Is it just me, or is it way too easy to get hit in this edition?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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To be fair, while the core rulebook is a bit cautious with Severe encounters, the GMG backs up the structure and design of the early APs.

As much as, for example, Age of Ashes is talked about for not using encounter design in line with the game's rules, it actually does. There are a few custom monsters that weren't built quite right, yes, and there are some moments where encounter bleed is very hard to avoid unless the GM is trying to do so. But the frequency, severity, and frequency of high-severity examples of encounters totally fit how the game says it was designed to work.

All that said, you've got to find your own balance with it. And if players are feeling ground down (the first two books of Age of Ashes or Extinction Curse are pretty well-known for grinding a few groups down), then you need to adjust to support your table. In my reading experience in the last couple of years, virtually everyone I've heard from who found PF2 to be too difficult, deadly, or buried in combat was early in one of those two APs or tried Fall of Plaguestone--which definitely has some custom monster issues.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Sporkedup wrote:

To be fair, while the core rulebook is a bit cautious with Severe encounters, the GMG backs up the structure and design of the early APs.

As much as, for example, Age of Ashes is talked about for not using encounter design in line with the game's rules, it actually does. There are a few custom monsters that weren't built quite right, yes, and there are some moments where encounter bleed is very hard to avoid unless the GM is trying to do so. But the frequency, severity, and frequency of high-severity examples of encounters totally fit how the game says it was designed to work.

All that said, you've got to find your own balance with it. And if players are feeling ground down (the first two books of Age of Ashes or Extinction Curse are pretty well-known for grinding a few groups down), then you need to adjust to support your table. In my reading experience in the last couple of years, virtually everyone I've heard from who found PF2 to be too difficult, deadly, or buried in combat was early in one of those two APs or tried Fall of Plaguestone--which definitely has some custom monster issues.

What GMG rules are you referencing? I'm not talking about individual monster stats, I'm talking about overall encounter difficulty relative to PC level. I don't remember much on the GMG on that.

But in the CRB, it says: Severe-threat encounters are the hardest encounters most groups of characters can consistently defeat. These encounters are most appropriate for important moments in your story, such as confronting a final boss. Bad luck, poor tactics, or a lack of resources due to prior encounters can easily turn a severe-threat encounter against the characters, and a wise group keeps the option to disengage open.

Now to pick a few severe encounters out of Age of Ashes. Going from memory here, so expect some names spelled wrong.

Ralnor: zero warning, zero story relevance, no way to bypass, just a severe monster between you and the plot.

Book 2 was good. Lots of severe encounters, but mostly only one per day. More importantly, there's potential for scouting and preparing for most of them, which really makes them more manageable.

The blue devil: severe monster shows up with zero warning and ambushes the party in the middle of a long gauntlet.

Xevalorg: only severe with his minions, but his room alone is severe and he can be chained to another encounter or two. Also bonus points for another incongruously placed monster nearby. And again, no real connection to the overarching plot, and no way to bypass.

None of these examples feel like important moments in the story or final bosses.

I wound up pulling the plug on AoA after the Xevalorg fight. The difficulty curve wasn't the only reason for that, but it was a big one.

The most successful APs I've run have been PF1 APs converted to PF2.


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Rysky wrote:
rnphillips wrote:
It was a bad decision on their part to make the default difficulty higher. After all, who will have an easier time adjusting the content? Savvy, experienced players or novices? Requiring novices to make adjustments to every published adventure or AP is too much of a burden for them.
From most of what I've read and seen people who didn't play P1 previously are having an easier time adapting to P2 than the "veterans".

My players took time to adapt and still get pissed off. They really hate it when they feel something is overpowered because they have to make such a high roll to resist it or escape. A few times I've been surprised at how tough some stuff is as well.

We had a Champion who had built up their Athletics to Master and 20 strength try to escape a Purple Worm swallowing it. I think they were 13th level. They had a +13, + 5 str, and + 6 proficiency for a +24 modifier. The DC to escape was 40. So he needed to roll a 16 to escape the purple worm with progressively worse attempts due to being the attack trait.

As a DM I liked a purple worm being a real challenge. My player felt that a heroic paladin focusing on strength should be able to escape a purple worm more easily. That is what they became used to from PF1. In my opinion, a purple worm swallowing you should absolutely be a death scenario without help or a good roll. It's a gargantuan worm and should be much stronger than a PC.

In PF1 a lvl 13 character could chop up purple worms fairly easy. In PF2 they are a real threat.

One area where I did side with my players was mooks often having abilities that are too good. Mooks should be mooks and fairly easily beat up by the NPCs. We primarily experienced this in the Age of Ashes AP which I think was tuned as high as it was because it was the first AP. In other APs mooks have been much weaker and easier for the PCs to beat down feeling heroic. I figure the mook issue was a challenge tuning issue that is easily sorted out as you gain more experience with the system.


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I'm referring to this: adventure design rules. Just as an example of their expectation of how many encounters should be in the Severe range. Importance to the story really only comes in in one sentence in the CRB.

I mean as far as specifics in Age of Ashes go, neither of the +3 monster fights are telegraphed, no... But the adventure literally hands the party an on-level ally for each. I had to look up Xevalorg, as the name didn't ring a bell. He wasn't even a speed bump for my players, and I haven't seen others frustrated with that one (the highly avoidable but nasty grikkitog on the other hand?).

Anyways. Sorry it sucked for your group. Mine struggled in the jungle and in the fight at the end of book 3, but mostly they've not really found these hard fights as hard I would have feared. I do let them talk their way out of combat as seems fitting at the time, so their adventuring days might not be as fully strenuous as for some tables.

