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Fergie's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 2,074 posts (2,100 including aliases). No reviews. 1 list. No wishlists. 4 aliases.


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Martial / Caster disparity: What are you going to do about it?

Well, I wrote this informative bit of text, so that discussions about the topic can get beyond discussing if it exists, and hopefully come up with this some real solutions. See the list at the end for some basic suggestions.

The Caster - Martial Disparity:

Or the Angel summoner and the BMX Bandit

The caster/martial disparity is a tendency for higher level magic using characters to outshine their non-magic using counterparts in many aspects of adventuring.

Before we go further, let's get specific about what we are talking about here:
Casters: For purposes of this topic, casters are the classes that have a caster level equal to class level, and generally have access to 9th level magic. Wizards are the most classic example of "caster", while druids, clerics, sorcerers, generally present similar issues. Classes that only have access to 6th level spells are generally considered "casters", although many people have far more problems with summoners then bards. Each class fits into the disparity is slightly different ways, although the end result is usually similar.

Martials: Martials are classes that never have a caster level, and whose class features are usually extraordinary special abilities, not supernatural or spell-like abilities. Fighters are the most representative martial class, with rogues, barbarians, and monks presenting fairly similar issues.

Others: Classes that have access to 4th level spells such as rangers and paladins are generally not considered to be representative of balance problems, and are used more as a reference point for appropriate class power rather then an exception to it. Some people put bards into this category, although summoners are almost always considered representative of casters.

Now that we have defined the caster/martial part, let's move on to "disparity". While many words such as imbalance and inequity get used to describe the issue, it is important to realize that this is NOT about identical performance, perfect balance or sameness! No one is asking for the classes to perform the same or have perfect mathematical equality. Generally, people find the core problem to be a lack of options for out of combat effectiveness for martial characters. Beyond use of skills, martial characters generally have no class features that allow them to influence the narrative. Monks and rogues have adequate and great skills respectively, however both classes infamously struggle to stay relevant in combat. As both classes were recently rewritten in Pathfinder Unchained, I'm not going to bother discussing their previous issues, except to mention that they both required full round actions to contribute well, and almost completely lacked a decent ranged attack option.

At the lowest levels of play, martial characters are often considered to be better off then casters. A strong fighter or skilled rogue can effectively solve most problems that low level adventures face, and magic is usually fairly limited. This is not to say that casters are weak, they are fully effective at facing CR appropriate encounters, and if built for it, can disrupt encounters from level 1.

Most effects of the disparity begin around level 6, although they frequently don't affect gameplay much until level 11 or so. These effects can be broken into several categories.

Point Buy Economy. Casters generally need only one really good stat, and have numerous class features (magic!), and supernatural and spell-like abilities that benefit from that stat. They also have class features to boost that stat, or compensate for a lack of other stats. Wizards often have more skill ranks then rogues later in the game, and the spellcraft skill is what item crafting is based off of. Bards and sorcerers are well set up to dominate social encounters. Druids and clerics can have great perception and whopping will save modifiers.

Action Economy. Generally, martial characters need a full attack action to be fully effective, while casters can generally do almost everything as standard actions. Casters are also given numerous class features that allow their player additional actions. From an animal companion or familiar, to summoned creatures, to dominated or bound minions, casters frequently act for several creatures, while martials are often forced to spend actions moving, switching weapons, etc.

Economy Economy. Casters are far more adept at creating their own magic items. This can have a drastic effect on individual power as magic items make up a substantial chunk of a characters power, especially as they get to the mid to high levels. Wizards easily have whopping spellcraft, bonus crafting feats, and the ability to access or bypass many crafting requirements. While a caster can craft for other party members, those items are treated as purchased when calculating WBL, while items the caster makes for themselves count as cost to craft. This results in casters often having 125% to 175% of WBL. Since casters often don't need weapons (some of the most expensive items) and get amazing use out of stat boosting items, they are much better served by the game economy.

Skills vs. Spells - Some martials have can have substantial access to skills, however, even max ranks and a decent ability modifier in a class skill is often a very poor substitute for what a spell can accomplish. Skills are useful if you need to do a fairly easy task for a long time, but in many cases, magic allows automatic success for more time then you need to accomplish the task. For example, rather then make a bunch of climb and acrobatics checks to climb up a 100' wall and cross a narrow ledge, the caster can just fly right up, much quicker, and with no checks required. While skills do have their place, they are severely limited for classes like the fighter, and many other martial classes lack the ranks or class skills to use them effectively. Casters generally also have ways to increase their use of skills, while martials have none. Several casting classes are better able to use skills, and even the "master of skills" - the rogue, is often outdone by bards and even wizards.

