Good explainers for new players?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


I'm expecting my second edition book to arrive in the next few days. Does anyone have some suggestions for good places with new player info/tutorials/explainers to help get me up to speed? I'd like to convert my dnd 5e game to a PF 2.0 game to finish up the rest of the Reign of Winter campagin I've currently got on hiatus....

but to do so, I'd like to get a handle on what the main concepts are so I can better teach them to my players. I'm totally fine with a "we're all new at this" approach, where we learn things gradually, but I'd like to minimize the reading during the session if I can.

If this has already been covered elsewhere, sorry! I'm still getting used to the forums after a fairly long hiatus.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

I think this is good for 5e converts

It's all about setting expectations, it's not an alien game, but there is a very real different rhythm to the game, as well as different underlying math which can make expecting x but only getting half that frustrating, or expecting y bad thing but its 2*y bad!!!

A lot of issues/frustrations for new players can be manipulated, but often GMs are also new and can't make use of how PF2e gives you the best tools of any d20-esque to tune the game once you understand AND get reliable results.


vagrant-poet wrote:

I think this is good for 5e converts

Wow. THANK YOU! That is exactly the sort of resource I was hoping to find. I appreciate it!!


Hey no problem, it's big heavy game,but it's really worth it if you can get momentum going and enjoy all of it's greats without too many difficult learning experiences.

Best of luck!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

You seem to have gotten what you wanted, but note that the phrase "new player" carries a lot of variability.

It can include players that have:
- Never played a TTRPG before
- Played TTRPGs from a distant era (e.g., AD&D)
- Played RPGs on a computer (e.g., World of Warcraft)
- Played Pathfinder 1E, converting to PF2E
- Played D&D 5E, converting to PF2E
- Played PF2E in a different format (e.g., F2F players transitioning to VTT)

I always ask a "new player" what their experience has been (and, if they haven't played RPGs before, what they know about the fantasy genre from media or books - Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc.). Sometimes, new players don't even know the difference between a player and a character.

If people are new new, I just explain what an RPG is and tell them to describe what they want their characters to do, and the I (or the GM if I'm not the GM) will figure out how to map that onto the PF2 game ruleset.


One thing to note is that with Reign of Winter, a lot of the encounters are too tough if converted directly to PF2 on a level for level basis because the designers pushed the limits (or maybe that was me because I did some upgrades of my own!). There's less elasticity in PF2, and Severe encounter means SEVERE!

AND the opposite is true, with a lot of the high-volume encounters (mainly book 5, which I hardly had to upgrade) becoming easier, partly because level differences mean more in PF2 and partly because those weaker troops rely a lot on attacking Touch AC. That's a weak spot in PC defense that PF2 lacks, and which might be difficult to emulate though building them with the highest attack ratings might work (coupled w/ lower damage for balance).

Also, one will have to reevaluate the timeline (again in book 5 w/ its organized reactions) because PF2 rewards (many might say requires) breaks in between battles to regain Focus Points, perform Medicine, and Repair shields/recharge Shield spell. The PCs will have enough access to skill feats to speed up some of those activities, but not all.


Castilliano wrote:
One thing to note is that with Reign of Winter, a lot of the encounters are too tough if converted directly to PF2 on a level for level basis because the designers pushed the limits (or maybe that was me because I did some upgrades of my own!). There's less elasticity in PF2, and Severe encounter means SEVERE!

How did you know I paused it in the middle of book 4? Honestly, if I wasn't looking forward to book 5 so much, I'd be much more willing to shelve the campaign and just start a fresh one, but man am I so excited!

Spoiler:
My wife is a huge fan of the animated Anastasia, and I am particularly interested in seeing her face when I begin playing some of the music- especially the songs of Rasputin. I'm going to do everything I can to try and make the destination as mysterious as possible when they do their "quantum leap" at the end of book 4 so the reveal hits that much harder.


