An open letter to Paizo, please consider altering some of your approaches when building scenarios / APs / Modules


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Scarab Sages

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So Pathfinder 2e has been out for a while, and I want to say that for the most part, I really enjoy it! Fun to play, pretty good balance of lore and mechanics, certainly enough versatility to build just about any character you want (still waiting for the ability to play an unarmored martial character that uses a katana, but you can't have everything you want.)

However, me and my friends keep running into a few issues that really ruin the fun of the game. The problem is not so much that these things are 'hard.' Hard is fine. The problem seems to stem from the issue that these are just 'not fun.' While me and my fellow players will usually make it through the scenario alive, it was more of a slog to play through and not fun.

I guess I'm saying that these practices don't let us feel awesome because we won through superior tactics or by coming up with creative solutions, but because we just slogged through another fight that was severely stacked against us.

Y'know what it feels like? It feels like playing poker against a dealer who you know is cheating, but in the end you win because he let you win after embarrassing you for half an hour. It's not fun. These are some of the situations that make me feel like that.

1) Sending the party up against one really high CR bad guy. Okay, so your own core rulebook says not to do this, as the math breakes down the further apart the players are from the monster level, but in Paizo-written scenarios I am constantly going up against monsters that are party level +3. Normally this is tough, but when said monsters have extreme spell DCs or extreme AC or attack rolls, then it just becomes silly. I've had a properly geared fighter receive crits on a dice roll of 14 (plus modifiers), crit failed against spells on a dice roll of 10, needed to roll a 19 on the die to hit. Stop it, or if you are going to send a monster of party level+3 against a party, make sure they don't have some ridiculous numbers in there. It's just frustrating and not fun.

I've even had a scenario that had an enemy of party level +4 that possessed me, after I failed a will save by rolling a 17 on the die. That means it could just take control of me, and I DON'T ACTUALLY GET TO PLAY THE GAME 85% of the time. That isn't fun.

Additionally, from a meta perspective, it just shuts down some entire classes. If EVERY monster you fight is Party Level+3, then likely their defenses are too high for a swashbuckler to ever generate panache, at which point you have basically turned the swashbuckler class into a subpar fighter.

2) please re-evaluate skill DCs. I understand wanting to make a task challenging, but I've seen skill DCs in the 40s by level 13. That is 9 higher than they should be, 4 higher than a 'rare' item should be. And that was on a hazard! Basically at that point just write into the scenario "Roll critical hit damage and apply it to the party, don't worry, they all critically failed anyway."

Please remember that unless you are a rogue or investigator, you have limited skill increases, so throw some lower level DCs our way. Either that, or by higher levels each character will only have 2-3 skills that they are good at, and any skill that is 'trained' should basically be thrown out as not even worth it. Better to not try than to crit fail because you just didn't have enough skill increase to up, say, medicine.

3) On the subject of skills, maybe go a bit less crazy on the skill proficiency prereqs. I can't tell you how many times we've spotted a hazard or trap or haunt and we had the skills to overcome it but OH NO! Our proficiency level isn't high enough because our level 7 cleric chose to get master in Diplomacy instead of Religion. So the party has to walk straight into the trap and trigger it, which (because of problem 1 ) often is a hazard of party level +3 and will often result in one or more party members getting crit and going to dying 2 from full health.

Remember, at level 7 most characters have only one master skill, maybe none. And many of YOUR classes require people to invest in specific skills to work. Bards need perform for many of their abilities, Swashbucklers need to max out acrobatics and their other panache-generating skill. Many Barbarian builds need to max out Athletics or Intimidate. Don't gate lock PLAYING THE GAME behind skills that you didn't know you needed to max out. Maybe give people until level 5 until requiring expert, and 9 before requiring master.

4)Please stop giving enemies infinate zero resource cost damaging abilities + healing (or temp HP generating) It is just stupid powerful, and to make it cost zero resources just means they can do it every turn. Just ran into a pack of super stirges in a Paizo-released game that did 2d8 damage EVERY ACTION and got that much Temp HP. So this happened:

Player: I crit! 15 damage!
GM: Okay, it's turn, it does 2d8 damage to your friend three times. Look at that, one was double 8s, it now essentially has no damage on it and your friend is now down and dying.
Player: Wow, undid everything I did and took down my friend at the same time. And it can do the same to me next round

5)Small pet peeve, fix clay golems. Currently they have a 'counteract level of 10' (their CR) which means you need a LEVEL 9 SPELL (as in, level 17 paladin laying on hands.) to succeed on the counteract check to undo it, or a LEVEL 7 CRIT SUCCEED. Seems beyond the abilities of a level 7 party (which, again, see 1 above.)

As I said before, I love this game, but just because a game is good doesn't mean it can't be better. If you want a boss, make him Party level +1 and throw in some healers for the boss! Make a small trap or hazard that triggers a small fight immediately so you can't just heal out of it and move to the next room. There is fun to be had, but the above stuff . . . that . . . that's not it. At least not for me.

Thank you for your time.


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I mostly agree with everything.

One thing that is easy to do for bosses is to take a monster one level higher than what should be used and apply the Weak template, and for minions to take a monster one level behind and apply the Elite template.
Weak and Elite template tend to decrease and increase bonuses more than a level of difference, as such you end up with a boss with manageable numbers but high abilities/hit points and minions with ok numbers but low damage/hit points.