Versatility. Martial characters generally have three basic options for dealing with a situation: Melee attack vs. AC, Ranged attack vs. AC, or Attack vs. CMD. In social or adventuring encounters, they can use a skill. Casters on the other hand, can target AC, touch AC, 3 saves, etc. they can use deal damage from 5 different elements, force, positive/negative energy, etc. Outside of combat, they can do... well... anything they wish.

What the caster martial disparity does NOT say (Or Myths about the caster martial disparity):
"Casters are better at fighting then martials" - Most people consider fighters and barbarians to excel at combat, however that is generally all they excel at. Due to limited skills and ability scores, and no class skills related to most social encounters, these classes are generally only able to contribute to combat, and even then frequently suffer if situations don't allow effective full attacking. While druids and clerics can be very effective in combat, it generally requires a few rounds, and the caster must sacrifice some casting power in exchange for martial prowess. The problem is that while the caster can play martial, martials can never play casters.

"Casters can finish any encounter with a single spell." - While this is occasionally true, the reality is that a spell is often enough to decide the encounter, while the martial characters often are just needed for coup de grace, or other shooting fish in a barrel uses.

"Casters are squishy" - Many people think that sorcerers and wizards are fragile and vulnerable on the battlefield. This has never been less true. Casters generally have good HP and thanks to spells like mirror image, invisibility, displacement and fly, they are often the safest PCs on the battlefield. All casters have good will saves, some have good fortitude saves, and they have numerous options for boosting saves, AC, HP, and other defenses. Casters also have ways to make themselves basically immune to everything from fire, to grappling, to mental effects. 3/4 BAB casters are generally not considered vulnerable on the battlefield.

"spells are a limited resource" - This was largely the balancing factor back in the AD&D era, however, running out of useful spells can easily be avoided once you get past the lower levels of the game. Most casters start with a few infinite-use 0 level spells, and frequently class abilities that can be used a half dozen times per day. Once you add in scrolls, wands, and other items, casters can frequently participate effectively in encounters without using any of their memorized spells or spell slots. Once you get past 10th level or so, most casters will have several dozen different daily options for effective magic use.

Why the Caster Martial Disparity might not appear in your games.
After leading a sheltered existence surrounded by luxury and game balance in his younger years, Prince Siddhārtha ventured out of his palace for the first time at the age of 29, accompanied by his charioteer Channa.
Prince Siddhārtha - "Why is that Fighter limping and covered in blood?"
Channa responded, "That Fighter has been injured in combat, and has no spells to heal with. Even the Heal skill is not a class skill for him."

As Pathfinder is a highly complex game, and varies widely from table to table, there are almost in infinite number of reasons it might appear or not. Here are some of the most common reasons it might not affect your games:
)Most of your play happens under 10th level.
)Players don't choose to play pure martial, or pure caster characters.
)Caster players don't optimize, and/or martial players optimize heavily.
)There is a spoken or unspoken agreement not to use some options and spells.
)The GM is highly skilled in pacing, presenting a campaign setting, presenting challenges, and giving rewards that even out or minimize the disparity.
)The GM alters dice rolls, and/or encounters so that everyone has fairly equal amounts of success.
)The group views combat and/or other rules heavy parts of the game as something to get resolved as quickly as possible, in order to move on to more roleplay and storytelling elements.
)House rules.

How to Fix the Disparity
"...I don't think its as big a deal as the internet makes it out to be. In my games, casters and non-casters tend to be equally valuable to the party, and equally dangerous in various situations as enemies. ...
...responsibility to keep things fair and fun for all involved lands on the GM's shoulders. ....
It's a balancing act."

