Concerned about the math


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I am very concerned about the math of the game, specifically when it comes to comparison between 2 different characters and the DCs they need to roll to succeed. (Assume all stats increase by 1 every 4 levels)

1st Example:
Take the 4th level rogue with expert proficiency in Thievery and an 18 Dex. He wants to go pick a lock on a door to open it. He has a +9 in Thievery (+4 Dex, +4 level, +1 expert). For his level, he's pretty good. Then take the 9th level Wizard with a 14 Dex and untrained in Thievery. He goes to pick a lock on a door to open it. He has a +9 in Thievery (+2 Dex, +9 level, -2 untrained). Why is it that a higher level Wizard is just as good untrained at a particular skill as a Rogue who is considered an expert?

2nd Example:
Take a 9th level rogue with expert proficiency in Diplomacy with a 12 Charisma. He wants to go influence a merchant to give him a better price on a potion. He has a +11 in Diplomacy (+1 Cha, +9 level, +1 expert). Look at his little sister, the 9th level Sorcerer who is untrained in Diplomacy but has an 18 Charisma. She thinks she's better than her brother and tries to beat him on the check. She has a +11 in Diplomacy (+4 Cha, +9 level, -2 untrained). Why should someone who has a bit of an ability modifier make up for the difference in training? If the rogue is an expert, shouldn't that mean they are vastly better than someone who is supposed to be no good? Instead, the Sorcerer can make up for it by being so charming?

3rd Example:
Take 2 1st level fighters, fighting gladitorial combat against each other with mundane weapons and armor, skill agains skill alone. They both have 15 hp and swing longswords with a 15 ac and +5 to hit doing 1d8+3 damage. On average, they would kill each other within 4 rounds using 1 attack each round. Now look at 2 10th level fighters. They both have 80hp and swing regular longswords with a 26 ac and +16 to hit doing 1d8+5 damage. On average they would take 18 rounds to kill each other using 1 attack each round. Why is it that we are making it take a lot longer to kill each other just because they are higher level? What makes higher level combat go quicker than what is show here?

4th Example:
Take a 1st level wizard and a 10th level wizard. The 1st level wizard has a +2 to hit with his acid splash (+1 level, +1 Dex). The 10th level wizard has a +13 to hit with his acid splash (+10 level, +3 Dex). If you compare the impact between the Dex modifier of the 1st level (1 dex / +2 total bonus = 50% impact) to 10th level (3 dex/+13 = 24% impact), you see that abilities are more impactful to the lower level Wizard than the higher level. Why is level vastly more important than proficiencies and ability scores?

These examples just don't sit well to me at all. It seems as though each character is too close to each other and thus can all do effectively the same things resulting in all characters being very similar to each other just based on similar levels. And then when the math gets to higher levels, combat takes longer, items and proficiency bonuses become worse comparatively.

I would much rather see level play a role, but a much smaller role. Perhaps reducing the level bonus to 1 every 4 or 5 levels to let proficiencies, items, and ability scores play a larger role in the definition of a character.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You are ignoring the fact that many use cases for skills are gated on having a particular level of proficiency. I doubt you can try to pick that lock without being at least trained in Thievery, for example.


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Also, comparing 1st level fighters smacking each other to 10th level fighters smacking each other totally ignores feats and class features.

Also, the wizard comparison neglects the comparison between two same level wizards. At 1st level a difference of 1 dex mod means one is about 5% more likely to hit their target. At 10th level it's the same.


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But those are specific cases for a specific skill. What if that rogue never took the skill feat that lets him pick the lock of a door because he is much more interested in bluffing his way past the guard of the locked door?


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

PF2, from my perspective, is designed to have a sweet spot where challenges that require dice rolls, rather than roleplay, are designed to have CR/levels plus/minus 3 -- there's no point, IMO, to compare a level 1 with a level 6 (let alone a level 10 as in some of your examples) attempting the same task.

When you mix level 1s with level 10s you will get results that look a bit odd at times. However I've almost never had those come up in stories in places I needed/wanted dice to adjudicate.

Within those level bands, the contribution from ability scores, items are what matter, with a minor influence from the level skew.


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SqueezeBox wrote:
But those are specific cases for a specific skill. What if that rogue never took the skill feat that lets him pick the lock of a door because he is much more interested in bluffing his way past the guard of the locked door?

An expert in a skill naturally unlocks more capabilities with that skill than an untrained person.

So in your examples, the expert can make the attempt to pick the lock and the untrained cannot.

If they're both attempting to do something an untrained person can do, the higher level character can beat the expert, but is that a problem?


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Rooneg (and others that posted while I was typing) is right. The first two examples are allowing the untrained character to do things they don't know how to do. Somebody with natural talent (ability scores) may be able to out perform a veteran (more proficiency ranks) at basic tasks, but the veteran will be able to do more things that the prodigy just wouldn't know how to start.

