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Battlefield control spells start to fade


Advice


At what level would you say you start to see a big drop in the utility of battlefield control spells such as black tentacles, thorny entanglement, web cloud, etc. Trying to see if Conjuration spells are what I'd like to specialize in, or Necromancy.


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I'm still using at level 14. Now I should say this is on spontaneous casters with access to heighten and persistent. I will give example I use. You may not have access to the same spells but it may give you idea about how to play a controller.

Where they fall out of use. Ground I still use persistent create pits to get effect but many thing fly and many thing are too large. So there are limits when I can use it.

Something like aqueous orb, also persistent or heighten, gobbles up low ref medium sized casters and makes the laughably ineffective.

I have dropped black tentacles because the cmb is to low for any non-caster after a few levels and when you start getting Hugh creatures with caster levels it fails on them too. I swear this spell is designed to be used on players more then enemies.

Cloud kill and stinking cloud are still good but you have to be smart about using them. We cast cloudkill in to a hall way used a wall of fire to funnel orges into the hallway and had a grapple druid move the holds one by one in to cloud. Other fog spells come up to equalize miss chance.

When I see natural attackers or characters with lots of attacks I still throw out slow (not chonjuration) but it's still crazy valuable, does not hit allies or can dispel haste.

When I play caster I like a broad set of spells even on specialist, for contingency purposes. Single target save or suck each save, multi target save or suck each save, defensive spells, utility spells, support spells (encase you are really locked out of acting offensively like being caught with bad positioning outside a room with not line of effect). Obviously class abilities like slumber can sub for spells. Also make use you conversation immunity non minded extinguished spells etc.

Sovereign Court

Battlefield control itself never goes out of style. You have to eventually start using higher-level spells though.


Grandlounge your selection of battlefield control is quite superior to mine as I am a Witch. But still I suppose I have enough various control spells to specialize in it. If you were a Witch would you get Spell Focus for Conjuration or Necromancy?


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The superiority of one spell list over another at a lot of levels is overrated with regard to combat. Like I said at your current level you have 1 good spell that targets each save single target or group you hit the your spell list is good enough to gain most of the power of a ninth level caster. ie you will have a profound effect on combat and on the game world.

Using this search or the one at archives of nethys you can more easily get a list of witch conjuration or necromancy spells. So, let's take a look.

You have things like:
Adhesive Spittle
Obscuring Mist
Snowball
Summon Monster I
Euphoric Cloud
Glitterdust
Stone Discus
Web
Ice Spears
Sleet Storm
Stinking Cloud
Black Tentacles
Fleshworm Infestation
Solid Fog
Cloudkill

Let's look at Necro spells:
Cause Fear
Chill Touch
Ray Of Enfeeblement
Blindness/Deafness
Lipstitch
Pox Pustules
Stricken Heart
Vampiric Touch
Bestow Curse
Enervation
Wall Of Blindness/Deafness
Magic Jar
Suffocation
Possession

Obviously I did not write out every spell but what we have is two very different schools. One covers types of saves more effectively and hits more targets. The other is mainly single target with severe consequences. By best advice would be use both if you can.

Use your high int to identify weak save and hit the boss with the appropriate necromancy spell (after being softened with hexes) or control the mooks with the conjuration stuff. And, when push comes to shove I throw in some reliable damage spells for you.

In terms of spell focus your single target spells have a higher likelihood of doing nothing because multi-target spells require more roles so that would be where I would put my spell focus, necromancy.


Battlefield control is always useful. As long as you are taking more actions away from the enemy than you are spending to place it out there, it's a net-win.

Even some of the low-level spells are great battlefield control that never get old.

Stone Call is only 2nd level, but it creates difficult terrain in a 40' radius area and at a medium range (100' + 10'/level)! Use it to stop charges, slow down enemy advances, or even slow down someone's escape (you can't run across difficult terrain).

Tiny Hut offers no physical protection (except from the elements), but it blocks line of sight from the outside without obstructing the view from inside. It's one-way total concealment, which also means you can't be individually targeted by a spell caster. This is a great way to hide your numbers, take actions that can't be seen, etc. all without losing sight of the enemy.

Even the humble Obscuring Mist shuts down enemies with great ranged attacks, esp ones with precision damage, and forces them to close on you to fight. You cast it and move out of the way so that the attackers don't know where you are, then maybe drop another one because you have it in a wand. If they enter the fog, mix it with other spells for fun and profit.

Fog Cloud and Sleet Storm shut down enemy casters and range attacks, and slow movement until they get out or, better yet, expend 3rd-level or better spells to deal with it.


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Conjuration lasts longer for many reasons:

1) Many spells that are no SR.

2) A lot of creative use of spells and bf control can also be used on conjuration damage spells with dazing metamagic/

3) Chains of Light might be the most devastating spell for its level in the game. Reflex save, no size restriction, no sr, paralysis. Maze doesn't even give a save. Pits and clouds continue to get more useful and can provide all sorts of advantages at all levels (rift of ruin is a pretty neat high level pit-like spell).

