Repetition and 2e / "Taking20"s Break Up Letter


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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I think the not realizing how valuable debuff actions are stems from the +10/-10 system not being taken into account for the meta.

Setting up your friends to get critical hits is a pretty "feels good" moment all on its own.

But I also think the "You're playing wrong!" isn't really what people are saying. There is no one telling you not to make 3 Strikes per turn just as there is no one telling you to make 3 Strikes per turn.

Is it wrong to make 3 Strikes per turn? No.

Is it the most optimal use of your actions? Almost certainly no.

That's really not different from any other game.

I'm a total amateur at chess, but the saying a "knight on the rim is grim" is a saying for a reason. It's just not a good place to put your knight. And even on that saying, it's not 100% all the time thing.

If we tell players "don't walk into lava" that would feel silly, of course you don't want to walk into lava. To me, attacking at a -10 is about as much as a disincentive as you can put on an action without simply saying "don't do that".

That said, I do think the "informing players of what they can do" is likely the issue that a lot of tables see that are dealing with the static routines issue.

Another way I try to combat that besides the Recall Knowledge stuff I mentioned before is to do these exact things to the player.

Like if I have my hobgoblins tripping, grappling, demoralizing the players, they almost always try to respond accordingly. It's tough to argue with results, and when you're doing things the PCs know they can also do, it leads to a "monkey see, monkey do" kinda thing. In the case of my groups Barbarian, it comes off as almost challenging them to an "arm wrestle" type of competition ("Oh you think you can Grapple me, I'll show you!")

I have also been toying with the idea of allowing RKs on environments and making on the fly GM calls for them.

"RK on the environment"

"You notice that the chandelier above would likely crash right on top of your enemies if you could snap the fastening"

"I shoot an arrow at the fastening"

Then the chandelier falls, foes under it roll a reflex save, and the terrain changes (since there's a chandelier on the floor now).


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I am not the GM for the particular game and honestly quite scared to GM in general. If I was the GM I definitely would have some monster use Athletics/Demoralize actions. I understand he does have lot on his plate though. Especially since we were all trying to learn the system together at the start of it. Playing 2-6 monsters per battle is probably a lot harder than playing one character.

Most fights have been monsters just attacking the closest player with as many actions as possible with of course the monsters using their special abilities whenever possible. I don't think a monster ever has done a skill ability against us unless it was built into his attack like wolves etc.

I don't look at monster sheets so I have no idea what they are really capable all. I can only recall once or twice that the Alchemist or Bard (me) even got targeted in a combat outside of fireball. He does try to RP the monsters and in his opinion animals just attack whoever is nearby and humanoids are smart enough to know to not walk passed Fighters.

Hopefully with experience he can start adding mobility + skill actions to his monster turns. Things have gotten most worse for the GM though since a player changed to a Flick Mace Fighter. Since if a monster tries to walk or get up there is a chance they just fall right back down. At level 10 the Fighter can do that twice a round.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
RPGnoremac wrote:

I am not the GM for the particular game and honestly quite scared to GM in general. If I was the GM I definitely would have some monster use Athletics/Demoralize actions. I understand he does have lot on his plate though. Especially since we were all trying to learn the system together at the start of it. Playing 2-6 monsters per battle is probably a lot harder than playing one character.

Most fights have been monsters just attacking the closest player with as many actions as possible with of course the monsters using their special abilities whenever possible. I don't think a monster ever has done a skill ability against us unless it was built into his attack like wolves etc.

I don't look at monster sheets so I have no idea what they are really capable all. I can only recall once or twice that the Alchemist or Bard (me) even got targeted in a combat outside of fireball. He does try to RP the monsters and in his opinion animals just attack whoever is nearby and humanoids are smart enough to know to not walk passed Fighters.

Hopefully with experience he can start adding mobility + skill actions to his monster turns. Things have gotten most worse for the GM though since a player changed to a Flick Mace Fighter. Since if a monster tries to walk or get up there is a chance they just fall right back down. At level 10 the Fighter can do that twice a round.

If you are someone who has never Gm'd before, do consider trying it out in PF2, especially if you are already getting very familiar with the rules as a player. I don't know anything about GMing 5e but GMing PF2 is a whole lot of fun and there is a lot of help out there for you. I'd recommend starting smaller than an AP for your first game though. I'd probably recommend the beginners box, or even just designing your own mini dungeon "cave outside of town" for a starting place and building some encounters for it. Stick with nothing higher than a level +1 monster for your first mini dungeon, especially against 1st level PCs and you can almost just grab any map throw some level -1s, some 0s and some 1s around and make sure to add some environmental features that either the PCs or the enemies can make use of, Flipping over tables for cover, shutting and locking doors, fountains and pools of water, loose rubble, etc. Then make the monsters move and use the environment and the party will have a lot of fun.

EDIT: In retrospect, for newer GMs, it might actually be easier to throw random encounters together and then string them together narratively that try to run a published adventure that won't be able to design encounters as tailored to your group as you are. Insteresting.


RPGnoremac wrote:


I don't look at monster sheets so I have no idea what they are really capable all. I can only recall once or twice that the Alchemist or Bard (me) even got targeted in a combat outside of fireball. He does try to RP the monsters and in his opinion animals just attack whoever is nearby and humanoids are smart enough to know to not walk passed Fighters.

How do they know the PC is a Fighter? Most martial types don't get AoO by default, so I'd expect trying to move by enemies to be pretty common. Which lets the Fighter shine a bit, but also lets them get to the back line more often.


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Cyouni wrote:
Rysky wrote:

MAP isn’t new to P2, it was in P1 and DND.

All P2 does is let you have your extra attacks earlier.

I think a big difference is that taking those MAP attacks actually has a cost, instead of "I stand still". Because of that cost, the fact that you're losing hit chance every time you swing means that the latter attacks are worth less.

The other difference is that optimized buffed PF1 characters could routinely land hits when attacking at -10.


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thejeff wrote:
RPGnoremac wrote:


I don't look at monster sheets so I have no idea what they are really capable all. I can only recall once or twice that the Alchemist or Bard (me) even got targeted in a combat outside of fireball. He does try to RP the monsters and in his opinion animals just attack whoever is nearby and humanoids are smart enough to know to not walk passed Fighters.
How do they know the PC is a Fighter? Most martial types don't get AoO by default, so I'd expect trying to move by enemies to be pretty common. Which lets the Fighter shine a bit, but also lets them get to the back line more often.

Fighters, Barbarians, Champions, Swashbucklers, Monks and Rangers can have Attack of Opportunity or something approaching. And that's without counting Dedications that are quite common.

And nearly 50% of the melee martials NPCs have it. So, it's safe to assume a fighter style character has AoO.


