All About Spells

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spells are magical formulas with esoteric components, including words of power, gestures, and unusual ingredients, that when taken together create extraordinary magical effects. Spells have always been a crucial part of Pathfinder and the fantasy genre as a whole. But what's new about spells in the playtest? Let's take a look!

Action!

You cast spells by using some combination of the Verbal Casting, Somatic Casting, and Material Casting actions (the most common combination is Verbal and Somatic Casting actions for 2 total actions). Not every class interfaces with those actions in the same way. For instance, clerics can use a divine focus to satisfy the Material Casting action, sorcerers use their magical blood, and bards can use instruments that change up several aspects (for instance, even if you're gagged or otherwise unable to speak, you can play your violin to provide the Verbal Casting portion).

Heightened Spells

In the playtest, you'll be able to heighten your favorite spells in order to gain greater effects than ever before. Heightening a spell works much like it did previously, where you prepare a spell in a higher-level slot (or cast it using a higher-level slot if you're a spontaneous caster), except now all spellcasters can do it, and you gain much more interesting benefits. Want to fire 15 missiles with magic missile or turn into a Huge animal with animal form? Just heighten those spells to the appropriate level! There's no longer any need to learn long chains of spells that are incrementally different and each require you to refer back to the previous spell.

Incidentally, the idea of using a spell's level to determine its power has led to some really interesting interplay between spells. For example, how many times have you run into a situation where your high-level illusionist is foiled by a simple detect magic spell or a similar effect? Now, illusions of a higher spell level than a detect magic cantrip can foil detection! Similarly, dispel magic has a harder time dispelling spells of much higher spell levels, while it can crush lower-level spells with ease. This extends to many other similar interactions; while in Pathfinder First Edition, a creature with some basic spell effect that's constantly active might be flat-out immune to your character's spells, now you can heighten your spells and overcome that obstacle!

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Cantrips

In the playtest, cantrips are spells you can cast at will, but they are no longer level 0. Instead, they automatically heighten to the highest spell level you can currently cast. That means if you're 5th level, your ray of frost is 3rd level and deals more damage, and your light cantrip is better at counteracting magical darkness.

Domain Powers and Beyond

Pathfinder has always had domain powers, school powers, bloodline powers, and other special class-based spell-like abilities that you can use a certain number of times per day rather than using your daily spell slots on them. In the playtest, we've expanded this idea, allowing even more classes to gain these kinds of powers and standardizing the way we talk about the powers and their daily uses. The powers are now treated as a special kind of spell, and they are all cast using Spell Points. There is power in naming something; while you don't really count them differently than if you had a pool of uses per day, this allowed us to create new and interesting abilities that cost multiple Spell Points or that you could add extra features to at the cost of more Spell Points, in a way that works across classes more smoothly.

10th-Level Spells

So what's the deal with 10th-level spells? Jason mentioned these all the way at the beginning, and many of you have given excellent guesses for what they will be. They start with a class of spells that used to be 9th level+, by which I mean, they were 9th level, but even for that level they were usually balanced by expensive material costs. Spells like wish and miracle. In the playtest, these spells are free to cast but are 10th level. Then we added some brand-new and amazing spells, like fabricated truth and nature incarnate. I'm guessing you guys will quickly figure out what these spells do, but here's a hint: one of them had a critical failure effect previewed in the Critical Hits and Critical Failures blog!

Rituals

Ever since we introduced them in Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures, rituals have been a favorite both among fans and the adventure developers here at Paizo. If you haven't checked them out yet, they're story-rich spells with a long casting time that anyone skilled enough could conceivably try to perform as long as they have the hidden knowledge. Typically they involve some number of secondary casters, which can get the whole party involved or make a nice set-piece encounter with an evil cult.

Even in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, there were spells that sort of followed that mold already—the 8th-level spell binding is a perfect example. In the playtest, these sorts of spells have been made into rituals. This means that these downtime spells don't take up your spell slots, and that martial characters who manage to attain a high enough proficiency rank in magic-related skills like Arcana can cast them! This is particularly great when, for instance, the cleric dies but the monk can perform a resurrection ritual. (Don't worry, there is still also the non-ritual spell raise dead in case you need someone back in action faster, though a group that wants death to be more uncertain can easily omit that spell for an instant shift in the tone of the campaign.) Rituals also have delightful potential failure effects. For instance, if you critically fail planar binding, you call something dark and horrible that isn't bound by your wards, and it immediately attempts to destroy you!

Magical Traditions

Magical traditions, such as arcane and divine, have always been a part of Pathfinder spells. But the playtest gives us an opportunity to really explore what they mean, what makes them different, and how they metaphysically interconnect in a way that enriches the game's story. Magic taps into various essences in the cosmos. For example, arcane magic blends material essence (the fundamental building blocks of all physical things) and mental essence (the building block of rational thoughts, logic, and memories). This means that arcane traditions share a lot in common with science, as arcane spellcasters tend to use logic and rational methods to categorize the magic inherent in the physical world around them. Divine magic is the exact opposite; it blends spiritual essence (the otherworldly building block of the immortal self) and vital essence (the universal life force that gives us instincts and intuition). This means that divine traditions are steeped in faith, the unseen, and belief in a power source from beyond the Material Plane. These ideas have led to some exciting new additions of spells into each tradition's repertoire.

Example Spells

Let's put everything we've talked about into perspective by taking a look at a spell that can be heightened and that uses actions in an interesting way: heal. (By the way, notice the new spell school!)

Heal Spell 1

Healing, Necromancy, Positive
Casting Somatic Casting or more
Range touch, Range 30 feet, or Area 30-foot aura (see text); Target one willing living creature or one undead creature

You channel positive energy to heal the living or damage the undead. You restore Hit Points equal to 1d8 + your spellcasting modifier to a willing living target, or deal that amount of positive damage to an undead target. The number of actions you spend when Casting this Spell determines its targets, range, area, and other parameters.

  • Somatic Casting The spell has a range of touch. You must succeed at a melee touch attack to damage an undead target.
  • Somatic Casting, Verbal Casting The spell has a range of 30 feet and doesn't require a touch attack when targeting an undead creature. An undead target must attempt a Fortitude save, taking half damage on a success, no damage on a critical success, or double damage on a critical failure.
  • Material Casting, Somatic Casting, Verbal Casting You disperse positive energy in a 30-foot aura. This has the same effect as the two-action version of the spell, but it targets all living and undead creatures in the burst and reduces the amount of healing or damage to your spellcasting ability modifier.

