Level bonus, explain why we need it


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EberronHoward wrote:
The benefit of systems like 4ed (and hopefully PF2) is that they give a range of guaranteed feasible threats, with the ability to make it more and less difficult on purpose.

Every edition of D&D/PF offers that.

The Exchange

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As the song goes: The fundamental things apply, as time goes by.

Surely even in a fantasy RPG we should try to shy away from mechanics that normalise outcomes that we could not expect to replicate in the real world unless there is a narratively sound reason for that outcome e.g. magic

I get that the playtest is tackling many of the balance issues inherent to PF. So many 3.x (and earlier) D&D scared cows have been banished. I recognise that the +1 per lvl bonus to so many things is part of an interconnected mechanic and that this appeals to a lot of players. I also see how parallels are being drawn with how 4e tried to do the same thing starting from a very similar place.

Of course fantastic stuff should not only happen magically. Magical & mundane characters need to shine in their own ways. I can see that the life of an adventurer might make one a little better at turning their hand to something new compared to the average Jo.

I also see I am not the only one uncomfortable that not only do adventurers get better at what they do as they level they also get better at what everyone else does. Better despite no narrative reason, natural predisposition nor mechanical expense. All player characters at everything....

So I would like help in getting my head around the cost benefit equation here.

W


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Looks like the whole system was built on top of this bizarre aggressive scaling and I don't think they can go back without reworking all the hazards and monsters, which means the playtest paperback will become worthless.. They need to justify it and make it work or they would admit that they failed to design the very base of the new system.


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there's no shame in admitting failure. shame lies in ignoring failure and selling it as a success


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Assuming of course that it really is a failure - not just for you, but more broadly.


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Level bonus in this game is both redundant and pointless.
So the premise of it is two things: to allow unskilled characters to do things based on general experience that makes them more versatile (such as a wizard being able to make the acrobatics check to climb a tree, etc.), and to control the bonuses that players can have at any given level to guarantee that their chances when optimized is about a 50%.
The quote saying so is on page 336.

Quote:
Many tasks use the high-difficulty DC for their level, but circumstances adjust this. For trivial, low, and high DCs, a character with the amount of skill described in the following paragraphs likely has a greater than 50% chance of success, thus allowing more critical successes.

The earlier is evidenced by the fact that the game requires a large number of your beginning ASI to be spread between several stats, ontop of that any stat above 18 is a +1 rather than a +2, thus giving the stats a soft cap and encouraging them to diversify.

The latter is evidenced by their attempt to "combat min/maxers" in Starfinder by making the DCs obtusely high, and in some cases outright impossible.

Which both of these things are counterproductive to each other, since the DCs are set for optimized characters. If you choose to not do so, you likely can't pass anything above trivial. If the DCs are lowered, it would allow for roleplay heavy characters with lots of fluff to be viable for gameplay and still allow for advancement.

However once again we're back to that the DCs are set for roughly 50% - which there are already systems in place that do exactly that, see the Rogue Trader game from Warhammer where players roll a d100 against their own skill level that's modified by stronger or weaker monsters that lower or raise the percentages, respectively - but this entire system is negligible since it's rare that players (especially in modules) will ever face anything far above or below what's relevant to their levels.
The entire point of it was to take away non-fluff (and in backgrounds for optimizing, some fluff) choices which makes for very boring character creation and RP since an optimized class will only have a choice of two or maybe three backgrounds.

One could still RP despite whatever background they have, however mechanically things remain the same. That a level 20 barbarian and a level 10-ish bard have the same +18 to performance and lores. Meaning that the level bonus alone is six times the bonus given by being "legendary" in the use of the skill.
Now, proficiency gated tasks are there to prevent these bonuses from being abused in exactly this manner, however, if anything relevant (see, mindfog fungus' disable check in doomsday dawn) is proficiency gated, what's the point of having the "other" bonuses to begin with?


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Just so you guys don't get the idea that everyone wants level bonus removed I'll just post this here but I'm far to tired of this argument to start all over on it again.


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Reyterra wrote:
Now, proficiency gated tasks are there to prevent these bonuses from being abused in exactly this manner, however, if anything relevant (see, mindfog fungus' disable check in doomsday dawn) is proficiency gated, what's the point of having the "other" bonuses to begin with?

So that the person with investment in it still has value, while still allowing less-specialized characters to attempt more moderate tasks. I'm quite sure this has been said over and over.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Just so you guys don't get the idea that everyone wants level bonus removed I'll just post this here but I'm far to tired of this argument to start all over on it again.

Wow, just when you thought Irony was like copper, but with bits of iron in it...


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+Level is a bit passe (SWSE/2006), sort of a gimmicky mechanic; it seems like they tacked it on to highlight the 4-tiers of success thing, and go out of their way to not be like 5th Ed.

Comes across as a Chicken and Egg deal, did big numbers come first, or this critical success/fumble deal came first, and then tack on the + Level to accentuate big numbers.

Liberty's Edge

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Vic Ferrari wrote:

+Level is a bit passe (SWSE/2006), sort of a gimmicky mechanic; it seems like they tacked it on to highlight the 4-tiers of success thing, and go out of their way to not be like 5th Ed.

Comes across as a Chicken and Egg deal, did big numbers come first, or this critical success/fumble deal came first, and then tack on the + Level to accentuate big numbers.

It's a beautiful way to make the difference between a level 1 character and a level 20 character meaningful. It fits perfectly for the stories I want to be a part of.


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I strongly dislike the level bonus. It fundamentally undermines the archetype of the weak wizard who needs to rely on his strong frontline buddy to keep him safe at all times. It undermines the archetype of the strong fighter who is not good with numbers and words and relies on his scrawny wizard and bard buddies to do the thinking and talking for him.

The new level bonus system is, IMO, anathema to traditional storytelling about people who have flaws and need to work together to achieve greatness, i.e. what D&D/Pathfinder has always been about.

