MadMars Runs a Small Campaign


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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Warning: Long post is looooooooong.

I'm tired of theorycrafting and hearing how "no one knows anything yet." So, today, I ran my very first session of PF2! I wanted to share my experiences with others. Before I get into it, two things are important:

1. I often have smaller parties. Tonight, I had just two. This obviously skews the play experience compared to the average, but people do often run games for smaller groups so it shouldn't be entirely useless to discuss it. If any of you do groups of two or three, or even solo games, I also do all of these and I hope my post is informative.

2. I ran the game in a homebrew setting. I used only rules from the CRB, including ancestries, feats, etc. and didn't homebrew any mechanics whatsoever, but in case this matters to anyone, it wasn't set on Golarion. Not that by rules you could have noticed. I know the book is tightly tied to Golarion* as a setting now which is perfectly fine by me (I sometimes run games set in Golarion and when I don't it's easy to ignore.)

To begin, much was improved from the playtest and most of my complaints are minor quibbles about rules I simply couldn't find. I think the math might be a little tight on spellcasters still, albeit not cripplingly so, but my party included none tonight so this hypothesis went untested. I had a dwarven ranger who took an animal companion (badgers are good now!!!) and flurry and a bomber alchemist who could barely carry their bulk as a gnome. Our session ran for five hours.

Throughout the session they were pitted against a series of enemies, traps, and hazards from the CRB/B1, while doing a bit of wilderness and dungeon exploration. Encounter and Exploration modes were tested. They completed their dungeon successfully and with no obvious close calls, interestingly (although some of that was due to luck.)

Their main opponents consisted of the new Mitflits (Mites) and the other two types of Gremlins (Pugwampis and Jinkins) from the Bestiary, but they also fought a Sewer Ooze, and a giant centipede. I love the basic redesign of the Mitflits, thank you Paizo. They've become the "Goblins" of my homebrew setting.

One thing I immediately liked when designing this campaign was the Weak and Elite templates. They are very easy to apply even mid-fight if you've memorized the simple math and allowed me to adjust up or down before and during the campaign.

To my surprise, my monsters with the weak template (mostly some Mitflits) turned out to be simply incapable of threatening the PCs. Mitflits shouldn't be a significant threat to a party of four, of course, but if you want to utilize them in the same capacity but have a smaller party, now you can without having to fudge numbers or apply endlessly complicated templates. You have the option to reduce or increase the amount of monsters, or use the templates to create an epic feel without necessarily increasing lethality to an absurd degree. The new XP adjustment chart for encounters and how to balance for larger or smaller parties works really well and so far seems accurate. Monsters are balanced with PCs in mind overall.

The PCs were able to dispatch the Weak Mitflits with little trouble taking only 1 or two damage fighting them in groups of 2-4, and the ranger with the great pick was always MVP in the mook-removal category in these first fights. That fatal d12 ability was insane. Am I reading it correctly that a character with 18 strength does 3d12+8 at level one when they crit? I have no problem with that, but I was a little astonished.

With the Weak Mitflits out of the way (I used them to slowly test PC abilities in PF2) I moved on to normal Mitflits and they proved only a little stauncher. They were a good match in a group of two, meaning the "one monster per PC" rough suggestion in the CRB has a grain of truth to it, especially if you aim one or two monster levels below them for a low or moderate encounter. They could damage the PCs and use up some resources, but didn't prove lethal. Three made for a significantly harder fight as it gave them a realistic flanking option, and I imagine four could be lethal as the XP/Encounter chart in the game mastery chapter frankly suggests. At level one, at least, it seems you can trust the book.

Their fight with the Sewer Ooze occurred in difficult terrain for both parties, and it's Filth ability slowed the dwarf and gnome significantly when they both failed their reflex saves (but not critically.) It resulted in a hilarious series of "move five feet closer while staring menacingly" actions as I understand the speed penalty from this ability and difficult terrain stack. The gnome nobly decided to spend two interact actions on the dwarf to free them from their gelatinous fetters and with their mighty ten feet charge they were able to get close enough to hit and almost automatically scored a critical hit. As the ooze had only an AC of 8, the ranger's +7 with the great pick meant they crit on an 11 and so of course with flurry, they did immediately. The ooze could not survive 6d12+16. What honestly could at level 1? It had 40 HP which was more than the PC's health totals combined and never got a chance to use its psuedopod which certainly would have hit them hard. It's a good "glass cannon" monster at level one. A moderate threat is what the CRB would have me believe it was and I agree. It could hurt you significantly at level one but was easy to flee. So far, good advice.

If you're wondering why they didn't strike from range, it never occurred to them.

They did sneak up and use range on the Pugwampi, with left me with my first rules issue ("is there a surprise round?") and it turns out there isn't. Or I can't find it. I decided to give them both a free strike from range as per the Stealth rules and then begin the battle. Because they were roughly fifty feet away they nearly had it dead before it could close the distance using a longbow and a sling respectively, and then when it did rush them, they both made their will saves against its unluck aura (even rolling twice and taking the lowest as per the description.) I have a feeling the Pugwampi would have been a lot more dangerous with some Mitflit minions, beyond even the usual assumptions.

