Alchemist

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Cyrilean wrote:

Dear fellow Pathfinders,

as my group is slowly moving towards Second Edition I start looking at Character Options.

right now I am searching for a frontline melee fighter (at least competent in that field) who brings utility to a group outside of combat.

Focus should be on Str and/or Dex, Con and Int, so classes relying on Wis or Cha are not really on my list.

Any ideas for a class and/or build (up to 10 level) ?

Regards
Cyr

The Outwit Ranger taking the Monster Hunter line of feats is an almost perfect fit. They have a 10HP progression and Martial proficiencies, making them a frontliner. It does focus on Wisdom instead of intelligence, but the level 10 feat Master Monster Hunter lets you use Nature to identify any creature type, so you should be the primary enemy identification character in the party at that point. With access to Legendary perception at the highest levels and a great perception progression, you can often act as the scout for the party as well.

Similarly, the Thaumaturge is a Charisma focused class, but access to Esoteric Lore lets them use their Charisma for a large array of Recall Knowledge checks. It's pretty debatable if you can consider them a frontliner with 8HP progression, but they do get Martial proficiences. Perhaps someone with more experience could help here if the Thaumaturge sounds interesting.


Rfkannen wrote:

Just saw the compliments on the art, thank you!

I really like the changes on the build, I can see that being a much smoother leveling and play experience. I like the feats you added, especially blind fight and and reason rapidly. I always like my martial characters to push the bounds of reality at higher levels, and both of those feel very fantasy in a way I enjoy!

If the dm does wind up allowing free archetype, but only allowing ones that are either mostly flavor or feel thematic to a naval exploration campaign, what would y'all recommend as an added free archetype?

Just wanted to check one more thing before fully 100% deciding on investigator, what are you supposed to do when you get a bad roll on devise a stratagem?

Mainly, I really like this build and think it fits the character super well, but it doesn't have any spells, athletics, or social skills, it is going to need a rapier in one hand and a free hand for medicine so it can't hold a shield. I'm kinda just not sure what you do when attacking is a bad option.

If you were playing the build posted above, what would you do when you roll a bad stratagem?

Your default is probably going to be using Battle Medicine if an ally is missing a decent chunk of HP and the fight doesn't look like it's coming to an end before that would be relevant. In PF2, it's actually better to heal proactively instead of after someone goes down because a character coming back from down has an extra dying condition and needs to take at least 2 actions to grab their primary weapon and stand up.

If Battle Medicine isn't applicable, attacking something else using your dex modifier instead of int is pretty good.

Picking up an attack cantrip from a different archetype or spell heart is pretty great, though, if that ends up being an option in your setting.

Athletics, even if you aren't planning on raising your strength, is a fine skill to max out as an option. Making a trip at full map with low strength is as good or better than a second attack for practically the entire game.

The Aid action is also pretty great at starting after the first few levels due to the flat DC of 20.

Taking Search, move, or recall knowledge actions to be the one figuring out the combat is also just fine.


Rfkannen wrote:
I really like the shared stratagem feat and how it synergizes with having rogues in the party, but I can see how taking medic dedication at level 2 would make low levels go smoother and let me take the skill feats earlier. I'll switch it to that!

Shared Strategem seems great in your party, for sure. If your Rogues are having a hard time getting flat-footed by 6, then you should definitely take the feat.


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Rfkannen wrote:

Alright I think I am deffinitly going investigator! it looks like it fits the character better than I thought, generally works smoother than the alchemist, and all around seems like a good time! I talked with the gm about it and they also said it sounded like it would be fun to gm for!

Hows this build look? I went as support heavy as I could. https://pathbuilder2e.com/launch.html?build=197986

Why not pick up Medic Dedication and Continual Recovery at level 2? Those will be by far the most impactful feats at that level. That also frees you up to take Doctor's Visitation at 4, which gets your party healer role completely on line as soon as possible. At level 6, you could then take any of the investigator feats from level 2, 4, or 6 you like best.

Edit: I love your art for the character, and it really brings the feel you're going for to life. Investigators are one of the classes that make the best use of consumable bombs since you pretty much never waste one with a miss due to devise a strategem. I regularly tag bosses with purchased/crafted Acid Bombs on my investigator to get persistent damage that works against their high health pools.


Investigator with the Forensic Medicine methodology and the Medic archetype is a great primary healer, so it will be very effective and different from the rogues in your party. You don't have to take Medic as the free archetype; just pay for it with your Investigator feats. The game recommends allowing that option if you restrict the options taken from free archetype, but check with your GM just in case they want to play it in a way other than the recommended way.

