How important is Constitution?


Advice


Maybe I'm asking too soon and the numbers haven't been crunched properly, but I'm theorycrafting some builds, and I'm wondering if I'm neglecting my Con score. So far I've left it at 10, and with the new HP system, that sort of seems fine. I've played some Starfinder Society, and there a Con of 10 seems perfectly fine (granted, I've not made a frontliner yet). My Pathfinder 1 characters always started with a Con score of 14, so dropping to 10 seems like a big jump. But considering ability scores at character creation seems less swingy (no dumping to get more point buy, for example), I'm not sure how to do that without completely neglecting my other stats.

So, especially for mid-level play (I intend to play some PF2 Society soon, which goes to level 11 I believe), how important does a decent Con score seem to you? Especially with most classes getting at least 8 HP each level, a Con of 12 means only one single HP extra per level. That doesn't seem much. My first draft of the character had a Con of 10, but then I realised I might've neglected HP and I might've overcorrected to 14. With a Strength of 18 and a Dexterity of 14, a Constitution of 14 only leaves me with a single +2 to a mental stat. Which, as a Ranger, goes to Wisdom. I'd like to get that Wis to 14, to more properly contribute in skills such as Nature and Survival. And that probably means taking a hit to my Con score, setting it at 12. Or maybe my Strength, if necessary.

Or maybe I'm asking the wrong thing. Am I overinvesting by putting my Strength to 18? If I leave it at 16, I'll be slightly less effective at levels 1 through 4, but catch up again once I put my level 5 stat bump in Strength. Sure, I won't be able to bump it to 20 at level 10, but I'm not sure if I want to do so in the first place. I see most of the pregenerated characters for Society have an 18 in their primary stat, so that seems like the go-to strategy...

Liberty's Edge

Quentin Coldwater wrote:
Maybe I'm asking too soon and the numbers haven't been crunched properly, but I'm theorycrafting some builds, and I'm wondering if I'm neglecting my Con score. So far I've left it at 10, and with the new HP system, that sort of seems fine.

So far I've played at level 1, and GMed at levels 1, 2, 7, and 8. I don't know if I'd be comfortable going as low as 10, but honestly Con seems far less important in 2E than it was in 1E.

At mid and high levels TEML mitigates the impact Con has on Fortitude saves, and because "negative Con" is no longer a benchmark for death, Con's impact on hit points is wholly limited to positive values. Further, because Con doesn't have any direct impact on recovery rolls, but Toughness does, if you have the room for it then it has a stronger impact on hit points and death than any one Con boost. This might all change for a front line fighter, but that's not what you're building, I think 10 is probably survivable, and 12 versus 14 isn't as big a gap in 2E as it was in 1E.

Quote:
I intend to play some PF2 Society soon, which goes to level 11 I believe

I thought 12, rather than 11, but in either case, levels 5 and 10 come with four ability boosts, so your level 1 character with Con 10 can have Con 14 by level 11 or 12, anyway.

Quote:
I see most of the pregenerated characters for Society have an 18 in their primary stat, so that seems like the go-to strategy...

I still consider myself very new to this system, but either a 16 or 18 in your key ability seems worthwhile to me.


18 (or 16 if playing against a negative) would be the default to begin with in whatever stat adds to your attack/save DC bonus. If a non-offensive PC, then it matters less though some spells add your ability modifier.

As for Con, do not underestimate it.
-A frontliner needs it. Hit points fluctuate much more in PF2 so it's nice to have that cushion if a crit or two hits you (especially when the BBEG hits the table). This is especially true for melee Rogues who start behind the others and have poorer ACs typically.
-Mages need it. 6 h.p./level does not suffice. AoEs will kill you, as will those much more mobile melee enemies (which can move/strike/grab).
-Your Fort Save needs it. There aren't many ways to boost your saves, and you'll need to scrape up what bonuses you can get. Remember, a good rule of thumb is that bonuses are worth 2x what they were in PF1. That +2 to Con (+1 modifier) is like getting a +2 to Fort saves. This is extra important if in a class with a poor Fort save since you really want to narrow that window of critical failure chances. Add PF2's poison rules on top.
-Your Fort save needs it even more. Fort Saves determine how hard it is to be grappled (et al), so unless you have tricks against those, you want to beef up that save. Again, worthwhile if only to close the window of critical failures.

