Treat Wounds OP?


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krazmuze wrote:
Actually in PF2e a +6 lvl is surely TPK...just as bad as the +15.

I don't have the time to get into the odds of a TPK against a party level +6 monster just know because I don't know what they are or aren't having not run any such encounters even in trial.

But I will say that the "just as bad as the +15" seems unlikely to be true.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Aren't we a little off topic?

Treat Wounds isn't "overpowered", it's simply part of the new expectations for how combat, and a series of linked combats, is intended to be run in PF2.

Sure, it's very, very good. Far better than non-magical healing was in PF1. And it's a very good substitute for the wand of cure minor wounds spamming that we saw with PF1 and PFS.


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thenobledrake wrote:
But I will say that the "just as bad as the +15" seems unlikely to be true.

The encounter threat table is bounded at +/-4 levels for a very good reason. +4 bosses can already crit you to death in one round without any help so how much overkill do you need?

Young Black Dragon lvl 7 vs. a lvl 1

https://2e.aonprd.com/Monsters.aspx?ID=127

Has ATK +19 with 2d10+9 jaws and +19 Init. It is very likely to go first and likely to sequential destroy your party without even breathing because your HP is likely its average damage. And that is not even considering that its first attack is but a coin toss on if it crits to outright kill you before you even get to move, and those crits recharge the breath weapon.

But lets open with breathing just because it sees your party coming down the hall as you had no clue with its +16 stealth. It does 8d6 normally, but at DC reflex save 25 it is very likely to do double damage. Anyone in that line is very dead.

Its AC is 25 to hit its 125HP, when your attack is +7 requiring an 18 to hit.

Do you really think you can survive that so that you can fight the ancient black dragon...

https://2e.aonprd.com/Monsters.aspx?ID=129

AC39, 325HP +33 jaws doing 3d10+14 +2d6 and 2d6 persistent and breath is 17d6 at DC38.

So back on topic treat wounds is not OP, not when the monster math looks like this.


krazmuze wrote:
..how much overkill do you need?

I feel like you are misunderstanding the situation. I don't have any hostile intention toward my players or their characters. My prior statements about going off the top-end of the encounter guidelines are entirely theoretical and the numbers chosen were just numbers picked to have numbers, not specifically chosen for a reason.

krazmuze wrote:
Young Black Dragon lvl 7 vs. a lvl 1

Of course the most fragile level of characters in the game are going to have the absolute hardest time punching above their level. I'd be surprised if a 1st level party even survived an Extreme Threat encounter if it involved a solo monster given how little margin for error there is inherent to being 1st level.

that said, I just took a look at the stats on an adult black dragon compared to a 5th level party... and yeah, even with advanced knowledge of what they'll be up against and specific preparations and tactics tailor-made for the encounter, going up against something 6 levels ahead of the party is going to require basically every die roll involved to go exactly in the party's favor or some PCs are dying.

But still, level +6 is not "just as bad as the +15" because while the former can take down basically a character per turn, the later can basically take them down one per action. And that's ignoring that in the case of dragons a 5th level party might some or all survive an 11th level dragon's breath weapon (the damage only surpasses average HP on a critical failure or a high damage roll, so roughly 40% chance of death), but a 20th level dragon's breath weapon is such a high DC that a natural 20 is the only non-critical failure result possible for the save and the average damage roll is already higher than average HP.

Sovereign Court

Haffrung wrote:

I do a lot of playing in sandbox environments. Players know up-front that some of the stuff they can run into is way out of their league. And no, I'm not obliged to telegraph the specific cases where it is out of their league.

Basically, my campaigns do not operate on the assumption of a carefully calibrated sequences of encounters that the PCs can expect to be fair and balanced fights. Scouting, evasion, and retreat are crucial skills, and will be required often.

That approach to the game isn't for everybody, but it works for us.

So how do your players know, on time, that it's time to run?

I'm not trying to suggest that every encounter should be doable or fair. I'm interested in how, in this game system, you make these too-hard encounters work well.

Sovereign Court

Malk_Content wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
I don't think without a shadow of a doubt is a good thing for any element of storytelling. The only way to make things like that is to basically railroad.

Well it becomes necessary if you plot things where the players absolutely must do a thing, like flee from a monster that they can't handle.

I mean, you were basically already railroading when you decided to put down a monster that must be fled from. So I guess it's a symptom of a problem with your plotting?

My point is the only way to do "you should run here" without a shadow of a doubt is to say to the players "hey this guy is levels above you, run." Which strips them of their agency. Setting the scene as is and letting the players make the choice, come what may, encourages their agency. For there to be a choice, there must not be 100% knowledge of the best option.

If there was only one right choice (run), was there really agency in the first place?

The usual definition of agency is:
- You have a choice between "acceptable" options
- The outcome of the different options is different
- You have enough information to make a decision/educated guess

The choices don't have to be equally good and the information doesn't have to be perfect. However when one choice is "survive" and the other "as good as certain TPK" then that's not a choice between acceptable options.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Haffrung wrote:

I do a lot of playing in sandbox environments. Players know up-front that some of the stuff they can run into is way out of their league. And no, I'm not obliged to telegraph the specific cases where it is out of their league.

Basically, my campaigns do not operate on the assumption of a carefully calibrated sequences of encounters that the PCs can expect to be fair and balanced fights. Scouting, evasion, and retreat are crucial skills, and will be required often.

That approach to the game isn't for everybody, but it works for us.

So how do your players know, on time, that it's time to run?

I'm not trying to suggest that every encounter should be doable or fair. I'm interested in how, in this game system, you make these too-hard encounters work well.

Depends what do you mean with "on time".

