What about having "remove +1 / level" as an optional rule, at least?


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Emn1ty wrote:

I think a lot of people arguing that +1/level being present in PF1 justifies it being present in PF2 is a bit of a stretch.

Things like BAB and save progression used that kind of metric because different classes progressed differently. A fighter got +1/level, a wizard got +1/2 per level. In 2e, everything gets +1 per level everywhere. And what's more frustrating about it is that +1/level isn't the important part of any of your abilities.

The important part of your abilities are proficiency, quality, magic and attributes. Those are what determine the variance of success/failure for skills, attacks, saves and DC's.

All the +1/level does is trick you into feeling like you're progressing and provide artificial gates for lower level characters/monsters/npc's to prevent them from putting up any kind of a fight against higher levels.

People say it's super easy to remove, and to me that's an even bigger indicator that it's an artificial stat. It doesn't mechanically represent anything meaningful if it's so easy to extract from the game. It's just more math and work for players to make them feel better whilst simultaneously making it harder for GM's and encounter designers to come up with new challenges that make logical sense (why would swimming across a river suddenly have a more difficult DC compared to level?).

Swimming across the same river wouldn't. But now you can swim up the underground raging torrent full of rocks and only the occasional but of airspace. Just like you used to only be able to fight goblins, but now you can fight dragons. The point of getting better is to do harder things.

More generally: The argument that it was present in PF1 is against the specific arguments about things like broader ranges of monsters and the like. And it's basically conceding, but saying that's how the game has long worked and what some people liked about it. You get powerful and that lets you easily handle things you used to struggle with and try things you wouldn't have had a chance at.
You are progressing. You're not being tricked into thinking it. Being better is still being better. You can do more things. You can beat more and tougher enemies. I guess it's "artificial", but so is the whole game.
The parallel with PF1 isn't exact, since not everything progressed at the same rate, but the same basic progression was there.

People say it's easy to remove, but I think they're mostly wrong. Sure, technically it's easy to remove. The math is simple. But the consequences change the game enough that it's not actually simple to deal with. Encounter balance would change drastically if you ran an existing adventure with the +1/level stripped out, for example.


thejeff wrote:
People say it's easy to remove, but I think they're mostly wrong. Sure, technically it's easy to remove. The math is simple. But the consequences change the game enough that it's not actually simple to deal with. Encounter balance would change drastically if you ran an existing adventure with the +1/level stripped out, for example.

Doesn't it go without saying that this is just an inherent part of an optional or house rule- that it may break stuff if you're running a pre-written adventure so you'll have to figure that out on your own? Like if you're using the Automatic Bonus Progression rules from Unchained in an AP, you're going to have to redo all of the loot.


gwynfrid wrote:
I wonder which of the above house rule would be favored by a majority. Personally, I tend to favor keeping +level as is, but I'd be happy to play PF2 under any of options 1-5, if that's what the majority at the table prefers.

I would go with option 5-1, personally. Remove the +level from everything to remove the huge gap between levels and switch the proficiency bonuses to -2/0/+2/+4/+6. However, none of the 5 options seems bad for me, at least all of them seem better than what we currently have.


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thejeff wrote:
]Note that both AD&D and 3.x give something akin to +1/level. Just not so cleanly.

That's a pretty radical interpretation of the text.

Quote:

The numbers definitely get bigger on a per level basis, though it's not everything that's included in PF2 and it's often not the same between classes. Martial attack bonus goes up 1/level in both systems. Generally in 3.x skills you care about go up 1/level. Saves go up by less. Spell DCs as well (in 3.x).

A good part of the problem in high level PF/3.x is that those things that went up 1/lvl for one character get too far from those that didn't go up at all or went up 1/2lvl or 2/3lvls for another.

Obviously a level based game doesn't need the full PF2 +1/level deal, but 5e is the only real exception to having significant numerical increase by level. (And even there hp goes up per level, though less so.)

In 3X there is a design foundation that 20 levels of martial spans the same range as the possible result of a D20. The combat system builds up from there. But nothing else aligns with it. The 2E concept is totally different. And, to be clear, that alone say nothing to make either system better or worse.

And, really, the people who love +level, by and large, are praising it for how different from 1E it is. You get these funny arguments where is it either a total breath of fresh air or completely no difference depending on which case is being promoted.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I feel like a lot of the complaints about +Level are really complaints about the tightness of the math.

Total strawman.

But, it is interesting that the pro +level people want to tell me there are only a few dozen anti +level people in existence and then also want to claim they know what they are all thinking.

I will, and have, stated that I hate the fact that it puts "the math" over the narrative meaning behind the numbers. But ultimately it is 100% about my liberty to demand a narrative first mechanical system. 1E is a narrative first, balance second system. I would expect people who value balance more than narrative to reject 1E. 2E is all about the math first.
Narrative is shoehorned onto what remains after the demands of the math are first appeased.

The fact that an orc has a hard time hitting a naked no-magic going L10 wizard and a Dex8 dwarf in full plate can sneak are just the frosting on the tip of the iceberg of narrative failures that make this approach unacceptable to me.


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Since it is easy to switch, I have a proposal.

Paizo rebuilds the system without +level and then everyone who likes it houserules it back in. Everybody wins.


More and more I am thinking i will replace +1/level with 5e's proficiency chart. I kinda like how it flattens things so that even low level enemies are always at least somewhat of a threat.


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thejeff wrote:
Swimming across the same river wouldn't. But now you can swim up the underground raging torrent full of rocks and only the occasional but of airspace. Just like you used to only be able to fight goblins, but now you can fight dragons. The point of getting better is to do harder things.

The problem is then you're not giving a player the appropriate DC as per the DC chart. The reality is those kinds of things are statically difficult. Removing +1/level means that a difficult encounter is always the same DC, and as you level (and improve your items, stats and proficiencies) you will also get better at doing harder things. The +1/level just makes harder a bigger range. And that isn't necessary.

thejeff wrote:
More generally: The argument that it was present in PF1 is against the specific arguments about things like broader ranges of monsters and the like. And it's basically conceding, but saying that's how the game has long worked and what some people liked about it. You get powerful and that lets you easily handle things you used to struggle with and try things you wouldn't have had a...

The thing is though... without +level you would still be able to easily handle them, it just wound't be a cakewalk. Your armor proficiency, quality of your armor, runes, etc can make it significantly harder for you to be hit. On the other end it also makes it easier for you to hit enemies, and even easier to kill them with the additional damage dice from spells or magical weapons.

