Sorcerer Class Preview

Monday, July 9, 2018

Their magical blood gives sorcerers their spellcasting power, and it's been a major part of the class since Pathfinder's inception. So for the Pathfinder Playtest, we're going all in: your character's bloodline determines her spell list!

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Bloodlines

You pick your bloodline at 1st level, which tells you which spell list you use: arcane, divine, primal, or occult (the last of the four magical traditions, which we'll cover in a future blog!). It also defines some of the spells you know. For instance, the demonic bloodline gives you the divine spell list and the fear spell at 1st level, in addition to two other spells that you choose yourself from the divine list. In some cases, the special spells from your bloodline come from other lists. For example, the demonic bloodline gives you slow when you learn 3rd-level spells (for the sin of sloth) and disintegrate when you learn 6th-level spells. There are a couple more. How about we look at that whole bloodline entry and you can make your own guesses about which ones are from other lists?

Demonic

The demons of the Abyss debase all they touch, and one of your ancestors fell victim to their corruption. You're burdened with dark thoughts and the desire for destruction. This urge can be overcome if you choose to fight it, but the beauty of sin calls to you always.

Spell List divine (Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook 200)

Signature Skills Athletics, Deception, Intimidation, Religion

Granted Spells Cantrip: detect magic; 1st: fear; 2nd: resist energy; 3rd: slow; 4th: divine wrath; 5th: banishment; 6th: disintegrate; 7th: divine decree; 8th: power word stun; 9th: meteor swarm

Bloodline Powers Initial Power: glutton's jaws; Advanced Power: swamp of sloth (2); Greater Power: abyssal wrath (2)

You can see that the bloodline also determines your most important skills and gives you some bloodline powers. We've talked about powers before (see the cleric preview. These are special spells you can get only from specific classes, and they are cast using Spell Points rather than spell slots. They also automatically heighten to the highest level of spell you can cast. You start out with a number of Spell Points per day equal to your Charisma modifier, and if you have the demonic bloodline, you gain the glutton's jaws power, which you can cast at a cost of 1 Spell Point.

Glutton's Jaws Power 1

Necromancy

Casting [[A]] Somatic Casting, [[A]] Verbal Casting

Duration 1 minute


Your mouth transforms into a shadowy maw bristling with pointed teeth. These jaws grant you an unarmed attack you're trained in, dealing 1d6 piercing damage. They have the finesse trait.

Attacks with your jaws have the following enhancement.

Enhancement If the target was living, gain 1d4 temporary HP.

Heightened (2nd) Your jaws gain the effects of a +1 weapon potency rune (a +1 item bonus to attack rolls and an additional damage die) and the temporary Hit Points increase to 2d4.

Heightened (4th) The jaws gain the effects of a +2 weapon potency rune and the temporary Hit Points increase to 3d4.

Heightened (6th) The jaws gain the effects of a +3 weapon potency rune and the temporary Hit Points increase to 4d4.

Heightened (8th) The jaws gain the effects of a +4 weapon potency rune and the temporary Hit Points increase to 5d4.

At higher levels, you'll get to make a swampy morass that makes creatures slothful or call forth the dangers of an Abyssal realm.

The number of bloodlines in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook is fairly small, since we want to see how people react to the new style of the class with just a subset of the bloodlines. In the book, you'll see the following bloodlines: aberrant (occult), angelic (divine), demonic (divine), draconic (arcane), fey (primal) and imperial (arcane). That last one comes from the magical traditions of ancient mortals and matches our iconic sorcerer, Seoni!

Spontaneous Spellcasting

This is our first preview of a spontaneous spellcaster! The sorcerer gets the same number of spells per day as a wizard, but she has a number of spells she knows permanently instead of preparing them from a spellbook every day. The spells she knows make up her spell repertoire. That means she can choose which spell to cast each time she casts a spell instead of needing to plan ahead. It's worth noting that the sorcerer now learns spells at the same character level as the wizard: 2nd-level spells at 3rd level, 3rd-level spells at 5th level, and so on.

