Healing & Balance in PFS2


Pathfinder Society Playtest


I was just wondering what we should look forward to in terms of party healing needs, especially when marshaling random groups.
In PFS1, CLW (and Infernal Healing) wands were ubiquitous, assuring the healer role was perpetually filled, at least to cap off hit points.

This (among other factors) lead to "at CR" encounters being trifling, and eventually going away unless there were RP aspects. I would argue it took a few seasons to work out a balance of challenge. It seems to have leveled out to where there are skill tests that can aid with some really hard encounters, but most encounters are built to face parties that have nearly full resources.

With Resonance, and the variance we'll have between a Paladin, Bard, Sorcerer, Cleric party vs. a Ranger, Rogue, Wizard, Druid party, what can we expect to see as a PFS2 (not necessarily PF2 in general) resource?
Anything? Or should we just encourage more healers (which might imbalance issues too!)?

Thoughts? Insights?

1/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Attempting to encourage 'someone to play the healer/tank' is not going to go over very well.

In fact, folks may feel driven *away* by feeling they HAVE to play a given class *or else*.

3/5 Venture-Agent, Illinois—Peoria

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Attempting to encourage 'someone to play the healer/tank' is not going to go over very well.

In fact, folks may feel driven *away* by feeling they HAVE to play a given class *or else*.

Very much this.

We have one player who enjoys playing a cleric of Saranrae and healing with most of his actions.

Past that even the people who bring classes that can heal (Druid, Warpriest, Paladins) don't want to focus on it or spend their actions in combat doing it.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

I guess we will see how healing will tax resonance and if that could allow us to return to a point, where "the monsters beat us all to single digits" actually matters.

That said, I think there is a difference between in-combat healing and the ability to heal between encounters. In Starfinder actually using your med kit is a pretty relevant part of the game, and I would not mind seeing more like this in the playtest.

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

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I still wanted to see everytime you get healing your max hp goes down by 1 until you get a long rest.

A good way to make damage matter in nonlife threatening combats, reduce clw spam at higher levels and make temp hit points a more interesting choice.


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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Attempting to encourage 'someone to play the healer/tank' is not going to go over very well.

In fact, folks may feel driven *away* by feeling they HAVE to play a given class *or else*.

I was certainly not suggesting pressure to play a healer (and I think anybody applying that type of pressure has earned the right to fill that need themselves). Rather I was thinking it be framed as advice for players learning the new system.

Because it is good advice.
And I don't mean "be a healer or *gulp*", I mean think about your PC having access to healing when shaping your PC.

In PFS1, all it took was enough awareness to supply your own healing stick and maybe a set of 5 Lesser Restoration scrolls (or a bank of PP or cash). A party usually had somebody who could use or UMD those for you, and by the time they get to higher levels, the player has hopefully gained an understanding of what other aids to purchase.

In PFS2, if somebody uses your healing implement for you, they are using their own resource too, Resonance. That won't play well if you bring a low-level heal stick for your mid-level frontliner who didn't think to bring a shield.
Maybe more useful would be a chart showing what kind of healing one should be buying depending on level or h.p. vs. how much Resonance you have. Or again, just to remind players we're in a new paradigm here.

But deeper down, it seems fairly obvious the 2 PP for 750 g.p. trade was a choice to make healing available early and often with a PC using her own resources rather than being a parasite. Setting aside that this led to a specific style of gameplay & scenario design that will need reexamination, the healing issue now needs a different solution, right? Or not?

Of course, with all the Goblin Paladins we'll have, maybe we'll be okay anyway. :)

2/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Hopefully, the encounter challenge can be balanced around the "use X% of your resources for ancounters 1, 2, 3, and Y% of resources for encounter 4" mantra, without the total % being 100% (i.e. a wipe) or even 90% because we want to make a profit by playing and not spend all our money on healing potions.

3/5 Venture-Agent, Illinois—Peoria

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yeah, seems like it would have been much easier to take out that "hey, look 2 PP that you get 6 of at 1st level is exactly enough for a 1st level wand" rather than warp the ENTIRE game system to stop it.


