Is everyone a glass cannon, or just me?


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Vali Nepjarson wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
@Vali: probably by critting with the Acid Arrow, which would do 6d6 damage for a maximum of 36.
Yup, totally missed that on the list of things the Water Mephit could do.

Yeah 6d8 is going to mess up any 1st level PC's day. Even the aforementioned Dwarven Barbarian will be at Dying 2 from an average damage roll and then still have persistent damage coming. FWIW, the bard in question had 14 hit points (Elf Bard and had boosted Con once in creation).

As I stated earlier, I'm not prepared to say that the maths are messed up, etc., but it is very different from PF1 and even D&D in terms of how important both build and tactics are. Defense needs to definitely be a concern for the PCs from what I've seen. At low level, that only makes it harder. While its true that potions are cheap, etc., its still not like the party is going to be overflowing with them at level 1, especially if people purchased healer's tools as well. The change to crits, couple with monster attack bonuses, is a big one too, again especially at low levels. The mephit for instance, IIRC, had a 15% chance to crit the bard. Obviously, its still likely that it won't crit, but its very likely that it will hit (and an average hit on Acid Arrow would have left the bard at .5 HP before the persistent damage).

I think one of the big takeaways is that things can spiral out of control real quick in PF2. As Aratorin states, the beginning of EC is a huge slog. Our group had I believe 8 encounters that first day, with possibly a 9th that we avoided (some sort of dust or cloud coming from a wagon). The bard had to use both 1st level spells after the first encounter in order to stay up. The wizard, knowing that the AP was starting with a circus performance, prepared for social encounters for the first day, and thus, had mostly non-combat spells prepared in his 1st level slots. Toss in a couple of bad rolls and a less than ideal decision or two and it quickly makes for a very long day. Add in that you have 1st level characters and players learning the system and yeah, it can be a real slog.

Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean its a bad design. It certainly doesn't mean that the system in the main is bad. Its just different, so its not surprising that players new to the system might struggle a bit. It requires a much different outlook and analysis in my opinion. That's not bad per se, just different. Just as an example, one of the players that I have played with for years now likes to play arcane casters. He rarely, if ever, bothered with AC in PF1 because as he said "Everything's going to hit me anyway." But that's a recipe for disaster in PF2 because of how crits work. Add in that monsters tend to have better AC and To Hit than most PCs (fighter level AC/To Hit being "normal") and odds are the PCs are going to get hit more and crit more. That is balanced by action economy of course, but the PCs still need to be mindful of that.

I think a fair question to ask is "just how tactically sound should the system assume the players are?" Personally, I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy looking for the advantages and building PCs that can take advantage of them. But I also know that there are a lot of players that just like to be able to show up, throw some dice, and know they have a good chance of surviving without having to understand the system forward and backward. Neither style is inherently wrong, but it does feel like the more casual approach is likely to cause you a lot more problems than in PF1/D&D.

In sum, its good to know that things will iron out a bit at higher levels, which makes sense as there's usually more margin for error there. But yeah, learning the system at low levels could very well lead to a hard time.


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Temperans wrote:
So I asked how much of the survivability comes from the GM and how much comes from the players. There is only so much that strategy can do.

In regards to Champions, Not attacking the Champion is generally worse than attacking the Champion.

Liberators will waste your actions as you now have to move to keep up with your target, and Redeemers will straight up cripple your remaining attacks this turn and next with debuffs. Paladins are the least defensive, but they still get the flat damage reduction and what is essentially an AOO.

The best way to attack such a party is to hope they move "out of position" where the Champion can't cover everyone from whatever the biggest threat is - generally, if the opposition has the numbers that a Champion can't cover all enemies, they can still cover whatever represents the biggest threat.

Champions are a very well designed and balanced class.


@Hammerjack Champion Reaction is one 1/turn. But yeah I understand why it happens that the champion is one of the 2 most useful classes. Its also the only class along with Shield monk that is guranteed not to be a glass cannon.

********************

@The Gleeful Grognard, XCom2 has the chance of having 98% hit rate and characters still die. PF2 has characters have no more than ~80% hit rate if you use every single bonus. Luck plays a much larger part in PF2.

Having said that between: Hero Points, characters not dying in one hit (apart from massive damage), and the tendency for GMs to not focus on soft targets in fear of looking mean; It looks like the glass cannon nature of characters is partly countered.

*******************

P.S. In case people misunderstand. I dont think that players should be dying left and right to be a glass cannon. The condition to be one is regularly being knocked down in ~2 hits.


Huh! I confess that I'm surprised that there's some people that feel that the game isn't that lethal. Don't get me wrong! It's just that, after playing the entirety of Age of Ashes and having ran both Fall of the Plaguestone and the first module of EC, I was convinced that lethality was supposed to be a feature in this edition.

Both Fall of the Plaguestone and The Show Must Go On are adventures set in the lowest level range that the game offers, and my experience with them are pretty similar to what other people have brought up already.

