Cannot React to Reactions: The Problem with Martial Reactions


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I wrote this article in response to an issue I've encountered with running and playing the Pathfinder Playtest.

The playtest replaces attacks of opportunity with a paradigm where monsters and martial characters gain special abilities where they get free attacks or actions in response to a trigger. While this is a cool way to add variety of combat roles, it does an inadequate job of influencing combat tactics in a positive way. This mostly has to do with the fact that the reactions (unlike attacks of opportunity) are not universal and provide no descriptive means to convey when an opponent has such an ability. As a result, most monster reactions just feel like "cheap shots" and don't affect tactical decision-making the same way that AoOs do unless a player metagames or accidentally triggers one.

There's also the issue that almost all the player martial reactions are reactive rather than proactive choices and generally feel unsatisfying.


Yeah, you can't tell. The rules really should tell you whenever your action would provoke them like, "You move next to the creature, it seems it would be able to strike you if you carelessly move."

Exo-Guardians

I find it's more on the DM to properly describe and convey what a creature can do based of of what it carries or how it looks. If an NPC or Monster looks like a threat describe how threatening it is, have that fighter who's set up to be the leader of a bunch of anti hero NPC's swat a pigeon out of the sky as it flies by or have that dragon blast a breath weapon out as a show of force, we don't have to be all close and secretive about anything.


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I've just been handling this through knowledge checks, and to a large extent its been working very well. It doesn't feel any cheaper then finding out that your fireball did practically nothing because they have fire resist.

It also makes feats like automatic knowledge more useful, and knowledge in general quite good.


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Not knowing about monster reactions sounds like something solved easily enough by clarifying that you can learn about it with a recall knowledge check. If your party doesn't invest in any knowledge and responds to every threat with the same run forward + hit tactic, then yes they should be surprised when an enemy pulls out a reaction that messes with their tactic. But if they actually make a check to learn about what they're fighting, then it should be easy enough to remember that the creature has a reaction known for catching enemies off-guard if they're not careful.


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If identify monster worked, or was at least defined, that would help.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I am with Krysgg, I think Recall Knowledge and Automatic Knowledge are enhanced by this system.

Keep in mind, though, I came from a day and age where we couldn't just google up a creature real quick and know what it was before we even fought it.

As odd as it sounds, as a player back then, part of the excitement of encountering these fantastic creatures was discovering what they were capable of. It also enhanced the RP of the game as we sought out tidbits, rumors, and wise people who might help us prepare for the coming encounter.

Again, though, I like the uncertainty and the mystery, but I am not sure if that still holds true for people who grew up with click-to-know availability.


Bardarok wrote:
If identify monster worked, or was at least defined, that would help.

Monster identification is briefly covered on page 338. Although, it could certainly be more in depth.


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I had the reverse of this situation as a GM. A monster was standing next to a fighter PC and I had him decide that he had had enough of the fight. However, since I could think of no way for the monster to infer that his foe was a fighter who could take an attack of opportunity, I had him retreat from the fighter even though I knew he would get whacked for it.

If that attack of opportunity had not ended the battle, I would have had all surviving monsters in that fight realize then that the fighter could take attacks of opportunity and adjusted their tactics accordingly.


David knott 242 wrote:

I had the reverse of this situation as a GM. A monster was standing next to a fighter PC and I had him decide that he had had enough of the fight. However, since I could think of no way for the monster to infer that his foe was a fighter who could take an attack of opportunity, I had him retreat from the fighter even though I knew he would get whacked for it.

If that attack of opportunity had not ended the battle, I would have had all surviving monsters in that fight realize then that the fighter could take attacks of opportunity and adjusted their tactics accordingly.

Yup, that's how I've been running my monsters as well.


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In the article, Cyrad said, "You cannot change your decision-making in response to a retaliation ability that the game provides little to no way for you to anticipate or learn about." That is a key point.

Krysgg wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
If identify monster worked, or was at least defined, that would help.
Monster identification is briefly covered on page 338. Although, it could certainly be more in depth.

And that description on page 338 is why we view Monster Identification as not working.

Playtest Rulebook, Monster Identification, page 338 wrote:

Monster Identification

Identifying monster abilities is one of the most common
uses of Recall Knowledge. The monster’s commonality
sets the difficulty: low for common monsters, high for
uncommon, and severe for rare or unique. Most monsters’
level should be the level of the DC, but you could reduce
the level drastically for really famous monsters. A
character who succeeds identifies the monster and singles
out one of its best-known attributes—such as a troll’s
weakness to acid and fire or a manticore’s tail spikes. On
a critical success, the character gets that information plus
something more subtle, like a demon’s weakness or the
trigger for a reaction.

After a success, further uses of Recall Knowledge can
yield more information, but you should increase the
difficulty each time. Once a character has attempted
an extreme-difficulty check or failed a check, further
attempts are fruitless.

Whether a creature has some kind of reactive attack, such as an attack of opportunity, is not likely to be the best-known attribute of the species. We need a better system, one where Recall Knowledge is an action worth using during combat.

Therefore, a month ago I asked my players (link). My favorite player, my wife, had an answer. She wants the knowledge that the roleplaying backstory would give. Highlight what her character would remember from the stories she heard. A warrior fighter would be interested in attacks and tactics. A scholar wizard would be interested in arcane nature and magical abilities. An acolyte cleric would be interested in similar creatures from scripture and history. An urchin rogue would be inerested in how dangerous it is and how valuable its treasure is.

We roleplayed that way at the end of In Pale Mountain's Shadow and the players roleplayed responses to the story briefs I gave them and it led to a lot of characterization. My wife's barbarian totally played off information about Mabar and ended up asking him on a date after the mission.

In terms of game mechanics, a Recall Knowledge action fits well before a two-action Sudden Charge or Casting a Spell activity. "Your wizard recognizes that the fundamental elemental nature of the red dragon is fire. It is immune to fire damage, weak to cold damage, radiates heat, and breathes an incinerating cone of fire." "Great. Elements have their opposites and I mastered both sides of every conflict. I cast Cone of Cold."

But Pathfinder 2nd Edition will need more than Recall Knowledge as a countermeasure to unexpected monster abilities. As the title says, the game also needs a way to react to reactions. It is possible to use a reaction, such as a Shield Block, against another reaction, such as an Attack of Opportunity, but by "way to react" I mean a reaction that is a good countermeasure to many surprise abilties. If the surprise abilities vary too much, then learning one new reaction as a feat will seldom help. Standardization of monster abilites, such as giving humanoid monsters plain ordinary fighter Attack of Opportunity, will make a tactic against the standard surprise abilities useful. Or a test instead of a tactic: imagine a feint that triggers a useless Attack of Opportunity.

