Is everyone a glass cannon, or just me?


Advice

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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.

I've seen streaks of bad luck too. And streaks of good luck (heck, I've been the guy that manages to crit on 3 attacks in one round often enough that every time I roll a crit people at my table are like "here we go again...")

But my die roll probability calculator spits out the odds of both the possibilities for the (now clarified as hyperbolic) string of rolls as "0.00% chance" because it rounds to the nearest 10,000th.

Draco18s wrote:

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.

Ah... there it is! (and I don't mean the hyperbole.)

Looks like the situation came down to your GM bumbling the situation a bit. After having checked the details in the adventure, that check where you "grabbed the rope" would have been all you needed if you were swimming to the edge instead - which I know from experience GMs can get hung up on "well, the roll was good enough, but that's not what they said they did, so... I guess they do what they said?" thing instead of thinking in terms of "the consequence of falling in is this DC of check, they passed with a relevant skill, obstacle over."

But again, like how the GM could have done worse with what was written in the earlier encounter, your GM could have focused on the nebulous description of the water in this encounter and had the character swept away by the current "quickly" and with "almost no chance of surviving"


I had to then climb the rope (because it was a 10 foot drop) and promptly fell off.


I introduced some new people to PF2. One of them played a barbarian. He only ever failed or critically succeeded on anything. Was fairly funny and everyone had a good laugh. He still had fun as a barbarian those crits were usually "destroy whatever was in front of me."

Liberty's Edge

Draco18s wrote:
I had to then climb the rope (because it was a 10 foot drop) and promptly fell off.

Sounds like you spent 4 rounds dealing with the water/rope situation. I am surprised that none of the other PCs came to save you, for example the aforementioned Barbarian who was likely to succeed on any required Athletics roll.


The Raven Black wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
I had to then climb the rope (because it was a 10 foot drop) and promptly fell off.
Sounds like you spent 4 rounds dealing with the water/rope situation.

Two rounds. 3 actions a round, plus an environmental roll.

The first two rolls are my initial jump into the river (third action and environment).
Then the first round.
Then the second round (having washed 15 feet down stream out of reach).

I am surprised that none of the other PCs came to save you, for example the aforementioned Barbarian who was likely to succeed on any required Athletics roll.

Who also jumped in the river, for the same reason.

There were three of us down there at one point, but in general there was the group in the water trying to get out, the one character holding the rope up top and trying to aid people getting out, and two more attempting to deal with the boss (read: distract as to not let the boss insta-dead the people in the river).

(Remember also that Aid doesn't actually make the check for the person, it just gives them a +2, and none of my checks failed by 2).

Either way, the barbarian only had one turn where he could have potentially helped me, but had no actions to do so. You know, on account of having to spend them not-dying himself (e.g. move into the water and make athletics checks to swim). Figuring out what happened from the log is tricky, all I can find are his two athletics checks, but one is from before I jumped in the water, and a couple of attacks (before I was in the river and after I drowned).


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Draco18s wrote:
I had to then climb the rope (because it was a 10 foot drop) and promptly fell off.

There's no mention in adventure text that I can find which says it's a 10 foot drop to the water.

Really highlights the power of the minor details a GM might add while running a published adventure - if they were like me and deliberately made sure to not add difficulty while filling in details (i.e. if an adventure doesn't say how far a fall is, I assume it is supposed to be so short as to not invoke any mechanics), this character would have been out of the water on the 2nd Athletics check.


thenobledrake wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
I had to then climb the rope (because it was a 10 foot drop) and promptly fell off.

There's no mention in adventure text that I can find which says it's a 10 foot drop to the water.

Really highlights the power of the minor details a GM might add while running a published adventure - if they were like me and deliberately made sure to not add difficulty while filling in details (i.e. if an adventure doesn't say how far a fall is, I assume it is supposed to be so short as to not invoke any mechanics), this character would have been out of the water on the 2nd Athletics check.

Again, part of this is my memory. And I know that there are things that I don't accurately know or remember. All I know is that:

(1) I don't know what the DC was
(2) I had to make more than one check
(3) I did not make more than one check

Spoiler:
Went and looked at the PDF:

Quote:

Swimming against the current

requires a successful DC 18 Athletics check, but
the DC drops to 16 if the character swims with the
current or swims directly to the nearest edge.

So, basically no, I was just dead.

I know the GM "make the check easier" because of the rope, but I don't know by how much.


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thenobledrake wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
I had to then climb the rope (because it was a 10 foot drop) and promptly fell off.

There's no mention in adventure text that I can find which says it's a 10 foot drop to the water.

Really highlights the power of the minor details a GM might add while running a published adventure - if they were like me and deliberately made sure to not add difficulty while filling in details (i.e. if an adventure doesn't say how far a fall is, I assume it is supposed to be so short as to not invoke any mechanics), this character would have been out of the water on the 2nd Athletics check.

I opened by PDF of Fall of Plaguestone to count the number of ways Draco18s' GM made the module more difficult. And I was going to say what thenobledrake said, that neither the text nor the map gave a 10-foot drop.

That got me thinking about the ways I toughen and soften my encounters. My example is from Trail of the Hunted, 1st module in Ironfang Invasion, so I need a spoiler cover.

Trail of the Hunted:
My five 3rd-level players were clearing out murderous xulgath cultists from a two-level cave system. "Xulgath" is the new name for the reptilian troglodytes from PF1. I had added Lissa, a 2nd-level Xulgath Stalker from PF2 Bestiary 1, just to use that creature. Lissa overheard the battle in the main upper cave room, spied on the party as they rested to heal for 10 minutes, and reported back the 4th-level xulgath barbarian Handiss. Handiss was 3rd-level in the module, but I decided to increase the challenge.

Handiss asked Lissa and his three 1st-level Xulgath Warriors to wait in his room. I thought this was not a dramatic time for a 150-xp encounter (counts as a 120-xp severe encounter against 5 PCs). Instead, he came alone because he was showing off to impress the other xulgath--evil people need to demonstrate their power to their minions to prevent uprisings. Handiss interrupted the party before they could heal for more than 10 minutes, so the party was not at their prime. Handiss came in bragging in his native Draconic language. One rogue in the party spoke Draconic and could respond to his boasts for a little bit of amusing roleplaying.