Fall of the Plaguestone:

Hallod downed everyone but the Scoundrel who proceeded to take cover and not ever move away and when Hallod got tired and started chasing her, she ran away in circles, casting Electric Arcs throughout the whole thing. Ha, that was actually a pretty scary fight, looking back. Uhm... Oh, and the whirling cabbages things in front of the wolf den really messed them up as well!

Extinction Curse, first book:

TSMGO was scary too, way more than Plaguestone. At least one person fell unconscious in almost every fight! And that Abrikandilu, oof. Although I've noticed that some people on the internet missed the bits of some encounters where it's stated that some enemies fight with a specific strategy on mind instead of optimally, like the, uh... Worm alien demon things. Vermloks?

But anyways, in my experience, yes: Player characters will rarely get to charge ahead expecting to be safe on low levels.

Age of Ashes:

As for my experience with Age of Ashes, well... We were a party of five: A warpriest of Gozreh, a Champion of Iomedae, a Monk, a bomber Alchemist and me, the bookwormish Wizard. None of the players were hardened veterans per se but they were hardly experient either.

The group would often charge ahead with the Monk leaping around on higher levels just so she would eventually be downed by the enemies. Then the Warpriest would try to get to her, and sometimes the Champion would follow, leaving me and the alchemist without anyone in front of us... Uh, so yeah. We were not the brightest, tactically. So in that game, I'd say that at least one player fell in maaaaybe a 70% of the encounters?

It got ''easier'' on higher levels, but never enough where you can just do what we did, hahaha. Fortunatelly, nobody ever died, but oh god were we close to so many times.

But I guess that because I thought that the was game was supposed to be so lethal that I'm not really disheartened or anything. Though I can see how this can change depending on player expectations: I myself drilled into my player's heads how dangerous the game can be and because of that it hasn't really bothered any of us. As far as I know that is, of course!


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Travelling Sasha, could you please edit your post to use spoiler tags for people who haven't played those adventures (or those parts of the adventures)? You'll need to do it quickly though, as you can't edit one hour after posting.

.
.

Just type
[ spoiler = whatever label you want ]
before the section, and
[ /spoiler ]
after the section, with no spaces.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The Absalom Initiation:

Dwarf druid - A bear is mightier than the sword
Dwarf fighter - As good with his pike as he was with his medicine kit
Goblin monk - A real loon, but also a really great jumper
Goblin bard - What's inspire courage?
Gnome rogue - Charlatan with diverse abilities (attack cantrips, assured combat maneuvers, and healing)

Hazards at the haunted house knocked out half the party. That ongoing damage was damned scary! One PC actually abandoned the party, fled the building, and nearly bleed out in the streets. The falling floor did a lot of damage too. Poor climbers kept falling back in, taking additional damage.

Most of the rest of the combat encounters were simply tough, usually with two characters standing and two unconscious at any one time. Did a lot of healing/character juggling to keep the fight going. Ultimately won out only because we had healing and the enemy did not.

Age of Ashes #1:

Dwarf ranger (plus badger) - ranged support
Elf monk - high speed hit and run melee skirmisher
Half-elf cleric - healer and buffer
Lizardfolk fighter - big hitter

Like Joana and Ubertron_X, we drew three encounters into one big mess in the crypts. I think only one character and an animal companion were left standing after the initial dogpile and, thankfully, they were able to pull the others out of the room for emergency healing. The unconscious party fighter was carried off by the undead and sealed into one of the tombs!

The barghest was crazy! Knocked out half the party early on and had the rest trying (badly) to scale the cliff again to escape. Once we made it out though, the damned thing teleported ahead of us and laughed. We wouldn't have survived had it not been for the intervention of an NPC once all but one of us were on the ground.

My monk died early on in a fight with some bandit mercenaries in the woods. Was knocked out then had her body carried off and thrown to a spider swarm in a cave. The other PCs were so beat up by the other bandits that they opted to take ten minutes healing rather than to risk the whole party by mounting a more immediate rescue. Pretty much an auto-death as I was helpless, no one came to help, and the spiders just kept munching away. Now I've got a crazy animal-loving gnome fey sorcerer who returned with the party for round 2 and helped route the bandits.

Extinction Curse #1:

Gnome bard - enigmatic clown, forget to cast soothe on the party one time when he was the only one left standing and clearly had no hope of finishing the thread on his own
Human abjurer - child prodigy and circus engineer, overused tanglefoot and crossbow in the first two games because she didn't pick all of her spells (only had 5 cantrips instead of 10, of which tanglefoot was the only offensive spell).
Dwarf barbarian - animal instinct animal handler, nearly got mauled to death by his own bear
Goblin rogue - thief acrobat, tries to use complicated feint tactics when simply flanking would be easier.

