PF2e's Greatest Innovation


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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PF2e has a lot of things about it that I find to be clunky, poorly formatted, or otherwise unwieldy. However there are two things I think the designers should know they absolutely hit out of the park: The three action economy and the dying/wounded rules.

These to features are what, ultimately, prevent me from playing or DMing 5e because despite PF2e's (many) flaws, these two systems are so robust and useful that they outweigh any cons of PF2e.

What do other posters think if PF2e's biggest systemic selling point?

Liberty's Edge

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The limit on bonus types. It is incredibly difficult to create a more powerful build than usual through stacking bits and pieces.

Going with this is also the difficulty to create really subpar builds as long as you respect a few conditions.

The balance of the system is incredibly robust.


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The character creation template. Characters have to be diverse by pulling from many different pools and, unlike 5e, I feel I'm actually getting to make choices more than 4 times on the way to 20.

Liberty's Edge

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Being able to build monsters and NPCs without having to use the PC-building rules is also an extraordinary boon for both GMs and designers.


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3 action + Reaction system.

They moved from a static RPG to a pretty valid "boardgame" ( and they keep putting balance before anything else, which I love ).

I think I'd never be able to to move back to other d20 systems.


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HumbleGamer wrote:

3 action + Reaction system.

They moved from a static RPG to a pretty valid "boardgame" ( and they keep putting balance before anything else, which I love ).

I think I'd never be able to to move back to other d20 systems.

Not sure how 'board gamey' it feels but it definitely makes everything more dynamic - 3 is the perfect number for actions. It effortlessly solves issues that are really deflating in D&D 5e. The prone condition is a pretty great example. It isn't literally/strictly pointless to knock someone prone, (as it grants advantage), but in PF2e it doesn't just help your allies it actively harms your enemy, (as it eats an action just to stand up). 5e just doesn't have that level of design space.


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Filthy Lucre wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

3 action + Reaction system.

They moved from a static RPG to a pretty valid "boardgame" ( and they keep putting balance before anything else, which I love ).

I think I'd never be able to to move back to other d20 systems.

Not sure how 'board gamey' it feels

I meant to say that the systems, given a grid map, offers a similar approach to a boardgame.

It's quick to learn ( probably a little harder to master ), quick to play and most of all, as you said, it makes everything more dynamic.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Exploration Mode is really fantastic for making the space of the adventure matter more, by making it something players interact with in a more codified way. Ditto for Downtime Mode, together they make it very easy to run in a sandboxy kind of way.


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I don't think I can disagree with those being the best parts.

#3 for me is Proficiency. It is divisive, but it has worked so well in it's execution. That mixed with the +10/-10 critical system makes the system do a lot without it being clunky.


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HumbleGamer wrote:
Filthy Lucre wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

3 action + Reaction system.

They moved from a static RPG to a pretty valid "boardgame" ( and they keep putting balance before anything else, which I love ).

I think I'd never be able to to move back to other d20 systems.

Not sure how 'board gamey' it feels

I meant to say that the systems, given a grid map, offers a similar approach to a boardgame.

It's quick to learn ( probably a little harder to master ), quick to play and most of all, as you said, it makes everything more dynamic.

Yeah, a lot of board games use the X actions per turn with a list of options approach. None of them that I know of do 2/3 action costs and such, but that's a logical step anyways.


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Victory Points are huge IMO. A simple framework to understand, create, and implement a wide variety of non-combat challenges in a combat-oriented game with a variety of examples of victory point subsystems in the GMG to create common and cinematic challenges.


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Paradozen wrote:
Victory Points are huge IMO. A simple framework to understand, create, and implement a wide variety of non-combat challenges in a combat-oriented game with a variety of examples of victory point subsystems in the GMG to create common and cinematic challenges.

As a Warhammer player, the fact that command point reroll is in the rules is amazing.


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Balance is my number one reason for sticking with the game. I can start a campaign at lvl 1 or 20 and run it out of the box. I modify some for personal tastes, but you could change nothing and it would be a challenging game easy on a DM. It's been the easiest edition of D&D type games to run ever.

3 action system I really like. Much more flexible and allows more interesting action rounds.

I do like the dying rules as it makes the game more dangerous, while not being as deadly as the save or die or coup de gras systems in previous versions. It makes healing useful, but also doesn't let you endlessly get up.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:

The limit on bonus types. It is incredibly difficult to create a more powerful build than usual through stacking bits and pieces.

Going with this is also the difficulty to create really subpar builds as long as you respect a few conditions.

The balance of the system is incredibly robust.

To add on this comment, the greatest factor for success in PF2 seems to have shifted from "the build" of D&D 3.x/PF1 (where the player tries to maximize bonuses for one or two favored activities) to tactics and teamwork in play between party members based on the turn-by-turn situation. This has several effects on how players approach things (not a comprehensive list):

1) As mentioned/implied, the difference between "the best" and "the worst" within the party for a given activity, while still noticeable, is much narrower than in 3.x/PF1.