And that is why I've been feeling more and more that the new system is extremely "game-y" and less "simulationist". If you are 10th or 15th level, you simply cannot pretend anymore that your character still has weak points vs. people who are significantly lower level. A 15th level naked goblin wizard with low strength can jump into a tavern and beat up all the patrons with his bare hands and no magic. A low-charisma stuttering 15th level fighter can dazzle patrons at an arthouse with his improvised poetry just by rolling his non-proficient skill check.

This is a rule which severely diminishes roleplaying. You can try to ignore it away, but it is always there, in the background, since it so fundamentally changes how the game feels and is played.


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Drakhan Valane wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:

+Level is a bit passe (SWSE/2006), sort of a gimmicky mechanic; it seems like they tacked it on to highlight the 4-tiers of success thing, and go out of their way to not be like 5th Ed.

Comes across as a Chicken and Egg deal, did big numbers come first, or this critical success/fumble deal came first, and then tack on the + Level to accentuate big numbers.

It's a beautiful way to make the difference between a level 1 character and a level 20 character meaningful. It fits perfectly for the stories I want to be a part of.

Right on, I find those sorts of stories (only on a natural 20, can you hit me, yay!), revolting.

Each to their own, some dig the treadmill (illusion of power through number inflation), some don't.

Liberty's Edge

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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Drakhan Valane wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:

+Level is a bit passe (SWSE/2006), sort of a gimmicky mechanic; it seems like they tacked it on to highlight the 4-tiers of success thing, and go out of their way to not be like 5th Ed.

Comes across as a Chicken and Egg deal, did big numbers come first, or this critical success/fumble deal came first, and then tack on the + Level to accentuate big numbers.

It's a beautiful way to make the difference between a level 1 character and a level 20 character meaningful. It fits perfectly for the stories I want to be a part of.

Right on, I find those sorts of stories (only on a natural 20, can you hit me, yay!), revolting.

Each to their own, some dig the treadmill (illusion of power through number inflation), some don't.

Yes, let's get rid of the treadmill completely and go leveless. It's the only way. There's no point in having levels at all unless it actually has meaning. HP should not increase with level since that's just HP inflation. Under the reasoning that level bonus is just a treadmill, the ideal system has you pick what you're good at when you create your character and you never improve because that's just number inflation.


Oh Then we could add 3 more attributes and instead of rolling a d20 we could roll 1d10 per point we invest into the attribute.

Liberty's Edge

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Vidmaster7 wrote:
Oh Then we could add 3 more attributes and instead of rolling a d20 we could roll 1d10 per point we invest into the attribute.

Now I really want to play Exalted again.


Drakhan Valane wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Drakhan Valane wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:

+Level is a bit passe (SWSE/2006), sort of a gimmicky mechanic; it seems like they tacked it on to highlight the 4-tiers of success thing, and go out of their way to not be like 5th Ed.

Comes across as a Chicken and Egg deal, did big numbers come first, or this critical success/fumble deal came first, and then tack on the + Level to accentuate big numbers.

It's a beautiful way to make the difference between a level 1 character and a level 20 character meaningful. It fits perfectly for the stories I want to be a part of.

Right on, I find those sorts of stories (only on a natural 20, can you hit me, yay!), revolting.

Each to their own, some dig the treadmill (illusion of power through number inflation), some don't.

Yes, let's get rid of the treadmill completely and go leveless. It's the only way. There's no point in having levels at all unless it actually has meaning. HP should not increase with level since that's just HP inflation. Under the reasoning that level bonus is just a treadmill, the ideal system has you pick what you're good at when you create your character and you never improve because that's just number inflation.

Bounded Accuracy (it seems to scare, many), chief...there is more to levelling than BAB, if the limit of your enjoyment of levelling is your character adding +1 to everything, neat.

These Houserules make PF2's current levelling system less blah, generic and convenient, for me, and the math checks out:

+Level is omitted.

Touch Armour Class is omitted.

Spell Attacks are made with your spellcasting ability score (Int for Wizard, etc).

Item (magic) bonus for weapons and extra damage dice is omitted.

Potency Runes are omitted.

Trained Armour, Weapon, and Spell Attack Proficiency Bonus/Extra Weapon Damage Dice by Level.

Level:
2-4: +1/2 x weapon damage dice
5-8: +2/3 x weapon damage dice
9-12: +3/4 x weapon damage dice
13-16: +4/5 x weapon damage dice
17-20: +5/6 x weapon damage dice

Liberty's Edge

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That is a system I have zero interest in playing. Unlike the PF2 playtest which I find extremely exciting.


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As a DM who likes sandboxes, this is my only decent sized gripe with the system. The level bonus plus the +/-10 crit system could theoretically limit sandbox play (I will be testing this when my 5E sandbox wraps up). My inner theorycrafter would prefer half level rounded up but that is ultimately a gut feeling not a thing based on real experience.

I am ultimately OK with the current implementation though. Due to other bonuses (stats, training, situational bonuses), this limiting of the sandbox likely wont be immediately felt. Most of my successful sandboxes have been low level. So, ultimately, the level bonus is probably fine.


DataLoreRPG wrote:

As a DM who likes sandboxes, this is my only decent sized gripe with the system. The level bonus plus the +/-10 crit system could theoretically limit sandbox play (I will be testing this when my 5E sandbox wraps up). My inner theorycrafter would prefer half level rounded up but that is ultimately a gut feeling not a thing based on real experience.

I am ultimately OK with the current implementation though. Due to other bonuses (stats, training, situational bonuses), this limiting of the sandbox likely wont be immediately felt. Most of my successful sandboxes have been low level. So, ultimately, the level bonus is probably fine.

Why would it limit sandbox play more than any other kind of play?

More than PF1e?

Sandbox or not, 1e or 2e, encounters with a big level difference still don't work well, it's just that sandbox puts more of the burden on the players to be sure they face the right encounters than on the GM.


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Since PF1 had high modifiers it made a poor system for sandbox play (IMHO). 5e is the gold standard for sandbox play and where I draw my comparisons.

Think about it, you get a +1 to ac, to hit, to saves, to skills, etc every level. Enemies similarly ramp up.

