A sober campaign journal of Doomsday Dawn: Doom, gloom, and TPKs


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback

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Maybe I misread, but I don't thin he can sustain all these grabs, since to sustain a grab it cost one action.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

One Grab action maintains all grabs.


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ErichAD wrote:
Much of the players difficulty comes from spell selection. They seem to have been built with the idea that spells could realistically succeed if they allow saves. With saving throws being what they are, you either want saveless spells like power word blind, spells that target your environment like shape stone and wall spells, or spells that target your allies like freedom of movement.

I'm not saying that's not true, but this is definitely a flaw.

Why do these spells exist? So the devs can trick hapless players into taking them and wasting their rounds doing nothing?

I think not.

I assume these spells exist so that they can add fun things to do with magic. Thinks that should work at least some of the time.

If taking these spells truly cause "Much of the players' difficulty" (which may be true), then they should not take these spells. And if THAT is true, then these spells should not exist.

Better yet, they should be fixed so that they are a reasonably viable option that doesn't cause much difficulty.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
One Grab action maintains all grabs.

Even better, one grab extends the duration on EVERYBODY already grabbed.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

...is that not what I said? Is what I meant. Ah well.


It's the same sort of spell selection issue that exists in PF1. Spells that offer no saving throw, or better yet no spell resistance, end up being largely preferable from a flexibility stand point. I wouldn't go so far as to call most spells a trap, but when they are only useful when it would be better to save your spells than to cast them, I can't call them useful either. Many are fun RP toys though. Duplicate Foe, Baleful Polymorph, Possession, and so on are all super fun, but unlikely to be useful in combats where spending top shelf resources is a good idea.

I'm not entirely sure why there's an incongruity between the designers' ideas for spells and what ends up being useful. I believe that it has to do with wanting to restrict the number of targets that can be effected by potent spells, but without a mechanic for conserving failed spells these spells rapidly decrease in value the more powerful the enemy. I understand the 4 degrees of success thing was meant to address this, but it doesn't seem to have done so in an effective enough manner.

Wall spells and buffing man, can't beat em.


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ErichAD wrote:
It's the same sort of spell selection issue that exists in PF1. Spells that offer no saving throw, or better yet no spell resistance, end up being largely preferable from a flexibility stand point.

In PF1 it's easier to optimise spell DC and to target weak saves. The PF1 Kraken is CR 18, but has saves of Fort +21, Ref +12, Will +11. So if you can find a SoS/SoD Will/Reflex spell it's not immune to (Plane Shift?), you can have a more than 50% chance of dealing with it in a single action. Unless the GM fudges to keep the battle going longer.


DM_Blake wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
Much of the players difficulty comes from spell selection. They seem to have been built with the idea that spells could realistically succeed if they allow saves. With saving throws being what they are, you either want saveless spells like power word blind, spells that target your environment like shape stone and wall spells, or spells that target your allies like freedom of movement.

I'm not saying that's not true, but this is definitely a flaw.

Why do these spells exist? So the devs can trick hapless players into taking them and wasting their rounds doing nothing?

They work semi-reliably if you spend a couple of rounds debuffing. With two magicians cooperating it's pretty feasible. Enervate, Sick, Frightened, and the save specific condition de jour (drained, stupefied, sluggish) can all stack to destroy saves, you just need to be smart about how you apply them so that they build on each other for maximum effects and you manage their durations.

But I feel like maybe only 10% of PF2 players are smart enough to figure this out, so that might not actually be a reasonable approach.


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I am not so sure "It works... if you spend two entire rounds having two characters prepare the target beforehand" is that favorable a testament. Never mind that enervated, frightened, sick, and so on do not stack in the first place, since they confer conditional penalties, and conditional penalties do not stack.

Silver Crusade

Xenocrat wrote:


With two magicians cooperating

Its a bit of a catch-22. Magic users are seen as weak so the chance of there being 2 magicians in the party is low. Without 2 magicians in the party, magic is weak.


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Yep, all those years of training to become a wizard, only to find out that you really suck unless you team up with other wizards to debuff you targets before you cast any SOS spells on them.

I'm not sure that's iconic, reasonable, or fun.


Xenocrat wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
Much of the players difficulty comes from spell selection. They seem to have been built with the idea that spells could realistically succeed if they allow saves. With saving throws being what they are, you either want saveless spells like power word blind, spells that target your environment like shape stone and wall spells, or spells that target your allies like freedom of movement.

I'm not saying that's not true, but this is definitely a flaw.

Why do these spells exist? So the devs can trick hapless players into taking them and wasting their rounds doing nothing?

They work semi-reliably if you spend a couple of rounds debuffing. With two magicians cooperating it's pretty feasible. Enervate, Sick, Frightened, and the save specific condition de jour (drained, stupefied, sluggish) can all stack to destroy saves, you just need to be smart about how you apply them so that they build on each other for maximum effects and you manage their durations.

But I feel like maybe only 10% of PF2 players are smart enough to figure this out, so that might not actually be a reasonable approach.