Silver Crusade

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"try to escape a Purple Worm swallowing it."

Look at the other level 13 critters. The Purple Worm's whole thing is eating people so yes it's very good at it. It doesn't have anything else going for it, it doesn't have any other skills. The Purple Worm isn't the standard, it's the specialist.

"My player felt that a heroic paladin focusing on strength should be able to escape a purple worm more easily. That is what they became used to from PF1."

Yeah, the more I'm glad we can't obsolete things in P2 like we did in P1. The Player mostly specialized and wanted to trivialize a high threat specialist, not gonna happen.

"In my opinion, a purple worm swallowing you should absolutely be a death scenario without help or a good roll. It's a gargantuan worm and should be much stronger than a PC."

And the system backs this up.

"In PF1 a lvl 13 character could chop up purple worms fairly easy. In PF2 they are a real threat."

That's a good thing to me.


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Claxon wrote:


The people who are willing to GM the games in my friend group like the direction PF2 moved to, and because the default difficulty of APs (what my group almost always ran) is on the high end that's what they want to do.

I understand that if I can convince them to lower the CR of encounter by 2 or increase the player character level by 2 I'd probably get the experience I'm after. But it requires a level of persuading I'm not capable of.

While I have a considerable degree of sympathy for your position, Claxon, this really comes across as less an issue with the system and more that you and your group are off-sync in your mutual expectations.

Is there some reason to think that if a hypothetical PF3e changed that you wouldn't just flip the problem?

Liberty's Edge

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rnphillips wrote:
It was a bad decision on their part to make the default difficulty higher. After all, who will have an easier time adjusting the content? Savvy, experienced players or novices? Requiring novices to make adjustments to every published adventure or AP is too much of a burden for them.

Give the PCs 1 or 2 levels for free. There, adjustment made.

Liberty's Edge

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And yes, PF2 is the game of GM's great power, and hopefully great responsibility.

Both players and GMs need time to fully integrate this.

And there is a way to real power in PF2 : overall party optimization. Not necessarily at build, but through retraining and advancement choices : when every PC takes options that help the other PCs use their special abilities more often and to fuller extent, encounters become much easier.

Become the well-oiled machine of death and success follows.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Sporkedup wrote:

I'm referring to this: adventure design rules. Just as an example of their expectation of how many encounters should be in the Severe range. Importance to the story really only comes in in one sentence in the CRB.

I mean as far as specifics in Age of Ashes go, neither of the +3 monster fights are telegraphed, no... But the adventure literally hands the party an on-level ally for each. I had to look up Xevalorg, as the name didn't ring a bell. He wasn't even a speed bump for my players, and I haven't seen others frustrated with that one (the highly avoidable but nasty grikkitog on the other hand?).

Anyways. Sorry it sucked for your group. Mine struggled in the jungle and in the fight at the end of book 3, but mostly they've not really found these hard fights as hard I would have feared. I do let them talk their way out of combat as seems fitting at the time, so their adventuring days might not be as fully strenuous as for some tables.

Hmm, hadn't seen those. That does feel like it skews pretty heavy towards the severe end for my taste... but it is a matter of taste, I'll admit.


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The Raven Black wrote:

And yes, PF2 is the game of GM's great power, and hopefully great responsibility.

Both players and GMs need time to fully integrate this.

And there is a way to real power in PF2 : overall party optimization. Not necessarily at build, but through retraining and advancement choices : when every PC takes options that help the other PCs use their special abilities more often and to fuller extent, encounters become much easier.

Become the well-oiled machine of death and success follows.

My problem with this is, I don't want to build characters that way.

I realize it's an issue of prior experience with "related" game editions, but that doesn't change my mindset. I don't want to be required to build my character with everyone else's character in mind, just to be successful.


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Claxon wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

And yes, PF2 is the game of GM's great power, and hopefully great responsibility.

Both players and GMs need time to fully integrate this.

And there is a way to real power in PF2 : overall party optimization. Not necessarily at build, but through retraining and advancement choices : when every PC takes options that help the other PCs use their special abilities more often and to fuller extent, encounters become much easier.

Become the well-oiled machine of death and success follows.

My problem with this is, I don't want to build characters that way.

I realize it's an issue of prior experience with "related" game editions, but that doesn't change my mindset. I don't want to be required to build my character with everyone else's character in mind, just to be successful.

Even in prior editions, most groups were creating their characters together. Things like having a few frontliners with a few casters were common. Covering all attributes and skills, too. Some rare abilities (like trapfinding) were valuable but only on one character.

In PF2, it goes a bit beyond that, as party coordination is higher. But stating that it's brand new is false.

And the concept of ignoring entirely the rest of the party during character creation (and in general play) was generating more issues than helped. Having the Barbarian charging the enemies, attracting all attention, and not caring at all about the tank was common and not a nice piece of play.
At least, in PF2, the guy who plays alone dies alone.

As I'm not much into overoptimized characters who win the fights all alone, I've often ended up doing nothing during combats in PF1 and 3.0. That time is over. In PF2, the party needs everyone to take an active part into the fight to succeed. So even if I come with an Alchemist, I have to play optimally and everyone needs me. I can't just be ignored and left behind.
I far prefer that. Even if the result is a much harder difficulty (well, sometimes, difficulty is too hard, like in Plaguestone, but most of the time fights are balanced).


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The balance for encounter, monster, and NPC design is so much more transparent that it's trivial for a GM to adapt the difficulty of PF2 to accommodate unbalanced, random, self-oriented parties.

