My Second Edition Manifesto: The 2e that could be.


General Discussion


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Preamble

The playtest has been going on for quite a while, and after months of discussion and several rules updates, I've had a lot of time to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the system. I think there are a lot of good ideas, and even those aspects of the system which I have issues with, I think can be tweaked to make something really good. And it is for that reason that I am sharing with you an outline of how we can make the best of all possible second editions.

Some of these things I have commented on before, and some are things that have evolved over the course of the playtest. But I present it all together now because ultimately, each element affects the others, and thus a big picture approach is useful. That said, obviously many people will agree with some of my ideas while disagreeing with others, and that's fine too. This isn't meant to be a list of demands for what the system must be, but a vision of what the system could be, a template for the kind of changes that could truly elevate it to greatness.

Before we begin I feel it would be worth noting that most of the changes are in service of the following goals:

1. Increasing player choice
2. Supporting a wider variety of playstyles and story types.
3. Better utilizing existing design space and creating more room for growth.
4. Reducing the gulf between game mechanics and in-universe logic.

As you can see, my priorities here are about not just about improving the design to fit my tastes, but also to make the system as a whole more versatile and capable of appealing to a wider variety of people. Part of the problem with the "try the most extreme change first" method employed in the playtest is that those extreme changes tend to leave a lot less flexibility than moderate approaches, and a system ought to be flexible enough to work for people who have different tastes and priorities. That's why, for example, I am not throwing out the ability score boosts at character creation in favor of rolling stats, even though I have no intention of ever giving up rolling for character creation. Since that is something where the system can already support both playstyles, there is no need to comment.

Now, let's get to it.

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Character Creation and Feats

As many people have pointed out, ancestries are damn near empty at level 1, and it is very weird that it will take a dozen or more levels before you can start to actually feel like you are a member of your race. And at the same time, the fact that ancestry feats are mandatory means your character has to develop in a specific way even if you wanted them to be different. While separating feat progressions to better allow flavorful noncombat feats to exist is a good idea, forcing a specific type that players may not want is a mistake. As such, I propose the following changes.

Heritage Feats: Heritages are back to being called heritage feats (for what little difference that makes) and instead of getting a single one at level 1, you now get four. In this way, you can get a fully fleshed out member of your ancestry right at level 1. And because you can mix and match, there is less at stake for each individual selection, and therefore less pressure to pick the optimal choice over flavorful ones.

In addition, the Mixed Heritage general feat allows you to also count as a member of another ancestry, and take up to three of those heritage feats from that other ancestry. This allows for all playable humanoid races to be mixed as half-races. In order to keep half-orcs in core, orc is now a core race.

Ancestry Feats: Ancestry feats are no longer a category. All such feats are now sorted into other feat categories and simply have an ancestry as a prerequisite. You can still make Dwarfy McDwarferson, the Dwarfiest Dwarf who ever Dwarfed™, but you can also play a dwarf that is just a regular guy, or even one who is very un-dwarf-like, an anti-dwarf.

Feat Progression: All those ancestry feats you gained as you leveled up are now replaced with general feats. In addition, we introduce a new category, combat feats. Combat feats are, just as the name suggests, feats that focus on improving combat abilities. This category would not only allow any character to improve their abilities with a bow or sword, but also allows for things like unarmed combat, teamwork feats, and metamagic. It also provides an appropriate place for improving things like armor proficiency and saves for those who don't get them automatically from their class. Anything that is combat focused but not terribly specific to a single class can potentially go here. And by taking the generic combet feats out of class feats, we leave more room for flavorful and unique abilities for each class.

So, you get general feats and combat feats at all odd numbered levels, and class feats and skill feats at all even numbered levels. This creates a nice, smooth progression of 2 feats per level, one of which is largely combat focused, one of which is more likely noncombat.

Backgrounds: You now select three backgrounds, your first, second and third backgrounds. Each background offers three potential benefits, the first being a stat bonus, the second being a skill feat and the third being a lore skill. Effectively, backgrounds remain unchanged except that you get to pick three and choose which gives you the stat boost, which gives you the skill feat and which gives you the lore skill. Again, this allows for more player choice and more flavor, and also prevents the current problem where campaign specific backgrounds eliminate all other options because you only get one.