Because they were both trained in stealth and that went so well, they decided to try that on the giant centipede and his Mitflit handler and dispatched them fairly easily with only one round of actual combat. The Mitflit managed to crit and do 7 damage to the dwarf, not insignificant to his 22 HP.

After this they faced a Poisoned Lock Trap from the CRB and because the dwarf got very lucky and took the hardy dwarf ancestry, despite not noticing it and triggering the trap he was completely fine. If the gnome had been hit, it could have been a lot more deadly (thankfully they took antidote as an early formula, though.) The dwarf, trained in thievery, easily disabled the actual lock afterward. These fights covered the bridge to the dungeon area (a fort), a rescue along a side trail, an attempted ambush by a Mitflit patrol, and the gate guard past the bridge at the actual outer wall.

Then, they ended up alerting the entire dungeon to their presence and got stuck fighting in a cramped kitchen after knocking on the front door to the fort and then when no one answered in the first round, grabbing a nearby ladder, breaking the kitchen window, and dropping in. You think someone who remembered facing down the Skinsaw Men and Mokmurian would be a little more tactically careful, but that's PCs for you. This was the same person who came up with the idea to sneak into the Skinsaw's Mens' mill during RotRL when they were all gathered in one place and fight that group severely outnumbered, too. It's Napoleonic.

They ended up in a fight with Avur, the King of the Cave Jelly tribe (Jinkins Gremlin) and his four mitflit minions. They barred one door to the kitchen and I learned that standard wooden doors are apparently nothing to sneeze at for the poor gremlins. They never had a chance at breaking through its hardness/HP so instead they were forced to use the other door under which they had rigged a simple Level 1 Pit Trap.

It was here the hilarity began. You see, the PCs had spotted it and knew to avoid it but I decided that since they were so outnumbered and Mitflits were dumb, the first one would have to pass a DC 5 int check to remember the trap was there. Of course, he fails (rolling a glorious 3) and falls to his death screaming "long live the Cave Jelly Tribe!" Why? Because he has 10 HP and apparently you don't roll damage for falling anymore. You just take 10 bludgeoning damage. Upon realizing this, as soon as the Mitflit minions made it across the threshold, they began making Athletics checks to shove Mitflits to their deaths and as far as I can tell that's a DC 12 Athletics check. That took care of another two due to the confined space of the kitchen before the Jinkins king and his last lieutenant made their final stand near the delicious tomato soup. They lasted two rounds, but the badger, another crit from the great pick (I swear this thing is an amazing weapon for pure DPR) and the new persistent acid rules combined with quick alchemy eliminated the small splinter "kingdom" of the Bogstompers once and for all.

The story revolved around the massacred fort which the Cave Jellies had moved into, but had not actually been responsible for defeating. It was in fact a werewolf and his evil minions who killed the poor knights living in the fort. This is relevant because over the next few sessions they will track the real culprit and eventually face these tougher enemies. The werewolf is one of my favorite monsters and I hope it stacks up in this edition, even if it's not meant to be an incredible adversary for a well-prepared party. Further posts will chronicle this adventure and experiences.

What got tested and what did I like?

1. Individually, PCs are a lot stronger at level one, but the alchemist had less to do than the ranger. The bulk didn't quite overtake and encumber them but it's silly how much they have to carry at level one for their assumed strength and bombs could have stood to be just a tad stronger. Since they went with a 16 int to have a higher dex for bomb lobbing, they only had four batches of infused reagents which might be too low for my tastes, also. I would have preferred something like "3+int+class level." Still, they hit with most of their attacks and contributed. They actually had the same AC as the ranger despite the armor difference due to dex, but their lower health (something often not accounted for by the armor debates on the forums at present) meant that the alchemist was still not as effective on the front lines as the pure martial. This difference might get smaller as they level but as it stands that extra HP meant one extra attack survived and this counted for a lot for a smaller party.

2. Martials can have a pretty wide variety of trained skills now and the eliminated of class skills let's them excel at whatever they want. The ranger used this to great effect, and the ancestry feats the gnome alchemist picked up gave them detect magic at will, augmenting their Arcana skill. The two of them alone were able to solve the challenges put in front of them every time and I made this campaign before I knew what they would be playing. Some of that's luck, but I think good design is involved, too. I imagine rogue is insane.

3. Ranger is great. Seriously. The nerfed animal companions are still effective, just reasonably so now, and with a great pick in hand and a badger at your side very few things will survive your assault. Take flurry for added DPR. He wasn't bad with a longbow, either.

4. Speaking of which, do you have to roll to command an animal companion? I decided you didn't unless you ordered it to do something incredible scary or dumb (like hold off four mitflits while you fought the king) but I wasn't sure if this was right. Still a good option even if you do.

