The Vexing Daredevil archetype for the Mesmerist gets Greater Mesmerizing Feint as a bonus feat, except they trade away Bold Stare, so this should do nothing. Notably, there's even an asterisk as if there should be a footnote explaining it, but it goes nowhere.
So how does the interaction work / how is it supposed to work?
Say I have a standard 100-page spellbook and add 33 3rd level spells. This takes up 99 pages, so I have 1 page left. Can I start writing a spell on that page and have it spill over into another spellbook, or can I only use that page for a cantrip or 1st level spell?
(Inspired by a separate hypothetical question on Reddit)
Okay, now that I've gotten the intentionally provocative title out of the way to draw attention to this thread, it's time to talk about Heritage from whichever update that was.
Historically speaking, one of the greatest issues with ancestry/race is that culture was part of it. The AD&D assumption was that non-humans were insular, so you could count on them all coming from a similar culture. Thus, OD&D even had races as classes. We've mostly moved past that point, although it still shows up in a few places. For one, humans have all sorts of languages even just within the Inner Sea Region, but elves from Kyonin and Jinin apparently speak the exact same Elven language. All the core races in 1e have Racial Weapon Familiarity. And dwarves are particularly bad offenders, where half their racial abilities are things like "+1 vs orcs, because you were raised to hate them" or "+2 to Appraise, because you're greedy". (I have a grudge against dwarves)
Heritage was actually a huge step in the right direction. It seems like the intention is to make Heritage more about particular quirks in your physiology, while Ancestry is more about the cultural aspects. Personally, I think the names should be swapped, especially since being an aasimar will probably wind up as a Heritage and Ancestry sounding more like an aasimar's celestial ancestry is my biggest issue with the word, but I digress.
There are still issues with this on both sides of the split. On the Heritage side, some of the heritages are clearly biological. For example, twilight halflings get low-light vision, desert dwarves are more resistant to heat, and, of course, whatever's going on with humans mating with elves and orcs. (Seriously. What does it mean biologically that humans can have viable and fertile offspring with elves and orcs, but elves and orcs can't with each other?) But at the same time, apparently only halflings can be nomads and be experts at learning new languages as a result.
On the other side, by removing the Heritage feats from Playtest version 1.0, the vast majority of Ancestry feats now feel properly cultural, which meshes well with the Adopted feat. But this also has unfortunate implications. For one, it still makes the assumption that all dwarves are raised in a culture that they know to hate orcs and the assumption that anyone adopted by a dwarf would also be raised in such a culture. And second, if Paizo decides to add Tien cultural feats in the equivalent of the Dragon Empires Gazetteer, Ancestry feats would seem like the obvious place to put them (so they can be taken with Adopted), and suddenly that would imply that being Tien is a culture like unto being a Dwarf, which is exactly the sort of implications they're seeking to avoid by not calling Dwarf a race. And finally, it's implicitly still somewhat biological, since the entire benefit of being a half-elf is that you can also take Elf ancestry feats.
Long story short, especially if they focus on Heritage, I'm willing to accept the name change to Ancestry. (Just come up with a better solution to half-elves and half-orcs than "Can take elf/orc feats") But if Ancestry feats are really going to be about culture, then that use specifically of "ancestry" needs a better name, or else we'll be right back to the days of culture-as-biology, which the name change away from "race" was meant to avoid.
Remove TAC. That's it. If you were to remove TAC as a mechanic, I think heavy armor would have enough of a trade-off associated with it to be a viable option. But to explain why, I need to start with a brief history lesson on why TAC is a thing.
Way back in war gaming days, your battleship might be described as having 1st class armor, 2nd class armor, 3rd class armor, etc. This is the origin of the term "armor class" and why it was decreasing in AD&D. When porting this concept over to a pseudo-Medieval fantasy setting, Gygax and co. made a list of armor types and ranked them. For example, wearing full plate and carrying a shield was 1st class, wearing full plate without a shield or wearing half plate with one was 2nd class, and wearing half plate without one was 3rd class. Dexterity did affect your AC, but at least in AD&D 1e, it did nothing from 7-14, and changed your AC by 1 point for every point of Dex up or down. (E.g. 15 Dex was -1 AC and 16 Dex was -2) Thus, and this is slightly speculative, going into 3e, the assumption was that the bulk of your AC would come from armor. This will be important in a second.
See, while all this was happening, they were shifting how attack rolls worked. First it was Class x Level x AC tables. Then it was THAC0, which let you generate the entire row for Class x Level with a single value. And eventually, in 3e, they had the idea to simplify attack rolls into the 3.PF BAB+Str/Dex mechanic. But that led to a bit of a problem. Wizards had low BAB so they wouldn't be good with weapons, but that also meant they had a hard time landing spells. Thus, the solution was to create a new type of AC- touch AC- for wizards to target. And- and this is the speculative part- since armor was the main source of AC, wizards could just ignore it.
This, of course, led to a feedback loop. Because armor no longer applied to all of your defenses, it was more useful to invest in Dex and wear lighter armor. But because people weren't wearing armor, wizards had trouble hitting targets again, as long as they didn't rely on natural armor.
