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Ravingdork wrote:

I thought that Shield Block caused the damage to go to the shield first, then to you, but upon a second reading that may not actually be the case. It looks like Shield Block actually sort of multiplies the damage.

Interpretation 1: A demigod smites you for 200 damage, and you shield block with your supreme sturdy shield (Hardness 20, HP 160, BT 80). Your shield absorbs 20 damage, then takes 160 damage. Your shield is destroyed and you take 20 damage.

Interpretation 2: A demigod smites you for 200 damage, and you shield block with your supreme sturdy shield (Hardness 20, HP 160, BT 80). Your shield absorbs 20 damage, then you AND the shield then take then take 180 damage. Your super expensive shield is now destroyed and it likely didn't save you from death either. (And the attack has effectively dealt 380 damage, more than half again the original amount.)

Which is correct?

2 is correct as I understand it. The value of a shield's hit points is far less than that of a character's, so the "doubling" on massive damage is not dealing double the effective damage.

That said, 200 damage is unlikely. Treerazor deals a maximum of 162 on a critical with Blackaxe and 186 to to plants. That is a max damage critical from the highest stated creature currently in the game and it wouldn't break the shield. In practical terms, only a high level, critically failed Disintegrate is likely to do the job.

In a "normal" level 20 combat, that shield would be good for 3-10 hits before breaking (or 60-200 health) and is unlikely to ever go through all its hit points. If you are worried about it breaking, Legendary Crafting and Quick Repair can restore 50 hit points for 1 action.

This greatly increases the shield user's expected life. Yes, technically massive damage does more HP loss, but this makes more sense than a basic steel shield increasing a level 1 character's effective health poll by 28. Under interpretation 1,the literal best tactic in the game would be to carry and endless amount of shields in a bag of holding. Only enemies that could deal massive damage could ever break your 1000s of buffer hit points from a spare shield per round.

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Assuming the Ranger uses Hunt Prey, Hunted Shot, and Strike (with a longbow) and the Alchemist uses Quicksilver enhanced Acid Flask, Alchemist's Fire, and Bottled Lightning the Alchemist does more DPR at every single level except 20. Some times significantly more. The key thing to know is that splash damage is dealt even on a failure, but not on a critical failure. That means the Alchemist's second and even third attack still competes even with Hunt Prey enhanced MAP.

This is assuming 2 ticks of persistent damage. Technically the average would be 4 if we calculate the sum of the geometric series, but enemies can take actions for more chances and combat can finish off enemies before 3 rounds.

This is largely true even if we forego Calculated Splash, though I felt it was fair to compare 1 feat for 1 feat.

You have not proven that Alchemist "lags behind". On the contrary, like all martial classes they've been shown to explicitly be ahead at certain levels. In fact, as mentioned above Alchemists may have an equal attack value from 1-3, a higher attack value from 7-8, and an equal attack value again at 9.

So compared to a Ranger, an Alchemist has an equal attack value for 4 levels, a better attack value for 2 levels, and a lower attack value for 4 levels. And that difference is literally either +1 or -1 when it exists at all.

Saying they are the only martial class that lags behind just isn't accurate. This isn't full BAB VS 3/4,the difference in attack bonus is always small and actually goes in the Alchemists favor at certain levels.

That small and variable a difference is not going to make or break a game. Feats are vastly more important.

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There are a few things you can do.

First, you can go for Hunter's Aim. This allows you to still make three attacks when combo'd with Hunted Shot if you've already used Hunt Prey, but it also gives first attack a much better chance to hit and crit. If you get a +1 bow, you'll have a +1 item bonus, +4 proficiency, and +2 circumstance using Hunter's Aim. This lets you crit pretty easily against low AC mobs (on a 15 vs a Zombie Shambler for instance), while making it much more likely you'll hit a tough foe.

4th level, you can consider Far Shot or Favored Enemy. The latter feat allows you to get your Hunt Prey as a free action if you can designate a creature of the chosen type as your target. This is where the above feat is useful, as going Hunt Prey > Hunted Shot > Strike is often going to be your go-to otherwise. This lets you start combat with Hunter's Aim + Hunted Shot, for a +13/+8/+5 attack chain.

6th level Skirmish Strike allows you to get out of the Attack of Opportunity range of a melee opponent with that ability. This can be a lifesaver, but isn't super likely to come up every session.

This is basic "Hunter" path.

Another option is to go the Monster Hunter path. This is similar to the above, but does pick up Monster Hunter at level 6 for later combos. This is more focused on crit-fishing, as it allows you to push your primary attack very high. I'd associate that more with a crossbow build.

However, if you aren't confident in those options you can go for Fighter or Rogue multiclass.

Fighter lets you pickup Point-Blank Shot, and later Double Shot. This effectively removes the volley trait of the longbow, and lets you put out a ton of attacks by going Double Shot + Hunted Shot. You can even take the Attack of Opportunity feat and Snap Shot.

Rogues on the other hand are all about Sneak Attack. You aren't going for the feats here, as Sneak Attack alone is worth a couple feats. This build probably takes Favored Enemy, Rogue Dedication, and Sneak Attack. If you win initiative versus a favored enemy, you can go Hunted Shot + Strike + Strike and potentially get an extra 1d6 on each attack. Plus, those attacks will effectively getting a +2 bonus because the opponent will be flat-footed.

Demorialize is quite good. Getting an extra -1 (or -2 on a critical success) on enemy AC, saves, and attacks is a great use of the third action for most builds. And at higher levels, Intimidate can get significant bonuses (Intimidating Prowess, items) while being free to use at the start of combat.

For an example you are a Rogue with Dread Striker and Battle Cry, you can use Battle Cry to make your opponent frightened 1 AND flat-footed. Not only will this make it much easier to hit them, it will guarantee sneak attacks for all of your attacks.

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Most bonuses in this version of the game are incremental. There will be times where martials are at a higher proficiency, and other times where the alchemist will match them. There will be times where there stats are higher, but also times where they will be at odd values (19 for 5-10) thanks to the level system.

Compare a level 7 mutagenist to a level 7 ranger. The former is expert in his unarmed attacks (+11), can have 18 strength (+4), and gets a +2 item bonus. The latter is expert in his attacks (+11), can have 19 strength/dexterity (+4), and is most likely using a +1 weapon.

The alchemist is more accurate here, and gets a built in agile weapon. Some levels, the ranger will be more accurate. The point is that it isn't as simple as "they are ahead in stats" or "they get higher proficiency". Most bonuses are incremental and classes will have mini power spikes at various times putting them slightly ahead or slightly behind. In general though that doesn't mean classes are unviable or useless, even when they are the ones behind most classes will be comparable and bring unique options. Most of the time, the entirety of the difference between one class and another is within the range of a flat-footed penalty.

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If you were a bomber, you could choose to only deal splash damage to your primary target. You shouldn't feel you have to conserve your infused reagents - use your class features. I recommend bringing along a crossbow to help out your ranged damage, but you should be able to start combat throwing a bomb.

With Fumbus, Burn It, and the Bomber research path you'd probably be best off crafting 10 Alchemist's Fires to start the day. These deal 1d8+1, 1 splash, and 2 persistent fire damage. This won't set the world on fire, but it is substantially better than other ranged options at this time (a longbow would deal a max of 1d8+1 for 5.5 average, a cantrip 1d6+4 for 7.5, this deals at least 10.5).

