Can we not have trap options, please?


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Will this game be built to not punish players for picking something. I know retraining is a core rule now, but will Paizo make it so there are inherently inferior choices for feats/class abilities that characters will be forced to retrain when they find out?

I certainly hope not.

Every option should be fun and effective. I want to avoid water balloons.


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Everything except the most optimal stuff seems to be called a Trap Option around here. Not that they don't exist, though, there's some garbage feats that sound ok on paper, but a lot are what they intended to be.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Very few game designers create deliberately crappy options -- but many do turn out that way after they have been published.

So I guess the real question would be this: Once they discover that a number of options in a previously published book are crappy, how do they dispose of them? I have never seen any game where the company that made the game said something along the lines of "Do not select option X. Select option Y instead, as this option does everything that option X does in addition to other benefits." Or, "Do not select option X, as the latest rules revision grants that option to all player characters for free."


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It is easier to avoid creating trap options when you have a good comparison. I think separating general, ancestry, skill, and class feats will help balance them out.


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I don't think any of the designers create an option to purposefully be a trap. Some options are worse than others, and people don't necessarily realize it because they're bad at math or don't think about it in the context of other options. And I don't think there is any way to clearly avoid it, especially when the amount of rules sources grows to include the number of books like Pathfinder 1E has.

So while I agree it would be nice, I think it's virtually impossible to accomplish.


Claxon wrote:
I don't think any of the designers create an option to purposefully be a trap.

This was an honest mistake, then?

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/sacred-geometry/

P


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David knott 242 wrote:
So I guess the real question would be this: Once they discover that a number of options in a previously published book are crappy, how do they dispose of them?

That's the point of having a year-long playtest, isn't it? Complete freedom to throw out anything that doesn't work as well as planned.


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Nekome wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
So I guess the real question would be this: Once they discover that a number of options in a previously published book are crappy, how do they dispose of them?
That's the point of having a year-long playtest, isn't it? Complete freedom to throw out anything that doesn't work as well as planned.

That is a bit short-sighted, as the core rulebook is not the only place where such problems could crop up. Even there, the changes made in response to playtester feedback will necessarily be less well tested than those made initially, so problems could still crop up there as well. Obviously Paizo should and will take steps to minimize errors in game balance or other areas, but even with their best efforts some things will go wrong, and then the question is raised about what to do with any options that simply cannot be repaired.


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Mavrickindigo wrote:
Claxon wrote:
I don't think any of the designers create an option to purposefully be a trap.

This was an honest mistake, then?

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/sacred-geometry/

P

That's not a trap, it's a pretty big boost for which the math has been solved


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Nekome wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
So I guess the real question would be this: Once they discover that a number of options in a previously published book are crappy, how do they dispose of them?
That's the point of having a year-long playtest, isn't it? Complete freedom to throw out anything that doesn't work as well as planned.

It's not a year-long playtest. There's a year between the playtest starting and the final book being released, which means the actual playtest is a few or several months long before they make changes, finalize edits, and send it to the printer.


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David knott 242 wrote:

Very few game designers create deliberately crappy options -- but many do turn out that way after they have been published.

This would become less likely with fewer options and more balanced and rounded out-of-the-box base classes.


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Mavrickindigo wrote:

Will this game be built to not punish players for picking something. I know retraining is a core rule now, but will Paizo make it so there are inherently inferior choices for feats/class abilities that characters will be forced to retrain when they find out?

I certainly hope not.

Every option should be fun and effective. I want to avoid water balloons.

Are you assuming that there are developers and writers that deliberately make an option crappy? What do you assume, that they cackle to themselves, thinking about how this will punish those foolish players that don't take the game as seriously as they do? I'm curious as to what you think their motives are.

As everyone has said, I am quite certain that nobody sets out to make a crappy character option. (And if you have a quote that says otherwise, I'd be interested in reading it.) Every feat or character option was made with the assumption that it was a neat idea. How well it actually played out is the problem. Sometimes the feat ends up strictly inferior to a previous feat. Likely caused because not every writer is required to have encyclopediac knowledge of the game. Especially this far down the line.

I mean, the underlying sentiment is a good idea. Make every character option worthwhile. But just saying "don't make a trap option" doesn't help in that regard. Once the feat is tossed out to the sharks that is the player base is when it has its trial by fire, to see if it floats or sinks. What seemed like a neat idea can end up being a worthless waste of paper. Or, worse, an overpowered game-destroying feature.

Re: Sacred Geometry-
Again, I don't assume somebody put that feat in as a deliberate trap. Though I do have my own suspicions as to how somebody did come up with the idea for that. It involves a math major and drugs.