RPGnoremac wrote:

I am not the GM for the particular game and honestly quite scared to GM in general. If I was the GM I definitely would have some monster use Athletics/Demoralize actions. I understand he does have lot on his plate though. Especially since we were all trying to learn the system together at the start of it. Playing 2-6 monsters per battle is probably a lot harder than playing one character.

Most fights have been monsters just attacking the closest player with as many actions as possible with of course the monsters using their special abilities whenever possible. I don't think a monster ever has done a skill ability against us unless it was built into his attack like wolves etc.

I can certainly understand being overwhelmed or not having good direction as the GM on what to do to vary combats.

But until PCs are presented with problems that aren't "nails" they more than likely will continue to use "hammers" to win.

I would second Unicore's suggestion of giving it a shot. You seem to have a lot more understanding on the subject and how to deal with the problems your group might be facing.

Even if you did it only for a session, it might give your current GM insight (and a much needed break) when they do come back to the main campaign.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Adding in information about well known reactions of monsters, i.e. incredibly valuable information the players really want, into the initial information you give out with recall knowledge can also make that another way to encourage PCs to do more than move and attack. It also because a really easy false bit of information to use if the PCs crit fail, helping them realize that boosting knowledge skills and taking recall knowledge skill feats will be an incredibly useful thing to do in your campaign.


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thejeff wrote:
RPGnoremac wrote:


I don't look at monster sheets so I have no idea what they are really capable all. I can only recall once or twice that the Alchemist or Bard (me) even got targeted in a combat outside of fireball. He does try to RP the monsters and in his opinion animals just attack whoever is nearby and humanoids are smart enough to know to not walk passed Fighters.
How do they know the PC is a Fighter? Most martial types don't get AoO by default, so I'd expect trying to move by enemies to be pretty common. Which lets the Fighter shine a bit, but also lets them get to the back line more often.

I roleplay my opponents as spending an action on Recall Knowledge if they are trained in Society or Warfare Lore. Alas, the creatures in the Bestiaries are woefully short on Knowledge skills, which is how the halfling scoundrel rogue/sorcerer in my game managed to fool two Korreds into thinking he was a fey. The Recall Knowledge fails more often now that we are at 7th level. I still give basic information for the effort.

A character in medium or heavy armor and wielding a martial weapon is easily identified as a martial character, possibly a fighter. Vulnerable hostile NPCS avoid all of the martial characters in case they do have Attack of Opportunity. Monks with Attack of Opportunity probably fool the NPCs.


I was actually going to try and GM a side game when our GM needed a break or a player was missing etc...

Sadly 2 of the players in our group didn't want to start another game of PF2 and just want to potentially finish Extinction Curse, we just started book 3 and only do 3 hour sessions so I find it strange that if they truly dislike PF2 that they still want to plan on 6+ months of an adventure.

Somehow I became the mediator trying to explain some things. Overall the complaints weren't 100% PF2 related though but a combination of the AP (our GM is pretty much playing it as written which imo it is lacking in a lot of areas), hit chance (which stems from the difficulty of the APs/MAP), oddly players seem to also really hate MAP as a concept. The other main compliant is the players wanted to feel more powerful when they level with higher hit % and abilities. There wasn't much I could say other than "well the game is based around monsters scaling just as well as players so it is challenging".

The odd part is before that day everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun except for the rules confusions/frustrations and one player really really hates missing. He switched to a Bard so I hope he has more fun. I wasn't really able to help the Alchemist player. After looking at the character it was really hard to make suggestions of what he could do without changing his character skills/feats.

The realty is pretty much every feat he took is "make bombs better" so I can't really suggest any other feats/dedications since any feat he took would make his favorite thing worse indirectly. All I could suggest is since he had a decent CHA/INT he could demoralize/bon mot but he doesn't really want to do that.

The good news is hopefully I am going to try getting some friends together and will run the beginner box in Foundry. I will try my best to show off all the things about Pathfinder 2. After that I am thinking we could play some one shots kind of like PFS style because it is going to be tough having everyone show up everytime.

I was also kind of hoping to get our family game to try Pathfinder 2 once we finish our PF1 campaign but one player is a huge fan of PF1 and doesn't really want to play PF2. I actually really enjoy PF1 too but I have only played one campaign of PF1 and don't really want to try and GM that. Player power just ranges crazy in that game. His solution is "don't make a strong character".

I am definitely curious about being a GM, I love playing PF1/PF2 but have no idea how much I will like GMing in general. From our current campaign it seems like in PF1 balance is just strange and I really am way less familiar with the rules.

Just as random examples in Iron Gods there are so many monsters that had grenades that if the GM wanted to he could just instant kill the players in one round, admittingly maybe we were just bad at the game lol... I haven't came across that in PF2 yet. Most fights there has always been something the players could do and it seems like PF2 don't normally have to hold back things.


:( That's sad news

Does your group frequent the forums/reddit ever? I would be curious to hear some of their thoughts more in-depth.

Would there be any possibility of you running a session of the current campaign? I am always hesitant to put the oneness on the GM, but in this case, it seems like your group is wanting more, and the GM can only contribute so much.

I am guilty of having some bad sessions as a GM for sure, sometimes you just don't have the stuffing to make a session work, and it can be really draining not only on your time but on the emotional requirements of being "always on" as opposed to the rest of the party whose participation can fluctuate.

But at the end of the day, if I'm not up to the task the players will suffer as a result.

At least your players don't want to quit the campaign, that at least says they are liking the adventure enough to keep moving forward.

I hope your next session goes well!


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I admit I am pretty much the only one who was bored of 5e. Then again I was playing 1/2 campaigns of 5e for basically 2-3 years. When I played my first PF1 my spark for TTRPGs rekindled and I looked into PF2 and wow it just blew me away. I could make super fun characters AND their power didn't range so massively like in PF1... at least so far.

One of the players surprisingly does read a lot of PF2 reddit and posts quite a bit. I am not aware of a way to send messages to someone on the forum. I don't really want everyone looking at the link :) Nvm, I think I figured it out.

I really feel like we had a nice session last time where we had one fight and mostly conversation/RP. Like I said I don't talk to them outside the sessions so before that I actually thought everyone was having a lot of fun.

I think a big issue really has been "rules overload" and when I have to correct something where a player just misinterpreted the rules they get upset. This actually entire conversation started because a player was upset he couldn't use multiple flourishes.


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Quote:
I really feel like we had a nice session last time where we had one fight and mostly conversation/RP. Like I said I don't talk to them outside the sessions so before that I actually thought everyone was having a lot of fun.

Based on what you sent me, that should at least help one of your players who feels like the RP elements are lacking.

I do think a GM that takes a module/AP and just runs it with no modifications is probably going to run into issues. It sounds a little bit like maybe this person didn't want to run a PF2 campaign at all.

