Raising the Flag

Monday, October 22, 2018

The time has come to once again move on to the next part of Doomsday Dawn, entitled "Red Flags"! This time, a group of new operatives is sent by the Esoteric Order to the Shackles as part of a desperate mission to stay one step ahead of the Night Heralds. Once you have had a chance to play this adventure, make sure to stop back here and take the surveys. Your responses are critical to our understanding of high-level play!

Player Survey | Game Master Survey | Open Survey

We know that the hectic pace has been hard to keep up with, but we would like to encourage you to keep playing and submitting your playtest results, even if the focus has moved on. As a reminder, all of the Doomsday Dawn surveys will remain open through the end of the playtest period!

Update 1.5 Is Alive!

Throughout the playtest we’ve been gathering a lot of feedback about spells and their relative power level in the game, especially regarding how they compare to spells as they were used in Pathfinder First Edition. While some of these changes were made to prevent problematic situations in play, others were made to help them function more cleanly in the new edition’s structure.

The survey results are pretty clear that we have succeeded in those goals for some areas of spellcasting and fallen short in others—sometimes significantly short. Fortunately, because this is a playtest, we can make adjustments and get more feedback. As of this update, we are increasing the power level of some spells, starting with those that deal damage, as they are the easiest ones to adjust, update, and test. Update 1.5 contains a list that includes the majority of the damage-dealing spells in the game, revising their overall damage values. Fireball, for example, has gone from dealing 6d6 fire damage to dealing 8d6 fire damage. This doesn’t affect how the spells scale, other than to adjust the base value (so a 4th-level fireball spell will deal 10d6 fire damage).

We want to stress that these are not the only changes that will be happening to spells between now and the final version of the game, but they are the ones that we can most easily present for additional playtesting.

This update also contains a few other small alterations. While the dying rules have been well received since Update 1.3, there are still some improvements that might be made. In this update, we’ve changed the saving throw for stabilizing when dying to a flat check (DC = 10 + the dying value). We want to stress that this is purely a test to see how players respond to this as opposed to the Fortitude saving throw with a DC set by the monster. This is a change that we might roll back depending on feedback.

There has also been a small change to Treat Wounds: the DC of the skill check is now set by the highest level of the character being treated. This was changed to clear up some odd issues with high-level characters having difficulty when healing targets that are of a much lower level. Again, Treat Wounds is still very much a rule that we are evaluating, and I think it is safe to say that it will probably change in some ways before we see a final version.

Ready to add these changes to your game? You can download the newest update right here!

Updates and Changes

There has been some amount of consternation here and on other sites about the changes that are being rolled out as part of the updates, and what those changes say about the other rules that aren’t included in the updates. Right now, to keep the test focused, we are releasing rules updates only for things that we feel we can cleanly update and that need more testing, but that is by no means the full scope of the changes happing to the game here in the office.

Your feedback has told us a great many things about the game, and we’ve been using that feedback to shape the rules as we move through the process. It is important for all of you to understand that even if you don’t see a rule being addressed in the updates or we aren’t speaking about it directly on the forums, that doesn’t mean it isn’t being modified or reevaluated for the final version of the game. As we said at the start of the playtest, every aspect of the game is on the table to change, depending on your feedback. Even if some of those changes might be too sweeping to implement in the midst of the playtest, we will make the changes needed to make the final game the best it can be. We’re excited to share what those changes and alterations will be, but the right time for that is after we have completed the playtesting process and are certain of what those changes will be.

Having participated in every open playtest this company has ever conducted, I can honestly say that this one has provided us with more valuable feedback and insight into how you play than any other test we have ever conducted. I am confident that it will show through in the new version of Pathfinder.

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

Join the Pathfinder Playtest designers every Friday throughout the playtest on our Twitch Channel to hear all about the process and chat directly with the team.

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I once worked at a casino, where I learned that statistical probabilities are only relevent to the House. Any given player can experience wildly improbable results, such as winning a bonus with 1:25 odds eight times in a row (a true story). It doesn't matter how unlikely it is, given enough time it will happen to somebody.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Very true, and in this case, "the House" is the system itself. Individual players experiencing bad or great luck is only relevant as an example of that specific play experience (i.e. "is the game still fun if you have terrible luck?").

The system as a whole needs to be balanced around expected results rather than outliers.


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Paizo is the 'House', a game of Pathfinder II is a 'Baccarat Table' (basically a group all betting on a coin-flip with 1:10 odds of a tie, and a 1:50 edge to the house IIRC), and Society Play is the 'casino floor'.

Like it or not; it is in the house's best interest to ensure as average a playing experience as possible on the casino floor; since that determines their ability to keep opening baccarat tables.

Which is all a really convoluted way of saying that I think Paizo needs to focus on not creating mechanics that break even in "highly improbable circumstances". Such as getting stuck in a dying loop until you rage-quit the table. If it can break, it will, and every time it does it costs Paizo credibility, and thus future profits.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think getting stuck in a dying loop is beyond highly improbable, since in addition to terrible luck it also relies on the incompetence of the entire rest of your party.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
caps wrote:
Four of my players picked up Medicine. In our last session, three of them crit failed in the first four Treat Wounds attempts that any of them made.

Sure. The odds of that are literally 1 in 8000 in most cases, though (the odds of rolling three ones). Well, unless they're terrible at Medicine.

Heck, if two of them have the minimum possible Medicine at level 10 and the other is decent at it, it's still only a 1 in 320 chance.

And with ten thousand people playing, it's basically guaranteed to happen to someone. Is that a thing that should happen at all?

I've been the outlier before, both good and bad, sometimes in silly ways. Saying "it's unlikely" is also saying "it will definitely happen".

In the case of Treat Wounds, I don't think it should happen at all if you're trained (and untrained you shouldn't even be able to attempt it).


Cantriped wrote:

Paizo is the 'House', a game of Pathfinder II is a 'Baccarat Table' (basically a group all betting on a coin-flip with 1:10 odds of a tie, and a 1:50 edge to the house IIRC), and Society Play is the 'casino floor'.

Like it or not; it is in the house's best interest to ensure as average a playing experience as possible on the casino floor; since that determines their ability to keep opening baccarat tables.