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I feel like a "trap option" is "one that a player will later regret taking" so doesn't "retraining is easy" sort of solve the problem?


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There shouldn't be any decisions in your mechanical progression that you later regret, barring something that just doesn't fit the theme of the campaign. If you regret it because it's nonviable, then that's a problem.

Here shouldn't be nonviable options. There may be options that are better or worse, but the delta value between the two shouldn't be that great. It should be small enough that the average player is willing to sacrifice the small amount of power loss in order to gain the feature they want for their PC.

That's what's on the table here. We don't want "options" where we have to sacrifice a large amount of power just to be able to get the theme we want for the PC.

If all features (ancestry, class, feat, spell, whatever) are designed to fall in the Tier 3 power level (plus or minus one tier), then that would be an ideal system. Additionally, we shouldn't see all of them caster features closer to Tier 2 while at the same time allartial features are closer to Tier 4. They should be well blended.


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Ideally, trap options are removed via rigorous playtesting.

Paizo's general response to playtesting does not fill me with confidence.


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Trigger Loaded wrote:

Are you assuming that there are developers and writers that deliberately make an option crappy? What do you assume, that they cackle to themselves, thinking about how this will punish those foolish players that don't take the game as seriously as they do? I'm curious as to what you think their motives are.

As everyone has said, I am quite certain that nobody sets out to make a crappy character option.

I mean, there are people on this very forum who argue that certain things should intentionally be weaker for flavor or technical reasons. Why would we assume that it's impossible for designers to ever feel the same?

When PF was new, crossbow feat support was intentionally inferior to bows because crossbows simply weren't supposed to be your primary weapon.

There are archetypes built with NPCs in mind that appear to intentionally be limiting to discourage PCs from using it themselves.

All the way back in OD&D the magic user was intentionally designed to be weak and unfun at lower levels to create a sort of rite of passage for eventual power later on.

I'm not sure why you think it's so impossible some people might still think that way.

Do you just assume that all this stuff is just the product of incompetence? If so that's pretty insulting.


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swoosh wrote:
Trigger Loaded wrote:

Are you assuming that there are developers and writers that deliberately make an option crappy? What do you assume, that they cackle to themselves, thinking about how this will punish those foolish players that don't take the game as seriously as they do? I'm curious as to what you think their motives are.

As everyone has said, I am quite certain that nobody sets out to make a crappy character option.

I mean, there are people on this very forum who argue that certain things should intentionally be weaker for flavor or technical reasons. Why would we assume that it's impossible for designers to ever feel the same?

When PF was new, crossbow feat support was intentionally inferior to bows because crossbows simply weren't supposed to be your primary weapon.

There are archetypes built with NPCs in mind that appear to intentionally be limiting to discourage PCs from using it themselves.

All the way back in OD&D the magic user was intentionally designed to be weak and unfun at lower levels to create a sort of rite of passage for eventual power later on.

I'm not sure why you think it's so impossible some people might still think that way.

Do you just assume that all this stuff is just the product of incompetence? If so that's pretty insulting.

Not to mention that Monte Cook is on record saying that part of the 3.0 design philosophy was to intentionally lay “less good” (read : trap) options in to the core of the game to reward system mastery with established players. And a large part of that core game is carried over verbatim into the PF1 CRB.

So like, yeah, I think it is possible that devs do it on purpose, because they explicitly told us that they did it.


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I'd prefer trap options not be a thing, but at least retraining can help someone if they do include them.


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BigDTBone wrote:


Not to mention that Monte Cook is on record saying that part of the 3.0 design philosophy was to intentionally lay “less good” (read : trap) options in to the core of the game to reward system mastery with established players. And a large part of that core game is carried over verbatim into the PF1 CRB.

So like, yeah, I think it is possible that devs do it on purpose, because they explicitly told us that they did it.

I am positive there's a lot of players in this forum who agree with that quote for reasons I will never be able to understand.


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BigDTBone wrote:

Not to mention that Monte Cook is on record saying that part of the 3.0 design philosophy was to intentionally lay “less good” (read : trap) options in to the core of the game to reward system mastery with established players. And a large part of that core game is carried over verbatim into the PF1 CRB.

So like, yeah, I think it is possible that devs do it on purpose, because they explicitly told us that they did it.

Do you have an exact quote?

If you go and look it up, you'll find it a lot less strongly worded than you make it out, more like acknowledging that some options are better and being fine with that, rather than intentionally setting out to trick the players into choosing the poor option (as the word "trap" suggests).

