How fix spell attack


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Velisruna wrote:

They have good battlefield control and can blast vs reflex well but their debuff and fort targeting effects aren't great. And missing an entire defense (outside of an air level 18 impulse) is massive. They are far more like the Magus or Summoner except making an inverse trade off for their spell-like powers. While wave casters get all the flexibility of spell slots, they get even fewer per day and with worse casting ability. Kineticists get all day powers at par for DCs or better for spell/impulse attacks, but with much less flexibility in their abilities.

Also it's a weird or inefficient party where AC isn't being debuffed. Most damage comes from attacks vs AC and most classes will naturally get some way of reducing it. Even a simple flat footed and minor debuf is massive swing. Heck even a party of all Fighters and Barbarians can achieve that much.

Given that Battlefield Control is the lion's share of a spellcaster's combat contributions (since obviously save spells are wishy-washy and spell attack rolls are practically traps without outside assistance), the Kineticist both handles this almost as well (they still have the same progression as all spellcasters), if not better in certain situations (since certain Impulses are unique options that not even spells can replicate), and can do so all day, meaning if we're comparing combat potential, Kineticist wins out, and the pluses to attack rolls is just icing on the cake at this point. Even a simple forcing of tactics (i.e. spreading out to avoid incoming AoEs) is a win for the Kineticist, because their presence is causing this shift in tactics for the martials to then go and pick them off one-by-one (with them helping on top of it). Sure, a spellcaster's presence can do this as well, but Kineticist can still genuinely provide this when it's Encounter #6 of the day, whereas a spellcaster might not (since they would have actually blown their slots at the apparent opportunities, and are probably limited to lower level weak spells or cantrips instead).

Taking the basic Flat-footed via flanking and the occasional Demoralize approach, this requires proper positioning (might not be possible if enemy is extremely large and/or at a chokepoint), as well as successful skill checks (enemy could be Mindless, have high Will saves, or the character could simply roll a dud on the dice) to stick. The former can be negated with a simple Step (or so), the latter just needs to wait a round, and by then it's over and can't be done for the rest of the combat. We can easily include more things here, but by that point we're having to look at specific party compositions, which isn't exactly a fair comparison since not every party is going to have access to those things (and even something like Demoralize might not be present, either). Hence my statement of "never comes or isn't possible due to party compositions."


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Velisruna wrote:

They have good battlefield control and can blast vs reflex well but their debuff and fort targeting effects aren't great. And missing an entire defense (outside of an air level 18 impulse) is massive. They are far more like the Magus or Summoner except making an inverse trade off for their spell-like powers. While wave casters get all the flexibility of spell slots, they get even fewer per day and with worse casting ability. Kineticists get all day powers at par for DCs or better for spell/impulse attacks, but with much less flexibility in their abilities.

Also it's a weird or inefficient party where AC isn't being debuffed. Most damage comes from attacks vs AC and most classes will naturally get some way of reducing it. Even a simple flat footed and minor debuf is massive swing. Heck even a party of all Fighters and Barbarians can achieve that much.

Given that Battlefield Control is the lion's share of a spellcaster's combat contributions (since obviously save spells are wishy-washy and spell attack rolls are practically traps without outside assistance), the Kineticist both handles this almost as well (they still have the same progression as all spellcasters), if not better in certain situations (since certain Impulses are unique options that not even spells can replicate), and can do so all day, meaning if we're comparing combat potential, Kineticist wins out, and the pluses to attack rolls is just icing on the cake at this point. Even a simple forcing of tactics (i.e. spreading out to avoid incoming AoEs) is a win for the Kineticist, because their presence is causing this shift in tactics for the martials to then go and pick them off one-by-one (with them helping on top of it). Sure, a spellcaster's presence can do this as well, but Kineticist can still genuinely provide this when it's Encounter #6 of the day, whereas a spellcaster might not (since they would have actually blown their slots at the apparent opportunities, and are probably limited to lower level weak spells...

I agree that the game should not be balanced around a perfect team. That just leads toward optimization as a rule instead of letting roleplaying decide character decisions.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Given that Battlefield Control is the lion's share of a spellcaster's combat contributions (since obviously save spells are wishy-washy and spell attack rolls are practically traps without outside assistance), the Kineticist both handles this almost as well (they still have the same progression as all spellcasters), if not better in certain situations (since certain Impulses are unique options that not even spells can replicate), and can do so all day, meaning if we're comparing combat potential, Kineticist wins out, and the pluses to attack rolls is just icing on the cake at this point. Even a simple forcing of tactics (i.e. spreading out to avoid incoming AoEs) is a win for the Kineticist, because their presence is causing this shift in tactics for the martials to then go and pick them off one-by-one (with them helping on top of it). Sure, a spellcaster's presence can do this as well, but Kineticist can still genuinely provide this when it's Encounter #6 of the day, whereas a spellcaster might not (since they would have actually blown their slots at the apparent opportunities, and are probably limited to lower level weak spells...

We clearly have very different experiences with the game. I find battlefield control to be a situationally useful effect, but save spells are the bread and butter of my caster. You are missing a huge advantage of save spells by dismissing their effect on a save.

Even on long days the caster should still be an asset unless all the encounters are challenging enough to need several slotted spells. Even by level 5 a caster has 7 spell slots, 10 for 4 slot casters, enough to throw a spell every encounter on top of focus spells (about equal to an impulse). Don't dismiss those low level spells either. Illusory Object is still a staple for wasting enemy actions. While a Kineticist might be more impactful on those long days, conversely they are less so on 1 or 2 encounter days when a caster can nova their spells.


Velisruna wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Given that Battlefield Control is the lion's share of a spellcaster's combat contributions (since obviously save spells are wishy-washy and spell attack rolls are practically traps without outside assistance), the Kineticist both handles this almost as well (they still have the same progression as all spellcasters), if not better in certain situations (since certain Impulses are unique options that not even spells can replicate), and can do so all day, meaning if we're comparing combat potential, Kineticist wins out, and the pluses to attack rolls is just icing on the cake at this point. Even a simple forcing of tactics (i.e. spreading out to avoid incoming AoEs) is a win for the Kineticist, because their presence is causing this shift in tactics for the martials to then go and pick them off one-by-one (with them helping on top of it). Sure, a spellcaster's presence can do this as well, but Kineticist can still genuinely provide this when it's Encounter #6 of the day, whereas a spellcaster might not (since they would have actually blown their slots at the apparent opportunities, and are probably limited to lower level weak spells...

We clearly have very different experiences with the game. I find battlefield control to be a situationally useful effect, but save spells are the bread and butter of my caster. You are missing a huge advantage of save spells by dismissing their effect on a save.

Even on long days the caster should still be an asset unless all the encounters are challenging enough to need several slotted spells. Even by level 5 a caster has 7 spell slots, 10 for 4 slot casters, enough to throw a spell every encounter on top of focus spells (about equal to an impulse). Don't dismiss those low level spells either. Illusory Object is still a staple for wasting enemy actions. While a Kineticist might be more impactful on those long days, conversely they are less so on 1 or 2 encounter days when a caster can nova their spells.

Not really, since it depends on the Battlefield Control being used, its location, and what it's expected to be used for. For example, Force Cage is actually pretty bad to use against a fair amount of enemies, since they are either too big, aren't spaced properly, or have a good enough save. Prismatic Wall was more successful, since entities even getting close were at risk of being blinded (if not more when trying to go through), whereas I personally could go around it as if it wasn't even there. Granted, Kineticist doesn't get those types of effects, but even something as basic as Wall of Stone was used to prevent a TPK in one of my groups, something which I am pretty sure Kineticist can do as an Impulse/Overflow.

