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Sorcerer Archetype: Primal Sorcerer


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


The following is archetype (mechanics blatantly stolen & modified from the 3.5 wilder) for a primal sorcerer. It is my intent that this will apply only for sorcerers in my campaign setting (and later bards once this is ironed out, i.e. archetypes created later for arcane, charisma-based casters). I've always liked the idea of uncontrolled magic, but hated the comical wild magic rules since AD&D 2nd edition and of course, the many regurgitations of these rules since. The wilder mechanics, however, accomplish pretty much what I want.

A main concern is risk vs reward. The risk increases significantly with the level of the sorcerer and the level of the spell cast. I'm torn on whether or not to keep the damage suffered from a backlash as lethal or change it to nonlethal.

Link: Archetype: Primal Sorcerer

I'd appreciate any constructive comments, criticisms, or potential problems this may cause.


what exactly does backlash do? it seems to not really explain what the percentages precisely do. i am familiar with the wilder version, so assumptions can be made but i am still curious.


The strain damages the caster.

Example: A 7th level uses the primal surge to increase her caster level on a fireball. The spell is cast at 10th level, resolved, and backlash is checked for. She has a 25% chance to suffer backlash and rolls a 19. She suffers 7 points of damage and is dazed until the end of her next turn.


yeah you didn't specify points of damage in your doc but i had a feeling that was the case.


That should be corrected now and the entry in question is underlined.


its pretty good, i would definitely like to try this archetype.


I'm looking forward to GMing a couple NPCs with it, very soon. =)


Da'ath wrote:
The following is archetype (mechanics blatantly stolen & modified from the 3.5 wilder) for a primal sorcerer. It is my intent that this will apply only for sorcerers in my campaign setting (and later bards once this is ironed out. . .

On a side note, do you allow Dreamscarred Press' Psionic materials for your games?

Ok. So just to be clear,
Sorcerer (1-2) has a 10% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (3-5) has a 15% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (6) has a 15% to 20% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (7-9) has a 20% to 25% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (10) has a 20% to 30% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (11-13) has a 25% to 35% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (14) has a 25% to 40% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (15-17) has a 30% to 45% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (18) has a 30% to 50% chance to be dazed.
Sorcerer (19-20) has a 35% to 55% chance to be dazed.

The highest number is most likely as that is coming out of their highest spell slots.

To play devils advocate, any class feature that makes you worse at your job would be a bad thing, and this feature makes you more and more likely to lose actions, i.e. not be slinging spells, unless you have someway to ignore or become immune to dazing, which then trivializes the downside.

If they are just using the primal surge to gain the increased caster level for long term buffs, they they just cast during a free moment, possibly with extend spell, then take the damage next round if they fail the percentile roll. If the damage is non lethal, it mostly goes away in an hour (1 point per hour per character level). If it's lethal, probably have somebody ready with a minor cure spell or a wand... or better yet, some sort of spell that grants temporary hit points...

Instead of hit points, the wilder lost power points, which in this case would actually be spell slots. However, losing power points equal to their manifester/caster level would hurt less than a sorcerer losing one of his highest spell slots...

I am not saying I don't like the idea. I really like the feature conversion. I am just mentioning a few things that come to mind with this. The concept of a sorcerer using his emotions to power up his spells, like a spell rage, is beautiful.


TeShen wrote:
On a side note, do you allow Dreamscarred Press' Psionic materials for your games?

I actually don't (I used to even though I dislike it, but my players just really didn't like it either). To be perfectly honest, while I love psionics, I hate the psionics system. This is no fault of the original writers in 3.5 or Dreamscarred's writers, but it is basically a more refined and reskinned version of the Unearthed Arcana's spell point system (but with some failry innovative ideas). I've tried skill-based psionics and several other systems, but haven't been satisfied with any of them.

I do have a particular race that is "psionic" in my campaign, though they are at the fledgling stage. I use many of the psionic feats to represent this limited talent.