If neither of the rogues is playing a Mastermind, the Investigator is also going to be quite a bit better at doing recall knowledge checks, especially if you take a few additional lore skill feats to get some more maxed out lores using Intelligence specific to the setting you are in.

I would not recommend playing alchemist at low levels. They become pretty excellent characters at level 11 when the good mutagens come online, but they really have a hard time being effective before then.


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That encounter is just really deadly. lieutenant level melee enemies that start in close to flank is one of the enemy types that are harder than the encounter guidelines suggest. With the fear effect on top of that, those monsters have a very high chance of critting. If the players are coming in uninformed and unequipped to take advantage of the weaknesses of those enemies, the encounter looks like it's bordering on Extreme instead of Severe. The high damage, high hit rate, high variance in damage attacks are going to randomly take out players if the dice swing the way of the monsters, which is what happened.

In that situation, I would have been prepared to fudge the dice if I thought the encounter was important to the story and the enemies were likely to come up again, so I didn't want to alter the stat block. Otherwise, altering the stat block or replacing the encounter seems appropriate.


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Harles wrote:

We did have a champion with lay on hands and several characters trained in Medicine - so healing outside of combat has been the norm. The cleric was down some healing spells from a previous combat. Basically, no one was down HP at the start of the encounter.

Party configuration was a Redemption Champion, Cleric, Rogue, and Sorcerer.

That party should be pretty hard to take down with all that healing. The rogue will likely have a bit of trouble getting sneak attack to happen reliably until they get feat support for it due the how exposed flanking can leave you. Getting the champion to move aggressively to the other side of enemies and the rogue a shield to raise should help with that.

Getting the cleric and sorcerer a shield as well will help at low levels. Cloth casters in particular have a hard time surviving the early levels; any way to get light armor proficiency on them (general feat or archetype) should really help. Your dex defense characters should be getting that stat to 16 or 18 at creation. The dex 16 characters should be wearing studded leather or a chain shirt even if they don't meet the strength requirement for it to max their AC. Getting the AC of these characters up will allow the Champion and Rogue to flank things more aggressively so that the party gets more damage out.


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I wouldn't start new players at level 1 unless they had a strong downtime healer in the party like a champion with lay on hands or a character with continual recovery and something like a +4 medicine(only crit fail on 1s). The challenge level for a party without that downtime healing capacity is through the roof. That, along with maxed out offense stat and AC for level are assumptions that the encounter building section of the rules makes. Once your party meets that bar, the encounter budget should be quite accurate.

Alternatively, award a lot more XP than the encounter building suggests while they don't meet the assumptions above so that your players feel like they can wait the hours needed to heal between combats and still progress at a decent rate. This is mostly a level 1 phenomenon.


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To represent the fighting style shown in the video OP linked, I would look at Monk or Magus. To be a full caster while doing that, you would need to be using the dual class variant. To get the sort of persistent directed spells shown in the video, you would use sustained spells like Forceful Hand.

Magus with a caster archetype gets pretty close without dual classing, though.


I just give a variation of untrained improvisation for every character that only works in situations in which their character would be used to, like basic diplomacy for most characters.


PF2 characters are certainly weaker in comparison to PF1 and DnD5e characters. I highly prefer the PC power level of base PF2.

Every decision you make when building and playing your character is felt. That sort of feedback is absent from DnD5e where just about every decision will result in the same successful outcome.

PF1 builds matter even more than PF2 builds, but the play decisions feel more linear based off of your build specializing you into a comparatively narrow range of actions. PF2 goes out of it's way to make having a diversity of options powerful due to that being the main way to get more power instead of math increases.

Further, the lessened power level of individual characters really makes characters rely on their party, which feels more like a team game to me. Often, when playing PF2, I'll feel like the PCs come together to accomplish a goal with multiplicative synergy rather than additive.

I hear the game modifies well with Free Archetype and Dual Class variants to put a lot more power into the hands of each PC, but I've only experienced a little of that since those things are solving a problem I don't have with the game.


True Strike is a great spell for both casters and hybrid builds.

Cast an Acid Arrow or throw a max level acid flask that you bought at the beginning of a boss fight for maximum return. Persistent damage is crazy good if you've got the time for it to resolve.

Besides persistent damage, a True Striked fully buffed weapon attack at a decent number of levels does more average single target damage than a cantrip even for a caster. That's really relevant when 1st level spells start to otherwise be irrelevant. True Strike on the cantrips that need to hit is also excellent.


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I'd say the items coming out in the expansion books have certainly pushed the power available by optimizing itemization by quite a bit.

