Power Levels, World Order, and Verismilitude


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


Howdy All,

I want to come home. So badly. As balanced as 5e is the lack of options/complexity is absolutely killing me. However... here is my road block that I want the forums help with:

With the power level of P2e characters... how do I justify a world where mundane nobles/kings/aristocracies run the world/government and not level 20 warlords/wizards?


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Some do.

Ramzmiran , Cheliax and New Thassilon are examples

In 1E Irrisen was as well

As to why they aren’t all run by these kinds of people - that is a question for James Jacobs I imagine. He has an @Ask James Jacobs” thread somewhere


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With the power level of PCs from literally any D&D-like game... how do you justify a world where mundane nobles/kings/aristocracies run the world/government and not level 20 warlords/wizards?

This question, and the answer to it, have remained almost entirely unchanged for the entirety of the existence of table-top RPGs - and even in the stories that inspired the games to begin with.

You just do. It's all made up anyways, so whatever reason you create for that to be the case just works because their is no natural order that the answer has to overcome.

Or, alternatively, you make all the rulership-level characters in the setting big and bad too.


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thenobledrake wrote:

With the power level of PCs from literally any D&D-like game... how do you justify a world where mundane nobles/kings/aristocracies run the world/government and not level 20 warlords/wizards?

This question, and the answer to it, have remained almost entirely unchanged for the entirety of the existence of table-top RPGs - and even in the stories that inspired the games to begin with.

You just do. It's all made up anyways, so whatever reason you create for that to be the case just works because their is no natural order that the answer has to overcome.

Or, alternatively, you make all the rulership-level characters in the setting big and bad too.

Well, when looking at 5e as a comparison, a 20th level fighter while very capable would still lose to an army of goblins because of bounded accuracy. I just wish Pe2 hadn't continued the tradition of huge bonuses.


The vast majority of NPC's are all under level 5.

The Inner Sea World Guide (PF1) has a paragraph that says like 50% of all people are level 1-2 commoners. Getting to level 5 makes you a well known figure in your area. If you can make it to 6-10 you're likely a military commander or wizard school master. Getting to 11-15 makes you a legend and 16-20 folks are exceedingly rare.


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OmegaZ wrote:

The vast majority of NPC's are all under level 5.

The Inner Sea World Guide (PF1) has a paragraph that says like 50% of all people are level 1-2 commoners. Getting to level 5 makes you a well known figure in your area. If you can make it to 6-10 you're likely a military commander or wizard school master. Getting to 11-15 makes you a legend and 16-20 folks are exceedingly rare.

So, I would extrapolate your answer to be: "The reason is that there are actually virtually no individuals that powerful"?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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We try to have a wide range of rulers in the setting, but also try to avoid situations where a player might say, "If the king of the nation is a 20th level wizard, why do I, as a 1st level wizard, need to bother saving the kingdom? Can't the NPC do it themselves?"

By not having super high level NPCs being super common, the hope is to have opportunities for the PCs themselves to make a difference.

THAT SAID: A key part of the campaign setting is that it's got variety. In some regions, the rulers are lower level, but in others they're quite powerful. Folks have mentioned Razmiran, Cheliax, and New Thassilon as examples. Absalom, Numeria, Geb, Nex, Jalmeray, the Linnorm Kingdoms, Thuvia, Mediogalti, the Shackles...

In fact, the more I think on it... most of the nations DO tend to have higher level characters running things. I'm actually kinda curious now as to what folks might regard as "low level NPCs running nations...". The one that comes to mind at once is Taldor, but that whole setup was in part intentional so we could eventually do an Adventure Path about the leadership therein...


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Filthy Lucre wrote:

Howdy All,

I want to come home. So badly. As balanced as 5e is the lack of options/complexity is absolutely killing me. However... here is my road block that I want the forums help with:

With the power level of P2e characters... how do I justify a world where mundane nobles/kings/aristocracies run the world/government and not level 20 warlords/wizards?

generally high level threats are taken out by 'adventurers' as well. if a lvl 10 pc that could kill most of the town is breaking the law, he gets a bounty on his head and is going to be hunted down by high level bounty hunters, who likely know his capabilities and will bring equipment and men that can help counter him.(mind you there aren't a ton of people who could take this bounty, but someone has filled in this societal niche)

ALSO, it's likely that most "low level" kings and nobles are from a relatively new kingdom. In lost omens, i believe that most Normal noble areas are constantly churning through war who will be king, while all the really old and long standing ones are ruled by dragons, outsiders, wizards, and the like.

high level creatures exist, magic items and rituals would exist to protect large scale societies, such as barriers you can deploy over towns to defend against dragons, etc. most of these options aren't available to PCs because it's stuff they'd really never want to use and likely have expensive material components.

