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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Can there be rules to allow casting to last between move than one turn? Like I spread a spell cast over two turns, using the first turn to use a verbal component and move 60 ft, then the next to do the somatic or material component.

This'll help out characters that want to mix in martial and magic actions, which have been traditionally pretty weak. Since spells lose efficiency if you don't use the maximum amount of actions (and you already have less spell slots), and attacks lose efficiency as you make more than one per turn, I remember there's to-hit penalties for attacking more than once per turn, but you can make three attacks if you want (and they probably have weaker to hits and damage already). Meaning a battlecaster kind of lose when they use turn 1 to cast a spell with three actions and turn 2 to attack three times. And it feels weird to just pause swinging a sword and do a weird performance to cast a spell.

Maybe it won't be the case, but if this stops casters from casting another spell (if they do the first component on one turn, they can't begin another spell, and then when they finish the second component on the second turn, they still can't begin another spell, they have to wait. So instead of two fully powered spells, they get one over two turns) then I really like the idea of trying to find the balance between action economy, slot efficiency, and outright power being something a wizard should think of (and it's in an otherwise completely intuitive system)

Can we get some more spells like vampiric exsanguination that explores secondary themes that 5e kind of just gives a single weak ability for and a single spell in the entire list to call a day? I really want to be able to make a diviner that can actually see far into the future (or at least guess to the same level augury clerics can) instead of being this weird lucky generalist, or be a more vampiric blood magic necromancer (really hoping there's a spell that increases magic on kill rather than just health. Like heighten next spell by 1 upon killing creature) instead of undead army

Liberty's Edge

TeCoolMage wrote:
Since spells lose efficiency if you don't use the maximum amount of actions

This part is actually not true of most spells. Spells like Magic Missile or Heal that use a variable number of actions are the exception rather than the rule.


My only question is thus;

With Cantrips elevating to the highest available CL (caster level), do es this mean that they must be prepared as such- meaning that I could be spending a 4th level spell slot on something as simple as Detect Magic?

Or, are all Cantrips at-will? Which would mean that Wizards are slightly more powerful than in 1st edition.


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UlrichVonLichtenstein wrote:

My only question is thus;

With Cantrips elevating to the highest available CL (caster level), do es this mean that they must be prepared as such- meaning that I could be spending a 4th level spell slot on something as simple as Detect Magic?

Or, are all Cantrips at-will? Which would mean that Wizards are slightly more powerful than in 1st edition.

It is the second one. Cantrips are more powerful and are at will (or on a delay I think shield has a 10 round cooldown or something). In theory the boost in power should be balanced by making it easier for the party to have longer adventuring days. Even though we were always supposed to have multiple encounters per day it is hard IRL to enforce that when one player isn't having fun anymore because all they can do is ray of frost or a s~&!ty crossbow. In the new paradigm the wizard always feels useful and magical even if they don't have any big spell left in the tank.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Bardarok wrote:
.. (or on a delay I think shield has a 10 round cooldown or something). ...

I really hope you are totally wrong. I wouldn't spend one of my cantrip slots to have a +2 to Ac once every 10 rounds.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Diego Rossi wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
.. (or on a delay I think shield has a 10 round cooldown or something). ...
I really hope you are totally wrong. I wouldn't spend one of my cantrip slots to have a +2 to Ac once every 10 rounds.

He is, sort of.

The Cantrip gives you +2AC and the option to use the Shield Block Reaction for DR. If you don't use the reaction, you can keep casting Shield for the AC. If you use the reaction the "shield" shatters and can't be reused for 10 minutes.


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Malk_Content wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
.. (or on a delay I think shield has a 10 round cooldown or something). ...
I really hope you are totally wrong. I wouldn't spend one of my cantrip slots to have a +2 to Ac once every 10 rounds.

He is, sort of.

The Cantrip gives you +2AC and the option to use the Shield Block Reaction for DR. If you don't use the reaction, you can keep casting Shield for the AC. If you use the reaction the "shield" shatters and can't be reused for 10 minutes.

What's the shield's hardness, then? How many HP is it buying you?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
.. (or on a delay I think shield has a 10 round cooldown or something). ...
I really hope you are totally wrong. I wouldn't spend one of my cantrip slots to have a +2 to Ac once every 10 rounds.

He is, sort of.

The Cantrip gives you +2AC and the option to use the Shield Block Reaction for DR. If you don't use the reaction, you can keep casting Shield for the AC. If you use the reaction the "shield" shatters and can't be reused for 10 minutes.

