Why I worry that the things I like about PF2 might be "bad".


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When PF2 was announced, the things that drew me to it most were the Three Action economy and, to a lesser extent, the Four Levels of Success.

I'm a game retailer, and I've taught hundreds (maybe over a thousand) people to play RPGs. I've been playtesting PF2 with two groups of six.

I'm getting concerned that the drawbacks (there are always drawbacks to nearly everything) to my two favourite things in PF2 will eventually become unbearable. Allow me to illustrate:

1: Three Action Economy.

The way I see it, some of what makes the three-action economy worthwhile is: It's easy to grasp - you don't need to keep track of lots of action types if everything is an action; It easily puts a cap on what you can accomplish in a round - with every action being equal, it enforces things like drawing/stowing items, readying shields, and manipulating objects; It puts movement under the same scale as well - you can swap movement and actions simply.

Trouble is, in practice... several undesirable things occur. Warning: I'm going to nit-pick here. You may think these things are not *that* bad, and I'd agree - I'm just worried that they will start to become bigger issues over time.

First of all, I play with a wide variety of players re: system mastery, from people who understand rules minutia to people who will never learn the rules ever. Something that happens a lot with both types is, when things are desperate, they want to accomplish more than the rules allow them to.

Every session, multiple times, with nearly every player, I've got to remind them that they can't just draw their weapon for free (for example), it's an action. You can't just get extra actions. It would be unfair to the other players who are sticking to three.

I really like that the three-action economy forces players to pay attention to what's in their hands, but I'm finding that I am *constantly* having to crush what people think they can accomplish on their turn. "No, you can't cast a spell and drink a potion - you had a hammer in that hand. You've got to put it away, get the potion out, and THEN drink it. That's like, a ton of extra actions."

I'm not doing a very good job of explaining, but my point is: It's making me feel like a "strict" game master - constantly telling my players "no" in a way that has been frustrating them.

I think it's precisely *because* they've got three actions, which seems like a lot, that they wind up at four or five without thinking about it. (Maybe I will further give examples in the discussion if you're not following me. Like I said, I'm not sure I'm explaining it well.)

The other problem is on the opposite end:

I find that as a GM, I often have no idea what to do with the monster's third action. Players do this too, sometimes. Sometimes there's a pause, where myself or the player takes some time trying to decide what to do with the third action, eventually deciding just to roll another attack, which usually misses anyway.

This step takes *time* out of the game, only to feel useless. This constant disappointment and time-consuming pause can't be good for the game.

2: The Four-Levels of success

The four levels of success seem like a great idea too. The best result of it, IMO, is how it solves the problem of save-or-suck, both for the recipient, and for the deliverer. I can't stand it when I take the time to cast a spell, for example, only to have the target make its save, and the spell does nothing. The higher the level, the worse that feels. On the other side, having spells end an encounter because of one bad save roll isn't desirable either. This solves that.

Some nice things can happen with skill checks under this system too.

In practice, though there's a few problems:

Not everything *has* a Crit or Fumble effect, so a *lot* of time, it's a wash, even after the calculation is made to discover that you've hit +/- 10. I would argue that the math is not hard, but it IS disappointing to discover that you've critted or fumbled only to find that it's the same result as a normal success or failure. If nothing interesting is happening, then why are we bothering?

This +/-10 system has also forced them to balance the math in such a way that it barely comes up - You rarely crit on a 17 or fumble on a 3 anyhow, so again, why are we bothering?

I guess what I'm asking is: Is it worth it? (This thread is vague musings, so I'm not saying I have an answer. I'd like to hear your thoughts.)

In conclusion: I'm starting to question if the things that originally drew me to the playtest will be, long-term, actually good things for the game.


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I think the Action Economy just needs some polishing for things like drawing a weapon or pulling out a potion or switching hands. Just make them free aspects of the usage actions. I don't think that's unbalancing. We haven't really had the leftover action problem.

But I think the four degrees of success are more problematic. Especially outside of combat. Not sure what the fix is there.


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As our group advanced through Doomsday Dawn, our opinions of some of the mechanics changed, too. For example, my players initially liked the +1/level to everything and the 4-degrees of success - but were very much not a fan of those mechanics as time went on. Ditto for the bonus dice for magic weapons... initially very appealing, later not so much.

I noted a while ago that *if* they stick with the 4-degrees of success, *everything* needs it. Trying to keep track of which ones do and don't have critical options is a time sink, and (as you noted) a potential disappointment when that critical die roll is unexceptional.

At the low end of play the 3-action economy felt very liberating. I am not sure if that will hold up in high-end play, or if it will instead feel very limiting to still only have 3 actions. If the flow of combat feels the same at level 15 as it did at level 1, will that be satisfying? I don't know.


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I feel like a lot of basic things like switching grip, etc can be free actions. It's hardly unbalancing and you can still only do three free actions per turn. I really like the three action per round economy and it's the best part of the new system, it just needs some polish.

Everything definitely needs crit effects. Some of the stronger crit effects, especially with weapons, might need to be scaled back so they can be more lenient with the math. Double damage is way too swingy. Some of the really weak crit effects also need to be scaled up - survival's crit effect should really be the base effect, and then the crit effect should be much better.

I would actually like scaling crits - beat DC by 20 and you get an even stronger effect. It would help players feel awesome when confronted with a lower level situation, where some of the difficulty is actually that you are expecting a crit for basic "success" and an expanded crit helps you achieve things in a better or more time efficient manner.


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Seconding the concerns about the +/-10 4 degrees of success. I think it probably creates more problems and forces more balance than it solves. I've actually switched away from it in my homebrew and am having critical success/failure ranges be based entirely on proficiency (where for your d20 roll 17-20 is a critical success for legendary, or 1-4 a critical failure for legendary when you're forcing someone else to roll).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

The four degrees of success system itself seemed to function at our tables, but the +/- 10 crit system was - strangely - annoying.