The party had trouble at first, because Handiss had Deny Advantage to negate the flanking-based sneak attacks of the two rogues. Then the ranger tripped him. Prone made him flat-footed and the rogues were able to deal their sneak attack damage.

Lissa, spying on the battle, decided to move herself and the warriors to the lower level, where they could organize a force powerful enough to defeat the party. I thought that that would be more dramatic.

The party cleared the upper level and healed up before descending to the lower level. The climb down was a comedy of errors as people failed their climb checks and froze as obstacles to the other climbers. The ranger descended more by Grab Edge than by Climb.

The first room contained a Gelatinous Cube. Among its attacks, the cube had "Engulf [two-actions] DC 19, 2d6 acid, Escape DC 19, Rupture 7. A creature Engulfed by the gelatinous cube must also attempt a saving throw against paralysis." That meant it could move 30 feet and any creature it overran during that move had to succeed in a DC 19 Reflex save or be swallowed up inside the cube, take 2d6 acid damage, and maybe be paralyzed. It managed to Engulf three PCs in a single Engulf activity. The ranger was not paralyzed and used Twin Takedown from the inside.

Rupture 7 means that if a single attack from the cube's inside deals 7 or more damage, the engulfed attacker cuts her way out. Twin Takedown combines the damage of two attacks, which was 4 and 5, for resistance, but what of rupture? I declared it combined for rupture, too, because that was more glorious for the player.

The party killed the cube in one more round. That was the time for the massed forces of the lower-level xulgath to burst in from the next room and attack! Except I delayed the attack. The party was at half hit points after battling the Gelatinous Cube, an unexpectedly difficult battle. Instead, the Draconic-speaking rogue listened at the door and overhead the xulgath talking.
WARRIOR: Have they stopped fighting the cube? Did it win?
LISSA: They went silent. Let's wait five rounds to be sure.

The party decided to retreat, since the xulgath would contain the boss of the caves. I houseruled the Climb rules to make the climb up smoother. The xulgath rushed out and spotted some PCs at the top and some still climbing. The xulgath warriors threw spears at them.

The party's reaction to the spears was essentially, "Spears? We have bows and cantrips! Bring it on!" The xulgath also had one cantrip-casting sorcerer and one crossbow. Nevertheless, the party could deal twice as much damage at range as the xulgath, and they focused their attack on any xulgath who tried to climb. Heavily injured party members could retreat away from the lines of fire, but gathered together when the druid used her last Heal spell. The last xulgath fled, and was fought again later.

Thus, as a GM I increased the challenges of the module by adding an enemy, raising a level, and grouping the enemies. After all, I had a 5-player party. Yet I also gave warnings and controlled the flow of enemies for drama rather than advantage to the enemy. My job as GM is not to defeat the PCs; rather, my job is to give them opportunities for glory.

Draco18s' GM, in contrast, put up barriers to glory, such as a pre-initiative action by the Sculptor to throw a bomb and an unnecessary 10-foot climb in The Emerald Depths. What's the point to them? The dangerousness of the Sculptor could be demonstrated through cleverness rather than uncharacteristic speed. The river is a side challenge, not the main battle, so it ought to be overcome quickly to return to the main battle.

The Raven Black wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
I had to then climb the rope (because it was a 10 foot drop) and promptly fell off.
Sounds like you spent 4 rounds dealing with the water/rope situation. I am surprised that none of the other PCs came to save you, for example the aforementioned Barbarian who was likely to succeed on any required Athletics roll.

I remember old Use-Rope mechanics from D&D 2nd Edition, which in PF2 would be Athletics actions. Once the barbarian climbed out of the river, I would have let him and the rope-holder make DC 16 Athletics checks to pull the rope and drag people out of the river. These would not be Aid checks (DC 20 for a mere +2) since they are not Swimming nor Climbing, they are pulling rope against the river's current. That would give glory to the party members who were rescuing their comrades.

I like my players using teamwork and tactics. The actions make for good adventure stories. Therefore, I enable such mechanics.

I had posted the hypothesis that maybe the new PF2 adventure paths were the source of the dropped PCs, because PCs very seldom drop when I run PF2. Let me add a competing hypothesis. Maybe simply I don't try to drop the PCs with annoying situations. It would not be fun for any of us.


Quote:
Once the barbarian climbed out of the river, I would have let him and the rope-holder make DC 16 Athletics checks to pull the rope and drag people out of the river.

I was already dead by the time the barbarian was out of the water. He jumped in about the time I made the first set of four checks and by the time he was out, I was already 15 feet downstream and rope-less.


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Draco18s wrote:

So, basically no, I was just dead.

I know the GM "make the check easier" because of the rope, but I don't know by how much.

Your GM didn't make this situation easier. Your GM made it harder, even if they were using a lower DC for climbing the rope...

Because if your GM wouldn't have invented the 10 foot drop to the water, you wouldn't have needed a rope, and if you wouldn't have needed a rope, you'd have been swimming to get out of the water and the "Draco18s M. rolls a 18 for Athleticalness is not my forte!" roll would have made that happen.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yes I ment pc. Also aid gives a +1 with a +2 on crit.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I guess one of the big takeaways here is that because PF2 is a lot less fast and loose with numbers than PF1, GMs should maybe be more careful about making ad hoc rulings designed to make things harder for the players, because something that seems like not a big deal on the surface can end up having some significant consequences to the feeling of a story and a player's experience.


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Squiggit wrote:
I guess one of the big takeaways here is that because PF2 is a lot less fast and loose with numbers than PF1, GMs should maybe be more careful about making ad hoc rulings designed to make things harder for the players, because something that seems like not a big deal on the surface can end up having some significant consequences to the feeling of a story and a player's experience.

Quoted for truth.

Even as little as fighting in an area with a lot of lesser cover can turn fights into nightmares, especially if you are going against Level+2/3/4 enemies and are already struggeling getting your hits in.


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Squiggit wrote:
I guess one of the big takeaways here is that because PF2 is a lot less fast and loose with numbers than PF1, GMs should maybe be more careful about making ad hoc rulings designed to make things harder for the players, because something that seems like not a big deal on the surface can end up having some significant consequences to the feeling of a story and a player's experience.

The other thing I see a lot from new PF2 players/GMs is GMs making things harder by failing to actually read the Failure results for Skill checks. A lot of people seem to assume that a Failure is equivalent to the actual Critical Failure result, when Failure generally means "Suffer a complication or lose time, then Try Again."

