Do 1st level characters start with less?


General Discussion


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With ancestries being stripped back and no general feat at 1st level, I was wondering whether or not 1st level PF2 characters start with more or less compared with PF1e characters. I figured I'd make a Dwarf Fighter to give us the answer.

PF1e Dwarf Fighter
In addition to slow and steady, reduced speed and darkvision (all of which PF2e dwarves get), PF1e Dwarves get the equivalent of the following PF2e ancestry feats:
Hardy (Ancestry Feat): Not a direct comparison, but I would argue that this is the equivalent of the hardy trait. It only applies to poison, but gives the dwarf poison resistance to replace the +2 bonus to all saving throws vs spells.
Giant's Bane (Ancestry Feat): This is the equivalent of Defensive Training. You don't get the big bonus to AC, but you get bonuses to other defenses against giants. The bonus to perception and survival could charitably be called to incorporate equivalents of the greed and stonecunning traits.
Ancestral Hatred (Ancestry Feat): This is the equivalent of hatred.
Mountain Roots (Ancestry Feat): This is the equivalent of stability.
Weapon Familiarity (Ancestry Feat): This is the equivalent of Weapon Familiarity.

So from a dwarf's race alone, we get the equivalent of 5 feats whereas in PF2e we only get 1 feat.

Turning to the fighter, fighter's get 1 feat at level 1, which is the same as fighter's in PF2e. Background feat is the equivalent of 2 PF1e traits (something I've seen used in every game I've ever played of PF1e). Finally the general feat has no direct correlation at level 1 in PF2e.

So effectively PF1e characters get the equivalent of 8 feats.

With training in Athletics and Acrobatics and selecting a warhammer as their weapon of choice, a PF2e dwarf can get the equivalent of 3 feat equivalents:
Grapple (no AoO provoked which costs a feat in PF1e)
Disarm (equivalent to Improved Disarm)
Shove (using a warhammer which gives the equivalent of improved bull rush as no AoO is provoked with this abilities use).

In addition to these 3 feat equivalents, the PF2e dwarf fighter gets 1 ancestry feat, 1 background feat and 1 fighter feat. This gives the PF2e fighter an equivalent of 6 feats.

Conclusion
My PF1e dwarf fighter gets 5 feats (race) + 1 feat (class) + 1 feat (general) + 1 feat equivalent (2 background traits), or 8 feats.

My PF2e dwarf fighter gets 1 feat (ancestry) + 1 feat (background) + 1 feat (class) + 3 feats (weapon selection and skill selection), or 6 feats.

I think the PF2e characters could stand to gain an extra feat or 2. I think getting 2 ancestry feats at 1st level would not go astray. I'd also be inclined to give every character a general feat at 1st level as well.


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Comparing PF2 characters with PF1 is irrelevant. What matters is PF2 characters being balanced with each other and the challenges they face.


The PF2e dwarf fighter also starts with +10 HP more than the PF1e one. That's got to count for at least one feat.


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Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
The PF2e dwarf fighter also starts with +10 HP more than the PF1e one. That's got to count for at least one feat.

More like +4 hit points, since everyone gets at least +6 hit points for race.


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David knott 242 wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
The PF2e dwarf fighter also starts with +10 HP more than the PF1e one. That's got to count for at least one feat.

More like +4 hit points, since everyone gets at least +6 hit points for race.

The OP is comparing a PF2e dwarf fighter top a PF1e dwarf fighter, not to a different PF2e character. In PF1 racial HP didn't exist, hence the entire amount is an advantage for the PF2 dwarf.


David knott 242 wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
The PF2e dwarf fighter also starts with +10 HP more than the PF1e one. That's got to count for at least one feat.

More like +4 hit points, since everyone gets at least +6 hit points for race.

you're mixing contexts, here. if you're going to directly compare 1e to 2e, it's +10, and yeah, probably worth a feat when comparing editions in terms of power level. you can compare it to everyone else also getting a buff in hp, but that's really just everyone getting that feat.

