Mandatory Items


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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So, the designers worked hard at removing the big six because they didn't want mandatory magic item "taxes". Then why are striking runes and the assumption that weapon users have them, baked into the math of the game?

Thematically and flavor-wise my group hates them. Both the rogue and the fighter have yet to get one.

What are your thoughts on the necessity of these runes for anyone that plans on regularly using a weapon in combat?


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They also added Automatic Bonus Progression. If your group doesn't like it, use that instead. Personally, I prefer ABP.

Otherwise, they're not Uncommon items. Provided they have the gold just let them buy them.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
The Tage wrote:
Then why are striking runes and the assumption that weapon users have them, baked into the math of the game?

Because the playtesters wanted them. Lots of people like having the good ole "+1 longsword" of their youth.

Although they didn't get rid of mandatory magic items, they did get rid of A LOT of them. Now it's essentially only weapon (if you're a martial) and armor. Assuming you're going to be acquiring magic weapons and armor isn't a stretch for this type of game, so it's better that it's built into the math.

Not requiring a specific cloak, ring, necklace, belt, and headband is where even grognards can agree the system is much more freeing and rightly so.

If you have a problem even with mandatory magic weapons and armor, use Automatic Bonus Progression official variant instead. The rest of us will continue to enjoy our magic item based mathematical enhancements of various degrees.


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What's your level? If you're level 4 or lower, it's perfectly normal to not have Striking runes yet.

If you're level 5+ and don't have enough Striking runes for your martial characters, talk to your GM.

Liberty's Edge

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Advantage of ABP : far better for switch-hitters.

Advantage of items : the GM can drop them before the expected level, which provides an incredible feeling of power boost.


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The switch hitters bit is my favourite part personally. Makes Weapon Improvisor a bit redundant but that's okay.

Additional advantage of ABP: Perception bonus.


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The Tage wrote:
So, the designers worked hard at removing the big six because they didn't want mandatory magic item "taxes". Then why are striking runes and the assumption that weapon users have them, baked into the math of the game?

Because the "big six" were just that, SIX WHOLE ITEMS, not only that, those were items that filled in a fixed slot that other items could use, but no one ever got those items because the "big six" took precedent. A rune on a weapon? Simple, straightforward, doesn't step on any toes design space or utility wise, it's just a box to tick that doesn't compete.

Quote:
Thematically and flavor-wise my group hates them.
I'm sorry to hear that, but why exactly? There's the "quality craft" alternate rule that makes it so that GLORIOUS NIP- TIAN XIA STEEL IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD! NO SWORD CRAFTED FROM IT CAN FAIL!
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Both the rogue and the fighter have yet to get one.

What level is the party? Because if you're passed level 1 or 2 and you don't have fundie runes, that's the GM screwing up and that needs to be fixed ASAP

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What are your thoughts on the necessity of these runes for anyone that plans on regularly using a weapon in combat?

I think it's fine, it's a design space for incremental power that feels sensible and rewarding upon usage, nothing more nothing less


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
The Tage wrote:

So, the designers worked hard at removing the big six because they didn't want mandatory magic item "taxes". Then why are striking runes and the assumption that weapon users have them, baked into the math of the game?

Thematically and flavor-wise my group hates them. Both the rogue and the fighter have yet to get one.

What are your thoughts on the necessity of these runes for anyone that plans on regularly using a weapon in combat?

Outside of what was covered already, I will add that they didn't try to remove mandatory items, they just made it more obvious how to do it. PF1 had a minigame onto itself for figuring out the cheapest item you could buy to get a +1 that stacks with all your other bonus types. And it was a pain for the GM to try and track to try and keep things balanced, and ultimately kind of pointless because the balance was already borked.

Item levels are a gods-send for figuring out when you should drop a certain item for the party, and it only super matters you do with for weapons and armor. Skill items help but aren't as important. The fact that bonuses to skills scale at the same rate as armor, accuracy, and saves helps across the board.

And it has also made it a lot easier to implement an Automatic Bonus Progression than PF1.

Sovereign Court

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The Tage wrote:

So, the designers worked hard at removing the big six because they didn't want mandatory magic item "taxes". Then why are striking runes and the assumption that weapon users have them, baked into the math of the game?

