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Bit of background, so you know where I'm coming from: I've been playing Pathfinder since 2012. A friend and I have been GM'ing back and forth for about 4 years, and I occasionally enlist with groups I find online, and recently at a wonderful game store near me.
As for my playstyle, I favor story-telling first, and I suppose I'm more "simulationist" than "gamist", to use terms I've learned here. I don't need the story to be "realistic", I just need the world to make consistent sense, with some lenience towards good game design. ("Yes, it *is* quite convenient that the most powerful undead rising from the cemetery are an appropriate challenge level for the party. Anyway, the guard can help with the scrubs - they're trained, they're smart - but they're counting on you to get to the source. How many people in this backwater town do you think are level 8?")
PROLOGUE: THE HEROES GATHER (A COUPLE WEEKS LATE AND NOT NEARLY OFTEN ENOUGH)
We were unfortunately pretty late starting the playtest and probably couldn't have kept up with the specific chapter playtest windows regardless, so I decided to compile some of our thoughts (mostly mine) here. I apologize if it's a bit scattered, but that is an accurate reflection of my brain.
I'm sorry I don't have more specific data here, though I put what I could remember into the official surveys. I got very busy with other things a couple weeks into the campaign, and compiling specific notes probably would have pushed my brain even further into overdrive. I hope there is something to glean from these synopses.
CHAPTER 1: BOY, GOBLINS ARE ACCURATE
Party: Rogue (GMPC), Paladin, Fighter (archer), Druid (animal)
Welcome to Pathfinder, clear out some goblins! I love it!
We got through 4 encounters in our first session! The ooze, the first pack of goblins, the quasits, and the camping goblins. Pretty reasonable for low-level play. Our end of the session coincided with our heroes beating a tactical retreat to rest up above ground. (Not sure why Drakus would still be disguised with all his followers dead, but, oh well)
The overly powerful monsters of the playtest are well-documented, so I won't waste time on that rant for too long, but something is strange in a system where a perfectly optimized fighter is only as accurate as a common goblin. And, as I discovered skimming the bestiary on my own time, less accurate than an animated broom! [cue clips from "The Sorceror's Apprentice"] I did at least realize level 0 monsters HP are jokes, but I fear for people who don't win initiative and get slaughtered their first session.
By all rights, the fighter should have died in our second session, where they decided not to make use of an obvious chokepoint to fend off the awoken skeletons. Fortunately for him, I forgot that *everyone* could just attack 3 times each turn now. We played the Drakus fight much smarter, stacking at the entrance to his altar room, and it felt like an appropriate challenge for the boss of our first adventure.
I feel like, if we revisited this, understanding the system a little better now, and with all the updates, we'd probably have a very good time with this adventure. We still had fun, but were a little slowed as we were still learning the rules. Aside from the beefy monsters, this is where I found the game most fun.
CHAPTER 2: LET'S AVOID EVERY FIGHT!
Party: Cleric (GMPC), Rogue, Sorcerer, Monk
The river encounter brought me close to wiping the party. Our monk leapt across the river, more because he *could* than because he *should* and was left to contend with three gnolls and a giant scorpion on his own. We spent our scroll of fly getting the cleric over the river, while our sorcerer and our rogue tried to help at range.
The gnoll's pack ability made them absolutely brutal. It ended with the cleric down, the monk back on the starting side of the river, and the scorpion still alive. I decided the scorpion had no reason to stick around, and as an animal now without master, would be more likely to run off than try to finish the fight, so long as it was being harassed by ranged attacks.
After that, the party became cautious, and the book became a little unclear on monster behavior. They spotted and identified the Ankhrav trap, and gave it a wide berth, so I figured the Ankhrav wouldn't bother with them. (Predators that rely on traps are extremely patient in nature!) Later, they identified the quills of manticore, and decided to move stealthily. The book only said something like "if the players are stealthy", the manticore doesn't approach, and says nothing about an actual check. I figured there was no way they could all beat the manticore's perception, AND that the designers must know that, so the option MUST mean that if they just decide to use the sneaking tactic for overland movement. Which they were. So no manticore fight.
The gnoll fight in front of the dungeon entrance went easier, but not much shorter, since the gnolls didn't have much room to maneuver and use their pack abilities.