2) Because available bonuses are so limited, the Aid Another action (in conjunction with item 1) becomes more useful.

3) Not only is the balance robust, the ability of parties to use "combos" using third actions to set up other party member actions (instead of the seeming emphasis in 3.x/PF1 of "combos" for a single PC) is also robust.


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This thread has critically failed for not mentioning the 4 tiers of success mechanic


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3 Action + 1 Reaction System. Simple to both understand and run, never results in a question of action types mid-combat or other silly confusions. Combined with AoOs not being a default, also makes combat much more mobile.

4 degrees of success. Really helps a number of spells to have results between "insta-win" and "does nothing." Also love things like Swashbuckler having a reaction against critical fail attacks.

Ability Generation. You don't require your ancestry to specifically give a bonus to the ability score used by your class! Allows for far more combinations of ancestry/class, and even an ancestry that gives a penalty to your primary score can use voluntary flaws to hit the max starting score and be viable.

Versatile Heritages. More interesting ancestry combinations available.

Backgrounds. While not perfect, I really like that picking a background is part of character creation with some mechanical impact. Helps PCs feel a bit more like people that exist in the world rather than cardboard murderhobo#37.

Feat Categories (i.e. Ancestry, Class, Skill) Much easier than PF1 to pick up some thematic skill feat or ancestry-related feat without feeling that you are losing combat power for doing so. Constantly getting different types of feats also helps make it feel that you are always progressing/advancing in some way when you level up even if it is not a strict power boost.

Limited types of buffs/debuffs. Far easier to know what does and does not stack. Less ability to stack buffs ridiculously high


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PF2e is more successful at building narrative into mechanics than most combat focused systems. Even when I'm playing other games, I often look through my pathfinder pdfs for inspiration as a dm and as a player.


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I think Archetypes are a lot of fun, in terms of how they iterate on Themes from 4e.


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I really like the multiclassing system, which I understand also shares elements from 4E. It's way less fiddly than the PF1E/3.5/all other d20 systems I've played had as their versions, and actually makes me want to multiclass.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

This is the best GM facing rpg I have ever encountered. So many tools and options, but they all feel like options, not dials that have to be adjusted. I can run things fine by the book or fiddle till my heart is content, but only when that is what I want to do.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

2e's single greatest innovation?

I think it might be the feat silos. Specifically Ancestry, Class, and Skill/General.

The ancestry feat system allows all the optimization and theorycrafting that went into race selection in 1e, but spread out over more of the character's career and with significantly more leeway in granting special stuff to an ancestry without blowing up low level balance.

Class feats have subsumed a lot, and have done it well. Multiclassing, archetyping, prestige classes, alternate class features, combat feats, and metamagic feats were all powerful tools that couldn't elegantly combine without some combinations being way more powerful than others. Now that they're all drawing from the same resources, its much more controlled and easier to pace out.

Skill feats used to be so niche and uncommon due to their competition with combat feats that they only ever really appeared on cheese builds. Now they're often the star of the show, allowing some really cool character abilities outside of combat (and even in combat sometimes, the balance concerns of which are ameliorated by the 3 action economy).

And on top of the benefits the feat silos bring, they also allow modifying the number of feats in each silo independently to tailor the game to your table.


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From just the CRB:

#1) The consistent 1/level scale of proficiencies. This lets you mix and match at will when improvising opposed actions.
#2) The 4 degrees of success
#3) Skill feats being a separate pool from class feats.
#4) Codified rules for exploration and downtime. Experienced and talented GMs probably already did something similar for their games. For new GMs having those rules explained to them is huge.

From other books:

#1) Enemy creation rules. Biggest bestiary ever.
#2) Victory Point encounter rules. No more 'combat only' campaigns.


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Most of it I have things I can really complain about, but how XP is done is very nice. I enjoy giving xp more in 2e and not having to reference a chart to find out how much xp you need to level is very nice. Players like the ease of progression. 100 xp? 10% of a level.


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#1 is the combination of core chassis with a large numbers of useful-but-not-overwhelming feats. The core chassis means that every fighter can fight, no matter *what* they spend their feats on. The feats, in turn, are meaningful and interesting and useful but not *critical*. I haven't run the numbers, but my intuition is that if you, for example, send a perfectly tuned level 8 fighter against a level 10 fighter who hasn't actually bothered to spend their feats at all, the level 10 is likely to come out ahead... but it's not because the feats were *meaningless* - the two will play very differently. All of the basic math stuff goes into the core, leaving you to use feats for customization. There are interesting and important choices to be made in there, but they're not game-warping, because feats aren't supposed to handle chassis.

#2 is the combination of skill feats (which *could not be spent* on non-skill things) and the skill proficiency slots just sitting there on the character sheet, in ways that can be leveraged usefully in combat, but where combat is clearly not their primary benefit. It means that in the process fo building a character for combat, I'm pretty much inexorably pushed to also optimize for noncombat encounters.

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