Thematically and flavor-wise my group hates them. Both the rogue and the fighter have yet to get one.

What are your thoughts on the necessity of these runes for anyone that plans on regularly using a weapon in combat?

It's your game, if your group doesn't like them don't use them. The Automatic Bonus Progression rules do a good job of covering the mathematical/balance side of removing them. In my PF1 home campaign I use an ABP variant and it can work really well.

So why are items the default? Simple: because "awesome loot" is a major trope in the fantasy genre.

Less simple, but more informative, take a look at Table 10-9, which tells the GM what the party ought to typically find over the course of a level. Look at the Permanent Items column. You can see that at each level the party can expect 2 on-level and 2 above-level items. This means that for example a level 3 character might find a sword with a Striking rune on it. At level 3, that's a big bump in firepower. So it's a power trip for finding that item. And at level 3, you can't buy or craft it yet, so loot is always just a bit ahead of other ways of getting cool stuff. Why do people go on adventures? To get rich quick and find what is essentially above-level loot.


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"Why do people go on adventures? To get rich quick and find what is essentially above-level loot."

Just as an aside, I go on adventures to battle Evil and Injustice.

Loot? eh, that's how I pay the rent.

Envoy's Alliance

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If by "rent" you mean "bar tab", then same.


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Memorio wrote:
If by "rent" you mean "bar tab", then same.

Ayup. All you gotta do is find the bars where they don't mind if you spend the night passed out on the floor and the one takes care of the other.

Sovereign Court

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Sir Belmont the Valiant wrote:

"Why do people go on adventures? To get rich quick and find what is essentially above-level loot."

Just as an aside, I go on adventures to battle Evil and Injustice.

Loot? eh, that's how I pay the rent.

Well yeah there's that too. But I like that in PF2 they managed to set up the loot system so that adventuring really is better than buying/crafting.


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In short: Traditionalists wanted to keep the illusion of choice.

Thankfully, even under the normal mandatory item system, there's still a lot of money for you to buy actual magical items. In the end, meaningless tradition won, but there was compensation.

Sovereign Court

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Eh. "Traditionalists".

Actually, you got something better than keeping a normal mandatory system. You got two separate rail tracks.

One track is fundamental runes. Yeah, those are kinda necessary, you're going to miss out a lot if you don't take them. Also, that's what Automatic Bonus Progression takes over if you use that.

The other one is property runes, which are more interesting. Or special specific weapons, which do something special but can't take property runes - but can take fundamental ones.

This is different from the 1E situation where any "interesting" thing you took would come at the cost of not taking a "power" thing. Now, they're separate tracks and one doesn't get in the way of the other.


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Players like having magic weapons. I am fine with it. They like having magic armor as well. I'm glad they didn't eliminate the need for at least some magic items, though I am glad the Big Six are gone.


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WatersLethe wrote:
Lightning Raven wrote:

In short: Traditionalists wanted to keep the illusion of choice.

Thankfully, even under the normal mandatory item system, there's still a lot of money for you to buy actual magical items. In the end, meaningless tradition won, but there was compensation.

Oh man, this much salt is making me thirsty.

Doesn't make my words any less true, though.

I'm just not as salty because APB came real fast and I'm already using it.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I personally hate having so much of a characters power coming from their weapon (especially monk, it's so silly to me). Too many times in my games pcs have been without weapons, both in APs and homebrew, and then they feel useless and the whole story gets derailed as everyone has to go to town and repair/rebuy weapons.

There are some classes/builds that rely on weapons a lot less, thankfully, so even if you're like me there are some options. All the full casters don't really need any, and there's a decent amount of things like battle form spells or alchemist bombs, etc, that don't rely as much on runes. Precision damage classes like rogue, investigator and swashbuckler also have much smaller damage dice, so they're good too.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think having meaningful magic loot is both fun and good for the general narrative of dungeon crawling adventure, though I do think they went a little overboard with how impactful they made certain mandatory magic items in PF2 (namely weapons, weapons in PF2 are rough), or how they nudged martials away from stuff like wands and scrolls.


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Gaulin wrote:
I personally hate having so much of a characters power coming from their weapon (especially monk, it's so silly to me). Too many times in my games pcs have been without weapons, both in APs and homebrew, and then they feel useless and the whole story gets derailed as everyone has to go to town and repair/rebuy weapons.