I do have to disagree with khudzlin, though. yes, it's more important in a game design sense that the classes are balanced against each other, but you can do that with a higher power level, too. a pf1 character is more powerful and can do more things than a 3.5 character. it's a little fuzzy to compare pf1 to pf2 given the drastic system change, but basically having fewer options and abilities at the same level can feel less fun


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ofMars wrote:
basically having fewer options and abilities at the same level can feel less fun

This. We've had a fair few complaints on the forum about characters feeling not exciting. Like ancestry is barely even a factor in creating your character and character creation generally just falling flat. I've been hesitant to agree with these sentiments (because I did notice that weapons and skills introduced possibilities that would have previously cost feats) despite the fact when I've made characters I've also been disappointed by how little difference there is in races. So I went and playtested character creation to see just how big the difference is. And I do genuinely think there is room to hand out a little bit more abilities. If you give every character the same boost it won't impact the balance of the game (assuming each ancestry feat is equal to each other one. And if they're not then why even bother having ancestry feats?), but it will help make characters more different and satisfying.

Khudzlin wrote:
Comparing PF2 characters with PF1 is irrelevant. What matters is PF2 characters being balanced with each other and the challenges they face.

1st level characters in OD&D can be balanced against each other with their next to no abilities. But it doesn't mean they're as fun to play as PF1e characters. Same principles apply here. If characters are feeling flat, I think there's room to improve them. And choosing my ancestry has thus far been quite unsatisfying.

Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
The PF2e dwarf fighter also starts with +10 HP more than the PF1e one. That's got to count for at least one feat.

I'll give you that IF (and only if) the damage output of monsters hasn't increased in a comparable manner (now that every monster gets 3 attacks each round). But that's one feat.

I do think 1 extra ancestry feat would go a long way to making ancestry matter more in creating a PF2e character. Because right now it really feels like window dressing.


ofMars wrote:
I do have to disagree with khudzlin, though. yes, it's more important in a game design sense that the classes are balanced against each other

Not just against each other, but also against the challenges (monsters, traps, whatever) the characters face. There's no fun if things are too easy or too hard.

Yes, this could be done at a higher power level (it could also be done at a lower one).


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I think characters should get a General Feat at 1st level, and was positively astounded that they don't. There should really be something that you get to pick that isn't based on your ancestry, background or class to give your character that personal touch. Not to mention that there are options that really come off weird if you can't have them from the start, like Adopted Ancestry. Your character was adopted by dwarves and learned to use dwarven weapons? Not until 3rd or 5th level, they're not!

Since you can use a General Feat to take Ancestral Paragon to get an Ancestry Feat, this would also allow people to have two Ancestry Feats to start if they really wanted, which would really help half-elves and half-orcs expand their options.


The Narration wrote:
Since you can use a General Feat to take Ancestral Paragon to get an Ancestry Feat

You can't at 1st level because it only gives you access to ancestry feats of your level-1.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
The Narration wrote:
Since you can use a General Feat to take Ancestral Paragon to get an Ancestry Feat
You can't at 1st level because it only gives you access to ancestry feats of your level-1.

Huh. Hadn't noticed that. If we're changing things to give a General Feat at first level, tho, we might as well change that, too. 1st level is the only level it would ever matter, since General Feats aren't available at the same levels as Ancestry Feats anyway.


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I feel like getting rid of the thousand bonuses some races gave right out of the gate, which honestly do not come up very much (when is the last time "Greed" came up in one of your games?) is very much a good thing.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
The Narration wrote:
Since you can use a General Feat to take Ancestral Paragon to get an Ancestry Feat
You can't at 1st level because it only gives you access to ancestry feats of your level-1.

