No more so than a every dragon past young adult should be taking advantage of using time and wealth to craft or have crafted for him custom magical items as well.
As it stands with 3-6 days off the martial character could add 1 hit point to his total where as the caster could simply crank out magical gear in the same period of time equal 3-6k of value in the same period of time which would include a simple belt to bump his hit point total up by 1 per hit die adn boost his save.
I can think of a couple impacts on the game right away. The first is concept delay goes up. Essentially concept delay is how many levels and feats I need to for my character before I gain the minimumn mechanical elements to play the character as envisioned goes up. Each time I have to dip out of my class to pick up a class feature I need to match the mechanics up with the idea of the character in my head is going to add 1-4 weeks of campaign time before I can actually play my character as intended.
This can lead to player disintrest as they are spending perhaps as long as two or three additional months of waiting for the mechanics to catch up to the concept and this is assuming that their idea is easily fixable by simply adding a couple fighter levels to the build.
Sameness will be a problem though not as much as it was in the 2E era as multiclassing is much easier in 3E Pathfinder. Class based level based systems have little room overall for personal mechanical touches in character progression. A fighter that advances a fighter level gets everything that level provides him with and he cannot sub out a +1 to fortitude for a +1 Willpower no matter how long he practices bumping up his will save by having the bard cast charm person on him.
Feats give the player small ways along the way to fighter x different than fighter y mechanically and to reflect things that player finds more important than perhaps player b does. While their is the potential for a great deal of sameness in feat selection their is also at least the potential for differention as well.
What about a player who takes Hubris as their mythic flaw and then multiclasses into a paladin after being inspired by their mythic abilities to be a "better" person?
Except for Baleful Polymorph and Disintegrate which might be a bit troublesome at times ;)
Like others have said for Weapon Weakness choose siege weapons as your Weapon Weakness and the number of times it comes up should be fairly rare
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Interesting, by going either or with the Mythic Vampire it does set a precedent on race specific Mythic Paths in the future being either Elf or Archmage for example. While beyond the scope of the play test I can certainly see where this might be interesting to design in the future.
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Thank you for quick reply and I must say I really like the content so far.
1: Largely because Charisma effectively replaces Con when becoming Undead, and in the D20 system overall characters gain in power far more often than they loose in power as they pick up templates in play.
6: That might be what is assumed but in most campaigns I have been in I would say nuetral is probably the most common and then either good or evil depending on the specific campaign.
Even with that said some trials are a lot easier to pass than others. Something like the Guardians "Behind me" could be trial spammed by simply going after lower level NPCs monsters like Orcs without class levels. The Orcs low BAB means they are unlikely to land a hit on a mid level+ party in a fight, and a single mid level Martial Build could probably solo a number of them.
Or simply require that the dependency be on some special, hard to come by foodstuff. That you have to jump through hoops to get to.
Difficult to acquire by whom though. since mythic rules are supposed to be used at all possible levels a difficult to acquire at first level with starting level becomes trivial to Teleporting 20th level characters who have spent more money on their shoes than several kingdoms have spent on their entire military budget.
Just downloaded the play test and it does look good.
I do have a few thoughts/questions though
2: Overcoming Mythic Weakness: Is it intentional that using Tier 8s Unstoppable ability that you can negate the "Insanity" Weakness by spending a Mythic point to remove the Confused Condition from your character? Off hand it looks like the only weakness easily overcome by that ability, which makes me lean towards the theory that Mythic weaknesses are not supposed to be overcome that easily.
3: Mythic Spamming. Right now with the right (wrong GM) and taking the "Endless Power" ability twice you could theoretically take one of the various attribute bump spells (such as cats grace) that matches up with either your Mythic Attribute or your targets mythic attribute.
Since the spell increases the Mythic Attribute by 4(+2 mythic uses), in theory you could cast it let target use his mythic powers two more times. Let the spell expire, cast it again allow the target use his mythic abilities two more times etc, etc. Gaining potentially more value from the "temporary" spell than he does for an item that grants a permanent bonus.
4: The poor little witch. Their are a lot of Hierophant abilities that look like a really good fit for the Witch such as Faiths Reach (considering just how many touch spells she has), or Power Current. Any chance of getting Arcane Equivalents for those abilities or relaxing the Arcane Spells/Divine Spells restriction on the Archmage/Hierophant paths, perhaps instead simply selecting either Arcane or Divine spells when entering the path?