This is where UTEML comes in. It and 5e's Proficiency Bonus are both variations on giving you the equivalent of full BAB with weapons you should be good with. Thus, it becomes entirely reasonable to expect casters to be able to hit regular AC, as long as they put a few points in Str/Dex, eliminating the original need for TAC. And at that point, heavy armor would have a purpose again. Given high enough Dex scores, light armor would be superior for not having as many penalties. But heavy armor would have the benefit of immediate gratification, as opposed to needing to wait until relatively high levels for Dex+light to be able to compete.
I fully acknowledge that this is extremely pedantic to be pointing out, and it only even has remotely meaningful consequences 1 day of the year (though up to 2 days from 2024 to 2031). But I figured it's an entertaining enough detail to point out anyway:
It isn't Kuthona 21st today. It's Kuthona 22nd.
See, we all assume Golarion's calendar exactly matches ours, except for changing the names of the months and adding 2700 to the year. But, canonically speaking, Golarion only has leap years every 8 years, as opposed to the Gregorian rule of "Every 4 years, except century years aren't leap years, except years divisible by 400 are still leap years". This means, AD 2016 was a leap year and February had 29 days in it, but 4716 AR wasn't a leap year, so Calistril only had 28 days that year.
Thus, assuming April 12th, AD 2011 = Gozran 12th, 4711 AR as the release date of the Inner Sea World Guide is a fixed point, we've actually been a day behind Golarion for nearly three years now. This is just relatively inconsequential, since the year is (to the best of my knowledge) the only thing that remotely matters, and that's currently only wrong one day out of every year at the moment- Gregorian New Year's Eve being Golarion New Year's Day.
For reference, the text of the feat:
As a full-round action, you may set up a combat patrol, increasing your threatened area by 5 feet for every 5 points of your base attack bonus. Until the beginning of your next turn, you may make attacks of opportunity against any opponent in this threatened area that provokes attacks of opportunity. You may move as part of these attacks, provided your total movement before your next turn does not exceed your speed. Any movement you make provokes attacks of opportunity as normal.
I had always assumed that "threatened area" and "reach" are synonymous, so the movement is optional. This makes sense, because the 5' square is already an approximation, and your character is actually weaving around within it and bobbing attacks. Thus, Combat Patrol would just increase the area your character is moving around in to attack from, even if your miniature doesn't move from its square. This would actually make it a pretty useful feat. (And as a side note, I actually tried swinging a sword 5 feet away. It already felt like I was lunging. Using the feat Lunge to strike at something literally 10 feet away seems impossible)
Then I learned from multiple threads here and on Reddit that it's apparently the only exception I'm aware of to threatened area equaling reach. If you want to attack someone outside of your normal reach without the feat, you need to actually move there. This already raises other questions like what it actually means for a character to threaten 20' further away at level 20 if it only has 15' of speed, like a small character in medium or heavy armor. Or, as the question in this point, why it's actually a useful feat. That "nerf" for lack of a better word makes it never really feel worth it to me.
Originally posted on Reddit, but since I've been posting here because of the playtest, I figured I'd repost this here. Anyway, long story short, I felt cheated that wereraptors were based off birds of prey, not dinosaurs, so I did what any sane person would do and made a werevelociraptor.
Werevelociraptor, halfling form (CR 3)
Werevelociraptor, hybrid form (CR 3)
Change Shape (Su)
Curse of Lycanthropy (Su)
Lycanthropy- Type curse, injury; Save Fortitude DC 15 negates, Will DC 15 to avoid effects. Onset the next full moon; Frequency on the night of every full moon or whenever the target is injured. Effect target transforms into a velociraptor under the GM’s control until the next morning
Danger Sense (Ex)
Fast Stealth (Ex)
Leaping Charge (Ex)
Lycanthropic Empathy (Ex)
Or more exactly, Power Attack is only useful if you don't have a magic weapon, but because the rules assume you get a magic weapon eventually (which I have other problems with), it becomes useless eventually.
Side rate about magic weapons:
The problem isn't that magic weapons exist. It's that the game assumes you eventually get +X attack and +XdY damage from magic after a certain point. If everyone has a special weapon, no one's weapon will feel special. If you actually want magic weapons to feel magical, then shift the extra damage elsewhere and make magic weapons things like finding a sword that can wreath itself in flames to help fight the hydra terrorizing a village. But as it stands, 66% of the damage done by my test fighter is attributable to mechanically expected magical aid.
My test fighter for purposes of this post is level 9, has 19 Str (18 + 1 level), +17 attack (+9 level + 2 proficiency + 2 magic + 4 Str), and deals 3d12+4 damage on a successful hit. My test opponent is a Treant (CR 8, AC 25). The first attack and Power Attack both have a 65% chance of landing and a 15% chance of critting, for a total of 80% of the expected damage. The second attack has a 40% chance of landing and a 5% chance of critting, for a total of 45% of the expected damage.
Suppose the probability of a hit is p, the probability of a critical is r, and the expected damage on a regular hit is n. Because the greatsword simply doubles damage on a critical, as opposed to deadly weapons adding different dice, the expected damage output is n*(p-r)+2n*r = np-nr+2nr = np+nr = n(p+r). I.e. I can add the probability of the d20 roll being a regular success and of it being a critical to get a multiplier on expected damage.