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Differences between various archers (Fighter, Ranger, Rogue:

Proficiency: T/E/M/L
Fighter: 2/2/5/13
Ranger: 1/5/13/NA
Rogue: 1/5/13/NA

Weapon Specialization/Greater
Fighter: 7/15
Ranger: 7/15
Rogue: 7/15

Fighter Feats:
1: Point-Blank Shot: Ignore volley or add +2 damage within first range increment
2: Assisting Shot: Aid action at range
4: Double Shot: >> for two Strikes at -2
6: Triple Shot: >>> for three strikes at -4
8: Incredible Aim: >> for one strike at +2, ignore concealed
8: Mobile Shot Stance: Ranged attacks don't trigger AAOs, and can be used for AAOs
10: Agile Grace: MAP for agile weapons is now -3 and -6
10: Debilitating Shot: >> for strike that slows 1 (Flourish)
12: Incredible Ricochet: > for strike that ignores concealed condition and cover (Press)
14: Desperate Finisher: R to use action with Press trait
16: Multishot Stance: >, Double-Shot/Triple-Shot penalty halved (Stance)
18: Impossible Volley: >>> Strike at -2 penalty vs all enemies in 10-foot burst
18: Savage Critical: 19s treated as natural 20s
20: Weapon Supremacy: Quickened, action can only be used for strikes

Other Fighter Class Traits:
5: Fighter Weapon Mastery: Critical Specialization
7: Battlefield Surveyor: +2 circumstance to initiative
9: Combat Flexibility: Gain extra fighter feat at preparation
15: Improved Flexibility: Gain two extra fighter feats at preparation

Ranger Feats:
1: Crossbow Ace: +2 damage and larger damage dice on crossbow
1: Hunted Shot: > two strikes, normal MAP (Flourish)
1: Monster Hunter: Possible +1 circumstance to next attack
2: Hunter's Aim: >> strike at +2 bonus, ignore concealed
2: Quick Draw: > Draw and attack with same motion
4: Far Shot: Double range increments
4: Favored Enemy: Free Hunt Prey vs type
4: Running Reload: > Stripe, Step, or Sneak then reload
6: Skirmish Strike: > Step/Strike or Strike/Step (Flourish)
6: Snap Shot: Can AAO with ranged weapons (Ranger needs AAO for this to work)
8: Deadly Aim: > Strike at -2 penalty for +4/6/8 damage (11/15) (Open)
10: Penetrating Shot: >> Strike vs two creature (Open)
10: Master Monster Hunter: Treats successes as critical successes
12: Distracting Shot: Critical hits make target flat-footed
14: Targeting Shot: > Strike that ignores concealed and cover
16: Greater Distracting Shot: Hits make target flat-footed
16: Legendary Monster Hunter: Monster hunter benefit now +2
18: Impossible Volley: >>> Strike at -2 penalty vs all enemies in 10-foot burst
18: Manifold Edge: Two Hunter's Edge benefits (no masterful hunter benfit)
18: Perfect Shot: >>> Strike. Hits deal maximum damage.

Other Ranger Class Traits:
1: Flurry (Hunter's Edge): MAP is -3/-2 vs hunted target
1: Precision (Hunter's Edge): 1d8/2d8/3d8 (1/11/19) first hit per round vs hunted target
9: Nature's Edge: Enemies are flat-footed in natural difficult terrain or uneven ground
17: Masterful Hunter (Flurry): MAP reduced to -2/-1 vs hunted target
17: Masterful Hunter (Precision): 2nd hit also deals 1d8. At 19 the second hit deals extra 2d8 and third deals extra 1d8.

Rogue Feats:
2: Quick Draw: > Draw and attack with same motion
2: Unbalancing Blow: Critical hits make target flat-footed
4: Dread Striker: Frightened foes are flat-footed
4: Poison Weapon: > apply a poison, special gives access to poisons that deal 1d4 damage
6: Skirmish Strike: > Step/Strike or Strike/Step (Flourish)
8: Improved Poison Weapon: Poisons created are now deal 2d4
8: Sly Striker: Deal 1d6 even when foe is not flat-footed
10: Precise Debilitation: Adds debilitation options:
C: Strikes deal against target extra 2d6
D: Target becomes flat-footed
10: Vicious Debilitation: Adds debilitation options:
E: Target gains weakness 5 to your choice of B/P/S
F: Target becomes clumsy 1
12: Felling Shot: >> Strike against flat-footed creature that can make flying creature fall
14: Instant Opening: > Target is flat-footed till end of turn
16: Dispelling Slice: >> Strike vs flat-footed, if it deals sneak attack damage you can counteract single spell active on target
20: Impossible Striker: Always deal full sneak attack damage even if target isn't flat-footed

Other Rogue Class Traits:
1: Sneak Attack: Deal 1d6/2d6/3d6/4d6 (1/5/11/17) extra damage to flat-footed targets
2: Surprise Attack: Enemies that haven't acted are flat-footed
9: Debilitating Strike: F, if Strike deals damage to flat-footed foe:
A: Target gets a -10 status penalty to Speed
B: Target gets enfeebled 1
15: Double Debilitation: Apply two options for Debilitating Strike
19: Master Strike: F, if Strike deals damage to flat-footed foe they make Fort save vs your class DC (heavy penalties for failure)

Multiclass Fighter Archetype:
4: Basic Fighter's Trick: Level 1 Fighter Feat
4: Opportunity: Can make AAOs
6: Advanced Fighter's Trick: Any Fighter Feat 1/2 your level

Multiclass Ranger Archetype:
4: Basic Hunter's Trick: Level 1 Hunter Feat
6: Advanced Hunter's Trick: Any Hunter Feat 1/2 your level

Multiclass Rogue Archetype:
2: Rogue Dedication: Get Surprise Attack class feature
4: Basic Trickery: Level 1 Rogue Feat
4: Sneak Attacker: 1d4/1d6 (6) sneak attack
6: Advanced Trickery: Any Rogue feat 1/2 your level

At level 1:

A fighter with a longbow and PBS can attack at +9/+4/-1 for 1d8+1 damage, 1d8+3 if the target is outside the volley range.
A fighter with a shortbow can attack at +7/+3/-1 for 1d6+4 damage.

A ranger with a longbow, Flurry, and Hunted Shot can start combat by using Hunt Prey, then using Hunted Shot, then a normal strike at +7/+4/+1 for 1d8+1 damage.
A ranger with a shortbow and the same tactics can attack at +7/+5/+3 for 1d6+1 damage.
A ranger with a crossbow, Precision, and Crossbow Ace can start combat by using Hunt Prey, then attack, then reload at +7 for 1d10+1d8+2 damage (1d12+1d8+2 if using a heavy crossbow).

A rogue using any ranged weapon can deal either normal Strike damage or Strike + 1d6 damage at a bonus of +7 originally.

At level 5:

A fighter with a +1 striking longbow, PBS, and Double Shot can make attacks at +14/+14/+6 for 2d8 + 4 outside of volley range.
A fighter with a shortbow using same tactics can make attacks at +14/+14/+8 for 2d6 + 4.

A ranger with a +1 striking longbow, flurry, Hunter's Shot, Hunter's Aim, and Favored Enemy can either attack as before for +14/+11/+8 for 2d8+2 or at best case get free Hunt Prey and attack at +16/+11/+8.
Same with shortbow gets you to either +14/+12/+10 for 2d6+2 or +16/+12/+10 against your favored enemy.
A ranger with a +1 striking crossbow, Crossbow Ace, Hunter's Aim, and Running Reload can attack at +16 for 2d10+1d8+2

A rogue with Poison weapon can attack at +14/+9 or +14/+10, dealing up to 2d8+2d6+1d4+2 on the first attack and 2d8+2d6+2 on the second.

At level 10:

A fighter with a +1 striking longbow, PBS, and Triple Shot can attack at +18/+18/+18 for 2d8+7.
A fighter with same weapon, PBS, Double Shot and Ranger Dedication, Hunted Shot, and Favored Enemy can attack at best for +20/+20/+12/+12 for 2d8+7.
A fighter with a shortbow variant of the above can attack at +20/+20/+14/+14 for 2d6+7.
Fighters can also benefit from Rogue Dedication by this point. A Fighter with PBS, Double Shot, Hunter Dedication, Hunter's Shot, Favored Enemy, Rogue Dedication, and Sneak Attack can attack with a shortbow for:
Hunt Prey: Free vs Favored Enemy
Double Shot: +20/+20 - 4d6+7
Hunted Shot: +14/+14 - 4d6+7

A ranger with a longbow, Hunted Shot, and Deadly Aim can make attacks at +18 for 2d8+8 then at +15/+12 for 2d8+4. Against a favored enemy, this increases to +18/+15 for 2d8+8 then +12/+12 for 2d8+4.
With similar tactics and a shortbow, those numbers are +18 for 2d6+8 then +16/+14 for 2d8+4 and +18/+16 for 2d8+8 then +16/+16 for 2d8+4 vs. a favored enemy.
A ranger with a crossbow, crossbow ace, deadly aim, favored enemy, rogue dedication, and sneak attack can attack for +18/+13 for 2d10+1d8+1d6+4. Alternatively, they can Hunter's Aim at +22 for 2d10+1d8+1d6+4.
A ranger at this point can also spec into fighter for PBS or Rogue for sneak attack.