Things like skill success rates and skill challenges in APs are tuned based around that - there's at least one AP book that provides the players with massively more time than they need to accomplish a goal, assuming they make all their checks. Its clearly designed to allow them a number of failures on their way to success.

It also falls under the heading of 'GMs making things harder than they should be for players.'

The Concordance

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Another take-away from this situation. Is that PF2 is different enough from 1, that I would really treat any GM to it, as though a new GM, and be willing to give some leeway. There's lots of little things everyone is going to miss when just starting it.

Sovereign Court

To answer the thread topic's question, in every major battle so far in our campaign, at least 1, and often 2 of the 3 players in our group, has fallen to the Dying state. It seems ridiculously easy to do so compared to PF1. The enemies typically hit more frequently and for more damage that before.


I knocked 5 PCs out in the entirety of the Age of Ashes campaign. 6 if you count a swallowed whole PC intentionally casting a spell to free them which had them start drowning, but then they were free, so they were fine. If you don't, none of those unconscious characters hit the dirt past level 8.

So far I've knocked out... 4 PCs in my homebrew campaign. One was because a bow-wielding ranger PC had an ogre werewolf stride up to them and miss, so they deemed them incompetent and spent all their actions shooting. The attack of opportunity on the ranger chunked them to near-unconsciousness, so the cleric stayed nearby to heal, and then the ogre werewolf had enough speed to stride to them and attack twice, dropping them.

It was a long conversation on "why you shouldn't spend your last action fishing for a natural 20 that would just hit" afterwards.

Oh, and the highest wounded value for all of those characters has been 2. We've made a grand total of one death save in levels 1-20 in Age of Ashes and 1-4 in my homebrew.

Sovereign Court

Sounds like just my Owl animal companion has rolled more death saves in 1 level (3 Death saves in the first game session I got him, leading to a wild chase vs a wolf carrying off his dying body in it's mouth) than your entire party did during an entire campaign!

Just shows how the game can be entirely different for different groups.


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Party of four @ 3rd; Alchemist, Sorcerer, Fighter, Cleric.

DM has been running us on published materials - not an AP, but not homebrew. Every single encounter 1 or 2 of us goes down hard - unconscious and dying. Not just BBEG fights, every fight. I thought at first maybe because we are new to 2e and don't have the hang of it, but it's been a couple dozen sessions, DM and all players are 15yr+ vet RPGers (30yr in my case.)

Even going overboard stocking up and pre-buffing resources, same outcome -- just more broke and unable to replenish those resources for the next time.

To the point where after every encounter we have to limp back to recover or face the next enemy with only cantrips and one remaining spell.


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mardaddy wrote:

Party of four @ 3rd; Alchemist, Sorcerer, Fighter, Cleric.

DM has been running us on published materials - not an AP, but not homebrew. Every single encounter 1 or 2 of us goes down hard - unconscious and dying. Not just BBEG fights, every fight. I thought at first maybe because we are new to 2e and don't have the hang of it, but it's been a couple dozen sessions, DM and all players are 15yr+ vet RPGers (30yr in my case.)

Even going overboard stocking up and pre-buffing resources, same outcome -- just more broke and unable to replenish those resources for the next time.

To the point where after every encounter we have to limp back to recover or face the next enemy with only cantrips and one remaining spell.

Are you talking about Plaguestone, when you indicate non-AP published material?

Liberty's Edge

We went into Plaguestone being warned it was a killer module. We built our PCs accordingly (lot of healing).

Most fights were tense but manageable. The last one was pretty hard, as befits the boss fight.

We ended the module without a single loss of life on our side.


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mardaddy wrote:
To the point where after every encounter we have to limp back to recover or face the next enemy with only cantrips and one remaining spell.

Share some examples?

That seems possible in plaguestone, as it is an adventure that does require people to be more tactical than not (lots of severe encounters).

While I think it is a bad first AP for them to have released it is actually quite doable by people who know the system a bit better.

I really REALLY think the game deserved to launch with a Beginner Box similar to how 5e did, butttttttt it is what it is and we are getting one (hopefully with built in errata) later this year.
Thank god it comes with an adventure that spans 1-5 too, the adventure in the PF1e beginner box was a joke, and weirdly themed (who fights a young dragon at that level?)

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

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I am GM-ing a veteran PF1 group of 5 going thru Plaguestone.
We are about halfway thru

Spoiler:
The Pen
.
They go down all the time. I have stopped scaling the encounters for 5, and also have toned down my tactics too, but they still drop constantly. I have suggested that teamwork is important, and "wasting" an action early in a combat (like to demoralize or recall knowledge, or spend an extra stride to get into a flank etc) can really make things easier for them in the long run, but players be players and they do what they feel is true to their PC. Such as the goblin barbarian sudden charging out of healing range to attack the stone-horse makes sense in the lore of the game world. While a group of strangers who only met a few days ago suddenly being like a swat team makes no sense, but that seems to be the only way to have success.

Anyway, my question for the people having more success with teamwork, is how does the game not turn into 1 or 2 people basically dictating what everyone else does? (one of my pet peeves about cooperative board games is that for the team to win, the less strategic players basically have no say) I have some players that are not as rules savvy, and I hate for other more strategic players to constantly tell others how to play their character.

I had thought PF2 was going to be way more beginner friendly. And I guess it is in learning the system. But it is brutal to play for the less rules-mechanics savvy people.

Has anyone had any experience basically starting an adventure at level-2, and having the party always be 1 level above expected? I wonder if that will give me the experience that I think my players will enjoy better?


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Grumpus wrote:
Anyway, my question for the people having more success with teamwork, is how does the game not turn into 1 or 2 people basically dictating what everyone else does?

PF2 requires teamwork... but it doesn't require perfect teamwork.

So all it takes is a group of people that, even if not very strategic, are willing to do basic teamwork like flanking, applying some focus fire on enemies, and generally just using their character's abilities at appropriate times (i.e. not flinging area attacks at single targets, not wasting "big hits" on nearly dead foes, and not just using standard Strikes all the time).