About the only PC's that don't need Con is a backrow caster with Heal or a warrior doing archery. If not an Elf, starting with 12 should be a no-brainer and Con should be boosted every time after that. You should aim to peak at 18 Con, that is assuming a combat focused campaign.
I can't imagine Con not being in the top 4 stats for a build, but then I lean toward resilient heroes.

For one's first PF2 PC, I'd recommend building one that uses Dex, Con, and/or Wis simply so that they can boost their primary abilities while boosting their saves.

Liberty's Edge

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Con is fine, but less needed than in PF1. It's more necessary for Fort Saves than HP, but Fort Saves are pretty important.

If you're happy with a 10 as a starting character, I think that's a pretty reasonable choice, really, but on a mechanical level you'll still want to pick it as one of the four stats you raise at 5th and every 5 levels thereafter, just so your Fort Save doesn't fall further behind.


Quentin Coldwater wrote:
With a Strength of 18 and a Dexterity of 14, a Constitution of 14 only leaves me with a single +2 to a mental stat. Which, as a Ranger, goes to Wisdom. I'd like to get that Wis to 14, to more properly contribute in skills such as Nature and Survival. And that probably means taking a hit to my Con score, setting it at 12. Or maybe my Strength, if necessary.

For this specific build:

Looks like a strength-based melee ranger, correct? Note that there are two types of medium armor that have a max dex bonus of +1. So I think having 12 Dex is a decent choice for a ranger.

Dropping Con to 12 should also not be much of an issue in case you want your Wisdom to be 16.

I'd lower either or both (con and dex) before I'd even consider reducing my main stat to 16.

For the topic in general:

Con is mostly in the "nice to have" category for me. Most front liners have good fortitude saves and high class HP anyway. More of both is always helpful but I don't think it's necessary. It's also not really that hard to start with 12 or 14 in the new ability score system.

Con becomes more of an issue if you have low (less than 10) HP per level, a low fort save and still want to be in melee like the rogue. Or if you're playing a MAD class like the warpriest. But honestly, even in those cases I'd be fine with Con 12 at first level. There are very few builds that can't afford to increase Con every 5 levels so you're not losing anything in the long run.


Let's be frank, here. Constitution has always been the dullest and most underutilized of the ability scores. How often does it honestly come up in games beyond death/living-dying mechanics, that is, Negative Con or relating to gaining or losing HP?

To no one's surprise, not much. Fortitude? Sure, one of the three saves in the game is great, but it relates to no skills as Wisdom does. Nor does it relate to a great number of skills -and- attack, defense, initiative, etc, like Dexterity does. Even Charisma has increased its utility since its dump stat days to outshine Constitution.

Coming to mind? Drowning. How uncommon is that? It's simply a design flaw of the system to keep Constitution around as one of the six, starting pillars of a character creation, or to leave it as unimportant and tiresome as it is. A 10 Con will work just fine, and universally, my group's characters have 10 or lower and have no problem. It's a problem that haunts Gary's system scions, and it was only made worse in 2e.


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I mean it still affects fort saves. So pretty darn important considering how nasty a crit failed fort save can be.

But yes, it's not really important for HP and is arguably less important in PF2 than in PF1, until you realize how rare increases to your saves are.

Honestly I consider con to be something you should spend an ability score increase on whenever you get them, but not any of your character choice selections when building your character (except for the choice of 4 ability increases).

Honestly, a character should typically ignore either dex or strength and then either int or charisma.

Int only adds more trained skills, which typically isn't worth it. Especially not for humans with Clever Improviser.

Charisma is only important for charisma skills unless your class keys off it.

Strength is only important for melee focused combatants.

Dex is important for ranged martials and AC for not heavy armor classes.

Con and wisdom are the two stats I would always recommend increasing because they are tied to saves that will have incredibly bad effects if you crit fail.

Wisdom also drives perception, which also drives init in most cases.


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One other thing, you now die if you take twice your max HP in a single hit

Liberty's Edge

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Your attack stat (this can include spellcasting stats if you primarily attack with spells) is always the highest priority on a PF2 character. Luckily that's usually your Class's Key Ability so it's easy to remember (though Alchemists and weapon-focused casters need to be careful to get a 16 in Dex or Str as appropriate).

