Battle on the Big Bridge


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


How I tend to run battles in D&D is that I abstract it and abstract enemies who were engaged with others abstract allies tend to peel off towards the players as the pcs make head way towards a goal.

So a battle for the players tend to be numerous small skirmishes that bleed into each other. This is perfectly workable in 5e as long as the players have some healing they can keeping going really well.

In 4e I would have the players run a gauntlet of minions (1hp foes) with an elite or solo at the end and that would also feel suitably dramatic.

I have no idea how to achieve the same effect in pathfinder 2e.

Has anyone tried it and got it to work, also how to people handle waves of enemies (besides spreading them ten minutes apart)?


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Could you recreate minions in this system the same way 4E did it? Or the party runs a gauntlet through L-4 (or -5) enemies that many don’t pose too much a threat but they can still drain resources and possibly land a few hits to soften up the PCs before the boss at the end of the bridge?


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I recently ran a fight with waves of enemies, the party handled it pretty well and none of the enemies were equal to or higher than the party's level. They were three low-threat encounters, the first was a group of six 10xp oozes, followed by a 30xp guard and two 15xp guard dogs, followed by two 30xp swarms that roamed the dungeon halls. Each wave was 2 rounds apart (the second wave came in at round 3, the third at round 5). On paper it's a 180xp fight, but in practice it felt a lot closer to a lengthy moderate-threat fight. By the time the guard and guard dogs came in the party had some key buffs up already and when the swarms were jumping in it became easy to maneuver to facilitate AoE damage against the group. I think adding one last wave of a single 60xp creature to the fight would've made it feel closer to a severe fight with an epic conclusion

If the fights were spaced 10 minutes apart, to have roughly the same fighting power the party did for this fight the bard would have had to spend 2 extra rounds and 2 extra spell slots casting Haste, the barbarian would have had to spend 4 extra actions to Rage and enter Giant's Stature, and the sorcerer would have had to spend several more spell slots because they wouldn't catch as many creatures in their AoE spells. I also think this is a very different story if more creatures are on-level or better, as you go from creatures the party is easily capable of handling to creatures the party needs to focus fire on to take out.

In addition, if you are going for a big battle against a large number of foes style, troops are great. Your party might not be high enough level for them to be easy to throw in, but if they are it definitely adds to the feel of fighting a large group of creatures at once.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I do this often in PF2 (run my party through a gauntlet of encounters).

The tricks I have picked up so far are:
use lots of enemies in the level -3 range with a couple of level -1s and maybe one equal level PC.

Space the encounters out by a couple of rounds. Even having the reinforcements take some time to arm themselves, and slowly investigate the disturbance, before beginning to stream in can make the narrative feel a lot more cohesive, but also give the players time to regroup.
Don't decieve your players. Let alarm bells ring and have the party hear the approach of more forces. Don't give them random 1 minute breaks that feel like they could try to settle in and start resting for 10 minutes and then spring an enemy on them without giving them the opportunity to know it is coming, not as part of the progressive gauntlet encounter.

Try to set expectations for how you are going to run such encounters early (by piling 2 very low stakes encounters together occasionally when the party is low level so they get a feel for how you spring such things and then they will not be surprised that you occasionally throw situations at them that require consumables/magical back up.

Decide in your campaign prep if you want to encourage a heroic or cautious pace, perhaps even talking to your party about their expectations as well. If you want heroic, be liberal with the Hero points and healing potion drops. Like include a couple as loot in almost every wave. If you want cautious/strategic, let your players put together good strategies and encourage them to have back out plans for if things go awry.

Make the battlefield dynamic and big. Let the battle progress from location to location with different enemies trying to either charge, or draw attackers to them to spread out the party (in the minds of the NPCs) but also to break up the monotony of fighting 15 enemies in the same door way.

Don't make enemies fight to the death needlessly. having enemies try to escape and draw the PCs into a new encounter can be a fun way to change the battlefield, and it also allows the PCs to make a choice. Pursue or Retreat? Based upon their needs.

PF2 has worked really well for this because PCs really can handle lots of enemies at a time as long as the players are a couple levels higher, but it doesn't take much for swarms of lower level enemies to pose a big threat. The biggest suggestion I have is to not try to script the combat too many rounds out, as that will just feel forced. Collapse an encounter here or there to see how they handle it, and be prepared to create an excuse for why an enemy that could have charged didn't. Players love seeing evil bands of thieves, raiders and other enemies have internal strife when things go bad. Having someone stay behind and try to loot a room and escape, or kill off a rival can really create a dynamic environment, but it is best done reflexively to party choices as that makes the players feel like they are the heroes of the story.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Paradozen wrote:

I recently ran a fight with waves of enemies, the party handled it pretty well and none of the enemies were equal to or higher than the party's level. They were three low-threat encounters, the first was a group of six 10xp oozes, followed by a 30xp guard and two 15xp guard dogs, followed by two 30xp swarms that roamed the dungeon halls. Each wave was 2 rounds apart (the second wave came in at round 3, the third at round 5). On paper it's a 180xp fight, but in practice it felt a lot closer to a lengthy moderate-threat fight. By the time the guard and guard dogs came in the party had some key buffs up already and when the swarms were jumping in it became easy to maneuver to facilitate AoE damage against the group. I think adding one last wave of a single 60xp creature to the fight would've made it feel closer to a severe fight with an epic conclusion

If the fights were spaced 10 minutes apart, to have roughly the same fighting power the party did for this fight the bard would have had to spend 2 extra rounds and 2 extra spell slots casting Haste, the barbarian would have had to spend 4 extra actions to Rage and enter Giant's Stature, and the sorcerer would have had to spend several more spell slots because they wouldn't catch as many creatures in their AoE spells. I also think this is a very different story if more creatures are on-level or better, as you go from creatures the party is easily capable of handling to creatures the party needs to focus fire on to take out.

In addition, if you are going for a big battle against a large number of foes style, troops are great. Your party might not be high enough level for them to be easy to throw in, but if they are it definitely adds to the feel of fighting a large group of creatures at once.

This is a big part of why I think the gauntlet encounter is a much better idea in PF2 than it gets credit for, but a big part of why GMs are afraid of it is that it is incredibly difficult to write a script for that wont kill of some parties. Casters in PF2 greatly benefit from the gauntlet encounter because of 1 and 10 minute buffs. But as a player pushing on when you have 6 rounds left of a bless spell is incredibly dangerous as the player has no idea what could jump out at them, while if the GM brings a couple of the smaller encounters together, it lets the players take advantage of their spells without feeling like they are the ones putting the whole party at risk.

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Troop rules seem to be a good way to simulate battling a large number of mooks.

One of my favorite aspects of second edition is the way the battle feel different depending on what opponents you use. Use a bunch of level -3 or level -4 and the PCs feel mighty, critting frequently and mowing through enemies rapidly. By comparison, a single enemy of level +2 or +3 can feel devastating despite the party holding a notable advantage in action economy, especially if it starts out in favorable conditions. So while you'd want to use troops for a very large mob of foes, a fight against a bunch of lower level creatures can leave the PCs feeling mighty while still forcing them to use resources to get through the battle (yet leaving them with enough in the tank to face a tough boss at the end).

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