I must have missed it, but how does PF2 advance monsters?


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Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So, I have been in and out of 2.0, mainly because my family game is on hold while my oldest son is at school, and because my Saturday night group has shifted to 5e. Somewhere in the process, I must have missed the entry on how to "level up" monsters... For example, I am sending my family party into the Bright Lands of Greyhawk. I want to use Gnolls as the main adversary, but the team is level 9 or 10. In PF1, I would add levels of a class that I needed and that would settle things. In PF2, the mechanism seems to be different, but I've been unable to find any reference to it. I get that you can make creatures "Elite" or "Weak", but what if I want to make a Gnoll cleric of Tharizdun, or a challenging Gnoll wizard - how does that work?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I thought I was in the general forum...


Probs gonna get ninja'd due to my slow typing, but still, may as well post!

Elite or weak work for one level changes but from what I can tell they do not work well for simulating greater level changes. Stacking elite for instance can quickly leave you with very silly stats, like an AC that outstrips a lot of things at that monster's level.

What you'd want to do, as best I can tell, is make a new monster from scratch using similar aspects to the existing monster. So, just a sec, I'm gonna crack open the monster creation rules and my bestiary to check how you'd do it here!


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So, let's go with a gnoll caster. Maybe, challenging but not a boss fight on their own, gotta give the baddie some buddies. So maybe level +2 or +3, which would be level 12 here.

First, we wanna look at what traits every other gnoll has.

So these would be the key things we want.:

Traits Medium, gnoll, humanoid, CE
Languages Gnoll
Senses Darkvision. (Note: so darkness is a nice spell option for a caster then)
Speed 25 feet
Attacks Jaws attack, d6 or d8. Agile.
Pack attack A gnoll does d4 extra damage to any creature that's within reach of at least two of the gnoll's allies. (Note: maybe the wizard has some summoning tricks up their sleeves to help allies and themselves, or maybe they're an abberant sorc and you wanna build a gish instead who helps other gnolls in combat. That's a fun variant.)
Rugged travel A gnoll ignores the first square of difficult terrain it moves into each time it steps or strides. (Note: maybe the wizard abuses this with spells that create difficult terrain, like the illusion focus power)

We could also look at if there are any trends in gnoll stats (e.g. HP V AC) but that's not necessary here anywho to get the basis done.

Then, we just need to look at how the monster guide advises building a caster.

So, let's look at the caster stats.:

So, according to page 6 of the preview monster creation rules, we wanna do the following:

HP, AC, & saves Low fort, high will, implied medium reflex and AC, low HP, tweak to taste.
Attacks Low attack bonus, medium to low damage.
Spells High or extreme spell DCs, prepared/spontaneous spells up to half creature's level rounded up.

Page 20 gives more class specific advice and recommends that perception should be low, arcana should be high, AC should be low, access to drain bonded item (and either bonus spell slots as per specialist or additional uses of drain bonded item as per universalist). It also suggests adding feats. This is close enough to the standard caster overall but I'll leave these details off for now, so we can suggest variants of this gnoll caster.

So, let's put this together.

Cookie cutter level 12 gnoll caster:

Traits CE, Medium, Gnoll, Humanoid
Perception +22; darkvision
Languages Gnoll, some others.
Skills magical tradition skill at +25, some other skills hovering around +22. Consider having a skill you don't want to completely dump but isn't very good at +20 to +17.
Stats Play around with the rest, but casting stat should be around +7 while the others should probably be +5 or lower.
Items None necessary, but consider the table on page 8 for a tiny bit of guidance. Also consider giving an actual weapon.
AC 32; Fort +19, Ref +22, Will +25
HP 162
Speed 25 feet
Melee (1 action) Jaws +20 (agile), Damage 2d6+13
Spells DC 32, spell attack +24, spells at 6th level and lower.
Pack attack A gnoll does extra d4 damage to any creature that's within reach of at least two of the gnoll's allies.
Rugged travel A gnoll ignores the first square of difficult terrain it moves into each time it steps or strides.


I definitely think it needs some more stuff adding though.
[spoilers="Comparison with lich"]
The lich comes out overall a bit stronger than this, with higher HP and resistances. It also notably uses the extreme value for its top skill (+28) and spell save DC (36), and a midpoint between high and extreme for spell attack (+26), and the moderate value for its attack mod (+24). To some degree this is because of me intentionally choosing the lower suggested values, but I can't say I can see why the reason for the effective HP variation.[/spoiler]

For what it's worth, a lich with the gnoll features as highlighted above would probably serve wonderfully well in most situations for your party here at least.

