Feedback and concerns on the math of Pathfinder 2


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I appreciate this could probably find a home in another thread, however most was typed while in transit, and I have a small mountain of work to finish from home, limiting my forum browsing time to… well, not much, sadly. Apologies for the extra thread in advance

There are a lot of brilliant ideas in Pathfinder 2nd edition, and I have to applaud the Paizo team for their dedication to the game, courage in trying out new ideas and systems in a hobby we are all so passionate about, and discipline and level-headedness when that passion flares up over disagreements.

That being said, I have some concerns with a few of the bold ideas being presented as part of the playtest, having had a bit of time to tangle with them.

1) Critical Hits
Short Version:I do not think the multiple attack penalty and creature design it demands is particularly compatible with the +10/-10 critical system. The ‘point of balance’ for both PCs and monsters is to push for a high probability to hit on the first, moderate on the second, and low on the third. Unfortunately, this runs counter to the tight math the critical hit margin system requires, and means that critical hits – especially of high attack bonus monsters – occur a lot, and specifically a lot more than people were expecting, leading to combat feeling rather brutal at times.

Long Version:
Iterative attacks were crunchy, but smart design (bear with me, here). Granting extra attacks at full bonus increases damage in big spikes (which is bad for game progression), and makes AC vs attack tricky to balance with combat being very swingy. That being said, 3rd edition had characters both increasing their damage per attack, AND increasing their number of attacks as they levelled - i.e. Damage was exponential (aka quadratic) while durability was linear.

PF2 no longer increases the number of attacks you make with level, but instead fixes it at a max of 3 (4 with haste). It also applies a multiple attack penalty for similar reasons that iterative attack penalties were a good thing for game balance; ensuring diminishing returns from spending extra actions to attack, and broadening the range of ‘viable’ target numbers. From what I can see, the system is designed around the concept that your (and their) first attack should probably hit, the second might hit, and the third is just if you're feeling lucky.

And that is fine. Great even, as it was the basis of Pathfinder 1st Edition and has been enjoyed for a decade.

However, when combined with a +10/-10 critical margin system, it means that the first attack isn't simply very likely to hit, but also likely to crit - typically with the same odds as the last attack does of hitting. Rather than critical hits being rare, they occur frequently, especially against players, given that monsters seem to have high attack bonuses for their level.

Perhaps if crits were a lot less brutal than the PF1/PF2 "double damage" paradigm, it would be less swingy... But as it stands, the tight math required for the critical margin system seems decidedly at odds with the spread-of-numbers that is at the heart of the iterative/multiple attack penalty mechanic. And as much as I like the idea of the critical margin system... I think the multiple attack penalty vs middle-ground target numbers makes for a better system overall.

2) PC Damage Calculation
Short Version: I do not understand the reasoning behind switching the main contributors of PC weapon damage from feats, class features and ability scores to the potency of their magic weapon. I honestly feel that the Pathfinder 1st edition weapon damage calculation was much more rewarding, as Pathfinder 2nd Edition it is almost exclusively driven by the size of the potency rune, making it (for me at least) less about how cool my players are, and more about how shiny their magic sword is.

Long Version:
The revised action economy requires that PC damage-per-attack increase, but this was already the case in Pathfinder 1st Edition, and applying the Pathfinder Unchained alternate action economy achieved a similar result; more linear scaling of damage vs level of player characters and less rocket tag.

In Pathfinder 1st Edition damage was generally determined by a combination of Power Attack (or Deadly Aim, or Piranha Strike), Strength (or Dex), class features, feats, magic weapon bonuses, and buffs, and generally (unnecessary disclaimer: but not always) in that order. The enhancement bonus of your weapon was a significant factor, as was items granting enhancement bonuses to your Strength or Dexterity, but for the most part your ability to deal damage was at least as much about your character’s skill and experience as it was about your equipment.

Example: Take a 9th level fighter with a +2 greatsword, and Str 22 (16 + 2 from level + 4 enhancement from belt). His attack bonus is +17 (9 BAB + 2 greatsword + 2 weapon training -3 Power Attack + 1 Weapon Focus + 6 Strength), and he deals 2d6+22 (9 Strength + 2 enhancement + 2 weapon training + 9 power attack) per hit. Of that, 4 points of attack (23.5%) and 5 points of damage (17%) come from magic items – the rest is from the fighter himself.

In Pathfinder 2nd Edition damage is primarily derived from your weapon potency rune (for PCs at least), with ability scores contributing a minor amount, and class features and feats doing precious little to the numbers. Class features are more likely to reduce or negate a multiple attack penalty rather than affect damage-on-hit numbers. Perhaps the motivation was to try and streamline and control player damage by having it be determined by items that could be handed out via level milestones… but the net effect, to me at least, pushes the premise that the sword is generally more important than the choices of the person wielding it.

Example: A comparable 9th level fighter with a +2 greatsword, and Str 19 (18 +1 from level). His attack bonus is +15 (9 + 2 master + 2 weapon + 4 Strength), and his damage is 3d12+4 (2d12 magic sword, +4 Strength). In this, 13% of his attack bonus is from the weapon, but 55% of his damage is from the potency rune. In the interest of disclosure; yes, the fighter could use Power Attack to make one attack dealing 6d12+4 damage in lieu of two separate attacks, which is an overall damage upgrade due to the increased accuracy, however in such circumstances the potency rune is a whopping 60% of the damage dealt.

Perhaps there is an advantage in terms of gameplay, balance or immersion buried within this change, but I am afraid I am simply not seeing it. In essence, what matters most is the level of the character and the size of the potency rune – the other modifiers are dwarfed by these two.

3) Number Scaling
This is related to the previous two in a way, admittedly.

Short Version: Most numerical bonuses are chiefly derived from level, then magic item, then ability score, and finally proficiency in Pathfinder 2nd Edition. My concern is that the former two are not character choices, and significantly dwarf the latter, which are. To me, the drive to constrain the numbers has pushed it to the point where the choices a player makes do not feel like they make enough of a difference, compared to the baked in numbers of the system.

Long Version:
While I appreciate the desire to have less divergence of numbers than in Pathfinder 1st Edition at higher levels, I feel Pathfinder 2nd Edition has gone significantly too far to homogenize the achievable numbers and prevent players from pushing their numbers either too high or too low. Instead, characters are forced to exist within a relatively (compared to other games) narrow band for our given level.

The +Level Complaint: The reason that “+ Level to everything” is unpopular is not (I think) because people dislike having a scaling factor to ensure players experience an appropriate level of challenge with given levels of opponent/obstacle. I believe it is unpopular because it is a) not something they get to choose, and b) overwhelms the bonus granted by what they do get to choose. In other words, it makes people feel like their choices matter less.

And unfortunately, such feelings are somewhat justified. Yes, the +1 bonus from Expert is still functionally useful, but its importance is easy to get lost in the noise of the +level and d20 roll.

The Case of the Impossible Con: As both a player and GM, I like social scenes in my games, and one of the cornerstones of social encounters is that, because it isn’t usually a combat encounter, the NPCs in question do not need to be a combat challenge in order to be a social challenge for the PCs…. At least in Pathfinder 1st Edition. Pathfinder 2nd Edition has the problem that not only is Sense Motive rolled into Perception, but everyone is trained in it and adds their level to it, making the ability for low level characters to meaningfully use social skills against the PCs… hard.

Intentionally or no, by hard-coding level into everything, it means that in order to pose a challenge to the PCs in any way, an NPC must pose a challenge to the PC in every way by being of sufficient level to be viable. This is a lot more restrictive on social encounters that I expected, or am particularly comfortable with, I'm afraid.

Lament for the bard:

On a tangent: The bard is one of my favourite classes in Pathfinder, in part because of its incredible versatility. It is also a class that carries a lot of baggage, as the stereotype of the foppish, useless, prancing minstrel has dogged its heels for decades. Statements like "Bards make a great 5th party member, because you have the basics covered and they make you better" have been uttered more times than I can count.

I was thrilled with the move Pathfinder 1st Edition made to turn the Bard from the jester of the adventuring class ensemble to a genuine hero and protagonist in their own right; streamlined mechanics, potent spells and a pile of varied and interesting archetypes. I had hoped this trend would continue, and looked forward to seeing the next evolution of the class.

I must confess to being somewhat (okay, in truth, profoundly) disappointed with the Pathfinder 2nd Edition bard.

In a sense, I understand and can sympathise: If the majority of the customers genuinely wish for the return to stereotype for the class, such that it 'feels like the bard they knew', then fulfilling said market demand is probably the best course of action for Paizo. I had, however, been hopeful that the bard would have remained a versatile character class, capable of being a hero in its own right rather than a party-buff machine (noting that such characters get progressively less effective in smaller parties).

Alas, poor dervish dancer, I knew you well.


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Don't know what you're talking about with the Bard, making them occult casters is far more important (for giving them a reason to exist and getting rid of their awful thematics) than keeping them as party buffers is a problem. But I agree they should have choice of other cantrips than inspire courage.

For bonuses you're right on item bonuses being far more important than proficiency, I think the game would be better if item bonus were removed, and proficiency increases for skills gave more than +1.

But it's not the +level to bonuses that drowns out a +1 bonus, that's just d20 being very random. The level bonus only matters for different level challenges, if everyone is the same level it's as if it isn't there.