5: Deadly Duo under the Hierophant's trial should probably add Familiar to the list of allowed allies since his abilities list familiar boosts. It just seems odd to exclude the familiar after that.
6: Master Healer and a few other lesser trials seem pretty easy for a party to especially if they are evil to spam with commoners or low level victims. Evil cleric kidnaps a first level farmer deals enough damage to kick him below 0 hit points and then uses a low level healing spell to get him back to his full hit point total.
It might shock me, for a bit and like any PC death it might lead to a campaign derailing. However it wouldn't really make me all that upset since at the end of the day the spell essentially does a bit over 100 Hit Points of damage. A 100 point damage round isn't that unusual for a 9th level martial character to generate at 9th level let alone 14th level.
Long Bow has some advantages over the short bow but it took significantly longer to train people on it. That is going to be a factor especially if you are using levy style troops that you are not investing large training times in. This becomes doubly important if you don't want your levies to become to comfortable with higher quality military weapons. Pathfinder/D&D is simply not quite detailed enough of a game system to really get at the trade offs between choose weapon x or y in a lot of cases especially when we are talking about very small scale combats compared to mass combat.
The English I believe for example had a saying "If you wish to train a Longbow Man start with his Grandfather". Implying a greater learning curve for Longbow man and a larger infrastructure/culture investment by the state to upgrade to the better weapon.
Only because that gives your character his best bet at survival (very few stories in Pathfinder get better after the TPK events), and that a character has to survive between 80-200 fights to get to 20th level. That is a lot of meaningful fights to get into without learning what you are good at or what works in a fight.
I love the witch personally and haven't even looked at a wizard since the APG came out but I can understand the argument that witches have a weak spell list.
1: We have a lot of mind affecting spells that wont work on a large variety of creature types. Our list is large enough that we can get away from it in play especially with the right patron but it can still be problematic.
2: We have the smallest spells per day of any of the full casters, we have hexes that stretch it out nicely for use in play but looking at just the spells known table and comparing to other full casters I can see where others might be a bit disappointed.
3. Lots of save or Die effects far fewer save and something still happens effects. Some groups/casters prefer spells that at least something happens if the target saves instead of going for the knock out so to speak.
4. Limited selection of damage dealing spells and some that are just difficult to actually make use of in a fight. We have no force affect spells so to speak added in to our heavy concentration of Fort Save/Mind affecting spells and most archetypes have difficulty with Incorporeal undead at most levels. We have a fair number of Damage over Time affects or Save or Suck for a really long time affects, but most combats end well before their effects are really well noticed (nature exile for example).
5. Healing Gap, we can sub in as a healer for the party and in some ways can be the most amazing healing class on the planet with a simple healing hex as has already been mentioned a single witch could heal an army by herself of at least a little injury. When working off our spell list for healing though we are much more limited than other classes with similar healing abilities.
We skip third level cure spells and that skip carries over to us getting Heal as a 7th level spell instead of a 6th level spell instead for example. Additionally unlike most casters with access to Healing spells we have no way spontaneously casting such a spell (except via hex) so must prep heals ahead of time.
Overall like I said I can see the arguments for saying the witch has a weak spell list but I will also be honest in that frequently in play I often dont see it play it out as weak and the hexes do so much to expand the number of meaningful actions that she can enjoy during a game that I have rarely felt it as being weak in game.
To me both the both Sea Legs and Weapon Specialization are both mechanical choices the only differences is the frequency of the number of times it occurs, the importance of the roll when it does occur and the name of the two feats (with "Sea Legs" being an arguably better RP name over Weapon Spec). Ultimately the results of either feat is simply a +2 adjustment on my die rolls and it will rarely change the description of a successful Swim check when after figuring static modifiers + roll you got a 17 instead of a 15 or if instead of dealing 8 points of damage you dealt 10 points of damage.
Additionally while I do not play in PFS the only way I can see both choices being equally valid is if the consequences of failing a Acrobatics, Climb or Swim check were equal to the consequences of consistently doing slightly more damage. Otherwise you are looking for a scenario where neither feat choice matters and is equally passable even if you took a feat that at no point in the game came up at all.