If I remember correctly, Attack of Opportunity grew out of the Zone of Control mechanic of the wargames that inspired the original Dungeons & Dragons. I have seen what happens without it, because my players in a 2.5-year-long Iron Gods campaign developed a highly mobile skirmishing style that had little interaction with attacks of opportunity. The skald and figher had reach weapons, the gunslinger and bloodrager had firearms, and the magus had wands with ranged spells. They closed in when they had control (the gunslinger was a low-damage battlefield-control build and the spellcasters helped, too). Attack of opportunity is not vital to Pathfinder. But tactical countermeasures are vital.


Captain Morgan wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

I had the reverse of this situation as a GM. A monster was standing next to a fighter PC and I had him decide that he had had enough of the fight. However, since I could think of no way for the monster to infer that his foe was a fighter who could take an attack of opportunity, I had him retreat from the fighter even though I knew he would get whacked for it.

If that attack of opportunity had not ended the battle, I would have had all surviving monsters in that fight realize then that the fighter could take attacks of opportunity and adjusted their tactics accordingly.

Yup, that's how I've been running my monsters as well.

Same. With allowing good recall knowledge checks to sometimes let a character note if a foe looks to be set to take advantage of lapses in guard or is known for doing so.


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My 2 cents on this.

In PF1 Attacks of Opportunity ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED. Everyone knows what provokes, everyone knows that everyone has them, and barring things like Greater Trip that forced them I borderline NEVER saw someone use AoO.

In PF2, Attacks of Opportunity being only available to some has characters being able to actually maneuver aroud the field and such without enemies getting straight-up free attacks for it, but it also sometimes has you weigh your options because you don't know if a foe can punish you or not. IMO the surprise factor makes AoO much better than in PF1. If someone doesn't know you have AoO you might get one off at a good moment before they wise up.

And you can't just tell from a glance because hey, will monsters really know for sure that you're a Fighter and not a Barbarian, Paladin, or Ranger? And similarly it makes for a good moment when a player finds out the hard way that a foe has AoO. At my table my players have always had a reaction to it that enhances the experience rather than detracting. Kind of an "Oh, he has AoO, we'd best mind him!" It gives the players a flash of respect or regard for the monster, adds to the feel of taking it down. It wouldn't be nearly as strong if they just knew at a glance.

And again, the surprise is important to landing AoOs. Taking that away would remove probably 80% of AoOs that actually happen and just make the feature blazingly meh for those who have it as an ability instead of something that will actually go off.

I mean maybe known AoOs happen more than I think but they are pretty uncommon at my table. And if they are known then, say, a Mage is more likely to move and take the hit before casting rather than cast in melee and take it. Etc.


Edge93 wrote:

...

And similarly it makes for a good moment when a player finds out the hard way that a foe has AoO. At my table my players have always had a reaction to it that enhances the experience rather than detracting. Kind of an "Oh, he has AoO, we'd best mind him!" It gives the players a flash of respect or regard for the monster, adds to the feel of taking it down. It wouldn't be nearly as strong if they just knew at a glance.
...

I almost guarantee that these feelings of surprise and novelty will go away with time. See a quick and dirty analysis I did a little while back.

Snowblind wrote:
Ryvin wrote:

...

By comparison, every melee enemy tougher than a goblin dog has had AOO, at least in this game.
...

This caught my eye, so I thought I would go check the bestiary and see how true that is.

I couldn't be bothered counting the number of creatures in the bestiary, so I did a quick estimate - the left column of the first page of the creature list is 53 creatures, so going off that the book has about 250 creature total. Of those 250, 44 creatures had attack of opportunity. Some of those were only a subset of that particular creature (Orc Warrior, for example). Creatures with attack of opportunity tended to be one of the following:
1. Monster equivalents of the PC Fighter class
2. Scary boss fight type monsters that are dangerous in melee (hydra, dragon etc)
3. Horrible things that are martially capable and intelligent e.g. a lot of outsiders

That would mean that Attacks of Opportunity are common enough that you have to assume they are a risk on anything that really wants to get into melee and is capable of eating your face.

I hear this is called progress, apparently?

As it turns out, once you play a few games or skim through the bestiary, you can make a fairly educated guess at which creatures have AoOs or AoO like abilities.


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In my case, the monster in question was a kobold, so I was not going to have him do anything exceptional.

Of course, my players were impressed with how sturdy one kobold appeared to be. Since a standard kobold in PF2 has 7 hp, he was still standing after being hit once for 5 hp and once for 1 hp.


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Snowblind wrote:
Snowblind wrote:
Ryvin wrote:

...

By comparison, every melee enemy tougher than a goblin dog has had AOO, at least in this game.
...

This caught my eye, so I thought I would go check the bestiary and see how true that is.

I couldn't be bothered counting the number of creatures in the bestiary, so I did a quick estimate - the left column of the first page of the creature list is 53 creatures, so going off that the book has about 250 creature total. Of those 250, 44 creatures had attack of opportunity. Some of those were only a subset of that particular creature (Orc Warrior, for example). Creatures with attack of opportunity tended to be one of the following:
1. Monster equivalents of the PC Fighter class
2. Scary boss fight type monsters that are dangerous in melee (hydra, dragon etc)
3. Horrible things that are martially capable and intelligent e.g. a lot of outsiders

That would mean that Attacks of Opportunity are common enough that you have to assume they are a risk on anything that really wants to get into melee and is capable of eating your face.

I hear this is called progress, apparently?

As it turns out, once you play a few games or skim through the bestiary, you can make a fairly educated guess at which creatures have AoOs or AoO like abilities.

