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Captain Morgan wrote:
Zapp wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

Wanna see something glorious :D!!!

Look at those wealth by level numbers
(in explanation the total includes the value of the items not just liquid gold)

Interesting. They've abandoned the party sum which didn't really work since not all parties are 4 heroes, and gone for the much more sensible focus on a single character (which you can then just multiply by 3 or 5 or 4 or however many characters you have in your party).

To be clear, are you talking about "Lump Sum"? You are sure it means accumulated wealth including market price of items for a single character?

Yes, that is what lump sum refers to. And I would be shocked if they don't still have the party table with adjustments for having more or less characters. That table in the link is for building a new character at higher levels.

Just checked; there's a party table, which now also includes the total value of all the treasure (a party lump sum option).

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In the fighting game community, there is a really analogous position to Sherlock's desire for skill-based difficulty in character creation: Move input complexity. Some people really like moves to be hard to enter into their controller, and think that a fighting game needs that kind of complexity.

A game designer name David Sirlin (whom I've found pretty influential in how I think about game balance and multiplayer design) likens those kinds of skill challenges to having a contest for baking a cake, in that it has nothing to do with the actual strategy of playing the game at hand, and is just an extra thing that's added in that you also have to be good at to be successful. The only response to that analogy he's found satisfactory is "it's exactly like baking a cake." Because sometimes people just enjoy mastering that skill and want it included.

Which is where, I think, Sherlock is, and why no one will convince him otherwise. He likes the cake-baking contest of viable character design and system understanding, and wants people to learn how to do it. I certainly enjoy the process of peeling back layers in a system to understand how it works, and building characters around concepts or mechanics tied to that understanding...but not everyone does. And frankly, having a barrier like that gets in the way of learning the real strategy and tactics of the game. As long as the system still has depth for interesting options (which PF2 absolutely appears to), there's still tons of system mastery around understanding conditions, monster weaknesses, positioning, unique monster actions, skills, action economy, etc. And these are the things that most players consider "the game."

Those of us who enjoy learning a system (like Sherlock, DMW, and me) still have plenty of ways to optimize, but it's a better overall experience for my players to have the ability to quickly build a viable character and participate effectively. That such optimizations have diminishing returns is not a bug, but a feature.

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masda_gib wrote:
Voss wrote:

I'm not flowing your logic on this. There was nothing in pf1 that suggested a divine connection for the outer planar bloodlines or the undead one. Just who your ancestors were bedding, bargaining with or being experimented on by.

I doubt anyone would have batted an eye if undead had been an arcane bloodline. Just thought, 'oh, liches, right' and moved on.

In PF1, Knowledge Religion covered knowledge about undead. Also, clerics had the most spells and options to create or handle undead. Generally, undeath had religios tones with desecrated places giving rise to them and them being a disturbance in the flow of souls/life force.

So Undead being tied to Divine makes perfect sense.

I'm more surprised that Infernal and Abyssal all are Divine bloodlines. But I guess they just went with "all outer planes outsider bloodlines are divine".

I don't pretend to understand the distinctions between different types of planes, but it's easier than that. Angels, demons, and devils are also pretty inextricably religion-themed. Other types of outsiders (elementals) obviously can have different lists, and likely will outside of the core rulebook. A rakshasa bloodline (one was in Ultimate Magic) seems unlikely to be divine, for instance.

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Midnightoker wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
If Hag is Occult, that has some strong implications for witches down the line.

I'd be shocked if it isn't. It's the only new Bloodline (as compared to the PF1 corebook and PF2 playtest) and would round out the numbers at a minimum of two per list.

And yes, it does rather imply Witches as Occult. Which is where I've always thought they belonged anyway.

It seems we have our likely answer then DMW!

On another note:

Does that mean Undead would be divine?

Angelic, Demonic, Diabolic-> Divine
Draconic, Imperial -> Arcane
Fey -> Primal

The above are unlikely to change so these three:

Undead -> Divine (?)
Elemental -> Has to be Primal
Hag -> Presumed Occult (has to be pretty much)

I feel like Undead could go Arcane, Occult or Divine. The only one I'd be sure it wasn't is Primal

Mark confirmed all these on the Know Direction stream tonight. Hag is Occult, elemental is primal, and undead is divine.

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MaxAstro wrote:

I'm almost certainly going to be buying into Fantasy Grounds when I start Age of Ashes, which I'm running as an online game. I've been using MapTool for a long time, mostly because of its extremely feature-complete lighting and vision system, but I'm so tired of having to create every map manually.

Especially since Paizo is occasionally a bit... let's say "lackadaisical"... about things like grid lines. >.>

I've found that throwing the map image on the background layer and using the built-in resizer tends to work pretty well. Basically you draw a box on the map, tell Maptool how many vertical and horizontal squares are in that, and it resizes accordingly. After a quick adjustment to align roughly the middle of the map to Maptool's grid, it's generally close enough that no one will notice the slight variance in alignment that are mostly near the edges.

But yeah, it's still a hassle to have to do that, and set up vision blocking, and whatnot. There's a lot of functionality (like doors) that I really would prefer having a generic implementation supported by Maptool directly instead of being fobbed off into nests of macros.

I've used Hero Lab to manage combats for a long time, and right now Hero Lab Online doesn't have that functionality and otherwise hasn't been particularly stable/functional/full-featured to me for the playtest, so I finally broke down and implemented initiative/HP tracking in Maptool for the playtest. PF2's comparatively simplified conditions and whatnot make a detailed combat manager less necessary overall.

I haven't checked out Fantasy Grounds or Roll20 in a long time, though. Last I saw, they felt like big steps back in the "virtual tabletop" functionality (vision and lighting in particular), and the other functionality was largely redundant to how my group played (generally in person with real dice and player sheets). The trailers for the new Unity version of FG look okay, but...that's obviously not the version that exists now.

I'm willing to pay for a good tool and the data entry (lots of money spent on Hero Lab and associated modules) that can save me a ton of time, but FG always has looked like something wouldn't save me time if I wasn't automating lots of rolls, and my expectations for commercial software are just higher. I don't want to pay for software that hasn't managed parity (on what I consider core features) with decade-old versions of a barely-supported open-source tool, never mind the current versions.

I dunno. What am I missing, FG users?

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Cydeth wrote:
if the art starts veering back toward what I've seen for the new iconics, I'm going to drop PF2.

This is a completely alien perspective to me. I'd have an easier time understanding if it was the book layout or something, but not using a system because of the style of the character art in the book would simply never occur to me. I even use the Paizo art assets for my game (as digital tabletop tokens), but I can always look online for a different piece of art if I don't like the existing one (I do that sometimes, especially when there's a variant/leader monster or NPC). If I somehow ended up hating every piece of PF2 art, I'd just...not use it, and keep the system. Even if I couldn't stand even occasionally seeing the art, I'd just use the SRD or something. Hypothetically, if the books depicted a bunch of incredibly objectionable content (the kind of stuff that Paizo would say violates the Pathfinder baseline), I could see not wanting to see the book or even indirectly approve of its content by using it...but that's a pretty out-there scenario, and that's as close as I can get. For context, I couldn't have even told you the names of any of the iconics a couple of months ago, despite playing PF1 since launch and owning all of the PF1 rulebook line, and even now I only recognize the names because of the various videos and blogs since the playtest announcement. I'd still recognize them as the characters from the class section of the books, though.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting reminder that people have different requirements and priorities, and I hope PF2 ends up being a good fit for both of us.

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Steve Geddes wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
RicoTheBold wrote:
Some people just are more comfortable with Schrodinger's market, where the presence or absence of an item is only resolved when the market is observed. That's okay, too, and it's fair to characterize the mechanical operation as the skill check producing the item, even if the lore layered on top doesn't match.
That's not how PF1e worked. I personally think PF1e was correct in that they placed the responsibility of deciding whether or not something was there on the shoulders of the GM. They provided the GM with tools to determine whether it was there independent of the PCs. The PC would then need to find the item, perhaps even through a skill check. But the PC rolling a good diplomacy didn't suddenly make the item appear.

Whats the functional difference between a DM placing items and the PCs rolling skillchecks to find them versus a PC rolling a skillcheck to determine if there's an item available and then the DM determining what they are?

My agenda here is that I don't care about what mechanics/system we use at all, but I have players who do. I wouldn't have thought it would matter which of these two methodologies was used but am curious why it does. (Presuming I've understood your distinction correctly - if not could you clarify whats okay and what isnt in that mechanical way?)

I think I understand his position enough to take a crack at it, because it's not that different from mine.

