Feedback of fresh "never-played PF / PF2" players making characters


Creating a Character


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I was surprised when our GM expressed interest to other players who wanted to try out the second edition of Pathfinder that I (and three others who have never played) made new characters with the current Pathfinder rules updates to run a homebrew campaign (I believe it's based off of either a Dragonlance or Grey Skull adventure) to both have these players try out the new system and to get more accurate feedback by using players who have never played table top RPGs like PF2, and for us to try to see if using a more "homebrew" campaign was a viable avenue for PF2 gameplay.

While this thread does not really encompass the latter concept, it is all about the observations I noticed while I (whom has some experience and knowledge of the system) was leveling up, and the explanations I had to make in relation to what the other players noticed (we used printed off sheets of paper of the Rulebook PDF with only my current knowledge of the existing errata), and these are major concerns with how I thought they would perceive the system/gameplay.

This last Thursday, we all met in the evening at one player's house to go and create characters as a group (so if players had questions, other players could reference things or I could answer them). To keep things short and simple, I'll go with a list of common things I've noticed, following up with a couple specific things (most of which aren't very positive). While some of these issues have been brought up before, this post might serve more as a reinforcement of addressing these things as being issues. Furthermore, while we spent ~3 hours on this "session 0," we still had to spend about an hour or so during Session 1 to make character decisions that should have already been done prior to the session (even though we players had real life commitments, that is besides the point here).

1. The character creation rules aren't intuitive or simple to understand to new or uninformed players. When it came to starting out, one player who had the sheets printed out wasn't entirely sure where to start, and one player who hasn't had any chance to read the rules due to real life commitments, had absolutely no clue how to even create a character, with the book (or rather, the printed PDF pages) being a hassle to read through. In addition, from my perspective, having clashing information between the printed PDF rules and what's currently errata'd helped further create confusion in what players got for skills, options, abilities, and so on. It also made people trip up on what Signature Skills were when, in actuality, Signature Skills were no longer a thing, and with the different method of skill applications in effect, players (myself included) had no clue how to apply skills, since some players got skills automatically trained, others didn't, and so on. They also had no idea how calculating attributes worked, and for two of our players, were missing critical aspects of their attribute allocation (most notably, the 4 free +2 attributes at 1st level). This part in particular seems to be a common issue, as even in both of our Doomsday Dawn playtests, players did not do their attribute allocation correctly.

2. The character sheets are cluttered, mismatched, and seem backwards in design. When players were attempting to calculate their melee and ranged attacks, they looked at the dice symbols and the two separate sections and had no clue what they were for, and were getting frustrated by it. It took me explaining to them numerous times how that section of the character sheet functioned before they finally got it understood. While they aren't the smartest players, they have played numerous other board games with somewhat complex rules and understood them fairly easily, but appear to have been tripped up with the numerous symbols and their format (such as not knowing the dice symbol, or that it went from attack roll to damage roll). Similarly, people got hung up on how proficiency worked and was calculated (such as not knowing what TEML stood for), as well as on numerous sections of the character sheet, and our Cleric got frustrated with his spell points, both because he has two separate spell point pools (which the sheets didn't compensate for), and didn't have any area to write down a brief description of what the spell does. This was also apparent during gameplay on the weekend (expressed in another post to link to later) when every spellcaster had to double check their spell descriptions to determine what their spells actually did. Having even a basic description section for each spell slot entry (no, the "notes" section isn't big enough to explain how each spell works) would have saved us almost an hour's worth of looking up and verifying spell effects.

