How lethal do you think this edition will be?


Second Edition


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So, how much dangerous the world is for PCs now? Some stuff that we know from some leaks to help:

Characters have more HP, even the most fragile caster in the core books will have at least 12 HP at level 1, while the more sturdy one can reach to impressive 25HP.

When you reach to 0HP the character gets the dying condition and when you reach to dying 4 you die, the check to reduce the condition by 1 is an flat DC 10 + the dying condition stage.

If you are cured during dying you are conscious but get the wounded condition, making easier to die.

Spending all Hero Points makes you recover 1 HP from the dying condition without the wounded condition.

Resurrect is an ritual now instead of a spell.

With the new math criticals can happen more often against high level enemies.


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Yes, but from what little we've seen it looks like damage is overall lower to compensate for crits. In hoping the danger is there, but it's not too massacre-y


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Speaking from the PT at least, I throw equal-footing encounters at my parties here and there with plebty of fights only a step or two down and I've almost never had anyone go unconscious. Only death I've had was pre-planned story stuff. But my party is nuts sometimes and has UNCANNY clutch luck.

Also in one of my group's I've had smarter bosses occasionally try to focus down the Divine Sorcerer and it has yet to freaking work because Heal is nuts. I think that'll change though with the CRB since that one action Heal is at about half strength.

But yeah, between that and the dying rules as we know them I don't think accidental or BS deaths are very likely unless you're facing something like Disintegrate or Power Word Kill that can instakill.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Hope we will get rules in the GMG on adjusting the level of lethality :-)

Liberty's Edge

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I'd say PF2 is about as lethal as PF1 for most of its residents. PCs, however, have Hero Points by default, which makes it less lethal for them specifically.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'd say PF2 is about as lethal as PF1 for most of its residents. PCs, however, have Hero Points by default, which makes it less lethal for them specifically.

I've found that my players wind up using their hero points for important skill checks or saving throws over stabilizing. But I suppose if my campaigns felt more dangerous that might change.

I have been using the playtest rules for a year, and haven't lost a PC outside of Doomsday Dawn. Previously, I lost 3 PCs in quick succession in PF1 just before we converted, though that was after like a year of play.

So anecdotally it feels less lethal, and I'd mostly attribute that to moving away from negative hit points.

Sovereign Court

Captain Morgan wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'd say PF2 is about as lethal as PF1 for most of its residents. PCs, however, have Hero Points by default, which makes it less lethal for them specifically.

I've found that my players wind up using their hero points for important skill checks or saving throws over stabilizing. But I suppose if my campaigns felt more dangerous that might change.

I have been using the playtest rules for a year, and haven't lost a PC outside of Doomsday Dawn. Previously, I lost 3 PCs in quick succession in PF1 just before we converted, though that was after like a year of play.

So anecdotally it feels less lethal, and I'd mostly attribute that to moving away from negative hit points.

Not mine, the players hoard them for staving off dying. I ended up house ruling a new system called saint points which helps stave off an untimely death. You get 1 per level and can bank as many as you like. It cost 2 to revive a killed PC.

Doing this allowed my players to use Hero points for cool stuff as well. Which was win win. I liked the idea of hero points in 3E/PF because sometimes the players get ambushed or take a weird x4 crit at no fault of their own. Its cool to have that kind of danger and also the ability to hang onto a beloved character. Though that resource has to be managed old school style!

@OP I only playtested PF2 levels 1-5. Nobody ever got close to dying. My PF1 experience was that at least 2 deaths would have occurred. Though take that as anecdotal experience between the systems.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

In comparison to PF1E, it seems extremely non-lethal. Unless the massive damage rules come into effect, you're never going to eat a stray crit and go from half-HP to permadeath. The death and dying rules of PF2E give a huge amount of leeway to fighting at low HP where that would be a death sentence back in PF1E.

Add to that that Save or Dies have been toned down dramatically, monster stats have been rebalanced, and that we have Hero Points baked into the system to allow players to stave off death even more, and I think character deaths will be pretty rare (assuming you're playing APs and not a parade of homebrew APL+3 encounters).

On the other hand, getting crit more often means that at higher levels we'll see more characters taking a temporary dirt nap than we ever did in PF1E. And persistent damage is the big threat when it comes to finishing off downed PCs... so if persistent damage is more common, we'll see more deaths as well.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Pan wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:


I've found that my players wind up using their hero points for important skill checks or saving throws over stabilizing.
Not mine, the players hoard them for staving off dying.

This is no longer a thing! I'm pretty sure it's now one hero point to reroll, or all your remaining hero points to not die stabilise without the wounded condition. That should stop people from hoarding them, or at least reduce it a bit!


Yeah, I would say it's pretty nonlethal. Think 5e tier? Nobody is gonna die if the party is somewhat competent.