A level 5 caster usually has 8 spells (3 1sts, 3 2nds, 2 3rds), or 11 if they are a 4 slot caster, but depending on if they are buffing with those spells (Mage Armor, Longstrider, etc.), it could be less (or more with Wands/Staves), and a fair amount of those spells will lose potency before long, either because of bad/non-existent scaling, or Incapacitate. There are also a fair amount of spells that aren't good to take the levels you get them, but are far more potent later when they aren't competing with top tier spells (Time Jump, for example), and some of them which you might not cast if the encounter doesn't call for it (such as an easier encounter against a bunch of lower level creatures).

Haven't used Illusory Object, but even despite that, Illusion-type spells like those are pretty bad due to their limited scope, constantly requiring actions to concentrate, and needing to heighten them to convince even basic enemies of something a fair amount of the time. I also don't see how or why an enemy would waste an action on an Illusory Object in-combat unless it is an active threat to the enemy; is it a bomb about to explode if they don't move right away? It has to be stationary, so we can't have rolling boulders or falling anvils. A roiling lava fall, perhaps? There's also the factor that enemies can clearly see you cast a spell, and it takes slightly more than animal intelligence to put two and two together to configure that it is probably fake, and smarter enemies can simply just ignore it entirely if they know it's fake.


Remember that the kineticist damage impulses, are roughly equivalent to the casters lvl-2 spell slots in blasting output, as a payoff for their unlimited usage.


With delayed proficiency and lack of Potency for spells, some levels are really terrible to even try to use attack spells. These are the levels in which martials improves their weapon proficiency, at the same time having the corresponding Potency rune for that level. The difference vs spells for attack bonus are 3, 4 and 5 respectively, which is huge. But we can add even more, with weapons is easy to flank to get another -2AC which cannot be used with spells, you only need 2 characters using melee combat in your party for flanking. This makes the difference of 5, 6 and 7 at the levels previously mentioned. Is not...too much?

So at the end probably you are better spamming magic missile instead wasting your turn trying to hit something with a so low hit chance. Or just combining True Strike with your attack spell to have a chance.

Indeed it could be that way by design, if we look at the attack spells, they are even leveled (2 scorching ray, 4 chromatic ray, 6 disintegrate, 8 polar ray) then you use your 1st level slots for True Strikes (as many as attack spells you have in the case of prepared caster) and if you just want to inflict damage use the odd slots with heightened magic missile as 3-action.
We have some exception as level 3 attack spells, but they are special cases looking at them.

The other spells with attack trait are level 1, which can be useful at that low level (no runes yet), or others like Ray of Enfeeblement that can be used against targets which you are unseen or unconscious (like asleep) to start the combat with a penalty lasting 1 minute which is not bad.

Liberty's Edge

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hsnsy56 wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Not really, when that larger toolbox is compensated by lack of quality tools, and the game is balanced assuming quality tools are being used, especially in the late game.

This is one of my biggest beefs with current PF2e spellcasting. It seems like there are so many spells that are not being regularly used, with a few standouts. It's why we always get the same spells brought up (Sythesthesia, etc) when talking about how spellcasters are ok.

I think that's because of a focus on optimisation in these discussions to an extent that the game doesn't demand. One of the PCs in one of my current PF2 games is a bard who focuses on nasty/body horror vibes for their magic, and makes most of her choices around that. She casts her spells featuring worm infestations and lots of blood routinely, almost always casting them in place of more optimal spells like Synesthesia. She continues to be an effective member of the team, and these less-optimal spells are by no means a big enough difference in power that she feels like she needs to cast them to be effective.


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Arcaian wrote:
hsnsy56 wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Not really, when that larger toolbox is compensated by lack of quality tools, and the game is balanced assuming quality tools are being used, especially in the late game.

This is one of my biggest beefs with current PF2e spellcasting. It seems like there are so many spells that are not being regularly used, with a few standouts. It's why we always get the same spells brought up (Sythesthesia, etc) when talking about how spellcasters are ok.

I think that's because of a focus on optimisation in these discussions to an extent that the game doesn't demand. One of the PCs in one of my current PF2 games is a bard who focuses on nasty/body horror vibes for their magic, and makes most of her choices around that. She casts her spells featuring worm infestations and lots of blood routinely, almost always casting them in place of more optimal spells like Synesthesia. She continues to be an effective member of the team, and these less-optimal spells are by no means a big enough difference in power that she feels like she needs to cast them to be effective.

Yeah, almost every player in my group that normally plays spellcasters basically always plays them for a narrative theme or conceit and picks their spells accordingly, most of which many people here would consider 'sub-optimal' - for as much as that actually means in PF2E.

Not once has any of them felt ineffective or that they didn't contribute to the group.


Arcaian wrote:
hsnsy56 wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Not really, when that larger toolbox is compensated by lack of quality tools, and the game is balanced assuming quality tools are being used, especially in the late game.

This is one of my biggest beefs with current PF2e spellcasting. It seems like there are so many spells that are not being regularly used, with a few standouts. It's why we always get the same spells brought up (Sythesthesia, etc) when talking about how spellcasters are ok.

I think that's because of a focus on optimisation in these discussions to an extent that the game doesn't demand. One of the PCs in one of my current PF2 games is a bard who focuses on nasty/body horror vibes for their magic, and makes most of her choices around that. She casts her spells featuring worm infestations and lots of blood routinely, almost always casting them in place of more optimal spells like Synesthesia. She continues to be an effective member of the team, and these less-optimal spells are by no means a big enough difference in power that she feels like she needs to cast them to be effective.

Then in my opinion, I don't think the encounters are challenging enough. If a spellcaster can do nothing but throw cantrips and prep not-so-good spells to get by with minimal damage or casualties, then it's obviously not an encounter to be challenging to the party.

That isn't to say that these encounters can't or won't exist, but that assuming APL-2 should be the baseline for all encounters or the standard that spellcasters should shine at isn't exactly saying much for when spellcasters are in even harder encounters.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Arcaian wrote:
hsnsy56 wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Not really, when that larger toolbox is compensated by lack of quality tools, and the game is balanced assuming quality tools are being used, especially in the late game.

This is one of my biggest beefs with current PF2e spellcasting. It seems like there are so many spells that are not being regularly used, with a few standouts. It's why we always get the same spells brought up (Sythesthesia, etc) when talking about how spellcasters are ok.

I think that's because of a focus on optimisation in these discussions to an extent that the game doesn't demand. One of the PCs in one of my current PF2 games is a bard who focuses on nasty/body horror vibes for their magic, and makes most of her choices around that. She casts her spells featuring worm infestations and lots of blood routinely, almost always casting them in place of more optimal spells like Synesthesia. She continues to be an effective member of the team, and these less-optimal spells are by no means a big enough difference in power that she feels like she needs to cast them to be effective.

Then in my opinion, I don't think the encounters are challenging enough. If a spellcaster can do nothing but throw cantrips and prep not-so-good spells to get by with minimal damage or casualties, then it's obviously not an encounter to be challenging to the party.

That isn't to say that these encounters can't or won't exist, but that assuming APL-2 should be the baseline for all encounters or the standard that spellcasters should shine at isn't exactly saying much for when spellcasters are in even harder encounters.

What is considering 'challenging' is going to vary in perception from table to table though. I've ran plenty of encounters my players have found challenging and the casters have utilized only cantrips and spells that some consider to be 'suboptimal' and did just fine.


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3-Body Problem wrote:
What I want is the - as much as is reasonable - unrestricted ability to build on a theme.