The damage for both regular attacks is 3d12+4, which is an average of 23.5, while the damage for the Power Attack is 4d12+4, which is an average of 30. 80% of those is 18.8 and 24 damage respectively, so Power Attack gives a boost of +5.2 damage over the first strike. But 45% of 23.5 is 10.575 expected damage from the second strike, which is over twice what Power Attack gives you.
This math also holds true for weaker weapons. For example, swapping out the d12 for a d8 from a longsword results in 21.875 damage without Power Attack or 17.6 damage with. Or even a dagger with d4s will do 14.375 damage without Power Attack, compared to 11.2 damage with.
tl;dr- There's currently no reason to not use a two-handed weapon if you have the ability to.
One of the rules of combat is to not leave any hands empty, because it's just a waste. For mundane characters and in real life, this means either grabbing a two-handed weapon, holding a weapon in each hand, or going with the iconic sword and board look. Beyond that there's ranged combat and, since magic exists, things like the gish strategy of a weapon in one hand and reserving the other for magic. But it's those first three that I'm interested in.
Basically, with the changes to TWF and shields, I'm not convinced it's a good idea to ever not use a two-handed weapon, unless you need a free hand.
In 1e, there was balance between TWF and two-handed fighting because of damage dice. A typical TWF load would be something like 1d8+Str and 1d6+1/2 Str, while a typical THF would be closer to 2d6+1.5 Str. Especially if your main hand weapon is something like a rapier with a d6, that's literally the same expected damage. So using the Unchained Action Economy, damage/action is fairly even. Then with shields, I think it's notable that people typically use TWF. It amounts to spending an extra feat (Improved Shield Bash) in exchange for an extra +1 or +2 AC while using TWF (or more, with the right feats).
Meanwhile, in the Playtest, TWF no longer gives extra attacks. You get an extra attack before MAP kicks in, but you still have consistently lower damage dice. Throw in a shield, and you're down to two attacks per turn. All the damage you're doing in one turn is what someone with a two-handed weapon could deal with one action. And that's even using Fighter/Ranger feats. Without that, you even get the same MAP.
All of this is to say that one of two things needs to change- Either two-handed weapons need to be nerfed to deal d6s and d8s, or there needs to be a TWF feat that gives extra attacks/action if you're wielding two weapons. Otherwise, picking up a two-handed weapon is doubling or tripling your potential damage output with no trade-offs, and I'm not convinced there's currently any reason to do otherwise.
One of the more notable changes in 2e is the simplification of bonuses. Instead of having alchemical, armor, circumstance, competence, deflection, dodge, enhancement, inherent, insight, luck, morale, natural armor, profane, racial, resistance, sacred, shield, size, trait, and untyped bonuses, plus complicated stacking rules where most bonus types don't stack with themselves and rules about how you can't add the same ability score twice, but only if they're both untyped, bonuses got simplified to circumstance, conditional, and item.
But in doing so, I think they've made it similarly complicated in the opposite direction. Because there are so few bonus types, you have to note down the bonus type, because things will probably conflict. For example, rage now renders barbarians immune to inspire courage, because both of them are conditional bonuses.
I'm not opposed to paring down the list of bonus types. For example, profane and sacred bonuses can probably be combined and extended to axiomatic and anarchic bonuses. But for the sake of simplicity and not accidentally having mutually exclusive abilities in a party, I think there's actually room for more than 3 bonus types.
tl;dr- Not only is there no simple formula to generate Skill DCs, but it's actually mathematically impossible for Incredible difficulty. I consider this bad game design.
My metric for whether a table like this is well-designed is predictability. It's better game design if you can generate a table on your own, instead of always having to reference the table for values. Three well-designed tables by this metric are BAB in 3.PF, XP/encounter in PF 1e, and XP/level in 3.5. Two poorly designed tables by this metric are the Skill DC table in the playtest and XP/level in PF 1e.
The BAB tables are particularly famous for this sort of design, because the underlying formulas are frequently used as names for the progressions, and the formulas are even explicitly given in the bestiary. Poor BAB is 1/2*HD, Average BAB is 3/4*HD, and Good BAB is your full HD, with the first two being rounded down in d20 system tradition.
The advancement and XP tables are interesting. In 3.5, you always needed 1000*[current level] XP to level up. But they also instituted a rule where CR+2 doubles the XP, so they had to have different XP values depending on your current level¹. The advancement table is definitely predictable, while the XP table only vaguely so. Meanwhile, PF 1e standardized XP rewards to not depend on your current level, making it very predictable. But while they still name average numbers of encounters per level up (for example, 20 encounters/level for medium speed), the advancement table doesn't strictly follow it. The values are always close to the expected values, but it's still unpredictable, so you have to reference the table.
Thus, we get to the Skill DC table. Because it frequently increases by 1 or 2, I figured it would operate on a similar formula to BAB and base saves. Pick some highly composite level, plug it and level 0 into the two-point form of a line, and round down when not an integer value. Except there are two key levels which render such a formula mathematically impossible. For every difficulty except Easy, the DC increases by 2 from level 0 to level 1. And for Incredible difficulty, the DC increases by 3 from level 6 to level 7. I assert the following (proof given in footnotes):
In other words, it's impossible to fit a BAB-style equation to any of the non-Easy progressions, because of the jump at level 1. And it's impossible to fit any equation like that to Incredible, even if you change the rounding pattern, because of the jump at level 7. (And I've checked. Changing the rounding method doesn't help fit the other three progressions)
There actually are some approximation which get incredibly close and aren't too nasty to use. 11+5/4*Lv for Medium, 13+11/8*Lv for Hard, 14+3/2*Lv for Incredible, and 16+13/8*Lv for Ultimate. (Okay, so Medium and Incredible are a bit easier than the other two) But as it stands, the only way to get the numbers under RAW is to either look them up or memorize the entire table.