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citricking wrote:

Don't know what you're talking about with the Bard, making them occult casters is far more important (for giving them a reason to exist and getting rid of their awful thematics) than keeping them as party buffers is a problem. But I agree they should have choice of other cantrips than inspire courage.

For bonuses you're right on item bonuses being far more important than proficiency, I think the game would be better if item bonus were removed, and proficiency increases for skills gave more than +1.

But it's not the +level to bonuses that drowns out a +1 bonus, that's just d20 being very random. The level bonus only matters for different level challenges, if everyone is the same level it's as if it isn't there.

I appreciate this assessment of +level SO MUCH, this is exactly how I've been considering it and have tried to convey that elsewhere. It exists almost solely to apply a tangible general powerup effect to the idea of gaining a "level".


Come on, can you not see that guy in the tree over there...


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Edge93 wrote:
citricking wrote:

Don't know what you're talking about with the Bard, making them occult casters is far more important (for giving them a reason to exist and getting rid of their awful thematics) than keeping them as party buffers is a problem. But I agree they should have choice of other cantrips than inspire courage.

For bonuses you're right on item bonuses being far more important than proficiency, I think the game would be better if item bonus were removed, and proficiency increases for skills gave more than +1.

But it's not the +level to bonuses that drowns out a +1 bonus, that's just d20 being very random. The level bonus only matters for different level challenges, if everyone is the same level it's as if it isn't there.

I appreciate this assessment of +level SO MUCH, this is exactly how I've been considering it and have tried to convey that elsewhere. It exists almost solely to apply a tangible general powerup effect to the idea of gaining a "level".

I don’t think you understood the point.

+level matters when you have differences in level.
It’s what causes the +10/-10 crit/critfail to have variable frequency, it’s what gives spellcasting effectiveness.
It’s not just ‘illusory growth’, it’s a massive core mechanic. It simply happens to not impact things when you end up against a same level foe/challenge, as it cancels out. but that’s not supposed to be the norm.


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Ediwir wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
citricking wrote:

Don't know what you're talking about with the Bard, making them occult casters is far more important (for giving them a reason to exist and getting rid of their awful thematics) than keeping them as party buffers is a problem. But I agree they should have choice of other cantrips than inspire courage.

For bonuses you're right on item bonuses being far more important than proficiency, I think the game would be better if item bonus were removed, and proficiency increases for skills gave more than +1.

But it's not the +level to bonuses that drowns out a +1 bonus, that's just d20 being very random. The level bonus only matters for different level challenges, if everyone is the same level it's as if it isn't there.

I appreciate this assessment of +level SO MUCH, this is exactly how I've been considering it and have tried to convey that elsewhere. It exists almost solely to apply a tangible general powerup effect to the idea of gaining a "level".

I don’t think you understood the point.

+level matters when you have differences in level.
It’s what causes the +10/-10 crit/critfail to have variable frequency, it’s what gives spellcasting effectiveness.
It’s not just ‘illusory growth’, it’s a massive core mechanic. It simply happens to not impact things when you end up against a same level foe/challenge, as it cancels out. but that’s not supposed to be the norm.

But this was said in the context of OP saying +level drowned out build choices in effectiveness. Everything gets +level, so if you're comparing what kind of character you make and how your build choices affect that, it doesn't matter.


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citricking wrote:
Ediwir wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
citricking wrote:

Don't know what you're talking about with the Bard, making them occult casters is far more important (for giving them a reason to exist and getting rid of their awful thematics) than keeping them as party buffers is a problem. But I agree they should have choice of other cantrips than inspire courage.

For bonuses you're right on item bonuses being far more important than proficiency, I think the game would be better if item bonus were removed, and proficiency increases for skills gave more than +1.

But it's not the +level to bonuses that drowns out a +1 bonus, that's just d20 being very random. The level bonus only matters for different level challenges, if everyone is the same level it's as if it isn't there.

I appreciate this assessment of +level SO MUCH, this is exactly how I've been considering it and have tried to convey that elsewhere. It exists almost solely to apply a tangible general powerup effect to the idea of gaining a "level".

I don’t think you understood the point.

+level matters when you have differences in level.
It’s what causes the +10/-10 crit/critfail to have variable frequency, it’s what gives spellcasting effectiveness.
It’s not just ‘illusory growth’, it’s a massive core mechanic. It simply happens to not impact things when you end up against a same level foe/challenge, as it cancels out. but that’s not supposed to be the norm.
But this was said in the context of OP saying +level drowned out build choices in effectiveness. Everything gets +level, so if you're comparing what kind of character you make and how your build choices affect that, it doesn't matter.

Only vs. = Level opponents, otherwise it's an extremely tight threat-range.

Silver Crusade

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The +10/-10 critical system also requires eliminating a lot of bonus stacking, so that some buffs can become irrelevant. For instance, in Affair at Sombrefell Hall, my cleric cast Sanctified Ground, only to discover that the Bard's Inspire Courage was now useless, because they both give conditional bonuses.


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The "math" in the title lured me in to this thread, but Raynulf's math is complete so there is nothing for me to add to it. (Well, I do have several pages of detailed analysis that I will post one day, but not here.)

Instead, my eye was caught by the sentence in the Number Scaling section, "Most numerical bonuses are chiefly derived from level, then magic item, then ability score, and finally proficiency ...." Pathfinder 2nd Edition incorporates level into proficiency bonus, so the numbers scaling up by level is supposed to represent greater proficiency. However, in most threads, "proficiency" has become short for proficiency rank: untrained, trained, expert, master, and legendary--rather than proficiency modifier. In fact, if you ask most people what is the proficiency modifier for a 4th-level expert skill, they will answer that expert is +1, ignoring that the full proficiency modifier is level+1, so the correct proficiency modifier is +5.

The Paizo developers tried hard to say that the +1 per level represents better proficiency, but our brains just reject that notion. We accept extra hit points, class abilities, feats, and increased skill ranks as earned through experience, but the +1 per level still feels unearned and we separate it from the term "proficiency."

Raynulf wrote:
I had, however, been hopeful that the bard would have remained a versatile character class, capable of being a hero in its own right ...

I have my own lament and suggestions for the bard in Bard Skills: Performance and Occultism, which begins, "My wife is creating a 7th-level bard character for Affair at Sombrefell Hall. I hate watching her suffer. Bards had been one of her favorite classes, both because she is a musician and because she likes versatile, flamboyant characters. The playtest bard is only 1/3 as versatile as the PF1 bard. And they don't seem musical. They are occult."

Her D&D 3rd Edition bard Black Angus was a full heroic character, though he often came across as 2nd-best at everything. His ambition was to become a royal explorer (a D&D prestige class from a splatbook), so he was more serious than a foppish minstrel. Her Pathfinder bard Moonrider was weird, a lyrakien who worked directly for Desna as an emissary, which gave her a great deal of status that she deliberately downplayed. She claimed to be on vacation, but Desna herself had hinted she should aid the party. Other bards in shorter games were not as well developed, but they served the skill monkey role as well as any rogue.

Due to illnesses and a wedding, we still have not played Affair at Sombrefell Hall, so I don't yet know how a PF2 bard performs in practice (puns fully intended).

citricking wrote:
But it's not the +level to bonuses that drowns out a +1 bonus, that's just d20 being very random. The level bonus only matters for different level challenges, if everyone is the same level it's as if it isn't there.

Trying to keep everything at the same level makes the world unrealistic.

GM: Okay, yesterday you rescued the mayor's daughter from Baron Obnox's castle and learned that the baron's cult is holding a mystic ritual in the tower of the castle today, so today you return. And by yesterday, I mean game time. You have had a full week to level up your characters and I don't want any excuses. I've been busy leveling up the baron and his minions.
PLAYER 1: Why did they level up?
GM: Because you are returning to the castle. You need a level-appropriate challenge.
PLAYER 1: We leveled up because of the xp we earned from rescuing the mayor's daughter. What did they do to level up?
GM: Nothing. But you need tougher opponents now.
PLAYER 2: And we hear that the heart of the cult in the Catskill Mountains. Won't that be the next level-appropriate challenge, against the high priest himself? Stopping the baron's little branch of the cult is just mopping up.
PLAYER 3: I see the castle being on high alert with more guard patrols because we broke in yesterday. That'll be facing organized mooks in large groups. You can make that the challenge. You can't justify everyone in the castle suddenly getting better. They were sitting on their hands not realizing that we had broken into the prison block.
GM: I can't make large groups. They're the same level, they'll overwhelm you.
PLAYER 3: Large groups of yesterday's guards. We can handle low-level groups, like we had in PF 1st Edition.


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PCScipio wrote:
The +10/-10 critical system also requires eliminating a lot of bonus stacking, so that some buffs can become irrelevant. For instance, in Affair at Sombrefell Hall, my cleric cast Sanctified Ground, only to discover that the Bard's Inspire Courage was now useless, because they both give conditional bonuses.

Yeah that part bugs me. The number of things that don't stack with a Bard is remarkable.


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the new design I think is excellent.. the problem with P1 is that it was very easy to create characters of the same class and level with vastly different power levels, and it was also very difficult for a GM to maintain the power levels of the game because there was a bit too much player agency. by transferring damage from classes, feats, etc to magic weapons, it makes it easier to write adventures that work for all characters at the appropriate regardless of the choices made by the players. it also allows GM's the ability to more easily control the power level of the game they want to run, since the vast majority of the power is coming from magic items, which the GM can easily asses and control.