IF a level 20 PC is going to try to take out a town, the town should recognize it as the potential natural disaster it is and mobilize almost everything it has to stop him.

Also, if the government is a Republic or the like, well, that solves your problem, people don't vote for creatures with alien powers and likely don't understand their lowly quables.

Sczarni

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

The king often doesn't have time to level up, thats what he has mercenaries nad those under his command for.


Bandw2 wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:

Howdy All,

I want to come home. So badly. As balanced as 5e is the lack of options/complexity is absolutely killing me. However... here is my road block that I want the forums help with:

With the power level of P2e characters... how do I justify a world where mundane nobles/kings/aristocracies run the world/government and not level 20 warlords/wizards?

generally high level threats are taken out by 'adventurers' as well. if a lvl 10 pc that could kill most of the town is breaking the law, he gets a bounty on his head and is going to be hunted down by high level bounty hunters, who likely know his capabilities and will bring equipment and men that can help counter him.

ALSO, it's likely that most "low level" kings and nobles are from a relatively new kingdom. In lost omens, i believe that most Normal noble areas are constantly churning through war who will be king, while all the really old and long standing ones are ruled by dragons, outsiders, wizards, and the like.

high level creatures exist, magic items and rituals would exist to protect large scale societies, such as barriers you can deploy over towns to defend against dragons, etc. most of these options aren't available to PCs because it's stuff they'd really never want to use and likely have expensive material components.

IF a level 20 PC is going to try to take out a town, the town should recognize it as the potential natural disaster it is and mobilize almost everything it has to stop him.

Also, if the government is a Republic or the like, well, that solves your problem, people don't vote for creatures with alien powers and likely don't understand their lowly quables.

Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.

In that case, the game ABSOLUTELY supports that sort of setting. My take is that if you want to have a situation like that, then the 1st level queen might be a pushover, but she's still the queen, and the fact that she was born into a situation that comes with a national superstructure, including powerful defenses, higher level loyal bodyguards, and traditions of royal support will help. If you want to tell a story where someone wants to challenge the 1st level queen's rule (be they a PC or an NPC), then that's as simple as adjusting the power level of her guards and defenses and resources as needed.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.

I'd say that probably most nobles get to at least level 3 just from having training, both martial and colledge.

sure they don't go out and slay things for experience, but I wouldn't apply game rules to determine the general level people are.

most good rulers(alexander the great, etc) would get to probably like level 7 just from helping their country deal with problems, even if they never slain anything themselves.

i guess my point is, that most leaders or people of import or speciality don't tend to be level 1 imo. and that doesn't mean they went out adventuring either.

essentially, mechanically, they live in a world where there's a flying lizard that can create a massive firestorm over a city. cities wouldn't exist unless they had some way of stopping that. so therefore something must exist to protect them, what that is is entirely up to the GM in a case by case basis.

if your society has 1st level nobles and leaders, then something is making sure they don't get killed all the time. whether it be something as simple as money for magic items or the culture being taken very highly "god save the queen" and all that.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Filthy Lucre wrote:

Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.

Ah, so your asking about building... most of the Kings will have leveled prior to inheriting. they will have had private tutors in politics and Magic, or swordsmanship. They may have gone on campaign with their father's forces. but as I mention above, once they become king, there is lots of politicking and decisions. Not much time for leaving the castle for months on end to dual a dragon. what level could someone with a 5 person optimized group of personal bodyguards get by age 18 when they inherit? Maybe they gain some storyline feats to make diplomacy or intimidate checks higher but thats about it.

That 1st level person might make a great puppet ruler, with low saves check those around him.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Also, the queen's investiture with the nation's rulership might grant her some additional benefits, causing her to have much strong Will or Perception, say, than you might expect for her level.

Another thing you can do is use the variant rules from the Gamemastery Guide when that book comes out, which we've previewed will include a variant for adjusting the scaling to remove level from the equation.


James Jacobs wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.
In that case, the game ABSOLUTELY supports that sort of setting. My take is that if you want to have a situation like that, then the 1st level queen might be a pushover, but she's still the queen, and the fact that she was born into a situation that comes with a national superstructure, including powerful defenses, higher level loyal bodyguards, and traditions of royal support will help. If you want to tell a story where someone wants to challenge the 1st level queen's rule (be they a PC or an NPC), then that's as simple as adjusting the power level of her guards and defenses and resources as needed.

