+Level Bonuses


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One problem with tinkering with the math in the playtest was that IIRC the math was already broken. Something about using the wrong iteration of monster-building rules in the bestiary meant enemies were far too good compared to PCs I think. If you adjusted the monster math without correcting for the broken math it might have exaggerated the problems with the math.


thejeff wrote:
You may also start to run into issues where you're dealing with enemies that you could handle by the math, except that they have high level abilities you don't yet have counters for.

That seems avoidable. Either you run an, E6 style game and just don't use higher level enemies, or you let players have the abilities but not the math, which seems to be what Filthy would rather do. The math changes will probably impact how some of those abilities interact with game balance, as Gorbacz mentioned, but you should still have see invisibility when invisibility becomes common for example.


Captain Morgan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
You may also start to run into issues where you're dealing with enemies that you could handle by the math, except that they have high level abilities you don't yet have counters for.
That seems avoidable. Either you run an, E6 style game and just don't use higher level enemies, or you let players have the abilities but not the math, which seems to be what Filthy would rather do. The math changes will probably impact how some of those abilities interact with game balance, as Gorbacz mentioned, but you should still have see invisibility when invisibility becomes common for example.

So you start changing what level abilities are available? So that PCs have the counters when the tougher enemies they fight have the abilities?


thejeff wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
You may also start to run into issues where you're dealing with enemies that you could handle by the math, except that they have high level abilities you don't yet have counters for.
That seems avoidable. Either you run an, E6 style game and just don't use higher level enemies, or you let players have the abilities but not the math, which seems to be what Filthy would rather do. The math changes will probably impact how some of those abilities interact with game balance, as Gorbacz mentioned, but you should still have see invisibility when invisibility becomes common for example.
So you start changing what level abilities are available? So that PCs have the counters when the tougher enemies they fight have the abilities?

No, you either cap the levels of PCs and monsters so neither side gets those abilities in the first place, or you let them level up normally but remove level from their proficiency modifier at which point the abilities come online on the same schedule for both sides.

Neither scenario involves changing that dynamic beyond things that happen to math balance.


Captain Morgan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
You may also start to run into issues where you're dealing with enemies that you could handle by the math, except that they have high level abilities you don't yet have counters for.
That seems avoidable. Either you run an, E6 style game and just don't use higher level enemies, or you let players have the abilities but not the math, which seems to be what Filthy would rather do. The math changes will probably impact how some of those abilities interact with game balance, as Gorbacz mentioned, but you should still have see invisibility when invisibility becomes common for example.
So you start changing what level abilities are available? So that PCs have the counters when the tougher enemies they fight have the abilities?

No, you either cap the levels of PCs and monsters so neither side gets those abilities in the first place, or you let them level up normally but remove level from their proficiency modifier at which point the abilities come online on the same schedule for both sides.

Neither scenario involves changing that dynamic beyond things that happen to math balance.

Sure, you can run E6.

Otherwise, part of the point is that you can fight a broader range of opponents, since lower level enemies aren't as much weaker and higher level enemies aren't as much stronger, since the +level bonus has been removed. Where in the baseline game, a 5th level party might face a 8th level enemy for a serious fight, that would be much easier in the -Level game and you might want a 10th for the same challenge. Everyone gets the same abilities at the same time, but you can face higher level opponents, who might have those abilities.


thejeff wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
You may also start to run into issues where you're dealing with enemies that you could handle by the math, except that they have high level abilities you don't yet have counters for.
That seems avoidable. Either you run an, E6 style game and just don't use higher level enemies, or you let players have the abilities but not the math, which seems to be what Filthy would rather do. The math changes will probably impact how some of those abilities interact with game balance, as Gorbacz mentioned, but you should still have see invisibility when invisibility becomes common for example.
So you start changing what level abilities are available? So that PCs have the counters when the tougher enemies they fight have the abilities?

No, you either cap the levels of PCs and monsters so neither side gets those abilities in the first place, or you let them level up normally but remove level from their proficiency modifier at which point the abilities come online on the same schedule for both sides.

Neither scenario involves changing that dynamic beyond things that happen to math balance.

Sure, you can run E6.

Otherwise, part of the point is that you can fight a broader range of opponents, since lower level enemies aren't as much weaker and higher level enemies aren't as much stronger, since the +level bonus has been removed. Where in the baseline game, a 5th level party might face a 8th level enemy for a serious fight, that would be much easier in the -Level game and you might want a 10th for the same challenge. Everyone gets the same abilities at the same time, but you can face higher level opponents, who might have those abilities.

I tell you what, when I implement this in my game and it works flawlessly because I know how to DM/gauge power/what the PCs can and can't handle I'll let you know.


Filthy Lucre wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
You may also start to run into issues where you're dealing with enemies that you could handle by the math, except that they have high level abilities you don't yet have counters for.
That seems avoidable. Either you run an, E6 style game and just don't use higher level enemies, or you let players have the abilities but not the math, which seems to be what Filthy would rather do. The math changes will probably impact how some of those abilities interact with game balance, as Gorbacz mentioned, but you should still have see invisibility when invisibility becomes common for example.
So you start changing what level abilities are available? So that PCs have the counters when the tougher enemies they fight have the abilities?

No, you either cap the levels of PCs and monsters so neither side gets those abilities in the first place, or you let them level up normally but remove level from their proficiency modifier at which point the abilities come online on the same schedule for both sides.