For the proposed variants I gave above, I'll confess I do like the idea of an aberrant gnoll gish. For that I'd probably propose using the magical striker roadmap, a bunch of touch spells, and a constant effect of tentacular limbs.


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

Monster and hazard creation rules

Appletree neglected to provide you with a link to the monster creation rules, which were released in advance of the GameMastery Guide that comes out in a few days with these rules and lots more stuff. Elite/weak adjustments are intended just for small tweaks here and there.

The short answer is that instead of adding on some levels and then wondering why it isn't balanced and fiddling with the numbers until they look right, the typical approach is to adjust the final numbers to fall within the guidelines for the type of creature you want from the outset.

Adding in appropriate abilities can be done with some theme templates of cool stuff (Lost Omen Character Guide has some examples). Taking the gnoll abilities from the Bestiary statblock and using them is a similar approach, as Appletree demonstrated.

You also have the ability to build NPCs using full PC class levels, but this makes them substantially more complex to build for relatively little marginal improvement.


RicoTheBold wrote:

Monster and hazard creation rules

Thanks for adding that, I forgot where to find it for a moment.


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Appletree wrote:
RicoTheBold wrote:

Monster and hazard creation rules

Thanks for adding that, I forgot where to find it for a moment.

Yeah, it's not easy to find unless you already know where to look. One day Paizo staffers will have time to update the website to make the PF2 resources (like these rules and the errata or even the available accessories for purchase) easy to find.

One day.

In the meantime, I'm grateful they've at least provided the info, even if it's a bit of a hassle to find.

I'll also call out that the final Gamemastery Guide has a big chapter of low to mid-level NPCs. They're all presented as human but the chapter includes some simple guidelines for swapping their ancestry.

The "key things we want" from the gnoll you called out could be added to literally any of them to make a gnoll version, for instance.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yea. Either build the monster yourself. Or just find stats for a similar-ish monster in the Bestiary that is already level 9 or 10. Use those numbers. And tell the party they're fighting gnolls, and show them a picture of gnolls. Done, and done.


https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42y3d?GMG-Leveling-up-a-NPCMonster

The answer is: there are no guidelines on how to advance or level up monsters.

You can create a low-level monster, and create a high-level monster, and then extrapolate how you get from A to B, but that is not the same thing.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Your statements are incorrect, Zapp, I'm sorry. In that thread the process of advancement was explained. You rejected that explanation, but that does not change the fact that it's out there.

The GMG guidelines give you the values for each level, so you take the level X monster, look at X+n values and adjust up to it. You might add additional abilities if you see fit (representing the monster "evolving" Pokemon-style) or just buff the numbers (if you want more of the same).

With kind greetings and warm regards
Gorbacz


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Zapp wrote:

https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42y3d?GMG-Leveling-up-a-NPCMonster

The answer is: there are no guidelines on how to advance or level up monsters.

You can create a low-level monster, and create a high-level monster, and then extrapolate how you get from A to B, but that is not the same thing.

Literally no one is saying it's the *same* thing. We're all out here saying, "you don't level them directly, you do this other thing instead which gets you to the same result, but faster and also works for conversions of other material and creating new monsters from scratch."

But considering there are *specific, printed guidelines* on how to do it, and Appletree did a bang-up job of providing a specific example in this thread in under an hour from the original question, it's probably a good answer all the same.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In PF2, especially with the GMG out now, you can convert pretty much any adventure from any rules set or setting, with not a lot of effort.
Want to run Ravenloft or Egg of the Phoenix from 1st edition AD&D? You can even do a lot of the monsters on the fly, and save the hard converting for boss monsters. Get out the handy charts, and figure out whether a creature has low, medium, high, or extreme numbers for a certain stat. Brutes likely have high Fort and low Will. A giant might have moderate AC but high hit points.

It's not the same as "advancing" monsters (by character level or by hit dice). It's easier!

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The way I see it, Zapp wants guidelines that tell you "if a monster has level X, look at the ... dunno, a list of abilities level X monsters should have and pick one". He's basically after far more detailed *rules* rather than *guidelines* which would basically guide the GM by hand with everything.

Problem is, the way PF2 was designed was to keep this exact part of rules open-ended. You want a level 15 NPC that's an archer, you can design it to have 5 various trick shot style attacks to make combat varied, or you can just go with 1 special ability because you want that archer to be just good at killing PCs and not a weird disabling shots or stunning arrows or whatever.

