Hockey-stick character power?


Prerelease Discussion


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

My biggest worry right now about PF2 is that we're appearing to get a hockey stick power curve, even more exaggerated than PF1.

We've seen some evidence that some common PF1-centric martial builds are slower to get to their "thing" (debilitating strike, mutagens, etc). And the perception was that the low level play might be extended a bit. Ancestries having to buy back their normal traits over several levels rather than starting with this also contributes to this perception.

The high level spells still seam as powerful as before (even if the highest are gated by an extra feat). We haven't seen details of how martials will keep up, but the post on proficiency suggest that the dev's hope to use that to do so. (Plus the extra damage dice on magic weapons should help as well.)

These feels like its setting up a 'hockey stick' growth curve, where things stay fairly linear/slow growth for a while before explosively growing. This is a bit worrisome to me, since it means
a) you'll have classes exploding at different points
b) high level play is more likely to be broken/hard to balance since it changes drastically

Note this is NOT about LFQW, but about character growth in general.


If martials power is gated by magic weapons that could be very problematic. I know many "no magic shop" GMs and ones that dont like monsters having loot when it doesnt make sense. Meanwhile, the caster is all baked into progression. So I share some of the same concerns.


To me, it seems that since 'character growth in general' seems to be driven by feat selection, and feat availability is linear (one per level, essentially), then general growth should be fairly linear.


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Well feats dont have a good track record of being balanced...


Planpanther wrote:
Well feats dont have a good track record of being balanced...

Especially not against spellcasting


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

Again please, the intent of this thread is not another Linear-Fighter/Quadratic Wizard thread.

The intent was it appears from all we've seen most classes start slower and have a longer ramp up period. Thus all classes (caster and martial) are more linear at the beginning.

It appears that the end-point for casters is similar to where its been. The dev's have implied that the legendary proficiecies, among other things, will allow them to keep pace with the casters. I'm willing to take the dev's word on that.

So this implies that all jobs stay "linear" for a long portion of their career, and then skyrocket. This seems at odds with their attempts to reign-in rocket tag.


Planpanther wrote:
If martials power is gated by magic weapons that could be very problematic. I know many "no magic shop" GMs and ones that dont like monsters having loot when it doesnt make sense. Meanwhile, the caster is all baked into progression. So I share some of the same concerns.

Given they are doing away with static modifiers I'm unsure this will be an issue, although if we still need 'magic' to overcome DR on things then it may be, right now we don't have enough info to speculate, however dev comments indicate they are trying to reduce the need for magic weapons - which leads me to being more patient than if we had dead silence on the matter.


I can see your point, but a 1e pathfinder wizard gets 9th level spells at level 17 and I have a strong feeling that spells like limited wish are not going to be nearly as open-ended, if they exist at all. Even just moving a lot of the powerful time investment spells to rituals will mean that a limited wish type spell probably can't be used for things like summon planar ally and other of the most game breaking magical effects.

In comparison, the 2e pathfinder wizard wont get 10th level (the seriously powerful currently 9th level spells) till level 19 and that is the same point that legendary martial and skill unlocks come on line. There is a lot riding on how those feats are going to stack up to spells, and they probably won't entirely, but if this is a hockey stick, it looks like that curve is going to be sharper and pushed back.


NielsenE wrote:


It appears that the end-point for casters is similar to where its been. The dev's have implied that the legendary proficiecies, among other things, will allow them to keep pace with the casters. I'm willing to take the dev's word on that.

Currently there is a huge hump at level 12 when melee DPR goes through the roof - and by that I mean doubling or more. Most of this is due to iterative attacks, and we have those starting at level 1 in the new system.

That alone (with an overall reduction in the number of attacks at the high end) should flatten the curve. Once you do that instead of swingy damage at the high end with lucky shots and crits on the lower end iteratives, you can adjust the damage per hit with a relatively safe 'hits per turn' that stays constant through the life of an adventurer - and that lets you bump the math on feats and abilities to make it more in line with expectations.

All that said I'm all for a more 'expected power' curve as a baseline - as the swingy nature of high level combat makes it a bear for a GM to deal with - and it only gets worse as the levels increase.

I hope that if they've done all the math and work into the backend of the design - that we get some actual plotlines of what they expect at certain levels - rather than just guessing from the players. (i.e. Level 10 AC is expected to be '24-29' damage per round should be '50-80') players who make a build that ends up doing 1d8 per round at level 10 should have a non-judgemental baseline they can use to evaluate if they made a mistake - and if we have milestone points they can at least know they are doing something wrong before it gets to the point that they feel useless or the GM has to tone everything down because 'the party of the skill focus' got lost along the way ;)


What is your reasoning for thinking that power level will 'skyrocket' at some point? I have not gotten that impression at all.


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

Most of the "can you guess this spell" from the spell post, coupled with the descriptive of legendary proficiency, feels like the end-game power level is comparable to PF1.

So if the end-point feels the same, but early game growth rate is suppressed, that implies a sharper growth rate later.

This has the result of making a larger percentage of the 1-20 "playable" for most people's definition of playable, while exacerbating the problems at the extreme high end.

The point up thread about everyone getting iterative attacks earlier/triple cantrips/etc does help raise the initial floor. I could see that combined with the slower growth of some class features balancing out roughly PF1 levels, which wouldn't imply a later than pf1 hockey stick. But it still tends to look like a slow-growth portion and an explosive growth portion.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
CraziFuzzy wrote:
What is your reasoning for thinking that power level will 'skyrocket' at some point? I have not gotten that impression at all.

Well, Cleric spell proficiency seems a bit of an indicator, but nothing says that is how everything works. For instance, I think the Alchemy blog makes it look like +3 weapons are expected by level 11 which seems about right.


I’m guessing there are two inflection points: 7th level (master proficiency) and 17th (legendary proficiency). By 7th, the basics are in place (with debilitating strike no longer counting as a basic feature), and by 17th, classes have options to remove constraints and weaknesses (Fighter can remove a spell without making a save, Rogue can cause flat-footed with no check or positioning), and 17+ is for impossible stuff (9th and 10th level spells; Alchemist gets to make a consumable magic items for free and create the philosopher’s stone; Cleric applies single-target metamagic to three-action AoE spells).


NielsenE wrote:


So if the end-point feels the same, but early game growth rate is suppressed, that implies a sharper growth rate later.

This is the part I think is wrong. Class abilities not coming online doesn't mean that the early growth rate is lower.

All melee classes can attack 3 times per round at level 1.

That's 3x the power of a PF1 character - without changing anything.

We don't have enough data *at this time* to know for sure that the power curve at low level is slower - in fact *at this time* all data indicates it's much higher.

Having iconic class abilities come online later *is* worthy of critique and feedback, I don't think it affects the power curve as much as you are attributing though - certainly not even close to as much as the +/- 10 accuracy or the 3 attacks per round changes.


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

I wouldn't count the three attacks as 3x the power. (if it is, the dev's haven't done their job). Calling it twice as powerful at level one (while possibly depressing the later growth, depending on how prevalent class featurs granting two for one strike actions) is definitely fair though.


And it's not just the 3x the power either - the sheer versatility of the 3-action system allows for an 'optimal' course of action in just about any situation.

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