Secrets of Magic Playtest Aftermath

Monday, November 2, 2020

Hi, folks! Logan here. We’ve had some time to look over the survey results and messageboard posts after the Secrets of Magic playtest concluded, and had team discussions about potential changes ahead. Thanks to everyone who participated in the playtest, playing characters, finding problems, taking surveys, and giving feedback! We wanted to give you a bit of an idea of the direction we’re looking at taking the magus and summoner for the final book. Not everything here is set in stone, though. We still have rewrites to do, more internal conversations to have, and additional data to look at. There are also hundreds of little things we’ll be changing, from individual feats to story elements—this blog is just hitting the main points. And, hey, if you stick around to the end of the blog, we have an extra treat for you!

Sketch of a pale male half-elf with white hair. He wears ornate robes and carries a sword in one hand. Magical fire dances in his other hand.

Seltyiel, the iconic magus, sketch by Wayne Reynolds

Magus

Much of the feedback on the magus indicated that it felt too restrictive and too random. The class could be quite powerful, but required really specific play patterns and choices to get there. We don’t want a class that can do a huge nova attack if you stack your true strikes correctly but isn’t satisfying for doing much else. Our focus for further magus development will be adding more varied strategies, making the action economy less difficult to deal with, and giving more clear paths to build toward what you want your magus to do.

Striking Spell: This ability, unsurprisingly, was the focus of much of the conversation from the playtest. In surveys, it was rated as being interesting, but not powerful enough. It was also rated as being difficult to understand. Players noted that it could be frustrating to spend your whole turn casting a Striking Spell spell, then miss with the Strike. Even having more chances at it didn’t take out the sting of needing to wait for another turn to try again. Often, even if the spell came off later, the magus had missed enough opportunities that it didn’t seem worth it.


Making changes to Striking Spell won’t be straightforward, and we still need to do a lot of experiments to find something that’s fully satisfying. One of the major drivers for the playtest version was making it highly flexible to allow for using a wide variety of spells (compared to, say, Eldritch Shot) and let you use your stored spell with other abilities (like Flurry of Blows or Power Attack). Ultimately, these came at the expense of having a straightforward, solid special ability that was dependable. And it also meant that many paths to doing cool things required multiclassing, which leaves the class itself feeling lackluster.

We know for sure that we want to restructure the action to make its presentation clearer. We’re also going away from using a special benefit that relies on a critical hit, as that led to the ability feeling too random and giving too strong an incentive to load up on true strike and put all your eggs in one basket. For actual effects of the ability, there are a lot of options on the table, such as having a stored spell with a spell attack roll not increase your multiple attack penalty, or going a bit farther and using the same roll for your Strike and spell (similar to Eldritch Shot), or having some type of buff you gain while you have a stored spell so you don’t necessarily want to use it right away. Some changes might require Striking Spell to no longer be at-will, so using it is a more impactful moment rather than repetitive. Lowering its frequency, of course, requires some other tools to give your other turns that magus flavor. We’re still workshopping ideas on that front.

Spells: The spell progression for magus has a total of four slots maximum. We knew the spell progression would also be a major topic of discussion. Players were pretty divided among which path to take, with about 40% of survey respondents happy with the playtest path, and a wide variety of opinions about alternatives with no clear victor. One of the common notes we saw was that the four slots didn’t allow for many interesting or fun utility spells, but that the Martial Caster feat brought some back in. To that end, we’re looking at adding a class feature similar to Martial Casting around 7th level. That will link to our next topic...

Magus Synthesis: Much of the discussion about the magus suggested slide casting felt like a mandatory pick. In the surveys, while slide casting was chosen the most, the selections were much more varied than we expected. And beyond that, shooting star had the best numbers on the “fun scale.” With the intention to make the action economy of Striking Spell more player-friendly, we also want to make the synthesis options more distinctly focused on certain playstyles rather than one appearing like a mandatory choice for action economy purposes. There will likely be more syntheses coming, too, as we add options for the final book.

We intend to give more of a story hook to syntheses, since they’re currently a bit dry compared to similar options in other classes. These will likely also come with some extra benefits that give a bit of a leg up to certain playstyles, such as adding more spells to your spellbook or influencing what you get from the Martial Caster benefit, as noted above. We’re also planning to change the name to avoid confusion with the summoner, who has had a synthesis option since 1st Edition. Finally, we heard you when you said Raise a Tome doesn’t work with the syntheses, and will be fixing that.

Spell Proficiency: This part is pretty straightforward. It was noted that the magus has a slower spell attack roll and spell DC progression than the champion or monk can get with their focus spells. The magus will be getting a faster progression.

Battle Spells: The magus potency spell wasn’t that popular. People have been asking for a special attack spell as a focus spell instead, particularly a 1-action spell. We had avoided that for two reasons: first, if the spell is strong, fights can end up really repetitive, and second, we had intended for cantrip choice and their use to be an important part of playing a magus. Cantrips ended up not feeling like a good enough value to be worth using with Striking Spell, though. The battle spell will be changing from magus potency, but the specifics aren’t settled yet. It might be an attack spell with a Striking Spell benefit; it might be based on your synthesis if those would benefit from being differentiated in this way—this depends a lot on how the rest of the class shakes out and we won’t have a clear answer for a while yet.

And now I’ll turn this over to Mark to talk about the summoner!

Sketch of a dark-skinned human girl, wearing mage’s robes. She gestures to her eidolon, a dragon several feet taller than her.

New iconic summoner and her dragon, sketch by Wayne Reynolds

Summoner

Hi everyone, Mark Seifter here for a post-playtest report for the summoner class. First of all, thanks to everyone who participated in the summoner playtest, running games, posting playtest results and analysis, answering surveys, and more! The summoner class had quite a bit of online interaction this time around, and there were a lot of interesting and cogent discussions with many good points made by folks with differing opinions.