A DM could give alerts, like allowing you to see a big guy oneshotting a mob you can deal with.

Eventually, you could find stories in books or from npc. Things which let you wonder about the power of the enemy you decided to try to defeat.

If your question was about how to know that it is time to run during an encounter, I'd say that it is up ti thè players, and what they know about the world.

Factors like

- Dying condition ( if players have the downed condition and the monsters are supposed to be dead once they are downed, you can use this at your advantage. Otherwise you will be playing different ).

- environement ( if you can withdraw or not, or eventually rest. Knowing your situation in terms of actions , consumables and spells is an excellent way to know when could be time to switch on defense, or even to fleeing ).

- availability of particular mechanics ( teleport, resurrection, etc... ) like a backup plan, or to push even further your possibilities. At some level you will consider death ( not natural ) something not drammatic as low lvls. You can block a horde chasing your party, knowing that you will be resurrected if they can escape ( while on the other hand the whole party will die ).

- Knowledge ( knowing the monsters you will be able to anticipate their move or even to predict the outcome of a fight, even 2 or 3 turns before ).


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If only there was a way to create a thread titled "are unwinnable fights okay".


Ascalaphus wrote:
Haffrung wrote:

I do a lot of playing in sandbox environments. Players know up-front that some of the stuff they can run into is way out of their league. And no, I'm not obliged to telegraph the specific cases where it is out of their league.

Basically, my campaigns do not operate on the assumption of a carefully calibrated sequences of encounters that the PCs can expect to be fair and balanced fights. Scouting, evasion, and retreat are crucial skills, and will be required often.

That approach to the game isn't for everybody, but it works for us.

So how do your players know, on time, that it's time to run?

I'm not trying to suggest that every encounter should be doable or fair. I'm interested in how, in this game system, you make these too-hard encounters work well.

How do players know it's not time to run?

Most adventures are extremely metagamed, in that all enemies you fight are between the level bracket of players.
So, you can make another kind of meta, like a monster too strong for the party is presented a certain way by the DM.

Or you can remove all meta, tell your players that monsters are not supposed to be max CR3 because they're level 1, and Recall Knowledge checks will become as important as attack bonus.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My party has taken to treating wounds after fights. This works out well since they usually also want to search the area, so one will heal another, and the remaining two poke about looking for stuff, or the bard may play some tunes to refocus while this is happening. They didn't do this during the first two sessions but they've settled into a sort of rhythm now after four sessions. I haven't sprung any "random" encounters on them during these times but they did this to themselves once when a search turned up more than they bargained for. I like the system and do not even remotely see it as a problem - it is much preferred over the CLW nonsense.


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Fumarole wrote:
it is much preferred over the CLW nonsense.

It's almost exactly the same thing. It's almost exactly the same as a 'short rest' in 5e. It's just another mechanic to do the exact same thing with a different flavor - and the 10 min downtime covers many abilities (focus/repair/etc) that it would still happen if someone had a click stick of healing.

Mechanically it has positives and negatives, flavor wise the idea of a guy with band aids fixing someone who was almost dead is the same conceptually as using magic (except magic is more plausible really). A real world 'visceral' experience would be a heal check DC 15+1 each point of damage - then a save for each heal check and if you fail you get sepsis and die without a cure poison within a week. Within 24 hours another save or get Staph and die within 2 weeks without cure disease. Real world battlefield medicine is all about stabilizing the wounded until they get to a real medical facility for treatment - the idea that a kit will stay sterile enough to fix people multiple times and not have them die is more fantastic (based on our real world knowledge) than 'magic heals your wounds' - at least one assumes the suspension of disbelief up front.

I see statements like this frequently and they feel designed to gloat - and I'm sorry to say that your version of healing doesn't hold up to any kind of realism, that improves upon the idea that 'magic heals things.'

The only thing it did was slow healing down - which is a fine mechanic, but hardly makes CLW 'nonsense' - at least that nonsense made actual sense in game.


Clw was nonsense to begin with.

The only issues was that there were no rule to avoid using low lvl stuff on high lvl character.

But it is implicit that abusing of how Clw wands worked was something laughable.

Currently could still be a problem if the dm allows a group to rest whenever they want ( since the only thing they have to worry is the spellcasters' status in terms of slots ), but on the other hand there is no challenge if your opponent is chain spam Clw wands.

I don't know if some of you knows a game called darkest dungeon, and how the rest system works.

Something like that ( limited and with possibilities in terms of rest+also encounters ) could help doing the trick.


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HumbleGamer wrote:

Clw was nonsense to begin with.

Any system that results in taking a sword to the chest that doesn't require 2 months of downtime to recover from - is also nonsense to being with.

The current system could just as easy be 'you use a special ritual item of cure to heal people for 10 minutes if you can activate it with a heal check'

See how changing the words - doesn't change the mechanic or how silly it feels? If you deal with wounds at all in your daily life - the current system feels much more gameist and silly than magic ever will (because we have no real world reference to work with magic) - there are many kinds of wounds that are *hard as hell* to treat - and require months of healing.

10 mins with a bag of poultice may float your boat - whatever - but don't for a second think that it's more 'grounded' than wands of cure light wounds - it's way more out of this world.


Ckorik wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

Clw was nonsense to begin with.

Any system that results in taking a sword to the chest that doesn't require 2 months of downtime to recover from - is also nonsense to being with.

The current system could just as easy be 'you use a special ritual item of cure to heal people for 10 minutes if you can activate it with a heal check'

See how changing the words - doesn't change the mechanic or how silly it feels? If you deal with wounds at all in your daily life - the current system feels much more gameist and silly than magic ever will (because we have no real world reference to work with magic) - there are many kinds of wounds that are *hard as hell* to treat - and require months of healing.