Additionally, it's a very old article. I see little reason to expect Pathfinder designers now to be intentionally holding to the same design philosophy from 2000 that Monte Cook was reflecting on (and criticising!) in 2005.

Silver Crusade

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BigDTBone wrote:
swoosh wrote:
Trigger Loaded wrote:

Are you assuming that there are developers and writers that deliberately make an option crappy? What do you assume, that they cackle to themselves, thinking about how this will punish those foolish players that don't take the game as seriously as they do? I'm curious as to what you think their motives are.

As everyone has said, I am quite certain that nobody sets out to make a crappy character option.

I mean, there are people on this very forum who argue that certain things should intentionally be weaker for flavor or technical reasons. Why would we assume that it's impossible for designers to ever feel the same?

When PF was new, crossbow feat support was intentionally inferior to bows because crossbows simply weren't supposed to be your primary weapon.

There are archetypes built with NPCs in mind that appear to intentionally be limiting to discourage PCs from using it themselves.

All the way back in OD&D the magic user was intentionally designed to be weak and unfun at lower levels to create a sort of rite of passage for eventual power later on.

I'm not sure why you think it's so impossible some people might still think that way.

Do you just assume that all this stuff is just the product of incompetence? If so that's pretty insulting.

Not to mention that Monte Cook is on record saying that part of the 3.0 design philosophy was to intentionally lay “less good” (read : trap) options in to the core of the game to reward system mastery with established players. And a large part of that core game is carried over verbatim into the PF1 CRB.

So like, yeah, I think it is possible that devs do it on purpose, because they explicitly told us that they did it.

Except he didn't say that.


You can also create trap options by actively searching for them.

You can just see them that way.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I hope Paizo finally bans Power Attack, because every time my Wizard takes it I end up hitting with my dagger so rarely that it barely counts.


Mavrickindigo wrote:
Claxon wrote:
I don't think any of the designers create an option to purposefully be a trap.

This was an honest mistake, then?

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/sacred-geometry/

P

That's not what most people would consider a trap. In fact it's perhaps the most powerful feat in the game, as it allows you to add metamagic for free to your spells.

However, it is a horribly balanced feat which requires players to do math and after a certain number of ranks in knowledge engineering almost guarantees success. It causes problems with bogging down table time while a player does math and being completely overpowered compared to basically any other option a spell caster has. That doesn't make it a trap.


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Weak options have their points:

1) They make the good options shine more in comparison.

2) As a player you can advance by knowing and avoiding the weak choices. Or making even something good of it. What's the point of "learning the game" if you could pick anything and be as successful as your fellow player who does their first session today, probably without caring much?

3) They help to keep a NPC / monster mediocre for their CR. That's usually their purpose: Being inferior to the PCs and get beaten. If you only had strong options to design a NPC / monster, it would be tough to achieve that - but weak options help to manage the power level.

4) They are a good target for negative emotions. Hating a feat or class mechanics or whatever with passion is much better than hating a developer, GM, fellow player or even yourself with passion.

Of course, an abundance of weak options is not desireable. Maybe PC options could get more critical views - I am pretty sure some players would do that for free.


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SheepishEidolon wrote:

Weak options have their points:

1) They make the good options shine more in comparison.

That's an absolutely horrible reason. You don't need to make something shine by intentionally keeping something else down. They all can shine in their own way.

Quote:
2) As a player you can advance by knowing and avoiding the weak choices. Or making even something good of it. What's the point of "learning the game" if you could pick anything and be as successful as your fellow player who does their first session today, probably without caring much?

There's lots of reasons to know the rules, and "getting a better PC" shouldn't be one of them. Why would we want to punish a new player? Why would we want to waste the printing space on something bad when something better can be put there instead?

Quote:
3) They help to keep a NPC / monster mediocre for their CR. That's usually their purpose: Being inferior to the PCs and get beaten. If you only had strong options to design a NPC / monster, it would be tough to achieve that - but weak options help to manage the power level.

Blatantly false. There's plenty of ways to design CR appropriate NPCs without making trap options. One way is to design the CR so slightly weaker monsters are at that CR compared to a previous edition. Another way is to simply lower their numbers. Another way is to give them slightly weaker and lower level abilities, or give them their own abilities that are unique to monsters and are slightly weaker compared to equivalent PC abilities.

Quote:
4) They are a good target for negative emotions. Hating a feat or class mechanics or whatever with passion is much better than hating a developer, GM, fellow player or even yourself with passion.

That's entirely unhealthy. If you have that much hate for a game, you need to see a therapist. We don't want to create bad feats just so someone can funnel their hatred into it.

