It actually came to pvp at my table with regards to Cinnabar. The party's magus managed to get her to her morale threshold and triggered the "event". When she's begging for death, the party's anti-paladin went "have it your way" and moved to attack. The magus tripped her on the way through to save her. He's a member of the Korvosan Guard and he wanted to interrogate her.
It got testy their for a minute and the party's took her weapons while she was freaking out and kept her locked down while she freaked out, letting her go once she was through the worst of it. Book 4 had some of the most tense RP moments in the AP (which I did not expect when I started reading it).
She's beginning to become a regular source of intelligence on the Queen's activities, but isn't interested in fighting. I'm looking at bringing her back as an ally in some of the fights in book five, but equipped with Merciful weapon enchantments. Maybe as the new Blackjack. (The mostly lawful neutral party and Blackjack have not seen eye-to-eye).
I just finished running this book for my players and I was worried going in. For them, the inhospitable environment and access to two full casters meant they just teleported to rest back in Kaer Maga and teleported back the next day, so the threat of the environment only really existed while they traveled on foot.
Instead I decided to focus on the characters and organizations moving about the area as the hook. The environment wasn't going to challenge them, but that doesn't make alliances. Their alliance with the Shoanti starts pretty fragile, so their guides were often targets for the Red Mantis. More than once they had to shift tactics to protect their allies (including bringing some back from the dead).
I played up the Truthspeaker's interest in the party, and showed him to be a helpful and competent ally. The moon clan's intro with retaking the shrine was a bit "too dumb to live" for my taste, but I made it about their pride in front of outsiders more than a cultural need to avenge their comrades. I tied the Truthspeaker's arrival to a random encounter where he was able to show off that he wasn't just some helpless old man and that he had his own motives.
I made the choice to do the Vault before the last few challenges, as I wanted to break up the flow a bit. I had the Truthspeaker come with them as a witness to their deeds. When he was able to recount the efforts the party went to, saving Cinnabar from herself, but also using magic to capture many of the Grey Maidens alive it fed into the narrative. I gave them Respect Points for taking prisoners, flavoring it as the Truthspeaker telling the Sun Clan that they are strong enough to not fear weaker enemies.
I also played up the politics by changing rebuilding the Red Mantis Assassins who attack the PCs in Flameford to be a kill team of specialists sent to kill them. I left notes in the vault detailing the PCs origins and known abilities, as well as names and info on these specialist assassins. It gave the book a thrilling conclusion and my players were excited when the illusions failed on each assassin, replacing each generic red mantis with a unqiue foe.
So hopefully this provides some inspiration for other parts of the story to focus on if "desolate land of heat and monsters" gets old.
Name: Kei, the Rubellite Sage
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Class: Death Druid 9
Description: A young man with tan skin, unkempt white hair and red eyes (most of the time). The one time tomb robber from Osirion had his life change when was bound to the restless spirits whose resting places he plundered. Blending the Druidic traditions of his people and his connection to the spirits, he began to seek out the haunted places of the world to put to rest the spirits that people like him helped to stir.
With him travels Zarisha al-Sahba, one of many spirits whose final business he's been cursed to see to. A cultist who died fruitlessly and now clings to the despair the mortal world brought them. The pair work well together, operating as investigators, infiltrators, and archaeologists for the Scarab Sages and the Pathfinder Society.
1. Class Design: While some of them are rough and definitely need some tuning (Alchemist chief among them), I like the modular direction of class option. It's a much more dynamic system and adds to character customization. If anything, classes like Ranger and Paladin could stand to be more modular.
2. The Dubious Knowledge Feat: A Fun, Rewarding Feat that makes failure interesting. It's fantastic. Please Keep It.
3. Action system: It's a fun system to play. It's easy to explain and it flows well. It really gives the developers a chance to work in the space of things like how effective a single action ability should be vs. a 2 action one. I really think there's a lot to play with and its fun to play.
1. The Return of the 5 minute adventuring day. This could be all three it bothers me so much. I get the drive to remove the Cure Light Wounds Wand due to its negative impact on the narrative, it was a player fix to a problem in D&D as well as Pathfinder. That problem is the 5 minute adventuring day. The changes to healing, lower available spell slots and overall weaker spells seem to make the time between rests 1-2 encounters on average.