My last campaign went from level 0 to level 10. The players started without a class, and I assigned them classes based on how they roleplayed during the first few sessions. Only two out of five players had an 18 in their main score. Adapting the encounters to their capabilities was a breeze, and I could reliably hit difficulty targets.

In PF1, I would have never been able to achieve similar results. Every enemy was a crapshoot as to whether it would decimate the party or get steamrolled. I was regularly sending enemies at them with CRs that would indicated a challenge for a party 4 levels higher. I regularly had to fudge numbers during encounters to make sure the challenge was where I wanted it to be.

In PF1, if your haphazard party forgot to bring a source of splash damage, suddenly swarms were completely off the table.

In PF1, if there were no martials at low levels, the group had a high likelihood of getting demolished.

I cannot reconcile this notion that PF1 was freeform and PF2 is rigid with my own experience.

Grand Lodge

Deriven Firelion wrote:

Some things that most players don't get to experience in PF2 if you play to low level is the math changes as you level.

You start off at 1st level pretty weak. You will get your butts handed to you and your party can die pretty easy for the first 5 or 6 levels. Crits can take down even the toughest fighter. Casters are meat and can't do much. Your damage is ok, but not great.

Around lvl 7 you get a boost with striking weapons. Your caster proficiency goes up. You get access to some better spells. You get specialization. You just got stat boosts.

Around lvl 11 or 12 you get greater striking weapons. Your armor proficiency goes up. You get access to higher level spells with more powerful effects. Your focus spells get better.

15th level more overall boosts. The math starts to shift in your party's favor. You can take on tougher things. You are a pretty brutal group.

By lvl 19 you're reaching that super heroic stage where your casting spells to wipe out groups of creatures. The martials are only getting hammered by bosses and murdering everything else. You can haste the entire group with 2 actions.

I doubt many players will experience this,especially with PFS stopping at lvl 8 or so. That whole idea of stopping at lvl 8 needs to go. PF2 can be played across all levels and is still manageable. The characters do start to feel more powerful, but it doesn't happen unless you play to higher level.

My druid and barbarian at lvl 16 feel beastly strong. The barbarians hits are brutal. He can sweep away trash monsters, while taking a beating.

The druid is an elemental machine of destruction. Once the druid starts lighting up the enemy, it's usually all over.

You don't really get to experience this power increase unless you play a while. PF2 isn't the power fantasy of PF1, but you still feel extremely powerful at high level. What you can square off against increases substantially. Casters still feel uber powerful at higher level.

It's way more like 1st or 2nd edition D&D in terms of the...

Actually, I believe that PFS will go much higher. I currently have a 9th level Bard. The main reason he isn't 10th yet is that they are just starting season 3, and so haven't released enough higher level scenarios yet. As I understand it, PFS may eventually go up to level 20. It will take some time, but there is no reason they couldn't.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
WatersLethe wrote:

The balance for encounter, monster, and NPC design is so much more transparent that it's trivial for a GM to adapt the difficulty of PF2 to accommodate unbalanced, random, self-oriented parties.

My last campaign went from level 0 to level 10. The players started without a class, and I assigned them classes based on how they roleplayed during the first few sessions. Only two out of five players had an 18 in their main score. Adapting the encounters to their capabilities was a breeze, and I could reliably hit difficulty targets.

In PF1, I would have never been able to achieve similar results. Every enemy was a crapshoot as to whether it would decimate the party or get steamrolled. I was regularly sending enemies at them with CRs that would indicated a challenge for a party 4 levels higher. I regularly had to fudge numbers during encounters to make sure the challenge was where I wanted it to be.

In PF1, if your haphazard party forgot to bring a source of splash damage, suddenly swarms were completely off the table.

In PF1, if there were no martials at low levels, the group had a high likelihood of getting demolished.

I cannot reconcile this notion that PF1 was freeform and PF2 is rigid with my own experience.

I agree with all this. But it does go back to the issue being adventure design. The rules make it really transparent how the difficulty curve works and it is super easy to adjust. But a lot of people want to play APs and have a somewhat irrational aversion with lowering the difficulty, or otherwise denying themselves the "true" experience, even if it makes them miserable.

I'll note that I myself enjoy being a player in a hard adventure. But I also like Dark Souls, which isn't for everyone.


Claxon wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

And yes, PF2 is the game of GM's great power, and hopefully great responsibility.

Both players and GMs need time to fully integrate this.

And there is a way to real power in PF2 : overall party optimization. Not necessarily at build, but through retraining and advancement choices : when every PC takes options that help the other PCs use their special abilities more often and to fuller extent, encounters become much easier.

Become the well-oiled machine of death and success follows.

My problem with this is, I don't want to build characters that way.

I realize it's an issue of prior experience with "related" game editions, but that doesn't change my mindset. I don't want to be required to build my character with everyone else's character in mind, just to be successful.

I've got to say man, that the idea in a role-centric game like D&D you could build a character with no reference to what anyone else was doing and expect it to go well, whether that is PF2e, D&D3e, or OD&D, strikes me as really, really odd. Unless the GM was very actively bending the game around whatever he got, its hard to see how that _ever_ would have gone well.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
But a lot of people want to play APs and have a somewhat irrational aversion with lowering the difficulty, or otherwise denying themselves the "true" experience, even if it makes them miserable.

"a lot of people" buy the AP's BECAUSE they don't want to change things around and the work is already done before hand: in their mind, why are they buying something if they have to fiddle around with the numbers in it anyway? If they had the time and energy to play around with the contents, they'd just make their own adventure instead.