Or those two people could play martials, hit it a bunch of times, and the party could have it dead before sufficient resources have been expended on spells that are required to make spells work on it.

If it's intended to take two characters two rounds of spells before those spells actually work, I suspect most PF2 players are smart enough to figure out it's not worth the effort and resort to "hit it with enough weapons that it falls over."

As an added bonus, you never run out of daily uses of "hit it with weapons", you don't have to prepare your weapons in advance, you don't have to do bookkeeping to keep track of them... I mean, this is just an all around better deal.


This fight isn't tuned in the "hit it a bunch of times range". Your best bet is either a certain strike fighter, or arcane casters spamming full cast magic missiles. A full party of either does the job in under three rounds. The problem there is that the availability of the sure thing tactic makes all other tactics less enticing in the odd event that you face something this far beyond your power.

I do think spells aren't where they need to be, but I think the kraken problem has more to do with an issue where the narrow bonus range is conflicting with sure thing damage.

I'm also fairly sure that the Kraken is supposed to be avoided, but due to the way exploration mode works in conjunction with linear skill progression in monsters, it's very unlikely that it will be.


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I have thought about this long and hard. I just do not have any motivation to write up session reports. They are long, boring to type up, and generally useless due to all of the updates this game has received so far. The playtest has been moving far too swiftly, and it has been overwhelming.

Furthermore, any reports I do write up will be useless, because two of the most important facets of the game, the TPK-errific monster math and the useless-save-DC spellcasting, are slated for major revisions that we will never get to playtest. Similarly, while we have had a taste of the replacement for Spell Points and Resonance, that covered only a small slice of the game, and certainly gave no opportunities to playtest the full span of powers and magic items.

I do not see the point in writing up reports grounded in obsoleted information, and I find it disheartening that we will never get to playtest new monster math, new spellcasting, new powers, and new magic items.

Monster math is a particularly sore point for me, because I am fairly certain that Paizo themselves knew early on that the monster math was off, as Mark Seifter has been alluding to in their posts. It is just that redoing the bestiary would take plenty of time and effort. So instead of putting the playtest on hold while the designers fixed a critical component of the game, the monster math, Paizo instead opted to keep the playtest going, which meant that everyone would be playtesting with obsolete and overpowered monster math. It is frustrating to know this. It it is frustrating to know that monsters are currently balanced around the GM going easy on the players and having monsters' tactics be emotional and suboptimal, because if the GM plays ruthlessly, the monsters will stomp.

Also, it is frustrated and mind-boggling that there has been no word whatsoever on the completely broken game mode that is exploration mode, which I had struggled with all throughout the playtest.

Yes, this means that I am effectively giving up on the playtest. I will take my three remaining players, playtest Doomsday Dawn part #7: End of 2evangelion, and fill out the surveys, but apart from that, I am done with 2e for the most part. I have other things in my life to handle, and no less than three separate campaigns to run.

I apologize for losing motivation in this playtest. I do not think I really went all that in-depth. For part #1 and my first run of part #2, certainly, I wrote up full reports, but my motivation sank like adamantine in freshwater afterwards. It did not help that Jason Bulmahn was insinuating that my playtest data was less valuable than others, which felt like a rough treatment.

Let my track record be known:
• Two iterations of The Lost Star under no updates. Both TPKed to Drakus, who won initiative and caught the PCs at the corridor chokepoint. Drakus attacked unconscious PCs whenever restricted in targeting by the tight corridors.
• One iteration of In Pale Mountain's Shadow under no updates. TPKed to manticore, bullied to continue the adventure, TPKed to earth and water elementals. The enemies did not attack unconscious PCs.
• One iteration of In Pale Mountain's Shadow under update 1.0. TPKed to manticore, bullied to continue the adventure, TPKed when Zakfah shoved the paladin off a cliff and then critically demoralized another PC. The enemies did not attack unconscious PCs.
• Two iterations of The Rose Street Revenge under update 1.0. The first group TPKed to Wennel. The second group lost the cleric to the first blade trap due to a critical hit, then replaced that PC, then lost to the kobolds and the second blade trap. The enemies did not attack unconscious PCs.
• Two iterations of Raiders of Shrieking Peak under update 1.1. Both groups accepted the elite minotaurs' trial by combat, started to lose, escalated into a real fight, and then TPKed. The enemies did not attack unconscious PCs.
• Two iterations of Arclord's Envy under update 1.1. Both TPKed to the damaged flesh golem, and yes, I did have it attack the nearest living creature each time. The enemies did not attack unconscious PCs.
• One iteration of Affair at Sombrefell Hall under update 1.2. Lost the melee cleric to grappling ghasts and drink-blood-spamming vampire spawn, then TPKed to the wights and the poltergeist. Yes, the enemies attacked unconscious PCs.
• One iteration of Affair at Sombrefell Hall under update 1.3. Exactly as above, lost the melee cleric to grappling ghasts and drink-blood-spamming vampire spawn, then TPKed to the wights and the poltergeist. Yes, the enemies attacked unconscious PCs.
• Two iterations of The Mirrored Moon under update 1.3. The first group TPKed to the Night Heralds who still had two mummy retainers, because paralysis auras are awful. The other group TPKed to the red dragon and the fire dragon. The enemies did not attack unconscious PCs.
• One iteration of The Frozen Oath under update 1.3. TPK to the stone golem's Inexorable March. This did damage unconscious PCs, but only incidentally due to damaging everyone else.
• One iteration of The Frozen Oath under update 1.4. TPK to awakening the fluffy bunnies and getting drained into a coma.
• Two iterations of Heroes of Undarin under update 1.4. Both TPKed to the glabrezus (wave #2 out of 9!), who had to teleport far into the temple just to fit in, and who devastated the PCs with extremely strong melee attacks. Yes, the glabrezus attacked unconscious PCs when it was convenient.
• One iteration of The Resonance Test: Raiders of Shrieking Peak under update 1.4. Seoni the sorceress critically failed with Diplomacy against the minotaurs, prompting a full-on battle from the outset, which the PCs lost. The enemies did not attack unconscious PCs.
• One iteration of Red Flags under update 1.5. The party simply was not prepared for the weak kraken, which grabbed and critted the party to death. We redid the battle, and the weak kraken won the second time around. In both cases, the weak kraken damaged unconscious PCs only incidentally, as part of multitarget damage.