I'm the GM of this one. Even after giving the party lots of time to heal in between camp encounters, we still lost the whole party to the giant viper who got four high rolls (three crits!) in a row. Rather than have a full on TPK that happened in large part only because I was rolling high, I had the snakes not eat the bodies and simply slither back into the woods after defeating the threat that had surprised them (one of the players, something of an animal expert in real life, kept saying it was physically impossible for vipers to eat the characters anyways; so I'm like "sure."). Axel, who had alerted them of the "problem in the woods" the first place, returned to find them and brought them back into the camp for healing.


Ubertron_X wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
...

The things is that much about being a glass cannon can happen before the actual fight and is heavily GM dependent. Which is not to say that characters can not be glass cannons within the fight itself, however many problems can easily arise (or not arise) on how the fight is set up by your GM.

Do you have information on your enemy available before the fight? If you know that you will be fighting that big bad spiders in the next room potions of anti-venom applied preemptively might come in handy. If those spiders went unnoticed and drop from the ceiling while you are in the room things might look a lot different.

Are you aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your enemies? If you know that they use a single damage type quite alot perhaps the Resistance spell will be of great help.

Are you fighting a couple of melee heavy monsters inside a tiny cavern or some ranged enemies on an open field?

How are those monsters positioned in relation to your groups "frontline" when figures are placed?

Etc etc.

@The Gleeful Grognard

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

AoA2:
It says no one helps the Vrock because he's totally evil and abuses them. I had everyone run off once the Vrock shows up.

Aratorin wrote:

In AoA, we barely ever drop. It seems like a very easy AP.

The EC game I'm running on the other hand, seems to have been written by an extreme sadist. Every single person in the party drops at least once virtually every Encounter, and the AP is not setup to offer any kind of relief between Encounters.

Putting a Level 2 party up against a Level 4 Swarm that inflicts a damaging Poison on every Action is just cruel.

We had to run on that encounter. The casters had to change some spells. We had to try different tactics.


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Temperans wrote:

Why does it sound like you all are getting GMs who only go after the tank?

I mean I remember one person said they run low Int creatures less strategically. But from the discussions on that Strategy is a mix of Int and Wisdom.

I am not saying all of your experiences are bad. But I am curious how much of it comes down to how the GM runs things.

(Ex: Its very easy to hit and kill the casters, which are often the healers.)

It's hard to go after other characters with a well-built Champion around and a party that stays near the Champion to ensure he can protect them. He keeps blocking their damage and enfeebling them. Now he has Divine Reflexes and can do it twice a round.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Travelling Sasha, could you please edit your post to use spoiler tags for people who haven't played those adventures (or those parts of the adventures)? You'll need to do it quickly though, as you can't edit one hour after posting. (...)

Oh no, I'm so sorry! I just edited it. Sorry if I ruined anything to anyone, everyone...


Travelling Sasha wrote:

Huh! I confess that I'm surprised that there's some people that feel that the game isn't that lethal. Don't get me wrong! It's just that, after playing the entirety of Age of Ashes and having ran both Fall of the Plaguestone and the first module of EC, I was convinced that lethality was supposed to be a feature in this edition.

Both Fall of the Plaguestone and The Show Must Go On are adventures set in the lowest level range that the game offers, and my experience with them are pretty similar to what other people have brought up already. ...

It might be that PF2 is not particularly lethal but that the modules written for PF2 are lethal. I don't own Age of Ashes nor the Extinction Curse, but I did buy Fall of Plaguestone. The first encounter in Plaguestone is rated "Severe 1." That is a hefty challenge to throw against a set of new 1st-level characters.

In contrast, I have been adapting a PF1 adventure path Ironfang Invasion. I have been following the guidelines from the PF2 Core Rulebook about encounter difficulty and those difficulties match what was already in the 1st module, Trail of the Hunted.

Complicating matters is that my players are very good at character design and tactics, so I had routinely increased the challenge of encounters in PF1 adventure paths for them. I went easier on them in the PF2 conversion of Trail of the Hunted, playing more encounters as written instead of beefing them up. But they proved that they mastered the mechanics after 7 months or less.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think it definitely gets better as you keep gaining levels, but players will definitely fall unconscious in PF2. I don't know that qualifies characters as glass cannons exactly, but not even champions seem to last on their own up against powerful melee monsters for very long.

I consider this a feature of the game, as tactical play is really important, and that usually coincides with playing enough encounters with the same characters and players to get those characters to level up several times.


Unicore wrote:

I think it definitely gets better as you keep gaining levels, but players will definitely fall unconscious in PF2. I don't know that qualifies characters as glass cannons exactly, but not even champions seem to last on their own up against powerful melee monsters for very long.

I consider this a feature of the game, as tactical play is really important, and that usually coincides with playing enough encounters with the same characters and players to get those characters to level up several times.