I'd argue that in this case, "build to my theme" is very much there, "build to my theme from this one specific class I really want to play and no others", maybe not. Folks seem really hung up on the fact that in PF2E, the Wizard class is not necessarily the best class on which to base an "all day blaster" theme or "single element blaster" theme. You can do both of those themes pretty easily, but not if you're going to demand that the build start with the Wizard class.

And there are thousands of build combinations in PF2E. The system uses archetypes for that.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
The other thing too is that Kineticist can still do a lot of the toolbox things,

Well I guess that depends on how you define "a lot." A 20th level level kineticist will have gotten about 15 impulses and has one switch-out (reflow=>rapid). A 20th level Wizard has 28 "chart" spell slots, plus 5 all-day cantrips. All of these can be switched out every daily preparation. Plus focus spells. Plus they've got slots and non-daily switch-outs determined by feats. Add to that, the kineticist's utility impulses generally follow a few themes: one wall, one shapeshift, one or several personal defensive impulses, some movement impulses, and some area denial/terrain effects. Water and wood get healing, but that's "instead of" not "in addition to" since every element has exactly 15 impulses (...so far)...and of those, usually 2-5 of them are just straight-up attacks, not much other utility. If you're looking for more info-gathering, deception, trap-defeating or general use type utility spells, they generally aren't there (though props to Air for a limited invisibility and one high-level illusion).

Don't get me wrong, I like the class. I think it does 'elemental focused wizard' theme very well. And every commenter who comes here having played one says they love it, so that's a win for Paizo. But if you want that 'heyyy, I have just the spell for that!' caster feel, they definitely aren't high on my list. If I'm entering an ongoing game and the group tells me they have good damage dealing but lack utility, I'm taking full caster over a kineticist, easy decision, if I want to round out the party.


GameDesignerDM wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Arcaian wrote:
hsnsy56 wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Not really, when that larger toolbox is compensated by lack of quality tools, and the game is balanced assuming quality tools are being used, especially in the late game.

This is one of my biggest beefs with current PF2e spellcasting. It seems like there are so many spells that are not being regularly used, with a few standouts. It's why we always get the same spells brought up (Sythesthesia, etc) when talking about how spellcasters are ok.

I think that's because of a focus on optimisation in these discussions to an extent that the game doesn't demand. One of the PCs in one of my current PF2 games is a bard who focuses on nasty/body horror vibes for their magic, and makes most of her choices around that. She casts her spells featuring worm infestations and lots of blood routinely, almost always casting them in place of more optimal spells like Synesthesia. She continues to be an effective member of the team, and these less-optimal spells are by no means a big enough difference in power that she feels like she needs to cast them to be effective.

Then in my opinion, I don't think the encounters are challenging enough. If a spellcaster can do nothing but throw cantrips and prep not-so-good spells to get by with minimal damage or casualties, then it's obviously not an encounter to be challenging to the party.

That isn't to say that these encounters can't or won't exist, but that assuming APL-2 should be the baseline for all encounters or the standard that spellcasters should shine at isn't exactly saying much for when spellcasters are in even harder encounters.

What is considering 'challenging' is going to vary in perception from table to table though. I've ran plenty of encounters my players have found challenging and the casters have utilized only cantrips and spells that some consider to be 'suboptimal' and did just fine.

Sure, but we can know what the GM/AP is throwing at the party, which can set expectations as to how the party could win. If the GM/AP is throwing APL-2 at the PCs, it shouldn't be a challenge, probably not even warranting a full spell slot, and that is based on the expected encounter guidelines.


Easl wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
The other thing too is that Kineticist can still do a lot of the toolbox things,

Well I guess that depends on how you define "a lot." A 20th level level kineticist will have gotten about 15 impulses and has one switch-out (reflow=>rapid). A 20th level Wizard has 28 "chart" spell slots, plus 5 all-day cantrips. All of these can be switched out every daily preparation. Plus focus spells. Plus they've got slots and non-daily switch-outs determined by feats. Add to that, the kineticist's utility impulses generally follow a few themes: one wall, one shapeshift, one or several personal defensive impulses, some movement impulses, and some area denial/terrain effects. Water and wood get healing, but that's "instead of" not "in addition to" since every element has exactly 15 impulses (...so far)...and of those, usually 2-5 of them are just straight-up attacks, not much other utility. If you're looking for more info-gathering, deception, trap-defeating or general use type utility spells, they generally aren't there (though props to Air for a limited invisibility and one high-level illusion).

Don't get me wrong, I like the class. I think it does 'elemental focused wizard' theme very well. And every commenter who comes here having played one says they love it, so that's a win for Paizo. But if you want that 'heyyy, I have just the spell for that!' caster feel, they definitely aren't high on my list. If I'm entering an ongoing game and the group tells me they have good damage dealing but lack utility, I'm taking full caster over a kineticist, easy decision, if I want to round out the party.

To be fair, Wizards have a fair amount of damage spells to be using as well, and unless they are Spell Substitution thesis, they won't have access to all of their spells at all times. This isn't Schrodinger's Wizard, after all. A large amount, sure. But having relevant encounter ones aren't that plentiful, nor that high of scaling; very few lower level spells will be relevant in higher level play, and it gets worse with higher level enemies.


Easl wrote:
3-Body Problem wrote:
What I want is the - as much as is reasonable - unrestricted ability to build on a theme.

I'd argue that in this case, "build to my theme" is very much there, "build to my theme from this one specific class I really want to play and no others", maybe not. Folks seem really hung up on the fact that in PF2E, the Wizard class is not necessarily the best class on which to base an "all day blaster" theme or "single element blaster" theme. You can do both of those themes pretty easily, but not if you're going to demand that the build start with the Wizard class.

And there are thousands of build combinations in PF2E. The system uses archetypes for that.

I'd argue that you can't build to a theme because while PF2 does have niche protection for classes, another issue I have with the system, it doesn't all one to specialize in any one thing very deeply. There's no choice but to build something Paizo wanted you to build. PF1/3.5 allowed you to find a path yourself, become a pathfinder even, in taking a theme and finding the mechanics to support it.


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3-Body Problem wrote:
I'd argue that you can't build to a theme because while PF2 does have niche protection for classes, another issue I have with the system, it doesn't all one to specialize in any one thing very deeply. There's no choice but to build something Paizo wanted you to build. PF1/3.5 allowed you to find a path yourself, become a pathfinder even, in taking a theme and finding the mechanics to support it.

If by "specialize very deeply" you mean "get permanently ahead of the DC curve," then you're probably right. AFAICT, this game was designed so that nobody, no intrinsic build, could blow out that curve. Instead, characters are given feats and abilities that they can use tactically to temporarily get ahead of the DC. With maybe only the Fighter and Gunslinger's bonus proficiency being an exception. But no there is no archetyping or feat picking that gets you that as an inherent build capability.

Put another way, in this game you have to 'run to stay even.' Because the DCs assume you max your relevant attribute and relevant proficiencies.

But the RAW also tells GMs they can set challenges at a lower or higher level as needed for the party. So if you want a game with less pressure on players to max a few narrow things, but which rewards specialists who do by letting them have their "I blow away this type of encounter" moments, you can do that. Just set the DCs a couple levels low

***

OTOH if by 'specialize pretty deeply' you mean 'go deep into the abilities associated with a single attribute, or class, or theme,' then there is nothing stopping you from doing that. Paizo certainly doesn't force you not to do that. By all means, take all your builds towards Athletics and Athletic feats. Just keep in mind not all scenes will use Athletics. And similarly with building on lightning but remembering that not all scenes will have a lightning-relevant solution.


