Basic Impressions, Section By Section

General Discussion

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Having had a good skim and skip of the book, I'm dumping these impressions here in large part to organize my own thoughts and understanding of how this system is meant to work, exactly. People have rightly pointed out that the book's layout is poorly thought out, but that's to be expected of a playtest document, and consistent with past Paizo Playtest material.

Still, writing it down like this should help me, and may hopefully help some other people. This will be multiple posts.

When I get my actual playtest group up and running (probably next weekend) I'll post any opinions that have changed after seeing certain mechanics or systems in play in further detail.

Acting and Effects

Overall I like the streamlining of action economy. This one is very straightforward, though the implications of what this new action system mean requires a lot of jumping around. Three actions (plus one Reaction, and a GM ruled number of Free actions) per round gives players a lot of flexibility, and allows for a lot more granularity than systems like 5e, which can feel stifling at times with their very rigid action apportioning.

Allowing characters to full attack from first level and while moving is a welcome change, even if the enormous penalties mean these extra attacks are EFFECTIVELY locked off until higher levels.

I have my problems with how the use of Reactions is utilized, but that's an issue with those specific ways Reactions are used (which I'll get to when I write down my thoughts about class feats and skills) and not the mechanic itself. "Reaction" is much more intuitive phrasing than "Immediate Action", and that goes for the use of the term "Action" in general rather than having a distinction between Swift/Standard/Move/Full Round/Immediate actions that I've seen be overwhelming for new players.

The symbology is...unhelpful, in my opinion. I believe its purpose is entirely meant to save page count, which it succeeds at admirably, but there's something off about it. Maybe I just don't like how it looks. Not really a fair criticism, but it's all I can come up with. It feels wrong.

The use of the term "Activities" is the biggest misstep IMO. It isn't intuitive terminology for something that takes multiple actions to perform. "Extended Action", Multiple Action", or something like that gets the point across better. "I'm performing an activity" sounds stiff and awkward in a way that "I'm taking an action" lacks. There's no excitement or sense of adventure in the term at all.

Tl;DR: The new action economy/nomenclature is in most regards better (and far more intuitive) than the 3.PF action economy/nomenclature, with a few missteps (primarily in terms of Activities). Kudos!

Format of Rules Elements

Not a fan, here. Primarily in regards to traits. In theory the creation of important keywords is a good thing, but it ends up making ability descriptions look cluttered in the current way it's put down, in large part because many abilities have upwards of three traits, with one Fighter ability having five different traits.

Side note, Traits are probably better referred to as "Tags", because that's really what they are (and that term stands less of a chance of being confused with Pathfinder's Traits by long time players). Descriptors is also better, since in PF1e terms that is literally what they are, and is more accurate terminology. The Witcher Adventure Card Game uses Traits in a similar way and it's just as confusing in that game.

Die Rolls

My first hard dislike, here. I'm not a fan of critical failures in this kind of game. They work in systems like Mutants and Masterminds because combat in M&M is generally lower stakes; death is rare and easily fixable, just like in comic books.

Pathfinder and other D&D derived fantasy games tend to feature more visceral danger in its encounters, with creatures injuring and killing PCs on a regular basis. Rolling poorly is ALREADY BAD, and can lead to a premature character exit. Adding an extra degree of failure below that is likely to lead to frustration.


I like it, in general terms. It bridges the gap in some ways between PF1e and 5e in game style, having much less granularity than the former and more than the latter.

The locking off of certain actions to certain levels of proficiency is an interesting idea to combat the old and hotly debated problem of "stages of play" Pathfinder 1e has (at which point does a character become superhuman? 5th level? 10th level? 15th?) in regards to how powerful skills can be, and allows for more cool things to be done with skills.

My main complaint: I feel like the bonus for Untrained skills is a bit too high (and the difference in bonus between the other levels of proficiency is too small). 1/2 level rather than level -2 is my gut instinct on what is more appropriate.

This leaves everybody capable of performing simple tasks like climbing a rope (neatly avoiding the issue of the level 8 Wizard struggling to get up a cliff without burning a high at the time level spell), while reducing the amount of "jack of all trades" ability characters get under the level -2 system.

That said, that's just a gut instinct, not real analysis of the system math so far.

The other main complaint is in Signature Skills, which I'll cover in more detail when I get to skills.

Aaand...that looks like that's it for section 1, besides basic terminology. Races next, unless I feel like skipping around. I'll talk about Ability Scores there, since the impression of those is largely intertwined with some opinions on the changes to race.

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Ability Scores

I really like it. It leaves everybody much more well rounded, and ensures characters have solid scores in all their key abilities while curtailing min-maxing. I've been experimenting with ways to ensure high stat totals in PF1e for a while (to the point I eventually just started letting players pick their stats), but this works great in Organized Play settings and for newer groups. Much better than Standard point buy or rolling systems.

Minor gripe, on this sentence:

Ability flaws are not nearly as common in Pathfinder as are ability boosts

Technically correct grammar, but doesn't parse as well as "Ability flaws are not nearly as common in Pathfinder as ability boosts are". Clarity/fluidity > grammatical correctness in these cases, IMO.

Races ("Ancestries") in general

I like the overhaul of ability scores, not pigeonholing characters into specific roles while making sure certain races fit better by default into some. Retains racial flavor and proclivities without making off-theme concepts like "dwarf sorcerer" not so much of a deliberate kneecapping of your character potential.