Which is all a really convoluted way of saying that I think Paizo needs to focus on not creating mechanics that break even in "highly improbable circumstances". Such as getting stuck in a dying loop until you rage-quit the table. If it can break, it will, and every time it does it costs Paizo credibility, and thus future profits.

In truth, the DM is the house. The monsters can keep failing and keep trying. The PCs only have to fail badly once and you can get into TPK territory.

The mechanics should work as often as possible. In this case, we know it's going to fail sometimes. It's already happened to someone. It will happen again. It will be a pretty lousy experience when it does. It's fairly easy to fix the problem so that it doesn't happen anymore, and in the case of this action, failure isn't really something at all desirable anyway.

It's not like we're talking about trying to con the King into giving you a barony, here. Saying "you can spam Treat Wounds all day unless your dice are cold in which case you're SOL" isn't adding anything to the game except annoyance.

Liberty's Edge

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Tridus wrote:
And with ten thousand people playing, it's basically guaranteed to happen to someone. Is that a thing that should happen at all?

Losing your free healing for the day occasionally? Yes, that probably should happen.

My point was that it's rare enough that other investments are likely more valuable for the third person onward (which is true in most games and with most people, IMO).

Tridus wrote:
I've been the outlier before, both good and bad, sometimes in silly ways. Saying "it's unlikely" is also saying "it will definitely happen".

Sure, and if it were something that should never happen that would be bad, but it isn't. It's something that probably should happen occasionally.

Tridus wrote:
In the case of Treat Wounds, I don't think it should happen at all if you're trained (and untrained you shouldn't even be able to attempt it).

I disagree. There need to be incentives to have more than one person Trained in Medicine (just as there need to be incentives not to, as mentioned above) and this provides it.

Liberty's Edge

I still dislike Treat Wounds's DC being based on characters' levels

I get that something like that is needed because of the +lvl system (which I love BTW) and that using the DC table is a nice way to avoid mathematical formulas however simple. But here it feels contrived

Since a character's HP are also based on level and losing them all is what really hurts, I think a DC based on how many HP a wounded character has lost would be better and feel more real

We just need a baseline to then deduce a simple formula to get the DC based on the HP lost

For example, if we consider that healing a Barbarian who lost all their class HP (ie lvlx12 HP) should be a Hard DC, then the DC of a Treat Wound roll would be 12+HP lost/8

And I would add all HP lost when determining the DC for healing many wounded, with how many is too many being the decision of the GM rather than a hard ceiling

I like the flat check for stabilizing :-)


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:


I disagree. There need to be incentives to have more than one person Trained in Medicine (just as there need to be incentives not to, as mentioned above) and this provides it.

I'm curious, why does this need to be the case? I don't actually have a big problem with Treat Wounds right now (well, the current bolster mechanics are a little weird from an immersion standpoint, and I maybe wouldn't mind if you could only treat one character at. A time for similar reason, I just don't care THAT much) but why does medicine require two people when stuff like diplomacy of thievery just needs one?


Captain Morgan wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:


I disagree. There need to be incentives to have more than one person Trained in Medicine (just as there need to be incentives not to, as mentioned above) and this provides it.

I'm curious, why does this need to be the case? I don't actually have a big problem with Treat Wounds right now (well, the current bolster mechanics are a little weird from an immersion standpoint, and I maybe wouldn't mind if you could only treat one character at. A time for similar reason, I just don't care THAT much) but why does medicine require two people when stuff like diplomacy of thievery just needs one?

Due to the nature of the DCs currently, even skills like diplomacy require more than 1 person in an "optimal" party, especially for stuff like gather info.

Medicine is not the exception, it's the standard.

I mean, physical skills the majority of party wants them.
Knowledges being much harsher and revealing too little, you want multiples.
Craft for simultaneous repairs and crafting magical items
Intimidate for obvious reasons
Diplomacy for gather

The real exceptions are the skills you don't need multiples of, like survival and thievery.

Liberty's Edge

I guess also that if your main healer for Treating wounds is not available for myriad IC or OOC reasons, it is best to have a backup


Good to have some free 1.5 playtest update stuff out there. ;)

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Tangent101 wrote:


Second, please include some sort of documentation on what Lore or other Skill roll is needed in order to Recall Knowledge to learn about various monsters. It is not intuitive. When I've had players ask me it immediately drags the game to a halt while I struggle to figure out which Skill would best be used to learn about the Monster in question.

A simple list alphabetically would be fine. Monster, Lore or other Skill. It would truly be helpful.

^^ THIS, please!^^


The Raven Black wrote:

I still dislike Treat Wounds's DC being based on characters' levels

I get that something like that is needed because of the +lvl system (which I love BTW) and that using the DC table is a nice way to avoid mathematical formulas however simple. But here it feels contrived

Since a character's HP are also based on level and losing them all is what really hurts, I think a DC based on how many HP a wounded character has lost would be better and feel more real

We just need a baseline to then deduce a simple formula to get the DC based on the HP lost

For example, if we consider that healing a Barbarian who lost all their class HP (ie lvlx12 HP) should be a Hard DC, then the DC of a Treat Wound roll would be 12+HP lost/8

And I would add all HP lost when determining the DC for healing many wounded, with how many is too many being the decision of the GM rather than a hard ceiling

I like the flat check for stabilizing :-)

While this would scale reasonably, it bumps into other issues. Namely that it's annoying to calculate (though cna be done outside combat) and would make healing low damage amounts be quite trivial and impossible to fail. There are many ways to go about this DC, but very few don't open up abuse.

Silver Crusade

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Tusk the Half-Orc wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:


Second, please include some sort of documentation on what Lore or other Skill roll is needed in order to Recall Knowledge to learn about various monsters. It is not intuitive. When I've had players ask me it immediately drags the game to a halt while I struggle to figure out which Skill would best be used to learn about the Monster in question.

A simple list alphabetically would be fine. Monster, Lore or other Skill. It would truly be helpful.

^^ THIS, please!^^

I agree it is quite interesting that the GMs who run the scenario on the stream has a very precise opinion on which skills work (Undead = Religion), but the book really needs such a list.

Silver Crusade

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Looks solid. I approve.