Nathanael Love wrote:
yeah, seems like it would have been much easier to take out that "hey, look 2 PP that you get 6 of at 1st level is exactly enough for a 1st level wand" rather than warp the ENTIRE game system to stop it.

In a 3.X AP from Paizo, back in Dungeon Magazine, the PCs found some mediocre items, cash, & trinkets getting from 1st to 2nd. Funnily enough, that cash & trinkets added up to just over 750 g.p. for the party.

One CLW wand later, they stormed through the extensive enemy base in one run (rather than the several runs it'd have taken without it), coming out at 3rd level. I couldn't help but think the g.p. figure was intentional.

Whether the speed is a problem is a matter of opinion, but effectively they'd bought themselves a designated healer far beyond any healer they could have built (or hired), with most charges to spare (mostly due to the door-opener having Uncanny Dodge vs. all the Rogues!).
And this was before PP were around, so I don't think PF2 needs to look at PFS to see a need to tame spamming. A stick shouldn't be able to fill an iconic party role better than an actual PC.

PFS1 often placed magical treasure to compensate for parties without a certain role the scenario (or old faction mission) might require. This included healing or buffing potions in particularly rough areas.
Now w/ Resonance, even this isn't a go-to patch, so the old maxim that problems should have at least two ways to overcome becomes even truer.

So I'm a bit worried about combat balance, attrition, & so forth, and in how long it will take to re-calibrate, both as designers and players forming into parties.

2/5

It might be OK if all classes have Use Magic Device and can use their resonance to use cure light wound wands. After the multi-classing pre-review, it's not looking like that's the case however, so things could be **** for PFS.

Or everyone is multi-classed 1 feat to cleric to use CLW wands.

We'll have to see how Medicine plays out too. Paizo was saying they were playing a campaign where their only healer was a Barbarian with the Medicine skill!

I'm on-the-fly converting PFS scenarios for playtest, to see how balance has changed, so I'll be able to answer these questions in a few weeks.

Yes, I'm concerned too. I really don't want the 1st (uncomfortable) conversation at every table to be "So whose going to play the healer".

2/5

Pirate Rob wrote:

I still wanted to see everytime you get healing your max hp goes down by 1 until you get a long rest.

A good way to make damage matter in nonlife threatening combats, reduce clw spam at higher levels and make temp hit points a more interesting choice.

This is a really good idea, but I doubt they would use it considering Resonance is the resource they want us to track.

2/5

So I've read enough to determine that healing is a real problem in PF2 and you basically need a dedicated healer or at least someone who can cast Heal.

1) There is no UMD.

2) There is no short rest.

3) There is no ritual.

4) The only ways to heal are:
- 8 hours rest (1 + CON bonus per level per day)
- Medicine feat: Battle Medic (1d10 + Wis bonus once per day and only with a DC 20 skill check!)
- Nature feat: Natural healing (1d8 + Wis bonus once per day and only with a DC 20 check)

5) Using a level 1 Heal wands only have 10 charges and cost the equivalent of twice as much as before. In addition, they cost resonance and can only be used if Heal is on your spell list.

I'll write more on this later, but at this moment I'm very discouraged with PF2.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Maryland—Hagerstown aka Z...D...

So it adds a touch of realism with battle, where you actually might die. Sounds exciting.

I actually like scenarios more when we have no healer, makes it much more, well exciting.

2/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I will say that based on the Rose Street Revenge that I played using the pregenerated party: Alchemist, Barbarian, Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Sorcerer, two Level 1s would have died without the Cleric and stabilize/heal.

So while this may improve "realism" for some, it will force the table arguement, "OK, who's bringing the healer?"

The Exchange 1/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I will start by saying that I love the play test so far with one caveat, resonance!
I get why they are doing it, I get what they are trying to prevent but I think we can still do this without double taxing people for consumables.

The way I see it, if you buy a potion or wand especially, the caster has already imbued it at its creation with their own magical essence and that should be added into the price. I can't understand for the life of me why I should have to imbue part of my magical essence into something someone else already has just to use it!