This sort of design also leads to a more intuitive meaning of DC progressions. For example, the Easy progression being 7+Lv means that any increases in your skill check above the +1/Lv go directly to your likelihood of success. Meanwhile, Incredible being approximately 14+3/2*Lv means that in addition to the +1/Lv, you have to find another +1 every other level through things like stat boosts and feats just to keep up with the DCs.
1. a_n = 1000*n does not fit the recursion relation b_n = 2*b_(n-2). Therefore, a_n and b_n must use different tables.
2. If you take the slope of any progression using levels 0 and 23, the value is between 1 and 2
3. This one's actually more difficult to prove. Two assumptions which make it easier to understand why this is the case, even if it isn't a rigorous proof: Suppose m equals x/y, and that 1/y is the smallest fraction possible. For a step of 3 to happen under these conditions, the narrowest margin would be n+(y-1)/y to n+2. The difference between these values is (2y+1)/y, which is greater than 2, contradicting the assumption that m is between 1 and 2. A similar argument can be made that the step size cannot be 0.
4. Before rounding, the difference in values is m. Because we assume integral values of b, the only fractional part is the fractional part of m. Thus, when rounding down, we get b+floor(m) = b+1.
tl;dr- Depending on your definition of two-weapon fighting, it might not even be possible for Fighters and Rangers, but all it would take to fix is making Double Slice take a single action.
In 1e, any character with at least +6 BAB could fight with two weapons, depending on your definition. There was no rule against switching between weapons with each iterative attack. The special rule that distinguished two-weapon fighting was that if you wielded two weapons, you could get an additional attack above your iterative attacks, as long as you didn't mind a -6 penalty to your main-hand weapon and a -10 penalty to your off-hand weapon. The TWF feat, then, reduced the penalties to -4 each. Improved TWF required you to have a first iterative attack and gave you an iterative attack with your off-hand weapon. And Greater TWF required you to have a second iterative attack and gave you a second iterative attack with your off-hand weapon.
To me, this is what defines TWF. It's not just enough to be able to use two weapons. You have to get additional attacks with them.
As an intermediate step between 1e and 2e, there's the Unchained Action Economy. Like in 2e, you can take up to three attack actions in a turn, and each subsequent attack adds a cumulative -5 penalty. And just like with iterative attacks in normal 1e, you can switch between weapons with each attack. The TWF feat lets you attack with two weapons in the first attack action of your turn and only incur the multiple attack penalty once- albeit incurring a -4 penalty on both attacks. Then the Improved TWF feat lets you attack with two weapons on your second attack action of the turn, and the Greater TWF lets you attack with two weapons on your third attack action of the turn.
I would still call this TWF, because you can have more than the normal 3 actions in a turn.
Then we get to the 2e playtest. The Double Slice feat behaves similarly to the UAE TWF feat. It lets you attack with two weapons and only incur the multiple attack penalty once. And unlike the UAE TWF feat, it even lets you count it as a single attack for purposes of damage reduction.
Except there's a notable difference. Double Slice takes two actions. You still only get three attacks like anyone else, and all you get that's special is the ability to treat your first two attack actions as one for the multiple attack penalty. To me, at least, this is no longer TWF. I would consider Double Slice a melee version of Clustered Shots from 1e.
There is Two-Weapon Flurry, but it's not available until level 14 and, depending on how you interpret "or worse", only applies on your third attack and, ironically, only if you don't use Double Slice.
Everything is there for two-weapon fighting. They just need to change Double Slice to only take a single action.
tl;dr- The 6 ability scores are being forced to be used for things they were never intended for, Dexterity and Charisma should be split into two abilities each, Wisdom should be removed, and Awareness should become a new ability score.
Note: This post is inspired by this blog post by the Angry GM.
To open this bluntly, the 6 ability scores have never done a good job at mapping every characteristic a person can have, but they were at least serviceable in AD&D, because so many things used their own mechanics. For example, Thief skills had their own table with percent chances, a completely separate mechanic from the to-hit tables that would eventually become THAC0. But entering 3.0 and the d20 era, those skills had to go somewhere, and were assigned to Dexterity.
Notably, this even extends to things like the fanmade Pokemon Tabletop RPG, which uses the same 6 ability scores, despite much of it being completely irrelevant for Pokemon battling.
The 5 main problem areas I see:
The first thing I notice is the double meaning of Charisma. On the one hand, it represents personal magnetism and how likable you are. But at the same time, it also represents your ego and your force of personality. Not only are these not necessarily related, but in some cases, they can be inversely related. For example, in In Hell's Bright Shadow, Azvernathi Raul is described as having an ego and an off-putting personality. The former sounds like high Charisma, while the latter sounds like low Charisma.
This is especially notable because Sorcerers and Bards, the two classic Cha-casters, use these two different forms of Charisma.