Radu the Wanderer wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
One thing to note is that with Reign of Winter, a lot of the encounters are too tough if converted directly to PF2 on a level for level basis because the designers pushed the limits (or maybe that was me because I did some upgrades of my own!). There's less elasticity in PF2, and Severe encounter means SEVERE!

How did you know I paused it in the middle of book 4? Honestly, if I wasn't looking forward to book 5 so much, I'd be much more willing to shelve the campaign and just start a fresh one, but man am I so excited!

** spoiler omitted **

Five is awesome! I've heard it called the best AP book ever by some, and it's hard for me to disagree based on my players' reactions.

Book 5:
Oh my gosh the look on the face of the player when the searchlights hit him and a few others trying to sneak in.
"The spotlight sweeps over you, lighting up you and your friends."
"But our team's invisible."
"And yet you see them."
(face sinks; player flying safely above chortles)

But note part of what made 5 so awesome was the perpetual onslaught of enemies! They're intended to be so tough as to drive back the PCs, a concept foreign to most RPG players, especially when they come from dominating like in many PF1 & 5th ed games. And in a system like PF2 where PCs usually rely on refreshing, the perpetual combat can tax them more than generic numbers would indicate. It should be impossible to get 10 minutes through a major portion! So they'll likely have to hit and run.

Which is why there are so many reserves! That makes the PCs face the same difficulty at point of contact. Also note that many creatures are effective from LONG ranges, like the fellows in the tower who can participate in most any outside combat, but also the tree creature can see (and be seen) above the buildings. There's really hardly any relief available and that's a bit hard to adjudicate in PF2, other than by them fleeing to return later (and as worth repeating, that can be difficult for some players used to dominating lopsided battles).

Mine were powergamers running PFS PCs (so they had excess wealth & resources) and they were severely taxed, essentially taking on every mobile force in succession, unwittingly unleashing more as they thought it safe to press forward.

I vaguely recollect that somebody's done a conversion, though I don't know where it might be. There's a site where many conversions have been posted.

Oh, and the RPing w/ the kids, the death fey, and the old lady (!) was quite interesting.


There was also a discussion a while back on the Pathfinder 2e niche. That might help out a bit too. In particular, I remember that it covered some useful bits of perspective that the earlier reddit link did not - less about the raw mechanical differences and more about changes in attitude/playstyle.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Radu the Wanderer wrote:

I'm expecting my second edition book to arrive in the next few days. Does anyone have some suggestions for good places with new player info/tutorials/explainers to help get me up to speed? I'd like to convert my dnd 5e game to a PF 2.0 game to finish up the rest of the Reign of Winter campagin I've currently got on hiatus....

but to do so, I'd like to get a handle on what the main concepts are so I can better teach them to my players. I'm totally fine with a "we're all new at this" approach, where we learn things gradually, but I'd like to minimize the reading during the session if I can.

If this has already been covered elsewhere, sorry! I'm still getting used to the forums after a fairly long hiatus.

For players, I think essential ideas to understand about PF2 to have a good time are:

Three action economy Run through the basic actions (Strike, Stride, Step, Interact, ...) and see how they are the building blocks with which you build a lot of other things.

MAP and third actions The system discourages spending all your actions standing there and hitting things. That's why multiple attack penalty is a thing. The wise player prepares for this during character generation and when picking stuff during level-ups to ensure they have several other useful things to do each turn. It's even better when you flip the thought: don't worry about your third action, worry about how your first action can be used to prepare for your attacks. If you Demoralize and then attack, your enemy's AC might be lower. So it's not "spend your third action on a skill", it's spending the first one on a skill.

Teamwork makes the dream work This system isn't intended for people to build their characters without any talking with the other players. A lot of classes want things, that other classes are better at providing. A rogue with Dread Striker for example likes having frightened enemies. Fighters can take the Intimidating Strike feat that sets this up nicely. Also, flanking is a big deal. Finally, enemies are scary enough that a single character has a tough time doing all the tanking for the party. Two people sharing the load works better. Sometimes even the wizard has to take a round of hits to give the fighter a moment to recover (yeah, he's still taking hits much more often, don't worry).

