Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #12

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is set to release on August 13th, 2009, and in anticipation, we are releasing a preview of the game each week until the game hits store shelves. This week, we are delving the depths of power with Ezren, the iconic wizard.

Male human wizard 10
NG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +3; Senses Perception +12
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +2 deflection, –1 Dex)
hp 57 (10d6+20)
Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +11
Speed 30 ft.
Melee club +5 (1d6)
Special Attacks hand of the apprentice (9/day, +11 ranged), metamagic mastery (2/day)
Spells Prepared (CL 10th)
5th—cone of cold (DC 21), teleport, wall of force
4th—dimension door, enervation, ice storm, stoneskin
3rd—dispel magic, fireball (DC 19), fly, haste
2nd—bull's strength, invisibility, mirror image, scorching ray (2), web (DC 18)
1st—alarm, magic missile (3), ray of enfeeblement, shield
0—detect magic, light, mage hand, read magic
Str 11, Dex 9, Con 12, Int 22, Wis 15, Cha 9
Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 21
Feats Arcane Strike, Combat Casting, Defensive Combat Training, Empower Spell, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Scribe Scroll, Silent Spell
Skills Appraise +19, Fly +12, Knowledge (arcana) +19, Knowledge (engineering) +19, Knowledge (geography) +19, Knowledge (history) +19, Knowledge (planes) +19, Perception +12, Spellcraft +19
Languages Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Halfling, Orc
SQ arcane bond (cane), cantrips
Combat Gear potion of cure serious wounds, scroll of dispel magic, wand of magic missile (CL 9th, 50 charges); Other Gear ring of protection +2, cloak of resistance +2, bracers of armor +4, cane (treat as a club), bead of force, blessed book, headband of vast intelligence +2 (Perception), pearl of power (3rd level)

Here we are, growing ever closer to the release of the game with Ezren rounding out the preview of the 11 core classes. As one of my favorite classes, I save the wizard for last. When we first started working on the class, back in the Alpha version of the game, the initial thought was to treat arcane school specialization like cleric domains in some regards, with the school granting limited power to add some real flavor and depth to an otherwise straightforward class. This left us with a balance issue, though, and that was what to do with the universalist wizard (the wizard without a specialty). We couldn't just remove him, as he is an iconic part of the game (literally, Ezren is a universalist) and we couldn't just give him the same powers as the specialists (as we did in the Beta playtest), so we had to search for a middle ground.

In the final version of the game, wizards with an arcane school receive bonus spells, much as they did in 3.5, but universalists do not. That said, the universalist school does grant a pair of powers. The first is the ever-popular hand of the apprentice. This power has undergone some significant redesign since the Beta, where it was arguably a bit too good (and quite confusing). The new power reads as follows.

Hand of the Apprentice (Su): You cause your melee weapon to fly from your grasp and strike a foe before instantly returning to you. As a standard action, you can make a single attack using a melee weapon at a range of 30 feet. This attack is treated as a ranged attack with a thrown weapon, except that you add your Intelligence modifier on the attack roll instead of your Dexterity modifier (damage still relies on Strength). This ability cannot be used to perform a combat maneuver. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.

This new ability works off the ranged attack rules, making it simpler to use and adjudicate than the previous system, which was full of odd rules exceptions. The second ability also caused a bit of trouble in the Beta playtest. Metamagic mastery now allows the wizard to add a metamagic feat to a spell without increasing the spell level, but it does come with some restrictions. First, it can only be used 1/day at 8th level and one additional time per day for every two levels beyond 8th. Adding a feat to a spell that would increase the spell's level by more than 1 uses up an additional use of the ability for each level beyond one (i.e., if you Empower a fireball, it would use up two uses of this ability). Finally, you cannot add a metamagic feat to a spell using this ability if that feat would have made the spell higher level than a level of spell that you are capable of casting.