+1 level bonus is really more about world building in my opinion. for example if the game were +0 you would have a shadowrun/wheel of time world, where being high level isn't much of an accomplishment, and every fight even versus low level opponents can be very dangerous. +1 really just means that characters can feel heroic. since a high level character will enjoy a significant advantage over a low level one. it's more about the tone of the world than the actual math in my opinion.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

You know, I would actually place Wheel of Time as a +1/level setting.

On the one hand, it's very dangerous for common (low level) characters.

On the other hand, how many trollocs does it take to seriously threaten Mat or Perrin by the end of the series? Mat literally casually wades into an army to get a feel for the battle, and it's clear that at no point is he in any actual danger. Perrin has a couple similar feats, and that's totally disregarding Rand who could of course just massacre an army whenever he felt like it.

To me, that sounds like level 15+ PCs vs an army of level 5 monsters. :)


Raynulf wrote:
the fighter could use Power Attack to make one attack dealing 6d12+4 damage in lieu of two separate attacks, which is an overall damage upgrade due to the increased accuracy, however in such circumstances the potency rune is a whopping 60% of the damage dealt.

I actually did the math as part of my analysis of TWF, and Power Attack is nearly always a trap. Once potency runes start entering the equation, a second attack will always be more useful.

I have the same fighter as you do, although the attack bonus is +17 (your breakdown is correct; the sum's just off), and faced him up against a Treant (AC 25, CR 8) for benchmarking.

The first attack and Power Attack both have a 65% chance of landing and a 15% chance of critting, for a total of 80% of the expected damage. The second attack has a 40% chance of landing and a 5% chance of critting, for a total of 45% of the expected damage.

Suppose the probability of a hit is p, the probability of a critical is r, and the expected damage on a regular hit is n. Because the greatsword simply doubles damage on a critical, as opposed to deadly weapons adding different dice, the expected damage output is n*(p-r)+2n*r = np-nr+2nr = np+nr = n(p+r). I.e. I can add the probability of the d20 roll being a regular success and of it being a critical to get a multiplier on expected damage.

Also, I had to look up whether it was deadly, fatal, or lethal I was thinking of.

The damage for both regular attacks is 3d12+4, which is an average of 23.5, while the damage for the Power Attack is 4d12+4, which is an average of 30. 80% of those is 18.8 and 24 damage respectively, so Power Attack gives a boost of +5.2 damage over the first strike. But 45% of 23.5 is 10.575 expected damage from the second strike, which is over twice what Power Attack gives you.

Your math is correct in that, if Power Attack actually doubled the damage dice, it would always be the superior option. But since it always gives 1 extra die before level 10 and 2 extra dice after level 10, it becomes a trap option as soon as magic items enter the equation.

If you remove the +2 to-hit from the magic weapon, it's reduced to 60% of the expected damage on the first hit, 30% on the second, and 10% on the third, for an incredibly easy to calculate "The expected damage over all three strikes is just the expected damage of one strike, given you hit normally". Which, removing the dice from the magic weapon, is 1d12+4 or 10.5. But because the weapon's non-magical, Power Attack is useful again and boosts the expected damage to 11.25. Either way, that's about 2/3 of the expected 32.9 damage from hitting three times with a +2 greatsword attributable to the potency rune.

For comparison, a CR 9 AMCREL has AC 22. Running the math, the Fighter 9 with magic items expects to do 25.52 damage in a standard attack or 43.065 in a full attack, while the one without magic items expects to do 15.84 or 25.08 respectively. That's 38% of damage attributable to the magic items in a standard attack or 42% in a full attack. Not quite the 17% you presented it as, but still less significant than 66% in 2e.

ikarinokami wrote:
it also allows GM's the ability to more easily control the power level of the game they want to run, since the vast majority of the power is coming from magic items, which the GM can easily asses and control

That wouldn't be a problem if the game math didn't assume you have magic items. You're literally cutting down your fighter's damage output to 33% of what it could be by not given them a level-appropriate magic item.


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MaxAstro wrote:

You know, I would actually place Wheel of Time as a +1/level setting.

On the one hand, it's very dangerous for common (low level) characters.

On the other hand, how many trollocs does it take to seriously threaten Mat or Perrin by the end of the series? Mat literally casually wades into an army to get a feel for the battle, and it's clear that at no point is he in any actual danger. Perrin has a couple similar feats, and that's totally disregarding Rand who could of course just casually massacre an army whenever he felt like it.

To me, that sounds like level 15+ PCs vs an army of level 5 monsters. :)

It makes perfect sense for how those characters progress, yeah. Level 1 Rand/Mat/Perrin are extremely threatened by a few Trollocs. Before long they're able to fight them with difficulty, then more easily, then they become the minions of the real foes rather than a threat in their own right.

By the end they're the army battle set piece to fight against Mat's army and of no real threat to the heroes themselves.

For that kind of story journey, +1/Level is modeling it perfectly.


Mathmuse wrote:

The "math" in the title lured me in to this thread, but Raynulf's math is complete so there is nothing for me to add to it. (Well, I do have several pages of detailed analysis that I will post one day, but not here.)

Instead, my eye was caught by the sentence in the Number Scaling section, "Most numerical bonuses are chiefly derived from level, then magic item, then ability score, and finally proficiency ...." Pathfinder 2nd Edition incorporates level into proficiency bonus, so the numbers scaling up by level is supposed to represent greater proficiency. However, in most threads, "proficiency" has become short for proficiency rank: untrained, trained, expert, master, and legendary--rather than proficiency modifier. In fact, if you ask most people what is the proficiency modifier for a 4th-level expert skill, they will answer that expert is +1, ignoring that the full proficiency modifier is level+1, so the correct proficiency modifier is +5.

The Paizo developers tried hard to say that the +1 per level represents better proficiency, but our brains just reject that notion. We accept extra hit points, class abilities, feats, and increased skill ranks as earned through experience, but the +1 per level still feels unearned and we separate it from the term "proficiency."

Yes, which is why (hopefully) omitting or adjusting +Level is so easy. I know it controls CR, and future adventure design level ranges, but It does remind me a bit of the conversation with Nigel Tufnell "...but...but this goes to 11..."


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Yes, which is why (hopefully) omitting or adjusting +Level is so easy. I know it controls CR, and future adventure design level ranges, but It does remind me a bit of the conversation with Nigel Tufnell "...but...but this goes to 11..."

Earlier on, someone said that leveling up the world just because the party leveled up makes no sense.

Before that, we stated clearly that level cancels out IF the challenge is the same level of the party.
Now, you suggest that removing level would be fine.

...so basically you suggest that everything should always the same level of the party.

Am I the only one who finds this weird?

(There are huge mathematical implications in removing level, exactly BECAUSE things are not supposed to be level-appropriate all the time. But you are free to level up the world, of course, just as long as you’re aware of it)


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I browse this forum every day and had not noticed the thing about social encounter scaling. You are very correct! Often only the character dedicated to social stuff could trivialize social encounters with low level NPCs, which includes 90%+ of any given city. The level 12 Barbarian could still have some issues so the usefulness of that Bard never got reduced and the NPCs could continue to remain meaningful.

This same value now can only be seen as long as encounters are level-appropriate, which is not... appropriate from a world building standpoint. So these two things are at odds! And yes, I've seen the silly inflated DCs in Red Flags and Raiders of Shrieking peak for attempting basic interaction with NPCs: they're dumb and the +level system made it have to be this way.


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citricking wrote:
But this was said in the context of OP saying +level drowned out build choices in effectiveness. Everything gets +level, so if you're comparing what kind of character you make and how your build choices affect that, it doesn't matter.

As the Original Poster, I will disagree with you slightly on this: I acknowledged that + level is a scaling factor, my concern is that between it, magic item bonuses and the d20 roll, the overall impact of the character is extremely limited. Indeed, the single largest impact is the Untrained penalty (which never applies to Perception/Sense Motive).

Also, it should be noted that while a +1 is a +5% on the d20 roll, how that works in the probability of outcome isn't exactly the same. E.g. if two characters at the same level and ability score, but one is trained and the other is legendary in a skill, the difference is +3, which translates to the legendary character rolling better than his companion 62% of the time. You could argue that is appropriate... but I think 'legendary' is overstating the benefit slightly.

You are correct in that at-level encounters cancel out the level scaling effect, however I would argue that, especially in social encounters that at-level is a poor assumption. Deception and Diplomacy have all uses available to the untrained, and all characters are trained in Perception (which doubles for Sense Motive). Because high level characters aren't permitted to be truly bad at anything, and low level characters aren't permitted to break the bounded-for-combat-accuracy curve, social skills challenges essentially become level checks.

As a GM, dramatic social scenes - testimony before parliament, trials, exposing-of-traitorous-viziers etc - are among my favourite scenes to run, and usually loved by my players. Part of running such scenes is being able to moderate social skill levels separately to combat ability - an NPC who has minimal combat threat can prove a challenging orator for the PCs to go up against, and conversely an NPC that would be overwhelming to face in combat (at that level) is a viable social challenge for a lower level party. Pathfinder 2nd Edition shackles all the numbers together, limiting the range of scenes I can run. I understand why, and the motivation behind the Great Unification of Numbers, but I don't think it adds to the game as much as it detracts, personally.