What's the shield's hardness, then? How many HP is it buying you?

Don't know. At a guess that is the scaling component of the Cantrip as scaling the AC would probably make it OP.


It can also block magic missile.


I had mixed feelings about getting a cooldown after the shield breaks, buuuuut on thinking about it that's still directly better than a physical shield which is gone for good once it breaks, and it would probably be brokenly good for an at-will to give significant damage reduction every single turn, so I guess it works out.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
TeCoolMage wrote:
Since spells lose efficiency if you don't use the maximum amount of actions
This part is actually not true of most spells. Spells like Magic Missile or Heal that use a variable number of actions are the exception rather than the rule.

Heal doesn’t even lose efficiency but is more situational. One action and two action heal are the same healing but gives you a little bit more range then most movement speeds. The 3rd action going to depend on if you have 2 or more people nearby that need healing (or undead that need slaying) because it’s always going to be d8’s behind the single target spell.

Magic missile on the other hand does seem like a waste to use anything less then 3 actions. This mechanic would be really fun on a cantrip as it wouldn’t be as harsh if you wanted to trade 1/3rd of the damage for a move or interact action.


If I recall correctly, Shield starts as giving DR 4 one time. That probably scales as you level, but it seems like more of an emergency option to stay conscious than the go-to choice.

Liberty's Edge

Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
.. (or on a delay I think shield has a 10 round cooldown or something). ...
I really hope you are totally wrong. I wouldn't spend one of my cantrip slots to have a +2 to Ac once every 10 rounds.

He is, sort of.

The Cantrip gives you +2AC and the option to use the Shield Block Reaction for DR. If you don't use the reaction, you can keep casting Shield for the AC. If you use the reaction the "shield" shatters and can't be reused for 10 minutes.

What's the shield's hardness, then? How many HP is it buying you?

Shield actually only gives +1 AC, and has Hardness 4...at 1st level. So definitely not as good as an actual shield.

It presumably improves as it levels, but to what degree we don't know.


With an adamantine shield apparently being only hardness 13, I'm guessing a scaled up Shield cantrip gets +1 hardness per spell tier and +1 AC every 3 spell tiers.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
With an adamantine shield apparently being only hardness 13, I'm guessing a scaled up Shield cantrip gets +1 hardness per spell tier and +1 AC every 3 spell tiers.

I'm still holding on to the notion that hardness will increase with magic shields (otherwise, I can't possibly see Sword/Board fighting keeping up, and I doubt Paizo wouldn't notice this in internal testing), so I could see it increasing in hardness faster than that, though I think the AC boost would probably be more or less correct, maybe even higher than that (though this is assuming shield quality is a thing, as I can't imagine the shield cantrip being more effective than a level-appropriate heavy shield)


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Tholomyes wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
With an adamantine shield apparently being only hardness 13, I'm guessing a scaled up Shield cantrip gets +1 hardness per spell tier and +1 AC every 3 spell tiers.
I'm still holding on to the notion that hardness will increase with magic shields (otherwise, I can't possibly see Sword/Board fighting keeping up, and I doubt Paizo wouldn't notice this in internal testing), so I could see it increasing in hardness faster than that, though I think the AC boost would probably be more or less correct, maybe even higher than that (though this is assuming shield quality is a thing, as I can't imagine the shield cantrip being more effective than a level-appropriate heavy shield)

Even the level 18 Legendary Indestructible Shield is only hardness 13. Which definitely does not keep pace with the damage output at higher levels. So maybe they really did miss that in the shuffle of all the other moving pieces.

I assume that stronger shields can take more hits before breaking. But the sword and board still feels like it won't keep up if the ability to block damage from any given hit just becomes negligible in the late game, especially if the shield breaks instead of denting if it takes too much damage over its hardness.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Tholomyes wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
With an adamantine shield apparently being only hardness 13, I'm guessing a scaled up Shield cantrip gets +1 hardness per spell tier and +1 AC every 3 spell tiers.
I'm still holding on to the notion that hardness will increase with magic shields (otherwise, I can't possibly see Sword/Board fighting keeping up, and I doubt Paizo wouldn't notice this in internal testing), so I could see it increasing in hardness faster than that, though I think the AC boost would probably be more or less correct, maybe even higher than that (though this is assuming shield quality is a thing, as I can't imagine the shield cantrip being more effective than a level-appropriate heavy shield)

Even the level 18 Legendary Indestructible Shield is only hardness 13. Which definitely does not keep pace with the damage output at higher levels. So maybe they really did miss that in the shuffle of all the other moving pieces.