So again I argue +level isn't necessary for that to be true. To give an example (no +1/level):

Level 1 Fighter (18 str, 14 dex) w/ Bastard Sword and Chain Mail:
* Attack: 1d20+4
* Damage: 1d8+4, 1d12+4
* AC/TAC: 16/13

Level 10 Fighter (20 str, 14 dex) w/ +2 Bastard Sword, +2 Half Plate:
* Attack: 1d20+9
* Damage: 3d8+5, 3d12+5
* AC/TAC: 19/16

Level 20 Fighter (22 str, 14 dex) w/ +4 Bastard Sword, +5 Half Plate:
* Attack: 1d20+13
* Damage: 4d8+6, 4d12+6
* AC/TAC: 24/21

While these numbers are smaller, they are still progression. And if proficiency was more spread in its bonuses, you'd get something far better I think without the +1/level nonsense. For example, if UTEML was -3/1/3/6/10 or something along those lines:

Level 1 Fighter (18 str, 14 dex) w/ Bastard Sword and Chain Mail:
* Attack: 1d20+5
* Damage: 1d8+4, 1d12+4
* AC/TAC: 17/14

Level 10 Fighter (20 str, 14 dex) w/ +2 Bastard Sword, +2 Half Plate:
* Attack: 1d20+13
* Damage: 3d8+5, 3d12+5
* AC/TAC: 19/17

Level 20 Fighter (22 str, 14 dex) w/ +4 Bastard Sword, +5 Half Plate:
* Attack: 1d20+20
* Damage: 4d8+6, 4d12+6
* AC/TAC: 28/25

Do those numbers really seem that unreasonable?


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I think it would be cool to see a variant without +1/level, but honestly my group and I don't mind it at all. +1/level already exists in P1 but there it means our characters are trying to make sure they all have the big six magical items to keep up on the expected curve that we should be following in order to have the challenges designed for our level to feel appropriate. With the system in the playtest our characters can stay on curve and we all don't have to be carrying around the same exact magic items to be on par with what the system expects. Now the expectation is built right into our characters, which has a lot of benefits.

* The GM can throw level appropriate humanoid enemies at the PCs without having to deck every enemy out with an economy breaking amount of magical items.
* The PCs don't end up with large discrepancies in their abilities as the levels increase, which means the power levels of the characters can be better judged when designing encounters.
* The skills that I don't invest into (for various reasons) don't become totally stale and unusable. I look at my P1 character who at level 14 still has +0 in a number skills, and still only a +5 in the knowledges she has (which is what she started with.) I'm in both a P1 game, and a Playtest game, and I can feel the contrast pretty hard there.

This seems to be a pretty contentious topic on the forums but Paizo has hardly addressed it with updates, so I'm guessing that its not showing up in the survey data as something people are having problems with. They did adjust untrained to make it a lower value (level-4), which I also liked. The spread of numbers across skills on characters looks very diverse now (at least in my group) and I think in a very good spot for having a P1 feel but with a much simpler system.

Parsing a lot of the posts and thoughts about it, I really just don't understand the problems with it, especially when the designers have said that there will most likely be a variant mode with +1/level removed. As both a GM and a player +1/level is a simplification that is just a huge relief for me, and I can focus on more interesting things other than "how am I gonna get my +2 cloak turned into a +3 cloak so my saves are close enough to the expected curve for the level my character is at." The big six are +1 to level just expressed differently, and I am ready to leave behind a system where there are items that are so important for every single character to have that they have earned a household nickname.

I want number/vertical progression to be simple and straight forward, so that horizontal progression can actually be explored in this system without making huge compromises to my character's core competence.


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BryonD wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Quite frankly, I think a lot of people who are asking for "+level" to be removed are cheapening the point of what a level gives you, which is a new peak and access of power (and future challenges) that you as a character have (or are awaiting your character).

Can I request a clarification? Are you saying this specifically in regard to 2E as-is with simply +level removed?

When I first read it I thought you were implying this is needed for an level based game. I'd suggest that 1E and D&D3E and 5E all do quite well at leveling. But I think you only mean to comment on what would happen to 2E without it. Am I understanding you?

This is specifically a claim in relation to PF2 as it stands. +Level gives more to the player than the abilities they acquire from spells or feats/features (though at least spellcasters have spells, martials don't even have that). A Fighter at 1st level without class feats is identical to a Fighter at 20th level, both in terms of playstyle and in relative power. Yes, the Fighter will have a couple more bonuses thanks to features, but that's it. My Attack of Opportunity at 1st level will not change as I gain levels, nor will its effectiveness increase, nor will it grant the option to do something cool and/or interesting. It is what it is, and that's that. That's boring. Bland. I can assure you that if there was anything keeping me to play a character like this, it sure as hell isn't the story, and I honestly wouldn't even have to have a character in the game just to listen to or witness the story unfold.

Spellcasters don't have this problem with their features, since their spellcasting feature changes and scales up still somewhat automatically (especially with the new spellcasting buff!), and have a multitude of interesting and usable options that, for prepared spellcasters, can be prepped on the fly (whereas spontaneous can just simply be cast on the fly as they need them).

Removing +Level now reinforces the Caster/Martial Disparity that Martials do not get anything nearly as cool or interesting or transformative as spellcasting, and because +Level to everything is gone. This means Martials getting an extra +2 to swinging a weapon based on proficiency is comparable to spells like Time Stop by the "endgame".

PF1 already serves as a prime example of why this is bad design (and people have noted it as such); in fact, a proper comparison was the Druid and the Shifter in PF1, and someone made an interesting comparison of these two. Sure, the Shifter has a multitude of problems with its design, but that's beside the point. The biggest comparison was that a Druid, whom was a 3/4 BAB class and had numerous abilities and features to improve their melee capabilities, and a varied amount of spells and spell power, amounted to be equal to a class that had full BAB. That +5 BAB (which doesn't mean anything compared to a superficial boost to attack rolls that other full BAB classes cannot match) is supposed to be equal to spells like Heal. Even a Ranger with a small amount of spell power was a much better class, simply because it had more to work with while still having a lot of the same benefits.

+Level and Proficiencies served as a means to quell that apparent disparity (since Martials are more inclined to rely on numerical bonuses compared to Spellcasters, who don't need to rely on if they have enough bonuses to hit a target more often than not). Removing it now just brings back more of the same frustrating PF1 playstyle that most people hated, and the dumb thing is people don't realize that. Proficiencies by themselves aren't enough to solve that issue, no matter what sort of crazy options you tag onto that.