Overall people really liked the summoner, with the second highest overall approval after the swashbuckler, but there were also some pitfalls, from small to moderate, that people were looking to see fixed, and they all interact in different ways, which makes it a little harder than for the magus to go into great detail on what changes will happen. Finding a fix for a new issue might require revisiting our decision for one we had an idea of how to solve.


Main Takeaways: Some outcomes are clear. We’re strongly leaning toward changing Act Together to a variable-action activity, allowing either the summoner or eidolon to use a 1-, 2-, or 3-action activity and the other to use a single action. The summoner will be getting proficiency increases to spell attack roll and spell DC sooner, just like the magus. We also want to allow more customization of your eidolon at 1st level without loading up too many choices to make, so we’re leaning towards more evolutions being available at 1st level and giving you a free evolution to choose from at 1st level. We’re also looking into a few other avenues to potentially increase versatility—but there’s an upper limit on how complex the class can be, so there’s likely to be a process where we add and subtract things until we’re satisfied. As such, I don’t want to get too specific in case it changes.

Eidolon Types: We plan to increase from the four eidolon types presented here to between eight and 10 eidolon types in the final version. Expect them to be chosen from among the ranks of the eidolon types mentioned, but not presented, in the playtest, such as fey and demon eidolons.

Spellcasting: One issue that had a lot of discussion was how to handle spellcasting, whether to keep it the same, remove spell slots for other options like eidolon abilities or focus spells, increase spell slots and weaken the eidolon’s offense, or take a different approach. Based on the plurality of responses in favor of keeping the spellcasting the way it currently works, we are leaning towards that option. We’ve seen some positive playtest results with regards to diverse spell selection and usage.

Synthesis: There was a lot of feedback on the Synthesis feat that allowed you to merge with your eidolon; it was popular but many folks said that being an option you choose each time you Manifest rather than mandatory didn’t fulfill the fantasy and that the ability to use both options caused it to have quite a few restrictions it might not need otherwise. Right now we are leaning towards changing the feat’s name and flavor to be clear that it is meant for an optional ability, and then make the synthesist a class archetype in a later book, with trade-offs based around having only the option to merge with the eidolon, not to Manifest it normally.

Incarnate Spell Preview

That’s a lot to read, so let’s finish things off with a preview of a new type of “mega summoning” wherein you summon a powerful thematic creature that sticks around briefly and has a big impact! This is still early in the process, so any elements of this, including names, might still change. And because this is just a preview, don’t go trying to use this in Pathfinder Society! Though if I were your home GM and you gave me some cookies, I’d allow it, personally.

Incarnate Trait

A spell with the incarnate trait operates as follows, rather than conjuring a minion with the summoned trait and allowing you to direct its actions. When summoned, the incarnate creature takes its Arrive action. At the end of your next turn, the summoned creature can either Step, Stride, or take the action for another movement type it has (such as Climb or Burrow), and then takes its Depart action. Then the spell ends.

An incarnate spell directs its effects away from you and your allies as much as possible. The incarnate spell’s effect is not quite a creature. It can’t take any other actions, nor can it be targeted or harmed by Strikes, spells, or other effects unless they would be able to target or end a spell effect (such as dispel magic). It has a size for the purposes of determining its placement for effects, but does not block movement. If applicable, its effects use your spell DCs and spell attack roll modifier.

Summon Vengeful Dead — Spell 7

Incarnate, Necromancy

Traditions divine, occult
Cast [three-actions] material, somatic, verbal
Range 100 feet
Duration until the end of your next turn
You channel the forces of undeath to briefly call forth an amalgam of the vengeful dead slain by your enemies and allies alike. This amalgam manifests as a large tornado of insubstantial, howling faces. It occupies the space of a Huge creature and has a Speed of 60 feet.

Arrive (negative) All enemy creatures within a 60-foot emanation must attempt Fortitude saves.

  • Critical Success The creature is unaffected
  • Success The creature is drained 1.
  • Failure The creature is drained 2.
  • Critical Failure The creature is drained 3.

Depart (emotion, fear, mental) The vengeful dead lets out an anguished scream. All your enemies within a 100-foot emanation must attempt Will saves.

  • Critical Success The creature is unaffected.
  • Success The creature is frightened 2.
  • Failure The creature is frightened 3.
  • Critical Failure The creature is frightened 3. It’s also fleeing for 1 round or until it is no longer frightened, whichever comes first.
  • regards,

    Logan Bonner
    Pathfinder Lead Designer

    Mark Seifter
    Design Manager

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Rysky wrote:

That's not contradictory at all. Logan specifically said they wanted to move away from crit-fishing and are going to be buffing the abilities.

"If they buff it it's a nova" that's asinine logic. "I can't use this all the time" does not a nova make.

Again, we don't know the limits that would be put on it.

I did not say "If they buff it, it's a nova." This is a strawman argument.

Let me maybe explain with different words, such that my intent is more clear.

An ability that you can always use must be weaker than an ability you have a limit on. Think of Cantrips (always have them) Vs spell slot (limited usage). And, yes, you can add a cooldown option, focus spells, that sits somewhere between the two.

If Striking Spell slides from being an ability you always have access to into something you have limited access to, while also giving it a better punch when you do use it, this is necessarily a nova ability. It is something you will use for explosive effect and then either not have anymore for an adventuring day or have to wait through the cooldown.

Whether or not the crit fishing aspect is removed, a burst ability that offers only limited access is driving players to treat it as a nova. You will use it in the moments where you need that burst, rather than making it a part of your every-round rotation. The only thing that is in really in question is small burst (Striking Spell as a Focus ability) or large burst (Striking Spell 1/day).

You're right that we don't quite know the specifics yet, but we do know what the general effect will be.

If the idea was to move it off of being such a nova ability, then Striking Spell on cantrips should have better effect (at least, better than simply swinging a sword multiple times). This would invite the player to use the Striking Spell feature as the normal rotation. As it was printed, the action economy simply sunk Striking Spell as being in your normal rotation. It was a 5 or even 6 action ability over two turns; one to crank start the Magus and one more to deliver the spell.