Ok James, you're selling me, but while I've got your ear I have one last question. I read somewhere that P2e has been designed such that threats remain threats for longer/have a longer "threat life span" as PCs level up. Is this the case/was this a design point?


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Filthy Lucre wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.
In that case, the game ABSOLUTELY supports that sort of setting. My take is that if you want to have a situation like that, then the 1st level queen might be a pushover, but she's still the queen, and the fact that she was born into a situation that comes with a national superstructure, including powerful defenses, higher level loyal bodyguards, and traditions of royal support will help. If you want to tell a story where someone wants to challenge the 1st level queen's rule (be they a PC or an NPC), then that's as simple as adjusting the power level of her guards and defenses and resources as needed.
Ok James, you're selling me, but while I've got your ear I have one last question. I read somewhere that P2e has been designed such that threats remain threats for longer/have a longer "threat life span" as PCs level up. Is this the case/was this a design point?

I'll give you Paizo cats some credit - you're much more responsive to dealing directly with consumers than WotC is. Jeremy Crawford isn't popping into the forums to answer questions. Kudos.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber

Threat range is written in the XP encounter tables, +/-4 levels. That means a yeti will destroy your new party, but halfway thru the campaign it will become a lackey for a big bad.

http://2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=497


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Mark Seifter wrote:

Also, the queen's investiture with the nation's rulership might grant her some additional benefits, causing her to have much strong Will or Perception, say, than you might expect for her level.

Another thing you can do is use the variant rules from the Gamemastery Guide when that book comes out, which we've previewed will include a variant for adjusting the scaling to remove level from the equation.

Since NPCs are decoupled from PC classes (if desired) in PF2, wouldn't it also be possible for the "Social Level" of NPC rulers be higher while "Combat Level" stays in a lower range? So the new king/queen might only be 18 years old (and a low-level combatant) but could still be a ruler with an iron spine (and higher Diplomacy, Deception, and Intimidate skills) by virtue of their education/training?


One important thing to note is that you can ge XP from how you handle a situation (whether its killing or not). So it stands to reason that royalty and people in power might get tiny bits of experience for how they handle problems in the country.

In the end it's really up to the GM how things evolve and no one answer is right. But it also means there are many possible stories you can tell with the system.


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When I worked as a mathematician, I had enough experience that I could have applied for a job as a Team Leader. I had led project teams before, where I direct the team that was developing a project, but Team Leader is an adminstrative position where I would have been handling their timesheets, sick leave, vacation leave, and training. I wasn't interested in that administrative stuff, so I never applied.

In medieval times, being a noble was great. The nobles had secure castles, plenty of well-cooked food, and servants for housecleaning and laundry, unlike the peasants, merchants, and common soldiers. Nowadays, most people in developed countries have secure homes, plenty of well-cooked food, machines to aid housecleaning and laundry, and better health care. I won't want to be a medieval king. Especially since those kings had to fight wars.

On Golarion, the setting for Pathfinder, 20th-level arcane and occult spellcasters can cast Resplendent Mansion complete with 24 servants for housecleaning and laundry, and generally ease their lives with magic. The divine and primal spellcasters lack that spell, but they would rather stay in a temple or camp in a forest regardless. They, too, can meet their needs with magic. Why should they put up with the fuss of running a kingdom when it provides no additiona benefit?

In PF1, the spellcasters could create demiplanes to their specifications, so they have better places to live than mundane kingdoms. That would include the 20th-level martial characters, who could buy a demiplane from a wizard friend. Create Demiplane is not in the current PF2 spell list, but some ritual like that might appear in a supplement that covers the details of extremely difficult high-level rituals.


BPorter wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

Also, the queen's investiture with the nation's rulership might grant her some additional benefits, causing her to have much strong Will or Perception, say, than you might expect for her level.

Another thing you can do is use the variant rules from the Gamemastery Guide when that book comes out, which we've previewed will include a variant for adjusting the scaling to remove level from the equation.

Since NPCs are decoupled from PC classes (if desired) in PF2, wouldn't it also be possible for the "Social Level" of NPC rulers be higher while "Combat Level" stays in a lower range? So the new king/queen might only be 18 years old (and a low-level combatant) but could still be a ruler with an iron spine (and higher Diplomacy, Deception, and Intimidate skills) by virtue of their education/training?

While waiting for Paizo to publish more material on creating NPCs, I have been pondering quick methods of creating NPCs myself. And I realized that level as defined in Pathfinder really makes little sense for NPCs.

