+Level Bonuses


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So, I didn't really participate in the playtest at all so I can't complain too much...

...but I am exceptionally curious why we have +Level bonuses. It just seems to pump up the numbers and nothing else really. Compare that to, say, 5e, where barely anything has an AC over 22 or a bonus to hit greater than +12.

My off the cuff theory is so that PF1 material would still be somewhat easy to insert into PF2 if a person needed more content.

Wouldn't the game work just as well, if not better, if the numbers were compressed down to:

Untrained +0
Trained +2
Expert +4
Master +6
Legendary +8

Then you just knock down all the other numbers and to me it creates a game without artificially inflated numbers and it will also produce situations where low level monsters stay threatening for longer.

But I'm about 6 months to late with this post, so... ya


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Situations where low level monsters stay threatening for longer is specifically and intentionally what adding level to proficiency prevents, among other things. Characters in pathfinder are supposed to laugh off low tier threats and do extraordinary things that lower level characters couldn't dream of doing.

It has nothing to do with keeping the numbers similar to PF1 (beyond of course that PF1 still had the same sharp increase in power with level), because the numbers aren't actually that similar to PF1 at all in many cases.


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There were entire 200+ post discussions about this during the playtest. So you're about a year late on that (not six months).


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Filthy Lucre wrote:

it will also produce situations where low level monsters stay threatening for longer.

This is one reason, to avoid this. Low level critters shouldn't stay threatenng for longer.


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dragonhunterq wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:

it will also produce situations where low level monsters stay threatening for longer.

This is one reason, to avoid this. Low level critters shouldn't stay threatenng for longer.

I prefer a grittier game, but PF2 is still good. I just wish there was a d20 system more geared toward that.


FowlJ wrote:

Situations where low level monsters stay threatening for longer is specifically and intentionally what adding level to proficiency prevents, among other things. Characters in pathfinder are supposed to laugh off low tier threats and do extraordinary things that lower level characters couldn't dream of doing.

It has nothing to do with keeping the numbers similar to PF1 (beyond of course that PF1 still had the same sharp increase in power with level), because the numbers aren't actually that similar to PF1 at all in many cases.

You can probably see how this thread and the other thread I created, that you also commented on, kind of tell you what kind of game I prefer to run.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Filthy Lucre wrote:
FowlJ wrote:

Situations where low level monsters stay threatening for longer is specifically and intentionally what adding level to proficiency prevents, among other things. Characters in pathfinder are supposed to laugh off low tier threats and do extraordinary things that lower level characters couldn't dream of doing.

It has nothing to do with keeping the numbers similar to PF1 (beyond of course that PF1 still had the same sharp increase in power with level), because the numbers aren't actually that similar to PF1 at all in many cases.

You can probably see how this thread and the other thread I created, that you also commented on, kind of tell you what kind of game I prefer to run.

Good news, though it means waiting a bit, the gmg is going to present a variant that strips out plus level.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

With the prereleased gamemasters guide to monster building you can easily build up high tier threats of the appropriate races and whatnot. As well when it releases in full it'll have a guide to removing level.


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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.


For context, without level a level 1 fighter will be only +2 weaker to hit than a level 12 fighter. This means that ten level 1 fighters have a very good chance at taking down the level 12. Sure makes you feel good that you had to kill hundreds of them to get there when ten of them can take you down easily.

Good luck trying this in PF1 - as a matter of fact, quite a few CR 1 monsters can become completely irrelevant if you can get 22 AC, and that's not exactly a high number.


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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.

Shadow Lodge

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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

...

This.

One of the biggest issues people have with D&D 5.0 is its 'lack of progression' feeling: You can advance multiple levels and barely need to edit your character sheet at all. It's not really a mechanical flaw with the system, but it contributes to a feeling that some players really don't like...

Somewhat ironically, PF2 follows D&D 4.0's lead in a lot of features:

  • Blatantly adding level to nearly everything.
  • Choosing a class power from a handful of options every other level or so
  • The entire multiclassing system.


Cyouni wrote:
For context, without level a level 1 fighter will be only +2 weaker to hit than a level 12 fighter. This means that ten level 1 fighters have a very good chance at taking down the level 12. Sure makes you feel good that you had to kill hundreds of them to get there when ten of them can take you down easily.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Winning a fight when you're outnumbered ten to one by a team of competent trained warriors is something that ought to be remarkable, even if you've won hundreds of one-on-one battles in the past.