A Rogue with Improved Poison Weapon and longbow can attack at +20/+15 for 2d8+2d6+2d4+4. They can also use debilitations to add either additional damage from weakness or an extra 2d6 from sneak attacks.
A rogue can benefit from taking PBS and Double Shot from Fighter by this point, or Hunter's Shot and Incredible Aim from Ranger.

I think all three builds are viable. Fighter is the most consistent, Ranger the strongest if it can guarantee Favored Enemy or its utility (far lower Aim variant, higher range, running reload), Rogue the most bursty. They also all benefit from multiclass dedications.

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I have played a great deal of second edition: the entire Playtest, as well as a 2e version of Rise of the Rubelords that started in January with all tbe updates and the new proficiency math.

It is important to understand 2E combat construction. Most of the time, you will have groups of a few standard compositions. It is very rare to face a single boss mob,and much more common to face trash mobs, groups of different types of mobs, and bosses with trash help.

We have a magic blaster, and another character that multiclassed in magic but mostly uses utility spells from scrolls. No character has single handily ended more encounterd than the Blaster. Martial AoE has been greatly reduced, and trash mobs are more impactful thanks to more varied abilities and better chances of hitting.

Many conflicts have been greatly shaped by utility spells and control spells. Classics like Grease and Fly have been relavent into the higher levels, and Charm being usable on non-humanoids is an interesting twist that has already mattered.

I find that few fights are Arena battles with two aware foes fighting one on one in wide areas. More often, the party is either ambushed or ambushing. Other encounters have chances to either devolve into conflict or desescalate into peace. Utility spells still matter.

Overall, I'd say I have roughly 1000 playing and preparing for the new edition. It is absolutely true that magic users have a lower ceiling, but after the spell damage buff I've seen them generally be fun to play and a viable member of the party. Little thingd like abundant weaknesses and physical resistances give magic users niches even beyond AoE, and the incremental debuffs from enough successes pile up and do their job when you consider a player a member of a party. Frightened 1 from a save against Phantasmal Killer makes the next Trip by the Fighter easier which gives the Rogues Sneak Attack.

Yes, optimized casters could out martial martials and create infinite armies in time locked greater demiplanes. 19 rounds of orebuffing could render an 3ncounter completely and totally mute, and dropping Haste was often more support than a dedicated Bard could put out by itself. But little of that made individual encounters fun to play, and the presence of a broken magical late game is a big reason why few groups dared attempt high level play. I've a fun from the getgo casting system that seems to hold up well in the later levels.

This is my experience from extensive playtesting. YMMV, and there are a fair number of differences compared the system I run, but I've found magic to be more fun in second edition. The biggest critique is the meager variety compared to fleshed out 1E.

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Now the book is likely set in stone and ready to go to publishers, I'd like to see whether or not PF1 style archetypes made it into the final build. To clarify what I mean, I am referring to archetypes that:

Start at level 1
Swap class features (not feats)
Stack with archetypes that don't affect the same features

It was implied during the early discussions about archetypes that this style may make it into the final version of the game but the PF2 style (feat-swapping) archetypes is all that appears in the playtest because they were new ideas that needed significantly more testing.

However, since then I haven't heard any word about PF1 style archetypes. As far as I know haven't been given descriptions of possible archetypes, or received further information clarifying that they would be in the final version of the Corebook.

I hope that these do make it into the final Corebook, because they represent a different thematic idea and dramatically increase the modularity of the game. The thematic difference is that feat-swapping archetypes represent something that you pick up along your journeys, while feature-swapping archetypes represent a variation from the base class that can be seen at the very start of a character's adventure.

An Urban Barbarian isn't a Barbarian that walked into a city after fighting rats out in the countryside, they are a Barbarian whose city-based upbringing is present at level 1 and guides them to an entirely different way of evolving as a barbarian.

In terms of options, this also gives players a way to interact with features they may not match character concepts. For instance, a feature-swapping Urban Barbarian could might only have Light Armor Proficiency but might get more skills. Instead of getting Juggernaut and Improved Juggernaut, they may instead get similar feats for Reflex saves.

To get similar changes out of a feat-swapping system would require a substantial investment of feats, forcing most early level Barbarians with an Urban Dedication to build in similar ways. Instead of being able to build one Urban Barbarian that multiclasses into Rogue and another that picks up Barbarian class feats and stacks another feature-swapping archetype, you would end up with just lvl1 Barbarian, lvl2 Urban Dedication, lvl4 Urban Skills ... a dramatic reduction in the number of ways to build a character with that theme.

So again, I'd like to see some clarity on whether feature-swapping archetypes made it in, and if they were left out whether they are being considered for a supplemental product.

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Currently my group is about to finish the playtest. A bit of an aberration to be sure. Running 6-hour sessions and knocking out a section per week, with two sessions for Heroes of Undarin and When the Stars Go Dark as the players were not available for the whole time and one section canceled.

As far as "HOW?" goes, the answer is mostly planning and experience. Every session the players come prepared and we start on time, and we have premade characters for people that can't come until later. Everyone pretty much has a decent amount of d20 experience and grokked the combat quickly, so the table moves fast.

It has also been a little RP-lite compared my normal games, as the characters don't get much time to really explore a character. So we get into and out of combat quick.

You may go up to your max speed on every Stride. Speed isn't in a 'pool' that your abilities steal from. Predator's Pounce says you can Stride + Strike and has no per turn limit, so with 30 feet of movement you can travel up to 90' and make up to 3 Strikes.

As per the above, there is no movement pool nor reset. When No Escape triggers, you may to move up to your Speed (30') to follow your opponent. You may do this even if you've already moved 30' in a round, because your maximum movement is the maximum you can move on a single Stride action (and No Escape lets you Stride up to your Speed). You would even be able to use No Escape after a Furious Sprint to travel 180' during your turn, so long as you met the trigger condition.

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There are few things that make it more reasonable:

1. Your party does not have to adventure as a group. The encounters aren't generally auto-aggroing, so a group probably should send their fastest people by themselves to cover more ground.
2. Expeditious Search is basically only for this scenario, but hopefully at least one person has it.
3. You aren't capped at 40'. In my campaign, we had an Elf Monk that was at 60' or 70' by this time, meaning they went somewhere between 48 and 56 miles per day. Needless to say, they covered a lot of ground quickly.
4. Critically succeeding on an empty square is supposed to lead to the closest non-empty square.

I do agree though, this probably should be a Medium difficulty Perception roll and an easy Survival role, as cannot be spammed and there is a consequence for failing (lost time).

Byron Zibeck wrote:
manbearscientist wrote:

The Lost Star - 5 hours
In Pale Mountain's Shadow - 4.5 hours
Affair at Sombrefell Mansion - 5.5 hours
The Mirrored Moon - 5.5 hours
Arclord's Envy - 5.5 hours
Heroes of Undarin - 7 hours (all events)
Red Flags - 5 hours
In Pale Mountain's Shadow was the shortest? With only 4.5 hours? How?

We were lucky, well-equipped, and lucky. Bard, Gish, Monk (+1 handwraps), Rogue for characters, Bard only joining in later.

Part 1 we mostly ignored the difficult terrain thanks to a monk that long jumped nearly 40 feet. The monk landed a crit and the hyenas were down to nearly nothing before the fight had really started.

Part 2 took a while, but again we rolled hot and saved on the breath attack and were able to deal with the bug without too much difficulty. At this point, we'd spent maybe 45 minutes (I run combat really quickly, and the players didn't really want to spend much time socializing).

We avoided the gnolls at the river by simply walking around them.

We critically succeeded on the Survival check to avoid climbing, which basically bypassed a major section. The fight versus the flying enemy was somewhat difficult until the monk climbed up a cliff and jumped on it.

At this point a Bard joined in, and they won the Social-fight versus the gnolls, telling them the griffon was dead with proof. So another encounter avoided.