RazarTuk wrote:
I actually did the math as part of my analysis of TWF, and Power Attack is nearly always a trap. Once potency runes start entering the equation, a second attack will always be more useful.

As I read it, the potency rune increases your weapon damage, (borrowing from 4E) thus causing [W] for a greatsword to be 1d12, 2d12 for a +1 greatsword or 3d12 for a +2 greatsword. Power Attack I read as being basically +1[W] damage, which seemed consistent with some of Mark Seifter's early comments on the forums... though I could be mistaken.

It does literally read as "you deal an extra weapon damage die", which is very definitely singular.

RazarTuk wrote:
I have the same fighter as you do, although the attack bonus is +17 (your breakdown is correct; the sum's just off), and faced him up against a Treant (AC 25, CR 8) for benchmarking.

Apparently basic summation gives me troubles when in transit >_<


RazarTuk wrote:
I have the same fighter as you do, although the attack bonus is +17 (your breakdown is correct; the sum's just off), and faced him up against a Treant (AC 25, CR 8) for benchmarking

Fun Math Time:

Hypothetical fighter:
  • Str 19, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
  • +1 greatsword, +1 breastplate*
  • Attack +17/+12/+7 3d12+4
  • AC 27 (Touch 25); HP 117; Fort +13, Ref +13, Will +11
  • Speed 20ft; Perception +13
    * Breastplate because there is no sense in using heavy armor and eating the extra bulk, ACP and speed reduction if Dex is easily accumulated, and Heavy Armor expert doesn't happen till 11th.

    Against the treant (average 23.5 damage per hit, 47 per crit)

  • 50% chance of hit + 15% chance of crit [Av 18.8]
  • 35% chance of hit + 5% chance of crit [Av 10.6]
  • 10% chance of hit + 5% chance of crit [Av 4.7]

    Average damage per round of full swinging: 34.1 (23.5% of its hp). Adding the efforts of the rest of the party, the treant is likely to go down in 2-3 rounds.

    Treant vs Fighter (averaging 20 per hit and 40 per crit)

  • 50% chance to hit + 10% chance to crit [Av 14]
  • 30% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 8]
  • 5% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 3]

    Average damage per round of full swinging: 25 (21.3% of his hp)

    In the 2-3 rounds the treant gets to live, it will likely bludgeon away about half the fighter's max hit points. That seems a bit brutal for an APL-1 encounter, but arguably fair with Treat Wounds being a thing... until we give up the last attack and have him command his two animated trees to flank.

  • Treant branch 50% chance to hit + 20% chance to crit [Av 18]
  • Treant branch 40% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 10]
  • Tree branch 50% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 10.2]
  • Tree branch 25% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 6]
  • Tree branch 0% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 1.7]
  • Tree branch 50% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 10.2]
  • Tree branch 25% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 6]
  • Tree branch 0% chance to hit + 5% chance to crit [Av 1.7]

    Average damage: 63.7 (54% of his hp).

    And that's average. If I could be bothered running a statistical analysis on the odds of rolling sufficiently high to get extra crits and hits, I could come up with a probability of fighter annihilation within one round... I suspect I wouldn't much like the number.

    It feels like an APL-1 encounter in Pathfinder 2nd Edition doesn't quite mean the same thing it did in 1st.


  • Ediwir wrote:
    Vic Ferrari wrote:
    Yes, which is why (hopefully) omitting or adjusting +Level is so easy. I know it controls CR, and future adventure design level ranges, but It does remind me a bit of the conversation with Nigel Tufnell "...but...but this goes to 11..."

    Earlier on, someone said that leveling up the world just because the party leveled up makes no sense.

    Before that, we stated clearly that level cancels out IF the challenge is the same level of the party.
    Now, you suggest that removing level would be fine.

    Absolutely fine, just changes threat ranges, see below:

    With +Level:
    20th-level Fighter (+20) with 22 Str (+6), legendary proficiency (+3), and a +5 magic weapon, has +34 to hit.
    A Pit Fiend has an AC of 44.

    Without +Level:
    20th-level Fighter with 22 Str (+6), legendary proficiency (+3), and a +5 magic weapon, has +14 to hit.
    A Pit Fiend has an AC of 24.

    Nothing has changed in regards to what you need to roll for a success/crit, etc. And here is another example (different level monsters):

    With treadmill:
    20th-level Fighter, AC 45, +34 to hit
    Pit Fiend, AC 44, +35 to hit
    Fire Giant, AC 28, +20 to hit
    Ghoul, AC 15, +7 to hit

    Without:
    20th-level Fighter, AC 25, +14 to hit
    Pit Fiend, AC 24, +15 to hit
    Fire Giant, AC 18, +10 to hit
    Ghoul, AC 14, +6 to hit


    Raynulf wrote:
    It feels like an APL-1 encounter in Pathfinder 2nd Edition doesn't quite mean the same thing it did in 1st.

    You’re right, it doesn’t, it’s a much more difficult encounter than it was in PF1e. You can arrive at the same conclusion by examining the encounter building math in the Bestiary.

    The encounter math is balanced around a four-character party, but if we want to examine expected difficulty for a single character, you can use Table 5: Encounter Budget on page 21 of the Bestiary to calculate it.

    The breakdown is like this:

    For a four-character party, an Extreme-threat encounter (which the bestiary describes as “so dangerous that they are likely to be an even match for the characters” has an encounter budget of 160 XP. The “character adjustment” for Extreme-threat encounters is 40 XP, so to get the XP budget for an Extreme-threat encounter for a single character, use:

    160 XP - 3 * 40 XP = 40 XP

    Now, take a look at Table 4: Creature XP and Role - a creature with level equal to APL is worth 40 XP. Therefore, an equal-level creature is an Extreme-threat encounter for a single character. Again, Extreme-threat encounters are the most difficult kinda encounters that characters are expected to ever face under the PF2e ruleset.

    Now, let’s examine a Severe-threat encounter - the next step down in difficulty from Extreme. Severe-threat encounters are described as “the hardest encounters most groups of characters can consistently defeat”. Trusty Table 5: Encounter Budget lists 120 XP as the budget for a four-character extreme encounter with a “character adjustment” of 30 XP.

    120 XP - 3 * 30 XP = 30 XP

    The pattern is pretty clear: the “character adjustment” for each difficulty level is equivalent to the encounter budget for a single character. Additionally, each of the difficulty levels from Trivial to Extreme correspond to creatures of APL-4 through APL-equivalent.

    Trivial = APL-4
    Low = APL-3
    High = APL-2
    Severe = APL-1
    Extreme = APL

    This is a paradigm shift from PF1e - now, the relevant challenges exist in the range of APL-4 through APL+4, compared to the previous edition’s spread of APL-1 through APL+3, and the system math is balanced around maintaining this challenge spread as tightly as possible. The tight math, spell success rates, +/-10 critical ranges, and attack accuracy are all balanced around this central design goal. An APL-4 creature from PF2e should be roughly as relevant as an APL-1 creature from PF1e, if the encounter building math for both editions can be trusted.


    Raynulf wrote:

    As I read it, the potency rune increases your weapon damage, (borrowing from 4E) thus causing [W] for a greatsword to be 1d12, 2d12 for a +1 greatsword or 3d12 for a +2 greatsword. Power Attack I read as being basically +1[W] damage, which seemed consistent with some of Mark Seifter's early comments on the forums... though I could be mistaken.

    It does literally read as "you deal an extra weapon damage die", which is very definitely singular.

    I think the main argument in favor of the literal "one extra die" reading is that it also specifically mentions a second die at level 10. But your initial reading as doubling or tripling the dice, including from the potency rune, would definitely make it worthwhile again. Even if it would exacerbate the magic problem.


    Raynulf wrote:


    1) Critical Hits
    Short Version:I do not think the multiple attack penalty and creature design it demands is particularly compatible with the +10/-10 critical system. The ‘point of balance’ for both PCs and monsters is to push for a high probability to hit on the first, moderate on the second, and low on the third. Unfortunately, this runs counter to the tight math the critical hit margin system requires, and means that critical hits – especially of high attack bonus monsters – occur a lot, and specifically a lot more than people were expecting, leading to combat feeling rather brutal at times.

    Your math is fairly spot on: first hit usually hits, second sometimes, third rarely. And you're correct that crit happens a lot more in PF2, both because of the +10/-10 system and because everyone gets 3 attacks at level 1. But I don't think that's a big problem, since weapons typically lag behind magic when casters gain a lot of spells in their repertoire.

    I noticed the Fighter was *AMAZING* at first level because of the critical hits, but I'll reserve judgment based on higher level play.


    Vic Ferrari wrote:
    Ediwir wrote:
    Vic Ferrari wrote:
    Yes, which is why (hopefully) omitting or adjusting +Level is so easy. I know it controls CR, and future adventure design level ranges, but It does remind me a bit of the conversation with Nigel Tufnell "...but...but this goes to 11..."

    Earlier on, someone said that leveling up the world just because the party leveled up makes no sense.

    Before that, we stated clearly that level cancels out IF the challenge is the same level of the party.
    Now, you suggest that removing level would be fine.

    Absolutely fine, just changes threat ranges, see below:

    With +Level:
    20th-level Fighter (+20) with 22 Str (+6), legendary proficiency (+3), and a +5 magic weapon, has +34 to hit.
    A Pit Fiend has an AC of 44.