Every single one of the above playthroughs has involved TPKs at some point. That is 20 playthroughs thus far, soon to be 21. I am one of the most seasoned Pathfinder 2e GMs in the world right now.


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When you play the game to force people to have a bad time don't be surprised when people have a bad time.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
When you play the game to force people to have a bad time don't be surprised when people have a bad time.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Monster tactics fall to the GM's judgment. The GM decides the emotional responses of any given creature. For playtesting purposes, I have been deciding, "No, these creatures are not, in fact, going to make tactical blunders due to emotional responses." I do not see the need to do so.

If this results in TPKs because of busted monster math, then that is Paizo's fault, not mine. Other games can handle the GM going all-out with monster tactics. If Pathfinder 2e cannot, then that is a problem.


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And yet your the only one who I've seen whom has reported the level of TPK that you have. That makes you the extreme outlier.

If you playing an extreme game and your group likes it and you like it then that's fine but if you are doing it and you hate it and your group hates it then I think that is a very clear sign that your doing something wrong.

Also No I don't know any games where when the GM tries to kill the party he doesn't succeed.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:

And yet your the only one who I've seen whom has reported the level of TPK that you have. That makes you the extreme outlier.

If you playing an extreme game and your group likes it and you like it then that's fine but if you are doing it and you hate it and your group hates it then I think that is a very clear sign that your doing something wrong.

Also No I don't know any games where when the GM tries to kill the party he doesn't succeed.

Even in original Pathfinder you are not required to baby your players by refusing to use optimal tactics with your monsters. Why should it be the case here? Why should the encounter design depend on the GM intentionally having the enemies make poor decisions? I ran the entirety of Rise of the Runelords and I don't remember having to intentionally have the NPCs act like idiots to allow the party a chance to succeed.

A game with such a heavy focus on tactical combat as D&D or Pathfinder should function out of the box with the guidelines and encounters provided. If even the specifically curated encounters from Paizo are balanced poorly then surely that is indicative of a problem?


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It was far more then use optimal tactics. I've read som of the tricks they said they did and they were a stretch at best. Also if it was a problem then more then a small hand full of people would of experienced it.


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@VoipClock The encounters aren't designed based on the enemies making poor decisions. Enemies are however assumed to have a conscious/thoughts/feelings/goals/hatred/desire it's a ROLE-PLAYING game after all.

And I agree with you, compared to a decent chunk of other tabletop rpgs out there, D&D as well as Pathfinder do tend to have a more tactical approach to handling combat.

However, all tabletop RPGs are trying to accomplish 1 simple goal, to tell a story. You don't open a book read the opening paragraph about the protagonist, a farmer boy who is growing crops dreaming of when his dad returns from war, and have the next paragraph talk about how the demons teleported next to him and cut his head off. God imagine LotR where if instead of Gandalf showing up in The Shire it was a Nazgûl just chilling in the house.

Now the books and designers explain encounters to the best that they can. No plan survives first contact with the enemy and all that. As soon as you start the adventure with your table that adventure and that story becomes everyone's that is there playing. The book from that point becomes suggestions and ideas for things that can happen to the PCs if they follow along with the plot threads. But if we look at the books as pure mechanically as we can you have so many adventures that get solved by the PCs literally doing nothing since nothing happens unless they go deal with it. My group recently finished the Mummy's Mask AP and I can tell you that if the PCs decide to stop following the plot in book 2 nothing else happens unless the players go and poke it.

Phew, now after all that what myself and at least Vidmaster7, have been trying to point out is Colette obviously has disdain for the Playtest and so do their players based purely off this thread. But also based on that and the responses again on this thread, nearly all complaints that Colette and their players have made all seem to have a singular point connecting everything. That's this obsession that Colette has to TPK their party at the cost of actually having fun. From what it seems games with Colette are less of what's the story with the missing kids and the wierd Alchemist but more when do rocks fall and everyone dies.