Cyrad's complaint was not about recognizing creatures that had the Attack of Opportunity reaction. His characters were unable to anticipate the less common reactions. How would a character know that a creature can use Persistence of Fear (banshee), Wing Thrash (giant bat), Ferocity (boar, cyclops, grendel, all orcs), Aquatic Opportunity (bunyip), Yank (choker), Greedy Grab (boar demon), Disruptive Attack of Opportunity (fire demon and thanatotic titan), Tail Whip (mutilation demon), Sextuple Opportunity (pride demon), Horn Snare (slaver demon), Absorb Good (devastator), Reposition (bearded devil), Weeping Wound (fury devil), Masterful Quickened Casting (pit fiend), Shake Off (riding dog), End the Charade (doppleganger), Tail Lash (black dragon), Wing Deflection (blue dragon), Twisting Tail (green dragon), Opportune Bite (red dragon), Disperse (air elemental), Crumble (earth elemental), Explosion (fire elemental: technically not a reaction), Vortex Pull (water elemental), Clawed Feet (gargoyle), Catch Rock (all giants), Goblin Scuttle (all NPC goblins), Juke (goblin dog), Impose Paralysis (stone golem), Lurking Death (grim reaper), Flame Overflow (hell hound), Buck (horse or pony), Claws That Catch (jabberwock), Counterspell (lich), Contingency (dmilich), Biting Snakes (medusa), Object Lesson (mimic), Swallow (mu spore), Shift Fate (norn), Icy Deflection (ice yai oni), Shocking Douse (water yai oni), Telekinetic Defense (poltergeist), Scoff at the Divine (rakshasa), Deadly Cleave (redcap), Death Strike (reefclaw), Wing Rebuff (roc), Reactive Lash (roper), Tail Trip (rust monster), Opportune Hoof (sandpoint devil), Rebuffing Gale (saxra), Scorpion Sting (giant scorpion), Shamble (shambler), Chomp (shark and great white shark), Slink (viper), Tighten Coils (ball python and giant anaconda), Coiled Opportunity (giant viper), Spring Upon Prey (hunting spider and goliath spider), Overwhelming Mind (star-spawn of Cthulhu), Godslayer (thanatotic titan), Guardian Bite (warg and winter wolf), Nimble Dodge (wererat rogue), Final Spite (wight), Vanish (yeti), or Sidestep (masterful rogue)?

Okay, some of those abilities, such as the giant scorpion's Scorpion Sting, are merely Attack of Opportunity limited to one natural attack. Others are defensive or an extra feature on the creature's own attack, so not much of a surprise. And a mimic's Object Lesson, the ability to attack a creature that mistakes it for an object, is pretty much its reason for being in the Bestiary. But some of these abilties let the creature attack someone who moves adjacent it or who attacks it. Those would give a sense of frustration that the creature gained a free attack by monster-permitted cheating and further frustration that the monster took advantage of the character's ignorance, too, since the countermeasure would be to attack from range.

And since I scrolled through the Playtest Bestiary finding every Reaction symbol, here is the list of creatures with Attack of Opportunity: barghest, bugbear fighter, chimera, fire demon, pride demon, slaver demon, wrath demon, barbed devil, bearded devil, bone devil, horned devil, ice devil, pit fiend, drow fighter, ettin, ghost soldier, fire giant, rune giant, gnoll sergeant, hobgoblin soldier, hydra, lizardfolk warrior, mummy pharoah, fire yai oni, ogre mage, orc warrior, sahuagin mutant, salamander, degenerate serpentfolk, sinspawn, skeletal champion, thanatotic titan, troll, valkyrie, werewolf fighter, and wraith. And the creatures with Shield Block: bugbear fighter, drow noble cleric, efreeti, hobgoblin soldier, lizardfolk warrior, skeletal champion, and cleric of calistria.

Silver Crusade

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I'm not really seeing the issue since this was the same with a lot ogf abilities and all Feats monsters had in 1st.

Could you know which Monsters had Combat Reflexes? Smiting Reversal? Stand Still? Parry and Riposte?


Edge93 wrote:
In PF1 Attacks of Opportunity ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED. Everyone knows what provokes, everyone knows that everyone has them, and barring things like Greater Trip that forced them I borderline NEVER saw someone use AoO.
Rysky wrote:

I'm not really seeing the issue since this was the same with a lot ogf abilities and all Feats monsters had in 1st.

Could you know which Monsters had Combat Reflexes? Smiting Reversal? Stand Still? Parry and Riposte?

I played a gnome barbarian named Muffin in The Serpent's Skull adventure path. Her specialty was provoking attacks of opportunity against large creatures so that the other party members could move in adjacent to the monster without taking that attack of opportunity themselves. Muffin had good AC (she would delay raging until after the AoO), Mobility, Renewed Vigor rage power, and lots of hit points. The party's only healer was a cleric hireling, and resting overnight while camped in the jungle was dangerous, so we needed to avoid damage.

And thus, we learned from hard experience which enemies had Combat Reflexes.

Avoiding attacks of opportunity in Pathfinder 1st Edition takes time and positioning. The rogue cannot get into flanking position safely in one turn; instead, the rogue either moves behind the foe in a wide circle or in a series of 5-foot steps. The fighter could help by also moving in 5-foot steps, but the fighter wants to stay in place so that no-one can avoid his attacks of opportunity and slip past him to attack the wizard. The wizard and archer stay away from enemies because their ranged attacks provoke attacks of opportunity, and an enemy closing in on them can totally punish them for their combat style.

But if the chance of an AoO drops down to 20%, because that's the chance that that orc in hide armor is a fighter instead of a barbarian, then risking the AoO is less costly than taking the time and careful positioning to avoid the attack. The tactics change when an attack of opportunity is only a possibility rather than a certainty. In the new tactics, Attack of Opportunity is a kind of surprise attack.

My players never had to face Opportune Parry and Riposte, because the modules did not contain enemy swashbucklers. Modules tend to use Core Rulebook and Advanced Player's Guide classes. And that is a defensive move, anyway, so the surprise is not as extreme as with an attack. Smiting Reversal is from Pathfinder Player Companion: Agents of Evil, so I have never seen it, either.

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And?

Quote:
And that is a defensive move, anyway

Parry and Riposte. Normal AoO is AoO against movement, P&R is an AoO against an attack.

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Edge93 wrote:

My 2 cents on this.

In PF1 Attacks of Opportunity ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED. Everyone knows what provokes, everyone knows that everyone has them, and barring things like Greater Trip that forced them I borderline NEVER saw someone use AoO.

And again, the surprise is important to landing AoOs. Taking that away would remove probably 80% of AoOs that actually happen and just make the feature blazingly meh for those who have it as an ability instead of something that will actually go off.

Getting free attacks is NOT the purpose of attacks of opportunity. Attacks of opportunity create battlefield control for melee combatants and create a healthy dynamic between ranged and melee combat.


Cyrad wrote:
Edge93 wrote:

My 2 cents on this.

In PF1 Attacks of Opportunity ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED. Everyone knows what provokes, everyone knows that everyone has them, and barring things like Greater Trip that forced them I borderline NEVER saw someone use AoO.