-James Jacobs

  • 1) When making characters, no starting ability scores above 16, or below 10 after racial adjustment.
    That fixes many of the problems of class power imbalance, without altering any rule.
  • 2) Remove hold person and dominate person from the game. (If you want to keep hold/dominate monster, at least they are higher level spells.)
  • 3) 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells take at least a full round action to cast. Optionally, all save or suck/die spells take 1 round to cast. Removing the highest level spells from the game, and using the slots for metamagiced lower level spells (heighten spell feat free?) is a more extreme option.
  • 4) Spells with a duration of days/level get changed to hours/level. Some permanent spells might have their duration reduced.
  • 5) Remove quicken spell from the game, or make it apply only to spells with a range of personal.
  • 6) Remove or rewrite known problems like dazing spell meta-magic, witches slumber hex, and other obviously broken stuff.
  • 7)Consider crafted items the same as purchased when determining Wealth By Level. I would also make master craftsman into a more useful feat. To take it a step further, you could make crafted items cost market price to craft.
  • 8)It should be noted that many aspects of casters are intended to be limited by the GM. Access to new spells, planar binding/ally, divination magic, etc. are not blank checks or guaranteed success.
  • 9)Many intelligent foes will ready actions to disrupt spell casting. While it should be done rarely and only by appropriate foes, things like targeting a casters component pouch, wands, familiar and even spell books are not out of the question.
  • 10) Communicate with the players and explain that you don't want a lot of action denial techniques used in the game. RPG-Tag is not a fun way to play. This applies on both sides of the screen. I don't want to consistently take a player out of action with save-or-suck and for similar reasons, I don't want players using those tactics on my named NPC/monsters.

Sambo wrote:
This thread didn't go as I had thought it would. I posted what appeared to be a fun build with decent damage. I just wanted to see some cool builds with more damage than it or maybe some suggestions to improve this. Instead, it got ripped to shreds, some people told me I was trying too hard to build a gunslinger that isn't a gunslinger, and then the conversation switched to wizards being overpowered. If you're going to provide some builds or suggestions, then go ahead. If not, please keep all irrelevant arguments/conversations out.

Ahhhh yes, the Paizo messageboards, where Full Casters are overpowered and destroy the game, and no one will be happy until martial characters are just as powerful.

In all seriousness, I like the Fred Flintstone build. I would like to try building a stone giant with some of the same feats, as I found rock throwing to always feel disappointing for giants.

A few quick points:
-Mad Max, the first film of the series takes place in the near future of 1979. Society is starting to crumble, but it largely resembles Australia of 1979.
-Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior in the USA), and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, take place after the end of available oil, and a massive world war. The world as we know it has recently been destroyed, and the survivors struggle to survive among the ruins and remnants of the old world.
Mad Max Fury Road seems to take place many years after the events that largely ended civilization. It isn't clear if anyone is old enough to remember the previous society, and almost nothing remains intact that resembles the old world.

Such settings would largely resemble D20 modern, then d20 modern with severely limited tech and resources.

I would say that it would be a mistake to tie a PC to a vehicle, as vehicles come and go, and most characters in the films appear on different vehicles all the time. I really don't know what the best system for vehicle-on-vehicle RPG combat would be, but I doubt PC classes would make a good starting point. I would suggest using the monster creation rules as a starting point for making vehicles, with PC drivers "mounted" on them.

With all that said, I don't have much experience with D20 modern, vehicles, or post apocalyptic settings, so don't let me stop you if you have some good ideas. Please let me know what you come up with.

Good stuff TarkXT!

I would add that like many other "sub-optimal" aspects of the game, it is better to think of something like channel as a tool in your toolbox, rather then a default strategy. Channeling isn't going to win the combat, but it can make other tactics much more powerful. For example, having a group heal option can be combined with summoning a few celestial wolverines to create an absolute blender.

The most important thing to remember is that role playing games are unpredictable. Success is often defined, not by what happens when everything goes according to plan, but by making the most out of the situation you are in.

EDIT: I also don't find the statement, "This is because you fight with the same capacity at 1HP as you do at [full hp]" to be meaningful. While it is technically true, (absolutely true in the case of mindless creatures), being in a condition where any real damage will knock you out of the game until you can be resurrected/restored should cause most thinking creatures to change their tactics dramatically.

I think I get your point, but using the term PvP makes it confusing. In Pathfinder, there are "Players" controlling their Player Characters, and "Gamemasters" controlling the environment including monsters and NPCs. In the vast majority of games, I think PCs don't battle other PCs. The accepted default is that a mixed group of PCs has several encounters against traps, environment, and friendly and hostile NPCs and monsters. NPCs can be PC races and classes, but they may be specifically NPC classes and of a race not found in the core rulebook. While pathfinder may feature something like PvP it would be more accurate to say that it is PCsvNPCs, and that would still not capture the fundamental difference that unlike WoW or other computer games, Pathfinder is not limited to Side Vs Side (Spy Vs Spy?) but is really a co-operative story telling framework, where confrontation is just one aspect of the stories being told.

