The Prestige

Monday, October 29, 2018

As we draw ever closer to the end of the playtest, there are still a number of questions we need to ask you about the way the game works and how that's conveyed to you in the book. Today, we're launching a pair of surveys that do just that, one focusing on presentation and another focusing on magic.

Presentation

First up, we have a survey looking at the presentation of the book. This survey looks at our use of symbols, color, and language to convey game rules to you. We tried some experimental things with the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, and want to know what you think of these tests. Your answers will help us determine what the final version of the game actually looks like. When you're ready to take this survey, follow the link below.

Presentation Survey

Spells and Magic

Next up, we've opened up a survey to look at how spells and magic items work in the game. This isn't the first time we've asked about these topics, but previously, it's always been in the context of other surveys with other goals. This time, we want to know specifically what you think about how magic works in the Pathfinder Playtest.

One of our primary goals in designing the playtest rules was to ensure that spells and magic items are still an integral part of the game, but also to make sure characters who don't rely heavily on such abilities aren't overshadowed. We did this in a variety of ways, but there are some places where it seems clear that the restrictions may have taken away a bit too much from magic and its role in the game. This survey looks at ways that we might add some sizzle back into your lightning bolt and some charm into your, well, charm.

In particular, there are three levers we can manipulate to add power and versatility to magic that we want you to think about when taking this survey:

  1. Number of spells per day.
  2. Chance that a spell will succeed (or that foes will fail saving throws).
  3. Power of individual spells.

Once you've given those some thought, you can find the survey at the link below.

Magic Survey

Looking Forward

Finally, I want to take a moment to talk about where we're at right now in the playtest and where we're heading in the future. We've gotten a lot of data about the game, and much of it has been synthesized into a very large list of tasks and things that we need to do to the game before it goes to the printer next year. In the coming months, the playtest will draw to a close, and there will be no additional public updates to the rules while we focus on making changes to the game.

That said, we're not going to leave you without an idea of where things are going. Next week, we'll be dropping an absolutely huge Update 1.6, which adds or adjusts aspects of every class in the game! This ranges from a small alteration in stances that affects the fighter to major changes for the alchemist and paladin. We think you'll see a lot of your concerns addressed in some of these changes, and the best part is, these are just a fraction of what we're doing behind the scenes to make the game even better!

As always, I want to thank each and every one of you for participating in this playtest. The game is really shaping up to be something great, and you helped make that happen!

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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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
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ChibiNyan wrote:
I like the choice of uestions for magic items survey. They were spot-on for the most part. Spells I would have liked more about spell durations and utility.

agreed there


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Quote:
In terms of the logistics of playing the game, not in terms of power level, what did you think of the number of dice required by weapons with potency runes? Answer for both lower levels of the game and higher levels, and for both regular hits and critical hits.

*sneers*

Logistics of playing the game? You gotta kidding me! I play Legend Of Five Rings, World/Chronicle Of Darkness, Star Wars (d6 in the past and FFG recently) and 2d20. I roll handfuls of dice all the time!

<.<
>.>

Except d8 and d12, I am short on those. Only Star Wars FFG used them in large number but those are custom dice with funny pictures on them and unusable for other purposes.


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And on a serious note, the numbers of permanent items that an xx-level character should posses questions offer terribly narrow ranges, lacking the option for a big spread, like 0-5, 2-10.

There is also a lot of questions about magic items that should include option: the game should provide the GM with a number of options to fit the campaign they want to run.


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AndIMustMask wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
I like the choice of uestions for magic items survey. They were spot-on for the most part. Spells I would have liked more about spell durations and utility.
agreed there

I was surprised to see no questions on duration or save DC's.


What would you change about save DC's? aren't they just calculated on the same principle as everything else?


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graystone wrote:
AndIMustMask wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
I like the choice of uestions for magic items survey. They were spot-on for the most part. Spells I would have liked more about spell durations and utility.
agreed there
I was surprised to see no questions on duration or save DC's.

