When Did Your Character "Feel" Useless During the Playtest


General Discussion


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The is the sister thread for the When Did Your Character "Feel" Awesome During the Playtest? I'm curious:

When in the playtest did your characters feel helpless or frustrated? When did you think: "This sucks. My character is super weak and useless?"

How many of these moments did you have? Did you feel that the PF2 ruleset specifically hindered your character? And as you played through the playtest, did you adapt your style to become more effective?


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It is quite difficult for me to choose which of your threads to answer. My experience is that PF1 allows specialization choice to get you to those, "oh man i'm awesome at this" moments, however, at the cost of many, "im helpless and this is frustrating" moments. PF2 has raised the floor on these moments, but also dropped the ceiling.

Ultimately, I decided to go with your frustrated thread because overall PF2 has been a disappointing experience for me. I feel skill prof and feat gating are too arbitrary, also adds the combat feat issues of PF1 to the PF2 skill system. I also have a very big problem with the customization bottleneck, and dont expect any changes to my personal satisfaction.

Overall, I feel too general in PF2, and lack the ability to make the custom characters I could in PF1. PF2 sandwiches the system mastery of PF1 to a point thats too mediocre for my taste. Though, I admit this is probably a better direction to go to attract the average gamer.

Silver Crusade

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First time I played. I was playing a Level 5 bard with totally maxed out diplomacy. Failed in every single attempt to use diplomacy to defuse problems. Every one (at least 4 IIRC).

And watched (this was in the days when non proficiency gave a -2 penalty) somebody else succeed at several of them. Their base diplomacy was a LITTLE worse than mine but dice are dice. Watching Valeros diplomaticize somebody my bard couldn't (and not because I'd rolled a 1) was very disheartening.

Some of this was bad luck. But largely it was seeing the new math and balance in action. The dice totally dominate game play. None of the diplomacy checks were particularly difficult, in PF1 my 5th level bard would have made most of them


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ironically, I was feeling a little bit this way as a GM. In complete deviation from everyone else's reported experiences, it seems, my players curbstomped every encounter I threw at them. That's more on my players being great than monsters being useless, though. :)

I did have a player get very frustrated at the lack of surprise rounds, and feel like a plan he put together blew up in his face because of how they work.

The plan more failed because of poor communication with his party, though.


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I never felt "useless". PF2e pretty much prevents feeling useless because everybody can do everything. Wizards can climb cliffs almost exactly as well as rogues, and rogues can recall esoteric information almost exactly as well as wizards.

There were times where I tried using core class abilities and watched them completely fail.

My rogue picking a level-appropriate lock, requiring over 30 die rolls and breaking 3 sets of lockpicks before succeeding. No fun for me, no fun for the other players who were breaking out their cell phones while I repeatedly rolled.

My wizard throwing many Save-or-Suck spells in many combats, only to have every monster save against every spell I ever cast. Basically, these spells are now just suck. Might as well be a blaster and at least get half damage on every spell I cast.

My ranger losing my core class ability when my pet bear died. After that, I was the lowest damage dealer in the group because that bear was a large part of my DPS when it was alive and my DPS died with it. How many classes can lose a class ability when the enemy rolls a critical hit? I did.

My Paladin trying to protect his friends but finally realizing that all I could really do was get revenge on enemies that hit my friends. That's not protection. That's not even paladinly behavior. Revenge is a dish best served by non-paladins because it's neither lawful nor good behavior.

My entire adventuring party trying to roll ungodly high DCs in Mirrored Moon to search hexes. Most of us needed to roll in the high teens to get a normal success. This means that we often entered a hex and everyone rolled too low (mid-teens or lower) and failed to find anything in this time-sensitive hide-and-seek scenario. How freaking hard is it for mid level characters to explore a hex. Mid freaking level??? Any level 1 noob should have been able to find a fort full of giants in an otherwise flat plains hex, but we couldn't.