This is pretty much has been one of the most frequent arguments surrounding weapons and the sole reason why disarm is the only combat maneuver that only does its effect on a critical success. It was far worse early on during the playtest,when weapons ranged from +1 to +5, with characters dealing 6DX at the highest levels. This is very much a route of storytelling not supported by PF2e, I'm afraid. Only at levels 1-3 at best. Anything after that and you will have to put lower leveled encounters

Quote:
There are some classes/builds that rely on weapons a lot less, thankfully, so even if you're like me there are some options. All the full casters don't really need any, and there's a decent amount of things like battle form spells or alchemist bombs, etc, that don't rely as much on runes. Precision damage classes like rogue, investigator and swashbuckler also have much smaller damage dice, so they're good too.

Your best bet is using Automatic Bonus Progression. It fixes all your problems and singlehandedly allows the thrown weapon playstyle that doesn't restrict the builds to one single weapon with Returning runes.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lightning Raven wrote:
Gaulin wrote:
I personally hate having so much of a characters power coming from their weapon (especially monk, it's so silly to me). Too many times in my games pcs have been without weapons, both in APs and homebrew, and then they feel useless and the whole story gets derailed as everyone has to go to town and repair/rebuy weapons.

This is pretty much has been one of the most frequent arguments surrounding weapons and the sole reason why disarm is the only combat maneuver that only does its effect on a critical success. It was far worse early on during the playtest,when weapons ranged from +1 to +5, with characters dealing 6DX at the highest levels. This is very much a route of storytelling not supported by PF2e, I'm afraid. Only at levels 1-3 at best. Anything after that and you will have to put lower leveled encounters

Quote:
There are some classes/builds that rely on weapons a lot less, thankfully, so even if you're like me there are some options. All the full casters don't really need any, and there's a decent amount of things like battle form spells or alchemist bombs, etc, that don't rely as much on runes. Precision damage classes like rogue, investigator and swashbuckler also have much smaller damage dice, so they're good too.
Your best bet is using Automatic Bonus Progression. It fixes all your problems and singlehandedly allows the thrown weapon playstyle that doesn't restrict the builds to one single weapon with Returning runes.

Yes I know about abp. Not to yuck anyone's yum, but I personally have a hard time playing with alternate or homebrew rules. Just makes me feel wrong, almost like I'm cheating. More power to those who like that sort of thing though.


Yep the current point on Magic weapon is trying to balance having only a few attacks, and dealing enough damage to be both relevant and impactful.

The playtest had the +1 bonus to attack and damage, but automatic dice increases. This made weapons very meaningless. The final version did the opposite, which makes weapons mandatory. But the entire reason for it is how damage, HP, and crits scale. If you lower damage then you also have to lower HP, but then it doesn't feel as impactful; Unless you add more static damage, which PF2 seems to shy away from.

They also were trying to make weapon damage clearly better than the new scaling cantrips. Which is another consideration.


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Temperans wrote:

Yep the current point on Magic weapon is trying to balance having only a few attacks, and dealing enough damage to be both relevant and impactful.

The playtest had the +1 bonus to attack and damage, but automatic dice increases. This made weapons very meaningless. The final version did the opposite, which makes weapons mandatory. But the entire reason for it is how damage, HP, and crits scale. If you lower damage then you also have to lower HP, but then it doesn't feel as impactful; Unless you add more static damage, which PF2 seems to shy away from.

They also were trying to make weapon damage clearly better than the new scaling cantrips. Which is another consideration.

The original weapon potency increased the +X to attack rolls and extra dice to damage rolls. It wasn't +X to hit and damage like PF1e.


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Gaulin wrote:
Lightning Raven wrote:
Gaulin wrote:
I personally hate having so much of a characters power coming from their weapon (especially monk, it's so silly to me). Too many times in my games pcs have been without weapons, both in APs and homebrew, and then they feel useless and the whole story gets derailed as everyone has to go to town and repair/rebuy weapons.