I will say that it does sound like there's some table issues, and table issues are just not something a random person on the internet is going to be much help with.

I think it's also exacerbated by the fact that you all play and then don't talk to each other. That is something I don't have a terrible amount of experience with. I have played with strangers before, but it is generally rare and usually you try to build up a rapport outside the game as well to enhance the game.

Now I realize not everyone can always scratch the itch with a bunch of friends, but to me the experience of playing with a group of people that respect and like each other is a worlds difference between a group with internal conflict (gosh, who remembers ego driven games in their teenage years turning into shouting matches? No one? Just me? Okay!)

I get the rules overload, but remember, the rules are only a vehicle for you all to have a good time. Sometimes getting a rule wrong isn't the end of the world, and if I'm a player, unless I am asked by the GM, I do not correct rules (was wayyyy too much of a Rules lawyer back in the day).

I also think its important for everyone to want to play the same kind of game, at least in part. If truly no one in your group is enjoying PF2, then you probably shouldn't be playing PF2. I know you wanted to play it, and not wanting to play 5E is totally understandable (same here), but given these people are relatively strangers to you, it might just make sense to find another way to play PF2.

There's always the "talk it out" approach. Might just have a pre-sesh talk and see what everyone thinks.

Wish you the best :) Not much else I can offer.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
You can mitigate that through encounter design, but that's tautological because you can do that for any system.

This is a strange assertion. Yes, you can adjust encounter design in any system... but the notion that you need to make more optimal choices the harder something is is also true of any system.

You just can't disentangle optimization from encounter design because what's optimal and how important optimization is is based entirely on what you're fighting.

That's not to say PF2's perfectly balanced, I do think the game's math sometimes punishes players for versatility they might not be interested in and is overly failure-focused, particularly for characters who are venturing far outside their wheelhouse.

But I think that's a little bit different than this "I just keep throwing fireballs at this fire elemental and it's not working, game sucks" mentality.


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RPGnoremac wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

I find PF2 system has the best of both world. There is no need to play optimally to get a proper result. When, in PF1, you could have a level of magnitude between 2 characters in terms of efficiency, this isn't true anymore in PF2 unless you build your character with a complete lack of common sense (like a Barbarian with no Strength). But, at the same time, experienced players with a love for strategy can really get more out of their character without completely imbalancing the game.

In general, criticisms about PF2 come from beginners who think they have system mastery (in general from previous systems). And that's exactly what I think of Cody right now as his examples scream "lack of system mastery".

It is interesting that this particular video makes it sound like everyone is just do the "boring optimized turns every round" and still having trouble in fights.

I think a lot of people that love PF2 love the strategy element. I have no idea if they were beginners or just stubborn people honestly. There are people that play games for longs periods of time and just never learn. DOTA is a huge example of this.

I think where the problem really stems is there are quite a few players that love to do damage. I will give an example of some fun tactics we did but still the players decided it was bad to not just attack.

We had a boss caster knocked down and grappled. So she was in a horrible position. So she had a 20% to fail every spell cast and actually failed one spell. So in the combat we had the character fighting at a severe disadvantage.

So I explained the next round you had to grapple the target again and the conclusion of the players seems to be athletics actions are bad... why trip/disarm/shove/grapple when it effects map and uses one of my actions when I could attack.

The most disheartening thing was when I was explaining to a player the fun athletics actions he could do but they effected MAP. His immediate reaction was I am never going to use them because...

I tried a grapple build. It's decent versus weaker monsters, but terrible versus more powerful monsters. If you don't land that first grapple, you are unlikely to land a grapple after that as fort saves are high for a lot of creatures. Also if you grapple the creature and it decides to focus on killing you rather than escape, it can go badly for you.

You usually have to spend your highest hit action every round to maintain the grapple, while doing no to minimal damage. The main advantage of grapple is to flat-foot the creature for the party, which you can accomplish equally well by flanking them.

It's one of those abilities can looks cool in your mind's eye, but in play it's not often a great option. There are many better ways to apply the flat-footed condition. Even trip is better because that at least requires the enemy to spend an action to stand up to move. Grapple doesn't even apply a penalty to unarmed attacks and the monster can attack people with no penalty. Even if you try to use some tactic where everyone moves out of battle except the grappler, the monster will rip the single character apart if it is CR+2.

I tend to stay away from attack maneuver abilities that increase MAP. They rarely seem like they are worth doing except in stories on forums or theory-crafting. In play you miss maneuvers as often as you miss attacks and even when you land a maneuver, it does no to minimal damage and flat-footed could have easily been achieved by flanking. You also don't get any damage from built up weapon runes or the like, which makes it so magic weapons are rendered useless when using maneuvers.


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The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.

This.

Gone are the days of, "My character does X and X alone." Grapple (and the other maneuvers) is a tool in your arsenal, to be applied meaningfully. Much like making a character to just Strike and be done, you CAN do it, but you're rewarded for thinking about the application of your abilities in an encounter by encounter basis.


Flanking is cool unless it's the reason why enemies spent all their actions ripping you (or even both of you) to shreds — some are more dangerous to flank than others, some parties can flank better than others. And some classes or ancestries offer benefits to a maneuver if you want to focus on it, like Barbarian or Monk, while some weapons give their magic item bonus to trip (and there are magic items to give such a bonus too). So that helps a little.


Maybe I am wrong but shouldnt grapple mainly be used against casters? Of course if you grapple a martial monster it will just attack you.

It is also nice that a martial focused on Athletics can target reflex, fort an AC.

Also flanking doesnt help ranged DPS either. Which of course depends on the group.

Imo I feel it is a good thing that each thing is situational. Tripping imo is probably the best manuever though in most situations.

I felt in the same way in PF1, whenever a monster grappled our fighter it dies shortly after.

There really are a lot of factors so it of course hard to say for certain what is always the right choice.

If you are in a group of 5 and the monster just went and you go first then trippling/grappling could probably add more damage.

That was 100% my point though, I feel anything that doesnt directly deal damage is hard to evaluate.


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RPGnoremac wrote:
Maybe I am wrong but shouldnt grapple mainly be used against casters? Of course if you grapple a martial monster it will just attack you.

And if they choose to attack you, they more than likely will remain Flat-footed (MAP applies to Escape and Grapple) and Immobilized.

And Immobilized allows people to use AoE spells, ranged characters to move into safer ranges, and these Ranged Attacks and Spell Attacks to actually get to go against Flat-footed AC due to grabbed (which is easier for melee to get with flanking).

Not being able to move is pretty significant and the fact that not being Grappled costs you an action to even try (one that costs MAP) makes it a solid choice for a lot of situations.