I do agree that Cantrips could use a bit of a boost, though. Having 1dX + Stat at 1st and getting an extra die at higher levels would do it, but it'd be nice.

Actually that might work, the other thing I noticed is that the items that boost spell attack rolls do tend to come online at a higher level, personally, I am kinda hoping for something like a weapon rune that allows me to channel the cantrip though my weapon.


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ChibiNyan wrote:
While this would scale reasonably, it bumps into other issues. Namely that it's annoying to calculate (though cna be done outside combat) and would make healing low damage amounts be quite trivial and impossible to fail. There are many ways to go about this DC, but very few don't open up abuse.

Why should it be possible for a "master" medic to critically fail treating a papercut? That's silly.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Losing your free healing for the day occasionally? Yes, that probably should happen.

Why? When that happens early in the day, all it's doing is creating an uneven playing experience. One group is able to use Treat Wounds 17 times in a day successfully and another zero times because their first roll was a nat 1.

I don't see how that is improving the game at all.

Quote:
I disagree. There need to be incentives to have more than one person Trained in Medicine (just as there need to be incentives not to, as mentioned above) and this provides it.

If the amount healed is based on your check result, the incentive in having more people with it is being able to aid and boost the result (and thus the amount healed). Person #2 also serves as a backup if person #1 is unconscious, rather than because they somehow completely screwed up and thus can't do it again for the rest of the day because reasons.

None of how failure works on this makes any sense.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

By that logic wouldn't rolling a natural 1 to disarm a trap be creating an "uneven play experience" compared to the group that gets lucky and disarms 17 traps in a row without failing?

Dice create uneven play experiences; I don't think you can avoid that.

Silver Crusade

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Tridus wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
While this would scale reasonably, it bumps into other issues. Namely that it's annoying to calculate (though cna be done outside combat) and would make healing low damage amounts be quite trivial and impossible to fail. There are many ways to go about this DC, but very few don't open up abuse.
Why should it be possible for a "master" medic to critically fail treating a papercut? That's silly.

1) It doesn't take a Medicine check to apply a bandage, if even that is needed for a papercut.

2) They sneezed while attempting to administer aid.

Grand Lodge

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Rysky wrote:
Tridus wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
While this would scale reasonably, it bumps into other issues. Namely that it's annoying to calculate (though cna be done outside combat) and would make healing low damage amounts be quite trivial and impossible to fail. There are many ways to go about this DC, but very few don't open up abuse.
Why should it be possible for a "master" medic to critically fail treating a papercut? That's silly.

1) It doesn't take a Medicine check to apply a bandage, if even that is needed for a papercut.

2) They sneezed while attempting to administer aid.

Simple procedures going wrong are not rare, they are shockingly common.

A google search will show you pages and pages of instances "master" medics making costly mistakes because even with the entirely of modern medic at our disposal people still screw up.

I'll give you a personal example. My aunt almost died because her primary care physician missed TWO tumors over two years of multiple, sometimes weekly, office visits that included batteries of tests and x-rays. It wasn't until she ended up in the emergency room on the edge of collapse that the tumors were detected and at that point they were 22lbs between the two of them. Her new doctor removed them and she's doing much better now.

SM


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StarMartyr365 wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Tridus wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
While this would scale reasonably, it bumps into other issues. Namely that it's annoying to calculate (though cna be done outside combat) and would make healing low damage amounts be quite trivial and impossible to fail. There are many ways to go about this DC, but very few don't open up abuse.
Why should it be possible for a "master" medic to critically fail treating a papercut? That's silly.

1) It doesn't take a Medicine check to apply a bandage, if even that is needed for a papercut.

2) They sneezed while attempting to administer aid.

Simple procedures going wrong are not rare, they are shockingly common.

A google search will show you pages and pages of instances "master" medics making costly mistakes because even with the entirely of modern medic at our disposal people still screw up.

I'll give you a personal example. My aunt almost died because her primary care physician missed TWO tumors over two years of multiple, sometimes weekly, office visits that included batteries of tests and x-rays. It wasn't until she ended up in the emergency room on the edge of collapse that the tumors were detected and at that point they were 22lbs between the two of them. Her new doctor removed them and she's doing much better now.

SM

detecting tumors isn't always that easy depending on their position until it's too late.

but we don't even need to go that far.

i mean, how many times/year around the globe people get sewed up with utensils still inside them.

And that's under surgical operation that there's dozens of pairs of eyes and extremely focused "master" doctors surrounding the patients.


Right, but this isn't actual medicine or anything complex.

This is just erasing small increments of hit point damage repeatedly so that the group can get on with playing the game.

Wipe off the blood from a sword wound with some bandages and you're at 100%.


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Besides if I wanted realism, I wouldn't be playing this game.


necromental wrote:
Besides if I wanted realism, I wouldn't be playing this game.

the whole issue is that peoiple felt it was "unrealistic to fail as a trained doctor"

if you don't care about realism, then you shouldn't care about being bolstered from a crif fail medicine check.


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shroudb wrote:
the whole issue is that peoiple felt it was "unrealistic to fail as a trained doctor"

Trained doctors can't always heal their patients. Their skill might be legendary, but sometimes a patient comes to the operating table that's too far gone. An allergic reaction here, an infected wound there, there's always something that complicates things for even the best medic.

Quote:
if you don't care about realism, then you shouldn't care about being bolstered from a crif fail medicine check.

Those are game terms, not real world things.


Tridus wrote:

Cantrips should do enough damage that they feel like they're doing something useful rather than being a dead turn, though.

Honestly, half the time I use a cantrip I'm annoyed when I'm doing it, because they're just not impactful.

That's kind of the thing here. Even if it is effective, the feel doesn't work that well for me. I was having more fun doing aid actions with the Human feat to give a +4 attack to someone else, hoping they'd land a crit or something. I'm not sure if that was actually better than shooting off my own cantrip, but it certainly felt more interesting.

Why? Back in Pathfinder 1, Cantrips did diddly/squat for damage. About the only Cantrip worth taking was Damage Undead, seeing it did the same damage whether it was a zombie, skeleton, or something else, so spellcasters had something effective against undead when their regular spells ran out.