Level in PF2 is what BPorter called it: Combat Level. It replaces the Challenge Rating from D&D and PF1. If I want to know how well a 7th-level character can manage himself in battle, that 7 in 7th level tells me a lot. On the other hand, if I want to know how well that character can forge a greatsword, I would need more specific information. Is that character trained, expert, or master in Crafting? Does he have any special crafting feats? The +7 to proficiency from level would help, but NPCs don't necessary get that.

A village blacksmith should be defined by how well he smiths, with maybe some other details about how well he runs a shop. A town mayor should be defined by how well she leads the town, with maybe some other details about how popular she is and what social connections she has. The priest of the village church should be defined by how well he comforts the town spiritually, with some other details about how good his weekly homily sounds and whether he can cast any divine spells.

On the other side of a coin, if a 5th-level fighter retires, and he uses his last skill increase to become an expert in Crafting, will he outmatch all the other blacksmiths in the city because they aren't 5th level? Maybe townsfolk have some kind of non-level step that works like levels for skills but not for combat. So the 1st-level 4th-step blacksmith would also have expert proficiency in Crafting, giving him a Crafting bonus of +4 from rank + 1 from level + 4 from step = +9, just like the retired fighter, and he can craft 5th-level items, too.

This really does not matter for most Pathfinder games. The town description will say that the local blacksmith can craft 5th-level items and that is all we know about him.

However, my players like their characters to settle down in towns, befriend the people, and invest in local businesses. In my Iron Gods campaign, they created B&B Alchemical Smithing, the Waterfall Workshop, and an unnamed caravan. They purchased the Silverdisk gambling hall and converted it to a dance hall. In my new Ironfang Invasion campaign, the ranger Zinfandel is the local ranger Aubrin's trainee and the rogue Sam is employed by local blacksmith Kining Blondebeard. Aubrin is a statted NPC, so I converted her to PF2. Kining (LE female dwarf expert 2) had no stat block, but I built her as a 2nd-level fighter with emphasis on Specialty Crafting blacksmithing. But shopkeeper Vane Oreld (N male middle-aged human expert 2) simply died early in the Ironfang Invasion so that I did not have to figure out what he could handle as a 2nd-level alchemist. Expert 2 no longer means much, and I don't think the Commoner, Expert, and Aristocrat classes fit PF2.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Filthy Lucre wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.
In that case, the game ABSOLUTELY supports that sort of setting. My take is that if you want to have a situation like that, then the 1st level queen might be a pushover, but she's still the queen, and the fact that she was born into a situation that comes with a national superstructure, including powerful defenses, higher level loyal bodyguards, and traditions of royal support will help. If you want to tell a story where someone wants to challenge the 1st level queen's rule (be they a PC or an NPC), then that's as simple as adjusting the power level of her guards and defenses and resources as needed.
Ok James, you're selling me, but while I've got your ear I have one last question. I read somewhere that P2e has been designed such that threats remain threats for longer/have a longer "threat life span" as PCs level up. Is this the case/was this a design point?

there's the weak and strong templates which you can add to everything that more or less lowers or increases any entity's level by 2. you can also jsut easily make a new level appropriate enemy of the needed type by using the gamemastery monster creation guide, which, imo, is the quickest and easiest monster creation i've seen.


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Mathmuse wrote:

While waiting for Paizo to publish more material on creating NPCs, I have been pondering quick methods of creating NPCs myself. And I realized that level as defined in Pathfinder really makes little sense for NPCs.

Level in PF2 is what BPorter called it: Combat Level. It replaces the Challenge Rating from D&D and PF1. If I want to know how well a 7th-level character can manage himself in battle, that 7 in 7th level tells me a lot. On the other hand, if I want to know how well that character can forge a greatsword, I would need more specific information. Is that character trained, expert, or master in Crafting? Does he have any special crafting feats? The +7 to proficiency from level would help, but NPCs don't necessary get that.

This. Also, recall that GMG preview they posted a month or so ago? It had statblocks for a number of physicians, and the stats contained language along the lines of "For combat purposes, the medic is a level 1 NPC. If in a situation where their medical knowledge is what's important, treat them as level 4." I would expect to see similar things for most non-combatant NPCs.


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Mathmuse wrote:
BPorter wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

Also, the queen's investiture with the nation's rulership might grant her some additional benefits, causing her to have much strong Will or Perception, say, than you might expect for her level.

Another thing you can do is use the variant rules from the Gamemastery Guide when that book comes out, which we've previewed will include a variant for adjusting the scaling to remove level from the equation.

Since NPCs are decoupled from PC classes (if desired) in PF2, wouldn't it also be possible for the "Social Level" of NPC rulers be higher while "Combat Level" stays in a lower range? So the new king/queen might only be 18 years old (and a low-level combatant) but could still be a ruler with an iron spine (and higher Diplomacy, Deception, and Intimidate skills) by virtue of their education/training?