I also wouldn't mind seeing more variety in the types of things you can get from backgrounds, possibly replacing the skill feat or in the form of a fourth benefit that, like traits in 1e, can be anything.

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Life and Death

The dying system in the playtest is one of my biggest sticking points. By completely separating damage from death, they have turned the entire health system into the kind of save or die effect that the four degrees of success system has been working to eliminate, and also created a recurring problem with consequences since there is no lingering damage to heal. The addition of treat wounds was a step in the right direction, but it has a lot of flaws and easily healing to full renders damage meaningless from the opposite direction as well. All these problems can be eliminated while still getting the best of both worlds if we switch to a health and stamina based system.

Health and Stamina: HP gets replaced with health and stamina. You now start with health equal to your constitution score plus your race bonus (now 3, 4, or 5), and this does not scale with level, though certain things may cause it to increase, such as the toughness feat. Every level you gain stamina equal to your Con modifier plus your class bonus, now 3, 4, 5, or 6. Incoming lethal damage goes through stamina first before targeting health unless otherwise stated by a specific effect, such as a coup de grace. Nonlethal damage goes through stamina before piling up in a separate stack, causing unconsciousness if it ever exceeds your current health.

Healing: The fine details of how healing work could go a number of ways, but the basic concept is rather straightforward. Stamina heals quickly and easily, health heals slowly and at more cost. Leaning towards simplicity, I would suggest that healing magic should affect health at a third the rate it affects stamina, and that the caster can decide which to target first. Stamina heals naturally while resting at an hourly rate, health is restored naturally at a daily rate. Treat wounds can speed up this process, though restoring health require medical supplies by default, and cannot be used repeatedly on the same damage. Medicine comes in varying degrees of quality, giving tools to the GM to make restoring health easier or harder depending on preferred playstyles, and in a way that does not affect the balance of in combat healing.

Dying: Whenever your stamina is at 0, you are fatigued (or something like it). When your health is at 0 or below, you lose consciousness. When your health hits a negative value equal to or greater than your max health, you begin saving against death. If you fail the save you die, if you pass the save you live for another round, and if you crit the save you stabilize and make no more saves until you take damage. The DC for the save is determined by your negative health, so the more damage you take, the more likely you are to die. And because there is a decent size buffer between conscious and dying, you won't see people popping up and down over and over again in a single fight.

This system eliminates the arbitrariness of the current condition based system, and creates a better balance between allowing easy recovery between fights to keep the adventure going, while also allowing for some injuries to have a lingering consequences.

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Rolling the Dice

The math of 2e is both a strength and a weakness. While it is in a way brilliant and elegant, the entire system is kept in a stranglehold by the balancing issue it creates. Because a crit is always +10 or -10, the DCs for everything have be very tightly controlled, and bonuses have to be carefully guarded. Except, for some reason, we still get a level bonus which trumps all other bonuses combined.

Crits and Botches: The crit system gets a much needed overhaul to free up the math a bit and allow for some flexibility in design. As before, exceeding the DC can cause a crit, but now crits come in multiple levels which are triggered in increments of 5. The effects of crits are written out in a format similar to heightening. If you get a bonus for every 5 points by which you beat the DC it would be crit +1, if you get a bonus for every 10 it would be crit +2, and so on. For the sake of clarity, I would call the levels of critical failure botch -1, botch -2 and so on.

So an entry on treat wounds might look something like this:

  • Success: The target regains stamina equal to their level + their con.
  • Crit +1: The target regains additional stamina equal to their level + their con
  • Crit +2 (Max +2): You may expend 1 use of medical supplies to restore health to the target equal to their Con + the quality modifier of the medical supplies used, and the target becomes bolstered against this effect.
  • Failure: The target regains no stamina.
  • Botch -1: That target takes 1 point of nonlethal damage

    Not only would this allow for a tremendous amount of flexibility in the math, it would even allow for multiple crit or botch effects that trigger at different levels of success. And it's simple and takes up no more page space that the rigid 4 degrees we have now.