4) There are great bf control spells that are not conjuration at higher levels that are still amazing like reverse gravity and mass icy prison.

On the whole necromancy has some decent spells, but conjuration or evocation (with dazing metamagic) gives bf control with lasting power and is usually more useful than the debuff/sod of necromancy, but you can make it work.


I should state I am a Witch, so many of these Conjuration spells are not at my disposal.


You probably don't need to be so obsessed with ultimate power. Playing a witch, you are going to be a formidable foe by default.

Instead, I'd focus on the school which you feel would be most fun to play with. For me, that's necromancy. A lot of nasty, nasty effects in that school. Decide on the play style you wish to pursue and follow that. With all the advice you've harvested to date and the class you have chosen, I think you can feel secure in your abilities.


Tsukiyo wrote:

You probably don't need to be so obsessed with ultimate power. Playing a witch, you are going to be a formidable foe by default.

Instead, I'd focus on the school which you feel would be most fun to play with. For me, that's necromancy. A lot of nasty, nasty effects in that school. Decide on the play style you wish to pursue and follow that. With all the advice you've harvested to date and the class you have chosen, I think you can feel secure in your abilities.

Indeed Tsukiyo, good point.


Just to put what Tsukiyo said mechanically, when you can apply - 4 then a reroll -8.5 average the additional 1 won't matter to much.

So take what you thinking in fun and then fill in some weaknesses and you will be fine.


Ya I like the spell selection of Necromancy, the flavor I mean. I feel as if Conjuration is better, but Necromancy I may have more fun with.


That's the way I would suggest playing most ninth level caster. Play what is fun and pack a few contingency then you always help with out overtaking the game.

Sovereign Court

If you're playing a powerful class (like the witch) you have the luxury that you can afford taking the not-best-but-still-good choice that you like better.

Just make sure to make plans for undead and constructs - Necromancy attacks tend to be focused on living foes and much of the witch list is mind-affecting.

So you'll need an actual plan instead of just coasting along and hoping for the best. The plan could be "then I'll just buff my allies instead".


Ascalaphus wrote:

If you're playing a powerful class (like the witch) you have the luxury that you can afford taking the not-best-but-still-good choice that you like better.

Just make sure to make plans for undead and constructs - Necromancy attacks tend to be focused on living foes and much of the witch list is mind-affecting.

So you'll need an actual plan instead of just coasting along and hoping for the best. The plan could be "then I'll just buff my allies instead".

Don't forget summoning as a backup - you have all the summon monster spells...


Good idea Pad300. I have read summon monster starts to get good at Summon Monster III?


Yep. It is also when they stick around long enough to make them worth casting. They can also be used for their spell like abilities out of combat.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Possession alone is one of the best spells in the game. That or Magic Jar are great choices. Why use your body when you can "wear" someone else's and use their hitpoints?


Grandlounge wrote:

Just to put what Tsukiyo said mechanically, when you can apply - 4 then a reroll -8.5 average the additional 1 won't matter to much.

So take what you thinking in fun and then fill in some weaknesses and you will be fine.

Your right Grandlounge, come to think of it that +1 is a pretty weak feat choice isn't it? Shouldn't I take something much better? Like maybe improved familiar, combat casting, improved initiative, scribe scroll, craft wondrous item or extra hex, aren't those all better choices than a simple +1 DC to necromancy spells?


About level 13 control spells start to decay. The reasons for this are several:
- spell resistance
- high saves, negating your efforts
- monsters start to be larger than medium size, making many spells ineffective by that; partially your AEs become single target, and their reach negates some effects
- the presence of enemy casters who can negate your efforts; dispelling, counterspelling and immunity by buff weaken control effects
- NPCs with classes get their abilities rounded out now and some of them ruin control effects (bard songs for example)


Also, a lot of battlefield control is mobility control - restricting or preventing enemies from moving freely,splitting up the enemy so the rest of your party can deal with them piecemeal, that sort of thing. This is harder to do effectively against foes who can fly, teleport, or have other forms of weird movement abilities.


tonyz wrote:
Also, a lot of battlefield control is mobility control - restricting or preventing enemies from moving freely,splitting up the enemy so the rest of your party can deal with them piecemeal, that sort of thing. This is harder to do effectively against foes who can fly, teleport, or have other forms of weird movement abilities.

Very helpful advice thank you sir!


You're welcome!

There are high-level battlefield control spells as well (e.g., reverse gravity, antilife shell, various dimensional access and other anti-teleport spells, high-level cloud spells) but you need to be aware that a lot of the low- and mid-level standbys will no longer be as effective.

On the bright side, you will have A LOT of low-level spell slots available for use, and there are some low-level spells (like anticipate peril) that seldom get used at low levels. Start thinking of creative uses for those low-level slots, and have some backups of regular buff spells so you can recast them when they're dispelled.

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