While waiting for Paizo to publish more material on creating NPCs, I have been pondering quick methods of creating NPCs myself. And I realized that level as defined in Pathfinder really makes little sense for NPCs.

Level in PF2 is what BPorter called it: Combat Level. It replaces the Challenge Rating from D&D and PF1. If I want to know how well a 7th-level character can manage himself in battle, that 7 in 7th level tells me a lot. On the other hand, if I want to know how well that character can forge a greatsword, I would need more specific information. Is that character trained, expert, or master in Crafting? Does he have any special crafting feats? The +7 to proficiency from level would help, but NPCs don't necessary get that.

A village blacksmith should be defined by how well he smiths, with maybe some other details about how well he runs a shop. A town mayor should be defined by how well she leads the town, with maybe some other details about how popular she is and what social connections she has. The priest of the village church should be defined by how well he comforts the town spiritually, with some other details about how good his weekly...

Well, I'm not sure if you've seen the previews for the healer NPCs, but it does list them as a "Level X" challenge in their field of specialty, whereas their combat power is way lower.

Liberty's Edge

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BPorter wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

Also, the queen's investiture with the nation's rulership might grant her some additional benefits, causing her to have much strong Will or Perception, say, than you might expect for her level.

Another thing you can do is use the variant rules from the Gamemastery Guide when that book comes out, which we've previewed will include a variant for adjusting the scaling to remove level from the equation.

Since NPCs are decoupled from PC classes (if desired) in PF2, wouldn't it also be possible for the "Social Level" of NPC rulers be higher while "Combat Level" stays in a lower range? So the new king/queen might only be 18 years old (and a low-level combatant) but could still be a ruler with an iron spine (and higher Diplomacy, Deception, and Intimidate skills) by virtue of their education/training?

Yes. This is explicitly something they're doing with NPCs and is, indeed, really easy to do.

Whether that's appropriate for the 'brand new 18 year old' ruler is another matter, but it's entirely mechanically allowed and viable.


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Rulers aren't level 20 because your personal ability to murder people doesn't necessarily translate into an ability to maintain political power. I bet nearly any one of us here could beat Jeff Bezos in a fist fight, but Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest man in the world and is the CEO of an extremely influential megacorp.

That's not to say some PC's going to go beat up Jeff Bezos in a fistfight couldn't significantly disrupt the geopolitical situation, but that wouldn't necessarily allow them to take Jeff Bezo's place unless that society operates under an extreme idea of might makes right. Any surprise boxing matches with Jeff Bezos would require at least some intrigue and maneuvering for it to result in his assets being forked over to the PC's. Otherwise Jeff Bezos or his beneficiairies would just use his vast wealth to drone strike the PC's or incite the government to send their best fighters to take them down.

PF2 also decouples PC generation rules from NPC generation rules, so Jeff Bezos could have a really high Diplomacy that would easily match a high level PC without that somehow translating to him being able to survive falls from great heights and the ability to beat up poor people through raw physical might, he's not getting a massive HP bar and +level to his attacks.

He could also just not, because there's so many examples of people with outsized influence and authority who have pretty much no merit or ability to justify their power. There's so many politicians who are in power because of a political environment created by someone else that they just so happen to be the beneficiary of, where sheer inertia and a cultural fear of change keep someone utterly unqualified in important decision-making positions. There have been literal children as monarchs in our world, it's not exactly the most robust political system.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Filthy Lucre wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.
In that case, the game ABSOLUTELY supports that sort of setting. My take is that if you want to have a situation like that, then the 1st level queen might be a pushover, but she's still the queen, and the fact that she was born into a situation that comes with a national superstructure, including powerful defenses, higher level loyal bodyguards, and traditions of royal support will help. If you want to tell a story where someone wants to challenge the 1st level queen's rule (be they a PC or an NPC), then that's as simple as adjusting the power level of her guards and defenses and resources as needed.
Ok James, you're selling me, but while I've got your ear I have one last question. I read somewhere that P2e has been designed such that threats remain threats for longer/have a longer "threat life span" as PCs level up. Is this the case/was this a design point?

Threat life spans seem to be to be rules-agnostic. You can design any threat to work for any level of power in any game, regardless of the game–it's the game's viable window of play that decides that. In 1st edition, and in 3.5 before that, the math starts breaking down as far as balance is concerned, making it less and less easy to build adventures at higher levels, but a big part of the math in 2nd edition was to fix that.


