Fundamental systems that didn't change PF1 => PF2


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

Grand Lodge

I just finished watching the Paizocon panel on PF2 design philosophy and I was a bit bummed that there weren't any questions asked about the basics of the system, both mechanically and roleplaying-wise. I was hoping that by posting here you all could direct me to the design team's answers elsewhere.

On mechanics I'd like to know why the design team chose to keep certain fundamental mechanical systems: six stats, levels, classes, initiative, hit dice/points, alignment, spell levels, attack rolls, armor class, and saving throws. This is not to say that I'm disappointed that they kept these mechanics, but I have roleplayed in systems that have none of these mechanics. The design team must have spent some time evaluating alternatives before keeping them and I'm interested in knowing how these decisions went down and what considerations they made in keeping them. They obviously had these discussions, because they introduced backgrounds, ancestries, and proficiency which introduce major fundamental mechanical changes. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when they talked about everything they ended up keeping. That--to me--is the fascinating part.

It's easy for us to assume that some of their decisions were about simplicity, tradition, marketing, d20 mechanics, etc. but I'd like to hear some of the more nitty gritty reasoning that the design team went through. Do we have any quotes from the design team about about how they came to the decision to keep these mechanics?

Also, the panel talked about how they wanted Pathfinder to feel like Pathfinder, including how players roleplay. While this sounds like an obvious assumption, I imagine it too was something the Paizo team labored over. There are a lot of radically different roleplaying paradigms that have been developed in the last 10 years that PF2 could have incorporated. I'd love to hear more about how they chose to keep basically the same roleplaying paradigm, but I assume that they have not posted anything about that on the forums.


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I can't say that I have seen anything related to why they didn't do any of these massive changes. However I'm sure the reasons you listed (simplicity, tradition, marketing, d20 mechanics, etc.) were a major reason.

Of course, I am sure that the playtest results are also a part of why. For instance, people weren't happy with the original UTEML bonuses.


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I mean… the biggest reason is that they're making Pathfinder. If it didn't feel at all like Pathfinder, they'd lose their advantage of ten years of making PF1. Also, they all like Pathfinder.

There've been bits and pieces all over the place. I'm not gonna search back through the podcasts, but I know that the Arcane Mark stream said that Mark played around with a different number of stats on a "propose something really out there that we probably won't use" assignment.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Pathfinder 2 has six stats, alignment, hp, AC, saves, spell levels and saving throws because it's D&D and it's primary market are people who like D&D. Those people expect certain mainstays and go bonkers if you discard them. Remember how D&D fans lost their mind when 4e made magic missile roll to hit? That's whom you're dealing with. Remember that when Paizo announced that PF2 won't have LG-only holy warriors one quite vocal Paladin fan walked away because apparently the whole point of the game became moot for him? That's the kind of people you're marketing to. Obviously not everybody is that 'core, but well enough people are.

For the same reason PF2 (and 5e) are basically tactical wargame rulesets with some facilitating of narrativism thrown into the mix. If Paizo were to depart towards a, ehm, more modern game design, it would alienate an even larger part of its audience who are completely fine with what D&D is and would balk at any elements lifted from PBtA or FATE.

PF is a conservative (in terms of design) game made for conservative (in terms of playstyle and expectations) gamers. And that's fine, if you want to sprinkle some XXI century into your fantasy RPG, Dungeon World is over there.


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I think QuidEst hits the nail on the head: There are some fundamental paradigms that give D&D, and by proxy Pathfinder, a distinct feeling and most of these that you listed fall under these paradigms, in my opinion.

I certainly can't speak for the devs, but one of the stated goals was to make Pathfinder simpler, while still giving it the feeling of Pathfinder, and if you start removing all or most of these, than you might as well be playing Fate or CoC or whatever else you might want to throw into this category, because they are quintessential mechanics of PF. And while I'm not a fan of all these mechanics, I recognise that they are too interwoven with the fabric of the game or the setting. For example, I dislike alignment, but removing it from the game would raise a whole lot of questions on Golarion, which was another no-go, as isn't supposed to change greatly from 1st edition to PF2.