Neither scenario involves changing that dynamic beyond things that happen to math balance.

Sure, you can run E6.

Otherwise, part of the point is that you can fight a broader range of opponents, since lower level enemies aren't as much weaker and higher level enemies aren't as much stronger, since the +level bonus has been removed. Where in the baseline game, a 5th level party might face a 8th level enemy for a serious fight, that would be much easier in the -Level game and you might want a 10th for the same challenge. Everyone gets the same abilities at the same time, but you can face higher level opponents, who might have those abilities.

I tell you what, when I implement this in my game and it works flawlessly because I know how to DM/gauge power/what the PCs can and can't handle I'll let you know.

Okay. Hope it works out.

Dark Archive

It’s easy to forget now a year out plus from the playtest that adding level was not a foregone conclusion. Yes, it was the direction the majority in the PF community responded to most positively; however, it was hardly the only direction things could have gone. One questionnaire asked this point blank - add level or not? Months of debate followed. People participating in the playtest generally were already familiar with PF. A majority of these argued to add level. Even so, the gaming community outside of PF is quite sizable, many of whom are more comfortable with bounded numbers. In other words, there are people eager to PF2 without the scaling. I suspect the GM guide with vindicate this perspective. Keeping a place for these gamers at the fire is a very good thing for the brand, even if that kind of play is not palatable on a personal level.


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Ikos wrote:
It’s easy to forget now a year out plus from the playtest that adding level was not a foregone conclusion. Yes, it was the direction the majority in the PF community responded to most positively; however, it was hardly the only direction things could have gone.

That is true. However, pathfinder without level would have been a very different game - not just in terms of flavour, but in terms of how statistics are built and played. Like it or not, the current game balancement is done taking level into account, and pretending it can just be handwaved off is simply disingenous.

Let's try an example:

Matrix Sorcica wrote:
Ediwir wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Which is why many people are thinking of using 1/2 level bonus. It stops the flattening of no level but allows a wider range of creatures compared to full level.

Yeah, I tried that during early playtest, with all the math spread calculations to see what effects it would have had.

I dropped it.
It created more issues than I cared to fix.
Could you give some examples? I can't see why it messes with the game so much.

Of course. I'll take an encounter I actually played a while ago - a converted bandit ambush from WftC.

Encounter played at level 8, with 4 players (bard, monk, wizard, fighter).
Enemies were 5x lv4 bandits accompanied by 2x lv5 elite lions.
XP total: 90 (challenging, but definitely doable)
The encounter played out pretty much as expected - the bandits got the jump, players saw it coming, suffered some losses in terms of resources and effort but had the upper hand solidly for most of the fight (slight exception, when the wizard exposed himself to give off a major showy spell and got targeted by all the crossbows in the region and a shoe).

This was mostly because, given the chance to focus fire, bandits could seriously damage the PCs, but once taken individually, they fell to the PCs' superior skill.

Let's see what the actual hit ratio was, take as an example the fighter and one bandit:

On full level progression:
Slightly unoptimised str fencer, so we're talking about a +18 to hit (master with +3 str and a +1 weapon).
The bandits had AC23.
Attacks hit on 50%hit/30%crit, 50%hit/5%crit, 25%hit/5%crit.

On no level progression:
Fighter falls to +10 to hit, bandit ACs fall to 19.
Attacks hit on 50%hit/10%crit, 30%hit/5% crit, 5%hit/5%crit.

On half level progression:
Fighter decreases to +14 to hit, bandit AC is nudged to 21.
Attacks hit on 50%hit/20%crit, 40%hit/5% crit, 15%hit/5%crit.

Notice how halving level progression precisely halved the nerf to the fighter. The power scaling here is given by the level difference - in the first example, that difference is 4. In the level-less example, this is 0. In the half level, this is 2.

The game is built with the assumption that level difference will affect the way the game plays. And it does. Altering level difference will alter the game. Whether you know how to deal with that or not, that's up to you, but don't pretend it won't.

Just for kicks, let's try one more:
On absolute level reduction:
Fighter loses his level, -8, and falls to +10 to hit.
bandit also loses the fighter's level, and falls to AC15.
Attacks hit on 50%hit/30%crit, 50%hit/5%crit, 25%hit/5%crit.
Level difference is kept.

Note that we'd have inverse results if we calculated the bandit against the fighter. Level-less bandit would kick the fighter's ass, half-level bandit would hurt a lot more.
It would make any encounter with multiple creature very difficult to play out, and boss fights a joke, but since lower-level opponents are generally the way the game plays (you don't boss fight every single encounter), this tends to be a PC nerf.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ediwir wrote:
[BIG SNIP] ...Slightly unoptimised str fencer... [BIG SNIP]

I am the slightly unoptimized fighter (and I own it)!

Small thing to add: My build and damage output is heavily based on upping my AC with Dueling Parry and doing Duelist Riposte. Remove levels to AC and attack, and foes crit failing against me become MUCH rarer. Which render my Riposte feat almost useless, and almost half my DPR disappearing.

Also, I have found that in play, a lot of lower level creatures often ends up still deadly, even if they are very under leveled, if played with good strategy and environment/circumstantial advantage. And that, both as GM and PC.

Bonus Point:
Other bonus point: That combat, they were all X-Bowmen, so the fact I was riding a horse with Ride feat, upping my mobility, was a very big advantage, considering I had no *good* ranged attack (except lvl 1 bombs...). That is completely outside the current topic, but yeah, without that part, I would have spent lot of rounds just standing, harmless to them while they could just shoot me.