In a sandbox, you want a fairly open play space. Players may bump into things considerably higher or lower level. With this systems, things that are higher level get hit way less and crit you more often. That could, in theory limit the level range of a sandbox.

This is an issue I can say from experience 5E does not suffer from thanks to bounded accuracy. I am curious how PF2 compares and will test it once my 5e campaign wraps up.


thejeff wrote:
DataLoreRPG wrote:

As a DM who likes sandboxes, this is my only decent sized gripe with the system. The level bonus plus the +/-10 crit system could theoretically limit sandbox play (I will be testing this when my 5E sandbox wraps up). My inner theorycrafter would prefer half level rounded up but that is ultimately a gut feeling not a thing based on real experience.

I am ultimately OK with the current implementation though. Due to other bonuses (stats, training, situational bonuses), this limiting of the sandbox likely wont be immediately felt. Most of my successful sandboxes have been low level. So, ultimately, the level bonus is probably fine.

Why would it limit sandbox play more than any other kind of play?

More than PF1e?

Sandbox or not, 1e or 2e, encounters with a big level difference still don't work well, it's just that sandbox puts more of the burden on the players to be sure they face the right encounters than on the GM.

Mostly because PF1e is so woefully balanced that running into an APL+6 monster isn't anything more than a semi-amusing roadblock for a tuned party rather than the total death sentence it is in 2e.


Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Mostly because PF1e is so woefully balanced that running into an APL+6 monster isn't anything more than a semi-amusing roadblock for a tuned party rather than the total death sentence it is in 2e.

That is completely dependent on the monster, the terrain and on the party.


I'm amused by the combination of responses of "PF1 had high modifiers it made a poor system for sandbox play" and "PF1e is so woefully balanced that running into an APL+6 monster isn't anything more than a semi-amusing roadblock".

Still, I'd understood that the point of sandbox play was that the players were supposed to be able to pick things they could handle and avoid those they couldn't, not that they can just handle a lot more.


magnuskn wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Mostly because PF1e is so woefully balanced that running into an APL+6 monster isn't anything more than a semi-amusing roadblock for a tuned party rather than the total death sentence it is in 2e.
That is completely dependent on the monster, the terrain and on the party.

Hence "tuned party" That said, consistently beating APL+4 (aka fights meant to be 50-50 survival) encounters wasn't exactly the realm of bleeding edge optimization back in the day. Basic good choices in builds were enough to make that stuff either done in 1-2 turns or a joke.


thejeff wrote:

I'm amused by the combination of responses of "PF1 had high modifiers it made a poor system for sandbox play" and "PF1e is so woefully balanced that running into an APL+6 monster isn't anything more than a semi-amusing roadblock".

Still, I'd understood that the point of sandbox play was that the players were supposed to be able to pick things they could handle and avoid those they couldn't, not that they can just handle a lot more.

Its a combination of both. Not one or the other. If the players must handle things in a specific order to level their way through, itsnot a real sandbox. Its linear.


thejeff wrote:
DataLoreRPG wrote:

As a DM who likes sandboxes, this is my only decent sized gripe with the system. The level bonus plus the +/-10 crit system could theoretically limit sandbox play (I will be testing this when my 5E sandbox wraps up). My inner theorycrafter would prefer half level rounded up but that is ultimately a gut feeling not a thing based on real experience.

I am ultimately OK with the current implementation though. Due to other bonuses (stats, training, situational bonuses), this limiting of the sandbox likely wont be immediately felt. Most of my successful sandboxes have been low level. So, ultimately, the level bonus is probably fine.

Why would it limit sandbox play more than any other kind of play?

More than PF1e?

Sandbox or not, 1e or 2e, encounters with a big level difference still don't work well, it's just that sandbox puts more of the burden on the players to be sure they face the right encounters than on the GM.

Sandbox play has been around since OD&D.

In AD&D, you may end up suddenly stumbling across that Hill Giant while you are Level 1 (ToEE anyone) and you would be absolutely and totally destroyed if you decided to face it.

It was all a matter of knowing what you could or could not face and how you dealt with things.

Sandbox does not mean everything is killable, but that you can go where you want and try to do what you want...not necessarily that you can kill anything you want, or that everything has a chance to kill you.

It didn't "LIMIT" sandbox play then, and wouldn't now.

To Be HONEST...I saw a LOT MORE Sandbox type games under AD&D 1e and 2e than I ever see in 5e.

5e is more about facing challenges equivalent of party level (and it shares that a LOT with Pathfinder these days) than just exploring the world and the huge variations within it which may be things which you can easily trounce, or things that you should tread very carefully around, to things that will kill you outright if you aren't excessively smart about getting away from it.


DataLoreRPG wrote:


Its a combination of both. Not one or the other. If the players must handle things in a specific order to level their way through, itsnot a real sandbox. Its linear.

Sort of. Just because attempting the Deathclaw Quarry at L1 and with a varmint rifle will get your rear dead faster than you can say Mojave (disregard abuse of aggro ranges and such to clear it) and you'd be much better off doing stuff around Primm or Novak first doesn't make things linear. Unless everything in the world autoscales to the PCs, by definition there'll be zones that are far out of the range of the PCs to handle at the outset. They can still go there, they just need to be on their toes or have the white flag out to handle things with stealth or diplomacy or some other method.

Linear would imply (going off the previous Deathclaw example) that you get the key to the Quarry after a bunch of quest chains that leave you handily at the right level and properly geared out.


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I am observing a few things here...

There are those people that think "Gonzo" fantasy is the way to go, where no matter who you are, level 20 just means you can do things with no threat to your personage because you are level 20. AKA Superheroes.

The 2nd type of people, want what were once threats to still be threats applied with enough force. A level 20 character can still get attacked and killed by an overwhelming force of lower level creatures. AKA Verisimilitude.

I don't know if people really want either side or they are just disenfranchised or empowered by PF1. Perhaps that's one thing we should all be looking at ourselves first.