Silver Crusade

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FWIW, the Order of the Amber Die also TPKed to wave 2 in Heroes of Undarin.


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Wave 2 event 6 so they made basically 2/3rds of the way through. Colettes PCs made it to event 2.


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I have not been running the playtest to run a good story, even though I have been doing my best to properly narrate the games.

I am here to, as the name of the project implies, playtest a game. That means running things clinically and mechanically to stress-test the system.

I do not see why clinically and mechanically trying to eliminate the PCs using the adventure's resources should result in TPKs. That is a sign of overpowered monster math, which the writers have already known about for a long time.

Vidmaster7 wrote:
Also No I don't know any games where when the GM tries to kill the party he doesn't succeed.

I would also like to address this point in particular. It is not as though I am spontaneously adding in reinforcements, fudging rolls, or powering up monsters as I see fit. I am running the game using the resources the adventure gives me, simply in a tactically ruthless manner. That should not necessarily generate TPKs.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Playtesting is not there to give the monsters special fee-fee's and have a good time. It is there to test out the math of the game and point out errors so that they can be corrected. I would be shocked if Colette's reports have not been a substantial help for the developers.

In that sense, she has been the best playtester on the boards and should be lauded for her efforts. This constant character assassination campaign she has been subjected to by interested parties for the last months is detestable.


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Again, I have not actually been writing reports beyond the third, because I had simply lacked the motivation to do so all this time. Do not give me too much credit for this; others have written far more in the way of actual reports.


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voipClock wrote:
Even in original Pathfinder you are not required to baby your players by refusing to use optimal tactics with your monsters. Why should it be the case here? Why should the encounter design depend on the GM intentionally having the enemies make poor decisions?

Because PF1 was based on D&D 3, and D&D 3 is a game about player's decisions. PF2 isn't.

PF2 is designed to remove any agency from the players. This include fights: if the DM allows the PC to win, he plays the monster softly and Team PCs wins. If he doesn't want the PCs to win, he plays the monsters optimally and Team Monsters wins.

PF2 doesn't like players; it likes when the DM tells his story with no interference.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Also, it is frustrated and mind-boggling that there has been no word whatsoever on the completely broken game mode that is exploration mode, which I had struggled with all throughout the playtest.

I'm in complete agreement on this point - the radio silence on Exploration Mode is far and away my biggest remaining concern. I'm feeling positive about Combat Mode despite it's problems but... I've asked about Exploration Mode on Twitch streams multiple times, in dozens of comments here, and started a thread on it. Not that it's important to reply specifically to me but I'm not the only one concerned.

I thought they were waiting for the Mirrored Moon results to dig into it but that wasn't the case. I'm skeptical, at this point, that we'll see anything for Red Flags either. The focus on Resonance should have been applied instead to Exploration Mode, where the bulk of Out of Combat playtime in spent, in my opinion.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
And yet your the only one who I've seen whom has reported the level of TPK that you have. That makes you the extreme outlier.

For the record, from my limited experience GMing the first part of the playtest and the experience of my group's other GM who ran it with a different group, I can say that Colette's experience isn't particularly out of whack with our own. In my game, I asked the players if I should play the goblins stupid or go hardball, because their tactics were ambiguous. They said $*&% it, go hardball. The result of this was that, despite a player severely misunderstanding dancing lights in a way massively favoring the PCs (which I didn't pick up on until afterwards), the PCs came within a hairs breadth of TPKing. The only reason they didn't was because the last remaining enemy couldn't hit enough to overcome their hero point revive spam.

The other GM in my group, who isn't that far away from me in terms of GMing philosophy, had a TPK at the second fight, pretended it didn't happen, and then had another later on.

Quote:


If you playing an extreme game and your group likes it and you like it then that's fine but if you are doing it and you hate it and your group hates it then I think that is a very clear sign that your doing something wrong.

You aren't playtesting to have fun. You are playtesting to playtest. Fun is a bonus, not the primary objective. If he is running the system by RAW in a reasonable way and his group isn't having fun as a result, then that is the fault of the system, and it should be changed.

Lets talk about this a little more broadly. Here's the thing. The GM doesn't have one job. They have several independent jobs that they should be working towards.

This is a little complicated to explain, so I will pick a "real" life example that follows the same logic. A small business owner has different legal responsibilities as the sole shareholder of the company that they put their business under, as the person filling out the tax paperwork, and as the CEO of that company. Each of these is a distinct role, and there isn't bleed over of responsibilities just because a single person is filling multiple roles e.g. if the person breaches some law while running their company (as the CEO), then their company may be fined, but unless the law they broke was serious enough that they are personally fined for being the CEO responsible for a breach of law, then they themselves will suffer no consequences because in general the shareholder is not held personally liable for the actions of a company they hold shares in. The fact that the shareholder and CEO are the same person is completely irrelevant.

