"Hard encounters" anything but?


Monsters and Hazards


They're supposed to eat up resources, but anything under the 100 xp budget doesn't seem to do much to a party. What's up with that?


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What are you basing that on? A lot of groups seem to be struggling against a few goblins. Do you have a party with very high AC?


100 XP is only supposed to use resources.

It also depends on your party, depends on the opponent.

So far in my experience, characters with high AC and shields can solo most low level encounters and Kyra is also a superstar with channel.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
What are you basing that on? A lot of groups seem to be struggling against a few goblins. Do you have a party with very high AC?

With most of the monsters in the Playtest we didn't have too much trouble. Each character has close to or more than 20 HP, the exception being the sorcerer. That allows them to take a LOT more damage than they could in P1e, and as most of the monsters don't have more than 8 HP, they are typically easily beaten.

However, the boss of the first scenario wasn't actually very hard for us, the Cleric just kept healing us and his damage didn't really make it so that he could take anyone down in one swipe (1d8+3 and another +1d6 if it can catch them flatfooted). He had a +10 to hit, but our lowest AC was a 14 on the spellcaster who stayed OUT of the bosses range. The rest had ACs around 16 or 17 on average. He got a lot of one hit rounds, but normally missed his second attempt and never got a crit.

On the otherhand, with his AC of 18, and at most (as far as I could figure it) of the characters having a max of +4 or +5 to hit, the battle went on for quite a while.

Actually a long while. If his AC was slightly lower or his HP slightly lower, it would have had the same result, just shorter.

For us, the boss wasn't especially hard, but it took long enough for people to start getting bored once they had him surrounded.

So I suppose you could say we had high ACs (not quite as high as the boss, but close which caused a lot of misses on both sides).

The traps on the otherhand (DCs of 15, 17, etc) presented a huge difficulty on occasion.

Paizo Employee Designer

There's going to be some variation across runs, both easier and harder. If this is about level 1 in particular, I've found combat with a bunch of level 0s has the greatest chance to underperform its expected difficulty (they are easy to wipe out with AoE and several other tactics), but the encounters are still difficult in other situations.


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Five sessions in and I still feel the encounter balance guidelines are so useless that I've stopped worrying about them entirely. My party (5 level 4 characters) took on 7 ghasts (which was supposed to be well over 200 xp worth of monsters, well above extreme!) at the end of a dungeon tonight and still plowed through them. Monsters don't do enough damage and are very grindy.

Anything below 100 xp is way too easy.


Ghasts are lv3 creatures vs lv5 players, so I would say that yes, I found a similar issue with challenge narrowness - if you move too low, numbers stop being effective, but if you move up, even a low number of creatures can be an issue.

Then again, I believe Channel Positive Energy tends to skew my results a lot. I need to try to swarm my players after they run out of channels and have them fight bosses when they have all the channels.


Sparksfanboy said wrote:

Five sessions in and I still feel the encounter balance guidelines are so useless that I've stopped worrying about them entirely. My party (5 level 4 characters) took on 7 ghasts (which was supposed to be well over 200 xp worth of monsters, well above extreme!) at the end of a dungeon tonight and still plowed through them. Monsters don't do enough damage and are very grindy.

Anything below 100 xp is way too easy.

What were the party composition? Beating 7 ghast as 5 lvl 4 characters is actually quite a good job and it seems you have quite the optimized group, otherwise it might have been more of a threat. Even OP stuff vs undead like the clerics channel would only do something like 7 dmg on average to them with the AoE effect and everyone using nonmagical weaponry would make me think they could actually hit you harder some of the time.

But regarding the xp worth it's not well above extreme, just barely above amounting to 210 xp and an extreme encounter for 5 is 200.

I do agree that a "low-threat" encounter is just that, and any solid build party would hardly spend any resources fighting that ever.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Nettah wrote:
Sparksfanboy said wrote:

Five sessions in and I still feel the encounter balance guidelines are so useless that I've stopped worrying about them entirely. My party (5 level 4 characters) took on 7 ghasts (which was supposed to be well over 200 xp worth of monsters, well above extreme!) at the end of a dungeon tonight and still plowed through them. Monsters don't do enough damage and are very grindy.

Anything below 100 xp is way too easy.

What were the party composition? Beating 7 ghast as 5 lvl 4 characters is actually quite a good job and it seems you have quite the optimized group, otherwise it might have been more of a threat. Even OP stuff vs undead like the clerics channel would only do something like 7 dmg on average to them with the AoE effect and everyone using nonmagical weaponry would make me think they could actually hit you harder some of the time.