For the third example, higher level fighters have more combat endurance. There are more narrow scrapes, last minute defenses and other things hit points represent rather than raw structural capacity for harm. Also, 10th level fighters are going to have more going for them than you are assuming.

Similarly for the fourth example, experience matters. Ability and training are important, but there is no substitute for actual field use of your skills. The 10th level wizard is just going to be better at what they are doing than the 1st, even if they took the same classes at Hogwarts.


WatersLethe wrote:

Also, comparing 1st level fighters smacking each other to 10th level fighters smacking each other totally ignores feats and class features.

Also, the wizard comparison neglects the comparison between two same level wizards. At 1st level a difference of 1 dex mod means one is about 5% more likely to hit their target. At 10th level it's the same.

Are there feats or abilities that can increase the amount of damage fighters can do against one another? Power attack effectively gives you an extra die and thus would reduce the rounds to 9 from 18. But take two bards, or two clerics. The numbers still apply. The higher level combat takes longer than lower level combat and not due to more options, just math.


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The blog wrote:
"does that mean that your level 20 untrained and magic-hating barbarian knows more about arcane magic than your friend's level 1 bibliophile wizard does? Not really. Your barbarian, with her extensive experience in battle, might be able to identify a dragon's weaknesses much better than the wizard with his ivory-tower book learning, but when it comes to magical theory, identifying the gestures that compose a spell, or other such topics, your barbarian simply doesn't know anything at all."
The blog wrote:
"But the new skill system is more than just the bonus you gain. Each level of proficiency unlocks skill uses that are either intrinsic to the skill itself or that are uses you select as your character advances."

So we know that a lot of uses for skills are tied behind proficiencies. The example given in the skills blog is that anybody can use the Heal skill to Administer First Aid, but you have to be trained to Treat Disease or Treat Poison. And that makes sense, because even a level 20 Barbarian untrained in the Heal skill knows how to wrap bandages around a wound, possibly even quite well, but they won't know as much as somebody who's studied even for a moment about treating a rare disease that uncommon in these lands.


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

So my earlier answer only deals with your 1st and 4th examples (since they have the large level skew).

For Examples 2) You have someone who through force of training, is performing roughly the same as someone naturally gifted. To me that's not a problem. That's without considering if there's any bonuses to being Expert, if there are different types of diplomacy requests/checks that are possible. (Perhaps a success by an expert moves the target's friendship level thingy two notches instead of one, perhaps the Expert gets to treat critical failures as regular failures... ) We haven't seen those rules,

For Example 3): This is not an aspect of the PF2 math, its an aspect of any level-based HP system. (at least when you're not giving the fighters level-appropriate magic weapons to up their damage.)


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My personal take is that level is being used for the "experience" aspect.

For example, if person 1 just graduates with a degree in accounting and person 2 never took a class in accounting, but worked around it/in the industry for 10 years, person 2 probably has as much or more accounting ability than person 1.

In response to your examples, my take is the following:
1st Example:
Experience vs recently trained brings them close

2nd Example:
The is natural ability vs trained. Basically, some people just have an affinity for things. Some people are just naturally charming and suave and can seem to just say or do the correct thing.

3rd Example:
Experience will make you better, so it makes sense that the best could take awhile to finish a match. Add, that at 10th level, the fighters will have other tricks that they can use then swing once.

4th Example:
Again, experience can play a dramatic role in targeting (to hit).

Now, I am not saying that the math optimally matches this, but it feels close to me from what we know. That being said, that's why they are doing this as a Playtest, and not rolling these out as the final numbers. If after playing, nearly everyone is telling them every level just doesn't work, they could revise it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Example 1 & 2
These ones bother me as well. While there are some actions that you cannot take untrained, it does mean that a high-level character will be exceptionally skilled at the basic uses of every skill. It makes a lot of sense for stuff like perception or stealth where not investing in them was a massive shortcoming in your character's abilities, but for a lot of skills the idea that someone just might not be competent at them isn't a problem that needed solving. I definitely want to see how this plays in practice before judging, though..

Example 3
I think we'll need to wait for the full playtest rules to fully analyze this one, as those higher level fighters will also have powerful abilities. We'll need to look at the full builds to get an idea of how things change over levels.

Example 4
That's not a very useful comparison. If you look at the chance of hitting, rather than just the attack bonus itself, you'd see there isn't actually a problem here. For the sake of simplicity I will ignore critical success (just take my word on it that it doesn't change the result):

Let's suppose that 1st level wizard is attacking something with an TAC of 10. Without just the +1 attack bonus, he has a 60% chance to hit. If he adds his dexterity bonus, he has a 65% chance to hit. 65%/60% = 8.3% improvement.