I would also add that it's been confirmed that there will be info on how to proceed to remove level to rolls with hints on how that will affect the rest of the game, but I think it won't be *that* easy to do without some rebalancing in lot of places.


Elfteiroh wrote:
My build and damage output is heavily based on upping my AC with Dueling Parry and doing Duelist Riposte. Remove levels to AC and attack, and foes crit failing against me become MUCH rarer. Which render my Riposte feat almost useless, and almost half my DPR disappearing.

A lot of strategies get completely wrecked by removing level difference. Think of Dalma's Phantasmal Killer. A lot of others get major boosts - think of Dalma's Synesthesia used in bossfights.

...to be fair this is actually a general "mook fights get a lot harder, bossfights get a lot easier" effect. It just shines a lot more in some situations.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ediwir wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:
My build and damage output is heavily based on upping my AC with Dueling Parry and doing Duelist Riposte. Remove levels to AC and attack, and foes crit failing against me become MUCH rarer. Which render my Riposte feat almost useless, and almost half my DPR disappearing.

A lot of strategies get completely wrecked by removing level difference. Think of Dalma's Phantasmal Killer. A lot of others get major boosts - think of Dalma's Synesthesia used in bossfights.

...to be fair this is actually a general "mook fights get a lot harder, bossfights get a lot easier" effect. It just shines a lot more in some situations.

I feel like, for build like mine to keep relevant, the numbers required to crit fail/succeed should get smaller if the levels get removed, but then they might get too common, and more provoked by random chance than "difference in strength"... Which again become a balancing problem.


Elfteiroh wrote:
Ediwir wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:
My build and damage output is heavily based on upping my AC with Dueling Parry and doing Duelist Riposte. Remove levels to AC and attack, and foes crit failing against me become MUCH rarer. Which render my Riposte feat almost useless, and almost half my DPR disappearing.

A lot of strategies get completely wrecked by removing level difference. Think of Dalma's Phantasmal Killer. A lot of others get major boosts - think of Dalma's Synesthesia used in bossfights.

...to be fair this is actually a general "mook fights get a lot harder, bossfights get a lot easier" effect. It just shines a lot more in some situations.

I feel like, for build like mine to keep relevant, the numbers required to crit fail/succeed should get smaller if the levels get removed, but then they might get too common, and more provoked by random chance than "difference in strength"... Which again become a balancing problem.

Ah yes, altering crit tresholds was one of my draft fixes. Basically when I tried to implement half level I started writing a short formula that would take level difference and convert it into a different crit treshold, so if you were fighting lower level opponents you'd crit at AC+8 rather than AC+10 and so on...

...as I said, I eventually dropped it.


Well the crit has different solutions based on the goal. If you want it to be luck based, than just having a nat 1 or 20 as crits works well and no different than the 50/50 with +level added.

If the goal is to leverage the added strength/proficiency to make crits more common, than having it at nat 1-2 or nat 19-20 with a confirmation roll should fix that.

***************
Also, yes PF1 did have BAB and skill go up to 20, but enough things had BAB 15 or 10 that it was more closely balance to BAB 15. Skills specifically, were fine at ~10-15 ranks, but that's partly because of how many +X to skill abilities were available.

All +level to everything did in effect was reduce/eliminate stat bonuses. Which makes things even flatter, as those partly created the vast diversity in builds. But then again, people didnt like that 2 characters could be widely different depending on how they were built.


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...I don't think you read that right.
Also, I'm not fully sure you played 3/4th BaB classes in PF1 - the way they worked was that they'd get the remaining 1/4 from class features to compensate. THAT is what +lv removed.

For clarifying, moving from 50%hit/30% crit to 50%hit/10%crit doesn't mean you hit half the time either way - it means that 50% rolls are a regular hit, 30% are a hit that crits, so you hit 80% of the time. Removing level you go down to hitting 60% of the time (with 50% being regular hit and 10% being hits that crit).

Who remembers the coinflipper meme from playtest days? Because this is exactly it. Removing level makes everything flatter and closer to 50/50, as I said before. Booooooring.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Filthy Lucre wrote:
So, the key difference for me here is that me and my players don't want to play mythic super heroes - we want a low fantasy game where even the most bad ass fighter in the world couldn't face down 50 enemies simultaneously and win - sure maybe he kills 49 of them, but he's eventually overwhelmed.

you could just, you know make campaigns designed to end at level 6 or so....


Ediwir I did say at the end that +level to everything just ended +stat abilities. Those abilities served a lot to differentiate characters since they all had a different way to get better at hitting or dealing more damage.

Also my point was that +to everything flattens the math by equalizing the range of potential values. It's one of the reasons that there was a big push for wider proficiency bonus, remember how in the playtest legendary only gave +4.


Temperans wrote:

Ediwir I did say at the end that +level to everything just ended +stat abilities. Those abilities served a lot to differentiate characters since they all had a different way to get better at hitting or dealing more damage.

Also my point was that +to everything flattens the math by equalizing the range of potential values. It's one of the reasons that there was a big push for wider proficiency bonus, remember how in the playtest legendary only gave +4.

Except it's not +level that's equalizing the values. If you take out +level, in fact, the values get even flatter across a larger level range, which is easy enough to intuit, and hints at the real culprit. The reason the value ranges are flatter is because most of the stacking bonuses from items and long-duration spells were eliminated. So if you wanted the value ranges to be wider, you need to add back stacking bonuses, and +level is kind of tangential-but-related to that.