I like to think any hero of legendary skill and power would have more interesting things to do than run a government.
Does Gandolf rule a kingdom?
No, he manipulates multiple kingdoms across centuries on a continental scale.
The trope originator for rangers, too busy saving the world and leveling up to sit on his rightful throne.

One might more readily ask why adventuring(killing stuff) makes one a better crafter, thief, diplomat, sailor,wizard or even sorcerer?
Cutting down foes can get your hidden angelic bloodline to manifest?
Really?
Killing empowers the priests of healing god's?
Yes it does.

That being said, great campaigns can be formed around adventures building kingdoms, guilds, churches or my favorite,a world spanning web of communications between magical libraries.

As for the NPCs, most of the balance rules are there to create equity between player characters.
If a NPC needs some power, resource or ability to present a challenge or support the story, just give to them.
It's not cheating, it's story telling.


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Yeah, XP systems are not meant to be representative of how the universe of Golarian works. It's not like gravity or something, it's not a thing that could theoretically be tested by the people living there and exploited through carefully crafted XP farms. It's a metanarrative tool meant to pace the growing power and stakes of a story. In-universe, experience points don't exist, and neither do hit points or will saves. These are all abstractions meant to allow actual IRL humans to interface with the fantasy world without needing to get bogged down in the minutia of justifying how every little thing works. Most NPC's aren't going to "level up" just because they survived some harrowing ordeals, most aren't going to suddenly start gaining supernatural powers just because they occasionally fight with hostile goblins. Your town guard isn't going to suddenly become more capable of surviving falls from the tops of their watchtowers just because they've spent the past three years driving off invaders. XP only exists when there is some narrative reason for a particular character to grow more powerful over time.

Liberty's Edge

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While XP is definitely a meta-mechanic, it does seems worth noting that, in Golarion specifically, really accomplished people do actually usually achieve higher levels, and the rulers of most countries are in the 13th-15th level range (or higher). Hereditary monarchies are also rare, and more inclined to having low level rulers.

So...the world of Golarion really does represent the fact that high level people will generally wind up in charge in a world operating under such a system...by having high level people in charge.

That's not necessarily relevant to the OP's game world, but if we're talking about Golarion it suddenly is.


You could go with a downtime version of "follow the expert" and have the effectiveness of rulers be based on the ability of those who support them, and their willingness to swallow their pride and accept help. That seems to be the real world standard anyway. Going with this method, you can have large chunks of industry and government all driving off of the skill level of a few leveled people who may or may not be in the obvious roles. It would also give you an easy method of boosting the success of a town by being that expert without having to run the town full time.


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What do level 20 wizards or warlords know about balancing tax levies or increasing tariffs on goods? What would they do when famine takes all their lands wheat? What to do when farms go fallow when people leave?

Why would they want that headache? Sitting on a throne proclaiming yourself ruler of the world like a 60's Dr Doom villain monologue accomplishes nothing. It just gets you poisoned by morning.


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Bandw2 wrote:
most good rulers(alexander the great, etc) would get to probably like level 7 just from helping their country deal with problems, even if they never slain anything themselves.

I think great military minds like Alexander, Genghis, etc. transferred to a Pathfinder setting actually would be super high level martials like Azaersi. While political leaders in a Pathfinder setting can have fewer class levels for different reasons, Pathfinder is (and has always been) a system where higher level characters are Great Heroes that stand far and above everyone else.

Alexander as a Pathfinder character would roll over the Mediterranean as much because of the strength of his army as the fact that no mortal alive at that time could oppose him in a duel.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Arachnofiend wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
most good rulers(alexander the great, etc) would get to probably like level 7 just from helping their country deal with problems, even if they never slain anything themselves.

I think great military minds like Alexander, Genghis, etc. transferred to a Pathfinder setting actually would be super high level martials like Azaersi. While political leaders in a Pathfinder setting can have fewer class levels for different reasons, Pathfinder is (and has always been) a system where higher level characters are Great Heroes that stand far and above everyone else.

Alexander as a Pathfinder character would roll over the Mediterranean as much because of the strength of his army as the fact that no mortal alive at that time could oppose him in a duel.

i more or less agree, i just tend to have people from the real world as naturally lower level, since you know, they never have to fight dragons and the like.


That makes sense, I just chuck it to the real world having no magic to support going past lv X. Btw looking at the world before modern technology (and parts of the modern world with low technology) it's usually the warlords and people who have power (better technology/structure) who are in charge. The weak or bad managers either get killed off by a relative and/or a revolt (also the occasional sparring/jousting accident).