Yeah it basically sounds as though the issue is you need solid tactical play. Some groups will naturally grasp that quicker than others. Also explains why it gets better as you get higher in level. Not only do you have more margin for error, but you've also had the opportunity to play as a group longer and thus work on tactics together.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I've definitely noticed some difficulty in my friend's homebrew game. We've been through about four combats and the last two dropped us pretty well. I think a lot of it is us in D&D5e/PF1e mode through the game. We're now looking at interesting ways to use our party's strengths to leverage over the enemy.


I think there might be a vocabulary issue going on here... because it seems like some people are saying "I thought the game was lethal" and are mentioning getting "dropped," while other people are saying "not many characters have died" but are also talking about characters getting "dropped." So it seems like some are treating dropped and died as the same thing.

A quick count of what I can remember, I have seen a PC hit 0 HP around 15 times in the time I've played PF2 so far - but I have only seen 3 PCs actually die. So I would say that the game is clearly "lethal" because a combo of a few bad choices and/or bad rolls can easily result in a character lying on the ground with the Dying condition, though it is also fairly easy to stop death from actually happening (which is, in my opinion, the difference between a game that is lethal and fair like PF2, and a game that is unfairly lethal like PF1 or AD&D)


thenobledrake wrote:

I think there might be a vocabulary issue going on here... because it seems like some people are saying "I thought the game was lethal" and are mentioning getting "dropped," while other people are saying "not many characters have died" but are also talking about characters getting "dropped." So it seems like some are treating dropped and died as the same thing.

A quick count of what I can remember, I have seen a PC hit 0 HP around 15 times in the time I've played PF2 so far - but I have only seen 3 PCs actually die. So I would say that the game is clearly "lethal" because a combo of a few bad choices and/or bad rolls can easily result in a character lying on the ground with the Dying condition, though it is also fairly easy to stop death from actually happening (which is, in my opinion, the difference between a game that is lethal and fair like PF2, and a game that is unfairly lethal like PF1 or AD&D)

Certainly that's a fair distinction. Particularly since being on low hit points in PF2 is not as serious as in PF1 since you had a much better chance to go straight to dead in PF1/3.x. The issue comes in though with how quickly things can go sideways -- particularly when a PC goes unconscious or a player makes a bad decision. So far, in my limited experience, PF2 has actually felt notably more lethal than PF1/3.x even with the cushion you get from the dying condition versus -Con in PF1. But certainly being unconscious, but not dead yet, in PF2 may make it feel more lethal to PF1 vets who did everything they could to avoid getting close to unconscious.

That said, it does feel as though PF1, to me at least, was largely more forgiving in that bad tactics or a bad decision or two didn't seem to cripple the party nearly as badly. However, it likely will become easier for most groups once they get a handle on tactics and get a better feel for the system as a whole.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Of those 15 times, thenobledrake, how many times required them to spend a hero point to avoid death?

Getting dropped doesn't seem too severe to me, though having to spend that hero point is a sign to the players that the hero has failed and needs to use his get out of jail free card if he wants to keep playing that character concept.

It's come to that so many times that I've had players come up to me and say if that's ever not enough, they'll just bring in the exact same character with a different name. That's how jaded they are getting against PF2E's apparent difficulty. It's got all my players terrified on a whole new level not seen in our 25 years of roleplaying. Not even Call a Cthulu, Ravenloft, or Warhammer 40k are as deadly and terrifying in their minds.


Ravingdork wrote:
Of those 15 times, thenobledrake, how many times required them to spend a hero point to avoid death?

Zero.

My players spend their hero points on re-rolling checks or attack rolls, rather than safety-banking them to make sure there's one on hand if their dying. And even then, they manage to fail the re-roll more often than not too.

Here's the basic rundown of the 3 actual deaths:

The whole party gets blasted with an area effect, this character failed the save. Everyone stays in the area and gets blasted again, this character crit failed the save and drops. Another character heals this character, but everyone stays in the area again and gets blasted again and this character crit fails the save and drops again. Another player is worried this character will die... but tries to stabilize the character rather than take them to safety, and fails. The next blast comes (after a success on the recover check), but the dying character crit fails again and has finally racked up enough dying condition to be dead.

And the other two happened in a similar situation, but with the added twist that instead of it being just standing in a blast zone that killed them, it was that one player had their character standing in a blast zone and got dropped and another player had their character try to drag them out but got taken down too, and while the third character did drag those two to safety and the party got them back on their feet - they then went straight back into the same, immobile, not-on-a-time-crunch danger and got taken down again and had bad luck on the mix of recovery saves and attempts to stabilize.


If PF2 didnt have Hero points and needing to get passed Dying the game would be a lot more lethal than PF1. Because it is so much easier for character to just drop unconscious.

I want to bet that no one can fully run a campaign in PF2 without Hero Points without massively dropping encounter difficulty. That is how bad I think things are.