Traps are massively messed up. I've encountered far too many traps that were impossible to deal with either through sheer height of the DC or ridiculous proficiency gating.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Quote:
I've even had a scenario that had an enemy of party level +4 that possessed me, after I failed a will save by rolling a 17 on the die. That means it could just take control of me, and I DON'T ACTUALLY GET TO PLAY THE GAME 85% of the time. That isn't fun.

Level+4 is listed as an extreme threat solo boss, and your experience seems pretty extreme to me. I am guessing you didn't save a hero point for situations like this? A party should know ahead of time if they're encountering a foe this dangerous, so preparation ahead of combat would be pretty much mandatory. If your GM sprung this on you out of the blue, well then that's not a great thing to do to a party.

Quote:
Additionally, from a meta perspective, it just shuts down some entire classes. If EVERY monster you fight is Party Level+3, then likely their defenses are too high for a swashbuckler to ever generate panache, at which point you have basically turned the swashbuckler class into a subpar fighter.

Does this actually happen though? Every monster, really? I admit my experience so far is only with Age of Ashes and two one-shots, but in AoA my party fights mostly foes below them in level, with perhaps a leader the same level as them for the fight. Later on these leaders become the mooks that they fight. Rinse and repeat as the party levels up.


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As far as I've been able to tell, APs expect a degree of party optimization to handle baseline. PFS scenarios are geared more towards ad hoc groups and avoid severe or extreme difficulty already(from what I've gleaned from discussion, please tell me if this is incorrect). If you want to avoid the need for party optimization, you're stuck begging the gm to lower the difficulty.

1,4) For instance, the +3 solo boss is much less scary when the party has dirge of doom and inspire courage from a bard and bard archetype, one for all or fake out from a swash or gunslinger archetype, athletics trip, fighter +2s, etc to clear the stat check a solo boss represents. But try that same fight without those things? Disaster.

The +4 possession though is brutal. I've whiteroomed similar encounters and they can be nearly impossible even if you see it coming. Similar threats come from any creature/hazard with incapacitate spells or effects and the levels to bully you.

Oh and can I get a nethys link on those super stirges? I'd like to add them to my repertoire of available creatures.

2,3) This is why you bring a rogue in the first place. You want somebody with the perception and open boosts to clear skill gates for all the non-negotiable skills in the game. Classes not locked into skills not prioritizing those skills is a player error that they hopefully won't repeat. The dc numbers aren't nearly as scary when you're getting your item bonus and one for all/aid circumstance bonus. Use heroism for a status bonus too I guess if you suspect the task is going to be super hard.

And yeah trained is useless. Why do you think int is dumped as often as it is? Extra trained skills are nearly devoid of value.

Sure, the gm could tone all of this down pretty easily yeah? But that takes away from the fun of seeing system mastery in full effect.


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Fumarole wrote:
Level+4 is listed as an extreme threat solo boss, and your experience seems pretty extreme to me. I am guessing you didn't save a hero point for situations like this?

Spending a hero point to reroll a check that fails on a 17 or less on a d20? Nah, you save those things to spare yourself from natural 1 rolls or a critical failure you can't afford and hope you just fail it instead. At least, that is how I use those resources.

Also, I'd like to know about those super stirges.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
DeathlessOne wrote:
Also, I'd like to know about those super stirges.

It's a PFS scenario custom monster. The PFS developers apparently took a stirge and increased things (like boosting the blood drain from 1d4 to 2d8), increased the persistent bleed damage from removing/killing the stirge, and giving them permanent concealment. And they send multiple of them.


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Quote:
5)Small pet peeve, fix clay golems. Currently they have a 'counteract level of 10' (their CR) which means you need a LEVEL 9 SPELL (as in, level 17 paladin laying on hands.) to succeed on the counteract check to undo it, or a LEVEL 7 CRIT SUCCEED. Seems beyond the abilities of a level 7 party (which, again, see 1 above.)

Seems to me the counteract level for the clay golem is 5, so all that is needed is success with a fourth level spell or a critical success for a second level spell:

CRB p. 459 wrote:
What you can counteract depends on the check result and the target’s level. If an effect is a spell, its level is the counteract level. Otherwise, halve its level and round up to determine its counteract level. If an effect’s level is unclear and it came from a creature, halve and round up the creature’s level.

Counteracting can be confusing, yeah, which is why I advocate for spell levels 1-20, to match just about everything else in the game, so that no one needs to faff about with the half-level-rounded-up business.

Scarab Sages

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Listen, I’m just here to say my peace and things that I don’t find fun about the system. If you don’t like my complaints, that’s fine. I’m not here to start a fight. Just to air my grievances in an effort to make a more fun game.

@Fumarole: if you need an 18+ on the dice to save, the chances of a hero point saving you is slim. I saved it for the likely chance that it would do a gobbledygook of damage to me and put me at dying 3 and I could save myself with said hero point.

And, yes we did prepare. We knew we were going against a big bad mamma Jama ghost/spirit/haunt thing, so our THREE divine casters all got set to fight undead, my fighter has the equivalent of two ghost touch weapons and double slice, and we had bought holy water. And then first round it won initiative because it’s perception was so high and it possessed me right off the bat and wouldn’t ya know, I can’t play the game and all the party has to kill me to get it out of me because it has more HP than me and all damage is shared between us. And no, nothing else in the entire adventure had ever had ever shown the possession ability.