Breaking things down into "boosts" and "flaws" simplifies things greatly.

The Starfinder-esque "races determine starting HP" thing is a good addition. Reduces first level character fragility and makes low level combats less swingy, whereas in PF1e an Orc with the standard Falchion has a solid chance of ending a 1st level PCs life in one swipe in the first combat.

Upping the "Bonus Languages" Int threshold from 12 to 14 is an odd and unwelcome move. Communication is unlikely to be an issue in most games, with most creatures speaking Common (or whatever passes for it in your region).

Bonus languages are just fun fluff, and locking them off to characters who put a significant investment in Int (which is otherwise severely devalued as a stat for non-Alchemists/Wizards) even with the beefier statline seems unnecessary, and un-fun.

Ancestry Feats

Not a fan. The IDEA is interesting, a character gaining new abilities to become a more iconic version of their race, but implementation as YET ANOTHER FEAT (which I'll discuss in more detail when is get to Classes) is likely to become tiresome.

I feel like the novelty will swiftly wear off and people will long for the days when they could simply choose their race at 1st level, write down their abilities, and then never worry about it again. It adds needless fiddliness and contributes to options paralysis (a huge concern for new players of any system), while artificially inflating the perception of how meaningful any given level in a class is.

If you want scaling racial features (not a bad idea), it's likely better to lock them off into specific "you get better at these thematic racial things" than make them a Feat line.

As-is you're essentially pushing the minigame of choosing Alternate Racial Traits from PF1e off onto everyone (who may or may not enjoy it) rather than leaving it as something only some people (including myself, mind) may enjoy doing, and instead of front loading the experience it is slowed across all levels.


To be honest, I'm sad they're removed as an actual race, and essentially relegated to being a Feat chain for humans to take. The difference is minor in reality, but big in emotion.

Misc. Thoughts on Ancestries

I don't really feel like going over the races individually, so suffice to say: I like most of what they get at a base level. It's the Ancestry feats that are a mixed bag, which is the other main issue with them.

The game took one step forward in mitigating min-maxing with races by boosting stats and giving every race a Free boost...and then a big one back with Ancestry Feats as things with HUGELY varying usefulness.

Just taking Dwarf as an example, getting a huge boatload of extra Proficiencies in weapons doesn't compare favorably with getting a +2 to a save (which you're not sure will even work, because it's made before the result) and permanently reducing your already poor (because you have a Cha penalty) ability to utilize magic items.

Next up: Classes! Where I'll have a lot more favorable things to say.

Good thread so far. Looking forward to the rest of it.

Scarab Sages

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You said this:
Die Rolls

My first hard dislike, here. I'm not a fan of critical failures in this kind of game. They work in systems like Mutants and Masterminds because combat in M&M is generally lower stakes; death is rare and easily fixable, just like in comic books.

Pathfinder and other D&D derived fantasy games tend to feature more visceral danger in its encounters, with creatures injuring and killing PCs on a regular basis. Rolling poorly is ALREADY BAD, and can lead to a premature character exit. Adding an extra degree of failure below that is likely to lead to frustration.

I disagree I have already played in a game and GMd another game, when i was playing not once did anyone go to 0 hp.

In the one I GM'd. There were 3 occasions where a character went to 0 hp. Even then, not even remotely close to death, not even close. Didn't even have to use a hero point. PF2 if anything is way to safe for my tastes, I only have fun when the chance of a character death is hovering around 10%, per session.

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At 1st level, I imagine this will be the case, yeah. AT high levels it's up in the air; the reduced across the board damage (which is a potential problem all its own) could lead to decreased lethality even at high levels, or it could even out.

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Note: Taking Vic's advice and adding to this thread instead of starting a new one. There are currently several one and done impression threads.

Pathfinder 2.0 Playtest – First Impressions

These are some of my first impressions of the Pathfinder 2.0 Playtest. I’ve played The Rose Street Revenge, looked over some of the playtest rules and watched some GenCon Playtest seminars. These are only my first impressions (specifically targeting the 'plus level' mechanic.

The game doesn’t seem heroic or epic. In feels like the main driving force in the game’s design are “game balance” and “ease of high level play”.

Pathfinder Playtest doesn’t seem to have any Brett Farve, Billy Gram or Woopie Goldbergs. The ‘plus level’ mechanic in skills, armor class, etc, makes a game where it is much harder to impossible to have a PC really good at something. I have played several characters over the past ten years and I’ve had a lot of fun with them. The ranger scout, the bard face, the dwarf tank/historian. It seems like I can’t create a PC like that because they were ‘unbalanced’.

Why should a paralyzed level 10 fighter in hide armor have a better armor class than a paralyzed level 2 fighter in hide armor?

I have distinct memories of my first D&D 3.0 game. I was a brand-new PC and player playing in a tier 4-5 game. The players told me to go ahead and play, they’d keep me safe. I had a blast and I contributed. I hit the bad guys once or twice. It seems the new ‘plus level’ mechanic will eliminate (not counting the natural 20) the possibility of a PC several levels below the BBEG of contributing.

Over the years I’ve seen unbalanced or specialized PCs. I’ve observed the PCs didn’t make the game more fun or un-fun, it was the players. There was the player that did nothing for three and a half hours then wiped a combat vs. undead in two rounds. The wizard who brought a large elemental with them and monopolized every encounter. Those were the un-fun unbalanced players. I’ve played with the untouchable tiny PC who couldn’t be hit but made sure everyone at the table was having fun and wasn’t monopolizing the game. Having everyone go ‘Oh Crap’ when my hunter was confused and attacking the nearest PC because he had a high crit range was fun – for everyone.