A 5th level Specialist Wizard is going to have 11 spells and a free recast that they can cast during an adventure in addition to the Cantrips. And that Ray of Frost would be doing likely 1d8+4 damage per casting... which they can do an infinite number of times. Essentially they have a spellcasting version of a crossbow (but doing better damage). Or they can use Electric Arc and do 1d6+4 damage to two targets without rolling to hit... and still doing a minimum of 2 damage to each if a target saves (assuming it's not a critical success for a save). They can do that each round.

It would be like having a Short Bow and firing twice and hitting twice time and time again. Only you do more damage because of the ability modifier.

If you don't like the damage Cantrips provide then cast something else. Use one of your proper spells. Use some Resonance and a Wand. Use Resonance and use a Staff. Use Resonance and read a Scroll. You have plenty of spells available. The only reason you have to conserve your spells is holding off to use against Boss-level encounters... and to be perfectly honest, you won't be using your 1st level spells against a Boss creature, so use them against other mundane encounters (assuming you go for a Blaster Wizard or Sorcerer).

This holds true for the higher levels as well. You've got a 10th level Wizard... capable of casting 20 spells from 1st level to 5th. So use those spells! Or hell, multiclass to be a Wizard/Sorcerer and now your spell list and capability grows even further! The only reason you have to casting Cantrips is to avoid casting higher level spells until you face a Boss encounter. And seeing combat will probably be over in four rounds, if you go into that final fight with half your spells available and you were using Cantrips for everything else... you squandered your damage potential.

Cantrips should not be the "I cast this all the time" spells. They should be the "I'm relying on this to be useful in combat while holding my big stuff on reserve for the final fight" backup weapon, or the Holdout Gun for when you ran out of everything else and have nothing else to rely on... and seriously, at that point you still could easily have a Wand or Staff to augment your spells.


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Tangent101 wrote:
Tridus wrote:

Cantrips should do enough damage that they feel like they're doing something useful rather than being a dead turn, though.

Honestly, half the time I use a cantrip I'm annoyed when I'm doing it, because they're just not impactful.

That's kind of the thing here. Even if it is effective, the feel doesn't work that well for me. I was having more fun doing aid actions with the Human feat to give a +4 attack to someone else, hoping they'd land a crit or something. I'm not sure if that was actually better than shooting off my own cantrip, but it certainly felt more interesting.

Why? Back in Pathfinder 1, Cantrips did diddly/squat for damage. About the only Cantrip worth taking was Damage Undead, seeing it did the same damage whether it was a zombie, skeleton, or something else, so spellcasters had something effective against undead when their regular spells ran out.

A 5th level Specialist Wizard is going to have 11 spells and a free recast that they can cast during an adventure in addition to the Cantrips. And that Ray of Frost would be doing likely 1d8+4 damage per casting... which they can do an infinite number of times. Essentially they have a spellcasting version of a crossbow (but doing better damage). Or they can use Electric Arc and do 1d6+4 damage to two targets without rolling to hit... and still doing a minimum of 2 damage to each if a target saves (assuming it's not a critical success for a save). They can do that each round.

It would be like having a Short Bow and firing twice and hitting twice time and time again. Only you do more damage because of the ability modifier.

If you don't like the damage Cantrips provide then cast something else. Use one of your proper spells. Use some Resonance and a Wand. Use Resonance and use a Staff. Use Resonance and read a Scroll. You have plenty of spells available. The only reason you have to conserve your spells is holding off to use against Boss-level encounters... and to be perfectly honest, you won't...

You're trying to argue from a PF1 cantrip paradigm about PF2 cantrips. That doesn't follow. PF2 cantrips are in a very different situation. One that ultimately is not caused by cantrips themselves, but the rest of the system around them. That being: your actual spell slot spells are ineffective more times than not and that you don't have, or have limited options, for a third action each round.

They're really more comparable to warlock blasts than PF1 cantrips on a whole, anyway. The damage ones at least.

Scarab Sages

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swordchucks wrote:
I was really hoping for more being done with cantrips. This update doesn't do anything for the "everything saves every time" issue that wizards are currently facing, which kind of makes the extra damage too little entirely.

This is our experience too. We have three spell-casters in our group and monsters and NPCs just save far too often. There is no point in increasing the damage if the spell is still going to miss. Leaving the damage untouched and increasing the DCs would have suited us better.

We have casters with maxed out stats and the monsters still save every time so we are just reverting to cantrips as they often do half damage on a miss. Spending two actions for a miss every round is just depressing.


carldot34 wrote:
swordchucks wrote:
I was really hoping for more being done with cantrips. This update doesn't do anything for the "everything saves every time" issue that wizards are currently facing, which kind of makes the extra damage too little entirely.

This is our experience too. We have three spell-casters in our group and monsters and NPCs just save far too often. There is no point in increasing the damage if the spell is still going to miss. Leaving the damage untouched and increasing the DCs would have suited us better.

We have casters with maxed out stats and the monsters still save every time so we are just reverting to cantrips as they often do half damage on a miss. Spending two actions for a miss every round is just depressing.

they could hypothetically adjust damage high enough so that half-damage-on-save spells were viable, but if that’s the road they took, leaving save rates alone then pretty much all conventional effect-on-failed-save spells become irrelevant. Not really a preferred direction.

And if they adjust damage first and look at save rates second, they would end up needing to undo their damage fixed (if the fixes were sufficient; I guess happily (?) the damage increases were small enough that offensive casting is still irrelevant against CR appropriate enemies).


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Tangent101 wrote:
Why? Back in Pathfinder 1, Cantrips did diddly/squat for damage. About the only Cantrip worth taking was Damage Undead, seeing it did the same damage whether it was a zombie, skeleton, or something else, so spellcasters had something effective against undead when their regular spells ran out.

Back in PF1, I had significantly more spells, and they were significantly more powerful. Cantrips were not meant to do the same thing that they're meant to do in the playtest.

Quote:
A 5th level Specialist Wizard is going to have 11 spells and a free recast that they can cast during an adventure in addition to the Cantrips.

11 spells is not very many, especially if you want to play a blaster, since the lower level ones will do insignificant damage. They work better for debuffs, but 4 encounters a day means you're down to 1st and 2nd level spells pretty quick with the reduced number of spells.