You want your level 10 super-dinosaur to breathe fire and shoot spikes from its tail, sure, but you can also have it just stomp and mulch people real hard.

In doing so, Paizo has addressed one of the biggest actual issues with PF1 monsters/NPC - the bottom-up HD+levels design meant that you ended up having to effectively build them like PCs with ultimately 90% of their class abilities/feats being irrelavant because unlike the PCs, they existed just for 2 rounds of combat. And you did spend 3h figuring out what a level 15 Ranger needs to have and which feats to select and whatanot when all you really wanted is a girl that shoots a bow good enough to make the PCs rethink their ways.


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"blobs of stats" can be a good baseline.
It's up to you to decide that the treasure guardian golem can sense the movement of gold through the cloud of smoke his steaming fire breath generates.
It's up to you to pilfer classes for odd feat combinations so that the unnaturally flexible otherwordly assassin can proc his sneak attack by doing insane acrobatics around people.

If you can't do that, no amount of guidelines will ever save your table. Or what, do you want to pick one out of five abilities from a list? I can give you five. Make it ten. Still won't be enough.


Ediwir wrote:

"blobs of stats" can be a good baseline.

It's up to you to decide that the treasure guardian golem can sense the movement of gold through the cloud of smoke his steaming fire breath generates.
It's up to you to pilfer classes for odd feat combinations so that the unnaturally flexible otherwordly assassin can proc his sneak attack by doing insane acrobatics around people.

If you can't do that, no amount of guidelines will ever save your table. Or what, do you want to pick one out of five abilities from a list? I can give you five. Make it ten. Still won't be enough.

That's true.

I think how one feels about it might depend on how easy it is for them to come up with such abilities. If its difficult or you don't see the point of creating abilities for a creature that will die in 2 rounds and never be seen again...then yeah the rules are asking a lot more of you to make a workable monster. The benefit of the bottom up design was the procedure. It always worked the same way.

As one continues to make monsters in this new system, you'll probably accumulate an impressive inventory of unique monster abilities to attach onto your creations which will speed up and improve the process.

But when the guidelines say 'Oh, and make something up that's interesting and flavorful for the creature you envision' Well. That's helpful. Thanks. Like I couldn't come up with that on my own.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kasoh wrote:

But when the guidelines say 'Oh, and make something up that's interesting and flavorful for the creature you envision' Well. That's helpful. Thanks. Like I couldn't come up with that on my own.

Fortunately, the GMG advice on abilities design is 3 pages long, complete with advice on numbers, action economy, level-appropriateness, avoiding invisible abilities and much more.

Of course, that won't be enough for some, but there's this point where monster/NPC design quits being science and becomes art. You can't teach art using tables and numbers.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Of course, that won't be enough for some, but there's this point where monster/NPC design quits being science and becomes art. You can't teach art using tables and numbers.

I generally agree.

I suppose the benefit of the 3.5/Pathfinder 1e Design was that it was mostly tables. I never did a lot of monster creation or advancing HD, my preferred method of increasing CR was to add class levels. You have a target difficulty, you pick the class, add X levels. It worked. (for given definitions of work.)

The incompatibility of monster and PC classes is kind of sad to me, but setting the numbers and picking appropriate class features to add creates the same end result even if I find it less satisfying to do.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The thing is, when it comes to specific abilities, you can usually just peruse the bestiary for the sort of ability you like (or that it had in PF1 or whatever) and graft that onto your monster. There are only a few abilities that really seem bonkers good, and even then they are limited by action economy.


Captain Morgan wrote:
The thing is, when it comes to specific abilities, you can usually just peruse the bestiary for the sort of ability you like (or that it had in PF1 or whatever) and graft that onto your monster. There are only a few abilities that really seem bonkers good, and even then they are limited by action economy.

I find that time consuming. You peruse the bestiary and go 'Oh, that's neat. Maybe that'll work. Hey about this one?' Unless you have a strong sense of what the ability your looking to pilfer does or what it is attached to you spend a lot of time flipping through pages when its probably easier to make up the ability even if its a total duplication of something that already exists.

If you know you need a monster's 'Grab and Use PC as missile weapon' ability and know the monster, yeah. Saves time. If you don't, then its six of one half a dozen the other.

How big a factor this is probably relates to how much you peruse your bestiary.


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Spells are a good baseline, especially for constant or at will spells that might just be thematic. Like say, tidal surge for a creature that tries to drown people, silence for a creepy monster that never makes a sound, or say an action or reaction approximating the effects of secret page for a haunted book that pretends to be a regular book until combat starts.