Also Resonance. I don't like the mechanic that expends Resonance Points when I drink a potion or similar situations. I'm still on the fence with resonance in general.

My first impression is the game has a boring game balance focus to it. I won’t be able to build and play heros. No Legolas, no Ohsmford, no Merlin. Time will tell as I dive more into it.

Just My Thoughts

This is fantastic. Keep it up!

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Part 3: Classes

General Thoughts/Impressions

I get the idea you're going for and feel like it's much like Proficiency and Ancestry Feats: it works in THEORY, but taken as part of the whole system it starts to feel disappointing.

Class Feats (aka Talents, Discoveries, Revelations, etc.) work in PF1e as a supplement to existing core class abilities that every member of that class gets, which define an archetype (small a) that an unmodified character of that class should closely model (Rogues are encouraged to "play dirty" by flanking and sneaking, Paladins are encouraged to be in your face, trusting in the power of their big numbers and important immunities to carry them through, etc.) which can be modified by big A Archetypes to provide a whole different experience.

In PF2e you have a twofold problem: the basic class features every member of that class gets are relatively limited in scope. There are no big, flashy abilities like Smite Evil, Wild Shape, or Studied Combat, and the ones that do exist's hard to find the right word for it.

Not boring, because a lot of them are very interesting (I really like Retributive Strike, for instance), but not...impactful? Defining? Nothing about Retributive Strike or Righteous Ally particularly screams "THIS CLASS IS A CHAMPION OF JUSTICE AND GOOD" for Paladin (Paladin's a good example, I'll be using her a lot). It screams "this class is meant to be the Party Tank".

The problem could be remedied if Class Feats had a bit more oomph. In PF1e there were plenty of classes that got most of their cool and powerful abilities from their "Class Feats". Oracle is a good example (setting aside spellcasting as being a cool/powerful class feature like few others).

Oracles were treated to a choice of Mysteries and given a host of powerful Revelations to choose from, some of which could be real game changers in terms of numbers (like Lunar Oracle's Prophetic Armor) and some of which were powerful utility powers (looking at Lunar again, pseudo-Wild Shape in the form of Form of the beast).

There are some good class Feats, but even the good ones in this case are quite boring, and I think that is the right word here. Attack of Opportunity, Holy Wall, Second Ally, Divine Will, etc. are undeniably GOOD, but they lack any sort of real sense of "Ooh, cool, I got something that will really change the way I play this character!". They're either +numbers (and very small numbers at that, since bonuses have been flattened in this edition), or neat and very good but non-flashy abilities.

Combined with the perception that certain abilities (particularly Attack of Opportunity) feel like they're imposing a "tax" on things characters could already do in 1st Edition (giving a perception that options are actually decreased over PF1e, rather than expanded in interesting ways) and, like any list of features/Feats/whatever in an RPG they're a mixed bag of varying usefulness already (I don't know if I would ever take Aura of Faith, for instance.

Even if 1 extra damage is a big deal in PF1e it FEELS small and is also very, very boring to take an ability that is just "adds 1 damage to my attacks against some creatures".

While I've talked a lot about Paladin specifically here, this applies to all classes. There are great ideas here, but need a lot of spit and polish to really shine.

So What Do You Think I Should Do About It?

This will be the first time I suggest a specific fix: unflatten the numbers a bit (this becomes a real problem with Skills, but also impacts classes), retool and add more iconic abilities as gimmes, while trimming the list of Class Feats for each class (because I think everybody in the game having some modularity is very good for keeping the game feeling fresh) down to a smaller number of more game changing abilities.

Rule of thumb: if it's just "+numbers" abilities, axe it. Roll it into a more interesting ability if it sounds cool.

As an example, again using Paladin, if Holy Wall (creatures you threaten move at half speed, to simplify) ALSO had the effect of Aura of Faith (your self and allies in range do extra damage to Evil) and Aura of Righteousness (Evil Resist 5), then it really feels like you are a HOLY WALL. A bulwark against evil, that hampers Evil's movement and protects your allies, and rallies them to fight harder against the scum.

Having much fewer but far bigger abilities that allow people to specialize in a role they choose and feel like they're getting rewarded for playing to their flavor may be harder to balance, but will be far more rewarding for players and GMs.

I'll give my specific thoughts on each individual class (in brief, most of them have roughly the same issues as Paladin to greater or lesser degree) in the next post, this one kind of got away with me.

Storm Dragon wrote:
Upping the "Bonus Languages" Int threshold from 12 to 14 is an odd and unwelcome move. Communication is unlikely to be an issue in most games, with most creatures speaking Common (or whatever passes for it in your region).

I have to agree with this point. I must admit that I'm terribly baffled by the limitations now with Bonus Languages (must have Int 14, and only get to select 1 additional language), particularly in light of the additions of Rarity levels to language as well as to some language spells (notably Tongues).

Granted, in my campaigns I tend to use a lot of regional languages and dialects for reasons of verisimilitude (and for my own amateur linguist quirks), but all of these changes together present an even greater communication hurdle, particularly for traveling campaigns. I don't know that I see the gain from the changes collectively, albeit I could see some mileage out of them individually.