It actually says "You gain a level-1 ancestry feat", which is actually ambiguous. I basically read it as though the hyphen were a typo, meaning that you get a level 1 ancestry feat regardless of your level. The language for this feat definitely needs to be cleared up one way or the other. For your interpretation, I would rewrite it as something like "You gain an ancestry feat of your level minus 1 (minimum 1)."


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I feel like getting rid of the thousand bonuses some races gave right out of the gate, which honestly do not come up very much (when is the last time "Greed" came up in one of your games?) is very much a good thing.

To add to this, Too many abilities that give small bonuses can be difficult for newer players to track, so spreading out ability gains over multiple levels can help them assimilate this.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder 1e was designed as a game that would be an easy sell to a table currently in the middle of a 3.5e campaign.

Players flipped through it and compared it to the 3.5e chassis and saw they were picking up feat(s) or their classes were improved in many ways to be more competitive or functional. Depending on the timeline, they saw they were picking up traits, and picking up skill ranks or hit points from favored class bonuses.

It was a very easy sell to a table of six players to convert their characters over.

On top of this, if a player was playing a class that didn't port over to Pathfinder 1e core (like a Psion or a Warblade or whatever), they could keep playing that class pretty interchangeably with it being pretty easy to tell them their favored class bonus would work out to +1hp or +1skill, their choice and handing them a few more feats at their odd levels.

There was very little friction moving from 3.5e to PF1e. In fact, it was greased up and there was a vacuum effect sucking the average player in.

PF2E is different.

Perhaps I can talk a player into a PF2E "one-off" to test the system, but nobody in my gaming groups has any desire to migrate any in-progress PF1E game over to PF2E. They are not all power-gamers either - there are a few though.

I see that being yet another of the really big challenges for Paizo. PF1E immediately built a player base the first month it was released. PF2E, assuming it navigates a lot of the issues it has open at the moment, if it keeps the same design tenets and goals, will likely have to wait for campaigns to end since it has so little draw for converting campaigns in progress.

(That said there are likely some GMs who will insist upon the conversion because they view PF1e as so fundamentally broken and they will want to migrate to a new system as sort of a 'rebalancing' act ~ at least in my games assorted house rules are already putting in place many balancing factors)


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
The PF2e dwarf fighter also starts with +10 HP more than the PF1e one. That's got to count for at least one feat.

More like +4 hit points, since everyone gets at least +6 hit points for race.

The OP is comparing a PF2e dwarf fighter top a PF1e dwarf fighter, not to a different PF2e character. In PF1 racial HP didn't exist, hence the entire amount is an advantage for the PF2 dwarf.

That's kind of true. But abilities are abilities - the ability to do something is kind of an independent value.

OTOH, HP are only meaningful when looked at in terms of incoming damage. Survivability is a capacity characters possess; HP are just a component of that. So while we might say that said Dwarf Fighter is more resilient against say Color Spray (can't be knocked out) or Alchemist's Fire (better touch AC, damage is similar while HP went up), time to kill may be equal or less instead of greater if goblins with short bows are shooting at him since they have a higher attack bonus in both absolute and relative terms and get more crits and better crits.


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wakedown wrote:

Pathfinder 1e was designed as a game that would be an easy sell to a table currently in the middle of a 3.5e campaign.

Players flipped through it and compared it to the 3.5e chassis and saw they were picking up feat(s) or their classes were improved in many ways to be more competitive or functional. Depending on the timeline, they saw they were picking up traits, and picking up skill ranks or hit points from favored class bonuses.

In truth, this was great short-term, but may have worked detrimentally long-term, because it it always harder to balance against a baseline of more and more abilities, and to have to take anything away will be received negatively most of the time, even if it makes a game that's more attractive over 20 levels.

In our PF group, we're all pretty gung-ho about it due to the 'rebalancing.' Then again, over half of us are GMs, too, and rotate campaigns, so maybe your last point explains why we're all happy about it? :-)


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I feel like getting rid of the thousand bonuses some races gave right out of the gate, which honestly do not come up very much (when is the last time "Greed" came up in one of your games?) is very much a good thing.