New class power level has been a bit little lower than I'd prefer, but I certainly prefer that to something like power creep for these more advanced concept classes.


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Just here to offer support for the UPW.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition is my favorite role-playing game. The workers at Paizo deserve more control over their working conditions.


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This really helps the bard make use of their inspire courage to sling TK projectiles in off resource fights. They also get very few reflex targeting spells in general, so this is a very welcome boon.


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Magic feels more naturally related to music than prayer or math to me. As a consequence, I love bards as full casters, and it's almost always my choice when I want to play a caster. When I play a cleric, I usually incorporate singing or dancing into my spell casting as well since it just feels better and more natural than simply saying prayers.

As to the play style of the bard, I love the composition cantrips acting as a beat that dictates the pace of the battle. I think spell casting is generally more powerful than harmonizing a second cantrip, so that option doesn't seem like it dictates my turns. Using Haste or lingering composition to sneak in move actions depending on the battle situation feels pretty natural to me, so I never felt a lack of options as a bard.

Bards and story telling feel very core to the adventuring spirit to me, and a fantasy system without them feels quite lacking unless a charismatic rogue type fills that role.

The class is a wonderful concept, but there aren't a ton of role models for it in fantasy media. Kvothe is a good one, though.


The top end of power allowed by free archetype is a problem. I would never allow someone in my game to get the Bastion or Beastmaster feats for free alongside class feats unless all of the players wanted to play a very high power game. Those archetypes add action efficiency that makes those characters visibly stronger than characters that didn't take equivalent options.

Further, I don't want people taking free Dandy and those types of archetypes unless they are relevant to the story and have enough power to not need free archetype anyway. I like build choices being relevant to the story at hand, and I'll change the story of my game around the build choices that my player makes as long as they are making choices that fit anywhere close to the collaborative story we are building. Pathfinder 2 already gives enough choices to players so that it's hard to pay off every choice my players make. Adding more choices just for the hell of it diminishes all the choices around the way I play the game by making it less and less plausible I'll be able to warp the story around what my players are suggesting.

As a player, I hope my GM stays attuned to what I am choosing so that they can pay it off as well, so I don't like free archetype from that perspective as well.

In a collaborative storytelling game, I don't want the free archetype to get in the way of the story being told. I think there are games where free archetype would aid rather than diminish the story, but I think it's a pretty poor option for the standard way I play the game.


See if your GM will allow you to swap Wisdom out as your primary stat bump at creation. The Strength based warpriest in the game I'm running has been doing very well up to level 9 with the change to allow strength as his primary attribute boost.

Getting True Strike and using channel smite worked great for the cleric in my party.


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I really like the Monster Hunter type stuff from Guts and Gears. A Craft/Nature specialist using taxidermy weapons sounds great.


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Zapp wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
I make sure my players have realistic expectations about time. If they're going to attack a heavily guarded building or castle, they're not going to have 10 minutes between each fight. Same with any dungeon that has lots of moving enemies.

This is obviously entirely reasonable and natural and logical.

Except it isn't supported by the PF2 combat model or its encounter creation guidelines.

It is certainly supported by the rules. Taking on an engagement like that is suicide without a solid plan of action, but it's well supported in the rules. Some of the best encounters I've run have the shape of a spread out double or triple extreme encounter where my players use their skills and out of combat abilities to split up the engagements into chunks they can take on. Age of Ashes with minor variations has been incredibly fun for me and my group played in this way.

Like most of PF2, the rules get handwaved when they aren't important. The majority of the time, the detailed healing rules aren't important, so I simply say they work and give a short time frame without any rolling. Like most of PF2, however, the detailed rules are there when you need them. I really like that rules dynamic. That way of applying rules is explained pretty thoroughly in the GMG as it is core to the way PF2 is played.


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Zapp wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Zapp wrote:
Certain parts of the game, including the Medicine rules, assume that it will be exciting to track each ten minute period, and that "should we rest more?" is an interesting question, i.e. one where both answers are valid choices. This is the simulationist or world-building way of playing.

This highlights why trying to label parts of games with things like "simulationist" or it's contemporaries doesn't help the conversation much:

Having to choose 10 minutes at a time what your character is doing, especially whether to rest more here, heal more while on the move, get back to exploring, or retreat to safety is a game-play choice, meaning it could be called a "gamist" mechanic.

Just like weighing the pros and cons between this action or that action during an encounter (i.e. Raise a Shield vs. Strike, or Stride vs. ready an item for next turn), weighing the pros and cons between these options in exploration mode of play is the game-play loop - it being used to simulate anything, or as a means of world-building, is entirely incidental.