It's kind of like renting a hotel room and having the sheets for the bed sitting on the dresser instead of the bed being made: while it MAY be simple to make the bed yourself, most people would complain to the front desk that it wasn't done and quite a few would expect someone to come do it rather than do it themselves. It's all because you paid for a room that's ready to go when you walk in the door...

Liberty's Edge

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graystone wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
But a lot of people want to play APs and have a somewhat irrational aversion with lowering the difficulty, or otherwise denying themselves the "true" experience, even if it makes them miserable.

"a lot of people" buy the AP's BECAUSE they don't want to change things around and the work is already done before hand: in their mind, why are they buying something if they have to fiddle around with the numbers in it anyway? If they had the time and energy to play around with the contents, they'd just make their own adventure instead.

It's kind of like renting a hotel room and having the sheets for the bed sitting on the dresser instead of the bed being made: while it MAY be simple to make the bed yourself, most people would complain to the front desk that it wasn't done and quite a few would expect someone to come do it rather than do it themselves. It's all because you paid for a room that's ready to go when you walk in the door...

From what I've heard, this is more of an issue in the earlier APs where the Severe encounters were both more frequent and not appropriately foreshadowed/plot relevant. That being said, in any game where there are character options that affect effectiveness, pre-published content is going to have to pick a difficulty level to aim for, right? Within the framework of PF2, the AP line could be toned down to make it easier for people who are struggling with the difficulty, but now people who enjoy the current level of difficulty need to change the AP. PF2's advantage here is that the gap between optimized PCs and unoptimized ones is small enough that the amount of work required is pretty minimal - throwing an extra level onto the PCs to make it easier will do fine for the vast majority of tables that are having issues. That being said, I do think it's generally more likely for people to increase the difficulty at their table than decrease it, so there's something to be said for aiming a little lower - which Paizo does seem to have done since AoA/EC for the AP line and Fall of Plaguestone for the Adventures line.

It doesn't seem likely to me that the difficulty is chasing away too many players, but if it were I think there'd be two relatively neat solutions that don't require changing the way the system works or anything like that:
1: Lean into the difficulties of the APs - rate them into Relaxed/Intermediate/Challenging categories, and let people pick the difficulty level they want to play. Theoretically I think it's quite nice, but there aren't that many APs - if you only wanted to play Challenging APs, you'd not have a very wide selection. The explicit nature of it might also cause issues with groups that have divergent expectations about difficulty but the GM had been smoothing things over in the background. You'd hope that people would pick a difficulty that they'd want to play with, but given how common it is for those who have issues with the difficulty of PF2 to be experienced in other ttRPGs and applying lessons they hadn't realized are maladaptive to the game, it does seem possible that those groups would go for the harder options.
2: Offer a scaling in the AP, as mentioned in some previous posts here - not a large amount of words, just something like putting adjustments to an encounter in square brackets - two instead of three of this monster, the weak template on this boss. It's a little more work for the GM to apply it, and a little more work to create it, but hopefully should be relatively unobtrusive.

Combining them may be good - give relaxed/challenging APs the guidance to revert them to Intermediate APs, or something close to it. I'm still not convinced that this would be hugely helpful for Paizo, but does seem a route to try and please everyone - and take advantage of the fact that the split from optimized to unoptimized parties is small enough that it's actually possible to try this in PF2.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As someone who bought an AP for the first time in 20yrs, largely due to having 1.9 children now, needing to adjust the difficulty of combat is basically a non issue. It takes basically 0 time to reduce or increase the difficulty of a preprinted adventure especially when compared against all the map, town, npc and plot design it has saved me.


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graystone wrote:
"a lot of people" buy the AP's BECAUSE they don't want to change things around and the work is already done before hand: in their mind, why are they buying something if they have to fiddle around with the numbers in it anyway? If they had the time and energy to play around with the contents, they'd just make their own adventure instead.

Well, between giving an extra level to the PCs and making one's own adventure, there's a big difference in terms of work.

Preparation has always been part of the GM job, even with an AP.

Captain Morgan wrote:
But a lot of people want to play APs and have a somewhat irrational aversion with lowering the difficulty, or otherwise denying themselves the "true" experience, even if it makes them miserable.

I got such kind of players. The "true" experience, like if it meant anything. If you want the "true" experience, you need to be at James Jacob's table. Otherwise, it's definitely not "true".


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Captain Morgan wrote:
I'll note that I myself enjoy being a player in a hard adventure. But I also like Dark Souls, which isn't for everyone.

All my party players loves Dark Souls and Darkest Dungeon games. This may explain why they never complains about the difficult (and the last GM that played a 3.5 adventure for us made way more difficult adventure than the APs I currently rule) even in Plaguestone :P

SuperBidi wrote:
Preparation has always been part of the GM job, even with an AP.

I completely agree here!

I master for a 6 person party (7 with me as GM) and some sessions some player are missing so I constantly have to rebalance the encounters and hazards but it wasn't never so easy to be made than there is in PF2. I even do this on the fly just adding some more monsters or adding weak/elite mods for some monsters. It's way easier that was in PF1 and 3.5 and even more if I compare with 5E!

So I also don't understand why some people complains so much. The paizo APs are already not ready to play without any preparation (they aren't a gamebook) so I don't understand how difficult it is to just adjust the encounters or even just level up the party.


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Thomas5251212 wrote:
Claxon wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

And yes, PF2 is the game of GM's great power, and hopefully great responsibility.

