Un-Ease of Play: Conditions, Buffs / Debuffs, Flanking / Cover / Screened, Meta-Currencies, etc


General Discussion

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Jason Bulmahn wrote:

I've gotta say, after GMing PF1 for 4 years, I still have to lookup almost every condition every single time one comes up in-game. The few I don't lookup are the simple (staggered) or the intuitive (unconscious, prone) ones. I'm not going to remember 42 conditions, nor 32, nor even 12.

It slows down the game. every. single. time.


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Barathos wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:

I've gotta say, after GMing PF1 for 4 years, I still have to lookup almost every condition every single time one comes up in-game. The few I don't lookup are the simple (staggered) or the intuitive (unconscious, prone) ones. I'm not going to remember 42 conditions, nor 32, nor even 12.

It slows down the game. every. single. time.

Yep, 3rd Ed/PF1 has too many; dazzled, really?

I must say, 5th Ed's got conditions, pretty tight.

Sovereign Court

tivadar27 wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Would it make it more intuitive to notice that shields and the Screened effect don't stack, if we called it Shielded instead?

So instead of shields giving you a +2 circumstance bonus to AC when raised, they now provide the "Shielded" condition when raised, and that, in turn, provides a +2 circumstance bonus to AC...

Umm, no. That's yet another leap of logic to get to the same end result.

EDIT: It also just really logically doesn't make any sense... If you have a shield raised *and* there's someone in the way, it *should* be harder to hit you. No amount of renaming is going to fix that.

What I meant is just renaming the Screened condition to Shielded condition. To make it easier to remember that Raising Shields and being Screened are similar and might not stack.

As for them not stacking.. that's not my department :P

Sovereign Court

Dasrak wrote:


1) Items
2) Class
3) Magic
4) Circumstance
5) Afflictions

I think this is already better because you don't have two long words that both start with a C. Rage all you want about minimum reading comprehension, "conditional" and "circumstantial" are just a bit too close to each other for maximum convenience.

I do notice that there's no good name in here for positive conditions though; you could rename Circumstance to "Situation bonus" and Afflictions to "Condition bonus".

Sovereign Court

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DeathQuaker wrote:

2. 3.x and thus Pathfinder, while a complicated system, usually was good about erring on the side of re-explaining a mechanic in the text, rather than forcing a cross reference, when it made sense to do so. In other words, in 3.x and PF1, you were more likely to see a passage like: "this spell makes you shaken (-2 penalty to all rolls)." In PF2, you're more likely to see "this spell makes you shaken." And then you have to go look shaken up, and it is likely nowhere near the spell descriptions.

I TOTALLY GET why one would want to avoid text redundancy--you want to save space, you want to save words, you don't want to have to repeat yourself. I am an editor, I have edited indeed as an independent contractor for Paizo, I've worked for publishers, I know how precious space is.

However, when learning a system from scratch it makes that system that much harder to learn. I think 3.x and PF books repeat rules less in splats, which is good (if you're buying splats, you should have the basics mastered), but some redundancy may be necessary in the core rulebook--the thing people are reading to learn how the game is actually played.

One problem that PF1 had was that a rule seemed to be defined multiple times in different places, but not in exactly the same way. Actually, it was probably defined in one place, but helpful reminder text was scattered around. Except, it was hard to differentiate and say which was the authoritative definition of something.

I think strategically used reminder text is a good idea. Putting in a reminder about what conditions do in low-level spells is helpful; it doesn't have to be repeated in higher-level spells unless they start inflicting a condition that didn't come up at lower levels.

But for the love of Lamashtu, use a different font style for reminder text.

Magic: the Gathering learned this lesson a long time ago; you'll see something like this:

Quote:
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)


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Good discussion here. I've run for both a Bard and Barbarian, and had no idea either of their bonuses were typed.

PP1 had this handled really well. Sure, you could have 7+ different types of bonuses, but when you knew their names you could identify things easily. Someone cheering at you? Morale! Drank a holy elixer? Divine! Wizard buffs? Enhancement! Inherent bonuses? You'll know when you get them. You might get some wrong, but the system felt resillient enough to handle that, and you'd eventually fix it. You had enough types that clashes were the exception rather than the rule.