To the OP, how would removing +level affect the feelings of progression? You still get HP and slowly get damage (at least as a martial waiting for those rune upgrades will take months of play time), but after months of playing the boss you fought at the start of the campaign will be only slightly easier to defeat. Is that something that your players would like in a game system, or would they prefer a system where your characters at level 4 can do thing your level 1 character had no hope of? (I ask about players because they should be involved in such a big houserule decision too, since this changes the expectations of the game in large ways)


Temperans wrote:

Ediwir I did say at the end that +level to everything just ended +stat abilities. Those abilities served a lot to differentiate characters since they all had a different way to get better at hitting or dealing more damage.

Also my point was that +to everything flattens the math by equalizing the range of potential values. It's one of the reasons that there was a big push for wider proficiency bonus, remember how in the playtest legendary only gave +4.

+3, and yeah, I was in that discussion - specifically pushing for the main source of bonus difference to be moved from itemisation towards proficiency. We moved from +3 legendary with +5 items to +8 legendary and +3 items, and I'm glad to have been part of that :) (tho I still reckon having more non-numerical benefits of proficiency would have been better than just number boosting).

I still don't see any flattening, in fact I see a fairly steep curve. If you remove level, it flattens.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think the big thing removing level does is alter skills more than combat. One of the things that put me off gming 5e was the fact skills disnt advance much, which meant DC ranges had to be tighter and even dcs for truly amazing actions (swimming up Niagara falls style stuff) were inevitably achievable by less than truly amazing individuals.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Ediwir wrote:
Temperans wrote:

Ediwir I did say at the end that +level to everything just ended +stat abilities. Those abilities served a lot to differentiate characters since they all had a different way to get better at hitting or dealing more damage.

Also my point was that +to everything flattens the math by equalizing the range of potential values. It's one of the reasons that there was a big push for wider proficiency bonus, remember how in the playtest legendary only gave +4.

+3, and yeah, I was in that discussion - specifically pushing for the main source of bonus difference to be moved from itemisation towards proficiency. We moved from +3 legendary with +5 items to +8 legendary and +3 items, and I'm glad to have been part of that :) (tho I still reckon having more non-numerical benefits of proficiency would have been better than just number boosting).

I still don't see any flattening, in fact I see a fairly steep curve. If you remove level, it flattens.

I think he's walking about in general you have less control on boosting various attributes since it's all swept up for you into +level. like instead of trying to boost intelligence as high as possible to get spell DCs up, you're assumed to have a specific int level at every level, and the DC is int+prof+level.

so at any given level, you're probably exactly the same DC value wise with like 75% of the people whop are playing that class.


That is exactly what I was referencing.

Adding full levels while removing other +stats makes it so any +stat remaining doesnt make much difference character wise while making low level less than bugs. Having 0 levels while still not having other +stats does exactly the same, but also makes it so low level things are still a threat.

1/2 level lands in the middle this problem, but it makes it so mid levels are still threats and mid high levels are still challenges.


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You might have less "control", but that's what keeps the game functioning. I'll take the level over the wild swings of PF1... too much stacking and you lose all semblance of control, to the point where you could steamroll everything up until someone sneezes on your weak stat. I don't really want to have to tiptoe around player weaknesses.

One of the reasons I reported adventure conversion as such a huge success was that it took me less time to convert to pf2 than to prep for pf1. That's because I had to remake most of pf1 in order for that to be usable with my specific group, due to all the stacking and variability - the baseline adventure did not apply to the game my players had. It was wildly off. PF2's default state applies to the characters, because they have both a floor and a ceiling.

I wouldn't recommend that path, basically.

(also, while that encounter I described becomes lethal with no level or half level, all bossfights become risible, and several player strategies get invalidated. Not sure how that would be an improvement, but hey, play it, go ahead)


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Ediwir wrote:

You might have less "control", but that's what keeps the game functioning. I'll take the level over the wild swings of PF1... too much stacking and you lose all semblance of control, to the point where you could steamroll everything up until someone sneezes on your weak stat. I don't really want to have to tiptoe around player weaknesses.

One of the reasons I reported adventure conversion as such a huge success was that it took me less time to convert to pf2 than to prep for pf1. That's because I had to remake most of pf1 in order for that to be usable with my specific group, due to all the stacking and variability - the baseline adventure did not apply to the game my players had. It was wildly off. PF2's default state applies to the characters, because they have both a floor and a ceiling.

I wouldn't recommend that path, basically.

(also, while that encounter I described becomes lethal with no level or half level, all bossfights become risible, and several player strategies get invalidated. Not sure how that would be an improvement, but hey, play it, go ahead)

yeah, my biggest problem with no level, is that 4 mooks tend to be more dangerous than the big boss. I want the big bad boss to be several orders of magnitude more dangerous than his mooks, but you just don't get that without level bonuses.


personally, I prefer the 0 bonus from level.

I like the danger of low level mobs.

"A highly trained navy SEAL with 20 years of training still gets killed by some dumbass lowlife that barely knows which end of AK47 to point at his direction"

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Igor Horvat wrote:

personally, I prefer the 0 bonus from level.

I like the danger of low level mobs.