And again, the surprise is important to landing AoOs. Taking that away would remove probably 80% of AoOs that actually happen and just make the feature blazingly meh for those who have it as an ability instead of something that will actually go off.

Getting free attacks is NOT the purpose of attacks of opportunity. Attacks of opportunity create battlefield control for melee combatants and create a healthy dynamic between ranged and melee combat.

I'll add that AoOs also existed to facilitate punishing players/monsters for doing dumb stuff. Nobody is going to let an enemy drink a potion/cast a spell in arms reach, therefore there needs to be a rule to offer some resistance to such an action.

I'll also say that AoOs happen a couple of times per session in my games, as we like to use tactics to force people to take an attack of opportunity or waste a turn trying to avoid one.

Finally, I have never had an issue, aside from teaching a new player, with AoOs slowing down the game. Even for new players, I can just point out when there will be an attack of opportunity.


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Rysky wrote:
And?
Quote:
And that is a defensive move, anyway
Parry and Riposte. Normal AoO is AoO against movement, P&R is an AoO against an attack.

Riposte 2. FENCING a quick return thrust following a parry.

Sorry, I am not well versed in fencing and missed the meaning of riposte. Likewise, as I said, I have never seen a swashbuckler as a PC nor an NPC. I am not familiar with Opportune Parry and Riposte. I looked up the description of Opportune Parry and Riposte, and read that the swashbuckler uses an attack of opportunity to defend against an attack, to confirm that it was a swashbuckler ability.

I was careless and did not read all the way down to 6th line that added the riposte: "Upon performing a successful parry and if she has at least 1 panache point, the swashbuckler can as an immediate action make an attack ...."

This does highlight that the PF2 system of reactions is less confusing as the PF1 system of attacks of opportunity and immediate actions.

Silver Crusade

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Yep.

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Rysky wrote:

I'm not really seeing the issue since this was the same with a lot ogf abilities and all Feats monsters had in 1st.

Could you know which Monsters had Combat Reflexes? Smiting Reversal? Stand Still? Parry and Riposte?

All of the listed example options build off the same attack of opportunity system, which was replaced with a paradigm that lacks conveyance, fails to provide the same depth of gameplay in combat, and feels less satisfying due to shifting focus to reactive choices instead of proactive choices.


Recall Knowledge as Reaction seems like great Skill Feat material.
Some more automatic checks would make sense too, like witnessing use of unique ability.
(that should allow you to infer what creature it is and what other abilities it has)


A neat solution would be to give almost every class and monster some kind of reaction, but have them all be unique.


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Edge93 wrote:

My 2 cents on this.

In PF1 Attacks of Opportunity ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED. Everyone knows what provokes, everyone knows that everyone has them, and barring things like Greater Trip that forced them I borderline NEVER saw someone use AoO.

There must be a lot of table variance here, because this is certainly not the case in our games. My husband in particular, our best tactician, says "I provoke" and "I cast Detect Combat Reflexes" (our standard line for "I provoke from someone who already used AoO and see if he has another one") pretty much every combat.

High-AC characters will deliberately provoke to draw out AoO and protect low-AC characters, spellcasters, and archers. Characters will provoke if they have an effective response (my swashbuckler did this CONSTANTLY). Characters will provoke because the flanking, spell area, or other benefit they can get is worth the risk. Characters will provoke because they need to get out of combat and take another action, and gambling on the AoO missing is their best chance. It happens a lot.

It was also a characterization point with several of my spellcasters: when I play casters they tend to be very non-martial, and would quarrel with the fighters about why they didn't carry a weapon, thus didn't provoke or flank!

I miss AoO terribly. Yes, a few PC types have it, though only once a turn and competing with their other reactions; but they are in the minority, and overall combat just feels so much less tactical. Need to flank? Run around and flank. Need to get on the casters? Run around and get on the casters. Unless you can totally plug a chokepoint you can't do anything about moving enemies.

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Cyrad wrote:
Rysky wrote:

I'm not really seeing the issue since this was the same with a lot ogf abilities and all Feats monsters had in 1st.

Could you know which Monsters had Combat Reflexes? Smiting Reversal? Stand Still? Parry and Riposte?

All of the listed example options build off the same attack of opportunity system, which was replaced with a paradigm that lacks conveyance, fails to provide the same depth of gameplay in combat, and feels less satisfying due to shifting focus to reactive choices instead of proactive choices.

I disagree. The new system greatly expands the depths of the system, even moreso in the final book where they will assuredly have even more Reactions.

As for "shifting focus" to reactive choices, that's what AoOs always were.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

If players go out of their way to spoil which foes have Reactions for themselves then of course the surprise will go quickly. The same can be said for pretty much anything that was meant to be a surprise but isn't. Of course that becomes less fun.

I wouldn't design the game around those players however, because they are always going to be doing that for everything. Not just Reactions, but knowing Resistances and Weaknesses in advance, or the AoE sizes of enemy attacks for example.


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Malk_Content wrote:
If players go out of their way to spoil which foes have Reactions for themselves then of course the surprise will go quickly. The same can be said for pretty much anything that was meant to be a surprise but isn't. Of course that becomes less fun.

If players don't know what Reactions foes have, then of course they won't get to make interesting strategic decisions based on this knowledge. Instead they'll just occasionally take extra 'gotcha' damage through no fault of their own. Obvious, this is less fun.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
If players go out of their way to spoil which foes have Reactions for themselves then of course the surprise will go quickly. The same can be said for pretty much anything that was meant to be a surprise but isn't. Of course that becomes less fun.
If players don't know what Reactions foes have, then of course they won't get to make interesting strategic decisions based on this knowledge. Instead they'll just occasionally take extra 'gotcha' damage through no fault of their own. Obvious, this is less fun.

Isn't that true for any monster ability or weirdness though?


Thankfully there's a skill that let's you identify monsters and learn more about them. Which is a strong tactical choice to spend an action doing.


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PsychicPixel wrote:
Thankfully there's a skill that let's you identify monsters and learn more about them. Which is a strong tactical choice to spend an action doing.

I mean on paper there's skills, plural, for identifying Monsters...but in practice it's not well developed. What skill do you use for what monster? Never explained. What info does the skill give? Never explained beyond a vague "best known thing for it" on a success and "something vague" on a critical.

To be fair, the "something vague" does call out Reaction triggers as one of the possible pieces of info but...it also calls out Weakness. But Weakness can also be the "best known thing" if you're a troll.

