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Spontaneous Casters vs. Prepared Casters


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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I once heard that the Prepared Casting Classes are better than the Spontaneous Casting Classes. I personally see advantages and disadvantages to both.

Give me your analysis of which one you prefer and why.

Is there any hope that I'll get one logical post for each side before this devolves into angry ranting?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Not really.


Uh-huh!


+1 to Gorbacz ,people have their favourites and defend them ferociously:)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

/angryrantbegin

In my opinion, both are awesome.

/angryrantend

But as far as preference, it depends on too many factors, group composition, level of play, expected range of play, allowed materials, type of game.

For example, if the group is melee heavy in an AP expected to last awhile, I would tend towards wizard. I have versatility, can swap out spells based on the situation, and would focus more on buffing, keeping enough AoE spells to deal with such situations (like the dreaded swarms).

Now for a one-shot type deal, or even PFS play, I'd prefer a sorcerer. That way I wouldn't have to worry about a bunch of different spells as my list is finite. Cuts into the versaility, but I'll deal with that.

Shadow Lodge

The prepared classes get spells faster. There's very little to compare against higher level spells.

The prepared classes can get scribe scroll to write down one copy of their entire spell list (or just buy them), in case they need comprehend languages or something equally situational for one day.

Prepared classes get almost as many spells as the spontaneous ones. Stat bonuses, the extra spells at the higher level, domain bonuses, specialization bonuses dilute if not surpass the spontaneous casters higher number of spells.

You can usually tell what you'll be heading into tomorrow and change your spell list accordingly.Ie, you do not memorize endure elements unless you're hiking into the snow/desert. You can't tell what you're running into in 5 levels and adjust your spells known list.


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I like spontaneous more because it's easier to deal with. But prepared are MUCH stronger, even aside from earlier spell level access. Being able to customize your spells each day for the needs is huge in any game with lots of non-combat situations. A spont. caster simply can't afford to stock the situational spells as known spells, and either type is equally adept at using utility scrolls (actually they're not; prepared casters can much more easily create them during downtime, spont. casters often have to rely on finding/buying them).

Then there's the fact that IME a lot of DMs don't bother to require a list of spells prepared each in-game day and allow the prepared casters some...wiggle room.

I like how Arcana Evolved handles spellcasters. You have your spell list that you can choose spells from. Each day you choose which of those are your spells known, limited in amount by your class level (like a sorc). You can then spont. cast any of those as much as you want, limited by your slots per day. And a lot of the most powerful spells are nerfed or entirely gone.

Silver Crusade

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WWWWAAARGARBLE!!!!11!!


I admit that I have a conceptual bias towards spontaneous casters, because it's a somewhat better model of how most people intuitively conceive of magic as working, and it generally makes for theme-ier characters. (Psionics, of course, totally blows both out the water when it comes to modeling how people expect magic to work and how it's generally treated in fiction and in other properties, but that's not an option here.) That said, in the abstract, prepared casting is probably superior. (Druids in particular get to cheat by being able to turn anything they prepare into an always-useful SNA spell, giving them much of the best of both worlds.) This is particularly true for divine casters, who know their entire spell list and thus can have any spell they want ready in 24 hours, any place, any time, and of course being half a spell level ahead is pretty gravy.

In general, the candy that PF gives to spontaneous versions of prepared casters does an okay job of covering the gap, but for raw power, Cleric/Wizard are still probably better than their spontaneous counterparts. I almost wish they had just handled that by axing the half-level delay, but bloodlines and mysteries are an acceptable (and pretty thematic and badass) substitute.


I have to break a lance here for human sorcerers/oracles.With their favoured class bonus they get nine spells per level,plus mystery/bloodline bonus spells, thats enough to have all real "power" spells and add a few flavour spells to it.I would even say that anything above that is just a hassle.
So what, the Wizard/Cleric might have some 3rd grade situational,gimmicks up his sleeve but that hardly makes him more powerfull,I pick spontaneus Metamagic and more spells per day over some "once every blue moon" spells that can easily be bought as scrolls any day.
In addition to hat the bloodlines/mysteries are almost universally better than school powers/domains.

So how`s that for an angry rant:)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Yea, every oracle/sorcerer (except 1) in pathfinder has been human since the APG came out. Too me, it's just too good.


I haven't seen it in play, but that did make me go "huh?" Seems OP to me. Playing any other race is just not as good a choice now.


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I find the human favored class option for extra spells nice, but nowhere overpowered. It just may seem that way if you feel you *need* many more spells known. I actually prefer playing human or half-elf most of the time because of the feel of these races, not for the extra spells option. I think there are enough spells known available by default :-)

Having said that I think prepared casters are mechanically stronger:


  • Many more spells known, thus many more situations can be covered perfectly
  • Magic items support for prepared casters is much better: There is no equivalent item to pearl of power for sponatenous casters.
  • In pathfinder prepared casters can leave slots open, take a short break and thus adapt for new situations (encountered undead -> prepare anti-undead spells, encountered animals -> prepare accordingly...).
  • Prepared casters - with the exception of paladin and two sorcerer bloodlines - run off intelligence or wisdom, mechanically much more useful than charisma (skills & saves)
  • Earlier access to spells than their spontaneous counterparts
  • Since you can purchase arcane spells for a given level - divine casters get all of them for free anyway - prepared casters are great for dipping for a non-casting class to up versatility. For example, you can build a fighter x/wizard 1 character with an intelligence of 11 just to a) get access to lots of useful 1st (endure elements, shield, mage armor...) and 0th level spells (light, prestidigitation, mage hand, arcane mark...) and b) automatic success in activating wands for those classes.
  • Bonded items, feats and arcane pool allow prepared casters to spontaneously cast their signature spells or just the spell from their known spells they really need.