There was one for spell DCs. It was like "How could spells be improved?" and one option was "Better success rate (DC vs save)"


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ChibiNyan wrote:
graystone wrote:
AndIMustMask wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
I like the choice of uestions for magic items survey. They were spot-on for the most part. Spells I would have liked more about spell durations and utility.
agreed there
I was surprised to see no questions on duration or save DC's.
There was one for spell DCs. It was like "How could spells be improved?" and one option was "Better success rate (DC vs save)"

I went through the whole thing and I don't recall that question. Was that part of one of the multi-option questions?

Vidmaster7 wrote:
What would you change about save DC's? aren't they just calculated on the same principle as everything else?

I'd up the DC's to make it so you have a better chance to succeed when you use a limited resource. It's bad enough you have less spells but then you add on lower durations and a substantially greater chance of a made save and it can make things quite unfun.

As to everything figured out the same, well I have issues with that too. I find all chances low for my taste. I'm more flexible on reusable actions [like attack], but things that are used for the day, like spells, should have a better chance to actually be useful when you use them.


graystone wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
graystone wrote:
AndIMustMask wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
I like the choice of uestions for magic items survey. They were spot-on for the most part. Spells I would have liked more about spell durations and utility.
agreed there
I was surprised to see no questions on duration or save DC's.
There was one for spell DCs. It was like "How could spells be improved?" and one option was "Better success rate (DC vs save)"

I went through the whole thing and I don't recall that question. Was that part of one of the multi-option questions?

Vidmaster7 wrote:
What would you change about save DC's? aren't they just calculated on the same principle as everything else?

I'd up the DC's to make it so you have a better chance to succeed when you use a limited resource. It's bad enough you have less spells but then you add on lower durations and a substantially greater chance of a made save and it can make things quite unfun.

As to everything figured out the same, well I have issues with that too. I find all chances low for my taste. I'm more flexible on reusable actions [like attack], but things that are used for the day, like spells, should have a better chance to actually be useful when you use them.

How much more? like 2 higher? what if the spells potency was just increased instead? or the secondary effects when you save?


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"Magic items are a critical part of determining a character's overall power and ability"
"Selecting gear for a higher level character by spending gold resulted in a more powerful character"

I so wish that would have asked questions about "fun", "interesting", "exciting", "varied", and so on, rather than fixating on "powerful".

To me, magic items has very much been an opportunity to step outside the class bonds and gain new abilities that makes a more varied and interesting character, not necessarily increase the power level of what the class already gives.


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Mats Öhrman wrote:
To me, magic items has very much been an opportunity to step outside the class bonds and gain new abilities that makes a more varied and interesting character, not necessarily increase the power level of what the class already gives.

I find +X items way too essential in the Playtest.


graystone wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
graystone wrote:
AndIMustMask wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
I like the choice of uestions for magic items survey. They were spot-on for the most part. Spells I would have liked more about spell durations and utility.
agreed there
I was surprised to see no questions on duration or save DC's.
There was one for spell DCs. It was like "How could spells be improved?" and one option was "Better success rate (DC vs save)"

I went through the whole thing and I don't recall that question. Was that part of one of the multi-option questions?

Vidmaster7 wrote:
What would you change about save DC's? aren't they just calculated on the same principle as everything else?

I'd up the DC's to make it so you have a better chance to succeed when you use a limited resource. It's bad enough you have less spells but then you add on lower durations and a substantially greater chance of a made save and it can make things quite unfun.

As to everything figured out the same, well I have issues with that too. I find all chances low for my taste. I'm more flexible on reusable actions [like attack], but things that are used for the day, like spells, should have a better chance to actually be useful when you use them.

It was in one of the rank from 1 to 5 sections, specifically the one on how you'd liked to see spells buffed. options were spells per day, power level, success chance, something else that escapes me atm, and don't buff them. I do remember the surprising lack of duration as an option so I noted it later on in the text boxes.


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
This playtest is going by so fast...