Also people are relying a lot on all the healing that Paizo has added. PF1 for all the talk about "always being full with wands" could function relatively well without that much healing for 1-2 combat. But PF2 requires that you are always at max HP every time, or else be at a severe risk of dropping.

Liberty's Edge

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Ravingdork wrote:

Of those 15 times, thenobledrake, how many times required them to spend a hero point to avoid death?

Getting dropped doesn't seem too severe to me, though having to spend that hero point is a sign to the players that the hero has failed and needs to use his get out of jail free card if he wants to keep playing that character concept.

It's come to that so many times that I've had players come up to me and say if that's ever not enough, they'll just bring in the exact same character with a different name. That's how jaded they are getting against PF2E's apparent difficulty. It's got all my players terrified on a whole new level not seen in our 25 years of roleplaying. Not even Call a Cthulu, Ravenloft, or Warhammer 40k are as deadly and terrifying in their minds.

Brings back memories of Rolemaster. Granted, that was 30 years ago.

On Hero Points, I have never seen one spent on not dying, and even often saw PCs with no point left, including my own character, because we actively used the points before on rolls we deemed essential. And maybe using the Hero Points this way enabled us to preemptively avoid being in the going to die situation.
In the end, I find it more satisfying to decide and use my point to have an impact on the game when I want than to hoard it like a miser just so my PC can escape the fate that befell them.

Feels less passive and more heroic.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

We've just finished our 10th game (10ish?) of Pathfinder 2E, and from what I've seen, casters and martials both are only one crit away from getting dropped.

...

That sounds perfect!


Temperans wrote:
XCom2 has the chance of having 98% hit rate and characters still die. PF2 has characters have no more than ~80% hit rate if you use every single bonus. Luck plays a much larger part in PF2.

It does and it doesn't, a PF2e character is far more durable than an Xcom soldier and has WAY more options available to them at any moment; also my whole point of mentioning 98% is that people have odds like that and still blame RNG for failing a campaign or needing to reload saves, where other people have happily completed the campaign with minimal losses (mind control can suck) because they account for RNG variance.

Things won't go your way every time, but relying on dice luck primarily is a recipe for disaster. Every action taken should have one or two backup plans in case it doesn't work out.

Of course, the game is actually more forgiving than I am making it seem here, there will be threat but it doesn't require people to be THAT on the ball.
I am arguing against the idea that tactics don't make "that" much of a difference in PF2e when it comes to survivability in general combat. My players would have been dead long ago otherwise.

For the record, I have and do attack players who go down, I did run the +4 encounter in Hellknight hill sub optimally as if it had blur + enlarge + other features up and running most parties would be slaughtered at that level. And my players don't save heropoints for when they are dying. Because they know full well that if they can increase their odds at success with rerolls on ideal actions, then they are less likely to go down at all.

If people all play their characters are lone heroes that just happen to be in a group together and there is no interplay between character abilities though... well... they are the ones who are likely to suffer the most.

Temperans wrote:
The condition to be one is regularly being knocked down in ~2 hits.

I realise that, but 2 hits suggests that they were getting crit. Even against higher level foes that isn't a certainty, a 30% crit chance on that first attack can be scary. And sometimes the dice don't go your way. But it isn't like every fight will be against +2 to +3 foes.

And as I pointed out with my dwarf barbarian example even crits stop mattering if you can direct them to the right characters (that was an extreme example, but most any class can build a decent level of resilience after the first 5 levels are done. The other tactical elements are making sure you can protect the squishier targets.)


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Temperans wrote:
I want to bet that no one can fully run a campaign in PF2 without Hero Points without massively dropping encounter difficulty. That is how bad I think things are.

Considering how few times I've seen a player at my table spend a hero point and actually change an outcome, I'd take that bet.

We have an in-joke of "re-rolls don't matter" because whether it's a hero point, halfling luck, or having rolled the wrong die, re-rolling doesn't seem to change the actual outcome - including numerous times of a damage die that was supposed to be a d8 but was accidentally rolled as a d6 (or the like, as this has happened with d4s and d10s, and even a couple times with someone accidentally rolling a d12 for an attack roll instead of a d20) gets the same numerical result on both dice.


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In my PF2 campaign, the one ranger who dropped unconscious after a critical hit chose to spend a hero point to stabilize. Combat was still ongoing, the only other PC near her was not trained in medicine, those trained in medicine were over a turn away and ignorant of her condition, and only I had read the Dying rules. (Yes, the ranger fell because the party had spread too far and essentially split into two. They are very good at tactics but not perfect.) The hero point seemed awfully convenient.


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Mathmuse wrote:
...and only I had read the Dying rules.

Our first couple of games we thought that making the Recovery roll stabilized you. The players literally gasped when I later told them we had been doing it wrong, that you often needed to make several such checks before becoming stable.


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Literally gasped?

Your party seems a bit on the melodramatic side.


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swoosh wrote:
Literally gasped?

Yes, really!

swoosh wrote:
Your party seems a bit on the melodramatic side.