When it's something any level 9 PC can do easily, it's not impressive any more. You've already achieved superheroic power (getting exponentially more superheroic every level), and you don't even get to show it off because most GMs will never put you in a situation like that; it's not an interesting enough challenge.

Then again, in a flat-progression system, the ten level 1 guards can probably defeat the dragon that's menacing the town, which makes the PCs a bit obsolete. So overall I think it's a good thing that PF2 is going with the +1/level rather than imitate the slower progression of D&D5e.


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Filthy Lucre wrote:

So, I didn't really participate in the playtest at all so I can't complain too much...

...but I am exceptionally curious why we have +Level bonuses. It just seems to pump up the numbers and nothing else really. Compare that to, say, 5e, where barely anything has an AC over 22 or a bonus to hit greater than +12.

My off the cuff theory is so that PF1 material would still be somewhat easy to insert into PF2 if a person needed more content.

Wouldn't the game work just as well, if not better, if the numbers were compressed down to:

Untrained +0
Trained +2
Expert +4
Master +6
Legendary +8

Then you just knock down all the other numbers and to me it creates a game without artificially inflated numbers and it will also produce situations where low level monsters stay threatening for longer.

But I'm about 6 months to late with this post, so... ya

Specifically Paizo didn't want this, because it means that even CR 1 creatures always remain a threat because of the bounds of accuracy.

PF2 still has bounded accuracy, but the spread is wider than 5E but narrower than PF1.

Personally, if the game didn't add character level progression to basically all your stats I would absolutely not play, as it's not the kind of power curve I enjoy.


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.

I'm not sure what advice Paizo intends to give in the GMG to remove/alter level progression, but after doing a bunch of work on it myself, I'm fairly sure it'll involve more advice on how to manage the issues than advice on how to prevent them. Because the only real way to prevent them is to run the method I described above, and it feels unnatural.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
For context, without level a level 1 fighter will be only +2 weaker to hit than a level 12 fighter. This means that ten level 1 fighters have a very good chance at taking down the level 12. Sure makes you feel good that you had to kill hundreds of them to get there when ten of them can take you down easily.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Winning a fight when you're outnumbered ten to one by a team of competent trained warriors is something that ought to be remarkable, even if you've won hundreds of one-on-one battles in the past.

When it's something any level 9 PC can do easily, it's not impressive any more. You've already achieved superheroic power (getting exponentially more superheroic every level), and you don't even get to show it off because most GMs will never put you in a situation like that; it's not an interesting enough challenge.

Then again, in a flat-progression system, the ten level 1 guards can probably defeat the dragon that's menacing the town, which makes the PCs a bit obsolete. So overall I think it's a good thing that PF2 is going with the +1/level rather than imitate the slower progression of D&D5e.

i feel like the impressive part is getting to level 9, you've killed hundreds of people or creatures in combat at this point.


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PF1 had + level bonuses to accuracy and skills, and because accuracy scaled by level you needed to continually increase your AC to match. What PF2 does is "eliminate the hundred little things you needed to buy to keep your AC high enough" by just saying "you get better at getting out of the way".

PF1 had spell DCs and saves increase by roughly 1/2 level. What PF2 did was "eliminate fractional math".

It's really not very different than it used to be. Like a PF1 20th level fighter with (greater) weapon focus and gloves of dueling rolls +28+StrMod to hit with a nonmagical weapon. A PF2 fighter rolls +28+StrMod to hit with a nonmagical weapon.


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It gives you a +/-4 level range of threat from campaign ending boss down to lacky, which is more realistic that lvl1 cannot even attempt to take on a lvl20 or a lvl10 and barely a lvl5. It allows for critical ranges on both fumbles and hits, which has made combat way more dynamic.

But if you really do not like it the gamemastery guide will explain how it changes encounter building and the nature of the game to remove it.


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With the intention of most of the world falling within the first few levels, +level is really important. It makes the stratification of things very clear. A level 10 creature is well within the realm of myth and legend and level 1 characters shouldn't have much affect in it.

Without level, the Tarrasque is less of a "mobile Apocalypse" and just an army condensed to one being. This is a game about heroes and that really makes the level stratification important.


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Cyouni wrote:
For context, without level a level 1 fighter will be only +2 weaker to hit than a level 12 fighter. This means that ten level 1 fighters have a very good chance at taking down the level 12. Sure makes you feel good that you had to kill hundreds of them to get there when ten of them can take you down easily.