Forgive me, but how is taking Sea Legs rather than Weapon Specialization not an example of caring more about the characters stats? All the feat seems to do is add a static +2 Modifier to Acrobatics, Climb and Swim Checks while Weapon Specialization gives you a static +2 bonus to your damage. A static bonus regardless of the name of the feat or utility of the static bonus is taken because you want to be better at what the static bonus gives you.
You are not a measurably better Roleplayer for having either set of static bonus as neither bonus gives you special dialogue options with N.P.C.s like it might do if it were a computer game. Feats only do one of two things in pathfinder give you mechanical advantages (usually static bonuses of some sort), or open up entirely new abilities such as meta magic or the various craft item feats.
One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever seen in running Dragons comes from the days of 2E and an old Red Dragon Adventure Box. From what I remember. A young woman hires a group of adventurers to kill an ancient Red Dragon and to make sure that they succeed she goes along with them.
Through out the adventure she provides mild help but nothing consequential during it until finally they come to the main dragons lair. The 2E party essentially preps and unloads its typical Nova at what they assume is the Red Dragon... only its not but an illusion if I remember right. Just as the party is beginning to pat itself on the back for successfully killing the Dragon the young woman who has been providing mild help all along to them reveals herself as the Red Dragon all along and ambushes them. I believe at this time it is also signaled for its higher quality minions to enter the lair as well to assist in the parties destruction as well.
She hits them from the rear killing the party wizard and cleric first if I remember right before they can respond to the new threat and then deals with the Thief and fighter. At this point she reveals the full extent of her strategy. She assembled the party in the first place because they are getting close enough in level that given time they could kill her but they are not quite their yet (think CR +4-5 encounter). She goes accompanies them so that she can get a good feel for their strategies, tactics and spell strategy (in pathfinder she would also have plenty of time to detect magic and learn what the party magic items are as well).
When the party makes their assault on the red dragon lair she is told explicitly what spells they are going to prep when they are going to do so and where the party is going to be especially the squishies which need to be protected from the Dragon.
Evil Dragons are big bads that are probably going to be proactive in dealing with threats to their nearly immortal existence powerful evil beings with access to magic are probably not going to have much problem with cheating their way to success and a creature that has survived centuries has already survived several attempts on its life by previous challengers/adventurers who didn't quite succeed.
2) My take on Category classification is as following
Slave Common: A slave judged to have no really distinguishable positive characteristics or is being sold for simple tasks (the equivalent of a modern cash register job). Essentially a slave being sold because someone has need of a warm body for a task but the task itself doesn't require much in the way of training.
Slave, Hard Labor: Typically a slave with above average Strength and probably Constitution (for endurance), though weaker slaves could be used instead if you do not mind the reduced productivity and replacement costs. Hard Labor Slaves can also be used as a way to get rid of or punish undesirable population units. For instance enemy soldiers captured from battle might be sold into Hard Labor as a precaution, as may be political enemies who do not quite warrant death.
Slave Household: Probably at least an average charisma score as this is a slave that you and your family are going to be interacting with frequently. A household slave is going to at least in part be define by their personality. A docile or timid personality is more likely to be selected as a household slave rather than an aggressive slave that hasnt been broken yet. Overall a slave is more likely to be selected as a household slave if it has a professional skill such as cooking, sewing or something similar.
Slave Specialized: Essentially what it says a slave that is not easily replaced. An especially beautiful/Handsome slave for brothels, a slave with low PC levels (I suspect that Bards as entertainment, or Fighters as bodyguards would be popular). Other popular choices would be Experts who could train your children, Adepts who could provide low level healing on demand and the like.
Stepping a little bit outside of the classic choices you could go with a Gravewalker Archetype Witch. You would have a nice mixture of Arcane and Divine Spells, an aura of desecration, the ability to both take over undead as well as posses them. It would also give you the ability to use your melee touch spells at range and still have good access to Witch Hexes as well.
While I understand the impulse to do this for a simulation element to the game. I don't see much actual purpose to doing so in play beyond adding a quick bit of book keeping for the casters to track for a little while. I suspect that the actual game effect would for the casters to simply buy 10 or so of them a level with it having little real affect on them beyond trying to remember how many spells they burnt through during the combat.
If you are actually making the armor rather than simply purchasing it and have the Craft Arms and Armor feat then the cost of the magical enhancement is cut in half. Remember the listed price is the market price and not the cost to actually make it.
Secondly keep in mind that you will need to be at least 9th level to make the item yourself.