Similarly, the GM has several distinct roles. Usually, these include (but are not limited to) the designer of the adventure the PCs play, the designer of whatever personal variation of the RPG you are using (because virtually no GMs run a long term campaign without *some* houserules), the arbiter of the rules, the "ship's captain" at the table, the person ultimately responsible for making sure the table has fun, the players' sole gateway into the game world, and the meat computer that each NPC's AI runs on.

Sometimes these roles conflict, and conflicts of interest are always fun, but that isn't relevant here. Because this is a playtest. Colette isn't the designer of the adventure. Paizo is, because this is a playtest. Colette is not supposed to put his own spin on PF2E, because this is a playtest. Colette's job is not to make sure the table has fun when it comes into conflict with running the adventure as written using the rules as written, because fun is not an objective because this is a playtest. Colette's job as the GM in this playtest is to communicate the adventure and setting as written to the players, run the rules as written, run the monsters as is reasonable for their written tactics and expressed behavior and motives, and do whatever administrative functions are necessary to facilitate the above, because this is a playtest. Criticisms of Colette's GMing are only fair when it comes to the parts of the playtest that are actually his responsibility.

Now, remember how I went on about roles and businesses and CEOs above. Here is where it is relevant. You said this:

Quote:
Also No I don't know any games where when the GM tries to kill the party he doesn't succeed.

Part of the GM's role is to act as the intelligence for NPCs. If those NPCs are committed to killing the PCs then yes, it is 100% the GM's job to kill every single PC then and there using the resources available to the NPCs the GM is running, by whatever means necessary. The GM shouldn't be unfair about it by screwing the players over with bad rulings (because the arbiter's job isn't to kill the PCs), and they shouldn't design the encounter to kill the PCs (because the adventure designer's job isn't to kill the PCs), but they as the NPC AI should take every resource given to them by the adventure designer and use them according to the rules set by the arbiter to accomplish the goals of each NPC, and if that goal is to kill the PCs then they should do their best to kill the PCs dead. If Colette does his job as the NPC's brain correctly and this results in the players having a miserable time, then the takeaway from this is that a GM acting reasonably and in good faith can take the PF2E system plus an adventure made in the Doomsday Dawn style and make their players completely miserable. If you want to debate whether or not Colette is running the NPCs in a reasonable way then we can have that debate, but unless Colette is running their NPCs in an unreasonable way, don't hate on them for being the bearer of bad news about the PF2E playtest adventure and ruleset.


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Personally, I think this might be a player/PC tactics issue.

I've played the first 5 modules fully. To the extent of shutting down some player creativity to skip fights because 'We are playing this RAW and testing as many encounters as possible'. I have had issues challenging the players, dispite my best efforts. I've been using demoralize, combat maneuvers, having them flank (sometimes giving them 5ft extra movement to flank in a single action). Heck, I know I've frequently treated several 2-action spells used by Ivorlesh and the bosses of section 4 as 1-action spells accidentally, effectively giving them a ton of free Quickens on their top level spells. I have been going all-out doing my best to murder PCs within the rules. I've even attacked downed PCs.

So far? Only PC death at all, let alone TPK, was in Heroes of Unidarn on the Demilich. And he was down to 30 hp, they might have overcome him if they hadn't basically given up and just wanted the session to end.

Wait, no, also had one in my first ever session to the centipede room. Poison hurts.

My players are almost all experienced Pathfinder veterans who optimize pretty well, and know their way around tactical combat. While I'm probably still a smidgeon less brutal than Collete, I'm not much less burtal than that, the 1 TPK in over 200 hours of play with 8 groups vs the swath of TPKs Collete is getting is really confusing to me. The only reasons I can see are some fundamental difference in a specific rule understanding, or the players.


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Lyee wrote:
...

I have four questions:

1. How much are you focusing fire on individual PCs?

2. How much are you giving metagame hints to the players?

3. When rules are ambiguous, are you ruling in favor of the PCs or in favor of the monsters?

4. How aggressively are your NPCs exploiting the rules system when you run them?

I have skimmed through Colette's writeups, and I think I can answer for them.

1. Constantly as much as possible unless the situation or written behavior rule it out or make it tactically inadvisable.

2. Absolutely never.

3. Colette leans towards ruling against the PCs.

4. Unless there is a good reason to do otherwise, Colette has the NPCs exploit the rules to the best of their abilities. In other words, Colette runs them like Colette is a player and each NPC is a PC.

None of these are unreasonable in a playtest when you are trying to find flaws in the system rather than run a fun campaign for the PCs. However, they do dramatically raise the difficulty of each adventure, which would explain why Colette can get so many TPKs.


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I appreciate your persitence, if anything, despite the negative outcome of your games.

However, given that my experience so far vastly differed from yours (even though I played much less than you did) I cannot help but wonder if it is JUST the system fault.
I mean, if you normally run PF1 adventures exactly the same way you run PF2 and it went totally fine where PF2 crumbled - then sure, your experience highlights legitimate issues making PF2 in its current form ill-suited for you and your group. And I sincerely hope the design team was able to take enough of that on board to improve the final game for you while not ruining it for others.