Things I think John would say are okay:
- Predefined treasure tables - this is exactly what the town/shop/whatever has, no more and no less.
- Randomized treasure - treasure is potentially available, based on factors external to the players (like the 75% chance an item value "can be found with little effort" under a community's base item value in the PF1 core rulebook under purchasing magic items).
- Skill-gated treasure access - Take either a predefined treasure list or a randomized one, and have some items designated as not normally available for purchase. Add a skill check to see whether the character can get those items (by scrounging, convincing someone to part with an heirloom, talking the king into providing access to items from an armory, whatever). This is presumably implied by the previous rule as the items to be available with more than "little effort."

Things I think John would say are not okay:
- Only using a player skill to determine whether an item exists/is available - this absolutely brings with it the mechanic that a town might only have an item because a great wizard is shopping, which breaks verisimilitude.
- Describing the player's skill-gated roll as "creating" the item - The item was always there, and should have been considered that way beforehand. The GM shouldn't suddenly add it just because the players really wanted it.

Some quick thoughts on the distinction
And that's a perfectly valid and consistent position to have. Players only "create" items by crafting, whether doing it themselves or ordering something specific. I don't stick to the terminology quite so fervently, because mechanically, if a player asks for a ring of protection +2, which costs 4000 gold and therefore is potentially available in a small city, and I roll it up as available, then it's very much the Schrodinger's market I mentioned earlier.

This is partly because I'm lazy, and don't want to settle inventories in advance. I do the same thing for innkeepers and other miscellaneous NPCs that have no details until they're needed. If a character rolled a critical success on some check to learn about the market, I might very well add some extra layer to the market (maybe an eccentric collector or something) that I didn't plan to have in there. It sounds like John wouldn't necessarily do this, but it's a fine line that will vary by table. Some GMs just add a percentage chance and roll, as if to take the final decision out of their hands. To me, it's okay shorthand to say that the player request and skill check is ultimately responsible for the item being there, because it's literally true that the request triggered the resolution process, even if that's not the case from a lore perspective.

PF2 and access by rarity, downtime activities, and skill uses
One thing I like a lot about PF2's rarity system is that it conveniently provides the terminology and mechanics to describe some items as consistently available or consistently hard to find, even when the money is there. The playtest didn't have enough items, and many items were uncommon without a clear way to gain access, which was kind of a problematic combo at higher levels. I understand why, though, and actually appreciate that many of those items were rarity-gated based on how much hassle they could cause to an adventure - it seemed like a lot of those items gave flying, teleportation, alignment-based effects, ancestry-based effects, or added some potentially unbalancing effects like increasing spell slots. This makes it a lot easier to define those lines of availability, and say something like "uncommon items aren't generally available, and specifically items with flying are rare and not generally going to be available at all."

And it's a super elegant way to gate off some of those items by skill check. Gather information, lore skills, etc. Or through role-play; just build connections, get "a guy who knows a guy" and maybe you can find that lovely cloak of the bat, or one of those neat gnome flickmaces. There's probably a side-argument we could have here about what skills could potentially be used to appraise something...but let's not.

I'm also interested in how the crafting downtime rules actually shake out. The playtest adventures weren't necessarily well-suited toward them, and no one crafted anything in my games (not counting the one alchemist attempt before the update removing resonance).

Additional context on how I run magic item markets - not to everyone's taste
Although personally, I tend to adjust the PF1 market rules from baseline, where "must-have" items should be easily accessible because the demand is so regularly there for adventurers, and the only rational way to interpret the PF1 economy past low levels is through the lens of magic items, because they're easier to trade than castles or money. (A staff of charming, the cheapest staff in the game, weighs 5 lbs. and is worth 35.2 lbs. of platinum). I figure the built-in assumption of half sell value for party members already represents the disparity between the risk of a merchant buying an item that won't resell (and/or having to sell it to a richer merchant in a larger city) and the player's more specific requirements. If you hit a metropolis in one of my games, you're likely to have way more than 4d4 medium magic items available for purchase, and the baseline for the 75% is probably going to be higher than 16,000 gp, which doesn't even cover a ring of protection +3.

Basically, I try to make it feel more like an active, trade-driven economy. It's a lot like the used car market, except the players are much less likely to find a really good deal (great price on exactly what they want) or a really bad one (cursed item). Gather information or using identify magic checks or something all seem like valid ways to get a better chance at finding what you're looking for, if it exists.

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John Lynch 106 wrote:
Why would the player's outcome on a skill magically produce an item? As the GM it's my job to decide whether or not the item exists. I might require a skill check to see if the PC's FIND the item, but first I must decide whether or not the item is there independent of the PCs.

If it's a landfill, or a junk market, or something where there might be something good that a discerning eye could find that someone else would pass right by...maybe a dusty old lamp, a plain-looking ring found in a cave, or a podracer built from scrap by a small child...

Finding the diamond in the rough is a classic trope. For non-fictional examples, antique hunters, car collectors, etc. all exist. Being good at finding a street-level arms dealer is a perfectly valid use of a criminal lore skill.

But you already knew all that, which is why you mentioned the same thing about potentially needing a skill check to find an item. That's the level of abstraction that people are including, and GM's regularly have to assign some level of chance to an action they hadn't pre-considered having the possibility of working out. I sure wouldn't frame it how rainzax is, except for the part about "the same level of abstraction as any exploration or downtime system." Layer that abstraction to taste, and you don't end up with gather information checks on uninhabited islands, at least without some other extenuating circumstance like animals or corpses and some magic to talk to them.

Some people just are more comfortable with Schrodinger's market, where the presence or absence of an item is only resolved when the market is observed. That's okay, too, and it's fair to characterize the mechanical operation as the skill check producing the item, even if the lore layered on top doesn't match.

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Emphasis added:

John Lynch 106 wrote:
Unicore wrote:
I personally assume that Jason is telling the audience this information more so than the players, and the intention would be that the GM would never tell the party that they couldn't fail.
Thats how D&D 4th ed DMG 2 uses it which IMO is bad. any mechanic that only functions well by hiding information from PCs is a flawed mechanic.

Let's not go overboard and say they're all bad (and invite a bunch of largely irrelevant counter-examples), but I agree that the GM should give the information that the characters would have to make appropriate decisions. If I were executing Jason's hydra-tracking example, I probably wouldn't mention the DC (hiding the information) and just adjudicate appropriately, but I'd probably also narrate the overall obviousness of the tracks and let them know what costs their choice gave/avoided (time loss) since their characters would reasonably learn that. I'd probably call out that the trail seems obvious at first glance and likely to remain so if the players were mulling over whether or not they had the capability to even attempt it, or if they were asking questions about/investigating the footprints or trail in the first place. Sometimes I tell players stuff like DCs after the fact, so they can better learn how to play the game and make choices from the narrative information their characters receive, and if the players read the rules they can expect the DCs to line up accordingly, but at the worst they'll still learn what type of success/failure they got, which narrows the range of potential DCs considerably based on their rolls.

All of that is hugely different from deliberately misleading the players as to the reasonably likely potential outcomes of their choices. I don't really agree that Jason was misleading here, though. Since the PF1 mechanic for failure in the Follow Tracks use of Survival involved losing the tracks and having to roll again to find them after an hour of searching (for outdoor tracks), easy tracks generally would just represent a loss in time. Since that's been the case for a long time, my interpretation of Jason's description basically boiled down to "I'm cutting down on the pointless rolls to get to the consequences faster." It didn't strike me as concealing or misrepresenting pertinent information from players, because lost time has been the expected cost of bad survival rolls on tracking for 20ish years of D20 gaming, and with experienced players they probably assumed as much anyway. As printed in the playtest rules, a failure is losing the trail and can be tried again after a one hour delay. Tracking an easy target is and has long been fail-forward by the inherent design of the rules (whereas a difficult target may well evade tracking).

I think it's better to say that fail-forward works best when the players have a good idea what their characters would know and how their choices interact with the rules (for the way we both seem to play without meta-narrative mechanics). The players get to take ownership of their decisions and the consequences, without that pesky deus ex machina feeling when their failures or successes, and therefore their choices, are irrelevant.

Doomsday Dawn Adventure 7 spoiler:
And in the Doomsday Dawn adventure, my players spent about five minutes thinking of a question to ask the Ashen Man, and got told (as per the book's instruction) that they were destined to ask that question and that the answer was irrelevant.
I didn't like running that, and if I were one of the players, I wouldn't like hearing that.

However, for situations where the characters wouldn't know the likely outcomes, I'm all for letting them make choices with limited information. Sometimes you're going through a dungeon and you just have to pick the left door or the right door.

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Emphasis added:

PossibleCabbage wrote:

Verisimilitude is pretty subjective. One could argue that someone who will allow for unimpeded access to their locks and scalable walls for extended periods of time, simply relying on "they are hard to pick/climb" is someone who really hasn't thought through their security very well, and someone else should have robbed the place already.