This is pretty much has been one of the most frequent arguments surrounding weapons and the sole reason why disarm is the only combat maneuver that only does its effect on a critical success. It was far worse early on during the playtest,when weapons ranged from +1 to +5, with characters dealing 6DX at the highest levels. This is very much a route of storytelling not supported by PF2e, I'm afraid. Only at levels 1-3 at best. Anything after that and you will have to put lower leveled encounters

Quote:
There are some classes/builds that rely on weapons a lot less, thankfully, so even if you're like me there are some options. All the full casters don't really need any, and there's a decent amount of things like battle form spells or alchemist bombs, etc, that don't rely as much on runes. Precision damage classes like rogue, investigator and swashbuckler also have much smaller damage dice, so they're good too.
Your best bet is using Automatic Bonus Progression. It fixes all your problems and singlehandedly allows the thrown weapon playstyle that doesn't restrict the builds to one single weapon with Returning runes.
Yes I know about abp. Not to yuck anyone's yum, but I personally have a hard time playing with alternate or homebrew rules. Just makes me feel wrong, almost like I'm cheating. More power to those who like that sort of thing though.

That's really not a good reason to remain playing with a part of the system that you dislike, specially when there's official ruling (and preferred by some of the devs themselves no less) solving all your problems. The intrusion is very, very, very minimal in the game system. Just tell your players that at certain levels they get an extra +1 to hit and another damaging dice in any weapon they wield. It's that easy.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lightning Raven wrote:
Gaulin wrote:
Lightning Raven wrote:
Gaulin wrote:
I personally hate having so much of a characters power coming from their weapon (especially monk, it's so silly to me). Too many times in my games pcs have been without weapons, both in APs and homebrew, and then they feel useless and the whole story gets derailed as everyone has to go to town and repair/rebuy weapons.

This is pretty much has been one of the most frequent arguments surrounding weapons and the sole reason why disarm is the only combat maneuver that only does its effect on a critical success. It was far worse early on during the playtest,when weapons ranged from +1 to +5, with characters dealing 6DX at the highest levels. This is very much a route of storytelling not supported by PF2e, I'm afraid. Only at levels 1-3 at best. Anything after that and you will have to put lower leveled encounters

Quote:
There are some classes/builds that rely on weapons a lot less, thankfully, so even if you're like me there are some options. All the full casters don't really need any, and there's a decent amount of things like battle form spells or alchemist bombs, etc, that don't rely as much on runes. Precision damage classes like rogue, investigator and swashbuckler also have much smaller damage dice, so they're good too.
Your best bet is using Automatic Bonus Progression. It fixes all your problems and singlehandedly allows the thrown weapon playstyle that doesn't restrict the builds to one single weapon with Returning runes.
Yes I know about abp. Not to yuck anyone's yum, but I personally have a hard time playing with alternate or homebrew rules. Just makes me feel wrong, almost like I'm cheating. More power to those who like that sort of thing though.
That's really not a good reason to remain playing with a part of the system that you dislike, specially when there's official ruling (and preferred by some of the devs themselves no less) solving all your problems. The intrusion is very, very,...

Agree to disagree, I guess. I just like to play the game as devs intended - if they want a creature to destroy my equipment, that's something I'll have to deal with. It wouldn't feel right to me to just ignore things I don't like if I like the overall game. Even if I dislike that part of it. And again, if others want to do apb, then by all means. I'm not about to tell people how to play their game.


Speaking of ABP (which I too think is a great band-aid for this dependency problem), does that first +1 potency bonus also make your strikes magical (RAW and/or oft-ruled; BTW this may call the need to compensate Monks' mystic strikes feature rendered redundant with something else)?


Lightning Raven wrote:
Temperans wrote:

Yep the current point on Magic weapon is trying to balance having only a few attacks, and dealing enough damage to be both relevant and impactful.

The playtest had the +1 bonus to attack and damage, but automatic dice increases. This made weapons very meaningless. The final version did the opposite, which makes weapons mandatory. But the entire reason for it is how damage, HP, and crits scale. If you lower damage then you also have to lower HP, but then it doesn't feel as impactful; Unless you add more static damage, which PF2 seems to shy away from.

They also were trying to make weapon damage clearly better than the new scaling cantrips. Which is another consideration.

I remember original playtest was +1 to attack and damage up to +5. It did not give bonus damage. Then it was changed about half way through.