10 mins with a bag of poultice may float your boat - whatever - but don't for a second think that it's more 'grounded' than wands of cure light wounds - it's way more out of this world.

It is different.

If you can see a progression in medicine and treat wounds and an exploit in a bag full of Clw, the problem is only yours.

And with that I also understand that developers did nothing about, but this changes nothing.


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Having wands of cure light wounds (or other similar low-level magic items) be capable of topping off a party between encounters almost every time in practice was "nonsense" not because of characters being topped off, or even because it was via a (sometimes literal) bucket of magic items - it was "nonsense" because it was at odds with the assumptions made by the game regarding attrition-based difficulty.

It was a clearly viable option entirely within the rules, supported by every bit of GM advise regarding answers to questions like "If characters go looking to buy magical items, how do I know what they might find?" - but made it so that the encounter building guidelines and the way they talked about how much of an impact each encounter should have on the party's resources inaccurate by a long shot, like the designers actually had no idea that they had included healing items at all, let alone cheap and readily available ones. Which in the case of Pathfinder 1st edition this is not Paizo's fault because they were shackled to the D&D 3.5 game and inherited this flagrant mistake from there.

The PF2 treat wounds system isn't less "nonsense" because of any kind of "it's realistic" or "it's a better aesthetic for almost always topping off hp" or "it's a better mechanic" or anything like that - it's less "nonsense" because it actually fits in as a part of the game design.

And no D&D version or Pathfinder version has ever been a "system that results in taking a sword to the chest that doesn't require 2 months of downtime to recover from" because that is not now, nor has it ever been, how hit points work.


Wands of CLW are also nonsense because the difficulty of the game was varying a lot depending if you have access to them or not (or if they are exhausted).
So, the most important part of every dungeon exploration, before even having a proper armor or weapon, was to have the proper batch of wands able to handle the whole thing. Otherwise, you were screwed, as other types of healing were far away from giving you back as many hit points.


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Ckorik wrote:
Fumarole wrote:
it is much preferred over the CLW nonsense.
It's almost exactly the same thing. It's almost exactly the same as a 'short rest' in 5e. It's just another mechanic to do the exact same thing with a different flavor - and the 10 min downtime covers many abilities (focus/repair/etc) that it would still happen if someone had a click stick of healing.

No it is not the same thing...

Short rests in 5e is done with a limited pool of which you can use only half the pool a day. The encounter math is entirely different in that monsters are intended to wear down your HP pool over many encounters before you take that hour long lunch break. People say 5e combat is easy but that is only because they spam the short/long rests and avoid the intended attrition of HP and healing resources.

CLW is essentially unlimited because it is so easy to gold farm that it is indeed the equivalent of the MMO clicky that you spam at no real cost.

So PF2e medicine checks are just as unlimited right? It cost nothing but a bit more than a heal pot and skill investment after all and the healers tools never break. But the check is very limited in time, thanks to the critical success/failure mechanic you can fail and that person is barred from healing for an hour (and worse you can cut them on a fumble).

They are made different by the GM taking advantage of that time constraint. If the party takes all afternoon to heal after every fight, well guess what the boss had time to call in reinforcements. So only if you handwave time and just say everybody healed up full can you say it is the same as pf1e bunch of clicky wands or the lazy 5e that spends more time napping.

The PF2e devs saw the PF1e CLW spawn, fixed it with a time constraint and failure risk, and put it into the rules saying you should heal after every difficult fight. That did make the game easier if looked at isolation, but the devs made combat harder because they added critical ranges with double all damage, and multiple attacks, and more accurate heavier hitting NPCs even at the same level and made leveled bosses worse by padding their numbers.

You need more healing in PF2e simply because combat is much much more deadly, more healing in PF2e does not in any way make combat easier. Without it your party is unlikely to live until lunch time, it does not matter that in 5e you can.

The realism argument is nonsense. HP has never been a reality simulation mechanic since day 1. If the notion of it being a first aid kit bothers you, then call them magical. The rules basically say this when they say that it renews your magical focus pool while you treat wounds. You are channeling divine, primal whatever magical sauce you want to say your bandages have. It does not take 10-60m to apply a bandage, it takes 10-60m to make them magical. It takes so long to trickle charge and leak out some magic while you are filling up.


Ascalaphus wrote:


So how do your players know, on time, that it's time to run?

I'm not trying to suggest that every encounter should be doable or fair. I'm interested in how, in this game system, you make these too-hard encounters work well.

They might take a couple devastating hits in the first round or two, and fail to hit themselves even though they roll high. Or a PC gets knocked down to 4 HP, or below 0. If you don't operate under the assumption that all fights are calibrated to be balanced, then you're going to be re-appraising the situation as matter of habit.

Then it's: "Marines, it's time to leave!" A tactical retreat can be difficult to pull off. But if you know retreat is always on the table (it happens once every session or two in our games), then you prepare for it. You have SOPs to pull back and provide cover. You have always items and spells in reserve that aid retreat. It becomes a tactical game problem like any other.

And that's not even getting into avoiding encounters in the first place through scouting and stealth. Our groups always, always, always scout ahead. Which also enables you to turn the table on powerful enemies by luring them into a trap and fighting on prepared ground of your choosing.


Haffrung wrote:
A tactical retreat can be difficult to pull off.

When one PC is already down to 0 and retreats are difficult, why doesn't the too-hard enemy continue to engage? How does a party actually get away?

If the monster doesn't pursue when the players are retreating, that's as metagamey by the GM as not using the monster in the first place.

Quote:
And that's not even getting into avoiding encounters in the first place through scouting and stealth.