Heck holding them in place could prevent them from flanking allies on their turn, which turns into damage prevention as well as increased party damage.

There's just a lot of reasons to want to do it, it's just about seeing when its the best play available.

Quote:

That was 100% my point though, I feel anything that doesn't directly deal damage is hard to evaluate.

Well in terms of translated value, we can quantify that in a sense as long as at least one of your allies does plan to take advantage (or yourself) of the benefits.

20% is a major flux, and in some cases it can be a pretty big spike of damage (Flurry Ranger, Flurry of Blows Monk, Double Strike Fighter in particular).


Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.

It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.
It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.

DF, if you truly believe this, I encourage you to come by for the post-holiday session I'm going to run showcasing the tactics and strategies of PF2.

Come join us, here!


RPGnoremac wrote:

Maybe I am wrong but shouldnt grapple mainly be used against casters? Of course if you grapple a martial monster it will just attack you.

It is also nice that a martial focused on Athletics can target reflex, fort an AC.

Also flanking doesnt help ranged DPS either. Which of course depends on the group.

Imo I feel it is a good thing that each thing is situational. Tripping imo is probably the best manuever though in most situations.

I felt in the same way in PF1, whenever a monster grappled our fighter it dies shortly after.

There really are a lot of factors so it of course hard to say for certain what is always the right choice.

If you are in a group of 5 and the monster just went and you go first then trippling/grappling could probably add more damage.

That was 100% my point though, I feel anything that doesnt directly deal damage is hard to evaluate.

It can be good against casters if they allow you to get close to them and if they're a regular caster with a low Fort Save. Let's say you grapple a lich. It's not going to care a whole lot. It will rip you apart.

As far as other types of casters, at higher level I usually have them invis up and fly as their initial actions. They are usually mobile and work from range requiring martials to use seek to track them.

Caster enemies are the most frightening thing you will fight at high level. The only thing that weakens them is when adventure designers put them in bad situations like small rooms where martials can get to them. If they have room, they can nuke the living hell out of a PC group that often can't counter them. Maneuvers are pretty useless in such situations as you want to kill the caster as fast as possible, but maneuvers don't kill them.

Stories and theory-craft on forums make maneuvers seem great. In real continuous play, they are an occasionally useful option that anyone can use without spending a single feat on them. It's better to leverage your maxed out runed weapon using your highest level attack to hit something to kill it than to do a grapple or maneuver increasing your MAP while doing no to minimal damage.

It's the smarter play. At least in PF1 you could build a grappler that did its full unarmed attack damage and grappling was absolutely vicious in PF1.In PF2 grappling is a moderate inconvenience that even with feats invested does next to no damage and doesn't apply any of your weapon enhancements to the damage. Hard to build around an ability like that.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.
It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.

You know what also doesn't do damage? Missing your strike.


Ruzza wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.
It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.

DF, if you truly believe this, I encourage you to come by for the post-holiday session I'm going to run showcasing the tactics and strategies of PF2.

Come join us, here!

I know these games as well as any. There is nothing you can show me that will change the way the game works.

Grappling CR+2 creatures is a bad idea mathematically. I've tried a ton of different tactics in PF2 to see how they work. Grappling and tripping were two that I worked on using a Flurry of Maneuvers build with a monk maxing out Athletics with items geared towards grappling and tripping.

I found the following:

1. If you don't land the first grapple or trip attempt, you are unlikely to land the 2nd or later.

2. You really feel like you wasted your time trying because you end up spending two actions that do no damage to end the fight faster.

3. Grappling does not reduce the attack capabilities of the creature you're fighting. If it is a high CR or dangerous creature, it can tear into using its full attack completely focusing on damaging you.

4. You lose one of your hands grappling and you can't move either while grappled. So it immobilizes your target, but also you.

5. Your trip or grapple only works if you can get to the target or it can't move some other way. If you trip a flier, he doesn't have to spend a move action to stand up before he moves. It's hard to grapple a target you can't see as in if they invisible or flying.

6. You don't need to build for grappling or tripping to use them during those times when they might be most useful.

My group and I explore a lot of tactics when a new game system comes out. Suffice it to say my group is enormously underwhelmed with maneuvers in this game. They have found it far more efficient to attack with a fully enhanced weapon.

Now if you want to talk about Demoralize or Bon Mot, then we can have a discussion as those 1 action ranged skill abilities are highly useful. They are used a lot.

I'm not going to say maneuvers are never useful. But you don't need to build for them. Those times when they are useful, you can grapple or trip just fine using the Athletics skill you likely built up because you're a barbarian. 90% or more of the time its better to attack with your runed weapon.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.
It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.
You know what also doesn't do damage? Missing your strike.

Not even sure what this is supposed to mean. If I hit with a strike, I do damage including higher damage if I have a weapon with lots of runes I spent a lot of coin building up.

Whereas if I hit with a maneuver, I do no damage and don't get to take advantage of all that coin I spent on runes, while still suffering MAP. All to gain an advantage I can gain by flanking, invisibility, electrical bombs, a rogue with a gang up, feinting, a ranger critting or hitting twice with a bow, a fighter using snagging strike, and a variety of other ways that can be applied in a more efficient manner.

There are a lot of ways to apply flat-footed. Grappling is one of the less efficient ways.


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So you think everyone that’s talking about using maneuvers is “theorycrafting”?

I can assure that is not the case for me. Shoves, Trips, and Demoralize are staples of sessions I’ve been in. It would be shocking for me to see three consecutive strikes from my players at this point.


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Let me open by saying my message wasn't an attack on your level of knowledge, but an invitation to a friendly game with other forum-goers. I've always been of the opinion that they day I presume to know everything about a subject, is the day that I've given up. It never hurt to get an outside perspective.

What your group experiences seems to ve going back to this "optimal" white room situation. And if that's working for your group, great! But it discounts so much more that maneuvers can do; hampering movement, getting around immunities, repositioning. If everything was boiled down to whether or not that flat-footed gets applied, I'm certain the Alchemist with their bottled lightning would be given another critical glance (as I still think it should).

As I said up-thread, having "I consistently and will always do X" is the problem. It doesn't get rewarded in PF2. So yeah, focusing a character on Athletics but then only Grappling level + 2 opponents with high Fort saves is less likely to yield results as opposed to hitting them. Or... It's definitely worse than going after their Reflex with a Trip and then setting up an Aid action for your figher with a greatpick. Parties are quite variable, which allows for a much larger breadth of options in combat, of course.

And your character doesn't always get to do "their thing." Just ask my 16 Charisma Animal Barbarian who aimed to Intimidate and then Athletics maneuver opponents. His first combat was versus a mindless swarm of bugs and his second a mindless animated statue. But as PF2 feats and character progression is based more on option versatility than damage boosting, it appears to me that not every option is going to be used in combat or it your group's playstyle/goals.