Silver Crusade

Greg.Everham wrote:
Rysky wrote:

That's not contradictory at all. Logan specifically said they wanted to move away from crit-fishing and are going to be buffing the abilities.

"If they buff it it's a nova" that's asinine logic. "I can't use this all the time" does not a nova make.

Again, we don't know the limits that would be put on it.

I did not say "If they buff it, it's a nova." This is a strawman argument.
Greg.Everham wrote:
Adjusting the ability to have a cooldown would mean you should also give it more punch... which is a nova ability.
Your exact words.
Greg.Everham wrote:

Let me maybe explain with different words, such that my intent is more clear.

An ability that you can always use must be weaker than an ability you have a limit on. Think of Cantrips (always have them) Vs spell slot (limited usage). And, yes, you can add a cooldown option, focus spells, that sits somewhere between the two.

If Striking Spell slides from being an ability you always have access to into something you have limited access to, while also giving it a better punch when you do use it, this is necessarily a nova ability. It is something you will use for explosive effect and then either not have anymore for an adventuring day or have to wait through the cooldown.

Whether or not the crit fishing aspect is removed, a burst ability that offers only limited access is driving players to treat it as a nova. You will use it in the moments where you need that burst, rather than making it a part of your every-round rotation. The only thing that is in really in question is small burst (Striking Spell as a Focus ability) or large burst (Striking Spell 1/day).

You're right that we don't quite know the specifics yet, but we do know what the general effect will be.

If the idea was to move it off of being such a nova ability, then Striking Spell on cantrips should have better effect (at least, better than simply swinging a sword multiple times). This would invite the player to use the Striking Spell feature as the normal rotation. As it was printed, the action economy simply sunk Striking Spell as being in your normal rotation. It was a 5 or even 6 action ability over two turns; one to crank start the Magus and one more to deliver the spell.

Barbarian's Rage has a cooldown, it's not a nova.


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Thanks for the feedback, guys! I'm excited for these classes all over again.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Martial Casting gets treated going forward.

Also, am I the only one who thinks that the new Incarnate spells feel kinda like you're playing a Planeswalker from Magic, or a Yu-Gi-Oh protagonist? Super cool.


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Rysky wrote:
Greg.Everham wrote:
Rysky wrote:

That's not contradictory at all. Logan specifically said they wanted to move away from crit-fishing and are going to be buffing the abilities.

"If they buff it it's a nova" that's asinine logic. "I can't use this all the time" does not a nova make.

Again, we don't know the limits that would be put on it.

I did not say "If they buff it, it's a nova." This is a strawman argument.
Greg.Everham wrote:
Adjusting the ability to have a cooldown would mean you should also give it more punch... which is a nova ability.
Your exact words.
Greg.Everham wrote:

Let me maybe explain with different words, such that my intent is more clear.

An ability that you can always use must be weaker than an ability you have a limit on. Think of Cantrips (always have them) Vs spell slot (limited usage). And, yes, you can add a cooldown option, focus spells, that sits somewhere between the two.

If Striking Spell slides from being an ability you always have access to into something you have limited access to, while also giving it a better punch when you do use it, this is necessarily a nova ability. It is something you will use for explosive effect and then either not have anymore for an adventuring day or have to wait through the cooldown.

Whether or not the crit fishing aspect is removed, a burst ability that offers only limited access is driving players to treat it as a nova. You will use it in the moments where you need that burst, rather than making it a part of your every-round rotation. The only thing that is in really in question is small burst (Striking Spell as a Focus ability) or large burst (Striking Spell 1/day).

You're right that we don't quite know the specifics yet, but we do know what the general effect will be.

If the idea was to move it off of being such a nova ability, then Striking Spell on cantrips should have better effect (at least, better than simply swinging a sword multiple times). This would invite the player to use the

...

Firstly, my "exact words" don't suggest the thing you're claiming. Please, stop with this now. I gave you the grace of doubling back to explain it more deeply to clear up any confusion.

Moving the ability to be a punchier, but more limited ability is making it into a more nova-type ability. Moving it in the exact opposite direction, less punchy and more available, is what was stated the direction for Striking Spell would be.

The activation of Rage has a cooldown; the effect is basically always on. Weird example that doesn't illustrate the point you're trying to make and is an apple to the orange we're discussing.


Concerning the summoner, Logan Bonner and Mark Seifter said,

Quote:
Main Takeaways: Some outcomes are clear. We’re strongly leaning toward changing Act Together to a variable-action activity, allowing either the summoner or eidolon to use a 1-, 2-, or 3-action activity and the other to use a single action.

The phrasing on that will be a challenge. The playtest version said:

ACT TOGETHER [one-action]
SUMMONER, TANDEM
Frequency once per round
You and your eidolon each perform a single action. You choose which order the actions are taken, and you and your eidolon can each take a different action.

Using that as a template, I get:
VARIABLE ACT TOGETHER [one-action] or longer
Frequency once per round
You and your eidolon each perform a single action. You choose which order the actions are taken, and you and your eidolon can each take a different action.
Or one of you two can instead perform a single [two-action] or [three action] activity, and the other performs a single action. Performing an activity changes Variable Act Together to an activity that takes the same number of actions.

This makes me wonder three things.

(1) Can a three-action Variable Act Together let the summoner Manifest his eidolon as an activity and the eidolon then Strides in the same turn? By the current definition of Tandem that is not allowed, since the eidolon must be manifested to take a tandem action. Nevertheless, it sounds cool, so perhaps that can be a special case.

(2) When is the length of Variable Act Together set? I can imagine that the eidolon and summoner are fighting the same enemy and use Variable Act Together.
SUMMONER PLAYER: I start a two-action Act Together. My eidolon Strikes with his claw. He rolls 23 to hit.
GM: A hit. Roll for damage.
SUMMONER PLAYER: 7 damage.
GM: Your target drops unconscious, Dying 1.
SUMMMONER PLAYER: Oh, I was going to have my summoner cast a spell. Can he Stride instead?
GM: Sure, and the Act Together changes to a one-action Act Together.
SUMMONER PLAYER: Thanks.