Afterwards (probably since they didn't need to rest to recover much, this was after Treat Wounds was introduced), they had a whole 3 days to themselves in the temple. At this point, they were still jumping at shadows, and avoided the elemental chambers, and instead headed for the alignment chamber, spent a couple in-game hours cracking the puzzle, and then strode into the tomb proper, *annihilating* the mummies that tried to stop them. (hello, fire weakness! Meet burning hands!)
Our Monk decided to take that super-expensive mirror from the tomb too, since bulk was a non-issue for him. He more or less retired happily with the money from that at the end.
Personally, I quite liked the "draw a map like this" directions for the GM, but I wish there were just a little more guidance about where monsters should be.
CHAPTER 3: [SCENE MISSING]
Our time was increasingly precious, and nobody was strongly in favor of a "healing stress test"
CHAPTER 4: HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE GNOMES
Party: Fighter (archer), Druid, Paladin (defender), Sorcerer (primal), Cleric (specced for offense, back-filled after Sorcerer died)
The party continued its "let's avoid fighting because things are deadly" tactic. It paid off. They negotiated around or avoided pretty much every fight except for the dragon and the cultists at the end. (The Sea Serpent was the only fight they retreated from, and their druid was able to get to the bottom of the Roc attacks peacefully)
I also swiftly homebrewed an exploration mechanic, where players could send a familiar or companion to scout a hex. The sorcerer's familiar used in this had to physically report back, so I decided they could scout an adjacent space to the players. Our druid was able to cast sending though, so I ruled he could check in on his companion remotely while it explored independently. Essentially meaning that another party was scouting. (Obviously, the party had to go check what the animals found manually) It still took them ages to find the gnome village.
The dragon and giant put up the hardest fight the players have encountered so far. This spurred me to do some math comparing the abilities of the monsters between 1e and the playtest to see how things would have gone. The dragon was *way* more difficult to hit now, and had nearly double the health! (only about 35% hit chance for our paladin to hit with their first attack, it would have been at least 70% in 1e) She likely would have wiped the party if I didn't have her favor spamming melee. (also in that comparison, I noticed the monsters were more likely to hit than in 1e, but without a dragon's abundant natural attacks, its offense sort of balances out). Also could have used a part of the encounter description like "the party is noticed when they reach this part of the map, unless they succeed at a stealth check against the Giant's perception DC." Or something. I feel like I might have had the party get spotted in the worst possible position, going up the twisting path to the peak on the south end of the map.
The dragon killed our sorcerer with a pair of crits (after they had spent two hero points re-rolling diplomacy against the dryad... I agree with something else I've seen here, why would you ever spend hero points on single re-rolls when they're basically two extra lives? 1e's Hero Point economy made a little more sense. DDD does have some serious junctions based on single roles, such as diplomacy against Captain Whark, but it's bad GM'ing in a "real" game to ride everything on a single skill check.) I allowed a cleric to replace her next session once they got back to camp.
Our party went to the final encounter with plenty of allies and research. (There was a bit of confusion on my end with research points decreasing, especially with the letter you can find from that wrecked caravan. That research *has* to be permanent, right? And were they cyclops or cultists or both in that caravan?) And they tore up the last encounter, with just a *little* cheesing on my end so that the druid could... be useful, frankly. He didn't prep the greatest spells. Once they got rid of the brain collector and mummy, I made the cultists keep their fight somewhat close, even though they could easily fly and hit-and-run with their crossbows. It was basically our archer finishing the fight on his own.
I'll just share something straight from our post-game chat:
[OK, so, severe encounter with a decent starting advantage and much better luck with dice went smoothly, if still a little long. I probably could have used cheaper tactics for the sorcerers and kept them even higher up with their crossbows, but they were completely outclassed by your archer and it would have just been a very long battle of attrition.
It does highlight my ever-growing beef with magic weapons. Not investing in magic ranged weapons made most of you close to useless (no offense), whereas in 1e, you'd simply be a little less reliable with damage, even with a mundane weapon.
Though I don't know where they get off having 100+ hp, and +17 atk if they should be comparable to level 9 sorcerers. It's unlikely they maxed CON which they'd have to to even have 90, and 17 = 9 prof + 4 dex (max) + 1 item + 3 ???)]