We all thought we'd love it but in practice, it meant that we all had to be very precise in our numbers. What I mean is, in PF, a DM knew that if a player said their spell's save DC was 14, and the monster had 20-something for its save, "sorry, the monster resists." In the playtest, we have to double-check the monster's saves, AC, and every other number. It's a much larger task of short-term memorization/lookup.

Great idea, appealing idea, but in practice we found it un-fun.

The extra endorphin rushes from critical effects didn't make up for the majority of rolls which were tediously longer to adjudicate and made things feel more like a python script.


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A lot of interesting thoughts here. This is something I'm definitely going to be paying close attention to as my playtest group digs deeper into the higher levels.

It seems like in every tactical combat rpg I've played, players always want to do more than they can on their turn. They want to be able to draw a weapon and attack with it, and pull out a potion and drink it, cast two spells in a turn, etc, and it always feels like the design of the games I play is pushing against that idea, and I'm not sure I understand why. I mean, what would happen if retrieving and activating an item was just one action? (Pull out and drink a potion for 1 action) Or if quickdraw was just something everyone had? I'm guessing there's some game breaking strategies that I'm not seeing.

As for the crits, I am noticing now that every roll that is high or low has to be double checked (Does that crit you? Is that a critical failure?) and I don't really see another way other than asking every time when a high or low number is rolled, especially with players that have a lot of baggage from other systems and just totally forget to look for the +/- 10 thing.

The idea of having the crit range on the die increase for proficiency is really interesting, and I can see that speeding things up there, but I wonder if we run into the same issue where the question changes to "Okay you got a 28? what did you roll on the die?"

The four degrees of success I think will become smoother as familiarity with the most common spells/effects/etc increases over time, and also when the new edition gets to the point where there is a comprehensive online SRD for it. Even after 3 years of playing PF1, everyone in my group still has to google search every spell to see what happens on a failure or success to double check, which isn't really a big deal since we all play online anyhow. (Side note: I wish more than anything that RPG publishers began focusing more on online rules documents with searching and formatting and all that good stuff rather than books and PDFs. I can dream...)


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i for one like the 4 degrees of success, as it adds a great deal of granularity to effects (particularly spells, which were previously "read the spell name, check it off your sheet, and enemies roll to not keel over"), which is FAR more engaging.

however, with how clamped the numbers are presently, only monsters really ever reach that +10 crit threshold, making it simply a means of further punishing the players. that, and monsters will likely never hit -10 on a DC by the same token due to their inflated stats (for example, a bog-standard goblin warrior only needs to roll a 2 to never fumble against anyone with AC 16 or less, period, and only needs a 4 to never fumble against the AC-optimized players at 18--this is a CR 0 creature), leaving fumbles just for unlucky players.

combined with many spells having their previous/"real" effects be critical success-only and spell slots so horrifically limited, it makes casters feel bad as well.

there definitely needs to be some tuning to make the system at all satisfying for players (or at least myself and my players), as currently it's got a lot of potential, but is basically just one big downside in play.


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Anguish wrote:
The four degrees of success system itself seemed to function at our tables, but the +/- 10 crit system was - strangely - annoying

That's a helpful distinction.


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AndIMustMask wrote:
i for one like the 4 degrees of success, as it adds a great deal of granularity to effects (particularly spells, which were previously "read the spell name, check it off your sheet, and enemies roll to not keel over"), which is FAR more engaging.

I definitely like it for Spells, Strikes, and other combat abilities.

I'd prefer gradient success for certain Skills (why force a four degree scale for knowledge, performance, survival, etc)?


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Agreed that the distinction between 4 degrees of success and +/-10 crit system should be distinguished, thanks for saying that @Anguish. I'd agree. I don't mind/actually like the general notion of critical successes and failures, but the implementation largely seems to fall flat on its face for us. I agree with AndIMustMask@ that it really only felt that enemy criticals were relevant (minus natural 1's and 20's) against challenges, as their numbers were so bloated.


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Also on +/-10 4 degrees of success. That is where a lot of the problems are coming from.

- You MUST keep your AC where it's expected to be. Not doing so increases burst damage potential against you so quickly due to increased crit ranges that you can get blasted to bits.

- You can use Recall Knowledge and a bunch of other skills untrained, and the system seems to be encouraging you to do that to help participate. Except that thanks to crit failure (and the -10 range making it likely to crit fail untrained), you'll actively sabotage the party by doing that rather than just failing gracefully. So, you really shouldn't roll it at all because at least the specialist probably won't get wrong information/block your ability to use Treat Wounds/etc.

- Having multiple people playing buff focused characters in one party doesn't work, because nothing stacks. Nothing stacks because if it did, crit rates and damage skyrocket out of control. In general I find party composition has to be stricter now because of how more things just can't play nicely together vs 1e.

- How do I critical success treat wounds? What does that even represent? This one just irks me because having done some first aid, I have no idea what this would even look like in reality. It just makes no sense that I somehow get lucky applying first aid and do miraculous levels of healing. It makes even less sense that despite being good at it, I can roll a 1, critically fail, and somehow fail to treat a papercut so catastrophically that I can't treat them again for the day. The whole thing just feels contrived and gamey for something that should be just a straight "your check result is X, therefore you do Y healing" with no critical or failure conditions at all.

- In general, failure that isn't failing forward is already punishment enough for failing. Crit fails are often not fun, and stuff like Recall Knowledge's crit fail is actively harmful to the flow of the game. It might be funny the first time. It's in no way funny the fifth time it happens, for the frustrated players who think the DM is lying to them or for the poor DM who really wants the players to be able to advance the story. Most skills should not have a crit failure at all, IMO. On top of the -10, rolling a 1 is just too statistically frequent for something you're having an entire group roll frequently for it to be so damaging.