We fought both elementals, with ranged characters plunking them from afar while our two melee fighters (monk + gish) mostly ignored environmental issues (ridiculous Athletics check and Assurance(Athletics).

Got the puzzle with the gems in about 8-10 rolls if I remember correctly.

Killed the zombies rather easily, though the Rogue did go down. Left well before Hannah and the other Night Heralds arrived.

So we avoided 3-4 encounters, had a good set-up for the environmental stuff, and did lots of damage. And pretty much just ran the combat parts of the campaign, with no time taken for pre-combat socializing or character creation.

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WhiteMagus2000 wrote:

Maybe this changes at high levels, we've only played in the first two adventures so far. What I've seen is that cantrips hit about as frequently as the barbarian, but take two actions instead of one and do about half the damage (or less). With the barbarian frequently making a second or third attack, she is inflicting at least three times the damage as the wizard. Yes, the wizard has a few real spells, but with the current 50/50 system, they only stick about half the time.

Yes cantrips can sometimes take advantage of weakness, but many more monsters seem to have unexpected resistances that reduce incoming damage much more than boost it.

I could easily see the wizard being dropped from the group without a major problem, while the loss of the cleric or tanky martial would be devastating. Again, maybe this changes with higher levels, but wizards currently feel kind of weak and with cantrips being their default action, lackluster cantrips just showcase the issue.

There is a reason the Barbarian deals 'about twice as much damage.' Think of the following simple example: a Wizard and a Barbarian both start 30' from an enemy. Who does more DPR?

The Barbarian does do more damage when they catch up to the enemy. But it took a Stride AND a Strike to that. Possibly two Strides if they were wearing Medium Armor. While they likely outdamage the Wizard, it still takes more actions than most people account for because we treat combat as if the Barbarian starts right next to the enemy.

And then there are enemies that the Barbarian can't catch. What is a barbarian going to do a Quasit flying overhead and harassing the party? At best they'll spend two actions to Ready a Strike. The Wizard probably can't target the sonic weakness, but they can reliably hit the thing.

This holds true for other ranged options as well. Ranged is NOT supposed to hold even with melee assuming each gets the same number of attacks in. Crossbows aren't, longbows aren't, and neither are cantrips. They are supposed to even the score by being more reliable, not by matching the raw DPR of a Barbarian that gets to hit things up close.

As far as resistance vs weakness, 81 monsters in the Bestiary have a resistance. 109 have a weakness. Weaknesses become more common past level 7, and cantrips rise in usability as well. Incorporeal entities, demons, devils, undead, etc. are all more common later on.

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Cantrips don't need to be particularly stronger, but the earlier parts of the campaign don't really show why. Let me give an example, a Blood Demon.

Blood Demons have AC 23, TAC 21, 143 HP. They have immunity to Acid and Weakness 7 to Cold, Cold Iron, and Good. When struck by a weapon, unarmed Strike, or even simply touched their acidic blood sprays out, potentially denting weapons or dealing acid damage to the player.

Would you rather hit the Blood Demon with a +1 Greatsword, or a Ray of Frost from 60 feet away? A 3rd level Ray of Frost only deals 1d8 + 4, while a +2 Greatsword deals 2d12 + 4. That's a difference of 17 - 8.5 = 8.5. The Ray of Frost deals almost as much damage as a solid fighter with no risk, even if it does take an extra action.

Now take a Flesh Golem. Would you rather strike it with the same Greatsword, Ray of Frost, or Produce Flame? One deals 17.5 damage, the other Slows them for 2d6 rounds, and the lattermost deals an average of 27.

This is what makes Acid Splash and Produce Flame deceptively stronger than other options. A crit from an Acid Splash against a creature with an appropriate weakness will quickly melt through their HP, as the Weakness adds to the persistent damage as well as the original attack.

I've found that picking up a spellcasting dedication really adds a lot of options to a fighter, and that is JUST the cantrips. Just being able to cast Message or Shield instead of a wasted third attack is often a big jump in efficiency. For a dedicated spellcaster, they allow you to keep up or even surpass martials if you fight things that are weak to the cantrips.

Cantrips also have one more utility: not needing a substantial investment to keep scaling. A Fighter needs two close to max level items to deal good damage both on the ground and at range (most often, vs fliers). Those with offensive cantrips have no such issue.

My experience with the final fight was a little different, largely because my players had maxed out Treasure/Research/Ally points. It took us 5.5 hours to complete Mirrored Moon, but almost all of my sessions have gone really fast (*). I would expect the typical number to be 7-8 hours.

Our party used Invisibility to make sure the whole group got the drop on the Cultists. While See Invisibility could have changed things, the 1 minute duration meant that the cultists wouldn't simply use it unless they got heard/smelt the party first.

With a couple +3 weapons and a lucky crit, the party cleared up a cultist and the boss mummy in just a couple rounds. The fight got extended with Mirror Image, Fly, and Invisibility, but the ambush took the wind out of the sails of the enemy and the fight concluded rather anti-dramatically (as expected with less enemies and better equipped players).

I think the final fight will really depend on how well your players can deal with the exploration and the harder encounters. My players were able to deal with the dragon and avoid the sea serpent, and got extremely lucky with the Rocs (they were soloed), and we had some real speedsters and survivalists (they also split up to cover more ground) so we sped through exploration. Getting a lot of extra treasure really makes a difference; giving your best martial a +3 weapon can by itself make a hard encounter easy.

The biggest thing I've seen extend fights is spellcasting (and looking up spells), and over-leveled enemies. I will put it this way: I expect nearly every group to TPK against a +4 boss mob. With a baked in +3 bonus, they hit on a 2 and crit on a 12, and often the party needs a 17-18 just to hit. To fight this my players played very cautiously, focusing on getting persistent damage on and keeping out of range. Running out of resources also forces slower play. There is some of this in the Affair at Sombrefell Mansion, but it appears more in Heroes of Undarin (3ish such encounters) and Red Flags (just 1, but almost unbeatable without a certain spell).

The Lost Star - 5 hours
In Pale Mountain's Shadow - 4.5 hours
Affair at Sombrefell Mansion - 5.5 hours
The Mirrored Moon - 5.5 hours
Arclord's Envy - 5.5 hours
Heroes of Undarin - 7 hours (all events)
Red Flags - 5 hours

Dreamtime2k9 wrote:

So i have to ask as before manbearscientist and mark's response to his offensive paladin example, i thought instances of damage didn't stack for sake of weaknesses.

So i'm curious what does stack with eachother for sake of triggering instances of weakness?

Holy rune (Radiant blade spirit or weapon rune)
Aura of faith
Holy Smite
Blade of justice

I assumed litany against wrath would be its own thing in his example in any case.

What if you also have flaming or axiomatic on your weapon and have a creature that is weak to fire in addition to good, would that trigger in addition to the good weakness trigger(s)?

From what Mark posted, I assume Holy/Flaming are procs. Separate sources of damage.

Aura of Faith and Blade of Justice both add good damage to your swing. They don't both trigger weakness, because they are a part of the same attack (they deal 5 good damage for a Paladin with 4 Charisma, not 1 + 4).

Holy Smite adds persistent good damage, its own thing.

Litany of Righteousness is its own thing.

So a Holy/Flaming Weapon with all the above vs a creature with weakness 10 to both Good and Fire would trigger:

Fire - Once, Flaming
Good - Four times, Litany + (Aura of Faith + Blade of Justice) + Holy Smite + Holy

For a total of 50 damage from weaknesses, plus the Xd6 + Y the effects and attack would actually deal.

For those thinking Paladins are can't deal damage, I'd recommend taking a look at the bestiary. Paladins can deal great damage, but it is through the exploitation of weaknesses. Particularly weaknesses to good.

A Paladin with just a nonmagical dagger and a Blade Spirit is going to deal more damage than a Barbarian with a level-appropriate greatsword. Take for instance a Treachery Demon (level 13) vs a level 12 Paladin and Barbarian.

The Paladin's attack deals just 1d4 + 5 (he is still strong). The Barbarian's +3 weapon is dealing 4d12, and he's adding on another 10 while raging. So baseline, the Paladin is dealing 7.5 damage, and the Barbarian 36. In fact, the Barbarian critically hits for 72 damage.