If you have a problem with a person, you need to talk it out and come to a resolution. It's unhealthy to falsely funnel that hatred into something else.


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SheepishEidolon wrote:

Weak options have their points:

1) They make the good options shine more in comparison.

That's just a terrible non-reason to have weak options. Character options dont need to "shine" in comparison to others.

Quote:
2) As a player you can advance by knowing and avoiding the weak choices. Or making even something good of it. What's the point of "learning the game" if you could pick anything and be as successful as your fellow player who does their first session today, probably without caring much?

The point of learning the game is to understand the mechanics, and maybe to figure out how to synergize options to become greater than the sum of their parts if you're into that kind of build optimization.

It's not to figure out which are the garbage options that you should never use so you can finally build a halfway viable character.

Options are there

Quote:
3) They help to keep a NPC / monster mediocre for their CR. That's usually their purpose: Being inferior to the PCs and get beaten. If you only had strong options to design a NPC / monster, it would be tough to achieve that - but weak options help to manage the power level.

There are better ways of curbing enemy powerlevel than to muddy the wealth of options for players. Such as purposely setting CR guidelines at a lower level or denoting these options purposefully as NPC options.

Quote:
4) They are a good target for negative emotions. Hating a feat or class mechanics or whatever with passion is much better than hating a developer, GM, fellow player or even yourself with passion.

They are a target for negative emotions that they themselves created. That reminds me of a comic strip i once saw:

http://static.nichtlustig.de/comics/full/020622.jpg
It says
Woman: "Remind me again, why do we need a machine that keeps insulting us all the time?"
Man: "So we can say 'Stupid machine, keeps insulting us all the time!'"
Machine: "[scrubbed because of forum guidelines]"

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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I think a lot of times "bad" options come about as a sort of slightly disjointed group effort. Here's the scenario I envision: Developer writes a feat/spell/item and submits it. An editor looks at it, decides it's a little too powerful, and tweaks it. Since the editor and developer are, in fact, different people with slightly different feelings about balance, sometimes the editor tweak goes too far and the option becomes inferior. It's not one person being malicious, it's multiple people each making choices they think are best for the game and sometimes turning out to be overly cautious.

From an editor POV, it's better to have an option be too weak rather than too powerful - people just don't take weak options, but everybody takes strong ones and screams bloody murder when the nerf bat descends. And obviously mistakes like Sacred Geometry happen.

It's not like writing perfectly balanced feats and so forth is easy. Take a look at old RPG Superstar forums to see just how much junk got generated by entrants - myself included. Look at the criticism levelled at even the people that did well. Getting the power level of an option "just right" is hard and fallible humans sometimes miss the mark.


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Let's go through the playtest document and color code every option as in the usual class guides.

That way the developers can see what we think are viable options and what needs some work and improvement.


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Leyren wrote:

Let's go through the playtest document and color code every option as in the usual class guides.

That way the developers can see what we think are viable options and what needs some work and improvement.

I'm becoming increasingly less fond of the color coding that is now the standard in class guides. Even generally solid guide authors sometimes make some pretty egregious mistakes in their color coding.

One of the more common traps I've come across when people offer 'color coded advice' is they will look solely at raw damage output and sometimes ignore that range is important too. I'm willing to eat a 30% drop in damage output if it means putting that damage down on someone clear across the map. Especially if they have trouble retaliating in any meaningful way from that distance.

Not saying this sort of error happens all the time, or even most of the time, but it comes up often enough that I'm wary of just 'color code-based' feedback. General descriptors like "This is a pretty good option because while its damage output is low, it's extremely accurate and hits out to ranges that most other forms of attacking don't," or "This is honestly too good, it shuts down a foe with a mix of high accuracy, long range, high damage, and a powerful debuff. At least one of these factors needs to go or there needs to be a major limitation on it, because simply improving NPC tactics isn't adequate to deal with this and it's letting my players casually destroy my encounters."

Even "I ALWAYS picks Option X on my characters because it does everything Option Y does but better, and this limiting factor tacked on at the end isn't enough to matter. Either X needs to be nerfed a bit or Y needs some improvements, or Y's niche needs to be relevant more often" is good playtest info.

Things like that are probably more useful than 'red because it does too little damage', 'orange because it's hard to hit with', etc.


Given that the usefulness of any option in a game as complex as PF is wholly subjective. This won't be happening unless Paizo decides to eliminate options from the game altogether.


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I mean, a lot of "trap options" are just highly situational, which doesn't make them bad. If you aren't going to fight underwater because the campaign takes place in a desert region options that make you good at fighting underwater are a waste of time, but that doesn't mean they are never useful.

