Life begins at level 16


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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So in the summoner discussion there was a debate on what level is appropriate to get some of the features that the spiritualist phantoms and the unchained eidolon got at level 1. Mainly flight, incoporality, resistance to the element you breath etc.

The answer that most people seem to agree on is level 16, the level after Legendary is things.

So I was just wandering how many other things their are that are like that stuff you can have fun with at level 1-10 in pathfinder that you can't access until 16-20 in 2e.

Also interested in people's opinion of all that stuff are you happy to see it gone or do you miss some of it?

Is there anything you just can't do in pathfinder 2e that you feel you should be able to?


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Lots of builds "come online" waaaaay too late. I mean, a multiclass character only *starts* feeling multiclassed around level 4. In general, unless your character concept is really simple, it's likely not even close to fleshed out by level 8.

Double class feats fixes this, as does Free Archetype. Both of those feel really good.

As for benchmark abilities like invisibility, flight, teleportation, and plane shifting, I like where they ended up because it gives a good progression.

Abilities that buck the expected availability of these things can and should be discussed with a GM. You might be able to get a Flying eidolon at level 1 if the GM lets you.


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Permanent flight tends to f@#~ up adventure design, especially at early levels. Book 6 of Carrion Crown in particular has roughly a third of the content in it rendered completely skippable by flight, and even the final dungeon can have most of its mechanics bypassed by it - and by that level PCs are already going to be having near-permanent use.

Now imagine all the low level non-flying threats nullified by an always-flying entity that can still attack, even if it has to approach to do it.


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I am happy to see it delayed, if a GM wants to enable it coolio, but I like the curve especially as higher level content is reasonably playable now. (I am getting closer to running level 20 now, and it still feels solid despite certain dynamics shifting)

This said, I do think summoned creatures should get some more unique options available to them from the get go, even if they are time limited.

I don't want wings/flight to be the default dragon thing though, there are lots of draconic creatues and they don't need to all fly.

But a familiar point system would be pretty cool imo, spend feats to unlock extra abilities ontop of the more generic ones and grant extra points to spend.
Not pf1e style evolution points, but a happy medium.

I also want more eidlon types.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Grankless wrote:

Permanent flight tends to f$~+ up adventure design, especially at early levels. Book 6 of Carrion Crown in particular has roughly a third of the content in it rendered completely skippable by flight, and even the final dungeon can have most of its mechanics bypassed by it - and by that level PCs are already going to be having near-permanent use.

Now imagine all the low level non-flying threats nullified by an always-flying entity that can still attack, even if it has to approach to do it.

I've been running games with access to these abilities for over a decade now. Its never really been an issue. It just takes a bit of extra thought to think of plots holes, etc.

Ranged attacks and spells are pretty ubiquitous. I have literally never had a case of a fight being trivialized by low-level flight. Sure, sometimes a group of enemies happens to have a stash of crossbows in a trunk that I had so far neglected to mentioned, but that's all it really takes.


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Old_Man_Robot wrote:
Grankless wrote:

Permanent flight tends to f$~+ up adventure design, especially at early levels. Book 6 of Carrion Crown in particular has roughly a third of the content in it rendered completely skippable by flight, and even the final dungeon can have most of its mechanics bypassed by it - and by that level PCs are already going to be having near-permanent use.

Now imagine all the low level non-flying threats nullified by an always-flying entity that can still attack, even if it has to approach to do it.

I've been running games with access to these abilities for over a decade now. Its never really been an issue. It just takes a bit of extra thought to think of plots holes, etc.

Ranged attacks and spells are pretty ubiquitous. I have literally never had a case of a fight being trivialized by low-level flight. Sure, sometimes a group of enemies happens to have a stash of crossbows in a trunk that I had so far neglected to mentioned, but that's all it really takes.

Unlimited or low-level flight isn't a problem because it can't be countered, it's a problem because it has to be countered. I don't have to counter other player abilities except maybe teleportation in order to keep things challenging.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Perhaps its a play style thing, or a plotting thing, but I've still never had a problem with it.

I can't recall a single instance of feeling like it was a strain or inhibited my designs. Not saying it can't, because it obviously can based on what you folks are saying, just never personally felt it was an issue I guess.

Maybe its because I ran a Mage game for a few years, where things like space, shape, distance, time, can't be counted on to stay reliable factors you can plan around.


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It is a play-style thing - specifically the difference between the play-style of "I'd like to be able to plan an adventure without thinking about literally everything a PC can theoretically do at a particular level so that I can spend less time/effort planning and/or plan without a specific party in mind and not have that end up sucking or needing changed" and a play-style of "I'm okay with, or even enjoy, thinking through all the possible things that could theoretically happen and deciding how each and every one will play out"

Some of us, myself for instance, are totally capable of planning a campaign in which no power allowed by a game could be a problem (I mean, I can run Shadowrun, Exalted, and Mage campaigns on different days of the week and not have a problem) - but enjoy being able to just doodle up a few cool maps and plot out an adventure that doesn't require accounting for the extremities of what technology and/or magic can do.


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Also, for many things like flight, It's not the flight itself that's the problem, it's flying AND doing something like carrying someone or attacking and flying to high to be hit that's the real problem. Animal companions get flight at level 1, but that's because they can't do the two things above, mounted companions can't fly and animal companions only have two actions and no ranged attacks, so they can at best alternate between flying in and out of melee. If you can identify the exact combinations that make something broken and then make it so you can't do both X and Y at the same time, you should be able to have most of these "to strong" ability's at lower levels. Just note, that at a certain point, adding enough conditions to make something balanced makes it no longer that thing, like permanent invisibility by removing the fact that others don't know exactly where you are.


Old_Man_Robot wrote:

Perhaps its a play style thing, or a plotting thing, but I've still never had a problem with it.