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My champion has used athletic maneuvers to great effect. My fist fighting swashbuckler used intimidate to great effect. My Terry Bogard monk used athletics and acrobatics to great effect.

I don't really do much in the way of theorycrafting. I can tell you from experience that not only do these tactics work, but they are also fun.

Liberty's Edge

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One of my players is a flail-wielding flurry ranger who absolutely loves putting foes on the ground. She's also found some really nasty tricks with the flail's sweep trait that made my jaw drop. (She'll Hunt Prey on one target, then attack a non-hunted target that's also within her reach at no penalty - but between the flurry edge and sweep, the second attack on her hunted prey winds up at just -2.) She's successfully tripped level +1 and even +2 opponents with her Assurance in lieu of a 3rd attack, just by attacking a save she'd already determined was low enough for it to work - and once it works with Assurance, it keeps working, for as long as that poor poor monster has left to it.


Deriven Firelion wrote:


3. Grappling does not reduce the attack capabilities of the creature you're fighting. If it is a high CR or dangerous creature, it can tear into using its full attack completely focusing on damaging you.

No it makes them flat footed. So they can be attacked easier. But there are other simple ways of doing that like by moving behind them. So if you have good movement powers this aspect is often unncessary.

It also stops them from attacking anyone else.

Deriven Firelion wrote:


4. You lose one of your hands grappling and you can't move either while grappled. So it immobilizes your target, but also you.

Technically you do get your hand back once they are grappled. You don't need a free hand to continue the grapple. But yes agreed.

Tripping likewise can seem fairly pointless, unless you coordinate with others and time your trip attempt. But if you are coordinating with others it is often simple to get flanking anyway.

All it costs the opponent is their third action, which is not always that big a loss. But it costs you your attack regardless.

So what are you getting with trip? They take a -2 to all their attacks, or potentially you get an attack of oppourtunity if they stand up. Thats pretty good.

The problem is all Rogues and PCs will have Kip Up after a while so that they can get around that.


Yeah, it's surprising how often you can Assurance out maneuvers against higher level enemies. A lesson learned the hard way from a Flurry of Maneuvers monk who turned my encounter to swiss cheese.


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Squiggit wrote:
Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
You can mitigate that through encounter design, but that's tautological because you can do that for any system.

This is a strange assertion. Yes, you can adjust encounter design in any system... but the notion that you need to make more optimal choices the harder something is is also true of any system.

You just can't disentangle optimization from encounter design because what's optimal and how important optimization is is based entirely on what you're fighting.

That's not to say PF2's perfectly balanced, I do think the game's math sometimes punishes players for versatility they might not be interested in and is overly failure-focused, particularly for characters who are venturing far outside their wheelhouse.

But I think that's a little bit different than this "I just keep throwing fireballs at this fire elemental and it's not working, game sucks" mentality.

Thank you for agreeing with my main point. I think that you really understand that the math and how the system is designed really discourages players from trying new things, hence you see the simultaneous arguments where groups A) Complain about doing the same things over and over again because they work, and B) Complain about TPK because they wanted to try something different. I think that the system is bad because the consequences for stepping out of your lane are too harsh.

How important optimization is isn't entirely based on what you're fighting, the context of the fight also matters. If your party is low on resources fights matter way more, you might want to avoid the goblin encounter that you would have bowled over when you had all your spell-slots. Taken over the course of a dungeon or area like in any adventure path, the price of sub-optimal play starts to add up which can lead to TPK. What controls the when and how characters fail, oh right the system.


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But we're seeing the opposite of that. Continually doing the same thing and being punished for it is the exact problem that Taking20s group ran into, along with (I assume) DF's group, as he's often mentioned the difficulties that his group has faced in the APs.

There isn't specialization in PF2, so doing something that isn't "in your lane" will yield as much success as something "in your lane."


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Ruzza wrote:

But we're seeing the opposite of that. Continually doing the same thing and being punished for it is the exact problem that Taking20s group ran into, along with (I assume) DF's group, as he's often mentioned the difficulties that his group has faced in the APs.

There isn't specialization in PF2, so doing something that isn't "in your lane" will yield as much success as something "in your lane."

There is absolutely specialization in PF2, and the crit system does everything in its power to highlight that, a 2 point swing in AC can double or triple the amount of times you get crit. Vice-Versa for any attack or spell or other defense.


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Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

But we're seeing the opposite of that. Continually doing the same thing and being punished for it is the exact problem that Taking20s group ran into, along with (I assume) DF's group, as he's often mentioned the difficulties that his group has faced in the APs.

There isn't specialization in PF2, so doing something that isn't "in your lane" will yield as much success as something "in your lane."

There is absolutely specialization in PF2, and the crit system does everything in its power to highlight that, a 2 point swing in AC can double or triple the amount of times you get crit. Vice-Versa for any attack or spell or other defense.

Right... and these actions in some cases are the only ways to get Bonuses even higher.

Flat footed is the equivalent of a proficiency tier or two ability score boosts. Frightened on top of that applies to saves and ac.

Shove can deny actions and break grapples on your allies. Trip costs a stand and grapple taxes a map action with a chance for failure.

Specialization exists, but adapting your tactics can derive a larger differential than a mere +1/2 and in the case of both, exceptional returns.

Like these statements corroborate what others have been saying, they don’t disprove it.

Liberty's Edge

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Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

But we're seeing the opposite of that. Continually doing the same thing and being punished for it is the exact problem that Taking20s group ran into, along with (I assume) DF's group, as he's often mentioned the difficulties that his group has faced in the APs.

There isn't specialization in PF2, so doing something that isn't "in your lane" will yield as much success as something "in your lane."

There is absolutely specialization in PF2, and the crit system does everything in its power to highlight that, a 2 point swing in AC can double or triple the amount of times you get crit. Vice-Versa for any attack or spell or other defense.

I think the point here isn't that a +2 bonus has no effect, but that almost all characters will have a variety of options in combat at the same/very similar bonuses. The fighter or barbarian who has invested in athletics will likely be at the same bonus to perform a Grapple vs Fort DC or a Trip vs Ref DC as to perform a Strike vs AC. The swashbuckler's Demoralize vs Will DC or Feint vs Perception DC are likely at a similar value to their attacks - a lower ability score, but often a higher proficiency. If you're finding yourself Striking 3 times in a turn because you feel boxed in by your build, it's likely that you're limiting yourself more than your characters abilities are. Sometimes the enemy is an Ooze, and you probably can Strike 3 times. Sometimes they have an Extreme AC but a Moderate Reflex Save, and you should be pulling out that Trip you can do to help. If it gets to the point where you're TPKing because you're still performing the 3 Strikes but you're complaining that the game makes striking 3 times the optimal course of action, it may be time to reconsider your tactics.