Heightened (+1) Increase the amount of healing or damage by 1d8, or by 2d8 if you're using the one- or two-action version to heal the living.

So you can cast heal with 1 action and restore quite a few Hit Points to a touched target, especially for a single action. This is particularly useful if you cast heal several times in one turn on someone who needs emergency assistance after a critical hit! For 2 actions, you can cast safely from the back lines, and for 3 actions, you can change the area to a burst and heal living creatures while harming undead at the same time. It restores fewer hit points to each target that way, but if you have multiple allies in need of healing, it can be really efficient. This one spell, using heightened effects, combines the effects of all the cure wounds spells in one place.

At the bottom of the stat block, you see what one type of heightened entry looks like. This one gets better proportionally for each spell level above 1st. So a 2nd-level heal spell heals one target for 3d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier, a 3rd-level one heals one target 5d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier, and so on.

But heal is a classic spell chain that you already knew and loved in Pathfinder First Edition and that has already been revealed in tidbits through podcasts. How about its big sister regenerate?

Regenerate Spell 7

Healing, Necromancy
Casting Somatic Casting, Verbal Casting
Range touch; Target one willing living creature
Duration 1 minute

The target temporarily gains regeneration 15, which restores 15 Hit Points to it at the start of each of its turns. While it has regeneration, the target can't die from damage and its dying value can't exceed 3. If the target takes acid or fire damage, its regeneration deactivates until after the end of its next turn.

Each time the creature regains Hit Points from regeneration, it also regrows one damaged or ruined organ (if any). During the spell's duration, the creature can also reattach severed body parts by spending an Interact action to hold the body part to the stump.

Heightened (9th) The regeneration increases to 20.

Regenerate was always necessary to restore lost limbs or organs (a rare situation to come up in the game), but the way it worked made it fairly ineffective for use in combat. This version is much more attractive during a fight, particularly if your foe lacks access to acid and fire!

This spell doesn't increase in power incrementally as its level increases (except for being harder to dispel); instead, it has a specific heightened benefit at 9th level.

But what about something you've never seen before? Let's take a look at vampiric exsanguination!

Vampiric Exsanguination Spell 6

Death, Necromancy, Negative
Casting Somatic Casting, Verbal Casting
Area 30-foot cone

You draw life force from creatures and send it into your outstretched arms. You deal 10d6 negative damage to all living creatures in the area. As long as at least one creature in the area takes damage, you also gain half that many temporary Hit Points. You lose any remaining temporary Hit Points after 1 minute.

  • Success Half damage.
  • Critical Success No damage.
  • Failure Full damage.
  • Critical Failure Double damage.

Heightened (+2) Increase the damage by 3d6.

So we're dealing some reasonable damage in a cone; cone of cold isn't going to be jealous. But the trick here is that if you can get at least one foe (or minion) to critically fail its save against the spell, you gain a huge number of temporary Hit Points! If you're a wizard with a Constitution score of 12, that hapless creature might just provide you nearly 50% more Hit Points (incidentally, if you deal a lot of damage, you could kill a minion who critically fails the save, so use it responsibly). And since you're drawing in life force, guess who gains access to this spell? (Urgathoans rejoice!)

More New Spells

I'm going to close out by giving just the names of a smattering of new spells. What might they do? I'll leave it up to you guys to see what you think!

  • Alter reality
  • Collective transposition
  • Crusade
  • Disappearance
  • Divine inspiration
  • Duplicate foe
  • Energy aegis
  • Mariner's curse
  • Moment of renewal
  • Moon frenzy
  • Nature's enmity
  • Primal phenomenon
  • Punishing winds
  • Revival
  • Soothe
  • Spellwrack
  • Spiritual epidemic
  • Spiritual guardian
  • Tangling creepers
  • Unfathomable song

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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Well you have to give Mark credit his article was so good it cut out all the peripheral arguments and the arguments literally went Directly to semantics. That's some efficiency mark! well done!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:


There are definitely those at Paizo who agree with this, since everything else that is done by level is on that 0-20+ scale. On the other hand, certain deeply entrenched terminology being changed has a risk of dramatically changing the feel of the game

You mean like races to ancestries? ;)


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Crayon wrote:

I'd like to see the text for Vampiric Exsanguination given another pass. I realize we don't have all the rules yet, but assume we cast the spell for average damage (35) and hit four creatures - each of whose save result is different:

CS takes 0
S takes 17 or 18 depending how we round
F takes 35
CF takes 70

It's not wholly clear though how much HP the caster receives. I think it's half of the rolled damage (17 or 18), but as written could also refer to half the total damage inflicted (122) though that seems too much even for temporary HP

I believe it was alluded to elsewhere, that you can't stack temporary HP. Mechanically, I believe that each 'effect' of the spell plays out - thus that when the spell affects the "CS" character, it takes 0 damage, and the caster gains 0 temp HP. When it hits "S", they take 17, and the caster gets 8 temp HP. When it hits "F", they take 35 damage, and the caster gains 17 temp HP. When it hits "CF", they take 70 HP damage, and the caster gains 35 temp hp.

Now, since temp HP doesn't stack, then ultimately the 'best' effect wins out, so if the above caster cast that spell, with those save results from the four different targets, then the caster ends up with 35 temp HP.

Scarab Sages

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As for Spell Points, I believe I have found the solution...

How about we call them Uses. Works for magical and mundane abilities alike, doesn‘t feel artificial or gamey at all, and the capitalization makes clear that it‘s a technical term.

It also works with the verb philosophy that they applied to Step, Stride etc. «a number of Uses equal to her Wisdom bonus», «Whenever the Oracle Uses her Flame Dance, ...»


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So, on the topic of spells, how are areas of effect going to be handled? Are we keeping the 'vertex-origin' of effects, or can this be moved to 'square-origin'? Going to a square-origin would make effects slightly bigger, but at the same time, the effect area can easily be figured out using normal movement rules, as opposed to needing to know predefined templates that don't necessarily make 'natural' sense.


so since u only talked about hightening spells.
what about other metamagic? is it still a thing?