I can't recall a single instance of feeling like it was a strain or inhibited my designs. Not saying it can't, because it obviously can based on what you folks are saying, just never personally felt it was an issue I guess.

Never ran [animal] tag enemies? There's plenty of stuff in the bestiary that has no answer to a flying enemy.


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thenobledrake wrote:
I'd like to be able to plan an adventure without thinking about literally everything a PC can theoretically do at a particular level so that I can spend less time/effort

i would say those people are lazy and likely love railroading

Wayfinders

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ArchSage20 wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
I'd like to be able to plan an adventure without thinking about literally everything a PC can theoretically do at a particular level so that I can spend less time/effort
i would say those people are lazy and likely love railroading

Now. That's a little harsh. Not every GM has the time to plan that flexibly and it's an extra load on every AP and PFS designer if flight's that easy that early. Regardless, almost any GM is already putting a lot of time and effort into the campaign, so "lazy" surely does not apply often.

"Railroading" can be an issue, but "I work better in two dimensions" isn't a good example of it. A railroading GM would presumably be perfectly fine allowing flight because no ability would be able to change the meticulously-crafted railway, no matter what. A GM who wants to set the players an interesting challenge, however, might reasonably find early-level fliers more difficult to work around than is worth their time.

Scarab Sages

ArchSage20 wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
I'd like to be able to plan an adventure without thinking about literally everything a PC can theoretically do at a particular level so that I can spend less time/effort
i would say those people are lazy and likely love railroading

Well, I'd say they don't want a great deal of system Mastery to write for. And that's the big selling point of 2E - they publish a metric s*#@ton of content. 2E is easier to write adventures in, and therefore better for one of Pathfinders biggest market niches.


Where the "keeping control of when potential fight breaking abilities" matters is more for people who are writing professional adventures that will be published and played by people they may never meet than it is for GMs who are playing with a group whose characters they are aware of.

I can plan for "this character is permanently flying and invisible" but the person writing the adventure path cannot.


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ArchSage20 wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
I'd like to be able to plan an adventure without thinking about literally everything a PC can theoretically do at a particular level so that I can spend less time/effort
i would say those people are lazy and likely love railroading

Yuck, not a fan of this mentality, that is incredibly harsh and ignoring that people may want it for different reasons. Especially given your stance on immortality goals and statements that it is about the narrative value it has for your character.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My biggest problem with low level permanent flight in my games is how it changes the narrative structure of what is allowed and how it shifts the way certain threats are approached.

The answer for anything with verticality tends to be "I fly", even if other threats are thrown into the mix, because if flying is dangerous everything else tends to be more dangerous (barring a few exceptions like tree cover). And if you put something specifically there to stop flight, it becomes very clear to players with a brain that "ah this is the element that is there so I don't fly" and THAT to me is the height of railroading, not a ruleset recognising the impact powerful movement options have on the tone of a game.

The same issue often presents with darkvision being too easy to access and maintained permanently in various roleplaying games.

It isn't that it isn't "hard" to plan around, it is that it doesn't create an engaging world for me or my players and actively stifles creativity because free 3 dimensional movement is one of the strongest options out there. Restrictions build ingenuity in my experience.

The PF1e party of "everyone flies, everyone has darkvision, everyone ignores fall damage, everyone can speak every language when it matters, everyone ignores food and sleep" isn't railroaded because they can't pull that off in PF2e. If a GM doesn't want elements in their game it is easier to handwave it away than it is to ban a bunch of mechanical elements designed to circumvent core mechanics of the game imo.


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It also gives other abilities more room to breath and be relevant.

The player who built their character to have high climbing ability or the player who spent heaps of gold on boots of spider climbing should have time to use those things and feel special for having those things before they get invalidated by the wizard being able to make everyone fly with a spell.

It is good for different problem solving abilities to be spaced out across the levels as much as possible - at first the only way up the cliff is a strong character climbing up, then 2 levels later the cleric can give everyone a bonus to climb checks, then 4 levels after that some members of the party have climb speeds, and so on until the party can eventually ignore the cliff entirely by flying up there.


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ArchSage20 wrote:
i would say those people are lazy and likely love railroading

And you would be aggressively and outrageously wrong in saying that.

From the basic "not having a planned counter for literally every possible course of action" being the opposite of a rail-road, to the much more complex discussion about how rail-roading has no direct relationship with time spent preparing and is entirely a GM personality trait almost never as simple as "I didn't prepare for you to do that, so you can't"

I actually have a history of running campaigns with nearly zero prep, relying on improvisation to keep the flow going as the players do whatever they want to do - and guess what? Engaging encounters and challenges are a lot quicker to improvise when I don't have to think "but do the characters have an ability that will trivialize this challenge?"


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I can plan for "this character is permanently flying and invisible" but the person writing the adventure path cannot.

Well, the can... but the result would probably be that their adventure doesn't work if there isn't a flying and invisible character.

That used to be a problem with some old-school D&D adventures. They'd say something like "...with at least one magic-user" in the section about what sort of the party the adventure was intended for, and that'd translate to needing to have just the right spell at a particular moment or the adventure would stall out.


While I agree that in many systems - and surely including PF1E - it can be a pain in the arm for many GM's to actually come up with a challenging high level campaign (i.e. it usually requires a lot of system and meta mastery) mostly because powerful magic has a tendency to short-cut every mundane obstacle a GM might come up with please also keep in mind that for some people levels 16 to 20 might as well not exist or do de facto not exist.

Being an avid role-player for more than 30 years I do remember only 3 (!) DnD related campaigns that actually made it into the 16 to 20 region or even beyond. Which means I can really understand the "if it ain't happening in between levels 1 to 10 it ain't happening at all" crowd. The problem is that you probably can't cater to both the players/rounds stuck with their low level vicious circle and those players/rounds going through with any given AP and carrying on to level 20.