(I know I said I wouldn't rant, but +17 was what our archer-fighter had for attack! And they only had +3 Dex, so it's 4 mystery points!)
I *love* the 3-action economy, but I've had to often make a choice between having an enemy fight smart with hit-and-run or ending the session at a decent hour. That's been one of the tougher parts of GMing for me.
CHAPTER 5: WE CAN'T DIPLOMANCE THE DEMONS
Party: Paladin (Defender), Cleric, Wizard, Barbarian, Bard (joined late)
A paladin, cleric, barbarian and wizard stand against the fiends of the Abyss! I informed the players what they were getting into, an almost-certainly-lethal horde mode. At this point, I thought they would have more fun if they knew they weren't supposed to win all these fights. They kitted a little more towards survival, but it was still a pretty practical party set-up, and the limited pool of magic items prevented them from meta-gaming too hard anyway.
We were able to get through the first two fights in the first session. Again, I made the choice not to prolong the fight, even though the book stated that Treachery Demons would use reverse gravity. There was little point to doing so because their exceptional close-range damage abilities. I *did* just plum forget about them casting mirror image, but with it being *at-will*, we probably would have been there all night. But then the next "low" threat encounter took all of the second session. Granted, we had some technical difficulties because a couple of character sheets lived on laptops. The wizard made himself a significant threat against the blood demons, who singled him out and nearly dropped him a couple of times. At the end, nobody had been KO'd, but the cleric was out of channels (this was just after 1.6's "whoops, charisma is the most important ability for clerics" channel nerf)
Things got a little complicated because a fifth player wanted in as a bard, I ruled they would arrive after the first wave at half health, with one of each spell slot used, and two resonance spent, but also with all the gear that a fifth player was supposed to introduce to their pool.
With Treat Wounds, the cleric was able to patch everyone up in half an hour, between the first and second waves. Event 4 was more or less a non-issue for the party (appropriate for a low-threat encounter), and it mostly amounted to some wear-and-tear for the barbarian. The Paladin was a little baffled to learn that incorporeal undead resist Good damage. Feel like that should be one of the exceptions, with a lot of paladin's magic gone, this means they aren't the undead busters they used to be (unless they specifically take that oath).
Event 5 saw our first KO, our newly arrived goblin bard. The lich likely would have wiped the party, but our Paladin pulled off a clutch AoO that did the exact amount of damage required to stop his cone of cold. The lich spent the rest of the fight hovering around the ceiling. The ghost mages were serious threats too, but they all critically failed against chain lightning the round after they entered, leaving them with just a couple good hits worth of HP. (This event also featured my biggest jerk move as a GM, bouncing chain lightning off of an unconscious character)
Event 6 brought the chapter to a close. With the banshee added to the encounter (which had no "tactics" detailed in the book...) I had it open with a Wail that brought some of the party into single-digits, including the cleric who critically failed his save. The demilich was another confusing creature. Was it really just supposed to float around the graveyard? The PCs all stayed in the confines of the church, and I don't think Hell- er, the Abyss or high water could have moved them, I had it float into the church instead after one round of waiting. It did more damage with its aura than anything else, but it rolled poorly for its own spells. If I handled that wrong, I really don't like the idea of crazed, powerful undead just chilling out while the PCs deal with the scrubs.
Also, I had *no* idea where some of the demilich's spells were coming from, such as Polar Ray. The bestiary entry says they usually have absorbed a staff or something, but that's terrible form to not include a default staff's spells in the stat block. I already have to look up the actual spells for creatures, I'm fine with that, but don't add an entire step of checking what's in the staff.
Within three rounds, the barbarian was on her own. The cleric's soul had been devoured, the paladin was dying, and the wizard and bard had, uh... fled, actually, realizing they weren't going to be helpful after getting knocked out once and their meat shields dropping. The barbarian took a lot of hits, but couldn't stand up to the full assault.
CHAPTER 6: [SCENE MISSING]
This *did* strike our interest, but with the holidays and feedback deadline closing in, we decided to skip ahead. Instead I threw in an extra fight against Necerion at the top of Chapter 7, so the players could enjoy crushing an enemy and tying the story together. I appreciate the book had an option to include a proper encounter with him in chapter 7, but that would risk turning a 3-session game into a 4-session. Unfortunately for him, he was decked for intrigue while against players two levels higher and better rounded in design. He got quite rekt, as one would expect of a not-even-trivial encounter.