TeShen wrote:

The highest number is most likely as that is coming out of their highest spell slots.

To play devils advocate, any class feature that makes you worse at your job would be a bad thing, and this feature makes you more and more likely to lose actions, i.e. not be slinging spells, unless you have someway to ignore or become immune to dazing, which then trivializes the downside.

If they are just using the primal surge to gain the increased caster level for long term buffs, they they just cast during a free moment, possibly with extend spell, then take the damage next round if they fail the percentile roll. If the damage is non lethal, it mostly goes away in an hour (1 point per hour per character level). If it's lethal, probably have somebody ready with a minor cure spell or a wand... or better yet, some sort of spell that grants temporary hit points...

Instead of hit points, the wilder lost power points, which in this case would actually be spell slots. However, losing power points equal to their manifester/caster level would hurt less than a sorcerer losing one of his highest spell slots...

That's a valid point and one I've been thinking about since you posted this morning. I've tried a couple different systems of progression for increase and reduction of the % chance of failure in a spread sheet and thusfar all of them have come out either too complex (slows down play too much) or just bad altogether. I just looked over the SRD of the Psionics Unleashed and think maybe a flat % chance would be better and far less complex. I'm torn between it being a 20%, 25%, or 30% flat chance to take a backlash with the hit point loss (though I'm still unsure about lethal vs nonlethal or some other penalty), due to the reasons you've mentioned. Thoughts?

TeShen wrote:
I am not saying I don't like the idea. I really like the feature conversion. I am just mentioning a few things that come to mind with this. The concept of a sorcerer using his emotions to power up his spells, like a spell rage, is beautiful.

Thanks! That's exactly what I had in mind.


Da'ath wrote:
. . . To be perfectly honest, while I love psionics, I hate the psionics system. This is no fault of the original writers in 3.5 or Dreamscarred's writers, but it is basically a more refined and reskinned version of the Unearthed Arcana's spell point system (but with some failry innovative ideas). I've tried skill-based psionics and several other systems, but haven't been satisfied with any of them. . .

Well... elements of the system existed before, but the 3.5 version fixed a lot. I remember 2nd edition was both horribly overpowered and underpowered at once... and 3.0 maintained part of that. :D

But a lot of the time I just run them as mind mages... and psions really are what sorcerers should have been to me in 3.5 for the versatility of augments within manifesting a single power. (Heresy, I know... ).

Da'ath wrote:
. . . I've tried a couple different systems of progression for increase and reduction of the % chance of failure in a spread sheet and thusfar all of them have come out either too complex (slows down play too much) or just bad altogether. I just looked over the SRD of the Psionics Unleashed and think maybe a flat % chance would be better and far less complex. I'm torn between it being a 20%, 25%, or 30% flat chance to take a backlash with the hit point loss (though I'm still unsure about lethal vs nonlethal or some other penalty), due to the reasons you've mentioned. Thoughts?

I would probably say a flat 25%. 1 out of 4 will come up a lot, but not so much that a character won't risk it.

And possibly... lock the spell on a failed surge until they regain spell slots instead of losing hit points? It's like they temporarily burn out the spell known. Do you think that's too harsh?


TeShen wrote:

Well... elements of the system existed before, but the 3.5 version fixed a lot. I remember 2nd edition was both horribly overpowered and underpowered at once... and 3.0 maintained part of that. :D

But a lot of the time I just run them as mind mages... and psions really are what sorcerers should have been to me in 3.5 for the versatility of augments within manifesting a single power. (Heresy, I know... ).

Blasphemer! But, seriously, I agree. The power point system better reflects the system for sorcerers, in my opinion. Dark Sun got me hooked on psionics ages ago and I've been on and off working on an archetype and feat -based psionic system. Maybe one day I'll actually finish it.

TeShen wrote:
I would probably say a flat 25%. 1 out of 4 will come up a lot, but not so much that a character won't risk it.

Yeah, I'd risk 25%, quite a bit actually.