2. Half-Breeds: They went and took out two core races and boiled them down to feats (and not even interesting ones). Beyond this, the playtest has done a lot to present itself as providing more options than the Core of PF1. Seeing that we're Net -1 one options out the gate is discouraging.
3. Spell slots: Okay, so the 5 minute adventuring day is gonna be 2 of my 3. However, I felt this needed calling out. Spells are weaker and I get that. Because of that, your casters are going to cast more of them. Now reduce the number of spells per day significantly and you just run out of juice too quickly to feel heroic. Either spells need to be more powerful or there needs to be more slots.
3-1 Also, the spontaneous heightening thing is bullocks. You had a great "Undercast" system with the psychic magic in the Occult book. It felt good, was pretty easy to explain and allowed you to feel like you were learning to better control your spells. Love it. Just do that.
3-2. That said, the rest of the built-in metamagic options are lovely. They use the action economy effectively, are interesting options, and make casters feel powerful. Just...maybe put them all in one list that casters can draw from. Save some trees and reading time.
I'm gonna come out and ask, because I think its fundamental to the direction of my future critique.
Is the 5 minute adventure day a feature or a bug?
Resonance as a way to manage equipment hasn't given me any issues. It needs some work, yes. The alchemist and it need a divorce, because its an abusive one-sided relationship. However, for equipped magic items and the like its fine.
For healing, its an utter bust. The "Wand of Cure Light Wounds" problem didn't spring up in a void. It sprang up because the effectiveness of offensive actions greatly exceeds the effectiveness of healing and class resources to mitigate damage (buffs & debuffs). An affordable healing solution meant the cleric was solely dedicated to healing. It meant you didn't need a cleric or a life oracle.
The hard return to 5 minute adventuring day is disappointing and jarring. While the rest of the game feels like something of the 21st century, healing feels less like 2nd Edition Pathfinder and more like 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. If that's the feel you're going for,go for it. If you're trying to get away from that old trope, maybe look for better solutions to healing.
Your post is asking for two mutually exclusive things.
If they do put in a bunch of such hacks, survivability may go up but the design would likely be clunky (like channel) and be harder to balance.
PF2 would be a far better game if there were no channel and parties could survive with a variety of healing options.
You can't "have more options" while calling more diverse options "hacks" or "bandaids". To have more options is to have more options. Removing Channel isn't adding options. Buffing the Heal spell isn't adding options. You are specifically narrowing options.
Lets go back to the origin of Channel Energy in PF1, where it was Paizo's fix to healing in 3.5 D&D. It gave Clerics three resources: Spells, Domain Powers, and Channel. This is mirrored in the PF2 version, which has Spells, Spell Points and Channel. Except that now you get less domain powers and less spells. Channel continues to scale, but at a slightly more reliable rate thanks to the higher die and wisdom bonus.
What you're calling "bandaids" are really options and they should include them. There should be a healing focused build of the alchemist. It's thematic, its mechanically interesting, and it allows more non-divine healing into the game. You're right that as is, a cleric is essentially mandatory. However, your wrong in your solution. The problem ins't cleric, heal or channel energy. The problem is in how spells have been powered down and the action economy has made enemies more dangerous.
You can keep saying this, but it doesn't make it true.
Or maybe the problem is available spell slots, the power of spells over and the availability of mitigation options? "Gut cleric" isn't a solution, its creating another problem. We're back to D&D's healbot cleric. Only its worse because instead of being able to disable enemies with spells, PF2 clerics can just hamper them.
Making the Heal spell more powerful doesn't fix mitigation. Maybe it makes druid and Div Sorc more capable, but it doesn't help Paladin or Alchemist. Even increasing the dice doesn't really help cleric, both because of how the three action version of heal works and because you'll be applying the static modifier less times per day.
Example @ lvl 2:
The same cleric using Playtest Channel can cast, lets call it an average of 6/day (assuming a 16 Cha). You'll heal 1d8+4 per spell, for an average of 8 per heal, but with a daily average of 48 points healed per day. Plus, you'll still have three spells left to do things other than heal with.
Your 1st level heal spell, to effectively replace channel's healing throughput would need to start at 2d8. And all the cleric would do is heal. That's bad game design. The class is called "cleric" not "healer". Healing is part of what it does, but it should not narratively or mechanically be the only thing it does.