I do want to take a moment to talk about some of the other arcane schools before moving on to spells themselves. Many of the schools got a bit of a revamp, most due to playtester feedback. Take the necromancy school for example. The core power of this school now allows a necromancer to control or turn undead (as per the feats) a number of times per day, meaning that a necromancer does not necessarily have to be evil (the white necromancy option). We also changed the way that wizards with an arcane school interact with their prohibited schools. They can now learn and cast these spells just like any other wizard; however, when they prepare them, spells from a wizard's prohibited school take up two slots instead of one. For example, a 6th-level wizard with three 3rd-level spell spots could use two of them to prepare a dispel magic spell, even if abjuration was one of his prohibited schools.

Moving on, let's take a look at some of Ezren's spells. There have been some modifications to a wide variety of spells and effects to make them a bit more balanced with one another. Take teleport, for example. In 3.5 you could use scry to view a location and then use teleport to get there quickly. While this was fun for the players, it could very easily ruin a plot or bypass large bits of the adventure. While we did not want to completely eliminate this option, we have made it a bit harder. Now when you use scry to view a location, it only counts as "viewed once" for the purposes of teleport, making it quite a bit more risky to cast (25% chance of something going wrong).

Wall of force has seen some changes as well (as have all of the spells that create force bubbles or other effects). These force walls now have a hardness of 30 and 20 hit points per caster level. While this means that they are almost impossible to break down, they can no longer be used to hold back the tarrasque or a lava flow, which was asking for a bit much out of a 5th-level spell. This also means that if a wall of force cuts off half the party, they have a chance to destroy it without having to resort to a disintegrate (which still instantly destroys the wall).

Fly, and other spells like it, now grants a built-in bonus to Fly skill checks, to help compensate for characters without any ranks in the skill. They will not be doing loops around dragons anytime soon, but they at least try to pull a 45-degree turn at full speed in an emergency. Web has seen some changes as well. This spell now works as a grapple, with those that fail their saves being caught by the sticky strands. Those that make it can move with a combat maneuver or escape artist check (DC = to the DC of the spell). Characters moving through the webs that fail their checks are grappled in the first square that they enter, whereas those that make it can move through the difficult terrain. The spell is still good and useful to control the battlefield, but it is no longer the combat-ender that it once was. Ray of enfeeblement was sort of in the same boat, as a spell that was a bit too good for its level. To balance it out a bit, the spell now allows a Fort save to reduce the Strength penalty by half. Other spells on Ezren's list have seen some shifts as well, such as ice storm and dispel magic (both of which we covered in the Seoni preview).

You might have noticed that Ezren does not have a familiar. Instead, he chose to bond with his cane, using the arcane bond class feature (which allows you to get a familiar if you want). This ability allows him to cast any one spell that he knows and is capable of casting, once per day without having the spell prepared. He can also enchant his cane as if he had the feats required, so long as he is of the minimum level to get the feat (such as 11th level for a staff using Craft Staff, or 7th level using Forge Ring). Such power does not come without a price though, as Ezren must make concentration checks to cast any spell if he does not have his cane in hand.

Before I close things out on this preview, I wanted to point out a bit about Ezren's feats. Ezren has Combat Casting, which means that he has a total of +20 on his concentration checks, which means that he can defensively cast his 5th-level spells by rolling a 5 or higher on his checks. Ezren's Arcane Strike feat allows him to spend a swift action to add a +3 bonus to damage with his cane for 1 round, which he can combine with the hand of the apprentice ability to give it a bit of power. You might also notice that Ezren has a rather high Combat Maneuver Defense (or CMD). This is because of the Defensive Combat Training feat, which allows him to treat his character level as his base attack bonus when calculating his CMD, making this feat handy for wizards and sorcerers.

There are only two more previews left to go before the release of the Core Rulebook. Since we are done with the core classes, next week we are going to take a look at Seltyiel, our iconic eldritch knight!

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

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Tags: Ezren Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Wayne Reynolds Wizards
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