So what is the consensus on PF2e?

Pedantic

Idealist
Validated User
#81
To chime in (I think) from the same sort of games-aesthetic-space as Pedantic: universal difficulty guidelines aren't necessarily bad, and obviously helpful because you can never exhaust explicit other scenarios, but I'd like them to be indexed against diegetic criteria rather than levels as such. So something like:

DC 10 - something an ordinary person easily could do if they're not scrambling (i.e., taking 10)
DC 20 - something obviously very difficult and impressive
DC 30 - something at the very boundaries of human achievement

This is indeed extremely loose, but then we're dealing with the residual cases that aren't covered by "scaling wet stone walls is DC 25," or whatever, and so as noted you need rulings rather than rules.
I'm not entirely sure I follow, but I consider generic difficulty tables (all tasks are Easy, Medium or Hard, all at fixed DCs) exactly as bad as similar level referenced tables. Setting a "smooth stone wall" at a fixed DC and having a table of modifiers that cover wetness and handholds is my preferred setup. This table, under that paradigm, exists in a design doc somewhere, and is referenced when determining at what level players can climb cliffs so as to provide good advice on challenge design. DMs should never set a challenge with an eye toward their players approximate percentage chance of success.

Siberys, I just don't agree with any of your assertions. I think a comprehensive skill system is one of the most productive uses of designer time, because it's where the vast majority of player abilities are written, outside the specific combat mini-game. Moreover, I think coming up with a reasonable list of skills and DCs that can cover the vast majority of adventuring scenarios isn't nearly as difficult as you're making it out to be. Obviously there will be some degree of DM adjudication at the margins, but that can and should actually be marginal. Putting a table like this on central display and in the center of the rules, is going to push DMs to use it.

The problem I'm particularly afraid of is referencing entire classes of challenge by level, instead of individual events. It's all too easy to see a DM creating a level 14 castle, instead of a castle with stone walls, trained watch gryphons with Y perception checks, and guards that are Z difficulty to bribe and so on. There's obviously some aesthetic questions here, but fundamentally I see skills as a means to give abilities to players, not as the thing you do between fights. An expert in a given skill should be treating that skill as a series of powers they can use to resolve whatever difficulties they encounter in the world, not the flavor they apply to their problem solving.

You've mentioned a few times that different tables might have different ideas about what constitutes a hard or an easy challenge. I think that's something that should be settled at the system level. That's one of the basic questions about what genre you're emulating and what your game does, not something that gets decided on the fly. That isn't an interesting point of flexibility, that's an active point of frustration: I should know how sneaky my 3rd level rogue is, and be able to make good decisions about when I can and can't hide, and that shouldn't have anything to do with my GM's views on stealth tactics.
 

Deliverator

Belongs to an elite order
Validated User
#82
For a great example of how to make skills DCs both qualitative and objective / quantitative, I'd take a look at Mouse Guard / Torchbearer's "factors" system. Obviously, that's an entirely different paradigm than D&D, but it's a nice way of tying skill difficulty to the fiction without relying on generalities like "Easy / Medium / Hard."
 

Plumy Namesake

Social Justice Commoner
Validated User
#83
I have the first playtest a read, and there are a number of abilities that just signaled that the writer was in different planets from what I wanted. Two stood out in particular:

Choices between combat power and OOC competence/utility drawing from the same pool? This just doesn't work in dnd, for me. My character can die in combat, but I never had a meangful setback from being too bad at tracking or there not being a pickpocket in the party.

Extremely low impact powers, like getting +1 on checks to sustain yourself on eating refuse in a city. If I'm making enough of these checks for the feat to matter in my heroic fantasy rpg, a million things have gone terribly wrong.

These are inexcusable designs, for me. If you're capable of making these mistakes, you probably can't design a game that I will enjoy, even if you fix the specific instances.

I don't mind customization, but customization can mean blandness.

The strength of any D&D game is clearly defined colorful unique(ish) classes.

I know many people want generic classes going into class-less systems, but for me that is madness (if you want to sell a D&D game).

PF2 seems to be designed in a vacuum, not at all looking at 5E and trying to capitalize on its weaknesses (or "not strengths").

A PF2 that catered to people liking 5E (i.e. the overwhelming majority of the current customer base) but with much better player-side build details seems to me a much better deal.

But compared to 5E PF2 comes across as a throw-back to a much clutterier complicated era. It doesn't resemble D&D (defined by 5th edition) much at all. To be honest PF2 comes across as a heartbreaker project, something of interest only to the inner circle of Pathfinder fans, with little to zero appeal to the wider audience (almost all of which have been brought to the hobby by 5E).

In short Paizo seems to vastly overvalue the Pathfinder brand strength, and have forgotten they exist only as a satellite to the behemoth that is WotC. PF2 might achieve the goal of finally making Paizo independent and free of WOtC, but at what price? Being reduced to being just one out of many obscure D&D clones?
Agree to all of this.
 