Quintessentially Me wrote:
If were talking in a vacuum, maybe that's the right approach. Unfortunately, we're talking about a game that essentially needs to be done and to the printers in about 6 months. "Breaking" the cleric by lower its healing and then building healing back up is very time inefficient. If the goal is to minimize the amount of 5 minute adventuring days, then damage mitigation has to be higher than it is at present. If the goal is to be a gritty, magic-light game I would recommend HackMaster. The current version nails that style of play.
The same thing applies to PF1, as well most versions of D&D. The thing the opened other classes up in PF1 was the availability of affordable healing.
That is a narrow and limited solution to a wider issue regarding mitigation. As it stands, the cleric looks powerful because there are few effective ways to prevent damage. Changing the amount of healing out of the Heal spell or channel doesn't change that mitigation is weak. In PF1, my Shaman's best heal spell is Misfortune Hex. My Cleric's is Waves of Ecstasy (at lower levels it was Murderous Command and Holy Smite). Every point enemies couldn't do while locked down was another point I didn't have to heal. Given that enemies do damage in one attack than you typically can heal in one spell, this was a good value (even figuring the risk of a successful save).
Meanwhile in PF2 Heal is more effective than Cures were in PF1 and Channel is only slightly more powerful than it was (but not significantly until higher levels). The 2nd level cure spell's 3 action version is effectively a 5th level spell in PF1 (mass cure light wounds). However, other spells are weaker than their PF1 versions for the most part. So, Heal's power has gone up over cure, where other spells' power has dropped.
This is compounded by the change to wands, which were a non-narrative fix to a narrative breaking problem. W/O an effective, cheap means of healing between fights and with weaker mitigation, cleric looks all the better because it has more healing. Not better healing, not efficient mitigation, just more healing.
Given all this, I would say increasing max spells / spell level to 4 would be a better fix than buffing the Heal Spell or nerfing channel.
It's a deadlier game with weaker damage mitigation options than PF1, causing the game's single useful healing option to stand out as functionally mandatory. That's not a problem with that class, that's a balance issue with the game.
Please re-read the whole paragraph.
To provide an example.The need for healing is higher because control options are less powerful. Hold Person mitigates a lot more damage in PF1 than Cure Moderate Wounds does. Paralyze (PF2's version of the spell) is a lot less effective at mitigating damage due to a much lower duration. This makes the healing spell more powerful by comparison in PF2 vs. PF1 as the other spells have gone down in power. This, combined with the lack of the ability to effectively convert resources into healing for classes outside of cleric is a flaw in the game, not in the cleric.
Please don't speak for me. I listed things I felt wasn't good enough. None of them were the Heal spell.
To restate: Channel isn't the problem. The state of mitigation and non-channel recovery is the problem.
I don't think channeling as printed is overpowered. It only seems that way because there's no other viable healing or damage mitigation option. The lack of reliable damage mitigation due to numerous changes to the game has made it so that the game requires a cleric for the express purpose of healing because they're the only ones capable of reliably doing so.
Because control has become less powerful due to an overall lower effectiveness of spells, inability to rely on combat maneuvers like trip, and more mobile foes thanks to two classes having any form of action punishment (Fighters' AoO and Paladins' Retribution Strike) you have to rely on healing more than before in a version of the game with less reliable healing.
tl;dr: Channel isn't OP, the lack of viable non-channel healing and/or strong mitigation increases reliance on healing creating the illusion of channel's power.
I think the problem isn't channeling. I think the problem is healing done by other classes. Based on higher starting HP, changing in AC and Save scaling, I think we can infer that the devs are trying to discourage the 5 minute work day. At present in the playtest, a cleric is the only way to prevent it without a regular casualties.
The Cure Light Wounds wand of first edition was a player fix for a fundamental flaw in Pathfinder (and D&D): Healing scales much slower than damage does. Maybe in combat, that's fine. Higher level play should feel more deadly. However, the 5 minute work day is disruptive to the narrative of any game that doesn't involve a static dungeon. They "fixed" the narrative problem caused by the CLW wand with the introduction of resonance. However this system reinforces the flaw that wand was used to fix: healing's effectiveness is a fraction of damage output.