This is related to the previous point, but I'm addressing it here because Will saves are traditionally assigned to Wisdom. I can sort of understand Wisdom to Will saves against illusions, but Will saves against charms and compulsions (i.e. the Irrepressible trait in PF 1e) sound more like Charisma, or at least the parts the sorcerer uses.
What does this have to do with common sense? The only reason they are is because there wasn't an ability score for awareness and perception in AD&D, so WotC just folded them into Wisdom instead of making a 7th ability score.
These are interesting, because a lot of them fall under fine motor skills. But like with Perception, there wasn't really an ability score for that, so they got folded into Dexterity- the closest vague fit. But just like you can have an offputting ego or have plenty of common sense, but be unobservant, it's entirely possible to have a nimble tumbler who's all thumbs. Or on the other hand, you can have a character like Gepetto from Pinocchio. I don't think anyone expects him to be able to do gymnastics, but he still seems to be quite adept at clockmaking, which requires a lot of fine motor skills.
I'm not going to get into the debate about whether or not Dex to damage would make it an overpowered god stat, although I do point out that we're comfortable with casters being SAD. No, instead I'm going to take a look at what I suspect to be the origin of that archetype.
Swords don't actually require that much strength. Sure, an axe might, but levers and the slashing motion do most of the work with sword. Think about a steak knife. You don't need to be ripped to operate one successfully. (And on the other hand, archers do need to be ripped to handle things like the 180 lb draw strength of an English longbow) And that intuitive reasoning is why I think Dex builds all tend to use swords, instead of things like the equally finesseable club. The only non-slashing weapons I can think of that Dex builds use are the rapier and unarmed strike.
At least in AD&D, there were always notions of strength being physical strength and dexterity being agility. But because of the decentralized nature of game mechanics and the existence of minimum ability scores, Strength was first and foremost how good of a Fighter you were, while Dexterity was how good of a Thief you were. Thus, it made enough sense to have Strength apply to all melee weapons. But with the increased decoupling of class and ability score, your ability to finesse a weapon no longer had to be part of physical strength and could move over to Dexterity. Thus, Weapon Finesse was born. And as explained, the set of weapons that people typically use with finesse builds (swords) generally matches the set of weapons where dexterity makes at least as much strength as an attacking stat for anyone, much less just with Weapon Finesse.
Split Presence off from both Wisdom and Charisma. It now represents your ego and force of personality, as separate from how likable you are. The three main uses for it are Sorcerers, Will saves, and Resonance.
Rename Wisdom to Awareness. It primarily governs Perception, but could also include things like common sense and Sense Motive.
Split Deftness off from Dexterity. It primarily represents your fine motor skills and things like Disable Device. However, there's enough wiggle room that I think you could reasonably include Weapon Finesse.
Rename Dexterity to Agility. It's larger level dexterity and is used for AC, Reflex saves, and Acrobatics.
And on a tangential note, assign different attack and damage stats depending on weapon group. Most things still use Strength for both, but Swords use Deftness for attack and damage, and Brawling weapons and Knives let you use the better of Strength and Deftness.
tl;dr- Individual characters shouldn't be granted access to uncommon weapons, uncommon exotic weapons should become uncommon martial, and GMs should be given the authority to make common weapons uncommon.
The Exotic Weapon Problem
Simple and martial weapons make enough sense on paper. Simple weapons are straightforward enough that anyone can pick them up. For example, jab your opponent with the pointy end of the spear. Meanwhile, martial weapons take more training, so you have to specifically learn to use one with Martial Weapon Proficiency. About half of the classes get a few martial weapon proficiencies for free. And martial classes are skilled enough at fighting to be competent with whatever strange weapons they may find. But then there are exotic weapons, which mostly fall into one of two groups, both of which have strange to negative implications.
The first type of exotic weapon is the accidentally-too-powerful kind. For example, the elven curve blade is almost entirely an upgrade to the normal greatsword. It's lighter, finessable, and threatens critical hits more often. The only downside is the slightly lessened damage dice, 1d10 vs 2d6. This is effectively gameplay and story segregation. The concept of martial characters getting all martial weapons is that they're that good, but these weapons are too powerful from a game design standpoint, so they have to be locked off.
The second type of exotic weapon is the more concerning one. Weapons that don't fit in a pseudo-Medieval-European setting like most of Avistan. I could get into how WotC and Paizo both have a habit of raiding the thesaurus to expand weapon tables, like how the only difference between a gladius and a longsword is that the former apparently gets the crowd more excited, but that's not what this is about. If you accept that wakizashis, katanas, and nodachis are sufficiently different from shortswords, longswords, and greatswords to warrant different stats, I could understand a paladin from Absalom only knowing how to use Avistani longswords and not Tien katanas. But if I head over to Minkai and make a paladin... she's still familiar with Avistani longswords and not Tien katanas. Even Tien characters need Exotic Weapon Proficiency to learn them, because apparently martial characters are specifically familiar with Avistani weapons. The samurai class mitigates this somewhat by providing proficiency in wakizashis, katanas, and naginatas, but still leaves two questions. One, why wouldn't an Avistani samurai just use Avistani shortswords, longswords, and glaives instead? And two, what if a Tien samurai wanted a two-hander? The only options would still be using an Avistani greatsword instead of a Tien nodachi or to take Exotic Weapon Proficiency to learn a local weapon.