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Emn1ty wrote:
problem is then you're not giving a player the appropriate DC as per the DC chart

Well, obviously, the same way that you don't keep throwing an ever increasing apl party at a cr2 encounter. That chart is there to answer the gm asking: "I have a level 4 party. I want to craft a skill encounter that is difficult to overcome. What number should i target such that that is the case?" What that thing actually ends up being, the system doesnt care, but i believe it provides a few narrative examples (stormy seas and all that). The point isn't to prescribe what the party encounters at any given point, it's a tool to help a gm make encounters / challenges that are of a desired difficulty. It's no different than the cr tables in pf1, or spending experience for the same purpose.

Also, though not really material, i wanted to point out that proficiencies as is with the larger spread you sugges, a level 20 rogue or barbarian would hit a level 20 paladin on like a 19 with their first attack, and are crit fishing after that.

Darksol wrote:
+Level and Proficiencies served as a means to quell that apparent disparity (since Martials are more inclined to rely on numerical bonuses compared to Spellcasters, who don't need to rely on if they have enough bonuses to hit a target more often than not). Removing it now just brings back more of the same frustrating PF1 playstyle that most people hated, and the dumb thing is people don't realize that. Proficiencies by themselves aren't enough to solve that issue, no matter what sort of crazy options you tag onto that.

I disagree. At least, in so far as you could remove +1 to level and give everyone infinite skill points, and mess with saves and dcs a bit to be at a similar place to now, while not technically being +level to everything. No i think the main draw of +level is that it contains the math while unifying a character's strength around its level. +level means the difference between legendary and untrained is smaller (-5 to +9 or so, not counting items, relative to level, rather than -2 to +60 or whatever people could stack). This also makes the chart above work. If the range of any given character's ability on a given skill can range by 30odd points, you can't have a standard for how hard a task is at a given level. Which means a gm just kind of has to guess at a dc.


Emn1ty wrote:

So again I argue +level isn't necessary for that to be true. To give an example (no +1/level):

Level 1 Fighter (18 str, 14 dex) w/ Bastard Sword and Chain Mail:
* Attack: 1d20+4
* Damage: 1d8+4, 1d12+4
* AC/TAC: 16/13

Level 10 Fighter (20 str, 14 dex) w/ +2 Bastard Sword, +2 Half Plate:
* Attack: 1d20+9
* Damage: 3d8+5, 3d12+5
* AC/TAC: 19/16

Level 20 Fighter (22 str, 14 dex) w/ +4 Bastard Sword, +5 Half Plate:
* Attack: 1d20+13
* Damage: 4d8+6, 4d12+6
* AC/TAC: 24/21

While these numbers are smaller, they are still progression. And if proficiency was more spread in its bonuses, you'd get something far better I think without the +1/level nonsense. For example, if UTEML was -3/1/3/6/10 or something along those lines:

Level 1 Fighter (18 str, 14 dex) w/ Bastard Sword and Chain Mail:
* Attack: 1d20+5
* Damage: 1d8+4, 1d12+4
* AC/TAC: 17/14

Level 10 Fighter (20 str, 14 dex) w/ +2 Bastard Sword, +2 Half Plate:
* Attack: 1d20+13
* Damage: 3d8+5, 3d12+5
* AC/TAC: 19/17

Level 20 Fighter (22 str, 14 dex) w/ +4 Bastard Sword, +5 Half Plate:
* Attack: 1d20+20
* Damage: 4d8+6, 4d12+6
* AC/TAC: 28/25

Do those numbers really seem that unreasonable?

In the first "chart," A 1st level character, by your standards, still has a decent chance of defeating somebody almost 10 levels higher than them. The fighter with 19 AC can be easily overwhelmed by, say, 10 1st level opponents. I suppose the CR adds up, since 10 Level 1 creatures are a CR 9 by most standards (which matches the CR of a level 10 character), but it still seems silly that those 10 Fighters can actually slaughter that Level 10 Fighter with just enough luck. In PF1, this is extremely unrealistic, and in PF2 as it stands, it is even moreso.

While changing the proficiency as shown in the second chart significantly decreases these odds, it still seems silly that people are against Proficiency because of +Level, but aren't against Proficiency being the biggest source of bonuses to your roll?


BryonD wrote:
thejeff wrote:
]Note that both AD&D and 3.x give something akin to +1/level. Just not so cleanly.

That's a pretty radical interpretation of the text.

Quote:

The numbers definitely get bigger on a per level basis, though it's not everything that's included in PF2 and it's often not the same between classes. Martial attack bonus goes up 1/level in both systems. Generally in 3.x skills you care about go up 1/level. Saves go up by less. Spell DCs as well (in 3.x).

A good part of the problem in high level PF/3.x is that those things that went up 1/lvl for one character get too far from those that didn't go up at all or went up 1/2lvl or 2/3lvls for another.

Obviously a level based game doesn't need the full PF2 +1/level deal, but 5e is the only real exception to having significant numerical increase by level. (And even there hp goes up per level, though less so.)

In 3X there is a design foundation that 20 levels of martial spans the same range as the possible result of a D20. The combat system builds up from there. But nothing else aligns with it. The 2E concept is totally different. And, to be clear, that alone say nothing to make either system better or worse.

And, really, the people who love +level, by and large, are praising it for how different from 1E it is. You get these funny arguments where is it either a total breath of fresh air or completely no difference depending on which case is being promoted.

So, to some extent, it's the logical extension of that 3x design foundation.

The people who love it may - it fixes some of the problems inherent in that design. But many of those who hate it focus on the broad challenge range thing - and that is a thing that doesn't change. A lot of the specific things being complained about are things that already exist in PF1.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
+Level and Proficiencies served as a means to quell that apparent disparity (since Martials are more inclined to rely on numerical bonuses compared to Spellcasters, who don't need to rely on if they have enough bonuses to hit a target more often than not). Removing it now just brings back more of the same frustrating PF1 playstyle that most people hated, and the dumb thing is people don't realize that. Proficiencies by themselves aren't enough to solve that issue, no matter what sort of crazy options you tag onto that.

Except that spellcasters benefit from just as much as non-casters do, so I don't really see how it solves the problem you are describing.

