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Took a break from running the playtest to take a seat as a player. Looking to fill in gaps from the rest of the party, I chose a Thief-ish with a high INT, and decided to go with a Monk w/ INT 18 at level 5. I've claimed that INT was clearly the dump stat for PF2, so I decided to put that to the test, and max out INT for a class that didn't need it. Here is my experience.
- This Elf Monk was the first PC that I was really excited to play for PF2. Having INT 18 along with the Rogue Multiclass Archetype gave him so many different skills. It felt like Dick Grayson and Barry Allen merged into one awesome fast-moving roundhouse kicking crime-solvin' superhero! All the different feats (Ancestry, Skill, Class, Archetype) really came together to make a PC that was very exciting to play. My only regret is that I couldn't use the improved armour proficiency from the Rogue Multiclass Archetype without losing Incredible Movement.
- Waiting for the game to start, I overheard the other players complaining that PF2 PCs are "so anime!". I piped up and told them my Monk had a speed of 50 ft. per action, could produce flame at-will, and could slide down walls like Cable from "Deadpool 2". I don't know if that's anime or not, but I'm too old to not like playing an awesome PC.
- The GM and I have a good working relationship. Before the game started, I told him I built my Monk with Dubious Knowledge, but asked him if he wanted me to change it, so he wouldn't have to improv results all the time (I changed it). He runs his game more "Theatre of the Mind" than I do, but he's usually forgiving when our inexact knowledge of our surrounding area gets us into dangerous terrain. When he was unsure about which spell the BBEG would have used due to a paragraph of unfamiliar spells, I pointed out that casting Fireball could hit 3 PCs at once.
- Our party was on the plot like a bloodhound. We got into the mystery, and it threw us a few times. Trying to figure out if the magic cast at the crime scene was by the home invader or by the resident meant we had to come up with different theories for what happened. The use of fire magic around valuable books, and our changing theories about who cast them, really made us juggle our assumptions. "Arclord's Envy" had one of the smoothest flows of learning clues and finding the culprit that I've ever experienced in a crime-solving mystery. Kudos to the writer.
- I think the first encounter was the best of them all, at least how the GM ran it. The Flesh Golem was appropriately tough, but more interestingly, it had stakes and was fluid. We spent some time figuring out ways to "question" the Golem, thinking about how "Talking Corpse" or other spells could get important "data" out from it. As he ran it, the Golem wanted to escape, and rampage on the streets. Thus, we wanted to preserve the Golem, while preventing it from leaving the domicile. It wasn't yet another fight-to-the-death encounter, and I'm glad that me going out to warn the guards was rewarded.
- Retrieving the body from the Golem's underfoot was a very weird scenario. With my incredible speed, I was weaving around the plodding super-Golem like Dash from "The Incredibles", but apparently, I couldn't just pull it off. Each time I did it, I simply "loosened" him, although his condition vis-a-vis the heel felt like he shouldn't have been so tightly caught to it. I tried to hold on to the body and "hide" in the arc of the foot as it fell, assuming that the arc was big enough for a human body, considered the stuck body wasn't mush. But I still took damage while hiding there. A lot of damage, even while making my Reflex Save!
Looking back on it, it feels like a "Sword in the Stone" scenario, where the only challenge was to yank free something stuck. The flavour text sort of hides this fact behind a scenario and flavour text, but when it came to mechanically interacting, it was only strength that mattered. The clever strategies other players tried didn't really amount of anything other than giving me and the Barbarian more chance to free it.
- I played in Living Greyhawk a decade ago, and the Carriage encounter is precisely the kind of rigged scenario I remember from those days. Getting wedged in a tight alley, with the only way out involving breaking through wooden walls, with fire elementals moving in to immolate us alive, is crazy hardmode. It was made harder by our party deciding not to do the things our classes were good at: the caster wasting a high-level spell attacking a window, the Cleric trying to be as agile as me, and nobody but me trying to handle the horses (barely avoided a disastrous roadcrash with my terrible Nature modifier as our flaming carriage escaped).
- Infiltrating the gala was fun. Everyone else went as guests, but I used my Circus Lore to come in as one of the entertainers and spy on the VIPs. I managed to follow the BBEG through the servants' corridors and got close enough to him in the shadows to overhear him admitting to the murder. By the time I got discovered, we probably could have gone to the authorities, but we all reverted to D&Disms and fought him and his cronies. It took two doses of Dispel Magic to get rid of an animated statue, which would have probably ended us if we fought it fairly.
The BBEG Wizard had so many HP, it was an utter slog to finish him off. The Barbarian had grabbed him and I was using "Flurry of Blows" on him in flank, and the damage he was doing to us was not equal to what we were doing to him, but he would not surrender. My experience GMing for a PC with Quick Intimidation was that we wouldn't have these long, drawn-out, and pointless combats. Looking back, I wish I had readied my "Flurry of Blows" to him spellcasting, because I think that would have disrupted his spells. One PC grabbing a caster and another reading an attack might be the perfect "mage-killer" combo for PF2.
- I really liked how the PC turned out. Keeping INT high in lieu of higher STR wasn't as big a sacrifice as I thought it would be, especially after the deeper penalities for untrained skill checks were initiated. My "Flurry of Blows" attack rolls were so inconsistent, that I usually only hit once per two dice rolls. Missing out on 2 damage per hit thanks to a STR 14 instead of STR 18 didn't make a big difference. Having a great Arcana and Society check made a greater difference to the investigation. I never needed to use my Innate Spell to "Produce Flame" since my speed always allowed me to get into melee with anyone I wanted to attack.
- The adventure had some promise. When I run it, I'm going to see what was the GM perogative and what was written by the writer. The mystery part was very strong, but the combat and skill encounters felt unnecessarily difficult. We all had fun in it, but some parts dragged, or our options felt very limited.
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Sounds like you had a blast, nice.
The question regarding Int is simple though:
Assuming a monk with mc rogue, you should already have 8 trained skills (including the circus lore)
Did the 4 extra trained skills actually get used reasonably often, or were 8 trained skills enough and the majority of your usage?
Well, I was basically loading my PC with the typical "Thief" skills (Deception, Stealth, Thievery, Acrobatics, Athletics) as well as what you'd expect a "Sage" to have (Arcana, Occultism, Society). I wasn't so much well-rounded, as I was playing two PCs worth of trained skills. I was able to use most of the physical skills, and the adventure let me use at least one of the knowledge skills. There were still times I desperately wished I had been trained in something (Nature) in lieu of a skill that didn't come up (Occultism).
To answer your question, I used maybe 50% of those skills, but as I rarely had an option to choose which skill I could use in a situation, I'm glad I had the redundancy of having more trained skills and less chance of being forced to use an untrained skill.