    1s and 20s: Because of this, we also reduce the extreme swinging of the dice a bit, as 20s and 1s become a flat +5/-5. Still enough to make them special, but not enough to make them routinely do idiotic things.

    Level Bonus: Level bonus is reduced to 1/4 level. This will keep the basic concept around, but reduces it to a much more reasonable progression, where level provides slightly less of a bonus than going from untrained to legendary. It also greatly expands the flexibility GMs have in putting together encounters without murdering the party or boring them to death. Having a 1/4 level bonus still allows for the party to be special, super powered heroes if you want to play that way, but doesn't preclude more down to earth stories for groups who prefer that sort of thing, the way the current system does.

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    Miscellaneous Changes

    The rest of these I would consider to be smaller things, but still too important for me to not mention them.

    Weapon Damage: Damage no longer scales monstrously. Weapon quality gives a flat bonus to attack and damage, while enchantments add cool effects. This not only makes a lot more sense when the quality bonus is nonmagical, it is also necessary to be compatible with the slower rate of stamina gain as described above. Damage scaling from other sources would obviously be affected as well, but that should go without saying.

    Size Modifiers: Size modifiers are back. Let's be honest, this was never hard to keep track of, and it very rarely ever changed. AC and attack go up, weapon damage and carryweight go down, certain specific skill uses are affected. Easy.

    Bulk: Bulk is gone and good riddance to it. This is pretty much the only thing about which I will say I could find no redeeming value. You want a simpler max carryweight calculation? Fine, strength score times X, Y, and Z for light medium and heavy, done. Want to switch to kilos instead of pounds? Fine with me. But this nonsense where nothing resembles a real world weight, and a scimitar is ten times the encumbrance of a short sword and half the encumbrance of a full set of chainmail? No. Just no.

    Resonance: Resonance, at least as it was, is gone. Individual magic items have their own limitations, whether that means that they are consumable or used x times per day. I would also prefer worn equipment be slot based, but I am not going to fight and die for that alone.

    Reactions: We want more of them. Everyone gets a few basic reactions just for being alive, conscious and capable of reacting to their surroundings. Things like hitting the deck, attempting to dodge or parry for a small AC bonus against a single attack, and taking a step can now be done as a reaction by anyone. As you you level up and gain feats, you can get more reactions and improve the ones you already have, but at least these basic things are always available. No more characters going into a vegetative state between turns, and consequently, all the more incentive for players to stay alert as well.

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    Conclusion

    And that's my list. Obviously there are a lot of little things that I could probably nitpick,* but these are the big system-wide things that I feel the need to comment on. Because while there will always be nits to pick, these are the things that will likely change whether my group and others like them decide to move over to 2e, or write it off as 4th edition all over again. And I don't say that lightly or maliciously, but as someone who genuinely sees parallels to the very situation the brought me into Pathfinder.

    2e needs to be a well designed system, and one which can appeal to many types of players and groups. Not only does it have to compete with D&D for the attention of newcomers to the hobby, it also has to compete with many other systems to hold onto existing players, and compete with it's own first edition. If 2e is not an improvement in the eyes of those who have been playing it, most will either stick with the current content and maybe hope for continued support and/or a system reboot from third party devs, or they will migrate to other games. God knows there is no shortage of games that I want to play but haven't had time for.

    Pathfinder has been able to keep me coming back because it is a system where I can play damn near any character I want in damn near any type of story I want. It is that variety that keeps me coming back, and that is the element that I want to make sure 2e retains. Without that, there is nothing to separate it from games like Shadowrun or VtM, which are certainly fun, but too restrictive to be the default option for the next big game your group plays. Even a very well designed 2e would only ever see a little use at my table if it continues down the path of limited story and character choice. If I'm going to be shoehorned into something, I'll choose to be shoehorned into something new that suits my mood at the time, such as Mistborn or Dresden Files.

    And that would be a shame, because I do see great potential in PF2e. I think this could be a great system, which is why I've posted this overly long manifesto on the subject. I want to see the system become the new default game at my table. I want it to be the system that I bring new people into. I want it to be the system that I can master over the next decade. And I want it to become so dear to me that I can have reservations about switching to a third edition.