(3) I had not thought about it before, but how do summoner and eidolon work together on downtime activities? I had thought about exploration activities, which is no problem there because an exploration activity acts like one action per round. Summoner and eidolon can use one-action Act Together every round to manage exploration activities was well as any two characters. However, downtime activities have different rules.

P.S. Defining better rules for summoners now is valuable to me because I have a player still playing my playtest summoner, Cirieo Thassaddin, in my regular campaign. He created a character of his own design, a catfolk monk Ren'zar-jo, but is also still playing Cirieo until we find a good excuse for him to leave the party.


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I do really hope we can get a self-buff oriented magus, rather than someone who wants to deliver spells that hurt by hitting someone with a sword (which also hurts).

Since, I mean, diagetically if I was good with a sword and wanted to pick up some magic, the magic I would most want to learn is the magic that helps me survive not the magic that helps me hurt people better. Swords are plenty good at hurting people on their own.


I had not mentioned my wishes for fey eidolons, since I thought they would appear later. I would like them tiny with a Ride-on-Shoulder ability.

In my Rise of the Rulelords campaign, my wife played a lyrakien bard and another player played a human paladin. They had some theological differences, but otherwise became friends. The lyrakien would ride on the paladin's shoulder and use her constant Detect Evil ability to save him the time required for his at-will Detect Evil ability. When the lyrakien was bored, she would play with the feathery crest on the paladin's helmet.

I am also amused to think of a tiny fey eidolon as the spellcaster and the summoner as the martial role, but that would be a big switch.

Silver Crusade

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Greg.Everham wrote:

Firstly, my "exact words" don't suggest the thing you're claiming. Please, stop with this now. I gave you the grace of doubling back to explain it more deeply to clear up any confusion.

Moving the ability to be a punchier, but more limited ability is making it into a more nova-type ability. Moving it in the exact opposite direction, less punchy and more available, is what was stated the direction for Striking Spell would be.

The activation of Rage has a cooldown; the effect is basically always on. Weird example that doesn't illustrate the point you're trying to make and is an apple to the orange we're discussing.

They did though.

And here it is again. Making an ability limited, but buffing it up, does not a nova make.

It was an illustration for your claims of abilities being novas.


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I think the variable one will be a 1-3 action activity that lets the summoner or the eidolon perform an activity of the same number of actions, then gives one action to the other one.


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

Well, I’m glad that I was able to put my two cents into the survey this time. And I am glad to see that once again the development team is indeed listening to the community. While not everything I see is extremely exciting to me I do look forward to the final product. And while I don’t think that everyone will be happy with the final product, my hope is that it will make for some fun around the table.


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We plan to increase from the four eidolon types presented here to between eight and 10 eidolon types in the final version. Expect them to be chosen from among the ranks of the eidolon types mentioned, but not presented, in the playtest, such as fey and demon eidolons.

Assuming 8 guaranteed, we'll see two for each spell tradition, with a third option for one or two. Primal feels the most likely to get a third option. Given that we're also getting the Magus in the same book, I'd suspect that Arcane will only get two.

Reasonable guesses for the final Eidolons:

ARCANE: Dragon, and probably construct. Amalgam is possible but I wouldn't bet on it.

DIVINE: Angel, almost certainly Demon, maybe Psychopomp.

OCCULT: Devotion Phantom, probably Aberration. A second type of Phantom (Fear Phantom, Wrath Phantom) is very possible.

PRIMAL: Beast, probably fey, and probably elemental as the third option. Unless they do the CRB Sorcerer thing of splitting lists 2/2/2/4, I don't think we'll see plants yet.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Truly, madly, deeply in love with the Incarnate spell idea!


Evan Tarlton wrote:
Truly, madly, deeply in love with the Incarnate spell idea!

Same here. It's a neat half way point between instant effects and sustainable durations.

Rules-wise it seems to be really close in design to the attack routine of complex traps, which is also cool.


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@Mark Seifter: There were a couple threads re: Summoners over the past week I participated in that raised some concerns that the Summoner felt like a second fiddle to the Eidolon, being reduced in some ways to (through either the action economy problem you speak to in the blog; or having few other meaningful options) buffing the Eidolon; and with few actual summoning abilities outside of the Eidolon to be more...Summonery.

Is this a concern you have identified or are aware of, and is it an issue for you?


Loreguard wrote:
On that front? Can we have a metamagic summoning ability that allows you to extend the duration of a summon to 10 minutes to an hour or so, but make them more fragile and unstable in tense situations (combat turns) such that they either vanish when combat starts, or they eat up the summoner's reaction to keep one around (sustained) into combat. I think there would be something to say for the idea of a summoner summoning a goblin or other creature to help clean up a laboratory.

The solution that comes to mind would be something along the lines of the druid's Form Control, which extends the duration of Wild Shape to an hour but treats the spell level as 2 lower. So maybe something like this:

Summon Servant (free-action)
Concentrate, Metamagic, various appropriate classes
Your command over summoned creatures is such that you can bind them to your service for a longer time without expending effort to command them. If your next action is to cast a spell that summons a creature, and that spell's level is 2 or more lower than your maximum spell level, that spell has a duration of 1 hour. The creature acts semi-independently, obeying the last command given to it to the best of its abilities. In exploration or downtime mode, it can perform long-term tasks without you actively commanding it, as judged appropriate by the GM according to the creature's abilities. In encounter mode, it either gets one action per round to act independently (usually either to Stride or Strike) or you can Command it as an action to give it two actions.

Yes, this would allow you to have a semi-permanent minion around in combat, but it would be so weak that it wouldn't do much good. The earliest you could do this would be 6th level (or possibly higher depending on what level you think this feat appropriate), and really, how useful is a giant rat or mitflit going to be at 6th level?