- what about our all favorites grease and color spray? give us some hints!

-did u balance or deleted some old op spells like phantasmal killer?


CraziFuzzy wrote:
So, on the topic of spells, how are areas of effect going to be handled? Are we keeping the 'vertex-origin' of effects, or can this be moved to 'square-origin'? Going to a square-origin would make effects slightly bigger, but at the same time, the effect area can easily be figured out using normal movement rules, as opposed to needing to know predefined templates that don't necessarily make 'natural' sense.

I really hope we don't do that. That'd be yet another nail in the coffin of getting my group to play. IMO the current spreads aren't particularly difficult once you've gotten accustomed to them.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
CraziFuzzy wrote:
So, on the topic of spells, how are areas of effect going to be handled? Are we keeping the 'vertex-origin' of effects, or can this be moved to 'square-origin'? Going to a square-origin would make effects slightly bigger, but at the same time, the effect area can easily be figured out using normal movement rules, as opposed to needing to know predefined templates that don't necessarily make 'natural' sense.
I really hope we don't do that. That'd be yet another nail in the coffin of getting my group to play. IMO the current spreads aren't particularly difficult once you've gotten accustomed to them.

Why in the world would this discourage play? Why should something have to be 'gotten accustomed to' if it could instead be made to follow other similar rules in the same system?


Stone Dog wrote:

Even though there are only four Traditions and each class seems like it is only going to get one or two of them on their standard lists, I could see ways for classes to branch out from that using the keywords.

Wizards could take Class Feats like Necromancer that allows them to pick Necromancy spells regardless of what Tradition they are.

Yeah, I agree. Personally, putting Necromancy spells into Material simply because of necromancer wizards bothers me a bit, I'd rather see the spells be grouped logically by spell list. Handle exceptions like necromancers with feats.

Ideally, classes flow outward from spells, rather than spells being categorized purely to support previous class concepts.


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Doktor Weasel wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Spell Tiers sounds awesome. Better than Spell Circles. :)
In my group, we use Order as the in-character descriptor. For example: "I'm capable of casting spells of the third order."

But what if i'm a chaotic sorcerer?


CraziFuzzy wrote:
Why in the world would this discourage play?

Because it's yet another way in which the game is being changed to "dumb down" and make it less similar to 3.5e and more similar to 4e.

CraziFuzzy wrote:
Why should something have to be 'gotten accustomed to' if it could instead be made to follow other similar rules in the same system?

Because continuity in the rule set is important to some people. Not having the world behave in perfectly formed squares matters in terms of believability and helps introduce tactical decisions. Finally even D&D 5e, which has simplified 3.5e dramatically, sees value in keeping the typical 3.5e/PF templates for spells (even if they don't provide any pictures to assist). If the level of simplification is what you want you could easily houserule it. But based on how people behaved on this exact issue back in 2008/2009 I would expect many PF fans to want the 3.5e style area of effects and not some significantly simplified 4e-style ones.

Now I could be wrong. Maybe all the old diehards have already given up on PF 2e. Maybe they finally got over the issue in the intervening 9 years. Or maybe there's enough D&D 4e fans/new players that they'll drown out the diehards. But this exact issue was covered ad nauseum and this is what I at least heard as a significant issue from people who went on to play PF.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
But imagine how it would sound to call for a saving check?

Wouldn't bother me at all. 0%

First of all, a cosmetic renaming of a term is just that... cosmetic. If it serves a purpose (clear, unambiguous, consistent terminology), it's justified.

Second, don't we all say "can I have a Fort save"? I don't know we've used "throw" at the table in oh... a decade or two.

Finally, when compared to "we're making monsters work differently than PCs", this isn't the sort of change you should be hesitant about. It doesn't mean anything in terms of the structure and nature of the game, where that... is risky. (And why we're done with Starfinder as a system.)

P.S. Spell tiers, spell circles, spelephants... whatever you want, it's fine by me.


Cyrad wrote:

I prefer Starfinder's variable level spells instead of overcasting for balance reasons, but otherwise, I'm loving this.

I'm really hoping that polymorph and shapeshifting spells get properly represented. PF 1.0 has a terrible selection of spells and options for building shapeshifting characters despite it being such a highly prevalent concept in fantasy stories and a broad design space.

You mean outside of Kitsune, Druids, Shifters and Vigilante?


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
CraziFuzzy wrote:
Why in the world would this discourage play?

Because it's yet another way in which the game is being changed to "dumb down" and make it less similar to 3.5e and more similar to 4e.

CraziFuzzy wrote:
Why should something have to be 'gotten accustomed to' if it could instead be made to follow other similar rules in the same system?
Because continuity in the rule set is important to some people. Not having the world behave in perfectly formed squares matters in terms of believability and helps introduce tactical decisions.

The current templates operate in squares as well. I don't know what you are thinking I'm describing - I'm not saying that every area of effect should be a giant square - I'm talking about where the area of effects originate from. Currently, they originate from a vertex on the grid - I am suggesting that they originate from a square on the grid, which will allow the same distance measurement that is used for range and movement to be used to determine the effected area.

This doesn't dumb down anything - and doesn't give up any sort of verisimilitude - it just make the different ways things are measured on the battle mat the done the same way.


Sorry. I thought you were saying you wanted 6x6 cubes or 20x20 cubes.


Sorry not interested, wish they keep individual spell lists and rituals feel unnecessary. Sorry just not my thing, it's just my personal opinion.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
Blog Post wrote:
Regenerate was always necessary to restore lost limbs or organs (a rare situation to come up in the game)

*Long, long laugh* Oh Mark, that is a good one. Just wait until us Pathfinder Compatible publishers get ahold of that mechanic.

New Fighter feats: Spleen Strike and Pancreatic Pain
New Rogue feats: Severe Artery, Ear Removal (deafens someone until restored)

OK, seems pretty reasonable and expected...

Quote:
New Dwarf feat: Beard Cut
You...you monster!

Getting that reaction from Mark, my day is complete!


