Spellcasters willfully gimped? Why?


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Quote:


And which fun toys is that? What things are needed that can only exist in a 7-9 spell slot but also won't break the game?

I'm thinking a "fun toy" could be the ability to cast spells or do magic-like activities effectively in combat for more than one minute per day.

On a related note, a bit more spell scaling would really add to combat-viable casting options. The number of available spell slots isn't actually that bad, if the spells didn't fall off so much.

Perhaps more integration of technology into Mystic abilities, if Mystic is intended to be a hybrid caster rather than a pure caster.

No real need to add more arbitrary levels of spells.


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Th problem is this:
The more staying power spell casters have, the more the power of spells needs to be reduced. Why?

As I mentioned before the Technomancer can cast a spell that deals 13d12 to 1 primary target and up to 10 secondary targets. That's a lot of damage. More than any Solider or Solarion can deal in a single turn. If Technomancer can do that sort of thing at will (or nearly at will) then magic dominates the game. And that's just with regard to damage, not all the other thing that magic can do.

So if magic is really "magical" and better than mundane means of doing things, it also has to be more limited. It's a give and take. And IMO, right now the balance is quite good.

Silver Crusade

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Sigh. I've already stated it's not about spell levels, it's about letting a character feel effective who only uses spells, not weapons. Right now, the balance is not OK, it's tilted much too far towards martials. (just to provide perspective here, I believe the martial-caster disparity hypothesis in Pathfinder is a myth. The two alternatives, when build and played with reasonable skill, are balanced just fine)

The easiest fix, and the one that would prevent everyone from complaining about balance, would probably be to introduce more options for damaging cantrips. That way a caster can at least feel like they are contributing when they can't spend a precious spell slot. But there should be options here, so that the flavor can be customized.

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Redelia wrote:

Sigh. I've already stated it's not about spell levels, it's about letting a character feel effective who only uses spells, not weapons. Right now, the balance is not OK, it's tilted much too far towards martials. (just to provide perspective here, I believe the martial-caster disparity hypothesis in Pathfinder is a myth. The two alternatives, when build and played with reasonable skill, are balanced just fine)

The easiest fix, and the one that would prevent everyone from complaining about balance, would probably be to introduce more options for damaging cantrips. That way a caster can at least feel like they are contributing when they can't spend a precious spell slot. But there should be options here, so that the flavor can be customized.

There's a group of forum posters that subscribe to the opinion that the 6 spell level class design is nearly perfect, and that those classes are the best ones that Paizo has ever made. I think a lot of them have latched on to Starfinder because right now it matches their design preferences.

I expect that as the game progresses we will see both 4 and 9 level casters emerge. I've seen no designer indication that what we have right now is any more special than "what they could fit in the CRB to enable as many concepts as possible."

I freely admit my basis for this expectation is weak. But I also point out that expecting the opposite - that we will only ever have 6-casters - is equally poorly supported. The actual intellectually honest conclusion is to admit we don't know what's going to happen as new classes are introduced.

Certainty is really the only "wrong" opinion here.


ryric wrote:
There's a group of forum posters that subscribe to the opinion that the 6 spell level class design is nearly perfect

There's a difference between class design and actual gameplay. Give Mystics the same number of spells that a sorcerer has in PF, without changing anything else, and you'll have something a lot more interesting without breaking any other system.

Look, if the soldier and operative are the fighter and rogue basically unchanged, why would simply importing he number of spells per day of the sorcerer break anything in SF? The sorcerer, especially if we only look at the spell levels 1-6 (maybe 7 to make the levels comparison right), is not overpowered in PF.

My suggestion, that I will try with my GM, is to scale down the Mystic's BAB to a 1/2, and add the spell per day from the sorcerer. Hopefully he'll agree, if only as a test!


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The only issue I have with the 1/2 BAB suggestion is that EAC scales so much more than Touch ever did (heck, Touch frequently scaled backwards with bigger baddies) so if you ever want to use an attacking spell (not familiar enough with Mystic's spell list to know if that's a thing but if it's not now it might be in time) you're pretty much screwed at 1/2 BAB.

Silver Crusade

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I think, considering how important BAB is even for attack spells, you would do better to remove weapon proficiencies from a pure caster. Or else give them a weird hybrid BAB that only applied to spells.


Claxon wrote:

Th problem is this:

The more staying power spell casters have, the more the power of spells needs to be reduced. Why?

As I mentioned before the Technomancer can cast a spell that deals 13d12 to 1 primary target and up to 10 secondary targets. That's a lot of damage. More than any Solider or Solarion can deal in a single turn. If Technomancer can do that sort of thing at will (or nearly at will) then magic dominates the game. And that's just with regard to damage, not all the other thing that magic can do.

So if magic is really "magical" and better than mundane means of doing things, it also has to be more limited. It's a give and take. And IMO, right now the balance is quite good.

I hadn't thought of this. That with how powerful the spells are, being able to cast them more could be pretty game breaking. It definitely seems to me that the spells are meant for those big-event type things.

Casters may not have the AC to go against a BBEG with guns, but it is certainly enough go deal with most minions. Maybe drop one or two AoE spells on them to deal with a bunch that are grouped up (aka, Lightning Bolt or something similar down a long but narrow hallway filled with grunts), then save the big, damaging spells to blast the BBEG to bits.