The only weapons I can think of that are actually more complex are Numeria's lasers and Alkenstar's way-post-Medieval guns.
Common and Uncommon Weapons
Entering 2e, Paizo definitely seems to have noticed the unfortunate implications of that latter group, and just made them uncommon instead. Martial characters actually know how to use every weapon now, and it's just locked by setting, which weapons are available. Except there are a few problems.
First, there are still a grand total of 4 exotic weapons. So the first problem I mentioned still exists. If we already have this tool to let GMs restrict access to weapons, why do fighters still need to learn those four weapons individually? If you have an uncommon weapon class, there should be no need for exotic weapons.
Second, item rarity should be determined on a setting level, not a character level. Using the example of Tien characters and katanas, suppose my Minkaian paladin travels to Absalom. Theoretically, katanas are an uncommon weapon there. But because they were specifically granted access to the weapon, there's apparently some secret Tien black market that this character and this character only can access to find katanas. Or similarly, if an elf with the Elven Weapon Familiarity feat goes to the Five Kings Mountains, they'd apparently find some secret elven black market to buy an elven curve blade.
And third, there are no provisions for converting an item to uncommon instead. This follows off the previous point. If I set a game in Minkai, I could grant everyone access to Tien katanas... but they'd also still have access to Avistani longswords, which are theoretically less common in Minkai.
The Common/Uncommon split actually can work in theory to solve both halves of the exotic weapon problem. Just not with the current implementation.
The Weapon Proficiency Problem
This is a separate issue, but continues off things mentioned in all that explanation. In 1e, characters bought proficiency in singular weapons, unless they took a level in a martial class. But in 2e, the Weapon Proficiency feat just upgrades you to the level of martial classes, being proficient in all but 4 weapons in existence. You can then take the feat again to learn individual exotic weapons. This has two issues:
First, all of those "simple plus some" classes are now irreplicable. Why does a Bard only know certain weapons, but if my Sorcerer wants to learn to fight with a rapier and pretend to be a Bard, he has to learn to use all martial weapons with it? And second, if I want my character to specifically learn to use firearms, which would presumably be exotic, they'd have to learn all martial weapons first.
Additionally, there's the issue of fighter weapon groups. These technically already existed in 1e, but they were specific to the class. But now that they're tied to the TEML system, it introduces a third way you can gain proficiencies. On a per-group basis.
Thus, I also propose a change to weapon proficiency in general. Everyone is trained in simple weapons, and instead of giving martial characters all weapons and most other characters a handful of specific weapons, you let each class pick so many weapon classes to be trained in. The Weapon Proficiency feat would be gaining training in another weapon class. The fighter class abilities could be gaining training in a handful. And you could even extend the system to have thematic options, like forcing clerics to pick their deity's favored weapon's group or gunslingers to pick guns. This is actually simpler than the current system, because you don't have to deal with martials and characters with Weapon Proficiency getting everything, but exotic weapons being taken on an individual basis and some classes starting with specific martial weapons. Weapons would effectively just be skills like Athletics or Thievery. And it protects future weapons like firearms which do deserve the exotic name, without having to make a separate system to gain proficiency in them.
Simple and martial weapons make enough sense. Simple means it's hard to mess up, like jabbing someone with the pointy end of a spear, while martial is most other weapons that require a bit of training. Then there are exotic weapons. At least in 1e, most exotic weapons fall into one of two groups:
That latter category has unfortunate implications. By default, a Tien fighter wouldn't know what to do with a katana. The 1e samurai can only use one because it's specifically called out in the proficiencies. But want to upgrade to a nodachi? You'll have to buy it with Exotic Weapon Proficiency. You could always get around the problem with "Tien Weapon Familiarity: Tiens treat any weapon with the Tien trait as a martial weapon", but now you're just reminding everyone of the unfortunate implications of calling species races.
2e somewhat remedies this with Common and Uncommon, but the problem still remains. At least in the playtest, there are provisions for making an uncommon weapon count as common, but not the other way around. It's also odd that characters can gain access to uncommon items, because rarity is suddenly dependent on the character, not the setting.
And finally, weapon proficiency is a weird feat. It buys simple or martial weapons, but singular exotic weapons. That in and of itself isn't weird, but we see martial weapon proficiencies being handed out on a per-weapon basis to most classes.
As a result, my proposal for a weapon system that simplifies things, avoids the issue of Tien Weapon Familiarity, and allows for more customization in what weapons characters use:
This is actually three related complaints.
First, there's a corner case not covered by the rules. Currently, natural 20s improve a failure to a success or a success to a critical success. And similarly, natural 1s reduce a success to a failure or a failure to a critical failure. However, there's no direct mention of what happens if I exceed the DC by 10 on a natural 1, or the analogous case with natural 20s. Do I fail because a critical success is a success, or does it just degrade to a success?
Second, especially if the former interpretation is meant, where a natural 1 can do no better than failure and a natural 20 can do no worse than success, why do they apply to skill checks? I can understand trained fighters missing 5% of the time, because HP and AC are so abstract. But it seems weird that a level 20 wizard would always have a 5% chance of misreading a cantrip, or that a level 20 rogue who's legendary at stealth and doesn't need to be invisible to be invisible always has a 5% chance of being found by an untrained commoner with 1 Wis.