Honestly, I couldn't give you the type of any bonus or penalty in PF2 beside Item Bonuses, after having run 16 sessions. I don't know which conditions give conditional penalties, and which give circumstance. Even now with the Bard/Barbarian thing, I know their the same, but still not which type. Eventually I'd get the knack for most of these, sure, but picking the system up involves looking it up far too often.


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Lyee wrote:
PP1 had this handled really well. Sure, you could have 7+ different types of bonuses, but when you knew their names you could identify things easily. Someone cheering at you? Morale! Drank a holy elixer? Divine! Wizard buffs? Enhancement! Inherent bonuses? You'll know when you get them. You might get some wrong, but the system felt resillient enough to handle that, and you'd eventually fix it.

PF1 wasn't particularly intuitive. Why was Inspire Courage a Competence bonus, not a Morale bonus? (Game balance, probably.)


It's somewhat balance, but I imagine the main reason was: 'so it stacks with Rage, and you are unlikely to hit any stacking rules at level 1, because it just all stacks at that point'

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Ascalaphus wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:

2. 3.x and thus Pathfinder, while a complicated system, usually was good about erring on the side of re-explaining a mechanic in the text, rather than forcing a cross reference, when it made sense to do so. In other words, in 3.x and PF1, you were more likely to see a passage like: "this spell makes you shaken (-2 penalty to all rolls)." In PF2, you're more likely to see "this spell makes you shaken." And then you have to go look shaken up, and it is likely nowhere near the spell descriptions.

I TOTALLY GET why one would want to avoid text redundancy (snip).

One problem that PF1 had was that a rule seemed to be defined multiple times in different places, but not in exactly the same way. Actually, it was probably defined in one place, but helpful reminder text was scattered around. Except, it was hard to differentiate and say which was the authoritative definition of something.

Bear in mind that one of the unique challenges of PF1 was that they were revising 3.x -- and for the core rulebook, mainly importing existing text and then changing it. Sometimes text would get revised in one section without realizing there was a section that also needed to be updated (I believe there's contradictory rules to this day in the CRB about what SR applies to that the devs have never errataed or clarified in the last 10 years). That specific problem should not arise again.

PF2 should have the advantage of being largely written from scratch and have the benefit of a lot of cross-checking to be sure rules are expressed consistently. Hopefully the risk of inconsistency would be lower.

Having to change a revised rule in multiple places is indeed a barrier to repeating rules text. And I'd not want to see it overdone or overused--but if a balance can be struck, it would help with system mastery.

Quote:
I think strategically used reminder text is a good idea. Putting in a reminder about what conditions do in low-level spells is helpful; it doesn't have to be repeated in higher-level spells unless they start inflicting a condition that didn't come up at lower levels.

That would be fine.

Quote:


But for the love of Lamashtu, use a different font style for reminder text.

I'm not sure why that would be necessary (and be a pain to remember from an editorial standpoint), but if you think it would make it easier for folks to learn it's probably worth consideration.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Lyee wrote:
PP1 had this handled really well. Sure, you could have 7+ different types of bonuses, but when you knew their names you could identify things easily. Someone cheering at you? Morale! Drank a holy elixer? Divine! Wizard buffs? Enhancement! Inherent bonuses? You'll know when you get them. You might get some wrong, but the system felt resillient enough to handle that, and you'd eventually fix it.
PF1 wasn't particularly intuitive. Why was Inspire Courage a Competence bonus, not a Morale bonus? (Game balance, probably.)

To stack with (almost) everything.

In 3.0/3.5, it was a morale bonus and it didn't stack with much. This felt wrong for a class main ability. Hence PF1 changed the type, the type was less intuitive but it stack with most effects.

It's the same with polymorph effect giving size bonus. 3.0/3.5 didn't feature "polymorph" bonus (and polymorph wasn't actually handled as bonus); when they decided to handle polymorph as bonus, it made sense to prevent polymorph from stacking with enlarge person and the like - after all, enlarging someone is just a very limited form of polymorphism. So the polymorph effects were given the "size" type.

But those bizarre case could have been corrected in the new edition, instead of throwing everything out of the windows. Actually, I think PF1 contains too much bonus type and some of them should be removed - but I don't think the correct number of bonus type is "3".