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What has been said really. Many of these are a little outdated, but are sacred cows. The design team has acknowledged that on some of them, but the game must remain recognizable as pathfinder.

I think what the design team hasn't said but I believe is equally valid is that it should remain recognizable as D&D. As long as 5e is the dominant entry point for people getting into TTRPGs, it is in the best interest of Paizo if those 5e players have an easy time picking up Pathfinder. Conceptually the games are pretty much the same. And once you get past the meatier character creation, PF2 feels even easier to actually play. The 3 action economy is extremely intuitive. And some of the other new tweaks, like using skills got initiative, are also quite solid.


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Gorbacz wrote:

Remember that when Paizo announced that PF2 won't have LG-only holy warriors one quite vocal Paladin fan walked away because apparently the whole point of the game became moot for him?

Every night when I close my eyes.

Grand Lodge

QuidEst wrote:

I mean… the biggest reason is that they're making Pathfinder. If it didn't feel at all like Pathfinder, they'd lose their advantage of ten years of making PF1. Also, they all like Pathfinder.

There've been bits and pieces all over the place. I'm not gonna search back through the podcasts, but I know that the Arcane Mark stream said that Mark played around with a different number of stats on a "propose something really out there that we probably won't use" assignment.

Yeah, and that's what I want. Stuff like: "we had several mock sessions that tried to implement a system that replaced saving throws with ability checks and while it had advantages A and B, it had disadvantages X, Y, and Z that we felt weren't worthwhile. Now we tried to rectify X and Z by implementing a 7 stat system and tweaking proficiency but etc etc etc."

Stuff like: "we experimented with GM-less systems. We identified that marketing persona John and Suzanne really enjoyed this system in test session, but persona Zelda hated it, and all the rest were mum. We identify that persona Zelda makes up a large part of our target demo, so we decided not to implement a GM-less system in Core. But based on how much John and Suzanne like it, we might give outlines for a GM-less system in future guides."

That's the juicy stuff I want to hear!

All of our speculation is well and good, and probably accurate on the surface, but I'd like to hear some more details about how the design team balanced those decisions. I can't imagine it was as simple as: "Well, we all know that PF's demographic is conservative D&D players, so we need to keep all of these mechanics. Good meeting everyone." These people know way more about PF, PF players, and game design than we ever will and it would be cool to learn more about how they went about these individual decisions.

Silver Crusade

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Hurká wrote:
QuidEst wrote:

I mean… the biggest reason is that they're making Pathfinder. If it didn't feel at all like Pathfinder, they'd lose their advantage of ten years of making PF1. Also, they all like Pathfinder.

There've been bits and pieces all over the place. I'm not gonna search back through the podcasts, but I know that the Arcane Mark stream said that Mark played around with a different number of stats on a "propose something really out there that we probably won't use" assignment.

Yeah, and that's what I want. Stuff like: "we had several mock sessions that tried to implement a system that replaced saving throws with ability checks and while it had advantages A and B, it had disadvantages X, Y, and Z that we felt weren't worthwhile. Now we tried to rectify X and Z by implementing a 7 stat system and tweaking proficiency but etc etc etc."

Stuff like: "we experimented with GM-less systems. We identified that marketing persona John and Suzanne really enjoyed this system in test session, but persona Zelda hated it, and all the rest were mum. We identify that persona Zelda makes up a large part of our target demo, so we decided not to implement a GM-less system in Core. But based on how much John and Suzanne like it, we might give outlines for a GM-less system in future guides."

That's the juicy stuff I want to hear!

All of our speculation is well and good, and probably accurate on the surface, but I'd like to hear some more details about how the design team balanced those decisions. I can't imagine it was as simple as: "Well, we all know that PF's demographic is conservative D&D players, so we need to keep all of these mechanics. Good meeting everyone." These people know way more about PF, PF players, and game design than we ever will and it would be cool to learn more about how they went about these individual decisions.