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Class Specifics, Part 1


Interesting class, like a weird Artificer that can only really create consumables, but can do it fast? Empower Bombs is odd. Since it only empowers damaging Alchemical Items (rather than boosting the effectiveness of things like Tanglefoot Bags and such as well), it may as well just be the PF1e Bombs ability. X/day throw a big boom (choose an elemental damage type when you toss it).

Everything I had to say about Paladin Class Feats in the last post pretty much applies here, and for all other classes.


Mostly good. I like the idea of totems as things chosen early and stuck with long term, with the Class Feats increasing those abilities for the most part. Barbarian is one of the classes that makes out best in regards to theming matching the abilities. Anathemas are cool flavor, but wildly disproportionate in how debilitating they are for abilities that are all roughly the same strength.

Superstitious Totem is the big offender. The rewards do not really justify the downsides. Worse, I believe, than it being weak is that it is GRIEFABLE. If an ally casts a spell on an unwilling Barbarian it forces the Barbarian into a “Paladin Falls” Catch-22 akin to PF1e Paladins. They have three options: leave the party, attack the offending player, or lose their class features. This is not an ability that plays well with others, and is practically guaranteed to be an issue in PFS 2e.

The change to Rage is unwelcome, IMO. Not the nerfing of its raw impact/numbers advantage (that is universal) and it being essentially at-will is cool, but due to the shortened duration. 3 rounds is unlikely to carry a Barbarian through most combats in this edition given the inflating HP and deflated damage numbers making the approximate average combat length 6-7 rounds at a quick and dirty estimate.

The even further reduced impact if the Barbarian uses Agile weapons is also a poor choice I think. It doesn’t serve a real balancing purpose I can discern and just limits character concepts, similar to how 5th Edition does it.


Interesting. I really like the idea of allowing people to just pick and choose which performances they get (if any at all beyond Inspire Courage). I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of (combined) times I’ve seen Inspire Competence, Countersong, Dirge of Doom, or…any Performances besides Inspire Courage or Suggestion once in a blue moon in PF1e or 3.5.
Even if upgraded in PF2e (either directly or by the change in numbers and effects), it’s good to have the option to just avoid them and make the Bard be a better spellcaster (them being a full caster is a change I liked in 5e, and like it here) or loremaster, or what have you.

The change to Inspire Courage being at-will, but by default take 1 of 3 Actions to maintain every round is a good one IMO, which seems to be a controversial opinion. Bard seems to be one of the better classes in PF2e, though still suffers from a grab bag of dubiously useful or useful but boring abilities in terms of Class Feats.


In broad strokes, close to unchanged from PF1e except in the specifics of how spellcasting works, the Alignment restrictions being tightened (which I’m not a fan of, I thought the “one step of your deity” clause was perfectly fine; I see no issue with an NE Cleric of Lamashtu for example), and Domains being much lesser in usefulness or impact, as many class features have been tweaked to be.

The big negative comes in with the (IMO) over-focus on Channel as the core Cleric feature. While it’s true in PF1e Channel was largely ignored or viewed as a minor “It’s nice to have it, I guess” feature, I think 2e over corrects on making it the Cleric’s primary class feature focus.


Druids seem to get hit overly hard in the transition to 2e. I like the basic idea of Druidic Orders that break up the Druid into specialists rather than being good at pretty much anything and everything (as in 1e), but none of the specializations are really very good in my opinion. A Wild Order Druid in particular seems to need to spend all their class features upgrading Wild Shape to include different forms, and Wild Shape has been nerfed to the point it’s usable only as a combat ability; a strict downgrade in terms of not only power, but presenting the game as a roleplaying game instead of just a wargame.

Form Control remedies this somewhat, but comes online pretty late, and is one of the purest definitions of a Feat Tax.
The rest of the Orders fare even worse in regards to the impact their abilities have, being chopped up into very thematic but disappointingly limited specialties. They can get, essentially: slightly better Animal Companion, slightly better Summoning, or slightly better Blasting capabilities.

Like the Paladin, Druid would benefit considerably form having a smaller list of much more impactful and versatile abilities.

Fighter’s an odd duck. It seems like a very strong martial class in this edition…but that power/versatility comes at the cost of making other martial classes weaker, since many things anybody could do with the right Feats are now essentially Fighter class features.

I think Fighter is the best object to showcase a large issue with Class feats in their current form: they feel like taxes to do things you should just be able to do. Two-weapon Fighting, reflexively blocking with a shield, etc. are things everyone used to be able to do (albeit poorly in some cases). As such, it feels less like you are gaining new abilities as you level, and more like you're finally able to do something you feel you logically should have been able to do from the start.

Fighter now feels more special, yes, but not in a way that feels good to returning players, and may feel unfair to newer ones as well when they realize they can’t make a cool dual wielding assassin character or feel confused as to why they can’t block attacks with a shield without using an action first.

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you've hit a lot of nails i've been having issues with on the head here (especially on topics like class feats needing more oomph and fighter's "power-up" by just weakening everyone else), and in a much more thoughtfully-worded manner than I could manage!
though one thing you failed to mention in the alchemist section: their class abilities work off of resonance as well as all their usual gear, making them incredibly starved to actually make use of their class features as an adventurer (and then becoming effectively a commoner when they run out).

I hope this thread lasts the week without being buried, so the devs can actually see this and think about it once they return from gencon (which is a big worry of mine for all these important 'first impressions' threads).