Now let's look at the your 10th level wizard, and presume that the TAC he's targeting is 19. With just his +10 attack bonus he has a 60% chance to hit. If he adds his +3 dexterity bonus, he now has a 75% chance to hit. 75%/60% = 25% improvement.

The exact numbers will vary, but the +3 bonus is in fact about three times as valuable as the +1 bonus regardless of the character level.

With that said, this could be a legitimate issue with charisma and resonance. We'll see how that plays out in practice.

Sovereign Court

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SqueezeBox wrote:
But those are specific cases for a specific skill. What if that rogue never took the skill feat that lets him pick the lock of a door because he is much more interested in bluffing his way past the guard of the locked door?

Some abilities require feats. Some only require a certain level of proficiency.


Stone Dog wrote:
Rooneg (and others that posted while I was typing) is right. The first two examples are allowing the untrained character to do things they don't know how to do. Somebody with natural talent (ability scores) may be able to out perform a veteran (more proficiency ranks) at basic tasks, but the veteran will be able to do more things that the prodigy just wouldn't know how to start.

As long as that's the case with unlocks to skills (admittedly, I read the blogs a long time ago and didn't entirely remember if the skills had unlocks automatically), then I think it's a bit better. But it still doesn't seem right that an equal level expert and master proficient at the same skill can be equal at the same expert level task based on 1 ability point.

Stone Dog wrote:
For the third example, higher level fighters have more combat endurance. There are more narrow scrapes, last minute defenses and other things hit points represent rather than raw structural capacity for harm. Also, 10th level fighters are going to have more going for them than you are assuming.

As I said, I'm concerned about the mat, but because I don't have the rulebook yet, I can't determine what class and feat advantages a higher level character has over a lower level character for this example. So I'm trying to determine if 2 equal characters in equal circumstances, no matter what class they are, makes a combat take longer only due to the math involved and not the options available.

Stone Dog wrote:
Similarly for the fourth example, experience matters. Ability and training are important, but there is no substitute for actual field use of your skills. The 10th level wizard is just going to be better at what they are doing than the 1st, even if they took the same classes at Hogwarts.

IMO, "field use of skills" is measured in Proficiency. Power over others is measured in Levels. Absolutely right that you should be a lot more powerful than a 1st level character if you are 10th level. But I think that proficiencies in skills, saves, attacks should weigh heavier when it comes to specific tasks.

Paizo Employee Designer

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SqueezeBox wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:

Also, comparing 1st level fighters smacking each other to 10th level fighters smacking each other totally ignores feats and class features.

Also, the wizard comparison neglects the comparison between two same level wizards. At 1st level a difference of 1 dex mod means one is about 5% more likely to hit their target. At 10th level it's the same.

Are there feats or abilities that can increase the amount of damage fighters can do against one another? Power attack effectively gives you an extra die and thus would reduce the rounds to 9 from 18. But take two bards, or two clerics. The numbers still apply. The higher level combat takes longer than lower level combat and not due to more options, just math.

But two high level bards or clerics sitting around smacking each other with basic starting PC gear and not using any of their abilities is weird math to be considering compared to typical adventuring. By that level, both of them have learned enough tricks of survivability to last for several rounds against opponents who are actually using all they've got, so of course when facing a situation fighting someone using atypically weaker tactics and offense, they'll last longer than several rounds.


Mark Seifter wrote:
But two high level bards or clerics sitting around smacking each other with basic starting PC gear and not using any of their abilities is weird math to be considering compared to typical adventuring. By that level, both of them have learned enough tricks of survivability to last for several rounds against opponents who are actually using all they've got, so of course when facing a situation fighting someone using atypically weaker tactics and offense, they'll last longer than several rounds.

I think that because we have not really seen higher level class abilities and feats that it is a bit challenging to resolve the issue. When we see it on Aug 2nd, perhaps my opinions of the math might change.

I do have one question for you Mark, if the math is deemed to be problematic resulting from the playtest, will that be something that you are willing to change? It's so intrinsic to the foundation of the game, it might seem like an untouchable aspect.


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i personally hope nothing changes from the playtest i haven't yet seen


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SqueezeBox wrote:
I think that because we have not really seen higher level class abilities and feats that it is a bit challenging to resolve the issue. When we see it on Aug 2nd, perhaps my opinions of the math might change.

My perspective throughout the whole "Playtest is announced, but we don't have the rules yet" period is to be sensitive about how incomplete a picture we have of anything, and to be aware that there's going to be a whole bunch of other things interacting with what we have been shown, so don't start pointing to problems which might not be problems.

August 2nd, once the book is out, the gloves are off, but until then I don't think there's anything to be concerned about.


Maybe a better question to ask is PF1 style of skills better than PF2 style of skills?

PF2 gives a huge bonus due to level, while PF1 you have to choose to make each skill better (than the stat bonus).