    What do you guys think? Does this sound like a system you'd want to play or am I butchering an already good system? Are there sweeping changes you think could make 2E better? I'd love to hear it.

    *I could make a pretty big list of things that should be free actions but aren't. It's enough that I think it might be good to bring back swift actions, if only so we have a fifth action per turn reserved for paying these types of action taxes.


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    I like the amount of thought and energy you put into this, I however am against almost every single change, some because I like the original more and others because it simple seems to complicate rules without getting any benefit for the actual gameplay.

    For instance giving every single character a reaction would quickly result in fights taking much longer and might actually make any class feats or features that gave reactions bad because suddenly they would be competing with so many extra options.

    Getting more heritage feats and backgrounds seems like a good optional rule for the GM that wants more fleshed out characters, but picking 4 heritage feats (from different ancestries) and 3 backgrounds would make character creation for low-level characters much more difficult (unless the choices would be so bland they didn't matter) and low-level characters should be easy and fun to make not an exercise in complete system mastery and planning. When people have played the system for a year or two that would be a nice optional rule, maybe in the CRB but could also be in advanced players guide or something similar.

    I do like ancestry feats in the general feats section a lot more than you slowly gaining ancestry feats like the current system.
    Your crit system seems interesting, but again more as an optional rule to maybe come in a later book.
    Lowering overall health and damage might be fine and might make other weapons more comparable, not sure how the changes would feel without playing the game.

    Bulk and size modifiers is pretty far down on my list of priorities. Regarding size simplicity might be better than having size modifiers in the game, but it wouldn't matter much to me and whether bulk, kg or punds is used is completely arbitrary for me.

    It's nice to see a well thought out post and I like that you took the time; but personally I see almost all of it more as optional rules than basic level rules. But I do agree with your overall design goals, and assume that more options is already on the way in 1.6 and the final book.


    With that much changes i would say it wouldn't be 2e it would be a whole new game xD


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    I think most of your ideas would work pretty well. Some of 'em are a bit to fiddly, but those could easily be toned down. Good work, overall.

    Regarding bulk, I think the main mistake they made was in trying to make most objects fit the one-bulk model, which didn't give them quite enough of a way to differentiate. If they halved the scale (for example), making 5 lights add up to 1 bulk (and consequently more objects wind up as 2 bulk) and then, you know, being more consistent on what they feel is bulky...

    I dunno, maybe you're right. Maybe bulk is just a bad idea. I like what they were trying to do with it, though.

    Exo-Guardians

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    If you want my honest opinion, I would not play what you have presented, I think it's just a list of things people want to have so they can play ever more powerful characters and find new ways to subvert the intended goal of telling a story.


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    I really do want "combat" feats in addition to "general" feats. I don't think we are gonna get that though and--as a result--I am going to go to bed sad every night for the rest of my days.

    I don't know about many of this smaller tweeks though:
    For instance, the multiple backgrounds thing seems unwieldy and I think bulk is working fine enough.


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    The hit point & stamina system is excellent; exactly how such a system should work (what Starfinder completely failed to understand.)

    Your other suggestions are steps in the right direction, but I would prefer more radical solutions (esp. to the +1/level mess).

    It's a bit moot because no matter how well thought out and presented your suggestions are, they don't have any chance of being implemented...


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    Heritage Feats: I like this proposal. Starting Ancestry needs to feel far more impactful.

    Ancestry Feats: Strongly dislike this change. Ancestry feats over levels as a replacement for Templates/Level Adjustment/Racial feats is something I’m a big fan of.

    Feat Progression: Eh. I don't want to axe Ancestry feats and I’d prefer for all proficiency to be separated out into it’s own system ala Skill Increases. I'd be up for combat styles being accessible in General feats but the devs have said they want to do this with Archetypes so... As long as styles are accessible I'm good.

    Backgrounds: I don’t like picking three backgrounds. I’d like to see them be more impactful - powering up more Skill Feats to progress like Catfall would do the trick - but otherwise I like them as is.

    Health and Stamina: Not a fan.

    Healing: Don’t like the addition of Stamina so I don’t like this proposal.