The original weapon potency increased the +X to attack rolls and extra dice to damage rolls. It wasn't +X to hit and damage like PF1e.


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I don't have the GMG so I was unaware of the ABP. Yeah, that will fix my problem. We are currently level 8 and the fighter had a +1 flaming katana that the party pooled their resources to get. The rogue is currently just using twin +1 daggers.

The players were excited when they found a +1 striking greatsword (no one uses 2 handed though). When they transferred the rune to one of the rogue's daggers the rogue was a little upset that now the magic rune of destructive magic only added a d4 instead of a d12. He traded that dagger to the master smith that was upgrading the katana to help pay for it.

This is why I said they don't like them flavor-wise.


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Gaulin wrote:
Agree to disagree, I guess. I just like to play the game as devs intended - if they want a creature to destroy my equipment, that's something I'll have to deal with. It wouldn't feel right to me to just ignore things I don't like if I like the overall game. Even if I dislike that part of it. And again, if others want to do apb, then by all means. I'm not about to tell people how to play their game.

Mark Seifter, the lead designer of PF2e, prefers APB and if it were for him it would've been the standard, but the surveys during the playtest resulted in players wanting mandatory illusory items.

So, in a way, the APB is the intended rule set, even though most players wanted +X magical weapons and armor to be kept. That's why the Automatic Bonus Progression rules came as fast as possible.

I'm not telling you how to play your game, I'm just pointing out that you have no reason whatsoever to not adapt the game to your table, specially when the rules are official, because you did voice that you didn't like the mandatory item system in place.

You can look it up in this very forum you want, it won't be trivial, but you'll find the discussions.


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Lightning Raven wrote:
Gaulin wrote:
Agree to disagree, I guess. I just like to play the game as devs intended - if they want a creature to destroy my equipment, that's something I'll have to deal with. It wouldn't feel right to me to just ignore things I don't like if I like the overall game. Even if I dislike that part of it. And again, if others want to do apb, then by all means. I'm not about to tell people how to play their game.

Mark Seifter, the lead designer of PF2e, prefers APB and if it were for him it would've been the standard, but the surveys during the playtest resulted in players wanting mandatory illusory items.

So, in a way, the APB is the intended rule set, even though most players wanted +X magical weapons and armor to be kept. That's why the Automatic Bonus Progression rules came as fast as possible.

I'm not telling you how to play your game, I'm just pointing out that you have no reason whatsoever to not adapt the game to your table, specially when the rules are official, because you did voice that you didn't like the mandatory item system in place.

You can look it up in this very forum you want, it won't be trivial, but you'll find the discussions.

As someone who usually feels very similarly to how Gaulin described feeling about alternative rule sets, this is the excuse that I needed to give ABP a try in the next campaign I run.


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I get not liking items, but it's hyperbole to call them an "illusion of choice." That implies that the game is suggesting there are other options to choose from; there aren't. The game makes no bones about the fact that players should be receiving X fundamental enhancement runes at X levels. I mean there are three or four different tables that all say that exact thing in the core book alone. I guess it's still a choice in that you can decide not to follow that progression, but "illusory" implies a level of deception on the part of the game rules that isn't there.


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The Tage wrote:
I don't have the GMG so I was unaware of the ABP. Yeah, that will fix my problem. We are currently level 8 and the fighter had a +1 flaming katana that the party pooled their resources to get. The rogue is currently just using twin +1 daggers.

Level 8 and no striking rune? You should have those since level 4.

I'm not even sure how you come close to dealing enough damage to kill stuff at that level without striking runes. Does your GM ever use enemies at or above your level?

It's one thing if you don't like the flavor. But from a mechanics standpoint, your GM screwed up. Big time.


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The Tage wrote:

I don't have the GMG so I was unaware of the ABP. Yeah, that will fix my problem. We are currently level 8 and the fighter had a +1 flaming katana that the party pooled their resources to get. The rogue is currently just using twin +1 daggers.

The players were excited when they found a +1 striking greatsword (no one uses 2 handed though). When they transferred the rune to one of the rogue's daggers the rogue was a little upset that now the magic rune of destructive magic only added a d4 instead of a d12. He traded that dagger to the master smith that was upgrading the katana to help pay for it.

