What ~vibe~ of game do you like most with Pathfinder 2E?

Hey all ~ I’m a D&D expat and new to the Pathfinder Arena, and I’d really love to get a read on what sort of tone or vibe of games the Pathfinder community likes to play at large, and maybe hear a few stories so I can know better of what to expect when I get into some new groups!

My favorite games tend to be more casual, fun, and a wee bit flexible on the rules (within reason) without devolving entirely into 100% Rule of Cool. I like when everyone’s getting along and working together for a common goal, and I don’t seem to be big on interpersonal character conflicts or lots of political intrigue or subterfuge - even though conceptually I think they can be great story elements, it just isn’t very fun to play through more often than not.

A lot of the D&D groups I played with were very into crunchy, by-the-numbers, rules-only-nothing-else types of games where min-maxing was the expected norm and you were really falling short if you didn’t put in the time to ensure that your character was as optimized as possible, and using the best spell/action in that moment was key to being a good player - while I can certainly understand this flavor of game it’s not what calls me to the ttrpg scene.

How would you describe your favorite flavor of game, and what about it makes it enjoyable to you?


This is a tricky question for me since I’m a little bit of a chameleon in that regard.
I do like combat more than interpersonal character conflicts or political intrigue, although it’s nice when those are nicely blended into the background. And I don’t tend to get too bugged down by the rules, specially when it comes to time related rules if there is no time pressure. Treat wounds for example makes the target immune to it for an hour, but if the players are alone in a safe area, and nothing outside will change with the passing of time, I will just let them treat wounds again if the first one failed.
I will say that my favorite part of Pathfinder is the world building. There are little touches around Golarion that set it aside from being a generic fantasy setting. So I will adjust rules based on that, like not allowing players to buy healing potions in Geb (a land of undead).
There are also so many stablished actions characters can perform that the system does allow a lot of flexibility without devolving into 100% rule of cool. Take Swashbucklers for example, they get panache points based on doing cool stuff during combat, like swinging from a chandelier or tricking their opponent with a feint action before taking advantage of the opening.

I’m really excited about the additional races and flexibility of the classes and all the various feats and ancestries, it feels like being able to build a more complicated, layered sandwich of a character that will fit exactly what I have in mind - rather than having to basically homebrew everything because the available options for histories are so generic cough5ecough.

Have you played a lot of Pathfinder games historically? I’m curious what the general atmosphere is expected to be. Part of me expects it to be a little more… Whimsical and creative, given the races and everything, but also a little but crunchier / heavier on the numbers which I’ll admit is a bit daunting.

It seemed to be that most of the D&D games I took part in almost ended up building their own world, or taking place in a very generic Fantasy kind of world without anything too specific that stood out to me. It’ll be interesting to play games where the world is a bit more static I suppose? And the history once you learn it will be relevant and specific for more than just that game.

I made the switch a couple months back, so I haven’t played that many. But as far as I have played they have been both more whimsical and crunchier. For example, the first boss of the Blood Lords adventure path is


a Zombie Cow with only one horn and a +1 scythe stuck in her from a previous battle. However, she can basically charge at players, dealing 1d12+5 damage (they are all lvl-1 at this point), and then knock them down, so my players soon find out that it was best to climb a nearby building and run in opposite directions.

And in Little Trouble in Big Absalom there is


a Leshy born of an old casserole and some taxidermic animals come to life.

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I’ve run rules light and rules heavy games, depending on the players.The common thread is my stuff is usually light hearted but I’m working on a darker campaign. I’m using Masks of Nyarlathotep as a base but in a Guns & Gears steampunk setting.


That sounds like an amazing combination. Reminds me a little bit of the game Hard West, although that was demons and not lovecraftian aberrations.

Thanks, I’m trying to fit it into the setting from the Henri Davenforth books by Honor Raconteur but not sure it’s going to work.

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Realised yesterday that the Doomed condition will work nicely for managing the crushing of characters’ sanity and will to survive :slight_smile:
Just throwing it out there for anyone else thinking of a similar game style. I bought the Cthulhu Mythos for PF2e yesterday so that may have some good stuff in too.

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I’ve really wanted to do a darker / more serious campaign, but my family style of dealing with difficulty was ‘make jokes about it!’ so it’s INCREDIBLY hard for me to maintain any kind of severity or seriousness for more than like… 30 seconds! I have no idea how some people manage to actually create the atmosphere and tension and maintain it that I see in other games, it’s like magic to me. Wish I could do it, but I can’t seem to hold onto it for too long before I have to laugh and break the tension.

Props to those who can pull it off though, it’s very impressive!

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Thanks for putting those behind the spoilers tags - I’m not playing the first one but I think my friend group is going to play the Little Trouble in Big Absalom adventure and I don’t want to spoil anything for it.

It seems like overall the vibe is just more whimsically wild than I’m familiar with seeing in D&D - which is great! Whimsical and wild is awesome, should make for a lot of fun games I think.

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Usually there has to be a common consensus to keep the atmosphere. It really only takes one character to break a heavy atmosphere, which is not the case for a lighter one. It helps to give people a little time before starting the session to get into that headspace.
And I really enjoyed the whimsy with Little Trouble, I hope your table has fun with it as well!

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Practice :slight_smile:
I usually do light hearted or comedic games, I want to do a dark theme for the challenge and to tell some stories bouncing round my head since I took a creative writing course. I’ve also got the Alan Moore story telling course on BBC Maestro to finish before I let the Cthulhu Mythos loose on my sacrificial victims


Little Trouble is awesome. My players spent half an hour trying to work out the purpose of the “ancient looking religious container, made from some kind of thin, hard bone like material, protected in a small wooden house”. Aka the porcelain casserole dish in an old glass fronted cupboard

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So, our group has been playing together for roughly 30+ years. When we run Pathfinder series/DnD our games tend to be the classic epic. The players start off social contracting (using elements of the FATE system to establish the conflicts and relationships between players) and get a feeling for the story.

I’m a huge world builder and love making maps so I tend to drop the players in one corner of the world and as they travel they start to learn more about the meta plots/politics driving the world around them. I take queues from their suppositions and theories and let them sandbox their way across the map to what interests them. However, the plot of the villains moves in the background and their stories start to collide.

Currently, my players are exploring a “new world” which is primeval, feral, and ancient. It is accessed through a portal in a slow rotating maelstrom months of sailing at sea. The portal lies between two giant stone hands that rise up out of the water. Early explorers to this land thought lost in time brought back strange crystals that release more energy than put into them and these Aethershards are evolving new technology and causing political chaos in the old world.

However, as the players explore they are finding evidence that this may be the world from which humanity seems to have fled and their return has awoken a great evil that has been asleep. They are finding signs of lost civilizations; ancient battles between mankind and strange fomorion beasts. Other sentient races appear to be fighting a soft rebellion against the forces of “the sleeper” and are antagonistic to the explorers who apparently abandoned them to their fate.

The stories combine dungeon crawls, ruin explorations, political intrigue between the 3 nations attempting to settle the lands, diplomacy with the new races they are encountering…

It’s turning into a great romp. We recently (about 3 months ago) switched from 5E because the combat was just becoming fairly lackluster and some of my players like a little more crunch when combat shows it’s head (we are fairly heavy RP/story driven with combat used to create drama/conflict/climax)

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This sounds really epic for a committed group.