That being said, I do think it's true that some adventures are dangerous enough that you don't feel comfortable experimenting too often - but to me at least, that applies more to trying to Demoralize with your not-great Intimidate, not trying to Trip with your fully-invested Athletics. That shouldn't feel like a risk.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

You know, one thing occurs to me: the barbarian vibe is at odds with their mechanics. We think of barbarians as a simple class to play, but they actually get a ton of unique feats that provide tactical complexity. What they don't get is great support for just swinging their sword 3 times in a row. At least not compared to Flurry Rangers and Press focused fighters.

As another example, giant instinct barbarians naturally draw folks who want to do as much damage as possible, but the best way to play them is actually using their enormous reach to poke enemies from a distance. Those pokes still pack plenty of punch, mind you.

Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

But we're seeing the opposite of that. Continually doing the same thing and being punished for it is the exact problem that Taking20s group ran into, along with (I assume) DF's group, as he's often mentioned the difficulties that his group has faced in the APs.

There isn't specialization in PF2, so doing something that isn't "in your lane" will yield as much success as something "in your lane."

There is absolutely specialization in PF2, and the crit system does everything in its power to highlight that, a 2 point swing in AC can double or triple the amount of times you get crit. Vice-Versa for any attack or spell or other defense.

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make here. AC isn't something that really varies between a specialist and a generalist. I mean, there is in the sense that champions and monks get better AC then everyone else but generally AC numbers are pretty consistent between classes and the martials with lower AC than monks and champions deal better damage which means they kill enemies faster.

Are you talking about shields? Because any class can use raise a shield to get that AC bonus. You don't need to specialize to do that.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
As another example, giant instinct barbarians naturally draw folks who want to do as much damage as possible, but the best way to play them is actually using their enormous reach to poke enemies from a distance. Those pokes still pack plenty of punch, mind you.

This is one thing I definitely wish PF2 did better. Giant Barbs have low AC and high static damage bonuses, which means you're better off skirmishing with a shield or a reach weapon (or both) and playing hit and run... and that large innate damage bonus makes weapon die a (relatively) smaller chunk of your overall damage per hit too.

Basically encouraging you to do the exact opposite of "grab a huge weapon and go to town" even though that feels like the build's core fantasy.

Sort of the opposite of the problem Swashbucklers had in PF1.


I would agree that playing a barbarian with a barbarian mindset ("Hit, hit, hit, always keep hitting, pain don't hurt") ends up being really bad in the long run. Meanwhile, Giant Barbarians excel at area control, Animal Barbarians are fantastic front-line disruptors, and... I haven't had anyone play any other barbarian yet, so I don't know how Spirit and Superstition end up functioning. Maybe Fury is the way to go to hack and slash, rip and tear?


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Midnightoker wrote:
Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

But we're seeing the opposite of that. Continually doing the same thing and being punished for it is the exact problem that Taking20s group ran into, along with (I assume) DF's group, as he's often mentioned the difficulties that his group has faced in the APs.

There isn't specialization in PF2, so doing something that isn't "in your lane" will yield as much success as something "in your lane."

There is absolutely specialization in PF2, and the crit system does everything in its power to highlight that, a 2 point swing in AC can double or triple the amount of times you get crit. Vice-Versa for any attack or spell or other defense.

Right... and these actions in some cases are the only ways to get Bonuses even higher.

Flat footed is the equivalent of a proficiency tier or two ability score boosts. Frightened on top of that applies to saves and ac.

Shove can deny actions and break grapples on your allies. Trip costs a stand and grapple taxes a map action with a chance for failure.

Specialization exists, but adapting your tactics can derive a larger differential than a mere +1/2 and in the case of both, exceptional returns.

Like these statements corroborate what others have been saying, they don’t disprove it.

No, no! Don't miss understand, tactics and smart play are 100% effective. The problem that I am trying to highlight here is that, like the GM who can make enemies do sub-optimal things, like having goblins goof off in combat, in order to world build, and enhance the narrative, players, too can and will do this with their characters.

The margins for failure are too small and the consequence for it is too severe for many players, and this is a fault in 2e design.

Players and GMs who don't know this will be TPK'd

Players and GMs who do know what is optimal, can be frustrated by the lack of space to not play optimally.


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Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

But we're seeing the opposite of that. Continually doing the same thing and being punished for it is the exact problem that Taking20s group ran into, along with (I assume) DF's group, as he's often mentioned the difficulties that his group has faced in the APs.

There isn't specialization in PF2, so doing something that isn't "in your lane" will yield as much success as something "in your lane."

There is absolutely specialization in PF2, and the crit system does everything in its power to highlight that, a 2 point swing in AC can double or triple the amount of times you get crit. Vice-Versa for any attack or spell or other defense.

You're right! You're on my side here. I may have erred in my wording. You can specialize in PF2, but you can't hyperspecialize. That is to say, be so good at one thing that it's just the superior option. I like to look at this problem with a simple fight. The classic orc versus a party!

Orc Warrior versus a level 1 Champion.

To quickly make this easy:
Orc Stats
AC - 18
Fort - 18
Ref - 17
Will - 14

Champion Stats
Attack +7 (flail)
Athletics +7 (Trained)
Intimidation +4 (Trained, but only 12 Charisma)

In adjacent combat, the Champion has a few options. Like the classic Strike (50% to hit), Strike (25% to hit), Raise Shield combo. I've seen this a lot! I think many of us have. Is it the best way to engage an enemy? Maybe!

Maybe we're a little trickier. Let's open with a Trip (55% to get them prone), Strike (35% chance to hit prone, 25% to hit if not), Raise Shield. That's... Interesting. Is it better? Sure depends on what my party needs. Maybe that rogue can't get around for a flank and is glad to have some free sneak attack damage.

I'm going to propose another interesting option: Demoralize (55% chance for frightened 1), Trip (60% chance for prone if frightened, 55% chance if not), and... set an action to Aid. Now this is highly party dependant, but we may now have a prone Orc Warrior with, essentially, 15 AC. If our fighter our barbarian is coming up next, well... (That would normally be a big IF, but we have access to the Delay action to get us into that position!)

For giggles, let's just go all the way with a greatpick fighter about to attack this prone, frightened orc. If the champion manages to assist with their Aid (about a 50% chance, I believe), with the first Strike, they have a 75% chance to hit AND of that, a 25% chance to crit. On a crit, that's 1d12+4 times two plus an additional 1d12 damage! I'm not the math-wiz, but I believe that averages out to around 27 damage. All of this with much better odds than swinging and hoping for high rolls. If your strategy in combat is to rely on rolling high, you should adjust your thinking.