As for the swashbuckler question: it does when EVERY FIGHT is party level+3 solo monsters, which I have seen more than once. Just a succession of rooms of solo party level +3 monsters.

@gesalt:
Sure, that’s great if the entire party gets together to try and make sure they have the most powerful synergies in the game, but what if I wanna play an inventor or a Sorcerer. Do you just say :”No, you have to play a bard because that’s how we win this RPG?” In that case you solved one problem of unfun for another, now no one is playing a character they want to play.

And if trained skills are useless, why are they even in the game? In fact, if your answer to my problems is ‘rogues exist’ then why even have other classes have skills? And why not just have a rogue NPC follow every party around instead of basically forcing every party to have a rogue?

Look, my argument is that we’ve seen plenty of scenarios ratchet up the DCs (even to +9 over what they should have been), why not occasionally ratchet them down so that the rogue doesn’t have to do everything. My nice guy 18 charisma champion would like to be able to open his mouth without everyone immediately going from indifferent to hostile on him. My bard would like to occasionally make that athletics climbing check. It doesn’t have to be every skill check, you can still turn up the DC for that devious gunpowder trap that people aren’t familiar with, just occasionally throw non-rogues a bone is all I’m asking.

Spoiler for 3-01 year of shattered sanctuaries:
The upper tier has the super stirges, which all have a flat miss chance on top of everything else. And yes, they dropped several people in the first round (before we got to act!) so running away was not an option. At least, that’s how our GM ran it, haven’t actually seen their stats. But they are sending those against level 2-3 characters. Also, that is not the only time I’ve seen a creature that has a resource free damage+heal mechanic. Fall of Plaugestone and Malevolence both have one as well.

Scarab Sages

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For those who don’t believe me about the clay golem:

Cursed Wound (divine, curse, necromancy) A creature hit by the clay golem’s fist must succeed at a DC 29 Fortitude save or be cursed until healed to its maximum HP. The cursed creature can’t regain HP except via magic, and anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed at a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. The golem’s counteract level is equal to its creature level.

Creature level 10= Rules as written you need a crit success from a lvl 7 spell (couch as a lvl 13 champion’s lay on hands) or a normal success from a level 9 spell (such as a level 17 Druid’s goodberry)

Source: archives of Nethys and also Bestiary p. 186


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Fumarole wrote:
Quote:
5)Small pet peeve, fix clay golems. Currently they have a 'counteract level of 10' (their CR)
Seems to me the counteract level for the clay golem is 5, so all that is needed is success with a fourth level spell or a critical success for a second level spell:

The Clay Golem's counteract level is fairly obviously supposed to be 5, and that line of text is meant as reminder text for the standard calculation that a creature's counteract level is half of its creature level.

But that isn't what it actually says. Instead that line of text is unambiguously an explicit override of the standard calculation and puts the counteract level of the Clay Golem at an absurdly unreachable spot.


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Fortunately you can ignore the curse entirely with potions.

Scarab Sages

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Guntermench wrote:
Fortunately you can ignore the curse entirely with potions.

Uh, no. Potions don’t have to make the counteract check and can heal you, true, but the curse is still there so you can’t regain HP from other sources until the curse is broken. Sure, you can recover to full with potions, but the next time you are hurt you will still be under the curse.

Dark Archive

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VampByDay wrote:
Guntermench wrote:
Fortunately you can ignore the curse entirely with potions.
Uh, no. Potions don’t have to make the counteract check and can heal you, true, but the curse is still there so you can’t regain HP from other sources until the curse is broken. Sure, you can recover to full with potions, but the next time you are hurt you will still be under the curse.

Nothing I'm reading from what you posted about the Clay Golem's ability seems to make Potions non-viable. As soon as you are healed to full, the curse goes away.

Clay Golem wrote:
Cursed Wound (divine, curse, necromancy) A creature hit by the clay golem’s fist must succeed at a DC 29 Fortitude save or be cursed until healed to its maximum HP. The cursed creature can’t regain HP except via magic, and anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed at a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. The golem’s counteract level is equal to its creature level.

Bolded by me to show what I'm looking at. There's no other language there that says if you are healed by potions that doesn't count. Am I missing something?


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VampByDay wrote:
Guntermench wrote:
Fortunately you can ignore the curse entirely with potions.
Uh, no. Potions don’t have to make the counteract check and can heal you, true, but the curse is still there so you can’t regain HP from other sources until the curse is broken. Sure, you can recover to full with potions, but the next time you are hurt you will still be under the curse.

You do know it ends when you hit full HP right?

Scarab Sages

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Guntermench wrote:
VampByDay wrote:
Guntermench wrote:
Fortunately you can ignore the curse entirely with potions.
Uh, no. Potions don’t have to make the counteract check and can heal you, true, but the curse is still there so you can’t regain HP from other sources until the curse is broken. Sure, you can recover to full with potions, but the next time you are hurt you will still be under the curse.
You do know it ends when you hit full HP right?

Ah, no, did miss that part. Fully willing to fess up when I'm wrong. Still, don't think that was intentional. Having exactly one (or I guess 2, as soon as Thaumaturge's chalice comes out) ways to heal a completely debilitating curse like that is pretty bad. And I think potions were meant to be counteracted too and the loophole's an accident. Otherwise Paizo tends to be nice and call it out (a.k.a. "It should be noted that potions do work for unknown reasons.") And even if it was intentional, it seems like just a dick move given how much damage the thing does.