Related post about comparing class power related to other classes.
Designing a PC class to function as a solo monster encounter is in my opinion bad game design.
Designing a PC class to function as a member of an adventuring party is good game design.

Atarlost wrote:

And there is no communal or mass version of water breathing...

PRD - "Water Breathing spell:

Target living creatures touched
Duration 2 hours/level; see text
text: The transmuted creatures can breathe water freely. Divide the duration evenly among all the creatures you touch..."

I think water breathing can be cast on as many creatures you can touch...

I'm under the impression that if you are flying without wings and attempt to hover, but fail the check, then you must use a move action to move at least half your speed.

My advice would be to start at first or second level, and make the adventures REALLY easy. A great start would be something like the first issue of the Rise of the Runelords AP. The initial combat is against goblins who are more interested in looting and burning then fighting the PCs, the the actual goal of the combat is protect the town and the townspeople, rather then specifically slay and loot. This gives the players lots of options, and gives a good feel for the open ended nature of the game. Speaking of open ended, be sure to encourage out-of-the-box thinking rather then mechanical play. For example, if a player wants to push a wagon into a group of goblins, don't require a profession teamster check or anything, just a DC 10 strength check or something easy.

Finally, I would just keep an eye out for situations that are intended to challenge experienced players to get out of their comfort zone. For example, sometimes they throw very difficult boss encounters, or encounters that require more then just attacking with weapons (like a swarm). While this is great for players looking for a challenge, it is not appropriate for first time players.

One last hint: The enemies (no matter what they are) are slavers. They are not looking to kill the PCs, but take them alive and sell them for gold. This allows you to pull punches and even allows for rescues, rather then rolling up new PCs.

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Things are good!
Zug Zug!

He he! 42 Posts on this page, and NONE of them have been selected as "Favorites"!

This topic should probably die now...

VMC? Where can I find out more about it?

Aelryinth wrote:

Intelligence has nothing to do with combat ability and experience.

By your measure, Einstein would have been a god on a battlefield. More likely, he'd just be meat.==Aelryinth

There is no "likely" about it. We have real history to look at, and can go by what really happened in real life. Einstein's contribution to the battlefield was getting the atomic bomb developed. I think the power of that speaks for itself.

TarkXT wrote:


If a martial and wizard both had the same intelligent scores and played the exact way the wizard (or sorcerer) would still be the harder encounter due to having more, and much more crippling, options available.

You'll notice I never said otherwise. That is why I propose altering casters current power levels to be inline with their APL.

James Langley wrote:

That is why I used the qualifier "almost". Nothing is stopping you from giving your fighters higher Int that your wizards except being one of those hated optimizers. (joke)

The mage does not have all modes of play. They can take the form of a dragon, but with 1/2 BAB, they are going to suck in melee combat, and there are not enough buffs to make up for it. Generally, turning into a dragon makes the mage much weaker in most ways not stronger. Most of the transmutation spells are powerful because of their options, not their raw power.

But really, why turn yourself into the BMX Bandit, when you are already the Angel Summoner.

Aelryinth wrote:

smartness has nothing to do with it.

An Int 10 Sorceror or Cleric is also far more terrifying then a fighter of the same level.

It is class features and class abilities. Spellcasters have far more tools to magnify their current powers and prepare for enemies. Martials can only rely on their own strength and 'pay' for subordinates to fill the spaces that casters can do with their own powers or Summons.

It's a very wide discrepancy. The Red Dragon comparison was most apt.


The intelligence stat absolutely has an impact on how a PC, and much more so an NPC will be played. (I say more for the NPC because a player is generally going to play a specific way regardless of if they have a 10 Int or a 24 Int, while a GM should make an effort to play differently). Wisdom is also important. Charisma is generally only important if it is a social encounter. Ideally a good villain will not lack any of these stats.

The reason I propose several methods to tone down casters is because they hit above their APL. Martial characters generally do fairly well for their APL in combat encounters, although they generally struggle in other types of encounters. I propose giving them more tools for out of combat utility, without drastically altering their combat abilities. This would put them where their APL indicates. How they function as single monster encounters is an afterthought in my opinion.

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Fergie wrote:
How a level X Fighter compares to a level X Wizard as a single monster encounter is borderline irreverent.