TeShen wrote:
And possibly... lock the spell on a failed surge until they regain spell slots instead of losing hit points? It's like they temporarily burn out the spell known. Do you think that's too harsh?

That's a brilliant idea and more meaningful than the hit point damage which is so easily bypassed.

Edit: While I still think it's a brilliant idea, I am now thinking it may be too harsh with a flat 25% - risk vs reward is too high for a sorcerer with so few spells known. I reduced the chance of backlash to 15%, like psychic enervation.


Da'ath wrote:
. . . I am now thinking it may be too harsh with a flat 25% - risk vs reward is too high for a sorcerer with so few spells known. I reduced the chance of backlash to 15%, like psychic enervation.

I think that's just about perfect. Congrats on your archetype. :)


Thanks and thanks for the help!


For backlash, I would suggest adding the fatigued condition in there somewhere. If you backlash while fatigued, you become exhausted. If you backlash while exhausted, you fall unconscious.

Increase in caster level is a huge benefit. The 15% backlash chance seems alright, but the repercussions just don't seem severe enough for the huge benefit you get. Mathematically, a sorcerer will be able to cast about 7 spells before backlash should occur (0.15 per spell x 7 spells = 1.05).

Spell lock seems fair, but a sorcerer can have several spells known, and has tons of spells per day. If you wanted to get crazy, I'd say you lock the daily slots of the backlashed spell's level (backlash on lvl 5 spell, all level 5 spells are locked until end of encounter).

In summary, I dig your archetype, I just don't think the risk is worth the reward. This is basically what is wrong with the Psionics system from 3.5 or Dreamscarred, there is really no risk for increasing your caster level, but the reward is huge.


Sellsword2587 wrote:

For backlash, I would suggest adding the fatigued condition in there somewhere. If you backlash while fatigued, you become exhausted. If you backlash while exhausted, you fall unconscious.

Increase in caster level is a huge benefit. The 15% backlash chance seems alright, but the repercussions just don't seem severe enough for the huge benefit you get. Mathematically, a sorcerer will be able to cast about 7 spells before backlash should occur (0.15 per spell x 7 spells = 1.05).

Spell lock seems fair, but a sorcerer can have several spells known, and has tons of spells per day. If you wanted to get crazy, I'd say you lock the daily slots of the backlashed spell's level (backlash on lvl 5 spell, all level 5 spells are locked until end of encounter).

In summary, I dig your archetype, I just don't think the risk is worth the reward. This is basically what is wrong with the Psionics system from 3.5 or Dreamscarred, there is really no risk for increasing your caster level, but the reward is huge.

I'd actually considered the fatigued/exhausted bit really early on when I was first forming the idea of using it for a sorcerer. Ultimately, it didn't seem like it penalized a caster very much and after hitting exhausted, you could just stop surging (it weighs heavily on melee, however), so the idea was set to the side (but not off the table, so to speak). However, you got me thinking.

I'm all about refinement, so... How about each time they make use of the ability after the first time in a 24 hour period, there is a cumulative +5% increase to the backlash chance? Example: 1st Surge - 15% chance of backlash, 2nd surge 20%, and so on?


Sellsword2587 wrote:
. . . I just don't think the risk is worth the reward. This is basically what is wrong with the Psionics system from 3.5 or Dreamscarred, there is really no risk for increasing your caster level, but the reward is huge.

Really? Because, 15% is a 1, 2, or 3 on a d20... or possibly the crit range on a kukri, scimitar, or falchion. Do you take that lesser damage in the hopes of crits? I know a lot of players that do, and they usually make sure to improve the odds, which you can't do with this.

It is the same odds for the wilder's surge. And if a wilder fails, they lose an action, which is huge in combat, and the equivalent of a second casting of one of their highest level 'spells'. Ask any caster players if they want to reduce their highest level spells by one. The answer would be 'not just no...' because those are important to them. Granted, to a wilder it matters less because it's as if you took a sorcerer (with even fewer spells known :\ ) who can sacrifice several lower level spells to cast a single higher level one... but really, as the video game generation, who doesn't get the mana system?