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AndIMustMask wrote:

though one thing you failed to mention in the alchemist section: their class abilities work off of resonance as well as all their usual gear, making them incredibly starved to actually make use of their class features as an adventurer (and then becoming effectively a commoner when they run out).

I actually missed that bit, which changes my assessment of Alchemist considerably. Early "sneak preview": Resonance is one of my least favorite parts of this system. It attempts to fix two minor (and arguably even extant) problems and creates a much larger one at the same time.

AndIMustMask wrote:
I hope this thread lasts the week without being buried, so the devs can actually see this and think about it once they return from gencon (which is a big worry of mine for all these important 'first impressions' threads).

At this rate I probably won't be done with first impressions until next week anyway!

Also, while I'm adding things to opinions about classes, I'll add one last thing to Fighter:

Reactionary, adj. wrote:
(of a person or a set of views) opposing political or social liberalization or reform.


Snark aside, "Reactive", "Versatile Reactions", 'Adaptive Reflexes", etc., etc. work better. It's not just a matter of the word being used wrong (again), it doesn't actually get across the point of the ability very well.

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Pretty much the same complaint here RE: Paladin and most other classes: very cool flavor abilities, clear theming, clear ideas for areas of specialty (hard style attacks with Dragon, soft style/defensive with Crane, opportunistic attacker with Wolf, etc.), and a re-intro of Ki Powers as a core concept.

But most of them don't DO enough. The first Feat in a Style chain is a bit of extra damage and wildly varying secondary effects, from the lackluster +1 AC Crane gets to the powerful sounding (with 2e's reduced damage capacity) Bleed that Tiger gets, scattered in with Ki Powers that are either fairly boring (deal damage, deal damage at range, and a couple of utility features that come on a bit too late to matter).

The Monk is a much better brawler in this edition, but loses most incentive to take Ki Powers since they cost a limited resource and you have only six to choose from, that I can see, four of which just deal damage.

A more happy medium between the might and mysticism needs to be met. Making the Monk a 4 or 6 level caster (which the system in its current state has none of) instead of a pick/choose a few pseudo-spells to cast a few times a day character helps.

Actually, let's talk about that real quick: why are 6 level casters removed? PF1e's best designed and most interesting classes were 6-casters (Bard, Alchemist, Inquisitor, and Investigator are near-perfect classes IMO).

Now it's essentially all-or-nothing: everyone is either a full caster, or spends Feats to get a single spell per Feta to use. It's just odd.


I've pretty much covered Paladin, already so you know my suggestions/complaints here. To reiterate in brief:

-No iconic abilities (weak theming)
-Feats have muffled impact (should be conglomerated into a smaller list of more impactful features; applies to all classes)
-Champion Powers, much like Ki Powers feel especially like too huge an investment for the payoff.

Unequivocal positive: the update of the Paladin's Code. I'd rather the alignment restriction and Code that ALL Paladins have to follow be removed, but Paizo has made it clear they disagree many times. In keeping it however they took into account a lot of feedback (read: flamewars) that has arisen over the years and took great steps to make the Code more internally consistent and less unforgivably rigid.

GREAT change, in every aspect.


Don't want to repeat myself too much RE: Feat impact, so I'll skip ahead to specifics.

Basically, I feel like Ranger has a bit of an identity problem. His Feats are on par in strength as most classes but seem far more limited in number and concentrate pretty firmly on one of three archetypes: trapper, ambusher/skirmisher, and crossbowman.

The trapper archetype in particular is great in concept, very flavorful, very cool...and unlikely to ever see play at the average table. Laying traps and ambushing monsters relies on too many factors:

1.) All player sin the game are down with playing into it.
-1a.) This includes the GM

2.) All characters are able/willing to play into it.

3.) Enough monsters can/will be lured (generally, you'll be invading THEIR home, or they'll be ambushing you).

I can see the trapper archetype working very well in a solo game. Not so much in a party based game where 3-5 other personalities are sharing the spotlight and most characters of any class will be more suited to a frontal assault than patient lures.

This doesn't even take into account that all of the snares lack sufficient payoff for the setup. 6d8 damage or a slight slowing of pursuers doesn't really seem worth the money spent to craft and time taken to draw them into the ambush. You've essentially spent several in-game hours (and quite a few out of game minutes) setting up what is essentially a single Fireball or 2-3 melee attacks.

Also, on the subject of taking things away form other characters, it's odd that Quick Draw is a Ranger/Rogue Class Feat now instead of a General feat.


Rogue looks essentially unchanged from Unchained Rogue in PF1e in most regards. The big complaint I have (besides the standard one) is that Rogues are essentially now pigeonholed into being Dex based combatants instead of just having it as a viable option.

Thug Rogues are essentially removed from the game, which is a shame. I disliked it in 5e, and dislike it here.


I really like the concept of Bloodline wholly changing your spell list, though feel there should be more options even for a Core book. Unsure if this is a limitation of the playtest only or this is the intent for the whole Core Rulebook in general.

I also feel as though certain Bloodlines (specifically Demonic of the options presented) should have multiple spell list choices to pick from. Dmeonic having the option of Occult or Divine, Imperial being able to choose from any of the four, etc. would allow for a bit more customization.

Metamagic Feats are an interesting concept in this edition. One thing I'm unclear on: how do they interact with spells that already have Somatic components? Or is Somatic casting usually omitted except from spells that have all three? I haven't absorbed the whole spell list yet.


