Is combat more brutal in this edition?


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Running a group through the 1st Adventure Path, and some of the veterans from the previous edition are complaining. We wasted 30 minutes of our last gaming session discussing combat math. The party saw goblin dogs and assumed they were roughly as dangerous as they were in the past, but a single goblin dog now has close to even money chances to down a 1st level fighter, and more than one almost certainly will do the job.

Which is radically different than previously. Running through Rise of the Runelords, goblin dogs were attacking at a +2, and a 1st level fighter might have a 17 AC. A fighter could engage a group of three goblin dogs and excepting lucky crits or a string of high rolls on the GM's part, could be expected to stand his ground for several rounds and potentially finish them off solo. I mean, a 13 AC and 9 HPs, a single dog would likely drop in one hit to a two-handed fighter.

Now we have goblin dogs with a 17 AC and 17 HPs, with an attack bonus of +9, with the potential to strike 3 times in one round, inflicting pox on a hit... A single goblin dog looks, from a stat standpoint, very similar to your typical 1st level fighter. Which led to immediately problems for experienced gamers who thought they knew what a goblin dog was capable of being quickly over-whelmed in a single round. Tempers flared. My group felt cheated. Should not have walked into this edition blind.

I've only had a few sessions of experience with this edition so far, and the second session went very well for my party, but these guys are still 1st level. I had to assure my group that I was sure that things would balance out better as they leveled up, they picked up magic items and acquired more abilities, and were more likely to encounter creatures of lower levels. Is this the case, though? Is anyone else having issues with this?


I have a group of 4 pcs, 2 of them have a large experience with D&D e Pathfinder (and with me as a GM), a third one is new to the hobby but is also very tactical, works awesome well as a team and conects very well with the other two. The fourth one is my wife, 3 years ago she didn't know there was something called D20 and for her THACO will always be somekind of mexican food.
But she entered in the hobby of RPG and Boardgaming with a passion, not so tactical as the others but plays very well as a team.

I finished Emerald Spire before this campaign i am doing now (Started Age of Ashes), there was only a PC death and due to the Fighter being confused....

They are very good as a team fighting, and they know also when to go away to fight another day (sing along to Brave Sir Robin).

In 2Ed, i did to him the intro "adventure" and that fight with an ogre told them all they needed to know about combat in 2Ed, it is more deadly, dinamic, and they should adjust tactics to each opponent.

Hero points are there for a reason and should be used.

In Age of Ashes, i have done two sessions.

In the first one the rogue went down to a strike from a

Spoiler:
Bugbear.
, in the second session with another player, ,a newbie young Monk two players went down
Spoiler:
The rogue twice with the Grauladon and didn't die due to using a Hero Point, and the Monk, Calmont did a crit on him, maximum damage and another hit and it was down.

So yes, it is more brutal, and what the pcs should assume is that it is indeed a new game, it is not a variant of PF1.

They should not assume that a monsters was like that in PF1 so it is the same in PF2.

On another note they do like how the monsters are now, they loved the fight with the

Spoiler:
Grauladon


From what I've read on the forums some of this stems from playing like it is still 1st ed. Both for the GM and players. GM side use some of those special abilities. Bust out with a few scratch actions to use up some of the dogs actions as well as threaten pox. Players may need to stay more on the move than they are used to. Giving up a little damage for taking fewer hits. If it seems to continue to be a problem you may also consider running the AP at one level higher for your players. Not sure any of this helps but I would be interested in how things go down the road. If you get used to it or decidr it isn't working for your group.


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I think it's definitely more brutal for 1st level characters, as there's only creature -1 below them, rather than having cr 1/2 or cr 1/4 that can be easily handled in mobs. As you get to higher levels, though, I think there will be potential to mow down creatures that are 4 levels below the party. This has kind of made creating multiple opponent battles at 1st level more dangerous, I think, though the damage output at 1st level is pretty solid all around, too, with potential for dex-to-damage, harder hitting cantrips, and more HP to start with.


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Yes


Demonknight wrote:

I have a group of 4 pcs, 2 of them have a large experience with D&D e Pathfinder (and with me as a GM), a third one is new to the hobby but is also very tactical, works awesome well as a team and conects very well with the other two. The fourth one is my wife, 3 years ago she didn't know there was something called D20 and for her THACO will always be somekind of mexican food.

But she entered in the hobby of RPG and Boardgaming with a passion, not so tactical as the others but plays very well as a team.

I finished Emerald Spire before this campaign i am doing now (Started Age of Ashes), there was only a PC death and due to the Fighter being confused....

They are very good as a team fighting, and they know also when to go away to fight another day (sing along to Brave Sir Robin).

In 2Ed, i did to him the intro "adventure" and that fight with an ogre told them all they needed to know about combat in 2Ed, it is more deadly, dinamic, and they should adjust tactics to each opponent.

Hero points are there for a reason and should be used.

In Age of Ashes, i have done two sessions.

In the first one the rogue went down to a strike from a ** spoiler omitted **, in the second session with another player, ,a newbie young Monk two players went down ** spoiler omitted **

So yes, it is more brutal, and what the pcs should assume is that it is indeed a new game, it is not a variant of PF1.

They should not assume that a monsters was like that in PF1 so it is the same in PF2.

On another note they do like how the monsters are now, they loved the fight with the ** spoiler omitted **

We ended the last session just as the group entered the courtyard, so they're about to experience those two encounters soon.

And they're loving the game so far. We're all teachers at a large foreign school in China, and the office banter has been overwhelmingly positive, but it's just been a slap in the face to the more experienced gamers in the group. There was a "TPK" already against giant rats, something you wouldn't have expected walking into that encounter. (granted, they were beat up from the two graveshells)

Spoiler:
It was a good way to introduce Alak to the party as an ally, something that they might not have immediately recognized as the hellknights encountered in Curse of the Crimson Throne have created lasting enmity.

I recognize that a new edition will be... well, new. But shouldn't there be some continuity in terms of relative danger of creatures? The most experienced player in my group actually questioned whether anything was playtested prior to release. I had to reveal the stats of the monsters so the group could try to dismantle why the attack was so high. I guess there is logic to a creature being proficient in their own natural attacks and unarmored defense, but... is there really logic to it? Why should a first level fighter, with training and the benefit of being a "hero", be statistically on-par with a goblin dog? It completely deflated the entire sense of being "heroic".