Yes, and I fear there is not enough time for real change. Seems like they decided a lot in isolation, and are only going to tweak a few things from the playtest process. I get the feeling from some of the designer's posts around here, to the effect of "Well, we like it like this, and have decided this is the way it's going to be, so don't bother asking us to change it, or talk about it further."

The only big change they seem willing to tackle, is the presentation/Icons, so that's cool, I hope they clean up the organisation, make it a less dry read, and remove all icons.


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I feel like they've changed quite a bit. the resonance thing alone seemed quite huge.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
I feel like they've changed quite a bit. the resonance thing alone seemed quite huge.

The resonance change was more extreme, but that, to me, is not a major mechanic/underlying system of the game. The changes have generally been small things, so far, changing Untrained to -4 instead of -2, is probably the biggest fundamental change they have made.


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So more that they haven't made a major change to something you think needed to be changed?


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So, the playtest will end in three weeks, is that it ? I will only do my second session next month =(


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Mats Öhrman wrote:
To me, magic items has very much been an opportunity to step outside the class bonds and gain new abilities that makes a more varied and interesting character, not necessarily increase the power level of what the class already gives.

I find +X items way too essential in the Playtest.

The devs assume you pick items for power, so they design the difficulty curve so you have to pick items for power, making it a self-fulfilling prophesy. ;)


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:

In particular, there are three levers we can manipulate to add power and versatility to magic that we want you to think about when taking this survey:

Number of spells per day.
Chance that a spell will succeed (or that foes will fail saving throws).
Power of individual spells.

I sorely miss "Duration" as an overall option.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
So more that they haven't made a major change to something you think needed to be changed?

That's one way to spin it.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
So more that they haven't made a major change to something you think needed to be changed?
That's one way to spin it.

Well we can all be a little selfish at times. what was the one biggest thing you wanted changed?


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Tectorman wrote:
Tridus wrote:
Quote:
How important is it that wands are consumable items that use charges?

That is a great survey question. Asking it suggests that if people don't care about charges, they will do more radical things to fix wands.

It's important to identify what the actual sacred cows are, and what stuff is just coasting along because of inertia that really doesn't matter.

What exactly is that question asking? "As opposed to consumable items that don't use charges" or "as opposed to nonconsumable items that may or may not still use charges"? Is that distinction in that question?

I know I'll find out eventually; I'm just behind on the other surveys.

As opposed to something else. Really, it's asking if wands behaving as they do in PF1 is a thing that must stay the same, or if they can drastically change them (eg: to not have charges, or to go away entirely).

They've mentioned a couple of things in the past where they wanted to change something but people just didn't like how it deviated from previous versions so they had to change it back, this question is trying to ferret out if wands are in that category or not.

At least, that's my take on it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The problem of limited spell slots and nerfed utility spells is that it makes it very hard to justify a 1st level slot on something like Unseen Servant. Not when you could prep a Burning Hands in that slot. Those spells are not equivalent in any way.

It’s weird seeing the design team understand that you can’t just use a single resource pool for combat and utility by separating out skill feats and general feats, but then completely miss it in combat spells vs utility spells and the utility spells are all but useless in exploration mode.


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

The problem of limited spell slots and nerfed utility spells is that it makes it very hard to justify a 1st level slot on something like Unseen Servant. Not when you could prep a Burning Hands in that slot. Those spells are not equivalent in any way.

It’s weird seeing the design team understand that you can’t just use a single resource pool for combat and utility by separating out skill feats and general feats, but then completely miss it in combat spells vs utility spells and the utility spells are all but useless in exploration mode.

especially for unseen servant itself--the devs were very unkind to our invisible friend.


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

The problem of limited spell slots and nerfed utility spells is that it makes it very hard to justify a 1st level slot on something like Unseen Servant. Not when you could prep a Burning Hands in that slot. Those spells are not equivalent in any way.

It’s weird seeing the design team understand that you can’t just use a single resource pool for combat and utility by separating out skill feats and general feats, but then completely miss it in combat spells vs utility spells and the utility spells are all but useless in exploration mode.

So maybe like turn a lot of utility spells into rituals using the skill tree's maybe?