I think each way has its benefits. Both ways have issues. For the trained vs. untrained, I think PF1 is better. But PF1 had some crazy ways to buff skills to insane levels....


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While PF1 skill ranks were trying to be more organic, characters were too often strangled to accomplish basic adventuring tasks. The poor Fighter with only 2 ranks per level is well known as the most punished victim of this.

What I'm looking forward to is PF2 having more capable adventurers as levels increase. Fighters that can at least have a decent chance to sneak about without spoiling the whole groups stealth. A cleric who can manage to climb enough that the party doesn't have to drag her around like a lead weight. A wizard that can do basic first aid without killing a companion.

Training, Mastery, Expertise, and Legendary skill will all matter when it comes to the breadth of ability, but with experience nobody will be so abysmal at fundamental, Everyman tasks that you might as well just assume failure.

At least, that is my personal silver lining about the new Proficiency set up.


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I don't think the issue is just that you haven't seen the full rules yet. I feel like there are some very fundamental implications of using a level-based system that underlie a lot of these questions.

Squeezebox wrote:
Why is it that a higher level Wizard is just as good untrained at a particular skill as a Rogue who is considered an expert?

Why does a 20th level fighter not die if dropped 100 feet off a cliff?

Why is a 20th level druid's animal companion larger than a 1st level druid's animal companion? Why is the 20th level druid's Allosaurus animal companion never able to grow to full size without magic?

These are the mysteries of character levels.

Squeezebox wrote:
Why should someone who has a bit of an ability modifier make up for the difference in training? If the rogue is an expert, shouldn't that mean they are vastly better than someone who is supposed to be no good? Instead, the Sorcerer can make up for it by being so charming?
Squeezebox wrote:
Why is level vastly more important than proficiencies and ability scores?

Why can a higher level character have more strength, even if he never works out? Why are older characters with more "experience" not automatically higher level?

Here you're literally playing the opposite sides with your two questions. In D&D3.x/PF1, level affected skills by allowing you to purchase ever-more ranks, allowing ever-higher "training" in the skill to overwhelm the attributes. In PF2, that fiddly tracking of ranks is replaced with a largely automatic system (incorporated by level) and you only need to keep track of which skills are being "topped up" or left to advance more slowly relative to each other, which is done with the training system.

Anyway, your two questions actually don't require too much game system justification and has plenty of real-world examples (if you accept the substitute that greater skill comes from real-world "experience" which doesn't have an exact corollary to leveling, which is a game system to make things feel more powerful/impart a sense of progress and nothing else). Successful athletes often struggle early in their careers due to insufficient experience, while eventually retiring because they're just not good anymore because their physical attributes have declined. Attributes and skill sometimes offset each other, sometimes combine, and sometimes one heavily outweighs the other.

Squeezebox wrote:
They both have 80hp and swing regular longswords with a 26 ac and +16 to hit doing 1d8+5 damage. On average they would take 18 rounds to kill each other using 1 attack each round. Why is it that we are making it take a lot longer to kill each other just because they are higher level? What makes higher level combat go quicker than what is show here?

Why don't these 10th level fighters have even a single +1 weapon (which do additional damage dice)? Magic item economy is a key consideration of level balance. You might as well ask why a fighter with a sword consistently beats a fighter who is wielding a cardboard tube. Never mind that this question is without consideration from the unknown class abilities and complete absence of tactical options.

So why do people keep asking these kinds of questions?
Once the choice of playing a class and level based system has been made, I feel like a lot of these sorts of questions basically amount to "what level of abstraction makes me feel uncomfortable?"

For some people, it's high-level "untrained" characters with higher skill modifiers than low-level "experts." For others, it's the "Legendary" mundane skills that offer skill feats that offer abilities that are beyond what's possible in real life, and yet aren't treated as magical. Sometimes it's just looking too closely at what, exactly, a +1 is. People are getting hung up on whether a "composition" is always musical in nature, despite "English Composition" being a basic college course in the US. Some people don't like which weapons are called long swords. Then there's alignment, which has incredible powers to derail threads.

There's some abstraction of some thing that's going to bother people. One of the things that is a mixed blessing to me is that d20 results don't map to bell curves, which makes the extreme ends more probable and overall results more volatile. I've always thought 3d6 was an elegant way to test skill results, but the system I know uses it isn't a level-based system and best functions when everyone's performance is compared against the same bell curve.

So what about the actual system math?
As everyone is saying, basic attack/skill roll numbers only tell part of the story. The math is designed to allow some widening of the ranges between top and bottom scores (for both offense and defense) but also not to let them get as absurd as PF1. Part of this is offset by proficiency "gates" and part is offset by critical failures/successes.