[double post error? Copy of previous post deleted]


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3-Body Problem wrote:
I'd argue that you can't build to a theme because while PF2 does have niche protection for classes, another issue I have with the system, it doesn't all one to specialize in any one thing very deeply. There's no choice but to build something Paizo wanted you to build. PF1/3.5 allowed you to find a path yourself, become a pathfinder even, in taking a theme and finding the mechanics to support it.

PF1 is a game where you can make virtually anything work if you try hard enough, which can be a ton of fun (ask my current PF1 group where the wizard is the physical powerhouse with the most strength, full plate and a killer CMB).

But that paradigm is also where balance goes to die. So it won't ever come back in PF2.


Easl wrote:
If by "specialize very deeply" you mean "get permanently ahead of the DC curve," then you're probably right. AFAICT, this game was designed so that nobody, no intrinsic build, could blow out that curve. Instead, characters are given feats and abilities that they can use tactically to temporarily get ahead of the DC. With maybe only the Fighter and Gunslinger's bonus proficiency being an exception. But no there is no archetyping or feat picking that gets you that as an inherent build capability.

Did people just always run with random munchkins and never have rule zero talks with their groups when running PF1? Yes, it could be a mess if you made it into one, but it could also be balanced such that a group of players building in concert could create builds that PF2 can't even begin to support.

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Put another way, in this game you have to 'run to stay even.' Because the DCs assume you max your relevant attribute and relevant proficiencies.

PF2 is a sandbox game with scaling enemies. You're always expected to face roughly the same challenge at every step of the journey with every new ability being matched by a jump in enemy capability.

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But the RAW also tells GMs they can set challenges at a lower or higher level as needed for the party. So if you want a game with less pressure on players to max a few narrow things, but which rewards specialists who do by letting them have their "I blow away this type of encounter" moments, you can do that. Just set the DCs a couple levels low

This doesn't solve the issue though. Players don't get to look at their sheets and understand that they built something special. Instead, they're going to find a few tactics that work against archetypical encounters and rinse and repeat those. In my current group, if I had to guess, I'd end up seeing a Maul Fighter and Champion up front for tank and spank with some form of caster and a Starlit Span Magus. I already know what that group is supposed to do and how battles will play out once the group figures out the new paradigm PF2 is asking of them.

If things are going to settle down to a meta anyway, why play a game that is more taxing on my players when they're happy with 5e? If they're willing to take on additional load why wouldn't I run a 3.5/PF1 hybrid instead and let them have fun with their builds? I just don't see what problem PF2 is supposed to solve for my table.

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OTOH if by 'specialize pretty deeply' you mean 'go deep into the abilities associated with a single attribute, or class, or theme,' then there is nothing stopping you from doing that. Paizo certainly doesn't force you not to do that. By all means, take all your builds towards Athletics and Athletic feats. Just keep in mind not all scenes will use Athletics. And similarly with building on lightning but remembering that not all scenes will have a lightning-relevant solution.

This is blatantly false. There is no Cleric build that can step into a Fighter's current role. No build that would allow a Wizard to stand on the frontline. Nothing like a mailman build that solves issues by shoving spheres of elemental damage through enemy resistances. PF2 has taken a lot off the table to solve a problem I wasn't having.


Could be that some people/tables don’t feel good these new systems that gives you many things already made. I have to admit to be a classic RPG player, so I am also on the group feeling that systems which you make most things feels better, like 3.5, PF1, HARP and of course Rolemaster.

Another flaw of new systems, both D&D 5E and PF2, is the spells power based just on slot level, making lower level slots useless but for utility, again forcing you to follow the rails.


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3-Body Problem wrote:
This doesn't solve the issue though. Players don't get to look at their sheets and understand that they built something special.

I like building as an exercise, but I definitely don't think 'built something special' must require beating the DC curve. Or necessarily trying to start with a Cleric chassis and create a front line tank out of it. Special is concept and role play and yes unique combination of abilities provided by archetype. But it's not always puzzle solving of seeing how I can emulate A by starting with B. "There is no Cleric build that can step into a Fighter's current role." So why not build on the champion chassis and call your character Friar Tuck?

I'll admit I'm somewhat sympathetic to you here. I'd love to see a PF3E give more flexible proficiency advancement, where players choose Armor, Weapon, Spell proficiency as they advance. So a cleric can go high on weapon and low on spell if they prefer that to the high on spell low on weapon. But honestly I have no major issue with the current system. That would be a 'nice to have,' but the lack of such certainly doesn't prevent me from creating special, unique, interesting characters.

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In my current group, if I had to guess, I'd end up seeing a Maul Fighter and Champion up front for tank and spank with some form of caster and a Starlit Span Magus. I already know what that group is supposed to do and how battles will play out once the group figures out the new paradigm PF2 is asking of them

Hey you do you. If your players always go for the same builds and same tactics, that's fine. The game isn't making you do that though. The fact that your table's Maul Fighter guy would never consider Thaumaturge is not really a game design issue. At least, not in my mind. Yes, players can get fixated on certain builds and tactics. But IMO that tends to be much more about the player than the system. As a GM, you certainly have it in your power to encourage branching out. "Hey 3-Body, I'd love to try a Thaumaturge but I don't think it will be as good as a maul fighter." "Well try it, we'll see how it goes, and I'll let you switch your character if you decide you don't like it." "Hey 3-Blody, our All Cleric theme group almost got pasted in that last encounter of yours, but none of us want to break up the cool theming. Is there a way we can keep it and not risk TPK every time?" "Okay, I'll take that into account when I design my future encounters."

Quote:
Nothing like a mailman build that solves issues by shoving spheres of elemental damage through enemy resistances.

I don't know what a mailman build is, but Extract Element does indeed let you shove elemental damage through enemy resistances. Every kineticist gets it at level 3 and through the archetype system every full caster can get it at I believe Level 6. So is this truly a case where the archetype system doesn't give you enough flexibility to design something special? Or is it a case of you and your players not exploring the flexibility the system has?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I would be happy just archtyping in that elemental bypass to a sorcerer with lightning spells as signature spells at each level.
What I want is in the game then.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Bluemagetim wrote:

I would be happy just archtyping in that elemental bypass to a sorcerer with lightning spells as signature spells at each level.

What I want is in the game then.

Ok just read it. So only impulse gets the bypass.

Still fine but mainly for the main class kineticist.


Easl wrote:
<snip>

I had a whole post but the forum froze up and ate it.

The gist is that I, as forever GM like to have a strong hook in my PC characters. I like having multiple ways to approach those hooks so the hook doesn't overly restrict my themes and fluff.

My players in this group haven't played PF2 yet so these are just guesses based on their preferences in 5e. Two of my players, Fighter and Champion are mechanically focused players that like to build combos. If I allowed free-archetype, and I would, the Fighter player could easily go Maul as their mainline and use the archetype to grab Occult casting for the flavor of a Thaum with better mechanics. The Champion would try to find even more reactions to combo with the Fighter. The third player is a wild card but likes options so I'd guess they go caster, but I could also see Kineticist. The last player is new to TTRPGs but likes his Gloomstalker Ranger so I'd suggest Starlit Span Magus as a way to do that ranged burst damage he enjoys so much.

The Mailman

Liberty's Edge

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Arcaian wrote:
hsnsy56 wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Not really, when that larger toolbox is compensated by lack of quality tools, and the game is balanced assuming quality tools are being used, especially in the late game.