I can take a foe out of a fight reliably with a second level cleric spell in PF1 (such as Hold Person or Blindness) or I can heal the damage caused by 1-2 hits with that same slot. With PF2 these spells are largely less powerful (unless the foe fumbles the save), the value of healing is increased but the effectiveness of the class is decreased. Thus, Clerics with their specialized healing ability seem more powerful than other casters because the effectiveness of spells is down, but the need for healing is higher.
Jason S wrote:
My hope with some of the "duh" choices like archer ranger and smiting Paladins is that they were so "duh" that they wanted to test other options.
I think one of the reasons they're calling it a "playtest" vs. a Beta is that there's a lot things in this that feel like they're designed to test. This isn't a coherent game in a lot of ways (flails wildly at Alchemist). I'm hoping that's because they want to see what strange thoughts they've had work rather than the actual in-office test system they've been using.
Can they be made as healing capable as cleric? Yes. Should they? Yes, but they should work differently than cleric.
So, I think this goes into what role a "support" character plays in PF2. In PF1, support casters typically split their actions between buffing and debuffing. Healing was typically something handled in between combats or when someone was almost dead. From my limited PF2 play experience, healing at low levels plays a larger role than it did in most of my PF1 play.
Right now, Alchemist is pretty much non-functional. Which is a shame, because this is probably the best class thematically to make a different sort of healer. With an ability to create healing items via alchemy, it could provide single action healing items to other PCs that spread out healing's impact on the action economy. Instead of a single character dedicating a large portion of their action to healing, an Alchemist dedicates their resources to healing, but leaves the action portion to the other PCs. I think this could be a fun way to play this class and it takes healing out of the realm of divine casters.
Druid has since the ye old days, been an odd duck when it comes to healing. The class dedicated to the preservation of life and nature is a worse healer than priests worshiping the god of drinking or crafting. Maybe giving them spells or powers that mitigate damage would give them something unique? Goodberry has always been an underwhelming first level spell, and while better than in the past its still sub-par compared to heal. If a plant druid could give natural armor, resistance or temp. HP out the gate it would be something that mitigates damage w/o stepping on the cleric's toes.
The Divine Sorcerer is something I don't have a ton of experience or insight with. As it now shares a spell list with the cleric, its easier to make comparisons. My first thoughts on making them a more interesting healer than at present would be the ability to spend Spell Points to make their heal spells heal more. Essentially, you'd have a class that could heal more damage at once, but fewer times per day.
Lastly, I'm gonna touch on Paladin. I think it shouldn't be a comparable healer to Cleric without significant investment. Now, if you want to make something like a hospitalar that focuses on healing while wearing heavy armor and wielding martial weapons, I think that's cool but should require maybe half of your class feats to keep up with cleric. With how weapon damage scales now, a Paladin that could be an effective damage dealer and healer could get silly.
I can't speak for others posting, but I wouldn't describe myself as "doom and gloom". I had fun playing it for the most part, however these two things are bad for the game as it relates to PFS play.
I think all the things you list would be good things to change to get away from mandatory cleric (which is where we're at), but we're not there yet. Thus, feedback. I think the idea of an alchemist as a primary healer is interesting if done correctly.
Had a chance to play through Rose Street this weekend and would like to put my thoughts out there. Overall, I think it does a good job of explaining the modes of play that will matter in PFS and gave a pretty good explanation of how things work. More or less, it felt like a PFS scenario but with a few glaring exceptions. I'm worried these exceptions will make PFS a less fun experience going forward.
First is how magic items and identification is handled. Because identification takes an hour, in most scenarios they'll be relegated to gold/silver on the chronicle and play no role in the scenario. Even with quick identification, you're looking at a pretty hefty amount of time to ID loot. In PF1 many scenarios often reward the players with items that will be useful later in the scenario. Unless its handed over by an NPC, loot will not matter in this model if the scenario has any amount of time pressure in the story.
While Quick Identification can alleviate this problem to some extent it takes a long time to get there and with few exceptions is unavailable to 1st level characters and moderate hauls will still take over an hour (in-game time)for most levels of play. My overall impression is that magic items as in-scenario tools will be limited as a narrative device and I worry that this will harm the diversity of scenarios.