This is why I said they don't like them flavor-wise.

there is also the doubling ring for dual wielding that mirrors the fundamental runes from one weapon to the other one you're wielding at the same time. So you don't need to buy two +1 striking daggers just one and a ring for 50 gold

Sovereign Court

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Gaulin wrote:
Yes I know about abp. Not to yuck anyone's yum, but I personally have a hard time playing with alternate or homebrew rules. Just makes me feel wrong, almost like I'm cheating. More power to those who like that sort of thing though.

You don't like the rules as they are and you don't want to change. Makes you kinda hard to please...


For other people who do run ABP, what kind of gold gets given out? It's technically close to your entire gold by level, but doesn't benefit spellcasters as much, so I patch it in various ways. Do other people do the same?

Sovereign Court

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I think you could just reduce the Permanent Items column to about 25% and leave the rest as-is.


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vagrant-poet wrote:
For other people who do run ABP, what kind of gold gets given out? It's technically close to your entire gold by level, but doesn't benefit spellcasters as much, so I patch it in various ways. Do other people do the same?

I'm currently trying a "ABP-light" version, where the skill bonuses and the corresponding items remain in their original form.

We are playing Agents of Edgewatch and for now I just give out the gold and loot in full, as described in the adventure. So far it has worked out great and instead of directly investing the "free" gold into more powerful permanent items or consumables, the party has more and more started to invest more in RP stuff. They gave some money to help people and paid for their former party member's funeral. Also, the barbarian has bought a penguin and the fighter has procured a dragon. Good stuff.

---

On ABP in general, I think it is more of a question of preferences than "traditionalists vs progressives" in my eyes. Different people like different sources for their power. I'm firmly in the camp of "pure numerical bonuses on items are boring and I'd rather have them inherent in my character". Other people like their items to give their character a substantial power boost and thus the vanilla rules exist. Not a big deal since we have options for both.

Shadow Lodge

Blave wrote:
The Tage wrote:
I don't have the GMG so I was unaware of the ABP. Yeah, that will fix my problem. We are currently level 8 and the fighter had a +1 flaming katana that the party pooled their resources to get. The rogue is currently just using twin +1 daggers.

Level 8 and no striking rune? You should have those since level 4.

I'm not even sure how you come close to dealing enough damage to kill stuff at that level without striking runes. Does your GM ever use enemies at or above your level?

It's one thing if you don't like the flavor. But from a mechanics standpoint, your GM screwed up. Big time.

Since striking runes add a weapon die, the lack of a rune impacts some builds a lot more than others:
  • Archery and non-thief Finesse builds really want runes, as weapon dice tend to make up the largest portion of their damage.
  • Two-Handed Weapon build also love runes since they tend to get such large weapon dice.
  • Other melee builds value runes in proportion to their weapon die sizes (the bigger the die, the more valued the rune).
On my shortsword wielding thief, weapon dice only accounted for about a third of my damage (Sneak Attack was a third, and static bonuses (dex + specialization) for the final third) so I'd probably still do 80%+ damage without the striking rune at level 8: Reduce the damage dice to d4s, and your probably pushing 90%, which might not be particularly noticeable (In fact, you're probably doing great compared to any other martials in the campaign).

EDIT: Just did some math, and at level 20 my thief would probably still do 80%+ of his full damage without a striking rune of any sort:

  • 4d6 Weapon + 4d6 SA + 7 Dex + 6 Spec + 1d6 Holy + 1d6 Frost + 2d6 Precise Debilitation = 55 Avg Damage, of which only 10.5 comes from the striking rune.
  • Take out the Holy and Frost runes as well, and I'm still doing nearly 70% of my full damage potential.
  • Not going to even try to calculate the impact of the Potency rune...

Grand Lodge

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Karmagator wrote:
vagrant-poet wrote:
For other people who do run ABP, what kind of gold gets given out? It's technically close to your entire gold by level, but doesn't benefit spellcasters as much, so I patch it in various ways. Do other people do the same?

I'm currently trying a "ABP-light" version, where the skill bonuses and the corresponding items remain in their original form.

We are playing Agents of Edgewatch and for now I just give out the gold and loot in full, as described in the adventure. So far it has worked out great and instead of directly investing the "free" gold into more powerful permanent items or consumables, the party has more and more started to invest more in RP stuff. They gave some money to help people and paid for their former party member's funeral. Also, the barbarian has bought a penguin and the fighter has procured a dragon. Good stuff.