This is one of my biggest beefs with current PF2e spellcasting. It seems like there are so many spells that are not being regularly used, with a few standouts. It's why we always get the same spells brought up (Sythesthesia, etc) when talking about how spellcasters are ok.

I think that's because of a focus on optimisation in these discussions to an extent that the game doesn't demand. One of the PCs in one of my current PF2 games is a bard who focuses on nasty/body horror vibes for their magic, and makes most of her choices around that. She casts her spells featuring worm infestations and lots of blood routinely, almost always casting them in place of more optimal spells like Synesthesia. She continues to be an effective member of the team, and these less-optimal spells are by no means a big enough difference in power that she feels like she needs to cast them to be effective.

Then in my opinion, I don't think the encounters are challenging enough. If a spellcaster can do nothing but throw cantrips and prep not-so-good spells to get by with minimal damage or casualties, then it's obviously not an encounter to be challenging to the party.

That isn't to say that these encounters can't or won't exist, but that assuming APL-2 should be the baseline for all encounters or the standard that spellcasters should shine at isn't exactly saying much for when spellcasters are in even harder encounters.

Honestly, I find that a pretty wild call to make based on that information. I don't really want to play a game of establishing our Real Gamer(TM) credentials with the difficulty of our encounters, but the last fight they were in was a level+4 fight against a Thanadaemon, where the bard's casting of Worm's Repast (a spell I do not think I have ever seen anyone on this forum mention) came in clutch. I honestly think Worm's Repast is a good spell - single target Fireball damage with a nice persistent damage rider and flat-footed on a failed save. But in response to the person I was quoting, it's certainly not one of the spells you see people constantly talking about. A couple of encounters prior, her casting a 2-action Rip the Spirit at the start of combat was really helpful in doing a good amount of damage, and debuffing the enemies' fort save for the rest of the fight. In fights against large groups of enemies, she loves throwing around her powerful offensive spells against the lower-level enemies. In fights against one or two enemies, she loves using spells like Blood Vendetta to get damage off on the enemies' turn and set up something close to guaranteed damage for a little while. While the exact power level of these spells vary, none of them are super popular picks on these forums, which was my point - you can get away with casting spells that aren't Synesthesia as a bard, and it doesn't make you useless.

One factor in why this might be more clear for my players is that we're playing a converted PF1 adventure, Ironfang Invasion, and they tend to have larger groups of weaker enemies, due to the nature of solo boss fights in PF1 being trivial. The party has made some very bold choices and has found itself trapped a couple of books ahead of where they should be for their level, which has made for a lot of challenging fights - I can't recall the last time they even faced a Moderate fight. I do tend to avoid level+3 or higher enemies outside of major story beat bosses (the level+4 thanadaemon was something they chose to summon, I had no say in the matter :P ) and prefer something like a level+1 boss with some mooks, or a couple of level+1 enemies. I just think it makes for more interesting fights - and it doesn't hurt that it makes some of the most powerful spells less effective.

If you're consistently throwing powerful solo enemies at your party and find your party picking a limited list of options again and again, it may not be the difficulty of the game you're running (or the balance for casters being so tight that they can't pick anything else), but the repetitive nature of the fights reinforcing the power of effects that are good against single targets that are likely to succeed at a save.


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Arcaian wrote:

While the exact power level of these spells vary, none of them are super popular picks on these forums, which was my point - you can get away with casting spells that aren't Synesthesia as a bard, and it doesn't make you useless.

One factor in why this might be more clear for my players is that we're playing a converted PF1 adventure, Ironfang Invasion, and they tend to have larger groups of weaker enemies, due to the nature of solo boss fights in PF1 being trivial. The party has made some very bold choices and has found itself trapped a couple of books ahead of where they should be for their level, which has made for a lot of challenging fights - I can't recall the last time they even faced a Moderate fight. I do tend to avoid level+3 or higher enemies outside of major story beat bosses (the level+4 thanadaemon was something they chose to summon, I had no say in the matter :P ) and prefer something like a level+1 boss with some mooks, or a couple of level+1 enemies. I just think it makes for more interesting fights - and it doesn't hurt that it makes some of the most powerful spells less effective.

So I haven't played enough of PF2e to make this call, but is there a APL sweet spot and composition where spells work better -- AOE, incapacitation doesn't take effect but still worth casting, etc.?

Initial APs withstanding (and they often get made before people really understand the new system), it does seem like spells sort of assume there will be a bunch of not super difficult encounters at some point.

That said, if an encounter isn't a certain level difficulty, then you sort of feel like you could have kinda sat back anyway and let the martials at will swords just cut them up...


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In my experience it's a fight against 4 APL -1 creatures. They tend to pack a punch and be a very real threat to the party, but are more likely than not to fail a save and can be reliably targeted by max rank incap spells.


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Arcaian wrote:

Honestly, I find that a pretty wild call to make based on that information. I don't really want to play a game of establishing our Real Gamer(TM) credentials with the difficulty of our encounters, but the last fight they were in was a level+4 fight against a Thanadaemon, where the bard's casting of Worm's Repast (a spell I do not think I have ever seen anyone on this forum mention) came in clutch. I honestly think Worm's Repast is a good spell - single target Fireball damage with a nice persistent damage rider and flat-footed on a failed save. But in response to the person I was quoting, it's certainly not one of the spells you see people constantly talking about. A couple of encounters prior, her casting a 2-action Rip the Spirit at the start of combat was really helpful in doing a good amount of damage, and debuffing the enemies' fort save for the rest of the fight. In fights against large groups of enemies, she loves throwing around her powerful offensive spells against the lower-level enemies. In fights against one or two enemies, she loves using spells like Blood Vendetta to get damage off on the enemies' turn and set up something close to guaranteed damage for a little while. While the exact power level of these spells vary, none of them are super popular picks on these forums, which was my point - you can get away with casting spells that aren't Synesthesia as a bard, and it doesn't make you useless.

One factor in why this might be more clear for my players is that we're playing a converted PF1 adventure, Ironfang Invasion, and they tend to have larger groups of weaker enemies, due to the nature of solo boss fights in PF1 being trivial. The party has made some very bold choices and has found itself trapped a couple of books ahead of where they should be for their level, which has made for a lot of challenging fights - I can't recall the last time they even faced a Moderate fight. I do tend to avoid level+3 or higher enemies outside of major story beat bosses (the level+4 thanadaemon was something they chose to summon, I had no say in the matter :P ) and prefer something like a level+1 boss with some mooks, or a couple of level+1 enemies. I just think it makes for more interesting fights - and it doesn't hurt that it makes some of the most powerful spells less effective.

If you're consistently throwing powerful solo enemies at your party and find your party picking a limited list of options again and again, it may not be the difficulty of the game you're running (or the balance for casters being so tight that they can't pick anything else), but the repetitive nature of the fights reinforcing the power of effects that are good against single targets that are likely to succeed at a save.

I'm not interested in that either, since I am sure it is easily possible to do something like solo Treerazer with the right build/plan (though again, numbers might not be in your favor). All I am saying is that spellcasters using offensive spells against higher level enemies have the odds against them significantly more than martials do, to the point that buffing the martials is probably a better use of actions and slots than attempting to do their own thing against them. Very rarely are spellcasters throwing spells at higher level enemies going to have a fun time in that encounter (since said enemies can easily succeed at saves and avoid spell attacks), meaning the odds of spellcasters being effective taking place at on-level or below-level encounters is significantly higher by comparison, since both the setting (multi versus single) and the challenges (higher stats on one target versus lower stats on many targets) change.