Three action economy I think works well. It could use some tweaks to action costs, like I think letting people draw a weapon during a move for free coming back would help it feel better. But the core system itself is solid.


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Anguish wrote:

The four degrees of success system itself seemed to function at our tables, but the +/- 10 crit system was - strangely - annoying.

We all thought we'd love it but in practice, it meant that we all had to be very precise in our numbers. What I mean is, in PF, a DM knew that if a player said their spell's save DC was 14, and the monster had 20-something for its save, "sorry, the monster resists." In the playtest, we have to double-check the monster's saves, AC, and every other number. It's a much larger task of short-term memorization/lookup.

This is a really good point. When we play 5e (or, for that matter, PF1 though that's been a while) and someone has +8 to hit and rolls a 15, they can just say "I roll a 20-something" and assume they hit. Not so in PF2. It's not something we've thought much about so far, but now that you mention it we've been a lot more precise with our rolling.


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I'll agree that the issue with the 3 action economy is that formerly "free" actions now cost a 3rd of your turn.

While this is a very specific scenario, imagine a level 20 TWF Ranger with speed weapons being caught trying to light a campfire by an enemy that is 5 feet away.

In PF1, you drop the flint and steel(free action), draw your weapons(free action), take a 5 foot step(free action) and attack the monster 9 times.

In PF2, you drop the flint, then the steel, then draw one weapon...and that's your turn. (You could theoretically throw your one weapon at the enemy, because of how speed works.) There is also no way in hell you are getting 9 attacks in one turn.

More realistically, situations where you want to take a hand off of a two handed weapon to drink a potion and be ready for combat next turn are somewhat common, yet not doable without eating half your turn either way.

In PF1, you would have to take your whole turn to draw and drink a potion (without specific feats), but you could also move your speed at the same time.

In PF2, you have to let go of your greatsword(I think this is free), pull out the potion, uncork it, drink it, drop the vial, then put you hand back on the sword.

On the topic of the +/-10 crit system, it DOES cause more problems than it solves. It's a cool mechanic, that would break the game if it came up too often, so the game has been designed around keeping it from rarely coming up(at least in the party's favor). It's existence REQUIRES the bounded accuracy design, which stifles creativity, and prevents characters from feeling special.


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thflame wrote:
In PF2, you drop the flint, then the steel, then draw one weapon...and that's your turn.

Minor nitpick: I think dropping the flint and steel from your hands would be a free action Drop. Then drawing a weapon, stepping, then attacking would be your turn.


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thflame wrote:

I'll agree that the issue with the 3 action economy is that formerly "free" actions now cost a 3rd of your turn.

While this is a very specific scenario, imagine a level 20 TWF Ranger with speed weapons being caught trying to light a campfire by an enemy that is 5 feet away.

In PF1, you drop the flint and steel(free action), draw your weapons(free action), take a 5 foot step(free action) and attack the monster 9 times.

In PF2, you drop the flint, then the steel, then draw one weapon...and that's your turn. (You could theoretically throw your one weapon at the enemy, because of how speed works.) There is also no way in hell you are getting 9 attacks in one turn.

More realistically, situations where you want to take a hand off of a two handed weapon to drink a potion and be ready for combat next turn are somewhat common, yet not doable without eating half your turn either way.

In PF1, you would have to take your whole turn to draw and drink a potion (without specific feats), but you could also move your speed at the same time.

In PF2, you have to let go of your greatsword(I think this is free), pull out the potion, uncork it, drink it, drop the vial, then put you hand back on the sword.

On the topic of the +/-10 crit system, it DOES cause more problems than it solves. It's a cool mechanic, that would break the game if it came up too often, so the game has been designed around keeping it from rarely coming up(at least in the party's favor). It's existence REQUIRES the bounded accuracy design, which stifles creativity, and prevents characters from feeling special.

'Drop' is a free action, you don't need to spend part of your turn dropping a potion vial or a Flint & Steel. Also, if the PF1 character has Quick Draw to draw their weapons for free, there's no reason to assume the PF2 character does not also have Quick Draw, which still exists in the playtest. (Also worth noting, I'm pretty sure one of the errata versions made changing your grip in general a free action, not just taking your hand off an item).

You still can't make 9 attacks (largely because nobody can make 9 attacks any more), but apart from 'Step' not being a 1/turn free action, none of the actions in the example have themselves changed, just the way multiple attacks work in general.

That said, I do agree that there are a few too many minor actions that still charge part of your turn.


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For the two attacks, then the third is probably a disappointing waste, it helps to have a thought about that before you start attacking. Maybe you can move before to a marginally better position, maybe moving at the end will be better defensively or to give another PC a clean line of fire or to let them move in. If you're trained in intimidate then an action trying to demoralize is no waste.


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avr wrote:
For the two attacks, then the third is probably a disappointing waste, it helps to have a thought about that before you start attacking.

Absolutely! This makes tactics like Feinting viable.

Silver Crusade

Re. action economy:

At the start, I had to remind players that certain PF1 things like drawing a weapon when you move, are no longer present, but players tend to adapt very quickly.
I, however, have also experienced players who are relatively unwilling to learn the rules, it actually works relatively well locally, but I am mostly testing with existing motivated players right now.

In some aspects that 3 action system could be explained by a good example or a more or less comprehensive table of what takes an action and how long it takes.

One aspect where I was not too happy (but it has become better) is switching hands on weapons, which kinda make them a special kind of misery for spellcasters. Now you can already let go with a free action, but part of me would like 2 free weapon switches per turn (not unlike the rule in PF1).

For example, right now my Paladin invested in the ability to do lay on hands without using provoking and more importantly not having to have a hand free, but if I actually take the ability to channel, I still have to free up a hand. If I want to do a 3 action channel I will not be wielding my two-handed weapon at the end of it.

Some examples and potentially a good list (or maybe combine both and add some example turns at the end) really could help here, and I assume that this will get easier, rather than harder over time.