They do like to make fun!


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I have ran fall of plaguestone, up to book 4 of AoA, played in every pfs scenario that came out before June. I have only seen one player death and that was due to persistent damage and being separated from the party by a wall of force.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So far, having both run and played both of the first two chapters of AoA, played in a horribly amped up Fall of Plaguestone (GM loved overmodding and adding to the already Severe Threats) and ran and played a bunch of PFS scenarios, I'd say the lethality/danger level does seem ramped up from 1st edition at low levels while evening out a bit in the mid levels when you have people who start to gel as a team, or are the higher-tactically focused players often found in PFS.

My players have had 0 deaths in AoA, although they came close to a tpk in the basement of the first adventure due to overwhelming forces converging on the party from multiple sources.

I have had several times where my AoA PCs have individually gone unconscious, and sometimes several members of the party, but the PCs have won out, regrouped, retreated, healed, and tried again or moved on.

We did have a tpk in the game I was playing of AoA when we "drew aggro" from a group of encounters that were supposed to be challenged individually. We brought the hammer down upon ourselves, and we paid for it.

This said, almost 40% of the 1st Edition APs I have run has resulted in a TPK at some point- usually between 8th and 12th level, sometimes earlier. Of the others, some ended because of player attrition or life changes, and some just became too easy for the highly optimized PCs. The only AP I have played to completion (Shattered Star) was so painful to GM for the last two chapters due to utter lack of ability to challenge the PCs that I started looking at some of the encounters and saying "You finish these guys no problem. I don't want to waste the hour it would take for you to fight this many peons."

I haven't felt that way with 2E, but I haven't got to those leves yet. My players seem to be enjoying the challenge and rising to the occasions.


Reckless wrote:

"You finish these guys no problem. I don't want to waste the hour it would take for you to fight this many peons."

I haven't felt that way with 2E, but I haven't got to those leves yet. My players seem to be enjoying the challenge and rising to the occasions

I know that feeling, was never fun.

I have also skipped over the ends of some combats where it was obvious what the outcome was going to be and I knew full well that the party wasn't going to be engaging in any more challenges that day and that any possible extra tension or lost resources were going to be too incidental to bother with.

Oh and in cult of cinders where I thought the location the third group of scouts they had sent out was going to collide with the party at a point that was just going to break pacing and be such a tiny inconsequential roadbump (they were heading back to akrivel) it wasn't worth running.


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Kennethray wrote:
I have only seen one player death and that was due to persistent damage and being separated from the party by a wall of force.

At least the wall of force was helping them socially distance.

Grand Lodge

In PFS, I don't see many characters being dropped to dying. I would estimate it happens about once every 3-4 scenarios, so I don't she it being a problem in that campaign.

I am running a converted Ironfang Invasion campaign and so far at least one PC is dropped in 75% of the encounters, and multiple PCs in about 50%. I am not sure if that is by design or if I am being too aggressive with my conversions. Either way, it probably happening a bit more frequently than I'd like. Fortunately, they rarely (so far) have multiple encounters in a day so they are always at full health and resources for each battle which greatly improves their survivability. Only once has a PC reached Dying 3 and that was at the conclusion of an encounter and they had hero points left so were never really at risk of dying.


KrispyXIV wrote:


Champions are a very well designed and balanced class.

I've found a sword and board Warpriest with Champion dedication to be incredibly effective at damage mitigation. I like that there are different strategies for damage mitigation between parties in 2e, but I think it could be brutal if you don't use some combination of tactics and party composition. When everything falls into place some severe encounters can end up fairly benign (but fun because the party have earned it).

That said, there is one encounter each in AoA book 1 and book 2 that are a bit overtuned. This also happened in some 1e adventure paths (and is arguably more understandable in AoA). My players nearly TPK'd in book 1 of RotRL (though unlike AoA the encounter equivalent encounter there is avoidable). There were also a lot of RotRL encounters where the rogue spent several turns fleeing ... (which I'm glad to say has almost disappeared in 2e).


On EC, and just for clarification as I am currently running it... doesn’t chapter 2 take place essentially over a week, with PCs dictating the pace by choosing where to look?

Scarab Sages

TwilightKnight wrote:
In PFS, I don't see many characters being dropped to dying. I would estimate it happens about once every 3-4 scenarios, so I don't she it being a problem in that campaign.

My PFS experience is different. None of my characters have dropped to dying, but it happens to others about as often as not.

Generally, 1 of 2 thing must happen:

1) A player makes an extremely poor tactical decision

2) A PC is front-line, but lacks the AC, HP, and/or a fellow front-liner to weather it.


NECR0G1ANT wrote:
TwilightKnight wrote:
In PFS, I don't see many characters being dropped to dying. I would estimate it happens about once every 3-4 scenarios, so I don't she it being a problem in that campaign.