    Without +Level:
    20th-level Fighter with 22 Str (+6), legendary proficiency (+3), and a +5 magic weapon, has +14 to hit.
    A Pit Fiend has an AC of 24.

    Nothing has changed in regards to what you need to roll for a success/crit, etc. And here is another example (different level monsters):

    With treadmill:
    20th-level Fighter, AC 45, +34 to hit
    Pit Fiend, AC 44, +35 to hit
    Fire Giant, AC 28, +20 to hit
    Ghoul, AC 15, +7 to hit

    Without:
    20th-level Fighter, AC 25, +14 to hit
    Pit Fiend, AC 24, +15 to hit
    Fire Giant, AC 18, +10 to hit
    Ghoul, AC 14, +6 to hit

    For the ghoul and the fire giant it changed insanely lol. A level 20 fighter with treadmill will crit on a 2+ dealing double damage on it with every hit, and a 4+ for the giant. While the one without threadmill will only crit on a 10+ for the ghoul and on a 14+ for the giant, besides that the chance of the creature hitting the fighter is completely different... I am not sure if i read that correctly, you meant removing threadmill causes same threat to remain the same but messes up lower level threats compared to the party?


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    Removing treadmill is exactly the same as leveling up the world.

    If you are attacking Baron Obnox’s castle and neither the lv6 bandits nor the lv7 players have a level modifier, you just effectively gave the bandits lv7.

    Prove me wrong.


    Raynulf wrote:
    an NPC who has minimal combat threat can prove a challenging orator for the PCs to go up against, and conversely an NPC that would be overwhelming to face in combat (at that level) is a viable social challenge for a lower level party. Pathfinder 2nd Edition shackles all the numbers together, limiting the range of scenes I can run. I understand why, and the motivation behind the Great Unification of Numbers, but I don't think it adds to the game as much as it detracts, personally.

    That isn't actually true. NPCs don't follow the same rules as PCs. Even within Doomsday Dawn we have NPCs whose skills far outmatch their level or combat ability.

    You can still have NPCs who are bad any given thing, just don't build them using PC rules. PCs are meant to be exceptions in their world, not the norm.


    Ediwir wrote:

    Removing treadmill is exactly the same as leveling up the world.

    If you are attacking Baron Obnox’s castle and neither the lv6 bandits nor the lv7 players have a level modifier, you just effectively gave the bandits lv7.

    Prove me wrong.

    That exact level change may just be a +1, but monsters get extra damage at level intervals, and get extra bonuses corresponding to when PCs are supposed to get proficiency increases, +skill items or the +stat item.

    Edit: and they gain HP. Lots and lots of HP.


    Ediwir wrote:

    Removing treadmill is exactly the same as leveling up the world.

    If you are attacking Baron Obnox’s castle and neither the lv6 bandits nor the lv7 players have a level modifier, you just effectively gave the bandits lv7.

    Prove me wrong.

    Technically, they wouldn't have level. NPCs don't have level-based build rules, so the only time level is formally invoked for an NPC is adding level to proficiency. Remove that and level would be gone completely.

    Informally, if I were making a level 6 bandit, I would use the rules for a level 6 fighter or a level 6 rogue, in which cast the level 6 bandits would have the feats and skill ranks of a level 6 PC.

    Contrarywise, if I took the level 0 Goblin Warrior from the Playtest Bestiary, crossed out the 0, wrote in 7, and added 7 to all proficiencies, would it be a level 7 monster? How about if I added 56 hit points, too?


    The No Treadmill system is fine if everything is the same level. But if a 10th level fighter and his 6th level squire are fighting the same enemy, that enemy would have a different AC depending on who is attacking it, which is just weird.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    Losing the +level element also means that your characters become seriously static; taking a traditional fighter, for instance, you'd have roughly +5 to attack at 1st level. At 2nd level you... still have +5. You go to +6 at 3rd, and probably +7 around 4th level with your first +1 weapon, but then your attack bonus won't increase again until 8th level or so, when you get your +2 weapon. You get another increase at 10th, when you get to Str 20, then you have to wait until 12th for another increase via your weapon getting better again. And so on.


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    ikarinokami wrote:

    the new design I think is excellent.. the problem with P1 is that it was very easy to create characters of the same class and level with vastly different power levels, and it was also very difficult for a GM to maintain the power levels of the game because there was a bit too much player agency. by transferring damage from classes, feats, etc to magic weapons, it makes it easier to write adventures that work for all characters at the appropriate regardless of the choices made by the players. it also allows GM's the ability to more easily control the power level of the game they want to run, since the vast majority of the power is coming from magic items, which the GM can easily asses and control.

    +1 level bonus is really more about world building in my opinion. for example if the game were +0 you would have a shadowrun/wheel of time world, where being high level isn't much of an accomplishment, and every fight even versus low level opponents can be very dangerous. +1 really just means that characters can feel heroic. since a high level character will enjoy a significant advantage over a low level one. it's more about the tone of the world than the actual math in my opinion.

    And now I can randomly roll what feats to take and end up with just as powerful a character as someone who spent a week going through selecting them. "regardless of the choices made by the players." is another way of saying player choices don't matter.


    oholoko wrote:
    Vic Ferrari wrote:
    Ediwir wrote:
    Vic Ferrari wrote:
    Yes, which is why (hopefully) omitting or adjusting +Level is so easy. I know it controls CR, and future adventure design level ranges, but It does remind me a bit of the conversation with Nigel Tufnell "...but...but this goes to 11..."

    Earlier on, someone said that leveling up the world just because the party leveled up makes no sense.

    Before that, we stated clearly that level cancels out IF the challenge is the same level of the party.
    Now, you suggest that removing level would be fine.

    Absolutely fine, just changes threat ranges, see below:

    With +Level:
    20th-level Fighter (+20) with 22 Str (+6), legendary proficiency (+3), and a +5 magic weapon, has +34 to hit.
    A Pit Fiend has an AC of 44.

    Without +Level:
    20th-level Fighter with 22 Str (+6), legendary proficiency (+3), and a +5 magic weapon, has +14 to hit.
    A Pit Fiend has an AC of 24.

    Nothing has changed in regards to what you need to roll for a success/crit, etc. And here is another example (different level monsters):

    With treadmill:
    20th-level Fighter, AC 45, +34 to hit
    Pit Fiend, AC 44, +35 to hit
    Fire Giant, AC 28, +20 to hit
    Ghoul, AC 15, +7 to hit

    Without:
    20th-level Fighter, AC 25, +14 to hit
    Pit Fiend, AC 24, +15 to hit
    Fire Giant, AC 18, +10 to hit
    Ghoul, AC 14, +6 to hit

    For the ghoul and the fire giant it changed insanely

    Exactly, vs. same level opponents, nothing changes, but it opens up the threat range of different level opponents. The ghoul can now hit the 20th-level fighter on a natural 19 or 20. This also highlights the weird, arbitrary, extra +5 the ghoul gets to hit (where is it coming from?), so, the ghoul should actually be +1, or +2 to hit.


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    Captain Morgan wrote:
    Raynulf wrote:
    an NPC who has minimal combat threat can prove a challenging orator for the PCs to go up against, and conversely an NPC that would be overwhelming to face in combat (at that level) is a viable social challenge for a lower level party. Pathfinder 2nd Edition shackles all the numbers together, limiting the range of scenes I can run. I understand why, and the motivation behind the Great Unification of Numbers, but I don't think it adds to the game as much as it detracts, personally.
    That isn't actually true. NPCs don't follow the same rules as PCs. Even within Doomsday Dawn we have NPCs whose skills far outmatch their level or combat ability.

    I had noticed that NPC numbers diverged somewhat from what you'd expect from the level + stat + proficiency rank method, though without a published ruleset to creating NPCs*, it is hard to argue conclusively either way.

    *And given the number (at least from my experience) of former PCs that become NPCs, or NPCs that become adventuring companions, cohorts, partners or even PCs, a solid system for creating NPCs and converting NPCs is needed.

    Currently I find the idea that a Mercenary Scout gets to deal 2 x weapon damage with his non-magical kukri and shortbow, while a PC needs a potency rune to achieve the same to be... dubious. I will withhold judgement until I see the creation rules, however.

    Captain Morgan wrote:
    You can still have NPCs who are bad any given thing, just don't build them using PC rules. PCs are meant to be exceptions in their world, not the norm.

    While I don't believe monsters need to be built using PC rules (it does odd things to math and balance, especially at high levels), I would argue that if a PC has an identical twin sibling who is an NPC, they should, out of a sense of fairness be capable of achieving roughly the same numbers if they make the same choices. If the NPC twin is able to do thing a PC is not, I am curious as to why the heroic protagonist is more restricted than the bystander.

    Again, the NPC creation rules (and monster creation rules, for that matter) need to be published to better understand the intent of the system.


    4 people marked this as a favorite.
    Raynulf wrote:

    Currently I find the idea that a Mercenary Scout gets to deal 2 x weapon damage with his non-magical kukri and shortbow, while a PC needs a potency rune to achieve the same to be... dubious. I will withhold judgement until I see the creation rules, however.

    Ah, yes, now this really bothers me, and is another reason why I would like additional damage dice tied to proficiency and level, not magic weapons and some NPCs just have it, because...


    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Raynulf wrote:


    I had noticed that NPC numbers diverged somewhat from what you'd expect from the level + stat + proficiency rank method, though without a published ruleset to creating NPCs*, it is hard to argue conclusively either way.