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Barathos wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:

I've gotta say, after GMing PF1 for 4 years, I still have to lookup almost every condition every single time one comes up in-game. The few I don't lookup are the simple (staggered) or the intuitive (unconscious, prone) ones. I'm not going to remember 42 conditions, nor 32, nor even 12.

It slows down the game. every. single. time.

Yep, 3rd Ed/PF1 has too many; dazzled, really?

I must say, 5th Ed's got conditions, pretty tight.

Tbh I feel like exhaustion is the only 5th Ed condition I like. Poisoned is alright mechanically I just don't like how poisons in general play in 5. I actively dislike frightened because of the "PCs can't move closer" clause.

I'll agree that rn conditions are taking a while to look up.
I like sensed, concealed, unseen, slowed, quick, persistent damage, frightened, probably sick, dazzled, accelerated, flat-footed. I like the number of interactions Blind and Deaf have.
Sluggish weirds me out a bit, as I mix it up with Slow. So I'd probably rather it be called Clumsy.
Confused I actively dislike the mechanics of, and I'm not super keen on the idea of enemies having access to fleeing.
I disliked the idea of stupified at first, but I like how it interacts with things like Feeblemind, Touch of Idiocy, and Insanity Mist.
Overall I think a fair few of the conditions could stand to be more elegant, but I like having a relatively comprehensive toolbox.


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So, I just ran a session on FG using all my pre-set up conditions and the like. This was at level 1 (rerunning for a new group). We managed to finish in one session. This is thanks in no small part to all conditions being handled by Fantasy Grounds.

Grabbed, Enfeebled, Flat Footed, Persistent damage, etc.. all this was done auto-magically. I, luckily, didn't need to worry about afflictions (and their stages) this go around or invisibility and all that unseen, sensed, etc stuff.

Spoiler:
The players didn't run into the centipedes or the quasits.

Not having to worry about what stacked with what was really really good. None of the players even made use of weapon properties that had circumstance bonuses (so I didn't have to worry about that).

We are going to part 2 next (I offered to skip that one since its so unfun but the players wanted to give it a go). We will see how this one goes comparatively.

I strongly feel that if an ease of use pass were done so that something like FG or Herolab weren't so instrumental in figuring out what stacks with what and tracking all this stuff, the game would really benefit.

Seriously, I hope the good folks at Paizo have this on their radar. For my money, I think this is the number one thing that is needed to really make PF2 a success. If this game were just a bit easier to play, alot more folks would buy in.

Also, it might make the game a bit better for streaming. Watching Glass Cannon, a good reason their play through of Doomsday Dawn is so fun to watch is how much they get WRONG about PF2 stacking/tracking and, frankly, just don't care.


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Data Lore wrote:
Watching Glass Cannon, a good reason their play through of Doomsday Dawn is so fun to watch is how much they get WRONG about PF2 stacking/tracking and, frankly, just don't care.

I think you just illustrated why the PF2 is more successful outside these forums. People who aren't invested this much in dissecting the rules also don't bother if they get it wrong in home/con games, and probably why the game is more fun to them then to the rule analyzers like my group.


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necromental wrote:
Data Lore wrote:
Watching Glass Cannon, a good reason their play through of Doomsday Dawn is so fun to watch is how much they get WRONG about PF2 stacking/tracking and, frankly, just don't care.
I think you just illustrated why the PF2 is more successful outside these forums. People who aren't invested this much in dissecting the rules also don't bother if they get it wrong in home/con games, and probably why the game is more fun to them then to the rule analyzers like my group.

Yeah, 3rd Ed was a great game, until the inevitable M:tG attitude became fully embraced (characters are decks, neat!). This game died, in many ways, about 20-years ago, the attitude/approach, started to suck.

Silver Crusade

Ascalaphus wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:

2. 3.x and thus Pathfinder, while a complicated system, usually was good about erring on the side of re-explaining a mechanic in the text, rather than forcing a cross reference, when it made sense to do so. In other words, in 3.x and PF1, you were more likely to see a passage like: "this spell makes you shaken (-2 penalty to all rolls)." In PF2, you're more likely to see "this spell makes you shaken." And then you have to go look shaken up, and it is likely nowhere near the spell descriptions.