Quote:
And that Ray of Frost would be doing likely 1d8+4 damage per casting... which they can do an infinite number of times. Essentially they have a spellcasting version of a crossbow (but doing better damage). Or they can use Electric Arc and do 1d6+4 damage to two targets without rolling to hit... and still doing a minimum of 2 damage to each if a target saves (assuming it's not a critical success for a save). They can do that each round.

Yeah. And 1d6+4 doesn't feel very impactful. Which is what I said in the first place. It's not interesting or exciting. It's the thing you do when you have nothing better to do. It's a filler turn (since it's 2 actions you won't be doing that and much else).

And that's all I said. Cantrips are boring. They don't feel fun to use, they feel like you're doing small amounts of damage to fill turns because you reach spell conservation mode way faster now.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It may not feel impactful, but it's more damage at higher accuracy than the melee fighter is doing with his backup shortbow.

I mean, the argument for casters being balanced has always been "spells are really powerful, but the caster has to conserve them carefully while the fighter can attack all day".

If that is actually true in this edition, unlike PF1e, I'm all for it.


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MaxAstro wrote:

It may not feel impactful, but it's more damage at higher accuracy than the melee fighter is doing with his backup shortbow.

I mean, the argument for casters being balanced has always been "spells are really powerful, but the caster has to conserve them carefully while the fighter can attack all day".

If that is actually true in this edition, unlike PF1e, I'm all for it.

This is my point. (And I'm using your comment as the launching point, I'm not arguing against you after this point - I just like your point here.)

Cantrips are meant as a backup, not as the Primary Damage Dealer. And yes, spells got nerfed a bit in that they don't level up damage anymore unless you cast it as a higher level... but a 1st level spell shouldn't do as much as a 3rd level spell.

Also, you underestimate the number of spells that a Wizard at least would have gotten - assuming you mix-maxed things so you've got an 18 Intelligence (buffed to 19 with the stat increase), a 5th level Specialist Wizard would have memorized 11 spells. 12 if they went with a Focus instead of a Familiar.

With Pathfinder 2, that 5th level Specialist Wizard would have? 11 spells and a Focus to recast a 12th spell.

Now let's look at a 10th level specialist Wizard. Pathfinder 1 they're doing a tad better - let's buy them a magic item giving them +2 to Intelligence, so they boosted their Intelligence to 22. They have 28 spells and possibly a bonus spell for the Focus.

And the Pathfinder 2 Specialist? Well, it depends on their Class Feats. Given an Intelligence-boosting item they still get that Intelligence of 22, but that doesn't impact bonus spells. At a minimum they have 20 spells and a bonus spell for the Focus. If they have Focus Conservation, that's an additional bonus spell. They could also create a Temporary Wand to cast another 3 spells of 3rd level or lower. And if they also chose a Familiar they could enhance the Familiar with the Mastery Ability to memorize yet another spell of 2nd or 1st level.

In short, a Pathfinder 2 Specialist could cast 26 spells. Some of them are repeats, sure, but that's still quite effective and only two spells off from what your min-maxed Wizard could do.

Now what of the Sorcerer?

A 5th level Sorcerer in Pathfinder 1 with an 18 Charisma gets... 12 spells. Their maximum spell level is 2nd.

A 5th level Sorcerer in Pathfinder 2 with an 18 Charisma gets... 11 spells. But three of those spells are 3rd level.

A 10th level Pathfinder 1 Sorcerer who is min-maxed and a specific Charisma-boosting magic item has a Charisma of 22. They can cast 33 spells.

A 10th level Pathfinder 2 Sorcerer can also have a Charisma of 22. Their spellcasting talents are diminished, sure. They only get 20 spells, with the potential of an added 2nd or 1st level spell by going for a Familiar. But they could very well be casting Primal spells or Divine spells or Occult spells. They have far greater variability and potential.

That is one last thing to consider. A Fear Spell cast by a Wizard or Sorcerer in Pathfinder 1 soon becomes useless and won't be used for the most part even when the caster is at 5th level (let alone 10th). But the saving throws are enhanced for Pathfinder 2 so that Fear spell cast by a 10th level Wizard or Sorcerer is still effective and useful. Further, spell criticals and critical failures for saving throws enhances the effective damage range of lower level spells - and spell damage has been buffed further with the latest update.

Oh, and Cantrips remain useful and handy for casting at all levels. Sure, that 10th level Wizard may only be doing 4d6+5 damage with Electric Arc or 2d8+5 with Ray of Frost but they can cast that an infinite number of times a day. They are doing better than the Paladin or Monk's backup crossbow weapon.

Casters may no longer be the absolute kings and queens of the battlefield at higher levels but given how broken spellcasting became at higher levels that is not a bad thing. You also don't have min-maxed characters who end up carbon copy clones of all the other min-maxed casters because maximizing spells is king.

Personally, I think spell damage should not have been increased. I think instead casters should have 4 base spells for each level instead of 3. I don't think casters should get bonus spells for high attributes - that only encourages the min-max mindset. But that's just me.

(Oh, and one last bit - that Sorcerer or Wizard in Pathfinder 2 could very well use a bow and fire off a shot in the same round that they are casting their spells. If the spells they are using don't use attack rolls, they don't even suffer a penalty to hit! So they can fire a bow and then fire off a spell. The spell could even be a buff spell to benefit the party so they're helping others AND doing damage in the same round!)


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Your point about fear spells does bring to mind that by and large damage spells are unique in how sharply they fall off in usefulness - while an 11th level caster might get some mileage out of a non-heightened fear, that's less true of burning hands.

However, I think this is probably okay, especially since it takes a good long while before damage spells are doing less damage than weapon attacks, and there definitely should be a point at which your low level spells stop being useful against level-appropriate encounters (otherwise what is the point of higher level spells?).


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MaxAstro wrote:

It may not feel impactful, but it's more damage at higher accuracy than the melee fighter is doing with his backup shortbow.

I mean, the argument for casters being balanced has always been "spells are really powerful, but the caster has to conserve them carefully while the fighter can attack all day".

If that is actually true in this edition, unlike PF1e, I'm all for it.