"We can't even beat a trio of giant rats in a fair fight. I don't want to go into a dark dungeon where we might face something as powerful as a zombie or an orc."

Quote:
From what I've read on the forums some of this stems from playing like it is still 1st ed. Both for the GM and players. GM side use some of those special abilities. Bust out with a few scratch actions to use up some of the dogs actions as well as threaten pox.

I started doing that in the next few encounters, with the graveshells withdrawing into their shells and moving around more, rather than attacking multiple times in a round.

Quote:
I think it's definitely more brutal for 1st level characters, as there's only creature -1 below them, rather than having cr 1/2 or cr 1/4 that can be easily handled in mobs. As you get to higher levels, though, I think there will be potential to mow down creatures that are 4 levels below the party.

This is exactly what I said to my group, trying to keep them calm. I also reminded them of the hero points, which they have been too conservative with. You don't get to take those with you, kids. Use them or lose them.


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I think of combat as being less brutal in PF2 than in PF1. I will say that combat is more challenging though, which might be what is being meant by the word "brutal."

To me, "brutal" is the word I'd use to describe incidents from my PF1 experience such as PCs marooned on an island with very little gear scavenged together encountering a barbarian/ranger specialized in killing humans and wielding a likely to crit weapon, or a scythe-wielding golem that's just intelligent enough to qualify for feats and spent them on a crit build - both cases exemplifying that in PF1 a single attack from a level-appropriate foe could easily kill a character outright (which is what happened in both those situations, with full HP even).

In PF2 the monsters have decent odds of knocking a character out, and they might die, but there's more than one attack involved in getting there and numerous opportunities to prevent that death and even win the encounter - but there's a challenge to it because no build gets to do the "brutal" thing of winning the fight in one roll.

The very first thing that happened when running PF2 was that one of my players moved their character next to an enemy, raised their shield, and attacked. This seemed like 100% the best plan possible to the player because if it were 5th edition D&D moving up and attacking would have been exactly the right thing for their character in this kind of situation. But then the monster went and could make 3 Strikes - I happened to roll a natural 20 for all 3, resulting in 2 crits and a regular hit, which put the PC to 0 HP but didn't outright kill him like almost anything scoring a crit at 1st level would have done in PF1. He got healed, got back into the fight, and the party won without anyone actually dying (or anyone getting knocked out after that).

And in conclusion: your party deserved to get wrecked for choosing to fight when they could have just fed the dogs instead. Fight smarter, not harder.


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martryn wrote:
I recognize that a new edition will be... well, new. But shouldn't there be some continuity in terms of relative danger of creatures?

Relative danger from creature to creature so a giant rat is less dangerous than a gelatinous cube which is less dangerous than a giant, sure. That kind of continuity keeps the story elements intact and allows a player with experience to recognize when something is bigger and badder.

Relative danger from "bad guys" to player characters? Not so much. Beyond keeping it so that you start with giant rats and goblins and the like and build upward towards giants and dragons and such, trying to keep the danger level the same between editions so that X PCs vs. Y giant rats feels the same is a hefty pair of shackles for the design team - there's not enough room to actually do anything new or interesting with the combat system if you can't change basic assumptions like how combat is going to flow.


As someone said before, that encounter with 3 goblin dogs could be averted, for instance in mine campaign they entered with caution, so the dogs were indiferent to them, so no chance of a fight there unless the pcs wanted to.

And since one of my players (a goblin) fed the dogs, they were very friendly with him!

In the case of your pcs yes, that fight would be what it was, a hard as nail fight!

But for instance in my campaign

Spoiler:
in the Kitchen the two spider swarms were downed with two criticals from the party! Not one bite!

From my point of view in this edition GMs that always play with getting one on the players style and trying to "beat" the players will tend to do some TPKS all around!

I will not say that is your case attention! It's just that the tactics that we did as GMs in PF1 are not so good in dealing with PF2.

For instance having a group of 4/5 enemies acting in the same initiative count and ganging in a pc with hit and run tactics is asking for a pc death.


thenobledrake wrote:

I think of combat as being less brutal in PF2 than in PF1. I will say that combat is more challenging though, which might be what is being meant by the word "brutal."

To me, "brutal" is the word I'd use to describe incidents from my PF1 experience such as PCs marooned on an island with very little gear scavenged together encountering a barbarian/ranger specialized in killing humans and wielding a likely to crit weapon, or a scythe-wielding golem that's just intelligent enough to qualify for feats and spent them on a crit build - both cases exemplifying that in PF1 a single attack from a level-appropriate foe could easily kill a character outright (which is what happened in both those situations, with full HP even).

True story. I know of what you refer, and, at least with that scythe-wielding golem, had a similar outcome. I house-ruled crit rules and hero points, allowing players to turn enemy crits into regular hits by expending a hero point, which largely prevented the 1-shot kills. Shouldn't have had to do that, though.

thenobledrake wrote:


The very first thing that happened when running PF2 was that one of my players moved their character next to an enemy, raised their shield, and attacked. This seemed like 100% the best plan possible to the player because if it were 5th edition D&D moving up and attacking would have been exactly the right thing for their character in this kind of situation. But then the monster went and could make 3 Strikes - I happened to roll a natural 20 for all 3, resulting in 2 crits and a regular hit, which put the PC to 0 HP but didn't outright kill him like almost anything scoring a crit at 1st level would have done in PF1. He got healed, got back into the fight, and the party won without anyone actually dying (or anyone getting knocked out after that).

And in conclusion: your party deserved to get wrecked for choosing to fight when they could have just fed the dogs instead. Fight smarter, not harder.

I guess that's the point, though. The seemingly tactical thing to do would be to raise your shield and attack. That's what the character would have done. And my group includes a fighter that is headstrong, can't read, has no social grace, and just wants to prove herself as strong and independent. See a goblin dog, kill a goblin dog. Especially if they're growling at you because you boldly strutted in through the open front door.