So, y'know. It's a complete mess.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TheFinish wrote:
PsychicPixel wrote:
Thankfully there's a skill that let's you identify monsters and learn more about them. Which is a strong tactical choice to spend an action doing.

I mean on paper there's skills, plural, for identifying Monsters...but in practice it's not well developed. What skill do you use for what monster? Never explained. What info does the skill give? Never explained beyond a vague "best known thing for it" on a success and "something vague" on a critical.

To be fair, the "something vague" does call out Reaction triggers as one of the possible pieces of info but...it also calls out Weakness. But Weakness can also be the "best known thing" if you're a troll.

So, y'know. It's a complete mess.

It's really not as bad as you are making it out to be. The only thing I think needs work is they need to give what knowledge skill works for identifying which creatures. Which they have asked about that exact functionality in a survey so I'm like 99% sure it will be in the full game.

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Yeah, I like the openness about what Skills are used for each and what all it gives rather than hardcoded "it must be this exact skill and if you succeed you know this monster's entire biology, backstory, capability and motivation".

We just need a little bit of structure at the beginning to navigate things easier.


In PF1 was there any way to know, for example, that your opponent has the "step up and strike" feat, so 5'-stepping away was dangerous?

I'm not sure I mind that sort of thing, since we're talking about "eating an AoO" not "instant death."

One thing I like about "reactions are rare" is that AoOs all over really had the potential to slow things down in PF1. I had an aberrant bloodrager with a reach weapon in our Skull & Shackles game who would cast long-arm and enlarge person so as to threaten the entire deck of the other ship in ship-to-ship combat, and those enemy turns were a bit too long (even when I acknowledged this and started working fast.)


Mary Yamato wrote:
Edge93 wrote:

My 2 cents on this.

In PF1 Attacks of Opportunity ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED. Everyone knows what provokes, everyone knows that everyone has them, and barring things like Greater Trip that forced them I borderline NEVER saw someone use AoO.

There must be a lot of table variance here, because this is certainly not the case in our games. My husband in particular, our best tactician, says "I provoke" and "I cast Detect Combat Reflexes" (our standard line for "I provoke from someone who already used AoO and see if he has another one") pretty much every combat.

High-AC characters will deliberately provoke to draw out AoO and protect low-AC characters, spellcasters, and archers. Characters will provoke if they have an effective response (my swashbuckler did this CONSTANTLY). Characters will provoke because the flanking, spell area, or other benefit they can get is worth the risk. Characters will provoke because they need to get out of combat and take another action, and gambling on the AoO missing is their best chance. It happens a lot.

It was also a characterization point with several of my spellcasters: when I play casters they tend to be very non-martial, and would quarrel with the fighters about why they didn't carry a weapon, thus didn't provoke or flank!

I miss AoO terribly. Yes, a few PC types have it, though only once a turn and competing with their other reactions; but they are in the minority, and overall combat just feels so much less tactical. Need to flank? Run around and flank. Need to get on the casters? Run around and get on the casters. Unless you can totally plug a chokepoint you can't do anything about moving enemies.

Is there Ready Actions in the new system?


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
If that attack of opportunity had not ended the battle, I would have had all surviving monsters in that fight realize then that the fighter could take attacks of opportunity and adjusted their tactics accordingly.

I would have them (individually) do a Perception check first to see if they noticed what happened to their buddy. Yeah, this violates the "combat should be over in 4.3 milliseconds" rule, but I don't care. :-)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
rainzax wrote:
Mary Yamato wrote:
Edge93 wrote:

My 2 cents on this.

In PF1 Attacks of Opportunity ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED. Everyone knows what provokes, everyone knows that everyone has them, and barring things like Greater Trip that forced them I borderline NEVER saw someone use AoO.

There must be a lot of table variance here, because this is certainly not the case in our games. My husband in particular, our best tactician, says "I provoke" and "I cast Detect Combat Reflexes" (our standard line for "I provoke from someone who already used AoO and see if he has another one") pretty much every combat.

High-AC characters will deliberately provoke to draw out AoO and protect low-AC characters, spellcasters, and archers. Characters will provoke if they have an effective response (my swashbuckler did this CONSTANTLY). Characters will provoke because the flanking, spell area, or other benefit they can get is worth the risk. Characters will provoke because they need to get out of combat and take another action, and gambling on the AoO missing is their best chance. It happens a lot.

It was also a characterization point with several of my spellcasters: when I play casters they tend to be very non-martial, and would quarrel with the fighters about why they didn't carry a weapon, thus didn't provoke or flank!

I miss AoO terribly. Yes, a few PC types have it, though only once a turn and competing with their other reactions; but they are in the minority, and overall combat just feels so much less tactical. Need to flank? Run around and flank. Need to get on the casters? Run around and get on the casters. Unless you can totally plug a chokepoint you can't do anything about moving enemies.

Is there Ready Actions in the new system?

Yes you can spend two actions to basically turn one of your actions into a reaction that occurs on a trigger you decide on.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rysky wrote:

Yeah, I like the openness about what Skills are used for each and what all it gives rather than hardcoded "it must be this exact skill and if you succeed you know this monster's entire biology, backstory, capability and motivation".

We just need a little bit of structure at the beginning to navigate things easier.

I feel like you could get the best of both worlds by providing a skill commonly used to identify the monster and adding that other skills could work at the GM's discretion. My main issue has been the DCs rather than the skill used, which I can make a snap judgment on a lot more easily. If there's any guidance given on monster identification DCs, I've managed to completely miss it so far.

In PF1 we always let the PCs ask questions about the monster they identified (resistances, weaknesses, etc.), with one additional question for every 5 they beat the DC by. Don't remember if that was from anywhere official or just a house rule, though.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
If players go out of their way to spoil which foes have Reactions for themselves then of course the surprise will go quickly. The same can be said for pretty much anything that was meant to be a surprise but isn't. Of course that becomes less fun.
If players don't know what Reactions foes have, then of course they won't get to make interesting strategic decisions based on this knowledge. Instead they'll just occasionally take extra 'gotcha' damage through no fault of their own. Obvious, this is less fun.

Interesting. Different reactions to different groups.

In my campaigns, and maybe because I encourage the roleplay and reward players by making roleplaying important, my players will actually consciously decide to not-know what creatures do, especially at lower levels, as a reflection of their naivete. "I don't think Griblet would know.... so I do..."

On top of that, I create new creatures not found in some publication and they have to discover their capabilities themselves.

Now it's important to know how the unknown affects Encounter Difficulty, but I never start designing encounters assuming players (or characters) know everything about a creature to begin with.