+2 from mastery, +1 from 2 strength increases, +2 from magic weapon = +5 total. A pretty big difference.

Also the level 12 fighter has magic armor, and 180+ hp.

All the level difference does is lock you into a threat range, and limit GM options.

"A horde of zombies is overrunning the town!"

"Send the wizard out with his non-magical dagger, we'll all take a nap."

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. It's like the end of the movie "Hero", except the guy lives.

I'm curious what people think the level boost adds to the game. Does it trick people into thinking it's progression? Everything you fight progresses with you. Is it so that the players can bully low-level NPCs? Or make it so that high-level monsters are impossible? What's the benefit?

I hope the GMG rules are straightforward enough that I can write an easy script to adjust the monsters on Roll20.

PF2 has a lot going for it over 5E, but one of the great things about 5E was the wide range of possible encounters. You could fight a horde of low-level creatures, and they could be a problem. You could also have a nail-biting fight against a level +5. In PF2, a level +3 fight is a pretty big TPK risk.


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Meanwhile in this world, the wizard continues to casually slaughter armies with Cloudkill.

Excuse me while I try and put the same level fighter on the level they should be.


I mean, it would have felt really, really weird to go from "rolling +35 to hit" at high levels in PF1 to "rolling +13 to hit" which we'd have without a +Level modifier.


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To be exact, 5th level cloudkill has average 27 damage, DC 21. Fighters have a Fort of maybe +6, meaning about 1 in 4 will pass. That's also assuming they don't cast chain lightning and kill all of them.

Against a crowd of 20 fighters, the wizard will kill 14 in the first turn. The fighter might kill 2, and might manage 7 before dying.


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So the thing about Pathfinder is that the system has always been designed around telling the stories Paizo wants to tell, and that hasn't changed with this edition. A big part of their AP structure involves escalating threats. That's not going anywhere, especially with APs going all the way to 20 more often.

Villains quite often take over tribes of weaker enemies by demonstrating overwhelming might against them. And PCs can use the same enemies as benchmarks for their progression. A greater barghast goes from an incredibly dangerous opponent for a level 4 party to something the party shreds en masse at level 11 and hits a variety of other benchmarks along the way. If the same party fights them more than once they will notice the difference in how powerful they've become.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Bast L. wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
For context, without level a level 1 fighter will be only +2 weaker to hit than a level 12 fighter. This means that ten level 1 fighters have a very good chance at taking down the level 12. Sure makes you feel good that you had to kill hundreds of them to get there when ten of them can take you down easily.
+2 from mastery, +1 from 2 strength increases, +2 from magic weapon = +5 total. A pretty big difference.

it's more or less the difference between a wizard and a fighter trying to hit you at level 1, it's not exactly big.


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One of my favorite parts of +level to everything is you can watch yourself grow stronger compared to enemies as you level. You can encounter a lone Cyclops at level 1 and barely survive. At level 3 the fight is rough, but doesn't feel nearly so impossible. Once you hit level 7 you can handle cyclopes 4 at a time. It really makes the party feel like they are quickly learning and growing.


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Yeah I feel without the + level it stops being a level based game at some point. You might as well just set it up like a white wolf game and let people choose what they want to buy with their exp. It's fine but it's not what I'm after when I play a D&D like game. I like being uber powerful at high levels. If I can't handle an army of orcs by myself at 12th level I'm a little sad about it.


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.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
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.

Off the top of my head youd have to rewrite the encounter tables


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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.

As far as "progression" - I don't see increasing numbers as "progression". I see it as artificial inflation/fake progression. I prefer a game where PCs progress in what they are capable of DOING, (more options, more abilities, more capability), vs. exponentially increasing their ability to say, climb or swim.

That's why I DO love how feat intensive PF2 is - because to me that is much meatier and satisfying progression.

Edit: One guy barely losing to 50-100 goblins is a lot of progress over 4 guys barely losing to 6 or 7. Progress is measured by more than just CR.

However, ULTIMATELY, no one is "wrong" on this issue because what we're all REALLY talking about is what kind of game we prefer to play in - low vs. high fantasy. And that's ok! It's really great that Paizo is coming out with a supplement that will further expand what kind of games and what kind of stories can be told with their system.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you want a low fantasy game, D&D and its offshoots (incl. Pathfinder) were never the good choice to begin with. It's always has been a game of fantasy superheroes doing gonzo stuff from mid levels on.