My PFS experience is different. None of my characters have dropped to dying, but it happens to others about as often as not.

Generally, 1 of 2 thing must happen:

1) A player makes an extremely poor tactical decision

2) A PC is front-line, but lacks the AC, HP, and/or a fellow front-liner to weather it.

I have run a couple PFS scenarios where a front-liner drops do to no true fault of their own. In general it's been a "Final BBEG walks up, rolls a nat 20, and then almost/does max out the damage roll". But that's a scenario that is going to happen in any game designed to feel challenging and not just bullet-spongey.

(No PFS deaths so far however... A few one-short-of-dead dying times. but no deaths.)


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NECR0G1ANT wrote:

Generally, 1 of 2 thing must happen:

1) A player makes an extremely poor tactical decision
2) A PC is front-line, but lacks the AC, HP, and/or a fellow front-liner to weather it.

Plaugestone:

Against the sculptor:
Barbarian: "I open the secret door. Everyone else stand back in case its trapped."
GM: "The alchemist with his readied action throws a flask of alchemist fire at you. <Rolls a crit> You take 24 damage. Roll initiative."
Barbarian: "Great, now I have 2 hp left."
GM: "The alchemist goes first in initiative and runs into the next room."

Barbarian went to zero at least once. Rogue went to zero at least twice. Cleric went to zero twice. Pretty sure someone else dropped too, but I forget who.

Against the final boss, whatever she was:
GM: "She throws an acid flask at the witch, ignoring the barbarian in her face. <Rolls a crit> You take 4 damage and 4d6 persistent damage."
Witch: "On average that kills me in two turns. I only HAVE 23 hp after the base damage from max. I jump in the river."
Witch, feigning distress voice: "Help meeeee....Throw a rooooooope..! I can't actually swiiiiiimmm..."
<16 athletics checks later, against DC 10 to hold onto a rope>
Witch: "Yep, I'm just dead. I still think I had a better shot at surviving by jumping in the water than not, though. There's no way I could have endured that much acid damage long enough and I was out of my own healing and the cleric was busy."

Sovereign Court

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@Draco18s: that's... your GM taking a very liberal interpretation of the initiative rules.


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Draco18s wrote:
NECR0G1ANT wrote:

Generally, 1 of 2 thing must happen:

1) A player makes an extremely poor tactical decision
2) A PC is front-line, but lacks the AC, HP, and/or a fellow front-liner to weather it.

** spoiler omitted **

That order of events isn't how PF2 is written to play out - once every individual action matters, such as "does the party get in there before the bad guy is ready to hurl a bomb at them?" the rules of the game want Initiative rolled and encounter mode used, so the possibility of a readied attack being immediately before the readying character's turn would be minimal - a lot more likely that at least the target of that readied attack gets to finish up their turn beforehand, if not other characters also getting to have turns.

It's a very easy mistake to make, though, since it's the first published adventure for a new version and change blindness is an easy trap to fall into.

Sovereign Court

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Yeah the GM turned the colloquial "stands there planning to throw something at you" into "has readied to attack you before anyone's even rolled initiative". Which is impossible.

When you start making mistakes/changes like that, whatever comes next isn't really representative of normal 2E difficulty.


Temperans wrote:

The GM and Devs can realistically come up with any terrain and starting condition. The players can use strategy to take advantage of those conditions. But the GM can do so as well.

I have heard a lot of people saying "we used strategy to survive", which I know does work. But I am not sure how much comes from GMs pulling punches, match advantage, terrain advatage, or certain classes just being kind of broken.

Champion and Bard seem to be the 2 classes that all teams should have. Everyone agrees that just adding a Champion massively helps with survivability. Which I suspect comes partly from GM just attacking the Champion instead of attacking the weaker PCs. Meanwhile, adding a Bard massively helps hitting things, which helps end things faster.

So I asked how much of the survivability comes from the GM and how much comes from the players. There is only so much that strategy can do.

The champions also get a bunch of take hits instead of friend or if you attack my friend instead of me you are super gimped and may not even be able to attack type stuff.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
When you start making mistakes/changes like that, whatever comes next isn't really representative of normal 2E difficulty.

And even more so when the scenario involves a published adventure with a written in "this is what this NPC does first" bit that isn't what the GM chose to go with in play.

Admittedly though, in this case the GM probably made the encounter easier overall if they did the above described actions instead of what the book actually says to do, despite giving a non-action-cost attack to the enemy.


For what it's worth, that's what I remember happened. I may be slightly mistaken about the order of events, but the barbarian was crit with something on the first round leaving him with 2 hp for a while (everyone was actually surprised how long he continued to stay up). But the barbarian wasn't hitting either.

As for "what the adventure says the NPC does" is what the NPC did, what you're forgetting is that what's written is "pull the PCs into a second Serious encounter, making the fight Extreme" albeit in different words.

And I see no responses about the second fight I mentioned.