Just as well, you aren't going to see people posting about Rare spells from specific APs as standards for building characters for obvious reasons. Mostly because GMs don't permit stuff like that, or if they do, it's probably a mistake. Would be nice if AoN and Pathbuilder disabled AP-specific options by default so that players who want to find these options in particular still can, and GMs who don't want players picking these options don't get the rug pulled out from under them.

As for that spell in particular having come in clutch against an APL+4 enemy, they had to have failed and/or critically failed the save for it to have had any lasting effect on an encounter, given that on a successful save, it does one tick of half damage and then ends. Which isn't to say that it doesn't happen, but that it's extremely rare, especially with that scaling of boss enemies. Playing a converted Curse of the Crimson Throne AP has shown me that.

The reason why "solo boss monster" is considered the testing threshold is because these are supposed to be the book-ending or game-ending encounters that are also supposed to be the toughest challenge the PCs face (with the stats to back it up, anyway), meaning it handles "stress-testing" a character/build the best, since odds are, players are going to be facing the "solo boss monster" at some point in the AP. Unfortunately, sometimes these are let-downs, and other fights before them are actually tougher without realizing. The Age of Ashes AP demonstrated this to us a couple times, actually.


Arcaian wrote:
Honestly, I find that a pretty wild call to make based on that information. I don't really want to play a game of establishing our Real Gamer(TM) credentials with the difficulty of our encounters, but the last fight they were in was a level+4 fight against a Thanadaemon, where the bard's casting...

Why would you ever want to settle for a "Meh, it'll probably be fine if the GM goes easy on us." level of character-building? I like to know that when the chips are down my character has something with a high likelihood of helping turn the tide. Gambling on a 20% chance to shift things isn't my idea of a good time.

Liberty's Edge

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hsnsy56 wrote:

So I haven't played enough of PF2e to make this call, but is there a APL sweet spot and composition where spells work better -- AOE, incapacitation doesn't take effect but still worth casting, etc.?

Initial APs withstanding (and they often get made before people really understand the new system), it does seem like spells sort of assume there will be a bunch of not super difficult encounters at some point.

That said, if an encounter isn't a certain level difficulty, then you sort of feel like you could have kinda sat back anyway and let the martials at will swords just cut them up...

In my opinion at least, it's less that there are fight compositions that make spells better or worse, and more that different compositions change what sorts of spells you want to cast. That means that if you stick with one sort of composition for your difficult fights, you encourage only the use of those spells. I think most people who get into these discussions know the spells that are good against powerful single creatures: debuffs that give good effects even on a successful save - Slow, Synesthesia, etc - and spells that buff your allies without a save, or perhaps crowd control that wastes enemy actions. If you want to make other spells more consistently useful, throwing in hard fights against weaker individual enemies changes that. A Severe difficulty fight against 4 level-1 enemies, or 2 level enemies and 2 level-2 enemies, devalues something like Slow, but opens up valuable uses of Incapacitation spells and AoE effects. Going to something like 6 level-2 enemies can be fun too, and makes AoE incredibly powerful.

In my eyes, the issue lies in overusing any of them - if the common assumption was that all of the most difficult fights were against 6 level-2 enemies instead of one level+3 enemy, Fireball would be seen as a locked-in pick every time, not Slow. If you want a variety of spells to be useful, have a variety of fight compositions in your hardest fights. It's not that spells assume there are a bunch of easy fights, IMO, but that there are meaningful fights that feature lower-level enemies. I can speak from personal experience that my party of druid/bard/champion/fighter couldn't have the druid and bard sit back and do anything while the martials chop up the enemies in some of these hard fights where the less-discussed spells flourish. We had one absurd encounter where they strung together 3 or 4 different fights, which all came in at different times and overlapped in messy ways. I think it ended up being a 300+ XP encounter if you had thrown them all in at the same time - hard enough that I offered to softball them, but they didn't want to. Somehow they got through by the skin of their teeth without a death (I think the collective HP total was 7 HP in the 4-person party), but that needed both a clutch casting of Slow on the level+2 dragon enemy which failed by the exact margin inflicted by the champion's Demoralize, but also an incredibly useful casting of Fireball by the druid and Rouse Skeletons by the bard; the latter in particular just kept going for most of the 15+ turn fight, letting the bard inspire courage/strike/sustain and get really good longevity out of her spell slots. I wouldn't want to run every fight like that (hell, I think the only fight more intense than that one in the campaign should be the finale), but it was a lovely demonstration of how different conditions lead to different spells being valued.

Liberty's Edge

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
The reason why "solo boss monster" is considered the testing threshold is because these are supposed to be the book-ending or game-ending encounters that are also supposed to be the toughest challenge the PCs face (with the stats to back it up, anyway), meaning it handles "stress-testing" a character/build the best, since odds are, players are going to be facing the "solo boss monster" at some point in the AP. Unfortunately, sometimes these are let-downs, and other fights before them are actually tougher without realizing. The Age of Ashes AP demonstrated this to us a couple times, actually.

But that just factually isn't the case - the book-ending or game-ending encounters are Severe and Extreme difficulty encounters respectively. Sure, you can do that with level+3 and level+4 solo bosses, but saying that solo bosses are the only way to do that is just obviously wrong. It's not just the guidelines too, it's not like every AP finishes on level+3/level+4 solo monsters. A 3-book AP I'm looking over at the moment has the following hardest encounters for each book:

- Book 1, Severe: a level+1 creature, 2 level-2 creatures, and 2 level-4 creatures
- Book 2, Severe: A level+1 creature and 2 level-1 creatures
- Book 3, Extreme: 2 level+2 creatures

I'm not going to look through each encounter in all of the books right now, but there's a chance you'd never fight a level+3 or level+4 enemy in the entire AP. Severe and Extreme difficulty encounters are the toughest challenges you face, and if you only consider them to be solo encounters, you're going to be dramatically favouring some options over others. It's no surprise when you then conclude that those options are better when you exclude all content where they don't work as well.

(also the 'extremely rare' chance of failing the save was 35%, if I recall correctly - targeting a debuffed weakest save of the enemy)


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Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

After 680 posts in this thread, I have come to two conclusions:

1. PF2E is a game in which the synergy between the members of a party is more important than the specific individual abilities of the members of the party.

2. Some people want that not to be true for casters.

Liberty's Edge

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3-Body Problem wrote:
Arcaian wrote:
Honestly, I find that a pretty wild call to make based on that information. I don't really want to play a game of establishing our Real Gamer(TM) credentials with the difficulty of our encounters, but the last fight they were in was a level+4 fight against a Thanadaemon, where the bard's casting...
Why would you ever want to settle for a "Meh, it'll probably be fine if the GM goes easy on us." level of character-building? I like to know that when the chips are down my character has something with a high likelihood of helping turn the tide. Gambling on a 20% chance to shift things isn't my idea of a good time.

I honestly don't know where you got that from my quote. I was talking about level+4 encounters, that hardly feels like the GM going easy on anyone! But wanting to have something in your back pocket that'll help is an understandable way to have fun playing the game (at least so long as you know that it's a game of dice and sometimes whatever backup you have will fail, because why roll the dice if not). It's not the only way to play either - some players like high risk, high reward plays where a 20% chance of a hugely impactful outcome is their idea of a good time, and it's good to have a design that facilitates both options. But what I'm saying is that if you consider the only encounters worth caring about being solo encounter boss fights, you'll have a biased opinion about what should be in that back pocket. Slow or Synesthesia are typically 70%+ success rates in giving a useful effect against those solo bosses that can help turn the tide, but Slow is barely worth casting against a horde of lower level enemies that are nonetheless still a challenging final encounter to a story arc.