And third, I can tell what they're trying to do by listing then Success, Crit Success, Failure, Crit Failure. But I think that only works if you always have something for normal successes and failures. If any of the four can be missing, I would just order it from best to worst.
With regard to point 1, ideally I think it should be the former interpretation with attack rolls and saving throws, but the latter with skill checks. The main problem is that combat maneuvers are part of skill checks now. At least with that ruling, I would simplify the language to:
Paizo should split the spell lists up by school again. It's not as important for divine, occult, and primal casters, but as long as specialist wizards exist and receive some sort of benefit for using their school, it will be useful to split spell lists up by school. Currently if I have a specialist wizard, the only way to find spells of the right school when picking spells is to keep paging back and forth between the spell list and the descriptions.
So as a quick historical note, historical bucklers were actually closer to small shields in 3.PF. You would actually stick it out in front of you, because while it was too small to be much use against arrows, the concept of having a target in front of you that isn't your mortal coil is an amazing thing for dueling. This thread isn't really about shield names, though. I just mention that to make sure people have the right mental image of things.
Onto the meat of this complaint, swashbucklers are literally named after the shield. Even if later incarnations of the archetype like Westley and Inigo Montoya were too cocky to bother with shields, the original swashbucklers would duel with a rapier in one hand and a buckler thrust out front with the other. That's where the name comes from. They swashed (swaggered about with a sword) with bucklers.
So while it's a little strange in that context for Slashing and Fencing Grace in 1e to disallow shields, the technicality around 3.PF bucklers being strapped to you arm and therefore not actually occupying a hand meant that you could still include the buckler part of being a swashbuckler. However, there are no shields in 2e that can be strapped to your arm, meaning we're left with only the swashing part of being a swashbuckler.
Therefore, I propose either reintroducing the 3.PF buckler or, since design space is tighter, just amending the requirements on the Dueling Parry feat chain to allow for a light shield in your off hand.
tl;dr- It's no secret that RPGs have historical inaccuracies in armor. But some of them are easy to fix and would lead to more interesting character art. And not just that, but it's even in Paizo's financial interests to do so.
Why should Paizo care?
If I'm being honest, it's probably a bit overstated how many people actually care about things like gambesons being better armor than leather or falchions actually being 1-handed and meant for mounted combat. But I still assert that there are enough people complaining about it that Paizo could generate interest in their system just by being the one RPG to not assume that padded armor is the worst things ever.
Additionally, Paizo's artists and fan artists should appreciate it. Without spoiling too much, my proposed changes introduce some more interesting armor options than just putting most characters in either leather, mail, or plate. These changes also add more interesting design space, such as giving druids a visual equivalent to full plate armor or, dare I say it, letting wizards and sorcerers be proficient in armor.
Historical inaccuracies in the current system
Leather armor actually is attested historically, but there's an important clarification with that. It's specifically boiled leather, sometimes called by its fancy French name, cuir bouilli. The CRB actually gets this one right by mentioning that it's boiled, but I don't think many people realize that. In contrast, what most people probably imagine when they hear the words "leather armor" is worse than padded armor and basically a glorified biker jacket, a step up from being on the skins team. But that's about where the historical accuracy with leather armor ends. Cuir bouilli was actually used for a variety of armor types, being formed into scales and lamellae just like steel was. The leather armor of D&D 3.5 is actually the only major variation not attested, leather plate armor.
Similarly, there actually was armor that would look like studded leather, but that's where the similarities end. Unlike studded leather armor normally being described as a biker jacket with spikes, the studs were actually the rivets holding metal sheets in place to line the inside.
And finally, I'm not convinced that half plate and full plate should be separate armor types. The difference historically is roughly that armorers making half plate just accepted that there would be gaps and patched them with mail, while armorers making full plate would try to avoid having any gaps like that. In other words, full plate was effectively masterwork half plate.
Chain shirts and breastplates shouldn't exist. Piecemeal armor normally doesn't exist, outside of a variant rule in Ultimate Equipment. And yet, since D&D 3.5 and inherited from it, chain shirts and breastplates exist as separate armor types from chainmail and plate.
Proposed changes for light armor
Padded armor should be renamed the leather jerkin, and have Max Dex increased to +6. It's so cheap and fragile because you're literally just wearing a heavy jacket into battle. As a result, I would make everyone (possibly except Monks) proficient in them.
Leather armor should be renamed padded armor, or possibly gambeson to avoid preconceptions. Also, because you're literally covering yourself in dozens of layers of fabric (which is surprisingly effective), I would give it +1 TAC and lower Max Dex to +5.
Studded leather doesn't exist, and chain shirts shouldn't exist, so they'll be replaced with the first new armors- leather scale and leather lamellar respectively. The stats are mostly good, but I would make leather scale mildly cheaper at 20 sp and weigh more at 2 Bulk. Also, I would removed the Noisy quality from leather lamellar, since it only really made sense for mail.
Proposed changes for medium armor
Hide... can stay where it is. It seems reasonable for entry-level medium armor, as long as you don't mind looking less civilized.
Scale mail should increase price to 60 sp, TAC to +2, and Bulk to 3 and reduce Max Dex to +3. I would also rename it Steel Scale to distinguish it from Leather Scale.