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Starfinder Superscriber
Claxon wrote:
As I mentioned before the Technomancer can cast a spell that deals 13d12 to 1 primary target and up to 10 secondary targets. That's a lot of damage. More than any Solider or Solarion can deal in a single turn. If Technomancer can do that sort of thing at will (or nearly at will) then magic dominates the game. And that's just with regard to damage, not all the other thing that magic can do.

If you had a spellcaster with Sorcerer progression (so 6 9ths at 20th) and you used the same pattern for bonus spells as the other classes (so 1 bonus 9th at Cha/Int/Whatever 28), the most number of 9th level spells a given character would have would be 7. That's only 1 more than the Mystics and Technomancers get at max level with max primary stat.

As long as you put that spell (or any 'problem' 6th) as a 9th, they aren't going to be able to cast it 'at will'. In fact, since they'd get it two levels later (at 18 rather than 16), it'd actually make that spell less of a problem, because it would be even rarer.

If it were up to me, and I were designing this new class. I'd make a list of all the extant spells that would get ported over to the new class. I'd take the most powerful 6ths (that made sense for the new list), and make them 9ths, the 'normal' 6ths would be 8ths, and the 'weak' 6ths would be 7ths. For 5ths, the most powerful would be 7ths, the 'normal' ones 6ths, and the 'weak' ones 5ths. Same for 4ths and so on down the line. The only spells that probably wouldn't change levels would be the 1sts. Then I'd add new spells to the list that matched the power curve of those spells across those levels. Some of them would be ports from PF, but they'd use the new damage and conditionals and such. Any of the really broken spells either wouldn't get ported at all, or would be severely nerfed, or have RP components, or something to prevent abuse. I wouldn't stop until I had 2 or 3 pages for the 'short list'. Enough that you could play a caster like a spellcaster and not like a guy who shoots lasers and occasionally casts spells.

In the end, ideally, the new 9th level spells would be on par with the most powerful current 6ths, and maybe slightly above that (since you can't get them until 18), with the most powerful spells of every level possibly having RP components to balance them out, so even the lower level ones can't be cast 'all day'. Overall, though, I wouldn't want them to outdo the damage dealers on damage. I'd really want most of the new spells to not be damage anyway and instead be BFC and buffs/debuffs/utility so they can mostly play as something other than DPR. It feels like right now, everyone is expected to either be DPR or covering fire every round.

I don't think any of that is really all that difficult. It's tedious, certainly, and would take a significant number of man hours to do correctly without breaking the system. It would require some testing as well to make sure nothing was missed. If I had a couple hundred hours to do it, I would just do it.


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Redelia wrote:
Sigh. I've already stated it's not about spell levels, it's about letting a character feel effective who only uses spells, not weapons. Right now, the balance is not OK, it's tilted much too far towards martials. (just to provide perspective here, I believe the martial-caster disparity hypothesis in Pathfinder is a myth. The two alternatives, when build and played with reasonable skill, are balanced just fine)

That really depends on how you are measuring things. A caster has many more options for totally messing with the story. When you look at it as narrative impact, there is a large gap between casters and martials at the high level.

If you are just looking at ability to wreck an opponent’s day, then the martial can compete.

Redelia wrote:
The easiest fix, and the one that would prevent everyone from complaining about balance, would probably be to introduce more options for damaging cantrips. That way a caster can at least feel like they are contributing when they can't spend a precious spell slot. But there should be options here, so that the flavor can be customized.

The Technomancer already has four spells in one with Energy Ray.

I expect we will see many more spells as time goes on. Hopefully some of them will be like the old Flaming Sphere, Spiritual Weapon and other such spells where you create something that can continue to act.

I do think they made an interesting decision with the Summoning spells in Alien Archive. Now you have a limited number of different creatures you can summon, but each caster is different in what they call forth.


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Loa wrote:
Look, if the soldier and operative are the fighter and rogue basically unchanged,

They're not.

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Redelia wrote:
I think, considering how important BAB is even for attack spells, you would do better to remove weapon proficiencies from a pure caster. Or else give them a weird hybrid BAB that only applied to spells.

Or, since they won't be buying weapons with money, make an item that bumps their touch attacks that costs the amount they would spend on weapons.


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ryric wrote:
Redelia wrote:
I think, considering how important BAB is even for attack spells, you would do better to remove weapon proficiencies from a pure caster. Or else give them a weird hybrid BAB that only applied to spells.
Or, since they won't be buying weapons with money, make an item that bumps their touch attacks that costs the amount they would spend on weapons.

They would be buying spell crystals with that money. I'm also not sure how such an item would work.


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I still think the best way to make a sustained caster is to make them pay for spells with something other than slots. For example:


  • You can cast any first level spell by becoming fatigued instead of spending a spell slot. You cannot use this ability while fatigued. If you are prevented from becoming fatigued for any reason, you cannot use this ability, as you cannot pay for it.
  • You can cast any first or second level spell by becoming exhausted instead of spending a spell slot. You cannot use this ability while exhausted. If you are prevented from becoming exhausted for any reason, you cannot use this ability, as you cannot pay for it.
  • You can cast any spell by increasing its casting time to a full-round action if it is less, then multiplying its casting time by 100 (e.g. a full-round action becomes 10 minutes). Doing so requires a ritual focus that costs 5^(X+1) credits, where X is the highest level spell that focus can work for, but reduces the casting cost by 1 spell slot of level X or less (depending on the focus used).