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Ed Reppert wrote:

After 680 posts in this thread, I have come to two conclusions:

1. PF2E is a game in which the synergy between the members of a party is more important than the specific individual abilities of the members of the party.

2. Some people want that not to be true for casters.

Number 2 has been my take away for sometimes between this and a few other threads

Liberty's Edge

3-Body Problem wrote:
Arcaian wrote:
Honestly, I find that a pretty wild call to make based on that information. I don't really want to play a game of establishing our Real Gamer(TM) credentials with the difficulty of our encounters, but the last fight they were in was a level+4 fight against a Thanadaemon, where the bard's casting...
Why would you ever want to settle for a "Meh, it'll probably be fine if the GM goes easy on us." level of character-building? I like to know that when the chips are down my character has something with a high likelihood of helping turn the tide. Gambling on a 20% chance to shift things isn't my idea of a good time.

I feel this is very much the PF1 paradigm of winning the game when building the character vs the PF2 paradigm of winning with great party tactics (enabled by the different PCs' builds) when playing the character.


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Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
The Raven Black wrote:
I feel this is very much the PF1 paradigm of winning the game when building the character vs the PF2 paradigm of winning with great party tactics (enabled by the different PCs' builds) when playing the character.

IMO, you "win" a ttrpg by coming away from the table with the feeling that you enjoyed yourself, regardless of what actually happened at the table.


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Ed Reppert wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I feel this is very much the PF1 paradigm of winning the game when building the character vs the PF2 paradigm of winning with great party tactics (enabled by the different PCs' builds) when playing the character.
IMO, you "win" a ttrpg by coming away from the table with the feeling that you enjoyed yourself, regardless of what actually happened at the table.

I agree.

The reality is some players won't enjoy themselves if they make a character that underperforms comparatively in a manner that is obvious and the reason why can easily be determined to be problematic class design.

Example with my group is the swashbuckler in a group with a giant barbarian. Player grew weary of watching the giant barbarian's huge damage numbers and powerful feats while they were often having trouble matching the barbarians damage with finishers and really feeling bogged down with the panache mechanic. He started to wonder why his character was even there when the giant barbarian so obviously did not need his presence to kill things while they also took most of the attacks and had a massive hit point pool to act as the tank and primary martial damage dealer.

When my players run into rules, classes, or game elements that seem to vastly underperform, they don't have a good experience at the table. They walk away wondering why their choice is so far behind some other class doing a similar thing. It feels bad to them.

Not being able to fix it themselves by making a good class choice like a good feat or spell makes them feel like they lack player agency and have no means to fix the situation.

It's not a great feeling. So numbers do affect how a player feels about their experience at the table. Even a night of bad rolls can make a player feel bad. But not as bad as trying their best to continuously make a character feel like an equal contributor in a similar role and not being able to do so due to something completely out of their control like a problematic rule that clearly causes underperformance that isn't fixed in a timely manner.


Ed Reppert wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I feel this is very much the PF1 paradigm of winning the game when building the character vs the PF2 paradigm of winning with great party tactics (enabled by the different PCs' builds) when playing the character.
IMO, you "win" a ttrpg by coming away from the table with the feeling that you enjoyed yourself, regardless of what actually happened at the table.

I agree. I've run under strength encounters before many times just to make sure my PCs have a good experience. If you're not that into optimization, the GM should absolutely tone down encounters so that you still have a good experience.

I've built whole dungeons full of on-paper low and trivial threat encounters. The party still had a good time.

Liberty's Edge

Ed Reppert wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I feel this is very much the PF1 paradigm of winning the game when building the character vs the PF2 paradigm of winning with great party tactics (enabled by the different PCs' builds) when playing the character.
IMO, you "win" a ttrpg by coming away from the table with the feeling that you enjoyed yourself, regardless of what actually happened at the table.

I see. I should have written "winning the fight / the encounter".

Sorry for my mistake.


Arcaian wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
The reason why "solo boss monster" is considered the testing threshold is because these are supposed to be the book-ending or game-ending encounters that are also supposed to be the toughest challenge the PCs face (with the stats to back it up, anyway), meaning it handles "stress-testing" a character/build the best, since odds are, players are going to be facing the "solo boss monster" at some point in the AP. Unfortunately, sometimes these are let-downs, and other fights before them are actually tougher without realizing. The Age of Ashes AP demonstrated this to us a couple times, actually.

But that just factually isn't the case - the book-ending or game-ending encounters are Severe and Extreme difficulty encounters respectively. Sure, you can do that with level+3 and level+4 solo bosses, but saying that solo bosses are the only way to do that is just obviously wrong. It's not just the guidelines too, it's not like every AP finishes on level+3/level+4 solo monsters. A 3-book AP I'm looking over at the moment has the following hardest encounters for each book:

- Book 1, Severe: a level+1 creature, 2 level-2 creatures, and 2 level-4 creatures
- Book 2, Severe: A level+1 creature and 2 level-1 creatures
- Book 3, Extreme: 2 level+2 creatures

I'm not going to look through each encounter in all of the books right now, but there's a chance you'd never fight a level+3 or level+4 enemy in the entire AP. Severe and Extreme difficulty encounters are the toughest challenges you face, and if you only consider them to be solo encounters, you're going to be dramatically favouring some options over others. It's no surprise when you then conclude that those options are better when you exclude all content where they don't work as well.

(also the 'extremely rare' chance of failing the save was 35%, if I recall correctly - targeting a debuffed weakest save of the enemy)

To be fair, throwing Level+3/+4 enemies at lower level parties is far more of a death sentence than if they were higher level parties, since the ratio of scaling is significantly against them, so unless this 3-book AP is starting at 10, we're probably not going to be seeing that regardless.

As for considering difficult encounters to be only solo encounters, I disagree. One of the toughest encounters I pitched was throwing 8 Cyclops with 4 Owlbears at a party of 5 Level 5 PCs. These are Level+0 and Level-1 creatures, respectively. Another encounter that was pitched towards us thanks to an AP was throwing 3 legendary Level+0 creatures at us and expecting us to down them when they basically have the stats of Level+2/Level+3 creatures, and features no other creature possibly could, which was, incidentally, a harder fight than the actual final boss of said AP.

The point I am making is that the Level +3/+4 enemies are the enemies that will be stress-testing the numbers the most in terms of determining effectiveness between optimal characters and classes. It's these types of enemies that determine why the Bard and Fighter are so good, because these are the classes that are most likely to affect the enemy in a meaningful way. Since, obviously, being unable to affect an enemy means that enemy gets to kill your party unabated. Bard because they can buff ally numbers and inflict debuffs without saving throws required (with strong effects even on a succeeded spell), and Fighter because, well, they have the highest proficiency scaling in the game, meaning their attacks are the most likely to land and do some damage, which synergizes quite well with the Bard's ability to buff numbers and debuff enemies.

That's basically the meta of this game, and when these two classes do it the best in a setting that effectively demands this (or it's a TPK), it's no wonder other classes feel inadequate by comparison, because a lot of these other classes struggle to function in this meta.


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Seems pretty reductionist.


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Seems funny it's the supposed meta, but in a published AP( Blood Lords) up until level 13 there were zero(0) +3/+4 bosses. Bossfights were mostly APL +2 with some other creatures/hazards.


I think it was the meta because paizo printed a few of them in earlier adventure paths and they were frequently the hardest encounters, they generally weren't very fun at lower levels though so I could paizo just not wanting to do them as often.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Level +3/4 enemies in the APs I have seen tend not to be plot integral bosses, but often end up serving as scary terrain pieces that can be easily avoided/negotiated with/just left alone, half the time with minimal treasure available as a reward for beating them. It seems weird to uphold "beating the scenery" as the marquee meta-analysis of the game.