Da'ath wrote:
. . . I'm all about refinement, so... How about each time they make use of the ability after the first time in a 24 hour period, there is a cumulative +5% increase to the backlash chance? Example: 1st Surge - 15% chance of backlash, 2nd surge 20%, and so on?

Thinking on that, that's fair.

After Sellsword2587's comment, I have to ask if you meant to say that you give up your 1st level bloodline power and the bloodline spells gained at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th?

A sorcerer has 34 spells known (no, I don't count cantrips), and 43 if you count bloodline spells. A wilder only has 11 powers known without further investment. Losing 5 of those 43 for this archetype is a lot less of an impact than I originally noticed. I think I agree with Sellsword2587, but not for the same reasons. I think the surge is relatively internally balanced... but you might just need to give up a little more for it to be a fair trade.


TeShen wrote:

Thinking on that, that's fair.

After Sellsword2587's comment, I have to ask if you meant to say that you give up your 1st level bloodline power and the bloodline spells gained at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th?

A sorcerer has 34 spells known (no, I don't count cantrips), and 43 if you count bloodline spells. A wilder only has 11 powers known without further investment. Losing 5 of those 43 for this archetype is a lot less of an impact than I originally noticed. I think I agree with Sellsword2587, but not for the same reasons. I think the surge is relatively internally balanced... but you might just need to give up a little more for it to be a fair trade.

I hadn't even noticed that, and I'd looked over the class so damn many times. I've got them currently giving up all of their bloodline spells (not bloodline powers at the moment). What to do, what to do...

Reducing the number of available spells is an option, i.e. those cast per day. I'm considering this:

Diminished Spellcasting wrote:
A primal sorcerer may cast one fewer spell of each level than normal. If this reduces the number to 0, he may cast spells of that level only if his Charisma allows bonus spells of that level.

Thoughts?


In addition to the diminished spellcasting, it also dawned on me that it might be wise to diminish the caster level increase. At current, it's a +6, though I think maybe a progression of +1 at 1st, +2 at 6th, +3 at 12th, and +4 at 18th might be better.

Still brainstorming, mind you.


Da'ath wrote:
Diminished Spellcasting wrote:
A primal sorcerer may cast one fewer spell of each level than normal. If this reduces the number to 0, he may cast spells of that level only if his Charisma allows bonus spells of that level.

. . .

In addition to the diminished spellcasting, it also dawned on me that it might be wise to diminish the caster level increase. At current, it's a +6, though I think maybe a progression of +1 at 1st, +2 at 6th, +3 at 12th, and +4 at 18th might be better.

I might sound like I am vacillating here, but I don't think a reduced caster level increase and loss of a spell slot every level is powerful enough to be called a fair trade.

You don't get an increase to spell DCs. Also, arcane spells normally have caps, so with those, or even with the intensify spell feat, you run into those caps pretty quickly. So you are mostly just getting increased range and duration.

Take the current archetype (+1 at 1st, +2 at 3rd, +3 at 7th, etc.) and a hypothetical fireball cast by a 6th level sorcerer. It is 6d6 normally, and 8d6 if he surges (an increase of an average of 7 points of damage). The same fireball cast by a 7th level sorcerer is 7d6 or 10d6 if he surges (an increase of an average of 10 points of damage), but it never gets any better without some sort of investment. The additional 40' per caster level in range is nifty, but how many encounters start at over 400' anyway?

What about summon monster at 7th level? An extra 3 rounds and 5' in range at this level. Mage armor? An additional 3 hours. Additional caster level is really nice, but in this instance, it means less without the higher level spell slots to increase DCs or add metamagic.


I had a response all typed out, but when I went to post it, the site went down for maintenance. Awesome.

I was going to post something along the lines of what TeShen said; a sorcerer will know about 34 spells (not including cantrips) by the end of the game. However, while losing a high level spell to backlash sucks, it's not that significant if you have 33 other spells to choose from, especially if you can cast lower level spells at a +6 caster level.