    Dying: Same as above.

    Crits and Botches: I like this a great deal - especially for certain Skills.

    1s and 20s: I like it.

    Level Bonus: No. Either keep it at full level or remove level entirely. I don’t see any appeal to fractional progression.

    Weapon Damage: Eh. I like the current weapon scaling just not that it’s linked to magical weapons.

    Size Modifiers: I disagree. I like the small martials aren’t disadvantaged out of the gate.

    Bulk: Eh. I liked Bulk in Starfinder and I like it here. The character sheet makes it look super confusing but it’s actually a great simplification.

    Reactions: I like this proposal. I had an Alchemist yell “cover your ears” to allies before throwing a thunderstone and thought this really needs to be an option.


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    I like Makeitstop's suggestions a lot. I disagree with bringing back Size modifiers, but otherwise I'm on-board. Good work.


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    All of those ideas are interesting. I'd like to try them, one by one, on top of the playtest rules.

    Unfortunately, each of them also increases complexity in some way: Either complexity during play, or complexity of character building, or both. So, if we were to take all of them together, the game would be noticeably harder and slower to play. So I don't think I would take this as a package. It may be a valid option for an group consisting of expert, devoted folks, but not for mine.


    Makeitstop wrote:
    Level Bonus: Level bonus is reduced to 1/4 level. This will keep the basic concept around, but reduces it to a much more reasonable progression, where level provides slightly less of a bonus than going from untrained to legendary. It also greatly expands the flexibility GMs have in putting together encounters without murdering the party or boring them to death. Having a 1/4 level bonus still allows for the party to be special, super powered heroes if you want to play that way, but doesn't preclude more down to earth stories for groups who prefer that sort of thing, the way the current system does.

    The good thing about this one, is it is very easy to simply omit, or adjust (+1/4, +1/2 level, etc).

    I remove it, and transfer item bonuses and extra weapon damage to Trained Proficiency and Level.
    I am not fan of the whole UTEML deal, but I have left it alone, for now.


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    mostly good changes that improve a very flawed system


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    I kinda want to write up something like this, but I'd start from PF1 and not the playtest.

    I feel like OG PF1 (maybe even 3.5) is closer to what I would want out of a PF2 than what PF2 is shaping up to be.


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    thflame wrote:

    I kinda want to write up something like this, but I'd start from PF1 and not the playtest.

    I feel like OG PF1 (maybe even 3.5) is closer to what I would want out of a PF2 than what PF2 is shaping up to be.

    Yes, using 3rd Ed/PF as a base (5th Ed is sort of like 3rd Ed Lite, to me, in a good way), and the UA variants and houserules (also a few ports from 4th Ed) I already have, plus cannibalising PF2 (the playtest is a heavy, complex iteration), is where I see things going for when I want a more complex version of D&D.

    1st Ed AD&D can also be complex, incredibly, if you use all the bells and whistles (break out that DMG and really use all the combat and spell casting rules, etc). Basic, 2nd Ed AD&D, and 5th Ed, are the lighter, as D&D goes, of the editions, to me.


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    not sure i'm with everything you're saying, but a solid post nonetheless.

    especially dig the expanded ancetry feat amount at start and allowance for half-races of everything right out of the box--makes for so many interesting character designs without waiting till level 12! (some may go "oh but the powergamers will just pick the strongest--" they'll always exist and y'all need to just make peace with that).

    stamina i could take or leave--it makes repeated encounters less of a meatgrinder (good!), while requiring (along with the weapon damage scaling removal) a massive rework of all existing monsters, as well as complicating healing (bad!)

    while i agree that accuracy and crits need a major overhaul (as they're largely just "player punishment" at present), i'm not sure complicating it even further by adding more things to track for the effect gradient is the way to go.


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    Yeah, Bulk is trash, it has no correlation to anything real-world and doesn't even make sense in the game (shortsword vs longsword bulk is insane). You can't easily convert an object to bulk, given the wide variance - after all, a dagger and a shield are the same encumbrance. It's so much easier to work with weight and volume.

    At least switch back to weight and make bulk a sidebar if you must have it. If I need to know the size of an object based on mass, it takes 2 seconds to look up a density.