None of those made us "useless". But all of those made me feel like my character couldn't effectively do what my character should have been great at doing.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:


My entire adventuring party trying to roll ungodly high DCs in Mirrored Moon to search hexes. Most of us needed to roll in the high teens to get a normal success. This means that we often entered a hex and everyone rolled too low (mid-teens or lower) and failed to find anything in this time-sensitive hide-and-seek scenario. How freaking hard is it for mid level characters to explore a hex. Mid freaking level??? Any level 1 noob should have been able to find a fort full of giants in an otherwise flat plains hex, but we couldn't.

Your GM must have ran that part of the adventure incorrectly. On a failure it only takes more time to search the hex. You still should find whatever is in the hex.

Liberty's Edge

Ditto - never felt useless playing (but then, I played a Cleric).

I felt useless during character generation and updating, as I tried to make effective character choices, due to the overwhelming penalties associated with armor but also due to the massive cross indexing and searching required for domains and spells. I really disliked the Heavy Armor enhancement prejudice (level 3 there, level 2 for any other armor) along with how ACP turns Medium (being trained, I should get this) checks into Ultimate or Incredible (once-in-a-lifetime) checks.

I would have felt marginalized as a Fighter with only 1 AoO as I expect melee area control. Several other players that created very narrowly focused characters seemed to feel useless on a regular basis - PFPT plays differently than PF1 and I think it takes time and an open mind (while I'm retired).


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Combining my thoughts from your "when did you feel awesome" thread with this thread, and the thoughts of DM_Blake I wan to say this:

I never felt useless. I also never felt awesome.

I mostly felt mediocre and overly dependent on dice for the outcome of my actions. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't reach a real state of "awesomeness". Conversely, I was never useless, except for the whimsy of the dice, which I feel I can't count. Because everyone is equally subject to that.

I guess my summation for how I felt about the play test is:
It was the most exceptionally mediocre character experience I've had in recent memory.


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My group felt useless about 80% of the time.


Not really useless, but my starting character was an elf cleric. In one of the later sections where you come back to that character often times I felt like I wasn't able to help the party do much other then heal and shoot a few arrows. Either the nonhealing spells I had prepped had not been good ones for the encounter or the divine spell list just had nothing useful at all. When the best thing you can do with a lvl 5 spell is cast heightened heroism ... that feels bad. Combine that with as a cleric of a true neutral god some of the feats and spells aren't available and the feats that were available were basically "You can get this extra effect when you cast a heal!". Ug.

Dark Archive

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Never. Never did any of my characters feel useless. However, never did any of my characters feel anything higher than slightly above average -- at anything.


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Mirrored Moon when exploring hexes. Needing a 19 on the dice to succeed is not exactly leading to being engaged in what is going on.

Also, on the flip side of the "feel awesome" thread: My two Clerics when not healing/using Wisdom based skills. Spells that aren't Heal feel weak and ineffective, the buffs were underwhelming to be kind, you don't get nearly enough spells per day to be a true caster, no ranged offensive cantrip against living things, and as I wanted to use a shield (figuring the healer would get targeted at some point), weapons didn't really feel all that effective either.

The dichotomy between "I'm awesome" when using Channel Heal and "I have no reason to heal this turn and am bad at everything else" was staggering.


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Cheburn wrote:

The is the sister thread for the When Did Your Character "Feel" Awesome During the Playtest? I'm curious:

When in the playtest did your characters feel helpless or frustrated? When did you think: "This sucks. My character is super weak and useless?"

How many of these moments did you have? Did you feel that the PF2 ruleset specifically hindered your character? And as you played through the playtest, did you adapt your style to become more effective?

1st level Divine Sorcerer. When Heal spells are your only class feature, it's no better than playing NPCs.

Even with the 1.6 changes, Divine spell list is mostly trash, and Sorcerers require higher levels to make the spell list actually serviceable based on their class features. The fact that I was a Gnome with Ray of Frost was a bigger contribution than my entire class, and this was before Heritage selections were a thing! That's very, very sad.

At 9th level, having Breath of Life as a spell made it so nobody died during DD4, and actually having breathing room to lob spells was nice, and at 17th level I feel about as useless as I did at 1st level since Divine Spell list only really has 2 spells on it, which are Heal and Breath of Life.