Both players and GMs need time to fully integrate this.

And there is a way to real power in PF2 : overall party optimization. Not necessarily at build, but through retraining and advancement choices : when every PC takes options that help the other PCs use their special abilities more often and to fuller extent, encounters become much easier.

Become the well-oiled machine of death and success follows.

My problem with this is, I don't want to build characters that way.

I realize it's an issue of prior experience with "related" game editions, but that doesn't change my mindset. I don't want to be required to build my character with everyone else's character in mind, just to be successful.

I've got to say man, that the idea in a role-centric game like D&D you could build a character with no reference to what anyone else was doing and expect it to go well, whether that is PF2e, D&D3e, or OD&D, strikes me as really, really odd. Unless the GM was very actively bending the game around whatever he got, its hard to see how that _ever_ would have gone well.

Beyond coordinating general character roles such as "melee, range, caster (support, debuff, damage)" my group never required coordination to excel. Because individual characters are so powerful in PF1 unless your group showed up with all melee characters, or all casters, etc you were probably going to be okay.

That's about the acceptable level of coordination I'm good with.

But in PF1 it was possible to have an all bard party and still do well.

You could have an archeologist, an arrowsong minstrel, a buffer focused bard, and a debuffer focused bard. And despite the huge overlap, in class kits, you we're probably still going to be alright because you covered the general bases.


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SuperBidi wrote:

Well, between giving an extra level to the PCs and making one's own adventure, there's a big difference in terms of work.

Preparation has always been part of the GM job, even with an AP.

As you partially acknowledge, there is a huge range in terms of how much a GM can prepare for any published content.

It's obvious that we can graph the hours of preparation vs the complexity of preparation vs the willingness to GM. That graph will give us an asymptotic plane. As you approach zero preparation and complexity required, you'll get the highest number of willing GMs. But as you increase the hours of preparation and the complexity of that preparation, your willing GMs steadily declines.

Me personally, I am in agreement with graystone. If I have to constantly change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM. I don't have infinite time or interest in re-kajiggering an off-the-shelf product and i certainly don't have the time to do homebrew. Ether my players will enjoy the combat dynamic of PF2 or they wont. I'm not investing in a game system that doesn't work out of the box.

There's no more definitive feedback for Paizo than players who aren't having fun.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
N N 959 wrote:
If I have to *constantly* change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM.

The most common suggestion is to give the players 1 extra level. Done. No further adjustment required.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Claxon wrote:
I realize it's an issue of prior experience with "related" game editions, but that doesn't change my mindset. I don't want to be required to build my character with everyone else's character in mind, just to be successful.

I mean, even in PF1 and 3.5 and 5e a random collection of characters with no reference to each other makes for a suboptimal adventuring team.

The only significant difference between PF1 and PF2 in that regard is that PF1 had a lot of jack of all trades characters and PF2 doesn't really.


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In addition to give 1 more level to players, there's also the weaken archetype.

I love it being easy to set on foundry, for example.


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There's other important thing. The difficulty is too much about players preferences.

Probably if the APs was easier and default difficult recommendations was lower we may have many players coming here to forum or reddit complaining that's the game or AP is too easier and are don't challenging them and being fun. I saw already these complains in 3.5 and PF1!

That's is more one reason I like so much the PF2 encounters balance system. It's very simple to adjust if the game is too easier than the players like you can improve the encounters making them more severe if the players are complaining that are too difficult you can make them more trivial with little adjustment.

Once again that's why I don't know why soo much compains in a game where we have many easier tools to adjust the game difficult than we have in older's versions.


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I find it really hard to take seriously complaints about adjusting APs or base content in PF2 when PF1 requires massive DM adjustments to keep things reasonable. Now sure if you didn’t mind massive discrepancy in strength between characters and massive issues in tuning throughout campaigns I guess you could just play PF1 APs and content as is.

But to make a fun game through to later levels than massive DM work was required. You needed to curate feat and ban things from splat books that Paizo hadn’t vetted well, you had to adjust classes for things like the UC reworks since often time Paizo made vastly op or under tuned classes way worse than the diff that exists in PF2. You had to change monster stats constantly to adjust them to the level of the party, you had to tweak enemies/encounters to make it that you could challenge your optimizer while not punishing your more casual players. You had to figure out how to make skill challenges work when you had characters that couldn’t fail it mixed with characters who couldn’t pass it without a 20 and then add in characters that could use magic to bypass it.

So above is all just a part of the things I had to do as a DM to make PF1 work. If you do so then it could be a great game. But that’s a ton of work. In PF2 I can just take a monster out of the bestiary and use it and it works most of the time. At most I stick elite or weak on it and I’m done. If you want players to be more epic than just put a level on the party. If you wanted to make PF1 challenging it was hours of work a session. Just a completely different work requirement needed.

Liberty's Edge

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N N 959 wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Well, between giving an extra level to the PCs and making one's own adventure, there's a big difference in terms of work.

Preparation has always been part of the GM job, even with an AP.

As you partially acknowledge, there is a huge range in terms of how much a GM can prepare for any published content.

It's obvious that we can graph the hours of preparation vs the complexity of preparation vs the willingness to GM. That graph will give us an asymptotic plane. As you approach zero preparation and complexity required, you'll get the highest number of willing GMs. But as you increase the hours of preparation and the complexity of that preparation, your willing GMs steadily declines.

Me personally, I am in agreement with graystone. If I have to constantly change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM. I don't have infinite time or interest in re-kajiggering an off-the-shelf product and i certainly don't have the time to do homebrew. Ether my players will enjoy the combat dynamic of PF2 or they wont. I'm not investing in a game system that doesn't work out of the box.