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    Recycling Kai:
    Heritage Feats: I like this proposal. Starting Ancestry needs to feel far more impactful.
    Ancestry Feats:
    Feat Progression:
    Backgrounds:
    I don’t mind just don't make it too complex.

    Health and Stamina: Not a fan, that's a different game. Should be an optional variant at best
    Healing: Ditto
    Dying: Same as above.

    Crits and Botches: Ok, but I'm concerned about it being too complex
    1s and 20s: OK.

    Level Bonus: Good idea. Not sure about the rate. Maybe quarter, maybe half. The progression is currently far too steep. Monsters just 2 levels behind the party get crushed very easily even when they have greater numbers.

    Weapon Damage: Eh. I like the current weapon scaling just not that it’s linked to magical weapons.

    Size Modifiers: It is needed but I like that the small martials aren’t too disadvantaged out of the gate.

    Bulk: Bulk is simple and I like it

    Reactions: Maybe there could be some more added. I dislike that some things like the Paladins Divine Grace bonus to saving throws is a reaction - which bascially means they will never use it as they only have one per round.


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    Gortle wrote:
    Weapon Damage: Eh. I like the current weapon scaling just not that it’s linked to magical weapons.

    Yes, that's a major peeve, for me, I would like it tied to Proficiency and Level.


    Lots of interesting ideas here. I kind of wish this was multiple threads, it's hard to reply to so many things at once.

    Heritage Feats: I understand why people like this, but throwing four feats at someone at first level is going to dramatically slow things down. This is really a preference thing so I understand where people are coming from, but I prefer the new system (warts and all) over a frontloaded one.

    That said, I don't feel strongly either way. If they went with this, I would be fine with it.

    Backgrounds: I'd prefer background become divorced from stats entirely, so I can pick it for thematic reasons without weakening my character due to the math assuming I made the optimized choice. Without the stat, I like this proposal.

    Health and Stamina: Strong dislike. There is too much complexity and too many pools of stuff already, we absolutely do not need another one for something that works the way it is. Dying rules are the issue, fix that.

    Healing: Strong dislike. Spells doing different things depending on which pool of health they're working on is needlessly complicated.

    Dying: Dying still needs looking at, but since I don't like the other two suggestions this relies on, this isn't workable.

    Crits and Botches: Not a fan, again it adds extra complexity when trying to do something. If I'm trying to use a skill, I prefer a simple "I succeed or I fail and stuff happens" model that keeps the game moving, rather than having to do math and then open the book to consult a table to figure out which of six possible outcomes I got. It's bad enough that we have four on things where it would work better without them (Treat Wounds), adding more is going to slow things down even more.

    1s and 20s: I'm indifferent, honestly. It could work.

    Level Bonus: I'd probably use 1/2, but I understand the appeal.

    Weapon Damage: Changing this necessitates changing a lot of other stuff, but I'm on board with weapons doing interesting things rather than just "moar dice!" That said, it does feel pretty cool when my Goblin Fighter swings a greatsword for 4d12, so maybe I like the weapon dice after all. :D

    Size Modifiers: Size modifiers were fiddly things that cause my game to have to consult a table frequently and didn't tend to matter a lot in the grand scheme of things. I don't miss them.

    Bulk: 100% with you. Bulk is a dumpster fire and makes things more confusing instead of less by how absurdly disconnected from reality it is. It's far too imprecise. Weight isn't perfect, but it works and everyone intuitively understands what it means. Scrap this mess entirely and revert to 1e.

    Reactions: Agreed. Reactions are underused right now. I wish I could use shield block without first having to raise my shield, because if I do something crazy like both move and cast a spell, my shield becomes a dead weight and I have a reaction I can't use. Divorce those two things (one gives the +2 AC, the other gives shield block's effect). And add more reactions so more characters get use out of it.


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    Tridus wrote:
    Backgrounds: I'd prefer background become divorced from stats entirely, so I can pick it for thematic reasons without weakening my character due to the math assuming I made the optimized choice. Without the stat, I like this proposal.