PF2 stealth/perception math is also balanced around +/-4 levels. Against a monster 6 levels above the party, they have better-than-even chance of spotting the invisible, silenced, stealth-monkey.

For exactly the same reason that players can't hit a monster 6 levels above them, have a roughly 40% chance of being crit by them, they don't have enough Stealth to avoid notice.


Draco18s wrote:


When one PC is already down to 0 and retreats are difficult, why doesn't the too-hard enemy continue to engage? How does a party actually get away?

Web, grease, obscuring mist, slow, hold portal. Spiking doors. Often just retreating into a 10' wide passage is enough to enable the PCs to focus fire, and for the slower or weaker PCs to book it while one or two PCs cover the retreat for a couple rounds then follow with invisibility, a potion of speed, etc. Our party size is typically 4-6 PCs and allies, which helps. Foes often won't pursue if they run the risk of death themselves. In older editions rope trick was a godsend for escape and evasion.

I'm new around here, but is old-school play really that foreign to Pathfinder? Am I going to find PF2 doesn't support that style of play?


Haffrung wrote:
Draco18s wrote:


When one PC is already down to 0 and retreats are difficult, why doesn't the too-hard enemy continue to engage? How does a party actually get away?

Web, grease, obscuring mist, slow, hold portal. Spiking doors. Often just retreating into a 10' wide passage is enough to enable the PCs to focus fire, and for the slower or weaker PCs to book it while one or two PCs cover the retreat for a couple rounds then follow with invisibility, a potion of speed, etc. Our party size is typically 4-6 PCs and allies, which helps. Foes often won't pursue if they run the risk of death themselves. In older editions rope trick was a godsend for escape and evasion.

I'm new around here, but is old-school play really that foreign to Pathfinder? Am I going to find PF2 doesn't support that style of play?

No you can.

Sometimes people tend not to memorize situational spells because they think they won't be needing to withdraw.

Or simply because they think the DM will not crush the entire party.

So casters will find themselves bringing damage, damage, haste/heroism, damage, damage, hightened heroism/haste, damage and so on.

Given how treat wounds works, I somehow felt sorry, at the beginning, for the casters because they were not able to stick up with martial combatants, because they eventually would have run out of spells.

But then I realized that a party had simply stopped if 1 or 2 members would had been out of spells. So here too there is balance brought by how the game works.


Haffrung wrote:
Am I going to find PF2 doesn't support that style of play?

It supports it, but it does narrow the field a bit.

For example, the idea of "I'll just put whatever monster I want to and they'll be able to bypass that if they choose or get away if they start combat and find out it's too much for them" is not going to work out well if you go outside the encounter building guidelines and stick to the rules - BUT a monster at the top end of those encounter building guidelines is almost exactly the same feel as the old-school "put whatever" style encounter (assuming your old school style wasn't going genuinely overboard, at least).

In that way, it's actually better support of the old school style because there is clear guidance on stuff like "How does the party actually succeed at avoiding this monster's notice" which the old school version of the game left entirely up to the GM to decide for them self.


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SuperBidi wrote:

Wands of CLW are also nonsense because the difficulty of the game was varying a lot depending if you have access to them or not (or if they are exhausted).

So, the most important part of every dungeon exploration, before even having a proper armor or weapon, was to have the proper batch of wands able to handle the whole thing. Otherwise, you were screwed, as other types of healing were far away from giving you back as many hit points.

That doesn't make them nonsense - it just makes them a mechanic and a resource to track.

The same as in the new system - a mechanic and a resource to track. You can make a valid case that CLW wands were unintended with AD&D 3 (I have never seen proof of this - but accept it as probable) - you cannot however say the same thing about PF1 which kept the mechanic - and also *designed every official adventure including society play based on this mechanic*.

So CLW were not 'nonsense' or unintended in PF1 - they may have been a holdover - but they were certainly known and embraced by the design. PF2 changed the mechanic - but you could call the 'healing kit' a 'healing ritual wand' and it's the same thing - the only real change is a limit on healing per time function - which *is* interesting game design and changes things up - but doesn't make the previous mechanic 'nonsense'.

Quote:
And no D&D version or Pathfinder version has ever been a "system that results in taking a sword to the chest that doesn't require 2 months of downtime to recover from" because that is not now, nor has it ever been, how hit points work.

You are right - that would be realisim - this is a game - mechanics in the game are not nonsense - even if you don't like them. CLW wands and the current 'mundane' healing are just mechanics that work slightly differently - but mundane healing of wounds is so much more fantastic than using magic - you have to totally lose reality at your table to allow it.

It's obviously not about money - healing kits cost 5g for infinite healing. It's about forcing high level play to use higher cost items for quick recovery. A note that as mentioned earlier in the thread - the 'sweet spot' for mundane healing tends to be level 6-10 in PF2. To put it in perspective outside of a treasure drop - a group in PF1 would most likely not have a CLW wand until the group is level 3 at earliest - while in PF2 they have treat wounds affordable from level 1. The mid levels treat wounds is arguably better in terms of cost than a CLW wand - it's only (again) high levels where the mechanic favors higher cost items and thus the investment by characters.

Quote:
Short rests in 5e is done with a limited pool of which you can use only half the pool a day. The encounter math is entirely different in that monsters are intended to wear down your HP pool over many encounters before you take that hour long lunch break. People say 5e combat is easy but that is only because they spam the short/long rests and avoid the intended attrition of HP and healing resources.

This is incorrect - they balance the game with the expectation that all characters start combat at full health each time. We have actual words and facts to back that up instead of conjecture.