"Here's a really tough monster. You beat it? GREAT! Now spend all of your party loot buying healing potions to get rid of his curse that there is no way you saved against. Say goodbye to that +2 rune you were hoping to buy in a few levels!"


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It's pretty on par with previous versions tbh. It might be a mistake, but it may also just be a "f*#~ it, this is one of a thousand+ monsters it can be a nod to the past".


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
gesalt wrote:
This is why you bring a rogue in the first place

I mean, isn't "you need a rogue" a gigantic red flag in the first place?

Shadow Lodge

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VampByDay wrote:

For those who don’t believe me about the clay golem:

Cursed Wound (divine, curse, necromancy) A creature hit by the clay golem’s fist must succeed at a DC 29 Fortitude save or be cursed until healed to its maximum HP. The cursed creature can’t regain HP except via magic, and anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed at a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. The golem’s counteract level is equal to its creature level.

Creature level 10= Rules as written you need a crit success from a lvl 7 spell (couch as a lvl 13 champion’s lay on hands) or a normal success from a level 9 spell (such as a level 17 Druid’s goodberry)

Source: archives of Nethys and also Bestiary p. 186

The Rogue's Dispelling Slice and Blank Slate feats also read this way before they were errata-ed: I'm guessing they changed the way counteracting worked before printing but missed a few specific ability interactions...


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I won't go over the specific encounter, but we had a fight that lasted an hour and half in our last session that was extremely unfun, the dm just took pity on us eventually and the monsters left us alone. I looked it up on forums after the fact and I was far from the only one who had issues with the monster and fight which gave me some validation but still. It was very unfun, especially to the other players who aren't as... Practiced as I am with the game.

One thing i see often in these kinds of threads that really bums me out are the sort of suggestions around what characters to bring to combats. If the fix for hard combats is bring a fighter/bard/rogue, that's a major flag for game balance. It definitely feels like the options we've gotten post core rulebook aren't as strong, but they're fun to play around with. New players don't think about their dpr, they just like the neat concepts. They shouldn't be penalized for that with combats that are slogs.

Scarab Sages

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Gaulin wrote:

I won't go over the specific encounter, but we had a fight that lasted an hour and half in our last session that was extremely unfun, the dm just took pity on us eventually and the monsters left us alone. I looked it up on forums after the fact and I was far from the only one who had issues with the monster and fight which gave me some validation but still. It was very unfun, especially to the other players who aren't as... Practiced as I am with the game.

One thing i see often in these kinds of threads that really bums me out are the sort of suggestions around what characters to bring to combats. If the fix for hard combats is bring a fighter/bard/rogue, that's a major flag for game balance. It definitely feels like the options we've gotten post core rulebook aren't as strong, but they're fun to play around with. New players don't think about their dpr, they just like the neat concepts. They shouldn't be penalized for that with combats that are slogs.

Not just new players. I’ve made some sub-par characters just because that was the concept. Just recently in Outlaws if Alkensyar I am playing a Dwarf Investigator. Is that optimal? No, but my concept is that he is trying to learn what progress has been made in modern gunnery and bring it back to his clan. It’s fun, but I probably could have made a stronger character if all I cared about was powerbuilds.

Sovereign Court

Fumarole wrote:
Quote:
5)Small pet peeve, fix clay golems. Currently they have a 'counteract level of 10' (their CR) which means you need a LEVEL 9 SPELL (as in, level 17 paladin laying on hands.) to succeed on the counteract check to undo it, or a LEVEL 7 CRIT SUCCEED. Seems beyond the abilities of a level 7 party (which, again, see 1 above.)

Seems to me the counteract level for the clay golem is 5, so all that is needed is success with a fourth level spell or a critical success for a second level spell:

CRB p. 459 wrote:
What you can counteract depends on the check result and the target’s level. If an effect is a spell, its level is the counteract level. Otherwise, halve its level and round up to determine its counteract level. If an effect’s level is unclear and it came from a creature, halve and round up the creature’s level.
Counteracting can be confusing, yeah, which is why I advocate for spell levels 1-20, to match just about everything else in the game, so that no one needs to faff about with the half-level-rounded-up business.

That would be the normal way of things, but the Clay Golem says:

Clay Golem wrote:
Cursed Wound (divine, curse, necromancy) A creature hit by the clay golem’s fist must succeed at a DC 29 Fortitude save or be cursed until healed to its maximum HP. The cursed creature can’t regain HP except via magic, and anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed at a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. The golem’s counteract level is equal to its creature level.

Either this is intentional (but insane) or it's vestigial from when they hadn't ported over many creatures yet and hadn't come up with a general rule for deciding counteract level for non-spell things yet.


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Which reminds me stop using the word level for two different things. Please use another term - maybe "rank" - for spell level. It would be a lot easier.


Gortle wrote:
Which reminds me stop using the word level for two different things. Please use another term - maybe "rank" - for spell level. It would be a lot easier.

Or just be like the South Park Marklar and refer to all people, places, and things as "Marklar". ;)


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Shot: "I've had a hard fight with a Clay Golem"

Chaser: "Paizo, please change the way you run your business"

All I can say to the OP is "git gud".