"A highly trained navy SEAL with 20 years of training still gets killed by some dumbass lowlife that barely knows which end of AK47 to point at his direction"

Oh, there are fantasy RPGs that take this approach, D&D/Pathfinder never was one of them.


Gorbacz wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

personally, I prefer the 0 bonus from level.

I like the danger of low level mobs.

"A highly trained navy SEAL with 20 years of training still gets killed by some dumbass lowlife that barely knows which end of AK47 to point at his direction"

Oh, there are fantasy RPGs that take this approach, D&D/Pathfinder never was one of them.

I know, World of darkness is close to that.

D&D/PF will never be it because of HP/damage ratio.

But low power creep of attack bonuses/DCs does not make high level character nigh-invulnerable against low level mooks


Igor Horvat wrote:

personally, I prefer the 0 bonus from level.

I like the danger of low level mobs.

"A highly trained navy SEAL with 20 years of training still gets killed by some dumbass lowlife that barely knows which end of AK47 to point at his direction"

But the best part is the way low level PCs have a good chance of taking down much higher level enemies and getting all that experience and loot.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

personally, I prefer the 0 bonus from level.

I like the danger of low level mobs.

"A highly trained navy SEAL with 20 years of training still gets killed by some dumbass lowlife that barely knows which end of AK47 to point at his direction"

But the best part is the way low level PCs have a good chance of taking down much higher level enemies and getting all that experience and loot.

only to then be taken out by even lower level PCs, the cycle continues.


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I don't mind lower level mooks remaining threatening to people higher level than they are, but eventually a line has to be made. Can't say I'd enjoy my character that can battle a Godzilla sized creature head on, trade blows, and possibly even overpower it, only for that character to get mobbed and killed by a group of mooks next week or something.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
But the best part is the way low level PCs have a good chance of taking down much higher level enemies and getting all that experience and loot.

You do realize that means the GM has a good chance to take down high level PCs with low level minions and take away all their experience and loot? I am sure your GM thinks that is awesome from their side of the screen. Some want that reality, but others want that fantasy that at level 20 you are nearly a god.


krazmuze wrote:
thejeff wrote:
But the best part is the way low level PCs have a good chance of taking down much higher level enemies and getting all that experience and loot.

You do realize that means the GM has a good chance to take down high level PCs with low level minions and take away all their experience and loot? I am sure your GM thinks that is awesome from their side of the screen. Some want that reality, but others want that fantasy that at level 20 you are nearly a god.

You can always make up new toons.

And if the GM wants to kill you, they can always do so.


Sauce987654321 wrote:
I don't mind lower level mooks remaining threatening to people higher level than they are, but eventually a line has to be made. Can't say I'd enjoy my character that can battle a Godzilla sized creature head on, trade blows, and possibly even overpower it, only for that character to get mobbed and killed by a group of mooks next week or something.

that should be quite a big mob of mooks, even with +0 per level, your proficiency will go from +0 to +6(or +8), both attack and AC.

As with 20×HPs, it should be enough of a buffer for handling 30 or so 1st level mooks.


Igor Horvat wrote:

that should be quite a big mob of mooks, even with +0 per level, your proficiency will go from +0 to +6(or +8), both attack and AC.

As with 20×HPs, it should be enough of a buffer for handling 30 or so 1st level mooks.

To take some examples from video games, some people want their heroes to be like the heroes of Dynasty Warriors, or Batman in Arkham Asylum, wading through literal armies of enemies. Or like the heroes of lord of the rings movies, who killed hundreds of orcs with all of them getting barely a single scratch (well, except boromir...) Or the protagonist of any martial arts movie. This is what a high level character is to many people. So a mob of 30 1st level enemies should be a joke to them, more of a role playing opportunity than an actual combat, something they can dance through and stylishly slay instead of having to turn tail and flee.

Some people prefer a more realistic approach, where no matter how strong of a fighter you are 30 guys with knives and bats are more than enough to take you down. But typically these tales don't involve dragons and giants and stuff like that. Think of it, a first level character is only like 20% less likely to grapple and pin a giant than a 14th level character. A master acrobat can never reliably walk across a tight rope, failing once every 5-10 times or so, or if they can do it reliably then an average Joe probably has close to even odds of doing it too. The gap between hero and Joe is too low for me in these games (no offense meant to those named Joe, or those whose characters are named Joe).


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BellyBeard wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

that should be quite a big mob of mooks, even with +0 per level, your proficiency will go from +0 to +6(or +8), both attack and AC.

As with 20×HPs, it should be enough of a buffer for handling 30 or so 1st level mooks.

To take some examples from video games, some people want their heroes to be like the heroes of Dynasty Warriors, or Batman in Arkham Asylum, wading through literal armies of enemies. Or like the heroes of lord of the rings movies, who killed hundreds of orcs with all of them getting barely a single scratch (well, except boromir...) Or the protagonist of any martial arts movie. This is what a high level character is to many people. So a mob of 30 1st level enemies should be a joke to them, more of a role playing opportunity than an actual combat, something they can dance through and stylishly slay instead of having to turn tail and flee.

Some people prefer a more realistic approach, where no matter how strong of a fighter you are 30 guys with knives and bats are more than enough to take you down. But typically these tales don't involve dragons and giants and stuff like that. Think of it, a first level character is only like 20% less likely to grapple and pin a giant than a 14th level character. A master acrobat can never reliably walk across a tight rope, failing once every 5-10 times or so, or if they can do it reliably then an average Joe probably has close to even odds of doing it too. The gap between hero and Joe is too low for me in these games (no offense meant to those named Joe, or those whose characters are named Joe).

