# +Level Bonuses

### Rules Discussion

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thejeff wrote:

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.

I’m not trying to compare to PF1. I am looking at PF2 as it’s own system.

If you feel the mental math is not difficult, that’s your opinion. I don’t find math difficult either, but my statement is my opinion based on a year long campaign, 5 months of which have been at what I would call high level. As a DM, it’s easy to lose track what becomes a hard save or a hard attack for players because the numbers are always moving. It’s the same from the players perspective. But at the end of the day, the numbers are the same as first level, just inflated modified by the difference in level. I find NPC spellcasters particularly underwhelming at high levels (unless they are higher level than the players) and am constantly surprised at the low numbers the players need to pass the spell DCs (which is a result of the designers wanting to increase the odds of success as players level). This catches me off guard because I don’t track the players save bonuses. If the numbers didn’t constantly change I’d have a better sense, allowing me to fine tune things without extra homework.

You are welcome to feel differently, and clearly you do. My belief is the +level bonus obfuscates the game to a degree. Once I try playing without the +level bonus I can confidently tell you if I think the game is better for it or not (IMO). Until then, I can’t state whether one is better than the other.

krazmuze wrote:

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.

I’m not sure I follow you. I can’t think of an AP where this happens and if it does, I think the boss tends to level too. A boss never becomes a minion, except I suppose in some weird circumstances.

Another way of saying what I intend to do is this.

1. Players never add +level bonus. Everything else stays the same.
2. Whatever level the players are, is the bonus you subtract from the monsters stats that benefit from level bonus.

This perfectly replicates the numbers using the normal system at higher levels.

I don’t understand how this makes things more confusing. It perfectly replicates what is already happening but without inflated numbers. If you want to see this for yourself, take a look at several level 10 creatures in the bestiary and subtract 10 from everything. Suddenly, every single number works for a first level character.

I totally understand that removing the +level bonus breaks immersion or whatever you want to call it for some folks (and that’s cool) but PF2 works the same at high levels as low levels. It’s super simple to remove it if you want.

krazmuze wrote:

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.

Perhaps if we think of AC as a measure of how hard it is for the PCs to hit, rather than an objective measurement? I mean, that's the real purpose anyway.

As I understand this approach, it works mechanically just the base game. The intermediate numbers are different, but in the end you need to roll the same number on the die to hit., You've just subtracted the same number (PC level) from both sides of the equation.

thejeff wrote:
You've just subtracted the same number (PC level) from both sides of the equation.

This succinctly captures what I am trying to express. Thanks!

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Duskreign wrote:
krazmuze wrote:

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.

I’m not sure I follow you. I can’t think of an AP where this happens and if it does, I think the boss tends to level too. A boss never becomes a minion, except I suppose in some weird circumstances.

I don’t understand how this makes things more confusing. It perfectly replicates what is already happening but without inflated numbers. If you want to see this for yourself, take a look at several level 10 creatures in the bestiary and subtract 10 from everything. Suddenly, every single number works for a first level character.

What's confusing about it, is that there is no real AC for a monster. Fight a troll at 2nd level it will have one AC. Fight another at 5 level, it will have a different one.

Individual named bosses rarely become minions, but it's not that uncommon to fight something as a tough solo foe at low level and then fight a bunch of them a few levels later. It's a nice clear way to show off how much tougher you've gotten.

Which it still would be under your system, it's just that it's kind of weird for the actual AC to drop. It feels more like these monsters are weaker, rather than the PCs being stronger.

I'm also trying to think how you would stat out monsters (or NPCs) in such a system, if you weren't working with an existing model with +level built in. How would you write up a Troll's stats in a bestiary? Seems like there should be a way to do it that isn't just "X-PC level", but I don't see it.

thejeff wrote:

]What's confusing about it, is that there is no real AC for a monster. Fight a troll at 2nd level it will have one AC. Fight another at 5 level, it will have a different one.

Individual named bosses rarely become minions, but it's not that uncommon to fight something as a tough solo foe at low level and then fight a bunch of them a few levels later. It's a nice clear way to show off how much tougher you've gotten.

Which it still would be under your system, it's just that it's kind of weird for the actual AC to drop. It feels more like these monsters are weaker, rather than the PCs being stronger.