However I do believe (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) that in your threads you implied and/or explicitly stated that you deliberately stick to your reading of the printed material text even after you have been advised by forum goers and even devs where something was a draft/error/omission and a clearly reasonable interpretation existed (usually carried over from PF1).
I am sorry but this approach was doomed to fail from the start as the playtest by definition has not seen the same level of QA/development effort as the final product. And by repeatedly getting hung up on the same issues and railroading your party to TPK after TPK instead of marking them as reported and proceeding to resolve them for future games as would be best for your group, you have most likely made it harder for the team to glean useful insights from your experiences.
I mean, if you ruled that creatures have line of effect through walls until the update text comes out saying otherwise... You're kinda missing the forest for the trees.


Snowblind wrote:


None of these are unreasonable in a playtest when you are trying to find flaws in the system rather than run a fun campaign for the PCs.

I have the same understanding of Colette's stance as you and I disagree with this particular point.

Sure, finding and reporting the impact of such a playstyle is valuable and useful for getting the devs to fix up the loopholes. However, consciously exploiting the same loopholes in a session after session long after they have been reported just prevents the group from getting to test more content (and also from having fun - which even if it isn't the first goal of the playtest, does inform their and the readers' opinion of the upcoming product).


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Snowblind wrote:
Lyee wrote:
...

I have four questions:

1. How much are you focusing fire on individual PCs?

As much as possible, unless the monster would be unaware of a PC, or focusing that PC would have extra costs (such as taking 3 actions to reach them, rather than using 3 actions to attack a closer PC, or they know about an Attack of Opportunity and prioritize avoiding that over focus fire).

Snowblind wrote:


2. How much are you giving metagame hints to the players?

Where possible, none. I avoid giving monster names, and try to have damage descriptions be vague enough that it's not entirely clear if a hit was weak due to the rolls on their damage dice, the HP of the monster, or an actual resistance. My players do make Recall Knowledge checks reasonably often, though, and I'm moderately generous with information given there. (I don't give specific numbers, and make sure to miss out one or two details, but on a good roll they know most things, although other players can't act on that if they fail to communicate it)

Snowblind wrote:


3. When rules are ambiguous, are you ruling in favor of the PCs or in favor of the monsters?

Generally, I try and rule in the 'most reasoanable reading' - this might be using the more specific of two contradicting rules, using a ruling that has the fewest absurd consequences (for example, you cannot walk through rules regardless of if it's mentioned explicitly). Where I really couldn't make a ruling from reason, I go against the players.

Snowblind wrote:


4. How aggressively are your NPCs exploiting the rules system when you run them?

They were using it as 'efficiently' as I could justify, trying to get every +1, avoiding being flanked, flanking, spreading out to avoid any AoEs they expect, smart opponents predicting AoOs or Retributive Strikes, using Demoralize before attacking if it was a 3-attack action otherwise and the 3rd had no hope of hitting. I never felt they were 'exploiting' things, just using the reality of the world to its full extent.

Snowblind wrote:


I have skimmed through Colette's writeups, and I think I can answer for them.

1. Constantly as much as possible unless the situation or written behavior rule it out or make it tactically inadvisable.

2. Absolutely never.

3. Colette leans towards ruling against the PCs.

4. Unless there is a good reason to do otherwise, Colette has the NPCs exploit the rules to the best of their abilities. In other words, Colette runs them like Colette is a player and each NPC is a PC.

None of these are unreasonable in a playtest when you are trying to find flaws in the system rather than run a fun campaign for the PCs. However, they do dramatically raise the difficulty of each adventure, which would explain why Colette can get so many TPKs.

So... a lot like me in all regards, which is why I find it so interesting.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

11 games later, 7 ran by myself and 4 I've played in, there was 1 expected TPK (Heroes of Undarin) and one random zomgbbqwtf TPK in the final adventure which happened because the GM didn't really read the adventure.

And all that happened with Paizo's monthly "thank u for being such a heartless shill" check not yet in my mail.


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Snowblind wrote:
Part of the GM's role is to act as the intelligence for NPCs. If those NPCs are committed to killing the PCs then yes, it is 100% the GM's job to kill every single PC then and there using the resources available to the NPCs the GM is running, by whatever means necessary. The GM shouldn't be unfair about it by screwing the players over with bad rulings (because the arbiter's job isn't to kill the PCs), and they shouldn't design the encounter to kill the PCs (because the adventure designer's job isn't to kill the PCs), but they as the NPC AI should take every resource given to them by the adventure designer and use them according to the rules set by the arbiter to accomplish the goals of each NPC, and if that goal is to kill the PCs then they should do their best to kill the PCs dead.

The only job of the GM that matters is ensuring the players have fun. TPKs are rarely fun.

The current prewritten campaign I'm running at home is extremely poorly balanced, and I roll openly so I can't fudge to balance things out. To give the players a chance, I sometimes rewrite encounters, or set the personalities of the NPCs to be less effective; they're dim, caught off-guard, poorly co-ordinated, counter-productively sadistic, cowardly, open to negotiation, or whatever else seems plausible for the situation.