Until level 9, a Wizard is as good with his weapon as a Fighter is. For 9 levels... they aren't any better or worse than each other. In 1e, at least a Fighter was always better at hitting things with a weapon than any Wizard.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


In the first "chart," A 1st level character, by your standards, still has a decent chance of defeating somebody almost 10 levels higher than them. The fighter with 19 AC can be easily overwhelmed by, say, 10 1st level opponents. I suppose the CR adds up, since 10 Level 1 creatures are a CR 9 by most standards (which matches the CR of a level 10 character), but it still seems silly that those 10 Fighters can actually slaughter that Level 10 Fighter with just enough luck. In PF1, this is extremely unrealistic, and in PF2 as it stands, it is even moreso.

While changing the proficiency as shown in the second chart significantly decreases these odds, it still seems silly that people are against Proficiency because of +Level, but aren't against Proficiency being the biggest source of bonuses to...

The difference (which admittedly I should have included) is hit points. Sure, they have a reasonable chance of hitting and dealing damage. However your level 10 is going to have at minimum 90 more hitpoints.

The reason I am not against proficiency being the biggest source of bonus is because it's a choice for the player to invest in it (and making that choice more accessible outside of class features would be a nice change as well). If we want to make the proficiency system matter beyond arbitrary action gating and feat gating, then it needs to stop being drowned under +level.

+level diminishes the decision to invest in proficiency at face value. Why should I invest in making something Master or even Legendary unless there's some kind of skill feat or action I unlock? It's only a +2/+3 bonus... when I'll have far more than that in 3 levels (faster than you can even get to Master or Legendary in anything).


Emn1ty wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
+Level and Proficiencies served as a means to quell that apparent disparity (since Martials are more inclined to rely on numerical bonuses compared to Spellcasters, who don't need to rely on if they have enough bonuses to hit a target more often than not). Removing it now just brings back more of the same frustrating PF1 playstyle that most people hated, and the dumb thing is people don't realize that. Proficiencies by themselves aren't enough to solve that issue, no matter what sort of crazy options you tag onto that.
Except that spellcasters benefit from just as much as non-casters do, so I don't really see how it solves the problem you are describing.

Except they really don't. Because the wizard isn't hitting people with a pointy thing like the fighter is. This is what the martial relies on. The wizards get it too, but it doesn't matter as much to them. They don't benefit as much, because they don't care about it as much.


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I have to say aesthetically I prefer that "training, experience, and expertise" has a much greater effect on success versus failure than one's magic gear or their attributes.

I figure the former is represented both in both Level and Proficiency, since Level is a broad set of experiences whereas Proficiency is specific training.

But I want a level 10 fighter in his underwear wielding a busted chair leg as a weapon to be much more dangerous than a level 1 fighter would be in that same situation. Every previous edition in this family of games has managed this, so I'm not sure why people are hell-bent on taking it away. I figure PF2 manages this even better since a level 10 fighter would be sufficiently practiced at "getting out of the way of the dangerous thing" that they should be harder to hit than a level 1 fighter with the same stats and gear, so +Level to AC makes a ton of sense to me.

As for skills, since 3rd edition I could get my level to "being sneaky" by just investing a skill point in appropriate skills every time I leveled up. So at the very least I'd like to maintain this sort of bonus.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
thejeff wrote:
People say it's easy to remove, but I think they're mostly wrong. Sure, technically it's easy to remove. The math is simple. But the consequences change the game enough that it's not actually simple to deal with. Encounter balance would change drastically if you ran an existing adventure with the +1/level stripped out, for example.
Doesn't it go without saying that this is just an inherent part of an optional or house rule- that it may break stuff if you're running a pre-written adventure so you'll have to figure that out on your own? Like if you're using the Automatic Bonus Progression rules from Unchained in an AP, you're going to have to redo all of the loot.

Not just a prewritten adventure, but all the advice on encounter balance, the experience charts. I also suspect some abilities will be more gamebreaking against PCs of lower level than expected, even if those PCs do fine against other enemies of the same level without those particular abilities.

When the higher level enemy is just a bag of damage and hit points the math lets you scale up faster with +1/level removed, but if it's got some particular ability you're expected to have a counter for by that level and you're still a few levels too low - it'll be ugly.

But yeah, I guess. As long you're willing to rebalance everything and deal with all the unforeseen consequences of the change, I guess it's easy. Like pretty much any house rule, at that point.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
BryonD wrote:

Since it is easy to switch, I have a proposal.

Paizo rebuilds the system without +level and then everyone who likes it houserules it back in. Everybody wins.

This isn't a very good argument, because if true then the reverse must also be satisfying.

In fact, it exposes what I see as the core issue: The answer to "should +1/level be kept" is straightforwardly "which implementation will result in fewer players houseruling the opposite?"


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MaxAstro wrote:
BryonD wrote:

Since it is easy to switch, I have a proposal.

Paizo rebuilds the system without +level and then everyone who likes it houserules it back in. Everybody wins.

This isn't a very good argument, because if true then the reverse must also be satisfying.

Heh, I think the rhetorical irony went over your head.

Quote:
In fact, it exposes what I see as the core issue: The answer to "should +1/level be kept" is straightforwardly "which implementation will result in fewer players houseruling the opposite?"

I think your question has a null response.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
This is specifically a claim in relation to PF2 as it stands.

In that case, I agree.

PF1 already serves as a prime example of why this is bad design

Yeah, that hugely popular game is a prime example of bad design.

4E on the other hand, which included the same basic concept (+level vs +1/2 level) is a great example of how this approach can really soar....


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I have to say aesthetically I prefer that "training, experience, and expertise" has a much greater effect on success versus failure than one's magic gear or their attributes.

I figure the former is represented both in both Level and Proficiency, since Level is a broad set of experiences whereas Proficiency is specific training.

But I want a level 10 fighter in his underwear wielding a busted chair leg as a weapon to be much more dangerous than a level 1 fighter would be in that same situation. Every previous edition in this family of games has managed this, so I'm not sure why people are hell-bent on taking it away. I figure PF2 manages this even better since a level 10 fighter would be sufficiently practiced at "getting out of the way of the dangerous thing" that they should be harder to hit than a level 1 fighter with the same stats and gear, so +Level to AC makes a ton of sense to me.

As for skills, since 3rd edition I could get my level to "being sneaky" by just investing a skill point in appropriate skills every time I leveled up. So at the very least I'd like to maintain this sort of bonus.

I don't think they want to take it away. And, I think, pretty much everyone agrees with this specific point.