Without it there wouldn't be any "buttons to push" (choices to make, illusory or otherwise).

My point is that the dev writing the rules for Medicine clearly thought it would be an interesting choice how to spend your next 10-minute period.

In actual fact, however, the correct way to write the rules, that fully supports the demands of other parts of the rules (combat and encounters), would be "nah, let's tear out all these little fiddly details and just say you heal back up fully after one hour".

No die rolls. No checks. No decision points. No analysis paralysis. No unpredictability and thus unreliable planning. Just "since the rules assume each encounter starts at full hp, we'll make that happen".

In a different game, the PF2 Medicine rules could have served a useful purpose. But that would have meant a game where pressing on at low health would have been a reasonable ask.

Thanks

I do think your impression of PF2 varies greatly from mine. I think the game supports combat as war very well, and I'm glad for the healing rules as a result.

I do think the game should contain your rules variant as an option for combat as sport games, but that rule would not be appropriate for my table.


Snares and glyph of warding are in the game to allow players to get advantaged encounters versus pursuers when they are trying to heal.


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I usually take a combat as war view on this stuff.

In my games, players should try to heal after every combat if they can. Optimally, I would already know what kind of room to room movement my creatures do in the dungeon so I can structure your party's skill rolls and choice points around avoiding those activities. Better choices and skill rolls grant more time to heal. I think that sort of logistics centered gameplay is really fun, and so does my party. They recently did some downtime to get more healing consumables made available to them on a recurring basis by working with local traders to develop their trade routes. They got 30 heal scrolls into their bag of holding for quick healing when they need it.

All that is to say that the rules really work for my group as is. I imagine the combat as sport folks don't like this area of the rules much.


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Gortle wrote:

The group is too much focussed on support and utility. It doesn't have enough offensive firepower. It could do with another melee capable character. It may be a fun group to play, so play it if you want. But its not going to go well in a combat heavy dungeon crawl. What style of module are you running?

Personally I would tone down all the enounters, maybe drop everything by a level, or half the enemy numbers at level 1, until you get a better feel for the group. Thats probably sensible advice for any new group anyway.

I'd also recommend that you go with the Investigator with Alchemical Sciences rather than the Alchemist, its just better balanced. A moderate portion of PF2 players find the Alchemist unfocused and a bit too weak compared to other classes.

Alchemical Sciences Investigator is how I get my alchemy fix. The class works well where the alchemist is spotty at best.


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Archetypes doing what main classes do but better in a very specific domain is a feature to me. That allows for character concepts that don't fit neatly into pre-defined boxes. I love seeing character variation at the table.

As to the Ranger in particular, it's a hell of a strong class already. The class is one of the most effective damage dealers while also having maximum perception. On top of that, it has a lot of diverse feat support to really craft the concept of the ranger than you want to play. I think the PF2 feat system does a massive service to this type of class that has a lot of concepts associated with it that some people will want for their character and others won't.


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Your party has a low durability, good mobility, and a plethora of ranged options, so I'd design combat encounters with maps that have room to move around. When you put this party into an enclosed space, I would try to stick to mostly moderate encounters.

Inspire Courage is best when the party all contributes attacks. I would look into getting a different song on that bard as soon as possible like Inspire Defense or Dirge of Doom unless the bard and/or wizard wants to also use a ranged weapon to contribute to the amount of attacks coming in.

The Wizard and Alchemist, in particular, are below par in combat as low level characters because they lack the breadth of options that they really play around at later levels. You might have to start off with quite easy encounters to gauge what the party can take on.

Anyone can raise a shield for AC (though no shield block reaction without specific proficiency) if they have a hand to hold it. Every point of AC is going to be worth it. The Wizard player in particular might consider taking a shield if they don't pick up light armor access out of an archetype or general feat. I can't stress enough that the crit system is brutal against PCs that haven't concentrated on getting a good AC.


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Hobit of Bree wrote:

Hi folks,

OP here. I found most of this discussion really useful. Some questions:
* I've seen recommendations about taking the archer dedication. I'm not sure why. The dedication itself seems pretty worthless for a fighter or ranger (for a ranger you get critical specialization against non-hunted targets, but that seems like a minor corner case?). Only point blank shot (huge, but needs an action to set up) and archer's aim seem hugely useful, and hunter's aim is almost as good as archer's aim. I guess taking 2 feats for point-blank shot is probably worth it?
*You all keep indicating deadly give an extra 2d10 damage. Can I assume you mean it does so once you get a greater striking weapon (so around level 11 I'd guess?)

Thanks folks!