Post after post by the designers (mostly Mark) explaining the math behind stuff has left me comfortable that the basic math behind the system is, at worst, well-considered. They've considered the scaling, and even unified many of the disparate systems so that everything (attacks, skills, armor, and saves) should scale comparably while still allowing for situations where offensive strengths can go against defensive weaknesses and have a great chance for powerful results without also being guaranteed against average defenses. These mechanics are designed to let the d20 do a good job of creating interesting results to make the game fun across many levels. (Even if they don't map neatly to a bell curve the way 3d6 does.)


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The main reason I prefer Pathfinder over 5e is the skill system - not so much the way ranks are set out, but the way that DCs reflect how difficult a task is from the perspective of someone who lives in a world where roughly 90% of the population is made up of level 1 commoners, most decently trained warriors are level 1 warriors rather than fighters, and going beyond level 5 makes you a truly remarkable person. In 5e, meanwhile, I find the DCs to be fairly arbitrary.

Now obviously we don't yet know how the DCs are going to be structured for skills, but ultimately if a lock is simple enough that someone who is only trained can unlock it, then someone who is legendary at picking locks should have an easier time than someone who is only trained, even if the legendary one is level 12 and the trained one is level 20. Now it might turn out that the playtest document will give me exactly the kind of information that would make me feel more at ease with this. If it turns out that DCs tend to be relative to the level of the person doing the thing, then frankly I'd just remove the bonus from level entirely and only use the proficiency levels.


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TL;DR - I am very skeptical of adding level to all d20 rolls, and of magic weapons doing extra damage dice. I'd rather flatten the DCs and lower the HP gained per level.

I played D&D 4e. I liked 4e well enough. One of the least useful parts of 4e was how everything scaled by level. It was useless math that made 'narrative reality' increasingly hard to parse as the game got higher in level.

A hard wooden door is tough to kick down at 1st level, but at 20th level it's suddenly a cinch, even if you're a frail old wizard?

Like, sure, you've got magic. If the game explicitly flavors the bonus as 'magic,' I could get behind that. Hell, make it a cantrip to spend a point of resonance and add your level to a Str or Dex check, as you politely ask a door to open, or you glare at a narrow beam and it widens so as not to upset you.

But numbers simply increasing with level, irrespective of skill or power, is bad storytelling.

Likewise, I think the first post's example of two fighters using single attacks to wail on each other is probably too simplistic and ignoring options high-level fighters would have, but I do want the game to at least not demand magic weapons for it to work.

The Exchange

The level of skill is not in itself a big deal. Its the feats that it opens up that make the difference. A rogue with master level diplomacy probably could get a meeting with the King even though he is only a rogue while his cute kid sister could never get an audience with the King. His courtiers would see that she never got a chance to have an presentation with the King unless she used enchantment or illusion magic


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Stone Dog wrote:

What I'm looking forward to is PF2 having more capable adventurers as levels increase. Fighters that can at least have a decent chance to sneak about without spoiling the whole groups stealth. A cleric who can manage to climb enough that the party doesn't have to drag her around like a lead weight. A wizard that can do basic first aid without killing a companion.

That's assuming we don't need X feat to do [thing that anyone should be able to try and possibly succeed at]. And what we've learned about pickpocketing doesn't bode well for that.


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Barathos wrote:
That's assuming we don't need X feat to do [thing that anyone should be able to try and possibly succeed at]. And what we've learned about pickpocketing doesn't bode well for that.

I agree that what different tables think a "thing that anyone should be able to try and possibly succeed at" is will be a problem.

Pickpocketing isn't on that list for me, for sure. I am happy that warriors can be expected to bandage wounds properly without learning how to be a chirugeon, though.


Brock Landers wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:

TL;DR - I am very skeptical of adding level to all d20 rolls, and of magic weapons doing extra damage dice. I'd rather flatten the DCs and lower the HP gained per level.

I played D&D 4e. I liked 4e well enough. One of the least useful parts of 4e was how everything scaled by level. It was useless math that made 'narrative reality' increasingly hard to parse as the game got higher in level.

Yeah, I removed the +1/2 level treadmill from 4th Ed, works out great, and I also plan to remove + Level from PF2, see how that goes. Though, PF2 is really leveraging big numbers with the 4-tiers of success system. For some reason I went off big modifiers in D&D/PF like d20+31, that sort of thing, just aesthetics.

In practice I think it'll kind of work fun with the +level and four degrees together (though Dead Man Walking has noted that removing it from what we know will produce bounded accuracy. You seem to like 5e so it could work well for you), because you can get high level players slaughtering monsters en mass (while kaijus should be nigh unstoppable). A regular fireball from a level 20 wizard has a save of what. 39? 19/20 minions are critically failing that saving throw, taking enough damage to pulp them. At the same time, the wizard in question is experienced enough to dodge the returning volley of sling bullets.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Brock Landers wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:

TL;DR - I am very skeptical of adding level to all d20 rolls, and of magic weapons doing extra damage dice. I'd rather flatten the DCs and lower the HP gained per level.