The trouble is, as bad as 2E without +level would be, trying to grasp at straws and remove +level seems appropriate compared to accepting status quo.

But I do agree that the straw will simply come away on their hand and not solve the problem. Either a major rebuild occurs or people play a different game altogether.


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thejeff wrote:


So, to some extent, it's the logical extension of that 3x design foundation.
The people who love it may - it fixes some of the problems inherent in that design. But many of those who hate it focus on the broad challenge range thing - and that is a thing that doesn't change. A lot of the specific things being complained about are things that already exist in PF1.

I don't even begin to see how you took that from what I said.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Bryon, you seem to be convinced that the overwhelming consensus of the potential player base is behind your opinions.

I don't see it.


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I don't like it but the math seems pretty hard baked into EVERYTHING not just characters but monsters and gear too. So trying to remove it looks to be far more work and we're waaaaaay to far along.


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Even if removing the +1/ was easily doable I would still be opposed to it. I would think anyone who has complaints that the changes from PF1 to PF2 are to much should be against it as well. all it is is making skill bab saves and ac all work on the same mechanic which can make for a simpler game then having all that vary from class to class. Same formula makes it easier to have things interact as well such as the combat maneuvers using skills.


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Indeed, I'm not wholly opposed to things like "well, don't add your whole level to untrained skills, like half would be fine" but then I realize that's a whole other layer of complexity that adds very little to the game besides "our heroes can be less competent at minor tasks".

I mean, anything that actually requires someone to be good at the skill in question (like picking a really complex lock, being stealthy in broad daylight without cover, or high stakes diplomacy) I'm just going to throw a proficiency gate on to represent "you wouldn't even know where to start" for people below Expert (or even higher).


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
Even if removing the +1/ was easily doable I would still be opposed to it. I would think anyone who has complaints that the changes from PF1 to PF2 are to much should be against it as well. all it is is making skill bab saves and ac all work on the same mechanic which can make for a simpler game then having all that vary from class to class. Same formula makes it easier to have things interact as well such as the combat maneuvers using skills.

Why is having different stats for a class a bad thing?


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Indeed, I'm not wholly opposed to things like "well, don't add your whole level to untrained skills, like half would be fine" but then I realize that's a whole other layer of complexity that adds very little to the game besides "our heroes can be less competent at minor tasks".

I mean, anything that actually requires someone to be good at the skill in question (like picking a really complex lock, being stealthy in broad daylight without cover, or high stakes diplomacy) I'm just going to throw a proficiency gate on to represent "you wouldn't even know where to start" for people below Expert (or even higher).

Ok so my thought would be have the trained and untrained skills like before. so anyone can jump or climb but not everyone can pick up an instrument. I think the alternative which fits with what they are already doing is say have perform default be like Vocal (some people can sing without prior training and even if its not perfect it still might amaze some people right?) then instruments would be unlocked as part of getting proficiency or with a feat (just and example!). So anything that wouldn't make sense for someone without basic training in it would be locked behind prof or feats kind of like it is now but maybe more detailed. so to go with my above example:

Bard would play instruments and lead the quartet everyone else (not trained) is just expected to keep the tune.


MerlinCross wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Even if removing the +1/ was easily doable I would still be opposed to it. I would think anyone who has complaints that the changes from PF1 to PF2 are to much should be against it as well. all it is is making skill bab saves and ac all work on the same mechanic which can make for a simpler game then having all that vary from class to class. Same formula makes it easier to have things interact as well such as the combat maneuvers using skills.
Why is having different stats for a class a bad thing?

Well not stats (unless you don't mean attributes) I'll assume skills saves etc. so the issue comes when you have saving throws where one party member can save on a 5 and another can only save on a 20. It only gets worse with level too. Did you ever play 3.5 epic level play? it gives a lot of great examples. for example one player hitting on a 2 while others need 20's or AC with the reverse. having huge discrepancies between characters creates problems for everyone.


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thejeff wrote:

Except they really don't. Because the wizard isn't hitting people with a pointy thing like the fighter is. This is what the martial relies on. The wizards get it too, but it doesn't matter as much to them. They don't benefit as much, because they don't care about it as much.

In this edition it is actually far more worthwhile for the Wizard to hit something with a pointy thing than it was in previous editions; especially if you don't pick a decent damage dealing cantrip. And also because "gish" is baked into Sorcerer, Cleric and Wizard to some extent.

Just because "hitting with a pointy thing" isn't the classes primary draw or purpose doesn't mean that those classes don't benefit from automatically scaling their armor and ability to attack with weapons. The reality is that for almost half of a character's level progression a Wizard can be as competent as a Fighter with a staff or other weapons. The only difference between them is the breadth of weapons they can choose from (which can be further mitigated with ancestry).

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I figure PF2 manages this even better since a level 10 fighter would be sufficiently practiced at "getting out of the way of the dangerous thing" that they should be harder to hit than a level 1 fighter with the same stats and gear, so +Level to AC makes a ton of sense to me.

See, I feel that proficiency can handle this role. Your breadth of experience is your general proficiency in something. Fighters naturally get more proficient in weapons and armor; reflected by their class abilities because they use them all the time. And similarly, primary spellcasters should get similiar boosts to proficiency in spell rolls, etc.

I really don't see why +level is truly necessary when you could more adequately describe the same kind of progression with one mechanic rather than two. If simplicity is the goal, why are we so resistant to eliminating a system that doesn't meaningfully affect your chances to succeed and rather serves to differentiate different levels only? And even then, proficiency should be up to that task.


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I don't like +1 to everything as it does nothing to level equivalent challenge but cheapens low level opponents quite fast and makes higher level monsters completely out of reach, even in huge numbers.

reworking proficiency bonuses and having few more levels of proficiency would work better.

untrained: -2
Trained: +0
Expert: +1
Master: +2
Grand master: +3
Epic: +4
Legendary: +5

For skills minimum level limit could be:
Expert(+1): 1
Master(+2): 7
Gr master(+3): 11
Epic(+4): 15
Legendary(+5): 19

Attack, AC, saves, spell DC would depend on class and few on Ancestry and feats.

And only some classes would have access to Epic and Legendary, most of the modifiers would stop at grandmaster(ligth niche protection)

I.E.