Or something along those lines. There are simply fundamentally ways available compatible with the system that would let you balance spells in ways other than finite spell slots. Granted, I'm not sure it could be done with Mystics or Technomancers, but you could certainly build a new caster class around another casting mechanic.


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Well the original post was asking why were caster's nerfed in starfinder. I think the easy answer is probably the right one and that is that the old casters were breaking game balance. No does that mean that a caster focused class couldn't be balanced? No, but the old ones weren't so there needed to be some adjustments made. The easiest way to balance casters was to make them less casters and more hybrids. Plus Those classes fit better the overall theme starfinder was trying to create.

No for those who want a caster focused class (more than a mystic or technomancer) t started a thread in the homebrew that had a lot of good ideas thrown around. I have some things that I would like to see, and some I wouldn't, but that's true for everyone. Anyways, here's a link for anyone interested.

Caster Focused Class


Quote:
As I mentioned before the Technomancer can cast a spell that deals 13d12 to 1 primary target and up to 10 secondary targets. That's a lot of damage. More than any Solider or Solarion can deal in a single turn. If Technomancer can do that sort of thing at will (or nearly at will) then magic dominates the game. And that's just with regard to damage, not all the other thing that magic can do.

If we assume an encounter has 11 clustered monsters with electric items and they don't save, average damage would be 939 per cast.

But then we'd also want to assume soldiers and solarians are doing 300 dpr every round to infinity, and every encounter with fewer than 4 monsters, or spread out a bit, would result in casters doing lower damage even with infinite spell casts.

Cherry picking half truths is amusing, but it doesn't seem like an honest effort to address the problem posed in this thread.


Starfinder Superscriber

If we're going to re-do magic from the ground up, I'd be totally cool with a non-Vancian system. I totally prefer spell points or mana based systems. I also prefer ones where there's a 'cost' to either casting too much or messing up your casting in some way. I'd be cool if they used 3.5 style psionic progression instead of vancian that also somehow depleted stamina or applied conditionals if you went at it too hard or crit fumbled a spell roll (like an attack roll or a caster level check). I think that would be awesome.

I really think that verges into the 'this isn't d20 anymore' and I am pretty positive I'm in the minority on that preference. They certainly couldn't get away with this being 'Pathfinder's Distant Future' if magic worked like that now.


I don't understand why so many people say that PF casters break the game. I've DM'd a PF game for 8 years, with characters now up to 16th level. I've also played a few times with characters higher than that. The pure casters, either the players or my own NPCs, certainly don't break the game. Heck: I've even adapted a warmage to the PF system for a player. Nothing broke!

When I read that casters are breaking the game, I hear that players can't spec their non-casters characters properly or that the DM can't figure out a way to deal with high level casters.

And it's certainly not a reason why SF couldn't have pure casters. Make them all technology based for all I care. But a pure caster class is certainly possible without breaking anything.

Now, if you don't want pure casters in the SF setting, that's all fine. But to say that they don't fit there or that they will break the game is just nonsense.


pithica42 wrote:

If we're going to re-do magic from the ground up, I'd be totally cool with a non-Vancian system. I totally prefer spell points or mana based systems. I also prefer ones where there's a 'cost' to either casting too much or messing up your casting in some way. I'd be cool if they used 3.5 style psionic progression instead of vancian that also somehow depleted stamina or applied conditionals if you went at it too hard or crit fumbled a spell roll (like an attack roll or a caster level check). I think that would be awesome.

I really think that verges into the 'this isn't d20 anymore' and I am pretty positive I'm in the minority on that preference. They certainly couldn't get away with this being 'Pathfinder's Distant Future' if magic worked like that now.

It's still d20 so long as the fundamental dice mechanic is still roll a d20 and add modifiers to beat a given DC. That's what makes d20 d20. The Gap means they can rewrite physics, including magical physics, any way they like, and in my experience, everyone thinks Vancian magic is dumb once it's explained to them. You might have noticed Starfinder gave a hard miss to forcing any caster in the game to prepare specific spells into specific slots when their slots refresh - and that's a very, very good design choice, which will be popular with players.

I get that spell slots are a bit of a holy cow/chestnut, but they're just not intrinsically necessary to balance OR fun.


quindraco wrote:
The Gap means they can rewrite physics, including magical physics, any way they like, and in my experience, everyone thinks Vancian magic is dumb once it's explained to them.

I don't think Vancian magic is dumb. (And I don't need it explained to me.) Just as a counterpoint. :)

But yeah, the Gap could explain a lot of differences in mechanics. For another RPG example, I don't believe Earthdawn and Shadowrun used the same magic system, but they were supposedly the same world - millenia apart.


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quindraco wrote:
I get that spell slots are a bit of a holy cow/chestnut, but they're just not intrinsically necessary to balance OR fun.