Personally I really cannot connect to prepared casters. I have played clerics and wizards before - and very effectively according to feedback of my groups - but I really do prefer the spontaneous casters, and bards in particular. And this is why:


  • Charisma is cool. You have a truly impressive personality, with its sheer force you command magic to obey you and do what you want.
  • Charisma helps you with lots of social skills.
  • Spontaneous casters get their spells automatically, even when you are in the wilderness (some DMs won't allow you spell access then even when you are entitled to it per RAW) or you are advancing casting with prestige classes (where prepared casters such as wizards, witches or maguses do not get their spells for levelling up for free). It's similar with arcane strike for bards...
  • Sorcerer bloodlines are cool, really cool! They have so significantly boosted the sorcerer class that eldritch heritage feats and level dips are subject of optimization discussions for prepared casters.
  • Thematically I prefer and can picture it better to select a certain set of spells with which I have to work, but which I can cast as many times as I have spells left. That type of caster is more suited for me.
  • Spontaneous casters may exchange spells later. This is often not utilized, but can really help you with it. Also feats like expanded arcana are a worthy investment IMO.
  • Certain spells like limited wish (expensive, but hey it's there), shadow conjuration/evocation, dragon breath, summon monster/nature ally have lots of built-in versatility. It does not offset the advantages of having all spells available as it is with the prepared casters, but it helps.
  • Use magic device helps for all types of magic and spell lists, and it runs off charisma.
  • Spontaneous casters can always use all their spells. They are not linked to spellbooks or how often they have memorized spell x. Even when bound and gagged in a prison cell, they could still "prepare" a stilled silenced summon monster to get someone to free them (or do something similar). Also, since they do not need focuses or spellbooks they are not easily recognizable as magic users in the first place, particularly if they took eschew materials.
  • An area where spontaneous casters really rule is metamagic feats. Just get an acid spell and a cold spell, and elemental spell: fire and elemental spell: electricity, and you are set. Add a sonic spell to be sure. Get still spell to be able to cast while grappled, silence spell to still cast if someone drops a silence spell of you... Particularly the latter has taken more prepared caster opponents out of the fight in adventure paths I have played in than direct counters or attacks. Because, come on!, how many casters really prepare stilled and/or silenced spells, be them PCs or NPCs? For the cost of +1/+2 spell levels?
  • Spell selection is almost always assumed to be perfect in discussions regarding spontaneous/prepared casters. Like "OK, I'll teleport us out of here, tomorrow we come back, I prepare for those devils then. Oh, and don't mind that we already killed 10 of them, the others won't notice in the meantime and prepare accordingly. And in case we don't meet devils, we'll just repeat this and I'll prepare for undead, vermin, ...". With spontaneous casters, you have what you have.
  • You can still buy scrolls, wands, potions etc. if you really need a certain spell.

Now this got a bit longer than I intended. Both variants are great and suit different types of playstyles, campaings, DMs, intelligence gathering... To each their own, to me spontaneous casters - bards in particular :-D

Silver Crusade

Oh no, not this argument! We had this same argument years ago on the Wizards site back in 3rd edition.

I think we came to the conclusion that Prepared casters were actually better because they could essentially have every spell in every book and every future book (Wizards, Clerics, Druids). They can adjust their spell selection every day which means that can tailor their spell list to almost any situation.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
shallowsoul wrote:

Oh no, not this argument! We had this same argument years ago on the Wizards site back in 3rd edition.

Strong words coming from "hey what's wrong with Fighters anyway" OP :P


I would love spontaneous casters to be equal but it all comes down to the 1 level delay on the next level of spells, its a huge disadvantage that cannot be overcome in any way. that is basicly the crux of the debate and one that cannot be changed.

You can cheat out of spells known with human alternate favoured class bonus and you can spend a full round action to add metamagic on the fly but in the hands of a player who has a little experience and a willingness to book keep and prepare then cleric/wizard are just simply better.

just to try to answer the point of debate that seems to always come up in these discussions though, prepared casters are not always expected to have the ideal spell memorised for any situation. a clever player spends some time with the spell list and creates a daily list that allows them to deal with the majority of potential threats, ie, some spells that target each save, some that target no save, some that don't allow sr, some that buff, some that debuff, some that control the battlefield...

in a very similar way to a spontaneous caster actually picking the spells they will be using when they level up, the benefit is that if a wizard is knows that he is going to be hunting a vampire tomorrow he can tailor his list to that, as well as that one thing that people always seem to dismiss is leaving spell slots open for using later in the day, my current wizard prepares enough spells to buff for the day and enough spells for 1.5 encounters, for example at 7th level, int 23 with sin magic conjuration...

4/9/8/6/5
0th: presdigitation, mage hand, message, acid splash
1st: grease x2, mage armour, charm person, ray of enfeeblement, protection from evil, anticipate peril, open slot x2
2nd: acid arrow x2, glitterdust, spider climb, false life, alter self, open slot x2
3rd: aqueous orb x2, sleet storm, haste, dispel magic, ray of exhaustion, open slot
4th summon monster iv x2, black tentacles, enervation, open slot

cast mage armour and false life just after memorising spells, save spider climb and alter self for entering the adventuring area, cast anticipate peril just before the first combat kicks off if your not ambushed.

vs reflex, grease, aqueous orb
vs will, glitterdust, charm person
vs fort, ray of enfeeblement and exhaustion
buff haste and self buffs
debuff misc
control, sleet storm and tentacles
no save enervation
no sr acid arrow and most of control

then if the party need teleporting across something, give me a few mins and i'll memorise ddoor. need something in a strange language reading i'll memorise comprehend languages. used up my haste and we're carrying on, i better re-memorise haste.

to be honest a sorcerer with a spells known list looking like that would be effective in most situations as well but they wouldn't be able to change their entire spell list tomorrow to deal with undead, or deal with a day of diplomacy, or a day of investigation.


shallowsoul wrote:

Oh no, not this argument! We had this same argument years ago on the Wizards site back in 3rd edition.