Rogue could have at 20th level:
Attack: Epic
AC: Master(light), Expert other
Reflex: Legendary
Fort: Master
Will: Grandmaster
Spell attack/DC: Expert

Fighter:
Attack: Legendary or Epic
AC: Epic or Legendary(opposite of attack), All armor class
Fort: Legendary
Reflex: Epic
Will: Grandmaster

Paladin:
Attack:Epic
AC: Legendary(all armor)
Fort: Legendary
Ref: Master
Will: Legendary

Wizard:
Attack: Master
AC:Expert(unarmored)
Fort: Master
Ref: Master
Will: Legendary
Spell attack/DC: Legendary

Ranger:
Attack: Legendary
AC: Grandmaster(light and medium), Master(heavy)
Fort:Epic
Ref: Epic
Will: Epic

At what levels would those come into play would depend on the class itself, but similar limit to skills should apply for minimum level where it would appear.


I think adding level (which is already encoded as a number) is a lot simpler than remembering a bunch of different names for proficiency levels, particularly since I see people get expert and master mixed up a lot already in terms of "which one is more?".

Still, I would want there to be at least a 19 point difference in the "to-hit" modifier between a 20th level fighter and a 1st level fighter assuming the same gear and stats. I see no reason to make that gap smaller than BAB has been since 3rd edition.


Ranishe wrote:
Did you not already have to do this? In pf1 if you wanted a skill challenge for swim, did you not have it at least in some way relative to the party's level? Or did swim DC never go up above 10 because no one ever put ranks into it, so any more difficult swim related task would be impossible for everyone? Or did it not go up, but the party invested in swim in some way, so they automatically passed any swim checks they came upon, but at that point is it even a skill challenge that needs the numbers at all?

The underlying design of 3.x/PF1 includes the fact that some skills have a point at which they become simply functional¹, (e.g. a net of +5 to climb gets you most of what a non-specialist needs to do²). Once you have a few levels under your belt, you might start saying things like "I can clear a 15' gap while taking 10, that's good enough," and start spreading out into making more skills 'functional'.

This runs into an assumption some make that the "level appropriate skill DC" means "this is about how hard all skill tasks for the party should be." As opposed to the assumption that those DCs are what's meant to be a challenge for a specialist of that level, (and just not really applicable to some skills).

The resulting conflict between "you have X trained skills" and "decide where you want to be good going on great and where you just want to be functional" has been an issue in Pathfinder since the original beta. Which to do as a player depends on your GM and adventure writers.

1: The extreme example is linguistics when bought to learn languages³. A single rank is enough, if you are just interested in talking to the people from the other side of those mountains.

2: This is where you can pull yourself back up over an edge you are holding on to and can climb a free hanging rope.

3: Some skills have uses where they are simply functional and others where they scale indefinitely. e.g. Acrobatics is functional for most jumping and crossing narrow surfaces but scaling if you want to dodge AOOs, make inhuman jumps⁴ or balance in extreme conditions. If you are only interested in the functional part, ("No I can't climb that, that's why Bob has a coil of rope"), it's possible to forego keeping up with the scaling part.

4: a roll of 30 would break the world long jump record and do it landing on ones feet, a similar roll would break the one for the high jump with you able to land on top of the bar.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
So "removing +Level" is like the easiest thing to do, just subtract the level (and everything has one now) from all the numbers except movement and HP. It's so easy to house rule that there's no need to explicitly make it optional.

Yep, and tweaking it to +1/4, +1/2, or +2 x level, changes threat ranges (and frequency of auto-crits, only hitting on a natural 20 and only missing on a natural 1).

Another easy one to house-rule is item (magic) bonuses, just swap them over to character level and proficiency.


BryonD wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
This is specifically a claim in relation to PF2 as it stands.

In that case, I agree.

PF1 already serves as a prime example of why this is bad design

Yeah, that hugely popular game is a prime example of bad design.

4E on the other hand, which included the same basic concept (+level vs +1/2 level) is a great example of how this approach can really soar....

Omitting +1/2 level and using the Inherent Bonus variant from the DMG 2, made 4th Ed almost soar, for me.


Emn1ty wrote:
See, I feel that proficiency can handle this role. Your breadth of experience is your general proficiency in something. Fighters naturally get more proficient in weapons and armor; reflected by their class abilities because they use them all the time. And similarly, primary spellcasters should get similiar boosts to proficiency in spell rolls, etc.

Question: would a level 10 barbarian know how to dodge better than a level 1 barbarian?

Would a level 10 wizard know how to dodge better than a level 1 wizard?

Would you expect both of those to get an increase in their proficiency rankings?


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Cyouni wrote:
Emn1ty wrote:
See, I feel that proficiency can handle this role. Your breadth of experience is your general proficiency in something. Fighters naturally get more proficient in weapons and armor; reflected by their class abilities because they use them all the time. And similarly, primary spellcasters should get similiar boosts to proficiency in spell rolls, etc.

Question: would a level 10 barbarian know how to dodge better than a level 1 barbarian?

Would a level 10 wizard know how to dodge better than a level 1 wizard?

Would you expect both of those to get an increase in their proficiency rankings?

That question is mostly answered by HPs


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Igor Horvat wrote:

I don't like +1 to everything as it does nothing to level equivalent challenge but cheapens low level opponents quite fast and makes higher level monsters completely out of reach, even in huge numbers.

reworking proficiency bonuses and having few more levels of proficiency would work better...

This is not an easy house rule, and it points to a larger dissatisfaction with PF2 than removing level bonus is going to fix.

It also means characters get a maximum of 1 legendary proficiency (if the first comes online at level 19), and more tiers means that characters have to focus their proficiency points into a decreasing amount of things their character can do well to keep up. I think this will hit heavy blow back from the folks who already feel like they are not getting enough feats and proficiency increases to make the characters they want to play. Without the time to buy skill feats and class feats that key off of the different proficiency levels, you end up with a system where proficiency is only going to mean a +1 to something, especially because no one is going to want to try to remember a 7-tiered chart for what is gated by proficiency level over every skill and ability.

I don't think PF2 is done sorting what the bonuses should be for everything in the game yet and their may be some more wiggle room for numbers in places where we as testers might not be seeing them, which is why it seems more useful to keep feedback focused on what we like and don't like and trying to give the developers that information in survey form so they can do a better job of sussing out which elements can be changed in isolation that will improve user satisfaction and which ones are iceberg issues that spending time twiddling with is not really going to bring people back to the table.