If this is correct as written, I agree, except I'd remove the word "borderline."

However, if you meant to say "irrelevant" rather than "irreverent," I totally disagree.

Oops! Stupid illiteracy!

My point was that if you design a PC class so that it is an equal member of the PC party (-it contributes an average of 20-25% of whatever is needed for a given encounter) then differences in how it functions as a single monster encounter are not going to matter in the grand scheme of the CR system and game as a whole.

Designing a PC class to function as a solo monster encounter is in my opinion bad game design.
Designing a PC class to function as a member of an adventuring party is good game design.

A Wizard is almost always going to be a tougher encounter then a Fighter, because the Wizard is almost always a much more intelligent character, and should be played as such. There is nothing broken or wrong with that, it is just the nature of the ability score and class system. Smart foes being more challenging is not a flaw of the system.

A solo Bard or Cavalier is going to be a weaker encounter because the classes have features that are designed to work with teammates (inspire courage and tactician), but that isn't a problem, it is good design for a PC class.

If you want to see how martials and casters currently fit into the CR system, take a look at the Ancient Red Dragon. It is a CR 20 creature with the base attack of a 26th level fighter, and the casting of a 15th level sorcerer.

Kchaka wrote:
Anybody who "wins" a thread like "this", loses as a human being.


Everything about Pathfinder is not about winning or losing, but having fun. I don't really know why it would be fun to go on for pages with this stuff, but then, I don't know a lot of things.

Like Jeraa said, the +0 or +7 is what they add to their D20 roll vs AC. The damage is strange, but it is essentially 1 point of damage with each successful attack. (It is listed that way in case they get some kind of bonus that boosts up their strength, but you can ignore that for now, and just say 1 damage.)

"P.S: Color Spray seems incredibly powerful for a CR 1/3 ability."
It is! I guess it is tempered by the low DC for the saving throw and also that because of their alignment, they probably won't execute the downed victim.

thorin001 wrote:
Fergie wrote:

Therefore, no speaking or other actions, until it is your turn.
...But we know that this is not absolute. ...

Not many of the rules are absolute, but that doesn't mean they are not the rules.

In the game there are active checks and passive checks. Passive checks, such as sense motive and some perception checks, happen automatically, usually as a reaction to something. Active checks require the PC to do something, usually requiring an action of some kind.

Again, speaking is a free action. You can't take actions until it is your turn. Therefor no speaking until it is your turn. Those are the rules. There may be exceptions, but the rules are the rules.

I would just give proficiency with all exotic weapons at first level, but otherwise stick with the normal 1 fighter bonus feat at first level. Fighters don't need much help before 5th level.

Also, how about adding diplomacy as a class skill?

whew wrote:
Some flying maneuvers (such as are listed in the fly skill) require dexterity. However, flying without doing a special maneuver does not require a fly skill check, and thus does not require any dexterity.

So... it is purely mental, until it gets a little difficult when it becomes dex based, then it goes back to being purely mental?

Ascalaphus wrote:
In this case there's a rule that says you can talk, even when it's not your turn. There's no rule that specifically says you can't talk while flat-footed, so the general rule stands that you can.
PRD wrote:


Flat-Footed: At the start of a battle, before you have had a chance to act (specifically, before your first regular turn in the initiative order), you are flat-footed. ...

You can't take a free action (speaking) before you have had a chance to act.

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137ben wrote:
Maybe what you are missing in Kirth's statement is that in Pathfinder, a single-class level X character with PC wealth is supposed to be CR X. As long as a CR X wizard is a more challenging opponent than a CR X fighter, the CR system is broken, no matter where they are in comparison to the bestiary monsters.

How a level X Fighter compares to a level X Wizard as a single monster encounter is borderline irreverent. How a single creature alone faces a party of adventures only matters for monsters. It doesn't happen in real play. Same with PvP. You could have a fairly major imbalance, and it would have almost no effect on the CR system, and less on the game as a whole.

What matters is how a PC class functions as part of a 4-5 person party of diverse class types, adventuring, and facing a diverse set of challenges. This is what defines the play experience, and this is what class balance and power should be designed around.

As it currently stands, a well built mid-to-high level wizard can function well above his APL (average party level). This isn't good for the CR system. If we make it so fighters can do the same thing, we now have two problems for the CR system. If you make each class function according to its APL (by toning down casters a little) then there are no problems with the CR system. Balance may not be perfect, but there is parity between the PC classes.

