I recently ran into a forum post on the Pathfinder 2e boards asking Paizo to alter their adventure design. Reading it, I remembered similar complaints about Pathfinder 1e and a lesser extent D&D 5e. I don’t believe Paizo or anyone else is going to alter the way they create adventures because the product should be consistent. So what is a GM to do? Well, I have three suggestions.
1) Run Adventures Two Levels Lower than the Group
This isn’t just my suggestion but the suggestion from one of the designers. Honestly, this makes quite a bit of sense. A more optimized group should be able to run the adventure at level, while a group of players that are more casual players should be given some advantages. The easiest way to do that is to run adventures designed for lower-level groups. A level 5 group should have a level 3 adventure. A level 12 group should be playing level 10 adventures, and so on. If you find the adventure is too easy, the next module you run can be 1 level below, or even at their level.
2) Start The Group Off at Level 3
Just because the game starts off at level 1 doesn’t mean you have to start your adventurers off there. This gives them more hp to survive, more abilities to use, and more spells to cast. This way, the players can tell you how they got to level 3. Now they can say they did more than just “pick up my grandparent’s old sword and defended my village.” Now they can also talk about how they “joined in with the rest of the village and attacked the monster in its cave and was the only survivor, then traveled the road and saved a merchant who gave them this item as a reward and recommended I go to this tavern to meet up other adventurers.” It lets the players define their characters a little more.
3) Just Subtract 2
If are bound and determined to run adventures for a group of level 1 players that don’t know what they’re doing, then I recommend subtracting 2 from all numbers their opponents have. Attack bonus on the monster is +4? Nope. It’s a +2 now. AC is 14? Not anymore. Now it is 12. Spell or trap DCs? Same thing. This makes it just that much easier for the players to succeed.
Having said all that, in an ideal world, adventure levels should reflect an average group instead of a more optimized group, and a GM of an optimized group should have to go 2 levels higher for their group. Like I said above, however, they’re going to remain consistent. Because changing a product is never good for customer expectations. It would be like “New Coke,” failing because it is not the familiar product customers have come to expect.