Wizard, much like Sorcerer and Cleric pretty much feels like its 1e counterpart in most regards from just looking at the themes and class features. Most likely because the biggest change to how all three (plus Bard, now) work is the spellcasting overhaul.

Keeping traditional Vancian casting for Wizard/Cleric/Druid in my opinion was a mistake. Using 5e style (or, in Paizo terms, Arcanist style) prepared casting would have been a much better move. It's more user friendly for both new and returning players, retaining flexibility both at the start of the day and in the moment.

I don't have much more to say about Wizard here, but I'll talk more about him, Sorcerer, and Cleric when I hit spellcasting.

dotting to help keep reading late, as your write ups are clear, constructive, and all around useful!

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Next we'll be talking about Skills. But first, Backgrounds. As I totally planned all along since it's relevant to Skills, and isn't at all because I forgot to do it when I talked about Ancestries. Yep.


Frankly, the crunch for Backgrounds should be "Choose two Free Boosts, a Skill Feat, and training in a Lore skill of your choice" with a list of commonly used or thematic Background descriptions and what their stat/skill allocations should be.

PF2e's Backgrounds share the same issue as 5e's: they're inherently unable to cover all conceivable character backstories, and thus will end up either pigeonholing characters into "close enough" roles they don't really want but need to choose, or GMs just allowing any homebrew Background that the player comes up with anyway.

The latter is what has happened at every single 5e table I've sat at. Save yourself some word count, cut out the middle man, and leave it intentionally open ended.

Signature Skills

In concept, I like Signature skills. You choose a set of skills your character will EXCEL at, and then you might have a few others you're pretty decent at. This essentially, in concept, models the idea that most PF1e characters will have a set of "core" skills their character focuses on plus a few skills they're trained in but much less competent at.

As an example, a Ranger might have max ranks per level in Perception/Survival/Kn. Nature/Kn. Local/Acrobatics, for instance, and a few one-off ranks in Climb/Swim or half level ranks in more niche skills like Kn. Geography or Craft: Arrows.

In practice, however, I feel Signature Skills fail in two huge ways.

One is the raw numbers perspective: a character who is Trained in a skill (or one who is Untrained, for that matter) is barely distinguishable in capacity from someone who is Legendary in a skill. The difference is a mere +3 bonus.

At low levels, sure this is huge. A 5th level character with Legendary Stealth as an example might have a +12 Stealth, versus a similar character (same stats) that has a +9. That's a solid 25% increase. At high levels, though, the same characters will be much closer. At 10th, that raw bonus increases to 17 for the Legendary character and is 14 for the one that is merely Trained; a roughly 20% increase.

Instead of the gap widening, at higher levels the gap between Proficiency ratings narrows. The math should probably be retooled to focus DCs around Trained/Expert level skills and give them commensurate bonuses, with Master/Legend being much better. Anywhere from 30% to 50% better, same as a character that highly optimizes a skill versus one who doesn't in PF1e.

The exact numbers I'm not sure of. 1/2 level -2 for Untrained, level for Trained, level +2 for Expert (it's easy to get) and something like 1.5 and 2x level for Master/Legendary? or go the opposite direction and reduce the numbers way far. Have Untrained simply be flat d20-2 plus attributes (like Savage Worlds, but d20 instead of d4), and scale from there.

Skill Feats reduce this issue...but that has its own set of issues. requiring a Feat tax to close the gap and gain an edge doesn't feel very good, and leaves the design space for Skill Feats very limited in regards to Master/Legendary Skill. So much text has to be put into adding niggling little bonuses via Feats (rather than the skills themselves) that it clutters otherwise interesting Feats and makes Legendary Skill feats quite boring.

It's very odd that Feats that require mere Trained or Expert status in a skill grant the interesting abilities, while being Master/Legendary gives a higher bonus, and Master/Legendary Feats tends to have either boring but practical effects (like "always Critically Succeed when you succeed) or effects that come on far, far too late for what they do (why do Legendary climbers only gain a Climb speed at 15th level? That's more a 7th level ability).

Essentially: Master and Legendary Proficiency don't matter at all in the grand scheme. You can get all the cool, fun Feats and only lose out on a small bonus most of the time if you're stuck to Trained/Expert levels.

Now, let's sound like a hypocrite as I talk about the other issue:

Class Locking Signature Skills

I think this is the wrong move. Yes, we've established Siganture Skills don't really matter in the grand scheme...but hopefully that will be fixed. And if it does, only being able to go Master/Legendary in certain skills based on your class choice at 1st will stifle many character concepts.

As a very reasonable example, what if I want my Fighter to be a master diplomat? Able to throw down rousing speeches and rally a crowd to aid my cause, or negotiate with the nobility on an even footing (it's hardly far-fetched that a Fighter could be a Knight of some sort)?

Or perhaps he grew up a street urchin and is a bit of a scoundrel. Why can't a Fighter be a Legendary Thief?

It doesn't seem to serve any purpose besides blocking off classes as being only their most limited interpretations of what that class should be.

That exact reason is why I stopped playing 5e after a few months. I say this not as a threat, just as a statement of fact. That kind of requirement to strictly adhere to a developer's vision of what a class should (to them) be may turn off some people.

I do not believe this was the intent, and may be part of the stated issue in this case of this playtest being a sample of the MOST EXTREME changes that are being considered for the system.


The General Feat list is...awfully bare, isn't it? A natural casualty of deleting most feats and making them more limited class features, but it's still jarring to look at a list of only 20 Feats, most of which either give slight bonuses to certain numbers or allow the selection of more Ancestry feats, or similarly small effects.