I absolutely agree that they aren't intrinsically necessary or fun. I just think that's a huge sacred cow and most people would balk at it for this game. If Starfinder were being published by NewSchmew games and they weren't marketing it as 'Pathfinder in Space', they could absolutely make that work, and sell it.

Loa wrote:
I don't understand why so many people say that PF casters break the game. I've DM'd a PF game for 8 years, with characters now up to 16th level. I've also played a few times with characters higher than that. The pure casters, either the players or my own NPCs, certainly don't break the game. Heck: I've even adapted a warmage to the PF system for a player. Nothing broke!

The people saying they're OP/'break the game' are people that have either played a high-level caster or ran for one, who did exactly that. I've done it, completely by accident, even at relatively low levels. For me, it isn't fun, and there are always levels where it takes effort not to break the game.

Long before Pathfinder, the creators of DnD always had a sort of fetish for powerful wizards. It matched the literary motif of basically all of fantasy (Merlin, Gandalf, et cetera).

High level warriors were meant to be impressive in a fight with a dragon or whatever. They stand toe to toe and swing their mighty sword to kill the beast. They were heroes like Conan or Aragorn.

High level spellcasters could create their own demi-planes and have conversations with deities or elder elementals and wipe out entire armies with a well placed spell. They sit back and completely reshape reality until it matches what they want. Their literary examples were essentially lesser gods with another trick up their sleeve.

When the creators wrote spells (and they wrote a LOT of them), they had a tendency to write them as being better than anything anyone else could do at that level, in part because they were usually a more limited resource, and in part, because they all inherited this fetish for powerful wizards.

In 3.5 and Pathfinder, if a player of a Wizard (or druid or cleric), tries, even just a little, they can completely wreck a campaign, often with a single spell. There are spells that are that broken. The second someone takes Polymorph (in 3.5, I think it's Dragon Shape 2 that's the broken one in PF, but I don't remember), or Simulacrum, or Create Pit, or Greater Teleport, or Ray of Stupidity (in 3.5), for example, the game changes, fundamentally.

Entire dungeons or country sides or even nations full of challenges become trivial or ignored entirely with their strategic application. The spellcaster can, if they try, get around all your traps and all your random encounters and skip right to your BBEG and then help their party one or two round kill them and be back in their tower with pockets full of gp in time for tea.

I'd rather not have that. What I do want, is the ability to do something other than cast a damage spell in one round and shoot a rifle for the next 7 in every combat.


Redelia wrote:
The easiest fix, and the one that would prevent everyone from complaining about balance, would probably be to introduce more options for damaging cantrips. That way a caster can at least feel like they are contributing when they can't spend a precious spell slot. But there should be options here, so that the flavor can be customized.

You'd still want it to be a lot worse than a Soldier is at combat because well...that's your least capabilities, while the soldier's at-will damage is his entire thing. He lacks the massive versatility of a spellcaster with all those non-combat spells.

You'd also want to make them have to spent a lot of money on because you don't want to have one class have a massive amount of free cash just sitting about others don't...and there we go, how about that as a solution? Introduce magic staffs/wands etc that are a type of weapon for spellcasters, while still being rules-wise just the same. No, you don't have a laser rifle. You've got a Staff of Fire. You've not got a cryro pistol, you've got a wand of freezing.

I mean, it worked for Hexen and Ziggurat. We even already have a couple in the Shadow Staffs from the Alien Archive.


I'm honestly surprised they didn't add in staffs/wands in the core book. I'm sure there is a reason for it, maybe just not enough room when they've already got so many weapons. But it is sure to be something they will expand on later.

Shadow Lodge

Azalah wrote:
I'm honestly surprised they didn't add in staffs/wands in the core book. I'm sure there is a reason for it, maybe just not enough room when they've already got so many weapons. But it is sure to be something they will expand on later.

I wouldn't expect any like pathfinder has.

One of the things they wanted to avoid was the happy stick of healing you get in pathfinder. You're supposed to heal up under your own power.

Another thing is that damaging spells in starfinder are less level dependent than they are in pathfinder. A first level magic missile does 3d4+3 damage if you can hold still. Without being held to level, cheap first level wands mean casters can blast all day and...

Starfinder encourages you to diversify as a person. Being a caster isn't the sum total of your being. Pick up a computer and hack stuff or a laser rifle and shoot it dead. you need to mix it up a bit.


And if spells require actually hitting your target, now you need a reasonable BAB or you can't ever land your spells. Oh wait doesn't that mean that your staff of fire has just become a laser rifle with a different flavoring?

You can't ask to be able to do as much damage or anywhere close to as much damage consistently as a soldier, plus have all the versatility of a spell caster and not end up with something that is better than a soldier at everything.

You have a couple of ways to maintain a balance. One is the way it is now. The current classes are actually pretty well balanced. They may not be what a person is looking for, but we should acknowledge that even if we don't like the way it is it does function reasonably well. A second is to give spell casters less versatility and power with individual spells, and to trade that for the ability to do consistent damage. This would probably look more like a warlock. Able to use "spells" pretty much every turn and nova once in a while, but not have a great deal else to be able to do. After all if you are mostly a damage class with some added versatility you shouldn't be doing more than a totally damage oriented class.A third way to maintain balance would be to give the class the ability to do reasonable damage while maintaining it's versatility, but penalize the class severely in some other way. The problem with this method of balancing is that there is inevitably ways added to the system that will allow mitigating this penalization that then leads to the class having all the damage capability of completely damage focused class and the versatility of a caster class without really any drawback.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

I wouldn't expect any like pathfinder has.