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

The problem of limited spell slots and nerfed utility spells is that it makes it very hard to justify a 1st level slot on something like Unseen Servant. Not when you could prep a Burning Hands in that slot. Those spells are not equivalent in any way.

It’s weird seeing the design team understand that you can’t just use a single resource pool for combat and utility by separating out skill feats and general feats, but then completely miss it in combat spells vs utility spells and the utility spells are all but useless in exploration mode.

Indeed; the survey could have done with some questions about the balance between attack/control/buff/utility and encounter/exploration/downtime when it comes to magic.


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Mats Öhrman wrote:
Indeed; the survey could have done with some questions about the balance between attack/control/buff/utility and encounter/exploration/downtime when it comes to magic.

I absolutely agree. In general, I think exploration mode has been really overlooked in the majority of the playtest. Yet this is the bulk about of combat gameplay.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
So more that they haven't made a major change to something you think needed to be changed?
That's one way to spin it.
Well we can all be a little selfish at times.

That's another way to spin it.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:

So maybe like turn a lot of utility spells into rituals using the skill tree's maybe?

Have rituals been touched at all in the playtest? Any groups found them useful in the scenarios, any surveys asked about them? Any discussions on the forum? Any playtesting at all?

Otherwise, if they are looking for something that can be cut to make room for stuff that are actually used...

(Not really fair to compare, but rituals in our 4E campaign were unused and a dead weight until my GM cut casting time *severely* and we got to a level where monetary costs were negligible.)


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Mats Öhrman wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

The problem of limited spell slots and nerfed utility spells is that it makes it very hard to justify a 1st level slot on something like Unseen Servant. Not when you could prep a Burning Hands in that slot. Those spells are not equivalent in any way.

It’s weird seeing the design team understand that you can’t just use a single resource pool for combat and utility by separating out skill feats and general feats, but then completely miss it in combat spells vs utility spells and the utility spells are all but useless in exploration mode.

Indeed; the survey could have done with some questions about the balance between attack/control/buff/utility and encounter/exploration/downtime when it comes to magic.

i mean, if they want 2E to be a 4E-style tabletop tactics game with minis, that's perfectly fine with me--it'd jsut be nice if they'd openly advertise it as such and not beat around the bush.


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Mats Öhrman wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:

So maybe like turn a lot of utility spells into rituals using the skill tree's maybe?

Have rituals been touched at all in the playtest? Any groups found them useful in the scenarios, any surveys asked about them? Any discussions on the forum? Any playtesting at all?

Otherwise, if they are looking for something that can be cut to make room for stuff that are actually used...

in the case of animal companions we were shown "lack of survey data about it must mean it's fine right" (since i expect many people have been avoiding pet classes due to their overall extreme action clunk, hard-to-find rules entry, and terrible scaling), so unless they really implement rituals into something that everyone tests so that people can properly complain to their main source of accepted feedback, it'll probably be completely unchanged.


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I'm not sure I could even tell you what the rituals do without looking it up, let alone how to use them. It hasn't been a topic of conversation at our table at all.


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Mats Öhrman wrote:

Have rituals been touched at all in the playtest? Any groups found them useful in the scenarios, any surveys asked about them? Any discussions on the forum? Any playtesting at all?

You cannot actually get rituals outside of GM intervention so I doubt it.


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Tridus wrote:
I'm not sure I could even tell you what the rituals do without looking it up, let alone how to use them. It hasn't been a topic of conversation at our table at all.

well, yeah. they're tucked away in the book, and nothing's really mentioned them playtest-wise to really spark much interest.


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Loaded questions, no options to talk about many important changes to things (like the introduction of new forms of magic, adding 10th level spells, redistributing who gets what spells, etc. etc. etc.) outside of 'comments', and a general feel of the survey being kind of only asking half the important questions. and leaving out important options for replies.

I can't tell if they are trying to gloss over these things or just didn't think about it.


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Mats Öhrman wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:

So maybe like turn a lot of utility spells into rituals using the skill tree's maybe?