But then, there's also the GM side of the equation. A GM can create a wide range of difficulty within the same encounter parameters simply by making different choices. I think a lot of GMs are going as difficult as they can all the time and not realizing that being a little less optimal with many of their encounters would smooth out the experience for their players (which I know reading that a number of GMs are going to accuse me of suggesting they "pull punches" - which, sure, that's technically true; but it can also be phrased as "adjusting difficulty to suit your players" if the reason they are having such a hard time is because they can't execute perfect teamwork but their enemies always do).


This edition really makes my players think twice about just diving into combat. Which is great :) Makes the monsters well Monsters instead of xp-treasure piñatas.... again this is great from a GM POV. My players try to sneak past certain encounters if possible instead leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake.


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thenobledrake wrote:


But then, there's also the GM side of the equation. A GM can create a wide range of difficulty within the same encounter parameters simply by making different choices. I think a lot of GMs are going as difficult as they can all the time and not realizing that being a little less optimal with many of their encounters would smooth out the experience for their players (which I know reading that a number of GMs are going to accuse me of suggesting they "pull punches" - which, sure, that's technically true; but it can also be phrased as "adjusting difficulty to suit your players" if the reason they are having such a hard time is because they can't execute perfect teamwork but their enemies always do).

Actually, as a long time DM/GM, I would argue that this is precisely the GM's job. Not every group consists entirely of players that want to optimize. Some groups, do. Many groups have a mix. Some players/groups just want to play a certain type of character, even if that character is not only "not optimized" but maybe even below average. The GM's job is to provide the players with fun, challenging encounters and to create a fun setting for the group. Not to just "run the standard encounters". Sometimes that means that the GM has to make encounters "more difficult" because her players have made a group that works very well together. Sometimes, you have to tone things down though.


Grumpus wrote:

Anyway, my question for the people having more success with teamwork, is how does the game not turn into 1 or 2 people basically dictating what everyone else does?

Simple rule, one I picked up from a purely storytelling driven co-op game that I now employ in all games I run, when its your turn it is only your turn. Characters can talk about tactics all they like when it comes to the campfire, but in the heat of battle the wizard is in control when it is their turn.

It seems harsh, especially on new players, but honestly it helps in the long run with player confidence and competence. When other players can't control you, you actually have room to grow. I also play enemies to those same specifications.


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Gargs454 wrote:
Actually, as a long time DM/GM, I would argue that this is precisely the GM's job. Not every group consists entirely of players that want to optimize. Some groups, do. Many groups have a mix. Some players/groups just want to play a certain type of character, even if that character is not only "not optimized" but maybe even below average. The GM's job is to provide the players with fun, challenging encounters and to create a fun setting for the group. Not to just "run the standard encounters". Sometimes that means that the GM has to make encounters "more difficult" because her players have made a group that works very well together. Sometimes, you have to tone things down though.

I absolutely agree with you.

I said what I said because I've had people call me a "crap GM" and a "kitten" (replace those with the vulgar versions it's against the rules for me to actually type, though) for my stance that the GM shouldn't be, to use a fun example, running a group of giant rats like a SWAT team.


thenobledrake wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
Actually, as a long time DM/GM, I would argue that this is precisely the GM's job. Not every group consists entirely of players that want to optimize. Some groups, do. Many groups have a mix. Some players/groups just want to play a certain type of character, even if that character is not only "not optimized" but maybe even below average. The GM's job is to provide the players with fun, challenging encounters and to create a fun setting for the group. Not to just "run the standard encounters". Sometimes that means that the GM has to make encounters "more difficult" because her players have made a group that works very well together. Sometimes, you have to tone things down though.

I absolutely agree with you.

I said what I said because I've had people call me a "crap GM" and a "kitten" (replace those with the vulgar versions it's against the rules for me to actually type, though) for my stance that the GM shouldn't be, to use a fun example, running a group of giant rats like a SWAT team.

Yup, I get it. Was more just me giving ya support. I will admit, that one of the things I often have to check myself on is the level of intelligence of a given enemy. I've run groups where most of the players were highly optimized and sometimes would find myself playing the monsters just a bit too smart. ;) Usually worked out well enough simply because the group was highly optimized, but its a great case in point. To use the extreme example, the mindless zombie is most likely just going to beat on whatever is in front of it, not run around the champion to get to the back line where the squishy elven bard is.


Most of the encounters in the Fall of Plaguestone game I'm running have resulted in at least one PC being brought to 0. A boar took down 3 of them, one-shotting each in turn, before I had it leave because it no longer had any targets (it seemed inappropriate for it to finish them off). They take a lot of advantage of the Medicine skill to heal up between encounters.

I'm hoping it evens out a bit in part 2. It's a bit demoralizing.


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Grumpus wrote:

I am GM-ing a veteran PF1 group of 5 going thru Plaguestone.

We are about halfway thru ** spoiler omitted **.
They go down all the time. I have stopped scaling the encounters for 5, and also have toned down my tactics too, but they still drop constantly. I have suggested that teamwork is important, and "wasting" an action early in a combat (like to demoralize or recall knowledge, or spend an extra stride to get into a flank etc) can really make things easier for them in the long run, but players be players and they do what they feel is true to their PC. Such as the goblin barbarian sudden charging out of healing range to attack the stone-horse makes sense in the lore of the game world. While a group of strangers who only met a few days ago suddenly being like a swat team makes no sense, but that seems to be the only way to have success.

One of my keys to a good campaign is Session Zero, where I explain the starting scenario and we work out how the PCs arrived at the starting location and their relation to the other PCs and anyone in the area. I manipulated the events to throw the party members together. In Trail of the Hunted the elf ranger Zinfandel was training under retired handicapped ranger Aubrin the Green, therefore, Zinfandel ran errands for Aubrin. The other PCs were the only other people among the refugees from the Ironfang Invasion that had skill in scouting, so they formed a team. They started with fighting two wolves and later a centipede swarm and gradually worked their way up to being a plausible expert strike team.

Grumpus wrote:
Anyway, my question for the people having more success with teamwork, is how does the game not turn into 1 or 2 people basically dictating what everyone else does? (one of my pet peeves about cooperative board games is that for the team to win, the less strategic players basically have no say) I have some players that are not as rules savvy, and I hate for other more strategic players to constantly tell others how to play their character.

I mentioned before in this thread that four of my players are boardgamers. That includes cooperative boardgames, such as Pandemic or Forbidden Desert. Our playing style in those games is brainstorming. We suggest ideas, talk over their merits, and cooperate. We are all smart, so brainstorming works better than a single person's ideas.