-
When it comes to monsters I absolutely agree, though it depends on the monster in some cases.
Some like elementals are just too simple, even if they were trained in the right skill doing a combat maneuver still interacts with the multiple attack penalty - since they have (different from many spells) the attack trait.

Right now getting the shield cantrip or something similar seem to be the smart choices for players but that does not necessarily work for monsters.
Oh and just there is always intimidate.. not too thrilled, it became better since it was clarified that it also nerfs AC but an untrained intimidate is not much better than just rolling that last attack.

I think giving almost all monsters double or triple action activities could work, I kinda like them on dragons.
---

Re 4 Levels

I tend to agree, but I also have problems with the +10/-10 system they used.
For skills, it often means that you usually need to roll a 20, maybe slightly less for really focused characters, for attack rolls the range seems to be a bit higher, especially if an enemy is debuffed, but I just ran playtest part 4, and I feel that both critical successes should be a bit more common without having to rely on luck and rolling a 20, particularly since there are usually positive aspects linked to it in the scenario/adventure.

One suggestion I have seen is to remove the nat 20/nat1 rules (potentially still letting them count as slightly higher) and just reducing the crit threshold to -/+8/-
7 or even /5.

I really liked how these 4 levels made save or sucks spells less unappealing, though some spells that currently have no appreciable effect could use at least a minor effect on a save with the current math.


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thflame wrote:

In PF1, you drop the flint and steel(free action), draw your weapons(free action), take a 5 foot step(free action) and attack the monster 9 times.

In PF2, you drop the flint(free action), then the steel(free action), then draw one weapon, stride, make one attack...and that's your turn.

Fixed. This isn't so bad.

thflame wrote:
There is also no way in hell you are getting 9 attacks in one turn.

That's one of the very best things about this system. Nobody does nine things (in your example 11 things) in a round anymore. Nobody rocket tags the enemy in round 1 and annihilates them to death before they get their turn.

Maybe, I'll grant that it's unfortunate that it is pretty much impossible to plan a successful ambush in which you launch an attack from stealth and kill the enemy before it gets a turn. I'd like some kind of special rule system in place for this. Something like "When transitioning from exploration mode to encounter mode, if you take an enemy by surprise, all your attack rolls are automatically criticals" or something like that (just spit-balling, doesn't have to be that). Something that lets ambushes be dangerous.

Because, in the current version, your ambush will really go like this: "You take the monsters by surprise and unload an entire round of your maximum firepower, but they're just wounded about exactly as much as if you had walked up to them, issued a challenge, waited for them to acknowledge you, and then won initiative."


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FitzTheRuke wrote:

When PF2 was announced, the things that drew me to it most were the Three Action economy and, to a lesser extent, the Four Levels of Success.

I'm a game retailer, and I've taught hundreds (maybe over a thousand) people to play RPGs. I've been playtesting PF2 with two groups of six.

I'm getting concerned that the drawbacks (there are always drawbacks to nearly everything) to my two favourite things in PF2 will eventually become unbearable. Allow me to illustrate:

1: Three Action Economy.

The way I see it, some of what makes the three-action economy worthwhile is: It's easy to grasp - you don't need to keep track of lots of action types if everything is an action; It easily puts a cap on what you can accomplish in a round - with every action being equal, it enforces things like drawing/stowing items, readying shields, and manipulating objects; It puts movement under the same scale as well - you can swap movement and actions simply.

Trouble is, in practice... several undesirable things occur. Warning: I'm going to nit-pick here. You may think these things are not *that* bad, and I'd agree - I'm just worried that they will start to become bigger issues over time.

First of all, I play with a wide variety of players re: system mastery, from people who understand rules minutia to people who will never learn the rules ever. Something that happens a lot with both types is, when things are desperate, they want to accomplish more than the rules allow them to.

Every session, multiple times, with nearly every player, I've got to remind them that they can't just draw their weapon for free (for example), it's an action. You can't just get extra actions. It would be unfair to the other players who are sticking to three.

I really like that the three-action economy forces players to pay attention to what's in their hands, but I'm finding that I am *constantly* having to crush what people think they can accomplish on their turn. "No, you can't cast a spell and drink a potion - you had a hammer in that...

That's not the GM's fault, it's just the nature of the rules. Players need to remember how utilizing certain things works, and that many things that were once not an action (or at least, not a limited action) are now an action. Drawing weapons, sheathing weapons, drawing potions/items, stowing said items, are all actions. Heck, reapplying a hand to a two-handed weapon is an action! (Keep in mind, dropping grip or an item is still a free action, and could have been offered as an alternative.)

You can't really blame yourself or the players for how the game runs. I would just say "I'm sorry, that's just how the playtest rules are; if we don't like it, we can voice our concerns after the session to the Paizo website or on their surveys, but for now, we'll just run it like this," and move on.

As for the third action, this really isn't an issue if players are aware of their available actions and the situation at hand. They probably won't use Diplomacy to Request an unreasonable creature, for example. They might not use their third action to attack unless they are desperate for a good roll. Additionally, they could just use actions like Raise Shield for filler and added defense. The more familiar players are with their available actions to take in relation to the situation at hand, the quicker their turn(s) will take.

The problem with the 4 tiers of success is that they are limited in what they provide based on the effects in place. For example, there is no point in tracking Critical Failures on Attacks unless you have an ability that triggers on such things (such as a specific Fighter feat). There are supplements that you can utilize to make them work more consistently (most notably, the Critical Hit and Critical Failure Decks from PF1 come to mind), but they may not be the best way to do so for obvious reasons, and are effectively houserules.

Also, I think there should be some things that shouldn't change on a critical success or failure. The hardest part is remembering what those things are, but once that hurdle is crossed, it's still a very elegant and rewarding system.


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Just looked it up. Dropping a SINGLE item is a Reaction, so you can only drop either the flint or the steel in one turn, since you only get one Reaction per turn.