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There is also a lot of people who build challenges ignoring the abilities of their players. Then get mad when one of the players has an ability that trivilaizes the encounter.

Its often the case when the GM or adventure writers plan some sort of travelling quest. Where they plan the players to fight. But then they ignore the fact that players could feasibly take any number of methods to arrive besides the one that the GM created.

In other words. Its a result of many GMs placing the cart before the horse.

In a 21st century example. Its like a GM planning some travel and making a lot of encounters that require the players be driving. But the players decide to just buy airplane tickets instead of taking a 12 hour drive.


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It's not "putting the cart before the horse." It's just planning for what seems more likely - such as planning a traveling quest because most types of characters don't have access to travel-skip powers, and even those types of characters that do have access to them aren't necessarily going to take them 100% of the time - and their being a margin of error in that planning if there is nothing stopping a player from choosing travel-skip powers.

To follow your example (we can say we're planning part of a World of Darkness or Shadowrun game), the GM has the following options A) plan for the road trip, B) plan for the flight, or C) plan for both. The benefit gained by the options that are akin to "we'll just take a flight instead" being not assumed available by default is that the GM doesn't have to plan for both or risk not actually having a relevant plan.

It's simply a case of rather spending whatever time the GM has available to prepare for their campaign on plans that will get used, rather than on plans that might get used. Because yes, it can suck as a GM if you spent a lot of time planning a cool challenge and some player ability you didn't specifically counteract and weren't sure that a player was even going to have makes the challenge irrelevant - but the answer being to plan that challenge, and also another cool challenge that you can swap in if a character does have the ability to make the other one irrelevant, isn't a solution because you still have a cool challenge that doesn't get used either way.

Acting like the desire to not have to put in extra effort to accommodate game-changing abilities is an objective failing of a GM is the epitome of elitist BS and the "it's not broken because I can fix it" un-reasoning.


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I already made my comments on flying eidolons in Why on earth is Winged Evolution a 16th-level feat!?. I am here to talk encounter design.

Two weeks ago, my players bypassed 1/4 of the module Fangs of War via the Deception skill. The 5th-level party has a scoundrel rogue with expert Deception and many languages, and the unusual ancestries in the party helped. The spoilery details I wrote up in a GM Ironfang Invasion thread, How are your APs doing?.

Should I nerf Deception until 16th level? Lots of hostile NPCs are easily fooled by a trickster who can speak their language. This is a bigger weakness than flying. Nope. It is a legitimate tactic and roleplaying the deception is fun.

Besides, the characters' abilities are not the cause of the avoidance. The players are.

In Rise of the Runelord's Fortress of the Stone Giants the party was intended to track the footsteps of the giant raiders to the fortress, with two encounters on the trip. Instead, the party interogated a captured giant, learned the location, and avoided the two encounters. In Jade Regent's Forest of Spirits the first encounters in the House of Withered Blossoms were against the araneas and hobgoblins that resided there. Instead, the party realized that those hostiles had nothing to do with their oni-related quest and stealthily slipped past them. One module later, the players derailed the entire campaign by inventing a better plan than leading a rebellion against the corrupt government. In Iron God's Palace of Fallen Stars the party entered the city of Starfall without triggering a response from the hostile Technic League by leaving their high-tech gear behind and pretending to be the 1st-level characters they were a mere 7 months beforehand.

I have a dozen more examples. Weaving new encounters out of bypassed pieces of Paizo modules has become a well-practiced skill for me.

Preventing my players from bypassing pieces of a module is futile. Sacrificing fun, such as forbidding winged eidolons at 9th level, for that futile goal would be disappointing.

My experience with 16th-level parties is limited to Pathfinder 1st Edition. Once my players finished the Rise of the Runelords adventure path with their characters at 17th level, I ran them through The Witchwar Legacy and then homebrew material until they reached 20th level and had a full quest at that level. The party rogue used his wealth to raise his AC to 40. That made him pretty much invulnerable, but that did not stop his player from enjoying battles.

I have more experience with the tail end of adventure paths, where the party is at 16th level right before the end. In PF1 they are legendary specialists. They have one ability that the module has no defense against, and in every other situation they are merely very good. The fighter in Jade Regent could kill anything. The arcanist in the same campaign had a spell for every situation. I threw a 20th-level void lord oni at them to conclude the adventure. They beat him, of course. I frequently rewrite the encounters above 13th level to make them more entertaining for their characters. General-purpose encounters written without knowledge of the party don't let the players show off their character's best moves.

I hear that PF2 is supposed to balance this better.

So, what are the tricks to customizing encounters to accommodate unusual abilties? First, look at the encounter and realize how it will fail. For example, one major quest in The Empty Throne, the final module of Jade Regent, was to visit the Imperial Shrine to gain the blessing of the lost heir's ancestors. The Imperial Shrine is a mysterious island off the coast of the capital city Kasai that resides in a pocket dimension. My players would have no trouble entering the capital city, which was supposed to be the first challenge. They had magic and stealth. There was not enough challenge.

Second, figure out what fun the players seek and add that. The arcanist and ninja like negotiating deals. The fighter likes to fight. I moved the Imperial Shrine island out to sea far from the capital city. The PCs were advised that they had to enter the torii gates around the island by traditional means, not flying nor teleporting. Thus, they hired a fishing boat. The fishermen were scared, because local pirates where kidnapping fishermen and holding them for ransom. One pair needed the money to ransom their father, so that was the negotiation part. Furthermore, the pirates showed up. Sinking the ship with magic would have been easy, but it had captives aboard. The PCs had to confront the pirates directly. That was supposed to be the fight, but the arcanist and sorcerer used Suggestion instead. My plans are not perfect. They had other fights later. And the players sent the fishing boat home with the rescued captives and sailed to the Imperial Shrine on a commandeered pirate ship, which they thought was cool. Sometimes my plans succeed by accident, but also, player-centered design often adds opportunities for coolness.