I think it is likely that helping players remove or change a single rule (like +level to proficiency) is something very likely to happen in an early GM centered resource for playing PF2 beyond the scope of Golarion, or the first PF2 unchained type of book. But I think for a lot of the people arguing against it, including folks that are proposing massive shifts in the proficiency system, the magic item system, the handling of DCs, and often all at once, I think that it is probable that overall dissatisfaction with the game is not going to be resolved, even by having all three of these things covered by optional house rules.

The truth is that PF2 doesn't offer characters a lot of things as they progress through the game, and it doesn't need to because of the +level bonus to proficiency. Over the course of playing 20 levels, monsters that you fight more than a handful of times are going to get incredibly boring by the 6th or 7th time you fight them because they are only going to have 1 unique ability. That is an intentional part of this system design. PF2 is a system of more new stuff, not deeper exploration of the same stuff you have been using from level 1 to level 20. That is why spells don't scale. You will still find useful level 1 spells at 20th level, but they will probably be very different spells than you were using in those slots for the first five levels of play. The same is true for magic items, and for GMs it is true of monsters and hazards.

Most of the intense resistance to +level to proficiency seems to be misdirected frustration at this underlying development goal: PF2 is designed for the introduction of new material to fit easily and seamlessly into the existing product without sinking the entire ship. It does that by limiting the pervasiveness by which those elements will seep into the game at every level.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
MaxAstro wrote:

Bryon, you seem to be convinced that the overwhelming consensus of the potential player base is behind your opinions.

I don't see it.

FWIW, I'm more or less with Bryon, though my support is certainly not evidence of any overwhelming consensus. Unfortunately, I think that folks with different views on PF2e are inhabiting different intellectual and online spaces. For example, compare the thread here with this one.


I think it would be great if they made optional rules for alternative +X/level progressions, even +0/level. In doing so tools like Hero Lab would build in support and Home-Brew games/settings would be better supported.

The alternative perspective is that when Paizo releases APs, they pretty much have to pick a rate of progression.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
BryonD wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Quite frankly, I think a lot of people who are asking for "+level" to be removed are cheapening the point of what a level gives you, which is a new peak and access of power (and future challenges) that you as a character have (or are awaiting your character).

Can I request a clarification? Are you saying this specifically in regard to 2E as-is with simply +level removed?

When I first read it I thought you were implying this is needed for an level based game. I'd suggest that 1E and D&D3E and 5E all do quite well at leveling. But I think you only mean to comment on what would happen to 2E without it. Am I understanding you?

This is specifically a claim in relation to PF2 as it stands. +Level gives more to the player than the abilities they acquire from spells or feats/features (though at least spellcasters have spells, martials don't even have that). A Fighter at 1st level without class feats is identical to a Fighter at 20th level, both in terms of playstyle and in relative power. Yes, the Fighter will have a couple more bonuses thanks to features, but that's it. My Attack of Opportunity at 1st level will not change as I gain levels, nor will its effectiveness increase, nor will it grant the option to do something cool and/or interesting. It is what it is, and that's that. That's boring. Bland. I can assure you that if there was anything keeping me to play a character like this, it sure as hell isn't the story, and I honestly wouldn't even have to have a character in the game just to listen to or witness the story unfold.

Spellcasters don't have this problem with their features, since their spellcasting feature changes and scales up still somewhat automatically (especially with the new spellcasting buff!), and have a multitude of interesting and usable options that, for prepared spellcasters, can be prepped on the fly (whereas spontaneous can just simply be cast on the fly as they need them).

Removing +Level now reinforces the...

“Without class feats”. Class feats do, in fact exist.


Yeah I think having it as an optional rule is fine. It might be fun to try a game like that. Kind of like E6 (or whatever you call the one that stops at level 6) I imagine. It won't be my default mostly because we've been playing since 1st and are used to there being a large gap of difference between even 1st and 4th level character.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I have to say aesthetically I prefer that "training, experience, and expertise" has a much greater effect on success versus failure than one's magic gear or their attributes.

I figure the former is represented both in both Level and Proficiency, since Level is a broad set of experiences whereas Proficiency is specific training.

But I want a level 10 fighter in his underwear wielding a busted chair leg as a weapon to be much more dangerous than a level 1 fighter would be in that same situation. Every previous edition in this family of games has managed this, so I'm not sure why people are hell-bent on taking it away. I figure PF2 manages this even better since a level 10 fighter would be sufficiently practiced at "getting out of the way of the dangerous thing" that they should be harder to hit than a level 1 fighter with the same stats and gear, so +Level to AC makes a ton of sense to me.

As for skills, since 3rd edition I could get my level to "being sneaky" by just investing a skill point in appropriate skills every time I leveled up. So at the very least I'd like to maintain this sort of bonus.

And he would be able to mop the floor with the level one without the plus one per level.


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So, I want to give a different perspective on the +level system, specifically what it means that it's so easy to remove. I see it as there being the 'underlying system' and the 'tiering filter'.

Like having a cool image, and a sepia filter on top. A lot of people like the final result, and Paizo seems to like the final result, and the version without the filter is still accessible for people who think the sepia filter ruined the cool image.

I described the +level system as a 'tiering filter', and I think that's the best way to understand it. It enables a system where characters go from every day folk, to local heroes, to people of legend, to near-divine powers. At each stage, they're narratively expected to laugh off the challenges that faced them before, and overcome what was previously impossible.

And the tiering filter can be removed to get something where you grow more gradually, in more specific ways, and never 'ascend' above those early challenges but just become a bit better at them.

The types of stories I want to tell are usually those with the filter. The ones about heroes that are truly astounding, that grow so much they destroy obstacles they couldn't imagine when they set out, and the scary challenges ahead they're not sure how they can possibly face. But sometimes I'll want to tell those without the filter, about the day-to-day of some gritty adventurers.

Some people want the 'default' to be without the filter. I wouldn't be opposed to that in theory. I think the correct answer stems from 'what stories will be told', specifically, what are the stories of the PF2 Adventure Paths? If they're using +Level, I'm guessing they're going to be pretty high fantasy stuff, and I'm excited for that! Maybe they'll also publish a low-fantasy AP down the line that runs without +level? They definitely could.

I really like, specifically, that they have a filter that can be so easily removed so one system supports both styles of play.


I don't really get what people mean when they say "it's so easy to remove".
I mean, mathematically it's easy. Just don't give anyone the +1/level (or subtract level from existing stats).

But doesn't that essentially change everything?


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BryonD wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
This is specifically a claim in relation to PF2 as it stands.

In that case, I agree.