Have rituals been touched at all in the playtest? Any groups found them useful in the scenarios, any surveys asked about them? Any discussions on the forum? Any playtesting at all?

Otherwise, if they are looking for something that can be cut to make room for stuff that are actually used...

(Not really fair to compare, but rituals in our 4E campaign were unused and a dead weight until my GM cut casting time *severely* and we got to a level where monetary costs were negligible.)

All rituals in the Playtest Rulebook take a day to cast, except for the one that takes three days, so they don't fit into the playtest adventures. Really, no downtime activities are being tested in Doomsday Dawn.

Liberty's Edge

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All excellent information to have, and the surveys deal with some stuff. However, there is this:

Cyrad wrote:

I spent the last six years running a campaign with characters that reached level 20.

The main problem with high level spellcasting lies mostly with martials rather than the spells themselves. Martials get little to no narrative power beyond just stabbing or shooting things.

While the feat system helps, martials still get hosed. Most of them don't get any abilities that help them outside of combat. All characters get the same number of feats and class features as they level up, but spellcasters get spells ontop of that while martials (except the rogue) get nothing in return except for the proficiencies they got at 1st level.

The survey doesn't even consider any this and has way too many leading questions.

Which is all entirely true. The problem with magic in PF1 is less it being overpowered (though there's some of that) and more martials having s+*@ty and terrible options when it comes to competing with it.

Due to Skill Feats, this is much more easily fixed in PF2 than in PF1, but it still needs fixing. Skill Feats need to actually be on par with equivalent level spells (with their narrow scope balanced by spells limited use) or at least relatively equivalent ones (Expert level ones being equal to level 2 spells, Master level ones to level 4 spells, and Legendary ones to level 7 spells seems reasonable). And martial characters need to get more of them.


Mirrored Moon would have been a perfect place to test rituals, especially stuff like Commune, Planar Ally, Control Weather and even resurrection (what with the murdering Sea Serpent and all). Would have been fun to break up the Night Heralds Ritual with a Tornado. They just forgot to Highlight which rituals should be available.


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if martial classes would have such strong skills as spells, why would spells? Martial classes have more HP higher AC and better defense rolls. comparable dmg (thanks to magic weapons) spells should be better than skills.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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I am also disappointed with the lack of questions regarding certain types of spells. It seems to only ask questions about save-or-die spells.

For example, polymorph spells have so many problems. Blasting spells needed to be updated and feel so weak because high level combats take too long to finish. Teleportation spells are a hot topic for high level play. Crowd control spells are often seen as some of the strongest in the game And the summon monster spell deserves an ear for feedback because an entire mage build hinges on it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:

All excellent information to have, and the surveys deal with some stuff. However, there is this:

Cyrad wrote:

I spent the last six years running a campaign with characters that reached level 20.

The main problem with high level spellcasting lies mostly with martials rather than the spells themselves. Martials get little to no narrative power beyond just stabbing or shooting things.

While the feat system helps, martials still get hosed. Most of them don't get any abilities that help them outside of combat. All characters get the same number of feats and class features as they level up, but spellcasters get spells ontop of that while martials (except the rogue) get nothing in return except for the proficiencies they got at 1st level.

The survey doesn't even consider any this and has way too many leading questions.

Which is all entirely true. The problem with magic in PF1 is less it being overpowered (though there's some of that) and more martials having s%+!ty and terrible options when it comes to competing with it.

Due to Skill Feats, this is much more easily fixed in PF2 than in PF1, but it still needs fixing. Skill Feats need to actually be on par with equivalent level spells (with their narrow scope balanced by spells limited use) or at least relatively equivalent ones (Expert level ones being equal to level 2 spells, Master level ones to level 4 spells, and Legendary ones to level 7 spells seems reasonable). And martial characters need to get more of them.

I agree, although you must remember that there's the "I want my martials to emulate casters" camp and there's the "I'm playing Fighters and Rogues precisely in order to NOT HAVE ANY ANIME MAGIC WAZOOO, THANK YOU!" camp and I'm frankly not sure if you can have them both happy at the same time short of having equivalents of PF1 Fighter and PF1 Vigilante in the core rulebook.


