I don't think there's a right time of day to bring this up, so, sorry, designers.
I've been ruminating a lot about this subject, and my experience with the Playtest has made me more and more certain about the fact that 20 levels is not the best fit for PF2's system, and something more compressed like 10 levels would be best.
The reasons why I believe so are three-pronged:
1. Exciting action system... that you don't get to play with
The first moment when I realized that the progression was borked was during character creation for my Playtest run.
I could tell that what they wanted was to interact with the system in more ways.
That's why I believe 20 levels is a disservice to the action system – every class should get a pack of abilities, modified by their Class Feats, that allows them to interact with the action system in satisfactory ways, and diluting a class into 20 levels make it so that the ramp-up time until this happens is excessive.
2. Lots of choices... and few exciting ones
Class feats, skill feats, general feats, ancestry feats... it's great to have so many choices around, but they aren't very impactful. A lot of them feel weaker because they are tied to feat-lines, which seem to predetermine your class progress – why wouldn't a Ranger that gets Monster Hunter go with all the rest of the line?
This leads me to believe that 20 levels dilutes the power of the options. In a concentrated affair with 10 levels, you could make fewer, more meaningful choices, that got rid of feat-lines and each stood on their own. For example, the Monster Hunter pack would combine most of the utilities spread out through the levels (subject to balance, of course). A Ranger picking Monster Hunter would be great at an area, and have room for improvement in the rest.
3. +level to everything warps play through 20 levels
Die has 20 sides. A 20th level character has a full 20-sided dice over a level 1 one. That's not a problem in itself, but when DCs come into play, math collapses, as a lot of people may have brought up in 1.3.
If you had 10 levels instead, the same system would have another texture and provide more grounded results. Concentrated feats would make 10th level characters better at processing dice, rather than better at outputting higher numbers. That would make the progression feel much more natural.
DEX-to-damage is all you need for me to NEVER play PF2E again.
STR-based characters have been disenfranchised for way too long.
I like a mix between STR/DEX for characters, I only wish you could replace DEX for INT/CHA/WIS for AC for mystical STR builds.
DEX hitting for less damage is fine since so many feats are able to increase output easily.
Can't agree there.
An Inquisitor with the same 5 two-handed feats as a Slayer does not feel like the same thing. A Bard with the same 5 archery feats does not feel like the same thing as a Paladin with the same 5 archery feats.
Seems like it steps too much on the Ranger/Rogue's gimmick. Agile/Finesse is part of the Rogue's purview, and Ranger focuses on reducing multiattack penalties.Also, it needlessly punishes people who want to use weapons which are agile/finesse baseline, by making them inferior to weapons that spend their power budget on higher damage dice or other modifiers.
I would prefer:
1. Grant monk weapon proficiency baseline.
2. Add 1st level feats that grant additional functionalities to weapons with disarm, parry, trip, agile, respectively. The agile one perhaps could allow you to hit another target at an action discount, the trip one could allow you to make a follow-up while they are down, the disarm one could allow you to use that as a reaction, and the parry one could give you a reactive shield type of ability.
3. At 2nd level, add a feat that allows you to use your weapon with all unarmed-based abilities.
4. Add a few follow-up feats.
This way, you are making weapons exciting and unique on their own.
One of my recommendations to improve on the Ranger was adding this feature:
Hunter's Instincts – Xth
This way, the Ranger would have a unique monster hunter vibe.
I would be 100% cool if the solution was:
A. Monk weapon proficiencies baseline (even if you can't FoB with them).
B. Class Feat that allows players to get extra functionality out of a staff parry, either making it reactive, granting a bigger boost to AC, etc.
Picking up a specific weapon in which you are not proficient, to use an ability that is a single line lost between three different modifiers is something my player base would not grok and would feel arbitrarily imposed on them.
Adding a carrot – that is, something to boost that playstyle – rather than removing a crutch would be something that's much easier to understand and see as a power boost.