If combat becomes too tactically based (I'm not moving up because then I can't attack 3 times but they can; I am going to move to the edge of their movement to force them to stride twice to reach me; etc) it starts to play more like a board game and less like an RPG. I own Gloomhaven. We've played Imperial Assault extensively. The group enjoyed 4th edition DnD for what it was - a series of tactical combat encounters with some light role-play elements layered on top. That has never been what Pathfinder was about. We play Pathfinder for the role-play and gritty realism.

It's a bit rude to say that about my players. A few encounters later the goblin PC talked his way out of combat with a warg. They're not always running into danger guns a-blazing. And you also can't avoid every combat as 1st level characters.


Of course they would not avoid every combat as 1st level characters but they will lear, this are PF2 growing pains for players and pcs.
But the game is good, the dynamics are there and work!

My players loved that battle with that big lizard and the arsonist, yes, it was hard, but those are the stories they will tell later.

Oh, an also the cleric of Sarenrae trying a Ray of Fire on the lizard, throwing, a 1, using a hero point for reroll (my players got fast on the use them because they will not last), and presto, a 20!!!!

High fives all around!


Quote:
trying to keep the danger level the same between editions so that X PCs vs. Y giant rats feels the same is a hefty pair of shackles for the design team

But it's a pretty big jump to go from a typical 1st level fighter not being challenged by a goblin dog to a typical 1st level fighter being significantly challenged by a goblin dog. A group used to playing Pathfinder moving into Pathfinder 2ed should still be able continue gaming as they always have, just with a new set of rules attached. Our mentality has been that the rules have changed, but the game is the same. If game play is going to change significantly enough, why continue playing? That's why my group switched away from 4th edition DnD after player 3.5, 3.0, and 2ed AD&D. The game changed radically enough that it wasn't the same experience.

Now, I don't think that's the case here. My posting on the forums again after years and years of absence is due to the utter shock of our first real combat encounter. We prepped for the game for weeks, reading the new rulebook, but it never clicked with anyone just how brutal making 3 strikes in a round could be against the PCs, or just how inflated the monster stats have become. But our second session in the system included 3 combat encounters and not a single point of damage against the party. I'm just concerned about future problems with combat if my group is going to move into encounters with misconceptions of how dangerous a foe is.


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martryn wrote:
I guess that's the point, though. The seemingly tactical thing to do would be to raise your shield and attack.

Years and years of the system not having a consequence for it has resulted in this belief. But now with the 3 action system, it's actually best to make your enemy use actions to get into position whenever possible.

In this case, since the wolf the player was fighting didn't have a ranged attack to use, it would have been a wiser choice to have started with a ranged weapon at the ready instead of a melee weapon, positioned to be the most enticing target (to protect the rest of party, which was the player's intent behind getting into melee) and attack from range. Then it would have only been 2 strikes received by the character instead of 3, and he'd have remained conscious (assuming the critical hits and damage rolls otherwise remained the same).

When I explained this to the player of that character after the session while we were just chatting about the game and I was mentioning that because of the change of mechanics a change of approach is in order, the player was struck by how vastly different that was from what his long experience with table-top RPGs has taught him.

martyrn wrote:
If combat becomes too tactically based (I'm not moving up because then I can't attack 3 times but they can; I am going to move to the edge of their movement to force them to stride twice to reach me; etc) it starts to play more like a board game and less like an RPG

This entire sentiment is bankrupt. Might as well have said "plays like a video game." Even if you are right and the game play does share traits with another type of game, role-playing isn't inherently excluded by that nor is it even necessarily diminished because there are in-character role-based (and I mean the role of the character as a character in a story, not role as a member of a party such as "the tank") reasons for the behaviors being represented by the actions taken.

martyrn wrote:
It's a bit rude to say that about my players. A few encounters later the goblin PC talked his way out of combat with a warg. They're not always running into danger guns a-blazing. And you also can't avoid every combat as 1st level characters.

It isn't rude to observe that someone's actions were the clear cause of the way things proceeded. Especially not since they clearly realize they aren't required to try and fight everything they encounter. And while you can't avoid every combat as any level of character, you can at least try because you absolutely can't avoid a combat that you deliberately started.


The real change is that the difference between AC attack values at low levels is much tighter and more controlled, making it impossible to have an unassailable tank on the front line, combined with low level enemies rolling more attack dice. Characters are going to get hit and get hit a lot if they don't move or engage in action negation strategies. Especially at low levels, you just cant count on facing a "full attack" from a creature within a level or two of you without taking at least one and potentially more hits.

Personally I love it! combat is so much more dynamic when you have to think " how can I reduce the number of attacks i will take?" each round, but it also means you need to be on top of your out of combat and in combat healing, and don't horde those hero points.

Basically it just takes time to realize it is a very different game, and how to survive it. Also NEARLY TPKing, but surviving seems like a fun place to be for challenging encounters.


To me was easy.

A fighter can easily get 1 down with power attack.

+9 hit and 2d12+4 dmg.

Or if with a shield,

+9 hit and 2d8/10 +4 dmg.

And a shield block reaction.

Rogue/ranger/ monk can do the same

Barbarian has way more hp and temp hp.
A champion has his reaction, and shield block too.

However, at low lvls you simply need to share bucks to enhance your fighter greatsword asap.

You will be likely able to get a +1 Striking greatsword by lvl 2 or 3.


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martryn wrote:
But it's a pretty big jump to go from a typical 1st level fighter not being challenged by a goblin dog to a typical 1st level fighter being significantly challenged by a goblin dog.

Assume if you will that a goblin dog gets better initiative than the 1st level fighter, and that this fighter is a human with a 16 constitution.

In PF1 that goblin dog scoring a single critical hit can score as much as 18 damage, knocking the fighter out of the fight because the fighter only has 13 HP.

In PF2 that goblin dog scoring a single critical hit can still score as much as 18 damage, but the fighter's got 21 HP so he's still conscious.

Yes, this is a bit outlandish of an example - but it illustrates the point: the idea that a PF1 1st level fighter didn't view a CR 1 goblin dog as a challenge is skewed by how swingy the old rules constantly were. In both cases the goblin dog is rated by the game as a threat for a level 1 party of 4.

martryn wrote:
If game play is going to change significantly enough, why continue playing?

If game play isn't going to change significantly, why change to a new edition?


