I am starting GM PF2e, I need some pointers


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

Grand Lodge

I am starting to put together a new homebrew adventure series based on PF2e. I have done this with D&D3e many years ago. I need some pointers on how to populate the various encounters. I have heard that there is a system to start picking monsters. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Thanks
Greg


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It's not exactly related to picking monsters, but it's a very useful tip: Don't use hazards that are higher level than the characters are when they are facing the hazard.

The guidance for building hazards says they're suppose to have one extreme trait (i.e. if it's really hard to find it won't be as hard to disable/avoid once found or survive if triggered, or if it's really deadly if triggered it won't be hard to notice), but if the hazard is higher level than the party any trait that was set to normal numbers for its level will effectively be extreme due to how level factors into all the checks and DCs in the game.


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Although Archives of Nethys gives you all the rules you need, they are not displayed in an easy-to-read chapter format. You can search AoN for specific rules and suggestions, but you almost need to know what you don't know in order to make that search.
I'd suggest grabbing digital copies of the Core Rule Book, which has nearly 50 pages of GM guidance in Chapter 10, Game Mastering.
Another good resource is the PF2 Game Masters Guide, which is 256 pages of additional information about GMing.
Each of those costs $15 for the digital version

Finally, there are several early blog posts about how to build monsters
Building Monsters

And this blog post lets you download a chapter about building mosters.
Building Monsters For Fun And Profit


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Dancing Wind wrote:
Although Archives of Nethys gives you all the rules you need, they are not displayed in an easy-to-read chapter format.

If you click "Rules" on the menu it actually brings up a list of rule sources and those that are fully rules books are then laid out in the same chapter format as the books are and you can read through chapter by chapter.

The only difference from the actual books at that point is the layout aesthetic and the lack of art.


How very cool! Thank you!


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Grcles de Cross wrote:

I am starting to put together a new homebrew adventure series based on PF2e. I have done this with D&D3e many years ago. I need some pointers on how to populate the various encounters. I have heard that there is a system to start picking monsters. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Thanks
Greg

My gut instinct is that you are looking for the Building Encounters rules. Specifically the XP Budget and Choosing Creatures tables.

My tip: The names of those threat levels is fairly accurate. A moderate threat is a decent challenge. One that the party can take on when rested without problems, but may pose problems if many of them happen during the same day or several happen back-to-back. An extreme threat is threatening TPK.

Example of using the tables:

3 player party. Party level 7. Low threat encounter.

XP budget 60 - 15(for being one player less than 4) = 45XP.
3 creatures: XP allotment = 20, 20, 15. So two creatures at party level -2 and one at party level -3. Becomes two CR5 creatures and one CR4.


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Yeah, a problem you see repeatedly is people who come in from a background in, say, D&D3e or PF1e and are used to the CR calculations overstating the difficulty of the encounter in many cases hitting PF2e and finding they're shoved into a meat grinder.

Generally speaking, if PF2e says an encounter is high threat, its high thread. And even a moderate threat is defined assuming players are on their game and utilizing the tools at hand effectively.

My own suggestion would be to start out lowballing encounters a bit (though this is tricky to do with first level characters because of the limited number of level 0 or Level -1 opponents) until your players get their arms around the system (or it becomes obvious to you that they're not going to).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Congratulations on choosing PF2! It is an absolutely wonderful system to GM. There are a number of threads on these message boards that deal with GM advice that are worth looking at. I also homebrew some PF2 material and have had the most fun with making encounters on larger maps that can have a lot of interesting terrain and environmental considerations. I really like using large numbers of level -2 or even level -3 monsters along side one or two equal level monsters, but keep the party from being overwhelmed by having the other side have an objective that they can accomplish without having kill all the PCs: getting away with NPc prisoners, stealing something, completing a ritual, arming a hazard or trap, unleashing an even more powerful creature, etc. I often have encounters that will last 12 to 14 turns this way and scroll across multiple rooms or from one side to other of a 100 square or more map. This really helps spell casrers get the most out of their spells and it lets martials show off their skills and movement abilities more than just having everyone attack with as many actions as possible


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Most has been covered. I'll give a few tips:

1. Try not to group too many encounters together in quick succession.

2. Allow lots of between combat healing with the Medicine skill. It is expected the PCs enter most major combats or series of combats at or near full health.

3. Be generous with hero points. They will smooth things over as the players learn the new system.

4. The new system has some different expectations from 5E or 3E/PF1. It might take some getting used to such as PF2 combats are expected to be fast with both sides taking and giving damage. Your players will get hit a lot and miss a lot against bosses while at the same time still doing a lot of damage as a group and taking a lot of damage. The difficulty level of PF2 is set higher than previous versions of D&D save for perhaps the very early editions. Hopefully your players will be ok with this.

Until my players became used to it and I got a feel for how to build encounters to do what I want them to do, the game seemed overly difficult and the players were somewhat unhappy they were getting hit so often and failing to hit so much. But the game is built intentionally this way to speed up combat, make the game more challenging and dangerous, and its why PCs should enter most combat with near full hit points.

5. Low level is much tougher than high level. You can get taken out very quickly and easily at low level. If your players can take the pain until they get to much higher level, they will see the power comes at higher level.

Hopefully your foray into PF2 goes well. It's the easiest version of D&D/PF to DM. It has the smoothest power scaling of any edition yet. It is very playable and easy to run at low level up to level 20.

Sovereign Court

Yeah, chapter 10 is beefy, but pretty indispensable for the GM. It's the magic sauce that holds everything else together.

Grand Lodge

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Wow! You people are great! I am going to start doing a LOT of reading and "start low and then build up". I am glad that half of the group has played PF2e before (mostly scenarios). So I think this will go OK, I have been playing PF2e scenarios since they came out. So this will be fun.


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My advice is to include hero points, at least one per session. The tight math can occasionally be frustrating for players, and having at least one reroll a session helps a lot.

Liberty's Edge

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My additional advice for hero points would be for the players : only use them on saves' critical failures, on heroic recovery or on a skill check you really missed and where doing well is critical to the mission.

Because you can almost always roll worse than you first did.

Grand Lodge

The Raven Black wrote:

My additional advice for hero points would be for the players : only use them on saves' critical failures, on heroic recovery or on a skill check you really missed and where doing well is critical to the mission.

Because you can almost always roll worse than you first did.

Good Point

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