Party: Fighter (archer), Rogue, Sorcerer (divine), Cleric, Druid (animal)
We had 5 players at this point. The players would have decimated the Rune Giants quickly if they weren't immune to fire, and I told them at the top of the fight that deaths weren't permanent here, and they'd be fully restored after the fight either way, so the casters went nuts. It was at this point I realized I was somewhat to blame for the fight length. I just hadn't learned their abilities well enough yet, and still needed to look up every spell as it was cast. It was only about 5 rounds (and it helped that the theorems were rolling like garbage anyway). I resolved to learn the last few encounters inside and out before the final sessions.
Our rogue wasn't present next session. And, sure enough I immediately forgot about the Star-Child of Cthulhu's auras. I had them "kick in" the second round and rationalized it as him still clawing out of the pit, but not before he got hit by every meteor in a meteor swarm. Ouch. He only lasted three rounds, and that was absolutely the deciding factor, but the fighter also had a flaming bow to nullify his regeneration. Fortunately, the one person who had to deal with confusion saved successfully, and then on top of that, rolled to act normally their next turn. (Cthulhu Jr's overwhelming mind had some vague wording by the way. Could he really just have spoken with Telepathy as a free action and then reacted to that? To every character around him?)
The Shoggoth held up better, and I really enjoyed playing a relatively simple, but powerful monster. THIS is the kind of simplification I want out of GM'ing 2E. Engulf was *so* fun, but I noticed that nothing says you *can't* cast spells when engulfed (although the suffocation rules say that verbal actions cost all your remaining air) so I allowed our sorcerer to get a Disintegrate in while she was trapped, which I ruled was enough to let her escape. Was also unclear on if the player ceases to be slowed if they escape, and get their third action back.
On the less fun side, this was when our Druid's bear was proving less than useful. He was only able to hit on near 20s, and we couldn't find anything like a stronger "Magic Fang" to improve his offense. Maybe companions need some magic item slots to keep up with weapons? Maybe magic fang needs heightening? Although this did provide a dramatic, satisfying rescue as our druid rescued his lifelong furry friend from the shoggoth's clutches!
And then, oh no, 4 spellcasters and one of them is a dragon. This was a frustrating encounter all around the table that badly needed a "Tactics" section because there are too many damn spells. Our sorcerer repeatedly withstood castings of Feeblemind from the Deh-nolos, but had very little success trying to DPS the dragon. For the most part, I hadn't been feeling like the high-level monsters were too overpowered, but this was an exception. Even the fighter needed to roll stupid well to hit, and the dragon's non-reflex saves were ridiculous. (Also, 20% miss chance from concealment doesn't sound like much, but you couldn't tell that from our group!)
We could only meet this last session, and this fight was approaching the two-hour mark, so I cut it off when the dragon and one deh-nolo were down, and the survivors had burnt their "career-ending" spells like Feeblemind.
Our fighter was not pleased with how infrequently he could hit the dragon only one level higher than him:
[As a level 17 fighter, I should have both better chances to hit and better chances of scoring a crit. Having only a 50/50 shot to hit and only being able to crit on a nat 20 with a min/maxed fighter really sucks
I think it would help if monsters had lower AC and more hit points
I get that dragons are supposed to be ridiculous, but so is an almost level 20 character. From the early days of D&D, a level 20 character is supposed to essentially be a demigod. It's kinda unrealistic that I'm close to a demigod and I have trouble hitting something that's literally as big as a house]
I allowed an occult roll when Ramlock appeared for the PCs to realize that completing the ritual would defeat him, banish him, or cut him off somehow, and finally realized "hey! that would be a great use of Table 10-2! It *does* have value!" as I type these notes. Only took literally the entire campaign...
Ramlock was a very intimidating fight, but the PCs still had all their wishes. He immediately got the sorcerer in his clutches, and had her knocked out within three turns, and he mazed the fighter. The fighter was absolutely hopeless against maze, (which may be justified since it required concentration from the caster) he ended up using his wish to escape. Fortunately, the rest of the party had some consistently good desynchronization rolls and used wishes when the opportunity came up. We saw two initial crit failures against Weird, but both players survived their fort saves, miraculously. Ramlock only stuck around for about 5 rounds.