Dark Archive

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I would be sad to see the Magus' spell strike be limited. Despite me using it not being amazing action economy, I almost always use the ability in my game unless we are fighting at range. At range, because my runes are on my blade, I use Magus Potency. That focus spell alone carries my Magus as a switch hitter because keeping two weapons runed greatly cuts into the wealth by level. I am having quite a bit of fun with the Magus and hope the changes are not true drastic, as I have made an action manipulator, who despite not being the most powerful in the group, is very versatile and is very effective at targeting weaknesses.

Dark Archive

At first I was like "Oh, will this be way we get herald summoning back?" but Incarnate spells turned out to be much cooler than that :D


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OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:

@Mark Seifter: There were a couple threads re: Summoners over the past week I participated in that raised some concerns that the Summoner felt like a second fiddle to the Eidolon, being reduced in some ways to (through either the action economy problem you speak to in the blog; or having few other meaningful options) buffing the Eidolon; and with few actual summoning abilities outside of the Eidolon to be more...Summonery.

Is this a concern you have identified or are aware of, and is it an issue for you?

Let's be real, outside of action economy jank that is apparently being solved. The summoner NEEDS to be second fiddle to the eidolon or it won't fulfill the core fantasy of the summoner, which is someone who summons a creature to fight for them (the eidolon).

The eidolon is the summoner, it isn't a distinct entity from the summoner it is as much a part of the class as spellcasting is for a wizard.

I agree it would be nice to have a summoning pathway that leads to things other than the eidolon, personally I would like to see an approach like the druid's approach to shape shifting.

BUT this is almost certainly better implemented in a class archetype that replaces or reduces the eidolon and buffs spellcasting rather than a base class ability.


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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:

@Mark Seifter: There were a couple threads re: Summoners over the past week I participated in that raised some concerns that the Summoner felt like a second fiddle to the Eidolon, being reduced in some ways to (through either the action economy problem you speak to in the blog; or having few other meaningful options) buffing the Eidolon; and with few actual summoning abilities outside of the Eidolon to be more...Summonery.

Is this a concern you have identified or are aware of, and is it an issue for you?

Let's be real, outside of action economy jank that is apparently being solved. The summoner NEEDS to be second fiddle to the eidolon or it won't fulfill the core fantasy of the summoner, which is someone who summons a creature to fight for them (the eidolon).

The eidolon is the summoner, it isn't a distinct entity from the summoner it is as much a part of the class as spellcasting is for a wizard.

I agree it would be nice to have a summoning pathway that leads to things other than the eidolon, personally I would like to see an approach like the druid's approach to shape shifting.

BUT this is almost certainly better implemented in a class archetype that replaces or reduces the eidolon and buffs spellcasting rather than a base class ability.

Fair points all. Not sure I agree with your estimation that the “core fantasy” you identify is that for everyone though.

Yes, an archetype could help.


I think that the Act Together change will help to break the extremely static and repetitive turns of playtest Summoner.

Casting a spell, doing an activity, and etc and still have 2 actions for the eidolon should give way more options on what to do in your round rahter than ust using your 1 action cantrip.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
shroudb wrote:

I think that the Act Together change will help to break the extremely static and repetitive turns of playtest Summoner.

Casting a spell, doing an activity, and etc and still have 2 actions for the eidolon should give way more options on what to do in your round rahter than ust using your 1 action cantrip.

It will definitely help, but I'd still like to see more unique activities for the Eidolon itself.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mathmuse wrote:

Using that as a template, I get:

VARIABLE ACT TOGETHER [one-action] or longer
Frequency once per round
You and your eidolon each perform a single action. You choose which order the actions are taken, and you and your eidolon can each take a different action.
Or one of you two can instead perform a single [two-action] or [three action] activity, and the other performs a single action. Performing an activity changes Variable Act Together to an activity that takes the same number of actions.

I've made two attempts to word the ability and I'm not sure which I prefer:

ACT TOGETHER [one-action] to [three-action]
Frequency once per round
You and your eidolon each work together with preternatural efficiency. You and you eidolon each gain one action to use on your turn. For each additional action you spend on Act Together, your eidolon gains an additional action to use this turn. You and your eidolon can use the actions in any order, and you can each take a different action.

or

ACT TOGETHER [three-action]
Frequency once per round
You and your eidolon each work together with preternatural efficiency. You and your eidolon gain a single pool of four actions, which you and your eidolon can draw from this round. You and your eidolon can use the actions in any order, you can each take a different action and you can each combine actions to perform an activity. You and your eidolon can never take more than three actions when using Act Together.

I'm sure that whatever Mark comes up with, though, will be far better worded than my attempts.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Not that it was ever a question, but I'm so glad that the team takes the feedback and desires of the fans into such thoughtful consideration. Makes me wish there was a similar process for things already in game that could probably use some tweaking. But those are obviously more set in stone and can be remedied with in-house rulings.

I am very excited to see what the future brings for both of these classes hold. The changes to the Magus are phenomenal, as out of the two it definitely needed the most work. The changes to the Summoner are pretty exciting as well, especially the Synthesis changes. The idea defiently needs more space to shine on its own, and the decision to make it a Class Archetype is probably for the best. The fact that we are still getting those, when they haven't really been mentioned further, is great!

Keep up the great work! It is such indepth processes like this that make Paizo products the only products for me!

EDIT: Also, I love the Incarnate spells! They feel particularly catered to the fantasy RPG take on summoning magic in video games, which I love. Invoke a being into existance just long enough to cause and affect or attack before they return to wherever they came from. Seems like a great area for a Summoner Class Arechetype too, or even a general one!!


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I'm happy to see many concerns addressed for the Magus.
I don't know how you'll end up changing Striking Spell/Spell Combat, what kind of limitation you have in mind (have it be a stance or something ?) but I'm curious to see, the first iteration had a lot of potential already.