I assume that stronger shields can take more hits before breaking. But the sword and board still feels like it won't keep up if the ability to block damage from any given hit just becomes negligible in the late game, especially if the shield breaks instead of denting if it takes too much damage over its hardness.

One thing to note, is that for some one dedicated to the Sword and Board style, while the DR might cap out at some point, the Action cost to use said shield drops to basically 0 around the same time.


Malk_Content wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Tholomyes wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
With an adamantine shield apparently being only hardness 13, I'm guessing a scaled up Shield cantrip gets +1 hardness per spell tier and +1 AC every 3 spell tiers.
I'm still holding on to the notion that hardness will increase with magic shields (otherwise, I can't possibly see Sword/Board fighting keeping up, and I doubt Paizo wouldn't notice this in internal testing), so I could see it increasing in hardness faster than that, though I think the AC boost would probably be more or less correct, maybe even higher than that (though this is assuming shield quality is a thing, as I can't imagine the shield cantrip being more effective than a level-appropriate heavy shield)

Even the level 18 Legendary Indestructible Shield is only hardness 13. Which definitely does not keep pace with the damage output at higher levels. So maybe they really did miss that in the shuffle of all the other moving pieces.

I assume that stronger shields can take more hits before breaking. But the sword and board still feels like it won't keep up if the ability to block damage from any given hit just becomes negligible in the late game, especially if the shield breaks instead of denting if it takes too much damage over its hardness.

One thing to note, is that for some one dedicated to the Sword and Board style, while the DR might cap out at some point, the Action cost to use said shield drops to basically 0 around the same time.

That's helpful temporarily, until the shield eats so much damage it breaks, every other blow and then eventually every single blow it takes. Since they've mentioned a shield can just outright break instead of denting. I guess we'll have to see how it turns out in the printed rules though.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Tholomyes wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
With an adamantine shield apparently being only hardness 13, I'm guessing a scaled up Shield cantrip gets +1 hardness per spell tier and +1 AC every 3 spell tiers.
I'm still holding on to the notion that hardness will increase with magic shields (otherwise, I can't possibly see Sword/Board fighting keeping up, and I doubt Paizo wouldn't notice this in internal testing), so I could see it increasing in hardness faster than that, though I think the AC boost would probably be more or less correct, maybe even higher than that (though this is assuming shield quality is a thing, as I can't imagine the shield cantrip being more effective than a level-appropriate heavy shield)

Even the level 18 Legendary Indestructible Shield is only hardness 13. Which definitely does not keep pace with the damage output at higher levels. So maybe they really did miss that in the shuffle of all the other moving pieces.

I assume that stronger shields can take more hits before breaking. But the sword and board still feels like it won't keep up if the ability to block damage from any given hit just becomes negligible in the late game, especially if the shield breaks instead of denting if it takes too much damage over its hardness.

One thing to note, is that for some one dedicated to the Sword and Board style, while the DR might cap out at some point, the Action cost to use said shield drops to basically 0 around the same time.
That's helpful temporarily, until the shield eats so much damage it breaks, every other blow and then eventually every single blow it takes. Since they've mentioned a shield can just outright break instead of denting. I guess we'll have to see how it turns out in the printed rules though.

I assume part of the "Indestructible" shield is that it is indestructible.


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We also have high level ways that a shield can just straight up regenerate. I'm not overly worried about broken shields.

That said, I agree that hardness 13 doesn't feel like a lot for preventing damage to the character.


Captain Morgan wrote:

We also have high level ways that a shield can just straight up regenerate. I'm not overly worried about broken shields.

That said, I agree that hardness 13 doesn't feel like a lot for preventing damage to the character.

I agree, the number feels a little low to me as well. I instinctively want a shield that will deflect 30 or 40 damage per hit (or more) at higher levels.

That being said, what my gut wants might be too much to make the numbers work.

Taking 40ish less damage over 3 rounds, PLUS the decreased damage from -2 AC (less crits, more misses), PLUS the decreased damage from feats like Aggressive Shield, which pushes your opponent away and thus deprives them of actions starts to add up in a hurry. I could easily see 100+ damage reduced and avoided in 3 rounds with this combination. That doesn't include any feats that increase the damage you block with your shield (which seems like a reasonable feat, somewhat akin to Power Attack, but for shields. Who knows, it might go against design philosophy though).