A quick idea but couldn't the gunslinger have a buddy either use a summon monster 1 spell or wand to recharge his grit supply?
Could this lead then to the party keeping both a number of CLW wands and Summon Monster 1 wands handy for in between fight recharges (probably going for a Summon monster 1 Wand crafted by a "2cd level" caster)
CASEY BENNETT wrote:
One nice thing about the heal hex is that it gets better the larger your group is and by the time you reach 5th level and the hex levels up to cure moderate wounds you are basically getting the equivalent of 14 free charges off of a cure light wound wand each day. While Cure Light Wound wands are cheap they are not free and this helps stretch them for much longer period of time (in our 4 man group the heal hex helped me milk the parties only CLW for nearly 5 levels).
I am running a 6th level deception patron witch myself so far while I have run into some problems dealing with undead (wraiths and Morghs) as well as a series of bad rolls with my hexes versus bargheests. Overall I have succeeded far more frequently than I have failed when using them and their availability has saved me a lot of saved spell slots.
The healing hex is consistently worth 4-5 cure light wound spells every adventuring day (or 10 charges of a cure light wand) allowing us to milk a cure light wound wand from 1st level to 5th level before we had to finally replace it.
The flight hex saves me at least 3 spell slots per day, Flights duration is long enough to last a typical combat encounter, while levitate is good enough to bypass frequent environmental terrain blocks, while feather fall is simply a nice just in case precaution for a character that plans on frequently flying in a fight. Overall Flights speed and the fact that I can gain altitude has helped out a lot for me in preventing full attack cycles from hitting so far in the campaign.
The Slumber Hex so far has had a very high rate of success and barring some sleep immune encounters so far I have rarely failed. That's going to change over time but with a beginning intelligence of 20 +5 level bumps a +6 IQ item and a base = 10 +half level my hex save D.C.s at 20th level max out at 34 or 37 with a +5 Attribute book a non trivial number and better than what I will get from even 9th level spells.
Overall Hexes have been an excellent substitute for a lack of a bonus specialization/domain spell and have given me useful supernatural abilities to employ that in some encounters have left me casting no spells whatsoever but still taking a meaningful supernatural action each round.
Her spell list does seem to be geared to be better at ruining in a rather permanent way a single targets life than the AOE affects that a Wizard would typically employ. This isn't bad per say as their is frequently a target per adventuring day that you would really not mind softening up heavily before engaging more lethal methods, and of all the character classes the Witch seems to play the "to the pain game" much more frequently and easily than any other class.
They are very bad as damage dealer though worse than even a wizard at putting damage on a target and their more unique damage dealing spells tend to be bleed oriented (damage over time spells) rather than instant damage and their slow rate of damage would seem to allow far more readily available ways to prevent the damage or for the martial class in the party to end the NPCs life before the damage has a meaningful way. Still casters in the current pathfinder environment are rarely called upon to be the Damage dealers for a party. The lack of force damage though has been an issue in our current campaign due to the previously mentioned wraiths.
Her healing list and the addition of two healing hexes have helped me to become the primary healer in the party (which was a very useful supplemental aspect to my characters early hexes when the hit point totals of the party were a bit lower). Over all I would say the class is probably the second best healer in the game and except for heal as 7th level spell she seems to heal as spells just as well as the cleric though she cannot spontaneously choose to do so. This has been fairly well received by my party as our D.M. tends to prefer and prepare "hard" encounters for us and the parties barbarian alone tends to require a 100 or so hit points of healing per night, though the Parties Paladin has been a useful augment to the Witches healing so far.
As far as magic item construction goes the witch is probably on balance as good as a wizard though she lacks most of the bonus feats to do so. Her list is a little odd for enchanting but she is an Intelligence caster which means her spellcraft checks are just as high as a Wizards for enchanting and even if she lacks a number of frequently needed wizard spells to enchant an item with she frequently does have a needed divine spell to enchant a different item instead. Most notably this has come up with wand construction allowing me to potentially crank out the parties own CL wands which has been important due to the scarcity of N.P.C. crafters in the area.
I think that part of the problem with low stats in D&D is that the system is one of the few modern systems that I am aware of with no disadvantages and the closest that a character comes to is either an attribute penalty or a poorly chosen advantage (such as a barbarian choosing skill focus craft instead of power attack as a feat selection). The system is a level based that constantly gives a wide level of bonuses each level and nearly never gives them a long standing penalty. Instead at worse characters may simply not be as good as they might have been with better optimization.