I think we came to the conclusion that Prepared casters were actually better because they could essentially have every spell in every book and every future book (Wizards, Clerics, Druids). They can adjust their spell selection every day which means that can tailor their spell list to almost any situation.

Well, I know the discussions from 3e as well. However, 3e is a different game from pathfinder, so this is not a valid argument to me :-)

The majority of posters so far, including me, seems to agree that prepared casters are stronger, at least from a theoretical point of view. In practice, it really depends on the player and the adventure from what I have seen.

Also, I find it wrong to reduce the reasoning to "they could have every spell in the book". In my personal experience it does not matter to have every spell available. What matters is that you have a suitable, not necessary perfect but adequate, spell available to cast right in the situation that you need it. For what it's worth a caster could go through 20 levels with magic missile, shield, feather fall, fly, invisibility and dragon breath. Then having all spells available does not matter.

In fact we have one player in one of my groups who just likes baleful polymorphing and blasting with 1 or 2 fire spells. It does not matter to him if it's ineffective, even when the enemy makes his save 3 times in a row he will continue to try to baleful polymorph him. This guy is smart, but he has fun this way with his character. He does not even know the other 15 or so spells he has, and does not care. That's why I think it depends on the player - prepared caster would suck mightily for him :-)


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RAGEWHINERANTTHREATENSOBCRYSCREAMKILLJOYGIBBER. now, who wants to bid for me to be on their side?
(What can i say? both are pretty cool.)


Egoish wrote:

I would love spontaneous casters to be equal but it all comes down to the 1 level delay on the next level of spells, its a huge disadvantage that cannot be overcome in any way. that is basicly the crux of the debate and one that cannot be changed.

You can cheat out of spells known with human alternate favoured class bonus and you can spend a full round action to add metamagic on the fly but in the hands of a player who has a little experience and a willingness to book keep and prepare then cleric/wizard are just simply better.

just to try to answer the point of debate that seems to always come up in these discussions though, prepared casters are not always expected to have the ideal spell memorised for any situation. a clever player spends some time with the spell list and creates a daily list that allows them to deal with the majority of potential threats, ie, some spells that target each save, some that target no save, some that don't allow sr, some that buff, some that debuff, some that control the battlefield...

in a very similar way to a spontaneous caster actually picking the spells they will be using when they level up, the benefit is that if a wizard is knows that he is going to be hunting a vampire tomorrow he can tailor his list to that, as well as that one thing that people always seem to dismiss is leaving spell slots open for using later in the day, my current wizard prepares enough spells to buff for the day and enough spells for 1.5 encounters, for example at 7th level, int 23 with sin magic conjuration...

4/9/8/6/5
0th: presdigitation, mage hand, message, acid splash
1st: grease x2, mage armour, charm person, ray of enfeeblement, protection from evil, anticipate peril, open slot x2
2nd: acid arrow x2, glitterdust, spider climb, false life, alter self, open slot x2
3rd: aqueous orb x2, sleet storm, haste, dispel magic, ray of exhaustion, open slot
4th summon monster iv x2, black tentacles, enervation, open slot

cast mage armour and false life just after memorising spells,...

I do not want to get too deep into argumenting about basically the same assessment, namely that prepared casters are theoretically stronger. But I want to point out 2 - IMO - flawed assumptions in your argument:

1. You argue that you prepare spells with different saves, leave spell slots open etc. Been there, done that, and with success. *But* if you *need* that 4th and 5th magic missile (example) and you only have three prepared even your bonded item won't help you. And be prepared to spend *a lot* of your wealth scribing scrolls at high caster levels just for the case you need them - wealth that a spontaneous caster can invest differently.
2. You assume your intelligence that you will hunt - and encounter - a vampire the next day will be correct. We had intelligence about undead in an adventure as well, but it turned out that it was in fact a demon. So though I kept some stuff for other situations and some scrolls, it was really difficult to contribute, particularly since we did not find out before we encountered her.

So what I am basically saying is that you are already assuming you are well prepared :-P


On the 'god level' as Robert Heinlein would put it prepared casters are infinitely stronger than spontaneous casters.

On a practical in play level they come out about even.

On a system level class to class prepared casters are stronger than spontaneous caster, and divine casters are stronger than arcane casters.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
OldManAlexi wrote:

I once heard that the Prepared Casting Classes are better than the Spontaneous Casting Classes. I personally see advantages and disadvantages to both.

Give me your analysis of which one you prefer and why.

Is there any hope that I'll get one logical post for each side before this devolves into angry ranting?

It's the kind of question that blinds more than enlightens.

I play both Sorcerers and Wizard, Clerics and Oracles. I see them as four different classes, not two variations of two.

Yes, Wizards and Clerics have no particular limits to the spells they can access. However the spontaneous casters have far more flexibility to the way they manipulate their magic in the terms of metamagic feats and the fact that every spell they know can be called up when they're wanted or needed. While prep casters can leave slots open it's a useless ability where time is a crucial element.