I will give one more example of narrative vs level bonus. In LotR, the Fellowship gets ambushed by the Uruq'hai Orcs on the way to Mordor. Seemingly amazing, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli cut down orc after orc destroying them. Boromir does a great job too until he meets the orc leader who kills him with 3 arrows to the chest. Aragorn sees this and decapitates the orc leader after a challenging fight. Meanwhile, Merri and Pippen get captured by the orc minions and are taken towards Saruman.

Looking at this scenario, we have multiple high level characters who can slaughter orcs with no problem (Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir) and 2 hobbits who are capable warriors but are no match for these orcs. Then one orc leader who is above everyone else, except for perhaps Aragorn.

In PF2, having lower level characters fight with vastly higher level characters is a death knell. They would die first or never get in the battle, which sounds like a horrible position for a PC to be in. Instead of making something challenging for everyone, the orcs are easy for the higher levels, impossible for the lower levels, and the orc leader is challenging for the higher levels and death for the lower levels.

You may say that it would never happen that way in PF2 because it's not good encounter building. But I say, it's the narrative that matters more. Removing the level bonus allows this narrative to exist while keeping it, prevents it from ever happening.


Squeezebox:

Thats too binary.

While I think the level bonus may be too high for sandbox play (in a linear campaign using APs it doesnt matter at all), I admit its an ASSUMPTION.

I absolutely do not advocate ZERO level bonus. I like getting noticeably better as I level. Its just a question of degrees and how this interacts with the critical system. If not for the crit system, I would have NO CONCERNS whatsoever regarding proficiency.

My gut suggests a half level bonus would be good. I still think my level should affect attack, saves and even ac. However, I know favoring a half level bonus is just a gut feeling. It is not based on ACTUAL PLAY. Gut feelings can be off and are often reflective on biases rather than fact.

I will be running a sandbox to test it myself which is something I suggest folks do.


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There are two pretty distinct camps that are rather intractable. Can't we just get an official Variant rules for Bound P2 and all be happy.

The amount of work it takes to convert stock level scaled P2 to a Bound version isn't that much. We're talking like two pages max to explain how to do it for most things and how to modify the specific DCs that are listed in the book. The only real pain is having to subtract the level out of certain things in the Bestiary. A new encounter table in the Bestiary for the variant is super easy.

I'm still vocally advocating for official variant rules acknowledging all the people that want to play a more "bound" variant.

I'm been playtesting Bound P2 and it is solid. I'm working on a document that is two pages that covers everything required. It is almost completely done and covers virtually everything required to play Bound. In play, Bound really just changes the +/-4 level range to more like +/-6 level range and makes skill uses consistent and more unified over time. Numbers really mean something, you just know how good AC 15, or AC 20, or AC 25 is.

For all of those people thinking that creatures of higher level don't feel stronger than the party in Bound, you are mistaken. HP, Damage, resistances, etc still scaled as do abilities. To hit and AC and saves all have the magical inbound assumptions as well, its under the hood and accounts for ~ +1/2 level. To stock things increase about 1.5x level over the course of the monster's 20 levels. Even without level scaling there is plenty of built in power scaling, except it doesn't feel "artificial" and the numbers always mean something.

Another thing that annoys me. Magic weapons, all of the built in damage scaling assumptions are a factor of your weapon. They literally build in +lvl scaling, which along with HP scales with level. Then they make damage scaling dependent on items which are not guaranteed and breaking from those expectations. It works so much better if the extra dice are just tied to level and happen automatically at level 4/8/12/16/20. Stock, how often do you think you'll see characters invest in viable backup weapons? Anyone going to be rocking +2/3/4/5 javelins for their fighter to have range? Now about darts? etc. How many agile gauntlet attacks will we see? It takes some really cool concepts that work well at low levels but are just obsoleted by the requirement to invest everything into your one and only viable weapon. And the doubling bands bandaid is just plain insulting.


SqueezeBox wrote:

I am observing a few things here...

There are those people that think "Gonzo" fantasy is the way to go, where no matter who you are, level 20 just means you can do things with no threat to your personage because you are level 20. AKA Superheroes.

The 2nd type of people, want what were once threats to still be threats applied with enough force. A level 20 character can still get attacked and killed by an overwhelming force of lower level creatures. AKA Verisimilitude.

I don't know if people really want either side or they are just disenfranchised or empowered by PF1. Perhaps that's one thing we should all be looking at ourselves first.

I will give one more example of narrative vs level bonus. In LotR, the Fellowship gets ambushed by the Uruq'hai Orcs on the way to Mordor. Seemingly amazing, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli cut down orc after orc destroying them. Boromir does a great job too until he meets the orc leader who kills him with 3 arrows to the chest. Aragorn sees this and decapitates the orc leader after a challenging fight. Meanwhile, Merri and Pippen get captured by the orc minions and are taken towards Saruman.

Looking at this scenario, we have multiple high level characters who can slaughter orcs with no problem (Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir) and 2 hobbits who are capable warriors but are no match for these orcs. Then one orc leader who is above everyone else, except for perhaps Aragorn.

In PF2, having lower level characters fight with vastly higher level characters is a death knell. They would die first or never get in the battle, which sounds like a horrible position for a PC to be in. Instead of making something challenging for everyone, the orcs are easy for the higher levels, impossible for the lower levels, and the orc leader is challenging for the higher levels and death for the lower levels.

You may say that it would never happen that way in PF2 because it's not good encounter building. But I say, it's the narrative that matters more. Removing the level bonus...

If there's a distinction here, it's not one that appeared with PF2 and the level bonus. It was that way in PF1 and pretty much back through AD&D.

Even before the level bonus came along, characters got more hit points and, at least for warrior types, an attack bonus that scaled with level anyway. AC didn't naturally, but generally scaled pretty well with level since it mostly came with more expensive gear, which would be bought or found at higher levels.
PF2 might narrow the range, but it's not that big a change.

As for verisimilitude, it's pretty hard to deal with the breadth of D&D adventures and still keep weak creatures a noticeable threat. Should the heroes who can face the ancient dragon still be taken down by even a small army of orcs? If so, why not just send the militia after the dragon and not bother with the heroes? And of course, magic scales as well, so it's nice for the more mundane to keep pace with level.