    It isn't, actually. Check out the NPC stat modifiers on page 40 of Doomsday Dawn.

    Doomsday Dawn Part 3 Spoilers:

    These folks have skills bonuses as high as +17, a value that a maxed focus PC can't achieve until level 10 without magic items. And they are absolutely helpless against 4th level enemies, having to rely on 7th level PCS to do the fighting for them. That's because these NPCs spent their lives as sheltered academics, not well rounded adventurers. Sound familiar to the needs of your stories at all?

    Quote:
    Currently I find the idea that a Mercenary Scout gets to deal 2 x weapon damage with his non-magical kukri and shortbow, while a PC needs a potency rune to achieve the same to be... dubious. I will withhold judgement until I see the creation rules, however.

    Which is a fair criticism as far as verisimilitude goes, and also speaks to an issue with having so much damage tied to PCs magic weapons while not wanting to let every NPC be a treasure trove that breaks WBL.

    But that's the system as it currently exists. You can not like it, but you can't deny that it exists, or simply ignore that it allows for stuff like NPCs with vastly better skills than combat abilities or vice-versa.

    Quote:

    *And given the number (at least from my experience) of former PCs that become NPCs, or NPCs that become adventuring companions, cohorts, partners or even PCs, a solid system for creating NPCs and converting NPCs is needed.

    While I don't believe monsters need to be built using PC rules (it does odd things to math and balance, especially at high levels), I would argue that if a PC has an identical twin sibling who is an NPC, they should, out of a sense of fairness be capable of achieving roughly the same numbers if they make the same choices. If the NPC twin is able to do thing a PC is not, I am curious as to why the heroic...

    Respectfully, I think your twin example is a flawed premise. NPCs CAN be built using PC rules, they just don't have to be.

    Everything we have been shown and told drives home the point that PC building rules are designed around the sort of lives adventurers lead, not how the world as a whole operates. NPCs, meanwhile, are meant to have whatever stats best fits their role in the story.

    A PC (in any edition of the game, really) has a cap on how good they can be at any given thing based on their level. How good at basketweaving they can be is proportionate to how good at combat they are. (Or spells, or whatever their classes's shtick is.) That's because the major milestones that define the lives of these characters are based around combat, heroic deeds, and other crazy shenanigans. A PC will never level up by living a quiet life of just weaving baskets.

    PF2's biggest departure is assuming your abilities ALL grow at roughly the same rate. IE, the barbarian isn't just better at killing things after umpteen battles. They are better at medicine from watching their cleric friend patch up their wounds after every fight.

    An NPC may also wind up living this sort of life. That's why the NPCs in the bestiary tend to look similar (but not identical to) PCs of their level. The whole concept of level is tied to the adventuring life style.

    However, most NPCs don't live that sort of life. They instead spend their whole lives practicing a trade and avoiding conflict. A basket weaver never gets better at combat from weaving baskets. They never truly "Level Up." But they DO get better at weaving baskets, and their basket weaving Lore skill and Circumstance modifier to craft will reflect this. This is actually a departure from previous editions, and frankly makes a lot more sense than a basket-weaving peasant gaining the ability to swing a sword better or take more damage in order to get a better skill bonus.

    And for such a basketweaver, you probably don't need to bother making a stat block, because they are gonna lose any fight they enter. Which is why they didn't waste space making stat blocks for most of the NPCs in DDD.

    So let's look at some specific examples you named.

    The cunning vizier was born physically frail, so they never bothered to learn how to fight, but instead honed their cunning and charisma. For this character, you don't bother making a statblock. You simply set their perception and skill bonuses based on whatever is appropriate for the role they will play. If combat breaks out, the vizier flees, surrenders, or dies. Maybe you set a will DC, in case the PCs try to charm but this doesn't have to be proportionate to other combat stats like it does on a PC.

    The dim-witted brute was born physically powerful, but still has the mind of a child. They were raised in isolation and never learned anything except how to fight. You make a stat block for this NPC like you would a combatant NPC, but you tank their mental ability scores. You list out the skills they actually learned or might wind up trying to use, like athletics, acrobatics, and maybe intimidate. Then you add an asterisk that the NPC automatically fails anything not listed, such as Recall Knowledge, and they take a penalty to their perception DC against Deception. (Incidentally, you can do this for any monster in the bestiary. An adamantine golem has a +16 default skill bonus, but it is still a mindless creature that can't Recall Knowledge or use Diplomacy.)

    The PC who retires at level 10 to become an NPC probably retains most or all of their experience and abilities, barring losing some with lack of practice. So you use their stats as a starting point. But if they are truly never going back to adventuring, their life is now on a completely different track. Instead they open a tavern in Magnimar. A decade later, it has grown to the most famous tavern in Varisia. The former PC's combat stats have remained static, but their Lore (alcohol) skill has shot way past their level, and their social skills have sharpened to boot. They made their entire life about taverns, and their skills will reflect it. Where as if they remained an adventurer, they may have gotten better at running taverns, but only in so far as they also got better at killing stuff, stitching wounds, etc.

    For the NPC a player decides to take over as their new PC, you first need to determine that it makes sense for the NPC to become an adventurer that can keep up with the party. If the answer is yes, that NPCs stats probably weren't too far off from a PCs to begin with. You may have to make some adjustments, but then again this was true in PF1 as well. NPC classes like warrior needed to be retrained to PC equivalents, NPC stat arrays may need to be raised if your party is built above the standard point buy.

    For the identical NPC twin of a PC, you first need to establish that their ancestry boosts might be where the guaranteed similarities end. MAYBE the 1st level 4 ability boosts are also genetic. Everything past that point in terms of background, class, and leveling up is based on the life the character lives. If the NPC twin leads the exact same life as their PC sibling, they will have PC stats, just like any NPC would. If the NPC instead becomes remains a bar tender or basket weaver, then they won't. Simple as.

    All that is to say that while your other objections may be valid, saying that the PC build rules limits what stories you can tell with NPCs isn't . The game is designed for PCs to operate in the best manner for their stories and game-play balance, and give you the freedom to do whatever you want with NPCs without being limited to those constraints.


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    Vic Ferrari wrote:


    Exactly, vs. same level opponents, nothing changes, but it opens up the threat range of different level opponents. The ghoul can now hit the 20th-level fighter on a natural 19 or 20. This also highlights the weird, arbitrary, extra +5 the ghoul gets to hit (where is it coming from?), so, the ghoul should actually be +1, or +2 to hit.

    I kinda of felt that really annoying in 5e. I would rather be completely outmatched by monsters that are really stronger than me, and really outclass monsters weaker than me. But later i want something like templates that increase monster levels or monster buffing/creating rules. So i can put an maggot infested disease carrying ghoul at later levels with a challenge while the weaker ghoul is just a s&&!ty mob my players don't even bother fighting, i can even put a mob of ghouls like background as they can't even injury the demigods i am narrating for.


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    oholoko wrote:
    Vic Ferrari wrote:


    Exactly, vs. same level opponents, nothing changes, but it opens up the threat range of different level opponents. The ghoul can now hit the 20th-level fighter on a natural 19 or 20. This also highlights the weird, arbitrary, extra +5 the ghoul gets to hit (where is it coming from?), so, the ghoul should actually be +1, or +2 to hit.
    I kinda of felt that really annoying in 5e. I would rather be completely outmatched by monsters that are really stronger than me, and really outclass monsters weaker than me.

    Right on, and that's what they went for with +Level, it is just easily removed, and one of the designers even mentioned that might show up in a future product.


    Vic Ferrari wrote:
    oholoko wrote:
    Vic Ferrari wrote:


    Exactly, vs. same level opponents, nothing changes, but it opens up the threat range of different level opponents. The ghoul can now hit the 20th-level fighter on a natural 19 or 20. This also highlights the weird, arbitrary, extra +5 the ghoul gets to hit (where is it coming from?), so, the ghoul should actually be +1, or +2 to hit.
    I kinda of felt that really annoying in 5e. I would rather be completely outmatched by monsters that are really stronger than me, and really outclass monsters weaker than me.
    Right on, and that's what they went for with +Level, it is just easily removed, and one of the designers even mentioned that might show up in a future product.

    I think they said it might come as an optional rule, and in the last interview they were talking about how removing it meant to introduce a few problems since a few checks require acrobatics/athletics checks. But yeah i would rather not see it removed at all, maybe as an optional rule in a ADG or an ultimate book. But not as the core rule.


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    Captain Morgan wrote:
    Raynulf wrote:
    Currently I find the idea that a Mercenary Scout gets to deal 2 x weapon damage with his non-magical kukri and shortbow, while a PC needs a potency rune to achieve the same to be... dubious. I will withhold judgement until I see the creation rules, however.

    Which is a fair criticism as far as verisimilitude goes, and also speaks to an issue with having so much damage tied to PCs magic weapons while not wanting to let every NPC be a treasure trove that breaks WBL.

    But that's the system as it currently exists. You can not like it, but you can't deny that it exists, or simply ignore that it allows for stuff like NPCs with vastly better skills than combat abilities or vice-versa.

    I never said the system doesn't exist, simply that the code that generates an NPC hasn't been published yet, and while we can attempt to reverse engineer it from some finished (playtest) examples, I would much prefer to see the rules by which they were created. To be fair, yes, some conclusions are easy to draw - that Pathfinder 2nd Edition cleaves much closer to 5E* in NPC design than it does to Pathfinder 1st Edition, but I'd argue we're still only seeing snippets of a larger picture.