---

On ABP in general, I think it is more of a question of preferences than "traditionalists vs progressives" in my eyes. Different people like different sources for their power. I'm firmly in the camp of "pure numerical bonuses on items are boring and I'd rather have them inherent in my character". Other people like their items to give their character a substantial power boost and thus the vanilla rules exist. Not a big deal since we have options for both.

A PENGUIN? I hope that wasn't before 13th level or so. Otherwise that's just WAAAYYY OP!


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

To be fair, it isn't necessarily as simple as using a class from the Advanced Players Guide, especially if you're using character gen software. That can add a layer of complexity which may be undesirable to some. But that doesn't sound like Gaulin's issue.


Taja the Barbarian wrote:
Blave wrote:
The Tage wrote:
I don't have the GMG so I was unaware of the ABP. Yeah, that will fix my problem. We are currently level 8 and the fighter had a +1 flaming katana that the party pooled their resources to get. The rogue is currently just using twin +1 daggers.

Level 8 and no striking rune? You should have those since level 4.

I'm not even sure how you come close to dealing enough damage to kill stuff at that level without striking runes. Does your GM ever use enemies at or above your level?

It's one thing if you don't like the flavor. But from a mechanics standpoint, your GM screwed up. Big time.

Since striking runes add a weapon die, the lack of a rune impacts some builds a lot more than others:
  • Archery and non-thief Finesse builds really want runes, as weapon dice tend to make up the largest portion of their damage.
  • Two-Handed Weapon build also love runes since they tend to get such large weapon dice.
  • Other melee builds value runes in proportion to their weapon die sizes (the bigger the die, the more valued the rune).
On my shortsword wielding thief, weapon dice only accounted for about a third of my damage (Sneak Attack was a third, and static bonuses (dex + specialization) for the final third) so I'd probably still do 80%+ damage without the striking rune at level 8: Reduce the damage dice to d4s, and your probably pushing 90%, which might not be particularly noticeable (In fact, you're probably doing great compared to any other martials in the campaign).

EDIT: Just did some math, and at level 20 my thief would probably still do 80%+ of his full damage without a striking rune of any sort:

  • 4d6 Weapon + 4d6 SA + 7 Dex + 6 Spec + 1d6 Holy + 1d6 Frost + 2d6 Precise Debilitation = 55 Avg Damage, of which only 10.5 comes from the striking rune.
  • Take out the Holy and Frost runes as well, and I'm still doing nearly 70% of my full damage potential.
  • Not going to even try to calculate the impact of the Potency rune...

Higher, because you can't add property runes if there is no potency rune.


Taja the Barbarian wrote:
Blave wrote:
The Tage wrote:
I don't have the GMG so I was unaware of the ABP. Yeah, that will fix my problem. We are currently level 8 and the fighter had a +1 flaming katana that the party pooled their resources to get. The rogue is currently just using twin +1 daggers.

Level 8 and no striking rune? You should have those since level 4.

I'm not even sure how you come close to dealing enough damage to kill stuff at that level without striking runes. Does your GM ever use enemies at or above your level?

It's one thing if you don't like the flavor. But from a mechanics standpoint, your GM screwed up. Big time.

Since striking runes add a weapon die, the lack of a rune impacts some builds a lot more than others:
  • Archery and non-thief Finesse builds really want runes, as weapon dice tend to make up the largest portion of their damage.
  • Two-Handed Weapon build also love runes since they tend to get such large weapon dice.
  • Other melee builds value runes in proportion to their weapon die sizes (the bigger the die, the more valued the rune).
On my shortsword wielding thief, weapon dice only accounted for about a third of my damage (Sneak Attack was a third, and static bonuses (dex + specialization) for the final third) so I'd probably still do 80%+ damage without the striking rune at level 8: Reduce the damage dice to d4s, and your probably pushing 90%, which might not be particularly noticeable (In fact, you're probably doing great compared to any other martials in the campaign).