As you level up, you learn new spells and can replace some of the spells you previously had with new ones. This lets you get rid of some spells that were great options when they were at your highest level but maybe aren't worth casting anymore.

The sorcerer's spellcasting is based on her inborn magical potency, so she uses her Charisma for her spell rolls and spell DCs. Because Charisma also adds to Resonance Points, the sorcerer can make up for some of her limited spell choice compared to the wizard's spellbook by supplementing her spell selection with more scrolls, staves, and wands.

Sorcerer Features

Many of the sorcerer's class features were explained under bloodline, as most of them tie back to that choice. The sorcerer gains her advanced power at 6th level and her greater bloodline power at 10th level. As with other spellcasters, her proficiency with spell rolls and spell DCs increases to expert at 12th level, master at 16th, and legendary at 19th.

The sorcerer gets one other class feature, called spontaneous heightening. As mentioned before, some spells in your lower-level spell slots get less useful as you go up in level. However, there are some spells you might want to cast with any of your slots. The spontaneous heightening feature lets you choose two spells at the start of each day that you can cast as their heightened versions using any of your spell slots. That means that if you want your angelic sorcerer to be able to cast 1st-level heal, 2nd-level heal, and 3rd-level heal, you can choose your 1st-level heal spell with spontaneous heightening rather than needing to learn the spell in your spell repertoire at all three spell levels. Then you can cast a 1st-level heal to top off someone's Hit Points when they're almost at full and still cast a 3rd-level heal in the middle of a fight to really save someone from the brink!

Sorcerer Feats

The sorcerer's feats primarily deal with her spells. Sorcerers get metamagic feats, many of which they share with other casters. One we haven't shown off yet is Overwhelming Spell at 8th level, which lets a spell that deals acid, cold, electricity, or fire damage ignore the first 10 points of a target's resistance.

If you want to make a blaster, you can pick up Dangerous Sorcery, which increases the damage of your spells by their spell level (with the exception of cantrips). You can also take Blood Magic at 8th level, which uses the magical potential in your blood to grant temporary Hit Points to you or a target of your spell if you're bleeding when you cast it.

One of my favorite cycles of feats are the evolution feats, which reinforce the themes of each magical tradition. Arcane Evolution makes your arcane sorcerer trained in a skill and lets you add a spell from a scroll to your spell repertoire for the day when you prepare each morning. Divine Evolution lets you channel energy like a cleric. Occult Evolution gives you a skill and lets you pick a spell with the mental trait to add to your repertoire each day. Finally, Primal Evolution lets you cast summon nature's ally as an innate spell once per day at the highest spell level you can cast.

How about a 20th-level feat? Sorcerers can take a feat to gain 10th-level spells of their tradition, but you might want to look at other options, like Wellspring Spell. This metamagic feat lets you cast a 5th-level or lower spell once per minute without expending the spell slot!

What sort of predictions do you have for the bloodlines? What spells will they get? Does this new scheme make you more or less likely to play a sorcerer? Do you want to try out a gnome fey sorcerer? How about an angelic sorcerer with the heal spell? Let us know in the comments, and start preparing for when you get the book!

Logan Bonner
Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Seoni Sorcerers Wayne Reynolds
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Shinigami02 wrote:
Now maybe there are ways to balance that out, but it would be a complex project, as compared to just, like, leaving the classic Prepared Caster alone. I might not personally ever play it because I hate Prepped Casting, but plenty of people like Prepped Casting and the system at least kinda sorta works. There's still things I'm unhappy with as far as the perceived balance between spellcasters, but maybe that'll come out in the wash, who knows.

I thought the warlock had a neat take on spont casters. Fewer spell slots, but always cast at your highest level. It would be a very different sorcerer that did that, but I think it could be done.

The number of slots would have to be rebalanced in PF2 of course, due to no short rest, but it could be done. Doubling the number of slots would probably work, but theres other options.


