Experience with PF Unchained's revised action economy in 1E APs


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Liberty's Edge

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

My family is getting ready to resume our Reign of Winter campaign after a more than a year off (we're midway through book 2), converting it into a play-by-post game now that my daughter is away at college. In the past few months, we have all played enough PF2E to be surprised and impressed by the new systems, and we particularly like the 3-action economy. While I don't think I'm up to a full conversion of RoW to 2E rules (we're still 9 months away from getting witches, for one thing), I think it would be pretty easy to switch us to the 3-action economy included in Pathfinder Unchained for 1E. I have never played a 1E game using that system, however, and I'm curious about other people's experiences with it over a longer campaign arc like an AP. Does it hold up as the PCs and monsters reach very high levels? Is a 1E dragon still fearsome when it only gets 3 natural attacks each round instead of 5 or 6?


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I've used it a few times myself and really enjoyed it, though I should note that while the system overall is pretty good and does still work fairly well even at higher levels, you do definitely feel the growing pains of the system in 1e when it comes to classes like the Magus or Paladin that make heavy use of the normal action economy, or other economy-exploiting techniques like dual wielding. Monsters are also a bit tricky when they have special rules (most of the times I used it were in games that were heavily humanoid-focused) though as I recall the unchained system does have provisions for this. With regards to natural attacks specifically for instance, there is a "Make All Natural Attacks" action, so that dragon can still get 5 or 6 hits in.

The biggest effect of the system I found in mid and late game is that it gives a huge leg up on characters that exploit the movement potential it offers. It changes the dynamic of how fights play out to be a lot more rewarding for tactical thinkers, and significantly tones down the impact of classes and action economy tricks like swift actions and haste. It also makes certain types of actions very ambiguous, so you'd want to find those cases in advance and have rulings ready, as it may require you to alter some mechanics and tactics. I don't recall there being a whole lot of these situations in RoW, but there definitely are at least some.

If you like the economy from 2e, you'll probably like Unchained as well. So long as you're willing to do the legwork to spot the ambiguous actions in advance and balance it before it becomes a problem at the table (which in this case because it's a play by post isn't as urgent a situation).

Liberty's Edge

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

Thanks, Trichotome, that's exactly the kind of report on past experience I was hoping for. And thanks for pointing out the "Make All Natural Attacks" advanced action - I missed it when I read through the list. Your point about the effect on classes that depend on the standard action economy is the reason I am not going to suggest we change to the revised action economy in my Rise of the Runelords campaign with most of the same players - , but the main reason not to change is that the monk's entire schtick in combat is, as the player likes to say, all about punching things hard many times quickly (we're also much further along than we are in Reign of Winter, about 1/4 of the way through the final book in the AP).


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Happy to be of assistance!

I was a huge fan of the revised economy when it first came out because I'm a big fan of tactical positioning and simplifying needlessly complex economies. Then I tried implementing it with my Hell's Rebels group which included a two-weapon Rogue and a Monk and it just ended up confusing them and a lot of the newer players. Then I actively had to scrap if for my War for the Crown prologue adventure because no less than two of the bosses were Magi, so I definitely understand that reasoning.

Ultimately though the fun thing about a rule change like this one is that it's very easy to change later if you find it's not working out, unlike a lot of other alternate rules...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am going to try this out in 1E as well. Do you recall some of the actions that you had to revise or sort out ahead of time?

thanks.


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Hm... I may not really be an expert on it, especially since it was so long ago (back when Hell's Rebels was releasing), but I'll try.

Off the top of my head I think the main one that came up was the Magus spellstrike+spell combat technique. I think I never had to solve the problem for myself so I don't know what the best solution would be. They may have clarified the rules since I played them actually... But for sure anything where the dominant strategy is to use all actions then take a 5 foot step is seriously hampered. This applies to just about any former full round action that is best done adjacent to a foe, since it's easy to predict that it's coming and just move a step away before their next round. This can be a problem for creatures that use a lot of natural attack, since the use all natural attacks action is 3 acts.

Paladins that use lay on hands and anyone with swift action abilities might grumble a bit at losing out compared to others (especially if it's a class that upgrades their actions from standard to move or move to swift; Cavalier and Slayer come to mind), but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Anyone using two-weapon fighting (including the Monk's flurry) might need a quick rundown on how it works in the new economy (my players had a hard time figuring it out, though I thought it was pretty simple).

I do remember that there was one action that was frustratingly ambiguous and we had a long bout of research at the table to figure out the correct answer but I can't for the life of me remember what it was now... If I remember I'll post a follow-up.

All in all, mostly just look out for full round actions and surprise bonus actions that your players or the game doesn't normally account for.

Hopefully this is still useful. Apologies that I couldn't be of more help.

Liberty's Edge

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

You’ve been very helpful, thanks. One advantage my group will have over yours is that 2 out of the 3 players will be familiar with the PF2 version of this rule, so it won’t be totally new. Also, in my group the PCs are all core classes (the rogue is unchained), so there aren’t many swift actions to worry about, if any.

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