EDIT: Just did some math, and at level 20 my thief would probably still do 80%+ of his full damage without a striking rune of any sort:

  • 4d6 Weapon + 4d6 SA + 7 Dex + 6 Spec + 1d6 Holy + 1d6 Frost + 2d6 Precise Debilitation = 55 Avg Damage, of which only 10.5 comes from the striking rune.
  • Take out the Holy and Frost runes as well, and I'm still doing nearly 70% of my full damage potential.
  • Not going to even try to calculate the impact of the Potency rune...

All that doesn't really matter. Any reduction in performance that results from something like the GM not giving out the necessary items the party is expexted to have, should be adressed*.

Not having a striking rune might not affect your specific character by a huge amount, but it still affects them. Other classes/characters are hurt even more by such a reduction in expected damage.

The game is balanced around those runes. If the players don't have them, how do you balance the game? Take away auto scaling from cantrips and focus spells so they don't overshadow martials at higher levels?

*There could of course be story reasons or similar conscious choices made by the GM that result in the lack of such runes. But those things change the the dynamic of the game pretty drastically and should still be addressed in some manner, preferably at session 0.

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In terms of ABP versus no ABP, I think it's too narrow of a view to categorize those in the latter category as strictly traditionalist (and, indeed, given the tone, it can come off as dismissive or insulting).

Yes, at certain levels PCs should have certain items. However, my view is that the benefit of item-based bonuses comes when they are not lockstep with the ABP table.

If I were to give out treasure strictly according to the ABP progression, there would be no point in using items. But I feel there is value in the thrill a player gets when their PC gets an item a level or two early, and some drama if the fighter's main weapon is unusable for some reason and they have to change tactics.

Using items, in my view, is not, "You get a striking rune by level four" and is more about opening up certain specific story choices.

I very much subscribed to ABP in first edition, but have generally skewed more toward item use in second edition. The "necessary" items have been streamlined to things that hit classic fantasy tropes well. And there are storytelling possibilities in giving them out or restricting them at a rate that is sometimes out of sync with what is expected.

I'm about to start an Agents of Edgewatch campaign, and ABP is an option I am considering. But the question runs deeper than, "Do I want to do things the 'traditional' way or not?"


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Charlie Brooks wrote:

Yes, at certain levels PCs should have certain items. However, my view is that the benefit of item-based bonuses comes when they are not lockstep with the ABP table.

If I were to give out treasure strictly according to the ABP progression, there would be no point in using items. But I feel there is value in the thrill a player gets when their PC gets an item a level or two early, and some drama if the fighter's main weapon is unusable for some reason and they have to change tactics.

Would you not just get the same feeling by giving out a property rune like flaming before a player could normally get it? Or you know, any useful magic item that's at a higher level than the party? My issue with mandatory items is how it ruins the theme of "special magic weapon" when every PC and NPC above a certain level requires it to stay relevant. It feels kinda like an Elder Scrolls game where the excitement of crafting a new tier of weapon is watered down the moment you see that every guard and bandit now has one too.

Not to mention you say it makes drama when the fighter's main weapon is unusable - but every time I saw that in play (PF1), the drama tended to be the fighter sulking because their backup weapons weren't worth even attempting to use and they basically had to sit out the fight. One of the best parts of ABP in my opinion is how it allows someone like a fighter to actually carry backup weapon(s) without it being impractical to do so.


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It's really a feel thing. Some stories benefit from the protagonists having a magic sword. Other stories benefit from the protagonist being a total BA who can win fights with random objects.

If there weren't magic swords it would be harder to tell stories about people who find awesome magic swords. IF you don't want to do that you can just use ABP.


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You can have both. Most magic weapons have some other effect and potency runes.


Personally my logic with items giving power is more a matter of realism.

Weapons are force multipliers. So it makes no sense for you to deal more damage without a weapon. Armor greatly increase protection. So it makes no sense for your body to be stronger than actual armor, although sure you can maybe dodge better. Etc.

Now sure monks and similar class might be an exception depending on stuff. But that is a matter of fitting the narrative behind the class, just like mages.

Now how much should the items give? Well, everyone has a different opinion.

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Yeah, I agree with Charlie. If you compare the loot table with the ABP table, the loot table will give you a handful of items early. By design: loot is exciting because it can put you a step ahead of the normal balance of the game. It's intentionally a but unbalancing and uncertain, but not too much.

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