One of the things they wanted to avoid was the happy stick of healing you get in pathfinder. You're supposed to heal up under your own power.

Another thing is that damaging spells in starfinder are less level dependent than they are in pathfinder. A first level magic missile does 3d4+3 damage if you can hold still. Without being held to level, cheap first level wands mean casters can blast all day and...

Starfinder encourages you to diversify as a person. Being a caster isn't the sum total of your being. Pick up a computer and hack stuff or a laser rifle and shoot it dead. you need to mix it up a bit.

I agree with you about casting not being the sum total of your being. But that seems to be what some people want. In that regards, I think buying some spell crystals would make up for the lack of spells per day. But again, some people aren't happy with that, either. I'm sure having wands or staffs wouldn't make them happy. But I think it would help out a bit.

Also, I've never played a pure caster into high levels. My highest level one is a Spellslinger sniper. Aka, a Wizard that uses a long-range rifle to shoot and caste spells from as her focus. I don't think I've ever even picked up a wand or staff with any of my characters throughout any of the games I've played.

The Exchange

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Starfinder has also made skills more important again. There aren’t spells out there that just completely negate the need for them any more.

Hopefully this trend continues. If not....well it sucks to be the guy invested in hacking skills and information gathering when the caster beside him just waved his fingers and the computer spews out answers, or his chosen deity just whispers the meta plot into his ear.

Remember, spell slots aren’t just used for combat. The more slots provided combined with a growing list of utility spells that are bound to come, the less that skill checks will become important.

Having said that, the designers are doing ok so far, having spells provide bonuses to skill checks rather than just replacing the need for it all.


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Zyrelion wrote:
Quote:
As I mentioned before the Technomancer can cast a spell that deals 13d12 to 1 primary target and up to 10 secondary targets. That's a lot of damage. More than any Solider or Solarion can deal in a single turn. If Technomancer can do that sort of thing at will (or nearly at will) then magic dominates the game. And that's just with regard to damage, not all the other thing that magic can do.

If we assume an encounter has 11 clustered monsters with electric items and they don't save, average damage would be 939 per cast.

But then we'd also want to assume soldiers and solarians are doing 300 dpr every round to infinity, and every encounter with fewer than 4 monsters, or spread out a bit, would result in casters doing lower damage even with infinite spell casts.

Cherry picking half truths is amusing, but it doesn't seem like an honest effort to address the problem posed in this thread.

There isn't a problem posed by the OP. They asked why casters aren't as "strong" and the answer is balance. They asked why casters can't be purely casting focused, and the answer is still balance.

My comparison isn't an end all be all comparison, it was just a very simple quick comparison and I don't think anyone thought my short diatribe was an exhaustive authoritative on why magic is in general more powerful than non-magic. It's simply a point of reference on what a spell caster can do vs a non-spell caster in a single round.


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If the main issue is simply, "I want to use spells instead of stupid doo-doo heads guns" I guess you could just make up some sort of house rule that allows for the progression of cantrips to deal increasing damage as you level (but less than an equivalent level rifle would do). Maybe you add 1d3 per level to the cantrip Energy Ray and call it a day.


Claxon wrote:
If the main issue is simply, "I want to use spells instead of stupid doo-doo heads guns" I guess you could just make up some sort of house rule that allows for the progression of cantrips to deal increasing damage as you level (but less than an equivalent level rifle would do). Maybe you add 1d3 per level to the cantrip Energy Ray and call it a day.

I think that's what it's boiling down to.

"I don't want to use guns, only spells. So there should be a dedicated caster class like a Sorcerer."


Starfinder Superscriber

No. That isn't what it is boiling down to. A magic gun does not a spellcaster make.

Spell casters do things other than damage with their spells.

Does everyone seriously think that the only way to solve problems is supposed to be 'do hit point damage' to it?


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No, but letting spell casters do things like "teleport" and "charm person" more often is imbalanced (at least IMO). About the only thing (again IMO) you can let them do more of is deal damage magically, instead of with a gun.


pithica42 wrote:

No. That isn't what it is boiling down to. A magic gun does not a spellcaster make.

Spell casters do things other than damage with their spells.

Does everyone seriously think that the only way to solve problems is supposed to be 'do hit point damage' to it?

I really don't understand what the issue is, then. Are you saying there's a lack of utility spells? I admit to not having looked through the spell list in detail, but OP was complaining about running out of spells in combat and then being useless in other combats.

I completely agree that there is more to a caster than blasting things. But blasting things is what everyone was focused on from the beginning.

The Exchange

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pithica42 wrote:

No. That isn't what it is boiling down to. A magic gun does not a spellcaster make.

Spell casters do things other than damage with their spells.

Does everyone seriously think that the only way to solve problems is supposed to be 'do hit point damage' to it?

And here is where the problem lies.

Let’s say you have spells that allows you to solve a threat in combat without damage. Charming or dominating or fearing them or whatever method it is.