I like your idea about lowering the surge bonus. Caster level affects a character's ability to cast defensively and overcome spell resistance, as those are caster level checks, not spell level checks. So surging does more than just ups your spell damage or duration. Lots of powerful bonuses for little risk.

Da'ath, have you thought about making the backlash chance dependent on the surge bonus? Instead of having the surge bonus static, the player could choose his surge bonus (up to the max allowed by level) at a higher risk of backlash.

Base backlash chance would be 15% + 10% for each surge bonus above +1. That would mean a 65% to backlash with a +6 surge bonus. If a player wants to play it safe, he can choose to lower the surge bonus in order to lower the backlash chance. If that is too high, then +5% per surge bonus above +1 would give the player a 40% backlash chance with a +6 surge bonus.

Also, I realize that fatigue and exhaust don't do much for a sorcerer (most anyway), but I still feel there should be some kind of incrementally detrimental effect for something so powerful. Being dazed for 1 round can suck, but it isn't always fatal as sorcerer's are usually away from danger as they are casting their spells. How about dazed the first time you backlash during an encounter, stunned the second time, and unconscious the third time?

The way your ability currently reads, a surged spell is still cast, even if you backlash, because the backlash occurs after the casting. That is kind of why I am pushing for these more severe consequences. If you have four 9th level spells, you could cast all four of them a day at a +6 surge bonus, even if you backlash each time. You could literally cast all of your spells per day at a +6 surge bonus, even if you backlash every single time. If you were to backlash before casting the spell, then maybe things would be much more balanced.

Lastly, I wouldn't replace bloodline powers, as that is essentially what gives a sorcerer his identity. The loss of bloodline spells is just fine, as I always thought bloodline spells were kind of pointless anyhow. They are usually spells you would have taken anyway, and you don't get them until a level after you get a spell slot of that spell level.

For example, A Fire Elemental Bloodline sorcerer gets burning hands as a bloodline spell at 3rd level. If you are a Fire-themed sorcerer, why wouldn't you have burning hands before 3rd level? I always thought that a sorcerer should get his bloodline spells one level earlier than other sorcerer's (making his spell progression similar to the wizards). For example, his 2nd level bloodline spell at sorcerer level 3 (with 1 2nd level spell slot per day), his 3rd level bloodline spell at sorcerer level 5, etc. Just as the wizard gains 2nd level spell slots at 3rd level, 3rd level spell slots at 5th, etc. Anyhow, this is a topic for a different discussion.


TeShen wrote:
I might sound like I am vacillating here, but I don't think a reduced caster level increase and loss of a spell slot every level is powerful enough to be called a fair trade.

You don't sound like you're vacillating, I agree with you (or we're both vacillating, lol). I'm really glad Sellsword2587 commented, otherwise we might not have noticed the issue.

I gave it some thought, and this is what I came up with so far, but keep in mind it's kinda off-the-cuff in terms of the table.

Keep diminished spellcasting, backlash, base 15% chance + 5% chance for surge, they don't lose their bloodline spells (with this version). Each time they surge, roll on the table. At <not sure yet> level, they can roll twice and keep the result of their choice.

d8 .... Effect
1 ..... Maximize Spell
2 ..... Empower Spell
3 ..... Enlarge Spell
4 ..... Heighten Spell
5 ..... Extend Spell
6 ..... Lingering Spell
7 ..... Widen Spell
8 ..... Quicken Spell

Alternatively, everytime they cast a spell in a "stressful situation", i.e. combat, they make the surge check (again, just more brainstorming).

Edit: Okay, for some reason it wasn't showing me your post (Sellsword) when I refreshed (and I had to do weird things to see TeShen's even though it showed me he had posted. I'll respond as soon as I get home, as I'm on the way out the door to take my daughter to the library.


Sellsword2587 wrote:
I had a response all typed out, but when I went to post it, the site went down for maintenance. Awesome.