Like an accessible lock that people don't check on with some frequency is fundamentally just security theater. I mean, some time antagonists just do ill-considered things, but if they aren't going to go to the level of "post patrols" then it's hardly a stretch to say they might not have managed to lock all the doors and might not have remembered to put their ladders away.'s how things work in the real world. Security is hard. It's asymmetric (attackers only need one exploitable route through, defenders have to cover many potential approaches), it's inherently inconvenient (if someone actually lives or works there, they're not going to to want to bypass 50 traps every time they come and go), and it's expensive (a PF1 permanent alarm has a 2500gp material component cost + any spellcasting required).

Security failures in game rarely break verisimilitude for me. It's usually the perfect or surprisingly comprehensive defenses that I have issues with, because they tend to require things that aren't level-appropriate or simply don't exist in the established rules.

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graystone wrote:
RicoTheBold wrote:
The rolls are infrequent enough that it didn't usually bother me too much; even if I wasn't feeling creative it wasn't too hard to come up with stuff.
There is a learning curve here: I saw a LOT of these rolls starting out as everyone can roll for these checks. Not knowing it was a bad idea, even those with low or no bonuses rolled to see if they happened to know anything, resulting in quite a lot of incorrect data, often more than correct data.

That's fair. For my baseline of annoying roll-mandated creativity, I was specifically thinking about the FFG Star Wars game, with their weird dice and advantage/threat results that required thinking up bonuses/complications on potentially every die roll, and in combat tended to get used for only a few generic things instead. That got tedious for me real fast, whereas PF2 Playtest knowledge rolls tended to come (sometimes a few rolls as a group) once per encounter/new phenomenon/whatever, and I had to come up with fake info even less than that.

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First World Bard wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:

Secret Rolls aren’t anything new; and like was said before, ignoring the rule doesn’t mean the dev’s are gonna bust in and force your roll to be secret; as amusing as that would be. I’m more surprised that a Secret Roll tag has become as controversial as it has. *shrugs*

As for the Knowledge check, it only does something on crit fail and success; there are skill feats in the PT that take away the crit fail part, which someone relying on knowledge checks regularly i imagine would want anyway so it’s not like the DM can screw you over with that.

There's also Dubious Knowledge, which seemed like a fun Skill Feat.

My players loved dubious knowledge, even though they were generally correct about which part of the info they got was fake when I made it up from whole cloth, partly because I usually didn't bother making secret rolls for them (although I would not tell them the DC). The player with the feat was also the one that most often actually took an action to recall knowledge in a battle. Mark Seifter came up with some great little planar traits when running the first encounter in the final Doomsday Dawn adventure on the Paizo Pathfinder/YouTube channels.

I can see how coming up with bogus/irrelevant information could get tedious for a lot of GMs, though. The rolls are infrequent enough that it didn't usually bother me too much; even if I wasn't feeling creative it wasn't too hard to come up with stuff. I'd often just make it related to something that was true in a way that seemed like a plausible thing to misremember: Swapping a non-obvious vulnerability for a resistance or a different element. Sometimes giving it as partial information, where it's really good or really bad. Or just flat out identifying it as the wrong creature or spell for less obvious ones. I've done enough troubleshooting and walking others through troubleshooting to get pretty good at seeing what mistakes a person might be seeing and why, so it's pretty easy to reverse that and give plausible bad info.

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Edit: Quick TLDR; my basic position is that John Lynch 106's definition is fine, but he's selectively ignoring it when it describes something that aligns with how he already does things because that's not how he got to the same result.

Quick semantic pedantry:
John Lynch 106 wrote:

The definition I could find is this


Failing forward is the idea that you still get to unlock the door on a failed roll, but it comes at a cost.

That isn’t how skill checks are described in the rules for the playtest core rules.

Okay, first of all, that definition literally only covers doors. If we're going to play the definition/semantics game, we should call that out (because that's what rules lawyers do). Really, though, the important takeaway is that it isn't how skill checks are described by the rules, and that's completely true.

Anyway, "Fail forward" was redefined later in the thread by John as:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Fail forward is when you allow the PCs to succeed with the same approach even though they failed to overcome the challenge with that approach. Often with a loss of resources or a minor obstacle that will take up table time but not meaningfully hinder their ability to reach the end goal.

This is the definition that we'll work with, because it's actually fine for my purposes. I disagree with John Lynch 106's interpretations of that definition, and I think that's where some of the disconnect is between some of the views here among the mechanically-oriented posters here. I'll try to avoid introducing any new examples to make my points.

For folks using other definitions of fail-forward, many depending on narrative meta-mechanics, I'm not really addressing these here, even later when I talk a little about designer intent. Suffice to say that I don't agree that fail-forward design requires these meta-mechanics or expansions of the definition beyond what John found/described.

John Lynch 106 wrote:
Ventnor wrote:
Also, not sure what the dwarf story added to the discussion. That solution can occur in any game, fail forward rules or no.
In a fail forward game this is what happens.

Player: I go up to the guard and ask him to let us through.

GM: Roll a Persuasion check.
Player: I get a 2.
GM: He lets you through even though despite you failing the skill check. Scratch off 50 gp.
No amount of clever thinking is necessary. Because regardless of whether or not the players succeed in their approach to overcome an obstacle, fail forward means they'll always get to the next stage....
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Ventnor wrote:

I will disagree and say that failing forward is good, because it means something interesting always happens when you roll dice. If the PCs roll low on a survival check to track an enemy down, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve lost them. But perhaps the tracker was so focused on finding the enemy’s trail that they missed the signs that a vicious owlbear calls this territory home.

And so on and so forth.

So the DC wasn't to "find and follow the tracks". The DC was to "look out for trouble while following this very clear and obvious path". It sounds like the GM just used the wrong table to determine the DC. It happens. GMs are only human after all. I've certainly stuffed up plenty of times and played with GMs who messed up. No-one holds it against the GM.

John, here's my problem with your interpretation of your own definition of fail forward. You keep busting out the No True Scotsman fallacy on the valid examples. Every time someone introduces a "failure at a cost" mechanic, if it's implemented in a way you like, you dismiss it as not being fail-forward, but instead just an incorrect labeling of the challenge/DC. If you don't like the implementation, you call it bad adventure design. It's all a matter of framing, and that has nothing to do with the mechanics except that people are sometimes framing things in ways you don't like.

For the tracking example, it is a literal example of a fail-forward mechanic. Maybe the DC could be better described as avoiding danger while following the trail, but that doesn't change what it is, which is a roll where no matter what happens, the PCs continue on the trail of their quarry while instead suffering tangential costs. I'm not super fond of this as a universal example either (I wouldn't personally use it as described for the "expert scout" that could and/or should be hard to track), but it's clearly fail-forward.

In your own example of the guards, I could take your previous argument and say that the DC was actually to convince the obviously corrupt guards to let you through without a bribe. The adventure could have printed: "One nearly fool-proof method to get through the wall is to bribe the guards, and a diplomacy check modifies the bribe cost, but the guards routinely take bribes (which can be learned from random townsfolk on a DC 15 gather information check, or the guards will suggest there is an 'expedite fee' to gain access) and therefore will always let the party through assuming they have sufficient gold." That's, by your definition, a fail-forward mechanic. It's literally your example. Is that inherently bad adventure design? What if there are other methods with different potential costs? What if a critical failure prevents the guards from taking the bribe because they think the PCs are working for their boss? What if a critical failure just means that those same guards report the PCs as suspicious which increases the challenge of a later encounter?

One more example:

John Lynch 106 wrote:

Player: I try to unlock the door.

GM: Give me a disable device check.
Player: I get a 3.
GM: You fail to unlock the door which was enchanted with a lightning bolt spell to trigger upon detecting a failed attempt to unlock the door. You take 28 electricity damage and are deafened for 3 rounds.
Player: I check the door for traps. This time I take my time and take 20.
GM: You discover the lightning bolt trap and see that the enchantment was a one time use.
Player: I try to unlock the door.
GM: It takes a while but you manage to successfully unlock it.

That isn't fail forward. That's "Once the consequences for failing are removed, I simply keep trying until I succeed." Unless there's a consequence for failing (e.g. the party has buffs that will expire) there's no need to force the player to keep generating random numbers until they generate the right one. You can just narrate it taking a while and then they succeed.

That's not a fail forward mechanic. That's the "take 20" mechanic from the PF1e CRB.

How is that not a fail-forward mechanic? "Fail forward is when you allow the PCs to succeed with the same approach even though they failed to overcome the challenge with that approach. Often with a loss of resources or a minor obstacle that will take up table time but not meaningfully hinder their ability to reach the end goal."

It's literally: You will be able to open the door, it might just cost some HP (with extra steps). Frankly, almost all traps are fail-forward mechanics by your definition.