After that the hierarchy of stat importance is more or less as follows, if taken in a a vacuum, IMO:

Wisdom (Perception, Will Save, several skills, initiative)
Dexterity (Reflex Save, several Skills, potentially AC, some attacks)
Constitution (Fortitude Save, HP)
Intelligence (Several Skills, as well as extra Skills at Trained and extra Languages)
Charisma (Social Skills, which are very relevant, especially Intimidate)
Strength (Carrying capacity, Athletics, some attacks, damage on melee attacks...very slight bonus to ranged damage)

Now, in practice, you can basically swap Dex and Str on that list by wearing heavier armor if you have Medium Armor Proficiency or better (even if you're not using it as an attack stat...in which case it gets first place...Dex still drops to just about last if doing that in armor, though), and if you don't care about social stuff Charisma drops a rank to last place, but that's the basic lineup (I'd argue that if all you're getting from Dex is Reflex Save, Int is usually better, for example).

Note that Constitution is basically always in the top four of that list regardless of those hierarchy alterations. And should thus almost always be raised as one of your four stat ups every 5 levels (depending on priorities, anyway). This kind of prioritization is much less true of any non-attack stat once you've hit an 18 since you hit a point of diminishing returns from there and might be better served raising lower stats somewhat, but that's a ways away.


I agree 95% with DeadManWalking analysis except I put Charisma and Intelligence as equally unimportant. Getting to trained only in a skill (which is all Intelligence will give you if your class features don't revolve around it) isn't very good. Unless you want knowledge skills it can be passed in my opinion. There are other better ways of getting skills.

Namely taking Adopted Ancestry for Clever Improviser from the Human Ancestry list will make you about the equivalent of trained in all skills.

Liberty's Edge

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Claxon wrote:

I agree 95% with DeadManWalking analysis except I put Charisma and Intelligence as equally unimportant. Getting to trained only in a skill (which is all Intelligence will give you if your class features don't revolve around it) isn't very good. Unless you want knowledge skills it can be passed in my opinion. There are other better ways of getting skills.

Namely taking Adopted Ancestry for Clever Improviser from the Human Ancestry list will make you about the equivalent of trained in all skills.

The +2 from Trained is solid even if you have the ability to add level to untrained Skill Checks, something not everyone is gonna invest in. It also adds to Lore, as well as more Skills than any other stat.

It's not the best stat by any means, but it's better than Charisma is.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Having a higher constitution is helpful for Staying Alive, which is an activity characters are going to want to do for much of their career.


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I think it kinda depends on your emphasis. Int can be selectively useful for gaining trained in another skill, but Trained has a lot of limitations that make Int kinda worse than it was in 1e.

You also can't really build something out of Int. Recall is nice, but that's all it really is while Demoralize and other face actions can make a whole playstyle.

To be honest, I've had more characters where I've thought about putting more points into Strength because of bulk restrictions that I've had characters that felt like they could really use more Int. It's just not that great in 2e.


Honestly, Constitution isn't *as* important as it used to be, but it's still pretty much the second most important stat across most/all builds. Wisdom's going to be king, due to perception, initiative, and will saves. After that, Dexterity is nice, but really not needed for any builds that have heavy armor (Full Plate = +3 in most situations to Reflex). So constitution takes up second place here.

Note I'm not arguing for any singular build it's the second most important, rather I think it's probably more globally 3, but if you average across, people's first stat will be their primary attack, but that varies *a lot*, second will be wisdom, third will be constitution.


Also, there's a whole debate on Dump Stats/Intelligence over on the Leshy/Hobgoblin thread :-P (LOCG). PF2 plays a lot different from PF1, and there's a lot of discussion over what's actually important. Suffice to say, lots of people have lots of different opinions, as is probably evidenced on this thread as well. I'm one that thinks Intelligence/Charisma are both probably equally dumpable in a lot of cases, but others (see Deadmanwalking) think Strength is worse. Honestly, we probably need more play to see what *actually* helps and what doesn't, and a lot will be dictated by what your party can do/needs.

Sovereign Court

I think as a simple (and therefore not 100% correct, but generally usable) rule of thumb, Con 12 is the minimum to aim for in PF2 like Con 14 was a good minimum in PF1.

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