I hope Magus Potency stays in some way, it is great flavor and imo would just need a slight rework/buff to make it always welcome in the Magus' toolkit, a flat +1 to hit stacking with normal runes which can add a property rune when heightened at higher levels or something. Kind of how the champion can get a "free" property on their weapon for the day, the Magus would have something a bit stronger but at a Focus Point cost and for a more limited period of time.

Faster spell progression is nice, though of course its usefulness will depend on how Striking Spell is reworked (single roll, dual rolls etc...)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
TheGentlemanDM wrote:
OCCULT: Devotion Phantom, probably Aberration. A second type of Phantom (Fear Phantom, Wrath Phantom) is very possible.

Honestly while I love this idea, I can't help but think if this is the route they take, being that all the Occult Eidolons are destined to be Phantoms of varying emotions, then Spiritualist just needs to make a return. Otherwise, it seems like a lot of bloat. The Spiritualist Phantoms in PF1 had 15 Emotional Focus as it stands. The idea that the Summoner will have 15 different takes on the Phantom Eidolon isn't one that sits well with me personally.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

While I think Incarnate spells have a whole lot of potential, I'd like to raise a bit of a caution flag.

If the effect of an Incarnate spell could be reduced to an ordinary spell, it should be. There's nothing more lame than doing a bunch of extra hullabaloo for no good reason.

For example, the stupid Diablo 3 monk ability where they summon a giant stupid bell and hit it to do some crappy AoE damage. It's like... why don't you just channel that energy directly into dealing damage instead of all that bell nonsense?

So, for Incarnate Spells I think the summoned "things" should exhibit at least *some* creature-like behaviors or it's just a normal spell with extra steps. I think being able to be slain by a sufficiently prepared or powerful enemy should be on the table.

For instance, if a powerful Cleric couldn't Turn a Vengeful Dead... it's not really summoning a bunch of undead spirits, it's just a fancy coat of paint on a big aoe debuff spell.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm optimistic about this direction for the Magus. Thanks for sharing your takeaways from the playtest. It feels like they mirror what I saw when playtesting all 3 of the Magus Synthesis and was reading from others in the forums.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber

Oh, while we're at it can we get an explicit description of Manifest(ing/ed) and what would have it's tag? Just so it's perfectly clear how it is different from Summoned things.

Maybe also renaming the Summoned trait? With all these new ways to summon things, it seems unnecessary to let one specific way be enshrined as the tag. Perhaps have it be "Summoned (Minion)". Or has that ship already sailed? It would be nice to be able to use the word summon without having to explain that there are no minions involved.


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The variable act together is very nice. I just hope that the eidolon has a lot more front loaded customization that wasn't lame like we saw in the playtest.

I'm a little worried about the magus as they dont seem to know what to do with it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

It think the problem with cantrips and magus is not the magus framework, but the fact that the cantrips we have are not very good when you factor away the ability to use them at range and only target 1 enemy. New cantrips, especially ones designed to only be used at melee range, could go a long way to improving a striking spell mechanic option for use with cantrips. Please consider how melee cantrips might help make the striking spell mechanic more fun, even if other major changes to its structure occur.


TheDoomBug wrote:

Oh, while we're at it can we get an explicit description of Manifest(ing/ed) and what would have it's tag? Just so it's perfectly clear how it is different from Summoned things.

Maybe also renaming the Summoned trait? With all these new ways to summon things, it seems unnecessary to let one specific way be enshrined as the tag. Perhaps have it be "Summoned (Minion)". Or has that ship already sailed? It would be nice to be able to use the word summon without having to explain that there are no minions involved.

The ship has definitely sailed. The next printing of the core rules is already in the works.

Liberty's Edge

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All of this sounds very good. If the Eidolon's gotten its math fixed (which seems likely), then this all sounds like more or less what I, at least, was looking for.

I'm particularly enthused about the eventual Synthesist Archetype for Summoner.


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I love the idea of incarnate spells! I might houserule them to be slightly more creature-y, with a bucket of hit points. If you manage to kill them, it gets canceled, or maybe any effects are reduced. Bit of a nerf, but also a bit of buff, since it'll encourage wasting actions to damage it. But either way, it's pure Final Fantasy summoner flavor, and I've wanted that in a TTRPG for a long time now.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TheGentlemanDM wrote:

Reasonable guesses for the final Eidolons:

ARCANE: Dragon, and probably construct. Amalgam is possible but I wouldn't bet on it.

The Amalgam eidolon is too iconic in regard to mechanics to be dropped entirely. Of course, given that they are moving the Synthesist to a future book, maybe the Amalgam eidolon can get many pages in the same book.


Winkie_Phace wrote:
I love the idea of incarnate spells! I might houserule them to be slightly more creature-y, with a bucket of hit points. If you manage to kill them, it gets canceled, or maybe any effects are reduced. Bit of a nerf, but also a bit of buff, since it'll encourage wasting actions to damage it. But either way, it's pure Final Fantasy summoner flavor, and I've wanted that in a TTRPG for a long time now.

I'd rather have this around as a houserule, yeah. Having the semi-creature as an official rule just complicates things and leads to bad results where players feel like they're expected to kill this thing. I'd probably just use "the summoner's max health" if I ever do that, since with a houserule I don't have to worry about the spell level balance issues of that.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It seems from the post that there are some ideas and major testing to be done behind the scenes. I look forward to the final versions of the magus and summoner.

The teaser for the incarnate spell sounds really cool. Although it has me thinking that if incarnate spells are really short and summoning is a sustained 1 minute spell, could we see a longer summoning spell category? Perhaps a summoning spell category called Vestiges that last 10minutes to 1 hour?


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Sorry guys, I don't have faith that you can pull this off.

I really dislike the design departures and have no confidence in your release of the post playtest notes, and the fact that you have both confirmed that you have no real support for it (60% in the Magus playtest disliked it, and "plurality" in the Summoner) and are still going ahead with it just strikes me quite frankly as non-sensical.