I played D&D 4e. I liked 4e well enough. One of the least useful parts of 4e was how everything scaled by level. It was useless math that made 'narrative reality' increasingly hard to parse as the game got higher in level.

Yeah, I removed the +1/2 level treadmill from 4th Ed, works out great, and I also plan to remove + Level from PF2, see how that goes. Though, PF2 is really leveraging big numbers with the 4-tiers of success system. For some reason I went off big modifiers in D&D/PF like d20+31, that sort of thing, just aesthetics.

Its important to note that +level isn't required for a 4 tiers of success system. All that is required is that for a decent portion of rolls you need to roll below a 9 (and thus a 19 or 20 is a Crit Succ) or above an 12 (At which point a 1 or 2 is a Crit Fail.)

E.G If at level 20 your attack bonus is +33 and the enemy AC is 40 you need a 7 to hit and thus a 17+ to Crit. If you remove the level component from that you are at +13 versus an AC of 20 and the odds are the same.


Brock Landers wrote:
Elleth wrote:
Brock Landers wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:

TL;DR - I am very skeptical of adding level to all d20 rolls, and of magic weapons doing extra damage dice. I'd rather flatten the DCs and lower the HP gained per level.

I played D&D 4e. I liked 4e well enough. One of the least useful parts of 4e was how everything scaled by level. It was useless math that made 'narrative reality' increasingly hard to parse as the game got higher in level.

Yeah, I removed the +1/2 level treadmill from 4th Ed, works out great, and I also plan to remove + Level from PF2, see how that goes. Though, PF2 is really leveraging big numbers with the 4-tiers of success system. For some reason I went off big modifiers in D&D/PF like d20+31, that sort of thing, just aesthetics.
In practice I think it'll kind of work fun with the +level and four degrees together (though Dead Man Walking has noted that removing it from what we know will produce bounded accuracy. You seem to like 5e so it could work well for you)
Yeah, I like if for several reasons, makes monsters a threat for a wider range of levels, good for immersion, for me, 20 orcs are always a problem to take on solo (like in The Princess Bride, even Inigo cannot take on too many guards at once). Characters don't feel like they go from peasant to un-hittable demigod in a month, the aforementioned aesthetics on paper, etc.

Yeah. Meanwhile I've found out when running my 5e game that I like ridiculous amounts of escalation, and having players already become demi-god like as an automatic part of the system will probably play better with my GMing style.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Non-Oppossed DCs would be harder to work out, but could be achieved with some analysis. You just have to first find what the best of the best could achieve and make that possible, and then place other things on the scale from there.

E.G if you want the best Climber in the world to be able to (potentially) scale the sheer winds on the Plane of Air we first find out what the max bonus they could get without level being a factor. Lets say that is +18. So for the best person in the world to have a 50/50 chance at achieving the hardest thing in the field we should have that DC of 28. That seems a bit low, so maybe we don't want the best of the best to have a 50% chance and multiples of five are nice. So I would settle on a DC35, the best of the best has to roll 17+ if unaided.

With the highest DC in mind we can adjust the other examples downwards. I'd probably leave the lower DCs relatively stable (as you get a bunch of your modifier upfront at lvl 1) and more aggresively downscale the harder DCs to compensate.

Liberty's Edge

Brock Landers wrote:


Right on, yeah, like algebra, of course have to get a better look at magic items.

So, let's strip it down to barebones (sans equipment and magic), for a max example.

Ability mod: +6
Proficiency (Legendary): +3

Total: +9

So, DC 30 would be out of the realms of possibility for a PC without items or magic

With a Legendary quality weapon they could get another +3, and with magic an extra +3, for a total of +6, so altogether, +15, right?

The cap's +15, but it doesn't get there quite that way. Stats cap at +7 with a stat-boost item. and magic bonuses got to +5 but don't stack with Item Quality bonuses. So, 7+3+5 for 15 total.

But yeah, DC 30+ is impossible without items. That means you'll need to adjust Assurance as well as Static DCs, but it's totally doable.


Brock Landers wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Brock Landers wrote:


Right on, yeah, like algebra, of course have to get a better look at magic items.

So, let's strip it down to barebones (sans equipment and magic), for a max example.

Ability mod: +6
Proficiency (Legendary): +3

Total: +9

So, DC 30 would be out of the realms of possibility for a PC without items or magic

With a Legendary quality weapon they could get another +3, and with magic an extra +3, for a total of +6, so altogether, +15, right?

The cap's +15, but it doesn't get there quite that way. Stats cap at +7 with a stat-boost item. and magic bonuses got to +5 but don't stack with Item Quality bonuses. So, 7+3+5 for 15 total.

But yeah, DC 30+ is impossible without items. That means you'll need to adjust Assurance as well as Static DCs, but it's totally doable.