I played Fumbus the alchemist during Archlord's Envy. He started with 9 res in the morning. After he had donned his armor and prepped his extracts for the day, he was left with 2.

I get that he infused the extracts with his essence to make them magical and that makes sense. His armor I can kind of see expending one as an atunement issue. But not prepackaged consumable magic items.

YMMV

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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I'm waiting for a mail drop before I get to try the playtest. But my experience both from Starfinder and pregen-only scenarios in PFS have shown me that there's a different world possible than the Happy Stick.

Starfinder does it fairly neatly I think, by setting half your "hit points" as something you can recover with a 10m rest, but the other half requires more drastic measures. A healing mystic in Starfinder can really make a difference in a difficult fight, but most of the time he can afford to do different things since Stamina recovery is not that hard. It's certainly not a game that forces anyone to play the healer.

Pregen-only scenarios in PFS like Serpents Rise, Serpents' Ire and Through Maelstrom Rift have included healing wands; but not nearly as much as a typical PC party does. It's maybe one wand of Cure Moderate (15 charges) vs. three people bringing fully charged CLW wands. As you get deeper into the mission and the charges tick down, tension rises. In a way you don't see as much in regular PFS. I like it.

A party with a decent supply of wands in PFS1 can basically say "what doesn't kill me with damage doesn't bother me next encounter". If you don't die then you'll be at full HP next fight. As long as the enemy isn't inflicting damage of a different kind (ability damage, negative levels), each encounter once passed fades from your body. You can practice wasteful glass cannon tactics all you like because HP are really really cheap.

So for PF2... I would like that to change a bit. I don't want healing to be too hard, I don't want parties forced to have a healer. I really dig the hybrid setup that Starfinder has; where you can get by without. But in a tough scenario healing spells help a lot and they're more action-economy-efficient than feeding the DPR guy potions.

2/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I'll admit that they made heal a useful in combat mechanic, but, currently, in doing so they did make a cleric mandatory.

EDIT: I've played Kyra and Merisel so far.

Scarab Sages 3/5 Venture-Agent, Nebraska—Bellevue aka JohannVonUlm

Jason S wrote:

So I've read enough to determine that healing is a real problem in PF2 and you basically need a dedicated healer or at least someone who can cast Heal.

1) There is no UMD.

2) There is no short rest.

3) There is no ritual.

4) The only ways to heal are:
- 8 hours rest (1 + CON bonus per level per day)
- Medicine feat: Battle Medic (1d10 + Wis bonus once per day and only with a DC 20 skill check!)
- Nature feat: Natural healing (1d8 + Wis bonus once per day and only with a DC 20 check)

5) Using a level 1 Heal wands only have 10 charges and cost the equivalent of twice as much as before. In addition, they cost resonance and can only be used if Heal is on your spell list.

I'll write more on this later, but at this moment I'm very discouraged with PF2.

You missed two options that shouldn't be left out.

Elixir of Life (pg 364). Minor Elixir of Life is 3gp and heals d6 hit points. It will give a Fortitude save bonus if used when at full hit points.

Healing Potion (pg 393). Minor Healing Potion is 3gp and heals d8 hit points.

As far as I can tell, both will still take one resonance. I would love to see them take the resonance requirement of the elixir. Since it's less effective at healing.

That said, if you use the basic 1 new sp = 1 old gold piece, both of these are now cheaper than the old potion of CLW. I would expect that a PFS guide will make these open access much like they did for 1st level potions in the current guide. Don't leave home with out one.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

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Jason S wrote:

So I've read enough to determine that healing is a real problem in PF2 and you basically need a dedicated healer or at least someone who can cast Heal.

1) There is no UMD.