Quote:
PF1 already serves as a prime example of why this is bad design

Yeah, that hugely popular game is a prime example of bad design.

4E on the other hand, which included the same basic concept (+level vs +1/2 level) is a great example of how this approach can really soar....

Never played 4E (or 5E for that matter, since I'm in the only group in my state that plays these games, and none of them have any interest in 4E or 5E), so you're talking to someone that has no idea what you're talking about.

Its popularity certainly wasn't because of the Caster/Martial disparity, which is what removing +Level will once again reinforce. It's because of the breadth of options compared to other games of its genre, and the timing of its release. Literally, PF1 was created as an answer and response to the underwhelming reception of 4E, and it gained popularity based on that. Afterwards, it kept slowly and surely dying off as most other game systems do, and when 5E hit, PF1 largely went down the toilet (as is presented by the sales and currently-playing charts of both games respectively).

But, the fact that a 1st level Fighter plays identical to a 20th level Fighter due to bad features and class feats that do not change or scale as your character gains levels, and you gain nothing else for levels (except HP, but even that should be looked at if attack bonuses are going poof), tells me that removing +Level will make these sorts of characters beyond cheap and boring to play.


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So you are saying they will have more fun options because ‘bigger numbers’?


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So much misinformation going on in this thread, I'm glaring at you, BryonD, in particular.

Removing the +Level scaling from P2 isn't difficult, it is quite easy to do. Yes, it does change encounter design, but largely lower level threats being a bit tougher and the higher level threats being a bit easier will balance out. The default +/-4 Level threat range effectively expands to +/-6 with a usable, albeit touchy, tail of +/-8 levels.

Remember, there is no change against equal level enemies. Because of HP, Damage Scaling, and inherent Potency bonuses, and proficiency increases there still exists a large amount of scaling as monsters level. This still constrains appropriate levels to a reasonable range. The super tight "ideal" +/- 2 Level Monster range from default is doubled to an ideal range of +/-4 Levels. By ideal range, I mean monsters that are most often going to be used and most appropriate to run against your party. Running the game without +Level means a monster that is 6 levels higher than your party is going to be a serious threat.

Sure, a horde of goblins with a bow can be a threat to a dragon, but mathematically because of auto hit 20s, than stock, and IMO its up to the DM to make that not a thing. And before we hear the arguments about there don't exist fantasy settings where that is a thing, I'll point out that it is so in the Witcher series. Hell, the "adventurers and heroes" there conspire to stop the peasants from figuring out they could take on the threats by themselves. Want to "fix" this problem, give every monster CR8+ or CR10+ DR5(or half level) to non magical damage, done, low level archers aren't killing your dragons now.

Yes, a couple of feats don't work, and listed DCs in spells etc need the same kind of adjustment as the bestiary, and some items like locks need new DCs. But, it comes with the huge advantage of being able to effectively remove the 10-2 Table. You get to use static DCs, and man that is easier. Numbers always mean something.

I've been running this houserule in effective playtest for over two months already. It works, and most of the kinks have been worked out. It isn't that difficult to use in practice. As far as I am concerned, it is is far better of a game than stock P2, P1, 3.5, and 5e. P2, with level scaling removed, is the game I want to be playing and the one I will be playing.

I'd love official support for that playstyle, the sooner the better.


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Emn1ty wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Except they really don't. Because the wizard isn't hitting people with a pointy thing like the fighter is. This is what the martial relies on. The wizards get it too, but it doesn't matter as much to them. They don't benefit as much, because they don't care about it as much.

In this edition it is actually far more worthwhile for the Wizard to hit something with a pointy thing than it was in previous editions; especially if you don't pick a decent damage dealing cantrip. And also because "gish" is baked into Sorcerer, Cleric and Wizard to some extent.

Just because "hitting with a pointy thing" isn't the classes primary draw or purpose doesn't mean that those classes don't benefit from automatically scaling their armor and ability to attack with weapons. The reality is that for almost half of a character's level progression a Wizard can be as competent as a Fighter with a staff or other weapons. The only difference between them is the breadth of weapons they can choose from (which can be further mitigated with ancestry).

I think this part of the discussion is losing sight of an important aspect: +level equally applies to spells, and matters to spells just as much as it does to pointy things. This is because spell DC and saves also scale with +level. With the effect of spells heavily dependent on the +/-10 mechanic, it's just as critical for casters to scale their DCs as it is for martials to scale their attack accuracy. In the same way, +level to AC is equivalent to +level to saves, and the impact of the mechanic is the same on all attacks modes whether physical or magical.

This is why houseruling this mechanic away is easy if one removes +level from everything: it only changes the high vs low level power balance. But if one starts to tinker with this selectively, like removing it from attacks and AC but not saves and spell DCs, then balance will be affected in all sorts of problematic ways.


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thejeff wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
With it in encounters with large numbers of lesser opponents will be essentially pointless.

Yeah, hordes are boring to fight anyway. "Everyone take a break while I roll 200 Attack rolls." (Though as Gorbacz says, the troop subtype might help that. From both ends.)

But I'm not talking hordes of mooks, just basic encounter design. Say 4 monsters 2 levels lower than the party. House ruling away the +1/level changes the difficulty of that, but by how much?
...

If +1/level were removed, a monster 2 levels lower than the party would effectively lose a -2 penalty to offense (attack rolls and spell DCs) and a -2 penalty to defense (AC and saving throws) relative to the party.

For quick estimates, I treat the baseline offense as DC 9, 60% chance of success which splits into 50% regular successes and 10% critical successes. Counting the critical successes as double, that is an expected offense of 14/20. The -2 penalty reduces that to 45% regular successes and 5% critical successes for an expected offense of 11/20. Removing the -2 penalty has a net improvement of 27% because (14/20)/(11/20) = 14/11 = 1.27.

For defense, the -2 penalty turns the monster's DC 9 into a DC 7. That gives the enemy an offense of 18/20. Removing the -2 penalty has a net improvement of 29% because (18/20)/(14/20) = 18/14 = 1.29. Yes, my fraction is upsidedown compared the the last paragraph, because here a better offense is worse, because it is the enemy's offense.

I am ignoring the change in skills, because that is monster vs. environment as opposed to monster vs. party. The combined change in offense and defense is a net 64% improvement, because (14/11)(18/14) = 1.64.

House ruling away the +1/level increases the difficulty of 4 monsters 2 levels lower than the party by 64%. That is a little over one level better.

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