A Magus who cannot Spellstrike often, and a Summoner who cannot effectively summon in combat are the logical results of your Aftermatch post.

Beyond disappointing.

Horizon Hunters

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Please make a second round playtest!
There was too many controversial points and the first playtest suffered too much with the new spellcasting mechanism too.

Add class variants to summoner and maybe magus so we can have a better chasis to improve later, something in the Cloistered/Warpriest line.

Maybe one more focused on spellcasting and the other more martial options ( for the eidolon or even the summoner ).


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Samir Sardinha wrote:

Please make a second round playtest!

There was too many controversial points and the first playtest suffered too much with the new spellcasting mechanism too.

Add class variants to summoner and maybe magus so we can have a better chasis to improve later, something in the Cloistered/Warpriest line.

Maybe one more focused on spellcasting and the other more martial options ( for the eidolon or even the summoner ).

Eh, I'd prefer the book come out when it is planned to, that it not cost twice as much, and that they don't cut another book to add another round of playtesting.

Silver Crusade

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HeshKadesh wrote:

Sorry guys, I don't have faith that you can pull this off.

I really dislike the design departures and have no confidence in your release of the post playtest notes, and the fact that you have both confirmed that you have no real support for it (60% in the Magus playtest disliked it, and "plurality" in the Summoner) and are still going ahead with it just strikes me quite frankly as non-sensical.

A Magus who cannot Spellstrike often, and a Summoner who cannot effectively summon in combat are the logical results of your Aftermatch post.

Beyond disappointing.

What blog did you read?

Dark Archive

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It seems the playtest served its function well and I'm glad to see so many take-aways from the playtest. My thoughts on a few things.

I'm very happy to see the act together change. After Mark replied to my feedback post that he was thinking of making that change, I played a few sessions that way and it felt so much smoother. Great change!

I hope the spellcasting staying the way it is doesn't make a better way to summon as the Summoner go off the table. Using my precious spell slots to summon (typically a sub-par option right now anyway) takes away utility. Hopefully that is still something being looked at (focus spell summons, summoning font, something completely different to come out of Mark's brain, etc.)

The Incarnate spells sound cool, but don't really feel like a summon from the example. Like others remarked, since it doesn't block movement or can't be targeted, it just feels like a regular spell with a start and end effect (cool in itself mind you), but not really a summon. Also, if they are regular spells, as things stand, other full casters will probably be better at them than the Summoner anyway.

Syntheses moving to another book makes a lot of sense to me. While I would love to have that option right away of course, to do it justice it just needs more page space. Though I wonder if the remark of making it a "class archetype" suggests that the summoner might be getting some focus class archetypes in this book which was talked about a lot on the forums. I may be reading too much into that though.

All-in-all, great job Mark and team! Logon, I see you also got a lot out of the playtest. I focused mainly on the Summoner, but looks like Magus had some great take-aways as well.


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Rysky wrote:
HeshKadesh wrote:

Sorry guys, I don't have faith that you can pull this off.

I really dislike the design departures and have no confidence in your release of the post playtest notes, and the fact that you have both confirmed that you have no real support for it (60% in the Magus playtest disliked it, and "plurality" in the Summoner) and are still going ahead with it just strikes me quite frankly as non-sensical.

A Magus who cannot Spellstrike often, and a Summoner who cannot effectively summon in combat are the logical results of your Aftermatch post.

Beyond disappointing.

What blog did you read?

More importantly, what is that post intended to achieve?


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Rysky wrote:
HeshKadesh wrote:

Sorry guys, I don't have faith that you can pull this off.

I really dislike the design departures and have no confidence in your release of the post playtest notes, and the fact that you have both confirmed that you have no real support for it (60% in the Magus playtest disliked it, and "plurality" in the Summoner) and are still going ahead with it just strikes me quite frankly as non-sensical.

A Magus who cannot Spellstrike often, and a Summoner who cannot effectively summon in combat are the logical results of your Aftermatch post.

Beyond disappointing.

What blog did you read?

The one that says casting 4 spells a day without dedications or items (which still have yet to be fixed) is acceptable, which to a lot of us is not, especially with multiple encounters in a day. In fact, the majority of people don't find it acceptable, if we do the math correctly.

But, because they splintered off into how it should be fixed instead of combining them, it's to be ignored in favor of a blanket 40% who says it's acceptable, with no input as to whether it should be improved (or decreased), or an explanation as to what they found good about it. Was it to not bog down spell selection time? Was it about the right balance between martial and caster capabilities? Was it because they had other uses besides spell slots for their activities that 4 spells felt plenty?

It's a false equivalency, where accepting it is a single category, whereas not accepting it is split off into separate subcategories, even though they all fit under the same one the initial question asked, which is a simple binary answer that the question was meant to gauge. If the negative answer should be split into subcategories, so should the positive answers.


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As one of the people pretty critical about the playtest versions, I just want to say how much I appreciate this excellent dev commentary—I found it really illuminating to hear how you guys are taking into account community feedback, what your reasons were for the original designs, and what's guiding your deliberations about how to go forward.

Bonner & Seifter wrote:
One of the major drivers for the playtest version was making it highly flexible to allow for using a wide variety of spells (compared to, say, Eldritch Shot) and let you use your stored spell with other abilities (like Flurry of Blows or Power Attack).

So that's why you guys didn't give Striking Spell the Flourish trait (in exchange for, e.g. letting you Strike as part of Casting A Spell). Makes sense!

One thing you might want to consider, if you're not already: what about letting the magus use feats or synthesis options to select optional, stronger but more restrictive ways of using Spell Striking? For instance, you might have low-level feats with a similar design function to the ranger's Twin Takedown or Hunted Shot. And for that matter, they might have similar mechanics: to nicely simulate the 1e magus, for instance, you might have a 1st-level feat that let you use a single (Flourish) action to Strike twice with a one-handed weapon, but only if it's holding a stored spell (and only if you have a free hand).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Assuming that there is no intention to make sure that staves and items work with 4 spell casters is a pretty big leap of bad faith. We have to assume the developers are well aware of how some people were reading the abilities and will settle on language that makes that more clear. They told us as much in this blog post, in that they want to make the language more direct.