Well there is this feat, if you are worried about accessing healing items:

TRICK MAGIC ITEM FEAT wrote:

1

Prerequisites trained in Arcana, Nature, Occultism,
or Religion
You examine a magic item you would normally
not be able to use—for example, a fighter normally couldn’t
use a scroll, staff, or wand—in an effort to fool the item and
activate it temporarily. Attempt a check with a skill DC of the
item’s level (typically the low-difficulty DC, but the GM could
adjust this at their discretion), using the skill that matches the
item’s magic tradition (Arcana for a spell on the arcane spell
list, Nature for a primal spell, Occultism for an occult spell,
and Religion for a divine spell). You must have identified the
magic item (or had it identified for you) in order to activate
it this way. If you activate a magic item that requires your
spell roll or spell DC and you don’t have the ability to cast
spells of the relevant type (such as arcane or divine), you have
the untrained proficiency rank and can use the highest of
your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma modifiers. If you’re
a master in the appropriate skill for that magical tradition,
you’re treated as having the trained proficiency rank instead.
If the spell’s tradition depends on the caster’s class or requires
her to have the spell on her spell list, you choose which class
you’re attempting to emulate.
Success You can spend actions to activate the item as if you
could normally use it as long as you do so before the end
of your turn.
Failure You can’t use the item for the remainder of your
turn, but you can try again on subsequent turns.
Critical Failure You can’t use the item, and can’t try to use it
again until you next prepare.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

Lau Bannenberg wrote:

I'm waiting for a mail drop before I get to try the playtest. But my experience both from Starfinder and pregen-only scenarios in PFS have shown me that there's a different world possible than the Happy Stick.

Starfinder does it fairly neatly I think, by setting half your "hit points" as something you can recover with a 10m rest, but the other half requires more drastic measures. A healing mystic in Starfinder can really make a difference in a difficult fight, but most of the time he can afford to do different things since Stamina recovery is not that hard. It's certainly not a game that forces anyone to play the healer.

Pregen-only scenarios in PFS like Serpents Rise, Serpents' Ire and Through Maelstrom Rift have included healing wands; but not nearly as much as a typical PC party does. It's maybe one wand of Cure Moderate (15 charges) vs. three people bringing fully charged CLW wands. As you get deeper into the mission and the charges tick down, tension rises. In a way you don't see as much in regular PFS. I like it.

A party with a decent supply of wands in PFS1 can basically say "what doesn't kill me with damage doesn't bother me next encounter". If you don't die then you'll be at full HP next fight. As long as the enemy isn't inflicting damage of a different kind (ability damage, negative levels), each encounter once passed fades from your body. You can practice wasteful glass cannon tactics all you like because HP are really really cheap.

So for PF2... I would like that to change a bit. I don't want healing to be too hard, I don't want parties forced to have a healer. I really dig the hybrid setup that Starfinder has; where you can get by without. But in a tough scenario healing spells help a lot and they're more action-economy-efficient than feeding the DPR guy potions.

As usual I agree with Lau, though I have seen parties in SFS that did fine without a healer, but the envoy was pretty busy^^


Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:

I'm waiting for a mail drop before I get to try the playtest. But my experience both from Starfinder and pregen-only scenarios in PFS have shown me that there's a different world possible than the Happy Stick.

Starfinder does it fairly neatly I think, by setting half your "hit points" as something you can recover with a 10m rest, but the other half requires more drastic measures. A healing mystic in Starfinder can really make a difference in a difficult fight, but most of the time he can afford to do different things since Stamina recovery is not that hard. It's certainly not a game that forces anyone to play the healer.

Pregen-only scenarios in PFS like Serpents Rise, Serpents' Ire and Through Maelstrom Rift have included healing wands; but not nearly as much as a typical PC party does. It's maybe one wand of Cure Moderate (15 charges) vs. three people bringing fully charged CLW wands. As you get deeper into the mission and the charges tick down, tension rises. In a way you don't see as much in regular PFS. I like it.

A party with a decent supply of wands in PFS1 can basically say "what doesn't kill me with damage doesn't bother me next encounter". If you don't die then you'll be at full HP next fight. As long as the enemy isn't inflicting damage of a different kind (ability damage, negative levels), each encounter once passed fades from your body. You can practice wasteful glass cannon tactics all you like because HP are really really cheap.

So for PF2... I would like that to change a bit. I don't want healing to be too hard, I don't want parties forced to have a healer. I really dig the hybrid setup that Starfinder has; where you can get by without. But in a tough scenario healing spells help a lot and they're more action-economy-efficient than feeding the DPR guy potions.