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Ascalaphus wrote:
Fumarole wrote:
Quote:
5)Small pet peeve, fix clay golems. Currently they have a 'counteract level of 10' (their CR) which means you need a LEVEL 9 SPELL (as in, level 17 paladin laying on hands.) to succeed on the counteract check to undo it, or a LEVEL 7 CRIT SUCCEED. Seems beyond the abilities of a level 7 party (which, again, see 1 above.)

Seems to me the counteract level for the clay golem is 5, so all that is needed is success with a fourth level spell or a critical success for a second level spell:

CRB p. 459 wrote:
What you can counteract depends on the check result and the target’s level. If an effect is a spell, its level is the counteract level. Otherwise, halve its level and round up to determine its counteract level. If an effect’s level is unclear and it came from a creature, halve and round up the creature’s level.
Counteracting can be confusing, yeah, which is why I advocate for spell levels 1-20, to match just about everything else in the game, so that no one needs to faff about with the half-level-rounded-up business.

That would be the normal way of things, but the Clay Golem says:

Clay Golem wrote:
Cursed Wound (divine, curse, necromancy) A creature hit by the clay golem’s fist must succeed at a DC 29 Fortitude save or be cursed until healed to its maximum HP. The cursed creature can’t regain HP except via magic, and anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed at a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. The golem’s counteract level is equal to its creature level.
Either this is intentional (but insane) or it's vestigial from when they hadn't ported over many creatures yet and hadn't come up with a general rule for deciding counteract level for non-spell things yet.

It seems like a throwback to earlier editions of D&D. Clay Golem cursed wound used to be extremely harsh to deal with.

Liberty's Edge

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Squiggit wrote:
gesalt wrote:
This is why you bring a rogue in the first place
I mean, isn't "you need a rogue" a gigantic red flag in the first place?

I do not see you need Perception and you need skills as a gigantic red flag myself.

Par for the course I would say.

Liberty's Edge

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I love how people blame the system, Paizo, whatever for a bad experience and when they describe what happened, you can most of the time very clearly see players and/or GM's mistakes.

Yes. Let's blame Paizo and let's not describe what happened any more. This will surely help with the things in the system that actually do need improvement.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I think it's more important to provide reviews on products that have a situation that you don't find fun.

Review 3-01. I'm planning to.
Review Malevolence. I have a different perspective on that particular module.
Review Plaguestone. That stupid golem is stupid.

Reviews get read by the more pertinent people who need to hear the criticism of their encounter design.

I agree that blaming the game system for poorly designed or run encounters is not productive (or accurate)--I have seen those threads--but I don't think that's what this thread is about. I understood this thread to be about adventure design.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
The Raven Black wrote:

I love how people blame the system, Paizo, whatever for a bad experience and when they describe what happened, you can most of the time very clearly see players and/or GM's mistakes.

Yes. Let's blame Paizo and let's not describe what happened any more. This will surely help with the things in the system that actually do need improvement.

This! I ran Agents of Edgewatch from start to finish and never once I had my players complain about the difficulty level. And it was our first foray into the system, and no one optimized, so top speak- we had a melee forensic science investigator, a cosmos oracle, a liberator champion and a fighter who used a spear for the whole campaign. Around level ten they played off each other all the time, and most of the encounters were easy, the biggest wrench in their plans was when the final boss used a spell to switch their bodies between them(it was fun to hear the fighter reading out the spell repertoire of the oracle). But they won.

It was such a stark difference between 5e's Curse of Strahd, where our level 9 characters wiped the floor with Strahd. Here, they felt challenged, but never unfairly so.

In addition, as now I'm running Quest for the Frozen Flame for one group, and Abomination Vaults for the original one, there aren't really fights that I run where I felt like I was putting my players through the grinder


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Hmmm. . .

First of all, OP, I just want to say that your experiences are completely valid. I myself agree with you in a few points — Having to need anything that you cannot have in the moment isn't the most cool situation. In the case of hazards, this often means having to wreck it, or power through them... And I feel like, sometimes even these are not options at all. Having to need a rogue is even more bleh. I'm playing an EC campaign right now and the poor ranger had to invest in thievery because of that. With that considered...

I haven't ran a Paizo AP for a while, so I'm not sure how the difficulty is working out in the recent APs. More experienced players than me have actually told me that they find AV more lethal than AoA for example, although from what I see online I'm not sure if that's generally considered true. With that said, I will say that these... What, gimmicky fights? Are my favorite sort of fights. When the enemies does something special, I mean. Be it posession, Clay Golem's curse wounds, being able to do a super three-action combo if players finishes their turns adjacent to the enemy that is able to do it, having a cool bat wing reaction, etc etc. As a player myself, it pulls me in into the game and etc. Imo, these are the fights that makes people go "Ooooooh!" or "Nooooooooo!" or "Ohmygod Sasha you're dying 2 from the crit!!!". I do realize this is probably a group thing. Keeping the mood up and hyped is pretty important.

I say this as kindly as possible but imo, having a creature with a gimmick and not being able to use that gimmick defeats its point in the first place. Simply put, an enemy with Posession in meant to take a player out of the game, a Clay Golem is meant to make players waste their healing elixirs, etc. I get it! You're not saying that you don't enjoy gimmicks. A potential solution to these would be toning down these abilities... But again, would they be so memorable (if not frustrating, true) if they were toned down? Wouldn't they become another forgettable creature ability?

I'm not saying that these abilities's designs are perfect! Just offering some food for thought. These last questions that I made aren't necessarily literal, and are more there to get a point across.