Now in one action you have removed a threat from the game, no matter how many hit points it has. It may have taken a combatant based class two or three rounds to have the same effect.

So, now we start putting in classes that can effectively drop that,type of spell more frequently, as is the current request for this thread.

Every round in a combat there’s a potential for the caster to remove one or more threats using just one spell slot or action. No matter how many hit points.

What if the group is trying to talk their way out instead?

Well, there’s a few ways to boost your skills in diplomacy and intimidate etc that means you can use skills to achieve this.
If you start adding spells that remove the need to make skill checks, then you’re destroying the build potential for whole other classes.
If you start increasing the number of times a caster can spam the “boom I win.”spell then you are really starting to impact on the effectiveness of other classes.

Even if it’s a spell that boosts skills instead of just wins the roll, you are making other players investments into their characters almost worthless.

Please take in to account that the classes need to be balanced not just for what is currently available in the game, but for what might potentially come out in the future. Limiting the amount of casting you can do may well be a design philosophy put in place to mitigate future abuse of the system


pithica42 wrote:

No. That isn't what it is boiling down to. A magic gun does not a spellcaster make.

Spell casters do things other than damage with their spells.

Does everyone seriously think that the only way to solve problems is supposed to be 'do hit point damage' to it?

If it's a combat problem? Generally so. Save-or-Die effects are pretty bad from a game design perspective as they mean the spellcaster is playing an entirely different game to everyone else.

Anyway: The idea that spellcasters don't do hit point damage is a bit silly. The three most iconic D&D spells are - Magic Missile, Fireball, Lightning Bolt. All of them do damage.


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Starfinder Superscriber

Again. I don't want a bunch of spells that completely solve a problem. Full Stop. I'm sorry if that hasn't been clear. Spells that instantly fully negate an encounter or problem (or worse an entire type(s) of encounter) are bad for the game.

I just want more spells. I want more spells to choose from. I want more spells known. I want more spells to cast. I want those spells to give me options. And I want the juice to use those options, instead of just trying to kill it with fire. I want an actual spellcaster that doesn't do spellcasting as a part time job. I want those spells, even if they make me completely crappy at other parts of the game. I want there to be some actual fantasy in my space-fantasy.

The spell list we got was one page long (per class). It's less than half the list in the PF CRB for sorcerers even if you only include the sorcerer spells below 6th level. Heck, I haven't counted, but I think it's shorter than the Bard list. While there are spells for doing probably everything I want (they did a pretty good job of giving a variety, even if they severely limited the length of the list), there aren't a lot of them, by comparison to pick and choose from. In some spell levels, I have 1-3 options where I used to have 5-10, per kind of spell I'd normally take. On top of that I get less spells known and less slots to cast them with. Because of that, any caster I build is going to be forced to use a gun like any non-spellcaster much of the time in order to contribute.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Actually, it's two pages per class.

I get what you're saying, I just wanted to clarify that. :-)


pithica42 wrote:
The spell list we got was one page long (per class). It's less than half the list in the PF CRB for sorcerers even if you only include the sorcerer spells below 6th level. Heck, I haven't counted, but I think it's shorter than the Bard list. While there are spells for doing probably everything I want (they did a pretty good job of giving a variety, even if they severely limited the length of the list), there aren't a lot of them, by comparison to pick and choose from. In some spell levels, I have 1-3 options where I used to have 5-10, per kind of spell I'd normally take. On top of that I get less spells known and less slots to cast them with. Because of that, any caster I build is going to be forced to use a gun like any non-spellcaster much of the time in order to contribute.

So, what sort of spells are missing from it? And how do you propose to make spellcasters pay dosh like other people do for weapons with a hypothetical 'Spellcaster who only casts spells'? Wealth By Level still exists, after all.

I'd also point out that right now? The spell list is vastly, VASTLY longer than the feats list and the feats list is for everyone, not just spellcasters.


pithica42 wrote:
I just want more spells. I want more spells to choose from. I want more spells known. I want more spells to cast. I want those spells to give me options.

Perfectly fair. I think the CRB strikes the right balance of giving a baseline without overwhelming new players (cf. by contrast, say, Shadowrun 5e which demands that Riggers pick a dozen possible vehicless out of the gate) but there's a ton of room for growth.

I personally want to work some Cryptomancer into things. It's arguably pretty on-brand for Starfinder and could give Technomancers more nuanced stuff to do. Point of fact I already homebrewed an Encryption spell for an NPC in my game.

Shadow Lodge

The mechanic unfortunately leaves enough room for a mechanic in the game, either as opttions, archetypes, or another class. As it is they're way too computer focused and don't do nearly enough with physical nuts and bolts


pithica42 wrote:

Again. I don't want a bunch of spells that completely solve a problem. Full Stop. I'm sorry if that hasn't been clear. Spells that instantly fully negate an encounter or problem (or worse an entire type(s) of encounter) are bad for the game.

I just want more spells. I want more spells to choose from. I want more spells known. I want more spells to cast. I want those spells to give me options. And I want the juice to use those options, instead of just trying to kill it with fire. I want an actual spellcaster that doesn't do spellcasting as a part time job. I want those spells, even if they make me completely crappy at other parts of the game. I want there to be some actual fantasy in my space-fantasy.