For what it's worth, I think you can also pull some fun tricks with the mechanical tables given etc. E.g. I did something like the following for an engineering-themed dragon in my setting:

Craft missile (One action) The dragon assembles one missile. If she wishes, she may then add it to her armour as a free action. She may store up to three missiles.
Fire missile (One action) If the dragon crafted a missile with her previous action, she may fire the missile. (missile is statted vaguely similarly to a fireball spell, but also does piercing damage from the shrapnel)
Missile salvo (Two actions) The dragon fires all stored missiles.

This used the table of what should be able to be done every round as AOE and what should be possible every few rounds and I'm fairly happy with how it turned out thematically.

There's similar advice on how to handle things like attacks that heal the creature, which is also an easy thing to roll into thematics.


Kasoh wrote:

The incompatibility of monster and PC classes is kind of sad to me, but setting the numbers and picking appropriate class features to add creates the same end result even if I find it less satisfying to do.

A class in PF2 is a set of proficiencies and feats, with the odd feature here and there. I don't see how 'gets sudden charge and rage as a dragon barbarian, then advances it's numbers to four levels higher' is different from 'adds four levels of barbarian' other than the first is easier, faster, and conforms with expected numbers better.


Garretmander wrote:
Kasoh wrote:

The incompatibility of monster and PC classes is kind of sad to me, but setting the numbers and picking appropriate class features to add creates the same end result even if I find it less satisfying to do.

A class in PF2 is a set of proficiencies and feats, with the odd feature here and there. I don't see how 'gets sudden charge and rage as a dragon barbarian, then advances it's numbers to four levels higher' is different from 'adds four levels of barbarian' other than the first is easier, faster, and conforms with expected numbers better.

Leveling has choices, which inform the character. That it doesn't matter how a monster gets them as long as its numbers match tells me a little about classes in 2e.

You don't have to see how its different. I don't care if you do. I don't even know if it is, practically speaking. I said it feels less satisfying to me. It, in this case, being the process of leveling up a monster with PC class like abilities.


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Kasoh wrote:
Garretmander wrote:
Kasoh wrote:

The incompatibility of monster and PC classes is kind of sad to me, but setting the numbers and picking appropriate class features to add creates the same end result even if I find it less satisfying to do.

A class in PF2 is a set of proficiencies and feats, with the odd feature here and there. I don't see how 'gets sudden charge and rage as a dragon barbarian, then advances it's numbers to four levels higher' is different from 'adds four levels of barbarian' other than the first is easier, faster, and conforms with expected numbers better.

Leveling has choices, which inform the character. That it doesn't matter how a monster gets them as long as its numbers match tells me a little about classes in 2e.

You don't have to see how its different. I don't care if you do. I don't even know if it is, practically speaking. I said it feels less satisfying to me. It, in this case, being the process of leveling up a monster with PC class like abilities.

You can still make those choices. You can take any class feat and throw it in there. You can even pick all of the ones they could have if you really want. There's nothing saying your centaur that you brought up to level 12 can't have all the wild shape feats to that level and a pile of primal spells.

Or you can build a level 14 druid and just add the centaur bits. You'll end up in a very similar place.


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Kasoh wrote:
Garretmander wrote:
Kasoh wrote:

The incompatibility of monster and PC classes is kind of sad to me, but setting the numbers and picking appropriate class features to add creates the same end result even if I find it less satisfying to do.

A class in PF2 is a set of proficiencies and feats, with the odd feature here and there. I don't see how 'gets sudden charge and rage as a dragon barbarian, then advances it's numbers to four levels higher' is different from 'adds four levels of barbarian' other than the first is easier, faster, and conforms with expected numbers better.

Leveling has choices, which inform the character. That it doesn't matter how a monster gets them as long as its numbers match tells me a little about classes in 2e.

You don't have to see how its different. I don't care if you do. I don't even know if it is, practically speaking. I said it feels less satisfying to me. It, in this case, being the process of leveling up a monster with PC class like abilities.

It's probably because I'm in the camp of 'monster's lives are measured in rounds, the less time you spend on building bits not used in combat the better'.

However, you can for example, build a barbarian to your desired level, select feats and skills as appropriate, then add the monster's abilities and some stats appropriate to the level as it's ancestry instead of a PC friendly ancestry.