I hate that. These boards take forever with regards to maintenance, too, much longer than just about any other board I've been an active member of.

Sellsword2587 wrote:
I was going to post something along the lines of what TeShen said; a sorcerer will know about 34 spells (not including cantrips) by the end of the game. However, while losing a high level spell to backlash sucks, it's not that significant if you have 33 other spells to choose from, especially if you can cast lower level spells at a +6 caster level.

Agreed.

Sellsword2587 wrote:

I like your idea about lowering the surge bonus. Caster level affects a character's ability to cast defensively and overcome spell resistance, as those are caster level checks, not spell level checks. So surging does more than just ups your spell damage or duration. Lots of powerful bonuses for little risk.

Da'ath, have you thought about making the backlash chance dependent on the surge bonus? Instead of having the surge bonus static, the player could choose his surge bonus (up to the max allowed by level) at a higher risk of backlash.

My orignal version progressed like so: 5% x surge rating (5% - 30%) + 5% per 2/levels of the spell being cast (5% - 25%, round up) for a total range of 10% (1st level spell +1 surge) - 55% (9th level spell +6 surge). I'm seriously considering going back to this method of determining the chance of backlash. We'd switched it to the current, but I hadn't taken into account the reduced powers of the wilder.

I'm hesitant to allow the player to "select" the surge bonus however, admittedly due primarily to thematic reasons & math reasons. The idea is that a surge is an uncontrolled release, either an all or nothing (thematic); allowing them to "gamble" with the level of surge (and thus determine their % chance of backlash) would extremely problematic for my players, as they are all exceptionally good at gauging the value of the gamble (math) and it wouldn't be long before they were constructing a spreadsheet on risk vs reward for each surge & spell level combination.

Sellsword2587 wrote:

Also, I realize that fatigue and exhaust don't do much for a sorcerer (most anyway), but I still feel there should be some kind of incrementally detrimental effect for something so powerful. Being dazed for 1 round can suck, but it isn't always fatal as sorcerer's are usually away from danger as they are casting their spells. How about dazed the first time you backlash during an encounter, stunned the second time, and unconscious the third time?

The way your ability currently reads, a surged spell is still cast, even if you backlash, because the backlash occurs after the casting. That is kind of why I am pushing for these more severe consequences. If you have four 9th level spells, you could cast all four of them a day at a +6 surge bonus, even if you backlash each time. You could literally cast all of your spells per day at a +6 surge bonus, even if you backlash every single time. If you were to backlash before casting the spell, then maybe things would be much more balanced.

As much as I dislike the idea of fatigued/exhausted/unconscious (for casters, anyway) it does fit. Taking your idea into account, removing the dazed condition, and replacing it with the fatigued/exhausted/unconscious bit - how about these occur over the course of an individual combat (a single encounter) and resets (after a set period of time) after instead of for the whole day?

Sellsword2587 wrote:

Lastly, I wouldn't replace bloodline powers, as that is essentially what gives a sorcerer his identity. The loss of bloodline spells is just fine, as I always thought bloodline spells were kind of pointless anyhow. They are usually spells you would have taken anyway, and you don't get them until a level after you get a spell slot of that spell level.

For example, A Fire Elemental Bloodline sorcerer gets burning hands as a bloodline spell at 3rd level. If you are a Fire-themed sorcerer, why wouldn't you have burning hands before 3rd level? I always thought that a sorcerer should get his bloodline spells one level earlier than other sorcerer's (making his spell progression similar to the wizards). For example, his 2nd level bloodline spell at sorcerer level 3 (with 1 2nd level spell slot per day), his 3rd level bloodline spell at sorcerer level 5, etc. Just as the wizard gains 2nd level spell slots at 3rd level, 3rd level spell slots at 5th, etc. Anyhow, this is a topic for a different discussion.

I agreee, I really love the bloodline powers.