It makes negatives of any kind stand out more in peoples minds because the system in many ways is not designed in many ways for anyone to see a default penalty to a roll but is more likely to have enough bonuses to his rolls to succeed. Take an average strength wizard with a quarter staff for example he has no penalty to his attack roll even if he has never picked up a weapon before in his life instead he simply has a +0 to hit and next level even if he has never rolled an attack roll in his life he automatically receives a B.A.B. bonus of plus 1 in addition to several other perks of level gain.
1) yes, 20 dpr is exceptionally low. We do generally play more powerful characters.
Yes it is very low for your characters level and it would be difficult for Barbarian at 8th level to downscale his damage to match the rest of the parties out put. To put it in perspective the party I am in now has a barbarian that 4th level was putting out I believe 22.5 to 43 points of damage a round thanks to cleave power attack and rage. Now that we have hit sixth level and he gets a second attack per round that damage is going to be at least 40-60 around without a great deal of effort or paying attention to what other feats he might put on it as well.
Barbarians hurt people a lot without much effort...which is a good thing because for a BAB class their A.C. tends to be painfully low (frequently my witch in the same game with nothing more than a high dex Bracers +2 and a ring of protection +1) has had a higher A.C. than him while he does his job.
2) low damaged does not mean gimped. It seams most people optimize towards damage first, defense second, specialty/situational third.
Typically because of the resource cost per character tends to be higher with a defensive approach versus an offensive approach. It costs more resources to get high defenses that it does to create high offense. After all you have 4 defense stats that you need to adjust (A.C., Reflexes, Will, and Fort), plus working on boosting hit points and elemental protections While only needing to adjust 2 offensive stats (Attack Bonus and Damage).
Additionally its an artifact of the way that D&D handles damage that encourages high damage output builds. Its been said in several different threads but the combat abilities of a monster with 1 hit point remaining and a monster with all of its hit points remaining is exactly the same. This creates as a situation where frequently the best defensive choices in the game is actually load up on offense and kill the monster before he gets lucky and pulls a crit or a save or suck spell off on the party. This is something you probably have seen already with the party after all with this barbarian in the party how much damage is party taking per round?
Again we overdid the low damage on this one, but whatever.
and he may have overdid the damage on this one, but whatever.
Om a side note, no, not fudging rolls or decreasing encounters difficulty in any means. On the contrary, increasing nearly all of them and still having a problem with barb outshining everyone.
Because once again defense takes a lot more effort and time to generate for P.C.s to get than offense does and is far less noticeable to tracks as well. A parties rogue who successfully evades the 15 point fireball the rest of the party took (after half damage and elemental protections taken into account), is typically far less memorable than the 60 point precise strike he then delivered to the enemy wizard afterwords.
3) it seems most of the examples given are around a 15 point buy with feat selection also heavily weighted towards damage output. I see nearly no examples of a character with defensive oriented feat selection, with some offense, doing the levels of damage you all explain. This is partially, in my view, what i am calling power gaming. I seek more balanced characters with both offense and defense feat/ability.
That's because its very hard to actually pull off in play a famous military axiom after all is "whoever tries to defend everything, defends nothing in the end" To be equally adept in both offense and defense is to be good at neither. The defensive players in your game have characters that are really bad at offense, and the barbarian is probably really bad defense. Both build priorities give up game elements to achieve the results they wanted.
Its also an issue of time an 8th level barbarian only has 4 feat selections with some of those feet selections possibly being part of feat train that he is looking to complete. It is is also probable that he sees his niche within the group as being the damage dealer while others cover other niches (the face, the stealth guy, the buffer etc).
The "one trick pony" is what i don't like. The barb i reference is just that, and every time he finds a feat that he can squeeze more damage out of than a current feat, he wants to retrain. He has no character type in mind, aside from damage. He doesn't do anything creative, he just hits stuff.
That's martial classes though they don't have the built in support for creative combat answers that caster classes have. They dish out the damage that's their agreed upon role at the table while the skill monkeys figure bypass the skill challenges and the casters control the battlefield.
I think a character i could wrap my head around ,without headache, someone that would do something aside from max out damage. Maybe spend the first round or two sundering enemy weapons, making them less effective in combat.