LITTLE THINGS WE LIKE, AND DON'T NEED TO ANALYZE TOO MUCH, BUT DO ANYWAY
+ 3-action economy: enough has been said. Whatever changes come to combat, 2E has a rock-solid foundation.
+ Rarity: There's certainly a little room for improvement and clarity here. (particularly, emphasize that level is also a factor in how common something actually is in the world). But I like having immediate shorthand for "not every mage that is capable knows this spell" and "you won't find this in just any store", and as GM, I like having a bit of precedence to disallow "win button" spells if I (and the rest of the table! GMs are capable of empathy!) want to tell certain kinds of stories. Conversely, I can let the party find something "special" that doesn't out-level them. If you have a seriously problem with this system, it's a problem with your table.
+ +/- 10 Crits: It took until chapter 5, but this really grew on me when I watched our wizard obliterate trash mobs. I would have sacrificed it to make UTEML a bit more meaningful, but now I'm quite attached.
+ Combat stats having +1/level. I've gone back and forth about my feelings for skills doing this, but thinking ahead to the busywork of GM'ing, I can see how this will make planning encounters and designing challenges for a party a breeze. And if I want to "upgrade" a monster, that's super easy too.
+ Class Feats, at least conceptually: I am glad for class feats wrapping up all the miscellaneous class abilities into a single system. 1e ended up with way too many terms for class abilities you could choose every other level. I think the playtest went just a little far gating off certain features to classes, although archetypes do alleviate that a bit. Actually...
+ Non-class archetypes: More archetypes that aren't just mimicking multi-classing would be fantastic. Cavalier and Pirate are great examples of these letting a player realize a character concept without locking themselves in a given class, even if how good they are in the playtest is debatable.
+ The bestiary: Still ignoring how tough and especially how skilled monsters are... I liked everything else about the bestiary! The formulas for building encounters, the traps, the stat block design, and the commitment to making *every* monster interesting! (Camels have a spit attack for crying out loud!) Tweak the numbers a little, add in those pretty pictures, and the real Bestiary is gonna be phenomenal!
+ I like that spells like "Charm Person" (whatever the real name is now) have specific results for when a target succeeds its save, regarding whether the target is aware of what the caster just did. The issue of actually getting away with casting a charm spell has always been a hurdle for making use of them in a campaign with any social consequences.
+ Speaking of low-level enchantments, its awesome that casters just have one save now, detached from spell level, and that spells like Paralyze and Sleep remain relevant at high levels.
+ I also very much like sp being the normal currency instead of gp. Really helps the world feel grounded when common people can actually afford weapons.
+ It took me until halfway through December to actually read the full entries on natural 20s and 1s, but I saw that it worked the way I was going to propose where you can only get a regular success on a natural 20 for an otherwise impossible DC, and similarly you only normally fail on a natural 1 if you can't fail against the DC. (there are still some odd fringe cases where a 19 fails, but a 20 succeeds, thus becoming a critical success. something I would probably house-rule.) I feel much better about it... mostly...
THINGS WE LIKE LESS, TO VARYING DEGREES:
(yes, there are more negatives, but that's a playtest for you)
- I still don't like nat 1s and 20s for skills, or at least nat 20s. An example I found was tying up a prisoner, a pretty common scenario a party that values NPC life. 1e had this down, with the prisoner competing against a maximized CMB roll for DC. (Not that CMB was perfect, but it was sensible, and required investment in escape artist to actually beat) In the Playtest, once they regain consciousness, they probably won't stay tied up for more than a minute, since an automatic success lets them out. That type of circumstance needs to be addressed somehow. Like +1/level, there's nothing inherently wrong with these for combat, but I don't care for every creature having a 5% chance of success at *every* task.
- On weapon damage: Our rogue who took the +1 weapon in Chapter 2 was initially thrilled to learn that enhanced weapons gave an extra *die* of damage. Once I realized the sheer amount of HP monsters had, I was a bit less thrilled. Do martial characters feel more relevant? Yes! But I can't say it's worth the price of overall making fights longer. Initially because of buffed monster & player HP, but eventually just because of how much longer it takes to roll 3+ dice and add them up. Mages get used to it. But now it's demanded of everyone at the table.