I TOTALLY GET why one would want to avoid text redundancy--you want to save space, you want to save words, you don't want to have to repeat yourself. I am an editor, I have edited indeed as an independent contractor for Paizo, I've worked for publishers, I know how precious space is.

However, when learning a system from scratch it makes that system that much harder to learn. I think 3.x and PF books repeat rules less in splats, which is good (if you're buying splats, you should have the basics mastered), but some redundancy may be necessary in the core rulebook--the thing people are reading to learn how the game is actually played.

One problem that PF1 had was that a rule seemed to be defined multiple times in different places, but not in exactly the same way. Actually, it was probably defined in one place, but helpful reminder text was scattered around. Except, it was hard to differentiate and say which was the authoritative definition of something.

I think strategically used reminder text is a good idea. Putting in a reminder about what conditions do in low-level spells is helpful; it doesn't have to be repeated in higher-level spells unless they start inflicting a condition that didn't come up at lower levels.

But for the love of Lamashtu, use a different font style for reminder text.

Magic: the Gathering learned this lesson a long time ago; you'll see something like this:

Quote:
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking
...

I agree MTG figured this out ages ago, and yes something different that "conditional" and "circumstantial" for bonus types would be very welcome. Even if it sounds terrible "power bonus" or "magic bonus" could work, though there are likely much better words out there that do not start with "C".... or R for that matter since am very likely to mix using "resonance" and "resolve" for quite some time.

The same is true to a lesser extent for "enervated" and "enfeebled".


"Power" (ala discipline, evocation, exploit, hex, prayer, spell, etc, etc) is a tricky word, in this milieu, not sure if they should go down that road, any farther.


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Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
yes something different that "conditional" and "circumstantial" for bonus types would be very welcome.

Note this thread for the problems dyslectics have with Conditional versus Circumstantial. May I suggest "Situational" instead of Circumstantial?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Yeah, 3rd Ed was a great game, until the inevitable M:tG attitude became fully embraced (characters are decks, neat!). This game died, in many ways, about 20-years ago, the attitude/approach, started to suck.

Could you elaborate on that part, because I don't understand on what you mean or are trying to convey here.


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I don't understand what you're trying to say either. I don't think 'characters are decks' became popular until Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (or maybe an earlier game like Sentinels of the Multiverse). I'm guessing 3rd Ed means D&D 3rd edition (not sure if you're counting D&D 3.5e and/or Pathfinder in that) and I think M:tG is Magic: the Gathering, a game I haven't played but I associate with buying random booster packs. I'm not sure which of these games died 20 years ago (D&D 3e came out 18 years ago); perhaps you were being sarcastic?


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Yeah It can't be MTG that is still going strong.

I could see 4th D&D edition feeling maybe a bit like decks in a kind of way but its still kind of a stretch.

Maybe he means it a way like optimizing your MTG deck to win by choosing the right cards and then equivalent would b making a character to win by choosing the right options.


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IF that's the case I'm a first turn alpha deck. with all the moxs and lotuses they can handle.

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necromental wrote:
Data Lore wrote:
Watching Glass Cannon, a good reason their play through of Doomsday Dawn is so fun to watch is how much they get WRONG about PF2 stacking/tracking and, frankly, just don't care.
I think you just illustrated why the PF2 is more successful outside these forums. People who aren't invested this much in dissecting the rules also don't bother if they get it wrong in home/con games, and probably why the game is more fun to them then to the rule analyzers like my group.

If the rules are only fun if you wind up playing a pile of them wrong... isn't that a problem with the rules?

I mean, these observations are definitely saying something. But what I'm getting out of it is that the rules are a barrier to fun and throwing out chunks of the rulebook gives you a better game. If that's the case, the rulebook needs to be fixed, because it's just acting as a barrier to fun.


Tridus wrote:
necromental wrote:
Data Lore wrote:
Watching Glass Cannon, a good reason their play through of Doomsday Dawn is so fun to watch is how much they get WRONG about PF2 stacking/tracking and, frankly, just don't care.
I think you just illustrated why the PF2 is more successful outside these forums. People who aren't invested this much in dissecting the rules also don't bother if they get it wrong in home/con games, and probably why the game is more fun to them then to the rule analyzers like my group.