The job of a playtester is to make the system better, so I'm happy for playtesters to test the system to destruction by playing to win, but if I tried that on my own players, I wouldn't have any players.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Snowblind wrote:
Part of the GM's role is to act as the intelligence for NPCs. If those NPCs are committed to killing the PCs then yes, it is 100% the GM's job to kill every single PC then and there using the resources available to the NPCs the GM is running, by whatever means necessary. The GM shouldn't be unfair about it by screwing the players over with bad rulings (because the arbiter's job isn't to kill the PCs), and they shouldn't design the encounter to kill the PCs (because the adventure designer's job isn't to kill the PCs), but they as the NPC AI should take every resource given to them by the adventure designer and use them according to the rules set by the arbiter to accomplish the goals of each NPC, and if that goal is to kill the PCs then they should do their best to kill the PCs dead.

The only job of the GM that matters is ensuring the players have fun. TPKs are rarely fun.

The current prewritten campaign I'm running at home is extremely poorly balanced, and I roll openly so I can't fudge to balance things out. To give the players a chance, I sometimes rewrite encounters, or set the personalities of the NPCs to be less effective; they're dim, caught off-guard, poorly co-ordinated, counter-productively sadistic, cowardly, open to negotiation, or whatever else seems plausible for the situation.

The job of a playtester is to make the system better, so I'm happy for playtesters to test the system to destruction by playing to win, but if I tried that on my own players, I wouldn't have any players.

I'm at this point with my players. Despite the fact that they've only TPK'd where expected, those playing Doomsday Dawn have mostly negative things to say about PF2, and I'm not sure they're going to stay with the system. Part of it is that I'm playing too RAW, and the writing of Doomsday Dawn is very poor as an adventure (but fine for a playtest).

To this extent, we're "not playtesting" Red Flags, and I'm instead entirely rewriting it to show what PF2 can do when I unshakle myself from a 'playtest mentality' and try to run a good game. I'm looking forward to it. I'm running 4 homebrew 2E games, all of which are going well. My Thursday game is quickly becoming one of my favourite campaigns overall.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
I have thought about this long and hard. I just do not have any motivation to write up session reports. They are long, boring to type up, and generally useless due to all of the updates this game has received so far. The playtest has been moving far too swiftly, and it has been overwhelming.

Thanks for this post. You're doing valuable uncompensated work for Paizo, for which they should be grateful.

One question, though: do you think your players' tactics have, consistently, been informed and efficient? If not, your results may reflect a mismatch between the GM and the players more than a problem with the rules.

Frankly, this wouldn't surprise me. In a turn-based game, it's much easier for a group to function cohesively if it's controlled by one person than four or five, and there are so many natural sources for player error that don't generalize to a smart, prepared GM. In the last PF game I was in (wherein all but one of us had or were pursuing PhDs) our tactics were incredibly sloppy, and had our GM wanted to she could easily have ended most encounters in TPKs.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think GMs who did not aim for TPKs still provided useful info for the playtest and should not feel like they failed at their task


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Also, we still have no word on how line of sight and blocking terrain actually work.


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Ludovicus wrote:
One question, though: do you think your players' tactics have, consistently, been informed and efficient? If not, your results may reflect a mismatch between the GM and the players more than a problem with the rules.

You can view the response of a player of mine here.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:
Ludovicus wrote:
One question, though: do you think your players' tactics have, consistently, been informed and efficient? If not, your results may reflect a mismatch between the GM and the players more than a problem with the rules.
You can view the response of a player of mine here.

Very interesting post that tells us a lot about 2E.

You've got a group where everyone is experienced, players enjoy optimising and the GM plays the monsters as efficiently and creatively as they can. Both sides play hardball and in 1E it balances out just fine for them.

In the playtest, the GM plays hardball, the players try to do the same but find they still basically have a softball, because there just isn't that much they can optimise in either build or tactics. Result - TPK after TPK.


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I played in a few playtest games, and the GM obviously pulled punches, so only a couple PCs got dropped. I think if he'd played the monsters as truly motivated to end us, a TPK woulda been very possible.


JulianW wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
Ludovicus wrote:
One question, though: do you think your players' tactics have, consistently, been informed and efficient? If not, your results may reflect a mismatch between the GM and the players more than a problem with the rules.
You can view the response of a player of mine here.

Very interesting post that tells us a lot about 2E.

You've got a group where everyone is experienced, players enjoy optimising and the GM plays the monsters as efficiently and creatively as they can. Both sides play hardball and in 1E it balances out just fine for them.

In the playtest, the GM plays hardball, the players try to do the same but find they still basically have a softball, because there just isn't that much they can optimise in either build or tactics. Result - TPK after TPK.

I think it tells us very little about 2E.

In most other Pf2 reports I've heard, both sides 'going hardball' had an 'acceptable death rate' (read: TPKs rare).