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CraziFuzzy wrote:
Crayon wrote:

I'd like to see the text for Vampiric Exsanguination given another pass. I realize we don't have all the rules yet, but assume we cast the spell for average damage (35) and hit four creatures - each of whose save result is different:

CS takes 0
S takes 17 or 18 depending how we round
F takes 35
CF takes 70

It's not wholly clear though how much HP the caster receives. I think it's half of the rolled damage (17 or 18), but as written could also refer to half the total damage inflicted (122) though that seems too much even for temporary HP

I believe it was alluded to elsewhere, that you can't stack temporary HP. Mechanically, I believe that each 'effect' of the spell plays out - thus that when the spell affects the "CS" character, it takes 0 damage, and the caster gains 0 temp HP. When it hits "S", they take 17, and the caster gets 8 temp HP. When it hits "F", they take 35 damage, and the caster gains 17 temp HP. When it hits "CF", they take 70 HP damage, and the caster gains 35 temp hp.

Now, since temp HP doesn't stack, then ultimately the 'best' effect wins out, so if the above caster cast that spell, with those save results from the four different targets, then the caster ends up with 35 temp HP.

This is true but as I said before, it's unnecessarily confusing and requires you to reference rules located elsewhere (Temp HP stacking). I believe they made this change (Mark said he edited the text), but it's *much* simpler to say "You gain temporary HP equal to half the maximum damage done to any target of this spell." Clear, concise, no additional words, and doesn't require you to look elsewhere to figure out how things work.


Strachan Fireblade wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Strachan Fireblade wrote:

Mark,

Can you confirm that for Heal the schools are Healing, Necromancy and Positive? Or am I reading the schools wrong.

If this is true, do you need access to just one school to have the spell on your list?

Necromancy is the school, whereas healing and positive are other traits of the spell (basically "descriptors" like you're familiar with, but not as wordy).
Thanks for the clarification. One follow up if question if I may. How am I to tell descriptor from the school? Is it more obvious in the play test book and it’s just a formatting issue on the forum or am i not noticing something? Thanks for your responses!

My suggestion is this: If "school" is going to be a more used/referenced trait, and going to be referenced as "Spells of the Necromancy School", and the schools are going to be mutually exclusive, then it should be called out as separate. Other tags are not mutually exclusive, and are presumably not restricted/specialized in by wizards (assuming things like Spell Focus exist). This could still be done in the same line with boxes, however:

School: (Necromancy) Other/Tags: (Mind Effecting) (Fortune)


I think the 'tag' is something that they are just going to be standardized features of just about everything in the game. And game entry could contain a number of 'tags'. They could be the school a spell belongs to, a special category of effect, the type of feat (Dwarf, Fighter, General, etc). Sure, some of these tags might be mutually exclusive to other tags of the same type - but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to be treated differently.


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CraziFuzzy wrote:
I think the 'tag' is something that they are just going to be standardized features of just about everything in the game. And game entry could contain a number of 'tags'. They could be the school a spell belongs to, a special category of effect, the type of feat (Dwarf, Fighter, General, etc). Sure, some of these tags might be mutually exclusive to other tags of the same type - but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to be treated differently.

Then why not just make spell level a tag as well? We don't because it's a special type of tag that people need to look up more often than others... That was true of school in 1e, and if it's true of school in 2e, then I'd suggest it deserves calling out.

EDIT: Basically this gets into a "slippery slope" argument. It's a question of where you draw the line, and I'm guessing it's right around "School", which at least some others seem to think as well.


CraziFuzzy wrote:
I think the 'tag' is something that they are just going to be standardized features of just about everything in the game. And game entry could contain a number of 'tags'. They could be the school a spell belongs to, a special category of effect, the type of feat (Dwarf, Fighter, General, etc). Sure, some of these tags might be mutually exclusive to other tags of the same type - but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to be treated differently.

Which tags are mutually exclusive is mostly relevant for the people who create them, so the designers and GMs who want to create homebrew content. For players, what matters is what tags a feat, spell or whatever has, to know how it interacts with other stuff.


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Re school and other traits: just list the school first, with other traits in parenthesis. So the Heal spell is Necromancy (Healing, Positive).

Re spell areas, having a square origin instead of a vertex origin is more natural and intuitive. So if something is a 20 ft radius, it hits the target, four squares out in each cardinal direction, and three squares out in each diagonal direction. I have literally never seen anyone use vertex origin at any table, to the point that I didn't realize until this thread that it is technically the official rule. Just go with what people actually intuitively use in real world play.


How will readied spells operate with the new action economy.

In PF1 you can have a readied action to cast any spell with a standard action casting time.

How will this work with PF2, where the vast majority of spells are going to require 2 actions to cast?

Are readied spells going to be allowed, disallowed, or is the whole readied action thing going to either go away or require feats to use?


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I absolutely love how rituals are going to be core now! Ever since I discovered them in Occult Adventures I've always wanted to incorporate them into one of my games, so the fact that they're core in P2e just makes me excited to see what long-term support rituals are going to get! The fact that healing spells are necromancy now is just a cherry on top.

I think people are somewhat jumping to conclusions in regards to spell traditions, however. To integrate spell lists divided into material, spiritual, mental, etc. etc. focuses would be a lot of book keeping to make, especially down the line, and I'm pretty sure that it was just mentioned for flavor of how magic works in the world. I'm 90% sure the spell lists in the Playtest are just going to be the Bardic, Cleric, Druidic, and Wizard/Sorcerer spell lists; Alchemists no longer get "spells," and I'm fairly confident that Rangers and Paladins (if they still get spellcasting) will just have limited access to the Druid and Cleric spell lists, respectively

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

CraziFuzzy wrote:
So, on the topic of spells, how are areas of effect going to be handled? Are we keeping the 'vertex-origin' of effects, or can this be moved to 'square-origin'? Going to a square-origin would make effects slightly bigger, but at the same time, the effect area can easily be figured out using normal movement rules, as opposed to needing to know predefined templates that don't necessarily make 'natural' sense.

I’m not necessarily opposed, but...

The vertex origin AoEs make natural sense, and can be figured out pretty easily with the normal movement rules.

At least, I’ve never had a problem with them.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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I REALLY like a lot of this. Love the actions. Love how some things replace material components, like a divine focus. Love bumping uber spells like wish to 10th. Love core-ifying rituals.

I think I have to get used to the idea of heightened cantrips, because I have players who looove to stretch what cantrips can be capable of already, but I think I will love it in the end, as I can only expect you've paid attention to balance here and we can do that also in the playtest.