    Ah, yes, I like that classes increase scores (something 5th Ed had during the playtest, then dropped it upon release, lame), but I would prefer backgrounds give other benefits, like skill access, equipment, languages, etc.

    Sovereign Court

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    oholoko wrote:
    With that much changes i would say it wouldn't be 2e it would be a whole new game xD

    So sort of like the changes from 1e to 2e should make it a whole new game?


    I would like to see general feats at all odd levels,

    1st level should be:
    Heritage feat,
    3 ancestry feats,
    General feat,

    As most ancestry feats are weak and same goes for skill feats, any time you get general feat you can take one ancestry feat and one skill feat instead.

    Also for class feats:

    As general feat you should be able to take bonus class feats equal to half your level, round up if its your base class and round down if it is a feat from your multiclass list.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Also recycling Kai:
    Heritage Feats: I think this has logistics issues. Four feats at level 1 mean there need to be 10-12 heritage feats for each race to give meaningful choice... and they all have to balanced as level 1 feats. On top of this, I think it takes the "heritage" out of heritages. One of the things I really like about heritages compared to 1e's alternate racial abilities is the strong "these are snowcaster elves, these are the abilities they have", as opposed to "I'm going to LEGO my race with these two snowcaster elf feats, this Kyonin elf feat, and this desert elf feat".
    Ancestry Feats: I really like Ancestry Feats, I wouldn't want to see them rolled into General feats.

    Feat Progression: Giving every class 2x as many combat feats is going to make characters massively more powerful and require a complete rebalance of the entire game. Plus, it makes the balance a lot more swingy (this character picked 20 flavorful combat feats, this character picked 20 optimal combat feats, hard to balance monsters for both; that's true of the current system, but the more widgets you give players the more true it is).

    Backgrounds: Same issue as with races, I prefer cleanly defined thematic and loreful backgrounds to LEGO characters.

    Health and Stamina: I liked Stamina in Starfinder, but I think I prefer Treat Wounds in Pathfinder.
    Healing: Ditto
    Dying: Same as above.

    Crits and Botches: This sounds far more complex than anyone wants to have to remember.
    1s and 20s: I honestly prefer that 1 and 20 don't do anything special at all, but having them be +5/-5 is maybe a good compromise.

    Level Bonus: Pass. I like +1/level, it keeps the math closer to PF1e and makes conversions easier. It also just plain makes the math easier in general, while keeping challenge ratings tight - which I see as a feature, not a bug.

    Weapon Damage: I like weapon damage scaling, it helps keep the math predictable between martials and spells.

    Size Modifiers: Pass. Losing weapon damage is way too crippling of a penalty and I'm glad to see it gone. On the flip side, size giving an AC and accuracy bonus is too strong, and the penalty to the same would make spells that make you larger suck.

    Bulk: In the ten years I've been running Pathfinder I've never been able to get my players to track weight. They had no problems tracking Bulk.

    Reactions: I don't want to muddy round-by-round decisions by adding a bunch of basic reactions, especially since class-based reactions would have to compete with those for viability and keeping track of that many options is just painful. I do want to see more reactions in general, but I'd prefer them to be character-specific and tied to level up choices instead of generic.


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    MaxAstro wrote:
    Level Bonus: Pass. I like +1/level, it keeps the math closer to PF1e and makes conversions easier. It also just plain makes the math easier in general,

    Not really, as removing it is one less thing to add (so, easier).


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Oh, good point, I should clarify that.

    The math that it makes easier is adventure design, which is a thing I do a lot of. Namely, "what range of bonuses will challenge a level 8 party without killing them?" That question is much harder to answer in a +0/level system.

    I don't feel there is a meaningful difference from the player's point of view between "the number I write on my character sheet is ability plus level plus bonuses" and "the number I write on my character sheet is ability plus bonuses".


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    MaxAstro wrote:

    1) The math that it makes easier is adventure design, which is a thing I do a lot of. Namely, "what range of bonuses will challenge a level 8 party without killing them?" That question is much harder to answer in a +0/level system.

    2) I don't feel there is a meaningful difference from the player's point of view between "the number I write on my character sheet is ability plus level plus bonuses" and "the number I write on my character sheet is ability plus bonuses".