I'm also trying to think how you would stat out monsters (or NPCs) in such a system, if you weren't working with an existing model with +level built in. How would you write up a Troll's stats in a bestiary? Seems like there should be a way to do it that isn't just "X-PC level", but I don't see it.

Ah, these are very good points. Let me give you my thoughts on these.

First, in regards to AC. AC is really a relative thing in the game and has been for a long time. A creature is given an AC to match the level it should be on. PF2 is more transparent in this than ever before. So, if we assume AC is just a number out of thin air to make the math work, then what if AC lowers as one gains more experience because you are more accurate at hitting? Instead of level bonuses to hit, its level penalties to enemies. Does that make sense?

Example: A level 1 character fights a level 5 troll. It's AC would be 19 (20 - 1 (party level) = 19) because of hide and its ability to avoid getting hit. Then that character levels up to level 2 and fights a troll. The trolls AC is now 18, not because the troll is weaker, but because the character is more accurate and better at hitting. This is how experience is manifested now.

Taking it a step further, can an average DM really explain the difference between AC 45 vs AC 25 or 40 vs 38? Not really, its just arbitrary. In this system, AC is now a combination of armor, dodge ability, AND SKILL. As you gain levels relative to the creature, it can't avoid you as easily. Thus, its AC is dropping because of your skill.

Second, how to stat creatures for this system. To be honest, I haven't given that any thought because I plan to play APs as opposed to home brewing stuff (I used to home brew all the time, but life, aka family and work, take up too much time these days). Based on this, I need a system that is essentially compatible with what Paizo produces, otherwise I might as well play a new system. What I would do is simply follow the monster creation guidelines that Paizo has put out. Those are solid rules to follow. Then simply subtract player level when they fight said creature at whatever level and keeping in mind my answer to AC above. AC now reflects skills, so as a character improves, AC lowers

I don't know. Its not perfect and its likely too far from the norm for the average player/GM to consider but its an interesting thought exercise that level changes not the player, but everything around them. Maybe its unsatisfying for some to not feel they are gaining things when they level, but I bet when they next fight that troll 2 levels later, in that very moment, the player, and by extension, the character, will feel more powerful.

I'm sure there are things I haven't thought of, but in a +/- 4 level thing as PF2 suggests, I don't see it being too hard to implement.

The system is valid and I have been suggesting it as a way to remove level without breaking game balancement, so it definitely works. The reason I still only advise it "if you really really want to" rather than "go ahead and do it", is essentially this:

krazmuze wrote:

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.

You say you just finished WftC. I'll drop a few names.

Think of Jeroth, extremely easy to make into a recurring villain. Think of the Three Sisters, all of the same power, but one of which is faced earlier than the others. Think of Merkondus, Vaddrigan, Avenna, Bartelby and all those NPCs you might face in an infiltration way earlier than you're meant to fight them. Think of Titus, whom you could be facing in a duel way earlier than you're actually capable of beating, or Ehlers, whose power is hard to resist when first met but changes a lot afterwards. Think of Guisarne or Veleto or Malphene.

All of these NPCs (a short list, really) are met at some point in WftC and recurr one or two or sometimes three levels after, once the PCs have grown stronger... or at least, that's how it would normally work. By removing level, they recurr once they've grown weaker.
That's weird.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It's also a massive pain in the bottom if the players have a friendly npc of a different level to them accompany them at some point.

Duskreign wrote:

A boss never becomes a minion, except I suppose in some weird circumstances.

I do not mean fighting THE boss and it becomes THE minion. I mean A boss becomes A minion. In PF2e anything at above your level is defined as a boss difficulty. So you fight ogres at lvl1 it is tough and someone is likely going down. But fight ogres at level 5 it is now as easy as any lacky.

So rather than party getting stronger to finally defeat the ogres, you are making the ogres weaker while party has no evidence they are stronger.

You are not changing the underlying math and not impacting the game balance unlike the gamemastery solution (which removes the PC level and NPC level - you are removing the PC level from the NPC level).

It just seems to be a metagamey whose only purpose is to change the AC/DC you announce because don't like big numbers. So simply do not announce those numbers - especially as they are now level relative?

In the fantasy the ogre did not get weaker, the party got stronger. So don't you want the numbers the players do see on their sheet - to get stronger reflecting their fantasy?