The game seems pretty brutal at 1st level. We had the party monk get dropped from full by a critical hit before they even got a turn to act. The sorcerer also got dropped the second round when a pair of archers decided she was a threat. At low levels any combat seems to be a serious threat.


Is nobody going to mention Heal?
It heals an average of 12.5 h.p. at level 1 which is a huge turnaround in a combat. And the caster can still get in a Strike.

I love combat in PF2 because it can be more brutal re: hit points, but it gives a hefty cushion before actual death. So there can be short term consequences w/o ending a PC's story. I like that strategy, tactics, and teamwork matter more than system mastery, pre-buffing, and weapon purchases. A PC can't have a default tactic, much less a "my offense is my defense" attitude. You gotta think, and I really enjoy how that necessarily includes your allies nowadays.

As for the above situation, if they're new to the system, maybe a GM should walk them through their first tough combat or have a sample combat beforehand.
Likely the optimal action would have been either to use a ranged attack, likely throwing javelin, putting up shield, drawing melee weapon or putting up shield, readying action to attack when enemy draws adjacent. Even in PF1 moving into the enemy was a poor choice, albeit less penalized than in PF2 where nearly all enemies have a decent chance of hitting you.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Using PF1 tactics invites disaster in PF2.

Basing PF2 tactics on PF1 metagame is very easily suicidal.

There are no easy fight for beginning characters (aka lvl 1).

Unlearn all you have learned.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
thenobledrake wrote:
Years and years of the system not having a consequence for it has resulted in this belief. But now with the 3 action system, it's actually best to make your enemy use actions to get into position whenever possible.

That was true once your opponent got multiple attacks in the 3e/PF family of games already. If they had more than 1 attack, you wanted to keep them from taking a full attack action. Now, in a sense, the same tactic has moved down to level 1 as well.

thenobledrake wrote:
martyrn wrote:
If combat becomes too tactically based (I'm not moving up because then I can't attack 3 times but they can; I am going to move to the edge of their movement to force them to stride twice to reach me; etc) it starts to play more like a board game and less like an RPG

This entire sentiment is bankrupt. Might as well have said "plays like a video game." Even if you are right and the game play does share traits with another type of game, role-playing isn't inherently excluded by that nor is it even necessarily diminished because there are in-character role-based (and I mean the role of the character as a character in a story, not role as a member of a party such as "the tank") reasons for the behaviors being represented by the actions taken.

Not sure I entirely agree with that. It depends on how you like the interaction between the game mechanics and role-playing the PC. If you approach the game from the perspective of mechanics being the way you operationalize what the player wants the PC to do from an in-person point of view, then there's a lot of potential for the specifics of the mechanics to get in the way of smooth immersion. It may be a valid tactic to hold back and force your opponent to come to you, but spending the effort to make sure that has to be more than a single stride action may detract from play even if that's a stronger strategy on the game board.

This, by the way, isn't limited to RPGs. You see similar artifacts of the mechanics in board games too that don't make sense from a simulative point over view even if they are advantageous in play. (Example from Advanced Squad Leader - assault moving away from an enemy position during movement to break a line of sight and avoid defensive fire and then advancing back into the space during the advance phase - it totally exploits the segmented nature of defensive fire to deny targets, when a real squad would likely have been safer sitting in place)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:


Unlearn all you have learned.

Eh, if that's what I want out of an edition change, I'm not necessarily wedded to sticking to the same game line. There's a balancing point between continuity and change that new editions will sink or swim on.

I don't think PF2 has positioned itself the same way 4e D&D did by upending both rule and setting continuity (this is a good thing), but there are people for whom the amount of changes and their nature may be over their threshold of wanting to have to unlearn/relearn. Personally, I'm not entirely sure I want a deadlier or swingier PF, so I'm watching these kinds of discussions carefully.


ofMars wrote:
I think it's definitely more brutal for 1st level characters, as there's only creature -1 below them, rather than having cr 1/2 or cr 1/4 that can be easily handled in mobs. As you get to higher levels, though, I think there will be potential to mow down creatures that are 4 levels below the party. This has kind of made creating multiple opponent battles at 1st level more dangerous, I think, though the damage output at 1st level is pretty solid all around, too, with potential for dex-to-damage, harder hitting cantrips, and more HP to start with.

Not true.

0 and -1 exist in the same rough area that cr 1/2 and cr 1/4 existed in.

level 0 foes technically only count as a low difficulty encounter if you have two of them though, four level -1 foes are a moderate encounter though.


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Bill Dunn wrote:
Personally, I'm not entirely sure I want a deadlier or swingier PF, so I'm watching these kinds of discussions carefully.

Compared to PF1, PF2 is neither deadlier nor swingier - those are knee-jerk assumptions.

Specifically, people are seeing that an attack roll against a level-appropriate enemy doesn't have as high of a chance of success and are saying "swingier" - but the reality is that more attack rolls are required per combat, so things actually even out and the overall chance of defeating the encounter is more reliable than it was in PF1.

And the "deadlier" thing entirely false. An illusion created by a mix of bad luck and bad choices, and probably further skewed by some folks treating getting dropped to 0 HP but easily being healed and continuing to participate in the battle as "almost died"

Shadow Lodge

  • It's a bit easier to hit in this edition, as your proficiency bonus to AC is offset by their proficiency bonus to attack rolls (and vice versa) and actual armor provides less of a bonus.
  • It's a bit easier to Crit in this edition as there is no longer a confirmation roll required and bosses can generally hit the '10 higher than necessary for a success' criteria with a fair number of high rolls.
  • It's a bit easier to get multiple attacks at low level (stride once, strike twice).

This all combines into making life rather brutal for the person who opens the door into the next room, and it's not unusual for a PC to be dropped before they have a chance to act: My Rogue 4 has already spilled a great deal of his own blood

A Few Encounter Results:
  • Sneaking Giant Bat Stride + strike + strike before I had a chance to act (the other bat dropped the party barbarian with a crit the same round, though he at least got to swing first: We nearly lost the Barbarian to the bat's AoE reaction to being melee-ed)
  • Colorful Birds confusing the NPC behind me, leaving me surrounded by hostiles until they beat me into unconsciousness (at least I got to act once or twice that fight).
  • Spike Trap that crit me for 44 damage at level 3 (My rogue is pretty much optimized for trap finding and apparently still needed a 15+ on the d20 to find this one, and it only needed like a 4 to actually hit me).
  • One AoO from a boss reduced me from full to half health (luckily, he started attacking the rest of the party, probably because the GM felt he was picking on me too much).
    Swarmed by spiders before my initiative came up (I didn't go down that fight, but only barely).