The only thing of what we now know for sure that gives me pause for thought is the idea of some abilities requiring a pool of spell points to cast (and it sounds like it works for these subsystems only, not "normal" spellcasting). And that's only because I always feel a bit iffy about tracking expenditure pools (there's a lot of classes I don't play because I don't feel like tracking grit/panache/ki/etc.). BUUUUUT it may well be it is a subsystem that suits and I want to see how it works in the playtest. I'm worried about it, but only a little, and am very willing to be swayed to "it's gonna be fine."

Dare I Hope? Dare I ask? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PAIZO do this...
I wish above and beyond anything--like be willing to give blood or burn my books or at least mail Paizo a nice big tin of cookies--to be assured that every single spell could be printed legibly (if in small text) onto a single 3x5 index card. I might be willing to compromise to go up to a 4x6 card. (And of course having official spell cards would also be goshdarned lovely.)

And that all of that text includes EVERYTHING you need to know to cast the spell (not like, say, acid fog which is a brief description, but refers you to solid fog which in turn refers you to fog cloud which means you have to look up three different spells to figure out the effects of one.)

Pathfinder, as an offshoot of D&D, inherited a weirdly frustratingly and often overly complicated spell system with a lot of ifs, ands, or buts that makes tracking some spell effects really frustrating. Pathfinder's spell system is the one system I also always struggled to teach newbs, and that newbs often phoned in trying to learn because it was too complicated and there was no easy way to look up many spells (digital access aside). 2e is an opportunity to shake off a lot of prior edition baggage and make the spell system much more friendly to teach to newbies as well as be more easy for players of all levels to track, learn, and enjoy. I think some of the system changes will help with this, but this is one area where I can also see more opportunity for streamlining and reworking. Almost all newbs I've ever taught wanted spell card or an easy spell reference, so I think if one of your concerns is teachability of PF (and the initial playtest announcement suggested this), this is definitely an area to consider.

The sample spells do seem to be reasonably briefish and the one I tried to fit onto an index card did with fair effect.

I notice there is no longer a "Save/SR" field, so I wonder if there is now a universal way of determining saving throw effects(and that also saves space.) (Also: if this by any chance means you have gotten rid of SR I will be forever ever grateful. I will send you more cookies. SR is a ridiculous, redundant system no one remembers to apply when they're supposed to. The concept is better reflected by specific immunities and/or high saves.)

Or are they just not including the "what happens if you fail/crit fail, etc." because they don't want to spoil that yet?

As I think about it more... okay, one more concern/question: is there any chance of streamlining/codifying how casting a spell with additional actions can improve the spell? Because I can see how if it's different for every single spell, that's going to greatly increase the need for spell description look up, and make it harder to write "short form" descriptions of spells on our character sheet. For example, in heal we see the default range is "touch" in the header. But then if two or three actions are used to cast the spell, then the range improves. If we note in a short form the default "touch" range and don't have room to include its range improvements, this could lead to confusion/obvious mistakes later in play. But if it's, say, codified that 2 actions always improves range of X type of spell (e.g., healing) to 30 ft, and 3 always improves it to burst, then a, that's a common standard that can become easy to use once memorized, and also shortens your spellblock.

I do think a little more attention could be paid to formatting and style to help make the spells easier to read/parse/fit into a small space, so let's move on to...

Editing Nerd Comments on Format
Under "casting: You don't need to keep saying casting over and over again. You're wasting ink and character space for reasons I don't get--it doesn't add to clarifying what the thing is. The word "casting" is in the description 8 times, not counting talking narratively about "casting" the spell. In fact, I suggest just eliminating that line in the summary text, and putting it once, down into the spell text, because the spell text has to contain the elaboration anyway--and even there, please just say "casting" once, not after each line, e.g.:

Casting
Somatic: blah blah
Somatic + Verbal: Blah blah
Material + Somatic + Verbal: Blah blah.

I am also fine with shortening the types of casting to M,S,V as usual (thanks for alphabetizing it), especially if you do insist on keeping a "casting" line in the summary header.

Be leery of repeating information in spell descriptions, where brevity is appreciated for spellcard and other reasons (save your verbosity for necessary caveats). If, using heal as an example, the summary says "Range touch," then its default range shouldn't have to be repeated under "Somatic Casting," and the whole first sentence in that section should be deleted. If we can safely assume touch is default, then only the change to range caused by multi-action castings should be noted. (Other concerns about range expressions aside here. The point is there's loads of space you can be saving in these spell descriptions that you are not.)

Is the "spell + level" in the black bar a placeholder for something else (e.g., "Wizard 1" or as someone suggested, "Mental 1") or are other things not spells that are going to use that format? (Rituals, maybe?)

Since it's in-text, not in the header, I really feel like there should be a colon after the casting types and Heightened (+1). I know Paizo has a weird fear of colons, but it would look better and be more intuitive to players and 3pps. But I know that's probably a style thing you won't want to change and/or wouldn't match the rest of the format. (And I guess 3pps can format how they want anyway.)

"the number of actions you spend when Casting this Spell..." - Did you mean to capitalize "Casting this Spell"? Is Casting a Spell a Thing now? Or was that just overexcited blog post capitalization? No big, I'm just curious about if it means anything or if I'm just getting silly and nitpicky.

Please do not confuse silly nitpickyness for unhappiness, I definitely think this not only sets up the potential for magic in core PF to be much much improved, but also allows potential for better subsystems and alternate systems for PF or offshoot games.

===
[Wrote this post yesterday only to find the thread temp-locked. I wonder if the folks insisting on being nasty to each other over pretendy funtime games realize all they will succeed in is preventing themselves and the rest of us from being able to offer real feedback.]


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
cfalcon wrote:

PF2 derives from PF1 derives from 3.5 D&D, which goes down the chain, 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, AD&D, D&D.

D&D 5ed derives from 4ed which derives from 3.5, etc.

It would be vastly more confusing to change the terminology in just one of these ten things. If anyone is confused by this stuff, it is literally just momentarily.

I have had people have this argument with me every single time they level up. You have to understand. Not everyone is a hardcore gamer. And Paizo wants to draw in the more casual gamers as well.