Yeah, right on, I was lumping together, I know you can an extra +1 from an ability boosting item, and +5 with a Legendary quality magic weapon.

Anyway, thanks again for your advice/help, can't wait to start tinkering with this.

Remember that at Legendary, you can take the Skill Feat Assurance which allows you to take 20 on the skill. So there is no variable issue. "So you're saying there's a chance?"


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Ellith wrote:
In practice I think it'll kind of work fun with the +level and four degrees together (though Dead Man Walking has noted that removing it from what we know will produce bounded accuracy. You seem to like 5e so it could work well for you), because you can get high level players slaughtering monsters en mass (while kaijus should be nigh unstoppable). A regular fireball from a level 20 wizard has a save of what. 39? 19/20 minions are critically failing that saving throw, taking enough damage to pulp them. At the same time, the wizard in question is experienced enough to dodge the returning volley of sling bullets.

That's the type of gameplay I think should still be applicable. The fireball should destroy a ton of regulars, but I want the regulars to cause that wizard problems too. If a mob charges and grabs the wizard, shouldn't the wizard struggle to overcome them? With adding level to all checks and DCs, that goes right out the window and masses of lower level creatures become useless.

Brock Landers wrote:
Yeah, I like if for several reasons, makes monsters a threat for a wider range of levels, good for immersion, for me, 20 orcs are always a problem to take on solo (like in The Princess Bride, even Inigo cannot take on too many guards at once). Characters don't feel like they go from peasant to un-hittable demigod in a month, the aforementioned aesthetics on paper, etc.

This reminds me of WoW and the Zones. "The undead castle is for 15th level characters, while the Dwarven Mine is for 10th. My 12th level fighter probably shouldn't get to the undead castle until he's grinded the Dwarven Mine to 15th." It's just not appealing and really cuts of storylines.


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Malk_Content wrote:
Brock Landers wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:

TL;DR - I am very skeptical of adding level to all d20 rolls, and of magic weapons doing extra damage dice. I'd rather flatten the DCs and lower the HP gained per level.

I played D&D 4e. I liked 4e well enough. One of the least useful parts of 4e was how everything scaled by level. It was useless math that made 'narrative reality' increasingly hard to parse as the game got higher in level.

Yeah, I removed the +1/2 level treadmill from 4th Ed, works out great, and I also plan to remove + Level from PF2, see how that goes. Though, PF2 is really leveraging big numbers with the 4-tiers of success system. For some reason I went off big modifiers in D&D/PF like d20+31, that sort of thing, just aesthetics.

Its important to note that +level isn't required for a 4 tiers of success system. All that is required is that for a decent portion of rolls you need to roll below a 9 (and thus a 19 or 20 is a Crit Succ) or above an 12 (At which point a 1 or 2 is a Crit Fail.)

E.G If at level 20 your attack bonus is +33 and the enemy AC is 40 you need a 7 to hit and thus a 17+ to Crit. If you remove the level component from that you are at +13 versus an AC of 20 and the odds are the same.

I think the mathematics of 2E are open enough that reducing level bonuses by 1/2 or 1/4 could be done with minimal work. I want the wizard to melt peasants with a 10d6 fireball, but I also want the chance for some of them to save against it ("Get behind the wall of dead bards!"). But I also don't want the wizard to be able to wade through entire armies without worrying about them as a threat. A throng of arrows fired by 100 goblins should be scary even though they are level 1 creatures. I think this can be solved by reducing level bonuses by a ratio can simulate that. The wizard still gets feats and higher level spells, so he is still a nasty threat to everyone, just that he doesn't get the uber level bonus.


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While I'm not generally a fan of PF2's design decisions, the math does, on the surface, at least, seem well-suited to a certain style of play. Albeit one that I personally have 0 interest in.

The interesting part of playtests will be to see if people actually DO play the game that way and how well it holds up when subjected to a more divergent cross-section of Pathfinder groups.


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(I skimmed the thread)

One of the ideas for system tweaks I'm toying with in my mind is tying the level bonus to your proficiency.

So, for example you get 1/2lvl to things you're Untrained in, 3/4lvl to things you're Trained or Expert in and your full lvl to things you're Master or Legendery in.

It's a very interesting tweak I think, especially since the difference between two adjacent categories is "only" +/- 5. But it'll be interesting to see how it adds up to the math.

But if it doesn't upset the math too much, it would be a rather easy houserule to implement.


NorthernDruid wrote:

(I skimmed the thread)

One of the ideas for system tweaks I'm toying with in my mind is tying the level bonus to your proficiency.

So, for example you get 1/2lvl to things you're Untrained in, 3/4lvl to things you're Trained or Expert in and your full lvl to things you're Master or Legendery in.

It's a very interesting tweak I think, especially since the difference between two adjacent categories is "only" +/- 5. But it'll be interesting to see how it adds up to the math.