3. The formatting of several sections in the book need major revisions to be intuitive and easy to reference. When it came time for our players to try and purchase their gear (we are starting play at 4th level), they had to reference all kinds of entries in the book. Between the standardized adventuring gear, weapons, armor and shields (being in the same place), combined with the magic items, generalized treasure table, alchemical items (like poisons and potions), special materials, being in several separate places in the book, it became very difficult for players to keep track of what items they wanted in relation to where they were in the book, and crossreferencing what they can (or can't) purchase, and seeing if items are in one section of a book instead of another. This made the character creation time take longer than it should have, and even for as much experience as I've gotten with this system, I was still finding out about items that I never heard of before, or thought weren't available at the time with specialized benefits (such as realizing Expert Cold Iron weapons were a Level 2 item that players of 4th level could take as one of their 2nd level permanent items). While parts of this helped our PC optimization out, it still hurt the character creation process because it did create several levels of frustration for players (myself included). There were also similar complaints in relation to how Skill Feats and General feats are sorted, in that they aren't sorted by level, type, or pre-requisites. They are simply in a giant glob in alphabetical order, with the traits of the feats being easily missable (unless you reference the table, but even that received similar complaints), and not being intuitive to find what you want unless you know precisely what each feat does in relation to what you want out of a given feat.

4. Decision Paralysis is still in place, and adds a lot of time into character creation. One of our players who made a Rogue was having an especially difficult time trying to allocate his feats into stuff that is both cool and worthwhile. Having more Skill Feats than anyone else and access to the same amount of other feats as other classes merely increased the amount of times he had no idea what to spend feats on. He was also disappointed at how underwhelming numerous skill feats were, while at the same time baffled by how strong and/or useful other skill feats were. We ended up changing around several feats up until it was playtime this last weekend. I similarly had this problem as a Bard player with my skills, spell/cantrip selections, and feats.

5. Several core decisions are highly underwhelming and unfun in relation to certain players. I've experienced part of this issue with my character as well as with the player's Cleric. He effectively went on numerous tirades about how much the current gods "sucked so bad," and that he hated practically every god available. To elaborate, he felt like a lot of their Domain powers were "trash", hated several combinations (such as Gorum being a Negative Energy channeler, but using a powerful Greatsword, whereas a deity like Pharasma could use Positive Energy channelling, but had a crappy deity weapon and domain powers), and was severely disappointed with how there were no gods who utilized a Morningstar as a deity weapon (which was originally going to be his weapon of choice). I did explain to him that there will probably be more options to better suit his needs (and maybe some balancing between a Cleric's Channel Energy combined with his Domain Powers), which did keep a lid on his explosive attitude, but it did serve as a point of contention for his angst of the new system. I did feel the same way with all of my Halfling Ancestry feats, combined with several of the Rogue's Skill feats (as well as some of my own, but I did find some that were "passable" choices in relation to my builds).

6. The book not having errata information causes a clash of information that players may not be certain of which set of information is correct. While this was brought up in one of the previous points, I do want to bring this some extra attention, because nothing seems more foolish than bringing a character sheet to a GM that is riddled with misinformation due to the book not reflecting the current errata. In short, this may have caused a negative outlook on the player perspective, and it also increases character creation time due to referencing numerous PDF documents to determine what you actually have as a rule. I can understand that updating the Core Rulebook PDF to reflect these changes all the time is tedious and potentially frustrating, but hopefully after the Doomsday Dawn playtest, we can get an "updated" Core Rulebook playtest PDF with the reflecting errata derived from the playtest so that we don't have to reference numerous documents all the time (something which the current playtest is meant to cut down on, if not eliminate entirely, and so far doesn't appear to be doing that, even if somewhat understandbly).

There are other things that the players may have complained about (and some things that the players found neat or interesting, such as multiclassing and fleshing out future character concepts through certain character choices), as well as things I may not have observed, but these are some major things that I feel, if addressed, will greatly help with keeping both these players (and encouraging other new players) to stay awhile and continue playing, creating enjoyable experiences and having fun with the new system.

Silver Crusade

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
3. The formatting of several sections in the book need major revisions to be intuitive and easy to reference.

This is the biggest issue, IMHO. I found building a Bard for part 2 extremely painful, because the information is so scattered.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
One of our players who made a Rogue was having an especially difficult time trying to allocate his feats into stuff that is both cool and worthwhile. Having more Skill Feats than anyone else and access to the same amount of other feats as other classes merely increased the amount of times he had no idea what to spend feats on. He was also disappointed at how underwhelming numerous skill feats were, while at the same time baffled by how strong and/or useful other skill feats were.