A team captain taking over is a potential problem in cooperative game design. The solution in Pandemic is specialization. Each player's character has special powers that give that character a different optimal strategy than the other characters. A team captain in a four-player game would have to juggle four different strategies to manage a win. Letting each player handle their own strategy and merely plan and cooperate together is much less mental overload and less likely to fall into a mistake.

Roleplaying games work the same way. If the champion is the party leader, then should the champion's player memorize the wizard's spells, the fighter's weapons and stances, and the bard's compositions in order to pick the optimal strategy for each one? That would be mental overload.

The more rules-savvy players do remind the other players of less common tactical actions, such as Demoralize as a first action. But the other player might have other idea, such as command an animal companion, that the kibitzers did not consider. As the most rules-savvy person at the table, I give reminders myself, such as, "You are behind a barrel that provides cover. Have you considered Take Cover as a third action? Hide is another possibility." My players have not read the rulebook as much as I have; therefore, teaching is one of my roles as a GM.

Grumpus wrote:
I had thought PF2 was going to be way more beginner friendly. And I guess it is in learning the system. But it is brutal to play for the less rules-mechanics savvy people.

I had hoped for that myself, but its mechanics have complications in places that are not beginner material.

Grumpus wrote:
Has anyone had any experience basically starting an adventure at level-2, and having the party always be 1 level above expected? I wonder if that will give me the experience that I think my players will enjoy better?

With my players I have to raise the level of the encounters to keep them challenged. Some encounters, however, are for versimitude rather than difficulty, so I don't need to make those more difficult.

I went easy on the challenges at first, when we were all new to the PF2 mechanics.


Foeclan wrote:
I'm hoping it evens out a bit in part 2. It's a bit demoralizing.

It doesn't, I would advise moving to a nicer adventure like extinction curse (you can run the first book like its own stand alone adventure pretty easily). The only real threat in that are some demon encounters that have clear advice for the GM to make sure that they are nerfed tactically.

This is not blaming you of course, it is the adventure and sometimes companies just release the wrong adventure in the wrong place (imo).

If you think your players are a bit gungho it is easy to have a fireside story before that point and have someone talk about the dangers of the demon in question. Heck even giving them access to some holy water would be fine if you are concerned (splash good damage is great for triggering weaknesses)

There is another encounter which could be dangerous but the demons won't fight unless pushed/harassed and one of them continuously pushes players rather than optimally getting them in two AoE blasts and maximizing fear effects.

Oh and I always suggest reading a full adventure book before running it. It can give a lot of insight into what you will need to do to make the adventure fun for the players if you are running something prewritten.

Agents of Edgewatch might also be worth looking into, but I am no longer a subscriber and haven't seen the PDF yet :)


Foeclan wrote:

Most of the encounters in the Fall of Plaguestone game I'm running have resulted in at least one PC being brought to 0. A boar took down 3 of them, one-shotting each in turn, before I had it leave because it no longer had any targets (it seemed inappropriate for it to finish them off). They take a lot of advantage of the Medicine skill to heal up between encounters.

I'm hoping it evens out a bit in part 2. It's a bit demoralizing.

That gods damned boar. Nearly TPKed my party too. Crit the barbarian with it's first attack, regular hits were good enough to down the cleric and witch. The sorcerer was doing something else in town iirc.


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thenobledrake wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
Actually, as a long time DM/GM, I would argue that this is precisely the GM's job. Not every group consists entirely of players that want to optimize. Some groups, do. Many groups have a mix. Some players/groups just want to play a certain type of character, even if that character is not only "not optimized" but maybe even below average. The GM's job is to provide the players with fun, challenging encounters and to create a fun setting for the group. Not to just "run the standard encounters". Sometimes that means that the GM has to make encounters "more difficult" because her players have made a group that works very well together. Sometimes, you have to tone things down though.

I absolutely agree with you.

I said what I said because I've had people call me a "crap GM" and a "kitten" (replace those with the vulgar versions it's against the rules for me to actually type, though) for my stance that the GM shouldn't be, to use a fun example, running a group of giant rats like a SWAT team.

I sometimes feel like a softie GM, but then I look at the 160-xp challenges I throw at the party. I was the same way as a mathematics professor. I would give partial credit in grading, ran the class period before an exam as a review session, and was agreeable about make-up tests, but the difficulty and quantity of the mathematics I taught drove the students hard. My tests were

Running opponents in their character is part of being a GM. Those two wolves the party fought as their first battle--in the dark of a cloudy night but the wolves had scent--ran away after one was badly burned. The wolves were seeking easy prey, not a fight to the death. The xulgath barbarian was overconfident, so he did not bring his xulgath warrior buddies along for the fight. The hobgoblin patrol demanded a surrender rather than attacking from surprise. And when the party rogue/sorcerer set the hobgoblin commander on persistent fire with a critical hit with Produce Flame, the hobgoblin soldier beside him used Assisted Recovery to try to put the fire out, because hobgoblins in the Ironfang Legion are loyal.

If everyone used optimized tactics, then they would lose individuality. My players want to see a world rich in detail and character.


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Everything requiring optimized strategies makes it hard for individuality to show up.

There is always so much talk about having specific sets of abilities or spells, and how they are needed to survive or feel good. But that is exactly the problem not everyone want to have the same items, spells, or feats every time; But that is exactly what gets recommended.

Which brings back the point of the thread. Every class except for 1 (maybe 2) are unable to tank. All the classes that are not Champion (or Monk) are unable to tank. And any caster that gets in melee has a death wish, unless they are a Cleric with a huge amount of heals or a wild shaping Druid. That means they all have to contribute via damage or support.

For the classes that try to focus on damage the DPR is roughly the same regardless. With the only ones doing more are AoE.

So all classes are Glass cannons. But the game is really good at keeping them from breaking. The death system, hero points, and GMs trying not to kill the party ensures that deaths remain low.


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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Foeclan wrote:
I'm hoping it evens out a bit in part 2. It's a bit demoralizing.

It doesn't, I would advise moving to a nicer adventure like extinction curse (you can run the first book like its own stand alone adventure pretty easily). The only real threat in that are some demon encounters that have clear advice for the GM to make sure that they are nerfed tactically.

This is not blaming you of course, it is the adventure and sometimes companies just release the wrong adventure in the wrong place (imo).