It also means you're better off sending 30 of the town militia to deal with the dragon than our band of 4 skilled heroes. Which doesn't seem really optimal as far as a game goes.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

that should be quite a big mob of mooks, even with +0 per level, your proficiency will go from +0 to +6(or +8), both attack and AC.

As with 20×HPs, it should be enough of a buffer for handling 30 or so 1st level mooks.

To take some examples from video games, some people want their heroes to be like the heroes of Dynasty Warriors, or Batman in Arkham Asylum, wading through literal armies of enemies. Or like the heroes of lord of the rings movies, who killed hundreds of orcs with all of them getting barely a single scratch (well, except boromir...) Or the protagonist of any martial arts movie. This is what a high level character is to many people. So a mob of 30 1st level enemies should be a joke to them, more of a role playing opportunity than an actual combat, something they can dance through and stylishly slay instead of having to turn tail and flee.

Some people prefer a more realistic approach, where no matter how strong of a fighter you are 30 guys with knives and bats are more than enough to take you down. But typically these tales don't involve dragons and giants and stuff like that. Think of it, a first level character is only like 20% less likely to grapple and pin a giant than a 14th level character. A master acrobat can never reliably walk across a tight rope, failing once every 5-10 times or so, or if they can do it reliably then an average Joe probably has close to even odds of doing it too. The gap between hero and Joe is too low for me in these games (no offense meant to those named Joe, or those whose characters are named Joe).

It also means you're better off sending 30 of the town militia to deal with the dragon than our band of 4 skilled heroes. Which doesn't seem really optimal as far as a game goes.

That's the part that always bothers me. If low level creatures in enough numbers are always a threat wtf is the point of adventuring?

A town should never need you to kill a dragon because they could just form a mob and take it out due to numbers, enough rolls will take it down. So many standard fantasy tropes don't work, or make the world not work if you keep low level threats relevant.

I prefer the Exalted/Dynasty Warriors/PF2 style. A level 20 fighter should be able to sit down and have tea while simultaneously parrying a lvl 1 Fighter's Great Sword with their finger.


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Cyouni wrote:


Also, I'm sure most people aren't looking for a simulator with PF, but when you push the boundaries so far, it breaks immersion. A Level 20 monk with no gear literally can't be hit by ten-thousand level 1 archers shooting at him.

I hope I'm not too late for the joke...

YOU WA SHOCK!!


Vlorax wrote:
thejeff wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

that should be quite a big mob of mooks, even with +0 per level, your proficiency will go from +0 to +6(or +8), both attack and AC.

As with 20×HPs, it should be enough of a buffer for handling 30 or so 1st level mooks.

To take some examples from video games, some people want their heroes to be like the heroes of Dynasty Warriors, or Batman in Arkham Asylum, wading through literal armies of enemies. Or like the heroes of lord of the rings movies, who killed hundreds of orcs with all of them getting barely a single scratch (well, except boromir...) Or the protagonist of any martial arts movie. This is what a high level character is to many people. So a mob of 30 1st level enemies should be a joke to them, more of a role playing opportunity than an actual combat, something they can dance through and stylishly slay instead of having to turn tail and flee.

Some people prefer a more realistic approach, where no matter how strong of a fighter you are 30 guys with knives and bats are more than enough to take you down. But typically these tales don't involve dragons and giants and stuff like that. Think of it, a first level character is only like 20% less likely to grapple and pin a giant than a 14th level character. A master acrobat can never reliably walk across a tight rope, failing once every 5-10 times or so, or if they can do it reliably then an average Joe probably has close to even odds of doing it too. The gap between hero and Joe is too low for me in these games (no offense meant to those named Joe, or those whose characters are named Joe).

It also means you're better off sending 30 of the town militia to deal with the dragon than our band of 4 skilled heroes. Which doesn't seem really optimal as far as a game goes.

That's the part that always bothers me. If low level creatures in enough numbers are always a threat wtf is the point of adventuring?

A town should never need you to kill a dragon...

While I share your overall stance, it is worth remembering that the village might kill the dragon but it would suffer casualties in the process. Especially Pathfinder dragons, which are pretty absurdly optimized for mass slaughter. Somewhat less so now that Frightful Presence doesn't send people fleeing, bit still.

The point being there is still reason for the village to hire adventurers to take out big monsters without turning most of its kids into orphans who get punched. Perhaps less so for the king, who can weigh the gold he would spend o adventurers against the lives of his soldiers.


Vlorax wrote:
thejeff wrote:

It also means you're better off sending 30 of the town militia to deal with the dragon than our band of 4 skilled heroes. Which doesn't seem really optimal as far as a game goes.

That's the part that always bothers me. If low level creatures in enough numbers are always a threat wtf is the point of adventuring?

Because they aren't.

Changing level difference only matters in narrow ranges. Once you start moving too far, hp/damage kicks in, meaning that the peasants will never kill the dragon anyway, as they have no way to deal enough damage before he blows the entire town to bits (no level means close to no crits, failure or success, and very good odds of passing, but try dealing half a dragon's breath to a peasant...).

Removing level modifier does not widely increase the range of usable creatures.
Removing level modifier flattens encounter conditions within a similar range.
...you can actually see this in 5e. Pick a high level dragon, pick a lv1 fighter, see how it goes. Yeah, the fighter will hit, and yeah, the fighter will pass saves. I'd still bet my gold on the dragon (if gold was worth anything).