I am excited to hear that the magus is getting a 7th level class feature that would work like martial caster, but be tied to the synthesis selection. I think there is some cool stuff being put together to make the casting feel more flavor driven.


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Squiggit wrote:
It will definitely help, but I'd still like to see more unique activities for the Eidolon itself.

Yeah, I assume various evolution (i.e. feat) choices are going to open up things for the Eidolon to do other than stride and strike, and some of the eidolon chassis had them built in, but when I played a phantom summoner all that thing could do actively was move around and hit people.


richienvh wrote:
On Striking Spell, we’ll just have to wait and see. Personally, I wouldn’t mind Striking Spell having a more limited usage. Could mean we’d get some ‘lesser spellstrike abilities’ that worked similarly to it, but without the potency of carrying a big spell to give that Magus feeling. Maybe something like some have suggested in the Swordmage discussion. However, nothing seems to be set in stone and I’m sure the final version of the class will turn out great.

I agree. And though I'm probably in the minority on this, I would be very happy to see the Magus go all in on the nova playstyle, at least as far as damage is concerned. Arguably, one niche not yet represented in the PF2 classes is limited-daily-use single-target damage (a sort of dedicated-boss-killer role), which strikes me as a natural niche for the magus.


Sharrakor wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:

Using that as a template, I get:

VARIABLE ACT TOGETHER [one-action] or longer
Frequency once per round
You and your eidolon each perform a single action. You choose which order the actions are taken, and you and your eidolon can each take a different action.
Or one of you two can instead perform a single [two-action] or [three action] activity, and the other performs a single action. Performing an activity changes Variable Act Together to an activity that takes the same number of actions.

I've made two attempts to word the ability and I'm not sure which I prefer:

ACT TOGETHER [one-action] to [three-action]
Frequency once per round
You and your eidolon each work together with preternatural efficiency. You and you eidolon each gain one action to use on your turn. For each additional action you spend on Act Together, your eidolon gains an additional action to use this turn. You and your eidolon can use the actions in any order, and you can each take a different action.

or

ACT TOGETHER [three-action]
Frequency once per round
You and your eidolon each work together with preternatural efficiency. You and your eidolon gain a single pool of four actions, which you and your eidolon can draw from this round. You and your eidolon can use the actions in any order, you can each take a different action and you can each combine actions to perform an activity. You and your eidolon can never take more than three actions when using Act Together.

I'm sure that whatever Mark comes up with, though, will be far better worded than my attempts.

The Variable-Length Act Together probably will have an extra restriction that is not mentioned in the article above. In comment #17 of Invictus Novo's thread PFS1-05 Play Through w / Summoner, Mark Seifter said:

Mark Seifter wrote:
manbearscientist wrote:

I like that change. Is the intention to prevent both character from using two-action activities in the same turn?

Example: Beast's Charge (1 action from Act Together) + Electric Arc (1 action from Act Together).

It is quite intentional. By preventing that situation, we can have both summoner and eidolon capable of providing powerful two-action activities (for instance, big impactful focus spells with the eidolon trait). Two-action activities like those tend to be balanced by the fact that you get just one per turn.

Therefore, Act Together needs to prevent the summoner and the eidolon both taking a two-action activity during the same turn. Sharrakor's second version allows that overpowered combination.

Another design aspect is that Act Together should feel like a special activity rather than just a way to give the summoner and eidolon four actions altogether. With Sharrakor's second version, I imagine the player saying, "I use Act Together at the start of every turn." It has no downside.

Actually, the playtest Act Together had no significant downside either, aside from the player having to plan the activities of summoner and eidolon to mesh well. It appears to be mostly a clear method to give four actions to summoner and eidolon so long as they share the actions and don't both take a two-action activity. It merely has times when it can't be used, such as when the summoner wants to cast a three-action summoning spell.

Hmm, maybe instead of rewriting Act Together, the summoner class should drop Act Together and state that outright:

Unity of Action
The summoner and eidolon can take four actions per turn, shared among them with two restrictions:
(1) Each one can take at most three of those four actions.
(2) If either performs a two- or three-action activity, then the other cannot perform a two- or three-action activity.

That would also allow the summoner to manifest the eidolon in a three-action Manifest Eidolon activity and then the eidolon could take the fourth action.


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Unicore wrote:

Assuming that there is no intention to make sure that staves and items work with 4 spell casters is a pretty big leap of bad faith. We have to assume the developers are well aware of how some people were reading the abilities and will settle on language that makes that more clear. They told us as much in this blog post, in that they want to make the language more direct.

I am excited to hear that the magus is getting a 7th level class feature that would work like martial caster, but be tied to the synthesis selection. I think there is some cool stuff being put together to make the casting feel more flavor driven.

Then you misread my intent. The point is that being a 4 spell slot class means your spell choice matters much more and that you can't be extremely reliant on such a precious resource, especially one more limited than even standard casting or multiclass casting.

If the solution is "Use a staff/wand/scroll," that's a shoehorned playstyle that's not very congruent with, say, an Arcane Archer or Shooting Star type Magus.

This is all well before we get into the "staves are broken" argument.


shroudb wrote:

I think that the Act Together change will help to break the extremely static and repetitive turns of playtest Summoner.

Casting a spell, doing an activity, and etc and still have 2 actions for the eidolon should give way more options on what to do in your round rahter than ust using your 1 action cantrip.

I think the act together change fixes a lot of my main issues I was having. You can actually summon something while having your pet do something. or you can cast a spell and move while having your pet do something. Just breaks it up from boost pet act together then move or use one ranged attack or something. It was hard before to ever find a good time to cast a real spell let alone a summoning spell.

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