My game, I've gone hardball to the extent of cheating against the players multiple times, and only managed to kill 1 player, plus the HoU ending at a moderate spot.

Colette's game is an outlier to the point most people are confused what their table is doing wrong, because even going as hardball as possible no one else can approach their TPK rate, making it seem there must be a fundamental playstyle difference to almost everyone, or some rules not being understood.

I could spitball a hundred possible reasons, but without seeing several full sessions being played out, I can't be certain. The only turn-by-turn we have from Colette is a Kraken fight, which we already know is too tough, and in which the players consistently make terrible choices, using all-or-nothing spells against the strong saves of a boss, while the Kraken makes good choices, and on top of that a very anti-player ruling (the tentacles that grab you occupy spaces so you can't block the Kraken away with Wall of Force, and simultaineously don't occupy those spaces so you can't attack them) and I'd be dissapointed in a system if players still won in those conditions.


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Lyee wrote:
The only turn-by-turn we have from Colette is a Kraken fight, which we already know is too tough, and in which the players consistently make terrible choices, using all-or-nothing spells against the strong saves of a boss

I am going to disagree with this. All-or-nothing is the absolute best option when you need All to succeed. Sure, you've basically lost if you fail, but you've basically lost if you do anything other than succeed on that specific hit. We can argue back and forth on how reasonable it would be for the players to know what saves the Kraken was good at anyway, but I don't think we can blame the players for believing that they absolutely needed successful All-or-nothing spells to get through. Since that's basically what every previous fight they've experienced in PF2 is: either everything goes perfectly for the players, or they lose.


I suppose that's true if they have a defeatest mindset from Colette's games. It's just that, in my experience with PF2, the monster math is at a state where they're effectively hoping for a 5%-10% chance to do anything each turn. Spells that still do something on a regular save success, like Blindness, are much prefered by my players. (Offensive spells in generally are panned or considered mook-cleaners)


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Which can be argued to be a problem with the monster math. If what is nearly-unanimously agreed to be the best possible course of action only allows a 5-10% chance of getting anywhere, that is far, far too low. Whether or not you agree with the premises of this perspective, the conclusion they have is entirely consistent with them.


No.

I've heard almost no-one say that these spells are the best possible course of action. Let alone the 'nearly-unanimously agreed to be the best possible course of action'.

The best course of action tends to be something like Heal (100% success rate), Wall of Force (100% success rate), or Blindness (usually 60-80% do-something rate). It's spells like Possession, Ennervation, Dominate, Banishment, that I see ranked as terrible due to the monster math errors giving them saves 3-7 points too high.

To me, the course of action was terrible, and the conclusion invalidated by that.


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So you disagree with the premise that success on a nova spell is necessary. When I was referring to the agreement, I was speaking of the players (known to discuss actions beforehand). That's fine, but if you're going to reject the current situation as not what optimized players vs optimized monsters looks like, I would very much appreciate an example in similar detail as to what it does look like.


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I believe that the Kraken fight, specifically, is poorly designed. It's got too much HP for its level/saves/AC, partially a relic of the weak template not removing much HP from high level creatures. This fight might be unreasonable to win anyway for the expected 'social party', but is not typical of the playtest.

During HoU, my players utilized spells like those I've mentioned: Heal, Soothe, Wall of Force, Collective Transposition, Inspire Courage, Dirge of Doom (extensively), and dropped a Chain Lightning when it could hit 8 Mummy Retainers at once, vaporizing them. By using spells that do not require a save, they got to, and probably could have killed, the Demilich against a GM playing hardball. That felt like effective play.

In Mirrored Moon, we saw more save-or-suck spells, mostly Phantasmal Killer, and that worked okay entirely on the basis nat-1s kept getting rolled against it, but even then felt not required since the rest of the party was playing very effectively.

Silver Crusade

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Colette Brunel wrote:
I am running the game using the resources the adventure gives me, simply in a tactically ruthless manner. That should not necessarily generate TPKs.

I agree.

In Doomsday Dawn Mirrored Moon I quite consciously chose to have the Sea Serpent use suboptimal tactics. I did it partly because it was logical to me that it WOULD use suboptimal tactics (its a huge animal that wants to EAT, not a killing machine that wants to kill. And it has probably never come close to being threatened in however long it takes for a Sea Serpent to get that large). But I ALSO did it because using optimal tactics was obviously very likely to kill PCs (quite possibly a TPK) in a way that really wasn't what that particular chapter was about. Paizo already knew that monster was overtuned, a TPK wouldn't have yielded fresh information.

But I really shouldn't have had to make the decision on whether or not to softball the encounter. And I do NOT fault Colette for making a different decision (especially since I think she ran it before I did and therefore before it was obvious how overtuned that monster is).

A game that is at least partially still a miniatures war game NEEDS to be reasonably balanced. That is all Colette is saying and she is right.

Some GMs softball things. Some don't. Neither is BadWrongFun. The system needs to handle both styles well. The game should be structured so that gamers need to play well in order to beat a Hard ball GM but players who play well (create efficient characters, use them effectively) SHOULD be able to beat encounters.

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