And really, here's the thing (for John and others that viscerally hate fail-forward design). When game designers talk about failing forward, particularly with non-binary success mechanics, they largely are giving pretty generic advice about avoiding a basic failure in adventure design for people who aren't you and haven't already internalized the good methods without ever using the term for it. Multiple avenues for success with different costs and benefits are also good design (just because the guards will always take bribes doesn't mean you can't tunnel under the wall). Having one super reliable way to continue the adventure isn't inherently a bad thing. If you feel that it ruins creativity, the fix is straightforward: change the incentives. If the players bribe everyone, maybe the costs keep going up as the party gets a reputation as easy marks. Maybe you make it clear they can't afford key items later. Maybe the cost is actually their favorite weapon. Just because there is a cost for "guaranteed success" doesn't mean it has to be a small one.

I'm a simulationist as a GM, which seems awfully close to the absolutist people are chatting about. I think John Lynch 106 and probably DeadManWalking have the same or very similar tendencies here. I don't generally tweak DCs and try to run every mechanic as printed, because I want players to be rewarded for understanding how the rules and the game universe work and get that sense of satisfaction when they think of a cool idea that makes sense and it just works. I also like when actions, even those resulting in failure, have predictable consequences. I don't agree with the folks declaring that every roll has to have interesting outcomes, because some failures aren't supposed to be interesting (and if success is obviously impossible I'll generally tell the player not to roll or let them roll and immediately tell them it fails and they don't see a way to make that approach succeed). There are exceptions here, too, where the point of the roll is to keep information secret (player asks for a check to tell if someone is lying; I'll go ahead and roll and say the person seems sincere). I think player agency is important, and if it makes sense within the world, and doesn't obviously violate game mechanics or introduce balance issues, I'll allow just about anything but impose appropriate consequences. I don't like the weird "a convenient maid will be nearby, but only for the purposes of following a failed check" answers for failing forward either, unless that's just the daily routine and not being added literally as a railroady crutch. But either I or my players will come up with ways that make sense and don't violate the fabric of the world or the adventure, so it hasn't been much of an issue. This is, I suspect, where John Lynch 106 can be both a talented, enjoyable GM and also one who enforces DCs with an iron fist. I tend to not design lots of obstacle-bypass methods in great detail in advance, because I rely on the pre-existing DCs for the world to do much of that heavy lifting for me. The difference for me, as I think it is for John Lynch 106 here, is that the existence of a convenient window, or maid, or whatever it is that I suddenly ruled is there is because it makes sense for it to be there, and if I was asked in a different context I would also say it was there, I'm not deciding the thing is there because it's required to allow the players to proceed.

Lengthy aside/example from my own game:
Many many years ago, running a 3.5 campaign with an evil party, the entire campaign arc was a consequence of the PCs suddenly attacking an NPC succubus (who was genuinely on their side), who immediately teleported away, then caused shenanigans with shapeshifting and general faster travel methods. There were so many fail-forward mechanics in that campaign, although I wouldn't have described them as such at the time, since that wasn't a term I'd heard.

One time, the party fell in a hole (literally, just a big hole, I think formed with a few castings of move earth, or maybe a lyre of building), and lacked climbing equipment/skills (plus were wearing heavy armor) because they were wildly overconfident and careless. Climb DCs were as printed, and most of the party (if not all of them) couldn't make the checks, primarily due to significant armor penalties. The wizard ended up using several casts of teleport or dimension door or something to get out, which required an extra day's rest to reprepare spells. All the trap did was delay them at the cost of some spells, which was really just time. That time cost meant that the next town they went to was an elaborate ambush of suicide-bombing gnolls equipped with necklaces of fireball (long story), because the succubus had time to set that up (which was the point of the giant hole).
Failing forward: The party fails a check to notice a trap, fails whatever save, but essentially no matter what, they'll still be able to make it to their destination (eventually), at the cost of time and/or some other resource (which is probably renewable, so really just time). More time means better-prepared foes later.
Simulationist with player agency: The trap design itself is a reaction to player choices. It targeted a party weakness, from an enemy known to them, using an ability within the expected portfolio of that enemy. The players did not prepare for that weakness. The players still tried to get out in creative ways (wizard tried to turn into a winged humanoid first, but didn't have good enough maneuverability to fly straight up and there wasn't room to do so diagonally, so it didn't work). Foe preparedness will vary based on time spent. They were somewhere around 10th level, so any number of methods could have gotten them out.

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Arachnofiend wrote:
Some Kind of Chymist wrote:
So Iakhovas starts with two languages (Common and Osiriani) and an Int of 10 so I'm assuming that Humans start off with common + racial language like the other ancestries; with their languages too be choosen from being the typical Human languages (Skald; Hallit; Tien; Varisian; etc.). Does anyone know if this is right?
That's how it worked in the playtest, yeah. Humans get Common and their native tongue. Taldans confirmed for worst Humans because they get half as many languages.

In the playtest, humans could pick any language they had access to, so all the common non-human languages were still options for any humans if they wanted to skip their regional language or got extra languages. Taldans got just as many languages as anyone else, they just didn't get a regional language option to choose from.

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MaxAstro wrote:

So this blog, along with the other thread on monks, has made me realize that you can do a character in PF2e that you really can't do in PF1e.

Namely, a monk multiclassed as sorcerer with Necromancy and polymorph spells makes an excellent Shang Tsung.

Now I just need a feat to copy other people's stances. >:D

Monks look so multiclass friendly. Aberrant bloodline for 10 foot reach on unarmed looks fun. Occult spell list didn't have any fire spells in the playtest, though, so it feels like only halfway to building Dhalsim.

What's kind of neat about focus pools in the playtest is that you could multiclass into a different Stat, so your monk didn't have to have high wisdom if his bloodline power gave him a charisma-based pool. I'm interested to see how the final version shakes out for those kinds of things.

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Tectorman wrote:

So it's sounding like I'm going to have to play an equipment-unintensive character like a Monk or a Sorcerer and obsessively max out their Str score and carrying capacity just to have the logistical capacity to not be overburdened by the fundamental looting that the game is built on.

So. Will the GMG be doing anything to address this?

You don't need someone else's permission to houserule. And if you can't houserule, I don't think the GMG is likely to solve the problem for you. If you don't like encumbrance, it's mostly an easily ignored or modified system.

But...if you can'thhouse rule, a pack animal was 20 sp in the playtest, and as large animals a horse would treat 1 bulk items as light, and light items as negligible. A horse with some saddlebags can serve well until you get bags of holding.

As someone who spent a stupid amount of time adding a bulk-based inventory system to enforce plausible carry limits in a non-fantasy mission-based game, I can appreciate that preventing people from picking up every stupid item they find can add interesting depth. The players picked their loadout and had to weigh the pros and cons of every item, and because I included concealment rules, a player even managed to smuggle in a sidearm that was concealed under his backpack after an NPC rolled badly on a search.

For Pathfinder, it mostly ends up handwaved because it's not a key element of the adventure, but if you think of the limitations in bulk as limits in access speeds, there's interesting options to consider. How quickly can a character use a given item?

In hand > on person > in sack (or bag of holding) > on horse. Since sacks require two hands to retrieve an item (in the playtes), it's almost always slower or less convenient to retrieve an item from there. I wish other containers had more clear access rules; I feel like backpacks are usually pretty slow access, but whatever, it's not mentioned in the playtest rules.

That said, the container rules mostly don't have meaningful definitions in the playtest, so there's much less incentive to track this stuff. Go ahead and have 12 belt pouches and 15 sheaths, why not.

And besides, the real sneaky problem with the playtest bulk rules is coin weight. 1 bulk per 1000 coins is easy to overlook, and easy to overwhelm.

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Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
I don’t see an ‘Open’ trait on the Stances.

Not too surprising; they removed it from stances in the Playtest 1.6 updates so fighters and the like could take a stance and still do an Open action.

Playtest 1.6 update wrote:
Stance: A stance is a general combat strategy that you enter by using an action with the stance trait. After you take an action with the stance trait, you can’t take another one for 1 round. You can enter or be in a stance only in encounter mode. A stance lasts until you get knocked out, until its requirements (if any) are violated, or until you enter a new stance, whichever comes first.

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As a suggestion, it might be time to prune some old forum posts from some of the subscriptions' product discussion pages.

It's confusing to click on the link for the "new" Adventures subscription and see some posts about Gamemastery subscriptions, and monthly module release schedules...because they're all from 2007.

These really old discussions are confusing at best and actively misleading at worst.

(And obviously at some point the page for the subscription itself needs to be updated to change the names and whatnot, but I assume that's on the giant to-do list).

Also, it's pretty neat that Paizo doesn't regularly go through and remove old discussions, blog posts, and the like from the website. I hate it when I find links to articles or whatever on other websites and they literally go nowhere.