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thenobledrake wrote:
And no D&D version or Pathfinder version has ever been a "system that results in taking a sword to the chest that doesn't require 2 months of downtime to recover from" because that is not now, nor has it ever been, how hit points work.

This is table dependent. I personally flavor HP as how tough your vitals are and how hard your skull is to crack. More HP means it takes harder hits for those things to fail.

Why do I do this? Because PCs at level 5 or higher are superhuman in their prowess and should be given superhuman durability to match.


HyperMissingno wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
And no D&D version or Pathfinder version has ever been a "system that results in taking a sword to the chest that doesn't require 2 months of downtime to recover from" because that is not now, nor has it ever been, how hit points work.
This is table dependent.

No, the definition of hit points as presented by the rule book is not table dependent - I was not saying no one has ever house-ruled how hit points work.


Haffrung wrote:
Draco18s wrote:


When one PC is already down to 0 and retreats are difficult, why doesn't the too-hard enemy continue to engage? How does a party actually get away?
Web, grease, slow,

All of those involve a saving throw (web and grease even allow for using Athletics instead), which are (again) subject to the +/-4 expected level difference. A monster that is 6 levels above you has roughly a 30% chance to critically succeed and outright ignore the spell. Even a success against Web is enough to ignore the webs for an entire action and its only a 10 foot burst (that is: the monster takes its first action to move, succeeds the Athletics check, and moves out of the area). Slow, on a success, is "lose 1 action for 1 round."

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obscuring mist,

Makes you "concealed" which has special keyword meanings (you are hard to see and effect with attacks (DC 5 flat check), but you are not automatically hidden or unnoticed).

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hold portal. Spiking doors

No longer exist (that I can find). All doors a a flat Athletics check to Force Open (but the book doesn't really supply sufficient details on what the DCs actually are or how a DC might be modified as a result of trying to barricade it). Either way, the monster has roughly +6 more points of Athletics than you have for holding the door closed (that's a 73% chance of success on the monster's side).

Quote:
Foes often won't pursue if they run the risk of death themselves. In older editions rope trick was a godsend for escape and evasion.

At +6 levels, the monster is not under a significant risk of death to pursue the party. The party's individual attacks and spells have only a 15% chance of affecting them and for an amount of damage that is less than 10% of their hp (and you can't crit them). That means that they can take around 60 such attacks before being at critical hp. And of course, only a fighter's first attack each round matters. Actions 2 suffers -4 or -5 multiattack penalty, which can only hit if you roll a natural 20. Your third action has a -8 or -10, and can't even hit on a natural 20.

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I'm new around here, but is old-school play really that foreign to Pathfinder? Am I going to find PF2 doesn't support that style of play?

PF2 doesn't support it well and most folks have moved away from the "and you're dead now, make a new character" style of play of D&D 1E and 2E where just getting to 5th level was a challenge (as characters often died first).

You're free to try it, of course, but the math is not in your favor.


Escaping from a level+6 or higher foe is usually more of a cinematic affair rather than a strategic one at my tables.

For example, an NPC could show up and call "quickly, into this cave" when the party has to escape a dragon. Depends a lot on the situation, but fleeing from a super-strong foe under normal conditions would be extremely hard, yes.


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krazmuze wrote:

The encounter threat table is bounded at +/-4 levels for a very good reason. +4 bosses can already crit you to death in one round without any help so how much overkill do you need?

Young Black Dragon lvl 7 vs. a lvl 1…

Interesting you should bring that up. lJust the other day I was thinking about converting "Black Fang's Dungeon" (from the PF1E Beginner Box) to 2nd Edition and how that might go. Even if you apply the "weak" template to the stock Young Black Dragon he's still pretty tough for a first level party. Also, the thing that caused him to run away cannot be made with the current PF2E rules. I suppose you could home-brew it, but you'd have to be careful not to make it too strong.


Haffrung wrote:


I'm new around here, but is old-school play really that foreign to Pathfinder? Am I going to find PF2 doesn't support that style of play?

PF2 actually supports old school play better than PF1 did I think.

Spiking doors was because they auto-shut and locked - thats not the default assumption in dungeons anymore (hasn't been for several editions actually) but 1e AD&D assumed monsters never had to roll to open doors either - so that playstyle is still 100% valid if you are using it.

The other stuff - is highly dependent on you as the GM - if your players want to use a spell to get away - let them - nothing holds you down to using the mini battlemap for every part of the game - if you insist on following every rule at all times then it will fail to support what you are asking though.

My suggestion (if you are still new to the system) is to keep reminding yourself the rules are a framework to tell a good story - and if they get in the way it's ok to move past them. Running away is just not really a well supported trope within the mechanics framework these days - if that's part of your normal GM kit - you'll need to be ready to take the game out of 'mechanics mode' when it happens.


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

You can do old school play just fine, just do not port it as is. The monster math is much more swingy than other editions because of the critical mechanic and adding level.

Use the theme of the encounters with low or trivial difficulties. That way when you chain them together by having them run in from the adjacent room, you do not risk a TPK because you thought two moderates was a fun challenge. An extreme encounter (high risk TPK campaign ender fight) is same as two moderate encounters. Back to Back severes is going to for sure wipe the party. Unlike other editions, the difficulty descriptors for encounter building actually mean what they say. But when you do want them to run or die, through in the +5 boss.


Healer's Kit
Healer’s Tools: This kit of bandages, herbs, and suturing tools is necessary for Medicine checks to Administer First Aid, Treat Disease, Treat Poison, or Treat Wounds.

Expanded healer’s tools provide a +1 item bonus to such checks. When you carry the tools from place to place, you keep many of the components handy on your person, in pockets or bandoliers.