I think this not only makes things fun from a discovery perspective, it creates a closer experience to what players get from a good book or exciting movie.

Not only that, but it rewards the characters who employ Recall Knowledge, research into what denizens of an area are capable of, and creates some intrigue when listening to the tavern rumors ("I'm tellin' ya, Buck, them Lizardfolk have been trained by Gorum himself. They be battle masters every one of 'em").

So for us, the mysterious, unknown enemy adds to the fun - it certainly doesn't ruin it.


i find the system now way better.

not knowing off the bat that everything from a rat to a wizened priest to the common farmer is somehow combat trained to react in a moments notice and exploit an opening (old system)adds amazing drama and storytelling inside the encounters.

you go to execute your plan, and suddenly you're disrupted by something that you didn't know, forcing the whole party to actually shift their tactics in a moment's notice instead of doing the same old routine in every single combat.

plus, it's not like you'll face ONE of each monster in a story.

yes, your party will be surpised from a weird reaction of Mob-A, adding dramatic effects in the combat, disrupting their flow and forcing them to reconsidered their plan, but afterwards, throughout the story, whenever they face Mob-A, they will now know what it can do.

if you ever face only one of something, then there's good chance that this something is either a boss, or an extremely rare thing, and both of those SHOULD be able to surpise adventurers with their tactics and abilities.

Recall knowledge checks for the most prominent of their reactions and abilities is also an option as well.

Liberty's Edge

Personally, I say bring back the Attack of Opportunity for ALL PCs as it was before. Give the Fighter something else fun that he can do with his Reaction instead, perhaps the ability to perform a Combat Maneuver in place of the Attack.

As things are now, there is no real way to protect your "back line" from multiple enemies pushing through the party, that is short of physical barriers, invisibility, or flight.

The same can be said about PCs being able to just run up into the thick of things, past all of the enemy melee combatants and get at the "squishies" on by their 3rd-4th action at the slowest (Assuming you're playing on a grid smaller than 100x100 ft or 50x50 with Terrain or Hazards.

We don't need Combat Reflexes, but if we got it that would be nice. Simply update it add 1 Additional Reaction per turn and allow it to be taken multiple times if needed.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dire Ursus wrote:


Yes you can spend two actions to basically turn one of your actions into a reaction that occurs on a trigger you decide on.

You could Ready in PF1 as well. My group uses it a lot. But we do not use it to simulate AoO, because it doesn't do that. AoO says "I'm going to hit you, and if you try to move past me, I will hit you AGAIN." Ready says "I will give up my normal chance to hit you now, in order to possibly hit you later when --" where the "when" is things like "--you are casting" or "--my buddy flanks you" or "--the mage takes down your Stoneskin."

"I will give up my normal chance to hit you now, in order to possibly hit you later when you are moving by me" doesn't make much sense. Hit him now! He might not move by you at all and then think how silly you'll feel. And there is no advantage to hitting him later in this case--if hitting him would have dropped him and saved your weak friend, hitting him now will do the same.

AoO works for this because it's *free*. Ready is not a substitute because it is far from free.

For me personally, AoO is a large part of the tactical interest in PF1. When is it worth risking AoO to get a better position? When should I deliberately provoke to allow someone else to move safely past? How can I get where I'm going without provoking? How do we get to the mage behind the fighters before he kills us all? In PF2 you need very constricted terrain to accomplish this; even a fighter/paladin heavy party isn't great at it due to the lack of Combat Reflexes.


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thflame wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
And again, the surprise is important to landing AoOs. Taking that away would remove probably 80% of AoOs that actually happen and just make the feature blazingly meh for those who have it as an ability instead of something that will actually go off.
Getting free attacks is NOT the purpose of attacks of opportunity. Attacks of opportunity create battlefield control for melee combatants and create a healthy dynamic between ranged and melee combat.
I'll add that AoOs also existed to facilitate punishing players/monsters for doing dumb stuff. Nobody is going to let an enemy drink a potion/cast a spell in arms reach, therefore there needs to be a rule to offer some resistance to such an action.

Ah, this reminder of the primary purpose of attacks of opportunity makes clear the tactical role that PF2's reactions need to fulfill.

Some character actions, such as moving past an enemy or drinking a potion or casting a spell, are supposed to be tactically easy to interfere with. That divides actions in the game by time (in battle or not) and space (within reach of an enemy or not) into tactical layers to add an extra dimension to the tactics.

Interfering with an action means performing the interference during the other player's turn, before they finish the action; hence, it has to be a reaction. Or in rare cases where the interference does not cost the character anything, a free action.

Yet not every reaction is meant to be tactical. I checked the reactions of the player characters, too, and most basic and skill reactions replace immediate actions. Many, such as Aid and Grab Edge, are simply actions that might need to be taken on someone else's turn.

By the way, here is my list of PC reactions. I skipped spells and magic items.

Basic: Aid, Arrest a Fall, Shield Block
Acrobatics: Grab Edge
Arcane: Recognize Spell Feat 1
Barbarian: No Escape Feat 2, Cleave Feat 6, Witch Hunter Feat 6, Vengeful Strike Feat 14, Perfect Clarity Feat 16
Druid: Storm Retribution Feat 6
Fighter: Attack of Opportunity, Reactive Shield Feat 1, Dueling Riposte Feat 8, Mirror Shield Feat 10, Twin Riposte Feat 10
Monk: Deflect Arrow Feat 4, Crane Flutter Feat 6, Impossible Technique Feat 20
Paladin: Retributive Strike, Divine Grace Feat 2, Attack of Opportunity Feat 6
Ranger: Stalker's Shot Feat 2, Twin Riposte Feat 10, Sense the Unseen Feat 14
Rogue: Nimble Dodge Feat 1, You're Next Feat 1, Reactive Pursuit Feat 4, Delay Trap Feat 8, Opportune Backstab Feat 8, Sidestep Feat 8, Sense the Unseen Feat 14, Cognitive Loophole Feat 16, Reactive Interference Feat 18: Trickster's Ace Feat 18, Hidden Paragon Feat 20, Reactive Distraction Feat 20
Sorcerer: Counterspell Feat 1
Wizard: Counterspell Feat 1

Thus, as I currently see it (please inform me of what I overlooked), reactions serve three purposes.
1) Make risky actions in combat actually have a risk for the provoker.
- 1a) Attack of Opportunity: The provoker let himself be distracted during combat.
- 1b) Taking Your Chances: The non-typical yet evident risk might trigger something besides damage.
2) Allow some regular actions that need to occur when regular actions cannot occur.
- 2a) Defense: Some defense actions make sense only if performed during the attack, so they have to be reactions.
- 2b) Final Retribution: A creature's final action before death cannot be delayed to a regular action.
- 2c) Immediate Action: Some activities simply don't fit the action structure, such as a non-free effect on a successful attack. Page 297 says, "Reactions are usually triggered by other creatures or by events outside your control," but these triggers are under your control.
3) Thematic surprise: Some surprises are more effective on the target's turn or during exploration mode.