There are several low-fantasy rulesets out there that might be better suited for you. Zweihander is one, for example.


Gorbacz wrote:

If you want a low fantasy game, D&D and its offshoots (incl. Pathfinder) were never the good choice to begin with. It's always has been a game of fantasy superheroes doing gonzo stuff from mid levels on.

There are several low-fantasy rulesets out there that might be better suited for you. Zweihander is one, for example.

I'm wedded to the d20 system - and the options I've seen out there are more "no fantasy" than low fantasy.


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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.

As far as "progression" - I don't see increasing numbers as "progression". I see it as artificial inflation/fake progression. I prefer a game where PCs progress in what they are capable of DOING, (more options, more abilities, more capability), vs. exponentially increasing their ability to say, climb or swim.

That's why I DO love how feat intensive PF2 is - because to me that is much meatier and satisfying progression.

Edit: One guy barely losing to 50-100 goblins is a lot of progress over 4 guys barely losing to 6 or 7. Progress is measured by more than just CR.

However, ULTIMATELY, no one is "wrong" on this issue because what we're all REALLY talking about is what kind of game we prefer to play in - low vs. high fantasy. And that's ok! It's really great that Paizo is coming out with a supplement that will further expand what kind of games and what kind of stories can be told with their system.

You may find in the meantime it is better to just run the games at low levels. I guess that depends on how far y'all want their abilities to grow though, even outside of lower numbers. Even removing the math stuff, a legendary barbarian can scare people to death with a word, fall from orbit without damage, and cause Earthquakes by sheer might. Rogues are walking through walls, rangers are blotting out the sun with arrow volleys... Heck, monks start running up water falls at level 8. And that's just the martial classes. The higher levels of play are designed around mythic shenanigans.

Not sure if that stuff is OK for you while number inflation isn't, but it certainly feels like that isn't low fantasy. I'd probably cap my games at level 7 if that was my priority, maybe allowing further "levels" to let you pick more low level feats. Level 7 let's you hit master in skills, but it stops you just before things like Sudden Leap and Wall Run come into effect. Spell casters can fly, but it remains among their most powerful spell slots and therefore isn't something they will use lightly.


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E6 Pathfinder might be a better solution than removing level for the OP since the work involved is far less finicky.

At level 6 you're pretty dang strong compared to level 1, but an army of anything will still destroy you.


Henro wrote:

E6 Pathfinder might be a better solution than removing level for the OP since the work involved is far less finicky.

At level 6 you're pretty dang strong compared to level 1, but an army of anything will still destroy you.

I mean don't get me wrong, I like Pathfinder 2 as it is - it will just be even better once the GMG comes out.


Captain Morgan wrote:

You may find in the meantime it is better to just run the games at low levels. I guess that depends on how far y'all want their abilities to grow though, even outside of lower numbers. Even removing the math stuff, a legendary barbarian can scare people to death with a word, fall from orbit without damage, and cause Earthquakes by sheer might. Rogues are walking through walls, rangers are blotting out the sun with arrow volleys... Heck, monks start running up water falls at level 8. And that's just the martial classes. The higher levels of play are designed around mythic shenanigans.

Not sure if that stuff is OK for you while number inflation isn't, but it certainly feels like that isn't low fantasy. I'd probably cap my games at level 7 if that was my priority, maybe allowing...

I don't want to start an argument, but just to make myself understood, crazy-near supernatural stuff IS fine for me at levels 18+. And some of your examples even then are a little misleading. For example a rogue can't "walk through a wall" with impunity. They can squeeze through certain kinds of walls given certain conditions.

And as a barbarian causing an earth quake... that's easy to just hand-wave as supernatural, (some things being easier to "just hand wave" than others)


It sounds like you want to old E6 variant where the game stops levelling but you just gain more feats and potentially ability boosts

Spells levels and other numerical modifiers do not increase anymore

But as Captain suggests 7 might be the stopping point for 2E. 6 was 3.5 and 8 was arguably more fitting for PF 1E as there were a lot of mini capstones then

In this variant with 2E you probably want to give some access to the higher levelled feats . Some will be inherently gated by proficiency levels not increasing...(unless you built that into the level up and only froze the amount you add to the rolls)


Lanathar wrote:

It sounds like you want to old E6 variant where the game stops levelling but you just gain more feats and potentially ability boosts

Spells levels and other numerical modifiers do not increase anymore

But as Captain suggests 7 might be the stopping point for 2E. 6 was 3.5 and 8 was arguably more fitting for PF 1E as there were a lot of mini capstones then

In this variant with 2E you probably want to give some access to the higher levelled feats . Some will be inherently gated by proficiency levels not increasing...(unless you built that into the level up and only froze the amount you add to the rolls)

I'm pretty confident the GMG will have what I'm looking for. Otherwise I'll just subtract a creatures level from it's proficiency.