Cheburn wrote:

The is the sister thread for the When Did Your Character "Feel" Awesome During the Playtest? I'm curious:

When in the playtest did your characters feel helpless or frustrated? When did you think: "This sucks. My character is super weak and useless?"

How many of these moments did you have? Did you feel that the PF2 ruleset specifically hindered your character? And as you played through the playtest, did you adapt your style to become more effective?

I felt useless any time I was playing my main character, an alchemist. First adventure I mostly flung rocks with a sling to avoid running out of my precious few bombs and resonance. I used the bombs against the boss, but missed and accomplished nothing. The higher levels I was using bombs, but missing most of the time, and most monsters could crit me most of the time. Sure there is spash damage, but 1 point (or later my int modifier) is barely even worth counting past 1st level. The most effective I ever was, was by giving mutagens to the monk in part 4. Part 7 disintegrated during the first fight when all the frustrations from everyone over the playtest boiled over.

I tried different things, like poison, but that didn't work either, because I couldn't hit, and wasted the injury poison. Of the other types of poison, only inhalation has a onset short enough to be usable in combat, I just never got around to trying because a toxic cloud can cause problems for the melee types. If I did hit, the monsters were most likely going to make the save anyway. Quicksilver mutagen helped me a bit in part 4, but I still missed most of the time. And the item bonus wouldn't stack with other item bonuses like Alchemist Goggles or the higher level empowered bomb bonus before the 1.6 overhaul. But then in part 7 I lost access to mutagens with the 1.6 overhaul.

Alchemists need a huge buff to be considered worth playing. Even after the 1.6 overhaul. They also need more and better alchemical items. Most aren't very good, and there are so many gaps in capability. Toning down the numbers from monsters will probably help too, so I don't need like a 15 or better to hit.

I felt pretty weak most of the rest of the time too, but it was the alchemist where I really felt like dead weight.


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Any time my Cleric tried to attack. Lower than 11 on a roll meant a miss and the only way I could improve it was Bless adding a +1 to make it 10.


Were you a ranged Cleric? Cause in melee Flanking helps loads.


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Same character as in the other thread (L5 elven paladin of Sarenrae) confronting a flyer. Paladins in PF2 do not do range well. I tried the domain fire ray power against the flying enemy, but targeting touch AC does not hit nearly as well as it did in PF1.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Any time I tried to pick a lock or disable a trap.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

During character creation.

Especially when choosing skill feats.


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In Pale Mountain's Shadow, carefully approaching the red dragon's lair under cover of an invisibility sphere, taking time to plan for the exact attack, opening the fight with a cone of cold without any warning whatsoever... and seeing the dragon critically succeed at its save, was a bit of bummer. Even then, my wizard was totally useless in this fight. Let's say the fighter was glad for the heightened resist fire and the rest.


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I only really played the first adventure (issues in my group caused it to fall apart during char gen for part 2) but during that, I can say that for my Monk any time I tried to use Dragon Style attacks after my first attack felt pretty useless. An attack cycle of +5/0/-5/-5 against opponents with AC around 15 is pretty feel-bad, especially when your luck is notoriously bad. Swapping to non-Stance fist after the first attack (or even just not dropping into Stance, did that a lot) for a +5/+1/-3/-3 helped a little bit. Wasn't much I could do with maneuvers, given my Athletics was taking the same penalties Dragon Style would take and it was generally better to just go for the kill, and I didn't have any fancy actions I could use instead really. I'd really kinda built for speed, with 35 speed at level 1 that would've been 70 in the last act (75 for a theoretical level 20 build), but given the first act is all about cramped rooms and poor visibility there wasn't exactly much chance to leverage that.


gwynfrid wrote:
In Pale Mountain's Shadow, carefully approaching the red dragon's lair under cover of an invisibility sphere, taking time to plan for the exact attack, opening the fight with a cone of cold without any warning whatsoever... and seeing the dragon critically succeed at its save, was a bit of bummer. Even then, my wizard was totally useless in this fight. Let's say the fighter was glad for the heightened resist fire and the rest.