If you think your players are a bit gungho it is easy to have a fireside story before that point and have someone talk about the dangers of the demon in question. Heck even giving them access to some holy water would be fine if you are concerned (splash good damage is great for triggering weaknesses)

There is another encounter which could be dangerous but the demons won't fight unless pushed/harassed and one of them continuously pushes players rather than optimally getting them in two AoE blasts and maximizing fear effects.

Oh and I always suggest reading a full adventure book before running it. It can give a lot of insight into what you will need to do to make the adventure fun for the players if you are running something prewritten.

Agents of Edgewatch might also be worth looking into, but I am no longer a subscriber and haven't seen the PDF yet :)

EC has an encounter with 3 Boars, so I'm not sure how "If you think that fight with 1 Boar is hard, try this much easier AP where you fight 3 Boars!" makes any sense. EC is an unrelentingly difficult AP. Every encounter is extremely deadly. Especially in the first 2 chapters.

If your group is not absolutely min maxed, you're gonna die, unless the GM pulls punches.

Which is very unexpected from a campaign premise that encourages quirky, unoptimized characters.


Aratorin wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Foeclan wrote:
I'm hoping it evens out a bit in part 2. It's a bit demoralizing.

It doesn't, I would advise moving to a nicer adventure like extinction curse (you can run the first book like its own stand alone adventure pretty easily). The only real threat in that are some demon encounters that have clear advice for the GM to make sure that they are nerfed tactically.

This is not blaming you of course, it is the adventure and sometimes companies just release the wrong adventure in the wrong place (imo).

If you think your players are a bit gungho it is easy to have a fireside story before that point and have someone talk about the dangers of the demon in question. Heck even giving them access to some holy water would be fine if you are concerned (splash good damage is great for triggering weaknesses)

There is another encounter which could be dangerous but the demons won't fight unless pushed/harassed and one of them continuously pushes players rather than optimally getting them in two AoE blasts and maximizing fear effects.

Oh and I always suggest reading a full adventure book before running it. It can give a lot of insight into what you will need to do to make the adventure fun for the players if you are running something prewritten.

Agents of Edgewatch might also be worth looking into, but I am no longer a subscriber and haven't seen the PDF yet :)

EC has an encounter with 3 Boars, so I'm not sure how "If you think that fight with 1 Boar is hard, try this much easier AP where you fight 3 Boars!" makes any sense. EC is an unrelentingly difficult AP. Every encounter is extremely deadly. Especially in the first 2 chapters.

If your group is not absolutely min maxed, you're gonna die, unless the GM pulls punches.

Which is very unexpected from a campaign premise that encourages quirky, unoptimized characters.

I'm playing in EC with a quirky party, and its not that bad. Everyone playing is a veteran from my AoA campaigns I've run - so we work well together.

The boars you referenced did drop my character on a hillarious crit, but that was just bad luck and they were easily dealt with after that.


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Aratorin wrote:
If your group is not absolutely min maxed, you're gonna die, unless the GM pulls punches.

No. That was not the case in PF1 and it is even less accurate in PF2.

Tactical play is required to defeat tough challenges in PF2. The keys to tactics are insight and adaptability. And the first place to apply adaptability is to adapt to the quirky characters run by one's fellow players.

Min-maxing for combat could minimize teamwork. That is a common flaw with characters designed in isolation. It could also minimize being able to exploit an unusual weakness on the enemy.

I have no need to pull punches because my players have hero points. Instead, they know my weakness: a plan that amuses the GM is more likely to work. (I run this game for fun, after all.) When Sam--goat herder, scoundrel rogue with sorcerer dedication, expert in Deception--decided to mimic a goat's sounds to lure a sentry into an ambush, I decided that the sentry was not particularly professional and gave the ruse a reachable DC. But to lure the second sentry out, Sam had to mimic the voice of the first sentry, so a harder DC. The party could have fought both sentries fairly easily, but the deception was hilarious. That is how quirky characters succeed.


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Level 1. 18ac 22hp cleric. Gets hit by trap at door. Death saves. Next, goblin triggers collapse in tunnel. 2 death saves.

Weird water electric snake thing. 2 party members dropped instantly.

DM pulls punches to let us rest in said cave. Boss fight. One character straight up dies.

I dunno how we suppose to be prepared for your stuff lol


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I'll tell you the truth; this is coming across to me like "Because some adventures are malformed, it says something more broadly about the brittleness of characters."

Because I've been playing for some months now (at least 8-10 sessions) and I've seen characters go down exactly twice. Hard to see that as excessive.

(Caveat; we did not start at first level, so there might be some 1-2nd level brittleness that isn't obvious to me.)


Martialmasters wrote:

Level 1. 18ac 22hp cleric. Gets hit by trap at door. Death saves. Next, goblin triggers collapse in tunnel. 2 death saves.

Weird water electric snake thing. 2 party members dropped instantly.

DM pulls punches to let us rest in said cave. Boss fight. One character straight up dies.

I dunno how we suppose to be prepared for your stuff lol

Spoiler:
Front Door ... Hazard 2, Fall of Plaguestone page 17, does 2d6+6 damage. Maximum on a critical hit would be 36 damage, average on a critical hit would be 26 damage, maximum damage on a regular hit would be 18 damage. The chance of a crit versus AC 18 would be 35%, which is ridiculously high. How can a homemade trap aim so well?

I don't have much experience with hazards yet, so let me jump to the Giant Lightning Serpent. It says Creature 2 but its stats look more like a Creature 3, especially since it can unleash a half-strength Lightning Bolt, the equivalent of a 2nd-level spell. Fall of Plaguestone has a ton of unique creatures, so the players don't benefit from Recall Knowledge against them. My players could have handled the giant lightning serpent without anyone being knocked out, but they would have had to see its abilities and limits before they could invent appropriate tactics, so they would have lost half their hit points.


Mathmuse wrote:
Aratorin wrote:
If your group is not absolutely min maxed, you're gonna die, unless the GM pulls punches.

No. That was not the case in PF1 and it is even less accurate in PF2.

Tactical play is required to defeat tough challenges in PF2. The keys to tactics are insight and adaptability. And the first place to apply adaptability is to adapt to the quirky characters run by one's fellow players.