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Garretmander wrote:
However, you can for example, build a barbarian to your desired level, select feats and skills as appropriate, then add the monster's abilities and some stats appropriate to the level as it's ancestry instead of a PC friendly ancestry.

Its the same thing, except the monster bits are stapled on instead of class feature. The combination of monster with racial HD and Class levels was, to me, the veneer joining two systems that created the illusion of a unified whole. Because you could do it, it looked like everyone played with the same rules. Sure, mathematically speaking that didn't always turn out, but making up numbers to move things along is the GM's job. Its the magic trick that 3.5/Pathfinder did that I found so compelling.

Like when Starfinder came out and enemies shot better, hit harder, and had better skill modifiers than PCs just because, that's annoying to me. (Annoying to my players too.) 5e does it too, and Pathfinder 2e does it because its more designer friendly, as I understand.

Its fine. Its a part of the system I don't like that works great for other people. I'm glad people enjoy it and that it appears to be working out for folks.

Because there is no illusion, I find it less enjoyable. Nothing in 2e is ever going to change that because that's not how the game was designed. I have to suck it up and move on, and occasionally gripe about it on the internet.


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So you prefer a system that didn't do what it set out to but had the illusion of being fair (but not actually) versus a system that does what it sets out to and sets fair boundaries from the get go but is different than what pcs do.

Its all arbitrary either way, so why not go with the faster, easier, more tactically engaging and balanced system?


Malk_Content wrote:

So you prefer a system that didn't do what it set out to but had the illusion of being fair (but not actually) versus a system that does what it sets out to and sets fair boundaries from the get go but is different than what pcs do.

Its all arbitrary either way, so why not go with the faster, easier, more tactically engaging and balanced system?

Its balanced. Probably faster. Easier is debatable. Its hardly tactically engaging--considering I don't find the system engaging.

I 'go with' the system that's used in the game I'm playing. Because those are the rules of the system and you should follow the rules to have a fair play experience.

Doesn't mean I have to like it. People can have preferences.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Kasoh wrote:

Like when Starfinder came out and enemies shot better, hit harder, and had better skill modifiers than PCs just because, that's annoying to me. (Annoying to my players too.) 5e does it too, and Pathfinder 2e does it because its more designer friendly, as I understand.

"Just because" - I do not get this AT ALL. Actually, it is precisely because of the level of the enemy.

The thing is, whether you start with the goal characteristics of that enemy, or you built it from the ground up (PF1-style), giving it gear, feats, etc etc, etc you would come up with basically the same thing. And if it a creature, yes you will have to tack things, regardless of what version you are playing.

Are the players expecting a post-mortem run down of all of the enemies they run into?

Also, if they wanted all enemies to only be as good as them, then I suppose the GM could simply put them against the same level enemies all of the time. But, what would they do in PF1 if they were against a CR+3 enemy?

I just don't get it. But, as you say each to his own.


Even in pathfinder 1 though, we eventually saw class templates that let you add cleric abilities to a monster without them being useless, or inflating a monster's hit dice and saves to absurd levels.

I mean, on the one hand, yes it can be interesting to build monster hit dice by hit dice then class level by class level. However, it's the same kind of interesting as getting the most out of a PF1 character.

Which is to say, it is a lot of fun. It's just fun during a different part of the game. During the prep/creation time, which may or may not translate to fun at the table.

PF2 has focused its monster design to be simple during the prep time, then easy to run and still powerful at table time.

Personally I like the way PF2 has gone with this. You seem to prefer the old way where monsters are technically (but not really) built like PCs. That's fine, but it's difficult to try and do the same thing in PF2, the system isn't built on you doing that.


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Elorebaen wrote:

"Just because" - I do not get this AT ALL. Actually, it is precisely because of the level of the enemy.

The thing is, whether you start with the goal characteristics of that enemy, or you built it from the ground up (PF1-style), giving it gear, feats, etc etc, etc you would come up with basically the same thing. And if it a creature, yes you will have to tack things, regardless of what version you are playing.

Are the players expecting a post-mortem run down of all of the enemies they run into?

Also, if they wanted all enemies to only be as good as them, then I suppose the GM could simply put them against the same level enemies all of the time. But, what would they do in PF1 if they were against a CR+3 enemy?

I just don't get it. But, as you say each to his own.

Maybe its just who I play with, but Players are smart and pay attention to the modifiers of the NPCs they fight as they discern them.