I think having a pool of options that are available to EVERY character, regardless of their class, race, or background is important for the long term health of a game. It makes the game's systems feel more interconnected, rather than a series of barely related features and abilities.

While admittedly the PF1e Core Rulebook had a lot of simple "+numbers' General Feats like Iron Will, it had its share of interesting ones like Command Undead, Improved Familiar, Master Craftsman, and others that may have sometimes relied on class features, but were open to anyone that may share those features in the future. It was good future proofing for classes like Oracle or Witch, if nothing else.

And later books released truly amazing, flavorful, and powerful Feats like Possessed Hand, Monstrous Companion, and Racial Heritage that anyone could take to gain cool and useful abilities!

Remember: creating a new edition doesn't mean you have to throw out all of 1e's supplementary material. A 2nd edition is your chance to learn what was good, what was bad, and what had potential but needed work in your first edition and try it again!

You did so with the Alchemist (though it is largely unrecognizable from its 1st edition class), why not do so with General feats?

This section and spells, I think, are the biggest problem areas for Pathfinder 2nd Edition. You have a solid chassis with the revised action economy, basic idea of the Proficiency system, and idea of making all classes more modular...but the details of how and where those changes are implemented drags down that strong core.

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Ah, speaking of skill DCs, I forgot to mention: I don't think the removal of guidelines for DCs as far as common tasks go is a good choice. Having actual reference numbers to refer to is very helpful when GMing.

Even something as simple as stating "a trained character should succeed 55% of the time, and expert 65%" and so on for each skill would be better than the flat "ask your GM" there is now. I like my players to be able to know what they're aiming for so I don't have to remember what I said the DC to climb a sheer cliff was three sessions ago. They can just look (or I can) and say "DC 25, go".

There's sort of one in the GMing section, but it's kind of dense and annoying to look at, and is really so vague it may as well just be "at every level hard stuff should be DC 10+PC level" or something. that's how you give useful feedback. Nicely done!

one complaint I have for sorcerer (that can slip by unnoticed on an initial read) is that while a wizard effectively learns every level of a spell when they learn it once (via auto-heightening), the sorcerer must spend more and more spells known as they go to keep a spell they like "up to date" and competitive, and it creates the hassle of requiring downtime every time you earn new spells known to try and retrain the now obsolete previous level of that known spell.

that aside, by and large i quite like how interesting spellcasting has become--"charging" your spells with more (or less) actions for scaling effect is incredibly cool, the new granularity on saves/fails allows for more design space than "you pass this check or you die" for upper-end spells, and with them adding 10th-level spells, it provides room to move spells around base-level-wise to even out some of the spikiness in the spellcaster's power curve (while still generally allowing the same sort of spells over an adventure). that uncommon and rare spells (and now subject to DM fiat from the very outset) focusing mostly on utility spells is a little worrying to me though, since this is a roleplaying game, not a combat miniatures game, but on the whole the new spellcasting chassis compared to 1e is much more appealing to me.

would love to see the return of arcanist-style casting though, to be sure.

AndIMustMask wrote:
Would love to see the return of arcanist-style casting though, to be sure.

Personally, I think that should have been the default wizard. But for sacred cows...

I really like the analysis presented here. It puts into well put arguments many of my concerns.
What if fear the most in PF2 is the feeling of “gameish” in the system. I like the core new systems but most feats and abilities seems like an exercise of balance rather than flavor. Also I fell that many bonuses to damage in high levels become pointless with the large amounts of HP in the game. (I am looking at you Paladin Blade of Justice feat. I thought it added extra damage dice but NO it add extra damage equal to your damage dice meaning a likely +1 or a whooping +2 in level 6)

AS for the proficiency system is kinda weird and I am still not sure about it. The idea is that high level play is equal to low level play. Meaning two 15 level characters will face each other in mostly the same way plus some new tricks since both get bonuses to AC and attack. meaning they cancel each other. But at the same time you could argue that you could create a word with NO level bonuses at all. Or half or anything in between. I think the reason for the bonuses is for encounters against hordes of low level enemies. Since every point you go up means the chance to hit them and crit them increases and also means you will strike them with all 3 attacks and since you AC goes up they will not hit you or crit you as often.

However the set back is weird feeling of possible uncanniness when describing reality. A level 20 Gargantual fighter giant just for being level 20 will have 20 in stealth and even with low DEX it stills gets +21 to stealth (Since I have not seen any penalty or benefit from being large or small except reach) So a few level 5 character will not see a gargantual fighter giant hidding behind a bush.

Keep the great work

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Last week was hectic, and posting impossible. Hopefully a thread like this still has value at this point.

Let's skip Equipment for now and talk Spells, because it's the other biggest change in this edition.

Preparing Spells

A big opportunity for positive change lost here in my opinion, as I've already alluded.

Preparing spells one by one has been a major problem in the game for a long time.

At a surface level, it isn't really very fun. It's a minigame of keeping up with a bunch of tiny fiddly things and predicting what you may encounter in the day and how many times you may need any particular spell. For an experienced player, this is easy, but tedious.

Going a bit deeper, this kind of spell preparation is daunting for newer or more casual players, particularly players of Divine casters, which still have their whole spell list to prepare from.

You have a massive list of options, and a newer player has no real idea what they should expect. A player that plays their first ever session of an RPG as a Cleric may find themselves confused and disappointed if in their very limited spell slots they prepare a seemingly useful spell (such as Detect Undead or Augury) and get no use out of it because the situation simply doesn't come up.