The only time Sorcerers and Oracles lose out to Wizards and Clerics are when they are run by players who think of them as Wizards and Clerics.


"Which is better" boils down to "what role are they in?"

Spontaneous casters are better in some roles. Prepared casters are better in other roles.

Both do perfectly fine in the general role of "adventuring spellcaster."

I have a slight bias for wizards over sorcerers for flavor and what I see as versatility reasons. But spontaneous casters can make up for a lot of that with magical items and, in my own experience, tend to work better as blasters.


I still don´t get the supposed advantage off the prepared casters.
Sure you can adjust your spells every day,but whats the gain?If you go after a Vampire, would you prepare different spells than you would prepare if you had to go against a band of trolls? How about hunting a dragon?
Some spells are good some aren´t they don´t change each day.

Sure there are some spells that don´t work against some enemies,some that work especially well against others, and there are some spells that help you with terrain or miscellanious situations.
But here we are at my original argument if you choose your spells wisely you end up with the best spells possible, regardless of the situation.


+1 (or +2) to the previous comments. Both types are fun, and comparable in "real (fantasy) world" play. I like playing wizards and sorcerers, mostly, and having the right spell ready is a crap-shoot much of the time, regardless.

I really like what PF has done for the various classes. The extras are welcome and add a lot of flavor, but if your caster always has the right spell for the occasion, well, that's not my experience. Many's the time the entire table looked at me, and I had to say "I cast magic missile at the darkness!"

At high levels, you can bring a lot to bear, and either type of caster will have scrolls, wands, etc. You still end up without the perfect solution now and then, no matter how you try to prepare.


Sleet Storm wrote:

I still don´t get the supposed advantage off the prepared casters.

Sure you can adjust your spells every day,but whats the gain?If you go after a Vampire, would you prepare different spells than you would prepare if you had to go against a band of trolls? How about hunting a dragon?
Some spells are good some aren´t they don´t change each day.

Sure there are some spells that don´t work against some enemies,some that work especially well against others, and there are some spells that help you with terrain or miscellanious situations.
But here we are at my original argument if you choose your spells wisely you end up with the best spells possible, regardless of the situation.

This is almost a simple matter of taste. But not quite. Having five times the number of known spells is sometimes actually an advantage when you do need one or two highly unusual spells. But it's especially true of non-combat spellcasting while in town when a prepared spellcaster with a huge spell collection has an enormous number of ways to exploit those spells for personal or party gain.

But there aren't many campaigns where that sort of advantage actually becomes an actual advantage. Most campaigns do seem to boil down to prepared casters picking the same few spells over and over again and using them in combat. But that's not really the style of game I prefer.

Besides that though, I am one of those strange players who really likes to explore odd synergies from under-appreciated spells. I get a kick out of using spells that a spontaneous spellcaster would probably never even consider to use, but which can be cleverly synergized with other spells, effects or even items to produce a new and unusual result. That is much easier to do with prepared spellcasters and since I enjoy that, I tend to like the prepared spellcasters more.


Sangalor, didn't quote for length.

1. That character is totally incapable of casting magic missile anyway and its normally a waste of a spell slot to cast except in some highly unlikely heavily optimised corner cases, but, i know what you mean. The wizard i play however is not there to deal hp damage its there to make fights easier, we've had encounters in which i have cast haste and then acid splashed for 3 rounds because casting anything else was a waste, we've also had fights where i wished i had a certain spell memorised and i've used my bonded object, i also carry a few scrolls of certain buffs like enlarge person and have an imp companion umding for me, its a different style to blasting with magic missile though since nearly all of my spells hang around for at least rounds/level i don't need to cast that often, i have been experimenting a lot with aqueous orb recently(our most recent fight was 4 kytons and 4 shadow mastiffs in a room and after 7 rounds of tentacle/orb the room was a mess let me tell you) but summons are just very effective lasting for 9 rounds for that character.
2. Getting tricked and preparing badly is all part of the fun, if you get into a demon fight as a sorc and you have no effective spells, which is unlikely, then its bad gming really. If you get tricked into it as a wizard its a lesson learned.

And i am not assumimg that i am well prepared, i am well prepared. I have spell which can help my party in every situation that we could conceivably come across and open slots to take advantage of throughout the day, no one can prepare perfectly every time but the point i was really trying to make is that a sorcerer with those spells has just those spells, the wizard can have a different set in town, or crafting, or travelling, or vs a dragon, vs undead, vs outsiders or even if you just need a comprehend languages, i don't need a scroll i can just use an open slot.


Prepared casters are stronger.
Spontaneous casters are more flavorful/fun.

That's my answer, take it however you will. :)


Spontaneous Casters are better at low levels, Prepared casters are better once spells hit the point where one spell can effectively end an encounter.

Who needs 100 spells per day when one Waves of Exhaustion basically says "I win".


Sangalor wrote:

I find the human favored class option for extra spells nice, but nowhere overpowered. It just may seem that way if you feel you *need* many more spells known. I actually prefer playing human or half-elf most of the time because of the feel of these races, not for the extra spells option. I think there are enough spells known available by default :-)

Having said that I think prepared casters are mechanically stronger:


  • Many more spells known, thus many more situations can be covered perfectly
  • Magic items support for prepared casters is much better: There is no equivalent item to pearl of power for sponatenous casters.
  • In pathfinder prepared casters can leave slots open, take a short break and thus adapt for new situations (encountered undead -> prepare anti-undead spells, encountered animals -> prepare accordingly...).
  • Prepared casters - with the exception of paladin and two sorcerer bloodlines - run off intelligence or wisdom, mechanically much more useful than charisma (skills & saves)
  • Earlier access to spells than their spontaneous counterparts
  • Since you can purchase arcane spells for a given level - divine casters get all of them for free anyway - prepared casters are great for dipping for a non-casting class to up versatility. For example, you can build a fighter x/wizard 1 character with an intelligence of 11 just to a) get access to lots of useful 1st (endure elements, shield, mage armor...) and 0th level spells (light, prestidigitation, mage hand, arcane mark...) and b) automatic success in activating wands for those classes.
  • Bonded items, feats and arcane pool allow prepared casters to spontaneously cast their signature spells or just the spell from their known spells they really need.