Scarab Sages

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Wow, it never fails. I bring up some issues, try to make a reasoned argument, and then the people come out of the woodwork to make personal attacks instead of reading my post. This is why the boards are so toxic.

@Totally Not Gorbacz: Ah yes, if we were 'good' then we would have . . . what? Never had to fight the clay golem in the first place? Because it magically wouldn't be there if we were good? Had access to character level 17 resources at level 7? What? No wait, don't answer, you clearly just want to be insult me instead of contributing.

@The Raven Black: The issue here is that a lot of skills are gate-locked behind minimum proficiency requirements. And some authors will put those into effect immediately. Not every cleric is going to choose to heighten Religion to master at level 7. Some might do medicine, or diplomacy, or heck, even athletics. The issue is that only rogues (and to a lesser extent, investigators) get a lot of skill upgrades, so if you *need* a rogue in your party because you *need* all those skills to be as high as possible because the author throws ridiculous DCs and gatelocks at you through minimum proficiencies, then that is a sign that maybe something should change. Legitimate misunderstanding, hope that clears up the issue we were talking about. Of the 22 classes we have, each party shouldn't be FORCED to take always one (the rogue)

Your second post entirely misses the point and proves you didn't read my OP tough. To reiterate, I'm not blaming paizo or whining. If I didn't like the system I wouldn't be here. I'm asking them to take away the unfun bits to make a good system better. Maybe try not TL:DR the OP before responding next time.

@Tiger's Blake: I have before, but this is a persistent problem that I have seen throughout a LOT of pathfinder 2e. Like I said, this is by and large still a fun game, but when I see this stuff ALL THE TIME it ceases being a 'scenario' problem and starts being a 'Hey authors, let's get together and refocus' kind of problem. I have found these issues in the following games (just off the top of my head, there are more.) I'm not going to predicate an entire review around one bad fight, I'm going to sum up all the issues I see and put them in a request like this.

Fall of Plaguestone, Outlaws of Alkenstar, Malevolance, Abomination Vaults, Agents of Edgewatch, Extinction Curse, and many, many society scenarios.

@Tangorin: Like I said above, maybe actually read the OP before throwing personal attacks (My party did fine, the problem must be you.) This is a series of persistent problems that me and all my friends have complained about separately and together. And again, this isn't about difficulty, this is about fun. We won the fight against the ghost. No one died against the Stirges (though we almost did).

It wasn't fun for me to sit back and roll one save a round (needing to get a 18-20 to save which I never did) and have the GM take my character sheet away and try to kill the rest of the party.

The fight with the clay golem wasn't particularly hard, we just noticed afterwards what is in all likelyhood a typo.

After the fourth time of deliberately walking into a trap/hazard/haunt that we knew was there but were gatelocked behind stopping we walked out, healed up with the medicine skill over a couple of hours, and asked 'what's the point? That's just damage we will always take and be able to undo and have no chance of stopping. It's just a time sink and NOT FUN."

Hardness=/= no fun. Not fun=Not fun.


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Oh! Well, to reiterate and reinforce what I meant to get across, I do not mean to dismiss your experiences in any way or capacity, Vamp. I largely agree with your reasoning that needing certain proficiency prereqs for tasks or challenges that cannot be circumvented in any other way isn't fun design!

I just wanted to offer another perspective on combat encounters specifically. I don't mind having my character be possessed for an encounter, for example - which does not mean that your experience is any less important than mine. It's just that I like abilities like that, but I do emphatize with your frustration. I just... Wouldn't like to see them gone, I guess?

I'm not sure if you referred to me as well in your last post but I do apologize if my post aggravated you in any way!

Edit: In fact, I myself made a similar thread a few years ago, more focused on the matter of quantity of combat encounters if I'm not mistaken. I'm not sure what linking it could bring to this discussion, but there might be something of value there aside from my bad english. :B


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

On reviews: you don’t need to give them bad star reviews to also point out specific encounters that you didn’t enjoy. The authors need specifics in order to change their adventure design. Otherwise, they’re guessing at what the problem was and may not guess right or assume the issue was something else.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
gesalt wrote:
This is why you bring a rogue in the first place
I mean, isn't "you need a rogue" a gigantic red flag in the first place?

I do not see you need Perception and you need skills as a gigantic red flag myself.

Par for the course I would say.

I faced a Haunt asking for Master Diplomacy and Expert Society to get rid of it (PFS adventure). The probability of such a combination on any non-Investigator; non-Rogue character is low, to say the least.

Liberty's Edge

SuperBidi wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
gesalt wrote:
This is why you bring a rogue in the first place
I mean, isn't "you need a rogue" a gigantic red flag in the first place?

I do not see you need Perception and you need skills as a gigantic red flag myself.

Par for the course I would say.

I faced a Haunt asking for Master Diplomacy and Expert Society to get rid of it (PFS adventure). The probability of such a combination on any non-Investigator; non-Rogue character is low, to say the least.

That sounds indeed like a badly designed Haunt. And I have played a few PFS scenarios which were not really inclusive as far as skill challenges go.

But I feel they're getting better at it.

Scarab Sages

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Travelling Sasha wrote:

Oh! Well, to reiterate and reinforce what I meant to get across, I do not mean to dismiss your experiences in any way or capacity, Vamp. I largely agree with your reasoning that needing certain proficiency prereqs for tasks or challenges that cannot be circumvented in any other way isn't fun design!