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Mathmuse wrote:

Two weeks ago, my players bypassed 1/4 of the module Fangs of War via the Deception skill. The 5th-level party has a scoundrel rogue with expert Deception and many languages, and the unusual ancestries in the party helped. The spoilery details I wrote up in a GM Ironfang Invasion thread, How are your APs doing?.

Should I nerf Deception until 16th level? Lots of hostile NPCs are easily fooled by a trickster who can speak their language. This is a bigger weakness than flying. Nope. It is a legitimate tactic and roleplaying the deception is fun.

Besides, the characters' abilities are not the cause of the avoidance. The players are.

...

Preventing my players from bypassing pieces of a module is futile. Sacrificing fun, such as forbidding winged eidolons at 9th level, for that futile goal would be disappointing.

I actually love it when players use creative options to bypass challenges. As an example, when I was running Plaguestone, an enemy that was meant to be a major threat came stomping out, yelled "Who are you?!" or something to that effect, and right before I was about to tell my players to roll initiative, the barbarian said "Friends!" I was caught off guard a bit, asked her to roll a deception check, and she rolled very well due to a mix of luck, high charisma for a barbarian, and the fact that she had put her level 3 skill increase into Deception. So I had her expand on the lie a bit through roleplay, and they got away scot-free.

The difference is, is that both of our examples of using Deception to bypass encounters are examples of players being creative and quick-thinking, and they come with a chance of failure. Using your permanent flight ability to fly the party over a floor trap or similar obstacle isn't any of those things.


Mathmuse, what you are describing with your examples of Deception and interrogation instead of tracking are not actually in the same category of "and it bypassed the planned challenge" as abilities like flight.

To illustrate: whether or not the NPC will believe the Lie a character tells them has a resolution process of the GM determining whether or not the NPC could possibly believe it, and a die roll if it is possible to see if it actually happens. So your Fangs of War example could have simply not worked without the GM changing any rules on the fly, or pre-planning for the party to potentially try to use a Lie, if the players hadn't come up with a suitable Lie.

Whereas if a character can fly, and flight could avoid the challenge, then it's just avoided - the GM doesn't determine if the described flight is actually believable, and there's no fly roll made, and if the GM steps in with "woah, hey, that'd invalidate the planned adventure here so you can't do it" they are changing the rules on the fly (pun not intended).


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siegfriedliner wrote:
So I was just wandering how many other things their are that are like that stuff you can have fun with at level 1-10 in pathfinder that you can't access until 16-20 in 2e.

My impression is the opposite one. I find that PF2e allows my builds earlier. Among the many examples I've crossed:

- Wild Shape Druids come online 2 levels earlier.
- Tanks able to protect their allies are available right at level 1 instead of asking for multiple feats.
- Thanks to cantrips being what they are, you can completely skip the crossbow wizard.
- Bomber Alchemist are playable right at level one without the big power difference happening at level 8.
- Bards significantly buff their companions right at level 1 instead of having to wait for multiple levels.
- Archers don't need 3 feats to just be able to do their thing. Rangers, especially, are playable right at level 1.
- Finesse characters using two-weapon fighting come online immediately.
- Casters have a more linear progression. They start better than PF1 casters (outside one-trick poney builds) and very quickly stabilize to a proper level of power instead of starting by being massively underpowered and having a crazy progression.
- Healers are strong right at level 1 and are not necessary clerics.

Overall, my feeling is that if you plan to play a quite simple character, the system will give you everything to build it very quickly.
Now, for specific builds, I don't have much of an opinion. My feeling is that most builds are online quite early, by the time you were entering prestige classes in first edition.


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Salamileg wrote:
The difference is, is that both of our examples of using Deception to bypass encounters are examples of players being creative and quick-thinking, and they come with a chance of failure. Using your permanent flight ability to fly the party over a floor trap or similar obstacle isn't any of those things.

A solution that has a 50% chance to bypass a scenario that occurs 1 time out of 10 will change the game more than a solution that has a 100% chance to bypass a scenario that occurs 1 time out of 100. The failure mode for our examples of deception is having to fight like the module intended. It does not create more trouble.

The floor trap is a example that covers the difference between temporary flight and permanent flight. That had been a big argument in the winged eidolon thread. I checked Archives of Nethys for pit traps. It had three pit hazards: Hidden Pit hazard 1, Drowning Pit hazard 3, and Bottomless Pit hazard 9. Alas, the Hidden Pit and Drowning Pit are trivial at 7th level and the Bottomless Pit can be resolved by temporary flight, "I cast Fly and dive into the bottomless pit to grab the fighter."

My wife points out that flight tends to deny the party both stealth and cover, so even permanent flight has a cost. The flier can regain stealth through invisibility, but invisibility is its own medium-level can of worms for bypassing encounters.

thenobledrake wrote:
Mathmuse, what you are describing with your examples of Deception and interrogation instead of tracking are not actually in the same category of "and it bypassed the planned challenge" as abilities like flight.

I read this to two of my players, and they did not understand the point. My wife says she will use any tool at her rogue's disposal to avoid fights.

thenobledrake wrote:
Whereas if a character can fly, and flight could avoid the challenge, then it's just avoided - the GM doesn't determine if the described flight is actually believable, and there's no fly roll made, and if the GM steps in with "woah, hey, that'd invalidate the planned adventure here so you can't do it" they are changing the rules on the fly (pun not intended).

Presumably, the flight mechanism has already been established as believable. And I don't consider an adventure disappointing where my GM lines are, "You fly over the boggard village, who yell at you. You fly over the ogre camp, who throw spears that fall short. You fly over the harpy mountains ... wait, the harpies fly up and attack! Roll for initiative." Campaigns have more random variables than the dice rolls. Sometimes the opponents are varied.