Going by that, a high level character doesnt need to know everything about running a kingdom, he just needs to know enough to delegate and sign things off. The rest is just free time, money, and resources.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

While XP is definitely a meta-mechanic, it does seems worth noting that, in Golarion specifically, really accomplished people do actually usually achieve higher levels, and the rulers of most countries are in the 13th-15th level range (or higher). Hereditary monarchies are also rare, and more inclined to having low level rulers.

So...the world of Golarion really does represent the fact that high level people will generally wind up in charge in a world operating under such a system...by having high level people in charge.

That's not necessarily relevant to the OP's game world, but if we're talking about Golarion it suddenly is.

Some of this may be a symptom of high-level rulers needing high combat levels too because he two were married. I wonder if I'm 2e's take on Golarion we will see some of those combat levels lower for rulers who are not affiliated with martial or magical prowess but still have 13-15 level kingdom management skills.

Silver Crusade

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Filthy Lucre wrote:
With the power level of P2e characters... how do I justify a world where mundane nobles/kings/aristocracies run the world/government and not level 20 warlords/wizards?

Because there are surely high level people who are invested in the current status quo. The PCs try to topple the king? Well, a high level group of patriotic NPC adventurers take on the group. Perhaps this patriotic group are already well known as "Defenders of the Kingdom" due to previous heroics.

Maybe the group is not patriotic but they worry that if the current king is toppled that it will lead to civil war or a huge orc invasion or whatever troubles exist.

Perhaps the Divine Right of Kings is actually a real thing in Golorian. Without the literal blessings of the heavens your attempt at taking the crown is doomed to failure as no one respects your right to rule. The gods themselves will fight against you.

A group of 5 PCs will have some real trouble holding on to a kingdom. You need an army of soldiers and bureaucrats to enforce your will throughout the land or parts of it will break off into their own fiefdoms.

Exploding the king with a spell does not just make you the king now. Those with a right to inherit already have armies and will probably not be shy about spending gold to hire other high level adventurers to help them seize the throne.

Sovereign Court

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You know that cliche where you beat the dragon and marry the princess?

Look beyond the 19th century gender roles at what your new father in law the king is getting out of this.

His family has been in power for a while, they grew up educated to rule. They're not necessarily high level although they have invested in some items that make it hard to easily lie to them or mind control them. They couldn't beat up a big bad dragon.

But you, oh dragonslayer, don't really have any experience running a kingdom. It's tedious, there's a lot of paperwork. You don't really want to get bogged down with that. You just want to have some fancy clothes, a pretty spouse, lots of gold, comfortable beds, and maybe the occasional new dragon to slay.

You could do pretty well in this marriage. Your wife (or husband!) the prince(ss) does most of the boring governing, you get to have most of the fun of beating up people at jousts.

Well-connected inherited nobility and nouveaux-XP adventurers go together quite nicely.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I just assume that any ruler who isn't clearly powerful or surrounded by power either is a vidileth or is a puppet of one. There's power there, even if it's not obvious...


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Sporkedup wrote:
I just assume that any ruler who isn't clearly powerful or surrounded by power either is a vidileth or is a puppet of one. There's power there, even if it's not obvious...

it could also be a dragon LARPing as a human as they do sometimes.


James Jacobs wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.
In that case, the game ABSOLUTELY supports that sort of setting. My take is that if you want to have a situation like that, then the 1st level queen might be a pushover, but she's still the queen, and the fact that she was born into a situation that comes with a national superstructure, including powerful defenses, higher level loyal bodyguards, and traditions of royal support will help. If you want to tell a story where someone wants to challenge the 1st level queen's rule (be they a PC or an NPC), then that's as simple as adjusting the power level of her guards and defenses and resources as needed.

I can get behind this, but my problem is that higher-level characters are not just stronger in combat, they're also more knowledgable and more charismatic. How is this level 1 Queen supposed to negotiate properly if there are high-level foreign dignitaries who are rolling diplomacy and society +10 or +15?


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Strill wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.
In that case, the game ABSOLUTELY supports that sort of setting. My take is that if you want to have a situation like that, then the 1st level queen might be a pushover, but she's still the queen, and the fact that she was born into a situation that comes with a national superstructure, including powerful defenses, higher level loyal bodyguards, and traditions of royal support will help. If you want to tell a story where someone wants to challenge the 1st level queen's rule (be they a PC or an NPC), then that's as simple as adjusting the power level of her guards and defenses and resources as needed.
I can get behind this, but my problem is that higher-level characters are not just stronger in combat, they're also more knowledgable and more charismatic. How is this level 1 Queen supposed to negotiate properly if there are high-level foreign dignitaries who are rolling diplomacy and society +10 or +15?