Min-maxing for combat could minimize teamwork. That is a common flaw with characters designed in isolation. It could also minimize being able to exploit an unusual weakness on the enemy.

I have no need to pull punches because my players have hero points. Instead, they know my weakness: a plan that amuses the GM is more likely to work. (I run this game for fun, after all.) When Sam--goat herder, scoundrel rogue with sorcerer dedication, expert in Deception--decided to mimic a goat's sounds to lure a sentry into an ambush, I decided that the sentry was not particularly professional and gave the ruse a reachable DC. But to lure the second sentry out, Sam had to mimic the voice of the first sentry, so a harder DC. The party could have fought both sentries fairly easily, but the deception was hilarious. That is how quirky characters succeed.

I never played PF1, so I can't comment on that. As the GM for EC, I've had to pull punches several times to avoid TPKing the party before they even get a turn. Tactics aren't the problem when 1-2 guys go down before their first turn every other fight.

Again, this is an AP that thinks it's perfectly balanced for a Level 1 party to face a minimum of 3 Low, 7 Moderate, and 1 Severe encounters back to back over the course of 1-3 hours, depending on how long you think a circus performance takes. This is while the PCs are simultaneously running/performing in the circus show, so not only is there no time to rest, but 1-2 members of the party are otherwise engaged during several encounters.


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As for the Front Door hazard: it is not that hidden: Stealth DC20 (trained), meaning anyone (with trained Perception = everyone) who is looking for it gets a check to find it.

With about +5 to perception on average, that's only a 25% chance, but all members of the party can try so a failure would only be around 32% (75%^4).


Franz Lunzer wrote:

As for the Front Door hazard: it is not that hidden: Stealth DC20 (trained), meaning anyone (with trained Perception = everyone) who is looking for it gets a check to find it.

With about +5 to perception on average, that's only a 25% chance, but all members of the party can try so a failure would only be around 32% (75%^4).

If they are all using the Search Exploration Activity. Which is unlikely.


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Aratorin wrote:
EC has an encounter with 3 Boars, so I'm not sure how "If you think that fight with 1 Boar is hard, try this much easier AP where you fight 3 Boars!" makes any sense. EC is an unrelentingly difficult AP. Every encounter is extremely deadly. Especially in the first 2 chapters.

It is one boar the same level as you with two juvenile boars two levels lower than you, in worse terrain for the boars to boot.

The PCs also enter the combat 100% aware that they will be fighting or driving off boars and have that extra safety net of a level of padding.

The boars aren't going to be oneshotting level 2 characters either.

Aratorin wrote:
If your group is not absolutely min maxed, you're gonna die, unless the GM pulls punches.

Strongly disagree, the major challenging encounters have elements that specifically lower their difficulty in favour of the PCs.

In fact I will go through a chunk of the book.

Extinction Curse examples:

CHAPTER 1

The Bear
Only attacks for two rounds unless the target has the ringmaster's cape, and even then comes to it's senses if the target is knocked out or dies (dying is unlikely outside of an unlucky crit).

Water Mephits
Their goal is specifically to drive PC's away not kill them, and they flee at 6hp.

Cockatrice
Specifically mentioned as surly but also lazy, explicitly doesn't attack PCs unless they enter it's rocky outcrop. The one they have no real reason to enter unless they REALLY want to see what is up with that cow shaped boulder.

-side note, it would be a very weird set of circumstances that lead any party to engage with all of these encounters-

Nemmia Fight
She hangs back and is just not a particularly scary opponent. Add to this that you have a good chance of having the two grig as allies to boot.

CHAPTER 2

Boars
As I said before, the PCs have a terrain advantage and know in advance that they will be facing boars.

Wasps
Dangerous to be sure, but also don't follow fleeing people far (60ft from the mill and the party knows they are dealing with wasps before going there.

Pruana
Only way for this to be a combat is the PCs would have to actively try to make it one (her haymaker is pretty effective outside of that, but nothing that scary without more backup).

Church
Neither demon pays any attention to the PCs unless interrupted, and well... If they charge at a demon without any planning despite having total advantage otherwise... That is just them being overly confident. This is probably the most likely combat to kill PCs so far. It is also INCREDIBLY unlikely that a party won't be able to recall knowledge about the demon (it is roughly a 40-50% chance even if the party has nobody with region trained and nobody has any points in wisdom, drastically improved chances otherwise. I don't feel like doing the math for crit fail's impact given it is a worst case scenario).

Graveyard
Neither one will attack first unless the PCs push themselves into the situation, and even then only one bursts from their body while the other one stays in it as long as possible and shoves PCs into graves. This drastically reduces the challenge of this fight.

Barn Mephit Fight
The mephits catch each other in their opposing breath weapons when they can and alert the PCs to their presence before attacking (in an area that provides a lot of cover bonuses naturally). Can be dangerous though. Suitable as it is the final encounter of the chapter.

CHAPTER 3

Smiler fight/Ghast fight
Unlucky rolls on paralysis can be dangerous. But you have to get really unlucky. Thankfully he specifically hangs back during combat, and flees when reduced to 20hp or when the ghouls are dead which drastically reduces the danger of this fight as you won't be fighting them all at once as written.

Grand Hall, priest and worm
Should be easy enough, lots of room and the PCs are much higher level. The priest specifically stays at range which weakens him while you are fighting the worm, the worm is already out and has garbage AC. Flaming sphere can be dealt with and when you end up engaging in close combat his low AC will cause him to go down pretty fast.

Library
Dangerous, entirely optional, the demons won't attack directly initially and prefer to throw books and tip over bookshelves. They happily set the library alight and can have the library set alight with them in it easily and will actively stop any hostilities in order to attempt to do so. (plus mirrors are made available elsewhere incase the party recalled knowledge before, during or after their last fight... which is really on them if they didn't try given the circumstances. But not make or break)

The animal cruelty ritual
You have 3 rounds to deal with the foes alone, and can make the fight much much easier by simply stopping the ritual all together by freeing the wolf.

Smokey leopards
Can be avoided entirely, concealment is a bit of a challenge, the conditions for it to deal reliable damage help a bit though. And completely optional/avoidable.

Funtime with Lizards
Challenging fight, but again due to the writing about how threndel keeps one position, enkrisha is busy hanging back and using an elemental... The main threat are the lizards initially and they can be dealt with handily. Then Enkrisha, then polishing off threndel. The challenge is appropriate for the final encounter setpiece of the chapter imo.