Furthermore, I concur with a frequent point made on these boards: High-level combatants should do more damage because they are more experienced, not because they have level-appropriate gear. I recently started a 1e game using Automatic Bonus Progression, and I think it's genius. The playtest seemed to recognize this by eliminating the essential belts and headbands, combined with regular ability boosts, and I'm not sure why it stopped halfway. I would love to see character resources freed up even further by eliminating, or toning down the necessity of magic weapons.
- Related to weapon damage, but more to do with class diversity in combat (spurred from the dragon fight in chapter 4):
I think we first liked the sound of magic weapons seriously boosting damage, but I since realized that the appeal (to me) of martial characters is reliable damage output, not the bursts of "holy s***" damage applied by casters, who have to contend with saves, more common resistances and immunities
- Another concern about potency is "backup" weapons as I mentioned about the last fight in chapter 4. Most martial characters are completely screwed against a flying enemy from mid-level upwards, unless they've been keeping up with the treadmill for two weapons. Maybe this will be a non-issue in a "real" game where I can distribute wealth and leave some magic bows lying around.
- Fights are *looong*: It's hard to tell what the best way to address that might be. I do think that the extra dice slow down combat, not everyone is great at mental math. After Chapter 1, I think most of our sessions could only fit two encounters in. Sometimes only one! Some of that can certainly be chalked up to our inexperience with the system, I suppose. I still think that multiple dice on the regular for weapons is a huge factor. It was only when I was prepping chapter 7 that I realized how much additional referencing non-damage spells required. In 1e, you basically had to learn the one effect a spell was trying to achieve, but now there are 4 possible outcomes for a huge number of spells, and it's not always intuitive.
Flesh to Stone is a notable example of this. It is now a more "balanced" and interesting spell, yes, but far, far more complex as well. Not only does it take longer to do the math for the save with large numbers at high levels and having to figure out the margin of success, *then* we have to verify the effect after the save *and then* we probably have to go check the conditions page again! And we very well might have to repeat this process next turn if there are repeated saves!
- On weaknesses: I still prefer the "multiplication" weaknesses, opposed to the additive ones of the playtest. In chapter 4, our sorcerer wasn't crazy about how her cones of cold were just a couple points better, instead of devastating the red dragon, and neither was I. Using your highest-level spell to exploit a weakness should feel incredible! On the flip-side, on chapter 5, our paladin could grant an extra 1 good damage to nearby allies, significantly boosting their damage to demons. The latter is a smart use of a system I don't much care for.
- One of our players was not pleased with the expansion of the Paladin class. To quote her:
[I think I figured out why the paladin bothers me so much
I'm reading the Dresden Files, and I imagine paladins to be like Michael Carpenter. A stalwart defender against evil who always keeps his word, always plays by the rules, and full of righteous wrath when confronted with evil
letting them be chaotic good or even neutral good kinda makes it not really work
Though she did mention that she liked the idea of other tenets for Paladins to follow to let them follow other gods.]
As for myself, I'm fine with it, but I'm not dancing in the streets either. Alignment has always been something I've mostly just tolerated, and I've felt it should be a culmination of a character's worldview, not a foundation. As long as a Paladin must abide by some code, *I* alignment is secondary.
- On skill feats: This was my least favorite part of character creation. Yes, possibly because I was also GMing, and knew what would and would not come up, but so few of them felt useful and I had to pick so many. Can't remember who said it on the boards but a good feat makes you think "I'll use that all the time!", not later think "oh, good thing I took that for this exact situation". When I was helping build a level 12 Barbarian for Chapter 5, I left half of them blank since they weren't going to matter.
- On skills: While I don't mind the +1/level for attacks, saves and AC at all, I'm not fond of them for skills. Yes, it's nice that the math is consistent for all your rolls, but it goes a little far here. I can't get the image out of my head of a 20th-level wizard retiring, taking a couple music lessons, and becoming a god with a lute. (and already being incredible, but not able to play for money?) I've *never* had a problem sitting out and letting another character handle skill checks they specialize in. In fact, I've actually made it a point for my sorcerer in my main 1e game to not put more than a couple ranks in diplomacy because he's impulsive and impatient.