If you want to be the most effective archer without any other concern, getting point blank shot to counter the volley penalty on the composite longbow is the very best you can do, and it's worth the 2 feats. 18 strength is also something you should aim for at some point.

They are referring to 2d10 with the second tier striking rune. The 3rd tier gets deadly all the way up to 3d10.

If you want to go less all in and take a different archetype, getting 18 strength and a composite shortbow or unconventional weaponry and a daikyu are also good options.


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Arakasius wrote:

So take unconventional weaponry then and the feat cost is lessened although that forces you to human.

Anyway a Daikyu with the same point blank feat is still superior to a shortbow as the weapon now is 1d8+2. Sure if you want to pump strength to 18 then sure composite is good but that could be four stat boosts going to something more useful than strength. Yes the deadly on bows can be useful but it’s just inferior to the bigger damage die you get.

Like I agree it’s not the best use ever but I hardly see the outrage. Look at the list Exorcist posted. The bonuses the Daikyu give you are way more relevant than most advanced weapons. Is it worth the feats? Maybe I haven’t done all the maths but going up a damage dice has benefits and there is absolutely benefits to never having to pump strength a mostly useless stat. Some builds are starved for feats and some are starved for stats. I wouldn’t take this if I was the first but I would consider it for the second.

Like I I was a human that had no plans to take fighter or archer I’d use a feat for this from ancestry and use my stats for something else. (Likely to either invest in Cha or Int). Most fights in the early game take place within thirty feet and most fights late game feature enemies with such extremely mobility that you usually can’t get out of 30 feet range.

This take is exactly right. Unconventional weaponry requires access to all martial weapons to pick up the daikyu as a martial, so we're left with something like the human ancestry ranger or investigator that really benefits from this. You also need to exclude fighters or archer archetypes where point blank shot longbow is typically better unless you're playing a mounted archer. That's a small niche, but it is one where it's the best possible weapon. That seems like perfect balancing for an advanced weapon in a game expansion to me. The only change that needs to be made is the reload typo.


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I guess the rules ambiguity around the daikyu makes people dislike it. Tight rules tables can't play with it because of the typo and ambiguous use of unconventional weaponry. I'm sure more people would like it if those issues were cleared up.

That said, at the tables I play at, the thing is the most optimal choice for human dex focused martials with all martial proficiency at levels 12+ and pretty much on par with the other best option starting at 4+. Those are certainly a lot of qualifiers, but a niche exists for it where it's the best option. I don't think you can ask for anything more out of a weapon.


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I love the Daikyu. It does better average damage at longer range than the composite shortbow on Flurry Rangers starting at the second tier striking rune. Instead of needing 18 strength, you need unconventional weaponry. I think that's a fine niche to have.


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Squiggit wrote:
Daikyu doesn't have propulsive or deadly. Even if you're 8 or 10 strength it only edges out the shortbow by a little. Makes it a little bit questionable.

At the first striking rune, the damage from the Daikyu's D8 is equivalent to a strength 18 propulsive shortbow. At the second striking rune, the Daikyu's damage is 1 higher on average per shot, which is more than the deadly d8 contributes against all but the least armored enemies. It's not a strictly better weapon, but it does scale better into the late game.


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Good points that could very well change my evaluation of the longbow for the ranger in particular. Looks like we didn't go over that player's rules enough on several fronts. They would have had to get Daikyu proficiency through the unconventional weaponry racial feat and general adopted ancestry and been Beastmaster archetype to get to about the same level of effectiveness as we were playing it. That's a lot more hoops to jump through.

The Daikyu does seem like a really good option if you're a human archer.

I do think the extra range on the flurry along with the other benefits is worth the cost of using the longbow on the monastic archer switch hitter I was talking about in my current game.


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Unicore wrote:

Longbows are situational weapons in PF2. Using one, especially at low levels, even for fighters with point blank shot is often going to result in a worse attack then using a shortbow. -2 to attack is never worth 1 point of damage, and many lower level APs feature dungeons with 5 ft halls, and 4 square rooms. Honestly, if you run an AP with more than 4 players and you use only the maps provided in the books for every encounter, it is about 50/50 at best you are going to have 30ft and no cover to your enemy. It gets better at higher levels though as larger enemies often demand larger maps.

Before 4th level, there is very little reason to carry a Longbow as your primary weapon. However, the shortbow is an exceptional weapon in the tight-nit spaces of low level APs and will easily outpace a long bow for damage as you never have to move to try to keep range. By level 4, if being an archer and using a long bow is going to be your thing, you really need to spec into it with feats, which literally any character can do.