If the rules are only fun if you wind up playing a pile of them wrong... isn't that a problem with the rules?

I mean, these observations are definitely saying something. But what I'm getting out of it is that the rules are a barrier to fun and throwing out chunks of the rulebook gives you a better game. If that's the case, the rulebook needs to be fixed, because it's just acting as a barrier to fun.

To an extent. Game systems like this are, ideally, toolboxes you can use to run the game you want. If you like some of the tools and dislike others, it should be possible to build and run a game you like by using the rules you like and discarding/changing the ones you don't. That's how people have use pretty much all systems since the dawn of RPG time.

At the end of the day, if you like enough of the system and prefer to use it with modifications over other systems, it's a success even if there are things you feel you had to modify it. Hopefully the unliked things will be fixed somewhere down the line.


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:

So.. of interest to me here...

PF1 had 34 conditions in the back of the Core Rulebook

The playtest has 42, of which 2 are helpful (accelerated and quick) and 5 are attitudes (which were in PF1 but not well codified). If we yank those out, we are down to 35.

So, I am not sure if the confusion is coming from the number of conditions (which seems to be about the same) or the fact that they can be different values.

Well, a lot of it for me comes from the fact that many of the conditions do the exact same thing (-X) but have slightly different but overlapping areas they affect (usually at least 2-3 of attack rolls, saves, AC, skill checks), and often completely arbitrary, inconsistent and unique methods of expiration. All of which require looking up and figure out exactly what each condition really does and how it goes away. Which usually requires some cross reference on top (in a document that frankly isn't designed for cross reference).

Then there are things like sleeping, unconscious, paralyzed and stunned which again overlap, encumbered and hampered, grabbed and restrained, which overlap and also include function calls to each other or other conditions.

You could easily drop to about 20 conditions, tidy up a bit and not lose much of anything, but the system as a whole would be much more comprehensible.


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Gratz wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Yeah, 3rd Ed was a great game, until the inevitable M:tG attitude became fully embraced (characters are decks, neat!). This game died, in many ways, about 20-years ago, the attitude/approach, started to suck.
Could you elaborate on that part, because I don't understand on what you mean or are trying to convey here.

I believe he is referring to "net-decking". Using the internet to build the best deck. Like Character optimization forums and character builds.


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:

So.. of interest to me here...

PF1 had 34 conditions in the back of the Core Rulebook

The playtest has 42, of which 2 are helpful (accelerated and quick) and 5 are attitudes (which were in PF1 but not well codified). If we yank those out, we are down to 35.

So, I am not sure if the confusion is coming from the number of conditions (which seems to be about the same) or the fact that they can be different values.

Part of it is definitely that when most of us started playing PF1, we already had a couple of years of 3.5e under our belts.

I think another part of the problem is, of all things, layout-based. In PF1, the conditions are in a really easy to find appendix - open the book from the back, flip a few pages, and there they are. But in PF2, they are about 3/4 of the way through the book, so you have to go look for them each time they come up.

A third issue is that now a bunch of conditions exist that were previously ability damage/penalties, so that when people see "Enfeebled 1", they go "what?". If they instead saw "-2 to Strength", they'd more intuitively grasp what that did (although I do remember that a number of people were absolutely shocked when I pointed out in one of the preview comment threads that ability damage/penalties in some cases did not work the way they thought it did in PF, because they had assumed that of course it worked just like in 3e...).


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Data Lore wrote:
I am just curious if this is on the dev radar at the moment? Will any of the upcoming changes deal with ease of play?

From the Twitch Stream on Friday...

Quote:

slit518:Spell point currencies, money currencies, hit point currencies, focus currencies, balance currencies, etc currencies!

JasonBulmahn:@slit518 that is always a concern, but we are trying to cut down the number of hidden currencies we had in P1 by being a bit more explicit with our design

I like that things are being made explicit but they could still be streamlined and simplified further.

Focus, for instance, essentially combines Spell Points and Resonance*. I'd propose taking it a step further and folding Hero Points in as well. This would include removing the Out of Character methods for gaining Hero Points.
*Resonance still technically exists but it should just be called magical item slots.