Or, in an equally likely scenario, prepare a very useful spell such as Hold Person (or Paralyze in this edition) and then get a negative opinion of the spell's usefulness when their target passes the save and the spell is left completely worthless, something they only get to do once or twice a day at max negated.

This edition admirably addresses the latter (though to mixed relevance for some spells, which is an expected balancing issue for a playtest), but does nothing about the first.

5e style, or Arcanist style prepared casting is a much better system for a new edition. I say this as someone that shouted about the Arcanist's preparation style being overpowered on the Advanced Class Guide playtest and release: it is simply a better system to adopt for a new edition.

Drawing in and retaining new players is, I imagine, a large portion of why this edition is being created. The current (and previous) preparation style is unintuitive and user unfriendly. It should definitely be changed, in my opinion.

Heightening Spells

On the other hand, THIS part of spells is something I feel was a misstep on 5e's part. The removal of standard spell scaling is a reduction in power of magic across the board.

On paper this is a good thing, and there should definitely be some limitation given to magic, but it should be a bit more granular I think. Removing spell scaling but failing to increase spells per day reduces the fun of being a spellcaster, the joy of discovering new options as you level.

Think for a moment when you were leveling as a spellcaster in PF1e. Did you get a thrill every time your caster level increased? I would imagine not. It's important, and valuable, but not particularly fun.

But when you get a new SPELL LEVEL? Hoo boy, that's where the fun is. The joy of picking brand new options to try and a whole new level of power, having the high level slots as your trump cards, and low level slots for everyday run of the mill encounters.

In this edition, however, that fun is diminished. Because instead of having Fireball as a scaling damage option, with something like Dimension Door as your cool new mobility option you get at 7th level, you have to consider whether it might be more practical to instead prepare a 4th level Fireball instead.

It's kind of deflating to think about, actually.

Now, to give credit where it's due, the Heightening of ALL spells is not bad. The trimming down of redundant spell "trees" like Hold Person --> Hold Monster --> Mass Hold person --> Mass Hold Monster to a single spell: Paralyze (which can be Heightened to wholly different levels of effectiveness) is beyond good. It cannot be overstated how great of a change this is, trimming down the spell list into a more manageable size with less redundant options.

However, that kind of thing is where it should stay. Conglomeration of redundant spells. That's cool; preparing a 4th or 5th level Fireball isn't. It's just boring.

Consider other ways to reduce spellcaster power than just making them less exciting to play or progress as.

This also contributes to the "class features are just everything characters used to be able to do but now can't" issue, since the Sorcerer's main claim to fame in this edition seems to be they're more flexible at Heightening.


Not much to say here but: great!

Scaling cantrips reduce the "I skip my turn; there's no need to waste a spell on this" and "1st level Wizard is a crossbowman who turns Wizardly twice a day" issues considerably. One of the best things about 5e casting, and a good addition here.



Why have both spell slots AND spell points? Moving to a pure spell points system (like Psionics) actually fixes my entire gripe with Heightened spells, since it give smore granularity.

Psionic casters don't necessarily have more "spells" per day, they simply have a larger conglomerated "spells" per day cool, where they can potentially cast 30 1st level spells per day instead of 6 1st, 5 2nd, 3 3rd, and so on.

"Heightening" works there because it can A.) be done on the fly, and B.) is worked into the assumptions on spell pricing and spells per day.

Aside that, I will also echo others' complaints on the layout: Powers being mixed in with spells is cumbersome, and should be changed in the final release.

Spell Traits

Still unclear on why the word "Descriptor" was changed out for trait; it is more descriptive of what these are. Entirely page count related?

I like the addition of Morph as a separate descriptor from Polymorph, as well as terminology cleanup in regards to making "Visual" a descriptor rather than a general rule which is often ignored by many spells (particularly Teleportation spells).

Spell DCs and Degrees of Success

A good change, and an example of a good caster nerf that makes spells more interactive and less binary.

My primary complaint is with damage spells: Critical Success should not be "unaffected" for spells like Flamestrike or Fireball. Those being specific class features like Evasion or Stalwart were nice extras that made certain classes feel special.

Consider changing this to something like "the target takes minimum damage" or "the damage changes to nonlethal damage".

Spell Durations

The across he board reduction and flattening of spell durations is odd. Changing a spell from 1 round/level to 1 minute isn't a huge change in the grand scheme, but is odd when taken that the current paradigm of PF2e is "everyone gets +level to everything they do". It's actually OUT of keeping with the current design.

It also seems to primarily target utility spells, which is another example of a bad caster nerf. It encourages casters to be more selfish, since casting Overland Flight (which is no effectively a 7th level spell for some reason) on the party is both resource intensive and short duration.

Essentially you have achieved making spellcasters weaker...but so have you weakened everyone else in the party, and reduced all sense of the party ascending to a more heroic tier of high magic and mythic encounters.

You should, I believe, be encouraging a more support based playstyle for casters, not discouraging it.

Note: I mean support in the grand scheme. Utility is support (spells from 1e like Divination or Spider Climb), AoE damage is support (think artillery), and of course buffs like Haste are support.

Reducing the EFFECT of some of those spells (like making certain spells less binary fail/bypass an entire mystery plot) is good, but discouraging casters from using their spells to benefit the party at all is not, IMO.

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