The Paladin spends their turn casting Litany of Wrath (demon fails), and the Blade of Justice. Their last action is to walk to the Barbarian. They do not attack.

They do more damage than the barbarian.

The Treachery Demon Strikes at the Barbarian for critically hitting it. The Paladin responds with a Retributive Strike. It hits. The demon now takes:

1d6 + 12 from Holy (Blade Spirit) = 15.5
6d6 + 12 from Litany of Wrath = 33
1 + 12 from Aura of Faith = 13
1 + 12 from Blade of Justice = 13
4 + 12 from Holy Smite = 16

So with one tiny swing, the Paladin deals 98 damage.

This is something that really isn't apparent just from reading the rulebook. Skimming through it, you'd expect the Paladin's abilities to top out at adding around 10 damage. But weaknesses really matter. In more normal scenarios, being able to get an extra weapon property or using Lay on Hands against the undead is a good way to compete or beat even min-maxed martials against the right foes.

For completion's sake, I feel that any given class should have the ability to reach legendary in any given proficiency. Not easily mind you, and not necessarily from class features.

Instead, I'd like to see an ultra-high level general feat that works as follows:

Legend - 19 - General, Skill - Master in (X)

Your proficiency in (X) increases to Legendary.

So let's take a Rogue. This Rogue is Dwarf with high Constitution, with a background as a Barkeep. As he levels up, he trains his Alcohol (Lore) skill as high as possible. After his brother is killed in an early adventure, he becomes more violent, taking the barbarian dedication, eventually getting up to Master in Fortitude thanks to the level 12 feat in that tree.

And then, he stops. The then level 20 Rogue/Barbarian that has brewed for Cayden Cailean himself is not capable, under any means magical or otherwise, of reaching Legendary Fortitude. No, he will always do worse than a full-Barbarian of the same level.

Adding this feat would give a lot of flavor to high-level campaigns (note: it does not have the "Can take multiple times" special text, even if you can somehow get another general feat). And while giving legendary proficiency in weapons is probably too strong to leave easily available (why play a fighter when a Wizard can dip a feat and get the same "BAB"), I think it would be okay with enough of a feat tree to climb that it becomes less of a dip and more of a focused sacrifice.

I'm not sure if the feat also needs to give the "if you would critically fail at an X save, you fail instead" text, as it is primarily a flavor thing, not a feat intended to be as strong as Evasiveness et. al.

I see the following as "the path" to reaching master status in each proficiency, in order to qualify for Legend

Perception - Alertness + Master Spotter
Fortitude - Great Fortitude + Juggernaut's Fortitude
Reflex - Lightning Reflexes + Evasiveness
Will - Iron Will + Mental Prowess (Bard level 8 feat)
A single weapon - Weapon Proficiency + Weapon Expert + Another feat that gives master proficiency to a single weapon in a group you are an expert in
A single armor - Armor Proficiency / Paladin Dedication + Armor Expert + an equivalent feat to the above weapon feat
Unarmed - Expert Strikes + unarmed version of the 'weapon master' feat
Unarmored - Unarmored Expertise + armored version of the 'weapon master' feat
Skills - 3 + 7 skill increases

So in general, I think it should take 4 feats Perception or save Legend, for 5-6 feats for weapon Legend, and 6-7 feats for heavy/medium/light/unarmored Legend. Less for a character getting abilities that their class naturally advances in.

While this may cause some math issues at the topmost end of play, I think this is a cool way to make high-level characters unique and flavorful. One high level Halfling Alchemist may train to legendary status as a sling staff user, while another becomes an unmatched mental savant with legendary Will.

It is less about what it changes mathematically, more about the finishing touches it gives to a character. I think even just having the option will open up a lot of concepts.

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I don't think that Fighter 2/Wizard 2 or a three part mix is worth keeping, primarily because it doesn't work on pathfinder as-is. As a DM, I have to explain to my players the outcome of their decisions, and I've in the past dealt with a half-sy character that was told beforehand they would be less powerful and still went that way for theme.

Effectively, they weren't a level 12 character. They were just slightly stronger than a level 6. They couldn't hit an at-level foe, they had weak spells, and they lacked in per day resources.

I would rather have playable multiclass archetypes that aren't explicitly weaker than going 1/1/1/1/1 for 1 level dips or going single class than having more options but having them all sacrifice power for player control of the theme.

As far as discovering a more preferred class later on, I do agree that such a thing is an issue. I'd like to see a way to resolve it Raw by making a multiclass archetype your main class and swapping for main class to an archetype. But again, I don't want a return to the days where spellcasters couldn't multiclass for theme without being completely nonviable.

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The game isn't balanced around healing to full between combats, and shouldn't be.

1. It makes weak encounters meaningless
2. It forces rocket-tag; for encounter to matter, they need 100-0 potential if players start at 100
3. If an encounter can 100-0, the enemies need to either be extremely tough, extremely numerous, or extremely deadly to account for the difference in action economy
4. If most encounters have that potential, you create more opportunities for party wipes or 'random' deaths
5. This ISN'T balanced. It makes fights that matter 50/50 endeavors ... but parties need to win to advance. RPGs require the PCs win 90% of the time just to advance the plot. Fights need to feel challenging and have consequences without becoming rocket-tag or making every combat a coin-flip.

It is foolish to advance into combat at <50% health if you can manage otherwise, but I've found in both Heroes of Undarin and The Affair at Sombrefell Hall that players are generally okay at 70-80%. Note that in both cases I had the healing of both a Paladin and a Cleric, it just wasn't used to top-off everyone after every combat.

My take as a GM was simply to shrug and accept the necessity of a healer and to run a low importance Paladin/Cleric if the party lacked one. This still gives meaning to weaker combats (they run through healing resources), without creating 20-0 encounters that prey on low-life parties or forcing 100-0 encounters.

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I have ran books 1-6 (Lost Star through Heroes of Undarin) and this scenario. I ran this scenario with two players that had not played in the system, and a few players that had. It went a lot more smoothly the OP's run.

Party composition:

Human Alchemist, who chose Sleep Poison formula as their one uncommon item and used a hand crossbow or frontlined with mutagens
Dwarf Cleric, Divine Ward from Domain + healing feats
Elf Bow Fighter w/ Wizard Dedication
Goblin Rogue, used a dogslicer until the ambush and had a couple invisibility potions
Half-Orc Barbarian (spirit totem), using a Great Pick

Our ACs were 21-22 across the board.

In the golem fight, the golem activated very early, round 2. The squishier characters (Alchemist with 53 HP, Rogue with 61) had avoided getting too close to the golem contained in silk, and we hadn't yet fully explored the area.

The Alchemist took the time to make a Recall Knowledge check. This was absolutely crucial. It didn't reveal the crippling weakness to fire, but it did allow them to follow up with Ray of Frost to keep the golem slowed (11 rounds rolled).

The Cleric used Divine Ward to tank some of the damage from the initial hit on the Barbarian; the Fighter was still around the corner and hadn't yet joined the fight. When they did, they cast Ray of Frost thanks to their Wizard Dedication.

The frontliners focused primarily on flanking, including the Alchemist who popped a Smokestick round 1 and then Stone Fist Elixir + Bestial Mutagen R2 and went in to brawl.

While a lot of damage was taken, it wasn't quite enough to drop anyone. The Barbarian had too much HP to chew through (93 counting THP), and would have used Orc Ferocity to stay up even if the golem had critically hit a couple times. The Elf Fighter was allowed to attack freely (Point-Blank Shot). The Cleric was essentially a Healadin, using 1-action Heal to keep them sustained and tanking hits with Divine Ward.

The Rogue popped an invisibility potion and got into position to get off hits with their dogslicer, and the fight essentially ended when the Barbarian rolled a natural 20 with their Great Pick, dealing an outstanding 5d12 + 19.

Narrative-wise, the party was a little confused. They thought the golem in the workshop WAS the golem that crushed the wizard underfoot, and jumping after the large Quantium golem afterwards forced us to rewind and explain things.

The party did not have great difficulty getting the body down from the Quantium golem. The PCs easily made the DC 14 Stealth check to avoid the Golem's gaze, and a variety of them made the success checks to free the body. The Alchemist simply jumped up using a Jump Potion. The Barbarian used great Athletics and Acrobatics skill checks to succeed at their checks, and the Rogue was a round shy of beating the Thievery DCs (basically it became a race between the players).