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Based on the announcement today about subscriptions and the Paizo Advantage, I'd rather just go ahead and keep Tyrants Grasp #6 on the order. No action needed anymore, thanks.

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Squiggit wrote:
Though 4e also turned Fort/Ref/Will into defensive stats rather than saving throws.

What's the difference? Is it just the person rolling vs. setting the DC?

Note that offensive skill uses (grappling, demoralize, etc.) now target those saves as DCs.

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Michael Sayre wrote:
To an extent it's like creating your own archetype for the monk every time you make a new character; I have a goblin monk for PF2 all prepped that quite literally bounces around the battlefield like Speedball and can make flaming snot-rocket unarmed strikes as his ranged option (you may have to wait until September to see exactly how.)

How is no one talking about this? Flaming snot-rocket unarmed strikes confirmed! That's possibly the best spoiler I've seen all week.

So...kind of dumb, but I think it'd be cool to build a Ryu (Street Fighter) monk, rolling out with abilities reflavored to fireballs, hurricane kicks (flurry?) and dragon punches. Since you've previously mentioned a playtest monk built like E. Honda, we obviously can't rest until we've got the whole original 8 world warriors (well, 7 + Ken's a freebie if you get Ryu).

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Themetricsystem wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Wait, min-maxing isn’t considered fun? O.O

In my experience, min-max PCs are only fun for the table as a whole if the WHOLE table is participating in it, and to a certain degree, it also depends on how effective each PC end up being in relation to one another.

I've never in my entire life seen a table benefit substantially from some characters just being objectively worse at completing encounters over others.

So... unless you've got a whole table that is interested in it and wants to chase the dragon, then in my opinion and experience... no, it's not fun for anyone but the person doing the min-max.

My view (informed somewhat from other asymmetrically balanced games like fighting games) is that the goal of the system should be to narrow the range of viable choices so that the top-tier options are not overwhelmingly better than the bottom-tier options.

When that happens, min-maxers can optimize to their heart's contents, and bad choices won't break the game. There will be a power difference, but it essentially is a reward for system mastery.

Since that's very difficult to achieve, and certainly the collected decade of PF1 material did not, it is absolutely important to make sure min-maxers don't outshine everyone else at the table. Still, please don't define "fun" and "making mechanically optimal choices" as mutually exclusive.

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Desna's Avatar wrote:
no good scallywag wrote:
RicoTheBold wrote:
Agreed 100%. None of my players give a hoot about weapon quality. There's only normal weapons and magic ones. Simple.
My players over the ages have been exactly the opposite.

For PF1, my players cared about masterwork weapons across a few narrow windows: when they don't yet have one, when they haven't yet enchanted it, and when it sells for an extra 150 gold and that's still a relevant amount of money.

I've tended to run a "magic items are (eventually) available if you want to buy them or craft them, because that's how economies work and the magic item economy is the main economy players engage with."

Similarly, because the non-magical item crafting time rules were so brutal, no one ever made their own weapons or armor.

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pixierose wrote:

Hmmm what re the thoughts of Class Paths being Blaster, Kinetic Blade, and a more utility rocused path.

in this case, just like the druid you could pick stuff from other paths but youll get extra umph from picking the ones associated with your path.

it may also be a two path thing so you pick element and then how the manifestation of the elemental control works.

One of the good things about the kineticist design is that utility options don't compete directly with combat ability.

A kineticist path seems like it would either be the primary element or the primary blast type, and the element makes more sense to me.

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WatersLethe wrote:
RicoTheBold wrote:
There was a weird D20-based system that never quite got finished called Legend that took that approach, using those exact attributes for the saves. It did similar things with class abilities.
I thought you were going to say 4E for a second there. They did have the same dual stat to fort, ref, will thing as well.

Lol, shows what I know. I've tried to be aware of kind of the broad strokes of what 4E and 5E so that I can respond meaningfully to system design discussions through the playtest, but I never actually played 4E.

I bounced off the 4E class structure changes pretty hard, and ended up going 3.5 -> Pathfinder and never really looking back for fantasy games. Over the last decade, as my professional life and friends' lives got busier, my view as a GM on some of those design choices is a little different, but I've mostly tried to look at systems with wildly different design philosophies to broaden my perspective, so I still have huge D&D 4+5 ignorance.

Back on the Cha ability train of thought:
One other fun combat thing that the playtest Charisma had going for it was the Demoralize action, especially pumped with a few skill feats. Even without taking it all the way to the Scare to Death feat, that whole set of skill feats was super cool, and my playtest group had a paladin who liked to stare things down. If monster saves are relatively lower compared to the playtest (as has been mentioned I think), then it should be even more effective.

Also, my group didn't really leverage it, but don't sleep on the Feint action either. For an action you can have a decent chance at making an enemy flat-footed; unfortunately it's melee only. Even for fancy rogues with loads of class feats to make enemies flat-footed, Feint as an alternative can free up those slots for something else.

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Gloom wrote:

Some of the suggestions that were mentioned here were:

1. Adding bonus Hero Points.
2. Adding bonuses to Magic Items.
3. Allowing a substitution of Wisdom for Will Saves.

The first two of those are non-starters IMO since it would basically be saying that Bards and Sorcerers should have an advantage over other casters without any sacrifice.

While I had an entire post saying essentially that you should ask yourself if that kind of free advantage was a problem, to counter myself somewhat it's also worth looking at that same perspective from other classes.

Str melee classes tend to be better at carrying things. Wizards get lots of skills, and there's no requirement for them to be taken as knowledge skills, so they can be better at social/physical. And so on.

Obviously those bonuses are already "costed in" to the class abilities, whereas a houserule wouldn't be. I'm just saying that it's not inherently bad for them to get an advantage, it just needs to be considered.

If saves were changed then I wouldn't really want it to be related to buffing up Charisma. It should be something more along the lines of the following.

Gloom wrote:

Fortitude uses the higher of Strength or Constitution.

Reflex uses the higher of Intelligence or Dexterity.
Will uses the higher of Wisdom or Charisma.

There was a weird D20-based system that never quite got finished called Legend that took that approach, using those exact attributes for the saves. It did similar things with class abilities. I think for PF2, it would devalue Dex a bit (which is likely fine) and Con a lot (which is maybe problematic).

You could also mix it up a bit and then add some other benefit, like making your hero point bonus the better of Con and Cha (although I'd probably make it a bonus to rerolls and/or dying checks, not the number of points received).

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Hey, good Paizo customer service folks. Like a lot of people, I was unable to convince the shopping cart that I wanted to start my adventure path subscription with Age of Ashes 1 and not Tyrant's Grasp 6.

Please do your magic and remove the Tyrant's Grasp AP from my upcoming shipment. Thanks!

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I think a lot of these are super cool ideas. The Cha bonus to hero point rerolls thing seems kind of up my alley, but there's one big issue I have with most of these:

Some classes don't consider Charisma a secondary stat.

For each thing that you're considering adding Cha bonus to, ask yourself a question or two. (This is kind of the inverse of what Porridge is suggesting.)

Should all sorcerers get a bonus of +4 to +7 on this thing just because? Is this more powerful than what you would take as a level 1 class feat for any given class?

- Flat check to overcharge magic wands? Okay, maybe. It's powerful, but kind of niche, and at least somewhat thematic.
- Bonus to to dying check through force of personality? Ehh....
- Extra hero points? Ehhh.....
- Higher hero point max? Probably okay, but not thematic or anything.
- Social skills? not much else makes sense for these skills...
- Some save throws? Well, it's not more powerful than a Wis-based spellcaster, so that's at least a precedent.

This is ultimately why I've never felt super compelled to houserule charisma, and just make an effort to actually make people roll their social skills.

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Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
So we could change the whole +1 per level to +0 per level, and then the game would basically be a range of +0 to +8 on an ability-by-ability basis. I wish I would have more clearly grok'd that during the playtest, but at the time proficiency didn't range up to +8. I guess its too late for that now for PF2, but maybe PF3.

Good news! PF2 is actually way better than PF1 to houserule away level to rolls, if that's the kind of math you want, since you don't have to compensate for fractional bonuses.

DeadManWalking casually wrote out in a few playtest posts some fairly extensive breakdowns on what would need to be tweaked for the playtest rules, and I imagine people will write more formal guidelines on how to do so with the final rules.

They're also the kind of thing that might even be in the forthcoming gamemastery guide, which is supposed to include some advice on leveraging the better modularity of the system to fit personal preferences.

It's definitely a different style of game, but it's actually feasible to make that adjustment without having to rewrite every single level for every single class, plus a bunch of myriad other spells, equipment, etc.

Edit: Also, it would probably more like a proficiency modifier range of -1 to +15, when ability scores are factored in.

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thaX wrote:

To me, having to have everyone deal Non-Lethal and the mage to hold up on his spells is... lacking.