There's no more definitive feedback for Paizo than players who aren't having fun.

Players having fun is even more valuable, though it can be difficult to hear over the repeated clamors of the angry few.


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You can set it on AoN, too, if you're pulling your monster pages from there. Options for Elite, Normal, Weak, and Proficiency Without Level are all options you can click. Much less work than previously with templates where you had to find a separate tool to apply adjustments, or pull up various extra pages because the templated monster didn't tell you everything it did in the statblock. I think templates are super handy, but that was always a pet peeve of mine.


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What if instead of just being more powerful a player wants to skew their character?

They might say, I want my Crusader to stand before the forces of darkness and unflinchingly deflect blows, if I ever manage to hit anything from behind my shield that's merely a plus. Or they might just be playing a dexterity-based character and feel that getting swatted this way and that constantly doesn't work for them. These are valid desires for players to have and simply raising the party level or nerfing the monsters does nothing to make them something a player can enjoy.


Verdyn wrote:

What if instead of just being more powerful a player wants to skew their character?

They might say, I want my Crusader to stand before the forces of darkness and unflinchingly deflect blows, if I ever manage to hit anything from behind my shield that's merely a plus. Or they might just be playing a dexterity-based character and feel that getting swatted this way and that constantly doesn't work for them. These are valid desires for players to have and simply raising the party level or nerfing the monsters does nothing to make them something a player can enjoy.

This is no more a question about difficult but game style. It's like as someone said in other post, PF2 as 5E aren't so epic powered like 3.5 and PF1 are. But I still saw a 6 players party decimate a group of 16 orcs in PF2 just because they was 3 levels over.


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YuriP wrote:
This is no more a question about difficult but game style. It's like as someone said in other post, PF2 as 5E aren't so epic powered like 3.5 and PF1 are. But I still saw a 6 players party decimate a group of 16 orcs in PF2 just because they was 3 levels over.

*Looks at the thread's title*


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N N 959 wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Well, between giving an extra level to the PCs and making one's own adventure, there's a big difference in terms of work.

Preparation has always been part of the GM job, even with an AP.

As you partially acknowledge, there is a huge range in terms of how much a GM can prepare for any published content.

It's obvious that we can graph the hours of preparation vs the complexity of preparation vs the willingness to GM. That graph will give us an asymptotic plane. As you approach zero preparation and complexity required, you'll get the highest number of willing GMs. But as you increase the hours of preparation and the complexity of that preparation, your willing GMs steadily declines.

Me personally, I am in agreement with graystone. If I have to constantly change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM. I don't have infinite time or interest in re-kajiggering an off-the-shelf product and i certainly don't have the time to do homebrew. Ether my players will enjoy the combat dynamic of PF2 or they wont. I'm not investing in a game system that doesn't work out of the box.

There's no more definitive feedback for Paizo than players who aren't having fun.

Well, we are heading into the dangerous badwrongfun direction, but if "adding one level to the PCs when the difficulty is too high" is too much preparation for the GM, I may prefer to play with another GM.

GMing asks for a lot of work, even when the adventure is fully written. Giving the false impression that a game can be run with close to no preparation just leads to terrible gaming experiences.


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SuperBidi wrote:
Well, we are heading into the dangerous badwrongfun direction

Not at all. There's nothing in my statement that even hints at "badwrongfun" analysis. It's about GM expectation and reality. Everyone is going to have a point on that plane where they lie and as soon at the preparation moves past that point. You lose another GM, or a whole lot of them.

Quote:
but if "adding one level to the PCs when the difficulty is too high" is too much preparation for the GM,

You're painting a false narrative. A GM does a host of things to prep an AP. The more things you "require" a GM to do, to compensate for the game design, the more GMs you are going to lose.

Quote:
GMing asks for a lot of work, even when the adventure is fully written.

That's right.

Quote:
Giving the false impression that a game can be run with close to no preparation...

At no point has anyone suggested that. Please don't march out a straw man army.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I've found that adding a level works pretty well for a more relaxed game, but having an additional player and not adjusting encounters to be stronger feels a bit better.

It doesn't change the math around where bosses feel too easy or underwhelming, just gives the party another body and opens up for additional teamwork without demanding results.


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Dimity wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
If I have to *constantly* change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM.
The most common suggestion is to give the players 1 extra level. Done. No further adjustment required.

The average person who buys an AP is not going to search the forums to find out that they need to add a level to any random AP. The overwhelming majority expect to play level 1 at level 1, as they should. When the AP says level 1, expecting a GM to know that's level 2 is nonsensical.

The more burden you put on GMs to have to figure out counter-intuitive changes like adding levels at the start of a level 1 AP, the less people will want to GM.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
N N 959 wrote:
Dimity wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
If I have to *constantly* change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM.
The most common suggestion is to give the players 1 extra level. Done. No further adjustment required.

The average person who buys an AP is not going to search the forums to find out that they need to add a level to any random AP. The overwhelming majority expect to play level 1 at level 1, as they should. When the AP says level 1, expecting a GM to know that's level 2 is nonsensical.

The more burden you put on GMs to have to figure out counter-intuitive changes like adding levels at the start of a level 1 AP, the less people will want to GM.

I don't understand.

The standard difficulty setting is what it says on the tin. If you want it to be easier, add a level. What's "counter-intuitive" about that? It's the most intuitive thing I can imagine.