I'm also creating a level 5 rogue for a playtest coming soon (Raiders of Shrieking Peak) and I had very similar experience. I find most of the skill feats to be very dull and situational e.g.

Quote:


QUICK DISGUISE
Prerequisites expert in Deception
You can set up a disguise in half the usual time
(generally 5 minutes). If you’re a master, it takes one-fifth the
usual time (usually 2 minutes), and if you’re legendary, it takes
one-tenth the usual time (usually 1 minute).

One feat to disguise in 5 minutes instead of 10 doesn't seem that it's ever going to have an impact (and note you need to be expert...).

Quote:


POWERFUL LEAP
Prerequisites expert in Athletics
When you use the Leap action, you can jump
5 feet up with a vertical Leap, and you increase the distance
you can jump horizontally by 5 feet.

Same, how often is that going to come into play?

Quote:


NIMBLE CRAWL
Prerequisites expert in Acrobatics
You’re skilled at moving around while prone. You
can Crawl up to half your Speed, rather than 5 feet. If you’re a
master in Acrobatics, you can Crawl at your full Speed, and if
you’re legendary, you aren’t flat-footed while prone

Wow, I always dreamt to be expert at crawling. /s

I feel there are lots of choices that aren't going to make any difference so it's going to take a lot of time to choose (FOMO) without much game impact and all rogues are going to be pretty similar (I don't feel I can really make choices that are going to make my character feels unique). Illusion of choice / inconsequential choices.

Even some of the Rogue feats are like that e.g. YOU’RE NEXT. How often are you going to be dropping a foe that the +2 to Demoralize is going to have an impact.

I think General feats are much better but they aren't many and they are very far between (one at 3rd, next one is at 7th).


Faenor wrote:


Quote:


POWERFUL LEAP
Prerequisites expert in Athletics
When you use the Leap action, you can jump
5 feet up with a vertical Leap, and you increase the distance
you can jump horizontally by 5 feet.
Same, how often is that going to come into play?

Ever played The Floor is a Lava Elemental?

*cough, ch2*


I find just selecting the first eligible feat in any given list simplifies things a lot...


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Crayon wrote:
I find just selecting the first eligible feat in any given list simplifies things a lot...

So does a dart board.

But that doesn't mean its good design.


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3 hours? Wow, I've helped people who weren't native English speakers through creating characters in Mutants and Masterminds (which is generally considered one of the more time consuming systems to make a character for. Not GURPS or Rollmaster, but still harder than most.) in less time than that. That really shows how much a mess the playtest rules are.

Dark Archive

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My experience is very similar. I downloaded the rules, eager to try out a few concepts, including converting some PF1 high-level PCs to PT rules. That didn't quite work out, even with something as simple as a lvl 16 human (noble) greatsword-specialist fighter. Some rules are written in a very vague or obscure way, while certain options have become suboptimal (e.g. Power Attack) and not worth picking anymore. And the whole rulebook is a confusing mess that prevented me from finishing any of my several concepts, no matter how much I tried. For example, like Darksol, I also missed the free boosts to stats at 1st level, and when I eventually realized my mistake, I ended up with those same arrays -- always. There is just too little variance in the existing system.

And speaking of my 16th level fighter, whose stats were rolled back in '93 or '94 when we were playing AD&D... getting so many boosts to all the stats makes him a superhuman by 12th level! If his lowest stat will be Int 14, there's something weird going on, and it's not as if he's even got stats by D&D standards to begin with (his Str was 16 and Con 15, the rest between 10-14, IIRC). I get it, this is supposed to eliminate dependance on stat-boosting items, but isn't there some kind of middle-ground for this? Perhaps +1 to 2 stats at 4th, 12th and 20th level, then +1 to *all* stats at 8th and 16th?

I found the PT rules just worth it. If I can't finish a character after several tries, I can't understand how a newbie could. I've had a similar experience only with Conspiracy of Shadows (rev.ed.), which was obviously written for "insiders", i.e. fans of the first edition of the game. IMO Paizo really needs to step up and rewrite and re-organize/reformat the rules in a more coherent way!