    *I despised the 5E approach to NPCs so much I wrote homebrew NPC class levels (and corresponding "challenge" chart) specifically to get around it.

    Captain Morgan wrote:
    [paraphrasing for brevity, as the full text is only a few posts back]On NPCs simply being granted the skill levels they need to present the appropriate challenge numbers, due to "lifestyle".

    You make a good argument, and it may well be the case that NPCs are expected to simply 'have' the appropriate skills in order to produce the Table 10-2 DCs, which would alleviate the "does every con artist have to match the PCs level" concern.

    That being said, I am genuinely not sure if the arbitrary assignment of numbers is actually a preferable approach. For monsters, where their stats represent natural abilities - keen senses of smell, massive hulking frames, supernatural reflexes etc - simply assigning the numbers is actually sensible. For NPCs whose abilities are primarily learned, it feels somewhat cheap.

    The argument of lifestyle has a problem: It assumes that all PCs are young whippersnappers who haven't done anything with their lives before they become adventurers (or taking a PC level grants amnesia?).

    If you write a background for a middle-aged 1st level PC that they've spent the last two decades working as a smith in a village and raising their children... only to have the village burned to the ground by goblins, and now they've hefted their old smithing hammer and are out to enact vengeance... cool character, but because they're now a 1st level fighter with the Blacksmith background, they're going to suck at Craft. Especially compared to any NPC with two decades of smithing work under their belt, even if they have the combat statistics of a kitten.

    Taking the example further, perhaps the 1st level PC party attempted to stop the village being burned down, and one of them died in the battle, saving the established-NPC-smith's life in the process. The player decides that the events would make an awesome character background, and asks whether they can play the smith from hereon, knowing them to be less combat capable than their old PC. As the GM... what do you do? You may not have intended the smith to live or PC to die, but that is the situation at hand, and an awesome story moment has arrived: Do you refuse, on the grounds that the Smith is built as an NPC; Do you accept, and either rebuild the NPC into a PC fighter (or get the player to do it), nerfing their skills to the ground in the process? Do you accept and hand over the stat block as-is, and suggest they 'count as 1st level', and can add class levels thereafter? In Pathfinder 1 said Smith could well simply be a 2nd level commoner with Skill Focus - easy to rebuild into a fighter without too much difference, or even hand it over and let the PC essentially retrain the levels over time, losing a bit of XP in the process to keep them on par with the rest of the party.

    In short, because NPCs represent people, and their abilities represent what they have learned, I am dubious about a system where the rules extensively differ, depending on whether or not a player is currently in control of a character.

    Scarab Sages

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    After considering it for a long time, put me in the camp of "We should remove +level altogether".

    Let's look at the basic gameplay elements of it. You level up. You get a feat. The feat represents character growth. You also found a magic weapon. Awesome. As your experience grows, you become more proficient with your weapons, armor, and your specific skillset.

    All of this is accomplished by existing game mechanics outside of adding level. While I think that increasing proficiency should be more satisfying, it accounts for getting better at specific skills. So what does adding +level accomplish?

    It's entirely game-y. That, however, is a loaded statement, so let me elaborate. When I look at something like BAB in 3.0/.5/PF1, I see something that clearly delineates combat-based skill progression. I don't think it was entirely without flaw, but it was functional. Even saving throws had a similar thing: some you were good at, others not, and it was reflected as you leveled up. So what's the difference?

    In Pathfinder 1, you didn't have "training" for all these things. You had basic proficiency, then what your class gave you, and because of this fluctuating numeric bonus each level, you had a built in way of determining which classes were good at what, and how good they were, relatively speaking. These higher or lower numerical bonuses were how you managed the PF2 version of varying levels of proficiency.

    So, what does adding +level in PF2 accomplish? Your basic skill bonuses are determined by your attribute and proficiency rank. Same goes for Attacks, Armor Class, Spell DCs, etc. So what does it do? Adding +level in PF2 gates challenges, and serves as basic number inflation. That's it. Those aren't terribly compelling mechanics. Yes, it might feel nice to get a +30 to an attack roll, but if all you're facing is enemies around 40 AC, it doesn't really change the nature of the game. The numbers are simply bigger.

    The difference, though, is that your DM is free to throw much higher, or much lower, level enemies at you without fear that the mechanics themselves will ruin you. In D&D 5e, for example, once the players hit 10th level or so and have a few magic items under their belts, you can basically throw whatever you want at them, with a few exceptions of course, because the math allows them to succeed, with harder fights requiring thought and planning more than raw numbers and character building. It's easier for the DM to go "My CR 15 Demon will be the big boss, but he'll have animated a cadre of ghouls in this hallway to flank the party and possibly paralyze the wizard, and some lesser flying demons will swoop in to try and poison the druid." He doesn't have to change stats, and for the most part all of those monsters, regardless of level, have a chance of succeeding. It means that the world is always somewhat threatening without needing to arbitrarily improve monsters.

    Pathfinder 1 learned from what D&D 3.5 did, and unarguably did it a lot better, but we don't need number inflation. One of the reasons that D&D is currently crushing the market is that they did away with that sacred cow, and while I don't think Pathfinder 2 needs to do exactly that, I do think they should strongly consider at the very least reducing this static number dependency. Adding +1/4 or +1/5 level would be much more reasonable if you want a flat increase to PC abilities. Given the +/-10 Crit system, I think it's a great way to show improvement while not entirely removing the number treadmill for those that want it.


    oholoko wrote:
    Vic Ferrari wrote:
    oholoko wrote:
    Vic Ferrari wrote:


    Exactly, vs. same level opponents, nothing changes, but it opens up the threat range of different level opponents. The ghoul can now hit the 20th-level fighter on a natural 19 or 20. This also highlights the weird, arbitrary, extra +5 the ghoul gets to hit (where is it coming from?), so, the ghoul should actually be +1, or +2 to hit.
    I kinda of felt that really annoying in 5e. I would rather be completely outmatched by monsters that are really stronger than me, and really outclass monsters weaker than me.
    Right on, and that's what they went for with +Level, it is just easily removed, and one of the designers even mentioned that might show up in a future product.
    I think they said it might come as an optional rule, and in the last interview they were talking about how removing it meant to introduce a few problems since a few checks require acrobatics/athletics checks. But yeah i would rather not see it removed at all, maybe as an optional rule in a ADG or an ultimate book. But not as the core rule.

    Yes, that is obvious, hence it being in a future product. Why would an Athletics or Acrobatics check cause problems?


    Davor wrote:

    After considering it for a long time, put me in the camp of "We should remove +level altogether".

    Let's look at the basic gameplay elements of it. You level up. You get a feat. The feat represents character growth. You also found a magic weapon. Awesome. As your experience grows, you become more proficient with your weapons, armor, and your specific skillset.

    All of this is accomplished by existing game mechanics outside of adding level. While I think that increasing proficiency should be more satisfying, it accounts for getting better at specific skills. So what does adding +level accomplish?

    It's entirely game-y. That, however, is a loaded statement, so let me elaborate. When I look at something like BAB in 3.0/.5/PF1, I see something that clearly delineates combat-based skill progression. I don't think it was entirely without flaw, but it was functional. Even saving throws had a similar thing: some you were good at, others not, and it was reflected as you leveled up. So what's the difference?

    In Pathfinder 1, you didn't have "training" for all these things. You had basic proficiency, then what your class gave you, and because of this fluctuating numeric bonus each level, you had a built in way of determining which classes were good at what, and how good they were, relatively speaking. These higher or lower numerical bonuses were how you managed the PF2 version of varying levels of proficiency.

    So, what does adding +level in PF2 accomplish? Your basic skill bonuses are determined by your attribute and proficiency rank. Same goes for Attacks, Armor Class, Spell DCs, etc. So what does it do? Adding +level in PF2 gates challenges, and serves as basic number inflation. That's it. Those aren't terribly compelling mechanics. Yes, it might feel nice to get a +30 to an attack roll, but if all you're facing is enemies around 40 AC, it doesn't really change the nature of the game. The numbers are simply bigger.

    The difference, though, is that your DM is free to throw much higher, or much lower, level...

    Nice post. I would also like them to ditch item bonuses. Would prefer bonuses just coming from level and proficiency, and now there is also this revolutionary UTEML thing (I am still not sold on that one).


    The following two quotes (clipped here and there for clarity) from the OP sums up my feelings on the acceptable level of NPC transparency (including not caring that much about unplayable monsters, only mostly focusing on potential PC convertables). It's good to see someone of the same feeling as I am on this matter...

    Raynulf wrote:

    I had noticed that NPC numbers diverged somewhat from what you'd expect from the level + stat + proficiency rank method, though without a published ruleset to creating NPCs*, it is hard to argue conclusively either way.

    *And given the number (at least from my experience) of former PCs that become NPCs, or NPCs that become adventuring companions, cohorts, partners or even PCs, a solid system for creating NPCs and converting NPCs is needed.

    (...)

    While I don't believe monsters need to be built using PC rules (it does odd things to math and balance, especially at high levels), I would argue that if a PC has an identical twin sibling who is an NPC, they should, out of a sense of fairness be capable of achieving roughly the same numbers if they make the same choices. If the NPC twin is able to do thing a PC is not, I am curious as to why the heroic protagonist is more restricted than the bystander.