If you look through the comments when this discussion arose, you will find multiple people talking about how this is a problem. You haven't noticed it or you have people who eventually overcome it and you "don't see it as a problem."

How many just quit?

How many felt the game was too complex and they could just toss in a computer game and play some Halo or Diablo online with a bunch of folk and not care and not have to calculate things and not have to worry about math. (I have players who to this day have trouble with simple math. They are brilliant and imaginative people but simple addition is problematic for them. It's one reason I use Roll20 and Hero Labs as these programs do the adding for you.)

Spell Circles/Tiers/Whatever works better than level because you separate it from a multitude of other levels. So you're no longer dealing with algebraic word problems where you aren't writing out the equation. It's easier to realize that the highest tier usable is half the caster level rather than the highest spell level is half the caster level because aren't the levels all the same? And thus you get the confusion.


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There was a part of me that was hoping that the new Pathfinder spell system would be like Spheres of Power, but I knew that this was never going to happen, lol.


So there are only four spell lists correct?

So that would be cleric, druid, wizard/sorcerer, and maybe bard?

Shadow Lodge

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Everything looks really good, except for some parts on heightening spells.

blog post wrote:
This spell doesn't increase in power incrementally as its level increases (except for being harder to dispel); instead, it has a specific heightened benefit at 9th level.

Except that "specific heightened benefit" is just a power increase.

Now since it isn't marked at +2 but specified as 9th level does casting it at 10th level give you the standard regeneration 15?

also blog post wrote:
Heightened (+2) Increase the damage by 3d6.

So casting Vampric Exsanguination at level 7 increases the save (maybe) and makes it slightly harder to counter (also maybe), but 8th level is both of these and more damage?

All spells should get a power increase when casting from a higher spell slot.

Vampric Exsanguination could be:
Heightened (+1) Increase the damage by 1.5d6.

non-standard format I know and but rounding down the number of dice would result in the same dice increase from the even levels and give additional granularity in power.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:

So there are only four spell lists correct?

So that would be cleric, druid, wizard/sorcerer, and maybe bard?

Material, mental, spiritual, vital.

Wizard = material/mental
Cleric = spiritual/vital

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Dragon78 wrote:

So there are only four spell lists correct?

So that would be cleric, druid, wizard/sorcerer, and maybe bard?

It could be that, or it could be as someone way upthread (and now also TriOmegaZero ninjaing me right above) suggested, that as "arcane" is made of "material and mental" magic, and "divine" is "vital and spiritual" magic, then the lists might be material/mental/spiritual/vital.

That could also be taking the description waaaaaaaaaaay out of context. But I could see it working that way, and say sorcs/wizards get the usual "arcane" assignments of mental/material and clerics get the usual "divine" assignments of vital/spiritual... but bards for example might instead use the mental/vital lists and druids and rangers the material/vital. Then likewise any non-core spellcasters might use different combinations as well, e.g., if they make a PF summoner, it might use material/spiritual. Some archetypes could also access different lists.

All of the above is entirely speculation. The lists could also be, idk, "arcane, divine, natural, and psychic." Or "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme." Whatever it is, I *think* (more speculation) they are trying to make generic-ish enough lists that could be used for many kinds of classes, whether core, splat, or 3P splat, so they don't have to invent new spell lists all the time for new classes.

Silver Crusade

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:

So there are only four spell lists correct?

So that would be cleric, druid, wizard/sorcerer, and maybe bard?

Material, mental, spiritual, vital.

Wizard = material/mental
Cleric = spiritual/vital

I don't think we know for sure how the "essences" and spell lists will interact. Mark had this to say upthread:

Mark Seifter wrote:
JRutterbush wrote:
Notice how Mark didn't say that spell lists weren't divided up based on the essences. I'm gonna take that as a 100% confirmation that I'm correct in my prediction. There's no other possible interpretation of that.
The spell lists are certainly based on the essences in some way. Is it exactly what you guys predicted in this thread? Well, now's not the time to confirm or unconfirm; we have more tricks up our sleeves to share with you in future blogs. I predict if you liked the essences bit in this blog, you will really like a few more of the things to come!


Joe M. wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:

So there are only four spell lists correct?

So that would be cleric, druid, wizard/sorcerer, and maybe bard?

Material, mental, spiritual, vital.

Wizard = material/mental
Cleric = spiritual/vital

I don't think we know for sure how the "essences" and spell lists will interact. Mark had this to say upthread:

Mark Seifter wrote:
JRutterbush wrote:
Notice how Mark didn't say that spell lists weren't divided up based on the essences. I'm gonna take that as a 100% confirmation that I'm correct in my prediction. There's no other possible interpretation of that.
The spell lists are certainly based on the essences in some way. Is it exactly what you guys predicted in this thread? Well, now's not the time to confirm or unconfirm; we have more tricks up our sleeves to share with you in future blogs. I predict if you liked the essences bit in this blog, you will really like a few more of the things to come!

I really do think the whole essence thing is just conjecture based off of Mark's flavor text (which I love), as it would just make making spell lists a lot more difficult and time-consuming in the future as opposed to just sticking with the dogma of class-based spell lists (Bard, Cleric, Druid, Wizard/Sorcerer), that way they don't have to come up with new essence combinations in order to justify new spellcaster classes.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

As someone else put it, could you eliminate Spell Resistance? It's a throwback to AD&D days with the Illithid and the Drow, two monsters who were fairly rare and truly horrifying because the powerful wizard's spells would just splash off of them without effect. But now you have Critical Success and Critical Failures for saving throws.

If you want to emulate the effect of Spell Resistance, use Saves. Have one easily-found line with the saves stating "This enemy cannot suffer a Critical Failure for Saving Throws." All at once you have foes who are resistant to spells but you don't have an added hoop to go through and try to remember if this monster has spell resistance or not.

You could even go one further and state that a Resistant Creature shifts their Save up one category (Critical Failures become Failures, Failures become Successes, and Successes become Critical Successes) but that also risks getting confusing. Eliminating critical failures alone for Resistant creatures would emulate the "this thing shrugs off magic" without making them overpowered.

Grand Lodge

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Quadratic W wrote:
The biggest concern would be that with the way higher power spells have an easier time overcoming lower level spells, the gap between full-casters and everyone else might grow a bit more. As well, if a Fighter or Rogue gain access to a cantrip in 5e, that cantrip grows in power as they do. But because those classes generally don't gain caster levels, it seems like those classes would be stuck with a 1st-level version of cantrips for the whole shebang.