Then I split all the reactions into categories and discovered some more categories that did not fit the concepts above.

4) Punishing a Failure: I named this when cataloging it as a demon's ability, but on a player character it is riposte, a successful parry against an attack creating an opportunity for an immediate action counterattack.
5) Got Too Close: This is like an Attack of Opportunity, but its trigger is nothing riskier than getting close to the creature. A roc's Wing Rebuff and a saxra's Rebuffing Gale might be defenses designed to keep the PC at a distance, but the roc's defense deals damage, too.
6) Routine Retribution: Revenge didn't wait until the avenger's turn. The paladin's Retributive Strike might work as a defense if it kills the provoker, but with "retributive" in the name, that seems secondary.
7) Expensive Free Action: Some effects that would be automatic, a free action, or a saving throw are given an action cost, and the only action that can be spent at the time is a reaction. Separating this from an immediate action is a matter of personal judgment, but I put the voluntary triggers under immediate action.

Attack of Opportunity
Aquatic Opportunity (bunyip), Disruptive Attack of Opportunity (fire demon and thanatotic titan), Tail Whip (mutilation demon), Sextuple Opportunity (pride demon), Opportune Bite (red dragon), Lurking Death (grim reaper), Reactive Lash (roper), Tail Trip (rust monster), Opportune Hoof (sandpoint devil), Scorpion Sting (giant scorpion), Coiled Opportunity (giant viper), Witch Hunter (barbarian), Attack of Opportunity (fighter, paladin, and ranger), Reactive Pursuit (rogue),

Taking Your Chances
Shake Off (riding dog), Twisting Tail (green dragon), Vortex Pull (water elemental), Buck (horse or pony), Counterspell (lich), Shocking Douse (water yai oni), Scoff at the Divine (rakshasa), No Escape (barbarian), Counterspell (sorcerer and wizard)

Punishing a Failure
Greedy Grab (boar demon), Horn Snare (slaver demon), Sidestep (masterful rogue and rogue), Dueling Riposte (fighter), Mirror Shield (fighter), Twin Riposte (fighter and ranger), Crane Flutter (monk), Stalker's Shot (ranger and rogue)

Got Too Close
Clawed Feet (gargoyle), Claws That Catch (jabberwock), Biting Snakes (medusa), Telekinetic Defense (poltergeist), Wing Rebuff (roc), Rebuffing Gale (saxra)

Defense
Yank (choker), Tail Lash (black dragon), Wing Deflection (blue dragon), Disperse (air elemental), Crumble (earth elemental), Catch Rock (all giants), Icy Deflection (ice yai oni), Slink (viper), Nimble Dodge (wererat rogue and rogue), Shield Block (basic action), Reactive Shield (fighter), Deflect Arrow (monk), Divine Grace (paladin), Delay Trap (rogue)

Final Retribution
Explosion (fire elemental: technically not a reaction), Death Strike (reefclaw), Final Spite (wight)

Routine Retribution
Wing Thrash (giant bat), Guardian Bite (warg and winter wolf), Vengeful Strike (barbarian), Storm Retribution (druid), Retributive Strike (paladin)

Immediate Action
Persistence of Fear (banshee), Absorb Good (devastator), Reposition (bearded devil), Impose Paralysis (stone golem), Goblin Scuttle (all NPC goblins), Juke (goblin dog), Shift Fate (norn), Deadly Cleave (redcap), Chomp (blue shark and great white shark), Overwhelming Mind (star-spawn of Cthulhu), Godslayer (thanatotic titan), Vanish (yeti), Aid (basic), Cleave (barbarian), Impossible Technique (monk), Opportune Backstab (rogue), Reactive Interference (rogue), Trickster's Ace (rogue), Hidden Paragon (rogue)

Expensive Free Action
Ferocity (boar, cyclops, grendel, all orcs), Masterful Quickened Casting (pit fiend), Weeping Wound (fury devil), Flame Overflow (hell hound), Contingency (dmilich), Swallow (mu spore), Tighten Coils (ball python and giant anaconda), Arrest a Fall (basic), Grab Edge (Acrobatics), Recognize Spell (Arcane feat), Perfect Clarity (barbarian), Sense the Unseen (ranger and rogue), You're Next (rogue), Cognitive Loophole (rogue), Reactive Distraction (rogue)

Thematic Surprise
End the Charade (doppleganger), Object Lesson (mimic), Shamble (shambler), Spring Upon Prey (hunting spider and goliath spider)

Now that I cataloged everything, let's compare the categories to Cyrad's article, Cannot React to Reactions: Tactical Gameplay in Pathfinder Playtest.

Attack of Opportunity and Taking Your Chances have evident tactical risks. Deciding how to handle the risk adds tactics to Pathfinder. These are fine.

Punishing a Failure and Got Too Close, in contrast, are what Cyrad meant by item 4, Reactive rather than proactive, in his list. Adding unexpected damage to a failure or routine action does not change character nor monster behavior, because they need to attack to win. It just makes the result bloodier.

Defense is a boundary case. Using a shield or a shield-like wing for defense is evident, but like Punishing a Failure, it does not change tactical behavior. It just makes the result less bloody. Less bloody does give time to think about new tactics.

Final Retribution is not tactical unless the PCs know about it. "Don't kill the fire elemental, 'cause it'll explode!" creates more dramatic tension than being surprised by the explosion. The fire elemental's explosion is not a reaction, it is simply a death effect. I think that that is the best way to handle such abilities. The design does not need to use a reaction.

Routine retribution is like Punishing a Failure, except it punishes success. There is also little reason for these to be reactions, since revenge can wait six seconds, except to be able to spend a reaction on an extra attack. If an extra attack is the best use for a reaction, then reactions will disappoint me. A paladin's Retributive Strike and maybe a Warg's Guardian Bite could defend by taking a killing revenge before the actual hit.