Personally [...] I really do prefer the spontaneous casters, and bards in particular.

+0,5

I agree with almost everything you say except "there are enough spells known available by default".

I honestly think the spontaneous casters, especially the oracle , the Inquisitor and the bard hurt from lack of spells known. I think the human favored class option should have been offered to more races. Primarily the gnome, but also the half-orc.
Heck why not make it a feat so all races could pick this as an option. The option would be for free if you are human and cost you a feat if you are another race.

Prepared casters have some more advantages.

  • Magic Items: As you said they get more candy. It's not only "Pearl of power" they get stuff like Incense of meditation, Amulet of Spell Cunning, Amulet of Magecraft, etc. I haven't seen any good magical items for spontaneous casters. Doomharp is that for real? To expensive at lower level, useless at level 8 and on.
  • Meta magic and casting time: regardless if you use rods, wands, scrolls or feats Meta magic is great. A scrolls with silent dispel magic or using a rod to cast heal as a reach spell. The casting time of one full round is a very, very, very big disadvantage. Especially after the APG with all it's cool meta magic feats.
  • Rods, See meta magic.

    All this said I usually do prefer the spontaneous casters. The exceptions are:

  • the Oracle. Clerics/ Oracles need much more situational spells and really feel the oracle limited spell selection is hurting it if you planning to play a caster oracle.
  • Summon monster. Playing a full caster focusing on summons is far from funny.

    Spontaneous casters are more fun and charisma a casting stat is great. Exception is of course the Inquisitor, but wisdom suits the Inquisitor.
    Spontaneous casters are also usually more sexy :-)

    My favorite classes? The bard and the Paladin.
    Haven't played the Inquisitor yet, but it looks good even without charisma as a casting stat.

    StreamOfTheSky wrote:

    I like spontaneous more because it's easier to deal with. But prepared are MUCH stronger, even aside from earlier spell level access. Being able to customize your spells each day for the needs is huge in any game with lots of non-combat situations. A spont. caster simply can't afford to stock the situational spells as known spells, and either type is equally adept at using utility scrolls (actually they're not; prepared casters can much more easily create them during downtime, spont. casters often have to rely on finding/buying them).

    A Spontaneous caster simply can't afford to stock the situational spells as known spells, true but they can stock some of them and they should. Prepared casters got access to all spells but don't prepare situational spells because a slot not used its a spell slot wasted. The Spontaneous caster don't have this problem. Sure the first or second choice won't be a situational but the third might be.

    An oracle with Breath of Life and two other level 5th level spells can cast it all day long or not at all. If he don't get to use it, no problem he can cast some other 5th level spell or a lower level spell using higher slots. Blessing of Fervor, Freedom of Movement, Wall of stone, SM5 or whatever. He can cast Breath of Life 4 times in a day or not at all. Same goes with a sorcerer. She can cast knock 4 times in a day or not at all, or she can cast any other situational spell.
    Spontaneous casters greatly benefits from having some situational spells.

    Prep casters and spontaneous caster are not equally adept at using utility scrolls. If any scroll or wand involves meta magic feat the spontaneous casters is at disadvantage.


  • Robb Smith wrote:

    Spontaneous Casters are better at low levels, Prepared casters are better once spells hit the point where one spell can effectively end an encounter.

    Who needs 100 spells per day when one Waves of Exhaustion basically says "I win".

    Only effects living creatures and can be used as a scroll.


    The skill of the player is more important that whether the caster is prepared or spontaneous. If a player can kick you butt with you, he can probably also do the same with the other.
    The type of game being run is also a factor.


    Egoish wrote:

    Sangalor, didn't quote for length.

    1. That character is totally incapable of casting magic missile anyway and its normally a waste of a spell slot to cast except in some highly unlikely heavily optimised corner cases, but, i know what you mean. The wizard i play however is not there to deal hp damage its there to make fights easier, we've had encounters in which i have cast haste and then acid splashed for 3 rounds because casting anything else was a waste, we've also had fights where i wished i had a certain spell memorised and i've used my bonded object, i also carry a few scrolls of certain buffs like enlarge person and have an imp companion umding for me, its a different style to blasting with magic missile though since nearly all of my spells hang around for at least rounds/level i don't need to cast that often, i have been experimenting a lot with aqueous orb recently(our most recent fight was 4 kytons and 4 shadow mastiffs in a room and after 7 rounds of tentacle/orb the room was a mess let me tell you) but summons are just very effective lasting for 9 rounds for that character.

    Magic missile was really just an example, which I mentioned :-)

    And it is not about hp damage either. Really, I have *successfully* played wizards and clerics. I used scrolls, wands, left slots open, took some relevant spells for preferred spell to be able to prepare situational spells and convert as necessary...
    This is not the point. The point is that you need to have the right spell memorized in the right strength the right number of times. What I do against prepared casters, any type of caster in fact, is to (greater) dispel magic: Remove their buffs, remove the summoned creatures, remove debuffs... It's very simple to do. And now try to bring up that magic circle against evil, mage armor, summon monster IV etc. up again with your prepared slots - a spontaneous caster will just cast them again (assuming both types have enough spells left for the day).
    Scrolls and good preparation can only do so much :-)
    Egoish wrote:


    2. Getting tricked and preparing badly is all part of the fun, if you get into a demon fight as a sorc and you have no effective spells, which is unlikely, then its bad gming really. If you get tricked into it as a wizard its a lesson learned.

