Pathfinder 2nd edition

Got the rules book and the Bestiary for some Amazon bucks the other day. The Gamemaster guide is on pre-order as it hasn’t officially been released yet.

This edition, from what I can tell, simplifies a lot of the first edition jungle by giving players tons of feats based on ancestry, class, and level. Players can negotiate variations of the core classes by choosing feat trees that are more organized than the 1st edition rules. There’s enough wiggle room for them to totally discard the core character design if players wish, by using the archetype rules and choosing feats from other classes. Fighters can eschew the normal fighter feats and pick up alchemy feats for example. They just won’t be as good at fighting or as good as a pure alchemist, but they can break the mold just because they can.

Half-elves and half-orcs are considered human ancestry, and they get to choose feats based on their other racial type. They get to control the degree of their otherness if they want. They just deprive themselves of vanilla human feats. Humans have a lot of diversity, but other races can play variations of the basic racial mode. You can play a dwarf from a different environment and get a feat that replaces of the usual ones.

Players don’t roll hit points. They’re given the max of their ancestry die type + class die type at 1st level, and max class hp every level after. So, a 1st level dwarf fighter get 10 (dwarf HD) + 10 (fighter HD) + CON bonus. There are also 3 actions per round instead of 2. Some activities can take 2 or 3 actions. There’s triggering effects that take place and enable free actions.

Attacks of Opportunity aren’t available to just anybody. Melee classes get to choose them as feats. Fighters at 1st, Champions (renamed paladins) at 6th, etc. Some AoOs can also be used on targets within range that are using Concentration, like casters.

One thing I noticed about some of the monsters is that their reach can be different depending on attack type. A Roc has a wing attack at 15’ range, and its claw & bite are 10’, for example. In 1st ed, the reach was the same for all attack types, depending on the size of the creature.

I wanted to show off this bright shiny toy to my gaming group, but a couple of them hated it. They saw the reduction of complexity as nerfing, and the game system as forcing a player to take a generic build rather than allowing them to hunt every fucking rule branch in existence to get a +1 bonus somewhere – the same people who complain how Pathfinder 1st ed. gets bogged down in rules during battle. Really, there’s still versatility in how you get to build your character, and the designers didn’t make your choices poor ones. Plus, you’re allowed to retrain feats during down time, so it’s not like you’re stuck with a deadbeat character for eternity.

I’m pretty sure I can get my gaming group to play it when the online database is more complete, but I didn’t expect them to have such a sour reaction to it to start.

I thought Pathfinder 2E did a lot of interesting things, like the action economy and spellcasting (effectively, you have 3 action points every round, some actions take more than one action point, many spells become more powerful as you invest more action points into casting them). But, while character creation is definitely simplified and streamlined from Pathfinder 1E, actual game-play in PF2E looks at least as complex.

The thing is, I can’t figure out who this game is aimed at. A ton of players jumped ship from D&D 4E to Pathfinder, because they loved 3E, and Pathfinder was just a revised and streamlined 3E, or because 4E was just too much of a radical re-design, and they wanted something closer to the Old School core. Then 5E came out, which was much simpler and more accessible than 3E/Pathfinder, while still seeming like actual D&D to older players, unlike 4E. Quite a few players jumped from Pathfinder to 5E.

Then Pathfinder 2E came out and…it’s quite different from 3E, but it’s still pretty complex, and while it doesn’t stray as far from the Old School core as 4E did, it’s much further from that core than either 5E or Pathfinder 1E.

So, if you still love 3E but just don’t want to deal with all of the bloat that accumulated in Pathfinder, this isn’t the game for you. If you want something crunchier and more complex than 5E that still remains firmly embedded in the Old School core, this isn’t the game for you. If you want something significantly simpler than 3E/Pathfinder, this isn’t the game for you. It just seems like it’s going to drive away 3E adherents without attracting many new players.

I guess, if you want something that still has strong D&D themes and elements, but with a much crunchier play-style than 5E, but not as far from the Old School core as 4E, and without all of the bloat of PF1E (for now, anyway), maybe this is the game for you. It just seems like such a small niche, and Pathfinder had become so huge, it just looks like a step backwards to me, in terms of market appeal.

We’ll see, though. Maybe the Adventure Paths (which is what put Paizo on the map in the first place) will be popular enough, and Pathfinder Society organized play will remain robust enough, and the innovative mechanics appealing enough, that they’ll be able to hold onto enough current players and attract enough new ones to maintain the game.

It is kind of a curse when game designers don’t properly predict how the OC players will react when new editions come out. Same happened with Rolemaster and Shadowrun when they “simplified” their game systems too. It’s the “can’t teach old dogs new tricks” rule. Even though the first editions were jalopies, they were OUR jalopies, and we had invested a lot of time getting the best use out of them.

Another GM in our gaming group typically runs Chaosium/Hero Wars campaigns, which emphasize storytelling over mechanics. I try to use storytelling techniques when I run PF, but I find I have to clarify my terms to the crunchers. If I say something like “Parents tell their children that giants stepped on this city and flattened it. The residents rebuilt it, and the giants stepped on it again,” one of the crunchers will say “What kind of giants? Giants aren’t large enough to step on entire cities.” Sigh…“It’s a fairy tale, not actually true.” They’ll start looking up structure statistics and how much damage giants can do with foot attacks. /head meet wall

This paragraph alone makes me very interested in the system. It looks like they’ve addressed some pet peeves of mine.

Thanks for bringing the new version to my attention!

I remember a fighter from 3.5 D&D that kept rolling minimums and quickly ended up with fewer hit points than the mage, even with the Con bonus. That was so wrong. I like the approach of just assigning them each level.

I bought the PDF and have been reading through. I love the character system, from generation to leveling. Lots of choices, but everything follows the same system so it’s easy to understand.

And I really like the combat loop. No more complicated system of different kinds of actions and how they mix together. Just three regular actions plus one reaction, and everything takes a simple zero, one, two, etc actions.

I like that they have a clear system on downtime activities, so that characters can do interesting things when out of the spotlight.

Overall, for me, they’ve hit a great balance between streamlined and crunchy. I like the crunchiness of the original Pathfinder, but it has too many kludges and exceptions.