This doesn't work. No skill feats at level 1, Parry doesn't stack with Crane, Parry takes out an action, and it's an absolute gimmick build.
I'm moving out of PF1 to be done with gimmick builds.
A. No more spells in a bottle. Not because of balance, but because they are not supposed to replicate or replace items. Look into the alchemical items list.
B. I'm done with counter-intuitive, gamified builds for what should be a natural, organic character in an immersive game world.
To me this is super simple: you want the class to not feel like a trap and for everyone who plays it to have options. If pump DEX like a madman is the only choice, if pumping STR is suicidal, then you have none of the former.
This is why my solution was a Reaction-based defence.
At later levels, it competes with other options – Impossible Technique, Deflect Arrows, Crane Flutter (which I think should be redesigned). Maybe even more.
So a Reaction-based defence would not pile on too much to later levels.
Yeah, man, Clumsy is meaningless for 14 DEX people.
Also, straight up giving Monks more AC would make DEX Monks better – a reactive defence would be a resource that could be gamed in interesting ways and would make the STR-DEX tension more interesting.
If you go STR, you'd have more damage but your defence is gated by reactions.
If you go DEX< you'd have more defence and could pile on top of that, but your damage would be need some souping up, which is a thing Class Feats offer several choices for.
I don't care that you said "Reflex 1" even if I said it was a 14 DEX Fighter, and I don't care you wilfully ignore Perception here...
The thing is that the Fighter has a choice, and the Monk doesn't. The Monk is seemingly supposed to go with the AC option if they go STR, or die. The Fighter can just play out whatever they want, and begin making the character in their heads right away.
The Monk needs to optimize or get crit out of this world.
My stance is that adding a reactive defensive feature grants the Monk choice in Class Feat to start realizing their character rather than compensating for its faults.
If you play a Fighter, with 14 DEX and 18 STR, you are dealing 1d12+STR (expected 10.5) and your AC is 17.
And then you have an extra Class Feat to spend.
Basically, the whole "your AC isn't bad, just get Crane Style" thing sounds like you are compensating for class flaws rather than making real, meaningful choices.
It'd be much easier if the Monk had a baseline reaction to defend itself, then you could make all sorts of builds as long as you maintain smart tactics.
So many great points here. Though, I'm not bothered by Monks wanting to seek out Bracers of Armor in the same way I'm not bothered by a fighter going after magical armor.
I was basing my argument on misreading bracers of armor. :P
I thought it said Bracers +1 were mage armor with 2nd spell level, but it's actually with 1st spell level. That made more sense.
Seven of Swords wrote:
I think it's a given they'll add it baseline at this point.
By this logic, Wizards should not be able to cast spells either, you'd need 5 levels training Arcana and performing several high difficulty DCs to get access to, say, Detect Magic.
The point is that Wizards get basic proficiency to interact with the game world from the start. An assortment of spells they can use for several purposes, and proficiency with simple weapons to give them a mundane tool to fix combat. In addition, they get skills.
Monks get some skills (certainly less than a Wizard), get no tools to interact with distant enemies, enemies that are dangerous to come up close to, lack the versatility of spellcasting, lack high enough AC to just stand there in front of their enemies.
You are unable to have basic proficiency in one of the simplest things in the world.
If you follow your logic, nobody should get anything because obtaining it is better than simply receiving it.
My point is that your choices should feel like they add on top of a foundation, not compensate for a shoddy construction.
But this should be clear: I'm only having this conversation because I want you to understand why Paizo WILL change it. There is no universe lack of simple weapon proficiency makes it past the playtest. I hope this post illuminates you on why.
You do, you are not proficient with simple weapons.
Saying "-2 is not a big penalty" is a terrible argument, btw. -2 is a massive penalty in PF2.
Agree with the general sentiment.