Am I correct? It appears the caster level has no bearing on the power of the spell, technically (meaning spells have no caster level adjustment, or they don't go by caster level). For instance, it appears a higher spell level light spell will defeat a lower level darkness spell, even if that darkness caster is way higher caster level than the lower caster level light spell! I'm not sure I like this at all: no inherent caster level modifiers at all? A level 20 wizard casting a level 1 darkness spell can be defeated by a level 4 wizard using a level 2 light spell?


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Yeah, I've been mulling it over for a while and based on Marc's descriptions of the categories, limiting Clerics or Wizards to just 2 or 3 of them would seem to cut-off access to many iconic spells - Plus, none of the sample spells given mention Essence at all.

My current hypothesis then, is that Essence is more a reflection of how a character casts spells than the types of spells they can cast.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Friendly Rogue wrote:
Joe M. wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:

So there are only four spell lists correct?

So that would be cleric, druid, wizard/sorcerer, and maybe bard?

Material, mental, spiritual, vital.

Wizard = material/mental
Cleric = spiritual/vital

I don't think we know for sure how the "essences" and spell lists will interact. Mark had this to say upthread:

Mark Seifter wrote:
JRutterbush wrote:
Notice how Mark didn't say that spell lists weren't divided up based on the essences. I'm gonna take that as a 100% confirmation that I'm correct in my prediction. There's no other possible interpretation of that.
The spell lists are certainly based on the essences in some way. Is it exactly what you guys predicted in this thread? Well, now's not the time to confirm or unconfirm; we have more tricks up our sleeves to share with you in future blogs. I predict if you liked the essences bit in this blog, you will really like a few more of the things to come!
I really do think the whole essence thing is just conjecture based off of Mark's flavor text (which I love), as it would just make making spell lists a lot more difficult and time-consuming in the future as opposed to just sticking with the dogma of class-based spell lists (Bard, Cleric, Druid, Wizard/Sorcerer), that way they don't have to come up with new essence combinations in order to justify new spellcaster classes.

Mark also stated something along the lines of " we wanted to have a stronger connection between magic and the lore of the world" (hard paraphrase because I'm on mobile and can't find it). This isn't some flavour text fluff, saying that wizards wield magic that works best with material and mental power is not saying "wizards mostly learn these kinds of spells as a cute garnish", it's saying that material and mental have something to do with spells classification and that that classification may be very important for what classes can learn a spell.

I think that there's too few essences and that adding more with the current classifications may not be simple, depending how certain types of spells are classified. Are summoning spells material or spiritual if they call power from the planes? Is planar magic a good enough start for its own essence? What about animate dead? I imagine it might be a ritual now, but what about a spell that raises undead more quickly? Is it a vital spell? Vital sounds about right from what we can glean from Mark, but that would mean that necromancer wizards can only use the ritual, but if it's material, evil clerics lose that option, unless either class has methods of cherry picking spells from other essences, which... would work out very well.


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MusicAddict wrote:

Mark also stated something along the lines of " we wanted to have a stronger connection between magic and the lore of the world" (hard paraphrase because I'm on mobile and can't find it). This isn't some flavour text fluff, saying that wizards wield magic that works best with material and mental power is not saying "wizards mostly learn these kinds of spells as a cute garnish", it's saying that material and mental have something to do with spells classification and that that classification may be very important for what classes can learn a spell.

I'm not saying that it's just a garnish to the magic classes, but I really don't think that it's going to be so big of a thing that it will replace the way spell lists work. The way I'm interpreting it is that the material+mental and spiritual+vital essences are just ways of clearly distinguishing how arcane magic operates versus how divine magic operates, which would lead to some general distinctions as to what spells the classes get access to - in example, more destructive evocation spells would be very material and more exclusive to arcane casters, while hardcore healing spells that involve the restoration of limbs and life are deep rooted into vitality, putting it in the divine camp. If the essences were to become extremely concrete mechanics as opposed to general design/lore guidelines, I feel that the distinctions between the casting classes would become too rigid and interfere with intersectionality between spell lists.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Tangent101 wrote:

If you look through the comments when this discussion arose, you will find multiple people talking about how this is a problem. You haven't noticed it or you have people who eventually overcome it and you "don't see it as a problem."

How many just quit?

Over the term "level"?

I'd assume some number around or equal to zero.

Quote:
How many felt the game was too complex

For this vague of a question? Probably some. But there's always been a plethora of "simple" games that don't maintain any tradition, and they never seem to have everyone swarm to them. But even 5ed, which is reasonably simplified and assuredly has a much reduced scope to anything in the 3.X / d20 line, and is unusually successful as far as tabletop RPGs go, doesn't throw out tradition unless it is getting something for its effort.

Quote:
but simple addition is problematic for them.

These people are always going to have issues playing a tabletop RPG that is based on simple arithmetic, if simple arithmetic is not at least a little bit fun for them. Certainly you can use tools to do all this work, but it's going to be an uphill battle- one you may be successfully waging with roll20 and some other scripts with your group, but it's simply a feature of the genre- and it isn't a bug to most players.

Quote:
Spell Circles/Tiers/Whatever works better than level because you separate it from a multitude of other levels.

I disagree pretty strongly. Spell level is a time tested word, and while it gets people making jokes about the overuse of the word "level" (which has been abandoned most places besides class and spell), there's no evidence that it really raises any barriers or causes any long term confusion. The existence of the class chart for casters which shows spell levels and class levels should put it to rest for most players, and the remaining folks were probably always going to get confused, asking why their 7th level wizard can't cast 7th circle spells.


EDIT

Somatic Casting, Verbal Casting The spell has a range of 30 feet and doesn't require a touch attack when targeting an undead creature. An undead target must attempt a Fortitude save, taking half damage on a success, no damage on a critical success, or double damage on a critical failure.

Should be:

Somatic Casting, Verbal Casting The spell is single target with a range of 30 feet. When targeting an undead creature it doesn't require a touch attack. An undead target must attempt a Fortitude save, taking half damage on a success, no damage on a critical success, or double damage on a critical failure.