Ssalarn wrote:
Given the amount of magic available to most monsters, I think casters get closer to being accurately representative of their CR in the latter 1/2 of the game. Look at some of the higher level challenges, like a CR 14 crag linnorm. Even though it doesn't have actual spellcasting, it has a breath weapon, constant freedom of movement and true seeing, poison, four good melee attacks plus grab and constrict abilities, 100 foot fly speed and a 60 foot swim speed, and a death curse. Would you say a 15th level Fighter or a 15th level Wizard would be closest to the challenge that creature provides?

It's funny, the default answer of wizard takes a big hit due to the true seeing. Since the wizard has no mirror image, no displacement, and nothing but a 20ish AC, I'm going to call it a draw. Without true seeing, obviously it would be the wizard.

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Blackwaltzomega wrote:
...Lots of stuff...

One thing I would point out is that the game is expected to be played at a fairly low level of optimization. Look at the Adventure Paths, with the exception of a few boss fights in each set, they are generally fairly easy. If you look at the Iconics, they are not what most people would consider powerful characters. The game isn't intended to require just the right feats or items, it is supposed to be for flawed characters. This isn't inherently a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when some of the players/classes stumble into the high powered options without a global understanding of the system. For example, if one player wants to make Zoro the dashing rapier wielding fighter, and the other wants to make Conan, the greatsword power attacking barbarian, they are not going to be remotely equal in a fight.

I'm in favor of a system that caters to unoptimized characters, but I feel that should be more hard coded into the system, rather then requiring a fairly elaborate, yet completely unspoken code of conduct. As it is, it is far to easy to stumble into over powered options, well before you have the experience to deal with the consequences.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Xexyz wrote:
I certainly don't want them put on an equivalent level with casters.
In short, you prefer a game in which "CR" is a completely meaningless term?

I would say that putting martials up where casters are now would be throwing out the CR system. Bringing casters down would put everyone back into the CR system.

EDIT: Talking about higher level play, not low to mid level.

Silver Surfer wrote:
1) The general terribleness of channeling

I always thought channeling was pretty sweet. Area healing or area damage to undead... Great! It is a very elegant solution to the weirdness of turn undead, and the know problem of players hating to have to use spells for healing.

Silver Surfer wrote:
2) The general boredom/blandness/underpowered nature of cleric class abilities

Clerics get nine levels of spells, extra domain spells often off arcane lists, and AMAZING things like touch of luck, dimension step, aura of destruction, etc. Oh yeah, and 3/4 BAB, medium armor, access to almost any weapon through race/deity, etc. What is bland boring or underpowered again?

Silver Surfer wrote:
3) Paizo reluctance to do a decent cleric archetype! ;)

Since clerics are easily one of the most powerful and customizeable classes in the game, archetypes are generally going to be a step down, rather then a step up. But I'm not up on all the archtype options these days, so I'll take your word for it.

Ravingdork wrote:
I've heard that Paizo was infamous for scattering their rules, but geez. That really should have been in the Core Rulebook somewhere, right alongside starvation and thirst.

Oh no! Now I need to find the rules for a strong cup of coffee!

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Shadowlords wrote:
Driving a car for 8 hours straight is tiring, and you do nothing physical, not even walking...

I think this is kind of symbolic of the argument going on here.

Driving requires constant carefully controlled physical input, agility, reflexes, and balance (See Dexterity in the Getting Started section of the core rule book). When I drive, I have one hand on the wheel, the other on the shifter. One foot is operating the gas and brake, while the other depresses the clutch pedal when needed. I'm checking my mirrors, my blindspot, operating my signals, lights, wipers, etc. All require fairly fine muscle control - not strength, but measured physical input. With a little practice, this requires about as much concentration as walking, leaving me free to cast spells and attack normally listen to the radio and have a conversation with passengers.

Now, the fly spell, or most other forms of flight in Pathfinder don't have technological mechanical controls like a car. The carpet of flying uses voice commands that are magically interpreted and followed by the item. The fly spell has no voice commands or mechanical input and relies on the fine muscle control of the user to determine what you can accomplish. The better your Dex, and practice, the more skilled you are at flying.

I have never used a segway scooter, but I imagine the fly spell has similar handling characteristics. Basically you lean in the direction you want to go, and compensate for gravity, momentum, and air resistance. How exactly do you do this? Magically of course, because it is a magic spell.