Have to wait to see if there is any other way to knock out a combatant other than the hamstrung Non-Lethal damage, as it is almost to the point of being Non-Existent.

In the playtest, there were a few nonlethal spells, but more broadly there are plenty of buff/debuff/disabling spells that spellcasters can use to massively contribute to the battle. If the party strategy is to capture without kills, they're not going to have a hard time. Plus, healers can cast stabilize, and as mentioned, lethal damage is much less likely to instakill someone (who hasn't been wounded, etc.) anyway if the GM actually uses the death and dying rules for the target.

I think players will, by and large, have a much easier time subduing foes without killing them than they did in PF1 (without depending on pure save-or-disabled spells).

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Cyouni wrote:
Another note: in 1E, any extra nonlethal damage past their max HP in nonlethal becomes lethal. Hope you didn't crit on that 1st level peasant you were only trying to knock out!

Yup, I just missed that one when I skimmed the rules, and it's another thing I just straight-up would not remember to apply after years and years of running PF1. And apparently, it doesn't apply to things with regeneration, for yet another edge case.

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Quandary wrote:

I think he Improv'd the whole Dire Flamingo thing off an audience member's tattoo which makes it even better.

And that is also why I have no time for anybody who can't stand Critical Failures on Knowledge Checks :-)

He claimed to not have noticed the tattoo before making them up, but it may have been a subconscious observation.

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
thaX wrote:
I was hoping they put a bit more thought into it other than making Non-Lethal near impossible to use.
"Use nonlethal damage once they're pretty beat up so you knock them out instead of killing them" seems pretty usable, and has more basis in popular consciousness than the previous system.

I mean, it seems super easy to use to me. Pull your punches toward the end to not kill a dude. There's risk in not pulling your punches, and different classes will struggle to do it at all (is there a non-lethal fireball?). If you want to be super safe, you can always do non-lethal. In the final version of the playtest, that's just a -2 penalty for weapon attacks.

You don't have to remember substantial alternate rules for: nonlethal healing/recovery, weird nonlethal edge cases for immunity (like whips that don't do damage against armor/natural armor, which after a decade of PF1 and another of 3.x, I had to double check was just a whip thing and not innate to nonlethal damage). I think, in the playtest, only constructs and objects are just flat-out immune to nonlethal damage (so evil necromancer taskmasters can go ahead and whip that zombie when it isn't working fast enough). You don't have to remember that healing heals equal amounts of lethal and nonlethal damage, which I did not remember was a thing at all until I just looked it up. You don't have to add damage + nonlethal damage and compare them against max HP just to tell if something should be unconscious.

It's a lot easier to use in metagame ways, with less to look up and faster adjudication, which for something that didn't always come up very often is very important. It's harder for a team to have one person soften a target up with nonlethal and have everyone else continue dealing lethal until the target dropped...but with the new death and dying rules, it's much less likely that the target gets instantly killed from a hit anyway.

In other words, I think it's definitely usable, and a substantial improvement.

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Zi Mishkal wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:

If you want t represent decay and moving onto new things you could use the in built Retraining rules to shift your Expert skill from American History to Geology, representing a harder shift of focus, and thus downgrading your American History from Expert to Trained.

This actually sounds encouraging. I'm not 100% in agreement with your interpretation, but I'm at like 98% :D which rounds up ;).

I'm still very much on the fence about 2e. I want to like it very much, but I'm still not sold on it. Whether to re-up on this is going to take up a lot of my free thought in July. Between the rules and deciding if I want to keep up with the wizkids minis.

This is definitely one of those things that exists for game balance as a side effect of level-based systems having DC scaling in the background as a matter of necessity. I think they found a good fit between game balance and verisimilitude here, especially with the other additions like the Follow the Expert exploration tactic.

For you, I would more suggest that you look at knowledge-based skill ranks as only the things that your character is committed to continue learning, and the different proficiencies as a demonstration of the payoff of that investment. With the final version, untrained only takes your innate stats, so you won't get better with level (which was not a universally popular decision, but it sounds like will work well with your view).

TLDR Look at it as: Skills and abilities are either something you commit to improving as you level, or they stay untrained.

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Gawain Themitya wrote:

The thing I tried (badly) to focus on was how the system is ingrained at the rules level: how spellcasting works in 5E is, in itself, universal, with the same rules for every one and how in my experience the simplicity of the system seems to be, again in my personal opinion, one of the best version of the Vancian spellcasting for every class in 5E - as I write this, I'm aware I don't know how spellcasting really is in PF2 and even I can't know if the new spellcasting will be a better experience for me and/or my group, but again, I created this thread to speculate and gain information, so having people with different opinions are most certainly welcomed.

When we look at what we know about PF2, my major concern how expressed in other posts is how rules for spontaneous casters seems different for various design reasons, that surely cover things like "analysis paralysis" and balance, and the things that I keep can't grasp is how, in the scales of PF2's developing, this points generated more weight then others - and all of this I find as the source of my most aggressive answers, a mix of what we know and don't know, of what will, could and won't be in the final version of the game.

I'm going to take the liberty of rephrasing these points real quickly to summarize my understanding:

- The 5e spellcasting rules are universal for "everyone" (presumably all classes
- You consider those rules simple to understand
- You really like that implementation
- You're concerned that the different rules built around heightening spontaneous casters in PF2 are a patch that solves a problem of confusing rules and too many options that you think are, perhaps, better solved by 5E-style casting

These seem like pretty valid opinions to have, and certainly there are plenty of others who have shared similar opinions during the playtest.

That said, there are those of us that don't want all spellcasters to work the same. I think one of Pathfinder's strengths is the willingness to take a ton of different approaches to problems and playstyles. Off the top of my head, PF1 had classes built around spontaneous spells, prepared spells with learned lists (wizard), prepared spells without learned lists (cleric), spontaneous conversion of prepared spells (cleric), prepared spell options from learned lists with spontaneous casting from those options (arcanist, which I understand to be like 5e casting), hexes (witch), spell-like abilities (kineticist blasts), pool-based casting (monk), prepared spells from learned lists as items (alchemist)...

And I'm not even including the flavor pieces. There's definitely some risk that the complexity doesn't offer value and should instead be consolidated (supernatural abilities, spell-like abilities, half a dozen different pools...basically all now just focus spells). It's tricky to find the balance, but the prepared vs. spontaneous dichotomy + additional nuances has been around for a long time, and appeal to different players in different ways. I'm glad the different casting options exist, and that the space is there to continue adding other casting styles (like Arcanist, which I've never actually used or had a player use) back in.

What I do like is that generally players not diving into full casters really only need to know how focus points work, and full casters really only need to know how their individual class casting works. It's too early for me to really make a call on how confusing the rules on heightening are for various casting types. I know that there have been a number of times when new classes came out that I had to read through them several times to even kind of understand what was happening there (like kineticists).

I don't think "if you want simple, go play 5e" is a necessary answer, but there's definitely a different design philosophy at play. I feel comfortable recommending a PF2 sorcerer to a new player without worrying about whether or not they can wrap their heads around spontaneous heightening options, because a lot of the turn-to-turn decision making seems to be adequately simplified while not feeling overly restrictive, monotonous, or out of balance...but time will tell.

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tqomins wrote:
Malckuss76 wrote:
It appears to have gone up about an hour ago, but I was sitting here spamming F5 every ten minutes and only just now saw it pop up, so I think there might have been a technical glitch.
I've also noticed that the timestamps on the blog posts are ... unreliable at best. They seem to shift around wildly even for the same post. And I haven't seen a twitter notification for the paizo account or the paizo folks I follow and have notifications set for. So who even knows when it went up or was supposed to have gone up.

I actually had it up, read it, clicked on the blogs link again to see if there was a discussion started on the blog yet, and didn't get it. Hit refresh and it reappeared.

Probably some propagation delays on the server side.

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Michael Sayre wrote:
I mean, cantrips are still pretty solid, especially when you have an impressive selection of them. 5th level pregen Ezren (debuting at GenCon) currently has a significant array of cantrips available that cover a wide array of needs. So as long as you aren't blasting through a slotted spell every round of every combat you're probably going to have a pretty solid amount of adventuring stamina and a method of triggering a lot of different weaknesses.

Especially on enemies with weaknesses and with chances for persistent damage. During the playtest, at the end of the 4th adventure, one of the major final encounter enemies had a fire weakness and the goblin sorcerer (with the fire damage bonus ancestry option) got a critical hit with Produce Flame and that ended up doing like 80 total damage across 3 turns, and ate up some actions as the enemy tried (unsuccessfully) to put the fire out, for just 5th-level cantrip.

But my players always tend to hold some stuff in reserve for curveballs, though, and are distrustful of any indication that it's safe to go nova.