Not sure what each class needs, but my general gut about it –
1. Alchemists for sure could use some action economy boosts.
2. Barbarians wants Attack of Opportunity too.
3. Fighters need an option for ranged Fighters, a Sidestep would be pretty good.
4. Monks need a Sidestep or Combat Roll to keep safer early on.
5. Rogues getting Nimble Dodge wouldn't be terrible.
6. Rangers probably need the same options as a Fighter.
7. I like the Ranged Retributive Strike idea.
So one of my favorite types of campaigns to run are Survival campaigns.
I also like to create scenarios where resources are limited, like wartorn countrysides or perilous forays into Underdark-like locations.
But Create Water & Create Food (and Goodberry of course) are the type of element that completely shut down a whole campaign-style from a low level. Furthermore, they devalue Survival as a skill.
For this reason, I would be very grateful if, baseline, they had an expendable reagent cost.
Otherwise, it's back to an edition full with houserules to make adventures work.
Or you just take the feat. There is really no point in complaining about not having ranged weapons when the only thing that holds you back is putting one of your class-feats into it.
That's the definition of a feat tax.
You shouldn't need to pay a feat to be able to use a sling just to poke at an enemy from afar. You don't need to make ranged attacks Flurry of Blows compatible, but it's a basic proficiency for any adventurer.
I have no qualms with late game math.
And early game math for the STR Monk is pretty sad. There's also the fact that not everyone will optimize to an 18 DEX even on DEX builds.
That's why I believe that right now the biggest liability for monks is the lack of an early game reaction-based defense .
AC aside, ranged weapon proficiency, ability score versatility, and signature skill restrictions are still issues.
Oh yeah weapon style support is trash at the moment. Half Strength is also pretty boring.
Cross class skill penalties are dumb and monolithic. PF1 Class Skills were fine because it was trivial to modify them.
Only way I could be okay with signature skills would be:
A. Each class gets two additional signature skills up to their choice.
B. Obtaining new ones costs no more than a skill feat.
[Ranger] Binary options like Trackless Step / Nature's Edge / Wild Stride should be put out to pasture
Look, Paizo, I'll save you guys the trouble of scratching your heads trying to figure out why the Ranger isn't working: it's spending levels of class budget in features that are binary and conditional.
Trackless Step is actually the most minor offender, because as a 5th level feature, it seems not to be taking anything from the class budget... that being said, it's something that would be very situational as a Skill Feat even. Maybe you can find another cool, more applicable feature to add in here.
Nature's Edge seems pretty terrible for me because you rarely get to decide when natural difficult terrain appears to exploit it. It's nice that it works with Snares, but it seems to say that you waste class power if you don't get them. What if Nature's Edge had an "always on" bonus that allowed you to deal extra damage to flat-footed enemies or something?
Wild Stride comes extremely late, and the fact that it doesn't help with magical abilities seems pretty bad. Most other classes have easier ways to dealing with it that also help against magical difficult terrain too, and the fact it does nothing against hazardous terrain seems like a pretty sad 11th level feature.
The Ranger is already encouraged to bring the adventure to the wilds thanks to having Survival and Nature-related abilities, why double up on that?
Could you really give me an example of something that Signature skills really hold you back on?
1. Signature Skills are bad for story-telling. Play Carrion Crown as a Fighter, spend your life from level 1 to 15ish fighting eldritch horrors and unholy enemies, and you are unable to become a master in Occultism/Religion? Even if you had campaign-specific backgrounds that granted signature skills, what if my Fighter was just some douche that, through contact and learning of the occult, became interested in those things?
2. Signature Skills are arbitrary and close-minded. Why aren't Monks able to master Medicine, Occultism and Stealth? In fiction, you have countless monastic healers; Ki is by definition occult, less related to Religion as it is to body mastery; Stealth is archetypical. I could go on about every other class and a million other signature skills they could have... but the point is, why does Paizo get the monopoly on what is archetypical for each class? We can agree on classes as archetypes, but why zero-in on things that weren't imposed on us on PF1? I could get a grizzled Ranger that hunted demons in the Worldwound, I could make a Barbarian that was the charismastic leader of a tribe. Who says my Fighter will spend more time Crafting than being a soldier-diplomat involved as much in warfare as they are on Diplomacy? Who says my jester Bard shouldn't be good at Acrobatics? Why draw the line in a few skills?