So, the Starfinder example is a few years old in my memory at this point, so forgive the vagueness. The encounters were CR 1 creatures against Level 1 PCs, and rolling at an open table, or just saying 'Oh, I rolled a 19...total is...X' the Players know what the relevant stats of the creature they're fighting are. I recall, mostly it was the damage numbers that felt off because you add level to damage in Starfinder for PCs at level 3+ or so and NPCs do it from the get go (and then some), so when you attack and say '10 damage' they raise the point after they loot the body, 'Isn't this the exact same 1d6 laser pistol we have? How'd he do so much damage?'

I see no reason not to tell Players why.

And so on. When PCs joke that they'd rather be NPCs, I find that to be a problem.

In the PF2 playtest, I had to tell people 'The monsters just use a different system, don't worry about it.' Granted the playtest had really high monster numbers so the PCs were more vocal about their success or lack thereof.

The more monstrous a creature is, the less its an issue because PCs have no frame of reference. But when you fight humanoid opponents in Pathfinder the old expectation was that it was built using the same rules as you used.

A little bit of the world's verisimilitude should be that a longsword does 1d8+STR damage regardless of who is swinging it. The tables with expected damage values toy with that expectation.

Garretmander wrote:
Personally I like the way PF2 has gone with this. You seem to prefer the old way where monsters are technically (but not really) built like PCs. That's fine, but it's difficult to try and do the same thing in PF2, the system isn't built on you doing that.

You're right. PF2 shouldn't try to do it that way because it doesn't work like that anymore.

I suppose everyone has been very kind about me waxing nostalgic.

Liberty's Edge

Mythic Monsters from Legendary Games have specific abilities that can be pilfered for inspiration for PF2 special abilities.

Liberty's Edge

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PF2 NPCs can be built with both Monster rules and PC rules. So both processes end up with similar results.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Elorebaen wrote:

"Just because" - I do not get this AT ALL. Actually, it is precisely because of the level of the enemy.

The thing is, whether you start with the goal characteristics of that enemy, or you built it from the ground up (PF1-style), giving it gear, feats, etc etc, etc you would come up with basically the same thing. And if it a creature, yes you will have to tack things, regardless of what version you are playing.

Are the players expecting a post-mortem run down of all of the enemies they run into?

Also, if they wanted all enemies to only be as good as them, then I suppose the GM could simply put them against the same level enemies all of the time. But, what would they do in PF1 if they were against a CR+3 enemy?

I just don't get it. But, as you say each to his own.

Kasoh wrote:
Maybe its just who I play with, but Players are smart and pay attention to the modifiers of the NPCs they fight as they discern them.

I totally get that.

Kasoh wrote:
So, the Starfinder example is a few years old in my memory at this point, so forgive the vagueness. The encounters were CR 1 creatures against Level 1 PCs, and rolling at an open table, or just saying 'Oh, I rolled a 19...total is...X'
Kasoh wrote:
the Players know what the relevant stats of the creature they're fighting are.

They know the stats, but it seems they still want to quibble about them, without taking into account the way one collaborates for the story.

Kasoh wrote:
I recall, mostly it was the damage numbers that felt off because you add level to damage in Starfinder for PCs at level 3+ or so and NPCs do it from the get go (and then some), so when you attack and say '10 damage' they raise the point after they loot the body, 'Isn't this the exact same 1d6 laser pistol we have? How'd he do so much damage?'

Not as familiar with Starfinder. Maybe this NPC had acquired a feat from some training he/she/it had done with his long dead grandfather. Maybe there was a mutant gene, or perhaps a drug, that helped the NPC aim for particularly vulnerable parts of the body. Just seems like there are a number of ways to explain this.

Kasoh wrote:
I see no reason not to tell Players why.

I get that. But if we are only talking mechanics in a vacuum, then the discussion seems like it would miss the point.

Kasoh wrote:
And so on. When PCs joke that they'd rather be NPCs, I find that to be a problem.

Given the multitude of NPCs that they have likely slaughtered, I'm not so sure they would want that *smiles*

Kasoh wrote:

In the PF2 playtest, I had to tell people 'The monsters just use a different system, don't worry about it.' Granted the playtest had really high monster numbers so the PCs were more vocal about their success or lack thereof.

The more monstrous a creature is, the less its an issue because PCs have no frame of reference. But when you fight humanoid opponents in Pathfinder the old expectation was that it was built using the same rules as you used.

Monsters have always been build differently than PCs, so I'm not sure where the friction would be there. Though I can see that the seemingly PC-esque way they were built gave a frame of reference. So, I suppose I "sort of" get it.