Bold stays on after "Fortification".

_Ozy_ wrote:
... It doesn't and it can't without utterly contradicting the book stats of several pathfinder creatures.

Could you provide a few examples of those creatures? What stats are you talking about?

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alexd1976 wrote:
Until then "Using a fly spell requires only as much concentration as walking".


PRD wrote:
"Using a fly spell requires only as much concentration as walking, so the subject can attack or cast spells normally. "

Fly is a Dex based skill, regardless of magical or natural source.

Dex based activities require physical input to participate in.

alexd1976 wrote:

As for the argument that somehow the Fly skill controls what the spell can do... well... no.

PRD - "Fly

(Dex; Armor Check Penalty)

You are skilled at flying, through either the use of wings or magic, and can perform daring or complex maneuvers while airborne. Note that this skill does not give you the ability to fly."

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Entryhazard wrote:

The encumberance does apply because the force applied by the flight spell is not infinite and thus cannot sustain all the mass you want (the Doylist reason is balance in order to avoid exploit like using flight to carry the entire party and more, the Watsonian explanation is that single spell are finite anyway, especially lower levels). Also, the fact that I'm propelled in an arbitrary direction does not exempt the user from aerodynamics and other finesseries of flight like balancing in order to precisely control the movement in complicated maneuvers.

Not talking about encumbrance at all. Let's say a 20th level barbarian with a 40 str in celestial plate, and nothing else... Weight is a total non-issue. Why am I slower and have problems doing complex manuvers because of my armor?

So it is purely mental until they need dex for the "finesseries of flight", then Dex gets involved?

Entryhazard wrote:
Otherwhere wrote:
To me, the RAI is clear - the answer is "no."
Magical flight is telekinesis exerted by the mind.

Why is it hampered by medium or heavy armor? Why would dex and AC check penalty apply if it is purely mental?

alexd1976 wrote:


If control of the Fly spell isn't mental, what is it?

How does the Demilich meet the requirements to control it?

It's a floating skull.

PRD -"Fly

(Dex; Armor Check Penalty)"

Demilich - dex - 17

EDIT: Also there are a few ways to paralyses undead, and a demilich can use a fly spell just fine.

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Otherwhere wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
What is the difference between a Demilich casting it and a Paralyzed caster using it?
The Demilich isn't paralyzed.

Specifically, the Demilich has a dex score other then zero.

How about a regular old skeleton? One with an Int score of "-". Can they fly?

Flight is a dex based skill, so it is physical. Not only that, but AC check penalty applies so it is strongly inferred that it requires a fair amount of movement, as opposed to wiggling a pinkey finger or something. As the fly spell specifically calls out that medium and heavy armor users move slower, this is further proof that flying is physical movement.

But really, fly is a dex based skill. There is really nothing more to discuss unless anyone can point to something in the spell text that specifically says it is no longer a dex based skill.

alexd1976 wrote:

It never says flying creatures can cast spells either.

Equally logical, equally ridiculous.

What else can't flying creatures do? Hmmm...

PRD- "Using a fly spell requires only as much concentration as walking, so the subject can attack or cast spells normally. "

I think more reading of the PRD would help in this discussion.

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Callum wrote:
I'm of the opinion that a paralyzed creature that is under the effects of a fly spell can still fly around (since a paralyzed creature "can take purely mental actions" and "using a fly spell requires only as much concentration as walking").

The problem is "only as much concentration" tells you how much concentration is required to use the spell. For example, a good example of something that requires only as much concentration as walking... WALKING! Just because something requires X amount of one thing, does not mean it doesn't also require X amount of another thing.

When you are flying, you are using a dex based (physical) skill. If you are incapable of any physical activity beyond life support, you can't use physical skills of any kind. It doesn't matter if you have to make checks or not, you just can't use the skill at all.

This is common sense, no FAQ required.

Wait. You want to use a Dex based skill while incapable of taking physical actions? Of course not. Don't be ridiculous.

drunken_nomad wrote:

Instant click.

10 Seconds in - COW BELL!

Dragon Magazine issue 66 The article starts on page 12 of the magazine (page 14 of the PDF).

I couldn't believe they didn't choose ranger for Cutter, but then I remembered elves couldn't be rangers in AD&D. I was also surprised that they choose dwarves to represent the trolls, but when I thought about it, the Elf Quest elves are probably closer to halflings then classic high elves, so medium creatures for the dwarfs also makes sense.