Siberys

Registered User
Validated User
#84
Basically I think it's trivially easy to come up with situations such a table might not cover, and/or where I as player or GM may disagree with what the designer thinks is a verisimilitudinous difficulty. Falling rules, 3e's Diplomacy and Jumping DCs, and a host of other examples should illustrate what I mean by that. DC tables like those in the PF2e playtest booklet at least give me a numerical foundation to work with if I need to make an on-the-fly "extension", so to speak.

For your concern about not being able to make informed decisions as a player; frankly, you as a player probably don't know all the factors going into a DC to begin with, so at best you can have a feel for what the likely DC is in the "qualitative method". In the "quantitative method", you should have a rough idea of the level of any opposition, so there you can have a feel too. So I guess I don't see how the two methods appreciably differ here. And there's explicit advice in that section in the PF2e playtest to be consistent about setting DCs. That means over time in either method players should be able to build expectations.

To your castle example; yeah, I totally would say that "we're in a level 14 castle". But that doesn't mean I'll stick slavishly to that one line on the DC table; that means I have a clear idea of what the area's baseline is and I can adjust from there. If the guards are particularly devoted, your DC for bribing will necessarily be higher. If the Gryphons are of a level lower or higher than the castles, I'll use that level instead - modified perhaps a bit up to account for sharp eyesight. And so on. And a lot of this would be defined prior in both the qualitative and quantitative method. I just think the latter gives more tools for the inevitable situation when a judgement call has to be made.

Beside this, the two methods both require judgement calls regardless, just in different places. If I as GM weren't expecting the PCs to try and bribe the guards, I'd have to go through the tables to derive a difficulty, and that might require me to make on-the-spot judgements the PCs couldn't have possibly planned for. Using Pathfinder's Diplomacy rules as an example, does letting the PC in count as "give dangerous aid" or "give aid that could result in punishment", and if the latter is it worth just +15 or do I invoke the "or more" bit in there, and if so by how much?

Regardless of any of that, whether there's a table telling me that a DC n is y difficulty for a character of level z or not, it will still be true. Leaving that tool out of a GM's hands - especially a newer one or one unfamiliar with your system - is asking for that player to set a DC too high or too low, whether because they miss a detail in a table or because they make an incorrect judgement call. Yeah, tables explicitly calling out DCs like your wall example can be helpful, but they're expectation-setting tools, specific examples, not the underlying math of the game. A GM needs to understand that underlying math. The numbers will always be there, whether the GM knows it or not, and it's easier to make a mistake when you don't know.

To bring this back to the playtest, I think there's plenty of mistakes in the playtest - like those Plumy just brought up for example - but providing GMs with the tools they need to make informed GMing decisions is not one of them.
 

jimthegray

Registered User
Validated User
#85
Pretty popular among people I know, still a lot of changes happening like resonance being out now, will know more in a few months
 

Pedantic

Idealist
Validated User
#87
For your concern about not being able to make informed decisions as a player; frankly, you as a player probably don't know all the factors going into a DC to begin with, so at best you can have a feel for what the likely DC is in the "qualitative method". In the "quantitative method", you should have a rough idea of the level of any opposition, so there you can have a feel too. So I guess I don't see how the two methods appreciably differ here. And there's explicit advice in that section in the PF2e playtest to be consistent about setting DCs. That means over time in either method players should be able to build expectations.
We mean very different things when we talk about "building expectations." I want fixed skill DCs, so that I know how hard it is to climb walls. Then, once my character can do it reliably (or reliably enough) I intend to go find a way to solve whatever problems the DM has made up by finding a wall to climb. If the DM is led to believe there exist an infinite scaling variety of walls, because there's a table, with a climb DC that gives a 50-75% chance of success for a character of my level, then instead of my character having an ability I can use to solve the problem, I will get to hear about yet another new type of sandstone that's just a little bit harder, now that we're dealing with level 17 castles, instead of the limestone from those level 15 ones.

Regardless of any of that, whether there's a table telling me that a DC n is y difficulty for a character of level z or not, it will still be true. Leaving that tool out of a GM's hands - especially a newer one or one unfamiliar with your system - is asking for that player to set a DC too high or too low, whether because they miss a detail in a table or because they make an incorrect judgement call. Yeah, tables explicitly calling out DCs like your wall example can be helpful, but they're expectation-setting tools, specific examples, not the underlying math of the game. A GM needs to understand that underlying math. The numbers will always be there, whether the GM knows it or not, and it's easier to make a mistake when you don't know.
We're coming at this from completely different angles. A DC being "too high or too low" is nonsense. The DC is signal for whatever ability the PCs have, it's how you know that experts can climb sheer walls at level 10, average adventurers can do it at level 15 and it's impossible before level 5. It is the DM's job to come up with obstacles that are interesting for the players to leverage that set of abilities against, not for them to maintain some percentage of success parity as the players increase in level. DMing advice should be about the kinds of challenges players will be able to deal with at given levels as a result of the abilities they've unlocked via investment in skills.