Really interested in that Spike trap. It sounds to me like the GM used a higher level trap because simple traps are low XP value. I don't have the hazard creation rules available right now, but looking at AoN a level 3 trap is DC 20 to spot, probably has around a +10/12 to hit, and could plausibly do 44 damage on a crit but usually only with very high rolls. So it does seem likely to me that the trap was quite a big stronger than what you should be facing at that level, possibly due to the GM thinking that a simple trap should have XP value of a full encounter (to be fair, the CRB doesn't make it clear what an appropriate use of simple traps would be like. Would 5 simple traps actually be appropriate? Would one Pl + 3 trap be trivial like it's XP budget suggests? Is an encounter that can't kill more than one person, but is quite likely to kill one person, considered trivial still?).


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
martryn wrote:
I'm just concerned about future problems with combat if my group is going to move into encounters with misconceptions of how dangerous a foe is.

Don't forget Hero Points.

I think a lot of GMs are not handing them out and/or not reminding their Players to use them.

It makes an amazing amount of difference to the lethality of combat.


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CrystalSeas wrote:
martryn wrote:
I'm just concerned about future problems with combat if my group is going to move into encounters with misconceptions of how dangerous a foe is.

Don't forget Hero Points.

I think a lot of GMs are not handing them out and/or not reminding their Players to use them.

It makes an amazing amount of difference to the lethality of combat.

That is a great point.

My first couple sessions included me basically going "Oh yeah! That reminds me that you all should have gained a Hero Point after that last encounter." when a player failed a roll or got dropped to 0 hit points.

Remembering to hand out about 1 per hour of play like the book says is getting easier as I go though.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Bill Dunn wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:


Unlearn all you have learned.

Eh, if that's what I want out of an edition change, I'm not necessarily wedded to sticking to the same game line. There's a balancing point between continuity and change that new editions will sink or swim on.

I don't think PF2 has positioned itself the same way 4e D&D did by upending both rule and setting continuity (this is a good thing), but there are people for whom the amount of changes and their nature may be over their threshold of wanting to have to unlearn/relearn. Personally, I'm not entirely sure I want a deadlier or swingier PF, so I'm watching these kinds of discussions carefully.

I would say it is swingier on a round by round basis but not on a whole fight. Who has the upper hand on a given round might change but in the end those using the better tactics will prevail, unless the opponents are really above level.

I played my first PF2 games at a PFS event last weekend and it was amazing how much it felt like PF1 but more fluid. The atmosphere of the encounters was the same, but they were less one-sided and uneventful than PF1 ones. We had to use smart tactics and the outcome was usually not certain for most of any fight. Which is great as I felt both my PC-building skills and my choices during the fights were meaningful.

Shadow Lodge

BellyBeard wrote:
Really interested in that Spike trap. It sounds to me like the GM used a higher level trap because simple traps are low XP value. I don't have the hazard creation rules available right now, but looking at AoN a level 3 trap is DC 20 to spot, probably has around a +10/12 to hit, and could plausibly do 44 damage on a crit but usually only with very high rolls. So it does seem likely to me that the trap was quite a big stronger than what you should be facing at that level, possibly due to the GM thinking that a simple trap should have XP value of a full encounter (to be fair, the CRB doesn't make it clear what an appropriate use of simple traps would be like. Would 5 simple traps actually be appropriate? Would one Pl + 3 trap be trivial like it's XP budget suggests? Is an encounter that can't kill more than one person, but is quite likely to kill one person, considered trivial still?).

Apparently, the published adventure trap was:

Level 4
DC 26 to detect (so I needed a roll of 15 or higher with my +11 Perception vs Traps)
+17 attack bonus (so a roll of 14+ was a critical against my AC 21)
I don't know what the actual damage dice are.
Found in a completely non-combat part of the adventure, so there was nothing to prevent the rest of the party from keeping you alive (as long as you didn't try to stealthily search the building alone) which made it basically a waste of time.
I'm under the impression that a fair amount of Age Of Ashes was written before the actual rulebooks were finalized, so traps might have been toned down a bit...


Any system change is not going to work the same, is not going to have the same dynamic.
I seem to recall the introduction of P1E featuring people noting different power levels of classic monsters.
I see OP noting tactical things like move->shield->attack opening up to enemy triple attack...
which isn't really different VS 3.x/P1E full attack, but regardless, it seems like he's over-reacting or over-simplifying:
YES... considering meta-implications of actions is important, but that doesn't mean you should never move->shield->attack.
Although it actually opens scope for scenes like opposing sides facing off, growling and sneering at each other,
moving around for optimal positioning but not yet starting the battle, until the something finally triggers it.
I think the problems the OP has are temporary ones of expectations, and will dissipate with time.
I do think it is funny he ascribes these views to the "experienced" players, experienced in 3.x/P1E apparently,
but I would think anybody with broader RPG experience would be comfortable with wider variety of game mechanics,
such that P2E's particular system wouldn't be some outrage, even if they aren't particularly familiar with it yet.


martryn wrote:
We prepped for the game for weeks, reading the new rulebook, but it never clicked with anyone just how brutal making 3 strikes in a round could be against the PCs, or just how inflated the monster stats have become.

Just to cover all the bases be sure you're remembering all the penalties. I've yet to see many 3rd attacks actually hit and the 2nd for those dogs would only have been a +4 vs your fighters 18+? AC. One thing I over look a lot as well is to add in your level. While I realize that is only +1 at this point every bit helps.

I also think some of the creatures being more and less threatening was a design choice, so you couldn't always rely on your 1st ed player knowledge.

Not sure any of that help but I hope you guys start to have a better time of it. I may dive in with the next adventure path, your a circus troop and that sounds silly fun.

Keep us up to date if you continue to have issues or if you think thing even out as they level up.


thenobledrake wrote:
CrystalSeas wrote:
martryn wrote:
I'm just concerned about future problems with combat if my group is going to move into encounters with misconceptions of how dangerous a foe is.