I can see the reason for the gamemastery change that someone wants that 5e style of bounded accuracy enabling access to the entire monster manual regardless of PC level. But having played 5e for five years I see the flaws that idea has (minion armies more powerful than party yet bosses are to weak to survive unless they hire a minion army and/or are legendary bosses with a lair)

The other thing to consider is that it makes figuring skills and untrained things a lot harder.

So on skill DCs for general tasks, Untrained is DC 10, Trained DC 15, Expert DC 20, etc. But by adjusting level, those DCs become completely confusing numbers, and you can never understand how good you are in a particular skill.

On a problem in the same area, if you're untrained in a skill you have, say +2 even if you're level 10. In this alternative, you have, uh...-8, and continually get worse with level.

Subtracting PC level sounds very much like keeping the +level balance but applying it in a video game sort of way. When done smoothly the player will feel like they are getting stronger without having to think about what the math actually is.

Having said that. I would love to hear the experience of someone who ran a game with 1/2 level (or some other version). It still sounds to me like that might be the best solution, letting the players see some number increase, but not making it as bad as +level. Any number bloat could them come from abilities or items (maybe with a bit higher bonus) making things slightly more variable and unpredictable

There was this "verily the +level treadmill, wrought, unnecessary, tacked on, will discard at earliest opportunity" fellow who was super active and then vanished into thin air, suddenly, like a candle on the wind. Shame, I'd love to hear his account on just how well did the discarding go.

I think it could be a fun one shot just to try out like E6 but it would not be my preferred default.

As a fun detail, I just wrote an expanded Baleful Polymorph based trap that temporarily removes player level for the following section of the event.
Not something that can work if there’s no level to start with, and it feels pretty cool when players that routinely rolled 30s start struggling against DC17s. Welcome to the toad life... survive.

Ediwir wrote:

The system is valid and I have been suggesting it as a way to remove level without breaking game balancement, so it definitely works. The reason I still only advise it "if you really really want to" rather than "go ahead and do it", is essentially this:

krazmuze wrote:

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.

You say you just finished WftC. I'll drop a few names.

Think of Jeroth, extremely easy to make into a recurring villain. Think of the Three Sisters, all of the same power, but one of which is faced earlier than the others. Think of Merkondus, Vaddrigan, Avenna, Bartelby and all those NPCs you might face in an infiltration way earlier than you're meant to fight them. Think of Titus, whom you could be facing in a duel way earlier than you're actually capable of beating, or Ehlers, whose power is hard to resist when first met but changes a lot afterwards. Think of Guisarne or Veleto or Malphene.

All of these NPCs (a short list, really) are met at some point in WftC and recurr one or two or sometimes three levels after, once the PCs have grown stronger... or at least, that's how it would normally work. By removing level, they recurr once they've grown weaker.
That's weird.

The mindshift in all this is that the enemies haven't grown weaker, its the PCs who have become stronger, making the challenge against them weaker. I'm pretty sure that its because of this mindset that removing +level is something that is showing up in the GMG and not just a sidebar in the Corebook.

Duskreign wrote:
Ediwir wrote:

The system is valid and I have been suggesting it as a way to remove level without breaking game balancement, so it definitely works. The reason I still only advise it "if you really really want to" rather than "go ahead and do it", is essentially this:

krazmuze wrote:

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.

You say you just finished WftC. I'll drop a few names.

Think of Jeroth, extremely easy to make into a recurring villain. Think of the Three Sisters, all of the same power, but one of which is faced earlier than the others. Think of Merkondus, Vaddrigan, Avenna, Bartelby and all those NPCs you might face in an infiltration way earlier than you're meant to fight them. Think of Titus, whom you could be facing in a duel way earlier than you're actually capable of beating, or Ehlers, whose power is hard to resist when first met but changes a lot afterwards. Think of Guisarne or Veleto or Malphene.

All of these NPCs (a short list, really) are met at some point in WftC and recurr one or two or sometimes three levels after, once the PCs have grown stronger... or at least, that's how it would normally work. By removing level, they recurr once they've grown weaker.
That's weird.

The mindshift in all this is that the enemies haven't grown weaker, its the PCs who have become stronger, making the challenge against them weaker. I'm pretty sure that its because of this mindset that removing +level is something that is showing up in the GMG and not just a sidebar in the Corebook.