(Mirrored Moon actually).


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Mirrored moon playing a half-elf Rogue who I made as stealthy as possible, went to scope out the lake where the sea serpent was apparently lurking I rolled a 18 for stealth on dice only to find out I’d been seen and that the serpent had rolled higher on stealth than I did.

Honestly just feels like specialist characters aren’t allowed to be ‘too good’ even though they sacrifice just as many feats as every joker who invested only in combat options.

The tight math in short just made all of us go the hell with it lets all roll for everything it doesn’t matter anyway.

And the final thing that Paizo say will be fixed by the time the game is done is spell casters now I played a rogue from 1-20 in PF1e they were considered the second weakest class after monks and I would of rather played a 1E monk over a 2E caster, if your spell isn’t magic missile, heal or a buff then it’s bad or mediocre at best they upscaled the damage which wasn’t even the issue, the problem was that spell dc’s are so trash that most enemies shrug off spells even on their bad saves.

In short we never felt awesome at best we felt mediocre at worst we would of rather played as monsters or NPC’s since they aren’t trash.


Tezmick wrote:

Mirrored moon playing a half-elf Rogue who I made as stealthy as possible, went to scope out the lake where the sea serpent was apparently lurking I rolled a 18 for stealth on dice only to find out I’d been seen and that the serpent had rolled higher on stealth than I did.

Honestly just feels like specialist characters aren’t allowed to be ‘too good’ even though they sacrifice just as many feats as every joker who invested only in combat options.

The tight math in short just made all of us go the hell with it lets all roll for everything it doesn’t matter anyway.

And the final thing that Paizo say will be fixed by the time the game is done is spell casters now I played a rogue from 1-20 in PF1e they were considered the second weakest class after monks and I would of rather played a 1E monk over a 2E caster, if your spell isn’t magic missile, heal or a buff then it’s bad or mediocre at best they upscaled the damage which wasn’t even the issue, the problem was that spell dc’s are so trash that most enemies shrug off spells even on their bad saves.

In short we never felt awesome at best we felt mediocre at worst we would of rather played as monsters or NPC’s since they aren’t trash.

Every time I see a post like this I wonder if we're playing the same game. I just got finished with Part 7 tonight and blast spells were instrumental to our success. Enemies failed their saves much more often than not.

When The Stars Go Dark Spoilers:

Rune Giants? Needed a 13 to make their Reflex saves against the primary casters. And that was before we debuffed them.

Star-Spawn? Yeah, okay, he made the save on a 5. He's also a level+2 creature with high-tier magic resistance. That sounds about right.

Shoggoth? A level+1 creature who needed a 13 to make the save. I added a level-3 creature built under PC rules to upgrade the fight for a 5th player. He only needed a 10 to make Reflex, but that was his minmaxed save and he had Evasion (and was a master). His other saves were much weaker, he needed a 16 on Will to pass.

Aeteperax and co.? Here was a big one. I put my players against the Extreme-difficulty encounter and added some foes to upgrade for player 5.
Aeteperax? Needed an 8 to save. As a level+1 creature with magic resistance, and a dragon to boot, one of the highest-defense monster types.
Necerion, with the Elite template as part of my adjustments, needed 9. As a level-1 creature with magic resistance.
Deh-Nolohs? Level-3 monsters who needed a 15 to save, despite magic resistance. The one with the Elite adjustments needed a 13.
The other foes I added were a level-3 foe who needed a 15 and a level-1 foe who needed a 13.
(Blasting spells were actually MASSIVELY effective in this fight, probably instrumental to our success in our not-very-defensive choice of tactics. Volleying blasts from two main casters for 2 rounds and 1 multiclasser for 1 round took out most of the enemy party's HP. And they had spell slots enough to do it all over again almost just as well. And this was an Extreme-difficulty encounter, the rare super-dangerous TPK risk level of encounter.)