Sure. But reducing races down to 1 feat goes too far. Even 4e races have more differentiation at this point at level 1, and they were as boring as guano.


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I agree with John's proposed solution, and would push again that humans should get a bonus ancestry feat on top of the one they already get. It would help Halfhumans feel balanced against their parent races, and vanilla humans might get the ability to really customize their base character traits.

I don't think I've fully articulated, but I'm really not compelled by the argument that half-humans are balanced by the fact that they can cherry pick the best of three different buckets of ancestry feats. If those buckets aren't roughly equal to each other (and right now they aren't), something went awry. Plus, a great many options is only good if you have the chance to bounce between them all on the same character.

Hmm. Actually, that might work. If humans had as an option for a 5th or 10th level feat a "flexible" ancestry feat that allowed you to pick a new ancestry feat of lower level each morning, I would probably stop insisting they need more than the other ancestries. I'm not sure how practical an option it is, but it sounds fun to be able to selectively channel some aspect of your ancestry every morning.

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ENHenry wrote:
In our PF group, we're all pretty gung-ho about it due to the 'rebalancing.' Then again, over half of us are GMs, too, and rotate campaigns, so maybe your last point explains why we're all happy about it? :-)

Absolutely the case!

I'd imagine in a gaming group of 6 co-GMs the "willingness to convert" level is at least twice that of a gaming group with 1 always-GM and 5-never-GM players.

I'm not advocating on increasing 1st-level power creep or power creep at even any level as a benchmark, but that Paizo might want to consider giving some low-power "shinies" so it can better appeal to all those groups that aren't populated by co-GMs.

I mean it's silly but having our regular paladin player be able to start with a gilded pommel on his sword or a regular horse would go a long way without skewing any balance. Retributive strike vs a balanced smite at 1st level is a huge impediment to this player. There's just a ton of little stuff like this.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I feel like getting rid of the thousand bonuses some races gave right out of the gate, which honestly do not come up very much (when is the last time "Greed" came up in one of your games?) is very much a good thing.
Sure. But reducing races down to 1 feat goes too far. Even 4e races have more differentiation at this point at level 1, and they were as boring as guano.

Sweet spot for PF1 races, I think, in terms of "accessibility" and "differentiation" were changelings, honestly, since you got:

- Darkvision
- A natural armor bonus
- Claws
- one special ability based on what kind of changeling you are.

Now natural armor bonuses aren't a thing anymore, and claws were often more of a "I wear gloves so people don't think I'm a freak" thing than a legitimate combat option, but I think we could get close to here if we just added one more thing to what ancestries start with.


I would advocate for more ancestry identity too however depending on the powerlevel/narrowness of the feats it might go overboard.

However the current system might also bring a solution while still keeping it easy. Introduce ancestry archetypes that correspond to 0 level feats granting some small racial abilities that are all heritage feats and you can choose one out of three. Then progress with higher level feats.
I would advocate for learnable/cultural level 1 or higher feats and genetic lvl 0 feats.

Another thing that I had not a real place to fit in yet is of course the presentation of classes/backgrounds/ancestries. Mechanically I think they are fine (I expect more choices for a final product) but I really want to have those mechanics embedded in somewhat detailed lorespeech that makes you play the material. For me many of those notions are autogenerated by now but especially for newer player that is very important.


Seems relevant to the discussion:

Erik Mona wrote:
shroudb wrote:


For me that's ancestries.

Other stuff need some fixes/changes, but Ancestries are by far the weakest link for me atm.

All races bar none require a lot more "innate" things given from the start (to make you feel like you're actually that race) and Ancestral feats similar to 1st edition Race requirement feats be written for the actual advancement.

I won't speak for the design team, but I will say that this criticism has definitely been heard and I think it's safe to say that they will be addressing it for sure.

Tuning up stuff like this is exactly what the playtest is for.

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