At a certain point, shields add so much survivability that it becomes really suboptimal to use anything else (the inverse of the general PF1e issue with 2H vs. 1H/shield). The designers need to find a way to walk that tightrope, where shields add toughness and survivability, but it is still reasonable to play without one.

Eagerly awaiting stress testing this in the playtest.


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We also know you can get a second reaction for shield blocking, so we could be looking at reducing by 13 damage twice as the norm, for example.

Liberty's Edge

They've specified in the magic item Blog that Hardness gets to at least 18 and that may be on only level 13 items (the wording is unclear), meaning higher level ones might go higher. Just FYI.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Malk_Content wrote:


I assume part of the "Indestructible" shield is that it is indestructible.

This is a good assumption. And that's a big perk in terms of how you can use the shield. If you have the feat Captain Morgan mentioned, that's a worry-free -13 damage twice per round, as many rounds as you need without a breather to repair it (by that level, you can probably fix it in a matter of seconds, but a few rounds is more than you can afford in combat). You could also have a significantly higher hardness (up to around 25, which is quite a substantial reduction), but then you risk taking dents and the shield being broken if the fight drags on or you take a lot of hits.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:


I assume part of the "Indestructible" shield is that it is indestructible.

This is a good assumption. And that's a big perk in terms of how you can use the shield. If you have the feat Captain Morgan mentioned, that's a worry-free -13 damage twice per round, as many rounds as you need without a breather to repair it (by that level, you can probably fix it in a matter of seconds, but a few rounds is more than you can afford in combat). You could also have a significantly higher hardness (up to around 25, which is quite a substantial reduction), but then you risk taking dents and the shield being broken if the fight drags on or you take a lot of hits.

It does seem a little counter-intuitive that the indestructible shield has less hardness than a shield you can destroy. I get why it might be necessary for balance purposes, though.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Cheburn wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

We also have high level ways that a shield can just straight up regenerate. I'm not overly worried about broken shields.

That said, I agree that hardness 13 doesn't feel like a lot for preventing damage to the character.

I agree, the number feels a little low to me as well. I instinctively want a shield that will deflect 30 or 40 damage per hit (or more) at higher levels.

That being said, what my gut wants might be too much to make the numbers work.

Let's do a bit of math: level 20 fighter 200 hp, cons 16, another 60 hp, human 10 hp. So, 270 hp. 290 with toughness.

Every time a shield block 40 hp of damage it add 13.7% to his total hit points. You think it is balanced? If you think that, how good should be Stoneskin?

Or we can look it from the other direction. I have seen several posts saying that high level fighters will deliver something like 8d12+15 hp of damage every hit.
8*6.5+15=67 hp of damage. Subtracting 40 neutralize about 60% of the damage. You really feel that that is a good number? And that it is appropriate when applied against martials less focused on damage?

Personally I feel that subtracting 13 points of damage (almost 20% of that fighter damage) is a good result. More seem excessive.


Captain Morgan wrote:
It does seem a little counter-intuitive that the indestructible shield has less hardness than a shield you can destroy. I get why it might be necessary for balance purposes, though.

It's magical so it naturally casts make whole on itself over and over again and thus indestructable. That doesn't mean it is as good at absorbing blows as thicker shields or ones built out of different materials (star metals like adamantine).


Gregg Reece wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
It does seem a little counter-intuitive that the indestructible shield has less hardness than a shield you can destroy. I get why it might be necessary for balance purposes, though.
It's magical so it naturally casts make whole on itself over and over again and thus indestructable. That doesn't mean it is as good at absorbing blows as thicker shields or ones built out of different materials (star metals like adamantine).

I can see it as a balance thing, which I won't argue with, but I will nitpick and say the indestructible shield is adamantine.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:


I assume part of the "Indestructible" shield is that it is indestructible.

This is a good assumption. And that's a big perk in terms of how you can use the shield. If you have the feat Captain Morgan mentioned, that's a worry-free -13 damage twice per round, as many rounds as you need without a breather to repair it (by that level, you can probably fix it in a matter of seconds, but a few rounds is more than you can afford in combat). You could also have a significantly higher hardness (up to around 25, which is quite a substantial reduction), but then you risk taking dents and the shield being broken if the fight drags on or you take a lot of hits.
It does seem a little counter-intuitive that the indestructible shield has less hardness than a shield you can destroy. I get why it might be necessary for balance purposes, though.

I Guess from a physics perspective it makes sense that an indestructible shield would hurt you more. Less of the energy of the blow is getting absorbed by the shield. Kind of like the crumble zone on a car.

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