If you want low-level creatures to threaten high-level monsters, you need to flatten not only modifiers, but also hp and damage. At which point the entire game devolves into a series of 1v1 (or 4v4) tactical fights.

This also means that you'd experience the side effect of inflating equipment relevance, as the large difference in damage and precision will ultimately be more relevant than your own adventurer's capabilities (think 5e, where a +1 sword brings you up to par with a character 4 levels higher - in 2e, a +1 weapon brings you to next level range, no more, but Striking makes a large difference, especially early on).

All in all, the more I hear people stating what they're hoping to get out of this, the more I find it won't happen.


Ediwir wrote:


All in all, the more I hear people stating what they're hoping to get out of this, the more I find it won't happen.

The people talking about level 1 characters making dragons irrelevant aren't the people who want it though, they're critiquing it.

I don't think most people who want flatter scaling necessarily want level 1 orcs to be meaningful threats to high level characters. They want broader ranges (which this allows) and less of an emphasis on accuracy as the primary driving factor in power gaps (which this allows).

The biggest issue has nothing to do with HP or damage (because HP is still meant to be a scaling factor in games like 5e) but that flattened scaling makes debuff-focused enemies significantly more dangerous and skews their viability as low CR threats, which is something that needs to be kept in mind.


Vlorax wrote:
thejeff wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

that should be quite a big mob of mooks, even with +0 per level, your proficiency will go from +0 to +6(or +8), both attack and AC.

As with 20×HPs, it should be enough of a buffer for handling 30 or so 1st level mooks.

To take some examples from video games, some people want their heroes to be like the heroes of Dynasty Warriors, or Batman in Arkham Asylum, wading through literal armies of enemies. Or like the heroes of lord of the rings movies, who killed hundreds of orcs with all of them getting barely a single scratch (well, except boromir...) Or the protagonist of any martial arts movie. This is what a high level character is to many people. So a mob of 30 1st level enemies should be a joke to them, more of a role playing opportunity than an actual combat, something they can dance through and stylishly slay instead of having to turn tail and flee.

Some people prefer a more realistic approach, where no matter how strong of a fighter you are 30 guys with knives and bats are more than enough to take you down. But typically these tales don't involve dragons and giants and stuff like that. Think of it, a first level character is only like 20% less likely to grapple and pin a giant than a 14th level character. A master acrobat can never reliably walk across a tight rope, failing once every 5-10 times or so, or if they can do it reliably then an average Joe probably has close to even odds of doing it too. The gap between hero and Joe is too low for me in these games (no offense meant to those named Joe, or those whose characters are named Joe).

It also means you're better off sending 30 of the town militia to deal with the dragon than our band of 4 skilled heroes. Which doesn't seem really optimal as far as a game goes.

That's the part that always bothers me. If low level creatures in enough numbers are always a threat wtf is the point of adventuring?

A town should never need you to kill a dragon...

problem is that one breath weapon can and will kill anyone cought in it's AoE if it hits 1st level characters.

As mentioned, village needs adventurers or 90% of village will be gone before the dragon is dead.

But, without +level modifiers, it atleast gives the "last stand" chance to the villagers.


Yes, AoE becomes much more potent, and positioning of the low level characters will make or break the encounter. I'm reminded of the 4e minions, which have attacks and defenses common for the level but only 1 HP, so any attack kills them. This seems how these low level enemies would operate with the -level Variant, though of course depending how much lower their level they would also have slightly weaker attacks and defenses, and much weaker damage.


In MTG reference. Bounded accuracy let's the army of 1/1 tokens defeat the 10/10 trample hexproof dino. But you bet lots of them are going to be destroyed.


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Squiggit wrote:
Ediwir wrote:


All in all, the more I hear people stating what they're hoping to get out of this, the more I find it won't happen.
The people talking about level 1 characters making dragons irrelevant aren't the people who want it though, they're critiquing it.

And to be fair, that's the hyperbole situation. Just like the magic missile brigade is a cheaper dragon defense than an adventuring party in PF2.

However, my biggest issue with the flattened numbers system is party vs. boss monster. It's not a level 20 dragon being threatened by a few hundred level 1 militia that's a problem. The problem is the level 20 dragon looking like a pushover when faced with level 16-17 PCs.

If you really like flattened numbers for mooks to keep numbers of low level enemies interesting, I'd suggest using Ediwir's level difference method for bosses to keep them a major solo threat.

Ediwir wrote:

The actual, more specific reason is that level DIFFERENCE is relevant and creates the feel of progression. Removing level difference does not make a game grittier, it makes it flatter.

If you intend to remove level bonus, ensure you maintain level difference. That can be done by removing the player’s level from stats - both player and monster, regardless of the monster’s level.

For example, a level-less party of lv4 fighting three lv2 monsters and a lv3 captain should remove -4 from the lv2 and lv3 stats.


Garretmander wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
Ediwir wrote:


All in all, the more I hear people stating what they're hoping to get out of this, the more I find it won't happen.
The people talking about level 1 characters making dragons irrelevant aren't the people who want it though, they're critiquing it.

And to be fair, that's the hyperbole situation. Just like the magic missile brigade is a cheaper dragon defense than an adventuring party in PF2.

