They have room to fully develop towns and cities with interesting NPCs and multiple plots. As the PCs level, the AP modules become one or two NPCs with info dumps and 500 room dungeons to challenge the PCs higher level of abilities and resources. The meat is gone and all you are left with are big bones to chew.
Agreed, which is why I think there are bigger culprits in making a sandbox work in PF2 than XP awarding method.
I have had a lot of milestone GMs essentially push the players into encounters that they have actively avoided just because they didn’t want the players leveling up too quickly by following the story. It can be frustrating as a player to feel like you are being railroaded by the GM instead of getting to see for yourself that a monster is too tough, and, at the very least, you need to run away, go research what it is and how to defeat it, (possibly leveling up along the way) before returning to face it again, rather than just leveling up arbitrarily before facing it.
That seems really strange to me. You would assume that milestone allows the PCs to take on as many or as few encounters as they need/want. If I think the PCs are going too fast, I'll just add more exploration and social encounters to balance the pace. Info recovery about the adventure is the driver, not how many things you have killed and in what order. While I haven't had a laser focused party in milestone leveling before, I can imagine what a group like that might look like.
To bring this back to sandboxing, I think adventure writing and pacing is more important than XP awarding. If the players can find a shortcut like in super mario to jump several levels at a time, thats a bug not a feature. In many of the PF1 APs, the players need to uncover clues and story bits to move forward. Combat encounters are definitely part of that process, but they are not the determining factor, the exploration and info discovery is.
I did react to the table, I got rid of XP and it solved everything. Perhaps a bit extreme for some folks, but constantly adjusting my rewards just seemed like a chore I didnt need to add to my GM duties.
While I think this is true, and I use both do and milestones for different campaigns as a GM, it is important to remember that you can counter the idea that only fighting earns xp by being freely giving with do for story building as well as for accomplishing a goal with an encounter that doesn’t involve fighting. The more freely you give out do to your players for playing the game in the way that is most fun for everyone, the more you encourage that style of play.
The problem I ran into with this, is once the GM awards some RP XP or whatever, the players just spam that behavior in hopes of netting more XP. It's the same issue with combat for XP, the players often choose the path more likely to net more XP and it wasnt very fun or organic.
With milestone leveling, some players will just want to push on always as quickly as possible and never slow down and have fun with an RP encounter because they don’t think they need it to level up.
That hasnt been my experience, but even if it was, its up to the players to decide how they want to proceed. If getting bogged down in exploration isnt appealing, then by all means bypass it.
For me as a GM I went from XP leveling to milestone leveling, back to XP leveling as my preferred preference, with the caveat that some, very linear adventures are much smoother with milestones.
Each table will be different for sure. I have never experienced a table that was better for having XP awards, but I am sure there are tables out there that work that way.
TY for the write up The Magic Sword. This goes a long ways towards making PF2 seem more enjoyable from someone who has a CaW preference. I dont necessarily see structures as natural but I can see how they help produce a more CaW like experience. It still seems like a sportification of the past TTRPG experience, which feels more like an evolution of combat as sport to me, al beit one thats more palatable than I've experienced before.
There is a metgamey aspect to experience points that affected my table. As in, the players do what they think will net the XP and not what is actually interesting or organic. After ditching xp, the players got more creative and chose more interesting paths forward. It just feels so much better. Leveling a character and advancing the story are their own rewards and we don't need incentive to do it.
On the topic of sandbox gaming, I still dont see how experience point awards help. You still need to know what your challenge is. I mean how can you tell the level 3 bog from the level 5 forest? How does xp awards work as signposting?
Captain Morgan wrote:
Yeah we have not had any opportunity to set up any kind of advanced trap. All the encounters have just happened upon us.
Also, im pretty sure the GM threw something at us they shouldn't have. The numbers were so out of our favor that we avoided TPK because the GM chose to take a dive. It was a very unsatisfying experience.
I do feel PF2 leans heavily into Combat as Sport right out of the box. There are tools to give a more combat as war experience, but they are not intuitive. I'm just a player though and haven't seen the GM materials and what instruction they give. Maybe its easier than I think, but PF2 feels like a very modern TTRPG to me. Not saying thats bad, but it makes old school style modules and APs rather tricky to pull off as one would expect for an old school experience.
Im new to PF2 APs, but I ran many of the PF1 series. One of the best features of Paizos adventure paths is the forums. As a GM I found them indispensable in improving the experience at the table. When an encounter is perhaps overtuned, you can hear from the gaming community about their experiences. It helps you avoid the pitfalls and help decide if you want to actually change an encounter yourself.
Captain Morgan wrote:
I maintain that sign posting extreme encounters is important and kind of lacking right now, at least in Age of Ashes and Extinction Curse. It helps to make those fights memorable and important to the plot, and also sets player expectations accordingly. It is one thing to hear stories of how horrifically powerful the black dragon is before you enter the lair. If is another when you are flying kites on a hill and a APL+3 devil pops in out of nowhere.
I think this is the source of my issue at the moment. I am playing with a new GM (he has been running TTRPGs for 20-30 years) and I dont think the GM puts much effort into reading and running adventures. It seems like the GM just runs whatever is in the book and letting the cards fall where they may. He just doesnt understand that PF2 isnt a system where tactics are going to let you punch above your weight. So, we get no signposts and when things go bad, "thats just PF2".
Reminds me of stingy gold/magic item GMs in 3E not understanding wealth by level and its impact on player ability. I guess add my experience to the past gaming assumption pile posted here in this thread so far. I'm a little surprised by my recent experience because the GM has played so many systems for many years. Though, I guess that doesnt mean flexibility, it just means they have a comfort zone they apply to everything. When it doesnt work, its the systems fault...
Yeap, its over tuned in my player experience for sure. My GM is using roll20 so I am seeing his foes numbers. My PC has little ability to do much against them. Sure, we could run, but everything is faster than use with debilitating range attacks to boot.
Could be my GM isnt running this well, I do get the impression the GM is a very busy person. Though, every week its like a few rolls go our way and thats all thats keeping us alive. Tactics have nothing to do with it, its all in the math; we are simply way outclassed.
I am reluctant to say im playing in Abomination Vaults right now because the group is zero RP. I have no idea if a story is even involved or not here. The good news is, I joined up to give PF2 another shot and kick the tires on the system. Im getting that experience expeditiously with this new group. Games up again tonight!
You are probably right, but still a decade or two away from moving into using tech more heavily in gaming. Paizo would jettison a good amount of their customers today if they did that.