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scoutmaster wrote:
if martial classes would have such strong skills as spells, why would spells? Martial classes have more HP higher AC and better defense rolls. comparable dmg (thanks to magic weapons) spells should be better than skills.

Spells don't have to be better than skills. I'd contend that a legendary skill feat should be really strong, like a high level spell. If not a bit stronger at it's specific thing.

It can only do that specific thing. Spellcasters true strength is versatility. They can do lots of things, and they can change what those things are.

If high end skill usage is outright worse than spells and spells also have that swiss army knife function, then it's pretty clear someone is second fiddle here. If a martial or skill focused character specializes in a skill, they should be REALLY good at it, and not simply replaced because a caster decided to burn a mid level spell slot. (The spell slot is great any time you don't have someone specialized in the given skill, though.)


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I will not agree that athletics, for example, let fly breathe underwater or dig underground. I will not allow Acrobatics to permeate through the walls. The spell must be prepared. it's a big difference


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scoutmaster wrote:
I will not agree that athletics, for example, let fly breathe underwater or dig underground. I will not allow Acrobatics to permeate through the walls. The spell must be prepared. it's a big difference

With 10 mins Quick Prep and a 3rd level slot, my 16th level Wiz can outperform my friend's Legendary Athletics Skill Feat of choice with a quick Fly spell using a slot 5 levels lower than max - that doesn't seem a little bit problematic?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
graystone wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
What would you change about save DC's? aren't they just calculated on the same principle as everything else?

I'd up the DC's to make it so you have a better chance to succeed when you use a limited resource. It's bad enough you have less spells but then you add on lower durations and a substantially greater chance of a made save and it can make things quite unfun.

As to everything figured out the same, well I have issues with that too. I find all chances low for my taste. I'm more flexible on reusable actions [like attack], but things that are used for the day, like spells, should have a better chance to actually be useful when you use them.

This is an excellent idea. It would be something akin to Trinkets but for Spellcasting - though some people might balk at the idea, is that not really what expensive Material Components are already? Spellcasting Trinkets allowing for the casting of a spell?

So why not allow Spellcasting Trinkets to enhance spell effects? For instance, you could use a Fire Ruby to enhance a Fire Spell by two dice of damage, or a Frost Opal to weaken a foe's Resistance to a spell's effects (lessen Damage resistance) or a Flawed Diamond to enhance the DC of a spell.

You could even have levels of Trinkets - for instance, a Lesser Fire Ruby only works on Fire Spells of up to 3rd level, and to enhance the DC of a level 8 or 9 spell requires a Flawless Diamond. And much like Trinkets, they are one-use and then shatter and are useless. Even if you have Resonance to allow multiple Trinket uses, Spell Trinkets should only ever be one use as the power of the magic being cast through them shatters them beyond repair.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

All excellent information to have, and the surveys deal with some stuff. However, there is this:

Cyrad wrote:

I spent the last six years running a campaign with characters that reached level 20.

The main problem with high level spellcasting lies mostly with martials rather than the spells themselves. Martials get little to no narrative power beyond just stabbing or shooting things.

While the feat system helps, martials still get hosed. Most of them don't get any abilities that help them outside of combat. All characters get the same number of feats and class features as they level up, but spellcasters get spells ontop of that while martials (except the rogue) get nothing in return except for the proficiencies they got at 1st level.

The survey doesn't even consider any this and has way too many leading questions.

Which is all entirely true. The problem with magic in PF1 is less it being overpowered (though there's some of that) and more martials having s!&&ty and terrible options when it comes to competing with it.

Due to Skill Feats, this is much more easily fixed in PF2 than in PF1, but it still needs fixing. Skill Feats need to actually be on par with equivalent level spells (with their narrow scope balanced by spells limited use) or at least relatively equivalent ones (Expert level ones being equal to level 2 spells, Master level ones to level 4 spells, and Legendary ones to level 7 spells seems reasonable). And martial characters need to get more of them.