Quick Draw lets you draw a weapon and strike with it as part of one action.

So, to fix my example:

You drop the flint (Reaction), move 5 feet with the Step Action, then draw a weapon and attack with the Quick Draw Action, then Strike as a bonus action via Speed, and now you are holding a piece of steel and a weapon and have NO reactions until next turn.

EDIT: Miscounted the actions. You can Strike once more. So there's 3 attacks, not just 2.

EDIT 2: Never mind. "Free" actions are still a thing, so the correct sequence of events is:

1) Trigger - Turn starts - Drop flint as a Free Action.
2) Take Step Action - Trigger - Drop steel as a Free Action.
3) Quick Draw Action - attack
4) Quick Draw Action - attack
5) Strike as a Bonus Action due to Speed.

So you can drop both items, then draw both weapons, attacking 3 times in total.


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DM_Blake wrote:
thflame wrote:
There is also no way in hell you are getting 9 attacks in one turn.
That's one of the very best things about this system. Nobody does nine things (in your example 11 things) in a round anymore. Nobody rocket tags the enemy in round 1 and annihilates them to death before they get their turn.

Agreed. It was not uncommon in Pathfinder First Edition to have one character nova and burn all of their character resources ending an encounter in one turn... And they'd sit for the rest of the setting essentially useless unless the group decided to head back home to rest (rendering the "long haul" characters overshadowed). Not a fun imbalance either way.

DM_Blake wrote:
Maybe, I'll grant that it's unfortunate that it is pretty much impossible to plan a successful ambush in which you launch an attack from stealth and kill the enemy before it gets a turn. I'd like some kind of special rule system in place for this. Something like "When transitioning from exploration mode to encounter mode, if you take an enemy by surprise, all your attack rolls are automatically criticals" or something like that (just spit-balling, doesn't have to be that). Something that lets ambushes be dangerous.

Good point.


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DM_Blake wrote:
thflame wrote:
There is also no way in hell you are getting 9 attacks in one turn.
That's one of the very best things about this system. Nobody does nine things (in your example 11 things) in a round anymore. Nobody rocket tags the enemy in round 1 and annihilates them to death before they get their turn.

Reducing the absurd number of attacks is a positive, but I'm not so sure rocket tag isn't a thing anymore. With the way crits work, and the multiple damage dice, it's very easy to drop someone in one or two attacks if there are crits. Especially in the playtest when the PCs are often facing off against something powerful that can crit on a 15 or so. I've seen two PCs dropped by a single creature from full to 0 with two attacks on each, one in the first round, the second in the second round. If -/+ 10 crits are going to stick around, the math probably needs to be loosened up a little. Also, while multiple damage dice are cool, they get out of control quickly, so might need to be reworked as well. So I have to agree with several of the other posters here, the -/+ 10 criticals is something that I like in theory, but as it currently works, it's got some serious problems. The way multiple damage dice are used as well.


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I like the action economy, though I am used to it from the Unchained RAE, but not a fan of the 4-Tiers of success deal. Crit/fumbles are not a good foundation, to me, at least in this game. Also, a bit of a time-sink.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:


Agreed. It was not uncommon in Pathfinder First Edition to have one character nova and burn all of their character resources ending an encounter in one turn...

Anecdote: The most memorable case of Rocket Tag I saw in PF1 did not involve any resouces at all.

Spoiler for Skull&Shackles:

Endgame in Skull&Shackles. The PC barbarian runs into one of the final major enemies - another barbarian. Both have high dex and thus lots of attacks of opportunity. Both also have the feat "Come and Get Me" from Advanced Players Guide.

So one barbarian hits the other, which triggers an AoO in return, which triggers an AoO in return to that, which triggers an AoO... a nice little intense causality loop, lasting until one of the barbarians runs out of AoOs or goes down.

Thanks to our group's tradition of always buffing our martials to the gills and make them MVPs, our barbarian is the one left standing, even though it was an "appropriate for an entire team" enemy.

But nobody else than those two barbarians got any actions during that fight . :)


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kpulv wrote:
It seems like in every tactical combat rpg I've played, players always want to do more than they can on their turn.

That's true, and it's not limited to PF2. I've played in games where PCs can retrieve or stow items without penalty, do a lot of small actions inconsequentially, and they *still* want to do more. Basically, if a task is not done, and they can find a way for the rules or GM to allow them to continue, they will.

Games like Pathfinder that create exception-based rules ("Normally, you can't attack four times on your turn, but if you choose this option...") allow players to get closer to this. I find it good when a system allows players to bend or break these artificial constraints (ancestry feats that allow a PC to Seek while doing something else, or classes that allow you to make more than 3 attack a turn), but at some point, I think players need to acknowledge that having a limit to their actions isn't outrageous.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
I think the Action Economy just needs some polishing for things like drawing a weapon or pulling out a potion or switching hands. Just make them free aspects of the usage actions. I don't think that's unbalancing. We haven't really had the leftover action problem.

I feel like that eliminates a lot of the simplicity that makes the 3 action system so attractive.

"Everything you do takes an action" is very easy to explain.

"Everything you do takes an action, except these things, which don't take an action and this other thing you can do for free but only once per turn, etc., etc." gets complicated very quickly.


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Tamago wrote:
"Everything you do takes an action, except these things, which don't take an action and this other thing you can do for free but only once per turn, etc., etc." gets complicated very quickly.

I'm not proposing minor actions once per turn but rather that pulling out a potion is part of drinking a potion, drawing a sword is part of making a strike, etc.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Tamago wrote:
"Everything you do takes an action, except these things, which don't take an action and this other thing you can do for free but only once per turn, etc., etc." gets complicated very quickly.
I'm not proposing minor actions once per turn but rather that pulling out a potion is part of drinking a potion, drawing a sword is part of making a strike, etc.