But regarding the xp worth it's not well above extreme, just barely above amounting to 210 xp and an extreme encounter for 5 is 200.

I do agree that a "low-threat" encounter is just that, and any solid build party would hardly spend any resources fighting that ever.

I'm pretty impressed with 5 level 4s plowing through 7 ghasts. I would think that the 7 stench auras alone would present a significant hindrance; it's pretty hard to succeed against all of them, and the penalties from sick make it easier for the ghasts to land hits and paralyze the PCs.

I did just recently have a group of 5 level 4 PCs fight 7 ghouls, weirdly enough, and they crushed the encounter decisively even though it is theoretically almost a "High". But I'm not convinced they would have plowed through easily if they were all ghasts.

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Nettah wrote:
Sparksfanboy said wrote:

Five sessions in and I still feel the encounter balance guidelines are so useless that I've stopped worrying about them entirely. My party (5 level 4 characters) took on 7 ghasts (which was supposed to be well over 200 xp worth of monsters, well above extreme!) at the end of a dungeon tonight and still plowed through them. Monsters don't do enough damage and are very grindy.

Anything below 100 xp is way too easy.

What were the party composition? Beating 7 ghast as 5 lvl 4 characters is actually quite a good job and it seems you have quite the optimized group, otherwise it might have been more of a threat. Even OP stuff vs undead like the clerics channel would only do something like 7 dmg on average to them with the AoE effect and everyone using nonmagical weaponry would make me think they could actually hit you harder some of the time.

But regarding the xp worth it's not well above extreme, just barely above amounting to 210 xp and an extreme encounter for 5 is 200.

I do agree that a "low-threat" encounter is just that, and any solid build party would hardly spend any resources fighting that ever.

I'm pretty impressed with 5 level 4s plowing through 7 ghasts. I would think that the 7 stench auras alone would present a significant hindrance; it's pretty hard to succeed against all of them, and the penalties from sick make it easier for the ghasts to land hits and paralyze the PCs.

I did just recently have a group of 5 level 4 PCs fight 7 ghouls, weirdly enough, and they crushed the encounter decisively even though it is theoretically almost a "High". But I'm not convinced they would have plowed through easily if they were all ghasts.

How does the stench aura make it easier for the ghosts to land hits? It imposes the sick condition and gives a -2 on some saves, but it doesn’t do anything to lower AC or saves vs Paralysis.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Tamago wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Nettah wrote:
Sparksfanboy said wrote:

Five sessions in and I still feel the encounter balance guidelines are so useless that I've stopped worrying about them entirely. My party (5 level 4 characters) took on 7 ghasts (which was supposed to be well over 200 xp worth of monsters, well above extreme!) at the end of a dungeon tonight and still plowed through them. Monsters don't do enough damage and are very grindy.

Anything below 100 xp is way too easy.

What were the party composition? Beating 7 ghast as 5 lvl 4 characters is actually quite a good job and it seems you have quite the optimized group, otherwise it might have been more of a threat. Even OP stuff vs undead like the clerics channel would only do something like 7 dmg on average to them with the AoE effect and everyone using nonmagical weaponry would make me think they could actually hit you harder some of the time.

But regarding the xp worth it's not well above extreme, just barely above amounting to 210 xp and an extreme encounter for 5 is 200.

I do agree that a "low-threat" encounter is just that, and any solid build party would hardly spend any resources fighting that ever.

I'm pretty impressed with 5 level 4s plowing through 7 ghasts. I would think that the 7 stench auras alone would present a significant hindrance; it's pretty hard to succeed against all of them, and the penalties from sick make it easier for the ghasts to land hits and paralyze the PCs.

I did just recently have a group of 5 level 4 PCs fight 7 ghouls, weirdly enough, and they crushed the encounter decisively even though it is theoretically almost a "High". But I'm not convinced they would have plowed through easily if they were all ghasts.

How does the stench aura make it easier for the ghosts to land hits? It imposes the sick condition and gives a -2 on some saves, but it doesn’t do anything to lower AC or saves vs Paralysis.

Sick, like frightened, gives a penalty to all checks, which gives a penalty to all DCs (such as AC).


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Sick, like frightened, gives a penalty to all checks, which gives a penalty to all DCs (such as AC).

The condition reads "You feel ill. Sick always includes a value. You take a conditional penalty equal to this value on all your checks. You can’t willingly ingest anything (including potions) while sick."

Now, it has been clarified that penalties to all checks apply also to all DCs and that AC is a special DC, but it's still something I have to actively remember when using Frightened - and that I completely forgot when using Sick.