Sharing minutiae of design process leads, for every 10 people, to one person reading it with fascinated gaze and going "wow, there was so much thought put into this", 6 people not caring the slightest and 3 people tearing each other's eyeballs out over the fact that APPARENTLY, THE DESIGN TEAM FAILED TO CONSIDER THIS BRILLIANT IDEA I SENT THEM BY E-MAIL IN 2007.

Poor ROI.

And yes, "We keep 6 ability scores, AC, hp, saves and alignment because we're doing a D&D clone" is totally a legit decision you make without having to think longer than 5 seconds, given that you know who your market is. It's a no-brainer. You're doing a D&D, you need to keep the elements which make people recognize your game for what it is.

Grand Lodge

Gorbacz wrote:
Hurká wrote:
QuidEst wrote:

I mean… the biggest reason is that they're making Pathfinder. If it didn't feel at all like Pathfinder, they'd lose their advantage of ten years of making PF1. Also, they all like Pathfinder.

There've been bits and pieces all over the place. I'm not gonna search back through the podcasts, but I know that the Arcane Mark stream said that Mark played around with a different number of stats on a "propose something really out there that we probably won't use" assignment.

Yeah, and that's what I want...

Sharing minutiae of design process leads, for every 10 people, to one person reading it with fascinated gaze and going "wow, there was so much thought put into this", 6 people not caring the slightest and 3 people tearing each other's eyeballs out over the fact that APPARENTLY, THE DESIGN TEAM FAILED TO CONSIDER THIS BRILLIANT IDEA I SENT THEM BY E-MAIL IN 2007.

Poor ROI.

And yes, "We keep 6 ability scores, AC, hp, saves and alignment because we're doing a D&D clone" is totally a legit decision you make without having to think longer than 5 seconds, given that you know who your market is. It's a no-brainer. You're doing a D&D, you need to keep the elements which make people recognize your game for what it is.

Fair point.

Dear PF2 Design Team,

Please PM me the minutiae. I promise not to tear my eye balls out or share it with anyone who would :-)

Very Respectfully,
Hurká


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If you want to get into the weeds, I recommend clicking on Mark Seifter's profile and reading through all his posts. Then check out his twitch stream, Arcane Mark. He's our most accessible window into this stuff.

Then check out some of the various interviews Jason has done on the Paizo twitch. Especially ones with audience Q&A. Some people have asked these very questions. Erik Mona is also someone worth looking into for insight.


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QuidEst wrote:

I mean… the biggest reason is that they're making Pathfinder. If it didn't feel at all like Pathfinder, they'd lose their advantage of ten years of making PF1. Also, they all like Pathfinder.

As is often the case, QuidEst nailed it. 'nuff said, really.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Speaking of weeds, what I see many people simply miss is that you cannot distill decades of real, professional experience down to a few quotes.

We try for job interviews, but honestly its not really real, and everyone involved knows it ;)

With all that said, it is fun to hear conversations from master craftmen/women, but, ultimately, what it is all about, is what they produced.


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Also, they will innately spend more time explaining the changes they made, rather than the changes they didn’t make.
They might mention in passing why they kept levels or d20s. But they are unlikely to explain why they didn’t make it a solo game, or kept character sheets or the concept of combat. Some questions might occur to people but probably don’t get asked enough to be worth explaining everything.

Again, check their streams and interviews, many of the Paizocon panels deliver some insights.


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HidaOWin wrote:
But they are unlikely to explain why they didn’t make it a solo game, or kept character sheets or the concept of combat.

I'd been hoping they would ditch the concept of characters entirely in favor of free-floating narrative/combative arcs. So freeing!

They must not have read the brilliant email I sent them about it.


At some level, there has to be a degree of backwards compatibility with 1E; if not, you will alienate most of your existing fans and customer base. I am quite certain that the things you want addressed, (such as six stats, classes, levels, etc.) would be a bridge too far.


With all that said, we certainly do have a much more stable system foundation if we want to remove/change things like Level, Classes or Attributes.

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