Chain mail is removed from the medium armor list and will become the entry-level heavy armor.
Breastplate is renamed to Steel Lamellar and has its Check Penalty improved by one (to -3) at the cost of another point of Bulk. It also drops from Clumsy to merely Noisy.
Finally, there are two new types of medium armor meant to fill a similar economic space to heavy armor. Leather Plate, which I would name Cuir Bouilli, costs 125 sp, has +3 AC, +2 TAC, +4 Max Dex, -2 CP, -5 ft speed, 2 Bulk, and the Clumsy property. Visually speaking, this is comparable to old leather armor, but now it's a high-end armor option for druids. Then Brigandine, which looks like studded leather, but is specifically not usable by druids, is mildly more expensive at 150 sp. It has similar stats to Cuir Bouilli, but trades a point of TAC for AC (+4 AC, +1 TAC) and is only Noisy, not Clumsy.
Proposed changes for heavy armor
Starting at the bottom, I would remove half plate and turn full plate into a generic Plate armor. As mentioned at the beginning, full plate is just masterwork half plate. I would also improve its Max Dex and CP by 1 each (to +2 and -4), but make it cost 600 sp and be a level 3 item to compensate.
Splint mail is renamed to either plated mail or mail and plate. It actually did exist historically, but those names for the same concept illustrate it better. Basically, you stitch plates of metal onto your mail. Increase Max Dex to +3, but lower CP to -5- worse than plate, actually. It should cost about 400 sp and be a level 2 item.
And finally, chain mail is introduced as a new entry-level heavy armor. It has +5 AC, +1 TAC, +3 Max Dex, -4 CP, -10 ft, 3 Bulk, and the Noisy property. It costs 200 sp and could be made a level 2 item, but that doesn't seem as important.
Proposed changes for shields
First, there should be 3 levels of shield size, which I call buckler, small, and large.
Bucklers give +1 AC and +1 TAC, have no Check Penalty, and weigh L Bulk. As weapons, they're simple weapons with the agile and finesse traits that do 1d3 B damage.
Small shields give +2 AC and +2 TAC, have a Dex Cap of +5 and Check Penalty of -1, and weigh 1 Bulk. As weapons, they're martial weapons with the finesse trait that do 1d4 B damage.
Large shields give +2 AC and +2 TAC, have a Dex Cap of +4 and Check Penalty of -2, and weigh 1 Bulk. As weapons, they're martial weapons that do 1d6 B damage.
From the current proficiencies, alchemists, bards, and rogues pick up buckler proficiency, but only fighters and paladins are proficient in large shields.
Remove ahistorical and piecemeal armor options. Make bucklers a serious weapon. Add new large/kite shields that are serious defensive and offensive options for TWF fighters. Fill the light armor space with more creative leather armors. Add cuir bouilli and brigandine as high-end medium armor options. Make padded armor the serious choice it was historically. And introduce untreated leather jerkins as the new joke option.
The first printing of the Advanced Class Guide has the following as the last paragraph of the Warpriest's fervor ability:
ACG, 1st printing wrote:
As a swift action, a warpriest can expend one use of this ability to cast any one warpriest spell he has prepared. When cast in this way, the spell can target only the warpriest, even if it could normally affect other or multiple targets. Spells cast in this way ignore somatic components and do not provoke attacks of opportunity. The warpriest does not need to have a free hand to cast a spell in this way.
Meanwhile, the second printing and the PRD have:
As a swift action, a warpriest can expend one use of fervor to cast any one warpriest spell he has prepared with a casting time of 1 round or shorter. When cast in this way, the spell can target only the warpriest, even if it could normally affect other or multiple targets. Spells cast in this way don't require somatic components and do not provoke attacks of opportunity.
The errata to the book list the addition of "with a casting time of 1 round or shorter", but not the removal of "The warpriest does not need to have a free hand to cast a spell in this way." This change is the version seen on both d20pfsrd.com and in the Archives of Nethys.
So are warpriests supposed to have a hand free or not? Does not requiring somatic components render this question irrelevant anyway? And does this affect casting cure spells and other spells with a range of touch?
Way back in 3.5, bards were actually required to take ranks in Perform, because unlocking different performances was tied to it. (Also, fun fact! In 3.0, there wasn't even a bard level requirement, so the best "bard" was actually a Bard 1 / Rogue 19) Pathfinder started a trend away from this, by only making the Perform skill matter for distraction and countersong. Apart from thinking Perform (oratory) makes more sense under countersong than distraction, I don't have any strong feelings about this.
What I do care about, which I hope doesn't happen in PF 2e, is the changes they made in 5e.
All bards are automatically proficient in three musical instruments. If you use the default starting gear instead of buying, you start with an instrument. Bards can use musical instruments as spell foci, similar to clerics and holy symbols. And unless you purposefully buy a spell component pouch, that is what you're using for a focus.
Paizo, the beauty of Perform (oratory) is that you don't need to make a spoony minstrel, and can easily refluff to things like a military commander barking orders at his party. 5e doesn't even easily allow for a singing bard. For the sake of orator bards everywhere (and my Christine Daaé expy in Hell's Rebels, made to take advantage of the Kintargo Opera House), please don't go the same route Wizards did.