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thejeff wrote:

If there's a distinction here, it's not one that appeared with PF2 and the level bonus. It was that way in PF1 and pretty much back through AD&D.

Even before the level bonus came along, characters got more hit points and, at least for warrior types, an attack bonus that scaled with level anyway. AC didn't naturally, but generally scaled pretty well with level since it mostly came with more expensive gear, which would be bought or found at higher levels.
PF2 might narrow the range, but it's not that big a change.

As for verisimilitude, it's pretty hard to deal with the breadth of D&D adventures and still keep weak creatures a noticeable threat. Should the heroes who can face the ancient dragon still be taken down by even a small army of orcs? If so, why not just send the militia after the dragon and not bother with the heroes? And of course, magic scales as well, so it's nice for the more mundane to keep pace with level.

I don't think anyone is claiming perfection in PF1. But it seems absurd to me that the idea of mixing combatants across multiple levels of difference was delicate in the prior game makes it ok to just wipe it off the table in the new game.

And, in practice in the actual case at hand, it is a huge change.

It is also interesting that, for combat, +level actually completely cancels out when facing an equal level challenge. It literally doesn't exist in the math. the only purpose the rule provides is to force the hand of everyone at the table into staying within a few levels at all times against the threat of an overwhelming non-event encounter.

I truly, quite firmly, believe that all this talk about the "flaws" of theorycraft needs to be levels at the people who are big fans of +level. It might sound good on paper to some. And it may not show any flaws in a few sessions, especially low level sessions where it isn't really raising its head. But give it time. Give it a year. You will see more and more people drifting away. Some of them will know why and other will just say it didn't work for them as much. But the lack of quality function outside of a too narrow range will emerge more and more. Again, history repeating itself.

Of course, that all ignores the issue with the portion of the fan base turned off from the start. What is your solution to increase the overall eagerness for PF2 in the marketplace at large?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Vic Ferrari wrote:


Bounded Accuracy (it seems to scare, many), chief...there is more to levelling than BAB, if the limit of your enjoyment of levelling is your character adding +1 to everything, neat.

These Houserules make PF2's current levelling system less blah, generic and convenient, for me, and the math checks out:

+Level is omitted.

Touch Armour Class is omitted.

Spell Attacks are made with your spellcasting ability score (Int for Wizard, etc).

Item (magic) bonus for weapons and extra damage dice is omitted.

Potency Runes are omitted.

Trained Armour, Weapon, and Spell Attack Proficiency Bonus/Extra Weapon Damage Dice by Level.

Level:
2-4: +1/2 x weapon damage dice
5-8: +2/3 x weapon damage dice
9-12: +3/4 x weapon damage dice...

Everyone here knows that I believe that PF2 is built around its +level to proficiency mechanic and the question is not why we need it, but how much of the game rests upon it.

Like Vic, I generally don't go for over the top Gonzo Fantasy, but with robots, pirates, gods, wizards and Greater Old Ones roaming the stars, Pathfinder 1 already was Gonzo Fantasy, but its rule set barely let anyone play the higher ends of it because it was too complicated and messy and poorly balanced.

PF2 is setting out to fix what was broken about PF1, and in the process, it is, by necessity, stepping away from some of the mechanics that work fairly well on a localized level (ie. levels 1-6 or 7).

That is why I think that an E6 reboot of Pathfinder may be a better use of time for a lot of folks in this thread who want a new game without the + level to proficiency.

Vic has actually done the best job of anyone I have seen of actually evaluating the system as a whole and his suggestions here could work as an alternate game that might be a lot of fun, but PF2 runs on a balance of numbers that include massive attribute variance, Magic items that scale bonuses as widely as proficiency, and Level, which absolutely dominates all other variance in a one to one comparison, but gets more complicated when considered all together.

When we compare a STR 8 character to a STR 18 character, we know that the STR 18 character is going to smash the STR 8 character in a battle of strength (or probably actual battle if it a club fight), but we expect that the STR 8 character has other abilities that they have leveraged by taking an 8 in STR and we generally believe that those two characters should be balanced.
There is no verisimilitude reason to believe this. In real life, people without a lot of strength would probably be low in constitution and dexterity as well because bodies work as a whole unit, not a collection of different attributes.

Level exists outside of that kind of balancing, except with itself. To have the game go any other direction would be a big mistake. I don't know if any of you ever played Rifts or other Palladium games, but that system had no concept of balance and for many classes level was next to meaningless, with equipment the far greater factor in determining character power.

Personally, I agree that PF2 is already too far down the equipment is everything path, but if you remove level without considering equipment bonuses, then you are recreating a world where money = power, at least for everyone except full casters, and even then they are probably going to need items that boost either their spell casting attribute or their save DC or else they are going to grow increasingly less effective against everyone, not just enemies that are slightly ahead of them on level.

The developers are probably erring on the side of developing a system for their adventure writers to be able to write fun narrative stories that extend well into high level play for their adventures and modules, that can also assume basic levels of parity and balance between characters. High level APs for PF1 basically become loose guidelines for GMs to build their own story around because the writers have to make challenges that don't obliterate average parties, which usually means that they are a cake walk for optimized parties.

I believe that the idea behind the + level to Proficiency is for those stories to be able to scale up to legendary and mythic levels of story telling without adding the buckets of complexity that prevented them from working in PF1.

Some people here seem to think that PF1 had no high level balance issues and that its models of level growth were as good as it could get. I don't really know how to argue with that position except to say that it was not my experience, nor the experience of anyone I ever played with.

Some people don't seem to want the kind of level 1 to 20 adventures that make Pathfinder stick out as a company, preferring a longer, slower xp growth sandbox between levels 1 and 6,7,10 (it does seem to be a wide range but it rarely gets past 14).

But that seems like 5e's bread house and not really something that a company is going to be successful challenging on. It also seems like it is already provided by PF1, but maybe requires revisiting the E6 model and possibly reworking that into something that is deliberately walking away from the idea of high level play and can focus all of its attention on making those X number of levels as fun and diverse as possible.