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
A lot of people really dislike 4E. Drawing parallels is thus more likely to harm sales of PF2 than help them, and I advise against doing it too much in public spaces if you want the game to succeed (as I certainly do).

The other part of this is that in this self-selected community of Pathfinder fans, that proportion is higher. I certainly can be counted among the people who moved from 3.5 to Pathfinder at least in part because 4E didn't line up with what I was looking for. Edit: Ninja'd by Insight on the self-selection observation.

A decade on, I suspect there were things 4E did well that I would have a different opinion on now, but looking at the core ruleset seemed (and still seems) more like a collection of MMO characters with clickable powers operating on different cooldowns, which is definitely an issue in tone for a lot of tables.

Fighter abilities having the exact same mechanic (dailies, encounters, at-will) as spells just felt...wrong, and IMO still does. Why can't he swing his sword the same way a second time in a fight? He's a fighter. Why did you have to give up some of the ones you had selected as you leveled due to a cap on how many you could have?

Fair or not, it gives the impression of the classes feeling the same, because the powers chassis drove so much of the class design. On the surface, you could make the same criticism about PF2 class feats, but the key difference seems to be that the cadence of choices are the chassis, not the form of the choices. The class feats can unlock abilities that aren't even close to the limitations of the kind of pre-defined boxes as core 4E powers.

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j b 200 wrote:
It's also something you would only do at 1st level, since there are lots of free stat boosts at you level up. Adding in the fact that you can go from 16 to 18, but only 18 to 19, it really only benefits you at low level.

Technically, it also benefits between levels 10-14 and again level 20 (assuming you continue taking boosts in that stat at every opportunity).

Another kind of interesting option I haven't seen anyone mention is "dumping" your ancestry-boosted stat by from 12 to 8, then getting one of the level 14 stat boost items to bring it up from 8 to 18.

As a testament to PF2's constrained stat ranges, that in no way seems unbalanced or exploitative, since you're basically trading out the last +2 you'd otherwise likely choose to take in the maximized ability score anyway, but it would result in a slightly better stat array (than not dumping and using the ability score item on your primary stat).

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graystone wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Just give them the ability to channel a different spirit temporarily when the garden party turns violent.

That's a tough balancing act to allow it on the fly like that. It's one thing if you have to get on in the morning and say 'We're going into the caverns today so I have to "put on a combat suite"' or even ''I'll meditate for an hour to swap' but to have it work at a whim, it'd need a pretty limited duration and/or effect to not outshine those that actually specialize in that field.

EDIT: I wonder if it can work like a barbarian's rage? 1 min on then you can't channel for a min.

I'd look to the PF1 vigilante for inspiration on switching suddenly from a social to a combat toolset.

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Desna's Avatar wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
I had the same thought. The idea of a +3 coffee cup intrigues me.
Me too. Maybe it'll make coffee not taste so rubbish...
Somebody's been drinking the wrong coffee.

I'm sipping from a cup of coffee that would be fine normally, but I mixed in my creatine supplement, which adds a fair bit of bitterness to it. It's definitely got a -1 penalty to flavor.

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Lunatic Barghest wrote:
An Oracle could follow this formula, with curses filling in for compositions, and it would probably have more overlap mechanically with Bard than a Divine Sorcerer. And that's with the bare minimum of design work.

I think Muse=Mystery (≈Bloodline) and Composition=Revelation (≈Bloodline power) is a more faithful comparison...but maybe that's too simple. Maybe it's Muse=Path=Curse and Deity+Domain=Mystery. (Edit: Ninja'd by PossibleCabbage, who points out the Thesis/Arcane School comparison.)

I think the broad variety of Mysteries and their accompanying Revelations and bonus spells really drive the need for Oracles to be a separate class. They have as much variety as a Sorcerer bloodline, and can make some meaningfully different-feeling divine spellcasters. Turning every single one of those into a separate sub-bloodline that casts from the Divine list feels super-cumbersome. The same argument applies for replacing every deity and domain with Mysteries.

I agree with the folks pointing toward curse as one of the (many) things that an Oracle had that just doesn't line up with how sorcerers are structured. But in PF1, it isn't tied to most of the abilities you get; it was just a limitation with a predefined progression of some related/compensating abilities...but it added some cool flavor if used well. Notably, it did not define your selection of Mysteries (I think there might be some exceptions in later published material with archetypes and the like).

I'm curious if people think that the separation between Curse and Mystery needs to be maintained.

And lastly, I'm really hoping the buffs Sorcerers got in the final PF2 rules are solid, because I feel like if I had to pick between an occult sorcerer and a bard, I'll take bard every time. If the same situation shows up for dedicated divine and primal spontaneous caster classes, that just sort of drags down the Sorcerer over the life of PF2.

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graystone wrote:
RicoTheBold wrote:
Which would be totally fair. How can you be a legendary craftsman without also being level 15, right? That's like being on the Jedi Council without being granted the rank of Master.
I wasn't thinking of NPC's. You can handwave them much more easily: you don't have to explain how they learned a ritual as you aren't doing a complete minute by minute breakdown of them: this is especially true if they aren't built like a PC as they don't have true classes, skills and such. I was thinking of the PC that, in full view of the other characters, one day picks up ritual casting while fixing someone's breastplate... Does a woodworker learn how to make wands while making arrows? They seem to be able to figure out magic staves by doing so.

That's a helpful clarification. While I don't agree with you on where the system has a disconnect the flavor of the rules, I genuinely do have a similar issue with low-level NPCs doing stuff out of reach of high level player characters. I made a dumb Star Wars meme joke, but that's a disconnect that just exists with level-based systems, and I take the bad with the good there.

As part of that, I've also sort of accepted the weirdness of the magic-item driven economy for 20 years of 3.x and PF. It is much harder for met to deal with a legendary sword that costs 6500 gold but is worse in every way than potential when compared with a 2000 gold +3 sword...that could still be made legendary later for some reason, but it wouldn't be worth doing until after making it a +4 sword, unless you really just wanted one more property rune...etc.

I'm perfectly happy to tell people that a +1 gives them that much to hit. I think it's the same way in D&D 5E (I don't play it), which is not important but is a nice little bonus. Whether weapons with such metagame names as +1 weapons should be a thing is a perfectly valid question, but like the six stats, they're just a holdover of the system that has a lot of inertia, and there's no harm in renaming them in house games, or even re-flavoring them to be non-magical in nature (including adding mechanical changes like using craft for identification rolls instead of a magical tradition).

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thflame wrote:

I made a graph where the columns were the attributes and the rows were the steps. I marked each cell that had a fixed boost, then I marked the restricted optional boost, then I had a number of "free" boosts per row to move around.

I wrote the approximate stats I wanted at the bottom (in the number of boosts I needed to get there) and I had to move around my optional boosts until I got what I wanted.

I totally get how this feels like what you have to do, but I think it's one of those systems that you can get more of an intuitive feel for with a little practice, and the really important part is to make that choice of knowing what start or two you're prioritizing if you have a real key concept.

I do think your thought of starting with the target number is probably helpful for iterating these quickly, and I basically decided it was easier if I took an out-of-order approach to stat building to avoid that kind of number fiddling.

My mini-guide to helping someone pick their Ability Scores the first time:
The secret is that it's backwards. It's CBA.

1 - Your class is going to boost typically one stat or an option that's probably got an obvious choice for your concept, just take whatever it is here. It's also usually the first thing I pick for a character concept, so I'm going to list it first.

Then it comes down to how many attributes you're trying to get up near the top; it's super easy to do the rest if there's only one you're trying to maximize (you can pretty much choose anything you want except an ancestry with a flaw...except now, where you can do that). With two ability scores you care about it got more complicated because you needed your background to give you at least one of those two, and you had to either have your ancestry give both abilities you cared about or put your boost there.

2 - So typically, I'd just look at the backgrounds that boosted at least one of the scores I cared about and matched the theme I was going for or had a cool skill feat, and take that.

3 - I found by the time I got to the third most important attribute, the only pertinent decision was ancestry, and there was probably something else I cared about more on the ancestry feats than getting a perfect array. Here you either wipe out the flaw, or double down on adding the bonus where you need it, or whatever.

4 - The full set of free boosts - put in your top 2 attributes you've been boosting along, then pick two more. Done. If you maxed your class attribute at each step, it's guaranteed to be 18. If you targeted two, you probably have 18 and 16, unless your ancestry mucked it up, in which case you'd know why. Every step you didn't max your class attribute, you knew it wouldn't hit 18 by that many; if it was your ancestral flaw you'd end up with 2x 16s.

But...that's completely out of order from the way it was introduced. 100% the first time I tried to build one in order I ended up with some weird numbers and while I didn't draw a graph per se, I made some small marks that tracked where my free bonuses were and when, so it was functionally the same thing. Once I re-prioritized what order the decisions were made, though, it's been a non-issue. I think with the optional extra ancestry flaws, it makes even more sense to do attributes in this order, and I've found that when I walk people through it this way they just don't feel like they have to go back and redo the decisions.