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Mathmuse wrote:
I read this to two of my players, and they did not understand the point

Judging by your response, you didn't grasp what I was saying either. So I'll try a different wording:

Let's say there are two categories of abilities capable of turning a challenge into a non-challenge. Category 1 are things which alter the nature of the challenge. Category 2 are things which make a challenge no longer a challenge.

The things you were talking about, such as deception, fall into category 1; the challenge has been engaged with, game-play has happened, and the story progressed forward shaped by the choices of the players. The challenge of fighting some creatures has changed into the challenge of keeping up a cleverly crafted ruse.

Flight, and other similar things (the stuff that PF2 marks as uncommon or rare in the core rulebook spell and magic item lists, for examples), fall into category 2; the challenge has been reduced to non-challenge. The challenge of getting to the top of a tower has been turned into the equivalent of "I walk over there" in difficulty.

If we work in reverse and make-up an ability with the impact that flight has on obstacle-based challenges for your creature-based challenge (planned as a fight, but overcome by deception instead), it would be something along the lines of the player having selected a particular option that just reads "The GM cannot use creature-based challenges against you." so when the character heads up to the location where there are some creatures and the GM says "the creatures advance ready to kill you" the player says "no they don't" just like flight let's they say "no it doesn't" when the GM says "the sheer cliff face before you looms ready to slow your progress."


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The players who got around a combat challenge with Deception have a neat story to tell about the time they did that. The players who flew over it don't.


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Oh man do you remember the night raid on culie, we flew in all invisible like polymorphed their cows into toads and hopped it.

Don't know how they found out though but they had three dozens guys at the pass to stopping getting a way with it. Friking hilarious the look on their faces as we flew above thier heads well out of bow reach. I mean not that I saw it twas too far but I have a great imagination.

Aka everything is a good story if you tell right preferably with alcohol and a bunch of mates.


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Of the adventure is so strict that fly is able to bypass it then its most likely poorly written.

Things like flying specially via magic has the problem of height and duration so its mostly used to bypass things like inpassable terrain. So encounters skipped by fly are those that were placed at specific spots and which the GM refused to change to fit the party.

In my PF1 campaign one of the players can kill plants when walking near them. They used that ability to go around the problem of dangerous plants. Should I limit the ability to high level to stop them? No because it is something that is fun. Should I instead use some other type of hazard or barrier? Absolutely.

So a PC is flying while the rest are walking. The party didn't skip anything.

So all the PCs are flying somehow. The change the encounter from having a bunch of swords to a bunch of longbows. Or change the encounter from a landlocked enemy to some type of flying monster. Or say that there is bad weather and flying is hard. Or move the encounter from an ambush at day time to a night time ambush. Or change the encounter from randomly finding an item to being drawn to it by magic. Etc.

There are countless ways to deal with flying. People placing it as a level 16 ability because "it invalidates my encounters" feel like they dont want to think about whether their encounter makes any sense.


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Temperans wrote:
Of the adventure is so strict that fly is able to bypass it then its most likely poorly written.

Nope, that's just elitist nonsense, actually. Plenty of well-written encounters and adventures don't hold up to literally every possible ability a character could have.

Well, that and mischaracterizing "a challenge has been negated by fly" as "the adventure was bypassed"

You, like some others, are completely missing that we are not saying there aren't "countless ways to deal with flying." we are saying it's nice to not have to constantly. A whole bunch of "it's not a problem because you can fix it" going on.


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I feel like there's a difference between "We avoided the combat with our ability to lie" (or fly) and "we trivialized the combat because I could fly forever and the monster couldn't damage me."

The reason things like "permanent flight" are level-gated is because low level monsters do not necessarily have the ability to deal with flyers, but past a certain point higher level ones will.

For things like "we can avoid combat on the bridge by flying over the chasm" you don't need permanent flight just "enough flight to get over the chasm". Permanent Flight (also invisibility, intangibility, etc.) is something that once the player has access to it, you have to assume it's going to be deployed in 100% of situations.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I feel like there's a difference between "We avoided the combat with our ability to lie" (or fly) and "we trivialized the combat because I could fly forever and the monster couldn't damage me."

The reason things like "permanent flight" are level-gated is because low level monsters do not necessarily have the ability to deal with flyers, but past a certain point higher level ones will.

For things like "we can avoid combat on the bridge by flying over the chasm" you don't need permanent flight just "enough flight to get over the chasm". Permanent Flight (also invisibility, intangibility, etc.) is something that once the player has access to it, you have to assume it's going to be deployed in 100% of situations.

I agree. I'm okay with how PF2 introduces limited flight around 8/9 for this reason.

Sovereign Court

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@Mathmuse

I think I agree with thenobledrake. I don't think Deception and flying are really the same in this.

Deception is a tactic that requires the players to engage with the situation. To come up with a good lie you have to take an interest in what the obstacle is, so that you can figure out how to put a spin on it. This can result in you not doing the scheduled combat, and that's okay. Even if you bluff your way past a lot of encounters, they were probably all different bluffs.

Flying, lots of invisibility, and lots of scrying, are ways for the party to disengage from obstacles. You don't need to take much interest in the obstacle, you just avoid interacting with it. We flew over this monster just like we flew over that monster. We didn't talk with the people (who might have revealed some backstory, apart from being a combat encounter) because we just stayed invisible. Abilities like this have a tendency to get past each encounter in the same, less interesting, way.

It's a frustration I've often had as a GM: what to do with a party that's trying really hard to stay under the radar, spends most of its time in their hidden lair and does surgically targeted teleport in, do mission, teleport back out jobs. (Substitute invisibility or obfuscate or limousine for teleport if you will.) Such parties isolate themselves a lot from "spontaneous" encounters that they didn't seek out. They could still be reached by enemies that have the resources to track them down, but it makes it much harder to confront them with "street life" encounters.