That's not how removing +level is likely to work in the GMG though. That seems like it will be "remove each thing's level from itself", not "remove the PC level from everything". Which is an actual balance change with real mechanical implications.

As you say this other variation is a serious mindshift, since the mechanical effect is "the enemies are weaker". They've got lower numbers than they did when the PCs were lower level.

Gorbacz wrote:
There was this "verily the +level treadmill, wrought, unnecessary, tacked on, will discard at earliest opportunity" fellow who was super active and then vanished into thin air, suddenly, like a candle on the wind. Shame, I'd love to hear his account on just how well did the discarding go.

Well, I intend to at least try this out. I'm not opposed to the core game with the +level so don't think of me as hard core against the norm. It's just something I am willing to give a shot to see how it actually works. I find too many people theorycraft without actually trying things. PF2 is a great example of people having many ideas before even giving the game a chance.

thejeff wrote:
That's not how removing +level is likely to work in the GMG though. That seems like it will be "remove each thing's level from itself", not "remove the PC level...

I'm not so sure this is correct. I would think Paizo would still want to keep the integrity of the game in regards to how crit percentages scale up and down with level variance between enemies. Granted, they may have a different way of doing it, but whatever answer Paizo uses still needs to keep in mind level variance for crit success/failure reasons.

We will know in a few months how they do it.

Duskreign wrote:
I would think Paizo would still want to keep the integrity of the game in regards to how crit percentages scale up and down with level variance between enemies.

The whole point of removing +level (for most of the people who want to do it) is to remove 'level variance' from the game. Getting rid of the big numbers is just a secondary benefit.

Duskreign wrote:
thejeff wrote:
That's not how removing +level is likely to work in the GMG though. That seems like it will be "remove each thing's level from itself", not "remove the PC level...

I'm not so sure this is correct. I would think Paizo would still want to keep the integrity of the game in regards to how crit percentages scale up and down with level variance between enemies. Granted, they may have a different way of doing it, but whatever answer Paizo uses still needs to keep in mind level variance for crit success/failure reasons.

We will know in a few months how they do it.

Well, most of the early complaints and requests were for that version - specifically to make monsters effective opponents across more levels.

This approach you're suggesting is relatively new, I think.

Paizo hasn't stated how the GMG's "remove level" will work. Absolute level removal isn't new, I remember bringing it up during late playtest, but never as a serious proposal - it feels too unnatural and weird, even if it mathematically works.
As for making monsters effective across more levels... threatening, perhaps. Effective, no.

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Duskreign wrote:
I find too many people theorycraft without actually trying things. PF2 is a great example of people having many ideas before even giving the game a chance.

A lot of that is migration from 5e that thinks the game should be balanced the same way as the one they are coming from, without recognizing the flaws that system has. It requires understanding how the math while simple to 'fix' has a huge impact on encounter balance and bestiary changing how the game itself plays

Don't need to try deleveled myself because I already did that for five years....I know the cons outweigh the pros for me.

However if I was porting a 5e adventure for sure I will do the gamemastery remove level otherwise it will be too much work to redesign monsters and rebalance encounters. There are many adventures there that are written assuming +/-2 PC level variance for doing encounters is fine - but that swing would be trivial to deadly in PF2e.

Temperans wrote:

Having said that. I would love to hear the experience of someone who ran a game with 1/2 level (or some other version). It still sounds to me like that might be the best solution, letting the players see some number increase, but not making it as bad as +level. Any number bloat could them come from abilities or items (maybe with a bit higher bonus) making things slightly more variable and unpredictable

The version you are looking for is D&D 4e...not saying that is a bad thing. The PF2e designers are from 4e after all and they already borrowed a lot of things, would be interesting to get their take on why not lvl/2 was considered.

My personal take on it is that +/-4 levels is plenty for viability of a given monster. Half level makes that +/-8 levels.

The problem in applying any level changes to PF2e is the dependence on crit ranges on level. Just play PF2e removing the crit ranges and sticking to old school nat 1/20 - it feels very different. Boss fights are much more difficult with +level, the odds of them critting are multiplied significantly, as are the PC odds of fumbling.