I guess it might feel better if we actually had "really powerful" spells that aren't Heal.

MaxAstro wrote:

Your point about fear spells does bring to mind that by and large damage spells are unique in how sharply they fall off in usefulness - while an 11th level caster might get some mileage out of a non-heightened fear, that's less true of burning hands.

However, I think this is probably okay, especially since it takes a good long while before damage spells are doing less damage than weapon attacks, and there definitely should be a point at which your low level spells stop being useful against level-appropriate encounters (otherwise what is the point of higher level spells?).

But this does raise another point: if your low level spells drop off and cease being useful in on-level encounters (the only ones you're likely to really encounter), then the effective number of spells you actually have goes down.

Low level spell slots tended to remain useful in 1e for quite a while, although the viable spell list you could put in them would shrink substantially.

If the only spell slots actually useful for attacking something are in the top 3 levels you have, your number of available spells per day doesn't go up. It's clearly not intended to work that way (with the DC always being at your level and such), so *something* needs to be viable to use from those slots.

There really shouldn't be a point at which low level spell slots cease being useful. That's like saying a 4th level feat should stop working because you got a 12th level feat.


Low level spells don't cease being useful. Maybe it can't kill an enemy in one shot but you still do damage with the spell - more than with a blade or a bow. Further, a lower-level spell that targets a foe's specific weakness has increased effect.

It's like saying "because my Paladin didn't bring any bows, I'm useless against that flying Dragon that refuses to land!" Well, you should have brought a bow and enhanced it then, just in case you encountered a foe that your primary attack can't deal with.

Let's put it another way. Let's say you had ten spells. That's all. five were of your highest level, five of the level below that. You would find that outrageous and insist you need more spells and that eliminating all your lower level spells was unfair. This is despite the fact you would in fact have a larger number of high level spells available - and in fact more high level spells than a Sorcerer or Wizard of comparable level in the old Pathfinder.

One of the best players in my Runelords game played a Imperial Sorceress. She could use spells effectively to take out my enemies or bypass their weaknesses. She was a tactician. She took 30+ minutes each time her round came up and combat would go to a standstill. People would walk away from their keyboards or start playing flash-based games or the like because she took so long.

Her problem was she had too much choice - she played a human character who chose bonus spells known so she at the end had 50 known spells ranging from 1st to 8th level. And from what I've heard, this excessive level of choice was a constant problem that slowed down many games. (Also, she would cast a Standard Action and a Swift spell each round, while also trying to figure out what she could do with her Move Action.)

Now, putting a 5 minute time limit on each person's turn might be a possible solution, it also makes the game more stressful because people are forced to make rapid decisions. Limiting choice is the better route because it speeds things up without forcing players to be in a stressful environment. And you still have quite a bit of choice available.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Actually I would be in favor of a system where casters got a flat number of spell slots that didn't increase with level - sort of like Diablo III, I suppose. You have eleven spell slots, 3 at your highest level, 4 at your second highest level, and 4 for your third highest (but you can put lower level spells in those slots if you want) - something like that.

I'm always in favor of systems that make explicit things that are implicit in the game design, and "a level 15 character shouldn't have much reason to cast a level 1 spell" is definitely implicit.

That would massively reduce the choice paralysis Tangent talks about, too.

While I was at it I'd probably ditch most of the Vancian thing. Wizards can know any number of spells and can cross-cast what they prepare like Arcanists. Sorcerers only know the spells that fit in their slots (yes, meaning they forget spells as they level up) but they have an extra casting or two per day.


I'm currently playing a PF1 14th level human sorcerer, with all possible bonus spells known, and in all honesty I think my turns take less time than the martials in our group. If we're fighting a red dragon, I know to forget fireball and scorching ray. It's not gonna drop in a created pit, probably not gonna be debuffed by anything. I can either buff everyone else or hit it with chain lightning & a quickened magic missle. Of the dozens of spells known I've got, only a handful are going to be feasible in a given encounter, so going thru them has never really been an issue.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Oh yes, skilled caster players are like that. I rarely take much time to decide on my spells.

But novice casters, on the other hand... Have you never had that player in your game who has to look through their entire spell list each turn, and look up the description of a bunch of different spells, before they can decide what to do?

I used to be that player, years ago.


Tangent101 wrote:
Low level spells don't cease being useful. Maybe it can't kill an enemy in one shot but you still do damage with the spell - more than with a blade or a bow. Further, a lower-level spell that targets a foe's specific weakness has increased effect.

If you have 5th level spells, a 1st level blasting spell is useless. AT that point is it even doing more than a cantrip?

Which is okay, if you have something else at that level you can still use offensively (debuffs or something). That leaves the slot useful. Although it makes blasting pretty lousy given that actual effective blasting will be limited to only part of your spell slots.

Someone earlier suggested slots should obsolete entirely, and that is what I was replying to.

Quote:
Let's put it another way. Let's say you had ten spells. That's all. five were of your highest level, five of the level below that. You would find that outrageous and insist you need more spells and that eliminating all your lower level spells was unfair. This is despite the fact you would in fact have a larger number of high level spells available - and in fact more high level spells than a Sorcerer or Wizard of comparable level in the old Pathfinder.

Low level spell slots stayed useful in 1e, especially when you started being able to throw them out quickened. Although I don't tend to use my 1st level stuff a ton on my 17th level Cleric anymore, everything from 2nd up is seeing regular action. Removing scaling in the playtest has just limited the options more towards things where scaling is irrelevant.

Quote:

One of the best players in my Runelords game played a Imperial Sorceress. She could use spells effectively to take out my enemies or bypass their weaknesses. She was a tactician. She took 30+ minutes each time her round came up and combat would go to a standstill. People would walk away from their keyboards or start playing flash-based games or the like because she took so long.

Her problem was she had too much choice - she played a human character who chose bonus spells known so she at the end had 50 known spells ranging from 1st to 8th level. And from what I've heard, this excessive level of choice was a constant problem that slowed down many games. (Also, she would cast a Standard Action and a Swift spell each round, while also trying to figure out what she could do with her Move Action.)

I mean, isn't the point of being a caster having choices? We could get really fast turns by just giving everyone one action, but it would be a pretty boring game.