    It is really not tricked and being prepared. You mentioned a spell list with which a sorc can do fine. In fact, I find that most of the time when playing prepared casters a certain set of standard spells will be prepared again and again simply because they cover a wide range of situations are *good*. Examples (just examples, mind you) are grease, glitterdust, featherfall, haste, slow, web, dragon breath, ... Considering the number of spells as sorcerer, heck even a bard, actually gets, I found that that the standard/core spell list I would prepare as a prepared caster can be covered with a sorcerer.

    Egoish wrote:

    And i am not assumimg that i am well prepared, i am well prepared. I have spell which can help my party in every situation that we could conceivably come across and open slots to take advantage of throughout the day, no one can prepare perfectly every time

    This will work often, but not always, and would not have worked in the example surprise I gave above. You do *not* have 15 minutes to prepare an optimized spell list if you have to act *right now*. This was what I tried to get across.

    Egoish wrote:

    but the point i was really trying to make is that a sorcerer with those spells has just those spells, the wizard can have a different set in town, or crafting, or travelling, or vs a dragon, vs undead, vs outsiders or even if you just need a comprehend languages, i don't need a scroll i can just use an open slot.

    My point here is that it does not matter to have those specific spells. There are certain spells that are universally useful and cover a wide range of situations. I always found that there are enough spells known for my spontaneous casters to even squeeze in extra spells just for style and still be effective in fights or other type of encounters.

    Again I am not arguing that spontaneous casters are more powerful. From a theoretical point of view prepared casters are, especially with all the nice items they got in the latest books (like those amulets which allow you to cast all your spells from a specific school spontaneously - come on!).
    In *practice* I found the difference to be non-existent and for spontaneous casters to be absolutely capable of contributing and meaningful.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Just as a general statement to those who think discussions like this are "unnecessary": They are not, and we will have this discussion again and again, and each time it will make sense to have it:

    - Different people are involved. It does not matter how many people have talked about this topic before, their conclusion may still be flawed, out of date, or they may all have belonged to the same crowd with the same convictions.
    - New books. This makes a huge difference IMO. Lately prepared casters have been boosted again, but it may change again with the next book, the next items, the next feats.
    - Pure fun and mental exercise. After all, we are not creating a final repository of answers to all questions here, but use a forum to talk, exchange opinions, give tips...

    I like these kinds of discussions and enjoy them :-)


    Zark wrote:

    ...An oracle with Breath of Life and two other level 5th level spells can cast it all day long or not at all. If he don't get to use it, no problem he can cast some other 5th level spell or a lower level spell using higher slots. Blessing of Fervor, Freedom of Movement, Wall of stone, SM5 or whatever. He can cast Breath of Life 4 times in a day or not at all. Same goes with a sorcerer. She can cast knock 4 times in a day or not at all, or she can cast any other situational spell.

    Spontaneous casters greatly benefits from having some situational spells. ...

    I actually find myself in a similar situation with my evangelist cleric in one of my groups. Since he cannot spontaneously convert cure spells (class features differ) I took preferred spell: cure light wounds, reach spell and magical lineage: cure light wounds. So i can spontaneously convert all spells to a reach cure light wounds spell. Additionally I took preferred spell: breath of life, simply because my group tends to encounter a lot of sudden deaths. I have saved someone from death 5 times already, so it has been a worthy investment :-)

    Preferred spell is great for prepared casters and reduces, not removes, the advantages of spontaneous casters like the "cast as many times a day as you have spells". Without those feats (and the new items for prepared casters, the eldritch heritage feats and the ability to leave slots open) spontaneous casters would even have the advantage in the meantime IMO :-P

    Silver Crusade

    I wish Pathfinder would come out with their own version of the Warmage. I liked that class because my spell list was already chosen for me.


    Zark wrote:
    I honestly think the spontaneous casters, especially the oracle , the Inquisitor and the bard hurt from lack of spells known.

    Say what? The sorcerer has fewer over all spells known than the oracle, gets them later, and when the sorcerer gets a new spell level has fewer spells known in it than the bard does.

    I won't say that spontaneous casters couldn't use an extra spell or two known of each level but the sorcerers are the ones hurting here more, not the oracles.

    It's crap in my opinion when you are supposed to be a spontaneous caster but only have one spell of a spell level known. That's not spontaneity.


    Shallowsoul, try this conversion I made:

    war mage

    Master Arminas


    I absolutely agree that prepared casters can be and are relevant and can be optimised to perform well in nearly any situation. I agree that you cannot always have the key spell prepared at the exact right time everytime.

    But prepared casters can change their spells every day and tailor them to specific situations, even if a spontaneous caster can perform well in every combat in a similar way to a well prepared wizard/cleric they simply cannot perform as well or as thoroughly as a perpared caster in many other situations.

    The point of many of the spontaneous supports argument is that a prepared caster has to be prepared and will not always have time to fill up an empty spell slot, the point of prepared supporters is that the spontaneous caster has to be even more prepared as insted of picking his spells for todays adventure before he sets off he has to pick them entire levels before he goes on the adventure and he will never have to opportunity to spend 15 mins re doing his spell list because he cannot.