5. I like that elixirs of life and minor healing potions don't seem to be hard to come by, but that 1 GP or so still hurts at first level. Felt about right. We'll see how things go at higher levels without a cleric.

6. It did turn out, after all, to be easier to GM. One of the easiest sessions I've ever wrote and balanced. Between the new encounter guidelines, treasure guidelines, XP adjustments, and templates, it seems to come up about right as long as you don't stray too much in terms of party size. I was worried the new "classic party of four" focus (well, newly intensified) would lock smaller groups out of PF but it seems I was wrong at least so far.

I'll let everyone know how things continue if anyone is interested. Furthermore, Changelings should be one of the first extra-core heritages. This demand has nothing to do with this post but I'm appending it because I can. I also know that witches will be occult casters, but if you would make witches primal, that would be nice too.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks for this detailed rundown. I'm running a PF2 game Friday for two players, and am eager to see how it goes.

I agree, the pick looks like a great weapon, and makes a 1st-level character feel like he's really powerful.

Elixirs of like and minor healing potions may look good, but the healing you get just using the medicine skill and a healer's kit looks even better.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This was quite an enjoyable read and i'm glad you had fun, Its making me hyped for my first GMing of the game tonight.

I will note that oozes are immune to critical hits, i slipped up on this in the first playtest encounter myself.


That was a very interesting read. Thanks for taking the time to write about your experiences. I saw some questions, which I think I can answers:

- Damage for greatpicks. It's actually worse (better), if I'm correct. On a critical hit, a character with Strength 18 would roll 2d12+4, because of Fatal. The result is then doubled due to the critical hit. (Criticals double the result now, not the amount of rolls like in PF1). I agree that Fatal weapons are really good at first level, because the extra die packs so much punch. The effect will become less pronounced at higher levels, because everyone will be rolling more dice for damage by that time.
- I don't think an action is necessary to command an animal companion. Page 214 of the Core rulebook reads "Your animal companion has the minion trait, and it gains 2 actions during your turn if you use the Command an Animal action to command it; this is in place of the usual effects of Command an Animal." I took this to mean that the entire entry for Command an animal is replaced. At GM discretion, you might call for an action if the player tries to have the animal companion do something wildly inappropriate.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Iff wrote:
- Damage for greatpicks. It's actually worse (better), if I'm correct. On a critical hit, a character with Strength 18 would roll 2d12+4, because of Fatal. The result is then doubled due to the critical hit.

Actually, this is not correct. The extra d12 for Fatal is not doubled. I don't have my CRB handy right now, but in the paragraph on doubling, the Fatal weapon property is specifically called out as not being doubled.

So it would be (1d12+4)x2 + 1d12. Which is still fantastically good.

I expect that firearms, when they are introduced, will also have the Fatal property, working similar to the pick.


Wheldrake wrote:


Actually, this is not correct. The extra d12 for Fatal is not doubled. I don't have my CRB handy right now, but in the paragraph on doubling, the Fatal weapon property is specifically called out as not being doubled.

So it would be (1d12+4)x2 + 1d12. Which is still fantastically good.

Wow. I double-checked the Fatal entry before posting, but it's not listed there. Found it on p. 451. I hope this isn't something that more people misinterpret, just from reading the Fatal weapon property.

Incidentally, that page also lists the option to roll damage twice instead of doubling it. Like it was in PF1.


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In case you missed it, the miflits that got pushed into the pit would probably have had decent chances to succeed on the Grab Edge reaction, with their strong reflex saves.


Wheldrake wrote:
Iff wrote:
- Damage for greatpicks. It's actually worse (better), if I'm correct. On a critical hit, a character with Strength 18 would roll 2d12+4, because of Fatal. The result is then doubled due to the critical hit.

Actually, this is not correct. The extra d12 for Fatal is not doubled. I don't have my CRB handy right now, but in the paragraph on doubling, the Fatal weapon property is specifically called out as not being doubled.

So it would be (1d12+4)x2 + 1d12. Which is still fantastically good.

I expect that firearms, when they are introduced, will also have the Fatal property, working similar to the pick.

Thank you for this. We had been rolling 3d12 and adding +8, as per PF1. I didn't know that you finally just doubled it now.

Davido1000 wrote:

This was quite an enjoyable read and i'm glad you had fun, Its making me hyped for my first GMing of the game tonight.

I will note that oozes are immune to critical hits, i slipped up on this in the first playtest encounter myself.

I had no idea, as was probably evident. That will be very helpful in the future.

FowlJ wrote:
In case you missed it, the miflits that got pushed into the pit would probably have had decent chances to succeed on the Grab Edge reaction, with their strong reflex saves.

I did miss it. That's totally new to me. Would have made that fight a lot more tense, although I don't mind the comedy of it since was the first ever session! Thanks!

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