Ediwir wrote:

Paizo hasn't stated how the GMG's "remove level" will work. Absolute level removal isn't new, I remember bringing it up during late playtest, but never as a serious proposal - it feels too unnatural and weird, even if it mathematically works.

As for making monsters effective across more levels... threatening, perhaps. Effective, no.

But you can take a really good guess, because weak and elite templates are showing how they do +/- 2 level already

krazmuze wrote:
Duskreign wrote:
I find too many people theorycraft without actually trying things. PF2 is a great example of people having many ideas before even giving the game a chance.

A lot of that is migration from 5e that thinks the game should be balanced the same way as the one they are coming from, without recognizing the flaws that system has. It requires understanding how the math while simple to 'fix' has a huge impact on encounter balance and bestiary changing how the game itself plays

Don't need to try deleveled myself because I already did that for five years....I know the cons outweigh the pros for me.

However if I was porting a 5e adventure for sure I will do the gamemastery remove level otherwise it will be too much work to redesign monsters and rebalance encounters. There are many adventures there that are written assuming +/-2 PC level variance for doing encounters is fine - but that swing would be trivial to deadly in PF2e.

I've long been amused by this whole line of argument because I remember all the same arguments here during the 5E playtest about how bounded accuracy would kill the game by flattening it out so much.

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thejeff wrote:
krazmuze wrote:
Duskreign wrote:
I find too many people theorycraft without actually trying things. PF2 is a great example of people having many ideas before even giving the game a chance.

A lot of that is migration from 5e that thinks the game should be balanced the same way as the one they are coming from, without recognizing the flaws that system has. It requires understanding how the math while simple to 'fix' has a huge impact on encounter balance and bestiary changing how the game itself plays

Don't need to try deleveled myself because I already did that for five years....I know the cons outweigh the pros for me.

However if I was porting a 5e adventure for sure I will do the gamemastery remove level otherwise it will be too much work to redesign monsters and rebalance encounters. There are many adventures there that are written assuming +/-2 PC level variance for doing encounters is fine - but that swing would be trivial to deadly in PF2e.

I've long been amused by this whole line of argument because I remember all the same arguments here during the 5E playtest about how bounded accuracy would kill the game by flattening it out so much.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this, but certainly bounded accuracy a la 5E has a very different feel to it. I agree with krazmuze that changing Pathfinder by removing level from the calculation of...basically everything would make the game very flat. But for me it would kill the game. It would destroy any real semblance of character progression. Heck, I'm not even convinced I like PF2 yet because of how much they tightened up the math from PF1.

In PF1 my characters got better at the things they focused on. Substantially better. My progression felt meaningful, even if it was mostly just numbers, because I could swing my sword and hit 75-85% of the time. My damage grew to prodigious amount. I felt truly powerful.

I still haven't hit that feeling in PF2...and while I'm still giving it a chance it still doesn't feel like I'm progressing substantially enough, because the enemies are progressing at very close to the same rate.

I don't just want to increase 1 for 1 at each level with the enemy, because that's doesn't feel like progression. That's simply parity with monsters that are higher level, and they're only higher level because the game is built on the premise of having progression.

But if I'm honest, I still don't really feel like my PF2 characters have substantial enough progression, but I'm hoping time will change that.

thejeff wrote:
I've long been amused by this whole line of argument because I remember all the same arguments here during the 5E playtest about how bounded accuracy would kill the game by flattening it out so much.

Not nearly as amusing hearing PF1e touting how great some new feature of PF2e is and they are switching systems because it is so great, yet if they walked back a decade you would find that same person saying how 4e killed D&D - even though that is where that 'new' PF2e subsystem comes from!

krazmuze wrote:
Ediwir wrote:

Paizo hasn't stated how the GMG's "remove level" will work. Absolute level removal isn't new, I remember bringing it up during late playtest, but never as a serious proposal - it feels too unnatural and weird, even if it mathematically works.

As for making monsters effective across more levels... threatening, perhaps. Effective, no.
But you can take a really good guess, because weak and elite templates are showing how they do +/- 2 level already

It's closer to +/- 1ish levels, really. If you want to shift 2 levels, you need to make a custom adjustment - double elite and double weak exceed that target.