But the best part is, these are just hypotheticals! What if you have a flurry ranger with a longbow as a partner? What then? What if your alchemist has already made them flat-footed? Or how about the team of three monks with you who are already flanking with you? What if you're taking fire from the orc's archer companions? The options become varied in such a wild way!

I will, however, admit that this could be an issue of system mastery and decision paralysis. As players get more sessions under their belts, the interesting options certainly begin to reveal themselves.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.

One thing to consider about grappling and tripping is not just its effect for you personally, but for your buddies. Flanking will allow you and an ally to attack the target when flat-footed, but grappling or tripping will make the target flat-footed to everyone, including ranged attackers.

Tripping is also particularly nice for a fighter, because sure, you're giving up a max attack-bonus attack (unless you're doing Assurance shenanigans), but when the target stands back up you get to make an Attack of Opportunity. You don't get that with flanking, because then the target can usually Step away from being flanked.

Also, you could be in a party where you're the only melee-focused character and the rest are ranged. Or maybe your usual flanking buddy is busy with some other monsters. That will make flanking hard to do, but maneuvers still work.


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Ruzza wrote:


You're right! You're on my side here. I may have erred in my wording. You can specialize in PF2, but you can't hyperspecialize. That is to say, be so good at one thing that it just the superior option. I like to look at this problem with a simple fight. The classic orc versus a party!

So here's where my big problem is. Out of all the options you can select to do something on your turn, invariably, one will be "The Best" what this is different from time to time, but in AP parlance this is normally the set of actions that cause your party to expend the least amount of resources, eg Time, Magic, HP, Items, Reputation, Element of Surprise, etc. I don't have a problem with this, this is normal and expected. Sometimes players aren't aware of what those actions are, sometimes they are.

Sometimes players don't want to use the best actions, because they are playing a character that wouldn't do that. It might be that stepping back and peppering the orcs with javelins might be the more prudent thing to do. "Ulric is brazen and will meet the orcs in melee combat!" This might not even be all that unreasonable because there might only be a few orcs, and narratively speaking, it makes sense that he'd be able to take them on.

Taken over the course of an adventure, these sub-optimal plays will add up. This isn't something endemic to 2e, any system has this, but in 2e's case, these smaller sub-optimal decisions matter more, and will kill characters quicker than expected. Those who are aware of that and want to keep their characters will feel pressured not to make these sub-optimal plays that they otherwise want to do.


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Again, try explaining that to the Elemental Sorcerer with Master Stealth and 16 Charisma that made it to Book 4 of AoA before Covid had us close up shop. He didn't just make "less than the best" plays, he went full hog into it. He still had fun and was helpful in battle.

Perhaps you need to explain your issues more clearly because I'm not understanding. First, I disagree wholeheartedly that there is a single "Best Turn." There are actions that shine in situations (Tripping a golem, Readying to slice a rope bridge when enemies attempt to cross it, Recalling Knowledge on the mysterious ooze that keeps splitting), so I may be undercutting your main point.

But if someone plays the game making "sub-optimal plays" (again, disagreeing here, but using your words) and they're enjoying themselves, hey no problem. If they aren't enjoying themselves (if they want highly impactful turns), the tools are there to make those decisions. We all have the same Core Rulebook in front of us.

I want to roleplay a reckless warrior who goes into battle fearlessly and survives is absolutely a thing you can do. But you should also be ready to get... Well, beat up. Part and parcel with that playstyle.

But, and this is hugely important, it's likely that what you are talking about isn't making poor choices in combat, but not being rewarded for them. And that's okay! Other systems can reward a playstyle like Ulrics, but it might not be PF2. I don't think that was at the core of this video however. The core was repetition and being locked into doing the same thing over and over, which is just demonstrably untrue.


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Ruzza wrote:

Again, try explaining that to the Elemental Sorcerer with Master Stealth and 16 Charisma that made it to Book 4 of AoA before Covid had us close up shop. He didn't just make "less than the best" plays, he went full hog into it. He still had fun and was helpful in battle.

Perhaps you need to explain your issues more clearly because I'm not understanding. First, I disagree wholeheartedly that there is a single "Best Turn." There are actions that shine in situations (Tripping a golem, Readying to slice a rope bridge when enemies attempt to cross it, Recalling Knowledge on the mysterious ooze that keeps splitting), so I may be undercutting your main point.

In any given encounter there are objectives that either side wants to complete. There are actions that any party can take to complete those. These actions have consequences. A "Best Turn" will be the course of actions that have the most agreeable consequences.

How we define most agreeable consequences varies from person to person and context to context, but the issue that Cody is having and I am trying to highlight here is that 2e has a heavy enough focus on being efficient in their actions that most agreeable consequences and what they actually want to do are mutually exclusive.

Ruzza wrote:
But if someone plays the game making "sub-optimal plays" (again, disagreeing here, but using your words) and they're enjoying themselves, hey no problem. If they aren't enjoying themselves (if they want highly impactful turns), the tools are there to make those decisions. We all have the same Core Rulebook in front of us.

The problem is that the severity of making less impactful turns is much higher in 2e, such that even players who do know the system will feel pressured into making impactful turns despite those particular actions being counter to the character or story they want to help tell. The only people who feel this way are the ones who do understand the system.

Ruzza wrote:
I want to roleplay a reckless warrior who goes into battle fearlessly and survives is absolutely a thing you can do. But you should also be ready to get... Well, beat up. Part and parcel with that playstyle.

Yes, and the people who are complaining are the ones who are dead, or the ones who know they would be dead if they tried.

Ruzza wrote:
But, and this is hugely important, it's likely that what you are talking about isn't making poor choices in combat, but not being rewarded for them.

Only if you define "rewarded" as not being killed, which 2e is having a problem delivering. Its not exactly an uncommon trope you know?

Ruzza wrote:
Other systems can reward a playstyle like Ulrics, but it might not be PF2. I don't think that was at the core of this video however. The core was repetition and being locked into doing the same thing over and over, which is just demonstrably untrue.

Did we watch the same video? Cody spells out my point rather well with his magic missile example.

Here: https://youtu.be/-fyninGp92g?t=391


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Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
not being killed, which 2e is having a problem delivering

Note that the PF2 system itself has very little trouble delivering a playful "you can make suboptimal decisions for role-play reasons and reasonably expect to survive" experience, if that's what the group wants. It just requires the GM to recognise the issue and provide less difficult encounters than the CR system suggests.

It's the published adventures that don't provide this experience.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
not being killed, which 2e is having a problem delivering

Note that the PF2 system itself has very little trouble delivering a playful "you can make suboptimal decisions for role-play reasons and reasonably expect to survive" experience, if that's what the group wants. It just requires the GM to recognise the issue and provide less difficult encounters than the CR system suggests.

