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Pathfinder 2E

Pathfinder 2E Part 1: Mechanics

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Hello fellow nerds. It’s time to look deeper into Pathfinder 2E. Given the amount of blog information Paizo has released to tease us, we will be looking at in various parts to avoid nerd overload, starting here with a look at mechanics.

Pathfinder 2E Paizo mechanics

Pathfinder 2E looks to be a streamlined, exciting revision to the original system. [Art by Wayne Reynolds]

Pathfinder 2E mechanics

Over the next few weeks we’ll recap what we know on mechanics, spells and magic, races, classes, gear and crafting, and by that time we should be caught up to the info they are currently releasing on monsters. Please remember that while we look at this, all this information has been taken from the Paizo Blog, which has done an excellent job of laying out information in teasers without giving a lot of details. Also, it’s good to point out that this is all playtest material. By the time they fully launch Pathfinder 2E this may have changed significantly.

The following information will be in no particular order so please bare with me as we sort through Pathfinder 2E’s mechanics.

What we know so far

Pathfinder as been known for its action system over the years and not always in a nice way. Originally there were upwards of 7 actions a character could take each turn. I rarely did that myself because I couldn’t remember what they all were.

Pathfinder 2E has reduced it to 3 actions plus 1 reaction. This makes it easy to keep track of things. Actions can be a move, attack, casting spells, raising a shield or using devices. This should allow a more freestyle of game that will limit actions to players and Game Masters. Now spellcasting will take anywhere from 1-3 actions, but we’ll go over that more in the spells and magic article. Reactions will allow for things like the fighters “attack of opportunity.” While class features are not released in full at this point there are several that mention using the reaction trigger. We’ll also look more into some of those as we look at classes in a later article.

Pathfinder 2E has also changed their leveling system. Now characters will need 1000 XP to level up all the time. As you gain levels you gain feats at every level. These feats can be skill, ancestry, general and class feats. Every 5 levels you will have the options to increase an ability score. You can also rank up proficiencies as you gain levels though your proficiencies will be initially determined by your class. You level will also help determine your skill modifiers, which will be rank plus your level.

With the new Pathfinder 2E, Paizo has decided to frame out the different modes of the game. I like this aspect because over the years I’ve always had players ask what they can do when. The modes are currently listed as Encounter Mode, Exploration Mode, and Downtime Mode.

Encounter mode is your standard 6 second combat round. Cast your spells, stab someone with a sword, heal someone, etc. This is where your actions and reaction kick in. Next, we have exploration mode — your traveling, search the room, or try a test of some sort. The is when you’re adventuring but not actively trying to kill something. It’s good to note that whatever you are doing in exploration mode will set the tone to how your initiative is determined entering combat. Finally, we have downtime mode. This is the evolution or re-visitation of the character. This mode is what your character is doing when not adventuring. This is retraining, using professions to gain money, recuperating from injuries or the ever-popular carousing. I like this  being worked into the game because I often feel that downtime is never used or used properly.

Paizo has also introduced “The 4 degrees of success” into Pathfinder 2E. We now have critical success, success, failure and critical failure. Critical success is 10 or higher over the Difficulty Class or a natural 20. Critical failure being the opposite and being 10 or more under the DC or a natural 1. Success is 5 or more over the DC, where failure is 5 or more under. This leaves an interesting grey zone set for the imagination of the GM to take hold and describe what happens.

Pathfinder 2E

Looks like Pathfinder iconics Seoni and Harsk will be back for Pathfinder 2E, at least on the cover to the playtest adventure, Doomsday Dawn

Thoughts moving forward

Pathfinder 2E has done an excellent job of writing its blogs as teasers, giving just enough information for us to want more and not have it available. Looking at the information, personally I’m intrigued. As a longtime GM, a streamlined game is usually easy to explain to players and tends to get them more excited. Games that are quick to pick up I find tend to let the players have more fun than something with a ton of mechanics and books. The turn Paizo is taking with Pathfinder 2E looks very promising and should bring in new players with ease. If you would like more information on some of the new mechanics coming, please check out the Paizo Blog or the Pathfinder Playtest site.

You can preorder the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, including the Deluxe Hardcover edition, and Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn on Amazon. They are scheduled to ship on August 2, 2018.

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James Leslie

Long time RPG enthusiast, I first started with D&D back when I was 7, then jumped back into it again at 14 when I could understand what I was reading. I've tinkered as a story teller in many different game systems from Gurps, to Vampire, to most recently in Savage Worlds: Rippers Ressurected, though I've never forgotten my love for D&D.

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