The party bypassed the encounter with Keemah. Or, more simply, the ambushed ended in a single attack. The Alchemist spotted the ambushers and on the first round fired a pre-prepared Sleep Poison bolt. They critically hit on the attack, and Keemah critically failed on the save and was brought back for questioning. The party rested before the gala.

The party was pretty confused about what to do with the gala. They ended up coming in one at a time, and striking up conversations to find the Arclord. Unfortunately, this gave a LOT of prep time to the Arclord, and the party barely managed to stumble to the garden at the same time (the GM had to prod them pretty heavily into it).

We skipped the animated statues to save on time.

The Arclord had the initiative, and started by casting a Flaming Sphere which sat on the Archer (who went to an upper balcony overseeing the garden) for a large portion of the fight. The Arclord, in this case, was Ngasi. I'll note the narrative made it hard to pinpoint between the two, as the human-sized talons could have easily been explained by Phrakavu's summoning. The ranger also got hit with an Acid Arrow.

Another unfortunate critical hit with a Vine Arrow from the Elf Fighter took the apprentice out of combat before they really had a chance to contribute.

The Rogue had switched to the +1 crossbow dropped in the ambush, and joined the Fighter on the balcony putting pot-shots in on the Arclord knowing that (from a previous Gather Information roll) they could see through their potion of Invisibility. The Arclord responded by using the trees/shrubbery for cover.

The Barbarian, Alchemist, and Cleric struggled to approach the Arclord on foot. The Barbarian tried to Sudden Charge, but was met with readied actions from the Elementals. While the Barbarian had Swipe, they wanted to rush down the boss and the pushing of the elementals really prevented them from getting close.

The Cleric mostly focused on Divine Warding damage and healing it back up. They eventually were downed in the second stage of the fight, but luckily not too late to keep the party healthy.

After the Quicksilvered Alchemist and other members got to the middle of the map, the Arclord used their superior speed to retreat to the Fountain at the end with her elementals. The Rogue by this point had jumped down to hunt for a better angle for their crossbow, crucially putting them in range to use the Ring of Counterspells against a Fireball when all but the Fighter had clumped up.

The barbarian, fighter, and alchemist eventually decided to deal with the elementals, but not before the Arclord took flight with Aerial Form and the elementals began exploiting the fountain that the party had jumped into trying to get the Arclord down.

It was looking pretty grim. The Arclord had Acid Arrow'ed the Fighter, the Cleric, and Rogue and was content to circle and direct the Flaming Sphere. The elementals almost drowned the Rogue before the Barbarian finished them off. The cleric was downed through a combination of Divine Ward, Acid Arrow, and Flaming Sphere.

Once again, the party was saved by a timely critical hit. This time it was the Fighter's Tanglefoot cantrip, which made the Arclord immobile. As per the rules on Flight, if you were airborne during your turn and didn't make a Fly action, you fall. The Arclord came crashing down right next to the downed Cleric, taking 40 fall damage and surviving with just a a few HP left. The rest of the party, unwilling to risk another Fireball, swarmed her and took her out.

Ultimately the last battle took a significant portion of time, as the enemies played very defensively and relied on DoT effects to do most of the damage. The party didn't really try to end persistent damage effects or get out of Flaming Sphere range, so they did a lot of work. The players were satisfied with the encounters, but did not get much out of the story or the writing. It was seen as somewhat more railroaded than normal.

The important takeaways were that:

* Items/tactics are more important than 'optimal' AC, as opposed to PF1 where building correctly and full-attacking made you very strong vs at-level encounters
* Recall Knowledge was crucial in preventing damage in the golem fight; we would have died if we played 'efficiently' and simply attacked
* mutagens/potions/poisons were precrafted at the beginning of the day; the alchemist never used quick alchemy to maximize resonance and the mutagens proved effective
* The Fighter randomly having cantrips saved the party's bacon twice
* Sleep poison is either useless or ridiculous with its encounter ending effect and meager DC
* DoT effects are very powerful, as a few level 2 Acid Arrows did over 20d6 of damage just from persistent (no 20s rolled against it)
* The healer using Divine Ward made them even stronger than normal, and without them the math would have been heavily out of favor
* Backgrounds did not come up or matter a single time in the scenario

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The Party (names redacted to protect the innocent:

Wave 1:
Human Paladin/Grey Maiden 'The Tank/Healer'
Dwarf Druid 'The Blaster'
'Elf' Monk (not 100% sure) 'The DPS'

Wave 2:
Human Cleric 'The Mad Healer'
Dwarf Druid 'The Blaster'
'Elf' Monk 'The DPS'
Half-Elk Fighter 'Tridents!'
Rogue/Wizard/Fighter 'The Shank'

Wave 3:
Human Paladin/Grey Maiden 'The Tank/Healer'
Dwarf Druid 'The Blaster'
'Elf' Monk 'The DPS'
Goblin Rogue/Wizard/Fighter 'The Shank'

We ran this over a period of 2.5 sessions. Each session had different compositions due to scheduling conflicts, which likely inflated our total HP pool. Items were split among the original party members, except for ranged ammunition which was taken by the Rogue.

Overall, we took roughly 1500-2000 damage over the course of the session, ending as predicted in a wipe (though a few changes might have seen the party all the way through). The party used all the tools available to it: 4 channel heals, 10+ spell slots of Heal, 6 lay on hands, the entirety of the monk's resonance pool on Holy crits, every offensive spell of the Druid, every healing potion given, etc.


When it came to dividing up the items, the monk took the goggles of night, the holy rune, and the ring of climbing. The paladin took the slippers of spider climb, and the lesser ring of fire resistance. The rest went to the Druid except for consumables, which were split.

The party burned down the stable with Produce Flame. Party members made checks to determine that the stained glass windows would provide a benefit by passing the Religion check, but never realized what it did exactly and never actually utilized the benefit. They found the extra healing potions.

In the 10 minutes the party had to explore, they decided it would be best to use 2 Wall of Stones to cut off entrances and prevent easy access down the stairs. They did some scouting of the room, and decided that the climbing items and the high ceiling were tactically important (they were). I made the call that there were some rafters about 4" across near the top of the ceiling. The party scouted around the graveyard and discovered that it was desecrated. The Druid, who had not prepared Light, decided it was best to use a Searing Light to activate the stained glass, not realizing it would wear out (I allowed the use of the higher level spell to activate the glass's effect). The monk, who was a worshipper of Desna, did find the statue's benefit and the rest the party crowded the statue for the buff.

And then time ran out and the first event started.

Total Resources burned: 10ish Resonance, two 5th-level spells, 1 3rd level spell.

Event 1:

The Monk and the Druid did very good on their Perception checks for initiative. This was a consistent theme of the night, as both were Wisdom based classes with Expert Perception, items to benefit Perception, and even Incredible Initiative. The Paladin went last.

The Druid uses Stormwind Flight to avoid the demons. This is another recurring theme. Most of the demons lacked ranged weapons, and while they were effective at getting to the martials they lacked real options for dealing with a flying spellcaster.

The Monk was able to down their enemy very quickly with the help of critical hits and the holy rune/cold iron strike dealing consistent extra damage. Against the lower level demons, the extra 10-15 damage per hit and ease of critting made the Monk a consistent strong performer, especially as the night wore on.

The Druid a Tempest Surge on round one, dealing okay but not great damage. On the Paladin's turn, they used Automatic Knowledge to make a religion check and determined that the Slaver Demons were weak to Acid. The Druid spent the rest of the fight spamming acid flask, even getting persistent damage from a critical hit.

The Paladin spent most rounds going Blade of Justice > Strike > Raise Shield. As they were the only combatant the demons could easily reach thanks the the monks climbing and the Druid's Flight, they took a little damage as the demons swarmed the easiest target, but their ultra-high AC made that a bit of a trap. They didn't lose much health, and burned one Lay on Hands after the fight.

Total resources burned: 1 Lay on Hands, 3 SP

Event 2

The Treachery Demons were a very difficult fight, and the closest the party came to a wipe before the final event. The Monk and Druid again went first and the Paladin last.