So I'm okay with such abilities being rather muted now.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

@Mathmuse

I think I agree with thenobledrake. I don't think Deception and flying are really the same in this.

Deception is a tactic that requires the players to engage with the situation. To come up with a good lie you have to take an interest in what the obstacle is, so that you can figure out how to put a spin on it. This can result in you not doing the scheduled combat, and that's okay. Even if you bluff your way past a lot of encounters, they were probably all different bluffs.

Flying, lots of invisibility, and lots of scrying, are ways for the party to disengage from obstacles. You don't need to take much interest in the obstacle, you just avoid interacting with it. We flew over this monster just like we flew over that monster. We didn't talk with the people (who might have revealed some backstory, apart from being a combat encounter) because we just stayed invisible. Abilities like this have a tendency to get past each encounter in the same, less interesting, way.

It's a frustration I've often had as a GM: what to do with a party that's trying really hard to stay under the radar, spends most of its time in their hidden lair and does surgically targeted teleport in, do mission, teleport back out jobs. (Substitute invisibility or obfuscate or limousine for teleport if you will.) Such parties isolate themselves a lot from "spontaneous" encounters that they didn't seek out. They could still be reached by enemies that have the resources to track them down, but it makes it much harder to confront them with "street life" encounters.

So I'm okay with such abilities being rather muted now.

Most of the encounters you can mitigate with flight tend to be filler oh no I didn't slaughter some wild animals oh no I didn't get ambushed by bandits.


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So, I was in a 5e game one time--and despite the adventure being utter rubbish and the GM being a complete idiot with regards to how some of the special rules worked--the adventure sets you up to take a 1 week travel journey through the jungle to a Location. NPCs are all ready to get you horses and wagons and 14 days worth of provisions.

Party has an 8th level PC who says, "Yeah, I've got Overland Travel, it gives us flying mounts for 8 hours. We get there this evening."


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siegfriedliner wrote:
Most of the encounters you can mitigate with flight tend to be filler oh no I didn't slaughter some wild animals oh no I didn't get ambushed by bandits.

Maybe, but they are still things the DM has spent time planning for and that end up not being played.

There are also people who actually think that 'getting there is half the fun', and having options that remove or trivialize travel are cutting off that half for them - please don't say that such people will just not choose those options, because they will probably still do what is safer for their characters and looks better for the success of their mission, if they can.

Also, there are ways to make travel encounters interesting and not just road bumps.
You fight that wild animal, then follow its tracks to find some kind of magical place.
You get ambushed by bandits, and after beating them you can free their prisoner who is revealed to be an important NPC.
Give permanent flight, and all these plot hooks disappear. If you had planned them, change the story you imagined asap.
I'd have more fun in actually playing these scenes than just flying over them so I can feel mighty.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

@Mathmuse

I think I agree with thenobledrake. I don't think Deception and flying are really the same in this.

Deception is a tactic that requires the players to engage with the situation. To come up with a good lie you have to take an interest in what the obstacle is, so that you can figure out how to put a spin on it. This can result in you not doing the scheduled combat, and that's okay. Even if you bluff your way past a lot of encounters, they were probably all different bluffs.

Flying, lots of invisibility, and lots of scrying, are ways for the party to disengage from obstacles. You don't need to take much interest in the obstacle, you just avoid interacting with it. We flew over this monster just like we flew over that monster. We didn't talk with the people (who might have revealed some backstory, apart from being a combat encounter) because we just stayed invisible. Abilities like this have a tendency to get past each encounter in the same, less interesting, way.

It's a frustration I've often had as a GM: what to do with a party that's trying really hard to stay under the radar, spends most of its time in their hidden lair and does surgically targeted teleport in, do mission, teleport back out jobs. (Substitute invisibility or obfuscate or limousine for teleport if you will.) Such parties isolate themselves a lot from "spontaneous" encounters that they didn't seek out. They could still be reached by enemies that have the resources to track them down, but it makes it much harder to confront them with "street life" encounters.

So I'm okay with such abilities being rather muted now.

Thank you, Ascalaphus, for expanding this discussion beyond flying to also include invisibility, scrying, and teleportation. I guess "obfuscate" means spells and abilities that disguise or camouflage. My Jade Regent party once disguised themselves with a Veil spell as jai noi oni to listen to instructions given to an oni army. At least that was my intention. They decided to also wipe out half the army in a surprise attack that tricked the oni into fighting among themselves.

My players' favorite technique for avoiding unwanted encounters has been talking to the locals. This creates lots of engagement, though not with the enemy. They also scout out the enemy and listen to their conversations. This is not direct engagement but it does add flavor.

In the PF2 playtest chapter, "Affair at Sombrefell Hall," my players insisted on stopping at the nearest town to Sombrefell Hall and asking about Dr. Verid Oscilar. They talked to the retired gardner of Sombrefell Hall, they talked to high society, they talked to local experts in the occult--I had to invent these characters from scratch. They did not want to enter the hall without inside information. Since the doctor suddenly went reclusive in Ustalav, they worried he had become a vampire. It cost us some playtest time, but that is how they play.

Likewise, the 4th module in Iron Gods, Valley of the Brain Collectors, started with them talking to every resident who would talk back, including the ramblings of Mad Paeytr. They liked Paeytr. Their mission was to search all the caves in the valley for the MacGuffin. With the added information, they searched the most likely caves first and skipped 1/3 of the module.

siegfriedliner wrote:
Most of the encounters you can mitigate with flight tend to be filler oh no I didn't slaughter some wild animals oh no I didn't get ambushed by bandits.