Ramlock? Only needed a 4 IF it was Arcane or Occult. The Primal spells needed a 6. And this is a level+3 creature with high magic resistance. Again, I'd be disappointed if his success was much lower. That'd make him piss-easy. And the level-1 foe I added to up the fight needed a 12 despite magic resistance.

Now of course this is their weakest saves used for example (Except the second dude in the next to last fight, his Fort was 1 lower than Ref), but that should be expected. Targeting the weak saves is how casters are supposed to operate. Enemies are supposed to have high chance at succeeding their good saves, not so good for their low. If they had low chance of succeeding their good saves then their bad saves would be stupidly vulnerable and I don't think most players would like having that dynamic come into play against them.
Some enemies of course have roughly equivalent saves but those saves generally fall between the typical high and low saves.

And again, these numbers are all without debuffs. -1 debuffs are not hard to land, and -2 ones are pretty doable at higher levels at least. Heck, there's even that one spell that causes Sluggish 3 among other things for at least a round even on a success. That one is only good for Ref and touch spells but the others are good for all saves.

But yeah, with all the above success rates and the fact that spells typically have at least a somewhat respectable effect on a save, I'm really not getting "Spells are trash" from all that.

Buffs are great too. Heroism, especially heightened, Haste, and Disappearance just to name a few.


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Well, my group finished Heroes of Undarin today, so I do have something to put in here.

My character felt useless when in four attacks at full bonus, they rolled 2, 3, 17 (negated due to roll of nat1 on concealment), 2 vs the demilich.

Turns out you don't do so great as a fighter when your dice apparently need to be tossed in a furnace for "replacement purposes". Our group's dice were utterly horrible this session, so it wasn't just me - the rogue and ranger failed a good number of Ref saves, with even a crit fail among them.


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Cheburn wrote:
When in the playtest did your characters feel helpless or frustrated? When did you think: "This sucks. My character is super weak and useless?"

I'd say about 2/3rds of the time with the skill system, and it didn't matter which character it was.

Cheburn wrote:
How many of these moments did you have? Did you feel that the PF2 ruleset specifically hindered your character? And as you played through the playtest, did you adapt your style to become more effective?

Quite a few. I wouldn't say PF2 specifically hindered me. I think it equally hindered all characters. Nobody had a great chance of success with skills as if the game assumed out of 4-6 characters somebody will make the role. The "specialist" in the party rarely emerged as the most successful. A more typical outcome is some non-specialist had a good role and the party was thankful for their luck.


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Tezmick wrote:

The tight math in short just made all of us go the hell with it lets all roll for everything it doesn’t matter anyway.

In short we never felt awesome at best we felt mediocre at worst we would of rather played as monsters or NPC’s since they aren’t trash.

These two sentences are exactly the feeling of PF2. You never really feel "great" at the thing you do. The character that is "trained" and the character that has "master" rank feel about even. 60% Vs 50% chance of success both feel like you're rolling dice to check on outcome, so the investment isn't effective. If you specialize, but only push that 10%, you're better off spreading wide. You'll still need to spend resources on failure because that's coming up an awful lot.


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My Sorcerer inflicted a single point of damage in the last combat of our groups most recent play-test session.

Combat lasted four rounds.

We were fighting goblin commandos.


DireLemming wrote:

My Sorcerer inflicted a single point of damage in the last combat of our groups most recent play-test session.

Combat lasted four rounds.

We were fighting goblin commandos.

Ouch. Let me guess, rolled 1 on a cantrip?


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As a DM, most encounters. My options are stalling the game by using absurdly effective evasive options, or plunge forward to slug it out with the players. There wasn't really a way to outmaneuver the players, pin them down, focus on soft targets or anything.

As a player, I've only played a cleric. Any time I wasn't healing I felt useless. Skills failed to frequently, most feats didn't seem to matter, spells that faced a save failed too frequently. The failure rate being so high, it made opener type spells pointless due to the unreliability of both you and your ally succeeding one after the other.


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I've talked with my players about this and most everyone has felt pretty good playing, except for one.