So ... Pathfinder 2E healer's kit has unlimited use? In previous editions the kit usually had 10 charges. From the description here you could read that the kit has perpetually renewable components and never needs to be refreshed or updated. How do your groups play this?


Yes, in the absence of being told how often it is needed or how expensive it would be, I'm running healer's kits (and repair kits, and other similar tools) as being a non-consumed item.

Sovereign Court

orphias wrote:

Healer's Kit

Healer’s Tools: This kit of bandages, herbs, and suturing tools is necessary for Medicine checks to Administer First Aid, Treat Disease, Treat Poison, or Treat Wounds.

Expanded healer’s tools provide a +1 item bonus to such checks. When you carry the tools from place to place, you keep many of the components handy on your person, in pockets or bandoliers.

So ... Pathfinder 2E healer's kit has unlimited use? In previous editions the kit usually had 10 charges. From the description here you could read that the kit has perpetually renewable components and never needs to be refreshed or updated. How do your groups play this?

Yeah, keep in mind that in previous editions, a healer's kit might not even get used 10 times in a campaign. In Pathfinder 2, you might use it 10 times in a day.

Sovereign Court

Ckorik wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Wands of CLW are also nonsense because the difficulty of the game was varying a lot depending if you have access to them or not (or if they are exhausted).

So, the most important part of every dungeon exploration, before even having a proper armor or weapon, was to have the proper batch of wands able to handle the whole thing. Otherwise, you were screwed, as other types of healing were far away from giving you back as many hit points.

That doesn't make them nonsense - it just makes them a mechanic and a resource to track.

The same as in the new system - a mechanic and a resource to track. You can make a valid case that CLW wands were unintended with AD&D 3 (I have never seen proof of this - but accept it as probable) - you cannot however say the same thing about PF1 which kept the mechanic - and also *designed every official adventure including society play based on this mechanic*.

I don't entirely agree with you. Early Pathfinder 1 was very focused on convincing people that it was fully compatible with 3.5, so the wand stayed.

It's true that a lot of scenarios seem built with the wand in mind, but at the cost of the scenarios kind of junking the traditional "4 CR=APL fights per day" guideline. Most of what's in the GM chapter in the PF1 CRB about encounter design is invalidated by:
- PFS scenarios being shorter and usually having 3 encounters per day
- APs often having "there's an emergency, you must do 9 encounters today" days
- The wand undermining the attrition model, especially considering how dirt cheap they were in PFS1.
- PFS being calibrated for 6 PCs

So a typical PFS1 scenario has most encounters at EL = APL+2 or APL+3. It's so far off from the GM chapter that it's laughable.

---

Between focus spells, cantrips and Treat Wounds, you can also see a definite push to make the game less about "this is your daily budget" and more about "this is your encounter budget", which is a lot more robust to differences in groups that do a "we do one fight per game session" and "we play for 12 hours and do an AP book in three game days" styles of play. Which is awesome!


orphias wrote:

Healer's Kit

Healer’s Tools: This kit of bandages, herbs, and suturing tools is necessary for Medicine checks to Administer First Aid, Treat Disease, Treat Poison, or Treat Wounds.

Expanded healer’s tools provide a +1 item bonus to such checks. When you carry the tools from place to place, you keep many of the components handy on your person, in pockets or bandoliers.

So ... Pathfinder 2E healer's kit has unlimited use? In previous editions the kit usually had 10 charges. From the description here you could read that the kit has perpetually renewable components and never needs to be refreshed or updated. How do your groups play this?

I am pretty sure the point of this was to remove the abuse of a low lvl item to patch up allies during downtimes ( or even seconds after a fight ).

That's why I think we won't move on from mass wands to mass healer kits.

One kit and the party is ok ( this would require an investement in terms of skills and skill feats ).

Remember also that if you have just a couple of minutes, because maybe the environement you are into doesn't offer good spots for a 10 minutes rest, you won't be able to benefit from treat wounds.

On the other hand you could have exploited and refulled ( or parrially refulled ) your party chainspamming clw wands.

Honestly I like this new system.
I also think that a DM has to carefully think about the whole zone in terms of giving or not a spot for his players ( sometimes they could rest, while some other times using a consumable or a spell could be the right idea, before trying to rest ).

Sovereign Court

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Haffrung wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:


So how do your players know, on time, that it's time to run?

I'm not trying to suggest that every encounter should be doable or fair. I'm interested in how, in this game system, you make these too-hard encounters work well.

They might take a couple devastating hits in the first round or two, and fail to hit themselves even though they roll high. Or a PC gets knocked down to 4 HP, or below 0. If you don't operate under the assumption that all fights are calibrated to be balanced, then you're going to be re-appraising the situation as matter of habit.

Then it's: "Marines, it's time to leave!" A tactical retreat can be difficult to pull off. But if you know retreat is always on the table (it happens once every session or two in our games), then you prepare for it. You have SOPs to pull back and provide cover. You have always items and spells in reserve that aid retreat. It becomes a tactical game problem like any other.

And that's not even getting into avoiding encounters in the first place through scouting and stealth. Our groups always, always, always scout ahead. Which also enables you to turn the table on powerful enemies by luring them into a trap and fighting on prepared ground of your choosing.

Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of this style of play. But I'm not sure it works well in PF2, at least not without a couple of tweaks to the game.