My wife has been turbocharging the backgrounds of her playtest characters to seize narrative control. Her goblin mind-quake-survivor paladin in The Lost Star repeatedly used his Dubious Knowledge action to spin off information and disinformation. Even the disinformation let me feed the party narrative clues to enable better roleplaying. Her human nomad barbarian had her entire culture based on Mountain Lore and was an expert Raging Athlete climber who set the course for the party's overland trek. The party skipped two unnecessary battles on Pale Mountain by climbing the barren mountainside and traveling out of sight in deep ravines. Her new character for Affair at Sombrefell Hall is an elf noble bard who has stepped up to assemble the party under her leadership. In contrast, the other players mostly selected unobtrusive backgrounds, such as a wizard with scholar background or a ranger with scout background. In those characters, the background disappeared beneath the class, never seen again and never exerting narrative impact.

This is why I call my wife a grandmaster player. She says that she could influence the narrative by roleplaying alone, but she prefers to build the narrative off of her characters' traits, such as background or ancestry or religion, so that the story belongs to the character rather than directly to her.

Narrative control is like a crowbar. Find one little spot to exert leverage and move the entire story. In my Jade Regent campaign, my wife played a Minkian ninja and was the self-appointed loyal bodyguard of the lost heir that had to be escorted to the other side of the world. This let her interact often with that NPC and greatly influence the NPC's actions while emphasizing Minkian (pseudo-Japanese) culture. In my Iron Gods campaign, she played a gunslinger with an interest in smithing and technology. No-one created a rogue character, but she had Disable Device from a campaign feat and good Perception, so she became the party trapfinder and lockpicker. And she kept leading the party to examine the alien technology. Most players wanted to play with the technology anyway (Iron Gods among Scientists), but she wove it onto the heart of the narrative. Therefore, I let them salvage a shuttle-sized spaceship to fly around in as their mobile base. That is major narrative control.

Gunslinger is a martial class commonly known as a one-trick pony that can only shoot things for massive damage. Boffin, my wife's gunslinger, was a battlefield controller, the first non-magical battlefield controller I have ever seen, and the technological skill monkey of the party. She illustrates how to give a martial character the options usually thought the domain of the spellcaster. Some of it was built into the class, such as the 7th level Targetting deed. Others were tradeoffs, such as the Experimental Gunsmith archetype training out Gun Training (massive damage) for Innovations (experimental firearms, such as a grapple launcher). Still others were feats, such as Technologist. And she multiclassed two levels of unchained rogue for more skills and Evasion. My wife invested in narrative-changing abilities. The gunslinger Boffin would grapple the opponent at a distance so that the party's mobility gave them a tactical advantage. Later with Targetting she could martial enemies' hands to disarm them or shoot spellcasting enemies' heads to confuse them. More importantly, with Knowledge(engineering) and Technologist, she could read the recorded history and technical manuals of alien spacecraft and figure out what was going on. As G.I. Joe said, "Knowing is half the battle."

Does Pathfinder 2nd Edition offer such options to its martial characters? We have playtest only low levels and not seen much yet. Not everyone can riff off of beginning material, such as Dubious Knowledge and Raging Athlete, like my wife does.


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Wu Nakitu wrote:
scoutmaster wrote:
I will not agree that athletics, for example, let fly breathe underwater or dig underground. I will not allow Acrobatics to permeate through the walls. The spell must be prepared. it's a big difference
With 10 mins Quick Prep and a 3rd level slot, my 16th level Wiz can outperform my friend's Legendary Athletics Skill Feat of choice with a quick Fly spell using a slot 5 levels lower than max - that doesn't seem a little bit problematic?

currently Fly is from level 4 and lasts only 1 minute, and you can climb and jump (if Fly is at level 7 then it takes 1 hour). really Fly and athletics are used for something else. The skill has a wider range of activities and continues. You can jump and swim, but also knock down and grappling. for each of these steps you need to prepare a different spell. if you prepare it you are the best but for a short time. this is the difference.