The Treachery Demons each came in close to a melee fighter, on opposite ends of the church. This is a little bit of a misplay on my part; I read the Demons as Medium sized spellcasters but they likely could not have fit on the western end of the church as giant beetles. I realized that it is difficult to get an idea of size from reading the new text boxes, you have to pay attention to the traits box.

As one could expect, Reverse Gravity was extremely effective in this fight versus two martials. As the ceiling was 10' above the cylinder, the martials did not even fall all the way to solid ground, instead being suspended in the air unable to fight back. The Paladin near the rubble was able to Grab Edge with Acrobatics, but the Monk was essentially taken out of the fight.

The Druid made the decision to use their last 5th level spell slot to cast Elemental Form - Fire. As the monk chose a Ring of Fire Resistance, they were essentially immune to the damage of the form, and the speed allowed the Druid to head across the church to the eastern side and 'rescue' the monk with a grapple. The Paladin was able to keep the western Treachery Demon busy; thankfully they had Defensive and One-Handed Climber, so they dropped their shield and focused on holding on and readying an attack to disrupt movement/teleporting.

Again, the Paladin's Automatic Knowledge came into play. As you can guess from the choice of Elemental Form, they had called out in the first round that the Demon was an Envy demon, weak to Fire! The Druid and the Monk were able to kill the first Treachery Demon over 2-3 rounds; it managed to land one Rake that did a lot of damage, but its Confusion spells did not have a good target vs the two Wisdom-based characters.

The other Treachery Demon played hard to get, exploiting at-will Dimension Door and Mirror Image to attack and then get behind the Reverse Gravity cylinders. However, the monk and the druid were speedsters and in the church they could just barely keep up with the constant teleporting and get chip damage in.

Had the druid not spent a turn switching sides, it would have been likely been a very quick fight the other way, with the treachery demons picking off the martials at their leisure. Instead, after 6-7 rounds they were able to take this wave down.

The toad demon did not matter much in this encounter, as it was killed rather early thanks to crit. failing vs Tempest Surge.

Resources used: 4 SP, 1 5th level spell, 1 2nd level spell (Flaming Sphere), 1 3rd level spell (Fireball)

Event 3

The monk and druid go first again. The Paladin goes before most of the blood demons this time, who stream in 3 each on the left and right side. The Druid Cone of Colds the ones on the left, and Paladin begins to fight through the ones on the right, which begin by spamming a few fields of Darkness knowing the human Paladin couldn't see. The monk went outside to slow down the Slime Demon.

After a while, the Monk got tired of the Cloudkill damage and decided to head back indoors. This was probably good for the Slime Demon, as it really would have preferred a ranged weapon user to Slime trap or a melee user with a lower save DC to grab.

This is when the Monk discovered the side-effect of Holy. They were easily critting on the much lower level Blood Demons, making them easy ways to restore health. He finished off the ones on the left, and the druid used another Cone of Cold on the ones on the right. The Paladin had taken a decent amount of damage, but the two powerful cold spells had left this a 3v1 versus the Slime Trap, who was easily beaten down despite critting the druid (who responded by bringing the still up Flaming Sphere over; that thing has duration-concentration with no 1 min. qualifier).

Resources used: 2 6th level spells, 2 lay on hands, 2 resonance

At the end of the first wave, the biggest issue is that that Druid was not frugal with their spells. Though they sometimes maintained crazy efficiency, in the first and last fight they used almost the entirety of the high-power spells. At this point, none of the healing potions had been used, the Paladin still had 5-6 more SP to use to Heal/Lay on Hands, and the Monk hadn't dipped into SP yet for Wholeness of Body.

At the end of this wave the Monk was down 100 HP, the Paladin 125, and the Druid about 30.

Wave 2, Event 4

The Paladin went off during this wave to try to contact a local regiment of crusaders in case they needed aid. In reality, this was a week after Wave 1 and this was a retcon explaining where the Cleric, Fighter, and Rogue came from. During this event, the Paladin was out.

The Cleric used the time in between waves to cast Heal 3 times with Channel Energy. This mostly topped off the party before the event started.

When the event hit, the Wisdom-based classes again proved quick on the update. They decided to hit the wraiths at the graveyard, and struggled to get through their resistance without a ghost touch weapon. No one realized that the fight would be significantly easier in the church (the Cleric had Light, unlike the Druid).

While the church had the party acting quite tactical and exploiting the geography, this wave mostly consisted of the party brute-forcing their way through the enemies on desecrated land while taking many high level AoEs.

Other than the top-off heals, the party avoiding taking major damage or using resources against the wraiths, thanks to some timely critical hits by the monk.

Resources Burned: 3 Channel Healing Heals, 10ish Resonance (new characters joining)

Event 5

The party was still around the graveyard, having lined up in the hole near the eastern wall. The lich went first, critting on its Perception roll. It cast a Cone of Cold, catching 3 members of the party.

The Druid used their last 6th level spell, Dragon Form, to turn into a large Black Dragon. This allowed them to outspeed the Lich, and they got lucky on positioning several times with their Acid Breath. One ghost mage was crit by the monk, who healed off the blow with Holy. The trident thrower and rogue mostly kited around the edge of the graveyard, while Cleric spent the combat throwing up max-level Heal after max-level Heal (Healing Font/Channel Energy) to keep the party alive through 2 Cone of Colds and an Exsanguination).

The dragon managed to Grapple the Lich, and chose not maintain its flight, sending both of them to ground for 40 damage. The players avoided using a single spell on the Lich's Counterspell list thanks to spell list and having already burned through their higher level options.

Resources Burned: 6th level spell, 1 Channel Energy, 4 SP (Healing Font), 1 Resonance, 2 SP (Wholeness of Body) after the fight

Then came the Demilich ...

Event 6

The party's martials stayed in the graveyard through this fight, killing the zombies. The ultra-weak zombies mostly provided fuel for the monk, who healed 4 times throughout the fight with Holy procs.

The Druid decided to let the dragon form subside so they could cast their other spells after seeing the Demilich's telepathic storm and having used their Breath Attack.

No player decided to roll Recall Knowledge vs the banshees, deciding that every action was necessary to power down the Demilich. The lich began the fight with a Wail of the Banshees, which did remarkably little thanks to the parties high Will saves. Staying near the Demilich was a remarkably bad idea, and probably should have led to a wipe as they then got hit with ... two MORE Wail of the Banshees. This reduced the parties effective health by about 200, and resulted in the Cleric spamming heal every round of the fight.

The Druid used a critical Searing Light to help clear off the Demilich, who did take a decent amount of damage from the Heal spells and stayed in melee to get the most out of its telekinetic storm. It even bit for 3 damage once. It seemed like the intent of the Demilich was to use Trap Soul on a living creature, but no creature entered Dying (the 15d10 from the 3 Wails just wasn't enough, and the Drained was rather incremental); perhaps Trap Soul was intended to be usable on someone that wasn't dying. They picked up the Lich's Greater Staff of Fire after this fight.

The Demilich cast Polar Ray on the second round of combat, but missed on a 3 and then died. The Banshees took 4 more rounds of fighting to be cleared off, mostly because they had constant concealment and the party never used the resistance-halving off the church. Contingency did not matter in this fight, though that was a lucky coincidence.

The Rogue was not a good pick for this fight. They had dipped deep into Wizard for Invisibility casting, and Fighter for Combat Grab. Though they managed to make the Demilich flat-footed, standing in the storm most opened them up to being AoEed. They used their one True Strike early on in the fight. They picked up the Lich's dropped scrolls after this fight.

The Trident user managed to avoid most of that. They used Double/Triple Shot or Double Slice to effectively deal a lot of damage, though unfortunately it was heavily resisted.

Resources Burned: 4 SP (Healing Font), 6 SP (Wholeness of Body), 4 Resonance (Holy), 3rd level spell, 3 1st level spells (Heal), 2nd-6th level spell (Heal), 2 resonance (healing potions), 2 Hero Points

The Cleric had prepared a LOT of heals, and it helped. It shows the tremendous power of the Heal spell in this playtest. The party did things the wrong way, took a ton of AoE damage, and still survived thanks to crazy amounts of healing.