Crayon wrote:

Yeah, I've been mulling it over for a while and based on Marc's descriptions of the categories, limiting Clerics or Wizards to just 2 or 3 of them would seem to cut-off access to many iconic spells - Plus, none of the sample spells given mention Essence at all.

My current hypothesis then, is that Essence is more a reflection of how a character casts spells than the types of spells they can cast.

On reflection you're probably right. That's more for the flavor backend of why classes get the spells that they do. The lists will probably still be Arcane, Divine, Nature, and ??? (Bard? General? Hedge?)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Tangent101 wrote:
As someone else put it, could you eliminate Spell Resistance?

Now this one is more interesting. Spell resistance is interesting because it reflects a type of inherent immunity to spells, and has always had a somewhat complex interaction with spell items, requiring you to intuit why evoking fire is prone to spell resistance, but magically summoning a lesser amount of non-magical fire is not prone to spell resistance. This assigns a type of verisimilitude to the mechanic, but is it necessary?

The flip side of this is the mechanical detail. The spell resistance step, usually skipped, is, these days, the mechanical mirror of something similar to a miss chance from concealment on a physical attack. It's an extra throw you have to make before you get to do whatever roll or throw comes next (attack roll or saving throw).

The advantage of this is that it allows you to set up another kind of supernatural protection for creatures and players in your game world. It's not quite as interesting in 3.X+ as it was in AD&D, where it was a flat chance that didn't scale, and as such assigning a 10% value was exciting, and an 80% value was extremely high stakes, but it is more realistic when it comes to obeying the logic of "high level is better at stuff".

Basically, I think whether to keep spell resistance comes down to this: is this version actively attempting to eliminate such rolls? For instance, 5ed, which has done away with spell resistance, also did away with the miss chance as a core mechanic. Everything there was replaced with advantage/disadvantage. I'm not a fan of this simplification at all: others are. 5ed is certainly selling product, right? This simplification is a cause of grousing, but it hasn't hurt their uptake much.

Anyway, I'd like it if Pathfinder continued to model different steps in this, keeping spell resistance, concealment miss percent, and similar "but does this even make sense" type of rolls. I want spell resistance to stay, especially if the only thing gained is the removal of one rare roll that models a supernatural magical avoidance pretty darned well.

But if the entire game is moving to something simplified like 5ed, then it makes sense to remove it.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Friendly Rogue wrote:
MusicAddict wrote:

Mark also stated something along the lines of " we wanted to have a stronger connection between magic and the lore of the world" (hard paraphrase because I'm on mobile and can't find it). This isn't some flavour text fluff, saying that wizards wield magic that works best with material and mental power is not saying "wizards mostly learn these kinds of spells as a cute garnish", it's saying that material and mental have something to do with spells classification and that that classification may be very important for what classes can learn a spell.

I'm not saying that it's just a garnish to the magic classes, but I really don't think that it's going to be such a big of a thing that it will replace the way spell lists work. The way I'm interpreting it is that the material+mental and spiritual+vital essences are just ways of clearly distinguishing how arcane magic operates versus how divine magic operates, which would lead to some general distinctions as to what spells the classes get access to - in example, more destructive evocation spells would be very material and more exclusive to arcane casters, while hardcore healing spells that involve the restoration of limbs and life are deep rooted into vitality, putting it in the divine camp. If the essences were to become extremely concrete mechanics as opposed to general design/lore guidelines, I feel that the distinctions between the casting classes would become too rigid and interfere with intersectionality between spell lists.

Your examples ARE a garnish, descriptive use of the terms provides rather than a prescriptive approach. Material spells involve manipulation of matter and energy of the user and the world around, whether that be transformation or harnessing elemental energy. Now, material spells are something that are fitting for both wizards and druids without a doubt, a druid and wizard should both be able to harness the power of fire and water, and why would the inherent magic methods of the two be different, in a magical sense? Sure maybe the druid felt nature show him the way, and the wizard worked out the math, but the cone of colds and fireballs operate on the same principles, and their manipulation of matter in this respect are similar enough that do the two of them really need a heavily different list of which spells each can use that perform these effects?


I'm liking some of the ideas presented here, can't wait to learn more.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Joe M. wrote:
I don't think we know for sure how the "essences" and spell lists will interact.

True, but if it works well for the job I have no doubt that the team will pull that wonderful GM trick of "You totally figured it out, bravo!" *erase old idea, write in new one*


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So here's a question, as I level my cleric and take heightened versions of heal, if I spend all three of my actions to burst will it always be my Wisdom modifier or will that have a multiplier as well? Because if not, it drastically reduces my interest at higher levels to burst Heal.

Example:My 3rd level Cleric in first edition has an 18 Wisdom. By these rules my burst heal would still only heal 4 damage and deal 4 damage to undead.

Something that could fix this would be to add a heightened multiplier to your appropriate modifier (2x Wis modifier for the above example) this would keep bursting viable at higher levels. Maybe I missed it, but I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere when talking about Heal.


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MusicAddict wrote:


Your examples ARE a garnish, descriptive use of the terms provides rather than a prescriptive approach. Material spells involve manipulation of matter and energy of the user and the world around, whether that be transformation or harnessing elemental energy. Now, material spells are something that are fitting for both wizards and druids without a doubt, a druid and wizard should both be able to harness the power of fire and water, and why would the inherent magic methods of the two be different, in a magical sense? Sure maybe the druid felt nature show him the way, and the wizard worked out the math, but the cone of colds and fireballs operate on the same principles, and their manipulation of matter in this respect are similar enough that do the two of them really need a heavily different list of which spells each can use that perform these effects?

But the Druid gets access to neither Cone of Cold or Fireball by default - they only get access to those spells via domains, and in that respect Clerics get access to the same domains, with the same principle. As a matter of fact, there's more spell overlap between the Druid and Cleric in P1e than the Druid and Wizard, but the example you provided contradicts that.

If my arguments for essences are for them just being garnish, let me ask this: is that necessarily a bad thing? Do we need to add an additional factor to spellcasting that not only makes things more complex but also comes off as contradictory to P1e in practice? Having the essence of magic just being flavor text, while the spell lists of the classes remain intact as opposed to adopting universal essence lists, is just fine by me, because it gives magic more flavor and makes it understandable in the game world without adding more moving parts than necessary.

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