It might be perhaps worthy of a note, since so many players are forgetting that? Something like "You take a conditional penalty equal to this value on all your checks and DCs, including AC"? Or a general note in the Conditions chapter, "Whenever a condition affects your checks, it also affects the corresponding DC (such as AC for attacks or spell DC for spell rolls)"?

(also, since we're on conditions affecting DCs, shouldn't Flat-Footed apply to Fort/Ref DCs too? Manouvers feel odd while flanking)


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...that is impressively unintuitive. Not only is that different than the PF1 condition, there is no way that anyone coming into the game is going to see "all checks" and think that it applies to their DCs, let alone that AC is a DC. Checks involve rolls by the character: neither a character's DC or AC do. Even assuming that we know that our DCs are also "checks" (because that's not confusing), no one's going to assume that DCs also means AC.

That's honestly just terribly written for any sort of clarity. And if anywhere else has similar phrasing and intention, it needs to be rewritten. "Checks" is going to get shorthanded in a player's mind based on prior experience. The writing should not be hostile to previous experience.


If you want to make fights harder you should a) use grouped intiative b) intensely focus fire c) use their skills

Relating to skills ghasts have a +9 to athletics which hits fort DC. At level 5 the pcs have at least 5 in fort but a max of 10. So a ghast has a decent chance of grabbing even your healthiest party member which will flatfoot them, cause them to be unable to move, and give them A 25% chance to lose any action that isnt escape.


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Sparksfanboy wrote:

Five sessions in and I still feel the encounter balance guidelines are so useless that I've stopped worrying about them entirely. My party (5 level 4 characters) took on 7 ghasts (which was supposed to be well over 200 xp worth of monsters, well above extreme!) at the end of a dungeon tonight and still plowed through them. Monsters don't do enough damage and are very grindy.

Anything below 100 xp is way too easy.

Do you have a cleric? In PF1, you couldn't out heal in-combat damage. In PF2 you can.

This means that my party is almost unbeatable until we run out of channels.

Channel is especially effective against undead, it's not a good baseline encounter.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I suspect that many of the 'it's so easy' groups are messing up the conditions/saves/etc.

Not sure how you account for that in a playtest - but I still file it under 'rules are hard to intuit as written' and I've said enough about that elsewhere.

Silver Crusade

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Sick, like frightened, gives a penalty to all checks, which gives a penalty to all DCs (such as AC).

Yikes. I don't think anyone would pick that up from reading the rules (much less would many or most folks pick that up). I certainly didn't, and highly technical reading and writing are a big part of my profession.

So please, please, please clean this kind of thing up for the final rules.

I'm pretty sure, for example, that the idea that "AC is a kind of DC and so anything that affects your DCs affects your AC" just isn't in the Playtest Rulebook. The closest I can find is the statement on p. 9 that AC "typically serves as the Difficulty Class for hitting a creature with an attack" (see also p. 420). But of course, if we're doing technical reading, "serves as" is not at all a statement that it "is" a DC, and so this statement can't establish the idea. I think the update document may get closer to implying this but still doesn't establish the definitional equivalency.

EDIT — Ah, I did manage to find one definitional equivalency statement. p. 421 under "Difficulty Class": "Some DCs also go by other names, like Armor Class." But obviously that's at best a highly suboptimal way to present that definition. (In the back rather than in the front, under DC rather than under AC itself, etc etc)


Party was made up of a Paladin, a Cleric of Abadar, a Fighter, a Rogue, and a Bard. Most of the party has some pretty decent system mastery for 1E, but I wouldn't say that any of them are particularly optimized. They just rolled well on saves and work pretty good together. The Paladin, Rogue, and Fighter particularly like setting up a deathbox around enemies when they can. You try to kill your way out? Paladin is going to start hitting hard, you stay still? Rogue is going to tear you apart. You move? Fighter is going to knock you around.


Could someone point to the rules page that spells out that Armor Class is a "check"? I'm looking over pages 290 and 291, and if they're on there, I'm just completely missing it. I get that Armor class is a type of DC, and per page 292, anything that affects DCs affect Armor Class, but where DCs fold into "checks?" I'm not getting it. If It's on a page other than 290/291, I haven't a clue to know where to begin looking.

Thanks to anyone in advance!


It's not that AC is a check. A check is a roll, and modifiers that apply to rolls apply to DCs, and AC is a type of DC.

Quote:

For tasks opposed by another character, the DC is based

on one of the target’s modifiers, as defined in the task. A
DC derived in this way is equal to 10 plus the creature’s
modifier for that type of roll. All modifiers, bonuses, and
penalties that would apply to the character’s rolls for a task
also apply to its DC unless noted otherwise.

and:

Quote:

Armor Class (AC) is a special type of DC used to defend

against attacks.