PF2 without level bonuses and a soon to be infinite number of magic items and feats looks like it would be a pretty average to boring game to me. Even if I am not a big fan of walking X-mas trees of items and Attributes stretching into the 20s, that is what Pathfinder wants to be. People like shiny new stuff. Leveling up and getting one new feat, or skill increase, and the promise of X number of shiny coins by the next level up really doesn't do it for me. If I can be slightly (1 point) better at climbing walls, that doesn't really feel like full level. Casters get their spells as well, which I think will become increasingly more unbalancing at higher levels, but you get these massive plateaus for fighters where level 3,7,15 are meaningful and everything else is pretty much just "meh."


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BryonD wrote:
I don't think anyone is claiming perfection in PF1. But it seems absurd to me that the idea of mixing combatants across multiple levels of difference was delicate in the prior game makes it ok to just wipe it off the table in the new game.

In PF1, martial characters and monsters gained roughly 1.5 BAB and 1.5 AC per level.

I don't think the power balance between, say, a CR5 monster and a CR10 monster has changed much between editions.

The only real change to the world logic that I can see here is (a) that a level 15 PC can easily wipe the floor with dozens of low level enemies because of their innate AC boost, rather than because of gear / protective spells, and (b) a level 15 Wizard can hit enemies more easily, though probably still won't do much damage.


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Unicore wrote:
When we compare a STR 8 character to a STR 18 character, we know that the STR 18 character is going to smash the STR 8 character in a battle of strength

STR 18 Fighter: Hey, let's have an arm-wrestling match!

STR 8 Wizard: That sounds like a swell idea!
GM: Uh... Make opposed strength checks, I guess.
Fighter: I rolled an 11... So that's 15.
Wizard: I rolled a 17. So that's 16.
GM: You overpower the Fighter and smash his hand down on the table.

The game's rules have never made much sense. That's why I'm mostly willing to overlook the kind of silliness +Level to everything will probably occasionally create.


thejeff wrote:
If there's a distinction here, it's not one that appeared with PF2 and the level bonus. It was that way in PF1 and pretty much back through AD&D.

In A/BECM D&D, there was the effect that XP requirements to level up roughly doubled at most levels for most classes. So if your character joined a party where the fighter had just reached 7th level then by the time they made 8th you'd probably be 7th level yourself. Even if for several of those levels the best thing you could do was stay in the rear and shoot arrows, come in after the fight was over to pick locks and deal with traps, or cast an occasional spell, you'd still pick up the XP and level up at a rate that you just wouldn't if the party was entirely 1st level. Hence mixed-level parties don't stay far apart in levels for very long.


Bluenose wrote:
thejeff wrote:
If there's a distinction here, it's not one that appeared with PF2 and the level bonus. It was that way in PF1 and pretty much back through AD&D.
In A/BECM D&D, there was the effect that XP requirements to level up roughly doubled at most levels for most classes. So if your character joined a party where the fighter had just reached 7th level then by the time they made 8th you'd probably be 7th level yourself. Even if for several of those levels the best thing you could do was stay in the rear and shoot arrows, come in after the fight was over to pick locks and deal with traps, or cast an occasional spell, you'd still pick up the XP and level up at a rate that you just wouldn't if the party was entirely 1st level. Hence mixed-level parties don't stay far apart in levels for very long.

Or just die to an area affect attack or if one of the baddies actually bothered to notice you. (Nor by the rules would that actually work unless the party was willing to go on short trivial adventures with lots of downtime between waiting on you, since you couldn't gain enough exp for 2 levels at a time. You had to take weeks off to train each level before you could get enough for the next. Not that most people actually followed that, but if we're talking RAW ...)

That's really a completely different mechanic anyway and only touches on part of the problem. Even if lower level PCs caught up quickly, you still would have trouble with enemies of different power levels. Large numbers of weak enemies wouldn't scale up as fast as some want.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
Unicore wrote:
When we compare a STR 8 character to a STR 18 character, we know that the STR 18 character is going to smash the STR 8 character in a battle of strength

STR 18 Fighter: Hey, let's have an arm-wrestling match!

STR 8 Wizard: That sounds like a swell idea!
GM: Uh... Make opposed strength checks, I guess.
Fighter: I rolled an 11... So that's 15.
Wizard: I rolled a 17. So that's 16.
GM: You overpower the Fighter and smash his hand down on the table.

The game's rules have never made much sense. That's why I'm mostly willing to overlook the kind of silliness +Level to everything will probably occasionally create.

Yeah, to me, this is a pretty good illustration of why this doesn't bother me. The d20 is so swingy that such absurdity is hard to avoid.

As long as investing in a skill makes you feel better at the skill compared to an equal level character who didn't invest, I'm pretty cool with it.


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Matthew Downie wrote:


In PF1, martial characters and monsters gained roughly 1.5 BAB and 1.5 AC per level.

I assume you mean attack bonus and not BAB.

Quote:


I don't think the power balance between, say, a CR5 monster and a CR10 monster has changed much between editions.

I've played around with the monsters in the bestiary and the avg outcomes have changed substantially.

And, really, you are contradicting the claims everyone else is making about how this "fixes" the problems of 1E.

Quote:
The only real change to the world logic that I can see here is (a) that a level 15 PC can easily wipe the floor with dozens of low level enemies because of their innate AC boost, rather than because of gear / protective spells, and (b) a level 15 Wizard can hit enemies more easily, though probably still won't do much damage.

I'd quibble with the word "real" having anything to do with it. But I agree with your general point with regard to whether there is a reasonable "in setting" explanation for progress as opposed to a purely abstract / gamist fudge factor.

That is a related but distinct issue. And it is a real issue. Which still leaves the question hanging: For fans who find this important, is there any desire to retain them? If no, where are the replacements (realistically) going to come from. (And keep in mind that 4E fans said EXACTLY, that lost fans would be readily replaced and then some, they were very very wrong) If yes, how?

The Exchange

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Interesting seeing the opinions and attitudes being expressed here.