So I hope they do continue to print narrow options for those people who find themselves needing them.


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Sure, highly situational but powerful feats and such have their place.... Ideally in specialized sources not sucking up general options space, with a great big warning to GMs not to offer such abilities unless they will be relevant the vast majority of the time in their campaign.


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swoosh wrote:


I mean, there are people on this very forum who argue that certain things should intentionally be weaker for flavor or technical reasons. Why would we assume that it's impossible for designers to ever feel the same?

When PF was new, crossbow feat support was intentionally inferior to bows because crossbows simply weren't supposed to be your primary weapon.

I feel like those people were the reason Reducto was made.

SheepishEidolon wrote:


2) As a player you can advance by knowing and avoiding the weak choices. Or making even something good of it. What's the point of "learning the game" if you could pick anything and be as successful as your fellow player who does their first session today, probably without caring much?

Shoo shoo Monte Cook.

Quote:
3) They help to keep a NPC / monster mediocre for their CR. That's usually their purpose: Being inferior to the PCs and get beaten. If you only had strong options to design a NPC / monster, it would be tough to achieve that - but weak options help to manage the power level.

In a well-balanced game levels (and therefore CR) would be enough on their own to indicate a creature's general power level. If you want a weaker creature go for one with lower CR.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I disapprove of the term "trap option" because it implies malevolence on the part of the designers, which is highly disrespectful.


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Zaister wrote:
I disapprove of the term "trap option" because it implies malevolence on the part of the designers, which is highly disrespectful.

When it was coined in the 3.0 days it was actually accurate. Look up Ivory Tower Game Design and Timmy Cards.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

That has no relevance on Pathfinder, though.


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Gorbacz wrote:
I hope Paizo finally bans Power Attack, because every time my Wizard takes it I end up hitting with my dagger so rarely that it barely counts.

This is an example of why there will always be traps options in a diverse system.

I would rather there be "trap" options than to limit concepts.


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I feel like the danger of "trap" options (or really any choice a player takes then later regrets) is fully mitigated by generous retraining rules. So if your wizard takes power attack or you invest heavily into swimming and underwater fighting for an urban desert campaign, you can fix that pretty easily once you recognize your error.

In PF2 all retraining costs is "you spend a week of downtime not doing anything productive other than retraining".


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A lot of trap options in PF1 come down to one of two things:

A. Artifacts converted from 3.x that didn't get examined thoroughly because of the rush / time crunch to get PF out to replace it when 3.x was dropped.

B. Things that were viciously beat with a nerf bat out of misguided concerns that they would be too powerful.

A shouldn't be a problem anymore. B might still be a big problem. Hopefully this playtest can stop B in its tracks before it goes to print.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:


B. Things that were viciously beat with a nerf bat out of misguided concerns that they would be too powerful

Rest In Pieces Crane Wing


I think a lot of trap options comes from two places:
- Hyper specific class/feat/Spell. I am looking at you Toughness, or Driver Rogue or Endurance.
-.... and (I am going to have people to disagree on this one) the number of pages you need to continue to sell books. If they did all the good things a few years back PF2 would have come in 2015. You got to continue to sell, so you got to put setting and crunch in your books. And I am sure that sometimes you hit a wall, because you did write the book but there are five pages left. So you make useless feats and archetypes.

But that is just my opinion. And I hope to be wrong. But sometimes the lack of playtesting seems a really bad thing. This is why I got really good hope for PF2. Because they re going back to their basics of leaning on the community to help them désigne the game. And I think that is the good way to move forward.


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Here is my theory on where trap options come from:

1. Designer makes a cool situational feat. E.x. "Star-blade: When you can see the stars, get +3 to hit!"

2. The feat is not always on, so it is situationally better then weapon focus. Everything is great.

3. A play-tester decided to optimize their character, finding a way to make "situational" into "always". E.x. Finds a spell with duration 1 hour/level that says "You can observe the night sky from anywhere."

4. Now the play-tester always has +3 to hit. Oh noes!

5. Development nerfs the feat. Since its always on, it can't be better then weapon focus. Makes it give only a +1 bonus.

6. Other player looks at the feat and says "Why would I ever take this? I can just take weapon focus."

Since they can only make changes when books are reprinted, they feel like a nerf that is too small is worse then one that is to big. If you don't nerf something enough, games suffer because it's still broken. If you overnerf, then people will use other options that are still balanced and the game is healthier. Maybe.

TL;DR Until Paizo starts playtesting FAQ-ratta we will always have trap options.

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