...yeah I worked with it quite a bit, would love if it was more reliable, but that's not the case...

krazmuze wrote:
thejeff wrote:
I've long been amused by this whole line of argument because I remember all the same arguments here during the 5E playtest about how bounded accuracy would kill the game by flattening it out so much.
Not nearly as amusing hearing PF1e touting how great some new feature of PF2e is and they are switching systems because it is so great, yet if they walked back a decade you would find that same person saying how 4e killed D&D - even though that is where that 'new' PF2e subsystem comes from!

Press X to doubt.

There were good points in 4e's math - *math*. The game itself was entirely off, and that is in large part due to the complete muddiness of the caster/martial differentiation. Everyone felt like having the same stuff, to the point where some spells were just reflavoured bows, and somehow a fighter could run out of muscles. THAT is what people abhorred.

4e was, to reuse an old line, "not badly made, just disgusting". Remember D&D Tiny Adventures? Best D&D videogame ever, and it was in 4e. It was a good videogame, but not an RPG.

2e still has martials and casters. Classes still give you different things. We're still playing a TTRPG.

Well that is either you are misremembering the person or they changed their tastes (which can happen in 10 years). Also having not read the 4e rules, it seems like a big problem with it wasnt necessarily that any given given rule was bad, but the combination and presentation were; doesnt help 4e was meant to be computer assisted.

***************
As for the lv/2 having a +/-8 difference, the effect of it is that a lv+8 dragon who at first was a nearly impossible task can be fought on equal grounds in 8 lvs, and by lv 16 he can be fought as a mook for the latest BBEG.

Currently a lv+4 dragon is nearly impossible task that 8 lvs later becomes a mook.

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

I'm pretty sure that would be the case with any system that had levels in it.

Object oriented keywords that codify rules and make it great for computer assist - actually more useable in hyperlink than in a book? That is a PF2e design feature taken straight from 4e. It is even more useable now than then, because everyone has a phone to look up rules with, and virtual tabletops are reselling the books in digital form specifically for playing it like a turn-based CPRG with lots of automation. At release one of the designers was saying how great an engine PF2e would be for cRPG (specifically mentioning how much better it would work than the recent cRPG PF1 game)

Temperans wrote:

Currently a lv+4 dragon is nearly impossible task that 8 lvs later becomes a mook.

I think somewhere in the book it says if you play every week for four hours you should expect to level up once a month. So my opinion is that boss to mook viability over 8 months is rather reasonable, do you really need creatures to be viable for the entire campaign of two years? I really do not want to be wasting time on kobold armies at lvl 20 when I was sweeping the floor with them two years ago. I want to fight ancient dragons not the same young dragons.

That's 1 way to use the +/-8. But, it's also the most extreme and more for specific types of games, where you do want to face the army of kobolds at some point (maybe final battle?)

In a more reasonable game you can encounter the Lv+8 dragon at the start of the game and narrowly escape to latter face the dragon again and finally best it. Then 3 levels later you can be fighting a lv+4 Enemy that has some Lv-3 dragons under his control with a handful of lv-5 mooks.

Which also means you can design entire areas as a single encounter, say a Fort of dark elves with many lv-8 mooks keeping guard, some lv-5 as commanders, a group of elite on lv enemies surrounding a lv+2 (or lv+4) Boss; and then a lv+5 secret boss.

If you want to face an army of kobolds you are much better off using mass combat rules

krazmuze wrote:
If you want to face an army of kobolds you are much better off using mass combat rules

Or revive something like the PF1 troop rules.

Not if the goal is to fight small groups of the army at a time as you try to reach the leader. But want the army itself to not be affected by the PCs advance.

Your final adventure battle is basically what chapter 3 of Plaguestone is.

A barrack full of orcs, their chief and a hunter sniper. Then a fort full of alchemical minions in each room designed to wear you down until you get to the boss who is only buying time for their minion to destroy the town.

Not that hard to find 10m breaks in such a crawl, get something back but not everything so it still felt like a dangerous. But sleeping it off every fight just is not going to work out well.

The only difference is the enemies are compressed into the PF2e viable range. It just makes more sense that the adventure boss is only a few levels above you. The game design is a perfect fit for the adventure path structure of a few levels at a time, or the pathfinder society oneshots. Why would the mid level campaign boss waste their time on minion adventures doing what the lacky guards in town do not want to do?.