The caves they skipped in Valley of the Brain Collectors were like that, though several had some entertainingly colorful weird NPCs or monsters. I moved Binox to another location later because he was too amusing to skip.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I feel like there's a difference between "We avoided the combat with our ability to lie" (or fly) and "we trivialized the combat because I could fly forever and the monster couldn't damage me."

Why is the party engaging in combat with these creatures that cannot reach them? Why don't they just fly away? Maybe the creatures are bandits that are attacking a village and they want to help. Wouldn't the party therefore land and form a protective line in front of the helpless villagers rather than stay safe as innocents die?

Ascalaphus mentioned street encounters. How dangerous are those streets?

ASSASSIN: The Thieves' Guild got your message and we are angry. The penalty is death!
CLERIC: Did we sent the Thieves' Guild a message?
INVESTIGATOR: They probably mean that idiot mugger that we nailed to the wall.
CLERIC: Oh, him. I guess Telekinetic Projectile with a barrel of nails looked like a display.
WIZARD: Investigator, what is your battle assessment.
INVESTIGATOR: Oh, these guys are veterans (I mean 4th level). They appear to be an elite team of four assassins employed by the Thieves' Guild to silence troublemakers.
CLERIC: Listen, we don't want any trouble with you. We are trying to track down a cult of Lamashtu hidden in the city. (Ouch, natural 1 on Diplomacy.)
ASSASSIN: It is too late to apologize.
MONK: I could simply knock them all unconscious.
INVESTIGATOR: We don't need to prevent escalation. I doubt the Thieves' Guild has any true masters, 5th level at most. We are 10th level, so that is still trivial.


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Megistone wrote:
siegfriedliner wrote:
Most of the encounters you can mitigate with flight tend to be filler oh no I didn't slaughter some wild animals oh no I didn't get ambushed by bandits.

Maybe, but they are still things the DM has spent time planning for and that end up not being played.

There are also people who actually think that 'getting there is half the fun', and having options that remove or trivialize travel are cutting off that half for them - please don't say that such people will just not choose those options, because they will probably still do what is safer for their characters and looks better for the success of their mission, if they can.

Also, there are ways to make travel encounters interesting and not just road bumps.
You fight that wild animal, then follow its tracks to find some kind of magical place.
You get ambushed by bandits, and after beating them you can free their prisoner who is revealed to be an important NPC.
Give permanent flight, and all these plot hooks disappear. If you had planned them, change the story you imagined asap.
I'd have more fun in actually playing these scenes than just flying over them so I can feel mighty.

Or the PCs flew over the forest all day and spotted an inn to spend the night. The innkeeper mentions the wild animal eating his sheep, so the party tracks it down to the magical place.

They fly over a coach being attacked by bandits, stop to help, and the coach contains an important NPC.

The adventure can be adjusted if it is too good to skip.


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Megistone wrote:
siegfriedliner wrote:
Most of the encounters you can mitigate with flight tend to be filler oh no I didn't slaughter some wild animals oh no I didn't get ambushed by bandits.

Maybe, but they are still things the DM has spent time planning for and that end up not being played.

There are also people who actually think that 'getting there is half the fun', and having options that remove or trivialize travel are cutting off that half for them - please don't say that such people will just not choose those options, because they will probably still do what is safer for their characters and looks better for the success of their mission, if they can.

Also, there are ways to make travel encounters interesting and not just road bumps.
You fight that wild animal, then follow its tracks to find some kind of magical place.
You get ambushed by bandits, and after beating them you can free their prisoner who is revealed to be an important NPC.
Give permanent flight, and all these plot hooks disappear. If you had planned them, change the story you imagined asap.
I'd have more fun in actually playing these scenes than just flying over them so I can feel mighty.

Being ambushed by wyverns, or hunters with cover who think your fair game tend to be more interesting. It seems reasonable to know your party and prepare encounters they are likely to trigger. Also unless everyone can fly or get out of range of melee enemies then flight is rarely the issue people think it is.


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siegfriedliner wrote:


Most of the encounters you can mitigate with flight tend to be filler oh no I didn't slaughter some wild animals oh no I didn't get ambushed by bandits.

...and yet at least one of the people saying that it's good that flight (and the other abilities mentioned) being restricted is a good thing also does not believe in "filler" - things are either the point of playing, or they aren't taking up any game-play time.


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i think limiting peoples ability to fly teleport scry etc... does remove railroading from the gm but it does so by embedding the railroading into the very system which is far worse


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I think you're using a way different definition of "railroading" than I've ever heard of before if you think not having access to every ability that exists in the game counts.

Railroading isn't "you don't have the spell that would be perfect for this" - it's "I, the GM, have left you with literally one single path forward, so take it or the game isn't going anywhere."

Otherwise you might as well be calling the level the characters are "railroading" since it's not 20th from the start.


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Being "railroaded" by not having the ability to have permanent flight is like being "railroaded" by not having the ability to cast wish at-will.


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thenobledrake wrote:

I think you're using a way different definition of "railroading" than I've ever heard of before if you think not having access to every ability that exists in the game counts.

Railroading isn't "you don't have the spell that would be perfect for this" - it's "I, the GM, have left you with literally one single path forward, so take it or the game isn't going anywhere."

Otherwise you might as well be calling the level the characters are "railroading" since it's not 20th from the start.

Despite being in the minority by favoring permanent flight, I agree with thenobledrake about the definition of railroading. We GMs set up the situation. We could set it in a country ruled by hostile orcs, in a cave of deeper darkness, in an ancient ruin that is warded against scrying and teleporting, or in a land of acid clouds where flying is fatal. That is part of the challenge. Oncevthe challenge is set, the players can handle it as they see fit.