Malk_Content wrote:


Off the top of my head youd have to rewrite the encounter tables

IMO, that's rather minor.


Matrix Sorcica wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:


Off the top of my head youd have to rewrite the encounter tables
IMO, that's rather minor.

Is there something I'm missing, or wouldn't it just be as simple as subtracting level from PCs and from monsters? No adjustment to the encounter table needed?


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Filthy Lucre wrote:
Matrix Sorcica wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:


Off the top of my head youd have to rewrite the encounter tables
IMO, that's rather minor.
Is there something I'm missing, or wouldn't it just be as simple as subtracting level from PCs and from monsters? No adjustment to the encounter table needed?

Mechanically, yes.

But the whole point is that encounter balance changes. Weak enemies remain threats longer, strong ones can be taken down sooner.

Use the same encounters that were designed for the base game, but without +/Level and they'll be able to stomp over the supposedly dangerous boss enemies, but get slaughtered by their numerous minions.

And then you need to rework both experience and treasure rewards to match the actual threat the enemies pose.


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Filthy Lucre wrote:
Matrix Sorcica wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:


Off the top of my head youd have to rewrite the encounter tables
IMO, that's rather minor.
Is there something I'm missing, or wouldn't it just be as simple as subtracting level from PCs and from monsters? No adjustment to the encounter table needed?

Supposedly, the Gamemastery Guide will answer that question.


David knott 242 wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:
Matrix Sorcica wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:


Off the top of my head youd have to rewrite the encounter tables
IMO, that's rather minor.
Is there something I'm missing, or wouldn't it just be as simple as subtracting level from PCs and from monsters? No adjustment to the encounter table needed?

Supposedly, the Gamemastery Guide will answer that question.

That all makes sense - but I don't think it's beyond what a reasonably invested GM can handle on their own. Probably not wise for a 1st timer, but it's not like you have to do calculus.


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I'm just REALLY happy that Paizo is doing a good job releasing lots of content. That's the entire reason I'm jumping ship from 5e. I like their compressed numbers, but the dearth of options is just killing me.


Well, mechanically you have to adjust at least the bestiary and most DCs. Then thejeff is right saying that encounters themselves will change their balance: solo bosses will become easier, and groups of mooks harder instead.


Megistone wrote:
Well, mechanically you have to adjust at least the bestiary and most DCs. Then thejeff is right saying that encounters themselves will change their balance: solo bosses will become easier, and groups of mooks harder instead.

And that's not "calculus", it's game balance, which is much harder.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not to mention that some underlying assumptions regarding spells and skills will change, too. With default PF2 math, AoE blasting lower-level opponents is much more effective, because your level difference increases the chances of crits, making blasting the way to go as far as clearing multiple mooks.

If you throw +level out, suddenly blasting becomes much less effective and you've just taken casters a big notch down, because while martials excel at single target damage, casters clear multiple weaker enemies faster.


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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.


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.

Ya none of these really stand out as being daunting to me. That's not to say they aren't good points, because they are, I'm just confident in my GMery.

Edit: The point at which PCs get abilities doesn't change just because you remove the level bonus from proficiency. So the abilities that creatures/PCs have available to them are exactly the same regardless.


Filthy Lucre 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.

Ya none of these really stand out as being daunting to me. That's not to say they aren't good points, because they are, I'm just confident in my GMery.

Edit: The point at which PCs get abilities doesn't change just because you remove the level bonus from proficiency. So the abilities that creatures/PCs have available to them are exactly the same regardless.

You keep missing it.

PCs get abilities at the same point, but because everything is flatter they can fight higher level enemies. Some of those higher level enemies will have abilities the PCs can't cope with yet.

Or you don't expand the range of enemies the PCs fight (at least upwards) and leave them facing easy challenges.

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