I think the kineticist had the role of the warlock filled in a good and interesting way
even though the recource system was...harsh? complicated?
either way I thin a spellpoint based kineticist would be good to fill that role

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I still miss the 3.5 warlock...

Shadow Lodge

Getting back on topic, does anyone else think bloodline feats/scaling can trips would've been great? Like Oracles getting to pick Revelations that show how their Mystery is really theirs? Glutton's Jaws is close, but since you are forced to have it....


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Getting back on topic, does anyone else think bloodline feats/scaling can trips would've been great? Like Oracles getting to pick Revelations that show how their Mystery is really theirs? Glutton's Jaws is close, but since you are forced to have it....

I'm fairly sure there will be Bloodline-related Class Feats and that they just decided not to show any in this blog for... some reason or other. Or at least I hope that's the case, if it's not then that is a gaping design hole left in the CRB... that would undoubtedly be filled in later publications.


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Seisho wrote:

I think the kineticist had the role of the warlock filled in a good and interesting way

even though the recource system was...harsh? complicated?
either way I thin a spellpoint based kineticist would be good to fill that role

I really don't want the "you do math and hurt yourself" kineticist to go away- those are the reasons I love the class.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Seisho wrote:

I think the kineticist had the role of the warlock filled in a good and interesting way

even though the recource system was...harsh? complicated?
either way I thin a spellpoint based kineticist would be good to fill that role
I really don't want the "you do math and hurt yourself" kineticist to go away- those are the reasons I love the class.

LOL And those are the reasons I hated the class. [well the burn mechanic at least] ;)

Myself, I'm all for just about ANY mechanic to replace burn. Heck, I loathe resonance and I'd take that as the mechanic that powers kineticists over burn.


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But I mean, the broader point is that not every class is for everyone and if you change a class fundamentally you're liable to disappoint/upset the people who loved the class for what it was previously.

After all there will probably be no shortage of blasty options, so why take the one class away that caters specifically to math-oriented masochists? I want some kind of class that works like this, even if it doesn't throw fireballs etc.


I'm not familiar with Burn. Is it worse than Sacred Geometry?


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houser2112 wrote:
I'm not familiar with Burn. Is it worse than Sacred Geometry?

No. It’s a form of taking scaling non-mitigatable non-lethal damage to pay certain ability costs on Kineticist.


houser2112 wrote:
I'm not familiar with Burn. Is it worse than Sacred Geometry?

So basically in order for a Kineticist to cast a "spell" there are four things that add to the cost - form, substance, metakinesis, and the basic type; and there are four things which can reduce the cost - gathering power, infusion specialization, internal buffer, and composite specialization.

If you do not reduce the total cost to zero, the spell causes "burn" which is non-healable nonlethal damage (1 burn is 1 nonlethal damage per hit die). It's supposed to represent fatigue caused by "pushing yourself past your limit".


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graystone wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Seisho wrote:

I think the kineticist had the role of the warlock filled in a good and interesting way

even though the recource system was...harsh? complicated?
either way I thin a spellpoint based kineticist would be good to fill that role
I really don't want the "you do math and hurt yourself" kineticist to go away- those are the reasons I love the class.

LOL And those are the reasons I hated the class. [well the burn mechanic at least] ;)

Myself, I'm all for just about ANY mechanic to replace burn. Heck, I loathe resonance and I'd take that as the mechanic that powers kineticists over burn.

You'll have blasty options that don't have burn mechanics, and there were archetypes that replaced burn. Burn was an actually interesting give and take that I enjoyed. I love classes like it, I love the oddball classes with an overheat mechanic in video games, I like the unlimited until you push yourself. These types of classes have place and purpose, that take the games normal rules into a weird but different place.

Let people like me have our classes, stop trying to strip what made the class interesting and enjoyable to us away so you can have yet another toy.

Shadow Lodge

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Yes, but those archetypes are blatantly awful. Negative levels if hit while gathering power, turning evil if you use the ability just ONCE, etc.