I was listening to the always entertaining The Adventuring Party podcast. They were discussing the play test and one of their number (who has exceptional PF1 system mastery) was explaining the playtest basics to the others. When it came to Skills the thing that grabbed the attention of one non pathfinder playing 'caster was how the level bonus would allow PCs to just get very good at everything.
Another noted how the system was very reminiscent of 4e though others didn't see it.

I am excited about the future of PF and want to play my own small part in it. There is a lot about the playtest I like but somethings leave me with the feeling it needs work.

If PF is going to be a game where PCs are superior beings who start of as being objectively good at most things and brilliant at others - compared to the rest of population and over time this disparity in all things gets bigger, then there is an issue. Similarily making e.g. a wizard so good in terms of attack and AC compared to lower level martials is a paradigm shift. A shift in paradigm that deserves respectful examination.

So I am keen on learning more as to what the benefit is to this cost and if there is a way to
square the circle.

I would entreat those who think that moving towards this is paradigm is great not to dismiss the concerns of others. Also not to interpret the adoption of this kind of system and the alienation of many in the current player base as some kind of victory. To my mind anyone in this discussion who chooses to comment along the lines of "well, if you don't like this then PF2 isn't the game for you" is substantively detracting from their own position and the debate in general.


BryonD wrote:
I assume you mean attack bonus and not BAB.

Yup.

BryonD wrote:
And, really, you are contradicting the claims everyone else is making about how this "fixes" the problems of 1E.

What claims? I was under the impression people were mostly just saying, "It's simpler," or "It reduces certain types of imbalance between high-level PCs," or "It makes us less dependent on getting AC and saving throw bonuses from multiple items."


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heretic wrote:
I would entreat those who think that moving towards this is paradigm is great not to dismiss the concerns of others. Also not to interpret the adoption of this kind of system and the alienation of many in the current player base as some kind of victory. To my mind anyone in this discussion who chooses to comment along the lines of "well, if you don't like this then PF2 isn't the game for you" is substantively detracting from their own position and the debate in general.

The counterpoint is though... there are plenty of systems out there that support that lower power, same-threats-are-always-relevant style, while there is very little for those that do want the kind of high-power feel that the current system gives. So why shouldn't those of us who want that feel see it as a win that our preferred style is being supported? Neither side should dismiss the concerns or preferences of the other out of hand, but no one system is going to please everyone and one side really does have more options than the other.

The Exchange

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Shinigami02 wrote:
heretic wrote:
I would entreat those who think that moving towards this is paradigm is great not to dismiss the concerns of others. Also not to interpret the adoption of this kind of system and the alienation of many in the current player base as some kind of victory. To my mind anyone in this discussion who chooses to comment along the lines of "well, if you don't like this then PF2 isn't the game for you" is substantively detracting from their own position and the debate in general.
The counterpoint is though... there are plenty of systems out there that support that lower power, same-threats-are-always-relevant style, while there is very little for those that do want the kind of high-power feel that the current system gives. So why shouldn't those of us who want that feel see it as a win that our preferred style is being supported? Neither side should dismiss the concerns or preferences of the other out of hand, but no one system is going to please everyone and one side really does have more options than the other.

A change in the paradigm that splits the current PF family along the same fault lines as 3.x and 4e is not a victory or is at best a phyrrhic one.

In all honesty I don't see how the PF2 system can be said to offer more options than PF1. Different certainly and some of those differences are at the heart of these discussions.

Wanting your characters to be just so darn cool at everything normal folks can do before even considering their natural apitudes (i.e. abilities) or the benefits of their chosen class might be how some people want to see PF change. I need convincing.


I don't think the benefit of proficiency = level is to feel epic. That comes at the cost of verisimilitude and doesn't seem like a conscious decision devs would make. Also, if I just want to feel epic there are plenty of systems that specialize in that (Godbound, Exalted, Supers games, etc).

The benefit is, I'm willing to bet, easy math and a sense of accomplishment going from one level to the next. It also fits easily with their AP paradigm since the level range of effective threats with this system is probably roughly that which you would normally face in an adventure that is part of an AP.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
I was under the impression people were mostly just saying, "It's simpler," or "It reduces certain types of imbalance between high-level PCs," or "It makes us less dependent on getting AC and saving throw bonuses from multiple items."

You know I keep waiting for someone to directly answer the question in the title of this thread, and no one has yet... but these are a pretty good distillation of the points made by the 'pro' side of this discussion.

My response would be:
1. It's simpler
A: No it isn't. The PF2 rulebook is really at just about the exact same level of complexity as the core PF1 rulebook. The numbers are just different. I would argue that the formatting and action qualities are actually more complicated, but I can attribute that to its newness. So they are essentially the same.

2.It reduces certain types of imbalance between high-level PCs
A: Yes it sure does. Everything that auto-scales, which is everything mundane characters can do, will... well... auto-scale, for everyone. And this fixes that problem that PF1 had where mundane (i.e. non-spellcaster) characters were just too darn good at high level compared to their spellcaster friends, who lets face it, were just useless past level 13. Sarcasm aside, I can see how shrinking the gap of min-maxed vs. un-optimized is a good thing, but this system took a gap of +25-40 on a roll and made it +3, which is probably way too much homogenization for a game that advertises 'customization' as a feature. e.g:"Everyone can only play the Fighter class" also "fixes" this issue, but that doesn't mean its a good idea.

3."It makes us less dependent on getting AC and saving throw bonuses from multiple items
A: This one is just plain false. Fixing items and how they give bonuses along with adjusting the monster math fixes this, it has nothing to do with +1/lvl to everything.

4."It is to make levels feel impactful"
They were already hugely impactful. This sort of comment came up a lot in this thread and its really confusing to me, so I won't pretend to understand it.

In short, I can agree with almost every problem that anyone here has accused PF1 of having... but that does not mean that this is the best solution to any of those problems, as it is quite obviously not satisfactory to a large group of players.

I think it needs a serious re-think and some very clearly defined goals for the community to chew on.