They certainly are situational, but they are quite a bit more damage than shortbows if you can get the Magic Weapon buff. I know the longbow wielding flurry ranger in my party when I was playing a bard largely carried the damage through the early levels with my buffs on them, but we started with an outside adventure rather than a dungeon crawl. That player really liked using all their actions to make attacks, and they were able to do that really effectively by playing a goblin riding a wolf animal companion once they got to level 6 so that the wolf could move out of the 30 foot range before he threw 3-5(with haste) shots into something. With that playstyle, the extra 2 damage from the longbow with each landed shot made a whole lot of difference.


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I allowed a Sturdy tower shield on the roman legionnaire themed fighter in my AOA game using the sturdy shield stats and the tower shield action. The tower shield action is cool, but it isn't a strong enough option to worry about too much as far as pushing the power available to characters. I might shave off 1 hardness and a few HP from Sturdy to account for this option if I had to do it again.

For other shields, I do let my players mix and match rules a little. I'll allow a half spellguard half sturdy shield, for example, by giving +1 to saves and half of the hardness/hp increases of the sturdy shield of that level over the regular shield.

I also allow the inventor feat to be used to split the difference between tiers of sturdy shields for in between level shields if they craft that schematic. In general, I'll let players with inventor interpolate between tiers of items like shields and alchemical items as long as they create the schematic and there's a clean way to figure out what the between levels would do.


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Karmagator wrote:

Yeah, that "monk has 8 HP" thing is a little something from 5e I can't seem to shake, whoops. And while I do not think that that invalidates my point, it is pretty clear by this point that I'm quite alone on that front.

Well, it was just a shower-thought and not all ideas are good, after all. So I think we can close this discussion at this point. Thanks everyone ^^

I'm coming in a bit late here, but it seems like you've got a decent idea for a character type that isn't super well represented. I think the Champion is the most compatible with the concept. Hopefully, we'll see a Lawful Neutral Cause for them at some point to expand the breadth of the class a bit. A really good combat maneuver/brawler archetype might be able to get you the rest of the way there if that is introduced.


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I'm running Age of Ashes. My party finished book 2 and took 2 months of downtime before book 3. I started the campaign with 5 players, but I'm down to the 3 dedicated players that are in it for the long haul. I might pick up one of the players who dropped earlier after a character death, but he's always been on the fence with roleplaying in general. Here's what's happening:

Spoiler:

To handle the party of 3 in the AP designed for 4, we decided it might be nice to use the dual class optional rule to get a dedicated tank into the party instead of just my warpriest cleric and switch hitter monk (and illusionist wizard). To handle this, I offered the Anima Invocation, which is a ritual human sacrifice to empower another, from the Ekujae in exchange for taking a Gaes to defeat the remnants of the avatar of Dahak the Ekujae drove into the gates. Just the warpriest ended up taking the deal due to the moral implications. We talked a lot about whether this sort of uneven power distribution would be okay out of character before moving ahead, but my players were all fine with it. After holding a funereal ritual service to empower my cleric player, he took a month and a half of retraining to get his character in order.

During that time, my players started to decide their place in the wider world by refusing to work with the Scarlet Triad and instead contacting other organizations to strengthen the trade route between Breachill and the 5 Kings Mountains. They also crewed up their home citadel with a few lower level adventurers and some other crew to man the defenses and keep the citadel maintained. The overall effect of their actions will be to "level up" Breachill into a settlement with better access to adventuring gear as well as fend off anyone who might want to take control of the gate nexus they control.

For some combat highlights, we ran 2 large map encounters at the mines and the final battle with the Cinderclaws. I flipped the script from the book, and the last boss was the dragon with Belmazog under his control. The 2 large map encounters involved multi-stage planning from my party, which they got really into. In particular, the mines encounter utilized all of the illusion power or my wizard and all of the mobility of my monk as well as the hard wedge of my fighter and cleric to allow them to take on a whole encampment without artificially separating the encounters. The final boss encounter involved the party stacking every mechanism for fire defense under their power, and it ended up with them going just over the top with the cleric getting to dying 3 with 2 death saves under and no hero point right at the end of the fight.

Overall, the game is feeling epic as hell and a lot of fun. I'm scaling back the difficulty a bit from the level I've been running it at (slightly harder than base AoA), but I'm glad we got through some really difficult encounters together to set up the epic tone of the adventure. My players and I, even the 2 that dropped out, are all really experienced wargame and RPG players, so having a good chunk of challenge is what we all want.