EDIT: Wow! Classic monsters, spells, specialization, and a thieves cant dictionary... That is an amazing issue of Dragon.

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Poughkeepsie (home of WaRP Graphics) is just a little north of where I live.

The graphic novels were one of my favorite things when I was a kid. Later in life, I started coloring comics professionally, and always looked through the ElfQuest books for inspiration, even though the hand painted color Wendy did was beyond my skills. The closest I got to working for them was coloring stuff that had been penciled and inked by a guy who drew some of the later (~early 90's) ElfQuest. Not working on ElfQuest directly (or at least trying) is one of my biggest regrets as a colorist.

Has anyone from Paizo ever contacted the Pini's about some sort of collaboration?

Also, do you remember when the Elfquest characters were stated up for AD&D in the olde Dragon magazine?

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What is the name of the cow who licked the first Jotun (Yimmir?)out of the ice block in Norse creation? I think there is some kind of joke related to this for the sacred cow thread...

Sorry if there are several errors in my question.

EDIT: Also, I just found this:
Looks like some good art!

James, do you have any history with ElfQuest?

Ever read the comics/ graphic novels? Ever play the roleplaying game? Ever hang out in Poughkeepsie, NY?

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Zilvar2k11 wrote:
Please explain you position more fully, because I feel like you're conflating the concepts 'injury' and 'damage amount' in a confusing fashion, or I have -completely- missed the point.

Please take the "what are hit points" discussion to another thread. Reading debates about abstractions makes my eyes bleed.

I started with AD&D, so sacred cows are more things like the six core races, the basic classes, some of the classic spells (FIREBALL! - Where is Benign Fascist these days?) some of the classic treasure, etc. But even among these, none are really that sacred. I really don't care that magic-users are now wizards, bards are not a prestige class, and assassins are no longer a core class, yet barbarians are.

I don't want to bring 4th Edition into this, but when I looked at the 4e players handbook, and saw some dragon race, assimar, and categories like "striker", it felt like something totally different then AD&D.

I'm more concerned that the game has the sim-fantasy world aspect where you feel like you could stat up whole functioning towns full of NPCs, rather then feeling like a construction kit for an MMORPG.

EDIT: I do feel like unlimited ability scores, (and the option to start with a 20, causes many imbalances in the game. I think the game would function much better if your abilities went up, but you still had to pay a point buy type system. For example, at first level, you get 20pts to spend. Every four levels, you get 2 more pts to spend. I'm also not a huge fan of the "Christmas Tree Effect", but I do like having something to spend gold on. Perhaps just having less gold, and reducing the power of some of the numeric boosting items.

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Does anyone else hear, "The Most Feared Swordsman in the Land", and instantly assume it is GROO?

Sergio Aragonés must have warped my young mind!

Hmmm, I was only a player, so I don't really know what it says in the mod, but I would start with a look at the characters, and see what they are good at. If I recall, most of the challenges were pretty mundane, and magic was frowned upon - this worked out poorly for our group which was a casting cleric (me) a undead sorcerer, and a fighter with no skills (not that anyone in the party was that skilled). Try to see what your group does well, and make them use their skills and spells in funky ways. Since the group is around 10th level or so, feel free to have some "impossible" challenges - cut down a tree with a herring type stuff. But again, make sure the solution is attainable multiple ways, not just with a teleportation spell only.

I think I was on the wrong side of the screen to really offer much more, but better informed opinions can be found here.

PS I forgot how much I really missed that campaign. Our group fell apart shortly after that part of the adventure. Someday, I'll reach the other side of the world...

I would say the first step is to try to put the dice and numbers in the background. Try and focus on the players making decisions, not checks.

I found one of the best ways to engage the players was to create drama and conflict they have a good reason to be involved in.* Also, if there are things like a horse race, and none of the players have a rank in ride, switch it out for something completely different. Gladiatorial fight to the death against an evil outsider or something. Figure out what the players are specialized in, and allow them to use those skills. Try to present a problem that needs solving, rather then a specific thing that needs to be done.


Is this Jade Reagent? My character had trouble in that situation because he was a cleric of Desna (freedom, liberation), and the Lord guy being a slaver really made me dislike everything about him. Engage the players/PCs, but beware of putting them in situations where they feel forced to have their PC play along, despite their characters beliefs.

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