Ostog the Untenured

Ostog the Unslain was a barbarian character played by the publisher of Paizo.

I recently reviewed the Pathfinder 2 playtest, trying to get my voice heard in the hope of improving the final product. I also made the mistake of visiting the Paizo forums to discuss it, and found them unussually awash in edition warring, with a particular enmity for 5th Edition. There there paradoxically the two sides: those who hated the playtest for being too much like 5e, and those who hated it for not being enough like 5e. There was a curious number of mechanics and bits of design called out as Paizo taking inspiration from 5th Edition D&D… despite many of those elements having been seen in prior evolution of the 3.X ruleset, such as Star Wars Saga and even 4th Edition D&D, which predated Pathfinder 1.

I find this frustrating at times. Pathfinder 2 is progressing in the same direction as other follow-ups to 3.5e D&D, but doing so a decade after those innovations were attempted. One particular bit of rules that I disliked was how characters added their level to almost all d20 checks and their Armour Class, mirroring skills in Star Wars Saga and most advancement in 4e. This was a reaction to the 3e design where you were expected to put all your skill ranks into the same skills every level, but were given the trap option of instead spreading them around to other skills. Meanwhile, because you increased your skills every level, everyone else in the party couldn’t keep up with your checks and had no reason to even bother rolling. But Saga and 4e showed that by giving everyone a relative boost there was no reason not to have everyone make a check, because four or five die rolls significantly increased the chances of success. It shifts play from “there’s no reason for anyone but the bard to train Diplomacy” to “everyone roll a Charisma check, one of us is bound to get above 15.”

There’s also the other oddity: everyone quickly develops a baseline competency. Not just keeping close behind the rest of the party, but rapidly passing everyone else. The barbarian numerically becomes a great scholar. A mid-level wizard is an athlete capable of beating American Ninja Warrior.