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Gwenevere Rothwell

Mar 31, 2023

There are four core mechanics within Pathfinder 2nd Edition that make the game function as intended: the three action economy, feats, traits, and conditions. Conditions are mostly penalties that can be applied to all creatures, barring specific immunities....

Image by Kiwihug

There are four core mechanics within Pathfinder 2nd Edition that make the game function as intended: the three action economy, feats, traits, and conditions. Conditions are mostly penalties that can be applied to all creatures, barring specific immunities. Pathfinder 2nd Edition is all about using these conditions to form an advantage over your enemy and it also gives players something to watch out for from their foes.

Types of Conditions

There are a whole slew of conditions that you can run into in a game and that you can create. Spellcasters and monsters are especially good at this aspect of gameplay, but martial classes should have at least a few conditions that they’re focused on inflicting. There are a tad too many conditions to cover, but you can find the full list of conditions here or on page 618 of the Core Rulebook. Future instalments might include more conditions.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition groups most of its conditions into five categories: Attitudes, Death and Dying, Degrees of Detection, Lowered Abilities, and Senses.

  • Attitudes: are used in social situations and determine how a creature perceives you and how likely it is to aid you. The range is Helpful, Friendly, Indifferent, Unfriendly, and Hostile. It can be a good way to measure how a conversation is going, with diplomacy, bluff, or intimidate rolls determining where an NPC stands in terms of their willingness to help you. A Success might bump the NPC up one stage, a Critical Success might bump an NPC up two stages, a Failure might keep them at level, and a second Failure might bump them down a stage. A Critical Failure might bump them down a stage or even two stages. The rules on negotiation are pretty loose, so have fun with this, the above is just an example.

  • Death and Dying: These conditions have to do with, well, death or dying. When you drop to 0 Hit Points from a lethal attack, you are dying 1. Dying also makes you unconscious. When you are dying, at the start of each of your turns you need to make a flat recovery check (DC equal to 10 + your current dying value, “flat” means that you only roll a d20 with no modifiers). If you succeed, your dying value is reduced by 1, critically succeed and your dying value is reduced by 2, fail and your dying value increases by 1, and on a critical fail your dying value increases by 2. At dying 4 you die. At dying 0 you stabilise but you are still unconscious at 0 HP. Any time you recover from dying you gain the Wounded 1 condition, which stacks with itself. So, if you go down twice and recover twice, your Wounded value is at 2. If you gain the dying condition while wounded, you increase your dying condition by your wounded condition’s amount, so if you have Wounded 2 and you gain the dying condition, you start at Dying 3. Luckily the wounded condition is fairly easy to clear as regaining Hit Points from Treat Wounds or being restored to full Hit Points and resting for 10 minutes resets your Wounded value to 0.The Doomed condition is nasty and it decreases the value you die at by the Doomed condition’s amount, so if you are Doomed 3, you die at Dying 1 (4-3 = 1). Each time you get a full night’s rest you reduce your doomed value by 1.

  • Degree of Detection: This is used for stealth checks and sneaking around. You can use this like you can use the Attitudes, with each iterative failure or success bumping you up or down by 0, 1, or 2 degrees, as seen fit by the GM. The range with these is a little more open as Undetected and Unnoticed are fairly similar, but how I’d range them is Unnoticed, Undetected, Hidden, and Observed. Keep in mind that an Unnoticed character is also Undetected. With Unnoticed, people who might detect you not only have no idea that you’re there, but also have no idea that something might be off. Undetected on the other hand they have an idea that someone or something is there, but they don’t know for sure.

  • Lowered Abilities: Conditions that specifically lower aspects tied to a specific ability score. Clumsy for example affects Dexterity-based checks and DCs such as Reflex saves, ranged attacks, AC, and Dexterity-based skills.

  • Senses: These specifically interfere with your senses—usually sight, but hearing can be affected too. This includes things like invisibility, being temporarily blinded, and so on.

  • Others: There are of course more conditions such as the Broken condition which applies to objects, the Confused condition which gives me flashbacks to Pokemon, Controlled condition which is where someone has magical control over your body, and so on. There are a lot of conditions and GMs might be overwhelmed by them, so, how can we make it easier?

Keeping Track of Conditions

This applies to both GMs and PCs, but the best way to keep track of conditions is to take a look at your character’s abilities and see what conditions they can apply, then simply make a note of those conditions and what they do. Rather than quickly googling it or looking through the conditions index, you can now just look at your character sheet notes and say, “Ah, Daze makes an enemy stunned 1 which reduces an enemy’s actions by 1!”

You’ll want to keep these notes brief and keep only the important information. With our Stunned example, we have two entire paragraphs that details how stunned works, but if your spell is limited in how high the stunned condition can go, you can easily shorthand that to, “Reduce their number of actions by 1 for 1 round,” because we know that the stunned value we inflict will never go above 1 and only lasts 1 round. You could add in the note about being slowed in that they are not cumulative, so a stunned 1 and slowed 2 enemy has 1 action remaining instead of 0, but that’s only worth it if you or someone else in the party can slow the opponent.

Remember that you only need to keep track of conditions that you can apply, so if your fighter has no way of inflicting the stunned condition on someone, then you don’t need to keep a note of it. Same with if you’re a caster and you never plan on tripping people.

For GMs, you only need to keep track of what your monsters can do and maybe keep the conditions page open in the book, bookmarked, or open on Archives of Nethys.

There are some universal actions that cause conditions which most people should keep track of, and these are the Grapple, Shove, Trip, and Disarm actions. You might be thinking “well, I’m a backline caster. Do I need to keep track of these?” And the answer to that is it depends. If you never plan on ever being in melee combat, be it with yourself, in a combat form, or with a summon, and you have no spells that can emulate these effects, then no, you’re probably fine with not keeping track of these, but if you do plan on using battle forms or summoning monsters, then keeping track of these actions and the conditions that they do as they appear can come in handy and can provide alternatives that you or your summon can do aside for just attacking three times. Damage is helpful, but conditions really help make the team fly.

Making the Dream Work with Teamwork

Pathfinder 2nd Edition is heavily focused on teamwork, and conditions help with that immensely. Every single plus and minus 1 helps. If you can apply both a +1 status bonus to your team and a -1 status penalty to your enemy, that’s effectively a +2 bonus in your team’s favour. Things can ramp up quickly in that regard. Remember to communicate with your party members to figure out what conditions everyone can dish out and pay attention in combat, even when it’s not your turn. You don’t want to try tripping an opponent that is already tripped.

Wrapping Up

I hope this article helps you understand the basics of conditions and how to use them effectively in your game. They can be pretty overwhelming because there’s just so much of them, but if you only keep track of what you need to keep track of, it becomes pretty manageable pretty quickly and can lead to some seriously deadly synergies with your teammates.

If you’re confused about how different conditional bonuses work and stack together, you can find my guide on that here.

Books Used
  • Pathfinder 2nd Edition Core Rulebook

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