Monsters are scary The default difficulty of PF2 is "challenging". Moderate doesn't mean easy in this game, moderate means somewhat difficult. Monsters hit hard, hit accurately, are tough to take down. You really need that teamwork to weaken monsters so that you can properly hurt them.
NOTE: this is just the default. PF2 does make it easier for the GM to tune this up or down, so make sure to actually tune it to the difficulty that your group enjoys.

No One Trick The game is set up to make it hard to always rely on the same tactic. Sometimes it's hard to get a monster into melee (dragon strafing you from above). Sometimes they're immune to your favorite weapon or spell. While the game math already makes it harder to hyperspecialize in a particular weapon or tactic, it doesn't automatically prepare you with alternatives. If you like swords but run into an ooze that just gets word if you slice it, you could switch to a club with which you'll still be reasonably proficient. But you have to have brought one.
This is a learning process. As a player, try to learn from encounters where you were underprepared. As a GM, if you have a hard monster coming up that needs prep, you could give the players a chance to prepare by first giving them an encounter against a weaker monster with a similar defense, so that they might learn.

18 is not powergaming Building a character with an 18 in their primary stat used to be considered munchkinny in earlier editions. Here it's just normal, what you get if you follow the path of least resistance in character generation. And the game math expects it.

Heal Up Previous editions worked heavily with an attrition model: during an adventuring day you'd run into a lot of not super hard fights but gradually they'd wear down your spells and healing and HP so that at the end it'd be hard. This didn't work so well because players found ways to get much more healing than expected (wand of CLW), and it also didn't work well if your adventure didn't feature a lot of encounters per day. PF2 does it differently: the base assumption is that you go into an encounter at full health and with focus points fresh. Then you have an encounter that tends to be a bit harder just by itself. And then you use Treat Wounds, Lay on Hands or other ways to heal up before the next fight. This makes it much easier for the GM to build encounters because you can balance each one in isolation.
Where it gets tricky is if encounters aren't isolated, such as very densely packed dungeons or the party fleeing deeper into the dungeon or some climax scene at high speed. That's when you need to dip deeper into your potion stash. And as GM, that's when you can use slightly easier encounters, knowing that the combination of them actually makes them pretty hard.
This also takes a bit of work with Paizo's dungeons: they tend to cram them close together and monsters have to use earplugs not to get pulled into the fight in the next room. You can handle that by removing some of the monsters to thin things out, or you can actually redesign it as one encounter with some of the monsters just starting out in different rooms. I think that makes more sense: if you know it's gonna get involved, it counts as part of the encounter, it's not a separate encounter just because it's in another room.

Trust the encounter building system... almost This is a GM thing; don't try to copy PF1 stuff level for level, because the results will be silly. The numbers don't mean the same at all. In PF1 a CR+3 encounter is enough to make you notice. In PF2 it's the sort of thing TPK stories get written about. In particular, solo bosses are harsh in PF2. L+3 solos are almost never a fun encounter. Even if the players win, it'll be a frustrating fight because 80% of the things the players do will fail, and only sheer numbers eventually chew through the boss. If you build the same encounter with a L+2 boss, and spend the leftover encounter budget on a pair of mooks, it'll be about equally challenging, but much less frustrating to play.

+1 is the new +2 In PF1 a +1 modifier doesn't do that much. In PF2 it does, because of how the critical success scaling works. The same modifier does twice as much. That also explains why flanking enemies (-2 AC) makes such a big difference.

Everyone needs high AC In PF1 a wizard could rely on buffs to avoid attacks, but if one got through the wizard's AC would be low enough that it'd likely hit. In PF2, buffs don't last very long anymore, and if you get hit while your AC is low, it's more likely to be a crit. AC isn't just to avoid getting hit, because often you WILL get hit. It's to avoid getting crit.


If your looking for guides, builds, other stuff, you can find a lot here: Pathfinder 2e Resources.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / General Discussion / Good explainers for new players? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.