My alchemist player wanted to be the smooth talking "support" for the party. Low rolls on Diplomacy and Deception led him to losing out to the "insane" dwarven wizard with an 8 Charisma. In combat, he lagged behind everyone else, trying to make some sort of impact on the fight. This was all pre-1.6, however.

1.6 didn't help as he decided to go the "poisoner" route (which is something I didn't recommend, but at least someone is testing it). He brewed up some poisons and handed them out to everyone in the party. After the first three opponents made their Fort saves, I heard him muttering, "Well there goes my usefulness." It wasn't like he was about to grab everyone else's weapons and reapply them mid-combat.

He still loves his character, but he often jokes that he's the deadweight holding everyone else back.


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GM observations. I had a primal sorceress in Lost Star and In Pale Mountain's Shadow that felt pretty useless. She did manage to make a hyena laugh hideously and trip a gnoll with grease in Pale Mountain, but that is about the sum of her achievements.

The worst moment was in Lost Star. The PCs were facing off against the centipedes. They had the drop on the monsters and made a plan centered on having the sorc start the fight with some area spell. But there are no surprise rounds in PF2, the sorc had poor initiative and a mediocre roll and ended up going last. She got bitten by a single centipede and spent the fight healing herself from the continuous poison damage she was taking. She even needed help from the other characters to survive the one attack.


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Edge93 wrote:
DireLemming wrote:

My Sorcerer inflicted a single point of damage in the last combat of our groups most recent play-test session.

Combat lasted four rounds.

We were fighting goblin commandos.

Ouch. Let me guess, rolled 1 on a cantrip?

And several attack rolls. The running theme in our campaign is my characters lack of combat usefulness outside of summoning brooms.


In part 2, playing a sorcerer, having carefully saved my stronger spell slots for if they were needed later, but then the party chose to rest and I wasn't able to cast Heal because I only knew the level 1 version. Ending up with "I wish I unnecessarily heightened some things so I could use a weaker spell now" felt weird and didn't make sense.

Two major things in part 5, playing an archer paladin (v. 1.6).

First was having to wait for Smite Evil to be usable, since we deemed it to require successful harm and not just attempted harm, an enemy had to hit/cause a failed save/etc first. And while my GM deemed it a legal trigger, personally I felt it was unclear whether an enemy attacking the paladin themselves qualified, as "ally OR innocent" wouldn't be needed if the PCs were presumed reasonably innocent (I can get that it might allow for non-good PCs, but in scenarios where an ally was particularly non-innocent, like guards chasing the party rogue after a flubbed pickpocketing, I don't personally think a paladin should be able to use Smite Evil, or choose to, so I'm skeptical that it's meant to cover something like that) so I wondered if "innocent" was supposed to be in the sense of "innocent bystander" ie not a moral judgment but whether they in some way contributed to the outbreak of hostilities. So there were several rounds where my Mendevian crusader paladin, with Fiendsbane Oath and every reason to default to suspicion of anything demonic, was not able to use Smite Evil on a demon that was specifically approaching the party and pretty obviously intending to attack. This felt silly.
I'd much rather Smite Evil be in the form of something like the Grey Paladin's smite, if the idea was making it more versatile and more based on friend vs foe rather than alignment. Alternately, if the concern was people using it to test alignment, or that it's unpaladinly to Smite Evil everyone indiscriminately and see if it works, or that maybe the random sleazy lawyer with an evil alignment but who's minding his own business shouldn't be a target for it, I'd rather it have some kind of backlash if used on a target without evil intent.

The second was that Retributive Strike was useless and unusable when my paladin was the only one standing, just when it would feel most right for them to make a heroic last stand or something more effectively.

Part 6 went better... the main thing was just that my characters (I was controlling two PCs since we had a player drop out and didn't want to be undermanned) had nearly maxed out social skills, but this apparently meant I couldn't even expect them to reliably be able to not flub basic manners. The combination of critical failures, tight math, and true specialization in skills only being through items, made this feel sucky and the PCs inappropriately incompetent.


Huh, how about that. I never took note of the "That you have witnessed..." clause. Weird.

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