    Again, the NPC creation rules (and monster creation rules, for that matter) need to be published to better understand the intent of the system.

    Raynulf wrote:

    (...)

    *I despised the 5E approach to NPCs so much I wrote homebrew NPC class levels (and corresponding "challenge" chart) specifically to get around it.

    (...)

    I am genuinely not sure if the arbitrary assignment of numbers is actually a preferable approach. For monsters, where their stats represent natural abilities - keen senses of smell, massive hulking frames, supernatural reflexes etc - simply assigning the numbers is actually sensible. For NPCs whose abilities are primarily learned, it feels somewhat cheap.

    (...)

    In short, because NPCs represent people, and their abilities represent what they have learned, I am dubious about a system where the rules extensively differ, depending on whether or not a player is currently in control of a character.

    ----

    On the contrary, I love +1/level to everything (especially combat); why train with weapons and skills in a dangerous fantasy world to crazy levels if you have no guarantee that one day you will be able to off a trolls head barehanded while sleepwalking on pajamas, and cow the evil, pathetic and feeble local duke into making massive donations to the charity just by looking at him funny?

    It was really heartbreaking during this playtest months for me to realize that many people who I thought was "on my side" regarding my previous biggest pet peeve with the game rules (LFQW, a.k.a. M/CD, by the way) can actually be torn up like shredded tissue when it came to completely different matters within the rules each one considered as unacceptable...


    level for everything is much more important for martial classes than spellcaster s. For some time I was an opponent of level for everything but it has a lot of justification. In the current system, experience points are added for completing the +4 to -4 team level challenge. if we take the level to everything, the fight against low-level characters is considerably prolonged due to the lower chance of hitting 2 and subsequent attacks. The chance of a critical hit of opponents of lower levels is also much lower. However, in the vast majority of spellcasters it does not make a difference, because they will cast 1 offensive spell per round. And this will significantly slow down the challenges. In the current combat system, they run very quickly and efficiently. My players (mostly I'm MG) think that this is a great system. The player playing fighter said that this is the most interesting mechanics.In a different game (5 ed d & d) he just get bored. I agree that +1 can not speak to all but to me it speeds up the game and suits the players to feel special. Players like to have a potent magical weapons and the new system is great.


    Lucas Yew wrote:
    On the contrary, I love +1/level to everything (especially combat); why train with weapons and skills in a dangerous fantasy world to crazy levels if you have no guarantee that one day you will be able to off a trolls head barehanded while sleepwalking on pajamas, and cow the evil, pathetic and feeble local duke into making massive donations to the charity just by looking at him funny?

    Not that you can really do either of those in PF1, but a higher level character is still going to waste a troll, single-handedly, and be epically persuasive (if they have invested). It cuts down on the only hitting on a natural 20, and only missing on a natural 1 action.

    Scarab Sages

    scoutmaster wrote:
    level for everything is much more important for martial classes than spellcaster s. For some time I was an opponent of level for everything but it has a lot of justification. In the current system, experience points are added for completing the +4 to -4 team level challenge. if we take the level to everything, the fight against low-level characters is considerably prolonged due to the lower chance of hitting 2 and subsequent attacks. The chance of a critical hit of opponents of lower levels is also much lower. However, in the vast majority of spellcasters it does not make a difference, because they will cast 1 offensive spell per round. And this will significantly slow down the challenges. In the current combat system, they run very quickly and efficiently. My players (mostly I'm MG) think that this is a great system. The player playing fighter said that this is the most interesting mechanics.In a different game (5 ed d & d) he just get bored. I agree that +1 can not speak to all but to me it speeds up the game and suits the players to feel special. Players like to have a potent magical weapons and the new system is great.

    Question: As someone who primarily DMs, how often are you going to throw enemies more than 3 levels lower than the party at a group in PF2? I mean, in order for characters to feel the difference in their power level, you need to regularly remind them that they're higher level, right? So what percentage of your encounters will be small fries that pose no threat to the party?

    Players get bored with 5e not because of the numbers, but because 5e failed to solve the simple problem of dead levels. Paizo understands this: it's why every level in 5e provides feats and/or proficiency increases. But if you look at the math in 5e, the difference between a high level character and a lower one is roughly 7-8 points of bonus to certain rolls: a 1st level character likely starts off with a 16-18 in their main attack stat, which bumps up to 20, they might end up with a +3 weapon, and proficiency increases by 4. A total net gain of 7-8, with only a little more wiggle room depending on whether or not the DM feels like being generous. In PF2? If you strip away +level, you find that it's almost exactly the same. Starting Ability Score of 16-18 goes up to about 22-24 (a 3-4 point swing), proficiency gives you a +1-+3 difference, and property gives you up to +5, for a total of... 9-11. The only appreciable difference between the two is a slightly higher swing in bonuses, brought about almost entirely by the magic item upper limit being higher in PF2.


    Davor wrote:
    Players get bored with 5e not because of the numbers, but because 5e failed to solve the simple problem of dead levels. Paizo understands this: it's why every level in 5e provides feats and/or proficiency increases. But if you look at the math in 5e, the difference between a high level character and a lower one is roughly 7-8 points of bonus to certain rolls: a 1st level character likely starts off with a 16-18 in their main attack stat, which bumps up to 20, they might end up with a +3 weapon, and proficiency increases by 4. A total net gain of 7-8, with only a little more wiggle room depending on whether or not the DM feels like being generous. In PF2? If you strip away +level, you find that it's almost exactly the same. Starting Ability Score of 16-18 goes up to about 22-24 (a 3-4 point swing), proficiency gives you a +1-+3 difference, and property gives you up to +5, for a total of... 9-11. The only appreciable difference between the two is a slightly higher swing in bonuses, brought about almost entirely by the magic item upper limit being higher in PF2.

    Yep, in 5th Ed, you have Ability Score modifier up to +5, and proficiency bonus up to +6; total: +11 (+17, with Expertise, for Skills).

    In the Playtest, sans +Level, you have Ability Score modifier up to +6, proficiency bonus up to +3, and Item bonus up to +5; total: +14.

    Interesting.


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    The best way to reign in the number bloat of PF2, would be to adjust the game to have 10 levels, with 1 half-way point milestone at each level. This would have the following benefits:

    Spell level would match character level, there would be nothing that didn't match existing character level. Items don't really need 20 levels either. It would be better to have 10 levels of items and have much more consistency to what level items were, without the awkwardness of, well we started at level 4 so the light armor characters might be able to pick up an armor rune, but none for you medium armor folks. Often times the item chart feels like it is arbitrary because they needed to spread items out over 20 levels instead of just having less item levels.

    Additional spells per day, and skill point raises could be attached to the milestone marker, meaning that overall character growth could be maintained exactly as is. Martial characters can pick up useful class feats instead of an additional spell at their level and it all feels much more balanced. The martial/caster disparity is greatly reduced.

    With a -4 for being untrained, a 10th level character with no attribute bonus and no item bonus is going to have a +6. They have seen enough to have a chance to survive in some situations, but a first level character with expert proficiency and a max attribute score is going to be just as good at them. However, the first level character is never going to be a serious threat to the 10th level character in combat, because important combat stuff is all trained at a minimum. -4 is significant at a 10 level spread. It is not at a 20.

    There would be no fractional level issues to calculate.

    Player growth would feel more organic as players would develop their skills over the course of a level, rather than being overshadowed by the raw power of gaining a +1 to everything at every point of growth.

    But, the 20 level structure is such a sacred cow of the game and the D20 system that I don't think it will happen.


    Unicore wrote:

    The best way to reign in the number bloat of PF2, would be to adjust the game to have 10 levels, with 1 half-way point milestone at each level. This would have the following benefits:

    Spell level would match character level, there would be nothing that didn't match existing character level. Items don't really need 20 levels either. It would be better to have 10 levels of items and have much more consistency to what level items were, without the awkwardness of, well we started at level 4 so the light armor characters might be able to pick up an armor rune, but none for you medium armor folks. Often times the item chart feels like it is arbitrary because they needed to spread items out over 20 levels instead of just having less item levels.

    Of all the revolutionary ideas in the Playtest, so far, this is a really good one. Also, maybe that Ability Score modifier deal of score - 10.

    Could be the streamlined, new way to go, take care of several issues in one fell swoop.


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    Not to be a complete debbie downer by pointing out the hard facts, but can we try and restrict ourselves to suggestions that are...oh, I don't know...remotely realistic?

    The PF2E team has maybe a few months at most to implement changes, bulk out the rules with all the stuff they left out of the playtest, and have a finished product ready to go to layout/copyfitting (or whatever the procedure is). They don't have time to run a playtest, and they don't have a very good track record of throwing out revolutionary new systems on a time crunch that work well right off the bat (see: this playtest). Any fixes need to be reasonably straight forward, they need to be very easy to test or simple enough that their effects can be checked by number crunching alone, and they need to slide into the existing system with minimal changes to any surrounding rules components.

    Stuff like "leave +level modifier off skills, except when defending against combat actions by other creatures" is within the bounds of reason. Stuff like "reengineer the game to be 10 levels with a partial levelling system" or "totally strip out level scaling and then reengineer entire swarthes of the bestiary so that PCs aren't blown out by the high level special abilities of things that they should be able to otherwise take" is not.

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