Tying the backlash chance into the spell level seems reasonable. I agree with your thematic decision of "all or nothing," especially if you add the variable of spell level. So how about 10% base + 5% per spell level above 1st (50% for 9th level spells)?

You should definitely require the backlash check before the spell is cast. Keep the dazed for 1 round if backlash, that's fine. The condition track works too, you could just make the condition last for a number of rounds equal to the spell level, like a barbarian coming down from rage.

The metamagic effect is an interesting idea, except what if you get a surge effect that doesn't apply to your spell? The increase in caster level is fine, especially if you keep it at the lower values.


I've got my daughter at the moment, but I'll try to get a working example up shortly or barring that, during her nap. I really like the idea of tying the fatigued/exhausted/unconscious durations to the spell level, too.

Edit: Okay, her highness granted me time to put in the proposed changes.


I think it looks fine until it can be tested. I'm interested to see how it works out. Excellent work.


Sellsword2587 wrote:
. . . I like your idea about lowering the surge bonus. Caster level affects a character's ability to cast defensively and overcome spell resistance, as those are caster level checks, not spell level checks. So surging does more than just ups your spell damage or duration. Lots of powerful bonuses for little risk. . . .

I feel like pointing out something... Surging doesn't really add much damage. It just gets you to your cap sooner. Damaging arcane spells almost all have caps.

Yes, a 6th level surging sorcerer could drop a 8d6 fireball, which is an average 7 points more damage... but a 9th level can only drop a 10d6, the same as a 10th level sorcerer. And since this archetype has removed the ability to combine the surge with metamagic, you can't use things like intensify spell, which specifically help you make lower level damage spells have an impact.

As to Spell Resistance, it depends on how you play your character. There are plenty of spells that ignore spell resistance. In fact, buffing and crowd control tend to work better to begin with than blasting.

I don't think pure caster level is as powerful as you seem to think it is, Sellsword2587, without the higher level slots to increase DCs and metamagic. That could, however, just be me. :)


Spell durations don't have a cap, and having 6 extra rounds/minutes/hours of a debuff/buff is rather significant. Also, getting +6 to caster level is like getting +6 to hit with spells, because SR is essentially an AC. There are also very few ways to increase your SR penetration, only 3 coming to mind right away. Caster level also determines your ability to cast defensively, or to avoid spell fizzles. Lastly, caster level is huge in dispel checks.

It was never about the spell damage, that has natural caps, as you said, it was everything else that came along with caster level bonuses, that are usually difficult to increase (for a reason).

And as you said, with damage spells, you would quickly reach the cap with the surge bonus, so then why does it need to be high? All of the extra caster levels are wasted.

Also keep in mind, a primal sorcerer gains the euphoria bonus in addition to the surge bonus. Regardless of how powerful the euphoria bonus is, it's still extra stuff on top of everything else.


Sellsword2587 wrote:
Spell durations don't have a cap, and having 6 extra rounds/minutes/hours of a debuff/buff is rather significant.

No, it's not. For a +1 level adjustment, you can double durations anyway. Extra rounds is cool, but once you hit one minute (10 rounds), it's kind of redundant unless the point is have a spell going ALL the time, which probably means you might be casting the buff multiple times anyway.

Sellsword2587 wrote:
Also, getting +6 to caster level is like getting +6 to hit with spells, because SR is essentially an AC. There are also very few ways to increase your SR penetration, only 3 coming to mind right away.

I can think of the most important one right away. Cast spells with 'spell resistance: no' if you think SR is an issue.

With just a quick glance at the pfsrd, I look at two 2nd level spells. Stone call with does 2d6 damage in a 40' radius, no save, no SR, and creates difficult terrain in a small area, or fire breath, which does 4d6 in a 15' cone, then 2d6, then 1d6 with SR and reflex save for half. More creatures have fire resistance than DRx/bludgeoning... Honestly, both spells are kind of meh... but stone call seems more versatile to me, and just plain has less limitations.

The situations and builds where spell resistance is an issue also tend to be the ones with other problems than spell resistance, like blasting.