I've never heard of anyone consistently taking turns that long. Not that long ago we had someone miss a coupel of sessions and I was playing two 17th level caster characters at the same time. I could do both of their turns in less than 30 minutes. Easily.

Quote:
Now, putting a 5 minute time limit on each person's turn might be a possible solution, it also makes the game more stressful because people are forced to make rapid decisions.

If someone's turn is taking 30 minutes, that is exactly what I would do. That's beyond absurd, to the point of being flat out rude towards every other player there.

Your character has six seconds to act. While it's unrealistic to expect players to adhere to that, 30 minutes is just a problem player. Everyone else at the table deserves to get more than one turn an hour.


Tridus wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Low level spells don't cease being useful. Maybe it can't kill an enemy in one shot but you still do damage with the spell - more than with a blade or a bow. Further, a lower-level spell that targets a foe's specific weakness has increased effect.

If you have 5th level spells, a 1st level blasting spell is useless. AT that point is it even doing more than a cantrip?

Which is okay, if you have something else at that level you can still use offensively (debuffs or something). That leaves the slot useful. Although it makes blasting pretty lousy given that actual effective blasting will be limited to only part of your spell slots.

Someone earlier suggested slots should obsolete entirely, and that is what I was replying to.

Quote:
Let's put it another way. Let's say you had ten spells. That's all. five were of your highest level, five of the level below that. You would find that outrageous and insist you need more spells and that eliminating all your lower level spells was unfair. This is despite the fact you would in fact have a larger number of high level spells available - and in fact more high level spells than a Sorcerer or Wizard of comparable level in the old Pathfinder.

Low level spell slots stayed useful in 1e, especially when you started being able to throw them out quickened. Although I don't tend to use my 1st level stuff a ton on my 17th level Cleric anymore, everything from 2nd up is seeing regular action. Removing scaling in the playtest has just limited the options more towards things where scaling is irrelevant.

Quote:

One of the best players in my Runelords game played a Imperial Sorceress. She could use spells effectively to take out my enemies or bypass their weaknesses. She was a tactician. She took 30+ minutes each time her round came up and combat would go to a standstill. People would walk away from their keyboards or start playing flash-based games or the like because she took so long.

Her problem was she had too much

...

So my two cents here on low level blasts being useless at high levels, PF1 did this as well, just in a somewhat different way and at a somewhat lesser magnitude. Though at the same time it was worse in PF1.

In PF1 spells aren't set by their spell level but they have a cap on their 1dx (usually 1d6) per caster level scaling, and it was generally consistent among spell levels. Level 1 spells capped at 5dx, level 3 at 10dx, level 4 at 12dx, level 5 at 15dx, I don't remember past that but I think it was level 7 or 8 spells that could get up to 20dx. So a level 1 spell would stop scaling about after you got level 3 spells, a level 3 spell stopped just after you got level 5 spells, etc. So even in PF1 blast spells in low slots fell off. The Intensify Spell metamagic gave them an extra 5 levels of life foe a 1 spell level boost true, though that does cost a feat and it's rough use for Spontaneous casters at times.

But then there's the other issue, spells in PF1 had their DC decided by spell level partly. so a level 1 and level 5 spell had a 4 point difference in DC, thats a 40% vs 60% success rate, or any other 20% apart setup. So I'd argue that PF1 had just as much of a spell scaling issue as PF2, maybe more, as virtually no save-allowing spell was going to be particularly effective more than a level or two below your max. I think it was just noticed less because you had more top level slots and there were so many spells that you could find plenty of DC-less spells to fill low slots. PF2 just isn't able to have that selection yet but I'd argue it has a better base as a lot of debuffs remain useful in low slots, its mostly only damage spells that fall off, even among debuffs that get better at higher levels.

Now if one is arguing that this is a problem with both systems, that spell falloff shouldn't be a thing, that's certainly a discussion that can be had. But I'm not sure it can be fairly said that this is a problem exclsive to PF2, or even worse in PF2.


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Spell falloff absolutely NEEDS to be a thing, or a caters arsenal would just keep growing and growing... What do martials get compared to that? Nothing.

It is ESSENTIAL that only the top casting slots deliver top performance, be it damage or utility. The casters still can use their EVER GROWING number of spell slots to get more and more save-independent utility spells. And casters without a fixed amount of spells known can expand their arsenal exponentially. With ever new book that comes out.

Casters can not be allowed to do single-target damage consistent with the fighting classes, at least not without putting a lot of effort into it. Doing HP damage is the core competency of the martial classes. The casters CAN NOT BE ALLOWED to ursurp that one too, AGAIN.

No, casters struggling to maintain single target spell damage is just as it ought to be. They can do so many things non-casters can't, they MUST have limits!

Of course, now that caster supremacy is being reigned in by making SoD and and SoS spells less of the win buttons they used to be, and apparently overcompensating by making monster saves too high, the devs admitted that boosting blast spell damage is an easy thing to do. But that doesn't fix the issue of lower level spell slots becoming useless for save-depending spells and just hurts the non-casters. That was about the worst fix they could try.


Lycar wrote:
(above post, mostly equal to my opinion if a bit more harsher)

While slightly less related, 5E attempted to fix the 5MWD by deliberately ultra-compressing the godly spell slots (6~9th levels) into 1/2 per day wonders, effectively giving the (problematic) caster players a wordless pressure to pull away from that despicable behavior. And it seems it works as of now, at least mostly.


You can do without spell falloff, though you'd need to get rid of expanding spells prepared to adjust for it. A flat amount of spells would get rid of the early level weirdness where casters have almost nothing and then spam demoralize every turn, and it would mean that you didn't need to worry about ensuring that some fraction of the spells are useless at higher levels.

Was the problem with casters ever SOD and SOS spells? At the top of their power list from my perspective were summoning spells, walls, polymorphs, teleports, and then weird stuff like fabricate, haste, simulacrum, time stop, blood money and so on with the action economy and regular economy wreckers.


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ErichAD wrote:

You can do without spell falloff, though you'd need to get rid of expanding spells prepared to adjust for it. A flat amount of spells would get rid of the early level weirdness where casters have almost nothing and then spam demoralize every turn, and it would mean that you didn't need to worry about ensuring that some fraction of the spells are useless at higher levels.