Scarab Sages

Draco18s wrote:
NECR0G1ANT wrote:

Generally, 1 of 2 thing must happen:

1) A player makes an extremely poor tactical decision
2) A PC is front-line, but lacks the AC, HP, and/or a fellow front-liner to weather it.

Plaguestone ** spoiler omitted **

I was talking specifically about PFS adventures. Plaguestone is a different beast altogether.

(2 combats where PCs hit dying out of 3 run so far, if anyone's curious)


Draco18s wrote:
And I see no responses about the second fight I mentioned.

I can only say that the reason I didn't address it was because I don't know whether to say "that seems like hyperbole" or "it's definitely not the fault of the rules that someone's dice are rolling low constantly - did they actually shake them, or were they just dropping them off their hand accidentally cheating themself? I've seen people do that a lot, actually. Maybe buy them a dice cup or a dice tower or something."

But if you'd like I could try to dig in a little deeper and see if there's something I can blame on the GM or the player for making a tough situation (persistent damage) worse than it had to be.


Draco18s wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Yeah your GM ran initiative completely wrong there. I really hated it in PF1e/3.x games, initiative is the foes reaction speed, having it be circumvented like that is silly.

Just because you are ready for someone to come around a corner, even have your weapon out, doesn't mean your reflexes are good enough to hit them before they get to you (I would probably give them the scout exploration activity to represent their extra alertness, but other than that having the weapon in hand and being in the right position should be enough)

Also, regarding the rope. Why DC10 to grab it? Seems a bit intense since it would be a DC 10 to climb it normally, DC12 liklely to counter it being wet.
As long as the character didn't crit fail their athletics check they shouldn't let go of the rope.

And a DC10 assisted recovery check to be in the water and wash off acid (if the GM really wanted to make you roll for it despite it being moving water), plus the normal flat check and a then a DC12 climb check to climb out.

Shouldn't be that unreasonable. Worst comes to worst one character could spend an action to aid.

Design Manager

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thenobledrake wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
And I see no responses about the second fight I mentioned.

I can only say that the reason I didn't address it was because I don't know whether to say "that seems like hyperbole" or "it's definitely not the fault of the rules that someone's dice are rolling low constantly - did they actually shake them, or were they just dropping them off their hand accidentally cheating themself? I've seen people do that a lot, actually. Maybe buy them a dice cup or a dice tower or something."

But if you'd like I could try to dig in a little deeper and see if there's something I can blame on the GM or the player for making a tough situation (persistent damage) worse than it had to be.

It's about 1 in 100,000 if she had 8 Strength, or 3 in a million if she had 10. I have seen things happen that are that unlikely, but even the 8 Strength version is 10 times less likely than attempting three Strikes and rolling all natural 20s. It's still way more likely than winning the lottery though.


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I find death is less common in 2E comared to 1E, largely because it lacks most of the insta kill effects.. However, it is impossible in 2E to push your defences to the point where the dice doesnt really matter so you will take damage. I find 2E PCs dropping unconscious more often but I have yet to have an actual TPK and only one PC death due to an unlucky crit with a flaming wapon which dropped the target to dying 2 and set them on fire.


Mark Seifter wrote:
It's about 1 in 100,000 if she had 8 Strength, or 3 in a million if she had 10. I have seen things happen that are that unlikely, but even the 8 Strength version is 10 times less likely than attempting three Strikes and rolling all natural 20s. It's still way more likely than winning the lottery though.

8 strength, not trained in the skill. Highest roll (other than the first which gave the party time TO throw a rope) was 12, iirc.

Have the roll20 log here somewhere...

Here we go. The "16" was not an accurate value, I typed that as a "eh, it was more than 10 rolls" as a bit of mild hyperbole.
And I don't actually know what the DC was. Might've been 15 for "not being pushed by the current" but I still rolled absolute garbage.

Spoiler:
<note, I'm hand typing the 'skill name' and was poking fun at myself>
Draco18s M. rolls a 14 for Athletics!
Draco18s M. rolls a 18 for Athleticalness is not my forte!
<this is when I grabbed the rope>
Draco18s M. rolls a 4 for I'm Atheletable!
Draco18s M. rolls a 2 for Athletics? Althetics!
Draco18s M. rolls a 12 for Althetics!
Draco18s M. rolls a 7 for Swiming? What's that!
<next round, down river away from the rope>
Draco18s M. rolls a 2 for Athelletheletics?!
Draco18s M. rolls a 3 for Letics!
Draco18s M. rolls a 2 for Just keep swimming just keep swimming!
Draco18s M. rolls a 8 for And this is how you do it!
<and the hero point>
Draco18s M. rolls a 12 for Athletics HERO POWER!

Design Manager

Ah, DC 15 can be much rougher. Failing that 10 times in a row with a -1 is slightly more likely than rolling once and getting a natural 1 (though never even getting a 13 in 10 rolls is more like 1% chance).

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