Railroading is when the GM defines how the players should handle the challenge. The PCs want to enter a castle and the guards prevent that. Attempting to bribe the guards fails automatically, yet the guards just throw the PCs out. Attempting to sneak past the guards fails automatically, yet the guards just throw the PCs out. Attempting to fight the guards finds them unkillable, yet the guards just throw the PCs out. The walls are unclimbable. Yet a sewer grating can be pried open. The sewer is the railroad.

Railroading would be easier for the GM if the PCs could not sneak nor climb, since they would have fewer options to try. Restricting abilities can be a tool for railroading; nevertheless, it is not railroading.


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Mathmuse wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:

I think you're using a way different definition of "railroading" than I've ever heard of before if you think not having access to every ability that exists in the game counts.

Railroading isn't "you don't have the spell that would be perfect for this" - it's "I, the GM, have left you with literally one single path forward, so take it or the game isn't going anywhere."

Otherwise you might as well be calling the level the characters are "railroading" since it's not 20th from the start.

Despite being in the minority by favoring permanent flight, I agree with thenobledrake about the definition of railroading. We GMs set up the situation. We could set it in a country ruled by hostile orcs, in a cave of deeper darkness, in an ancient ruin that is warded against scrying and teleporting, or in a land of acid clouds where flying is fatal. That is part of the challenge. Oncevthe challenge is set, the players can handle it as they see fit.

Railroading is when the GM defines how the players should handle the challenge. The PCs want to enter a castle and the guards prevent that. Attempting to bribe the guards fails automatically, yet the guards just throw the PCs out. Attempting to sneak past the guards fails automatically, yet the guards just throw the PCs out. Attempting to fight the guards finds them unkillable, yet the guards just throw the PCs out. The walls are unclimbable. Yet a sewer grating can be pried open. The sewer is the railroad.

Railroading would be easier for the GM if the PCs could not sneak nor climb, since they would have fewer options to try. Restricting abilities can be a tool for railroading; nevertheless, it is not railroading.

no its not they are arguing semantics

i was talking about gms preventing players from obtaining or using certain abilities such as fly

i referred to that as railroading

i pointed out that gms wont have to railroad

"limit players ability to use certain spell etc..."

because that limit would already be embed on the base game

which is bad because now everyone who liked the other way would have to home-brew or be forced to play in a way they dislike

the basic reasoning is that its far easier for gm to limit fly that its is for a gm to buff it

because if a gm tried to do that on 2e since the whole game is now balanced with the intention of permanent flying not being available it will break the game

but then again anyone with basic reading skills can understand what i'm saying but they are desperately looking for something to disagree even semantics will do


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The thing about permanent flight is that it limits a lot of stories you can tell and challenges you can build. Crossing the raging river, the perilous cliffs, the lake of lava... None of these are interesting challenges to those that fly. Now in this kind of game there should come a point where those things are no longer challenging... But there should also be a low level point where they are.

Once you do get flight, it opens up all kinds of new stories you can tell... But you that's why level stratification of such abilities is important. Though I'm sure we can quibble over the exact level.


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I mean, the fantasy story that d&d as a genre is heavily based on is most commonly criticized by people saying "why didn't the eagles simply fly them to Mordor".

The stuff that happened along the way because the fellowship had to walk definitely wasn't meaningless filler content, and the story would have suffered heavily if it had been skipped by flying, even though realistically it would have been a very logical choice.

In a well designed adventure, there are no meaningless filler encounters. They are all interesting and potentially meaningful.

That doesn't mean that you should have to do every encounter, just that in a well designed adventure skipping the travel entirely isn't something that doesn't matter.

Often in adventure design what seem like trivial encounters actually do have a purpose in the adventure - the bandits for example could be very significant to the development of the party and characters in a moral sense, or an opportunity for the bard to demonstrate to the party that they can talk the party out of situations without violence, or just a way for the party to gain xp or deplete resources before they get to the dungeon.


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Tender Tendrils wrote:

I mean, the fantasy story that d&d as a genre is heavily based on is most commonly criticized by people saying "why didn't the eagles simply fly them to Mordor".

The stuff that happened along the way because the fellowship had to walk definitely wasn't meaningless filler content, and the story would have suffered heavily if it had been skipped by flying, even though realistically it would have been a very logical choice.

In a well designed adventure, there are no meaningless filler encounters. They are all interesting and potentially meaningful.

That doesn't mean that you should have to do every encounter, just that in a well designed adventure skipping the travel entirely isn't something that doesn't matter.

Often in adventure design what seem like trivial encounters actually do have a purpose in the adventure - the bandits for example could be very significant to the development of the party and characters in a moral sense, or an opportunity for the bard to demonstrate to the party that they can talk the party out of situations without violence, or just a way for the party to gain xp or deplete resources before they get to the dungeon.

Taking your example is kind of fun because there were a very large number of good resons not to fly to mordor. Firstly Sauron has flying beasts at his commands so the concept he would be unable to interfere is wrong. The eagles are so blatant that they would be rather easy to track. The Ring are more dangerous next near powerful creatures and the Eagles are practically demigods.

Sauruman knew about the eagles and could scry.

Mordor had mystical protections whilst Sauron lived.

Any tactic that is viable in universe will also have its counters in Universe.

If you as gm know your party can fly great distances you need to plan encounters based on the hazard they will face in the air not on the ground.

Not only that but it's a great way to make weather and winds into a far more interesting part of the world than they often play in ground locked campaigns.


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I am fine with permanent flying only at hoigh levels.

In addition, knowing that paizo will always put balance before anything there could have been in the first edition, I say that I am completely at ease.

If an npc has it but a player of the same ancestry only unlocks it many levels after, is no issue at all.

Finally, I'd leave aything else meant to put lore and flavor before balance your homebrew rules. There's no point in wasting paizo time for alternative rules, especially given how the game ( classes, rules, bestiary, etc) works.

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