Was the problem with casters ever SOD and SOS spells? At the top of their power list from my perspective were summoning spells, walls, polymorphs, teleports, and then weird stuff like fabricate, haste, simulacrum, time stop, blood money and so on with the action economy and regular economy wreckers.

The problem of (old) SOD was that it reduces an encounter to a single roll in a single round.

Apart from being the very definition of rocket tag (who goes 1st kills the other in a single spell) it's extremely problematic from an encounter designing perspective.

The new "sod" where they kill only on critical failure, and they still do something even if opponent manages to save, are much better designed.

5e spellcasting is much worse imo than pf2.

Having 1 uber spell is much worse design compared to having 4 reasonable ones.

More spells of lower power means longer battles, more rounds where you act, longer adventuring days, less rocket tag, more interesting game play in general.

That is not to say that pf2 is perfect.

Spell DCs are imo the most important thing that need fixing, or at least incorporating the 4 degrees of success to all offensive spells.

Using a limited time power to have "nothing" as a result 50% of the time is something that will never feel good and should never be in place.


Lycar wrote:
Spell falloff absolutely NEEDS to be a thing, or a caters arsenal would just keep growing and growing... What do martials get compared to that? Nothing.

If spell falloff needs to be a thing, then keeping the old spells around and having this collection of ever growing slots is itself pointless.

They could fix that by saying "you have 10 spells a day. Period. The only thing that changes is which spells you can put in them."

It makes no sense at all to keep adding more and more slots while also saying that the ones you already have should become useless. That's just bloated, bad design. Either they must remain useful in some way, or they must go away.

Quote:
It is ESSENTIAL that only the top casting slots deliver top performance, be it damage or utility. The casters still can use their EVER GROWING number of spell slots to get more and more save-independent utility spells. And casters without a fixed amount of spells known can expand their arsenal exponentially. With ever new book that comes out.

Sure. But there's a fairly wide gap between "Top performance" and "this is so bad it's worse than using the +2 crossbow I picked up at some point."

Quote:
Of course, now that caster supremacy is being reigned in by making SoD and and SoS spells less of the win buttons they used to be, and apparently overcompensating by making monster saves too high, the devs admitted that boosting blast spell damage is an easy thing to do. But that doesn't fix the issue of lower level spell slots becoming useless for save-depending spells and just hurts the non-casters. That was about the worst fix they could try.

Really, they need to ask themselves if they want blasters to be a thing. If they do, they need to do enough damage to make it worth doing as compared to the other things a caster can do, or just playing a martial.

I dunno, at this point I'm questioning if spell slots themselves should exist in this system. You could make a much simpler system if you eliminated slots entirely and just had a single MP pool to cast from. Then you have a list of X available spells for the day (what you prepare in the morning) and you cast from it at a given cost for each spell until you run out. Want to heighten something? Just spend the extra MP for the higher level version.

Vancian casting has lots of history behind it, but we can really do better today.


Tridus wrote:
Lycar wrote:
Spell falloff absolutely NEEDS to be a thing, or a caters arsenal would just keep growing and growing... What do martials get compared to that? Nothing.

If spell falloff needs to be a thing, then keeping the old spells around and having this collection of ever growing slots is itself pointless.

They could fix that by saying "you have 10 spells a day. Period. The only thing that changes is which spells you can put in them."

It makes no sense at all to keep adding more and more slots while also saying that the ones you already have should become useless. That's just bloated, bad design. Either they must remain useful in some way, or they must go away.

Quote:
It is ESSENTIAL that only the top casting slots deliver top performance, be it damage or utility. The casters still can use their EVER GROWING number of spell slots to get more and more save-independent utility spells. And casters without a fixed amount of spells known can expand their arsenal exponentially. With ever new book that comes out.

Sure. But there's a fairly wide gap between "Top performance" and "this is so bad it's worse than using the +2 crossbow I picked up at some point."

Quote:
Of course, now that caster supremacy is being reigned in by making SoD and and SoS spells less of the win buttons they used to be, and apparently overcompensating by making monster saves too high, the devs admitted that boosting blast spell damage is an easy thing to do. But that doesn't fix the issue of lower level spell slots becoming useless for save-depending spells and just hurts the non-casters. That was about the worst fix they could try.

Really, they need to ask themselves if they want blasters to be a thing. If they do, they need to do enough damage to make it worth doing as compared to the other things a caster can do, or just playing a martial.

I dunno, at this point I'm questioning if spell slots themselves should exist in this system. You could make a much simpler system if you eliminated...

Blasters do enough damage even with just the 2 highest levels imo.

Let's say a 6th level blaster with just fireball as a standard.

That's 4 times per day 8d6+3

Let's also assume 50% of the targets make the save.

Just hitting 2 targets, which is easy, gives an average of 46.5

A greatsword wielding fighter hits on 9+ and 14+ for 2d12+4 for an average of 18dpr

So, just the fireballs alone, in the worst case that they hit only 2 targets, are more than 10 rounds of damage from the fighter compacted in just 4 rounds. Adding those 6 rounds of just cantrips means that the fighter needs 12+ rounds just to come ahead.

Then for the 2nd level you have sphere+ cantrips for another 16 or so dpr for 40 more rounds of relatively comparable damage.

So, just the 3rd and 2nd level spells account for more than 50 rounds of good damage.

Then you add that with a staff of evocation (as opposed to the fighter's +1 sword) you can cast 150% more 3rd level spells, and you have another ~18 rounds of damage.

So, we're already approaching the equivalent of 70 rounds of damage without the 1st level spells.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm not sure how relevant this is to the Playtest, but in the Kingmaker CRPG I did 60 points of damage with a critical Snowball sneak attack without using metamagic when my party was about 12th level or so. So in the CRPG low-level blasting spells can absolutely remain viable for some time.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Fumarole wrote:
I'm not sure how relevant this is to the Playtest, but in the Kingmaker CRPG I did 60 points of damage with a critical Snowball sneak attack without using metamagic when my party was about 12th level or so. So in the CRPG low-level blasting spells can absolutely remain viable for some time.

Yeah, Octavia is my favorite companion, too. :P

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