- Saves are so flat! At least at low levels. Part of the caster game in 1e was finding your enemy's bad save and casting spells to exploit that. And, yes, I liked PCs having bad saves too! I've seen some people say they're "no fun", but clenching my buttcheeks as a fireball careens toward my 1e skald was a fun part of the experience for me. Like with my un-diplomatic sorcerer I mentioned, my character was more interesting to play as because he had a weakness.
- Erroneous Knowledge: cool idea, but without any guidance, it's a lot to ask of a GM to come up with a decent lie on the spot. Probably something I would house-rule out, and probably my own problem.
- We mostly ended up ignoring "secret" rolls. I think they're fine as an option though.
- Enough has been said about Table 10-2. I can quickly summarize my problem with "What is the difference between an incredible level 4 task, and a hard level 5 task?" That's two values to arbitrate. Most people on this board now realize that the table refers to the *challenge* level, not the player level, but this approach seems to imply that everything will scale to the player's level, which is no way to build a world. (And it didn't help that DDD seemed to embrace situations that scaled to the players) I think it can live in harmony with fixed DC tables like we saw in 1e (and, like I said, I did realize that it would have been good to use at one point for the final boss)
- Counteracting effects: Was this all to avoid situations like "roll against the original DC of the effect"? I feel like the solution is worse than the problem here. I wanted a cleric to remove paralysis at one point, and after a couple minutes of finding the entry and trying to parse it, I just declared "Screw it! It works! You can move!"
- I'm onboard with NPCs being built differently from PCs, but I think the final stats still need to be comparable to PCs. I again point to those buff sorcerers at the end of chapter 4, which were ostensibly level 7, but with spells like an 8th-level, and HP and attack like a 12th-level.
An exception to this are skill-focused NPCs. This allows non-adventuring NPC allies to stay relevant in mid- and high-level games. (Think the blacksmith in Diablo) The high-knowledge NPCs in Chapter 3 are a good example of this done right. I'm extremely eager to see what the rules for building NPCs and monsters actually are, and being able to build them easily.
- Speaking of NPCs, "Tactics" and "Morale" need to be standard sections again for adventures. I hated having to read entire paragraphs in chapter 5 to see how enemies behaved. And in chapter 7, I hated not having "routines" for the spellcasters.
- I feel like a few too many spells and abilities require crits for their signature effects. I dread situations where the mage says "I could fix this situation, but only with a crit...". I know we're trying to fix "save-or-suck", but a successful spell should get you the thing you want, crits should come with a cool bonus. "Turn Undead" and other channel variants especially got hurt by this (and was the subject of the only other post I've made on these forums)
- It's a bit confusing how some free actions / reactions (such as metamagic) then tell you to add an action in their description. It's not that hard to understand, but it's pretty clunky.
- We gotta figure out 3d combat if flight is going to be as common as it is in this adventure path.
- This is decidedly "my problem", but I have one very nice set of metal dice, and I don't like having to roll more than one on the regular now, forcing me to let my pleb plastic dice in on the mix. I find myself almost always using an app instead.
x I could actually see potency getting toned down to a max of +3 (pairing nicely with, or *built into* expert/master/legendary item quality) and then proficiency granting extra dice. To maximum of 6 extra dice for a legendary fighter with a +3 weapon. This, again, assumes we keep the extra dice.
x With movement so valuable (due to less AoOs), I wonder if fly should be a higher level spell, and less common among enemy spellcasters. It's bad enough having to keep up with the potency treadmill for a melee weapon, but now everyone needs to invest in ranged weapons too, with how many enemies are able to hit and run.
x At the *very* least UTEML can probably be -4/0/+2/+4/+6 (maybe -4/0/+1/+3/+6 to give more significant boosts later, and keep low-level play balanced?) safely with the current system.
x Maybe there's no +1/level for *certain* skills untrained? Just to differentiate skills you "pick up on the road" and skills you actually need to study.
x Wouldn't mind the idea of skill feats being replaced with immediate bonuses upon ranking up a skill either. It would turn them from "ugh, which of these borderline cases do I want to account for" to "woah, I get these cool things for ranking up!" Obviously you can't just slap every current skill feat into this system, but my point is that skill increase should *be* the significant advancement, and not the gateway to a significant advancement when you take an actual skill feat at next level.