Sellsword2587 wrote:
Caster level also determines your ability to cast defensively, or to avoid spell fizzles. Lastly, caster level is huge in dispel checks.

So does a 5' step before hand, or other strategic movement.

As for dispel magic... well, you actually have a point there. I had not noticed til now that they removed the caster cap of +10 on dispel and +20 on greater dispel.

Sellsword2587 wrote:

It was never about the spell damage, that has natural caps, as you said, it was everything else that came along with caster level bonuses, that are usually difficult to increase (for a reason).

And as you said, with damage spells, you would quickly reach the cap with the surge bonus, so then why does it need to be high? All of the extra caster levels are wasted.

That's really the reason that PrCs and class features from 3.0 to 3.5 changed the bonus to DCs to bonus caster levels. Yes, for a caster, caster level is very important, but Again, it doesn't mean nearly as much without higher level slots for either higher level spells or metamagic (or both).

Sellsword2587 wrote:
Also keep in mind, a primal sorcerer gains the euphoria bonus in addition to the surge bonus. Regardless of how powerful the euphoria bonus is, it's still extra stuff on top of everything else.

Other than the save bonus, this really just screams flavor to me. Do you see why? Casters really shouldn't be in a situation where the bonus to hit or damage matters. Ranged spells are usually range touch, making it relatively easy to hit. A bonus of up to +3 on 10d6 damage is... well, just under 11d6. The saves are nice though, I do admit that.

I do think that temporary extra caster boosts are very cool, but I do not think that they are anywhere near as powerful as you seem to think they are... because they are only half of the equation, and in some cases less than half of the equation.


I'll admit, part of the reason for setting the Surge Bonus to +1 to +4 (as much as I hate to admit it, I'm waffling on +1-+4 to +1-+5) is to err on the side of caution. In a worst case scenario, it may be a little underpowered, which means I could shift it to a +5 or +6 eventually, with no complaints from my players. However, if you reduce the caster level benefit from +6 to +5 or even +4 mid-game (for example), regardless of whether your player understands it or not, they really won't be happy with the character anymore.

Interestingly enough, due to the phrasing of Surging Euphoria, it implies that the attack and damage adds to any attack and damage rolls (it's not specified as melee, ranged, what have you), which is the original phrasing. I'm wondering if that was poor phrasing or intentional, as the norm, in Pathfinder at least, is to say: on melee attacks and melee damage rolls, for example.


Da'ath wrote:
I'll admit, part of the reason for setting the Surge Bonus to +1 to +4 (as much as I hate to admit it, I'm waffling on +1-+4 to +1-+5) is to err on the side of caution. In a worst case scenario, it may be a little underpowered, which means I could shift it to a +5 or +6 eventually, with no complaints from my players. However, if you reduce the caster level benefit from +6 to +5 or even +4 mid-game (for example), regardless of whether your player understands it or not, they really won't be happy with the character anymore.

Ah. That I understand. Sorcerers aren't exactly hurting for options to begin with, being full casters. I just disagreed with Sellsword's stance that caster level alone was powerful. It's not. It's definitely nice, but it also depends on other factors.


I may actually set it at +5 and be done with it. I think a +1/-1 adjustment mid-game won't get anyone too bent out of shape (if it's even necessary) and it really falls in the middle ground of the +4/+6 caster level split.


At the risk of driving you a little batty, [ :) ] what would you think of a variant of your archetype that uses the bonus as free metamagic adjustment rather than caster level? Similar to your random metamagic idea earlier...


TeShen wrote:
At the risk of driving you a little batty, [ :) ] what would you think of a variant of your archetype that uses the bonus as free metamagic adjustment rather than caster level? Similar to your random metamagic idea earlier...

Haha, I was seriously considering that, too after the table. If I have time tomorrow, I'll draw up a sample.=)


I would almost suggest that it has some sort of obvious visual or audible manifestation when surging in this fashion, like glowing like a light spell, or the old spell thematics feat...

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