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I know the monastic archer/wolf stance switch hitter monk in the Age of Ashes game I've been running has been very effective. They carry a longbow and use their speed to stay at 50 foot range to flurry of blows in the skirmishing phase of combat. While that's happening, the melee fighter just stands with shield raised if the party is winning at ranged, forcing the enemy to come to them. I also allowed that player to take sturdy on his tower shield rather than a regular shield, so he's pretty set up for it. He tosses a returning javelin as well to chip in a little. When the enemy comes in, the monk just changes to wolf stance for 1 action and starts in with melee and flanking.

Ranged skirmishing is built into the system with 3 levels of cover. Monsters like the Erinyes specialize in it, with 40 foot fly speed, a longbow, and at will dimension door:

https://2e.aonprd.com/Monsters.aspx?ID=111

I think it would be very odd to come across an adventure that didn't have at least one mostly ranged encounter due to the way the battlefield or the monsters are set up.


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I think being an archer exclusively is probably a bit worse than going melee.

That said, a dex based martial that uses bows as well as melee is in a much better position to contribute to every combat than an exclusively melee or exclusively ranged martial. In particular, the ranged capable character will be very advantaged in encounters happening outdoors. The cost of switch hitting is present, but the lack of depth in linear improvement feats or items for any particular fighting style makes a balance work with certain classes like the Monk or Ranger and possibly the Investigator or Rogue, though I haven't seen switch hitter Investigator in action and only minimal switch hitting rogue play.


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Planpanther wrote:
dirtypool wrote:


I'm not particularly sure either is an actual issue. The Boost system allows for an Ability distribution that doesn't cause any class to be unable to account for their Ability Flaw corresponding with a Save, and weak saves themselves aren't particularly more debilitating than in prior editions.

The boost system just helps you keep up on the +1/lvl treadmill. If you were bad in levels 1-4, you will still be bad after boosts. It's the proficiencies that help you get ahead. Some of the solutions seem to be to let folks choose their important stats and then everyone has the exact same defense. Seems awful homogenizing to me tho.

Saves would be homogenized to the class norm with my preference, for sure, but attributes would be more diversified. I think that's better than the current design.

As is, the problem is that Int, Cha, and Str are typically worse stats if they aren't primary stats.


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dmerceless wrote:
Queaux wrote:

I just think it works better thematically for me. I think Cha and Int are both better fits for Will saves than Wisdom and Wisdom is certainly a better fit for reflex than either of those stats.

Mechanically, I like emphasizing characters taking one of Int or Cha by having a downtime facing stat in one of their saves.

I think Intelligence as Reflex makes quite a bit of sense, actually, and the example I like to use is, oddly, fighting games. If someone throws a Hadouken (Fireball) at you, you might avoid it on prediction, i.e "judging by this guy's previous movements, positioning and average player habits, he'll throw a fireball now, so I'll jump", or on reaction, i.e "I see the animation of his fireball being cast, and press the button fast enough to jump".

Intelligence is evading on prediction, as it is general quick thinking, prediction and cognitive ability (just look at Devise a Stratagem). Dexterity is evading on reaction.

Seems like a fine argument. In general, though, I think of pattern recognition in the moment as falling under Wisdom and not Intelligence. Intelligence to prepare a strategy for how to approach a situation and responds quickly makes a lot of sense, but I think that should be a buff you take at action speed rather than a reactive speed save. Something like adding a rider to recall knowledge to add to your saves against an enemy due to preparation is something that would be cool to see as a general feat option.

I think Intelligence works better as a response to Will affects. The idea is that you act rationally when an effect would ask you to act irrationally.

I'm not really that convicted on my take over every other. I think making reflex int/dex based works better than the current state of affairs.


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Cyouni wrote:
Queaux wrote:

I think having the saves linked to the higher of 2 stat pairs would help the situation. I'd like to see Fort linked to Con or Str, Reflex linked to Dex or Wis, and Will linked to Int or Cha. I think I might implement that house rule in the next campaign I run.

That said, it's probably not a good idea to break from what they've done already. Maybe for PF3.

I'm a bit surprised you had those pairings. Is there a particular reason you didn't do Dex/Int for Ref and Wis/Cha for Will, as 4e did?

I just think it works better thematically for me. I think Cha and Int are both better fits for Will saves than Wisdom and Wisdom is certainly a better fit for reflex than either of those stats.

Mechanically, I like emphasizing characters taking one of Int or Cha by having a downtime facing stat in one of their saves.


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I think having the saves linked to the higher of 2 stat pairs would help the situation. I'd like to see Fort linked to Con or Str, Reflex linked to Dex or Wis, and Will linked to Int or Cha. I think I might implement that house rule in the next campaign I run.

That said, it's probably not a good idea to break from what they've done already. Maybe for PF3.