Recognizing dangerous enemies with Knowledge Nowadays, Recall Knowledge costs an action (and they're sooo precious in the first round of combat), the DC goes up as the monster gets more dangerous, and the check is rolled in secret by the GM. So as a player, if you get a "don't know result", that could mean you rolled low or that the monster is really bad and your high roll still wasn't good enough.
Suggested tweak: when a player rolls Recall Knowledge, use the normal DC to get information, but also check the result against a separate DC that's NOT dependent on CR, to estimate how dangerous the monster is. Let's say that you make that a DC 10+player level check. For example: a level 1 ranger is scouting in the Gravelands and spots a large zombielike hulking thing. It's a CR 6 monster, so the Religion DC to Recall Knowledge is 22. Our ranger has 14 Wisdom and trained Religion cuz he's no fool and working in the Gravelands, so he has a +5 Religion. He needs a 17 to identify the monster, and would critically fail on a 7 or lower. Ouch! But with this extra DC that I propose, he only needs a 6 (religion 5 + 6 = DC 10 + level 1) to identify the monster as considerably above his pay grade.

Scouting For scouting to work, you need to be able to get close enough to enemies to see them, without them seeing you, or at least still far away enough that you can run away. But monsters will tend to have good Perception. If you look at Table 2-2 in the preview of the monster creation rules, you see that a level 1 monster with Moderate Perception has a +7, that's also the maximum Stealth a level 1 PC can have. A dangerous CR 4 monster with Moderate Perception has a +11, so he's fairly likely to see your scout.
Suggested tweak: apply a big bonus to Stealth vs. people who are far away. This means that a scout trying to creep about has a good chance to stay hidden. A big boss monster that's the alpha in its environment generally feels no need to hide though.

Some monsters are extra problematic A monster that specializes in hiding and setting ambushes, is totally mean and vicious and wants to catch all the PCs, is faster than them, has good athletics/acrobatics, good perception, good saving throws; if that monster is also higher level than the PCs so that all its numbers are better than the PCs, then this is a very bad choice for a sandboxy thing that you should have avoided.
Suggested tweak Don't use that monster as a GM. When placing big monsters that should not be fought, make sure that it's actually possible to avoid combat with them.

Getting knocked down, but not dead This suggests at least some cap to enemy difficulty - a CR +4 enemy might knock you down in one hit. A CR +14 one will probably kill you in one hit, and no amount of luck will prevent it. So even in a "world where you're not guaranteed balanced encounters", there has to be some limit.
Suggested tweak any monster that's instantly deadly, should be telegraphed and the players should just be able to decide to not do that encounter, no check required. A monster that "merely" hurts a lot, that you can leave to chance.

Extricating from a fight that's going badly suppose one or two party members get knocked down. Typically, right next to a monster. So you have to go to your friend, pick up their body, and then move away. At that point you're only one Stride away from your enemy, and the enemy on its next turn gets three actions. On top of that, if you're carrying your friend, you're probably Encumbered so you're moving slower, your AC goes down and all that. Extracting even one PC probably takes effort from 2-3 PCs. It gets a bit easier of course if you can use Heal (2 actions) to patch someone up at a distance so they can get up and run themselves; they'll still need to spend one action to stand up, and be Wounded, so when they have only two actions to run and the enemy pursues and hits them down again they're going down to Dying 2 or more. Another problem is that if you go unconscious, you drop whatever you're holding. So that's your expensive magic sword lying on the ground there - do you spend an action to pick it up? If you do, that's one less action you have to run away. And what if the enemy has Attack of Opportunity? That triggers on standing up and picking up dropped weapons and on running away.
Suggested tweaks this is really hard. Extrication once someone is down really takes a whole team's effort. When you're using high level monsters, give them a reason not to pursue ("the golem will remain to guard this chamber", "the vampire will not follow during daytime") or a way to postpone the pursuit ("throw food to distract the owlbear"). This probably shouldn't depend on the monster failing a saving throw, because if your monster is that strong, it's saves will also be that strong.

Fast pursuers If a monster has a higher movement speed than the slowest PC, it can keep chasing them and run them down.
Suggested tweaks The "group chase" mechanics seen in PFS1 scenarios such as Kaava Quarry and Signs in Senghor are a great way to run such scenes, where the party basically has to overcome obstacles that would slow down the big monster more, or set up distractions. Consider building a deck of chase cards that you can pull out for this purpose.


Thanks for all the feedback.

I've never used CR, EL, encounter-building guidelines, or any of that stuff - just eyeballed encounters and let them play out. I'm not a RAW guy, and my players are cool with that, so we'll have to see if any this stuff presents problem. I'm not sure where the +6 levels thing came from, as I was just commenting on how our groups have typically handled retreating when a combat goes south.

The Perception thing does have me concerned, though. Scouting and stealth have been such a core element of our play for 30+ years that facing every combat as a kick-in-the-door toe-to-toe combat will be major paradigm shift. The notion that higher monster level always means harder to sneak up on seems weird to me. Intuitively, a stealthy PC should be able to sneak up on most monsters, unless there's reason for that particular monster type to be unusually perceptive or vigilant. The reason my players often pick Rogueish PCs is for the sneaking.


The eyeball method is easier thanks to the core-math of PF2. Party's level, give or take 4, and you can use the monster and know pretty accurately how a straight-up fight would go down. Much cleaner and easier than figuring out if the 10,000 XP Value monster is too much for your AD&D party to handle at level 4 or if the CR3 monster is even going to get to take a turn if your D&D 3.X/PF1 party at level 2 roll better initiative than it.


Haffrung wrote:

The Perception thing does have me concerned, though.

The notion that higher monster level always means harder to sneak up on seems weird to me. Intuitively, a stealthy PC should be able to sneak up on most monsters, unless there's reason for that particular monster type to be unusually perceptive or vigilant. The reason my players often pick Rogueish PCs is for the sneaking.

Just as the players get better at Perception as they level up, so do monsters.