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The best one was the growing malus on will saves and that was also pretty harsh, classic burn was the best and still not very nice... but I really, really, REALLY loved the class


You need to have a balancing mechanic for COS as a primary stat

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I still think burn will return as a unique status condition. I'm less sure what will trigger burn accumulation. Going to be pretty weird if the kineticist has to repeatedly slap himself just to keep up with a wizard casting cantrips and powers.

But in any case, I didn't mean the 3.5 warlock when I talked about spont casters. I meant 5e.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
After all there will probably be no shortage of blasty options, so why take the one class away that caters specifically to math-oriented masochists?

All the classes has a wide variety of options to tailor your character to your playstyle. Didn't want a cha sorcerer? we have an option for you. Want Cha on a witch/druid/ranger? Sure, we got that. Want a rogue without sneak attack? we got some. Want a non-awful alternative to burn... No fun for you.

So I don't want to steal your fun, I just want to be allowed to have some fun with the class myself.

houser2112 wrote:
I'm not familiar with Burn. Is it worse than Sacred Geometry?

Well it's about as bad IMO. It is, in essence, punching yourself in the face to use your abilities. Well, except it's worse as I could heal that while burn is 100% incurable in the day you take it. Then the higher you level, the higher the indurrable damage you take. Then all your bonuses to hit/damage/stats, ect are gated behind you punching yourself an ever increasing number of times to gain them.

MusicAddict wrote:
Let people like me have our classes, stop trying to strip what made the class interesting and enjoyable to us away so you can have yet another toy.

Please let others enjoy what would otherwise be a fun/interesting class by allowing options other than the one that they see as bad. Some people didn't like favored enemy/terrain: the game didn't tell them to 'go take a hike', it gave options to play the class without that feature that didn't suck. I don't think advocating for that with the kineticist makes me a horrible person.


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graystone wrote:


MusicAddict wrote:
Let people like me have our classes, stop trying to strip what made the class interesting and enjoyable to us away so you can have yet another toy.
Please let others enjoy what would otherwise be a fun/interesting class by allowing options other than the one that they see as bad. Some people didn't like favored enemy/terrain: the game didn't tell them to 'go take a hike', it gave options to play the class without that feature that didn't suck. I don't think advocating for that with the kineticist makes me a horrible person.

And it doesn't, nor does just wanting a burnless kineticist, there's nothing inherently horrible about either. And I don't have issue with the overwhelming soul and the alternatives, though I'm aware that the balance for those archetypes were fairly under par. But as someone who has had a lot of experience with having their unique "toys" being gutted or drastically changed beyond recognizability for expanding their use to a wider audience, I'm heavily passionate about keeping mechanical soul intact for the toys I do love, and there's been a lot of anti-burn commentary in this and a few other threads.

I don't want burnless kineticist to be the base and gold standard,as it would drastically change how burn would be able to function as a feature into a very limited state, and make burn optional, affecting the perception of people who play that variant in a way that has a very high chance to be viewed negatively and potentially banned from things like PFS, which affects the perception in my home games too, whether the burn variant is too weak or too strong.


MusicAddict wrote:
I don't want burnless kineticist to be the base and gold standard

I don't mind if the base class has a burn option built in, I'd just like a non-sucktastic non-burn option to be there too. Much like the druid can pick animal, storm, plant or wildshape at start, I'd be happy to see a spell point version and a burn version as starting options. While I understand your point of view, I'd rather not wait several years after the class comes out to get a version I like.

MusicAddict wrote:
And I don't have issue with the overwhelming soul and the alternatives, though I'm aware that the balance for those archetypes were fairly under par.

Fairly seems... very, super, incredibly, infinitely more generous than I'd put it. Overwhelming soul is only palatable if you're a creature that doesn't have con like a construct/undead. Then you have tanking you will saves and being unable to use any abilities if you are under an emotion spell. Or feeding of the life essense of the land... They really are bad.