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N N 959 wrote:
Dimity wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
If I have to *constantly* change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM.
The most common suggestion is to give the players 1 extra level. Done. No further adjustment required.

The average person who buys an AP is not going to search the forums to find out that they need to add a level to any random AP. The overwhelming majority expect to play level 1 at level 1, as they should. When the AP says level 1, expecting a GM to know that's level 2 is nonsensical.

The more burden you put on GMs to have to figure out counter-intuitive changes like adding levels at the start of a level 1 AP, the less people will want to GM.

So? It’s still far better than PF1 where most GMs quit because of the difficulty and amount of work required. There is no argument that holds that PF1 is easier to GM. It can be a very good game with the right GM but balancing, tuning and making PF1 campaigns fun is a ton of work. Like DF has said PF2 is a lot more GM friendly.


When I go back and look at the original question posed, is it easy for monsters to hit the players in this game, clearly yes. Is it "way too easy" really depends on the GM and party make up. I personally don't buy into the theory with this game that you can make any party and be generally fine. There are clearly tons of situations due to party make up, let alone GM and player experience that some parties just underperform what the system expected. So in Hindsight I think they should have lowered the difficulty on the APs and let GMs raise it as needed as opposed to keeping it high and relying on GM experience to know when to lower it. So I guess to answer the question, yes it is way to easy to get hit in this edition......for my tastes.


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Arakasius wrote:
So? It’s still far better than PF1 where most GMs quit because of the difficulty and amount of work required. There is no argument that holds that PF1 is easier to GM. It can be a very good game with the right GM but balancing, tuning and making PF1 campaigns fun is a ton of work. Like DF has said PF2 is a lot more GM friendly.

No part of my post brings up PF1. Whether PF1 is easier or harder is wholly irrelevant to my follow up on graystone's point.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
N N 959 wrote:
Dimity wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
If I have to *constantly* change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM.
The most common suggestion is to give the players 1 extra level. Done. No further adjustment required.

The average person who buys an AP is not going to search the forums to find out that they need to add a level to any random AP. The overwhelming majority expect to play level 1 at level 1, as they should. When the AP says level 1, expecting a GM to know that's level 2 is nonsensical.

The more burden you put on GMs to have to figure out counter-intuitive changes like adding levels at the start of a level 1 AP, the less people will want to GM.

The adventures do not require or even recommend that you be a level higher. No one is saying that. Folks are recommending simple tweaks that can be applied by a GM for a party who is struggling (for whatever reason).

Plenty of crews of experienced 2Eers trounce these APs. My group is brand new to 2E with the exception of 1 player and they struggled a bit in early AV book 1, and I adjusted difficulty on several encounters. But now they figured out the game and are having no problem in AV book 2 (knock on wood).

I would have no problem if Paizo wanted to make the APs easier by default and let GMs tweak up. I think it might make some sense, since you're trying to lure people in. But for a group who understands the game, the AP balance is mostly fine. Acting like it's required is being obtuse.


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Claxon wrote:
Thomas5251212 wrote:
Claxon wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

And yes, PF2 is the game of GM's great power, and hopefully great responsibility.

Both players and GMs need time to fully integrate this.

And there is a way to real power in PF2 : overall party optimization. Not necessarily at build, but through retraining and advancement choices : when every PC takes options that help the other PCs use their special abilities more often and to fuller extent, encounters become much easier.

Become the well-oiled machine of death and success follows.

My problem with this is, I don't want to build characters that way.

I realize it's an issue of prior experience with "related" game editions, but that doesn't change my mindset. I don't want to be required to build my character with everyone else's character in mind, just to be successful.

I've got to say man, that the idea in a role-centric game like D&D you could build a character with no reference to what anyone else was doing and expect it to go well, whether that is PF2e, D&D3e, or OD&D, strikes me as really, really odd. Unless the GM was very actively bending the game around whatever he got, its hard to see how that _ever_ would have gone well.

Beyond coordinating general character roles such as "melee, range, caster (support, debuff, damage)" my group never required coordination to excel. Because individual characters are so powerful in PF1 unless your group showed up with all melee characters, or all casters, etc you were probably going to be okay.

That's about the acceptable level of coordination I'm good with.

But in PF1 it was possible to have an all bard party and still do well.

You could have an archeologist, an arrowsong minstrel, a buffer focused bard, and a debuffer focused bard. And despite the huge overlap, in class kits, you we're probably still going to be alright because you covered the general bases.

This is the kind of analysis that is strange to me. In my experience, it is far easier in PF2 to run a four bard party than it was in PF1. If you ran a limited party in PF1 as soon as some power class showed up, you were all done. Say goodbye to your group, they're going to die. That power class was usually a wizard, but as soon as that wizard showed up you party was going to die if it didn't have a counter wizard.

In PF2 if you have an all bard party and a wizard shows up, you're going to be able to fight that wizard.

In this edition, you could have a party of all fighters or all barbarians or all rogues and have a great chance of standing your ground against any other group.

That wasn't true in PF1. A whole group of 10 highly optimized fighters could be made in PF1. They could have a whole montage of the fighters with their weapons looking badass and preparing for battle. Set that whole scene like they're bad men. One wizard shows up and the next scene is a group of badass looking fighters dead with the last one held in place being interrogated.

PF2 is the only version of D&D I've ever played where you would be fine playing a group of the same class. PF1 was not that way at all unless you're DM played a very soft game.

I still don't know how you didn't experience the wizard as the ultimate class in PF1. I experienced this many, many, many times. Casters were supreme in PF1. They barely needed martial characters after a certain point. About all martials were good for was damage and casters really didn't need that after a certain point.