    For all the detractions from prepared casting it is the added flexibility weather you get to use it or not that makes them a more powerful choice, being able to cast the same spell 6+ times a day rarely becomes necessary due to the varience of the types and power levels of encounters that you have each day.

    Bear in mind that a party of player characters should have an average of 4 equal cr encounters a day, or 2 cr-2, 1 equal cr and 1 cr+2, that according to the cr levels will use up effectively 80% of the parties resources over the day and put them at a point they should rest and still be able to deal with a night encounter. Now thats a ballpark figure with an average party in mind, i think the group i currently play with may actually be able to do half that again before needing to rest due to treasure items and optimisation, but i doubt i would blow three spells per encounter and unless the gm was going out of his way to make my spell list untenable (which i wouldn't mind for story purposes, like in the preparing for undead then fighting outsiders example) i doubt i would find a situation i which i did not have an effective spell to cast.

    Andoran

    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

    *checks off his card* BINGO!

    Andoran

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Sangalor wrote:
    Magic items support for prepared casters is much better: There is no equivalent item to pearl of power for sponatenous casters.
    See [url=http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/wondrous-items/wondrous-items/r-z/runestone-of-power]Runestone of Power

    .

    Start rant:
    I agree that there are several very good or even excessively good items that will help the prepared caster more, the problem is having them. They have a money cost and aren't automatically available everywhere.

    In these discussions generally the prepared spellcasters always is some kind of fantastic figure that can at the same time:
    - have all the spell he need and have open slots
    - always has the time to memorize spells in the open slots
    - always has the possibility to "return another day" after changing his memorized spells, and the target will never be the wiser and prepared for him (too many computer games)
    - always has all the items he want.
    /rant

    @Egoish
    Really you go around with a prepared spellcaster that hasn't 1 instance of dimension door/teleport always prepared and instead you leave a open slot?


    OldManAlexi wrote:

    I once heard that the Prepared Casting Classes are better than the Spontaneous Casting Classes. I personally see advantages and disadvantages to both.

    Give me your analysis of which one you prefer and why.

    Is there any hope that I'll get one logical post for each side before this devolves into angry ranting?

    Prepared spellcasters rule the school in terms of magic. Spontaneous casting and limited spells known is done far better in psionics. Spontaneous core-casting is really only viable on classes like Bards who have a lot beyond their spell selection to make them useful, and yet even bards would be better if they returned to their 2E counterparts that could expand their spellbook.

    Prepared casters by their nature are already going to beat out spontaneous casters in terms of versatility and problem solving, which is a huge deal in an actual game. Raw stats and numbers aside, the ability to adapt and solve problems is a huge deal.

    Prepared casters by their nature are also better at crafting magic items. Spontaneous casters are terrible at crafting anything of the spell-completion, spell-trigger, or potion categories of items, because the main benefit to those items is being able to have more options on hand, but you are limited to spells you can cast when creating them, which means that you are just making more of what you already have.

    Spontaneous casters are easier to render useless by making a mistake in your spell selection. A cleric, druid, or wizard can quickly and easily prepare a different spell if the one they picked before was a bit of a let down. A sorcerer that learns knock may find that it's too situational for him to use, and has to wait entire levels before he can fix his problem.

    Spontaneous casters have stunted casting progressions. This means they are rivaled by preparation casters who have things like specialist schools and domain slots that bring them closer to sorcerer or oracle casting, but preparation casters also get access to newer spells earlier, and in more numbers. I can't help but cringe when we have a sorcerer in the party instead of a wizard, because it means we will generally have to wait a whole level longer to have access to staples, and in many cases won't have the benefits of a real spellcaster at all.

    Spontaneous casters make the fire and forget mechanics worse than they already are. With wizards and such, the idea is that you have partially casted the spell already, it's held in your mind, you're ready to let it fly, and when it leaves your mind you have to get it again. That fluff works horribly for explaining why sorcerers have magic bullets.

    Wizards - the arcane caster of choice - can even leave their spell slots open so as to prepare a different spell later as needed. Get to a door that you need opened? Take a quick break to prepare knock and get through it. This can even help them get around recovering spells all at once. Get some rest, and then prepare your spells a few at a time while you're going.

    Spontaneous casters get no benefits from pearls of power which allow preparation casters to catch up in terms of spells per day and effectively allows preparation casters limited spontaneous casting since they can prepare something different in each of their slots while being able to fire off up to 1+X of any of those spells, where X is the number of pearls they have (so if you prepare fireball, dispel magic, and fly, and have 1 pearl of power III, you can cast each of those 1/day, and re-cast any of those 1/day).

    The worst spontaneous caster is probably the oracle. Shunted with the sorcerer's spell progression, limited to divine spells, and essentially a failure as a team-support divine caster. Their limited spells known basically renders them overly specific to be a good divine caster. If you diversify yourself at all, you are likely to miss out on staples like protective wards, buffs, and so forth. In general being able to cast more priest spells is less useful than being able to cast the priest spells you need.

    ==================================================
    Spontaneous casting done right is what we call psionics. 3.5/DSP psionics is a simple and easy to understand system where you learn new powers (like spells) as you gain levels. Powers have an energy cost based on their level (1st = 1 PP, 2nd = 3 PP, 3rd = 5 PP, etc), and you have a single pool that you spend to use them. It's essentially like tracking HP in terms of how difficult it is to use (that is, not difficult at all, since if you can't play a psion, then you can't play D&D, because even playing a commoner requires tracking your HP). Finally, most powers can be "augmented" by spending more juice to get a stronger result. This allows them remain useful at all levels, and also help to subtly diversify the character's potential.