I think make interact action a free action that can trigger when you take the stride action would work without changing the action economy too drastically. Also just stating that you can draw a potion as part of the action used to drink it.


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thflame wrote:

While this is a very specific scenario, imagine a level 20 TWF Ranger with speed weapons being caught trying to light a campfire by an enemy that is 5 feet away.

In PF1, you drop the flint and steel(free action), draw your weapons(free action), take a 5 foot step(free action) and attack the monster 9 times.

In PF2, you drop the flint, then the steel, then draw one weapon...and that's your turn. (You could theoretically throw your one weapon at the enemy, because of how speed works.) There is also no way in hell you are getting 9 attacks in one turn.

It's REALLY specific indeed.

Besides the corrections others already made, the whole thing collapses if the enemy shows up 10 feet away instead of 5: in that case the best you can do in PF1 is just one attack (but at least you don't need Quick Draw).
In PF2 the only difference between 5ft and 10ft is that you may get an AoO if the opponent has that option and has reach.


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Bardarok wrote:
The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Tamago wrote:
"Everything you do takes an action, except these things, which don't take an action and this other thing you can do for free but only once per turn, etc., etc." gets complicated very quickly.
I'm not proposing minor actions once per turn but rather that pulling out a potion is part of drinking a potion, drawing a sword is part of making a strike, etc.
I think make interact action a free action that can trigger when you take the stride action would work without changing the action economy too drastically. Also just stating that you can draw a potion as part of the action used to drink it.

I'd even be okay if these things were only possible with Quick Draw...provided that Quick Draw was returned to General Feat status.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Tamago wrote:
"Everything you do takes an action, except these things, which don't take an action and this other thing you can do for free but only once per turn, etc., etc." gets complicated very quickly.
I'm not proposing minor actions once per turn but rather that pulling out a potion is part of drinking a potion, drawing a sword is part of making a strike, etc.
I think make interact action a free action that can trigger when you take the stride action would work without changing the action economy too drastically. Also just stating that you can draw a potion as part of the action used to drink it.
I'd even be okay if these things were only possible with Quick Draw...provided that Quick Draw was returned to General Feat status.

That could work. Maybe put raise shield in there too, something like:

Quick Draw [Free action]
Trigger: Start a Stride, Strike, or Raise Shield Action
Effect: Draw one weapon which you are proficient with then resolve the action. (You can strike with the weapon drawn using quick draw).

Would it be too good though such that everyone would feel a need to take it?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
FitzTheRuke wrote:
I find that as a GM, I often have no idea what to do with the monster's third action. Players do this too, sometimes. Sometimes there's a pause, where myself or the player takes some time trying to decide what to do with the third action, eventually deciding just to roll another attack, which usually misses anyway.

For player characters, I'm increasingly convinced that this is something that needs to be tackled during the character building process. If you're frequently caught without anything useful to do with your last action, you need to consider adding more things that your character can do to fill that last action. Right now many classes make it incredibly easy to build a character who falls into this trap, and I feel Paizo needs to pay closer attention to this problem by ensuring every class has good 1-action options.

For monsters, I think Paizo is going to need to figure something out here. It's not appropriate for every monster to have something useful to do with that last hanging action, but at the same time you can't just take monsters down to 2-actions without ranged keepaway becoming a gamebreaking strategy (this is already a huge problem with minions; in open field battles against ranged opponents minions simply can't close distance effectively).

And yes, drawing items and changing your grip is onerous and makes a lot of actions completely untenable mid-combat. Drinking a potion pretty much takes your entire turn, so it's not something you'll ever do unless you'll literally die without it.

FitzTheRuke wrote:
This +/-10 system has also forced them to balance the math in such a way that it barely comes up - You rarely crit on a 17 or fumble on a 3 anyhow, so again, why are we bothering?

I'd agree that this is something of a problem. The whole system feels like it's strangling its own throat, with a huge amount of content focused on what happens on critical success and failure, and then numbers precision-balanced to ensure those outcomes are quite unlikely. I'm not sure what the solution is here.


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Dasrak wrote:
FitzTheRuke wrote:
I find that as a GM, I often have no idea what to do with the monster's third action. Players do this too, sometimes. Sometimes there's a pause, where myself or the player takes some time trying to decide what to do with the third action, eventually deciding just to roll another attack, which usually misses anyway.

For player characters, I'm increasingly convinced that this is something that needs to be tackled during the character building process. If you're frequently caught without anything useful to do with your last action, you need to consider adding more things that your character can do to fill that last action. Right now many classes make it incredibly easy to build a character who falls into this trap, and I feel Paizo needs to pay closer attention to this problem by ensuring every class has good 1-action options.

For monsters, I think Paizo is going to need to figure something out here. It's not appropriate for every monster to have something useful to do with that last hanging action, but at the same time you can't just take monsters down to 2-actions without ranged keepaway becoming a gamebreaking strategy (this is already a huge problem with minions; in open field battles against ranged opponents minions simply can't close distance effectively).

And yes, drawing items and changing your grip is onerous and makes a lot of actions completely untenable mid-combat. Drinking a potion pretty much takes your entire turn, so it's not something you'll ever do unless you'll literally die without it.

FitzTheRuke wrote:
This +/-10 system has also forced them to balance the math in such a way that it barely comes up - You rarely crit on a 17 or fumble on a 3 anyhow, so again, why are we bothering?
I'd agree that this is something of a problem. The whole system feels like it's strangling its own throat, with a huge amount of content focused on what happens on critical success and failure, and then numbers precision-balanced to ensure those outcomes are quite...