If you don't want spells that completely solve a problem, then what exactly are these extra spells supposed to do? If finding a way to make someone friendly is the problem that needs to be solved and you aren't allowing a spell to solve it, then Charm Person is too powerful to appear as a spell at any level. So, what would be appropriate for the 'Enchantment' school of spells if that's too good?


OK...new to the boards here.

I see one thing repeated and repeated over and over again in this post: We Can't.

That is too easy of an answer. It is too easy to say no instead of pooling together to find something that works.

I have Homebrewed a Sorcerer for my own game over the past couple of days. Most likely, many here would say that it is too OP. I am considering posting it in Homebrew section.

Just an opinion.


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I think I've been arguing more 'We shouldn't'. I mean, we've seen it be done with the Starfarer's Companion which was an abomination unto good game design. It's less 'Can it be done' and more 'What does it really add to the game to add those extra spell levels and will it do more harm than good', with me personally believing it would be opening Pandora's box.


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Ikiry0 wrote:
I think I've been arguing more 'We shouldn't'. I mean, we've seen it been done with the Starfarer's Companion which was an abomination unto good game design. It's less 'Can it be done' and more 'What does it really add to the game to add those extra spell levels and will it do more harm than good', with me personally believing it would be opening Pandora's box.

Agreed. It's not that "We can't". Can't implies an inability. It would certainly possible to add a class called "The best thing ever" which can cast 100 spells of each level of spells they know per day and knows all spells written for Starfinder. But clearly that's overpowered junk and hyperbole on my part. But that's not what we've been suggesting at all.

What we've been suggesting is that the balance right now is pretty finely tuned, and that adding a pure caster class would likely destroy that balance. So it's not that we can't, it's that we shouldn't add pure casters to Starfinder.

Because even if all you did was increase the number of spell known and spells available per day or a Mystic or Technomancer it would be too much and start to ruin the balance of the game. And as a player, I'm sure the balance will start to be eroded as new supplements will eventually introduce new spells, which will be too powerful. It's power creep, and every incarnation of D&D (including Pathfinder) has experienced it. Starfinder will too eventually, but I'm not inclined to make it worse by making a fully dedicated casting class.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

What if I want to play a dedicated magical buffer/debuffer? I've played them in Pathfinder and they are fun, and team players, because they make everyone else better at their own things. Currently Starfinder casting classes don't have the staying power or the spell selection to pull this off.

Nondamaging spells don't have to be an "auto-win." You can have spells that allow one-time skill rolls for untrained skills. You can have spells that make things easier without making them trivial.

As an aside, I am utterly against any system where "hp damage" is the only way to win fights. There should always be room for creative and clever play, whether involving magic or not. I have absolutely no problem with spells being able to get around hp, as long as it's not guaranteed and doesn't become repetitive or boring.

(Making one tough fight easier with color spray is fine and great; winning every battle before anyone else gets to go using color spray is boring and undesirable. It is possible to set things up so this works.)


It might be interesting to have specialized dedicated caster classes - more spells/day and reliant nearly entirely on casting, but not the generalist that most casters in PF (or even the 2 in SF) can easily be.
The buffer or debuffer ryric suggests for example.

Part of the problem with casters isn't just the power, but the versatility. Limit that sufficiently and the power isn't nearly so much of a problem.


Starfinder Superscriber

I feel like I'm ranting a bit, and I should probably drop out of the thread because I've made my point as well as it could be made by me. It's just my opinion anyway. I'm going to go ahead and respond to the people that responded to me, but otherwise, I'll drop out. I'm not the OP and I don't know that continued responses are productive for anyone.

I'm mostly just making an impassioned plea to the universe that one of the first two books after the armory is a players guide with more classes/spells/feats/archetypes/themes, and that one of those new classes is an actual spellcaster. I get why they don't have one now. I don't expect anyone to build me a time machine to go back and change the CRB.

captain yesterday wrote:

Actually, it's two pages per class.

I get what you're saying, I just wanted to clarify that. :-)

I knew someone was going to make that point when I went to bed last night. Page can mean either the facing of one side of a piece of paper in a book or a single piece of paper in a book. Tear one page out of a book, and ask yourself, how many pages do you have in your hand? one or two? That's why clever teachers always say, "I want you to write a one page essay, front and back." The list fits on both sides of one piece of paper, so both one and two pages are valid descriptions of its length.

We're both correct and both get to punch our pedantic cards this week. :-P (I really really mean that as a joke.)

Ikiry0 wrote:
So, what sort of spells are missing from it? And how do you propose to make spellcasters pay dosh like other people do for weapons with a hypothetical 'Spellcaster who only casts spells'? Wealth By Level still exists, after all.

I don't know that anything is missing, per se, at least as far as combat goes. The list they give is a pretty solid foundation. They did take out all of the weird spells, and much of what spellcasters used to duplicate technology. I would have preferred more of the kinds of spells that do minor damage but apply a debuff or do crowd control. I prefer the BFC/CC role as a spellcaster. I literally never take Magic Missile, or Fireball, or Lightning Bolt. But that's just me.