I like the cantrips.
I like the action economy.
I like the severe reduction in necessary magic items.
I like the idea of backgrounds
I like the unified arcane divine etc. spell lists

I think resonance is a ham-fisted solution and should be changed.
I think martial damage scaling should not be tied to magic weapons.
(You did so well the rest of the magic item stuff why mess up this one so badly?)
I think that the idea of proficiencies gating certain skill-based actions is a good idea, but its implemented badly.
And I think that flat +1/lvl scaling for everything (coupled with the increbibly low impact of character class-feats, ability choices, stat allocation etc.) is so dull and homogenizing that it makes me completely disinterested in playing PF2 at all.

There is a lot here that could work if it was really refined.
There are many problems to tackle from PF1.
I still do not understand the problem that this specific game system fixes, and why it is the best way to fix it. Which makes it hard to swallow the new problems that it creates.

So if anyone can help me understand... please do. I really do not get it.

The Exchange

DataLoreRPG wrote:

I don't think the benefit of proficiency = level is to feel epic. That comes at the cost of verisimilitude and doesn't seem like a conscious decision devs would make. Also, if I just want to feel epic there are plenty of systems that specialize in that (Godbound, Exalted, Supers games, etc).

The benefit is, I'm willing to bet, easy math and a sense of accomplishment going from one level to the next. It also fits easily with their AP paradigm since the level range of effective threats with this system is probably roughly that which you would normally face in an adventure that is part of an AP.

This is the the type of cost/benefit I speak of! :-)

I am comfortable with the idea of explicable cause and effect. So making fire issue from your fingers due to mastery of arcane study is fine. Being able to flawlessly trip the light fantastic despite never having danced or indeed even seen the dance requires similar explanation. Time spent in the alchemical lab or flinging bombs about isn't a good explanation. A youth spent skipping Galt classes in school to attend a dance master: great! A pair of very special red ballet shoes.... maybe

But we know the point of contention here.

I don't know if all the other 'cool stuff' you get for levelling isn't sufficient to get a buzz out of levelling. Hell it was back in the days of AD&D and the rewards were less than salubrious!

Not sure that making all things perilous scale with each other is worth the price of losing the narrative consistency (or verisimilitude ) that you'd expect with well written fiction.
It is not as if many parts of the skills are not already qualified by requiring training.

Also uncomfortable but introducing the idea that you get harder to hit in your pyjamas than a knightly squire in plate armour because of years spent in the library between avoiding combat at all costs during dungeon crawls.

So do we absolutely need to hurl the narrative baby out with the mechanical bath water here?


heretic wrote:

Also uncomfortable but introducing the idea that you get harder to hit in your pyjamas than a knightly squire in plate armour because of years spent in the library between avoiding combat at cost during dungeon crawls.

So do we absolutely need to hurl the narrative baby out with the mechanical bath water here?

This logic always confuses me. If you stick around studying books for years and avoid danger and adventure...you aren't going to be high level making the whole point moot. And even if you go through the logic of "well I need a Legendary sage for plot dumping" it's the same problem in PF1 where that same sage who sat around studying tomes has more than twice the hp of the local squire and probably a better BAB too.

The Exchange

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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
heretic wrote:

Also uncomfortable but introducing the idea that you get harder to hit in your pyjamas than a knightly squire in plate armour because of years spent in the library between avoiding combat at cost during dungeon crawls.

So do we absolutely need to hurl the narrative baby out with the mechanical bath water here?

This logic always confuses me. If you stick around studying books for years and avoid danger and adventure...you aren't going to be high level making the whole point moot. And even if you go through the logic of "well I need a Legendary sage for plot dumping" it's the same problem in PF1 where that same sage who sat around studying tomes has more than twice the hp of the local squire and probably a better BAB too.

I will try to explain. I think you have missed my point, my apolgies if my poor choice of words or typing confused things.

Avoiding melee combat so you can effectively use your arcane ability is not avoiding danger or adventure. It is the means that caster have operated and likely will still do so as it remains the most action efficient way to operate.

The question of needing mechanics to allow non adventuring types to exist as useful characters is not unimportant but not really linked to the +1 per level AC or skill bonus.

An adventuring career of blasting things from behind the paladin and spending downtime in the library or fest hall does not really explain the relentless advance to super Olympian athletics or being really good at standing toe to toe with heavily armed and armoured folk while sky clad
.
Don't get me started on the sudden realisation you have always been a virtuoso bag pipe player but only found out on seeing your first set. :-)


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heretic wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
heretic wrote:

Also uncomfortable but introducing the idea that you get harder to hit in your pyjamas than a knightly squire in plate armour because of years spent in the library between avoiding combat at cost during dungeon crawls.

So do we absolutely need to hurl the narrative baby out with the mechanical bath water here?

This logic always confuses me. If you stick around studying books for years and avoid danger and adventure...you aren't going to be high level making the whole point moot. And even if you go through the logic of "well I need a Legendary sage for plot dumping" it's the same problem in PF1 where that same sage who sat around studying tomes has more than twice the hp of the local squire and probably a better BAB too.

I will try to explain. I think you have missed my point, my apolgies if my poor choice of words or typing confused things.

Avoiding melee combat so you can effectively use your arcane ability is not avoiding danger or adventure. It is the means that caster have operated and likely will still do so as it remains the most action efficient way to operate.

The question of needing mechanics to allow non adventuring types to exist as useful characters is not unimportant but not really linked to the +1 per level AC or skill bonus.

An adventuring career of blasting things from behind the paladin and spending downtime in the library or fest hall does not really explain the relentless advance to super Olympian athletics or being really good at standing toe to toe with heavily armed and armoured folk while sky clad
.
Don't get me started on the sudden realisation you have always been a virtuoso bag pipe player but only found out on seeing your first set. :-)

But the same wizard back in PF1e would still be getting better at hitting things in melee combat (BAB every other level) and getting physically tougher (hp).

As Tarik said: twice the hp and better BAB, all from trying to stay in the back of the combat.

Not to mention the old perennial problem of the rogue who kills a bunch of orcs and gets better at picking locks.

It's all abstraction. It's always all been abstraction.

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