I just wanted to offer another perspective on combat encounters specifically. I don't mind having my character be possessed for an encounter, for example - which does not mean that your experience is any less important than mine. It's just that I like abilities like that, but I do emphatize with your frustration. I just... Wouldn't like to see them gone, I guess?

I'm not sure if you referred to me as well in your last post but I do apologize if my post aggravated you in any way!

Edit: In fact, I myself made a similar thread a few years ago, more focused on the matter of quantity of combat encounters if I'm not mistaken. I'm not sure what linking it could bring to this discussion, but there might be something of value there aside from my bad english. :B

No, you’re fine, I didn’t even see your post until After I posted mine. Your point is well taken and I am glad you put forth your ideas in a respectful manner.

Liberty's Edge

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Sorry about that, OP. I had not realized how stressed I am these days and I think it colored my views badly. I mixed your post with other recent ones and hurt you, which was not my intent.

I apologize.


All this discussion of the crazy stuff that can pop up in PFS is very exciting. I'm going to need to bully my group into splitting the cost so I can get my hands on some of these threats.

VampByDay wrote:

Sure, that’s great if the entire party gets together to try and make sure they have the most powerful synergies in the game, but what if I wanna play an inventor or a Sorcerer. Do you just say :”No, you have to play a bard because that’s how we win this RPG?” In that case you solved one problem of unfun for another, now no one is playing a character they want to play.

And if trained skills are useless, why are they even in the game? In fact, if your answer to my problems is ‘rogues exist’ then why even have other classes have skills? And why not just have a rogue NPC follow every party around instead of basically forcing every party to have a rogue?

The rogue thing is just the niche protection so prevalent in the system. You need a wide variety of skills to deal with prof gates and hazards so you're pressured into bringing a skill monkey along to provide 2 people's worth of max skills. Trained skills just get outscaled and become useless but non-rogues still get their 3 max skills. Just don't deviate and try to have a bunch of expert/master skills. There's little chance of them changing something so ingrained in the system so there's nothing to do but live with it.

If an NPC rogue actually had the same level as the players and didn't cause the gm to scale up encounters to party size+1 that would be great. If the NPC has a lower level, it likely doesn't have the numbers to clear DCs.

For the first part, yes. If we aren't lowering the baseline difficulty to account for a party without synergy or math fixers, then I would absolutely advise other players to alter their build or see if they can fit their desired flavor into a better class chassis. No different from helping players avoid trap feats in pf1.

This isn't the kind of game where you can outskill the opposition; you either have the numbers to compete or you don't.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:
I do not see you need Perception and you need skills as a gigantic red flag myself.

I mean that sounds nice, but when you're fundamentally gated by the system, that puts it at odds with good design principles.

The Raven Black wrote:
you can most of the time very clearly see players and/or GM's mistakes.

You can reduce any failing to a player or GM mistake.

But "we didn't bring a rogue to the party because we didn't think it'd be mandatory to have a class like that" shouldn't be a mistake.

Not having a party that can detect a trap in an adventure is a group mistake.

Designing a trap that's impossible to detect unless you're playing one of a couple specific classes or requires such a specific set of skills to defeat is a design mistake.

Some of that comes down to encounter design, or even how well the GM communicates threats, but hard-coded proficiency gating and perception being a class-locked power are both design choices baked into PF2.

Scarab Sages

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VampByDay wrote:

3) On the subject of skills, maybe go a bit less crazy on the skill proficiency prereqs. I can't tell you how many times we've spotted a hazard or trap or haunt and we had the skills to overcome it but OH NO! Our proficiency level isn't high enough because our level 7 cleric chose to get master in Diplomacy instead of Religion.

<snip>Don't gate lock PLAYING THE GAME behind skills that you didn't know you needed to max out. Maybe give people until level 5 until requiring expert, and 9 before requiring master.

I don't see the point of skill proficiency prereqs at all, other than to make tasks impossible if you didn't make a single specific choice at character-building. Prereqs are great for qualifying for skill feats, but if a task should be difficult, then just make the DC higher.

Sovereign Court

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Travelling Sasha wrote:
I say this as kindly as possible but imo, having a creature with a gimmick and not being able to use that gimmick defeats its point in the first place. Simply put, an enemy with Posession in meant to take a player out of the game, a Clay Golem is meant to make players waste their healing elixirs, etc. I get it! You're not saying that you don't enjoy gimmicks. A potential solution to these would be toning down these abilities... But again, would they be so memorable (if not frustrating, true) if they were toned down? Wouldn't they become another forgettable creature ability?

The clay golem is an interesting case, because historically, it's been the monster's gimmick that the cursed wound is really hard to heal. It dates back to (if I dig into my bookcase) 2E D&D or earlier, where it required a very high level cleric to fix. It predates the concept of CR in D&D 3.0.

I've ran a really memorable PFS1 game where during this big scenario, in the beginning, the level 11 party fought a clay golem (CR 10) and one PC got a cursed wound (caster level 25 check to remove). The level 11 cleric tried five times and failed each time. Which is a bit unlikely, since not getting a 14+ on five d20 rolls is unlikely. But these things happen. And then near the end of the adventure, there is a minor divine intervention that is scripted at CL 30 so it automatically beats the DC. And because of all this somewhat unlikely setup, that made it a pretty significant event.