I agree that it's a good idea to make sure you have non-attack single actions to make use of your turn, though I'd like to add that Demoralize and Feint are both good options that most have. And neither has the attack trait. Granted if you aren't Cha focused or pumping the skill the success rate isn't great but it's gonna be better than that third attack at -10. This goes for monsters too. I had this fact show itself in Mirrored Moon where instead of a crappy attack a giant sent our Rogue diving for cover with a high Demoralize check. And an even better example on the player side, one of our guys successfully used Demoralize to put Frightened 1 on a dragon using one of his actions each turn for two turns (he isn't heavily species in it but he rolled well and the DC wasn't super high. Again, much better chance than a -10 attack) and in the space of those 2 rounds I saw a whopping FOUR attacks hit that would've missed without that -1 to AC (a Druid's Jaw attack, a Trip attempt, a Liquid Ice throw, and a Sneak Attack final blow).

So there really are some easily accessible 1-action options that are generally superior to a third attack and don't require a lot of investment to at least get basic use out of them.

As to the +/-10 and tight math, my group has rather enjoyed it as it encourages strategy with buffs, debuffs, and maneuvering. If we were typically having 10% or more crit chance against on-level enemies, then doing something like making a foe Flat Footed and Frightened 1 would up it to at least 25% crit which is a little crazy. And that's to say nothing of it if you get a heavier debuff on them. And more of you have something like bless down. But when getting a +/-3 or 4 difference against an on-level opponent with these effects takes us from 5% crit to 15% or so it feels rewarding to then because they feel like they really strove for it. I get why this wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea but my group has played PF1 for years and for the most part has gotten tired of the ridiculous hit rates and damage buffs and stuff that you get from various buffs and debuffs and all other additives (we've seen multiple Fighter-types who hit with something like 95%-95%-80% on a full attack at BAB 11-15) so the tight math has really been refreshing to them personally.


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The +/- 10 has slowed down our games as well. I like it, but it's annoying enough that making the AC and saves known to the party seems like the best way to get around the issue.


If demoralise and feint aren't attack actions, that *does* make them an attractive third action. Makes you wonder a bit if it wouldn't be more fun to have grabbing or shoving not count against MAP as well, though I suppose that might be OP.

I really don't like MAP, but I'm not sure how they'd balance the game if a three attacks all had the same chance to hit. Especially at early levels.


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Really? I mean, we did have thosee moments in mid or high level pf1 when we rolled high and declared "my attack is about twenty/thirty highyish" and the GM would just say "ok, you hit". But now modifiers are much much simpler, there's less buffs, it just feels easier to know exactly how much you rolled. I haven't played higher than lvl 7, though, so maybe that's it


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If you pile on buffs to get a 25% chance of a crit on your first attack, it still probably isn't going to result in a critical hit in any given combat. It's why I dislike trying to balance around rare events.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Cards Subscriber

I would be happier if the natural critically went away and it was just +/- 10. It seems less punishing to specialists, and makes the critical a results seem more realistic.
The action/free action/reaction system is okay, but man does it need a lot of player planning. And it does slow down combat a bit because now everyone needs to do their max of 3 things in order to get value out of there turn.


FitzTheRuke wrote:
First of all, I play with a wide variety of players re: system mastery, from people who understand rules minutia to people who will never learn the rules ever. Something that happens a lot with both types is, when things are desperate, they want to accomplish more than the rules allow them to.

I am actually constantly having to do that to players in my Pathfinder 1 group ("Okay, that was a standard action to cast the spell, you can't also hit it with your sword..."). It is sometimes frustrating just how often I have to remind them of basic action economy – but that's an issue with my players not learning the rules, not the actual rules ;)

I find the action economy of Pathfinder to be acceptable. It might not allow you to perform the most optimal set of actions every round, but that's not really the purpose of the system. It's not a perfect simulation of combat, but it doesn't need to be that either; it's a set of rules for a fantasy universe.

At the very least, my players find it easy to grasp and remember what number of actions things take. Instead they find ways to work around the limitations. So my admittedly short experience is that the constrained actions aided tactical thinking rather than defeating player agency.

Grand Lodge

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I have played enough games with critical failure/fumble rules to know that I will absolutely never do so again. That one mechanic alone is a deal breaker for me. Sadly it is also such a core part of the PF2 system that short of a complete rewrite of the rules, I don't see it going anywhere.


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quillblade wrote:


I am actually constantly having to do that to players in my Pathfinder 1 group ("Okay, that was a standard action to cast the spell, you can't also hit it with your sword..."). It is sometimes frustrating just how often I have to remind them of basic action economy – but that's an issue with my players not learning the rules, not the actual rules ;)

I find the action economy of Pathfinder to be acceptable. It might not allow you to perform the most optimal set of actions every round, but that's not really the purpose of the system. It's not a perfect simulation of combat, but it doesn't need to be that either; it's a set of rules for a fantasy universe.

At the very least, my players find it easy to grasp and remember what number of actions things take. Instead they find ways to work around the limitations. So my admittedly short experience is that the constrained actions aided tactical thinking rather than defeating player agency.

It was one of the things that drew me to the playtest, actually. I grow tired of players playing fast-and-loose with that sort of thing. It gets to the point that it feels like items teleport in and out of their hands. I've certainly had players describe themselves climbing a cliff or swimming, and then suddenly they've got their hands full of weapons, and then they get something out of a backpack and then they've got a shield's bonus to AC, etc, etc.

I figured that the very easy to learn PF2 action economy would help with it. Unfortunately, what is happening instead is that I *constantly* have to remind them that they've taken too many actions. At least in 5e, for example, if they draw one too many weapons, they've just taken an extra "free" action - it seems like no big deal, and I don't have to be overly strict. I can remind them of it, or let them get away with it, depending on what I feel will be best for the game at that instant.

I feel that letting them get away with taking extra ACTIONS is a bridge too far, so I have to be strict. So I find myself having to say "No!" to my players more often than I think is best for the game. I prefer a "yes, but" or a "yes, and" approach to GMing.

I'm probably coming off as a big softy here, and I don't mean any of the above too severely. It's not a BIG problem, and I believe that players need to be reigned in occasionally, sure. I also don't think the game needs to worry itself too much about bad players to be a good game.