Silver Crusade

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Joe M. wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Sick, like frightened, gives a penalty to all checks, which gives a penalty to all DCs (such as AC).

Yikes. I don't think anyone would pick that up from reading the rules (much less would many or most folks pick that up). I certainly didn't, and highly technical reading and writing are a big part of my profession.

So please, please, please clean this kind of thing up for the final rules.

I'm pretty sure, for example, that the idea that "AC is a kind of DC and so anything that affects your DCs affects your AC" just isn't in the Playtest Rulebook. The closest I can find is the statement on p. 9 that AC "typically serves as the Difficulty Class for hitting a creature with an attack" (see also p. 420). But of course, if we're doing technical reading, "serves as" is not at all a statement that it "is" a DC, and so this statement can't establish the idea. I think the update document may get closer to implying this but still doesn't establish the definitional equivalency.

EDIT — Ah, I did manage to find one definitional equivalency statement. p. 421 under "Difficulty Class": "Some DCs also go by other names, like Armor Class." But obviously that's at best a highly suboptimal way to present that definition. (In the back rather than in the front, under DC rather than under AC itself, etc etc)

Yeaaaaah, add me to the list of "Wait, it does what too????"


Matthew Downie wrote:

It's not that AC is a check. A check is a roll, and modifiers that apply to rolls apply to DCs, and AC is a type of DC.

Quote:

For tasks opposed by another character, the DC is based

on one of the target’s modifiers, as defined in the task. A
DC derived in this way is equal to 10 plus the creature’s
modifier for that type of roll. All modifiers, bonuses, and
penalties that would apply to the character’s rolls for a task
also apply to its DC unless noted otherwise.

and:

Quote:

Armor Class (AC) is a special type of DC used to defend

against attacks.

That seems incredibly fiddly when it comes to terms. It would far easier to just say -2 or whatever to AC like we're used to.

No even removing people that played PF1, how does this work out in game for new players? I always just assumed AC is AC, so now I have to go back and look at ALL DC based stuff in the book. If something raises all my DCs, it raises AC now? What if it raises DC and Dex do I get Double the effects? Hey if I can cure my "DC debuff" this way can I cure my AC the same way? Can I raise my AC the same way?

This is separate topic time I feel but that seems like an odd and confusing change at best.

Paizo Employee Designer

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We know it's confusing, so it should be in the FAQ in the official updates (one of the few entries).


I think something like advantage/disadvantage, but stackable (add up your advantages, subtract your disadvantages, multiply by 2, and add results to whatever you do this round) would fit better, and maybe simplify all the conditions. If one condition is just worse then another, just make it count as 2 disadvantages.....

I think it would simplify the pen and paper bookkeeping.


Mark Seifter wrote:
We know it's confusing, so it should be in the FAQ in the official updates (one of the few entries).

Might need a bigger text/rules clarifying box/just bold it, in the rules at release then.

Well there went a few tests I had without this info. Gonna need to rerun it. I'd been running without the AC being changed in such a way. Need to check the FAQ before running again.

Silver Crusade

Mark Seifter wrote:
We know it's confusing, so it should be in the FAQ in the official updates (one of the few entries).

Ah, I see it now. How annoying.

This is a good illustration of something I've been thinking for a couple weeks now: I think we've probably moved past the point where I'm able to adequately keep up with the playtest rules and rules updates. Nothing unusual: it's all pretty fiddly, there's a lot of it, it keeps changing, and I only have so much time in a week I can devote to the game.

So I'm not sure if I'll keep running playtest games for my group at this point. But there's a lot I'm really excited about in the system and I'm looking forward to the release of the full game.

Silver Crusade

I think that when people get into trouble, it's usually because the monsters win initiative, score a crit or two, and possibly drop a PC before the party gets to act. All it takes is a streak of hot GM dice.

Silver Crusade

GreyWolfLord wrote:
However, the boss of the first scenario wasn't actually very hard for us, the Cleric just kept healing us and his damage didn't really make it so that he could take anyone down in one swipe (1d8+3 and another +1d6 if it can catch them flatfooted). He had a +10 to hit, but our lowest AC was a 14 on the spellcaster who stayed OUT of the bosses range. The rest had ACs around 16 or 17 on average. He got a lot of one hit rounds, but normally missed his second attempt and never got a crit.

It sounds like the GM had bad rolls, given that he would need a 16 or 17 to score a crit on his first attack, and can still crit on a 20 on subsequent attacks.