You're right though, we're eating the thread, and I'm sure we can find plenty of other material that's straight up problematic in the playtest. For what it's worth, I've actually got mixed feelings about removing resonance. It was complete nonsense to use the same resource pool for both permanent and consumable magic items, but as a tool for permanent magic buff management, it makes a lot of sense, and if they wanted to set up resource tracking for consumable item use per day, it's not a terrible idea. Using the same pool for both abilities is nonsense and creates weird and gross incentives.[/QUOTE]
 

Alter_Boy

Post Anything
Validated User
#88
When you say scaling skill difficulty, what do you actually mean? I just read the DC setting section of the playtest document, and it explicitly notes that the level in the table is the level of the challenge, not the player; skill difficulty doesn't scale with player level, as far as I can tell. Plus I have a hard time imagining a situation where not giving a GM guidance on what constitutes a reasonable challenge for a given level is helpful. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't understand your objection to the way PF2e sets DCs. My read of the system is admittedly superficial, so it's entirely possible I'm missing something. Could you elaborate?
From the discussions on the Paizo boards, it was the fault of the system because people didn't use the system as intended. It allowed people to be lazy and just use at-level challenges all the time, even though the system didn't encourage players to do it. I suppose if we go back to the days where there was no easy way to know what a party was and wasn't capable of doing, it would be better.

I'm not entirely sure I follow, but I consider generic difficulty tables (all tasks are Easy, Medium or Hard, all at fixed DCs) exactly as bad as similar level referenced tables. Setting a "smooth stone wall" at a fixed DC and having a table of modifiers that cover wetness and handholds is my preferred setup. This table, under that paradigm, exists in a design doc somewhere, and is referenced when determining at what level players can climb cliffs so as to provide good advice on challenge design. DMs should never set a challenge with an eye toward their players approximate percentage chance of success.
For a certain playstyle (sandbox with many options of engagement), sure. But for a general purpose modern RPG? It is the worst thing. It creates fixed DCs based on flavour descriptions divorced from level. It's as problematic as using monsters based on flavour instead of deadliness.

Siberys, I just don't agree with any of your assertions. I think a comprehensive skill system is one of the most productive uses of designer time, because it's where the vast majority of player abilities are written, outside the specific combat mini-game. Moreover, I think coming up with a reasonable list of skills and DCs that can cover the vast majority of adventuring scenarios isn't nearly as difficult as you're making it out to be. Obviously there will be some degree of DM adjudication at the margins, but that can and should actually be marginal. Putting a table like this on central display and in the center of the rules, is going to push DMs to use it.
It's a certain playstyle for sure, one that Paizo has been very good at supporting. But once you create said table, it's very hard to add to it, and any campaign has to revolve around those things (climbing a mountain is *always* going to be out of reach for PCs of a certain level, whereas a Page 42 based system can make mountain climbing as difficult or easy as the DM wants it to be).

There's obviously some aesthetic questions here, but fundamentally I see skills as a means to give abilities to players . . . That isn't an interesting point of flexibility, that's an active point of frustration: I should know how sneaky my 3rd level rogue is, and be able to make good decisions about when I can and can't hide, and that shouldn't have anything to do with my GM's views on stealth tactics.
Well sure. You can look at a slippery wall, know that you can't pass that, and there's no way to continue the adventure. You know exactly what you're capable of, but if the GM has made an adventure (intentionally or unintentionally) that is impossible to complete because of the flavour description, that knowledge is moot. A system that cares about playability is more playable, while a system that cares about consistency is great at feeling real.
 

Uqbarian

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#89
We're coming at this from completely different angles. A DC being "too high or too low" is nonsense. The DC is signal for whatever ability the PCs have, it's how you know that experts can climb sheer walls at level 10, average adventurers can do it at level 15 and it's impossible before level 5. It is the DM's job to come up with obstacles that are interesting for the players to leverage that set of abilities against, not for them to maintain some percentage of success parity as the players increase in level. DMing advice should be about the kinds of challenges players will be able to deal with at given levels as a result of the abilities they've unlocked via investment in skills.
The PF2 playtest doc does provide some support for both sides, offering DCs by level in table 10-2 and DCs for ordinary tasks in tables 10-3 to 10-6. And even though my personal preference is more for the scaling DC option, I appreciate having in-world examples. I'm not optimistic, but I'm hoping that PF2 will end up offering higher-level extensions of the ordinary task tables and for more skills.

EDIT: Though I'd also hope they clean up the tables a bit. (For a start, why use 'trivial' to mean two different things?)
 
Last edited:

Caduceus

Not the rod of Asclepius
Validated User
#90
There is a lot of back and forth reiterating stuff. I have one thing to say: it isn't lazy to use the guidelines given in the text.
 
Top Bottom