Don't forget Hero Points.

I think a lot of GMs are not handing them out and/or not reminding their Players to use them.

It makes an amazing amount of difference to the lethality of combat.

That is a great point.

My first couple sessions included me basically going "Oh yeah! That reminds me that you all should have gained a Hero Point after that last encounter." when a player failed a roll or got dropped to 0 hit points.

Remembering to hand out about 1 per hour of play like the book says is getting easier as I go though.

Also remember that one per hour for one player, not one per hour for every one of the party.

Paizo Employee

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Something I've said a few times about the differences between PF1 and PF2 is that in PF1, the majority of system mastery happened during character creation, while in PF2, the majority of system mastery happens during an encounter.

There's a certain amount of anecdote and perhaps even hyperbole here, but a lot of what was going to happen in a combat during PF1 was kind of laid out based on your build choices and the circumstances of the encounter: how high is everyone's AC, how are the party's saves, what buffs are running, what type of spells did the casters prepare, and what kind of enemy are we facing? After you rolled initiative it was kind of like letting your program play out: do the circumstances call for X spell or Y, does the fighter charge and attack to keep the enemy away, or does he let the enemy come to him? The circumstances dictate the variables and then if you chose the right things, you'd win. There is, of course, always room for creative tactics and problem solving, but to an extent a lot of the resolution came down to choices you made before the encounter.

In PF2, there's less variance in overall character power based on their build choices; there's still system mastery that comes into play for character building, but it's not going to have the same massive impact that it had in PF1 where stitching together the right combinations of options from various splat books can escalate your combat stats (to-hit, AC, spell DC, etc.) to be equivalent of what the game expects a character 3 levels higher than you to have. Instead, a lot of the system mastery comes into play during the choices you make in an encounter: Do you move or raise your shield? Do you attempt a combat maneuver or a Strike? Do you use an ability that makes the opponent flat-footed or one that makes them slow? Because the system mastery is more focused on the decisions you make on the field than the ones you made in between sessions, combat is going to feel a lot more intense, especially if you're used to PF1. As you get used to playing in the new paradigm and the players all relearn how to work together within the new dynamics, you'll see some of that difficulty curve start to drop off.

It's kind of like the difference between a battle in Pokemon (PF1) and a competitive fighter game like Street Fighter (PF2). They're both great games and they both actually have a lot of overlapping elements, but the pivot point that determines victory or success is located along a different vector. In Pokemon, the choices you make during a fight matter, but not as much as which Pokemon you chose for your team. In Street Fighter the match up between the fighter you picked and the opponent matters, but it'll be the moves you execute and the decisions you make during the fight that ultimately decide things.

Sovereign Court

thenobledrake wrote:

I think of combat as being less brutal in PF2 than in PF1. I will say that combat is more challenging though, which might be what is being meant by the word "brutal."

To me, "brutal" is the word I'd use to describe incidents from my PF1 experience such as PCs marooned on an island with very little gear scavenged together encountering a barbarian/ranger specialized in killing humans and wielding a likely to crit weapon, or a scythe-wielding golem that's just intelligent enough to qualify for feats and spent them on a crit build - both cases exemplifying that in PF1 a single attack from a level-appropriate foe could easily kill a character outright (which is what happened in both those situations, with full HP even).

In PF2 the monsters have decent odds of knocking a character out, and they might die, but there's more than one attack involved in getting there and numerous opportunities to prevent that death and even win the encounter - but there's a challenge to it because no build gets to do the "brutal" thing of winning the fight in one roll.

The very first thing that happened when running PF2 was that one of my players moved their character next to an enemy, raised their shield, and attacked. This seemed like 100% the best plan possible to the player because if it were 5th edition D&D moving up and attacking would have been exactly the right thing for their character in this kind of situation. But then the monster went and could make 3 Strikes - I happened to roll a natural 20 for all 3, resulting in 2 crits and a regular hit, which put the PC to 0 HP but didn't outright kill him like almost anything scoring a crit at 1st level would have done in PF1. He got healed, got back into the fight, and the party won without anyone actually dying (or anyone getting knocked out after that).

And in conclusion: your party deserved to get wrecked for choosing to fight when they could have just fed the dogs instead. Fight smarter, not harder.

The chance of three natural 20s in a row is 1 in 8000. That doesn't make sense as a point to judge "how this system works normally" on.

Also in PF1, if you'd had that kind of rolls on say, some CR 1/3 orcs, with greataxes (which are a racial favorite weapon) with X3 criticals, that could have been just as deadly.

Also, you might want to take a look at your dice.. I have some fairly big d20s myself that I like to use because they're easy to see for everyone, but I've also noticed that if you roll them with a certain hand gesture, it can be really easy to roll the same result multiple times in a row. Bigger dice need a bit more effort to properly roll and be random.


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Pathfinder 2nd Edition:
Where every melee PC is a coward unwilling to be the first to engage an enemy.
Where no man can stand alone against foes.

I'm remembering why I stopped trying to post on the Paizo forums. Concerned about something in game? It's your fault for being bad at the game. It's your players' fault for being too stupid to use optimized tactics. Your fighter charged an enemy? He deserves to die for not first firing arrows from a distance and allowing the enemy to close to him so he could better take advantage of the action economy in the game.

It seems to me that the combats have become TOO tactical. I have an experienced player who built a headstrong fighter that likes to be in the thick of it. He had a great backstory of being an orphan of war that despises the organized military, raised in war camps, growing up in the wild, uncultured, uneducated, full of ambition, bitterness, and spunk. The first real combat of the campaign the character boldly swings open the front doors to an abandoned castle and strolls in like she owns the place, only to be confronted with three mangy looking goblin dogs. The dogs look up and growl at her. She growls back. They step forward, not backing down. She charges.

In 1st edition, this is a silly scenario, and she'll likely end up taking a few blows and maybe even getting mange. This is what the player was expecting. The chances that three goblin dogs could down her in a few rounds would have been slim. +2 attack would hit 25% of the time. She might take a single hit the first round, but she also probably would have dropped a dog on a charge with a 2-handed weapon and an 18 Str. In 1st edition, had she charged and killed one dog, as a competent DM, I probably would have had the other two scatter and run, preferring to live to fight another day.