But why do so with the current rules? His class is built to do damage and apparently he can do so well enough to one shot a number of bad guys with his build. Which leaves him the choice of either simply killing the bad guy and looting his stuff afterwords for the parties benefit, or breaking the valuable magic items for a couple of rounds before killing the bad guy. Giving said bad guy plenty of opportunity to leave or to use different resources against the group instead.
Would the group truly be relieved to note that the barbarian just destroyed a +3 mace for example that the parties own cleric could use forcing the enemy cleric to instead it a party member with a 130 point harm spell instead of using his mace. Especially when a round later the barbarian one shots the cleric after the harm spell goes off?
Does the barbarian simply not like having nice stuff or is perpetually jealous of other people having nice stuff instead. Reducing but not eliminating combat effectiveness of enemies still leaves them possibility of really hurting a party member and only matters if the ineffectiveness really matters for the rest of the fight.
He would never do such a thing, because it dors not directly impact HIS damage output.
He would never do such a thing because such tactics require their own specialized builds and going after the other sides weapons instead of the other sides soldiers is typically much more of a situationaly good idea rather than the go to answer in every encounter
My apologies but being upset because the Rogue chose to take his one guaranteed shot at massive damage against the Boss instead of taking out a lackey even an important lackey seemed to be an odd thing to be annoyed by. The boss is usually the target that has to be defeated after all while the caster is only their to make it more difficult for that to happen. The boss is likely the opponent who has indirectly been making the heroes life hell or threatening the area with his evil plan. From a role playing perspective I would suspect that he would be the primary target even if mechanically it might be better to one shot support characters rather than wearing down the Bosses hit points. A modern example might be akin to a sniper choosing to shoot a bodyguard rather than shooting at his actual target. Effectively announcing his presence and giving his actual target a chance to get under cover and escape.
The additional element that I find odd is that you say
Rogue opening with 100+ against unaware enemies, great. It was surprise round and that's what the rogue is supposed to do., but then go on to say
but not nearly as upset as i am with the consistent high dpr of the barb.
isnt that what the barbarian is supposed to do though, especially if he gets a full attack cycle off?
A barbarian that receives frequent opportunities for full attack cycles against a target without evasion capability (not the rogue class feature but the ability to generate miss chances such as from mirror image spells for example) is going to have a very difficult time as others have shown reducing his damage output sufficiently to allow the 4-7 combat rounds that you want your fight to last and he will be putting himself in tremendous danger to do so as his class is designed around high intensity short duration combats.
The typical expectation that the games math seems to make from my own experience and the posted comments on the message boards for a CR appropriate encounter is about 3 rounds with higher level encounters potentially much shorter if Scry and Die tactics are successfully employed. To extend it beyond that number routinely for CR appropriate encounters means either both sides are purposely interjecting "Fluff" rounds (rounds where neither side does much offense but maneuvers around for a bit and drops some minor effects like party wizard lobbing a minor monster summon and the enemy burning a round killing it effectively turning it into a null round) or the players intently designing their characters to under perform according to the games underlying math.
Some classes can do this fairly easily. I am playing a witch in a campaign currently and that class can easily play a bleeder role with much of its offensive spells doing a little bit of damage over long time and debuffs that work better in long fights rather than short ones. Full Bab classes are not very good at this though unless they purposely try to counter their inherently high damage output compared to other classes.
In our own homebrew campaign
While I think you might see cases of players dumping "bad skills" for "good skills" I don't think the game itself will really become unbalanced by it. After all the encounter really doesn't care if the D.C. X skill challenge was solved by any particular class only that someone in the party managed to roll high enough to succeed.
Years ago I ran a birthrite game in 3.5 and one of the options available for the players was to take a domain turn (one month of game time), and learn a new rank in any skill up to the cap on max ranks for their level. Several characters did so (mostly on various professions that became important to their kingdom such as sailor). It had no meaningful affect on play balance because the max level of theeir skill never changed just the possibility that they were trained in it did.
In my groups last 3.5 campaign which started about a year before 4th edition came out we decided to go out with a bit of a bang and play with all the options set for high levels of monty haulism and see what the game was like. We had a 6 man party that floated occasionally to 8 players.
Each character was a gestalt, and most had a cl racial bonus that we used the rules in the unearthed arcana as a guideline to hand out the racial boosts over time. We received throughout the campaigns run (1st level to about 15th level) a pretty sizable amount of treasure way over our character levels. We received at various points in the story special somewhat minor to mediumn powers (my half farspawned Duskblade/Conjurer received the control abomination power based on the cleric control undead power for example).