I think in this case, since it is confusing enough to warrant a FAQ entry, that the entry should be change for production to include a note about AC being included. Frightened should also include extra wording

Part of the reason for this inclusion is the wording "Gives a penalty to your checks and saving throws" does not lend itself to including your AC. Your AC is not a check YOU make, it is the DC for someone elses check. With the inclusion of saving throws in the wording (which is also a check) it could be misconstrue to not include your AC as you never make checks against your AC.

The wording could be changed to the following to make it more understandable

"You take a conditional penalty equal to this value to your checks, including your AC and saving throws"

Paizo Employee Designer

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dwaisley wrote:

I think in this case, since it is confusing enough to warrant a FAQ entry, that the entry should be change for production to include a note about AC being included. Frightened should also include extra wording

Part of the reason for this inclusion is the wording "Gives a penalty to your checks and saving throws" does not lend itself to including your AC. Your AC is not a check YOU make, it is the DC for someone elses check. With the inclusion of saving throws in the wording (which is also a check) it could be misconstrue to not include your AC as you never make checks against your AC.

The wording could be changed to the following to make it more understandable

"You take a conditional penalty equal to this value to your checks, including your AC and saving throws"

Yep! We've added a "this includes DCs" to our files for all of the "all checks" conditions.


THAT is the most convoluted reasoning I’ve EVER seen in a rules set. I’m talking “Vizzini reasons through the Iocaine Powder puzzle” levels of lack of sense!

I’ve read those two blocks of text from the book three times now, and still cannot see how A gets to B, which gets to C.

FAQ, definitely, please!


It probably should also include a reminder about AC, as that is the most common case of misunderstanding/miscommunication/miswhatnot. If you can put that in the release print, I think the issue will disappear.

ENHenry wrote:
FAQ, definitely, please!

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

This doesn't belong in a separate document to be found on the website, it should be immediate.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
dwaisley wrote:

I think in this case, since it is confusing enough to warrant a FAQ entry, that the entry should be change for production to include a note about AC being included. Frightened should also include extra wording

Part of the reason for this inclusion is the wording "Gives a penalty to your checks and saving throws" does not lend itself to including your AC. Your AC is not a check YOU make, it is the DC for someone elses check. With the inclusion of saving throws in the wording (which is also a check) it could be misconstrue to not include your AC as you never make checks against your AC.

The wording could be changed to the following to make it more understandable

"You take a conditional penalty equal to this value to your checks, including your AC and saving throws"

Yep! We've added a "this includes DCs" to our files for all of the "all checks" conditions.

Either AC should be renamed Defense DCs or should include "This includes ACs and DCs". Because it'll still be missed.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I got there from checks in the glossary which refers to page 290. On pg 290 you can see the following things under the check description (also known as proficiency): attacks, armor (shields), perception, skills, saves and spell rolls.


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
dwaisley wrote:

I think in this case, since it is confusing enough to warrant a FAQ entry, that the entry should be change for production to include a note about AC being included. Frightened should also include extra wording

Part of the reason for this inclusion is the wording "Gives a penalty to your checks and saving throws" does not lend itself to including your AC. Your AC is not a check YOU make, it is the DC for someone elses check. With the inclusion of saving throws in the wording (which is also a check) it could be misconstrue to not include your AC as you never make checks against your AC.

The wording could be changed to the following to make it more understandable

"You take a conditional penalty equal to this value to your checks, including your AC and saving throws"

Yep! We've added a "this includes DCs" to our files for all of the "all checks" conditions.
Either AC should be renamed Defense DCs or should include "This includes ACs and DCs". Because it'll still be missed.

Defense DC has a nice sound to it, and so much is being changed already.


Ediwir wrote:

It probably should also include a reminder about AC, as that is the most common case of misunderstanding/miscommunication/miswhatnot. If you can put that in the release print, I think the issue will disappear.

ENHenry wrote:
FAQ, definitely, please!

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

This doesn't belong in a separate document to be found on the website, it should be immediate.

I don't care where they write it, so long as they spell it out a bit better. I don't and still would not make that leap of logic to say that ACs and class DCs would have been affected by things that affect a person's check rolls, because they're static numbers with modifiers as opposed to check results.


PCScipio wrote:
I think that when people get into trouble, it's usually because the monsters win initiative, score a crit or two, and possibly drop a PC before the party gets to act. All it takes is a streak of hot GM dice.

I think that's the main issue or part of it. Monsters seem to swing harder in PF2. Part of that is the easier crit, part of that is the new action system for them allowing for an extra swing sooner or some reaction to be used.

A fight isn't tough. Swingier than I might like but A fight isn't hard. Doing battles back to back with the upped damage and then we see some issuses.

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