In 2nd edition, she charges, hits, and does not drop a goblin dog. Now she is subjected to 7 attacks instead of 3. The first attack from each dog hits with greater than 50% accuracy, and crits with greater than 10% frequency. It deals approximately 6-7 points of damage as well as potentially causing sickened. The second attacks hit with greater frequency than the first ones did in 1st edition. And at least one of the dogs gets a chance to get a 3rd hit in. If this 1st level human fighter had average HPs, they're probably dropped in 3 hits. And chances are, that is exactly what will happen.

It should be overwhelmingly obvious what my issue is. If I were running a long-term campaign and converted from one system to another, the characters themselves would fundamentally have to change. Not their stats. Not the way magic items work. Not the mechanics. But the essence of who those characters were. You now have to adjust your role-playing (which happens ALL the time in a role-playing game, not just outside of combat and exploration, but including combat role-play and in-character choices during exploration) just to be viable in the new campaign world. My group does not want to play a game where our characters are animated, colorful personalities when interacting with NPCs, but become minis pushed around on grid paper when we start a dungeon crawl.


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A goblin dog is a level 1 monster: it's more on less as strong as a level 1 character. What your character did was the same as charging into a room against three other fighters. Should he expect to win a 1 vs 3 fight because he is headstrong?

What happened with this edition is just that CR (level) more sincerely tells you what an enemy is capable to do.

Sovereign Court

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@martryn: Please don't get offended. There's a difference between "your player made a mistake" and "your player is bad/stupid/evil".

Expecting that everything in the game will be more or less the same when the game itself changed a lot, is a mistake. Says nothing about the person making the mistake.

martryn wrote:
It should be overwhelmingly obvious what my issue is. If I were running a long-term campaign and converted from one system to another, the characters themselves would fundamentally have to change. Not their stats. Not the way magic items work. Not the mechanics. But the essence of who those characters were. You now have to adjust your role-playing (which happens ALL the time in a role-playing game, not just outside of combat and exploration, but including combat role-play and in-character choices during exploration) just to be viable in the new campaign world.

This is a good point. Tactics that worked in PF1 don't all work in PF2, and the relative threat of some monsters has shifted. On the other hand, some things that were really hard in PF1 (ranged combat if you didn't have Precise Shot) are now a lot easier.

So for an ongoing campaign, that's a problem. You'll have to talk with your players and decide what matters more to you: using a new rule system that you may like, or not having to change your characters.

Although I think change to characters is something that happens in pure PF1 too, because tactics that worked at level 1 don't work at level 5, and at level 10 you need new tactics to deal with new problems. Part of playing a character I think is also adapting; as your character gets higher level and starts running into problems that their old way of doing is not suitable for, the character has to adapt. But an edition change is more abrupt than doing it as you level up.

martryn wrote:
My group does not want to play a game where our characters are animated, colorful personalities when interacting with NPCs, but become minis pushed around on grid paper when we start a dungeon crawl.

I don't really agree with this though, PF1 was just as griddy as PF2, and it also had lethal surprises.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
The chance of three natural 20s in a row is 1 in 8000. That doesn't make sense as a point to judge "how this system works normally" on.

Which is why I didn't. My point with bringing up that I did roll 3 20s in a row is that the character survived despite the outlandishly good rolling so the game is normally not all that lethal.

Ascalaphus wrote:
Also in PF1, if you'd had that kind of rolls on say, some CR 1/3 orcs, with greataxes (which are a racial favorite weapon) with X3 criticals, that could have been just as deadly.

Which is why I shared the anecdotes I did about PF1 and characters being killed from full hit points by a critical hit, one at 1st level and one at higher level though I don't recall what level (I know it was in the Magnimar portion of the Rise of the Runelords adventure path, specifically in the first floor of the tower under the bridge... but I can't even remember which book that was, let alone the level of the character at the time).

Ascalaphus wrote:
Also, you might want to take a look at your dice.. I have some fairly big d20s myself that I like to use because they're easy to see for everyone, but I've also noticed that if you roll them with a certain hand gesture, it can be really easy to roll the same result multiple times in a row. Bigger dice need a bit more effort to properly roll and be random.

Because of my players feeling like I am always rolling exceptionally well, I've changed dice numerous times, and recently even took the time to test all of the dice I own (7 or 8 pounds of them) for clear bias by floating them in saline, and I only use dice that did float and weren't clearly biased.

I also cup my hands together and shake the dice, rather than rolling them around on my palm, to reduce any accidentally learned trick-rolling that could be going on.

I just roll well because I'm lucky. Even works on digital dice.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

The particular example here with goblin dogs is illustrative at how underpowered some CR1 enemies were in PF1E. If your 1st level fighter can defeat one in a single minimum damage roll non-crit hit, but it takes the goblin dog two or three average roll non-crit hits (with a far lower chance of success) to do the same to you... is that enemy REALLY a CR1 encounter? (It's not. Its completely and totally not. With three goblin dogs against one 1st level two-handing fighter, I'd still be betting on the fighter to win.)

This has nothing to do with characters needing to fundamentally change because the game system's rules are different, but it has everything to do with this particular enemy being more threatening than it used to be.
----

To point you at an example of where balance has flipped the other way, take a look at ghouls between PF1E and 2E (Also a CR1 / Level 1 enemy). In PF1E, charging a ghoul as a 1st level character was very dicey. If you hit, you had a good chance of taking it down. But if you missed, you would eat three attacks, each of which has a solid chance of paralyzing you for the rest of a short and brutal combat.

In PF2E, charging a ghoul as a 1st level character is a pretty even fight. None of its attacks hit for more than a third of your HP, and it takes iterative penalties with them rather than getting them all at full bonus. Its paralysis can be broken out of each round. It would struggle mightily to defeat a PC fighter in a single round.


martryn wrote:

Pathfinder 2nd Edition:

Where every melee PC is a coward unwilling to be the first to engage an enemy.

I want to pull out this quote, because it gets to something I've been wondering about. In PF2, why would you ever be the first to engage? Why would a fighter ever NOT just stand there, raise a shield, and ready an action to strike when the enemy approaches?