Sovereign Court

thenobledrake wrote:
The eyeball method is easier thanks to the core-math of PF2. Party's level, give or take 4, and you can use the monster and know pretty accurately how a straight-up fight would go down. Much cleaner and easier than figuring out if the 10,000 XP Value monster is too much for your AD&D party to handle at level 4 or if the CR3 monster is even going to get to take a turn if your D&D 3.X/PF1 party at level 2 roll better initiative than it.

Yeah this is very true. Pathfinder 1 had quite a few "hacks" in it that let you make a monster that by the book had a certain CR, but in practice was much more powerful than that.

I sometimes suspect that some PFS authors did that on purpose. They'd get a budget of "for a tier 3-4 part of a scenario, you should use no more than CR 6 opponents" but then contrive to make the scariest thing you can squeeze out of the cheeze for 6 CR.

That's become a lot harder in Starfinder and Pathfinder 2, so basically, you can put a lot more trust in the advertised CR of a monster.

Sovereign Court

Haffrung wrote:

Thanks for all the feedback.

I've never used CR, EL, encounter-building guidelines, or any of that stuff - just eyeballed encounters and let them play out.

I got started with D&D 2.5 and there was no CR back then, and of course at some point I had some level 4 PCs getting chased by a Will-'o-Wisp, and then as GM I realized that they both couldn't really hit it and also couldn't outrun it, and that the mindset of the monster was that it would want to slowly and miserably kill them all. So when CR was introduced in 3.0 I saw the potential to make my GMing less fraught :P

Haffrung wrote:

I'm not a RAW guy, and my players are cool with that, so we'll have to see if any this stuff presents problem. I'm not sure where the +6 levels thing came from, as I was just commenting on how our groups have typically handled retreating when a combat goes south.

The Perception thing does have me concerned, though. Scouting and stealth have been such a core element of our play for 30+ years that facing every combat as a kick-in-the-door toe-to-toe combat will be major paradigm shift. The notion that higher monster level always means harder to sneak up on seems weird to me. Intuitively, a stealthy PC should be able to sneak up on most monsters, unless there's reason for that particular monster type to be unusually perceptive or vigilant. The reason my players often pick Rogueish PCs is for the sneaking.

Yeah, I feel you.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber
Haffrung wrote:

Thanks for all the feedback.

I've never used CR, EL, encounter-building guidelines, or any of that stuff - just eyeballed encounters and let them play out. I'm not a RAW guy, and my players are cool with that, so we'll have to see if any this stuff presents problem. I'm not sure where the +6 levels thing came from, as I was just commenting on how our groups have typically handled retreating when a combat goes south.

You really should learn it because only like other editions, PF2e is not forgiving when it comes to making encounter mistakes. It is one thing to kill players because they ignored the NPC guide that says run, and decided to last stand when things go badly. It is another thing to throw the +6 at them out of ignorance thinking they have a lucky chance with good tactics - they simply do not.

But all you really need to know to build encounters is that a LVL+4 is an extreme campaign ending boss (160XP) , a LVL+3 is a severe level ending boss (120XP), a LVL+2 is any moderate boss (80XP) and likely needs an encounter break.

You do not even have to memorize these boss XP levels, the only number you need to memorize is those big bosses are 40XP per level over party. The encounter table has a pattern that every two NPC levels down from these bosses is half again the XP, so it becomes easy to figure out how much XP a lacky is. A lacky pair is the same as a solo lacky two levels higher. Once you exceed the 80XP in serial encounters they likely need the 10m-60m break, especially if anyone is wounded.

If you need an elite/weak monster because something is off level but it fits your theme then +/-2 on all its numbers is +/-1 threat level.

You do not even need to know the other than 4PC party adjustment rule, just assume down a player is the same as party down a level, being up a player is the same as party up a level.

It really is so easy that you can run a sandbox on the fly, using relative monster level mental math. Unlike other editions you do not have to worry about broken players (pf1e) and homebrewing bosses (5e) to challenge the players, the math just works. A LVL+4 the party starts dying, at LVL+5 it is TPK.


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

There are some scenarios where the idea is to avoid fighting the "final boss" because doing so would be a TPK. I have some sympathy for players (or GMs) who through inexperience fail to recognize such a scenario when it happens. I have less sympathy for those with enough experience to recognize it, but the party ends up TPK'd anyway. Note that last situation might be the party's fault, the GM's fault, or Leroy Jenkins' fault.


Ed Reppert wrote:
There are some scenarios where the idea is to avoid fighting the "final boss" because doing so would be a TPK. I have some sympathy for players (or GMs) who through inexperience fail to recognize such a scenario when it happens. I have less sympathy for those with enough experience to recognize it, but the party ends up TPK'd anyway. Note that last situation might be the party's fault, the GM's fault, or Leroy Jenkins' fault.

There was a fight in Mummy's Mask (an...earth elemental thing inside the courtyard of the 2nd "dungeon") that TPK'd my group. Admittedly we did inadvertently trigger some nearby rooms that contributed towards dead PCs, but even so, that thing wasn't a thing we could fight.

Being the 6hp kobold that I was (ok, I think I had 11hp then) I was very much in the habit of "sending drones in first" so when things went sour, I booked it. One other PC ended up 10 feet of movement short of getting out of the area the elemental could reach/cared about, due to having to go around corners.

We were also down a player, which might've changed things, but after the session the GM was willing to retcon for next week when the missing player was back. But by the next week nearly everyone wanted to make new characters anyway (and the missing player broke up with his girlfriend and moved out of town). So the GM fiat'd his fiat and we left it as a TPK (except my kobold; I showed up with a sign saying, "LFG" in Draconic).

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