I know that they're boring...but more options that "only" provide incremental improvement would help. I led my first group through building mid-level characters (level 9) on Friday night and it was pretty brutal. There were too many interesting options (a strange complaint); but too many because each added more conditional rules. Three of Four players were completely overwhelmed. Up until this point I'd found character creation (after the initial learning curve) easier in the player than in Pathfinder First Edition but this showed a weakness of the system. Granted, I didn't have any of my high experience players there.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Focus, for instance, essentially combines Spell Points and Resonance*. I'd propose taking it a step further and folding Hero Points in as well. This would include removing the Out of Character methods for gaining Hero Points.

My worry with this is that you'd never see anyone use those points for Powers or Item activations, for the same reason that Hero Points rarely are used for anything other than not dying. Now this is partially due to the cost of the other options, but also this shows up with Resolve points in Starfinder, from what little I've played of it, where you only use it for staving off death and recovering Stamina, and not really for the class resolve point abilities.


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Tholomyes wrote:
My worry with this is that you'd never see anyone use those points for Powers or Item activations, for the same reason that Hero Points rarely are used for anything other than not dying.

That's a good point. Honestly, I'd be okay with Hero Points being completely removed.


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Well, I ran another session (first half of Pale Mountain) last Sunday using my Fantasy Grounds set up. It certainly helped a bit.

FG did a great job of helping with Persistent Damage tracking. We have to manually roll the flat checks for it (will be auto on release), but it did the damage and all that.

The simple Flanked condition was a slight stumbling block. This was more of a UI issue than anything else but it stemmed from Flanked being a condition placed on the enemy, so I had to place the condition on the NPC and then remove it constantly since it was a very situational modifier and it didn't apply to the NPC against all PCs. Since there were so many conditions flying around on NPCs, I couldn't just have PCs add 2 to their rolls since I wasn't sure what would stack with the Flanked penalty and what wouldn't.

Luckily, no players made use of weapon properties, I know they will cause me some issues moving forward when they come up.

Frightened was a bit problematic as I had to constantly reduce the condition from 2 to 1 to done over time. It was only used on one enemy, the Ankhrav, but even that was enough to slow stuff down as I had to manually shuffle conditions round after round.

Misc stuff: Players had trouble remembering who was bolstered against what (they crit failed a medicine check to Treat Wounds). The Fighter character was making a combat grab build and I think he might have flubbed whether he had 1 or 2 hands on his weapon last (important since its an action to get a hand back on).

I am concerned by the Resonance changes as now, in addition to all these fidgety bits, they have to place tick marks next to each magic item to note their 1/day use. Yeesh!

As an aside, I was digging through my rpg library and wanted to reference a game that I think handles this sort of thing particularly well. I have mentioned Shadow of the Demon Lord before but thats a very rules light game. I wanted to reference a more medium crunch game so I dug up 13th Age. Its been a while since I touched it but I read through it again since its a game that in some ways feels very similar to what PF2 is trying to do.

Here is the section of the 13th Age SRD that deals with Stacking:

13th Age SRD wrote:

Bonuses and effects to a single stat stack with each other, with these exceptions:

• Magic item bonuses don't stack. Only the best one counts.

• Many condition penalties don't stack. Only the worst one counts.

• Powers, spells, and abilities don't stack with themselves or with other game elements
with the same name. This works for both PCs and monsters. .

Not bad! Can still be tricky if there are loads of conditions. So lets look at conditions...

These are the things 13th Age lists as conditions: Confused, Dazed, Fear, Hampered, Helpless, Stuck, Stunned, Vulnerable and Weakened. They also have rules for Grabbed, Invisibility and Ongoing Damage. Basically, 12 Conditions and simple stacking rules (no "Condition Levels" or anything like that for the most part).

No flanking rules but some classes/monsters had special "Gang Up" rules (similar to how PF2 has special AoO rules for some classes/monsters). The GM can also tack on an extra +/- 2 as they see fit.

Awesome. I would love to see PF2 move closer to that by lowering the sheer number of conditions and making some truly streamlined stacking rules.

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