The second problem is healing. While clerics are super duper good at it, nobody else is even okay it. While Rose Street is broken up into quests, it made me think that without a cleric or an ability to identify items like potions in a reasonable time, PFS scenarios will be much harder. While we know Paizo is trying to get away from the Holy Stick, doing so has brought us back a state of always needing a cleric. Given the fluid composition of PFS tables, you can't always guarantee one. If Alchemists could be de-coupled from resonance in some way, they may make a good healer as well giving players a non-religious healer. As someone who regularly plays support characters, I'd certainly appreciate that.
Given that you can identify a magic item without needing a spell and given that we've split PF1 Detect Magic into two spells (Read Aura and Detect Magic) my intuition is that Read Aura (which tells you about the magic of a thing) should provide some sort of bonus to identifying items. Given the limitations on spells and spell slots, having this spell reduce the time would give people a reason to take it in the first place over the arguably more useful detect magic.
It doesn't look good and it doesn't scale. I can think of three ways to make it attractive, two are strictly good at lower levels and one is remains good in the same way some of the other 1st level feats scale (such as the cantrip ones).
1. It's a +2 to a save vs. spells as a reaction. Remove the penalty entirely.
2. It's +1 to saves vs. spells all the time, reduce the penalty to 1.
3. It's a reroll on saves vs. spells, keep the penalty as is. This way, its something you take that's always good but at a significant cost.
Consider that a cleric can just easily be flavored as a tribal shaman (considering the lack of Shaman) as well having Druids in their tribes who see to their animals.
Right now, the "go to" species option for clerics or druids (based on the wis bumb) would be Dwarf. While dwarven clerics are common, perhaps even a bit cliche, Dwarven druids seem like an oddity. Orc clerics might be the same, odd but not unheard of.
In the defense of Orcs. With the increased focus on Golarion, Orcs have a nation that's referenced in multiple APs. You can explain PC Orcs much more easily than Goblins, who are pretty much exclusively primitive tribal societies. If the book ends up more generic, there's even more reasons for Orcs (and in this case Goblins too) because you can do plenty of worlds where Orcs aren't just a cliche horde of barbarians raining down on your civilizations.
Sydney S. wrote:
If the half elf/orc feats did something as tangible as the other species options, maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
As is, yeah. I want species to feel unique.
gustavo iglesias wrote:
Definitely agree on the surveys. I'm not married to Pathfinder as a game or brand. If the consensus is somewhere else after those surveys, then that's fine with me. I'm looking forward to getting more experience with it before I put anything down in an official survey.
1. Do you currently like pathfinder 1e? More or less, yes. Not my favorite game, but not a bad game.
2. Did you once like pathfinder 1e but now find it troublesome? It inhereted more than a few of D&D's flaws and its grown into some of its own.
3. Do you like 4th or 5th edition D&D? 4: As a tabletop strategy game. 5: not at all.
4. Which are you looking for class balance, smoother high level play, more options, or even all of those things? A more coherent play experience. Not inaccurate rocket tag to start, a fairly even experience in the mid-levels then precision rocket tag at later levels.
5. How do you feel about making the game more accessible in general? I find this question vague. What do you mean by "more accessible"?
6. Are you willing to give up on accessibility if you can still gain all of the benefits listed in question 4? See answer to 5.
7. Would you be willing to play an alternative rules system then what we have been presented? (A different version of pathfinder 2nd edition if you will). In that I am not married to a single RPG, yes. I mean, you could call PF1 a different version of PF2 and I've played that.
8. And if you said yes to the above question what would you like to see in that theoretical game? A coherent game that is fun to play.
Some general impressions how how the game looks to me and a few of my regular players. As is our tradition, we'll start with the bad.
1. Ancestries don't feel good. It seems like Paizo had two goals going into this "make races less front-loaded" and "make racial options". What seems to have come out of that system is largely "take the options you had right away and spread them out". This is really aparaent when you compare feats that replicate old features to new creations. Getting a reaction bonus to certain saves at the cost of a large resonance penalty (that locks you out of magic items until 4th level if you don't bump your cha) seems really bad compared to an elf's ability to just have an arcane spell from jump.