Dark Archive

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I also want to point out that even though English is not my native language, as a "gamebrarian" (gaming librarian) working for a major city library I've read close to 2000 RPG and board game rulebooks during my career, and so far CoS is the only one I've had problems with. Until I tried PF2 playtest rules, that is. It feels even weirder, because I'd definitely consider myself to be an experienced PF1 player and GM, and yet I just can't comprehend how so many of these new or revised mechanics work!


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I've had similar observations to the original post. We're getting ready to start the 3rd part of the playtest, so we'll have yet another "session 0" with 7th level characters. Another 3-4 hours of confusion among veterans and new players alike. With Hero Lab being unable to keep up with the updates, it will go slower.


Faenor wrote:


Quote:


NIMBLE CRAWL
Prerequisites expert in Acrobatics
You’re skilled at moving around while prone. You
can Crawl up to half your Speed, rather than 5 feet. If you’re a
master in Acrobatics, you can Crawl at your full Speed, and if
you’re legendary, you aren’t flat-footed while prone

If standing up was as punitive as it was in PF1, this one could be more useful. But right now there is no reason to not just stand up.


Perhaps the idea behind Nimble Crawl is to make sneaking easier. A rogue who can hide behind a low wall while moving quickly might have a better shot at getting into position than one who has to crawl slowly or stand.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Faenor wrote:
Wow, I always dreamt to be expert at crawling. /s

I admit that IRL I only found skill at crawling to be useful once or twice, but at those times I found it very useful. People were shooting at me. :-)


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
1. The character creation rules aren't intuitive or simple to understand to new or uninformed players.

There's a Google Drive copy of the rulebook someone put up that has all the errata in it. Personally, I would be happier if Paizo had done that themselves, but I do understand that's time consuming and they have other things to think about.

Perhaps the steps (1-9) of character creation could have been explained better, but the order, at least, is fairly straightforward.

I built a simple spreadsheet for attribute allocation. Took me ten or fifteen minutes, I think.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
2. The character sheets are cluttered, mismatched, and seem backwards in design.

Agree the sheet needs a good redesign. Actually, I'd like to see something like the PF1 Character Folio.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
3. The formatting of several sections in the book need major revisions to be intuitive and easy to reference.

Agreed. In particular, there should be an index to the tables.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
4. Decision Paralysis is still in place, and adds a lot of time into character creation.

I don't know how to solve this one. :-(

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
5. Several core decisions are highly underwhelming and unfun in relation to certain players.

Or this one.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
6. The book not having errata information causes a clash of information that players may not be certain of which set of information is correct.

See my response to your point #1.


Ed Reppert wrote:
Faenor wrote:
Wow, I always dreamt to be expert at crawling. /s
I admit that IRL I only found skill at crawling to be useful once or twice, but at those times I found it very useful. People were shooting at me. :-)

To be fair, by the time you have this feat and are Legendary in Acrobatics (or whatever), being effectively immune to tripping is a pretty helpful ability when enemies try to trip you.


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PCScipio wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
3. The formatting of several sections in the book need major revisions to be intuitive and easy to reference.
This is the biggest issue, IMHO. I found building a Bard for part 2 extremely painful, because the information is so scattered.

This is why I'm out of the playtest all together. Having a PDF only is no way to navigate this book's layout. Also leveling up isn't fun because of all the underwhelming options/layout.


I'm surprised Paizo doesn't follow a format closer to the Strategy Guide.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Brother Fen wrote:
I'm surprised Paizo doesn't follow a format closer to the Strategy Guide.

Well, I asked James Jacobs about a Strategy Guide for PF2e, and he said that if they do the core rulebook right, we won't need a Strategy Guide. Guess we'll have to wait and see.


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Ed Reppert wrote:
Brother Fen wrote:
I'm surprised Paizo doesn't follow a format closer to the Strategy Guide.
Well, I asked James Jacobs about a Strategy Guide for PF2e, and he said that if they do the core rulebook right, we won't need a Strategy Guide. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Well, they're currently not doing it right.

One of the comments from my group was basically, "it feels like they looked at TreantMonk's color coded guide to how good feats (etc) are and said 'Aha! Let's nerf or get rid of everything above the 'situationally useful' orange level.'"

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