But if it doesn't upset the math too much, it would be a rather easy houserule to implement.

Hilarious that is almost what I was going to suggest albeit slightly different. When I have more time I'll post it. :)


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NorthernDruid wrote:

(I skimmed the thread)

One of the ideas for system tweaks I'm toying with in my mind is tying the level bonus to your proficiency.

So, for example you get 1/2lvl to things you're Untrained in, 3/4lvl to things you're Trained or Expert in and your full lvl to things you're Master or Legendery in.

It's a very interesting tweak I think, especially since the difference between two adjacent categories is "only" +/- 5. But it'll be interesting to see how it adds up to the math.

But if it doesn't upset the math too much, it would be a rather easy houserule to implement.

My dude, a +5 is a massive difference and things like attacks and saves. I'd advise you to ignore that impulse for those systems. Maybe that could work for out of combat skills but you would have to screw with a whole lot of DCs to make it work.

Liberty's Edge

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NorthernDruid wrote:

(I skimmed the thread)

One of the ideas for system tweaks I'm toying with in my mind is tying the level bonus to your proficiency.

So, for example you get 1/2lvl to things you're Untrained in, 3/4lvl to things you're Trained or Expert in and your full lvl to things you're Master or Legendery in.

It's a very interesting tweak I think, especially since the difference between two adjacent categories is "only" +/- 5. But it'll be interesting to see how it adds up to the math.

But if it doesn't upset the math too much, it would be a rather easy houserule to implement.

This really screws the game's math entirely and profoundly. Especially several of the fundamental system goals (like there not being more than 20 point swings between the capabilities of equal level people).

+/-5 is a huge and game changing bonus in PF2. I'm pretty sure it comes close to straight up doubling damage, just to give one example, and is equally meaningful in other situations.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
+/-5 is a huge and game changing bonus in PF2. I'm pretty sure it comes close to straight up doubling damage, just to give one example, and is equally meaningful in other situations.

Not sure if my math is 100% right but what I got is..

If you needed a 10 to hit to begin with a +5 Bonus increases your damage by 83% by my calculations.

If you needed a 17 to hit to begin with then a +5 doubles your expected damage.

If you only needed a 3 to hit to begin with a +5 bonus increases your damage by 18% mostly due to the fact that your expected damage was already pretty high

Liberty's Edge

Bardarok wrote:

Not sure if my math is 100% right but what I got is..

If you needed a 10 to hit to begin with a +5 Bonus increases your damage by 83% by my calculations.

If you needed a 17 to hit to begin with then a +5 doubles your expected damage.

If you only needed a 3 to hit to begin with a +5 bonus increases your damage by 18% mostly due to the fact that your expected damage was already pretty high

That all sounds about right. The first number (83% at 10+) is what I was referring to as 'almost double'.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Bardarok wrote:

Not sure if my math is 100% right but what I got is..

If you needed a 10 to hit to begin with a +5 Bonus increases your damage by 83% by my calculations.

If you needed a 17 to hit to begin with then a +5 doubles your expected damage.

If you only needed a 3 to hit to begin with a +5 bonus increases your damage by 18% mostly due to the fact that your expected damage was already pretty high

That all sounds about right. The first number (83% at 10+) is what I was referring to as 'almost double'.

Cool. I'm also leaving out deadly and other xritnrider effects so it's probably often better than that.


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SqueezeBox wrote:


1st Example:
Take the 4th level rogue with expert proficiency in Thievery and an 18 Dex. He wants to go pick a lock on a door to open it. He has a +9 in Thievery (+4 Dex, +4 level, +1 expert). For his level, he's pretty good. Then take the 9th level Wizard with a 14 Dex and untrained in Thievery. He goes to pick a lock on a door to open it. He has a +9 in Thievery (+2 Dex, +9 level, -2 untrained). Why is it that a higher level Wizard is just as good untrained at a particular skill as a Rogue who is considered an expert?

Because the 4th level rogue is adventuring in a low level dungeon where a door with a DC 20 lock is narratively important, and the wizard is adventuring in a mid level dungeon where the ref can handwave over such trivial items.

Yes, that's gamist rather than simulationist logic, but if I want a game where the things that arre a challenge to low level characters are still a challenge to high level ones I will go and play Runequest, not Pathfinder.


Why are people saying that a horde of 200 goblins firing arrows at a wizard won't be a threat?
Ignoring the fact that even in the current edition the wizard laughs at that with wind wall or other options.

I know level will be tied to stuff like attack bonus, but I don't know of it increasing AC. Have I missed something?
Statistically with 200 goblins you will have 10 rolling nat 20s.
Assuming these are decently armed goblin archers we could be looking at a final result of 25-ish, if they are level 1.
I am not sure how common wizards in full plate will be, but an ac of 25 on the wizard does normally require some investment. Or have I completely missed a bunch of stuff?

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