I can see that, especially if the humanoid was a classed NPC. But, thankfully, when you have a group like that, you can simply build the classed NPC just as you would a PC. You are going to come out to basically the same thing, except you would've spent a bunch of prep time doing it.

Kasoh wrote:


A little bit of the world's verisimilitude should be that a longsword does 1d8+STR damage regardless of who is swinging it. The tables with expected damage values toy with that expectation.

I too appreciate verisimilitude, and there has always been a variety of ways that is expressed. I just did a quick glance at a variety of humanoid NPCs in the GMG and all of their weapons were doing consistent damage (e.g. longspear 1d6, light mace 1d4, etc, etc). Expected damage tables look good, and like with the whole Building Creatures section provide a really useful way to quick build up challenges.

I think we've probably beaten the topic into the ground, at this point "chatting" as it were. Ultimately, it sounds like you want to use the approach of building the NPCs as PC approach, and then for "monsters" you can take the quicker route with the provided tools.

Anyway, with all of the tools now available, hopefully you can figure out the way that works best for you!


In starfinder NPCs have very high attack rolls and low AC, it keeps minions relevant, but without knowing the dice roll should keep PCs and NPCs on even footing. The armor treadmill makes that less common in practice.

Liberty's Edge

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Kasoh wrote:
A little bit of the world's verisimilitude should be that a longsword does 1d8+STR damage regardless of who is swinging it. The tables with expected damage values toy with that expectation.

No. They don't, at least not in practice. Because that's not how the monster creation rules actually work:

GMG, p. 65 wrote:
If you do decide to calculate the weapon’s damage, give your creature weapon specialization or greater weapon specialization much earlier than a PC would get it. You might also need to add sneak attack or similar abilities to make the creature deal more damage.

This is not the only way to handle it in the monster creation rules, but it is the way literally all published monsters with weapons are actually built.

And, just in general, unlike the Starfinder NPC rules, the final version of the PF2 NPC rules usually do equate pretty well to the PC rules in terms of final numbers removing a lot of the problems you complain of. If a PC has a +9 to hit, then nobody questions an NPC having the same, even if they do get it an entirely different way.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

No. They don't, at least not in practice. Because that's not how the monster creation rules actually work:

GMG, p. 65 wrote:
If you do decide to calculate the weapon’s damage, give your creature weapon specialization or greater weapon specialization much earlier than a PC would get it. You might also need to add sneak attack or similar abilities to make the creature deal more damage.
This is not the only way to handle it in the monster creation rules, but it is the way literally all published monsters with weapons are actually built.

When the rules say 'Give them extra damage earlier than normal to make the the table work' that's toying with the expectation. That's it. That's the thing. Written right there in the GMG.

Is it necessary by the math? Yes. But it is literally the practice of the monster creation rules.

Design Manager

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If you don't care about breaking your game's economy, you could ignore that line, ignore the suggestions of when to hand out magic weapons (which is way after the PCs get them) and just hand out magic striking weapons to all monsters around their item level. You'll get the damage you need from that. The reason they need the extra damage is because they can't have weapons that are on par for their level.


Mark Seifter wrote:
If you don't care about breaking your game's economy, you could ignore that line, ignore the suggestions of when to hand out magic weapons (which is way after the PCs get them) and just hand out magic striking weapons to all monsters around their item level. You'll get the damage you need from that. The reason they need the extra damage is because they can't have weapons that are on par for their level.

I understand why it is the way it is, and that following the table is in fact the best way to ensure a fair play experience. The damage has to come from somewhere. Its when people say 'well its the same thing, really' that I feel the need to point out that it isn't. Bad habit, I suppose. We've all got our soapboxes.

Liberty's Edge

Kasoh wrote:

When the rules say 'Give them extra damage earlier than normal to make the the table work' that's toying with the expectation. That's it. That's the thing. Written right there in the GMG.

Is it necessary by the math? Yes. But it is literally the practice of the monster creation rules.

Wait, is your issue with damage not being based on weapon type, or with all monster damage bonuses that are even slightly different from those of players?

Because I was responding to the former, which is not a real issue in terms of published enemies, not the latter.

I think the latter is a weird complaint, honestly. NPCs getting Weapon Specialization or Sneak Attack or other damage bonuses at different levels than PCs do (which is all the quote suggests) is no stranger than PCs getting those things at different levels or from different Classes.

I mean, do you object to Rogues getting Sneak Attack, Barbarians getting Rage, or Precision Rangers getting bonus damage? All those occur before other Classes can get damage bonuses, after all. Why is it different and somehow problematic if it's an NPC getting such a bonus?