Very frequently these monsters are powerful predators, probably content killing/eating one PC if things do go south for the party, so they only really present a TPK threat to parties that actively treat every encounter as an all or nothing, victory or death type of situation. Where they are in vital places, it is rarely the case that the party has to rush them immediately for any plot reason and they could even be observed or studied for a day or more, often even going back to town and researched before being fought. When parties do rush to fight them, it seems like they have probably just just chosen to pick this fight, because they have misread the encounter difficulty and their own level of preparedness to face this specific enemy. Sometimes Paizo writers like to get sneaky with powerful monsters that are not what they seem. Usually when this is the case, it is intended as a RP opportunity for the GM more than a TPK factory, and GMs are usually told not to have the monster pursue retreating enemies or to have ulterior motives than "Murder, murder, murder."

Even so, the vast majority of them can usually be beaten pretty easily, even in combat, by just not walking into a strength on strength brawl. I see parties, especially higher level parties absolutely wreck solo monsters all the time, just by out smarting them, so that those encounters become trivially easy, often through the use of "utility" magic.

There is no reason to mislead new players into thinking that it is more important to build a character capable of fighting a level +4 monster to the death with no time to prep than it is building a character that will work well with the team to be able to handle the common types of encounters and situations they will face in the campaign. The GM absolutely should play a role in helping to guide this for their campaign.

If your table wants to play "Big Game Hunter" there are good classes and class combos for that. If your party wants to play something else, there are many different classes and class combos that work really well for specific campaigns that just might not fall into the campaigns you are looking to play. That doesn't make those bad classes, it makes them bad classes for your campaign.

Once the remastered player core is out, I will look at the spell lists and try to do a deep dive on the math of spell attack roll spells and we can talk about the specific situations where players are being trapped by picking spells designed for different situations than the player understands the spell for, but doing that math now is a waste of my time and a waste of everyone's time getting wrapped up in when it could all very easily have changed.


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It is supposed that you adjust encounters by budget right? Or am I mistaken on something?
Then if you want a severe encounter and put an APL+3 boss it should be alone, and if putting an APL+2 boss could be with another 4 APL-4 minions.


APL+3 or 4 bosses can be tough for lower level characters. They aren't much of a challenge at higher level. Lower level you have limited resources and abilities which can make those +3 or 4 encounters very tough. Once level 4 invis easy to come by, synesthesia, slow easy to cast over and over again, and you can trip pretty easily the action advantage of a party is too much for a single boss to handle.

That's why the CR+2 with some moderately tough minions becomes the more challenging fights because PF2 becomes a game of competing effective actions. If that group has good synergistic actions making it hard on a party to beat, then you have a powerful challenge against the PCs.


Tangorin wrote:
Seems funny it's the supposed meta, but in a published AP( Blood Lords) up until level 13 there were zero(0) +3/+4 bosses. Bossfights were mostly APL +2 with some other creatures/hazards.

Already addressed this.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
To be fair, throwing Level+3/+4 enemies at lower level parties is far more of a death sentence than if they were higher level parties, since the ratio of scaling is significantly against them, so unless this 3-book AP is starting at 10, we're probably not going to be seeing that regardless.


Deriven Firelion wrote:

APL+3 or 4 bosses can be tough for lower level characters. They aren't much of a challenge at higher level. Lower level you have limited resources and abilities which can make those +3 or 4 encounters very tough. Once level 4 invis easy to come by, synesthesia, slow easy to cast over and over again, and you can trip pretty easily the action advantage of a party is too much for a single boss to handle.

That's why the CR+2 with some moderately tough minions becomes the more challenging fights because PF2 becomes a game of competing effective actions. If that group has good synergistic actions making it hard on a party to beat, then you have a powerful challenge against the PCs.

I can kinda see it.

APL + 3/4 has an enormous weakness in action economy. They might crit every other attack, but they cannot deal with the amount of healing PCs can dish out. As long as the party has healing spells the monster is toast.

That's how we dealt with treerazer, actually. Enormous healing made it difficult for him to do much. We didn't even need a cleric, bard was sufficient.


Yep heal is super powerful in this game. It was powerful in PF1 too. Erasing damage is a very unequal ability. If you have it, then you can match others with it. If you don't have the heal, you can't match those with it as they erase your damage.


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Unicore wrote:

Level +3/4 enemies in the APs I have seen tend not to be plot integral bosses, but often end up serving as scary terrain pieces that can be easily avoided/negotiated with/just left alone, half the time with minimal treasure available as a reward for beating them. It seems weird to uphold "beating the scenery" as the marquee meta-analysis of the game.

Very frequently these monsters are powerful predators, probably content killing/eating one PC if things do go south for the party, so they only really present a TPK threat to parties that actively treat every encounter as an all or nothing, victory or death type of situation. Where they are in vital places, it is rarely the case that the party has to rush them immediately for any plot reason and they could even be observed or studied for a day or more, often even going back to town and researched before being fought. When parties do rush to fight them, it seems like they have probably just just chosen to pick this fight, because they have misread the encounter difficulty and their own level of preparedness to face this specific enemy. Sometimes Paizo writers like to get sneaky with powerful monsters that are not what they seem. Usually when this is the case, it is intended as a RP opportunity for the GM more than a TPK factory, and GMs are usually told not to have the monster pursue retreating enemies or to have ulterior motives than "Murder, murder, murder."

Even so, the vast majority of them can usually be beaten pretty easily, even in combat, by just not walking into a strength on strength brawl. I see parties, especially higher level parties absolutely wreck solo monsters all the time, just by out smarting them, so that those encounters become trivially easy, often through the use of "utility" magic.

There is no reason to mislead new players into thinking that it is more important to build a character capable of fighting a level +4 monster to the death with no time to prep than it is building a character that will work well with the team to be able...

Having beaten the final book of Age of Ashes (which was a bit of a letdown compared to some fights leading up to it) and seeing the final enemy for the 2e Kingmaker AP, I will have to disagree, since these are the main villains of their respective APs (even if they don't show up right away). As for them having minimal treasure, this depends on which part of the AP they are in. If they're the final boss, there's no point in treasure when there is no more adventure to be had, the game is over and the PCs are retired/dead. If they aren't the final boss, they are likely to have/guard a Macguffin you need in your adventure, among other things, meaning the idea they don't have much treasure is at-best situational and at-worst not true.

I mean, that really depends on the creature, though. A mindless monster, probably won't chase the party down (though that leaves the character dead). An intelligent enemy, not so much. There can be circumstances where the enemy can't chase the PCs, but those are few and far between, and often times the PCs that try to run potentially can't (because enemies are faster or they're stuck by something). Assuming you can just run from enemies without fear or repercussions isn't exactly immersive or even a wise decision a fair amount of the time.

Again, if a solo monster is able to be beaten with simple spellwork and a lack of proper defenses and/or offensive capability, that's a fault of the encounter design, or really favorable dicerolling. Either way, it's not something to rely on when the odds are clearly not in your favor (or not as in your favor as they can possibly get). Otherwise, attacking at -10 would be considered a good use of actions, simply because one roll is all it takes to defeat the bad guy, right?

Obviously, you can do more to threaten players instead of throwing massive numbers/DCs at them, but suggesting "figuring out ways to kill higher level enemies" isn't something that tables might have to deal with at some point (either because they're forced to fight based on circumstances, or don't have the tools needed to subvert the difficulty) just doesn't track when the game throws higher level enemies at you on a semi-regular basis.

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