Poorly, which is why there is fantastic space for your bard to become lead ambassador for the queens diplomatic mission to Cheliax.

Or the queen waits for the gmg to come out so we have rules stating that to.be a master diplomat you dont also need to be able to survive a five floor fall into a vat of acid.


Strill wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:


Well, I'm looking at this from the perspective of how the rules interface with my game world - not official Paizo/Pathfinder/Golarion. So I imagine a ruler to essentially be a 1st level NPC who has inherited his right to rule by birthright.
In that case, the game ABSOLUTELY supports that sort of setting. My take is that if you want to have a situation like that, then the 1st level queen might be a pushover, but she's still the queen, and the fact that she was born into a situation that comes with a national superstructure, including powerful defenses, higher level loyal bodyguards, and traditions of royal support will help. If you want to tell a story where someone wants to challenge the 1st level queen's rule (be they a PC or an NPC), then that's as simple as adjusting the power level of her guards and defenses and resources as needed.
I can get behind this, but my problem is that higher-level characters are not just stronger in combat, they're also more knowledgable and more charismatic. How is this level 1 Queen supposed to negotiate properly if there are high-level foreign dignitaries who are rolling diplomacy and society +10 or +15?

This is specifically not how they've chosen to represent NPC levels in 2e - there's nothing stopping the queen from having the diplomacy and society of a high level character without being able to take such a character in a fist fight.


Isnt the matter of the 1st lv queen the type of character that would have the Chancelor/Adviser in control? Then the entire plot is saving the kingdom and queen from the clutches of said Chancelor/Adviser.

It would also open the door for infighting nobles trying to start a coo or something. The important part is that unless she is indeed good at politics she would be seen as very gullible by the high level nobles for better or worse.

********************
Having said that, a modified gestalt type campaign in which the second track must be an NPC class (I know PF2 doesnt have those) and both level up independently would be quite representative. Allowing for high level combat low level commoner and the low level combat high level aristocrat. Of course using that version, NPC classes wouldn't give few if any combat bonuses besides any relevant skill.

It also sounds a lot like the what Paizo is planning. No?


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Temperans wrote:


It would also open the door for infighting nobles trying to start a coo or something.

it's Coup, not coo, just an fyi. it's french or something.


FowlJ wrote:
This is specifically not how they've chosen to represent NPC levels in 2e - there's nothing stopping the queen from having the diplomacy and society of a high level character without being able to take such a character in a fist fight.

Yup, pretty much exactly for stuff like this. Baking competition Grandma can't punch a dragon to death, but she's an epic level wielder of choux pastry.


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I don't get why NPCs should be low level given that nobels were basically the fighting elite of their time and a fantasy world contain a lot of struggles. In the middle ages their training started at the age of 6-7. I get it's a fantasy setting and a lot can be different and not all nations are feudal. There a meritocracies, magiocracies, theocracies and the likes but why would they be low level? I don't think that the argument that if they are in the mid-level range, they could take care of most of the problems hold much ground. They have so much to take care of that adventuring for a couple of months is out of the question. Especially for higher ranking officials.


Meldok wrote:
I don't get why NPCs should be low level given that nobels were basically the fighting elite of their time and a fantasy world contain a lot of struggles. In the middle ages their training started at the age of 6-7. I get it's a fantasy setting and a lot can be different and not all nations are feudal. There a meritocracies, magiocracies, theocracies and the likes but why would they be low level? I don't think that the argument that if they are in the mid-level range, they could take care of most of the problems hold much ground. They have so much to take care of that adventuring for a couple of months is out of the question. Especially for higher ranking officials.

They don't have to be low level. But also, with the changes to the rules, they don't have to be high level either. You can put their level at what makes sense for their combat prowess, and put their skill bonuses at what makes sense for their skill prowess.

Imagine a graph with combat prowess on X axis, and skill prowess on Y axis. With NPC class levels, like in 1e, the two values are tied, so the trend will look roughly positively linear and there's a specific band of possible values. In other words, as your skill prowess increases, your combat prowess must also raise. Now, you can make NPCs with values at any point on the graph. You can have NPCs who have high skills and combat ability, or low combat ability and high skills. You could probably even do high combat ability, low skill bonuses, since the system has explicitly decoupled them, but should be careful that any combat-related skills are up to snuff (for example, the high level dumb brute NPC with a little bit of local knowledge would be represented in 1e by having a single skill rank there. This isn't explicitly a thing yet in PF2, as the given examples thus far have only been low level, high skill).


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Bandw2 wrote:

it's Coup, not coo, just an fyi. it's french or something.

Thank you, I always forget how to spell it.

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