We broke the system in every conceivable way in terms of power and our brawl line could easily dish out 2-3 hundred hit points of damage each round...and yet we were still heavily challenged in that campaign. We fought draco demilichs that projected Ancient black dragon avatars that when killed would reform and double, we fought Sword Spiders that had D.R. 35+ (which was fairly high for us at the time) that required a thousand points of damage to reduce the D.R. by 5 while it was dishing out a few hundred points of damage each round back at us.
We fought Far Spawn that could take our best hit and chose one damage cycle per turn and bounce the entire damage from that cycle back at us.
We saw non common energy types frequently tossed in to damage cycles (a red dragon whose breath weapon did half profane half fire for example) and we saw the damage out put of these monsters enhanced significantly.
We also saw new energy types (warp and distortion from Far Spawned) that we had to develope whole new colleges of magic to use and defend against.
All in all it was a very fun and challenging campaign, despite the difficulties at time in figuring out just how powerful our "broken characters" were compared to the displayed abilities of the monsters.
The point to this ramble is sometimes its ok for a good GM to throw out the guidelines for CR and expected power levels if he still can challenge the party despite their over power levels and the players are still having fun.
While I agree that the Orb spells pretty much pushed the various equal level evocations to the side in popularity, I think that might have been because they addressed actual wizard needs better than traditional evocations did (perhaps for legacy issues that limited them).
Lets look at them for a moment though
2: No Save which of course meant no evasion but if you look at the max damage output of an orb is only 5 points more than the half damage of a fireball or lightning bolt, and its average damage of 22.5 is only 5 points more damage than a successfully save fireball (17.5) which is fairly close to the half damage of a spell one level lower.
3: NO SR, but if I remember right you did have to make a ranged touch attack roll, which granted was usually fairly easy despite the Wizards low B.A.B., but id did mean the wizard did not have to roll to hit, roll to see if punched through S.R., have the victim roll to see if it saved and then roll damage. To be honest I think a blaster build wizard needs a few spells like this on its list in order to be viable as a concept otherwise their are two many fail points for a damage output that is probably already lagging behind a martial or rogue class of the same level.
Baleful Polymorph would seem to be a fairly low levelish solution to the problem.
"If the spell succeeds, the subject must also make a Will save. If this
No extraordinary abilities means no active regeneration and can thus be killed in any manner you want. Now granted this troll build is going to have pretty good saves but it only takes one failed save for the troll to be killed
54 spells known, that's more or less the sorcerers cap including 9 chosen as part of your background and another 9 tied up in cantrips. You get effectively 54 choices of the best spell list in the game. As the pathfinder spell list becomes expanded with new products or use older 3.5 material such as I the think the spell compendium that list of spells that you cannot cast becomes a much more important element to the limitations of sorc versus a wizard.
This can become an even more noticeable element if you have more than 1 wizard in the party and they are willing to share their spell books with each other as well as the spell books of any enemy wizards they acquire as well. It can be fairly easy for a mid range wizard to pick up another 10, 15 new spells from a captured spell book for instance or pick up an extra 1 or 2 spells a level from a friendly mage if he is willing to open up his book a bit in return.
All knowledge skills are on his list and he has a strong reason to pump IQ to as high levels as he can. This mean in practice lots of skill points going to know monster vulnerabilities in combat and a likelyhood of knowing what monsters are common in the area which will help guide their daily spell selection with generally good or safe choices.
Opportunity cost a friend of mine who introduced me to 3rd edition gave me the advice to never pick a spell as a sorc that you dont want to cast at least 6 times a day, when he saw Identify on 1st level spell list. As a Wizard character I rarely worry about adding a spell to my book if I come across it in a captured book or on a scroll. I might not ever use it but the only cost to me is gold and usually not that much gold at that versus using up one my 54 spell choices on a spell that is only an edge case but dominant in that edge.
To number 2 on your list I would say over all wealth not spent on adventuring gear and materials is not wealth that really needs to be heavily tracked for with the Wealth by Level guidelines. Lavish expenses on goods, services and residences that dont contribute to your adventuring abilities have a much reduced impact and are typically close to being irrelevant when facing down enemies except now you have a large expensive asset that is going to require even more expense to protect from your enemies or the odd thief.