x One of my more extreme proposals, but since customization is lacking, I think some of the class-restricted feats should become class-agnostic "Combat Feats", with different classes granting them at different frequencies. (Obviously AoO would be one such Feat) Archetypes alleviate this a little bit, I suppose, but I don't want those to be standard for committing your character to a given combat style.
x I think Bulk is way more limiting than intended, I thought I had read a dev post saying that it would only be a concern for characters planning to carry a *lot* of stuff. I wanted a cleric I built to take heavy armor proficiency, and survive as a secondary tank, but didn't want to put so many points into strength or sacrifice the additional speed from heavy armor, even if I accepted being encumbered. It's to the point where it's difficult to be reasonably prepared. I think a quick fix would be adding CON as well as STR to your bulk limits, and/or going back to the 1e system of your armor *or* your load determining your speed.
x Still on bulk: Maybe Golarion needs its own weight system that scales better than pounds, and can have an easy formula related to strength? I think the main problem is that it's impossible for an item to weigh more than 1 but less than 2 bulk.
x Not a fan of the flat check for dying. I'd prefer to keep the DCs as of 1.6, but add your CON mod (*not* your whole fortitude) to keep your stats meaningful.
x Maybe a "typeless" bonus that stacks with itself so that class features like Rage and Inspire Courage can interact?
x I'm okay with non-lawful paladins, but "Defender" is just not a cool name. People "defend" crappy things all the time. "Protector" or "Guardian" I think evokes a more Lawful Good image.
x If we're reducing spells per level, I say we make Arcanist-style casting the standard, especially if the final book adds more utility spells in to compete for slots. We could probably use, like, one more slot while we're at it.
x Spontaneous Casting for clerics is also a popular idea at my table, but I think that was spurred by Chapter 5. 9 fights in a row is a very unlikely scenario in a real adventure. I think the point is nobody wants to memorize Heal more than once. 3.5/PF brought us out of that cave, no need to send us back. I realize Heal being super powerful is a problem right now with that idea.
x With Treat Wounds and all those other 10-minute activities, it would be great to see more of those get added, and maybe get a little section in the CRB about what characters can do with these "short rests". It's reminding me of the camping mechanic I love from Darkest Dungeon. Actually, the Kingmaker cRPG had some interesting actions characters could take while camping too. (Well, except Jubilost. Who the hell needs one less hour of resting?)
x I want Take 10 back, at least for some skills. This, along with the flat DC table in 1e gave me an important sense of "my character can reliably accomplish this task in a low-pressure situation."
ODD FRINGE CASES (sorry, didn't really think of this section until the last chapter):
? Engulf: Can you cast spells? Suffocation means you'll lose all your breath for a vocal component, but what about somatic casting?
? The effects of limiting actions on animal companions. For instance: confusion. When do these happen in initiative? How many actions can they spend if they can't respond to their master? RAW, I'm not sure it should have been able to do anything while slowed and confused when the shoggoth engulfed our bear. (Our Druid said his companion got one action if the master was unconscious)
I've warmed up to the playtest considerably with the last couple sessions, especially after seeing that high level play actually felt alright. But building characters never felt especially satisfying.
TL;DR - Willing to play the final version, but not eager to commit to it as a GM.
I've been lurking on these threads way more than I should, and I will say, as negative as it can initially seem, I've mostly seen people who are civil and decent about all this. I usually say/warn that "s**t floats" about toxic internet communities, but reasonable voices haven't been drowned out on these boards. We're all trying to make a better game, and Paizo has definitely demonstrated that they're listening. And just because I'm not too confident that I'll enjoy 2e doesn't mean I don't respect the vision.
Whatever version of Pathfinder you're playing next year, happy gaming!
Thanks for all this feedback! I will try to read more later (Only skimmed the session summaries) but two quick notes:
If you cure slow on your turn it does not return your action. The inverse applies if you are somehow slowed on your turn, you don't lose an action. It effects your gaining of actions at the start of the turn, so any change during the turn is irrelevant.
As for your Fighter, he might be happy to know they are definitely retooling the math to bump things a little more for the Fighter. I personally enjoyed the math as-is (50-65% for on-level foes depending on class, falling or rising 5-10% per level above or below) as it made buffs, flanking, debuffs, etc. SO much more important and useful than they are in PF1 but I am of a minority opinion.