Scarab Sages

I think if the DM hand holds the game is not lethal but that is with all TTRPGs. During the playtest my party didn't have any deaths except for the Demon chapter and the final fight. We are waiting to run 2e RoRL but we have been playing old society games and we've had a few deaths. Again I think we have to see the whole game before any judgment calls can be made.


Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I hope that the Doomed condition (similar to Wounded from the playtest, I think?) makes the game at least feel deadly, and remove the tactic of "wait until the player goes down, heal them up at that point" that is prevalent in other systems. That said, I'm not sad to see dead at -CON go; it wasn't nearly large enough of a buffer at mid to high levels.

Additionally, the lethality will also depend on if people save their hero points to cheat death or not. If you only use hero points for rerolls if you've got 2+, then you get to cheat death the first time each session. If not, hope you've got a healer...


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ChibiNyan wrote:
Yeah, I would say it's pretty nonlethal. Think 5e tier? Nobody is gonna die if the party is somewhat competent.

In my estimation, the wounded condition is going to make combat significantly more lethal than 5e, especially with crits taking you to dying 2 out the gate. You can't just yo yo from 0 HP all day.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
David knott 242 wrote:

Isn't the new core rulebook bigger than the old one?

On that basis, I would say that PF2 is more lethal than PF1 if you throw the book at someone. ;)

Apologies for the pun -- trying to figure out why this post is invisible.

Liberty's Edge

Unless there were some last minute tweaks to the NPC rules and the math behind the damage that monsters/baddies do I'd have to say that PF2 is significantly less lethal than 1st Edition and it's not even close by comparison.

That said, it's going to take some adjusting for GMs to really change tactics and really try their best to actively kill a PC but it's still possible, you just won't ever see it happen by accident any longer as the shift in things means that targeting one and ONLY one PC during combat for a group of monsters is totally legitimate tactic that doesn't fall under "foul-play" anymore.

Getting Hero Points for free just for showing up to a game and having a multi-level dying track instead of a target HP number you're shooting for means no character is ever going to go from fighting to dead in the course of a single round.

Not sure how I feel about that really... as others have said, I hope if things are how they seem from the previews and games I played/saw at PaizoCon that there are good options for increased lethality beyond just ratcheting up the Level of the encounters you throw at a party or adding templates to literally everything the party fights.


My DM is of a particularly homicidal bent when it comes to making encounters, an APL+2 (read: Severe in the PT bestiary encounter design section) nearly TPK-ed the party at level 2 (3 amped up zombies and a ghast), so I'd say that if you're not careful when making a homebrew encounter, it's VERY lethal. a single APL+3 monster all alone will EVISCERATE a party if they're not mix-maxing tactics and kiting like an MMO dungeon raid


nick1wasd wrote:
My DM is of a particularly homicidal bent when it comes to making encounters, an APL+2 (read: Severe in the PT bestiary encounter design section) nearly TPK-ed the party at level 2 (3 amped up zombies and a ghast), so I'd say that if you're not careful when making a homebrew encounter, it's VERY lethal. a single APL+3 monster all alone will EVISCERATE a party if they're not mix-maxing tactics and kiting like an MMO dungeon raid

Doesn't the +1/lvl and <10> mechanics pretty much make APL+3 encounters sure fire suicide for PCs?

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Themetricsystem wrote:
Unless there were some last minute tweaks to the NPC rules and the math behind the damage that monsters/baddies do I'd have to say that PF2 is significantly less lethal than 1st Edition and it's not even close by comparison.

This is the primary reason I want to change over. The Pathfinder Unchained "monster rules" have shown that several encounters are inappropriate for their assigned CR. Sometimes grossly so.

Orville Redenbacher wrote:
nick1wasd wrote:
My DM is of a particularly homicidal bent when it comes to making encounters, an APL+2 (read: Severe in the PT bestiary encounter design section) nearly TPK-ed the party at level 2 (3 amped up zombies and a ghast), so I'd say that if you're not careful when making a homebrew encounter, it's VERY lethal. a single APL+3 monster all alone will EVISCERATE a party if they're not mix-maxing tactics and kiting like an MMO dungeon raid
Doesn't the +1/lvl and <10> mechanics pretty much make APL+3 encounters sure fire suicide for PCs?

That will be something to watch for when converting older PF material. :(Look at the older APs) APL+3 encounters showed up fairly frequently (especially at lower levels).


Lord Fyre wrote:
Themetricsystem wrote:
Unless there were some last minute tweaks to the NPC rules and the math behind the damage that monsters/baddies do I'd have to say that PF2 is significantly less lethal than 1st Edition and it's not even close by comparison.

This is the primary reason I want to change over. The Pathfinder Unchained "monster rules" have shown that several encounters are inappropriate for their assigned CR. Sometimes grossly so.