I feel like the Overwhelming Soul could be pretty good in this version, what with the built-in accuracy fixers being less essential for the class (everyone is full BAB now) and how charisma gives you a lot more than it did in PF1, what with resonance.

All we need is some way for the Overwhelming Soul to be able to use some of the nifty utility talents with a burn cost (possibly by spending resonance?)


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I feel like the Overwhelming Soul could be pretty good in this version, what with the built-in accuracy fixers being less essential for the class (everyone is full BAB now) and how charisma gives you a lot more than it did in PF1, what with resonance.

All we need is some way for the Overwhelming Soul to be able to use some of the nifty utility talents with a burn cost (possibly by spending resonance?)

IMO, the way to do this is have a feat to switch main stat to Cha, start a spell point pool and work off of that to pay for those utility talents. I'd rather not have resonance in the mix as I'm hoping we can see some change on that front: I'm hoping at the very least we see a divide made between consumables and other items.


Also that evil-only burnless kineticist from Ultimate Wildnerness is pretty mechanically strong, if inappropriate for most campaigns.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Also that evil-only burnless kineticist from Ultimate Wildnerness is pretty mechanically strong, if inappropriate for most campaigns.

Blighted Defiler? LOL No, it wasn't burnless and bordered on useless. You can only draw on an area of radius of [250' radius/level]/month. the only way you can get full use of it is to move all the time while only using the ability once per location. It takes a very specific game, like always on a ship, to have this be strong: logistics of use kicks your butt when you can only use the power once per a 5000' radius.


I know its still in rough draft form but I have mixed feelings on the Demonic bloodline currently. I like the various elements, just not all of them together.

Thematically, it feels like it's trying to cover too much ground. We have a smattering of deadly sins without full coverage on all seven but portrayed in a way that they couldn't possibily be alluring except to the Demonic sorcerer. We have hellfire and destruction. We have monstrous self mutation. The demons this bloodline tries to represent are legion.

Demonic could go the weird mutating magical monster route and, indeed, seems like it mostly wants to. It could grant the sorcerer fire and destruction spells, an abyssal maw, and the like with no apparent thought to which deadly sin its commiting. As a rule of thumb, if the sorcerer were to cast a spell to grow colossal and rampaged Tokyo would the feature be cool? This route makes the Desintegrate spell cool.

Theming bloodlines off the seven deadly sins would work better if the entire bloodline was themed around it. Also, it's better to represent all seven in one bloodline or separate bloodlines for each. Anything inbetween can easily feel haphazard. I wouldn't mind seeing a bloodline or so in this vein, though devil bloodlines would allow for more subtlety in a way that could genuinely tempt the unwary. Watching that weird sorcerer conjure a bog of sloth doesn't teach witnesses to go on to indulge in laziness on their own. Seeing him open a maw of gluttony incarnate doesn't make onlookers gluttonous.

Mechanically, it's unfocused. It mixes elements of blaster, controller, and battler caster. For a demon bloodline I'd want to play a blaster with enough battle caster not to fear winding up in melee (Glutton's Jaw is perfect for this). For a devil bloodline I'd want to play more of a controller/blaster.

If Logan Bonner hadn't pointed out that the Slow spell was supposed to portray Sloth, I wouldn't have gotten the intent. With spells like Desintegrate and Meteor Swarm, I'd rather keep with the abyssal blaster theme and get Fireball in place of Slow. I imagine it's a safe bet that the divine spell list doesn't have fireball?

Will there be bloodline features above 10th level? It would be a shame if the fun stopped there.

I'd like to see Glutton's Jaw go all the way up to a +5.

I wish there were some passive features in the Demonic bloodline. If 2e wants to lean more heavily on the Spell Point mechanic that's fine but I don't want that to be at the expense of having any of the passive bonuses, defenses, etc. we saw in Pathfinder 1e. Having a little butter on the bread that doesn't require activation or resource managment is important.

If Demonic focuses thematically and lets other bloodlines pick up where it left off this has serious potential.

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