    1) It does tighten up threat ranges.

    2) I feel it can be meaningful; aesthetically, number inflation, more addition for those not so mathematically-inclined, vibe.

    Anyway, we know it's simple to omit or dial up or down; intentionally, it would seem, which is nice design. I like built in modularity.


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    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    The number inflation thing is a valid point, I agree. I'm also not a fan of having to rewrite the whole character sheet each level.

    Actually, one thing I would be hugely in favor of is a simple change to the character sheet where values just have a "+L" or "+Level" next to them, and what you write on the character sheet is the value without level. That way you would only need to rewrite the things that changed other than level, each level.

    Not sure if that would be helpful or harmful to the less math-inclined, though.


    MaxAstro wrote:

    The number inflation thing is a valid point, I agree. I'm also not a fan of having to rewrite the whole character sheet each level.

    Actually, one thing I would be hugely in favor of is a simple change to the character sheet where values just have a "+L" or "+Level" next to them, and what you write on the character sheet is the value without level. That way you would only need to rewrite the things that changed other than level, each level.

    Not sure if that would be helpful or harmful to the less math-inclined, though.

    I've been doing that anyway, precisely because I don't want to erase an extra box on every line to change it every level. The number there that matters is what you're adding to your level, since you know the level goes in.


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    A lot of great comments in here, both for and against my proposals. I am going to try to respond to as many of you guys as I can, but thanks to all of you for your feedback.

    MER-c wrote:
    If you want my honest opinion, I would not play what you have presented, I think it's just a list of things people want to have so they can play ever more powerful characters and find new ways to subvert the intended goal of telling a story.

    It's funny because the other place I posted this, I got accused of trying to take away everyone's super-powered badass characters just for reducing the level bonus.

    But I can understand how you would come to that conclusion. Ultimately, I am not trying to make characters more powerful, but I am trying to broaden the sources of character power.

    Power that comes solely from your level is boring, particularly when it dwarfs actual character build choices. A reduction in the class bonus makes all other bonuses more significant in the balance of the game, and broadens the range of potential encounters. That range increases just a little more with the health and stamina proposal as well, since you get a bit more durability at level 1 and less increase per level thereafter.

    Power that comes from your class is great, but is inherently limited to the theme and role of the class. This was (mostly) fine in 1e, because no matter what class you played, you had feats at every other level which were usually used to increase your combat abilities, and could do so in just about any way you could imagine. Characters of any class could take archery feats, or teamwork feats, not just the ones that had that as part of their planned role. But in 2e, the general feats and skill feats are designed to be less combat oriented, with all that combat focused stuff being rolled back into class feats. Classes no longer feel like a chassis on which to build a character, they feel like a limitation you impose on yourself at level 1. The design of the game is telling you that you are to stay in your lane and play what they tell you to play.

    In essence, my feat proposal is saying that instead of taking the combat focus out of general feats and throwing it into your class, we should put it into a separate feat progression. In doing so, you don't increase combat power as much as you increase variety of build options.

    Power that comes from ancestry feats also become a restriction when you are forced to take them as you level up, even if they do not really belong in your character concept. This is where the idea of heritages/heritage feats is a good one, but one which should be expanded to make ancestries more meaningful right out of the gate. Since they can represent innate abilities, they don't really clash with character choice in quite the same way. And while some people seem to want ancestry to become little more than a cosmetic choice, I and many others have always liked playing interesting races just as much as interesting classes, and the mechanics are critically important to that kind of enjoyment. That's why many people who dislike the current state of ancestries complain that you basically only get to be an elf/dwarf/gnome/whatever at level 17.

    Other than that, the only slight power level increase I think I argued for was reactions for everyone, which isn't really a big boost of any kind, just a better utilization of a lot of wasted design space. Getting a +1 to AC against a single attack because you declared you would use your reaction to dodge, or falling prone to get a bonus against ranged attacks only to have to get up on your next turn, that's hardly the stuff of legends.

    As you said, the goal (for many) is telling a story. I firmly believe that the above changes contribute to that goal because they increase the choices players have regarding what kind of characters they will bring to that story.

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