Orville Redenbacher wrote:
nick1wasd wrote:
My DM is of a particularly homicidal bent when it comes to making encounters, an APL+2 (read: Severe in the PT bestiary encounter design section) nearly TPK-ed the party at level 2 (3 amped up zombies and a ghast), so I'd say that if you're not careful when making a homebrew encounter, it's VERY lethal. a single APL+3 monster all alone will EVISCERATE a party if they're not mix-maxing tactics and kiting like an MMO dungeon raid
Doesn't the +1/lvl and <10> mechanics pretty much make APL+3 encounters sure fire suicide for PCs?
That will be something to watch for when converting older PF material. :(Look at the older APs) APL+3 encounters showed up fairly frequently (especially at lower levels).

It isnt really. Even APL+4 is just an even-footing fight for a 4-player party, and I've seen more than one of those go down hard in my games. APL+3 definitely hasn't been suicide and anything lower DEFINITELY gets wrecked hard.


I don't know how lethal this game is but I hope it doesn't put too much on me to keep that aspect reasonable for my players. I like for all decisions, especially whether or not to engage in combat, to be meaningful and carry weighty consequences. But I also want to be careful about accidentally conning my players into unfair situations. Insta-TPK is always anticlimactic and never fun, and removes player agency if players never see it coming.

As a DM building encounters, I used to have a policy that balancing every single encounter is pointless, that doing that break immersion, and that "encounters shousld be as safe or as deadly as they need to be for the circumstances the party finds themselves in." As in, not every boss fight has to be against a super villain and his dozens of minions, but if the party decides they want to pick a fight that they can't win then that's on them, not the DM.

But then I re-read some of the monsters in the bestiary, and I'm thinking that I might have to rethink that stance. There are a few creatures that are inexplicably hard to deal with. It's easy for me to say, "Oh hey, rumor has it that trolls are prowling the woods. You should be careful."
But I can't stop players from thinking, "Oh hey, sounds like a fun side quest. Let's go hunt a few and collect a reward."
And I have no idea how to balance an encounter with trolls, other than to make them dumber/smarter and to vary their quantity, and I refuse to alter their stat blocks on principle. So if the party doesn't have fire attacks, doesn't have a woodsman, and is not very sturdy/strong, it's almost certain to be a deadly encounter unless I directly intervene.

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Aiden2018 wrote:
But then I re-read some of the monsters in the bestiary, and I'm thinking that I might have to rethink that stance. There are a few creatures that are inexplicably hard to deal with.

Check out the Juju-Zombie or the Iron Cobra for monsters that are significantly overpowered.


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

I think 2E is less lethal than 1E by a lot.

However, removing Hero Points could be an option for making things more deadly, and is what my group will be doing.


Do hero points really make that big a difference? I thought they just stopped you from bleeding out. Does it also revive you?

Paizo Employee Designer

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In PF1, where any fight that challenges the PCs has a good chance of killing them due to -Con being too small a buffer, I routinely had death counts in the low double digits in an AP, though much much higher if you count it as a death even after someone uses a breath of life or two.

In PF2 with the same group, we nearly had our first death last session, and they haven't even really used that many hero points to stave off death. The difference comes in the ability to knock someone out at mid to high levels without a massive chance of killing them unless they fall into a tiny HP band.

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We probably won't know til the rules come out, but is it possible for a character to kill a monster of equal CR in 1 hit?
Because in PF1 that could happen quite a bit (usually x3 and x4 crits),
the impression I get is that this version of the game will be less lethal in this regard.

Liberty's Edge

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

I'm thinking we might see more deaths at first as people get used to the system.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Grumpus wrote:

We probably won't know til the rules come out, but is it possible for a character to kill a monster of equal CR in 1 hit?

Because in PF1 that could happen quite a bit (usually x3 and x4 crits),
the impression I get is that this version of the game will be less lethal in this regard.

We know for a fact that a lvl 1 character can 1 shot a lvl 2 monster with a good roll. This likely stops being the case pretty quick though as HP scales faster than damage.

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NightTrace wrote:
I'm thinking we might see more deaths at first as people get used to the system.

That is a good thing to keep in mind as we get the early reports of PF2 games.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
NightTrace wrote:
I'm thinking we might see more deaths at first as people get used to the system.
That is a good thing to keep in mind as we get the early reports of PF2 games.

Yeah, we saw this in the playtest with lots of complaints of lethality in the first scenario. Largely from people who played by old assumptions "I stood there and hit it."


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Malk_Content wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
NightTrace wrote:
I'm thinking we might see more deaths at first as people get used to the system.
That is a good thing to keep in mind as we get the early reports of PF2 games.
Yeah, we saw this in the playtest with lots of complaints of lethality in the first scenario. Largely from people who played by old assumptions "I stood there and hit it."

That was also fueled by the outlier of Colette Brunelle's game.

Liberty's Edge

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

Haha, but yeah, I figure PFS2 is going to have a lot of this right in the beginning. I am *super* looking forward to the Pregen Special and how people handle that one hehe.

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