In other words, why don't PF2 melees turn into two groups staring at each other across a room?

Doug M.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
martryn wrote:

Pathfinder 2nd Edition:

Where every melee PC is a coward unwilling to be the first to engage an enemy.

I want to pull out this quote, because it gets to something I've been wondering about. In PF2, why would you ever be the first to engage? Why would a fighter ever NOT just stand there, raise a shield, and ready an action to strike when the enemy approaches?

In other words, why don't PF2 melees turn into two groups staring at each other across a room?

Doug M.

Even with two melee characters who aren't prebuffing or anything, in general being first to act means you're more likely to win. Taking your turn first and moving is more valuable than the small chance of extra damage a third attack normally offers, because the one who goes first is more likely to drop the enemy to 0 first. That said, preparing for an attack with raise shield and ready attack is strong, and it should be. The fighter just gave up their whole turn and the enemy has no obligation to attack them directly to provide value to those actions.

When you also consider ranged attacks, enemies buffing or otherwise setting up because you aren't attacking, enemies getting to pick which of your allies are going to engage in melee because you aren't. There's a lot of reasons for the fighter to charge first.

I'm interested, in the three goblin dogs example, what the rest of the party was doing while the fighter was getting overwhelmed. Maybe it was just unlucky initiative positioning for the fighter to go first, then all the dogs, then the party?


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
martryn wrote:

Pathfinder 2nd Edition:

Where every melee PC is a coward unwilling to be the first to engage an enemy.

I want to pull out this quote, because it gets to something I've been wondering about. In PF2, why would you ever be the first to engage? Why would a fighter ever NOT just stand there, raise a shield, and ready an action to strike when the enemy approaches?

In other words, why don't PF2 melees turn into two groups staring at each other across a room?

Doug M.

A few things are factors. In no particular order:

If you just stand where you are, there's no reason to expect that the enemy will choose you as a target rather than one of your part members - especially since you've got your shield up and look ready to take a swipe at anything that gets close.

You've also spent all 3 of your actions and will have to use your reaction, which isn't necessarily the best choice when you could have moved into position, raised your shield, and made an attack with a thrown weapon - which might goad your enemy into retaliating against you, rather than choosing to ignore you in favor of another party member.

Because that's boring... and also because you can't guarantee that the other side of the encounter is going to match your stand-and-wait tactic. What if they have ranged attacks (like you totally should)? Now you're just standing back with your shield up and actions spent for no gain.

Plus, monsters have personalities. Maybe some of them will hang back trying to force the party to be the first to engage - maybe they'll even be built for it and have a front-line of tower shield-wielders taking cover with their rear rank firing ranged weapons at the party - but some will also be incautious or downright wild and charge headlong into the party thirsty for blood.

Don't let that other bit of hyperbole sway you: it's not about being a "coward" - it's about realizing that it is a choice to dive into combat head-first or to take a more measured approach, and like any choice it comes with its own set of consequences.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Cellion wrote:

This has nothing to do with characters needing to fundamentally change because the game system's rules are different, but it has everything to do with this particular enemy being more threatening than it used to be.

----

To point you at an example of where balance has flipped the other way, take a look at ghouls between PF1E and 2E (Also a CR1 / Level 1 enemy). In PF1E, charging a ghoul as a 1st level character was very dicey. If you hit, you had a good chance of taking it down. But if you missed, you would eat three attacks, each of which has a solid chance of paralyzing you for the rest of a short and brutal combat.

In PF2E, charging a ghoul as a 1st level character is a pretty even fight. None of its attacks hit for more than a third of your HP, and it takes iterative penalties with them rather than getting them all at full bonus. Its paralysis can be broken out of each round. It would struggle mightily to defeat a PC fighter in a single round.

I don't think I can agree with your analysis very much. It does come down to changes in the rules, at least as embodied by relatively low-level opponents. In the case of the goblin dogs, each one now subjects a PC to 2 attacks that are no less likely to hit than PF1's version of the same creature (considering the 1st level PC's AC is probably only a couple of points higher than in PF1). And even in the case of the ghoul, while the PF1 version had 3 attacks that didn't decrease in their modifier, the PF2 is now much more likely to get at least one in, and the second attack is still as strong as the PF1's equivalent.


BellyBeard wrote:
Maybe it was just unlucky initiative positioning for the fighter to go first, then all the dogs, then the party?

I'd almost be willing to put money on the 3 dogs sharing an initiative roll, since that was common practice in PF1 and the portion of PF2 that suggests not to do it is really weirdly phrased for conveying the message because it starts with "If these include a number of identical creatures, the GM could roll once for the group as a whole and have them take their turns within the group in any order."


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martryn wrote:

Pathfinder 2nd Edition:

Where every melee PC is a coward unwilling to be the first to engage an enemy.

That was first edition. Where charging was so much bad than full attacking. In second edition, you have far more chances of success when charging.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Other reasons for not just standing looking at each other? In actual play both sides have objectives.

Player: I raise my shield and ready a strike.

GM The farmers beg you to do something while the ghoul slays another head of their cattle.


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SuperBidi wrote:
martryn wrote:

Pathfinder 2nd Edition:

Where every melee PC is a coward unwilling to be the first to engage an enemy.
That was first edition. Where charging was so much bad than full attacking. In second edition, you have far more chances of success when charging.

Quoted! Moving close to the enemy in first edition exposed you to devastating full attacks if you could not drop it with a single attack.

We were playing a campaign with strong characters (special races + gestalt), and one of them was rather tanky. He decided to charge a boss, not picking up the hint that it had readied an action to strike.
So, the readied action was a hit, and the following AoO (the foe had more reach) was a critical. Result: tank went from full HP to dead without attacking once, and without even needing to eat the boss' full attack that would have happened on the following round.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
martryn wrote:

Pathfinder 2nd Edition:

Where every melee PC is a coward unwilling to be the first to engage an enemy.

I want to pull out this quote, because it gets to something I've been wondering about. In PF2, why would you ever be the first to engage? Why would a fighter ever NOT just stand there, raise a shield, and ready an action to strike when the enemy approaches?

In other words, why don't PF2 melees turn into two groups staring at each other across a room?

Doug M.

What about PF1 where at higher levels moving costs you the awesome full attack of death?

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