I honestly don't know how to solve the wealth by level problem. At least not without fundamentally changing the game. If I were designing a game from the ground up (that otherwise looked much like this), I'd probably make spellcasters have to use expensive leveled focuses (think Harry Potter wands but that you have to replace as you level to cast higher level spells) for all their spellcasting. But I'd also use manna or spell points rather than Vancian magic. None of that is helpful, though. I think it's a solvable problem, certainly, but I don't know if it's solvable without stepping on a sacred cow or two.

Ikiry0 wrote:
I'd also point out that right now? The spell list is vastly, VASTLY longer than the feats list and the feats list is for everyone, not just spellcasters.

You are absolutely 100% right. I'm hoping that the Pact Worlds and Armory books they're already working on have more feats and if they have to sacrifice spell space for feat space (especially in the armory book) they do so. As I said above, I'm hoping that the book after Armory is a players guide, and I'm hoping it has more feats in it and plenty of stuff for non-spellcasters. I am running this game, so I want more options for all my players.

Ideally, after Armory, I'd like a Players Handbook, an actual Bestiary, a setting book for either the Veskarium or ASE, and then a book on Magic with spells/magic items/et cetera. But I don't run the world or work for Paizo, so I'ma have to wait and see.

CeeJay wrote:
Perfectly fair. I think the CRB strikes the right balance of giving a baseline without overwhelming new players (cf. by contrast, say, Shadowrun 5e which demands that Riggers pick a dozen possible vehicless out of the gate) but there's a ton of room for growth.

I agree. If I could go back in time and make them change the CRB, about the only thing I'd consider taking out of the CRB is the vehicles and vehicle chase rules, but that's only because I've yet to see Paizo use them (I get why they're there). Even without those, there's probably other things I'd put in before a spellcasting class (more themes, more archetypes, more feats). It obviously can't be 1000 pages long.

I like the book (other than the binding). It just doesn't match the expectations their marketing gave me. I'm hoping that in 3 or 4 books, I have both the game as they printed it (which looks great), and the game as they promised it (which was too much for one book anyway).

Bluenose wrote:
If you don't want spells that completely solve a problem, then what exactly are these extra spells supposed to do? If finding a way to make someone friendly is the problem that needs to be solved and you aren't allowing a spell to solve it, then Charm Person is too powerful to appear as a spell at any level. So, what would be appropriate for the 'Enchantment' school of spells if that's too good?

Personally, I always thought that Charm Person should give a bonus to diplomacy checks and it would be something you cast on your party face to make them better at doing their job. You could make the bonus super high (high enough that the face couldn't possibly fail the roll) and no one would complain that the wizard was overpowered because he isn't doing the face's job better than the face can. I'd call it Charming Person.

There are some spells that completely solve a problem that I'd certainly keep. As long as that problem is esoteric or part of the core role of the spellcaster class in question and not a core function of someone else's role. I mean, cure light wounds completely solves a problem if you're dying. But it's also a core function of the healer role, and it's not like the fighter wants to do that (generally, Paladins are weirdos, you can't trust them). Life Bubble completely solves a problem, but it's a problem most players can solve with (very cheap) gear. As long as the spell doesn't completely derail a campaign or replace a party member, it's probably fine and no one would notice. If it does either of those, it needs to be changed or removed.

I could go through every spell in the PF CRB and tell you which I'd change and which I'd remove and which I'd keep as is, but I don't think that benefits anyone other than my own ego.

So, on that note, this has all just been my opinion. I don't really mind if you disagree. I tend to get worked up and hope no one took any of what I said as an attack on them or their opinion's. I'm mostly just hoping that this is something that gets fixed in a future book, and not forgotten. If it doesn't, or if this is intentional, I hope they change their marketing so that it matches the product they put out.


My preferred debuff caster was 6/9. Sure, they could use Bestow Curse if they really needed it, but -3 on attack rolls was enough for most fights.


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ryric wrote:
As an aside, I am utterly against any system where "hp damage" is the only way to win fights. There should always be room for creative and clever play, whether involving magic or not. I have absolutely no problem with spells being able to get around hp, as long as it's not guaranteed and doesn't become repetitive or boring.

While I loathe the idea of things being able to just bypass HP. It trivialises the combat system and also has the issue that if you don't use HP, you don't have something that makes ending the fight a progression rather than a random chance. Colour Spray for example works exactly the same round 1 and round 10 and does not affect your allies but HP damage works WITH your allies, as they are all working towards the same endgame as everyone else. Save or Lose is something I never want to see come back. I mean, right now we have exactly 1 PC save or die in the game and it's the capstone of the Soldier class. Introducing spells that take someone out of a fight in a single roll trivialises that capstone.


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On one hand, Save-or-Die depends on luck and class more than anything. A Barbarian is much more likely to make that Fort save than a Wizard, but a bad roll can still end a character prematurely. Which is not very fun for the player of that character at all. No one wants likes the story of, "Ishgar, the might Barbarian adventurer. Son of a great king, he fought clans of orcs, grappled a wyvern, and woed many women on his way to becoming the leader of his father's kingdom. Until some wizard he upset incinerated him with a single spell in some back-woods town. Thus ends the story of Ishgar."

On the other hand, I have a cupcake.

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