At the end of the day, the Cleric and Fighter were swapped for the returning Paladin, who had found no surviving members of the crusading group. We were down to 2 casts of Greater Invisibility from the Rogue, 3-4 SP from the Paladin, 2 SP and 4 Resonance for the Monk, and 2nd and 4th level spells from the Druid.

Wave 3, Event 7

The Paladin and Monk stayed on the ground. The Rogue, who had taken the cold iron bolts and explosive ammunition, was accompanied by the Druid in the rafters.

The Boar Demons continued a trend of Demons without good ways of hitting ranged combatants. The Monk/Druid went first, then Rogue, then Boar Demons, then Paladin.

The demons did not see the Rogue, so their Light of Avarice found very little to hit. They mostly went bashing on the wall of stone to try to enter the catacombs or mauling the Paladin. The Druid helpfully cast Wall of Fire on the Demon as near the stairway, hitting the Paladin as well.

The Monk, Rogue, and Druid laid waste to one Boar Demon relatively quickly, using cold iron, holy fists, and Acid Splash. The high saves, and CN + Evasiveness of the Rogue made the Boar Demon's sole ranged option (Divine Decree) rather worthless.

The Paladin however got to face the full brunt of a level 14 melee monster, and went into dying. In a wall of fire. The party did nothing, and so she died along with the parties second best source of good damage and major remaining healing.

Then the other 3 quickly killed the other Boar Demon and retreated back up to safety.

Resources Expended: 3 Hero points (bad rolls), Paladin, 2 SP (Wholeness of Body), 4 cold iron bolts, 4th level spell (greater invisibility).

Event 8

The best cantrip in this playtest is Electric Arc, even if it is really oddly worded. Luckily both the Rogue/Wizard and the Druid had access to it, as the toad demons were all weak to it.

The Rogue exploited the remaining time with the Greater Invisibility to make good work of one Toad Demon. The Druid used their 4th level spell slot to Fly (they complained of the lack of good options in this slot a lot); the Toad Demon's again failed to have major ways to deal with this. They could grab melee fighters (and did do a number of the Rogue once they found them with Seek), but again the only ranged option was Divine Decree vs a party with strong saves.

Even with dimension door, they struggled to deal with the flying druid and climbing monk. It took a long time, but the party essentially played 'the floor is lava/swamp' and electric arced the demons to death.

Resources used: 4th level spell (Fly), 2 SP (Wholeness of Body), 4th level spell (Greater Invisibility), remainder of resonance thanks to chugging health pots after the fight

Event 9

Oh boy. So first off, some mistakes. We ran this late in the night and didn't have the mental energy to check our spells or the demon's reaction. So we thought Ray of Frost was 30' instead of 60', a major factor in this fight. We also thought that the demon's Tail Whip was a double plus Attack of Opportunity that triggered even on Step/Stand as they had the move trait.

This led to a fight where we had no higher level spell slots to hurt the level 16 demon, and struggled to land blows thanks to the level difference. We started the fight as good as we could; the Monk rolled great on initiative, the Mutilation Demon rolled a nat 1 on Reflex vs the 6th level Cone of Cold of the Rogue (scroll).

But the lack of healing or strong remaining spells, and the weakness-hitting cantrip requiring us to go into the demon's 30' quick/paralysis zone made this encounter impossible.

We did exploit the height difference again, but with one big difference: this demon flies. The board demons did as well, but this one more quickly exploited the party's tactic. It retreated outside the building, then Dimension Door'ed through the ceiling above where the party was climbing. It then fell on them, taking and dealing 50' of fall damage, but more importantly getting everyone in its kill zone but the rogue.

It then exploited its level difference on attacks and super Attack of Opportunity to prevent escapes, quickly killing the Monk. Funnily enough, the Druid did nearly 80 points of damage from Storm Retribution as they used the new Dying rules and Hero Points to get back up a few times and tanked quite a few critical hits before going down.

The Rogue decided that they weren't really all the keen on dying to the protect a group of heroes, and bailed hoping the demon would care more about the ritual below than their life. They were right, and were vindicated when the party below returned to the surface with the White Axiom.

Resources used: Monk, Druid, 6th level scroll of Cone of Cold, the remainder of our Spell Points, 4 hero points (given relatively liberally throughout the waves).


* The party exploited physical geometry, but failed to take advantage of the resistance halving of the church in wave 2
* Holy healed the monk over 100 HP, mostly versus weak mobs
* Cantrips dealt the majority of the damage vs the demons
* The demons, minus the treachery and mutilation demons, lacked good ways to deal with high saves or a height advantage
* The Cleric had 13 6th level heals + 6 others. They could have healed north of 1500 damage, which was probably too much.
* The high wisdom classes meant the party reliably went first
* Assurance + Automatic Knowledge meant the party usually came into play with knowledge of weaknesses
* Had the Paladin stayed alive and the Druid saved the Dragon Form for the last battle (White) they may have beaten the Mutilation Demon thanks to healing, consistent damage from the monk, and rarely being truly challenged by earlier demons
* Persistent good/fire/acid made certain demons easy. There aren't easy ways to get persistent cold for later fights and no one picked a +2 weapon with frost, a big reason why the last fight was harder
* I could have seen a wipe at the Treachery Demon, the Lich, the Demilich, or the Mutilation demon, but we avoided the domino scenario till the end.

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This isn't about power levels, though those are also a concern with the second edition alchemist. This is about the conceptual identity of the class. In second edition, EVERY Alchemist:

* Relies on performing quick alchemy in battle
* Uses bombs as the primary source of their damage
* Gets mutagens at level 5
* Starts mixing potions at 13

That means each and every alchemist is split between bombs, elixirs, and the more specific cousin to elixirs in mutagens. And the concept for the latter two doesn't even come online until level 5 or 13. Want to be a Dr. Jekyl style mutant that focuses on natural attacks? Sorry, you must use bombs at levels 1, 2, 3, and 4.

This is nearly identical to a problem identified with Druids in 1st edition. Each and every Druid (minus archetypes) marched through the same class progression. Wanted to be a Wild Shape focused Druid? Wait till level 4, like everyone else. The class overlapped themes of elemental destruction, turning into animals, calling on animals for aid, and controlling plants.

Second edition fixed this overlap by giving Druids a level 1 choice between orders. Now you could be a Storm Druid, or a Leaf Druid, or a Druid that started off focusing on Animals and later learned how to become one.

I think Alchemist should be treated the same way. At level 1, give them a choice between four distinct "styles" of Alchemist, each of which grants a level 1 Alchemist feat (with bonuses if you are in the style). The four styles I think are obvious are:

* Bombs
* Mutagens
* Poisons
* Constructs

The bomb feat would give an expanded resonance pool that could only be used to craft bombs. But if you are in the style, you would get either a significantly larger pool or even the ability to make bombs for no resonance cost. Later bomb feats would give additional benefits to grenadiers, for example Smoke Bomb might be a later feat that either spreads or requires a save to avoid giving the sick condition.

The mutagen feat would allow alchemists to treat Mutagens as if they were 4 levels lower and common for the purposes of crafting, though the mutagens would only be usable by the alchemist. But if you are in the style, you also can store the mutagens in your body for more rapid transformations (though storing them in your body means they may activate by themselves if you take damage!). Later feats would expand on mutagens in ways similar to what the alchemist has already.

The poison feat I'm imagining gives the same bonus pool to resonance as the bomb feat. However, those in the style would learn how to make and apply poisons with one hand in a single action. Further feats would allow alchemists to control the dosage, making an elixir that functions as a healing tincture if applied to an ally or a deadly poison if applied to an enemy.

The crafting feat would give an alchemical familiar. However, those in the style get a mechanical companion! This would in all ways be similar to a young animal companion, and Alchemists would get additional feats to improve their constructs at the rate of the Ranger. But they would get some additional love as well. For instance, a higher level feat might allow them to store a potion in one of their constructs, letting their alchemical familiar deliver a healing potion or even letting their construct use a dragon's breath potion.

These are just examples of how I see such a division working. The key concept, however, is separate and I believe stands on its own. And it isn't mine! Paizo has already used it to great effect with the Barbarian, Bard and Druid, three of my favorite classes from the playtest. I think they should sincerely think about doing the same with alchemist, no matter what else they try to do to actually balance the class.