Immediate Action and Expensive Free Action are not supposed to be tactical in themselves. They enable abilities with weird timing. Some of them, alas, don't seem they should be reactions. I like that sharks have a Chomp ability, a swim-by bite, but it could have been written as using two actions rather than an action and a reaction. When Pathfinder 2nd Edition creates Ride-by Attack, will it cost a reaction, too? Now that I think about it, why do Grab Edge and Arrest a Fall cost a reaction? If an opponent or group of opponents can make a character fall twice, such as by Shoving the fingers that grabbed an edge, that character cannot stop their fall again.

GM: The ogre pushes you off the cliff. You can react to Grab an Edge DC 15.
ROGUE: Can I fall 10 feet before I grab an edge?
GM: Um, yeah. But why?
ROGUE: First, Grab an Edge is manipulate, and I don't want to provoke an attack of opportunity from that ogre fighter. Second, I want to be out of his reach so he does not Shove me again. I have only one reaction. Good thing I never learned Nimble Dodge.
CLERIC: And third, it's dramatic. I am going to weep, "Lefty fell to his death."
ROGUE: I am not dead yet. I haven't even made my Acrobatics roll to Grab an Edge.
CLERIC: Will that make any difference? You disappeared over the edge and Lady Whitebread thinks you are dead.

Thematic Surprise is supposed to be surprise. No tactics take place during the surprise. The game needs some surprises and these work hard at their theme.


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I am thinking that everyone needs a way to interfere like an Attack of Opportunity. But maybe the non-fighters' interference can be less violent. How about the following reaction?

[[R]] Interrupt
Attack
Requirements Trained in Acrobatics
Trigger A creature within your reach uses a manipulate action or a move action, makes a ranged attack, or leaves a square during a move action it’s using.
Make an Acrobatics check as an attack against the triggering creatures Reflex DC.
Success The creature may spend an additional action to complete the triggering activity. If it doesn't, then the activity is cancelled. The only cost lost for the cancelled activity is the actions it would have taken. A partially completed move ends at the location of the interrupt.
Critical Success Other costs for the cancelled activity, such as ammunition, resonance, a potion, or a prepared spell, are lost, too.
Failure No effect.
Critical Failure No-one else can make an Interrupt against the triggering creature for the triggering activity. Attacks of Opportunity are still permitted.


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Spotted this problem ten thousand miles away before the playtest even started and it's one of the changes that killed this edition for me. Newer gamers want a board game not an immersive RPG.


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Brother Fen wrote:
Spotted this problem ten thousand miles away before the playtest even started and it's one of the changes that killed this edition for me. Newer gamers want a board game not an immersive RPG.

What does that even mean? AD&D didn't have attacks of opportunity, and it's an immersive RPG. Call of Cthulhu doesn't have attacks of opportunity and it's an immersive RPG. If anything "AoOs" *are* the board gamey thing.

I mean theater of the mind style play may not be more immersive than grid-based play (depending on the individual) but it sure is less board-gamey, and the former features almost no AoOs.


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Brother Fen wrote:
Spotted this problem ten thousand miles away before the playtest even started and it's one of the changes that killed this edition for me. Newer gamers want a board game not an immersive RPG.

Except AoOs arise from it being a tactical boardgame.


Mathmuse wrote:

Now that I cataloged everything, let's compare the categories to Cyrad's article, Cannot React to Reactions: Tactical Gameplay in Pathfinder Playtest.

Attack of Opportunity and Taking Your Chances have evident tactical risks. Deciding how to handle the risk adds tactics to Pathfinder. These are fine.

I agree

Mathmuse wrote:

Punishing a Failure and Got Too Close, in contrast, are what Cyrad meant by item 4, Reactive rather than proactive, in his list. Adding unexpected damage to a failure or routine action does not change character nor monster behavior, because they need to attack to win. It just makes the result bloodier.

Depending on how they work these can actually change up behavior a lot. For example, when my players learned that horned devils could disarm them if they missed they moved into ranged and killed them that way as a means to reduce risk. Additionally, Got Too Close effects are a way for designers to add durability to creatures without just over tuning numbers.

Mathmuse wrote:

Defense is a boundary case. Using a shield or a shield-like wing for defense is evident, but like Punishing a Failure, it does not change tactical behavior. It just makes the result less bloody. Less bloody does give time to think about new tactics.

Defensive abilities tied to reactions are more meaningful then passive defenses because they are more limited. On the offensive side they provide incentive to put more pressure on the target so that you can act while the reaction is down. On the defensive side, it means that anything short of a focused offense can be ignored.

Mathmuse wrote:

Final Retribution is not tactical unless the PCs know about it. "Don't kill the fire elemental, 'cause it'll explode!" creates more dramatic tension than being surprised by the explosion. The fire elemental's explosion is not a reaction, it is simply a death effect. I think that that is the best way to handle such abilities. The design does not need to use a reaction.

I agree again.

Mathmuse wrote:

Routine retribution is like Punishing a Failure, except it punishes success. There is also little reason for these to be reactions, since revenge can wait six seconds, except to be able to spend a reaction on an extra attack. If an extra attack is the best use for a reaction, then reactions will disappoint me. A paladin's Retributive Strike and maybe a Warg's Guardian Bite could defend by taking a killing revenge before the actual hit.

These are meaningful because they change how, and who, you want to attack. If every time you attack a paladin's friend you get hit then it may be a better idea to attack either him (a bad idea, they have good defenses) or someone that the paladin can't defend.

Mathmuse wrote:

Immediate Action and Expensive Free Action are not supposed to be tactical in themselves. They enable abilities with weird timing. Some of them, alas, don't seem they should be reactions. I like that sharks have a Chomp ability, a swim-by bite, but it could have been written as using two actions rather than an action and a reaction. When Pathfinder 2nd Edition creates Ride-by Attack, will it cost a reaction, too?

I agree, these really have no right to be reactions, you're not reaction, you're acting! Some like the fighter's desperate finish would almost make more sense to be free actions that come with a condition that prevents you from performing reactions. Costing a reaction is practically the same effect, but says something different about the ability. Perhaps having an exhausting trait to these skills that renders you unable to take reactions.

Mathmuse wrote:
Now that I think about it, why do Grab Edge and Arrest a Fall cost a reaction? If an opponent or group of opponents can make a character fall twice, such as by Shoving the fingers that grabbed an edge, that character cannot stop their fall again.

I feel that these are perfect as reaction. You already make a fort save (or use your fort dc to be more accurate) to resist the shove, using a reaction for a another free grab is a fantastic use case.

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