Now, let me switch the burden of proof: what do Signature Skills do that is valuable?
This is the type of malarkey that made PF1 a bad game and makes 5E so painful in the first place.
Just make those features modular.
No class should have dead features. Looking at you, Trackless Step.
But you have poisons, which are the purpose of being half-melee, right? That's what you use your attack for.
I know some have mentioned that magic weapons are crucial to the game as is because you can't keep up with damage levels otherwise. What is the increase to damage was tied to your proficiency. Base damage is trained, 2 dice at expert, 3 at master, 5 at legendary(or possibly 4, but 5 feels more legendary). What does anyone think this would do to the math?
And Magic Items only give +X to attack and damage. I could buy it.
Though I'd prefer Legendary sticking to 4.
THE RULE: "If an ability doesn’t specify a critical success effect, then the effect for a critical success is the same as that for a success."
is not the same as
THE WRONG: "If an ability doesn’t specify a success effect, then the effect for a critical success is the same as that for a success."
So you are wrong there to start.
But also, the ability does express what happens on a success. The whole Enhancement line is what happens on a success. If you missed your attack, nothing happens.
The Narration wrote:
Those are two different approaches. You either have better heavy armor, or you have different scaling proficiencies.
If you have different scaling proficiencies, then at the beginning, your choice of armor is just based on DEX, but no one is particularly AMAZING at defence, so everyone dies at about the same rate, making light/medium armor classes less screwed.
Anyway, I made an analysis about this on another thread, let me repost it below. Long story short, making heavy armor better is screwing Wizards/Monks/Rogues.
What AC 7 for all armor types accomplishes is this:
1. It makes DEX vs. STR relevant. Having 12 DEX means you have as much AC as having 18 DEX, but having less DEX means you have more STR, which means you can use better weapons. It balances itself.
2. It makes Light/Medium armor users not feel extremely fragile in combat early on. Later, when higher proficiencies roll in for Heavy Armor users, they get a boost in defence without making the early levels so disparate.
3. It makes PROFICIENCY more important than armor type, so a Wizard getting Heavy Armor Proficiency is not a big deal because they don't have access to better proficiencies. However, having proficiency in Heavy Armor is still good for the Wizard, because they get to turn 12 DEX into AC 7, so there's still a benefit for anyone who gets Heavy Armor.
4. As a Monk enthusiast, this one is important for me – AC7 keeps unarmored characters from being too far behind armored characters. If your unarmored character needs to race towards AC9 to stand with the frontliners with only a +4 bonus from stats, it can feel pretty hectic.
Now, what are the issues with AC 7?
1. Early levels, when you have to take large ACP penalties feel pretty crummy.
2. Speed penalties are too big in a game with limited movement and no way to maintain engagement (i.e. not everyone will have access to AoO and Step is still an option).
3. There's no incentive for high DEX high STR characters to use heavy armor early on until they get class features that encourage them to do it.
4. There's no incentive to use Full Plate over Splint Mail, because 14 DEX is easy to get and Splint Mail has less Bulk and ACP. (Clumsy is a non-penalty, you can safely ignore it with 14 DEX, it does even less than Noisy.)
Personally, I like the AC7 system and I think the benefits outweight the issues. Perhaps they could make it so heavy armor is more attractive early on than medium armor – for example, giving heavy armor another bonus like a small damage resistance, or even do away with Speed penalties or ACP altogether. They surely need to add options for Fighters/Paladins who don't want to use heavy armor.
But I don't think the numbers NEED to be changed.