The thing is, in PF1, a level 11 cleric can eventually beat that DC, just by trying again and again. In PF2, if the clay golem's counteract level is really 10, then you can't beat it with less than a level 7 healing spell that gets a critical success on the counteract check. But it's a level 10 monster so you could be running into it by say, level 8 or so. So if you get tagged that way you'd be stuck with a wound for 5 levels. That's something no other creature does.

And you have to infer that by carefully reading the subtext in an ability. That doesn't make sense to me - a curse that can mess you up for five levels shouldn't be something hidden in a corner, that should be written in ALL CAPS all over the statblock with an extra paragraph saying Yes, we really meant to do exactly that thing.

Except of course for the technicality - you can't heal it nonmagically, and spells are absurdly ABSURDLY hard, but potions and elixirs aren't spells so technically they work fine. Which again is just so weird that if that were really how it's supposed to be done, it should be said so explicitly, not a clever "oh did you realize this exploit?".

---

So I really think it's just an error, not a clever but badly communicated design.

I think the right solution would be to change it to "the counteract level for this ability is 1 higher than normal for a creature of this level" to reflect that it's notoriously hard, but not system-breakingly hard. And apply the same difficulty to counteracting it with potions and elixirs. No tricky byways.


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I would buy an Adventure or AP that was explicitly marked as easier than normal.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The simplest way to do an adventure "easier than normal" is to run it for players who are 1 or 2 levels higher than the levels the adventure is intended for. I'd suggest still giving out XP normally, or just using milestones to track level gains in this case.


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James Jacobs wrote:
The simplest way to do an adventure "easier than normal" is to run it for players who are 1 or 2 levels higher than the levels the adventure is intended for. I'd suggest still giving out XP normally, or just using milestones to track level gains in this case.

I've done this, and found it dramatically improved player experience, at least for my players and GMing style. Definitely recommend it.

Liberty's Edge

Squiggit wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I do not see you need Perception and you need skills as a gigantic red flag myself.

I mean that sounds nice, but when you're fundamentally gated by the system, that puts it at odds with good design principles.

The Raven Black wrote:
you can most of the time very clearly see players and/or GM's mistakes.

You can reduce any failing to a player or GM mistake.

But "we didn't bring a rogue to the party because we didn't think it'd be mandatory to have a class like that" shouldn't be a mistake.

Not having a party that can detect a trap in an adventure is a group mistake.

Designing a trap that's impossible to detect unless you're playing one of a couple specific classes or requires such a specific set of skills to defeat is a design mistake.

Some of that comes down to encounter design, or even how well the GM communicates threats, but hard-coded proficiency gating and perception being a class-locked power are both design choices baked into PF2.

Indeed there are design mistakes in APs, modules and PFS scenarios, especially the older ones. You can see it perfectly in the reviens of each product's page, which has the additional benefit if putting several point of views together, including from people who usually do not post on the boards.

But there are also very often GM and players' mistakes behind some of the threads that blast PF2 : too extreme encounters, encounters mashed together, GM misunderstanding the rules, players thinking the PF1 way of attacking with all your actions is optimal in PF2, players thinking they should never withdraw, even from a too difficult fight ...

What we can gather from the product reviews is far more balanced that what we can get from the boards.

Scarab Sages

@Raven Black
Point well taken

Scarab Sages

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Reviewed malevolence and 3-01. Moving on to plaguestone.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

NGL while I agree with a lot of your points in the OP, can't really get behind that review. The haunts are pretty much all used to help deliver the story of the mansion and are pretty easy to get around... and while the fights are on the hard side, I don't think a bunch of trivial encounters would have really fit with the tone of the campaign. The only encounter that felt particularly problematic to any of the groups I've run it with was the

Spoiler:
golem

And you can, in fact, just go rest if you need to. It's simply incorrect to say the party can't, which is bad form for a product review.

Scarab Sages

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Squiggit wrote:

NGL while I agree with a lot of your points in the OP, can't really get behind that review. The haunts are pretty much all used to help deliver the story of the mansion and are pretty easy to get around... and while the fights are on the hard side, I don't think a bunch of trivial encounters would have really fit with the tone of the campaign. The only encounter that felt particularly problematic to any of the groups I've run it with was the

** spoiler omitted **

And you can, in fact, just go rest if you need to. It's simply incorrect to say the party can't, which is bad form for a product review.

To each their own. Our group found the proliferation of haunts tedious after the first floor. It would have been better, I think, to have several ‘non’ haunts or haunts that don’t affect the PCs (blood on the walls, chalk writing messages on their own) and intersperse the damaging haunts, that way you never know which haunt will turn deadly and it ratchets up the suspense.

Also, like I said, if you face nothing but high level monsters, it shuts down a lot of builds. Personally I’d be okay facing 2 cr +1 scary monsters than ALWAYS face a CR+3 monster in every room.

Also, I said the game punishes you for sleeping, not that you can’t. And it does.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
VampByDay wrote:


Also, I said the game punishes you for sleeping, not that you can’t. And it does.

This seems particularly far off.

Malevolence:
Sleeping is one of the only ways to learn about certain events and "defeat" libraries for experience and information to help deal with the encounters.

Worst case scenario sleeping is that your malevolence condition increases, and you might need to eventually leave the manor for a while to recover from that. If anything, Malevolence rewards players that choose to sleep and rest between encounters/exploration.

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