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Verdyn wrote:

What if instead of just being more powerful a player wants to skew their character?

They might say, I want my Crusader to stand before the forces of darkness and unflinchingly deflect blows, if I ever manage to hit anything from behind my shield that's merely a plus. Or they might just be playing a dexterity-based character and feel that getting swatted this way and that constantly doesn't work for them. These are valid desires for players to have and simply raising the party level or nerfing the monsters does nothing to make them something a player can enjoy.

I had a PF2 champion in my group who could do exactly what you want to do above. He literally walked into rooms full of mooks, shield raised, and held them all under control. This was at lvl 15. He rarely got hit by standard mooks, rarely got hit hard by bosses, and hammered away controlling them with Champion's reaction. He used to stand in the middle of 10 creatures swinging at him being real annoying.

I was getting really tired of that champion after a while. He made everything harder.

It really sounds like you haven't explored PF2 too deeply. There are ways to build very strong defensive classes that can control a battlefield. The game isn't all low level, easy to get smashed play.


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Verdyn wrote:
YuriP wrote:
This is no more a question about difficult but game style. It's like as someone said in other post, PF2 as 5E aren't so epic powered like 3.5 and PF1 are. But I still saw a 6 players party decimate a group of 16 orcs in PF2 just because they was 3 levels over.
*Looks at the thread's title*

The thread's title is effectively about equal level fighters.

As in, "is it just me, or is it too easy to get hit by equal level fighters".


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Dimity wrote:

I don't understand.

The standard difficulty setting is what it says on the tin. If you want it to be easier, add a level. What's "counter-intuitive" about that? It's the most intuitive thing I can imagine.

The OP said he's getting hit too much and critted too much from published content. Most agree it's because that's the nature of the game. Regardless of what the fix is for the GM, every "fix" you require a GM to make in your published content so that it is "fun" is reducing your success with the product.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
N N 959 wrote:
The OP said he's getting hit too much and critted too much from published content. Most agree it's because that's the nature of the game. Regardless of what the fix is for the GM, every "fix" you require a GM to make in your published content so that it is "fun" is reducing your success with the product.

'require' is a misnomer though. It's more like "here's an easy suggestion if you're having trouble."

For people who aren't having trouble, they'll just play the adventure as written or maybe even tune it to be harder if it's too easy for them.


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N N 959 wrote:
Dimity wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
If I have to *constantly* change the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate for the +10 crit mechanics, then I'm not going to GM.
The most common suggestion is to give the players 1 extra level. Done. No further adjustment required.

The average person who buys an AP is not going to search the forums to find out that they need to add a level to any random AP. The overwhelming majority expect to play level 1 at level 1, as they should. When the AP says level 1, expecting a GM to know that's level 2 is nonsensical.

The more burden you put on GMs to have to figure out counter-intuitive changes like adding levels at the start of a level 1 AP, the less people will want to GM.

Don't talk about GM burdens. PF2 is the easiest game to GM by far.

PF1 was a huge burden on the GM. The worst I've ever played. Same with 3rd edition. If you wanted to play 3rd edition or PF1, your GM burden was worse than any other edition of D&D ever made. Hours of preparation to run the game at higher level. That was just to make enemies that could challenge a party.

There isn't even an argument that the GM burden in PF2 is the lowest of any game save perhaps 5E. GMing PF2 is the easiest it's ever been to GM. Adjusting a monster level here or there is nothing compared to what I had to do in PF1 and 3E to make the game remotely challenging.


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N N 959 wrote:
You're painting a false narrative. A GM does a host of things to prep an AP. The more things you "require" a GM to do, to compensate for the game design, the more GMs you are going to lose.

But adjusting difficulty is nearly always required. Ideal difficulty varies depending on the party and players. So it's impossible to nail it for everyone (or extremely complex). Most of the time, the GM has to handle difficulty. What is important is not the amount of things the GM has to do because whatever you play you'll have to do similar things. What's important is how hard it is to do these things.

When it comes to difficulty, PF2 makes it extremely simple to modify it. It's true that it may be harder to understand what makes the game hard, even if solo bosses at low level are quite clearly seen as the biggest issue.

I don't think the people complaining about difficulty are really putting any work into adjusting it. In my opinion, many people don't want to tune down difficulty as it gives the impression that they don't play well or are bad. If the game was too easy, these people would have no issue to tune the difficulty up. It's a problem of pride, not one of difficulty.


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Squiggit wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
The OP said he's getting hit too much and critted too much from published content. Most agree it's because that's the nature of the game. Regardless of what the fix is for the GM, every "fix" you require a GM to make in your published content so that it is "fun" is reducing your success with the product.
'require' is a misnomer though. It's more like "here's an easy suggestion if you're having trouble."

It's not a "misnomer" the word is used intentionally. There are many requirements to GM. The more requirements of the GM, the harder it is to GM.

If the players don't enjoy the encounters without the GM changing the encounter level, then Paizo is requiring the GM to do something to make it fun.


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considerably wrote:
The adventures do not require or even recommend that you be a level higher. No one is saying that. Folks are recommending simple tweaks that can be applied by a GM for a party who is struggling (for whatever reason).

You're taking my statement out of context.

I am not saying that the "adventure" is making any explicit requirements. I'm responding to everyone saying that you just need to do X to make it fun. Graystone's point, the one I agree with is the more X the GM feels is needed, the fewer APs you're gong to sell.

No part of that assertion is dependent on comparative difficulty to GM between versions of PF.

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