Another issue with the way the ability scores get boosted is that it gets a little funky when you're at high levels and have to move boosts around to make sure you don't end up having to take a boost that leaves an attribute at an odd number at 20.

The overall system is not perfect, and it can feel confusing, but I like the underlying ideas more than point buy, which often left me with a similar leftover single point taking a stat to 13 that I knew would never hit an even number. I've built a few characters in the Pathfinder Kingmaker computer game recently, and going back to point buy felt awful even with a computer doing the math for me.

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Squiggit wrote:
graystone wrote:
But something everyone everywhere learns once they hit some arbitrary 'hit metal with hammer' counter, not so much. "Don't worry guys, just 200 more strikes and I'll be able to make +1 weapons!" sounds lame to me. Now if you have to go out of your way to do something special [training, drinking some sacred dwarven stout, borrow the original smith union handbook, buy exotic materials and experiment] and spend some resources [feat, buy ritual, ect] it makes some sense to me. Spontaneous spiritual enlightenment for every smith that does nothing but the normal smithing day in and out, no. Heck, even the god of smithing personally handing out rituals to smiths makes more sense to me. :P
It sounds like now you're basically just arguing against the concept of XP and leveling up entirely more than specifically about item crafting.

Which would be totally fair. How can you be a legendary craftsman without also being level 15, right? That's like being on the Jedi Council without being granted the rank of Master.

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graystone wrote:
Now if it was a feat/ritual someone had to go out an learn, I wouldn't like it but I could understand it. But something everyone everywhere learns once they hit some arbitrary 'hit metal with hammer' counter, not so much. "Don't worry guys, just 200 more strikes and I'll be able to make +1 weapons!" sounds lame to me.

I mean, that's basically not meaningfully different from the "katanas made from steel folded 1000 times" trope that exists.

Or for a completely different direction, it's like the old plumber/electrician/whatever joke about paying for the 20 years of experience in knowing where to hit the hammer.

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I just helped four players get equipment for level 17 characters for the final playtest adventure (slowly but surely, we'll finish before August 1st...and that's with skipping adventures 5&6...).

I think the expert/master/legendary items on top of the +1/+2 runes was confusing and added a great deal of complexity to selecting equipment for very little depth.

I had to look up the maximum number and value of runes for each level of quality almost every time, and even now I'm only like 95% sure on if a +4 or a +5 potency rune can go on a master-quality weapon, and I looked at those rules last night. The costs scaled to arbitrary values, and most of the treasure tables didn't address them in any way, and when they did it often felt incredibly arbitrary. Who would get a legendary weapon and only make it a +1? Why would you even get a legendary weapon until you were ready for a +5 rune, since a +4 rune had a higher to-hit bonus anyway? It was just a weird extra cost to account for that didn't add anything but flavor.

I'm also the kind of person that has had the D&D 3.x weapon/shield cost formula in my head since I was like 15, so I'll learn and do the math, it's just got to be something that can be remembered.

So I'm all for simplifying them.

And, while I liked that +x weapons did both + to hit and + to damage dice, I'm okay keeping them separate, and it makes more sense to have the +x be to hit. From a flavor perspective, I don't care if the +1 is from magic or just a better weapon, and that's the easiest thing in the world to houserule.

I just don't get how people think it makes characters more reliant on magic items than the previous version. It doesn't alter the fiction in my view, because a +1 sword has been better than objectively better than a masterwork sword for 20ish years of 3.x and Pathfinder, even if only by a half step, and that half step of just getting +1 to damage over the masterwork version always felt kind of lame for the 1700 difference in gold cost. And 2000 gold was trivial at medium to high levels, plus there were a ton of damage resistances that essentially required magic weapons, and the math rapidly fell apart for martial characters without magic items...

So even if I wanted a low-magic campaign, it looks like PF2 makes it easier to achieve than PF1. I just don't understand anyone's complaints (except flavor) on this, and "having" to reflavor things but being able to still seems worlds better to me.

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Cellowyn wrote:

Thanks everyone for the information. The Titan Mauler Barbarian seems to be a little bit skewed. I do understand the F=ma argument, but this is a fantasy game. My son built a Gnome barbarian Titan Mauler that uses large weapons. We are struggling a bit to figure out how to adjust his damage in two cases:

1. Normal form when he’s Small and swinging a large sword (I’m struggling with this anyway, but rules are rules)
2. Gnome large form (he took that ability), so when he goes from Small to large, the sword becomes Huge. Would he roll extra dice in this case like a Giant would?
Just trying to work my way thru this when there are no rules outlined. I can manage, but I thought I’d check with the Hive Mind.

As a reminder, those are just the playtest rules, but the answer is just what it says in the abilities for using large weapons (cutting out some irrelevant/flavor stuff):

Playtest: Titan Mauler wrote:
You can use a weapon built for a Large creature if you are Small or Medium (both normally and when raging). When you are wielding such a weapon in combat, double your conditional bonus to damage rolls from raging, but you have the sluggish 1 condition because of the weapon’s unwieldy size. You can’t remove this sluggish condition or ignore its penalties by any means while you’re wielding the weapon.
Playtest: Giant's Stature wrote:

You become Large and increase your reach by 5 feet until you stop raging. You have the sluggish 1 condition while your size is increased. Your equipment grows with you. If you’re using the titan

mauler ability, your weapon’s even larger size causes it to have
the same effects as normal for that ability.

So for 1: Without raging, the larger weapon adds sluggish 1 (a penalty), and nothing else. If the gnome is raging, the rage damage bonus is doubled.

For 2: While raging and using Giant's Stature: Sluggish 1 (they don't stack), double rage damage bonus, large size (for space/other rules that interact with size), and +5 reach.

That's it. There are no inherent size change penalties or bonuses. If you think the entire set is underwhelming, feel free to find the threads in the playtest forum that largely agreed with you.

Barbarian rage works differently in the final rules, and I don't believe any particularly relevant details on the replacement for this totem (they're going to be called "instincts") has been spoiled.

Edit: Ninja'd.

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vale_73 wrote:
I know, you can spend an action to raise your shield, but what if you're not proficient with shields? What if you're a mage unwillingly caught in a melee combat, and you're just trying to avoid being hit?

I'm surprised no one mentioned the Shield cantrip from the playtest. One action for one AC, and the option to potentially Shield Block once.

Between that and the many other good and interesting options people have mentioned, it's not hard for any character to have an option to increase AC at some kind of action cost. I'm a big fan of recommending the character move away and/or take cover, because dynamic battlefields are more interesting and it's an appropriate suggestion for someone who wants to be out of melee range.

I would strongly discourage trying to add more options for increasing defense without any barrier to entry. Even +1 or +2 AC is very powerful in the new, tighter math (as NielsenE has also mentioned), and it would completely invalidate a lot of existing abilities or equipment that already have some opportunity cost in choosing them.

Taking your idea of fight defensively giving -4 to attack and +2 bonus to AC, here are some other challenges with trying to balance an action like that:

  • Has to be your first action, basically, or the penalty doesn't really affect anything
  • Competes thematically with stances and the like in existing classes unless you stack or increase bonuses
  • Spellcasters casting spells that won't use an attack roll effectively ignore the penalty

You could make it a multi-action activity that includes a strike, to solve a few of those, but it still competes with other class features, and you start getting into weird questions like interactions with ranged weapons.

I could maybe be talked into a 2 or 3-action activity where all you did was try to defend yourself, but even that gets messy with things like Haste potentially giving an extra action for a not.

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Tunu40 wrote:

Occult just means mysterious, magical, mystical.

Common usage tend to also mean hidden or secret version. Studying the occult usually means someone who studies obscure (and usually frowned upon, unconventional knowledge of magical nature). Lot of modern things can be ouiji boards or holding seances.

In Pathfinder, occult magic is the mysterious hidden magic that is unknown. Magic in PF is either provided by the gods (divine), nature (primal), or traditional studies of magic (arcane). Occult is the in-between.

This is a good summary for someone who hasn't or won't read a bunch of blog and forum posts about essences that weren't spelled out anywhere in the Playtest rules.

For the original question, one thing that helped me kind of mentally frame the language was realizing that apart from all the extra connotations they've picked up (especially from gaming), as generic words, arcane and occult are largely synonyms. They both refer to the unknown, where arcane slightly focuses on "mostly unknown because it's hard to know and only a few have managed it" and occult more on "mostly unknown because someone is hiding it."

I think (adding back in all the linguistic history of arcane spellcasting in a gaming context and occult's more witchy/magic/culty/Lovecraftian connotations), that simple difference helps put the two spellcasting traditions on comparable footing with a good flavor difference.

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