    For example, a 1st level psion knowns 3 powers. Every level thereafter, the psion learns 2 new powers (with the highest level power she can learn increasing at 3rd, 5th, 7th, and so forth, just like wizards). By the time the psion reaches 20th level, she will know 41 different powers, ranging between 1st and 9th level. Since the psion can augment her powers, it allows her to draw from a respectable pool of options.

    That 3rd level power that is remarkably similar to fireball? Well if you spend the same cost as a 7th level power, you could deal 13d6 damage with it. So you have a damaging option. Meanwhile, you might also have a power that buffs your AC (like mage armor or shield), something that helps you time-stop (temporal acceleration is a toned down time-stop), some battlefield control (a psionic equivalent to grease or summon monster) and so on and so forth.

    Psionic characters have many of the same drawbacks that spontaneous casters do (it can be tricky to create certain types of items and such), but there general effectiveness throughout the game is better, because they can diversify themselves more readily, their resources are easier to manage (making them ideal for people who hate tracking spells per day), and are much better for representing the mechanical aspects of someone who wields supernatural power from within.

    They also make damn good hedge wizards. :3


    Diego Rossi wrote:

    In these discussions generally the prepared spellcasters always is some kind of fantastic figure that can at the same time:

    - have all the spell he need and have open slots
    - always has the time to memorize spells in the open slots
    - always has the possibility to "return another day" after changing his memorized spells, and the target will never be the wiser and prepared for him (too many computer games)
    - always has all the items he want.

    To be fair, that's not a very good case. You're basically saying that it's unfair to note that the wizard can leave slots empty and prepare them as needed. Yes, he may not end up with the time, but sorcerers can't do it at all. No matter how much time the sorcerer has, he can't spend 15 minutes to drop a spell-slot to use knock on the door barred from the other side. The wizard can. Interestingly, there's even a wizard option that reduces the time to prepare spells on the spot to 1 minute down from 15.

    EDIT: Also, I've never been in a game where literally every single adventure was rush, rush, rush. If you can't spare 1-15 minutes to Macgyver together the perfect tool for the job, maybe you need to switch to decaff.


    I would say that in most games the prepared caster is at least a little bit more powerful. However, I have a couple of exceptions that I have to bring up.

    1) If you talking about an inexperienced player, they can learn to effectively use a small number of spells much easier than all umpteen gazillion of the full list in multiple books.

    2) It can be very campaign and/or GM dependant. I have been in games where the environment and/or the GM made it virtually impossible to effectively prepare specific spells. In those cases I had to go with the 'generally useful' list. I was much much weaker than a spontaneous caster in those games.

    Ex: Mostly a dungeon crawl under a city. But it had pits of lava, portals to other place, lich, gosts, demon-dragon, slaad, trolls, evil elves (but not drow), outsider possessed hobgoblins, devils, elemetals, golems, etc... The only information we were able to find out ahead of time was that there were trolls, we were going underground, and there was one rumor of possibly some not normal dragon. Most of the creatures ambushed us. Many were immune to most spells. We were at way over 4 encounters a day. It was closer to 15 before the GM would let us find a way to rest. Even then we got attacked most rest period. A sorc that could have spammed some generally useful spells would have been much more useful than my wizard.


    Tbh diego i am using the teleportation sub school so the things that you normally really need ddoor for like getting out of grapple i can hop/step out and soon i will have the diabolist ddoor/teleport 2 or 1 per day.

    I find that using ddoor or teleport as an escape leaves the party up a certain body of water without a spanking tool since getting everyone out is pretty hard when your spread. If i didn't have step/hop i'd probably have a ddoor insted of an open slot.

    But once again i do think my wizard is pretty well prepared. I could make a sorcerer that was as well prepared if not more prepared for combat, but i would not be as versatile when were investigating and need a detect thoughts, or be able to open the door that our rogue can't pick, or make friends with an enemy via charm to get the info we need, or use planar binding spells without sacrificing combat utility, or create scrolls of buffs like enlarge person, lead blades or gravity bow for my familiar to use. All these things have happened in game other than the planar binding, however i will be using planar binding at level 9.

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

    And so commences the "Dances with Goalposts".


    AHAAA, so the wizard can prepare knock, I see it all so clear now, an option like this clearly makes him a god.:)

    Shadow Lodge

    No, the wizard can prepare anything he has. The cleric can prepare anything period. The sorcerer and oracle cannot. :)


    Sleet Storm wrote:
    AHAAA, so the wizard can prepare knock, I see it all so clear now, an option like this clearly makes him a god.:)

    Excellent post and a valuable insight that has really enriched this conversation, no really this just shows the difference between prepared and spontaneous casters.

    The people who think that the ability to prepare a spell that allows you to overcome the cr1/4 locked door encounter is not an powerful option will enjoy spontaneous casters and spamming spells in combat.

    The people who think that being able to prepare a spell that allows you to overcome the cr1/4 locked door encounter is something that is going to be situationally useful and like to cover their bases is going to enjoy prepared casters.

    Thats why wizards are "tier 1" and sorcerers are "tier 2".


    Our group of fearless adventurers finds their path blocked by a shabby wooden door with rusty angles.

    Fighter:"Ok, step back everyone I´m gonna kick this piece of s&@$ in like I did the teeth of that ogre just moments ago."

    Wizard:"You , know what I have a better idea, just let me spend 15min flipping through my spellbook and meditating so I can waste a spell slot for that."


    TriOmegaZero wrote:
    *whips out his wand of knock*

    Yep, that caster level 3 knock spell is gonna kick some serious butt at level 13...

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