The narrative structure of taking a breather is straight out of every action movie. It makes the bursts that much more cinematic if there is a lull. Die Hard and all its sequels are this very thing.

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Temperans wrote:
As for the lv/2 having a +/-8 difference, the effect of it is that a lv+8 dragon who at first was a nearly impossible task can be fought on equal grounds in 8 lvs,

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahano.

You can tweak level and change the math however you want, a lv+8 dragon will kill the whole party without even bothering.
Unless you think lv7 PCs can take 16d6 (average 56) breaths as an opener and still pat themselves in the back saying “yeah we can do this if we work together”.

Hit points are still a thing. This isn't "nearly impossible" in the way lv+4 is in the regular game, this is "...so I guess we're retconning this?" levels of GM mistake.

Once again, more slowly:
You're not going to get a wider encounter range.
You don't actually get a much wider encounter range in 5e either, at least upward - damage and hp limit that. You might get to use a horde if there's no spellcasters.
You're just playing with less variance within that range.

I was thinking more like: A dragon attacks the town and the party happens to not be within breath range. Of course they wont survive an actual fight but that's why it's an extreme encounter. They are lucky to be alive to help with the fire.

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I do worry about math fatigue. It was already apparent during the playtest, and I expect that high level play will continue to exhibit this going forward. I also do not like how meaningless your bonuses are. All throughout the playtest, I would attempt to maximize some bonus, without checking the bestiary, and I would always be amazed at how easily the monsters evaded what I thought was my best. I feel like if I've made optimized picks and roll above a 15 on the d20 I should expect to connect, and sadly the level bonus to everything means that most of the time that isn't true and that I was way off in my expectations.

I do appreciate how this opened up more room for designing challenging monsters, but as a player, I don't know what level the minions and big bad were, so I don't know that I should feel lucky I survived or even realize that I can "dance through combat with style" because the monsters are below me level. All I know is that I rolled a 17, and that I have to ask the GM if that hit, because I honestly don't know if it should or not.

At that point I might as well not do the math and just announce raw d20 results. If the encounter is "on level" the bonuses and DCs cancel each other out for the most part. level +2, yeah, anything below 15 won't ever hit, moving on to the next player's roll, rinse and repeat.

I don't think that the PF1 or 5e system is any better, but I do think that this system has made it rather impossible to know when your bonus is actually good or your check is likely to succeed.

I also feel like the way that it makes lower level challenges irrelevant means I'm never going to face that horde, or run into a level 2 hazard after I've reached level 5. Instead all the challenges published will just continue to grow along with your level and from one session to the next I'll be asking did a 24 succeed?, did a 26 succeed?, did a 29 succeed? on the same die roll! I'm unlikely to be stopped by a locked passage that I could easily crit succeed on picking, because the module author won't put it in my way.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Zamfield wrote:

I do worry about math fatigue. It was already apparent during the playtest, and I expect that high level play will continue to exhibit this going forward. I also do not like how meaningless your bonuses are. All throughout the playtest, I would attempt to maximize some bonus, without checking the bestiary, and I would always be amazed at how easily the monsters evaded what I thought was my best. I feel like if I've made optimized picks and roll above a 15 on the d20 I should expect to connect, and sadly the level bonus to everything means that most of the time that isn't true and that I was way off in my expectations.

Have you actually played since the play test? Adding level to bonus doesn't make a 15 on the d20 stop hitting at higher levels...

Lets take an example.

Lvl 20 Cloistered Cleric.

Spell attack, +35
Spell DC, 45

Balor lvl 20.
AC 45, Fort +39, Ref +35, Will +34
So 10+ on the d20 hits on a spell attack, before any kind of debuff.

6+ saves vs Fort
10+ saves vs Ref
11+ saves vs Will

Baomel lvl 20
AC 48, Fort +36, Ref +30!, Will +34
slightly harder to hit(13+) with spell attacks but weak reflex

Ancient Red Dragon lvl 19
AC 45, Fort +35, Ref +32, Will +35
10+ hits on everything...

Grim Reaper lvl 21!
AC 47, Fort +37, Ref +41, Will +38
12+ hits, saves 8+, 3+, 7+

Looks like a 15+ on the d20 hits just fine.

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