However, my biggest issue with the flattened numbers system is party vs. boss monster. It's not a level 20 dragon being threatened by a few hundred level 1 militia that's a problem. The problem is the level 20 dragon looking like a pushover when faced with level 16-17 PCs.

If you really like flattened numbers for mooks to keep numbers of low level enemies interesting, I'd suggest using Ediwir's level difference method for bosses to keep them a major solo threat.

Ediwir wrote:

The actual, more specific reason is that level DIFFERENCE is relevant and creates the feel of progression. Removing level difference does not make a game grittier, it makes it flatter.

If you intend to remove level bonus, ensure you maintain level difference. That can be done by removing the player’s level from stats - both player and monster, regardless of the monster’s level.

For example, a level-less party of lv4 fighting three lv2 monsters and a lv3 captain should remove -4 from the lv2 and lv3 stats.

I suspect that most of those wanting to remove level would happier keeping the mooks relevant, but leaving the bosses tougher, for which removing their level from the mooks and the PCs level from the bosses would work well. Might freak out the simulationists though, since the ability of enemies would vary depending on PC strength.


I'm just realizing exactly how important the Incapacitate trait would be in such a game... Sure, the bosses bonuses aren't much better than yours, but it's still higher level and shaking off debilitating effects that you may have come to rely on to take out lower level (but still threatening) foes.


Remember the PF2 engine is a "gamist" one and is not expected to factor into worldbuilding and verisimilitude. The adventure writer/GM will just handwaive the dragon destroying the village if he wants the heros to intervene, same way it's done in 5E.

Please let's focus on examples that apply to the actual gameplay involving PCs and their encounters, for which there is a lot of consequences to the +level to have a good discussion about.

For example, flattened bounded accuracy has a huge impact on "solo boss fights" unless the boss has an action economy cheat (5e) since they will be overwhelmed without big numbers to protect them. This already happens in PF1 where enemy power level does not scale aggressively enough to keep up with PCs.


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I haven't really followed this thread, but I will weigh in here with an unpopular opinion.

Our WftC campaign is nearing its end. We have played the entire campaign based off of either PF2 Playtest rules or PF2 rules. I am the DM, the PCs will level up to level 17 next session.

After DMing for nearly a year, I have the following observations:

1. PF2 is a great system
2. I think the math breaks down a bit at high levels (its my feeling at least - and to be clear, the rest of the post does not pertain to this thought).
3. There are a lot of pluses, a lot of dice rolled (magic weapons), and a lot of attacks (sometimes three times a turn for attack, attack, attack routines). The game slows down a lot. By the end of a session, math fatigue sets in. This is undeniable for our group.
4. Numbers start to become meaningless. +33 here, +28 here. Both players and DMs lose sight of what is actually an easy, medium, or hard number to hit anymore and the game is about throwing out numbers. Things boil down simply to "I got a 43 to hit, did I hit?" If the answer is yes, players then do some math calculation and then they come to the conclusion that its a higher level guy or a guy with good armor. The number itself, without doing math, does not indicate to players how tough an AC or a save is. But it should. At level 1, if the DM says the creature has AC 20, most players will be "dang, this guy is gonna be tough". At high levels, players need to do mental math to come to that conclusion.

My group plays APs and therefore follows a set story. The story progresses, the stakes amp up, and there is very little to no chance of fighting the same creatures on level 10 or 20 as level 1. I plan to run Age of Ashes without +level bonus, while still keeping level difference of enemies relevant. That is, if the PCs are level 5, one enemy is level 7, and the other three enemies are level 4, the following would happen:

1. On the players sheets, they have no +level bonus so all things look fine from their perspective.
2. On the level 7 creature, I subtract 5 from their pluses. Pretty simple and it keeps the to hit and crit chances the same as if the +level existed. The integrity of PF2's design is maintained.
3. On the level 4 creature, I subtract 5 from their pluses. This preserves the level difference, making it easier for the PCs to hit as if the +level bonuses existed.

Damage, HPs, etc are all preserved. The only change is essentially removing the +level bonus while still maintaining the level difference.

At this point, I don't see any issue with the game, and I am hoping as we hit high levels, it provides more transparency to the players on where they stand in regards to the game because at the end of the day, the +25s, +38s, +22s of the world are mind numbing numbers at high level that mean very little.

I think that this hits the mark that some posters in this thread have hinted at and is very simple to do.

One thing I AM unsure about, is that by the time we hit level 10 and I announce, yet again, another AC 20 or 21, will the players say "Again?". The reality though, is that if you looked in the bestiary and picked many creatures from level 8 or above and had an equal level party fight it, the majority of creature ACs would be between 19-21 (excluding level bonus). There are some outlier creatures but the math is really the same regardless of level.

Just my thoughts on all this.


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Is "Numbers start to become meaningless" really any different than in PF1?

I mean, the basic calculation for "is this guy hard hit" still boils down to "What do I need to roll to hit him?". That's how the math always has to work. If I only hit with a good roll he's hard to hit. Or, I suppose, depending on which iterative I reliably hit with.

I don't think even in PF2 there's really much mental math needed to figure out if someone's hard to hit - rather than start with the 43, start with the actual die roll. Roll lousy and hit, this'll be easy. Roll well and miss and you're in trouble.


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

Interesting idea - so if you fight a boss across levels until they become a minion, they will have declining stats as you level up. So you take on the burden of the mental math so your players do not have to.

Isn't this counter productive to players wanting to have meaningful AC/DCs if they become dynamic? Makes for a more confusing metagame.

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