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Getting Charisma high has a real cost in terms of saves. My general feeling is that upping Int, dex, wisdom, and constitution is going to make the most effective combat character. That means the assassin gets my vote for effectiveness based off what you presented. That seems to be what you're asking.

I also think the idea of an Investigator Assassin is a lot of fun. Planning out an assassination run is exactly the kind of thing an Investigator would be excellent at. Also, just hiding with a range weapon waiting until you roll a 20 on your Investigator before committing to the run is flavorful and effective. You could bake a cake by using something like a vine arrow that immobilizes on crit and poison that arrow to start an assassination run off right.


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Guntermench wrote:
There are currently two hazards listed on AoN that have legendary in their stealth DC. I don't think this is a particularly large problem.

Those classes also have a faster progression than most. I think fighters have a pretty similar progression except for getting up to legendary, though, so adding them to this list would be appropriate if you're not worried about legendary in particular.


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Elves are super good. Dex is definitely a better stat than Con for light armored characters in my opinion, so I'm a big fan of that trade off. There are enough elf feats that are incredible so that I don't think there's a very painful opportunity cost.

Ancient Elves are really critical for some builds. Bards and Illusionist Wizards, for example, really don't want to have to spend a feat on an archetype because they have level 2 feats they really want to take, but they will take feats from an archetype if they get one from Ancient Elf. I'm a big fan of the Mobility feat from Rogue on both of those classes, and the light armor and other proficiencies from Rogue helps the Wizard immensely in the early levels. Ancient Elves are probably the strongest ancestry option for a lot of builds. I don't think you can ask for anything more than that from a build option.


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One more niche to point out. Spotting some traps is perception proficiency gated. That makes the Rogue, Ranger, and Investigator the best at trap spotting due to being the only classes that advance to legendary perception proficiency.


Rfkannen wrote:

Alright awesome! this is some great advice!

Heres a side question then, any recommendations for some good pf2e beginner classes? I want to have a general idea of what to pick between when we make characters.

In particular I would be interested in what people say are good caster classes. (Like if I should avoid witch and wizard, are sorcerer, bard, oracle, cleric, and druid all good?)

ps. none of us are new to ttrpgs, we've been playing 5e as a group for like 6 years, pathfinder is just a lot more crunchy than 5e.

Oracles and Witches are comparatively weak; I'd avoid them if you're not passionate about making them work. The 5 classes in the core book all work, but Wizards and Sorcerers play a little bit behind until level 7. Clerics are very dependent on their deity to expand their spell list, so being careful with the build is really important. Bards and Druids are great.


There are certainly some party roles characters can fill. PF2 characters tend to fill multiple roles though. Here are some combat roles:

The Front liner tends to want plate mail and a shield, though defensively inclined monks with a shield do a good job as well. AC matters quite a lot in PF2 due to the crits system, and having someone exceptionally capable to getting hit will be heavily rewarded versus boss level enemies.

A martial melee damage carry of some sort. This character typically has some way to make a second attack with less than -5 MAP in a round or some way to empower their first attack. Some characters just get actions like Double Slice or abilities that reduce MAP. Others have to work harder and use knockdown+a reaction based attack.

The full suite of bonuses that can be applied are status, circumstance, and item. The character that can provide the largest bonus has a support role. There usually aren't ways to build in many circumstance bonuses to hit, but they do come up for AC.

The full suite of penalties are status, circumstance, and item. The character that can supply the largest penalty of each type has a support role. Status can come from skill actions or spells. Circumstance penalties come from flanking most often, though skills and spells can provide other ways to flat foot enemies.

Ranged healing capacity to bring fighters up from knockdown while they are in AOO range is a role.

AOE for groups of enemies is a role.

Battlefield control casting is a combat role, but it's almost always opportunistic rather than something that can be accomplished in every fight.


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I don't think we need a caster checkup quite this often, but I'm always down for throwing in a comment. Here's the point that I consider most relevant.

Casters were likely designed with room to grow. Casters get more updates than martials because their spell lists get updated in addition to class features. If another spell with the strength of Synesthesia or early game Magic Weapon were released, then casters that get access to it could suddenly be as strong or stronger than the classes they are being compared unfavorably against now. I think this added design space makes a lot of sense early in the edition's life(2 years in). Hopefully they take that design space and run with it. I'll be surprised if we see casters behind by 5 years into the edition.

I have one more argument. Bards, starting at level 9 when they get Synesthesia, might be the most powerful class in the game. Any across the board caster buff should probably take that into account.


If we're level 4, a Druid with an animal companion. That character has AOE, healing, and flanking on tap.

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