Liberty's Edge

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Gorbacz wrote:
I agree, although you must remember that there's the "I want my martials to emulate casters" camp and there's the "I'm playing Fighters and Rogues precisely in order to NOT HAVE ANY ANIME MAGIC WAZOOO, THANK YOU!" camp and I'm frankly not sure if you can have them both happy at the same time short of having equivalents of PF1 Fighter and PF1 Vigilante in the core rulebook.

I feel like both are easily accommodated within Skill Feats just by having a variety of those available, some flashier than others. A solidly good mechanical buff, like a Diplomacy-based version of Inspire Courage called 'inspiring words' can remain seriously low key, and having options like that available seems doable to me.

scoutmaster wrote:
I will not agree that athletics, for example, let fly breathe underwater or dig underground. I will not allow Acrobatics to permeate through the walls. The spell must be prepared. it's a big difference

I'm not actually suggesting that Skill Feats do exactly the same thing as spells. I agree that basically all your examples are less than thematically sound.

On the other hand, there are real people who can hold their breath for more than 20 minutes...and so being able to do so for half an hour (or even an hour) seems a reasonable Master level Skill Feat. That's as good as Water Breathing for most purposes, and has the added functionality of allowing you to ignore things like gas attacks. It's not 'I can breathe underwater'...but it's got similar (probably greater) functionality.

Similarly, things that lets you jump high enough to bring down flying foes or cross most chasms actually already exist in PF2...just not in the Skill Feats. Moving them there seems reasonable, and appropriate for Master level Athletics.

And so on and so forth. I'm not suggesting a Skill Feat to literally let you walk through walls. I'm suggesting a Skill Feat, available at around the same level that is equally useful. It's the utility that should be on par, not necessarily that they should have precisely the same effect as any specific spell.

Mathmuse wrote:
Does Pathfinder 2nd Edition offer such options to its martial characters? We have playtest only low levels and not seen much yet. Not everyone can riff off of beginning material, such as Dubious Knowledge and Raging Athlete, like my wife does.

Mostly? No it doesn't. There are some exceptions (certainly more than in the PF1 corebook), but the majority of Skill Feats are actually pretty mediocre mechanically and in terms of utility, and very few Class Feats actually grant narrative power of any sort.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I mean... it's not an Acrobatics skill feat, but rogues have a class feat that lets them walk through walls... :P

Actually one of my favorite feats, since I am in the anime weeaboo "martials should have superhuman feats comparable to magic" camp. XD I love the idea of a rogue showing up inside a supermax prison and people just scratching their heads like "How in the blazes did he get in here? This doesn't seem physically possible!"


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Consider for a moment that players often manipulate spells to have greater effect and utilize them in ways that you don't expect. This is the potency and power of spellcasting. But... when you look at Skill Feats, do you not have the same potential? Above we saw mention of a player who utilized a Background to drive the narrative and also built a character who changed how the game moved forward.

It is entirely possible for a cunning player to utilize skills and class abilities to greatest impact rather than spells. The only reason "spells are king" is because we had more and more spells given to us in the past years of Pathfinder releases. But now? Now the game as a whole has greater potential and the ability for cunning players to use it to best impact.

And do consider: there are wizard players out there who are unimaginative and just go with damage spells and the like and never think of buffing players or the like. There are clerics who might heal folk up after a battle is done but otherwise doesn't bother doing anything innovative or helpful and is basically a "weak" fighter. Any character has the potential to be poorly played... or intelligently manipulated. And there is greater potential for this with Pathfinder 2 in my opinion.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:


On the other hand, there are real people who can hold their breath for more than 20 minutes...and so being able to do so for half an hour (or even an hour) seems a reasonable Master level Skill Feat. That's as good as Water Breathing for most purposes, and has the added functionality of allowing you to ignore things like gas attacks. It's not 'I can breathe underwater'...but it's got similar (probably greater) functionality.

Not if it's being based on an extension of reality. World record breath holders are stationary, not moving around, and certainly not fighting.

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