As usual I agree with Lau, though I have seen parties in SFS that did fine without a healer, but the envoy was pretty busy^^

Playing such an Envoy through the AP, I concur. We're 7th and I still have both healing potions I bought when I created the PC.

Only two fights have done more than scratch at h.p., though the curve leans against us as we level and we've been pretty fortunate in spreading out the damage evenly via tactics.

Back to PF2 though, healing is distributed fairly widely, so while a positive Cleric remains primary, every caster + Paladins & Alchemists have access to secondary healing.
Just ran DD1 w/o a Cleric. The Druid took care of his animal w/ two Heals in reserve for when the Paladin couldn't take care of himself.

So I'm not worried healing droughts will be the default, but rather that a random mix of PCs not having healing/Resonance will be the deadly surprise.
But I've seen that occur in PF1 too where only one guy could UMD and not that well. There was a bit of silence as it sunk in, as we hadn't realized it until we'd already fought.

I was wondering if PFS2 should scale the healing items purchased through PP? Then for the same amount (of both PP & Resonance), PCs could gain a similar proportion of healing for their missions.
Or maybe have PP increase per tier? Higher-tier PCs do more prestigious things, right?
This would help address how Resonance changes gameplay.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Canada—Alberta—Edmonton aka Artoo

We decided to play through Arclord's Envy with a that specifically didn't include a cleric, or anyone with any class features specifically to help with healing and see how it went.

So we had the Amiri, Seoni, and Merisiel pregens plus a dwarf fighter and a halfling wizard.

Arclord's Envy:

Glossing over exact details, here's roughly how our HP and healing went:

After the briefing we decided to start by finding the Quantium golem and retrieving the body. Ideally the lack of healer should have had no impact here, but Amiri decided she could reason with the golem. She could not and got a large chunk of damage. She wasn't raging at the time either so the damage wasn't offset at all by that. We also weren't entirely clear on the need for stealth (we were just trying to not get in it's way) so Merisiel also got swatted for a similar amount of damage before we got the body free. Merisiel used her battle medic feat to patch up herself and Amiri a bit. We actually made an error here, we only treated characters as bolstered after either a success or critical failure. I think all of the attempts to use battle medic would have resulted in normal failures if we'd done this correctly. Otherwise we decided to preserve our potions and resonance for later.

From here we went to Kefanes' workshop. Our first instinct here was to try and more securely restrain the golem, which didn't work out. During the fight Amiri and Merisiel both got knocked out, and revived by being fed potions while the fighter and wizard both took substantial amounts of damage. Seoni was the only one unscathed. Some more bandages from Merisiel helped out the wizard a little and injured the fighter some more. Some potions and resonance were used to (barely) keep everyone in double digits for HP.

We moved on to Ladhila's shop. While we were there we decided to spend what money we had on more healing potions. Otherwise nothing notable about our health happened here.

The ambush started with the fighter being knocked out by a crossbow bolt followed by Merisiel being knocked out by a fire elemental and shortly after burrning to death. The wizard and Seoni should probably both have also died from persistent fire damage from the elementals as it got forgotten a few times and the assistance for the flat checks to recover from it were handled very generously. As it was, in addition to the already mentioned injuries the wizard was knocked out, and Seoni and Amiri were badly injured by the time the fight was over.

We returned to the lodge and formulated our plans. Some more potions were used before resting since were were going to recover our resonance. In the morning our surviving members were all at about half HP and we were out of healing potions. And it was off to a fancy party.

We didn't do the optional encounter so after some hobnobbing we got into a fight with Ngasi. An extended battle resulted in the fighter dead and the rest of the group on the verge of collapse, but victorious.

So, while the group was successful, there were two PC deaths, and what I'm pretty sure would be an unsustainable amount of consumables were used. Some of the difficulties were definitely from bad choices (The Quantium Golem). But I think the damage output of the Flesh Golem in particular seemed like a bit much when combined with the lack of available healing.

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