It's just... I worry that this is a problem that could grow, or never resolve itself. My point of the thread is that I wonder if, once we all get past the learning curve of the game, these problems will remain. Or worse, they will become bigger issues than the small issues they are now.

Clearly, I really *want* to like PF2.


FitzTheRuke wrote:
I really don't like MAP, but I'm not sure how they'd balance the game if a three attacks all had the same chance to hit. Especially at early levels.

Yes, I am surprised they retained that, it always seemed to unnecessarily punish non-casters. Though, of course, at 1st-level, an Orc attacking you 3 times at full value, is a bit much.


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ErichAD wrote:
The +/- 10 has slowed down our games as well. I like it, but it's annoying enough that making the AC and saves known to the party seems like the best way to get around the issue.

I always do this anyhow after the first round or so. I figure PCs would get a feel for how tough their opponent is (especially if they’re not getting through their defences) so telling the players the target number is a way to model that knowledge (as well as speeding things up).

I think it will be an essential practise in PF2. Otherwise there’ll be lots of wanting to go back to retrospectively claim critical from last round (and so on).


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Zamfield wrote:
I would be happier if the natural critically went away and it was just +/- 10. It seems less punishing to specialists, and makes the critical a results seem more realistic.

Me too. With the +-10 thing the natural crit/fumble seems like an arbitrary kind of ”special case, tacked on the end”.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

To the OP: Over the years, I have occasionally seen posts by people saying that they left 4e or 5e for Pathfinder because they found those games too limiting.


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ErichAD wrote:
The +/- 10 has slowed down our games as well. I like it, but it's annoying enough that making the AC and saves known to the party seems like the best way to get around the issue.

Huh. Please elaborate. The +10/-10 usually goes like this for us.

1) Player tells me their total.
2) I compare it to the AC/DC.
3) I calculate if it is 10 higher/lower.
4) I tell the player the result.

It adds a step of simple math for me but that hasn't really slowed things down at our table. Totally worth it for the reaction players have when I tell them, "Actually, that's a Critical." It's been awhile since I've seen them this giddy over landing a Critical. I never tell them the AC/DC until an encounter is over or they figure it out themselves.

Where it has slowed things down is in Exploration Mode. Critical Failures are often momentum killers and rarely do anything interesting. I've seen a few people use the expression that the system "does not fail forward". I think this sums it up - players end up trying something totally different rather than persisting. Not good, I don't want my players to be afraid of failure. That leads to slow, overly cautious play.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
The +/- 10 has slowed down our games as well. I like it, but it's annoying enough that making the AC and saves known to the party seems like the best way to get around the issue.

Huh. Please elaborate. The +10/-10 usually goes like this for us.

1) Player tells me their total.
2) I compare it to the AC/DC.
3) I calculate if it is 10 higher/lower.
4) I tell the player the result.

It adds a step of simple math for me but that hasn't really slowed things down at our table. Totally worth it for the reaction players have when I tell them, "Actually, that's a Critical." It's been awhile since I've seen them this giddy over landing a Critical. I never tell them the AC/DC until an encounter is over or they figure it out themselves.

In PF1 there’s a useful shortcut (at our table anyhow) where once they’ve hit early on with a 21 or something they can adjudicate that themselves in later rounds (ie they roll a 26 or something and just report “I hit again. I do such-and-such damage.”)

In PF2 the DM still needs to be involved even once they’ve started landing blows. In PF1 they can often focus on more important things than Armor Class Admin and each PC’s turn goes a few seconds quicker.


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FitzTheRuke wrote:
quillblade wrote:


I am actually constantly having to do that to players in my Pathfinder 1 group ("Okay, that was a standard action to cast the spell, you can't also hit it with your sword..."). It is sometimes frustrating just how often I have to remind them of basic action economy – but that's an issue with my players not learning the rules, not the actual rules ;)

It was one of the things that drew me to the playtest, actually. I grow tired of players playing fast-and-loose with that sort of thing. It gets to the point that it feels like items teleport in and out of their hands. I've certainly had players describe themselves climbing a cliff or swimming, and then suddenly they've got their hands full of weapons, and then they get something out of a backpack and then they've got a shield's bonus to AC, etc, etc.

I figured that the very easy to learn PF2 action economy would help with it. Unfortunately, what is happening instead is that I *constantly* have to remind them that they've taken too many actions.

What you're describing is PF2 being more rigorously written than PF1, plus the effect of the rules' novelty forcing you to apply them with more precision. It always feels tough when things go from loose to tight, even if all agree that a tight operation would have been better in the first place.

Hopefully, discipline will be learned eventually and this will become natural. It's also possible that the annoyance remains as a turnoff ("what, I can't have a potion, a shield and a sword in hand at the same time?")

As a player, I'm trying to learn the tactical implications of the system. For example, I look to build characters that keep a hand free most of the time. If not, I look for feats that alleviate the problem (such as Emblazon Symbol). In combat, I will often drop a weapon rather than put it away : Yes, it means I might have to pick it up later, but that's just giving up a future action in order to get one more right now, a winning trade-off in most cases.

The Once and Future Kai wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
The +/- 10 has slowed down our games as well. I like it, but it's annoying enough that making the AC and saves known to the party seems like the best way to get around the issue.

Huh. Please elaborate. The +10/-10 usually goes like this for us.

1) Player tells me their total.
2) I compare it to the AC/DC.
3) I calculate if it is 10 higher/lower.
4) I tell the player the result.

I'm pretty sure this is the way the game is supposed to be run. It requires more work and organization on the DM's part : The monsters' ACs, TACs, save bonuses and key DCs must be recalled instantly. It's feasible, with good preparation. But I don't think it's harder than doing the same thing in PF1, especially since stat blocks have been greatly simplified (no more FFAC, CMD, CMB, SR, and much shorter lists of abilities, defenses and attacks for monsters).

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