It's the published adventures that don't provide this experience.

The more work I have to put into making adjustments to material is less I have to run the game, and means those materials aren't worth as much to me. So I'd look for a game that does have the qualities I'm looking for.

It looks like that's the same value proposition that Cody had to face, and he found that 2e wasn't good enough to run, and I have the same opinion for a lot of the same reasons.


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Let me open by saying I'm trying to not be one of those people who does the "quote by quote" refutation of points being raised. It just lends to this really weird snippy air that I got involved in during the playtest and... I don't like it, personally.

Okay, with that out of the way. I'm not sure what experiences you've had with PF2, but a "low-impact turn" is damaging as you seem to be making it out to be. I'm not even sure what you seem to want from PF2. I can tell you that you have the freedom to play your character however you like and succeed, but that it comes with baggage (if you want to play recklessly, you will get hit; if you want to only cast fire spells, you're going to have trouble against those fire immune creatures). I'm not trying to convince you that there's a correct way to play, you seem to be trying to convince me that's the case. Again, stressing master Stealth elemental sorcerer with 16 Charisma, he definitely had no trouble with the game.

And when it comes to "rewarded," what I mean to say is: My sorcerer, for instance, loaded up on every single damaging Reflex save spell he could find. At every level. The other sorcerer player (yup, my super amazing hyper-optimized group had two; sarcasm) asked him why. He simply responded with, "That's all I want him to do." Which, hey, fine. I get that. But after he successfully landed a level 1 burning hands on a night hag, he realized his damage was... not great.

Now, this is where just about everyone can come in and explain how to heighten spells, use low-level spells for buffs and debuffs, really get into system mastery. But no need, he wasn't interested in doing the most damage. He was interested in being the sorcerer with the spells that hurt people.

Would this player work in every group? Probably not. But my group kept getting together and enjoying the game. We did get a TPK when they decided that the giant barbarian would handle one encounter while the other three (casters all), would handle another. Regardless, the sorcerer had his moments as well. He was completely content playing the game his way, just as the other sorcerer enjoyed Demoralizing, Tripping, throwing down difficult terrain and Jumping away, quickly using Lay on Hands from his dedication, and Dispelling Magic at the drop of a hat. They both got what they put into the system, which is exactly what they wanted.

Also, the magic missile example is patently false, as others have pointed out in this very thread. A 3 action magic missile as opposed to a 2 or a 1 action magic missile is about getting the most of the spell slot, but that doesn't mean that every situation calls for that. Casters running and trying to get in reliable damage may Stride and throw out a quick 1 or 2 action MM, or use a 1 action MM on top of an already potent 2 action spell, or a gish fighter with a spellcasting dedication could swing and throw out the spell. There's... actually a lot of uses for MM! It comes back to this idea that there's this illusion of choice, when instead, it's a lack of system mastery. Which is fine, it's okay to lack system mastery (especially if you predominately play other systems!). If someone feels like there can only ever be "optimal, best moves" or "optimal allocation of resources" and are not having fun, then the question becomes - in my mind - "What do you want from the game?" If you aren't enjoying the system that allows for any numerous ways of performing any goal and feel like there's only one "correct" way to play, how are the rest of us enjoying the game? I really hope you don't think we enjoy monotony.


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Ruzza wrote:

Orc Warrior versus a level 1 Champion.

To quickly make this easy:
Orc Stats
AC - 18
Fort - 18
Ref - 17
Will - 14

Champion Stats
Attack +7 (flail)
Athletics +7 (Trained)
Intimidation +4 (Trained, but only 12 Charisma)

In adjacent combat, the Champion has a few options. Like the classic Strike (50% to hit), Strike (25% to hit), Raise Shield combo. I've seen this a lot! I think many of us have. Is it the best way to engage an enemy? Maybe!

Maybe we're a little trickier. Let's open with a Trip (55% to get them prone), Strike (35% chance to hit prone, 25% to hit if not), Raise Shield. That's... Interesting. Is it better? Sure depends on what my party needs. Maybe that rogue can't get around for a flank and is glad to have some free sneak attack damage.

I had an actual instance in my PF2 Ironfang Invasion campaign where the ranger tripped a one-level-higher barbarian with Deny Advantage (not flat-footed from flanking and hiding) and enabled the two rogues in the party to deliver sneak attack damage.

The champion in the same campaign usually does Command Animal, Stride, and Raise Shield. Due to stealth being vital in the 1st module, Trail of the Hunted, she went for a Str 12 Dex 18 build. Her velociraptor animal companion provides the damage, and she protects the velocirapter. Or she sends the velociraptor away and protects the ranger who has more melee ability. The champion's specialization is defense, but all that requires is class abilities, a sturdy shield, and training in Crafting to repair the shield (she hopes to craft magic items one day, but so far she has merely moved runes from looted weapons to party members' favorite weapons). Is a low-investment specialty really a specialty?

Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:

The margins for failure are too small and the consequence for it is too severe for many players, and this is a fault in 2e design.

Players and GMs who don't know this will be TPK'd

Players and GMs who do know what is optimal, can be frustrated by the lack of space to not play optimally.

That is the paradox with my players. They are great at teamwork and tactics, which makes the margins for failure very wide. This gives them the freedom to design for more teamwork rather than for damage. Teamwork makes them generalists. As tactical generalists they can adapt to opponents' weaknesses, which lets them deal significant damage.

I currently have them fighting an army of 14 characters, 330 xp of opponents, but that scales to an 188-xp challenge due to the party having 7 members. And it is their 3rd battle of the day, too. I expect them to win.

Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Taken over the course of an adventure, these sub-optimal plays will add up. This isn't something endemic to 2e, any system has this, but in 2e's case, these smaller sub-optimal decisions matter more, and will kill characters quicker than expected. Those who are aware of that and want to keep their characters will feel pressured not to make these sub-optimal plays that they otherwise want to do.

By many people's standards, my players' decisions are sub-optimal. For example, the champion invested in Dexterity rather than Strength. And she took Unimpeded Step as a class feat, even though it helps her allies not her character. Divine Health is not a combat-based class feat, either, but one day it might keep her on her feet when needed. She passed up Attack of Opportunity. to take [url="https://2e.aonprd.com/Feats.aspx?ID=228"]Loyal Warhorse[/url} (her velociraptor is mature) instead. The choices are for teamwork, not for personal optimization. And these choices help the party win.

Cody in Taking20 claimed that the need of optimization makes choice an illusion, but I hold that the need for optimization is the true illusion. The GM decides what level of challenge is out there, overriding the module. (Remember that 330-xp army? It was originally 130 xp of creatures. I like my armies to be big.) We GMs can give the players the freedom to play for fun.

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