Okay that is three chapters worth of anything that is actually a challenge (with lots of far less challenging encounters outside of these).

Compare that to Plaguestone and how many higher level encounters and severe encounters there are and the circumstances you encounter them in. And then you have things like the blood ooze which is far more likely to cause pain and suffering for PCs.

I am not saying PCs won't run into danger, but it takes a heck of a lot less tweaking for a GM to keep it in a happy range for unoptimsed and unorganised PCs than plaguestone does imo.


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Aratorin wrote:
EC has an encounter with 3 Boars, so I'm not sure how "If you think that fight with 1 Boar is hard, try this much easier AP where you fight 3 Boars!" makes any sense. EC is an unrelentingly difficult AP. Every encounter is extremely deadly. Especially in the first 2 chapters.

It is one boar the same level as you with two juvenile boars two levels lower than you, in worse terrain for the boars to boot.

The PCs also enter the combat 100% aware that they will be fighting or driving off boars and have that extra safety net of a level of padding.

The boars aren't going to be oneshotting level 2 characters either.

Aratorin wrote:
If your group is not absolutely min maxed, you're gonna die, unless the GM pulls punches.

Strongly disagree, the major challenging encounters have elements that specifically lower their difficulty in favour of the PCs.

In fact I will go through a chunk of the book.

** spoiler omitted **...

We'll have to agree to disagree. Most of the fights you listed aren't even the deadlier ones.

As a player, I have no problem with the AP at all, as I myself am a min/maxer who enjoys an actual challenge.

But as a DM, I feel like Jigsaw, constantly tormenting the hapless party with blatantly lose/lose scenarios and having them moan as they get downed by the first enemy to move, and have to make sub 50/50 saves multiple times in virtually every fight.

As a player, I find AoA to be much too easy, to the point of being a bit boring, but it's a much fairer and more accessible AP.


Aratorin wrote:
We'll have to agree to disagree. Most of the fights you listed aren't even the deadlier ones.

What ones do think are the deadly ones chapters 1-3? I didn't list the low and most moderates as they were straightforward for the most part and didn't want to create too spammy a list.

I wouldn't say AoA is that dangerous either, just that it has some big spikes that are more likely to catch players unaware and in disadvantageous positions and I don't think the lead in is great for a new group.


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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:


** spoiler omitted **...

I think different groups have different expectations and that might also be in play here. For instance,

Spoiler:
your comment that "no group would really go into the outcropping" is very much at odds with the groups I've played with for 20 years. They always want to explore everything. To be fair, our encounter with the cockatrice didn't play out the way you list the book describing it. It actively attacked our group, charging in from afar, so the GM it sounds like changed it up a bit, but I've also never seen a group leave stones unturned unless it was at a convention where there was a time limit to keep things moving. To each his or her own of course.

The water mephits, we were told there was something in the woods down that way. Maybe that was GM ad libbing, maybe not. Regardless, you are correct that the mephits didn't pursue after the bard was insta killed. While the chance of a crit was only 15% on the bard, the average hit on a non crit would have still knocked him right at about unconscious before the persistent damage.

The bear there really wasn't any way to avoid though as mentioned, it stopped attacking quickly and wasn't much of a problem. The cockatrice we were told there was a body down that direction and the rest of the circus didn't feel safe going to bed until we had cleared it. Could well have been an ad-lib, but as I said, regardless every group I've seen would have fully explored that area anyway. All this was after the snakes in the circus show almost knocked one character unconscious and the rabble rousers knocked two others unconscious after failed attempts by two party members to calm them down. True, the fight became fairly easy once the party started to use deadly force, but it seems fair to expect the party to begin with non-deadly force.

Now, all that said, I'm not suggesting that the system is broken. Certainly it appears as though Plaguestone is particularly difficult from descriptions here and is probably a bad outlier (something that can happen with an early adventure in a new system). I'm also very cognizant of the fact that all of these encounters in EC are at 1st level when PCs are, of course, going to be especially fragile and susceptible to a crit.

I also think that its entirely possible different groups have had different bouts of luck, especially early on. The fighter makes just one of his fort saves against the cockatrice? No problem, everyone comes home. The mephit hits the 35% miss chance on the bard? Great! The rest of the encounter probably goes smoothly. Either of the two characters who tried to talk the rabble rousers down succeeds? Excellent! Snake misses the bard so he doesn't have to use up both first level spells in the first encounter just to stay upright? Yeah, things go a lot smoother.

The take away for me so far though has certainly been that things hit harder and more often than in PF1 or D&D. As such, it is absolutely going to require a different approach. Maybe the new norm is to not explore everything. That's fine, though some of our players will have to change their up to 40 years or so of experience in that case. I also agree that once you get a level or two under your belt, things will likely go smoother simply because you have more margin for error. I don't think you necessarily need to min/max in PF2, but I do think you need to be a lot more careful in your build and approach than in PF1 from what I've seen.

The most important thing though is that we've still had plenty of fun. At the end of the day, that's all that really matters.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Spoiler:
Mathmuse wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

Level 1. 18ac 22hp cleric. Gets hit by trap at door. Death saves. Next, goblin triggers collapse in tunnel. 2 death saves.

Weird water electric snake thing. 2 party members dropped instantly.

DM pulls punches to let us rest in said cave. Boss fight. One character straight up dies.

I dunno how we suppose to be prepared for your stuff lol

Front Door ... Hazard 2, Fall of Plaguestone page 17, does 2d6+6 damage. Maximum on a critical hit would be 36 damage, average on a critical hit would be 26 damage, maximum damage on a regular hit would be 18 damage. The chance of a crit versus AC 18 would be 35%, which is ridiculously high. How can a homemade trap aim so well?

My Cleric coerced Rolth to do his job and knock on the door, then go in when there was no answer - lol. Oh man that was classic. For the record, he did go down to the Trap but since we just stabilized him and used Medicine to get him back up it wasn’t a huge drain on party resources.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

My party is very capable, we've never actually lost anyone to combat (people being warned of the risk of putting on god-tier artifacts of incredible power and doing it anyway is the only lost life) and I've been leaning to severe/extreme for a while now (combat takes us long enough that I lean away from low stakes encounters, because they still take up sessions by themselves)

They're pretty high optimization by default though.

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