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

I think the latter is a weird complaint, honestly. NPCs getting Weapon Specialization or Sneak Attack or other damage bonuses at different levels than PCs do (which is all the quote suggests) is no stranger than PCs getting those things at different levels or from different Classes.

I mean, do you object to Rogues getting Sneak Attack, Barbarians getting Rage, or Precision Rangers getting bonus damage? All those occur before other Classes can get damage bonuses, after all. Why is it different and somehow problematic if it's an NPC getting such a bonus?

I realize that this is a personal thing that other people don't consider a big deal, and I don't begrudge people not entirely following me there, but its something like...

To make the math work, the NPC needs a damage value of X, where X is what the table says it should be. When building the NPC, you can add Str, weapon spec, rage, or whatever you please until it matches the value. And sure, you do what you gotta do. But if you're at a point where you need more, you grab Greater Weapon Spec normally a 15th level ability for fighters, on say, a level 11 NPC. That's just a cheat to make the math work. You don't even need to write any of that out. You can just write the value from the table in call it a one action ability called 'Longsword Two Fold Slash' and not worry about where all that damage is coming from.

That, I feel, is fundamentally different from where if you want a certain damage expression in PF1, you had to add STR until you had that +10 modifier or you add more HD to get a feat to add damage, or...you give up and just give it bonus feats or a weird racial ability to make it work. An NPC couldn't have Greater Weapon Specialization without someway to qualify as a Fighter 12 or bypass that prereq.

The paper thin justification made me happy. In ways that probably don't make sense. That the creature's stat block represented an adherence to the system that the players participated in.

That's not to say the new system is wrong for doing it the way it does. Its the way it has to be. I just don't think people should say its similar to how PF1 did it. Its very different and we shouldn't pretend otherwise. (Which maybe no one said and now I'm just imagining a strange world where I'm having two different conversations at once.)


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You realise that random bonuses from nowhere was exactly how PF1 worked as well, only it was spelt out with a sort of vague justification?

Random extra +8 natural armour to make it work, random weapon spec as a bonus feat to make damage work, +4 to hit in darkness (and aura of darkness) to make things work?
It’s the same thing, just with less steps.

You seem annoyed at the fact that we don’t have basic, schematic rules to advance creatures step by step. A long time ago, I was just as annoyed at noticing that, despite having basic, schematic rules to build creatures step by step, balanced monsters never followed them, and those who did never worked out well.


Ediwir wrote:

You realise that random bonuses from nowhere was exactly how PF1 worked as well, only it was spelt out with a sort of vague justification?

Random extra +8 natural armour to make it work, random weapon spec as a bonus feat to make damage work, +4 to hit in darkness (and aura of darkness) to make things work?
It’s the same thing, just with less steps.

You seem annoyed at the fact that we don’t have basic, schematic rules to advance creatures step by step. A long time ago, I was just as annoyed at noticing that, despite having basic, schematic rules to build creatures step by step, balanced monsters never followed them, and those who did never worked out well.

Yes. I realize it. And I'm not very annoyed. Disappointed. But that's how the game is now. Trying to make it work the same way is something of a fool's errand. I think I entered this conversation somewhere along the lines of how the old way appealed to certain types or provided a different, yet satisfying experience and how I found the new experience lacking, even if it produces better creatures. This notion (probably naturally) brought forth its own questions or statements of incredulity. We've wandered a bit here and there, but that's the gist of it. I think its good that a lot of people enjoy the system PF2 has for NPC creation. More GMs is a good thing, right?


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The dirty secret here is that monsters in both systems can be made the same way.

No - the dirty secret is that monsters in PF1 seem to generally have been made the same way then reverse engineered to fit the build system - with fiddly things added or stuffed in to make it work. The fact that idiots like myself would then would pick things apart and find errors prolly was a never ending source of annoyance.

The really dirty secret - is that monsters (as they progress) in PF1 had a TON of feats that get ignored or forgotten because it's hard to remember all the moving parts at higher levels. Making monsters simpler doesn't really change the nature of how they end up in the chart - but it does make it easier to run them as a GM at higher levels - and that's a super bonus in my opinion.

Even though I kind of like the old system for the same reason as you - it was satisfying, the new system is at least more honest about where it comes from and what it's trying to do.


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I mean, I get the appeal. But having tried to make my own monsters several times back in the days, it was only satisfying from a distance.

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