2. Half-Elves/Orcs double this problem. This is my biggest complaint about this book. From a legacy standpoint, it was a bad idea. The actual half-elf/orc feat isn't great from a design point of view (low vision, an RP option, a skill and a buff) as it really feels like an RP penalty to take (I'm a half-elf raised by elves? Guess I'll just take the RP option in place of something usable). Maybe if Orc were a core race alongside the others, it wouldn't seem as bad but as its it looks like there's even less options.
3. The PDF character sheet has that background. It's a pain. I get having it in the book, but make one free of it for people who don't want to fiddle with settings. It'd be a nice quality of life change.
4. Reaction bloat. While I like the increased focus on reactions in the game, I feel like Paizo went crazy with it. Classes like Paladins really suffer from just having too many reactions. Many of these don't scale well (+2 to saves is neat, but boring past early levels). If you don't want to back those into the class's math, rerolls matter more throughout the game, giving your choices more impact and rewards players for taking the ability rather than the Paladin wondering if he needs the save buff before he rolls rather than having the ability to get literal divine intervention after failing. Fighters also seem to suffer from the same problem to an extent, juggling multiple options.
5. The word "Feat". Maybe call class options something different, talent or something. I get the logic, but reading the small print class chart where 30% of the words seem to be "feat" gets old quickly.
1. Modular class design works. The class feat system works to bake in a path to replicate what were archetypes right into the class, leaving that design space open for universal archetypes, which seem like a neat idea. Even having branching paths like Druid being able to take lesser versions of the other option's abilities provides a lot of versatility to a character.
2. Spell points make for an elegant system (but might need a better name). Having played a lot of classes with "pool" mechanics or uses per day in some combination or another, having that boil down to one resource pool evens things out nicely. It does feel a bit less powerful than 1E, but I haven't spent enough time with it. Only criticism is that "spell points" aren't used to cast spells, they're used to activate powers. So...maybe work on that.
3. Anathemas (should replace alignments). They need some work to allow a wider range of narrative options, but for a playtest I'll take what we're given. Every GM playing a game with an alignment system has had arguments over alignment. You could replace the "lawful good" requirement for Paladin with just "this is your code, this is your gods' anathema. Behave yourself" and you create the same concept without shackling it to an old idea. They're specific enough to matter and lay out consequences clearly.
This is really one minor thing. It'd be nice to have had a blog post or something saying what's been removed. There's been a lot of questions regarding arcane spell failure and oversized weapons that don't seem clearly addressed by the book. Whatever is in the final book, a blog post or document saying "these common assumptions are things you should not assume" would be helpful for many of us. Pathfinder is essentially running an 18 year old engine, its easy to assume. Clarifications help.
Changelings, Dhampirs and Skinwalkers would get really weird if you broke down their defining characteristics into feats, especially because these ancestry feats aren't something you can just take with a general feat by the sounds of it. I think it works for the Planar species a bit better tbh by giving them some progressing powers vs. a spell-like that may more not be useful as you progress.
This feels like a pretty big step backwards and a restrictive gate for future options. While you can start as a fully flushed out Elf/Goblin/Dwarf/etc, you essentially become a Half-Elf/Orc over time? While I think this makes sense for the Planar options, who have in-born supernatural talents that can be developed, I think it feels both restrictive, mechanically underwhelming, and narratively incoherent.
Based on the base feat presented option, I'd make the language automatic and add an additional option to choose from (maybe save a bonus to saves against certain spells or a second skill option). The language is a roleplaying choice mixed in with a bunch of more mechanical options.
For me, this has pretty much been the most disappointing preview for the playtest.
My Fiance recently ran a scenario where some escaped prisoners had barricaded themselves in. I sent my Phantom in briefly to take a peak. It's a despair spirit, and so it wandered in, found the prisoners hiding and said "Do not worry. The cultists have been slain. All will die its time." It than began moving bits out of the way (quickly, because it only could be away for 6 rounds before getting bamfed) and letting us in.
If you're worried about keeping your Eidolon geared up without having to leave it hanging out, there may be another option for a bipedal one:
Plus, you're not having to waste resources on casting "summon Eidolon", just 1800 GP. I've used this to keep my Phantom around in physical form during operations where having a ghost mucking about could lead to trouble or weird issues. Just have to make sure to grab the hat when it goes ghost.